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.