Sunday, December 15, 2013

And Thus Begins Our Training Season for 2014

Okay so I have my running plan that leads me to the Bluenose Half Marathon 2014. It is a 24 week plan broken into 4 6 week blocks. And we have just finished week 2.

The first 6 week block for me will be a solid amount of base mileage. And I mean base. This is all slow easy paced running, building my endurance and foundation before the harder work kicks in. Sure I wish I could have started this nice base work during the Fall or some other cool nice weather time, but this is Nova Scotia, this is winter and we just have to deal with it.

Luckily for me I just switched into a new pair of running shoes. Luke at Aerobics First put me into some New Balance 1010v2T. These are a low drop shoe from New Balance's Minimus line. Technically they are a trail shoe with a 4mm drop, but they are also a great winter shoe, just enough grip in the bad stuff but not too much to drag me down. It was also a great time to try a new shoe as my first bit if running is all about frequency and shorter runs. That is a nice way to break in a new shoe.

So how have the first 2 weeks been? I have dealt with snow, rain, wind, ice, and freezing temperatures, but have still manged a great start. The goal has been frequency and I have manged 6 runs in each of these two weeks, for a total of 89.5 km. That was all based on runs of 30-35 minutes max. As I said, frequency and ease was the goal of the first 2 weeks.

So if you read my previous blog posts you will know about heart rate training and zones. I had such great success with that style of training thanks to Jeff Zahavich and Kinesic Sport Lab, that I will continue it this season. So when I say easy running, I don't aim for pace, I am for time versus heart rate. And so far the bulk of my mileage has been in Zone 2, the fat burning zone. Running here will help me build up to a high mileage per week with little risk of injury.

I have also been making sure to include some strength and flexibility training at this point as well. Much of this is based on my work with my physio therapist Anita Connors this past summer.

So do we have goals? Sure, get faster, but do so without injury. Sure, but what about the Bluenose? Well last season I managed a 1:26 at the Half and all I can say is that I want to better that. And I know I can. In an ideal world I would love to break 1:20. Can I do it? Well based on the first 2 weeks of training I would say, I have no clue. But as we start to work on speed, especially in the 3 and 4th block of training this Spring, well I hope I have a good handle on what sort of pace I can race at this Spring.

I will try and keep you all up to date as the program shifts into new types of training, the first of which will happen in 2 weeks with the introduction of the long run! Oh what fun! Honk if you drive by while I run the Bay Road.

Oh and a shout out to the new running group in Timberlea, the Timberlea Tundra Pounders. Hopefully I can join in the reindeer games with you guys soon.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Movember Run, 2013

So last year my friend Mike Milloy and I put on a charity run to raise funds for the Movember Charity and did very well. This year we couldn't pass up the opportunity to do it all over again. This also lets me help the running community by taking my turn behind the mantel of Race Director and do all the organization type stuff, rather than just show up and run.

A race can be as complicated as you want and we want this one to be really uncomplicated. We choose a well known running route in our local park that is about 6K in length, we keep the cost as low as possible for the runners (while still raising a good amount for charity), and we aim to let everyone have a good time. And as Movember has a fitness theme to it this season, we aim to be as inclusive as possible because we want people getting out and moving.

For the second year in a row we had an outpouring of support from the local business community in the form of food, beverages, prizes, and the ever important tent! We also had a local radio station show up to send the runners off in style, thanks Live 105.

  Thanks to Luke MacDonald and Aerobics First for great prizes and the use of this very nice tent!

The set up and race start got going quickly, and the weather cooperated (yeah it was chilly but it wasn't raining). Mike gave the obligatory speech, the volunteers were in place around the course, the timing device was set, and the runners were sent off.

The race goes through the outer perimeter of the park, up a few steep hilly and turns around at a water table, then back along the same path. Last year we had the fastest runner finish in about 22 minutes, so we assumed it would be a similar time this year. And about 21:30ish or so later we had a winner.

  Then a couple of minutes later our female winner.

We also had some great costumed runners.

A huge mention to our great father daughter team, returning for another year and an even faster run and second place overall.

I must say all the runners, 77 in all (and 86 registered) did a great job and as was the case last year we got it all done in under an hour. Then it was on to the treats with coffee donated by Java Blend, yum, and a great sheet cake from Superstore that was as good to look at as eat.

And a race goes as well as the volunteers that help out. this year we had more than last and that certainly  makes the job easier for the director. Thanks so much guys and gals.

Overall what a great time. So many prizes, some personal best run times, and we raised $2050 for Movember. That is up from last years $1800, so way to go!

A shout out to our sponsors, Sportwheels, Aerobics First, Muphy's The Cable Wharf, Saint Lou's Barbershop, Kinesic Sports Lab, Massage Experts, Kartbahn, Run Nova Scotia, Active Approach Health and Wellness Centre,  Moksha Yoga, Java Blend Coffee Roasters, and Movember Canada.

Awesome stuff Mike.

Friday, November 15, 2013

So Quiet Ian, What's Up?

Hey there. Yes, I have been quite since my last race. I have been taking a much needed rest from training and racing for the month of November. Does that mean I have been sitting on the sofa and doing nothing else? Well no, though I do enjoy sitting on my sofa sometimes.

For the past few weeks and as the rest of November stumbles along, I have been in rehab mode Am I injured? Nope. But during the season I found a few weaknesses that I was only able to partially address. This is predominantly in my hip/glute area on my left side. So what better time to address it than now.

After some intense racing in June, I was attempting to also add in long runs for an upcoming marathon. This didn't work well. I managed to finish June out moderately well, but in the process my hip went wonky. I was unable to get any decent long runs in without some pain, so I opted for a few trips to the my Physio Anita Connors and my Chiro Dr Jason Gray. Both helped immensely and got me back into shape to at least tackle a half marathon. I continued doing my rehab exercises, but time was precious in September, so I didn't get as much in as I liked and still did a few races. I would guess I was at maybe 85-90% for those events, and while I did well, I certainly was not on the same form as I had been earlier in the season.

Now back to November. I have no races that I am dying to do, the weather is cooler and often rainy, and my dogs need some quality play time. So what better time for me to take a step back and reassess. Again though this doesn't mean I do nothing. I still ride my bike to and from work about 36 kms a day. And after 2 weeks off, I have been adding a few short 5km runs every 3 days. But the bulk of my work has been in another area.

Using the information I received from my medical help (see above) and from the great knowledge I have received from Jeff Zahavich at Kinesic Sport Lab, I have been following a very good rehab strength and flexibility program.

Initially I was doing a 20-30 minute daily regime. The main focus is on adding strength to my hips and glutes, but I haven't neglected my upper body and core as well. A series of squates, lunges, planks, push ups and a variety of yoga postures have all been helping me along. This regime has now been moving to every other day and eventually I will ween it down to twice a week as my running and cycling ramp back up.

I also plan on getting reassessed by Anita after November to see if I have been on the right track or if something else is starting to show up. This is where building a relationship of trust with your health care providers is essential.

Anyway, I have also been working a little bit on my race as a race director, the Halfax Movember 6K Trail Run.    As it is in its second year, the work load has not been nearly as great, but still there is lots to do. This race is used to raise money for the Movember Canada movement, and is a big reason I have a moustache as we speak. I hope to post a nice write up of the race in the coming weeks. But if you will be in Halifax on the 23rd of November and want to join us for a mere $25, we would love to have you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One Last time for the Season - Shubie Half Marathon 2013

Originally I had planned on the Riverport Duathlon being my last race for the year. It was later in the season and I was tired. But an MEC race at the end of October couldn't be missed. The price was right, the course was local and I had done well in the other MEC races this year (I missed one this summer when I was not running).

The options were 5K, 10K or Half Marathon this year. Shubie is really hilly so I decided against my normal 5K, and I had no where near trained for a 10K, so I opted for the half. I decided to enter at the last minute as I wanted to try a few long runs before committing. They seemed to go okay so I signed up.

The day called for rain. Loads of rain. The kind of rain that makes you normally crawl under a blanket indoor rain. So a good day for a Fall run I guess!

Luckily the temperature was going to be warm, and also luckily the rain was not supposed to start until part way through the race. It is rather nice to start dry. It was also good catching up with Ron and Mark before the start (they also ran the half).

Things were running on time and we were beckoned to the start.

The Half Marathoners were to start with the rest of the runners but quickly make a left hand turn, where we would run a 5K loop to start. We were kept off to one side to start but I saw that there might be a bit of a bottle neck 100m in at the turn so I made sure  to get up front. Then bam, we were off.

I knew that my training had fallen away from the summer. From August through September I did a lot of travelling, and I had also spent some of the summer in rehab (injury not alcohol related). I had been getting back into good solid Zone based training in October, but hadn't gotten back to my previous level. Also Shubie is really just constant hills. So my goal was straight forward. Start fast then find a comfortable pace and see what I could do with the hope of a top 3 finish.

I quickly took the lead through the twisty hilly course and felt pretty good. I looked at my pace though and it was sub 4 min/km. That wasn't going to be good, so I backed it down a bit and carried on.

By now the rain was starting, but it was a light drizzle. Still the path was damp and covered in a lot of leaves, so you had to be careful how you took corners and down hills. Also Shubie's paths are quite bumpy and a lot of hazards were hidden.

I kept the lead through the first 5K loop where it was nice to see Luke as I ran by. We then started onto the 11K portion of the run, which followed the 10K route, plus a bit.

By this time we were starting to meet the faster 5K runners on their way back to the start. That was really fun. The rain was also picking up by this point. Now this section of the run has the bigger ups and downs and I was starting to feel that. Still by the time I passed the 5K turn around sign I was still leading. But alas not for long.

At 8Kish I was passed by the lead male and female runners. They had a good pace going and I realized that I had drifted off my own pace quite a bit. So I tried to pick it up and hold onto their heels. Alas, they slowly pulled away and I didn't feel like I could waste anymore energy this early. I was, after all, still in third overall and 2nd place in the men's category.

It seems quite cruel when you reach the 10k turn around point, but have to run passed it. I ran through and grabbed a sport gel, which as always for me is chocolate (the one flavour I hate while running). I knew this section would be just over 1 km in length, so I wanted to get that gel down and grab a water from the table on the way back. I nibbled on that gel the whole way to the turn around and back, grabbed a water and kept going, with the third place male not too far behind.

By now the rain was in full force, just pouring down. I frequently was hitting deep puddles and wondering if it might be better to run in the canal or lakes by the trail. The edges of the trail were mud and thick leaves, so it was no place to run either.

I managed to work my way back to the finish line, which for the half marathoners meant 1 final 5K loop to go, still hanging onto 3rd place overall with what I hoped was enough of a lead.

 This section was nice to see as I had been here before and knew it well enough. The corner workers/ volunteers were still smiling despite the weather. I was still feeling strong enough to hold my pace in the low 4 min /km world and though the path was quite twisty I was not seeing the guy behind me. It wasn't until the long straight section half way through the final loop where I could really gauge my lead, and by this point it did not look huge. I felt willing to continue my risky running and plow through the twisty soaking leaf filled section right after the straight away, praying that my feet would hold me steady. And they did.

Finally the trees parted and the finish line was in sight, just 4 or 5 more turn to go in the last few hundred meters. I didn't bother to glance back as I knew I was well free and just happy to see thee end of this race. As I hit the final straight to the finish I saw the big clock read 1:29:xx, so I pushed it to keep my sub 1:30 streak alive. And tada! I did. 1:29:36 for a 4:16 min/km pace average. Second place male. Not too bad for the conditions and course. Great to see that my legs still had some oomph. And my average heart rate was right in Zone 4 where I like to run my half marathons. I did hit the Zone 5 world a bit more than I would like, but with these hills it is hard not to.

This was a really well attended and put on event and I am glad the rain didn't dampen everyone's spirit. 75 people ran this late season half marathon on a crazy hard course, which considering how many Full and Half Marathons there were leading up to this, is amazing.

So I finish the MEC local running series with A 2nd, 1st, 2nd and 2nd place medal. That feels really good. And thanks to the early season work I did with Jeff Z and the Kinesic Sports Lab, I was primed for all sorts of goodness.

So number 3 under my belt for the year and all three under 1:30. Now I take a break from the world of training until December when my next training season begins. Some light running and cycling will fill my days, plus some good strength and rehab training over the next month. And of course my Movember Fun Run will be held on the 23rd of Nov in Point Peasant Park. Looking for a 6K good time run? Sign on up.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Riverport Duathlon 2013 Report

Well last weekend was the final multisport event of the 2013 season. And it has been quite the season indeed, starting way back with Tri the Oval on February 17th.

Anyway, for once the weather at this race wasn't crazy wet and windy. In fact the wind was a dull breeze, the sun was shining and all was good. Sure it was a bit chilly at 4C for race start, but it was so nice to see the sun.

After signing in, chatting a bit, and having our pre race meeting, we lined up and were off!

I knew that with the competition around me I would have to give the first 4 km run of this duathlon all I had. So I did not hold back at all. I felt good at the 2 km turn around and realized I had built a tiny gap and was running in third place. Sadly, the gap in front of me was already large and I was not catching those guys. But I pushed pushed pushed to maintain my slight lead and not let my pace drift off. I came into T1 still in third and with a 11 seconds of lead. My total time was 14:27 for a 3:37 min/km pace.

It is always nice to enter the transition zone early and see all the bikes still there. And this year I had a new bike to run and grab. Alan Miner had lent me his proper triathlon time trial bike to see how I would fare. Though I hadn't had much time to practice with it, I was looking forward to that challenge.

I was about 4 kms in by the time I got passed by a few guys who were all quite tight together, though at least at this point it wasn't in a drafting kind of way. Still I was able to maintain my pace on the bike and not kill my legs. Sadly, though, even as I was able to keep up with the 2 guys in front, they were drafting quite badly and managed to pull away a bit more than I would have liked. And it was frustrating to watch as one of the guys even used illegal tactics to gain an advantage going around corners (sweeping over the yellow line). Still, all you can do is race as clean as possible. 

Coming into T2 I let up a little and shook out the legs. Then I slipped out of my bike shoes and jumped off the bike right before the dismount line. All very clean and good and I was into the TZ mounting my bike on the rack. Sadly I also clipped my left running shoe and then had to chase after it, losing maybe 3-4 seconds. Not a big deal, but still, a little annoying. My total time, including T1 was 49:20 for the 28 km ride for an average speed of 34.1 km/hr. 

At this point my Garmin watch had stopped working. I knew that the battery in it was near the end of life, but I had hoped to get one more race out of it. Sadly this was not to be. So off I ran for the second 4 km run and had to go by feel. I needed to make up some time and pull myself out of the 8th place spot I was currently in. So I pushed the pace early on. Eventually I passed 2 people and pulled out a sizable lead on them. Still having no idea of my actual pace I tried to pull up on the 2 runners in front of me, but things were starting to hurt just a little too much. I did manage to pull back a lot of time on those guys, but sadly didn't have enough to catch them by the end of such a short hard run.

I was very happy to see that I managed the thirds fastest time again for this run, and also kept my average pace low with a time of 15:44 and a pace of 3:56. I also see that amount the top runners I was second best at maintaining my pace with only a slight drop in average speed. That bodes well for the future.

In all I managed to complete the duathlon in 1:19:30, some 2 minutes faster than last year and in 6th place overall. Huzzah!

So, no more multisport for the season and likely only one more running race of note. My big plans now are putting on my 6K Movember run fundraiser on the 23rd of November. It was a great event last season, and we are hoping for just as much fun this time around!  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

MEC Musquodoboit Trail 5km Run Race Report - 2013

So I have had a crazy month. Back from Iceland at the beginning, and right back at the rehab for my hip. Then I had company for over a week, so limited training (but loads of fun) then off to the West Coast for work, where there was actually no place to run. I managed one little 6 km trail run for fun, but spent most of my time on islands with a beach that was no more than 500 meters long and covered in wet thick round stones.

Anyway, I had hoped this year to be doing the usual Rum Runner Relay thing, but I wasn't going to be home in time, so I had to give up my spot of the team. As I hadn't planned on being home until super early Sunday morning, I had also assumed that my whole weekend would be shot anyway. But I did end up coming home super early Saturday instead, giving me a recovery day and a chance to do something on Sunday.

Well a quick check online showed me that MEC had a trail run planned that day. And at $15, well how could I pass that up. With the Riverport Duathlon coming up this weekend, I opted to run the 5 km event. This was a two fold reason, 1. I hadn't been training much for distance so a 15 km run would be hard and a 10 km run would be far too slow for my liking and 2. I wanted to see what sort of speed I had left after a summer without much training.

I lined up at the start line and looked around. I knew no one and had no clue what sort of pace anyone else would be running. So it was down to just doing my best and seeing what sort of gas was in the tank.

From the start I surged ahead, hitting a comfortably hard pace. I checked the Garmin and it said 3:08 min/km. Hmmm, I thought, that might be a bit ambitious. Still I figured I would hold that for the first half a kilometer then drop into my usual 5 km pace.  Either someone would have to surge up and catch me or else I would be able to keep the lead I had built.

Well I kept it for the first half of the race anyway, falling into a  3:45 min/km pace. My heart rate was way high though, top of  Zone 4 and dipping into Zone 5. Could I hold this for long? Well I kept going with it because I had no option at this point.

By 3 kilometers into the race I was caught by one guy. He pulled up and asked how fast we did the first 2.5 kms. I hadn't really checked and had no clue, but it was pretty fast. At this point he was close to my speed, but he certainly wasn't breathing as hard as I was. I knew that if he pulled away I was doomed. I stayed on his heels for the next kilometer, but with 1 to go, he kept his speed up and I had a few dips, dropping to above 4 min/km for a few times. As I fell off his feet I had no chance to surge back up and decided to do my best to maintain as best as I could.

My heart was still blasting through my chest and my breathing was really hard, but my legs (and most importantly hip) felt great. I saw the finish line clock and tried to pull off a bit of a sprint at the end but just couldn't beat the 18:40 mark and settled for 18:41 at the line. Good enough for second overall and while not my best 5 km run, at least it was still good and fast and nice to see that my speed wasn't completely gone.

Congrats to the winner, who himself had been coming back from injury. And third was not too far behind, though couldn't quite dip below 19 min.

Next up the Duathlon final for the year. Can't wait.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ian's Return to Running and the Iceland Half Marathon 2013

So it happened. I was able to pull something good running wise out of the summer. My hip finally on the mend, and I was off to Iceland, first to run the Half Marathon and second to explore and enjoy a new to me country.

Of course my plan had been to run the full marathon, but my previously discussed  hip injury made that plan fall away. So my options for Iceland (which was an already booked trip) were to run nothing, run the 10K or run the half marathon. I opted (due to a few easy paced training runs in the weeks before my trip) for the half. I was actually more concerned with trying to run the 10K as I felt that with a shorter distance I might forget the fact that I hadn't done any fast speed work and attempt to kill myself. A half would require a little bit of holding back and that seemed to fit the bill a little more.

We arrived in Reykjavik the day before the race, and after a little bit of walking around and resting up attended the expo.

I never did find out this guy's name, but he was the official marathon "spokesman." This expo was small, similar in size to the Bluenose Marathon. There were some companies with supplements, some free samples of dairy products and mostly booths of sportswear. Iceland is very expensive. Sneakers seemed to run around $300 or so, sales on clothing still didn't come down to regular retail in Canada. So if you plan on running this race in the future, bring everything you need.

Then onto the registration room for packet pickup.  

A very simple process. I never saw a line up, maybe because we went at the right time, or maybe because the process took 5 minutes total. Pickup bag with bib and magazine of information, and chip and then head over to the chip table to activate. They use the championship chips, but make them tie them to your shoes. This means unlacing things and I didn't really like that as I use speed laces. Luckily you can ask for some small zip ties and that worked much better.

Pace bunnies are available for the half and full, but rather than give specific finishing times, they give pace ranges. They also run with balloons tied to themselves so they are easy to spot. And as the marathon and half runners all start together and run with each other until the 18 km mark, it means you only need one set of pace bunnies. They also use these colours to designate where you should line up for the start.

You finish up the expo with a pasta dinner, included in the registration price. This is really nice for people travelling in from away as it means you get that one good meal in before you need to crash from travelling.

Then it was back to the apartment for the evening.

Race day arrived and sadly it was cold and wet. And I mean pretty darn cold for an August race at 8C. We headed to the start line early as it was 30 minute walk from our apartment. Luckily they have a bag drop at this race, though for a race with 10,000 plus entrants, it is rather a lot to be showing up into the tiny race day building they use. Again, though, things are done fairly well. The half marathon and full start together and the 10K (by far the most popular race) doesn't start until 1 hour after and the 3K family fun run starts 1 hour after that. this really keeps things manageable. And with the million or so portable toilets, there are no lines. Perfect for when it is raining on you. By the way bag drop is really just the people giving you a plastic bag with your number on it and you leave it in an open room and hope. Though there seemed to be exactly no problems.

The loud speaker start to announce things. I had no idea what the heck was being said, but the crowd moved to the start line. I had no real plan for this race, but hoped I had enough oomph in me to run under 1:40 and secretly I wondered if my pre season training was still kicking around inside me somewhere. But if my hip started to hurt I knew I would have to pull up and walk the rest of the race and I was okay with that.

I aimed for the 4:11 - 5:00 minute/km pace bunny. I figured I should fit in there somewhere. I was very cold at this point having shed all but my race attire and realizing that after I started to run, too many clothes would be a detriment. Luckily, we heard a few announcements and we were off quickly.

I found what i thought was a good feeling pace, but decided to check my Garmin anyway and yes, far too fast. After I got around a few more runners and found a clear patch to run in I gradually started to ease back to a more suitable pace. Still this left me quite near the front of the race and that felt very nice.

After a few kilometers, all the "hills" fell away and we were left with a flat race and I had found my groove. All my various parts felt fine and my pace was a nice 4:09 average or so. My plan was to rely on race course nutrition other than bringing one gel with me, more for the caffeine than the sugar. Still good to have just in case. I figured I would eat it around 9km in, just before the second water stop.

The Iceland marathon offers water and Poweraid at most stops. The stops are every 5km (ish) and are huge, so you get plenty of opportunity to drink, though beware, the cups are full!

My nutrition went well with a few gulps of Poweraid and water at each stop, my gel at 9km in. My heart rate was initially in the high Z3, but crept easily into Z4. I knew I could hold that for awhile, but hadn't really tested out just how long due to my summer of rehab. But my breathing was under control, I felt calm and had no pains.

We wound our way through Reykjavik and it was a pleasure to take in the sights, even with the drizzle and cold temps. I definitely saw a few sights I needed to go check out later on. A few times we left the road and took to the multiuse paths. Also you have to be aware of the speed bumps. But ultimately the course is an extremely easy running surface.

I had fun pacing off a few others and toying with a few other runners. It was important to glance on down at people's bibs as their colour would tell you which race they were in. No use competing with a full marathoner at this point.

I crossed the 10K mark at 41:39. This pleased me to no doubt as I still felt good and strong and that was fairly close to my Bluenose Half time. It also turns out to be the second fastest 10K of the day for a Canadian, the other coming from someone running the 10K race. That felt nice as well.

The next food stop was at the 16km mark. First a drink of Poweraid  followed by water and then low and behold an offering food. Bananas bits or small, well I had no idea. I wasn't feeling the banana so I grabbed the brown lump and found out it was a Mars Bar. A very cold and hard to eat Mars Bar that got stuck in my teeth for the next 3 kilometers. Oh well.

I found the banana thing funny as the ground was littered with banana peels after the food stop. Seriously, banana peels and runners.

But 16 km in was also a small switch back hill which marked the end of my oomph. Yup, the legs felt okay, but the fitness and cardio decided to give up. I can see it in my heart rate chart which I looked out after the race. the next 2 kilometers were relatively draggy at a 4:17 avg pace (I once looked down and saw 4:23). The group I was running with started to pull away and I mentally faded as well and dropped off. My muscles began to ache, which I didn't know if was really ache or just my mind playing tricks on me.

The problem here was that i knew if I slowed down, I would not be able to speed back up. I was going to have to finish this thing out on momentum. Then a song came on my MP3 player, Sun King by The Cult. It had just enough pep and I dragged myself out of my mental funk. We also start to run by the slower runners at this point as well. Many were only 10km into the race and smiling, or stopping to take pictures. They seemed to be having fun. That was nice to see.

I found a little more speed, though I was passed by another runner at the 19 km mark. I managed to hang with him as we went through the final round about (there are loads of those) and entered the finish line shoot. I was so happy to have pulled through and was running side by side with my new friend. I didn't think I had anything left and didn't really care if he surged ahead at this point. I was high fiving little kids all down the finish line straight and then saw the finish line clock. It was slowly ticking towards 1:28 and I surged. I pushed through by Viktor Jens Vigfússon (I looked that up in the results) and managed a gun time of 1:28:04 and a chip time of 1:27:56. Not a PB, but a personal best recovery I think and a mental win as well. It turned out to be good enough for 44th overall, 35th man, and 19th in my Age Group. Also I was the fastest Canadian for the half.

Now the bad things: you need to stop after the race and get that chip off your shoe and give it back or pay $100 fine. That isn't easy for a lot of people, especially with super cold fingers. Also I had no way of snipping the zip ties on my chip and had to wait 10 minutes for them to get clippers. Then you leave, get a drink of Poweraid or Water, some chocolate raisins and that's it. No post race party. Too bad, as that is the greatest time to bond, and it is a great time to meet people from away (especially if you are from away). Here you just grab your stuff and head home.

Now the good things: The full and half run a different course than the 10km and have different parallel finishing lines. This means no getting mixed up with slower runners, except for a few of the fastest marathoners running home with a few slower half marathons. That was great to see. And due to the race being in Iceland, you get a coupon for free entrance into one of the thermal pools around the city for that day or the next. How nice is a geothermal mineral pool on tiered legs? Well just perfect.  So good we went back 2 more times. 10C and a 40C pool of salt water? Priceless.

This is definitely a race that makes for a fun destination. The city is easy to navigate, the race is well staffed and put on, and if you stick around there are tons of things to do in the city or nearby. Iceland is pricey but if you do a little planning you can see and do a lot for a reasonable amount of money. Oh and the night of the race is Culture Night where the downtown shuts down to all but foot traffic and musicians and DJ's from all around setup. Very cool way to end the day.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Ian's Rehab Summer of 2013

So I had some plans for this summer. Train, train, train and then run a marathon. I had no plans to race, just train. But sadly my hip had other plans. Seems my stellar early racing season pushed my limits just a little too much, and I didn't head my own advice and rest enough to deal with the stress of racing.

I had hoped that some rest after my early racing season would be enough. Then I hoped I could solve things myself by working out the main causes of the problem. That again, sort of helped (see last post) but not enough. Then I hoped that massage and Active Release therapy would fix things. And while they did help immensely, I needed a little extra help getting to the route of my hip problem.

So off to Physio for Ian. I went to see Anita Connors, whom I had met while training in the RE:201 running program earlier this year. At that point she and her husband had located some of my weaknesses and given me exercises. I did them, though probably not enough and as happens to many people, I let them slide away as the season went on.

A new thorough exam and we came up with a plan of attack. The constant pounding of the mileage I did this Spring coupled with a hip imbalance finally led to internal bruising and super tight muscles in my glutes. Rest and exercises would do the trick, but we could certainly speed things up with some fancy physio equipment as well.

What can one expect doing physiotherapy? Well of course it all depends on what the injury is and how well you respond to treatment. But I will explain my therapy so that you can get an idea of what you might expect, realizing also that you can decline any part of a treatment if you feel uncomfortable or skeptical.

After a full exam we started with a series of small exercises. These were to address some of the rotational issues I was having. We also did some physical manipulation of the muscles (which I had been doing with my chiropractor as well). Some stretches are rather difficult to do by yourself, especially ones that need to be held for longer periods of time and or need to be progressive in how much effort you put into them. These exercises were generally done after some from of heat treatment to get the muscles more able to accept the stretch.

I would also do these exercises at home and as the sessions progressed I was given more exercises to deal with the growing strength I was developing. These included single leg squats which morphed into up and overs, 2 legged squats with an exercise band, hip abductor side leg raises, crouched side walks, and side planks.

Now all of those can easily be done at home and I did that, but it does help to know when it is time to start each exercise and when I did these exercises in front of Anita or a staff member they could critique (very handy) and they could also add in a muscle stim device to get better results.

Now what else did I learn? Swelling is a sign that too much blood is getting to an area to deal with damage. More blood is a good thing, until too much gets in and basically gives you too much of a good thing. So getting the swelling down and getting good blood flow restored is a must. Ibuprofen will help, but should be limited in its use. So at physio we use heat a lot and there are different ways to get that heat in. First we started with hot/damp heat from heat pads, then we progressed to short wave, which send short wave radiation (like radio waves) deep into the muscle and man does that heat up. In the early sessions we also used ultra sound which I was told would help reduce swelling as well. This was eliminated in future sessions when it was apparent that the deep swelling was done.

I ended each session with acupuncture, which is really quite harmless if done by a trained professional, but completely conditional if you are truly needle phobic. Acupuncture may help in the reduction of swelling and inflammation, it may increase nerve action in areas where muscles aren't firing correctly or it may do nothing. The rest of the treatment certainly was helping and all  the needles cost me were an extra 15 minutes. Plus they were cool, so I did it.

During the process I also continued to ride my bike and take strength classes with Jeff Zahavich at his new gym, Kinesic Sports Lab. I also would run once a week. Before treatment each run would end with a sore hip. Now I was running a little further each time until this last weekend when I ran a pain free 18 km's.

So my marathon plan is shot for this year and that is okay. I wasn't ready for it obviously. Another half in its place? Yup, though no way near ready for a personal best run, just a nice day out in Iceland.

Got a problem running, biking or doing another physical activity? Don't think it is the end, so many issues are just simple fixes (sure they might take a bit of time) and you can be back to training again. And don't train or fight through pain, just see someone.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pain and the Kinetic Chain

So we all get those aches and pains when running. Most are from doing a little too much too fast and having to suffer through some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Normally a couple of  days of easy running, walking or just some couch surfing will take care of those issues. But sometimes rest doesn't seem to help.

As I have been blasting through some recent races and getting great results, I haven't had a whole lot of rest. I did so well taking care of myself in the early season, doing just a handful of local races all while sticking strictly to my Zone based running plan. But by the time my first big race hit, the Bluenose Half Marathon, I was starting a block of heavy racing and the early lessons were starting to fade from my memory with every next great result. The only thing is, you can't keep going forever at top pace.

So a few days after the Cyclesmith Duathlon I decided to go for a long run. My one hip was kind of hurting a bit, but I assumed it was just some tired muscles so I ran through it. It didn't get better and by the time I got home and stopped running my hip hurt a lot.

So I rolled it out on the foam roller, I iced it and took some NSAIDs before bed. The next day it was okay, but still not great. So I decided to see my Chiropractor Dr Jason Grey. He found a little tightness and freed me up and it all felt pretty good. Then I raced again and by the half way point of the second run of the Greenwood Duathlon, my hip was starting to ache and slowed me down a touch, though luckily I had a big lead by that point. So back to Jason and another session where by I felt pretty good again. And then the next weekend onto the Ingonish race and etc....

So I did what a smart person might do and rest a couple of days. But it still hurt when I went for a run. Hmmmm. I did my stretching, I did my foam roller, I did my exercises but then right back into hurting hip. So for a change I went to massage therapy. I saw someone new to me at Nova Physio and Kim did a great job of loosening me up. I felt very good after our session. I waited one day and then went for a short run to see how things were going.

About 2 km into this run I could feel my hip again. As I hung my head in sadness I looked at my feet. One pointed slightly out (the good one) and the other foot pointed slightly in. Huh?  Okay. So I kept running and moved my foot out a bit and my hip felt 100% better. Wow. So I ran like that for a short 5 km run and yeah, the hip pain was fine (sure it was a little sore but no increasing pain). So that was great right? Well sort of.

When you go and change your biomechanics it can't possibly affect only one thing. So I replaced my hip pain with calf and knee pain. Not bad, but still not good. So this was a great diagnostic, but not so great a solution.

I got back home and pondered things. And it was at this point where I bothered to notice that the top of my foot hurt and my ankle did too. Hmmmm? So my foot was doing something not right? Sure why not?

The next day I did a test and placed my wife's orthotic insole into my shoe. Sure it was completely the wrong size, but this was for testing purposes only. And low and behold, I could run without actively changing my biomechanics and without adding any new discomfort or pain. I did get a blister, but that was my fault.

Okay, so my arch was the problem, or inner ankle, it is hard to say. My ankle is likely collapsing in and my big muscles couldn't compensate any longer. Well this was great news! I can work with this.

See all along I focused so much on the pain that I didn`t do what was right and figure out the problem. I wasn`t paying attention to the pain on the top of my foot or my ankle. I headed straight for the hip. But when the first hip treatment didn`t work, I kept focusing there. Silly me. A collapsing ankle / arch twists the calf, then the knee and leads all the way up to the hip. It isn't an uncommon cause of ITBS either.

The moral? Get the pain dealt with, the talk to your sports medical person (and all of us should have a go to person) when that pain keeps coming back. Almost always for us runners / triathletes / duathletes, it is some sort of muscle imbalance / weakness. And it often is the case that rest really won't fix the issue (as I found out).

Also if you have pictures from your sporting events, then you should study them and look for issues. In looking back through my last few races I can really see some form change from my nice form of the Half Marathon, to a more slumped look in some of my duathlons. So I know that on top of working on my ankle / arch strength, I need to work on my core as well.

And in the meanwhile? Well I headed to Aerobics First and had the great Luke fit me for a pair of over the counter orthotics. These are a temporary measure to keep me running while I work on rebuilding my core. So far they have been great, though they do seem to feel a little like lead weights.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ingonish Tri - 2013

Well it had to happen I guess, I couldn't stay away from the swim forever. As much as I love doing duathlons, it is kind of fun to occasionally do a triathlon as well. So I packed up the dogs with my wife and off to Ingonish we went.

Now this year I wasn't really well trained up on swimming. I had started to make some real progress early in the winter, but then my real focus switched to running again and my swimming went into status mode. Still I managed to get a few open water swims in the weeks prior to the race to make sure I was ready.

Race day saw the water temp quite nice in the lake at Ingonish beach. Likely 18 or 19 C. Perfect for a wetsuit swim. It was surprisingly windy though, for the morning, which lead to a really choppy surface.

I knew my swim would be decent but slow and I really decided to take my time getting in and then building up to my race tempo, rather then what I did the previous year where I went out fast and then over cooked myself.

I quickly found my grove and had what was for me, a comfortable and good swim. It certainly didn't show up in my overall time, though when looking at the overall stats for everyone, the swims were slightly slower than last year. So either the chop made a difference, or the course was slightly longer. Either way I came out of the water in 24th overall with a time of 16:22. Yup not fast but hey, I had fun.

Off to T1 with a long 500m run on crusher dust. Luckily one's feet are slightly numb so it doesn't feel so bad.

A quick change out of my wetsuit and onto the bike I went. Now the ride is listed officially as 20km, it is 23km. I started to pass people fairly quickly until about 6 km in when I came upon Mark Campbell stranded on the side of the road. He yelled for an allen key and I couldn't let him stay stranded any longer so I stopped. I knew I wasn't going to win and I might as well help a friend. Sadly my allen keys were not the right ones for him. So quickly back onto the bike I went, losing maybe 20 seconds. Well worth it for my ability to sleep well at night.

The ride is rollers until you hit a huge downhill where I hit 63km/hr and ran out of gears. Then a quick turn at the bottom and onto a climb. By this point I had passed my way from 24th to 8th overall and rolled into T2 having set the 5th fastest bike split of the day (31.4km/hr officially, 35 km/hr on my computer).

As I set out on the run, my hip started to hurt again (I am so glad to have a rest period coming up to get this injury rested up), but I just let my feet find their rhythm and do what they trained to do.

I quickly found 7th place and passed him bringing myself up to 7th overall (though truthfully I had no idea of my placing at this point). Also my Garmin decided to not work, thanks Garmin. So it was all gut feeling now. So I pushed as much as I thought I needed to to stay ahead of 8th place.

I ended up running by the leaders as they were headed back from the turn around point, but I was close to 1/2 a kilometer behind and my hip and legs were not feeling it this day. A quick splash of water to drink and I was headed to the finish line.

I picked up a bit of steam in the last 400 meters and had a good strong finish.

In the end I managed a 6th fastest run in 21 minutes, which included T2 and was probably my fastest run ever at Ingonish. I had hoped for more, but today wasn't that kind of day. I wish the Garmin worked so I could tell my stand alone run but oh well.

Not my best sprint triathlon ever, but the results were decent with a 7th place overall and 1st in my Age group for an overall time of 1:21:18.

And as I said, now is the time for resting, though that doesn't mean not training. Just a hold on races for the next while to get back to full health.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Greenwood Duathlon 2013 - FTW Part Deux

Another weekend another race. Races are fun, but they certainly do tire one out. This week I headed to the Valley and in particular, Greenwood, Nova Scotia. This was another event with multiple race choices, though only the one duathlon. The vast majority of people traveling this distance seemed to enter the sprint triathlon or the Try a Tri event. And for the first time we saw a separate category for para-triathlon. So that was really cool. Needless to say I entered the duathlon.

While the field was small, the competition never is. After not racing him last weekend, Alan M was back to toe the start line with, and I knew he would be my main competition. I say that as I have raced this event for 4 year (?) now and he has beaten me every time. Last year I was sort of close but still no where near fast enough to keep up.

This would be a reverse sort of deal with the short run first and the long run last for a 3km/20km/5km event. Much like the Navy duathlon this one is also held on a military base, and is almost dead flat. That means fast. And that meant I had to push those runs as best as I could to give myself any sort of advantage.

From the start horn I took off into the lead, just like the week before at Cyclesmith's Duathlon. I had only 3km to build a lead to stay in front of Alan on the bike. As he is usually much faster on the bike than I am I knew it would be a situation much like the week before where my lead disappeared and needed to be brought back on the final run. Also at this point I was feeling pretty good, but during the week I had tweaked my hip a little and was unsure how it might hold out on that second run.

I ran as fast as I could comfortably, at one point looking down to see a 3:10 min/km pace on my Garmin. Okay, that was a little ambitious. I eventually settled into a more manageable but fast pace and finished the first 3km run in 10:22 for an average pace of 3:28 min/km. That was significantly faster than my previous PB 5km pace and I would like to see how that might be able to hold up either later this year or early next season.

So after the first leg I was up on Alan by 32 seconds. Not quite the lead I had the week before, but enough to have a solid / clean bike mount and head off. And I did.

The roadway we use is quite flat save for a sloping downhill section / uphill return. We do 3 loops and there is almost always a cross breeze. The road has a few bumps and pot holes, but nothing to worry too much about. I put my head down and rode. From the Navy race I knew that I could ride at a similar speed to Alan  on this type of course, so I figured if I could hold onto my 30ish second lead for at least 2 laps, then I should be able to stay right with him leading into the run. But he never did get the chance to pass me.

In the end I managed to have the fastest bike split of the day with a time of 33:32 over 20km for an avg speed of 35.8 km/hr. Alan was just slightly behind me at 35.7 km/hr, though I will concede that he was held up by a racer doing the sprint triathlon. As much as I liked the result, it does suck when anyone gets held up, especially when that person was not riding "correctly" shall we say.

Anyway, I came into T2 and executed a beautiful (if I do say so myself) flying dismount. No lost shoe, no stubbed toe, no stumbling, just a smooth fluid motion. To the rack, a shoe change and I was gone, still in the lead.

Now I know that right now I have been running a bit faster than Alan, but I was wondering still about my hip. So far so good, so I decided to not waste any time. This year was great as I experienced absolutely no cramping as I had always had before, due to my "over running" myself. That felt so nice. By about 1.5 kms in I saw Alan back in the distance a bit, but now I felt a twinge in the hip. I slowed slightly but soldiered on. The hip came back to me and all was okay again, but the heat was really starting to come down now. Luckily the water stop came at the right point for a quick cup of icy cold water on the head. That felt so nice.

This run course is so lonely. You run and wonder if the world has left you behind. It seems no one exists. Anyway, you finally reemerge back into civilization and breathe a sigh of relief that you didn't in fact take a crazy turn somewhere. One little dip in the road, then the home stretch. Usually by this point I am pushing with all I have left, trying to eek out any extra time to close the gap to the leader, but for now I was still the leader. And for the few hundred meters I could see behind me, I was alone. I kept a solid pace but didn't go gung ho and crossed the finish line first. For the second time in 2 weeks I won a duathlon. Hooray! It was certainly hard. I ran the final 5k m in 19:34, and frankly I think I had more in me to give.

All that early season heart rate zone training with Jeff Zahavich has really paid off. And the bike felt so good finally after having Sheldon at Sportwheels help me redesign how the front end went together. It is like all that potential is finally be given the opportunity to come out.

No more duathlons until the Fall now, but one more race before I take a break. This weekend coming up is my first triathlon of the season in Ingonish. Always a fun race, even with that swimming stuff added, ha ha.

Oh and a big thanks to Chris for putting on the race and for the awesome 1st place prize of locally distilled Apple Vodka from IronWorks in Lunenburg. Mmmmm.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cyclesmith Duathlon 2013 - FTW!

Alright, finally got a chance to sit down and write this blog post. Last weekend was the great and awesome Cyclesmith Duathlon, an event I have been doing for 5 years now. I have always loved this course, but for the first time in my 5 years the course had changed. Also for the first time there were 2 different race options for adults. The standard 5km/35km/6km race had been changed to an Olympic distance duathlon with a 10km/35km/5km distance and a Sprint Duathlon had been added with a distance of 5km/20km/2.5km. So now I had a choice of races.

I thought long and hard and decided on racing the Sprint. I have put next to no special bike training in this year, relying on my commute to work and the occasional trainer ride to keep my fitness from going away, as this year has been all about running. For this reason I knew that a 35km bike ride would take alot out of me, and as my big focus this year is a marathon, the recovery from a hard 15km of running would also really set back my training. The Sprint would be hard, but the recovery would be much easier. It would also fit in with all the other Duathlons I have raced this year.

Luckily I had a few tough competitors opt for this distance (thought he majority went to the Oly). I knew this would be no cake walk with Kevin B lined up beside me to start.

It was a nice cold, windy, and foggy morning and I could wait to actually get running. We started the race as a mass start on a crusher dust rail to trail. And we were off.

A 5km run start offers little chance to mess up. And I knew how fast Kevin would be on the bike. I needed a lead to make this work. So I didn't hang around and pushed the pace hard. I reached the turn around in 9:19 and headed to the start line. I was at this point in first place and hit the 5km mark at 18:37. My official time is actually 17:37, but the course was bit short.

The run out of T1 was a long one, with the Officials not wanting people to mount their bikes until we hit the pavement due to the poor nature of the gravel road we were on. So I opted to run in my bike shoes, like the days of old. I ran to the line with a 1 minute lead over Kevin in second place and took off.

Being a short race I allowed myself only enough time to catch my breath on the bike before I started pushing as hard as I could. I needed to stay in front of Kevin for as long as possible as I knew the short second run would not offer much chance to over take a person.  By the turn around at about 10km  I still had not been passed. This was a good sign. But as I was starting back I finally saw Kevin and he was closing down.

I pushed even harder at this point. The course was constant rolling hills, so it wasn't always easy to get a great rhythm going. Finally with 5km to go in the ride, Kevin got by me. so that was the 1 minute from the run gone and I had to minimize the next bit of loss. After dropping back out of the draft zone, I managed to keep Kevin in sight for the rest of the ride. I managed the ride in around 38 minutes including both transitions.

As I approached T2 I had to decide whether or not to dismount and run in bike shoes (again it was a long run) or to just do a flying dismount and go barefoot over the gravel. I knew I needed the extra seconds that running barefoot would give me, so at the last second I decided on the flying dismount and ran into T2.

I was quite happy to see that as I was approaching my bike rack space, Kevin had only just started the run course. I racked my bike (once the officials moved, ha ha), did a quite wipe of my feet to get any rocks off and slipped on my shoes. Off I went for a quick 2.5km. 

I could just see Kevin in the distance and pushed my pace. I caught him in about 500 meters or so and surged past. There was no time for playing any games. If he had anything left he would have to jump on my tail and stick to me. After another couple of 100 meters I broke free from him and then never lost the lead again. There was still no time for taking it easy. Again this was only 2.5km so push push push.

I crossed the finish line first in a time of 1:06:11 with a final run pace of 3:58 min/km. Yes, I won. Well there you go, finally. And all it took was a near PB 5km run to start and giving it everything I had on the bike that day. I took home some great gift cards for my prize and thanks to my wife I have something even greater, wonderful photos of the day.

Next up is the Greenwood Duathlon this weekend. I missed my duel with Alan this past week, so I will be happy to race against him again. A huge congrats as well to the duathletes who competed in the Olympic distance. There was some crazy fast people in that race.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Navy Duathlon 2013

So here are in June and I just finished my second Duathlon of the year, the venerable Navy Duathlon (and Triathlon) held in Shearwater, NS. I have done this race for many years now and still love coming back, even though it changes just a little each year, so it is hard to compare versus previous results.

As has often been the case these past few years, the Duathlons that are teamed up with triathlons draw fewer competitors than stand alone events. So sadly there were only 15 of us at the start line. I guess the allure of the triathlon is just too great and while I certainly do like a good tri, the option to add an extra run is always far more interesting to me. But luckily we had some good competitors still in this small field.

The Du started with a 5km run. At the start my plan was to shadow Shawn A. as his runs have generally been very fast and if I could hang on with him, then that would be great. At the first Du of the year I managed to catch up with him near the end of the run and come in only seconds behind him. After an extremely fast start, the 2 of us started to pull away from the other runners. After about the 1 km mark I found that I was settling into a good rhythm, but by 2km I felt like things were slowing down. We had gone from a 3:30 min/km pace to a 4 min pace. That wasn't gong to be enough for me, as I knew I needed a decent lead from the run to stay ahead of Alan M on the bike and have a shot at actually beating him (I wasn't convinced at all of beating Shawn overall). So at the turn around I decided to pull ahead of Shawn and if he wanted to jump on my heels that would be cool. I picked up the pace and headed for T1.

And for the first time ever I finished the first run of a duathlon legitimately in the lead. Sure I have technically had a few first place runs to start, but this was the real deal. I finished 8 seconds clear of Shawn and a whopping 49 seconds ahead of Alan. And I while I was surely pushing hard, I wasn't dead at all. Still I took a few extra seconds in T1 to calmly get my bike stuff together and head out and allow my heart rate to drop just a touch. Then on to the 20km bike ride.

I had a clean mount and peddled off, adjusting my shoes easily before the big hill to start the ride. I was just about to hit the main part of the ride, about 1 km in by the time Shawn passed me on the bike. I had frankly expected him to pass me sooner, so I was still feeling good. I then proceeded to give it my all. Now while this is generally a flattish course, being a runway and all, the speeds are never usually that high. This is due to the huge hill to start, very technical first /last section and then the fairly strong winds in one direction of the runway. Still I pushed quite hard and could feel some aches in my legs as I did so.

This kind of race allows you to see your competitors and how they are fairing compared to you as it is a series of laps. And I could see Shawn slowly pulling ahead after each lap. But I was watching Alan and also Donald, 2 really strong guys on the bike and hoping I had enough to stay just ahead of them as I knew my second run could be strong. And by the end? Well apparently what I had in me that day was enough as I managed to grab the second fastest bike split of the day, sadly my once upon a time lead was now a 1 min 19 second deficit. But I grabbed my running shoes and headed for the second run, a 3km showdown was about to start.

I knew this was  short run, I knew I had a decent lead over second place, and I knew first was way ahead. So of course I didn't take it easy. Heck no, this is a race and I went for it. I pushed hard, knowing my legs were aching from the ride but hoping momentum and muscle memory would carry me through.

Shawn passed me on his way back from the turn around before it was even in my sights. I knew I wasn't going to actually catch him, but I wanted second bad this day and I knew I had the fitness to push through this. So I made the turn around and took off for home. The heat of the day was starting and I gave one last hurrah and hit the finish line. Second place was mine (first in my Age Group). And I had clawed that 1:19 deficit back to a 1:02. Making up 17 second in 3 km was very impressive in my mind, allowing me to claim the 2 fastest runs of the day and really just increasing my confidence in the training method that I had adopted from Jeff Zahavich this winter. His heart rate zone training is just excellent.

My Garmin had issues with the length of the race course so the officials times aren't exactly accurate, which is fine since they are based on an exact distance and don't take into account T1 or T2. Ultimately my runs were all at a sub 4 min/km pace. My overall time was 1:08:32 and for the first time ever I managed to beat Alan M. So for this year we are 1 for 1 with our next head to head at Greenwood, a very similar race course. I am really excited for that race.

A huge thanks to Sportwheels' super mechanic Sheldon Mcquillan for helping me redesign my Devinci's cockpit. I wanted to get more aero and we redid the stem and aerobars. I think it worked, at least I didn't seem to get slower and felt good for the ride.

My next race though, is this weekend. The ever exciting Cyclesmith Duathlon near Lawrencetown Beach. This years format is slightly different, offering 2 distances to race and I will be racing the shorter one. But more on that later.