Monday, January 30, 2017

MEC PPP Race #1 Jan 2017

So yesterday I was wondering what my run fitness was going to be like when actually tested against others and today I found out.

MEC's race #1 was finally here after being postponed previously due to a large snow storm. This time around weather was not going to be an issue. In fact, the weather was wonderful. About -2C when i woke up and around the 0C mark by the time the race started, so plenty warm. Also the wind was pretty much non-existent and the ground was frozen hard. Conditions could not have been better to see what speed was in the old legs.

Not a picture from today

I started the day with a good warm up run with Craig and Stacey, partly for us and partly to show Stacey a little of the course, we did around 3km in all. Then Craig and I did a few strides int he parking lot to get the blood flowing in the legs. Finally we were called to the start line by the Race Director.

These races pit all distances together at the start, so if you don't ask, you don't always know who is racing what distance. A few of us chatted a bit while waiting and I felt I had a good sense of who my competition was. Still, my main goal was a sub 19 min run, something I had not done on this course and this early in the year. 

And we were off!

Immediately Drew took to the lead and I popped into second. Our pace felt okay but I knew it was ultimately a bit too fast. By the first 500m point I checked and yup, a 3:22 pace. So yeah, I started to ease off a bit. Then Lee took second place, quickly followed by Fraser. 

As we hit the first major hill of the day (really this race is a big climb and a big descent) I quickly caught back on to Fraser and decided to take this chance to pass him. I pushed the first hill as much as I dared, hoping it would lead to a gap. 

Finally reaching the top of the climb, you run a relatively flatish bit for awhile, before quick down, then another steep but shorter climb. This whole race is steep climbs and descents with rolling terrain in between. The top of this section meant we were now at the halfway point. 

As we tore down towards the major descent of the day, I was still in 3rd in my race, 4th overall.  Halfway down the descent of Cable, Fraser caught up and passed me again. He clearly relished the big downs, while I was just trying to hang in there.  Now I was sort of resigned to what I assumed was 4th, hoping to be able to hang onto my current average pace for a course PB at least.

Then we hit the bottom and another slight climb, then a down, then a climb (you get the idea). I started to reel Fraser in a little bit and with a little over 1 kilometer to go I knew it was now or never and bridged the gap. My goal was to tuck in behind him, and see if my legs had a sprint finish.  But (and there is always a but) another runner started to pull up beside us. Sigh. What race was he in? I had no idea. So soon we were 3 abreast with about 800m to go.

I knew the final run to the finish included a final good climb before a big downhill to the line, so I made the choice to just push it. Darn, I wanted that 3rd place and I wanted to get the best time my legs had. So I took off.

As the climb happened I could here Fraser's foot steps getting a little softer, and I pushed harder. We crested the hill and I could see the finish line, so off I went. I crossed the line 3rd overall and with an official time of 18:29, a PB on this course, and a great result so early in the season.

I collapsed a bit after the finish, knowing my legs had given it there all. But I recovered fast enough to watch a bunch of other great runs happen from the BLTRunners, with Craig coming in a well run course PB as well (and very close to the 20 min mark) and Stacey come in 2nd for women with a blazing time.

Looking over the data post race I was totally happy with most of my stats, but really the heartrate data was wonderful. A good spike to start things off (not uncommon in a 5K all out race) but then a  recovery and solid high Zone 4 effort throughout. All of my recent speed work seems to be paying off.

As is always the case, a huge thanks to those that keep me running well, Alan at Seaside Chiropractic, Jeff Z at Kinesic Sport Lab, Luke at Aerobics First and my fellow BLTRunners. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Getting Ready to Race 2017

So the first running race of the season is a few weeks ago  tomorrow. yeah, it was cancelled due to a big storm that swept through but is back on. The ever fun MEC race series has begun. This one will be a cross country style race in Point Pleasant Park and I like to see how well I do in this race as a gauge to how my training needs to go. As a fairly hilly race, and usually icy, I struggle to go under 19 min on a 5 km run here. This year I have changed up my training program a bit, so perhaps this may be the year.

BLT Runners unite from last year's MEC PPP Race

More importantly, this year I am really focusing on my muscular health. Last year I focused on pure speed and while there were glimpses of it, 2 injuries set me back overall.

Part of what I am focusing on is getting into a better routine of exercising and strength and flexibility. But I am also now starting my monthly visits to see my main guy Dr Alan at Seaside Chiro. Sensing some tightness in my Achilles already this year, a quick trip to see him and some ART (Active Release Therapy) has already made a world of difference in cleaning up what could become a big problem.

Not my actual legs

I am making note this year of aches and pains and tight areas that don't go away with rest. These areas I then will focus on strength and flexibility and then get Alan to help.

So I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings (and what shoes I will wear!). Report to follow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2017, Speed Skating and Race 1

Race 1 of 2017 was supposed to be the MEC Winter PPP race. Sadly it was postponed as a big snow storm came rumbling through the night before and made it too dangerous to get out. The race isn't canceled though, so in a few weeks we will try again.

Instead my first race this year was on the speed skating oval. The local clubs host weekly races, sometimes serious affairs and other times, like this past week, more of a relaxed fun time. These races are more practice races for the top end athletes and a chance for us casual skaters to try out what we are made of.

I signed up for the 500m and the 3000m. The style ended up being Olympic style (head to head) for the 500 and a mass stray for the 3000 (due to time constraints).

First up was the 500m, which is a lap and a straight away in length with a cross over half way through the lap. They are strict about the starting procedure, which is fun to go through. You also have to give it your all and not just race the person lined up with you as the final results are made from your time alone, not how you did in just your race. One shot and you are done.

So I lined up with James and we were soon off, with a bit of a running start to get speed in to the legs and quickly we were in the first corner.

I was totally up to speed and with James the whole first bit, but ultimately my lack of cornering ability really slowed me down and by the time we hit the final corner James pulled ahead. I pushed on the final straight and wound up with a time of 58.75. I'll have to see how that compares with last year, but I haven't been on the skates that much this year. I ended up 9th out of the 25 skaters that started (there weer 5 DNS's).

Time passed and it was almost 3000m time. The wind had really picked up and it got much colder. Being a mass start there were 6 people in my race. We got off to a start (I was in the second row) and I was keeping up with the main pack. A bobble ahead of me lead to a bobble from me and I lost quite a bit of momentum. I picked it back up and was able to stay with a couple of other racers for a bit, but by the half way point my legs were screaming and I couldn't hold a big stride anymore. I was lapped once and ended up last in my heat, but 9th out of 19 skaters that started. My time was 7:27:68.

All in all a fun, but tough morning of racing. Can't wait for more.