Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Halifax Movember Run - My first RD Gig

So in October 2010 my friend Mike Milloy and I thought it would be fun to host a Tweed ride for Movember. Nothing too crazy, just some people out having fun and raising awareness. A few emails here and there and then the thing kind of fell flat. By the time November / Movember actually gets here, it is way too late to do any planning..

Then came 2011 and October rolled around again (well late October by the time I noticed it was here). I was looking at a site which hosts signups for local races and noticed that New Brunswick was putting on a charity run in support of Movember. Well a few emails with Mike and we knew that it would be too late again to do anything that year, but this time we made a plan, 2012 would be the year we hosted a Movember sporting event to raise some funds for the cause.

We quickly knew that a fun run would be the easiest event to put together and would likely be the most inclusive type of event as well. We decided that we would start working on it come the summer of 2012 so that we could miss the rush of Mike's commitments to Movember and my heavy racing schedule.  

Well the summer came and the prep work began for our first ever hosting of a race. We wanted to keep it on the smaller side to make sure there was a better chance of things running smoothly.  We found a location for the run in Point Pleasant Park. This was great as many people run here, it has all the facilities you need built right in and it is central to downtown Halifax. So this was booked through the city (reasonable fees as well), then it was time to get things rolling.

Mike and I made lists, and lists and lists. We found some great local businesses to help us out with prizes and other important things. I mentioned most of those sponsors in my last post about this event, but I didn't get to add Java Blend Coffee Roasters, who were very gracious in donating 4 big thermoses of coffee which all disappeared. Thanks guys.

We finally organized a timing device. Originally we didn't think we would time the event, it being a fun run and all. But really, people want to know their time. We didn't want to pay for the fancy chip timing, though it would have been nice. With our rather small crowd of runners, it would have really eaten into our overall donation to Movember too much. Maybe if we get a huge crowd in the future we will go that way. So we had runners grab a numbered stick at the finish line and used a lap timer. It produced fine results, though requires 2 people to run the show.

The day before the event I spent running around and gathering the needed supplies. We also confirmed our volunteers. Volunteers, and good ones, are a must. And ours were great.

Day of, it was damp and drizzly, but warm for this time of year. We only had 2 no shows, but 2 walk ups and ended up with 75 racers in total. Not included in those numbers were 2 dogs and at least 2 strollers.

 Mike and Ian doing the race briefing, and almost on time as well! Only a few minutes late.
 Racers on the ready! Many in costume.
Look at them run!

Our first runner came in at a blazing fast time of 22.32 for 6K of hilly crusher dust trails. I expected nothing less of Andrew. It was very exciting to see 2 minutes later Patrick come blazing across the finish line having pushed a stroller with Zoe in it the whole way. Wow.

All of our runners and our Nordic Walker and our Chihuahua came in at under 1 hour, which was great. We had enough time in our park booking to allow for 2 hours, but with it being chilly and damp, faster was nicer.

Everything went off with no major problems. The course volunteers (we are told) kept everyone on course, our water table provided the turn around point and hydration, and our timing system worked flawlessly.

We also had great prizes, many draw prizes and some for overall winners.

Nicole Van Der Wal, our Overall Female winner in 27:17 and 9th overall

Andrew Dacany, 1st Place Male and 1st Overall, in 22:32

 The Works men, Best Costume
Patrick and Zoe, best couple runner up

And in all the excitement I seem to have forgotten who the best couple was?  Sorry. But they crossed the finish line holding hands, which was great.

In the end we raised $1800 for Movember and did so much of the work for next seasons race. In the future I would love to add more racers, but keeping it small and simple is a must. Otherwise I will never sleep for weeks leading up to the event, ha ha!

Thanks again to Sportwheels, Aerobics First, Hart and Thistle, You Place Hair Designers, Java Blend Coffee Roasters, Halifax Rainmen and Moksha Yoga. We couldn't have done it without you guys. 

And thanks to all the lovely Mo Sistas that showed up to run with the guys, many sporting great Mo's of their own. 

And too all the monsters that donned a Mo in the hopes that cookies might be available at the end of the run. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Running Races on Hold - Time to be a Race Director

Okay, so as I mentioned before, I need a rest from racing. I need it mentally and I need it physically. I still want to run, and ride and swim and have fun, but definitely in a non competitive way. But it is also time to give back as well.

Movember is coming up (read about it here). I have taken part in this fundraising event for Prostate Cancer awareness for the past two years by growing a mustache and gathering a couple hundred dollars for the cause. But this year I am going further with the help of local Movmember big wig, Mike Milloy,  we are putting on our first race. Taking place November 24th, this will be a 6K  trail fun run. It has certainly been a learning experience getting it all together.

It started in the summer with our attempt to find a venue. Once found we had to secure it, which luckily was easy to do as we are using the local city park, Point Pleasant Park, in Halifax. Then mapping a route in the park, which isn't huge, for a 6K run was quite the feat.  Still it was done, then Mike and I had some choices to make. Should it be pure and simple, run and raise money? Or should it be a race with prizes for the over contenders, in which case we would need certain things like bib numbers, and a timing scheme. Well we decided to push the envelope a bit and heck, there are some great local businesses that really stepped up to help us out.

At this point we have great prizes and support from Sportwheels, a local bike and hockey shop, Aerobics First,  my favorite running shop (they do skiis as well!), Your Place of Mine Hair Designers Inc. , the Halifax Rainmen, and Moksha Yoga. Thanks to all these guys and gals for their various support.

So what is up next? Well the registration went live a couple of weeks back and we already have 20 people signed up, with a self imposed maximum of 100 entrants. Not bad so far, and we aren't even in Movember yet. So we just need to work on the little things, like volunteers and refreshments for all involved. That is frankly going to be fun.  It is also going to take my mind off of racing for the next month.

Hey reader, if you are local head on to our Facebook Page and "Like" us or even better consider signing up and having a great run on a cool November morning through Halifax's beautiful Point Pleasant Park. You can find us here.

And if you are a local business that wants to jump on board, well by all means contact us via the Facebook page. We hope to see some of you out to our event, or to many of the other Movember events that are taking place all over the world.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Final Race of 2012 (Probably) - MEC Shubie 10K

Alright, so there is nothing like a late season injury and a bit of pain and back to back to back races to make one's focus change from a heavy training schedule to some time off. As I mentioned before, I somehow hurt my foot during the Shubie Tri. This lead to weeks of little training, heading into a double weekend of heavy Rum Runners / River Duathlon action. While my foot had come back to 80%, I had done little training during that rest phase. My results from those races were still not too bad, but I lacked that extra kick from all that time off and a bit of my endurance. And of course pushing through lead to me hurting my other foot.

I think these are actually calf injuries and will be getting them treated this week. But before I went in for treatment, of course I had one more race to do.

Earlier this summer when I set my PB 10K time of sub 40 min, I also won free entry into the final MEC race of the year. Well my foot seemed not bad and the few easy paced training runs I had done seemed to say that showing up for this race wasn't going to be too bad.

Well this was a pretty straight forward event, line up, go, run to turn around and hold your pace til the end. Of course not having raced in a few weeks, and with minimal training I did wonder how I would fair.

Shubie is rather a hilly trail run, and this day the path was covered in a thick carpet of wet leaves. Still, the tactic is simple, run. We took off and I was quickly in about 6th place and refusing to look down at my Garmin to see just how fast we were going. It felt good, whatever the pace and it was probably 1 km or so into the run when I dared glance at my pace. I saw 3:50 km/min show up, so I slowed down. Still by 2 km into the run  I was catching another runner, who had also obviously paced poorly to start things.

The up and down nature of this course makes keeping a steady pace tricky and my Garmin profile shows me all over the place, but generally close to the 4 min pace mark. I did feel good that Dave Nevitt (local marathon legend) didn't pass me until close to 4 km in and I stayed with him for quite awhile. By the turn around I was at 20 minutes and feeling not too bad. I knew there was no way, though, to keep that average pace up for the rest of the run and I was eventually passed by 2 more runners.

Luckily I found enough oomph to stay with the last runner that passed me, generally falling no more than 20- 30 meters behind him at any point. I really made up time on him when I ran up hill, which I was surprised about because I felt horrible climbing them. I also made a little time up by making the corners on the trail as tight as possible, I mean why run any further than you have to.

It was at this point when I really started looking at my Garmin for distance. Finally I looked down and saw that 9.2 km had showed up. I knew that the course was essentially flat to down hill at this point and I also knew that my finish line kick was probably not going to be around, so the best I could do is pick up the pace. I manged to get it back to a 4 min/km pace and even a bit lower in points as I surged ahead of my fellow runner. I just kept upping the pace as best as I could and didn't look back.

As the finish line straight fell under my feet my stride opened up. There was still 400 meters or so to go, so a full out sprint was out of the question, but I found enough speed to stay ahead until I crossed the line.  It wasn't a PB by any stretch, but darn I was happy to have had a decent run in the park. I managed a 40:56 time and finished 7th overall.

Now a day later my feet hurt again. As I mentioned, I will be heading into see my Chiropractor who I know can fix me up. I will also be taking a rest from racing. See, while I can probably get back into doing some base training, if I race I know I can't hold back and will hurt myself again. And the last 2 months of foot pain have been rather draining on me. I wasn't to race again and soon, but I want to do it as close to my peak as possible. I really don't want to show up and have a list of excuses as to why I may fail. That sucks.

Oh and the mountain bike is a calling.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Riverport Duathlon 2012 - Part 2 of the Double Header

So finally I get around to this post. I think that my feet are actually getting back to feeling decent is allowing me to relive this weekend again. I guess time does heal all wounds.

I awoke the morning of this race feeling pretty decent. A few aches in the legs from the Rum Runner run, but nothing where by I couldn't walk. I ate my traditional prerace breakfast, got dressed and off we went Riverport (we were staying in Lunenburg for the night so the drive to the race was very quick). I was also excited to see my wife racing for the first time in a Duathlon. She too was nursing a sore leg, but was willing to give it a go.

The race venue at Riverport is tight. I like to get there early to get a decent spot on the racks. And I love racking for a Duathlon as it is all minimal. Just a bike and a helmet. I then began to prep my legs and feet with a few easy stretches to warm things up.

After signing in, and having a few chats with some other racers, we all lined up and bam, we were off.

I quickly headed out at a decent pace, though it was a bit fast and I had to settle in. This was a 4km run to start and was dead flat. I had enough juice left in the tank to manage a 3:51 km/min average pace for a 15:24 overall time. Good enough for 7th fastest overall. I had hoped this year to start out with a sub 15 minute first run but with my injuries and the previous day's race, I was happy for sure with my result.

I entered T1 with 2 others and managed to get out of T1 first. My bike mount went well, even with the wet conditions  I just took  my time, popped up and then slipped into my shoes. Once I was all cinched in and buckled down, off I went.

I managed to catch up to Alan Miner ahead of me quickly, and got by him, but it didn't take long for him and another rider to get back in front. We managed to catch at least 1 more rider on course and pass him, but were passed by at least 1 slower runner.

I felt good on the bike and decided to push it as best as I could, being that it was only a 28 km ride. I decided to stay with Alan and not try to fight him for position, though. He was setting a great pace and I hung back just out of the drafting zone and matched. We came in together and I managed an average pace of 34.6 km/hr for only the 14th fastest bike split of the day, but was in 8th place overall. I did manage to have a faster bike split heading into T2 than Alan did, mostly due to my faster T1.

I also got out of T2 faster than Alan did, but the pain in my heels was setting in and my legs were starting to fade within the first kilometer. Just before half way into the second run Alan passed by me. I decided to not push it at this point as things looked clear behind me. I wanted to finish strong and as long as my ankle didn't conk out on me I would be fine.

I stayed within sight of Alan the whole way, but never was able to pull in any closer. He ended up beating me by a little over 30 seconds. Including T2 time, I managed a rather meager 4:18 min/km pace to finish out the final 4km. My actual run pace was better than that at a flat 4 min/km. So I guess I shouldn't complain, but I should get faster at T2 it would seem.

I crossed the finish line strong in 8th place and went home with the 1st place medal for my age group, Men 30-39. I had an overall time of 1:21:05, a full 5 seconds faster than last year. Well any bit faster is better.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Another Double Header Weekend - Part 1 Rum Runners

So last weekend was another double header. The last time I did this it was a triathlon on Sunday followed by the Natal Day road race on Monday. That time around the triathlon was my main goal, and the Natal Day race was more of a bucket list type deal. Sure I did well at the Natal Day race, but ultimately could have done better.

This time around I had 2 events scheduled for one weekend, but both were important to me. First up was the Rum Runners Relay, a 110 km journey from Halifax to Lunenburg in 10 stages. The next day would be the Riverport Duathlon, a 4/28/4 km event to close the Tri Nova Scotia Season. And lets add to this. Weeks ago after the Shubie Tri was done, I noticed I had hurt my heel and hadn't been able to train for the last 3 weeks. I had managed a few runs the week of, easy ones. My problem was that I couldn't tell until after I started running if things were going to hurt.

So Rum Runners is rather special to me. I love the team atmosphere and it is the only relay event I do. Plus I had the glory leg, the final, good old number 10. And chances are that I may or may not be around this time next year for another go at it. So I had to go ahead and chance the foot.

It was a rainy, windy day with cool temps. Yay! I traveled with Mike Milloy most of the day joining the rest of our team at around Leg 5 in Hubbards. As is usually the case, I do my best to stay dry heading into my leg, so I carried a large umbrella. This still meant that I got wet feet, luckily I was wearing wool socks though to keep warm.

It was great watching my team mates run their legs and cheering them on. It was obvious that Ian M's marathon training had really paid off as his time increased well over the last year. And Mike M's pace was rockin'.

I finally lined up at 5:37 PM. I was already tired from a poor nights sleep, worried that I was going to reinjure myself and cold from the rain and wind. For the first time I was trying kinesio tape on my foot / calf for any extra help, had a few ibu's to reduce any swelling, and coated my legs in Rub A535 to get some heat going on. I had also opted for using my triathlon shorts in all the rain as I so hate running in wet clothes that are baggy.

Off we went to run from scenic Mahone Bay to Lunenburg, 10.9 km's away. I decided that I might as well go out moderately hard and not hold back. If my injury decided to show up I might as well be as far into the leg as possible before needing to walk.

After the first kilometer things had leveled out a bit and I found myself in 7th place. At this point status quo was going to be my game. I settled down from my initial pace of about 3:50ish min/km to a pace around 4:05 or so. By 3 kilometers in I managed to slowly catch and pass Mark Campbell, though he would remain maybe 100m back from me the rest of the run.

What shocked me was that at 4.5 km I looked back and saw Mark, the road and no one else. Then 1 kilometer later a guy blew by me while I was running a decent 4 min/km pace. Yikes, where did he come from? Oh well, no worries.

While the rain and cold was annoying when not running, it was actually not bad once the run started. The humid air kept me from needing to grab any water at the stops, and the slight chill was rather welcome.

Now while the rest of this leg was extremely easy mentally, the end was anything but. I started miss the first turn but was helped by a corner worker, then in town there were a series of turns which I was unsure of. At this point Mark caught back up and we ran side by side for a bit. Unfortunately I was at  my limit and mark still had more gas in the tank and got about 50 meters ahead of me.  I would eventually get close but never had a real chance to get him at the end. There is always the maybe and maybe if I wasn't racing the next day or maybe if I wasn't injured etc... I could have caught and passed him but it really doesn't matter. That day and that time Mark was better and I had no problem with that. I ran home standing up, injury free and happy for the team and myself.

Overall we had a team pace of 4:57 min/km over the 10 legs and finished a great 29th out of 70 teams. Personally I had an 8th place finish (3 top tens in a row) with a time of 44:03 for 10.9 km and a pace of 4:02. I was pretty impressed with that over last years pace of 4:11 (for 12.9 so slightly longer).  Also as a team we received no penalties. Great stuff guys!

I used yellow tinted glasses to simulate a sunny day. I think it may have worked!

I was a little sore that evening, but happy and ready for the next days event. Luckily I had a hotel room in Lunenburg so that I could have a leisurely next morning before heading on to Riverport.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Time for Bike Maintenance?

I know a lot of people who ride bikes. I know a few people who like to work on bikes. For the rest it is either, ride, put away, ride again repeat, or at the most ride and once a year pay someone to look at things.

While I find it perfectly acceptable that people don't want to learn how to be a bike mechanic (and frankly there are lots of bike parts I don't work on), for your bike, for the mechanic you pay (either with cash or beer) and for your own hands, there are some simple things everyone should be able to do with their bike.

Really the bike is a rather simple thing (don''t stare directly at those derailleurs though) with a pedal moving a big ring with spikes that moves a chain that moves tiny cogs that move a wheel. Easy right?

And for the most part that chain system is the only thing most people have to worry about on a daily basis (yeah I know tires need air blah blah). Dirt and water and road grime get thrown from the tires onto the drivetrain constantly and it is a fully exposed system (most of the other bearings etc on the bike are hidden away and need little to no work).

Now there is little you can do to stop grime etc... from spraying onto your chain, but there are a few things you can do to help keep the amount on there to a minimum. And remember - dirt and grime wear things out and the cleaner your drivetrain, the less often you will need to change your chain and cassette and that is more money in your pocket.

So does your chain look like this?

Yes, I know. That is grease and good as the chain needs to be lubricated to work. Well sort of. The chain needs lubrication  only on the rollers on the inside of the chain as they need to spin as the chain passes over the cassette (or cogs) on the back. It certainly needs no lube on the outside of the chain.

In my line of work (and it has nothing to do with bikes) we know that dirt attracts dirt. So if the parts of the chain which need no lube are covered in it, then they attract dirt, which attracts more dirt etc... and what does dirt do? Well it grinds away at the metal that is your bike. It grinds away until those cogs are unhappy and the chain doesn't fit well anymore. Worst case scenario it eats at the chain until it breaks while you are riding. Better case it wears the cogs unevenly so that you can't shift well anymore.

And true worse scenario? It gets grease on everything within arms length of the bike. You pants, your leg, your fingers, the carpet, your car, need I go on?

 See that drivetrain (yeah, its mine)?  See the silver metal? Well you should see that on your bike as well. This is my everyday bike. Do I still get a  little black on my hands if I touch that chain? Sure a little, but nothing obvious and surely not what most people get.

And finally clean your chain and cassette for the sake of the poor mechanic that has to fix your bike (be they from a local bike shop or just your neighbour).

So how do we clean it, Ian? Simple

They sell fancy chain cleaner things at most bike shops. I like them for getting a good scrub on the drivetrain  every so often as they get inside the links. But they aren't needed everyday. They are essentially a plastic device with brushes that snaps over your chain and you pedal the bike backwards.

If your chain isn't too bad then I suggest getting a rag, soak it in cleaner (some sort of degreaser - either solvent based or water based like Citrus degreasers etc...) and grab a hold of the chain. Now pedal backwards with the bike either held by a friend or leaning on the wall. Outdoors is always preferable if possible.

Keep going until you get all the dirt off. Then soak an old toothbrush into the cleaner and hold it against cogs and pedal or scrub and spin. When you think it is cleaned enough you need to rinse it off. For this reason water based cleaners are best. Just use a wet rag to wipe the surfaces or if outdoors, a light spray from hose will do the trick easy there, too much water will get into spots you don't want to).

Really that is it. I like to dry it off at this point and then put a drop of oil on each chain bearing. One drop is plenty. Let it soak in for 20 minutes or so and then grab another rag or paper towel and wipe off all that excess oil.  And voila, silver metal again!

There are tons of varieties of chain lube and everyone has a favorite that is the best. My personal favorites are Tri-Flo or Pedros, and mostly due to their ease of finding them. Most shops will have one or the other.

So the chain is clean, now what?

Personally I like to wipe my chain off after every ride (or in the case of my commuter bike every few rides). It takes no time and I use a simple piece of paper towel. This will help remove a little more excess oil that will seep out. It will take dirt from the road off Or water), which will then prevent more dirt from sticking. And then once a month or every few hundred kms or so I wipe it with some cleaner again and reoil. That fancy chain cleaner rarely needs to come out unless you are ridding in mud or salt winter road slush.

So go do your bike a favour and make sure that is is nice a clean before your next ride, and at this time of year, before it goes to bed for the winter (though I highly suggest you try winter riding).

Now off to Riverport for me!

Friday, September 14, 2012

2012 Shubie Dooby Tri

Well there comes a time every year, when that last triathlon is going to have to happen. And for many in the Halifax area, it is the Shubie Dooby Triathlon. Held in the awesome Shubie Park in Dartmouth, this is a lake swim, rolling bumpy road ride, and hilly trail run (crusher dust trails). There are 2 races, an Olympic and Sprint Distance.

I again chose the sprint distance as my race. My reasons are twofold. My swim is still not great and at the Olympic distance I would be so far behind the leaders it isn't worth it to me. And second I love the idea of sprint racing at this point in my triathlon life. I still love going as fast as possible for as long as possible. I hate holding back.

Well here we are lined up on the beach, praying that the thunder and lightening will stay away (and it did!) and getting our race briefing. I am in there I swear. I was lucky to get in a bit of a pre race swim and the water was rather nice, just a hint cool, perfect for racing.

We were separated into 2 waves as the beach is small, so it was men first and then women. I got a great start and immediately found a great rhythm. As I approached the first buoy I looked up to see a huge mess of guys all crammed into a tight area right by the buoy. Even though I know the shortest route is the fastest, I opted for a wide swing around the buoy to preserve myself from the beating I might take.  I did the same at the next buoy as well.

Add my detours to a little zig zagging as I was tiring on the final swim to the finish, and I easily added 50 meters to the swim. So when I got out and saw a 15 on the clock, I was pretty happy. I know there  is plenty of work to do on the swim for me, but it is getting better. Total swim time was 15:21 by the time I got over the swim matt. I was 36th overall in the swim out of 127 people total, which I took as a good sign.

(I swim run in a blurry motion)

From here I was off up the hill, on the green carpet, and into T1. I easily passed a few people here as I ripped off my wetsuit, grabbed my space alien helmet and took off with my bike.

It was a bit of a run to the mount line and over big hard gravel. That wasn't much fun, but neither was my attempt at mounting the bike. Eventually bad things happen to good people and I was in that zone. 

The elastic bands holding my shoes in place had snapped off during the run. Okay no big deal, I practiced my mounting of the bike all the time with loose pedals. But the pedals were also now in the wrong orientation, ugh. Still I fixed it by hand quickly and then mounted and pushed off. 

My first foot went onto the shoe fine, then as I put my second foot down to pedal and get some momentum, the shoe slipped around and banged into the ground. My bike jumped a little, the shoe dragged and I maintained total control. Whew. Someone event yelled, nice save.

I got the first foot into the shoe, then pedaled a bit down the first hill and through the corner before attempting to get my next foot in place. I did get my next foot in, fixed the tongue a bit on my first shoe and did up the strap. Now I had to pedal up another small hill and around a corner prior to getting my second shoe strapped up. 

Here I noticed that the strap had come out of its eyelet, so was loose and doing no good. So while pedaling I had to reach down, thread it through the eyelet, and then cinch it up. Whew again. Sure I lost a little time, but I did have a fast run barefoot from T1 to the ,mount line, so it all works out.

The bike ride was fine. I love the rolling nature of this course. many hate it. I can power through it as a 20km TT and did so. I passed a few people, kept aero, powered along and managed the 5th fastest bike split of the day. Including T1 I averaged 30.3 km/hr and had a time of 39:34. Fix that shoe and mounting issue and I easily get the 4th fastest if not 3rd of the day. So the riding wasn't a problem at all.

I came in T2 and did a great dismount. This time right at the line, very slick and smooth. And again, my shoe came off the cleat. Dang! I had to go back and retrieve it. Alas, that couldn't help my T2 / Run time. 

So, bike on rack, helmet off, hat and run number on, shoes in place. Blamo - off to the run.

I had a great pace starting out on the run, sub 4 min per km. Sadly with the hills I couldn't keep up that pace. Though I was passing some people and feeling okay. But I finally hit a 420ish pace and ended up staying there until the end.

I crossed the finish line in 6th place with a run time (and T2) of 23:28 for the 4th fastes of the day and an overall time of 1:18:22.

Okay, so I obviously lost much time in T1 and T2 and need a faster swim. But darn, I am sure happy with 6th place out of a field of 127 and 2nd overall in my age group.  I grabbed some great Java Blend Racing wool socks as my prize and ate much food following the race. Always a good event.

Next up? Another one of those double weekends. Rum Runners relay event on Spet 29th and Riverport Duathlon on the 30th. Yikes, we will see how that goes! Here's hoping for good weather.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Little Cross Training Can't Hurt - Sort Of

So every now and then you need to take a break from the regular old bike ride then long run on the weekend. Sure those are great and make you stronger and tougher (I guess), but mentally they can get to be a little tedious. Plus inevitably you have a spouse or friend or group of people that just don't either want to do those things with you or else are at different speeds and endurance levels.

So what does this mean? Find a new thing to do. One that compliments your triathlon training goals but gives you a nice metal and physical break. One that may stress slightly different muscle groups. One that includes those others in your life.

So this past weekend I did just that. Saturday my wife and I went on a SCUBA / Snorkel trip out to Sandy Cove. I picked Sandy Cove as it was a great area for novice level shallow diving as my wife snorkels and I dive. Sandy Cove (at least where I was diving) stayed at a nice 30 feet deep max (10 meters or so). It offered great sea creatures to view and a cool reef.

This was a great break from swimming laps or lengths of a lake. Sure my arms did little to propel me along the bottom of the sea, but my legs sure got a great work out, and with flippers it is a slightly different workout than I would get in a pool. And an hour of SCUBA will certainly wear you out for the day.

Then on Sunday rather the the good old long run? Well how about a good old long hard hike. To the Bluff Trail we went!

My wife and I had done the first loop of the Bluff Trail in Timberlea, a few times and loved it. We finally decided to go for the first 2 loops, which meant a 15 km (from the car parking lot) hike on pretty rough terrain. The sun was hot, the clouds were few and a tiny chihuahua named Newt lead our way. Four hours later we were done. This included a few food stops and a  stop to soak our feet in one of the many lakes.

Sure this wasn't a hard or slow paced long run and I could go 15 kms without too much effort. But this was good old roots and stones and hills and trees and jumps and etc....This was a whole new set of stabilizer muscles put into good use. And those muscles help keep the injuries at bay as we get tired on our regular long runs and marathons.

Why did I add sort of to the title? Two blisters on my little toes means it hurt a little bit. But I will recover.

So I was tired physically and mentally after that weekend (yeah I threw in an easy 5 km run Saturday night for good measure). It was a good thing to do. Oh and if you have a dog, it means you get away without walking them for a day or 2 now. Newt is still sleeping this one off.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dartmouth Natal Day Race 2012 - Back to Backs

So I choose shorter races (generally) due to my love of going all out fast for as long as I can. I find it hard to pace over longer distances and either end up mentally slowing down to a crawl or running out of steam.

What the heck does this have to do with the 6mi  Dartmouth Natal Day Race? Ordinarily nothing. It is a 6mi (just shy of 10K) so right up my alley and a perfect chance to aim for a sub 40 minute run. But this time I was coming off my previous day's Sprint Triathlon race in Bridgetown, where I went (you guessed it) all out for the race. As I mentioned in my previous post it wasn't so much the race itself that wore me out, but the added heat of the day (35C) and the early start and long drive home. All of these things said, "Rest up Ian!" But alas there was no rest for me.

I have never before done the Dartmouth Natal Day Race and I know it has a long and storied history, being 106 years old this year and due to work reasons I may or may not be around here next year. So I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try this out.

Well I felt okay waking up the morning after the Sprint Triathlon and got myself ready to race. I knew there was no way I could give this one 100%, but I still wanted to see what I had left in the tank.

Lining up for this race is rather tricky as this is a 3 lap course and there are 2 races happening at the same time, the 6mi and a 2mi. So the fastest people all line up at the front but you don't want to get in the way of the extra fast 2mi people. Anyway, I lined up near the 7mi / min sign thinking it would be a decent place to start.

I also want to point out that this day could not have been different weather-wise than the day before. It was drizzly, foggy and oh so humid.

The gun went off and I began the run. I was taking it easy for sure at the beginning, just hoping my legs would warm themselves up. Immediately my shins screamed and seized up but I soldiered on through lap one. By lap two things were loosening up and feeling a bit better so I was able to open up my stride a bit more. I wasn't even looking at my Garmin at this point, instead just trying to find a moderately comfortable pace to hold.

By lap three I was up to pace and holding my own. By this lap other than a few strollers and kids finishing the 2mi race / walk, most people were kind of holding station on what would be their finishing place.  But there are always a few people dying at this point in any running race (in the past it was always me), either due to heat, going out too fast or maybe an injury. So I passed a few people.

Going by the water table the final time I heard a voice behind me saying "Thanks for the pull." It was a guy who I had previously passed at the bottom of a small climb who had decided to draft me. That was fine, but my pace was a bit too much for me.

It wasn't too much for another runner though, who decided to tag onto me at that point. I could hear him behind me, but didn't worry too much as his breathing was very laboured. Instead I would slowly start to ramp up my pace just a bit more and he worked hard at staying on me. Unfortunately for him my increasing pace followed by his getting momentarily stuck behind a stroller, meant he fell off my draft and couldn't get back on. With the finish line a mere 1/4 mile away I wasn't about to slow down anyway and kept pushing my pace.

Up Ochterloney Street one last time and towards the finishing chute I ran, picking up steam and passing a few more people, to cross the line 43rd overall out of 420, and a crazy 20th place in my Age Group (darn 30 year old runners seem to flock to events) with a time of 40:10. I was pretty happy considering my slow pace to start and realizing what I may have been able to do with fresh legs.

So back to back races? It can be done easily, but make sure to pick your A race and give that one you best attention. And if you plan on pushing it in both? Well make sure to have a nice soft sofa waiting for you to crash on when you get home.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2012 Bridgetown Sprint Triathlon

So last weekend was a hot one, especially on Sunday (Aug 5th) and in the Nova Scotia Valley that means extra hot. I think the temperature that day in Bridgetown topped out somewhere around 35C and there was not a cloud in the sky.

I had to get up super early for the close to 2 hour drive to Bridgetown to be there by 7am to check in. Oh man that was rough but I did it. Turns out I was all alone at check in so that wasn't a huge problem getting through the line of 1. I got my chip and body marking (#275) and swim cap and headed to watch the start of the long course triathlon, which had been delayed by a half an hour due to heavy fog. It was here that I learned that the water temperature was going to be too high for a wetsuit. Ugh. As we all know my swimming isn't the greatest and a wetsuit certainly helps keep me a lot closer to the leaders.

This swim is also interesting as it is a river swim and a tidal river at that. So the current could be strong, non existent or backwards. And it is a muddy brown river as well. So all in all a slow swimmers dream (not).

Anyway, the next race off was the Olympic Distance then finally we were up. Now it was just after 9am, I was tired from being up early, a little overwhelmed with no wetsuit and standing in a warm river with a current. Oh well here we go!

The swim was hard. I did stick to the bank (as I was told to) to reduce the effect of the current and it seemed to work. I was swimming pretty much solo to the first buoy when all of a sudden a got a bit punch to the head. This turned me the other way were I received a kick to the side. Wonderful I thought. Around the buoys was a bit of a mess of people and it certainly took me off my pace, but I got around nonetheless. Then it was current surfing to the next set up buoys, which was cruelly past the swim out. Blah.

Finally I got out of the river with a horrible swim time of 19:45 (though the fastest swimmers were in the high 12 minute range, so it was obviously a slower swim). This put me at 43 spot overall. But I don`t worry about those things that this point in a race. I go like a mad fool that is gunning for first.

I was in and out of transition really well in 47 seconds for the 5th fastest T1 of the day. And this was the day I got to use my new Louis Garneau Tri-shoes (thanks Sportwheels for ordering those in). I had practiced a few days with these shoes, doing flying mounts and dismounts and I was ready to try this out in a race. And up on the bike I went, pedaling out of the parking lot we were in and onto the main road, then easily slipping my feet into the shoes and zipping away.

The road was almost entirely flat with little wind in either direction. Being behind like I was and knowing I had a mere 20km to go, I went all out. I passed numerous cyclists on the way to the turnaround. Some were Sprint athletes, other Olympic distance (who did the loop twice).  By the end of the ride I had made my way somewhere into the top 20 with a 4th fastest ride of the day at 33:30 for 20km (avg speed of 35.8).

Now I had done flying dismounts before so I wasn't as scared about this, though it is always a little cause for concern. But I was off the bike and on the long run to T2. And I must say, it was quite long, with the option of running on grass or dirt road. I ended up mostly on the dirt road as I needed to pass others.

I was out of T2 in the 6th fastest time of the day at 36 seconds.

So the run began. I had seriously hoped to do a sub 20 minute 5K to end this race. It was really hot now and even though the run was flat, I was running low on steam.  I managed to start passing a few people. Some were in my race, others not, but I didn't care. the run around couldn't have come soon enough and as I started back I picked up my pace a little bit. I did grab a cup of water from the water stop on the way back, though I could barely get any down without choking.

I think I managed to catch one more person in the final kilometer of the race and then sprinted to the end on a downhill gravel path. Sadly I only managed a 20:17 for the 5k but it was the 4th fastest run of the day and I ended up 13th overall and 2nd in my Age Group. Sometime being the slow swimmer makes for a more interesting day I guess, though I would dearly love to get out of the water a little higher up than 43rd. I guess one day I will get a coach and figure out this swimming thing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Time to Fix the Swim

Okay, so I wrote about my horrible swim at the last triathlon in Ingonish. Yes, it was my only swim in a race situation this year so one could think it was actually just an anomaly and that my swim isn't that bad. One could think that, but based on how I felt on that swim versus how I felt on the rest of the race, I dare say that it was a lack of proper training that did me in.

See, I went out way too fast. In an attempt to keep as close to the front as possible I wore myself out too quickly and needed a rest part way through the swim. That dropped me right to the back of such a short distance.

While I suspected that I would have dropped off the strong pace I started with, I didn't expect that it would tire me out with little hope of recovery. this meant I had to think about what the heck went on, and searching back I think I understand what I did wrong leading up to the race.

So I am not  great swimmer as I have written about many times. My fear of the water has made learning to swim properly and swim in a pack of people a real struggle, but one I have been slowly over coming. But while I am not a great swimmer right now, neither am I that bad. In a race situation I have been able to make the distance (last season) without issues, just at my pace (about a solid 2 min pace per 100 meters). 

Now on to what I have been doing wrong. I have been stuck at that 2 minute pace for awhile. So over the last few months I have really decide to mix up my training. I have added sets in based on workouts I received during group coaching sessions. I have also watched numerous videos about swimming form and have been working on trying to sort out my faults. But what I didn't notice until I went back over my logs was just how much that affected my overall training.

When I look back I dropped from 3000 meters a week (not a lot I know but what I could do) to well under 2000. Yikes! My issue is really one of endurance.

As a new swimmer I have practically no base level of swim fitness. Yes, I now that swim form is key to getting from A to B as fast as possible without wasting energy, but that really (in my limited experience) does assume you have some base level of fitness. Much like a proper run form will help to achieve new top speeds, without the ability to keep up the speed, you won't get their fast, if at all.

My earlier speed tests showed me that I could swim in the 1:50 pace range, which is a big improvement over my past results. But at the same time my distance pace results from before the racing season showed little to no improvement.

So my new goal at the moment is to get back to endurance swimming. Get my muscles ready for the challenge.  Get to the point where I can get out of the water at an event (even if minutes back) and not be out of breath and woozy.

Sadly I still only have 2 days a week where I can get out swimming. One is the pool and one is open water. The open water swim is with a group of people, and I basically try to keep up. I call that my speed workout / race prep. But the real work has been happening over the last 3 weeks in the pool.

I designed a workout that is based on building my endurance wit a good overall distance and includes one race distance set.

As a Sprint racer I needed to have one set at 750m. So I now do this as a workout: 250m warm up, 500m at race pace, 750m endurance, 500m whatever I can hold, 250m cool down. All is done front crawl. All is done without the aid of pool toys, just straight forward swimming, trying to hold form as best as I can.

So I have gone from maybe 1500m of swimming to 2250m. How has it been working for you, Ian? Well quite well I dare say. The first night was rough. I almost bailed out at the end of the second 500m set as my feet and legs cramped. But I pulled through with a total time of 54 minutes (with a 1-2 minute rest between sets not included). The next session I managed 51 minutes, probably due to fewer cramps. And last night I managed to get 50 minutes 20 seconds. Sure not nearly as big a jump, but wow. Almost 4 minutes off my time from 2 weeks ago. And truthfully my overall pace hasn't increased. I can just hold my pace for that much longer.

I will continue this workout until I plateau, at which time I will likely have attained the base I need to go back and  think about better form again.

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Ingonish Sprint Triathlon

First sprint race of the year for me. I didn't do the others that were offered as they conflicted with Duathlons and also were pool swims. I would rather not do pool swims.

So an open water swim in Ingonish. Last year I did this race and the water was a bit cold to get into and I really needed that warm up time offered. This year the water was really quite warm, so I used the warm up time simply to get a little more comfortable in the water in general.

I am not the greatest swimmer, or even a moderate swimmer. I am a weak swimmer, but you all know that. Still I managed to do this race in just shy of 15 minutes last year so I had hoped that I was slightly stronger than during that race and could pull off closer to 14 minutes.

So into the water we went. Last year I was caught up in swimmers that were slower than myself, so I thought I would wade out with the stronger swimmers then fall into my proper pace (that's me in the gold coloured cap).

Well the start of the swim went well. I was tucked behind another swimmer. I received a few bumps but nothing too hard or worrisome.

But as I rounded that first buoy I realized I had gone too fast. Well if this were the bike or run, letting up means relaxing a bit but this is hard for me to do in the water. I let up the pace a bit to rest and was promptly paced by a number of swimmers. Still, I just had to finish this thing to get to the bike. So off I went.

Just because you have a bad leg of a triathlon doesn't mean you give up for the rest. So I picked up the pace to finish the swim hard then tore out of the water and across the timing mat.  I was 42nd at this point out of 53 people with a swim time of 16:45. Ugh. Now I will say that this year the swim was a bit longer than last year, but I don't know if it was long or correct. Regardless it was the swim everyone else did. But man did it hurt.

So off to T1 I went. For Ingonish that means a 500 meter run on a gravel path. Many people stop and put on shoes before the run. I don't. That means I do get to pass a couple of people at this point. Then a quick change out of my wetsuit and into my cycling gear and off I went.

This is a great ride, rolling hills, 23 kms and this day, cool air. I had stuffed some arm warmers into my tri suit front in case it happened to be too cold on the ride, but never needed them.

I quickly tucked and took off. Here is where I make up most of the time I lost on the swim. I know that I can't make up the 6 minutes or more on the fastest swimmers who are probably darn fast cyclist as well. But I pushed anyway.

In the end I made up a few spots and posted the 8th fastest bike split of the day. This included the run from the water as well (T1). It took me 45:57 to cover the 23 kms of this hilly course. So my 30 km/hr average was good enough to pass 27 people. Phew.

I am now getting more comfortable with the flying dismount. though I will admit to having a close call getting my foot out of one of my shoes and almost took a spill. But I survived and dismounted. Soon I will be more comfortable getting up to the line before dismounting. Wow, from this picture it looks like I am 500 meters away. Oh well.

I zoomed into T2 and luckily only saw a handful of bikes. That made me happy.

A quick change into my shoes and I was off. This was my second race in the New Balance 890v2. But this was my first race in them sockless. I had socks in the TZ but opted to go without to save those few valuable seconds. It turned out to be fine as these shoes are very smooth inside.

I didn't even spare the seconds to don my Garmin 305, but I did take it with me (I had turned it on before the race started). I am sure I can run without it, as I did for years. But I wanted that extra little bit of hurry up from the numbers on the screen.

I quickly caught a runner in front of me. Then I caught a hill. Ouch. It wasn't a big hill, but still, it hurt. My speed dropped from 3:50 to 4:15. Not good. So I kicked it up a notch and took off again.

The run course is nice. A 5km loop, so no laps and it is uphill out and downhill back.

I soon saw another runner in the distance and fought hard to catch him. By the turn around I was there and past. At this point I saw no one else ahead of me but kept my pace as high as I dared to salvage a good time from this event.

But then with 1 km to go I found one more runner. He was doing well enough but I could see the gap closing. I didn't care about saving anything at this point, so I picked  up the pace and passed him at the corner with less than 500 meters to go. I pushed harder and when the finish line was in sight I pushed once again.
I crossed the line at a nice 2:37 km/min pace for a grand total run time of 19:52. A sub 20 min 5 km to end a sprint is rather nice. My official time includes T2 and is 20:33, which was the 5th fastest run of the day. And that makes me happy as I have more speed int he run and made a few bobbles in T2.

So it seems I need to work on that swim again. I see part of my mistake as deciding recently to work more on form rather than endurance. And I just don't have the base in me yet to ignore endurance. So to the pool and lake I go before my next event, which will likely be the Bridgetown Tri this August.

Oh and I beat the rain. Whew. For those in the Olympic Distance event I feel for you as the sky opened up.

And thanks to the Sportwheels gang for getting that new chain all nicely setup on my bike. I love Shimano chains for riding, but I hate installing those blasted things.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

2012 Greenwood Duathlon

Another week, another race. Being a duathlete around these parts tends to mean a whole bunch of early season races, then bag-o, nothing. Oh well, at least I can lay off the training a bit as every week is a recovery week, ha ha.

So off to Greenwood in the Valley this week. This meant getting up and leaving the house shortly after 6 am for a close to 2 hour drive. Ugh. I must like doing these things.

Anyway, I arrived on site, and saw the mad scrambling to get everything about the courses (there were different races happening) set up. This is an active military base, so it isn't like they can get things setup too early. Also the race director had to deal with a lack of one timing mat, which meant the duathletes would have to do some fancy footwork to get over to the swimmers mat for T1. Anyway, after a little delay it was all worked out and we got ready to go.

Sadly the distance to the race, the fact that a major Marathon (or marathalon - inside joke) and its supporting races was happening on the same day, and the fact that most people would rather get wet and not experience the pain of 2 all out sprint runs, meant that the numbers for the Duathlon were to be low. Only 8 people signed up and due to an injury only 7 people raced. Still I knew I had some tough competition and I had to fight to retain my spot as the top 30-39 year old at this race for the past 4 years. That would mean I would have to beat Ed Parker, who beat me at the first race in Shearwater a couple of weeks back. And this race course would be oh so similar.

So we lined up, the horn blew and we were off.

The first run was going to be 3 km. I lead for the first 2km of it before Alan Miner finally pulled slightly ahead of me. But I stuck with him close enough that we ended up with the same time going across the first timing mat. 10:49 for a pace of 3:37. That was fast for me and as I would later find out pushed Alan as well. This also gave me a 1 minute lead on Ed going into T1, a cushion that I knew I would need.

So into T1, and a quick change out of my shoes, and hat and into my helmet and bike shoes, then off I went. It was a quick and nice T1 which I was happy with. Luckily there were not a lot of people around to get in the way.
Then off to the bike course. This was pretty much the same as last years course, though with an altered finish, which I really liked more than previous years.

Alan was a bit ahead of me at this point, and while I had thought to take it easy for the first bit of the ride, I saw him fumble slightly with his pedals, so off I took. I caught him and passed him and like a great guy he obeys the rules dropped back and then built up the speed he needed to pass me. And according to Alan, my speed was just high enough that he had to push a ton to make that pass happen.

The ride was uneventful, I tucked in 10 meters behind Alan and stuck there right outside of the draft zone and pushed as fast as I could go. As this was a 3 lap course, I could also keep tabs on Ed, and I managed to keep the gap about the same for the entire ride.

It was only the last 0.5 km or so that Alan pulled away a little bit. I knew that I had pushed quite hard so I let  up a little at that point to give my legs a bit of a breather to help avoid cramping on the run.

It was also at this point that I decided to give the flying dismount another try. So I slipped out of my shoes right near the end, slowed enough and popped off the bike right before the dismount line. This time my shoes stayed on the bike, hooray, and I ran into T2 with Alan in sight. My final stats were a time of 42:22 for 20 for an average speed of 34.9 km/hr including transition time. Oh and a military cop later told me he had my top speed pegged at 55 km/hr. Nice for a flat course (there was a slight tail wind and a slight decline).

By now the heat of the day was kicking in. The bike ride hadn't been too tough as a bit of cloud had come through. I only had 5 km left to go, so it was time to suck it up.

I ran out of T2 and onto the run course and low and behold, Alan was just up ahead in the distance. Alan is generally a much faster runner than I am, though this season I have certainly made strides in my top speed over shorter distances.  Still I didn't need to kill myself now in an attempt to catch him, not with Ed right behind me.

So instead I paced off of Alan and my Garmin to keep things going. I dared not glance back for fear of pushing myself harder. And as it was 1 km into the run I started to get a wicked cramp in my diaphragm.

The 5 km course to finish was similar to the 3 km course to start but included ducking into some side streets to make up the distance. This made it hard to see anyone else. So I had no idea where Ed was in relation to me, until I was at about the 2.5 km mark and we ran by each other. I was maybe 05 km ahead of him at this point. Enough that I knew if I maintained my speed I would likely keep my spot, but not enough that if I gave into my cramp and had to walk a bit.

Alan was slowly getting a little further ahead of me up the road, and I knew that pipe dream was over. Still I gutted through it, wishing I had a little drink, and closed in on the finish line. At this point 2nd place was all but mine so I dared a glance at my overall time in this leg. I was maybe 0.5 km to the finish and oh so close to 20 minutes. So I pushed it. I really wanted to break a 20 minute second 5 km.

In the end I came in with a 20:33 on my Garmin and a 20:55 official time (including transition). I was happy with that for sure.

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My final time was 1:06:06, just a minute slower than Alan, and a minute faster than Ed. Alan was quite kind to congratulate me and let me know how much I had improved over the years. That was almost better than the finish frankly.

So this weekend is Ingonish and an actual Triathlon. Swimming should be fun this year and I am more ready than I was last year at this point. I have had a few open water swims, and even one with a group. I am still a slow inefficient swimmer, but I do look forward to it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Platelet Donation and the Athlete

The latest race report will have to wait for a few days (I am hoping to see some other photos), while I write up this little report.

Now this isn't all scientific, just one athlete's n=1 type deal when it comes to donating blood and race / training performance.

So last week I was called by Canada Blood Services. I am in their system as I have donated a few times in the past. Apparently they matched my platelets as a dead on match to a person in Newfoundland undergoing some sort of treatment. Now what this treatment exactly is I don't know. I guess it doesn't really matter one way or the other.

Now I will admit that I have been a little selfish with my blood lately. I used to donate a lot more a few years back. But with all of the training I do and with there always seeming to be a race popping up, and I just couldn't find the time to go. And truthfully I didn't want it to hurt my performance. I guess it is extra bad as with B+ blood, I am actually one of the rarer blood types and therefore in demand.

I suppose it was easy to justify also, as my last few donations didn't go as well as the ones before. I would get pale, require extra attention and not be able to leave the clinic for awhile afterwards. I am not entirely sure why all of a sudden I would get faint after many successful donations, but it surely did not inspire me to go back.

So here I was called the Monday before my next race and asked to come in ASAP. As I said, I couldn't really say no and luckily being in demand isn't a bad thing as they made room to fit my schedule. So I got in on the Wednesday that week, leaving myself a few days to "come back."

The last time I donated I was asked if platelets might be something I would be willing to donate in the future. I said sure. So I was tested and told, sorry you are too low to donate. Now, not dangerously low, just lower than they like (under 200,000 per μl of blood or not 200 as they tell us in the chair). But being an exact match, they lower the limitations as long as you are over 150,000, as I was.
A picture of platelets from Wikipedia
So with all of this weighing on my mind (low count, race coming up, probably going to get faint, sore arm, etc....) I headed into the clinic. I was weighed, measured, asked questions and then setup in a recliner. 

I felt a little silly as the nurses had to spend all sorts of extra time with me. My low count meant I would be sitting in the chair for a longer time (turns out 1.5 hours). Also my pressure being low meant I had to squeeze a little ball the whole time (again 1.5 hours) or the machine would start beeping. This also meant constantly adjusting my needle (fun). And of course I did feel faint. So I had a little juice box, a cold compress and the chair even more reclined than normal.  And to add insult to injury, the anti coagulant they pump into you to keep things flowing is chilled, so the longer you are int he chair the colder you get, and I got very cold, so I needed a warm blanket.

I finally got all the platelets I could out, then hung around for a bit to recover before heading home. I survived and as the life span of donated platelets is a mere 5 days I will be needed to come in every 2 weeks at this point, at least as long as the person in Newfoundland is undergoing the mystery treatment.

But all of this comes back to, "how did this affect your athletic performance, Ian?" Well I have to say, it didn't hurt it one bit.  Platelets are regenerated very quickly, and frankly should be back up to snuff in less than a day. By the next day I was doing an easy 6K run, the day after 1600m in Chocolate Lake (while at a slow pace for me it was still a workout), and then an easy 5K run Saturday. All this and I raced to second place on Sunday at the Duathlon in Greenwood. And I raced hard. One of the MPs on the base even clocked me going 55 km/hr on a very slight downhill section on my bike.

So to all of you thinking you might be able to help out, platelets and plasma are the way to go in season. A few hours of your time during the week and the worst side affect (and this seems to be the case from the many websites I have read)  is a bit of a sore arm for the day. Both allow you to recover the missing portions of your blood in less than a day and can be donated every 2 weeks.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cyclesmith Duathlon 2012

Okay, so another Sunday another race. This weekend we were out at Lawrencetown Beach for the 26th annual Cyclesmith Duathlon.

Now this is a beast as far as local duathlons go. By far the longest with a 5km run then 35km bike and finally a 6km run. The first run is hilly to start, the ride is full of quick but often steep little hills and the final run is dead flat.

I always want to do well at any race, but this one even more so. Usually some of the fastest racers around come out for this race, as there is no triathlon associated with it and it is so close to town. Therefore a good result means that much more. And this sort of course seems to suit me well, my prior results  not withstanding.

My previous best result was last year with a 20th place (though I also had a 20th place the year before with a slower overall time). So I was aiming for something better this year.
With the temperatures in the low teens, an overcast sky, and little wind, it was a perfect day for a race. As usual we lined up on the road, right behind a nice piece of tape and awaited our command to go.
And we were off. I had hoped to start off this race as I did the last Cyclesmith Duathlon, with a personal best 5K time. For some reason I can set a fast time here even with a big hill. But I also had to temper my run so as not to burn myself out (which I usually do). Thank you Garmin for the help here.

I quickly glanced down and slowed my pace a bit trying to start out with around a 4min/km pace. I figured if I held that over the hilly part I could pick things up a bit for the flat finish to this leg. Well I was slightly ahead of target but feeling good so I went with it. As I hit the timing mat to enter the transition zone I glanced down to hit my lap button on the Garmin and saw the number 19. Later on I would see that I had accomplished a 19:05 start to the race. Wow, I am closing in a sub 18 minute 5K. Something to look forward to later on in the summer.
I was in 6th place at this point and knew some fast cyclists were behind me. So I quickly changed shoes, donned my helmet and off I went.

I passed one cyclist fairly early on in the ride. I was then passed by a few myself. One was Kevin Besner. I had hoped to keep ahead of him but he is a faster cyclist than m and a 5K run just wasn't enough a of a lead this time around. Still I managed to keep him and another cyclist just in front of me for most of the second half of the ride.

Perhaps I would be slightly faster on a proper triathlon bike, but we all have sacrifices to make and buying a new bike just is't in the cards for me, and neither are fancy race wheels. And truthfully my little Devinci road bike is setup pretty well for short distance aero riding, so most of the blame lies squarely in my legs.

It is always nice to see only a few bikes in the transition zone when you come back. I didn't count them but I knew I must be around 10th place or so by this point. I had already let up a bit on the bike coming back, relaxing my legs over the last kilometer. A few more seconds on the bike could lead to a lot less seconds on the run, and I almost always cramp up to start this second run after all those little hills.

My time for the 35K on the bike (including my T1 time) was 1:02:01 or 32.9 km/hr. That is pretty close to previous years times, and I was feeling pretty good.

A quick change and I was off down the board walk and onto the flat trail bed path.

I could just see Kevin Besner in the distance so I knew I had to keep my pace moderately high. The guy in front of me was pulling away a little each minute and I didn't want to burn myself out going after him. But I could see myself inching closer to Kevin.

Being a 6K run and on tired legs I opted to try and maintain my half marathon pace of 4:20's per km, at least for the first 3K. But by the turn around I was right on Kevin's tail and surged forward and passed him. Now I just needed to hold on for 3 kms.

At this point I had to pick things up again and tried to keep an even 4 min/km pace. After a kilometer or so I must have fallen asleep a bit when I looked down at my pace and picked things up again, maintaining that 4 min pace  for most of the rest of the run until right before the end.

With 500 meters to go I dared a look behind and I was free and clear, so now it was all about getting the best time I could.
The closer I got to the finish line, the more excited I was to see the clock. With a little extra effort I was able to squeeze in under 1:49 with a finish time of 1:48:26 and a final run time for the 6K (including T2 time) of 27:21.  This was good enough for 10th place overall. And I was very happy.
While I did not win a coveted draw prize this year (or frankly any year, or frankly ever), I did take home a lovely gift card which will buy me some exiting bike tubes.

We also learned that Paul Shaw will be looking to pass along hosting duties of this race for next year. Hopefully someone steps in and picks this up as this is a great race. Thanks for all the hard work Paul.
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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quick Open Water Swim Update

With the up coming Ingonish Triathlon fast approaching, it is certainly time to get some open water swims in. I have previously gotten into the local lakes twice before yesterday, though to be realistic, it was more about surviving the cold temps and general open water anxiety than really getting in a solid work out.

Well yesterday was sunny, and warm out. So I headed to Chocolate Lake for a real open water session.

It was obviously not a great traditional beach/swimming day when I got there, as I was the only person willing to enter the water. I think the water temp was probably 14-15C or so. Chilly getting in, for sure, but doable. I also had a wetsuit (sleeveless) and neoprene swim cap, so that made all the difference.

I picked a course that was about 150 meters or so in one direction. My first swim across was really a warm up and attempt to get breathing and nerves under control. Accomplished. From that point on I could actually workout and did a total of 3 trips back and forth for 900 meters.

As I am working on sprint triathlons at the moment, 900 meters was enough of a hard set for me for the day. I also didn't want to tweak my shoulder again before this weekends duathlon (last week was a bit painful).

My pace was slow but pretty much where I assumed it would be based on my pool swims. I am a 2:00min per 100 meter swimmer at the moment, but hopefully with some more work I can get that speed up, without killing myself.

My other main goal with this workout was to get my sighting worked out. After a few misadventures I think I got it down. If I sight after every 4 breaths, I can keep a pretty tight line.

A few more open water sessions and I think I will be on track to beating last years time in the Ingonish swim.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

2012 Navy Duathlon - Let's Go

Okay so the start of the Duathlon season has now come and gone. Navy was this past weekend, and this is always a great race to start the season. For one, it is close to home (though I still need to get up at 5:30am, yuck) and two it a very straight forward course (well with laps, but you can always win).

 For this year things changed a little bit. The run course was (as usual) the same for both the first and second run. But this year it was extended to 5km each rather than the 3.5km or 3 of the past events. I liked this as my run has definitely become much stronger over the years. Also the run was a single out and back and not laps (that is nice as counting hard), along a flat crusher dust trail.

 The bike course was slightly altered, but only in the approach to the runway portion (the bulk) of the course. I think it was better and lacked the extra bumps of last year. 

The start was slightly delayed, but that happens. Anyway, by 7:30 we were lined up and ready to go.
And we were off. Now this year I had pre-planned my run. I was going to use the power of my buddy Garmin to hold a steady pace. Being 5K I knew that I would have the tenancy to start off a bit fast and then run out of steam near the end. So instead I held back, knowing that 20 minute 5K would be about right for me.

Well at the halfway point I was in a solid 3rd position and quite happy with it. I know that Alan and Shawn are faster than me so no need to blow up now. I was holding a 4 minute per km average pace and right on target.  By the time I hit T1 my Garmin said 20:18 for 5.08 kms. So yeah.

Transition went well, and I crossed the mount line to begin the hill climb to the runway, where 3 laps of wind awaited.

The hill to start is always a fun thing after your legs are all rubbery from the run
I held 3rd place until just reaching the runway at which point I was passed into the headwind. And what a headwind. Nice and strong. But that also meant a great tailwind. I held my effort fairly steady and was eventually passed by 2 others, but I held them just in my sight and relaxed. I figured at this point if I gave it my all I would just end up with a bad second run.

The start of the downhill to the run. Yippee! 
So it was the start of the big downhill that ended at the dismount line where I decided to actually go forward with my plan for a flying dismount. Now nothing too crazy, just a rolling step off was the plan. And why not go for it at this point I thought. So I slipped my feet out of my shoes and began to pedal hard (that sounds weird doesn`t it). As I approached the line I stepped onto one pedal, slowed slightly and stepped off. And low and behold it worked. I ran past the dismount line and didn`t fall on my butt.

Alas, my shoe did become unclipped from my pedal and and I ended up having to go back for it. So time saved was nil. Oh well, it was fun anyway.

I got to my racking spot in T2 to get my running shoes on and ditch the bike but someone had decided to put all their stuff there. So I quickly crammed my bike in as well as I could, dug around for my running shoes, and finally managed to get off for the second run with a slow T2 time. This probably also affected my overall second run time as it would include this fumbling around. Anyway, I manged to bike the course in 40 minutes according to my leg chip at an average speed of 30 km/h or 31 km/h according to my Garmin. With the top speed of the day being 33.8 in the duathlon, you can guess that the wind played a role here as the the 180 degree turns twice a lap.

After the debacle of the second transition, I was off. Ed Parker had been hanging around me for most of the race so far. I had nipped him on the first run, and he finally passed me on the bike on the final lap. He was a bit up the trail from me, so I decided to pick up my pace and attempt to bridge the gap.

In doing so I passed another duathlete (and a few triathletes as well, but they were in another race of course). I finally caught and passed Ed by the 1.5 km mark and kept running. I managed to hold a fairly steady pace and was hoping to hang in for another 20 minute 5K. usually for me the second run is a few minutes slower.

By the turn around I was still in 4th place overall, but with 1 km to go or so Ed picked up his pace a bit more and surged past me. I seriously contemplated seeing if I had anything left, but my legs were not willing to answer that call. I picked it up a bit hoping that maybe Ed would falter, but alas it was not to be and I crossed the line in 5th place overall, 3rd in my age group and with a time of 1:21:54. So more endurance training is in my future to get that second run even stronger I see.

My official second run time includes my second transition, and is listed as 21:34 for the 3rd fastest (again!). My Garmin has me running 5.06km this time in a time of 20:56 for  an average pace of 4:09 km/min. Not a sub 20 minute 5K but a time I am happy with.

Now on to Cyclesmith and the hardest Du we do. Hopefully my legs still work.

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