Monday, May 21, 2012

Bluenose Half Marathon Complete - 2012

Well it has come and gone. My first "A" race of the year. As I mentioned in my previous post about training for this race, my training plans had changed a bit until I settled on 3 times per week with very specific runs and no "junk miles."

After last season I knew that I had a faster half marathon in my from my previous 1:41. I wanted to get to 1:35 this year and do so standing up.To achieve that I need to average a 4:30 min/km pace and my 3 runs a week were based on just that pace.

So how did things end up working for me? Well, wonderfully. Not only did my pace turn out just fine, but my racing strategy also worked out. That is starting off slightly slower and building up to my race pace. This is something I have never been able to do very well as I head off all crazy with the sound of the gun, then wear myself out too soon and struggle to make it home. But thanks to my Garmin I was able to pull this off.

So the race started and off I went. A few hundred meters in and I glanced down at my watch to see a 3:40 pace. Yikes, time to slow down. So I did and people passed me. Normally this is a non no for me, but I allowed it as this was going to be a long race.

Eventually within a few kilometers I started to pass back many of those speedy starters. Sometimes I had to give a little blast of speed to complete a pass and put a little distance on myself and a fellow runner, but I checked that Garmin frequently to make sure I was hanging in at what I hoped would be a 4:30 pace. Sometimes it was faster and sometimes a little slower. It was also around this time that I was passed by Paul Shaw who was looking strong and happy

By 6 kilometers or so I realized that a pace in the 4:20's wasn't too hard for me so I decided it was okay to allow myself a little extra speed at this time, but I still wanted to have a negative split (faster second half than first half of the race). So I made sure this increased speed wasn't too great.

I was taking in calories at each aid stop which was about every 3.5-4 kms. I quickly realized after the first stop that the sequence was water first then Gatorade  int he line of cups. Now when I mix Gatorade at home (my preferred drink) I like it on the weaker side so it doesn't taste like syrup on a hot day. My first cup of this day was like syrup. Ugh. So from the first stop on I grabbed the first cup offered and the last cup in line. Blam, weak Gatorade was created by taking a chug from each cup. Perfect.

It was started to heat up a bit by this time, though nothing too crazy. still large areas of shade were welcomed to prevent any over heating. And the park offered loads of shade buy the time I reached it.

Now the park had too issues for me. First it was well into the second half of the half marathon which meant the hills were just a little more tiring, and second the gels were offered after I drank the offered water and it was an espresso gel which I hate. Still I had planned for this gel so I took it, consumed it and had the worst taste in my mouth for the next 4 kms.

By kilometer 16 I caught and repassed Paul Shaw. This was his premonition when he passed me earlier in the race. I was really starting to pick up the pace by this time.

The day was now noticeably warmer, the water stops were all but done (thankfully there was one at kilometer 18 to rinse my mouth), but the race was close to over. Looking down at my Garmin, I saw that I had really been doing well, my legs felt fine, my heart rate was hanging out in the mid 160's, and with so little race left I wanted to push it to see what I had left. So I upped my pace to around 4:15 and held it (sort of of) for the rest of the race. That is until Cogswell.

This year we finished running down Cogswell Street then a sharp turn onto Brunswick. It was here where I came up a huge group of 10k runners, a giant sea of purple loomed, ha ha. Much avoiding, and zipping through crowds later, I was close enough to the finish line to hit the gas one more time. Balm, I crossed the finish line at 1:32:34, 2 and a 1/2 minutes faster than I had hoped and at a top speed of 20.6 km/hr. Dang that hurt but was well worth it.

So I am extremely happy for my time and I think with some dedicated training this summer a sub 1:30 half is in my near future. And it may be done on minimal shoes, but we will chat more about that later.

And now back to Triathlon / Duathlon training.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Here Comes the Bluenose 2012

Okay so the Bluenose Marathon weekend is very quickly approaching. I have taken part in this event for three years now and this will be my fourth.

Now I have never done the full marathon but I have twice done the 10K run and last year went for the half marathon. This year I am opting once again for the half marathon. There are two reason I want to compete at this distance again. First, I do not have the time to appropriately train for the full marathon and do it and myself justice. Second,  I have unfinished business.

Last year I had really hoped to run the half in under 1 hour 40 minutes. That is until I recalculated my needed pace and found I had done some very poor math and also I ended up having a few pains and aches that were hampering my training in the final month. Still I followed the 1:45 pace bunny for much the race and still managed a respectable 1:41, for which I was really happy. This year I will beat that time and if all goes well get in under 1:36.

How will I achieve this feat? Well starting back in the Autumn of last year I new that this half marathon was going to happen. So I started to formulate plans to help me get my speed and endurance up. Sure there are many plans floating around the internet and many people willing to help on online forums. But each time I have tried this method I have gotten less than satisfactory results. I knew that most of all I had to be fluid and ready to adapt to a new plan if need be.

In an ideal world I would have given up cycling and swimming and concentrated on running. That would be the easiest way to get fitter as a runner. But that wasn't going to happen, as my main goals this year are still multisport events. Still I decided to really go for running and last November I embarked on an ambitious plan to run everyday.

I saw plans on how to do this and sort of followed them. I began by running each day and only a short distance, except for 2 days a week were I would be adding some distance. But my how those kilometers add up. I went from a standard week of about 25 km (off season levels) to immediately 40+ km a week. Oops. After 2 weeks my shins were killing me and I took a few days off.

Then I decided to cut that back and focus on refining my gait. This meant a huge decrease in mileage but ultimately it has been a great helper in keeping my injuries down, as well as keeping my shoes from wearing out so quickly.

Then came my trip to South Africa in the middle of training season. This kind of meant, no training plan, but at least I did run frequently while there.

Finally come April I was ready to begin again with a new plan. I needed the distance under me as it had been awhile since I ran more than 10K, but I also needed speed. And I needed to keep biking and swimming and have recovery time.

So I came up with this plan, and have been sticking to it ever since. Three runs a week.One long run, 2 shorter runs at race pace. That's it. I already have a decent base so that wasn't an issue. So Saturdays I have been running long and slow and Mondays and Wednesdays I have been running fast. So far no injuries and plenty of time to rest up between runs.

I just finished my 21 km run this past weekend and what I considered a slow pace and did it in the same time I ran last years half. So that bodes well.I even did a race pace tempo bit from kilometer 15 to 18 and had no issues.

So will this plan work? Will I be able to accomplish my goal? Well so far I am feeling good about my pace and feeling good about the distance and I have no serious injuries. So I guess we will find out!