Sunday, January 31, 2016

MEC Race #1 - 5KM Point Pleasant Park Winter Classic, 2016

As usual the end of January brings with it crazy conditions for racing. Last year this race was cold, blustery and the path was hard slippery ice. This year was warm, melty and icy, though the ice was a combo of mushy and hard. Fantastic!

After last year's race where I had to slow down in some spots, this year I opted to spike my shoes to add some grip. This is a common thing done by winter runners, but this is the first year I have decided to do it. 10 big fat screws per shoe gave me plenty of grip.

This race had 2 options, the 5km and the 10km. I opted to do the 5km as I had in the past. I was hoping to beat 19 min (not a PB) on this hilly icy course, as it would be a course best for me.

We lined up (a little late due to the huge popularity of the race and the last minute sign ups) and after a good pre race warning about icy conditions we were off!

Last year I raced a guy for the 5km lead, not worrying about the 10km runner in front of us. That 10km runner dropped to the 5km race at the end and took the win. This year I was not going to be beat that way. I fell in behind Drew (who I knew was 10km all the way) and held pace with him for the first 3km of the race.

It was pretty rough footing, with ruts, ice, slush, mud and even bare sidewalk. My shoe choice, though, was working perfectly with plenty of great grip. Perhaps I had a little too much grip when we hit the cement sidewalks, but that section was really short, so not an issue.

I really like the 3 km mark of this race as you get to run for about 150-200m with the other runners going the other way. So there is a little cheering and high fiving. But then you immediately head to go down Cable.

If you don't know Cable, you are lucky. It is a steep hill with twists and turns, off leash dogs and random people. Running up it is hard. Running down it in the ice is worse. At this point I fell off a little from Drew but held on to second overall and first spot on the 5km at this point. Remember, in ice lots of little steps are better than a few big ones. So high cadence is your friend! ( I just did not have enough trust in those spiked shoes to go full speed but maybe I should have).

Follow Cable, it is a pretty straight forward run to the finish. Power through some small rollers, watch your footing and stay strong.

I was comfortably in the lead of the 5km at this point, but was still hoping for that sub 19 minute finish. A few more dogs got in the way, though nothing major. But this section of the park was quite mushy now that the sun was warming things up even more. It was really sucking the oomph from the old legs.

Time was getting tight so i picked it up a little, and then pushed hard for the finish line. I crossed first and won, but alas fell short of my goal time and officially finished in 19:14. I really think that if I had more trust in my shoes and cadence I could have found that speed on Cable, but thems the breaks. Besides, it is a nice way to start the season of running. A win! I was 1:27 ahead of second place.

Now to get back to some speed and hill work again. And a build on some distance, which has been lacking a bit. But I think some more speed skating races are going to happen soon as well.

Once you think of this race as a trail race or cross country epic, you really start to like it a whole lot. Can't wait for next year!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

First Race of the Year - Speed Skating Time

So my winter sport of choice is of course speed skating. Last year I took some free lessons just because I wanted the experience. By the end of the season I wanted more. So here we are in 2016 and I am strapping the skates to my feet for my first race of the year.

I am not a great skater by any means. I do have a great aerobic engine though, so I can power through my weak form for now (but I find my form is getting better). I signed up for the 100m and the 500m. I thought the 1500m might be a bit too much mentally for me this time around (it requires multiple lane changes). The 100m is a single straight with no corners and the 500 is 1 lap plus a straight and includes single lane change.

The races are Olympic style, so it is you versus 1 other racer. Overall times dictate the winners rather than heats and elimination. So you get one kick at the can.

First up with the 500m. I lined up on the inner lane (prechosen by the race directors) and took the line then was off. My start was a little rusty so I didn't push the run down the ice too far before getting into a tuck and stride.  I made the corner first and therefore had the right away for the lane change. I didn't screw up the change and pushed through. The second (and final corner) had a wicked tail wind and I don't do corners well, so I mostly glided through (having seen a previous skater fall). Back to the main straight and I pushed to the end. My fatigue was obvious as I felt a little slippy in the cross breeze about 50m before the finish. I ended up winning my race with a time of 1:06:39 to place 17th overall out of 28 skaters. That was fun.

A short break for me and I was back at it in the 100m. This was a mass start race but there were just 3 racers in my heat. Now to be brutally honest, I was by far the oldest person in the 100's. Apparently it is usually the kids that do these short sprint races. But it was fun anyway and those kids are awesome.

The 100m is all out sprint with a running start (just watch a youtube video sometime), then a push and glide to the finish. We were off quickly and I was neck and neck with the young teen beside me. He had a great running start and coudl keep it up much longer than I could. We ended up finishing very close together with him taking me at the line. Great job. Of the 9 skaters in the 100m I came in second overall with a time of 14.18.

So now I have 2 benchmarks to work with, and more lessons to take. By the end of the season I will certainly race the 1500 and see how well I can do there.  Next up though is MEC Race 1. And so it begins!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Tiring Weekend for Sure

Sometimes you just cram way too much stuff into a weekend. Luckily I didn't have a race as I don't know if I would have been able to even get to the start line.

The weekend started Friday with a plasma donation. That in and of itself never wears me out. I have run races following plasma donations in the past. However, this weekend was my first time of the season heading out for speed skating lessons.

Knowing that Saturday was going to be given over to speed skating I had to hit the bike on Friday. Things are shifting around in the training schedule I guess.  I set up the trainer, hooked up the laptop to watch a show and hit the bike. I didn't have a lot of time with company coming over, so I decided to really work on high cadence work some more.  One hour later and I lost about as much sweat as I had lost plasma early that day. Whew.

Family party Friday night, late getting to bed and then early to rise the next morning. Saturday was a day I was really looking forward to. I just wish I hadn't needed to be also getting up early to do it, ha ha. Speed skating, a sport I took up last winter and one that is not only tons of fun, but also kicks my butt. The weather was perfect, cold but with only a slight wind. I started with a few warm up laps and then hit the lessons hard.

This year I joined a local Masters Speed Skating club to learn more about this sport. The lessons were a great way to start the year and hopefully will lead to me being able to have a fun time competing later on in the year. I hit the ice (luckily not literally) for 19.5km worth of skating in 1.5 hours. Still I was feeling in good shape.

Then I woke up Sunday morning with visions of a long run early and then to the pool. Well, I found all of those muscles that I had obviously not been using.  Wowza. I managed to get a 11.5 km run in and while the pace seemed fine (4:26 avg km) it seemed a shuffle more than anything.

Finally to the pool for a 2100m interval session and I was done. Well, I still had to get the dogs out for a nice walk in the park, so why not add another few kms of slippery ice filled sliding around, ha ha.

I hope this gets easier as the winter continues along. Either I am going to come out of the base season really strong or dead tired. We'll see I guess!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 By the Numbers

Okay a few days into 2016 we are (wow that Star Wars gets in your head). I guess that means let's take a quick look back at the 2015 totals as is the custom on this blog.

Bike: 4777 km. Again, much of that is commuting, with a bit of casual group riding thrown in for my summer weekly trail ride (yes, it is casual pace and yes you should join us). With my race focus being on Sprint Distance Triathlons and Duathlons I didn't do many long rides at all this year. 2016 will see me switch to Olympic Distance triathlons. I'm already starting with 1.5 hr trainer rides, so I expect this total will grow.

Swim: 103.2 km. Not too bad for me. That is way up from the 84km I did last year. Does that mean my speed in the water was up? Nope. But I think I am getting a better feel for the water regardless. So I expect better things this season. Since getting back int he pool in November I have seen my speed over distance come up quite a bit. Still not fast, but an increase this early in the year is very satisfying.  Also I bought a new wetsuit at the end of last year, which I haven't raced in yet. I am hoping it helps a little as well.

Run: 1865 km. Surprisingly, this is up from last year which was my marathon training year. I think due to the horrid winter we had, I spent a lot of time on the indoor track and that helped me keep my numbers high. This year I am switching to shorter distance races mostly, so it will be interesting to see how that affects my yearly total.

Other: 126km So this is mostly speed skating, which I really got into last season and I am doing again this season. That is about double what I put into skating last year. Wow!

Weight: So I don't normally list this one, but last year I see I weighed 155lbs at years end. That number of course goes up and down throughout the year but has normally stayed about there. This year I come to year's end at 152 lbs. A little leaner and ready to fight. As I am not depriving myself, i must be doing something right to be headed in the right direction weight wise to stay competitive.

So that's it, a simple post today and thoughts of a great year ahead.  I hope to see that Swim total ride by quite a bit.