Monday, October 30, 2017

MEC Race #5 - Are We Done Yet?

So yeah, another weekend another race. Much like with the Bluenose Half, following the Moncton half, I am done. I give 100% in these races and they can drain you. But yeah, I guess I had signed up for another race anyway.

This weekend I was racing in Shubie Park, which is narrow, hilly and gravelly.  I was doing the 5K and the weather was awesome, sunny, cool and calm.

Prerace I was ready to run. I did a warm up, I chatted with people and generally was quite relaxed. Part of the reason is that I knew I couldn't go all out following last week's effort and this was going to be for fun.

The races were split into 3 groups, Half, 10K and finally 5K. I knew this meant we would be running through a lot of runners, as the 5K is usually the fastest group. That was fine.

We lined up ad were soon off. I lead immediately and picked a pace that felt good.

The top three quickly took a decent lead and we were all together until we encountered the backs of the 10km and Half marathon. At that point we were frequently held up and at one point Fraser managed to take over top spot as I got blocked a bit. From there I never really had much of a chance to catch back up. My top end speed just wasn't available, and certainly I didn't have any surges in my legs.

So basically I held on and finished in 18:56 taking second place. Still, it was a good run. Chances are good that I wouldn't have ad anything for Fraser anyway if he started speeding ahead, regardless of the crowded trail.

Next up? Maybe a cyclocross race? Who knows. I need a rest first. Until then, see you on Mondays!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Way to Go Team - Moncton 2017

So I mentioned in my last blog post that while I was happy with my results at Moncton in the Half Marathon, I was even happier about something else. So what was I talking about?

This year I stepped up in our running club, The BLT Runners and became the club coach. For the most part I have been leading our speed work night and answering running related questionsm but for a few runners I have worked a little more closely and helped them develope plans to try and achieve PBs. The biggest group were all headed to Moncton with me to race the half marathon (with one racing the 10km).

For most, the idea of my coaching style was a bit foreign and most were leery of how effective it would be, but darn, they stuck with it and went to Moncton prepared. I had to do a little bit of pep talking to reassure them, but they were ready.

Every single one of them did great. They all achieved new PBs all while looking strong and managing to smile at the end.  So hats off to all of them.

It was really annoying that the race course was long, as they ran to their set pacing, but in that spirit here are their actual Half Marathon, 21.1 km finishing times:

Annette Travis : 2 hours
Wendy Boutilier: 1:59:32
Fran Serroul Britten: 1:59:32
Heather Travis: 1:58:50
Elaine Smith: 1:58:29
Tom Burt: 2:17:07
Stacey Durling: 1:39:35
Marg Organ: 1:39:30
Craig Durling: 1:28:36

Elizabeth Jablonski bettered her prevous 10km time by almost 3 minutes with a 1:01:53

It has been great working with them all as well as many other BLT Runners and I have seen such great improvement in your run form as well as speed. The future is looking bright.

Not racing in Moncton this weekend but racing in Maine was Sarah Warford. She was showing how we Bluenosers do in the Canicross and Bikejoring events there placing well and running fast (4th overall and 2nd woman):

So yeah. I'm happy with performnce, but dang, this group makes me proud.

The Big Race of the Year - Moncton Half Marathon

So after Bluenose in the Spring, I decided that having done so well on such a tough course while being sick, I must be able to do even better on a friendlier course. I chatted with my buddy Craig a bit and we thought doing something big in the Fall (when the temps should be cooler) might be good. We would have all summer to train and once the  heat of summer broke, things would be looking up. Moncton fit the bill. It was a trip, though close to home, flat, and in late october. Now of course it could have been rainy or stormy, but that is a risk with any race.

Training went well, and a few tune up races showed me my pace was in the right area. I wanted to run a 3:48min/km  pace or better, having done 3:54 at the Bluenose. As race day was approahing, I had been doing a lot of travel for work though, and was really starting to feel worn down. I couldn't wait for the race ot actually happen.

The race venue and hotel was great. Downtown Moncton, and the hotel was at the start line. We arrived the day before and managed to hang out with a group of BLT Runners that had made the journey.

We were all kind of wondering what to do about the weather though. It was supposed to be sunny and calm, but only -2C to start at 8 AM. This is certainly a temp we hadn't experienced yet this year. Some members ran out and bought extra clothes. I wasn't sure which way to go, though I knew I would be wearing shorts and a singlet. In the end I decided to wear arm warmers as well and swicth from my normal lightweight racing socks to a pair of lightweight Smartwool socks.

As the morning arrived, I ate my oatmeal, waited as long as possible indoors then braved to cold and hit the start line. There I found Andreas who is a great runner that is very smilar in pace t me. I also found Craig, who was looking to race a PB and a few other BLT Runners (I didn't get a chance to see everyone that early though).

And then we were off. I found out afterward that this was the New Brunswick Half Marathon Championship, which would explain why so many people zoomed ahead. Andreas and I started off easy and then picked up te pace heading into kilometer 2. The course is pretty flat, though it is twisty, narrow and parts are on crusher dust path. I knew this and did a lot of speed work on our crusher dust trail, so this wasn't an issue.

By 4 kilomters in, the sun was up and I could actually start to feel my legs. Our average pace was 3:47 at this point and we were doing well, having formed a pack of 2 runners with a big gap in front and behind.  By 7 kilometers in I could finally feel my hands. By 8 kilomters Andreas obviously decided he needed to take control and jumped in front of me. I tucked in behind and off we went.

The first uturn was at 11 km (ish) and then we wee headed back running against the other runners. This was mostly fine, though Andreas ended up running into a woman that wasn't paying attention. Luckily both we fine and he didn't lose his momentum.  Off we continued.

I know my pacing was better in this race as I hit the 10km mark at about 38 min, fast but not unstainable. I think the cool air was really helping, as I wasn't sweating or feeling hot at all, and this was obviously helping me conserve my energy.

Nutritionwise I took 2 sips of gatorade on course. Just enough to wet my mouth and get a new taste. Also a little sugar can go a long way. I have been happy that my aerobic endurance has been so high this year that I know I am not burning hot while running, or in other words, burning too many carbs. That makes long distance running more sustainable.

As we approached the 17 km mark (having run through some extra twisty bits, on boardwalk and more crusher dust) a woman appeared  zooming up behind us. She was putting on some speed trying t catch up to us. And truthfully, I didn't care at that point as I knew I was finally starting to feel my legs start to burn a bit and my breathing to start to pick up. Our pace was still at 3:48, so I knew this was just time to hold on now.

By 19 km, the three of us were together. Then I was a little behind those 2 as we headed to the final corner (dang things happen fast).  I checked my watch and it seems we were at 21.1km yet the finish linme loomed in the distance. At this point, I picked up my speed, dodging 10km racers, passing the other two and fought to beat the clock to 1:20:59. In the end I failed to do that fficially, getting a 1:21:02. Truly though it was known that the course was long (200-300m). My time should have been 1:20:15. Most importantly, my average pace was 3:48, my goal, and with that I was very happy.

I finished 6th overall and fastest male 40-49.  I trained hard,  smart and hit my goals, all of which were attainable. In total this year I knocked almost 4 minutes off my old half marathon PB.  I also ran injury free this year, thanks in no small part to Alan at Seaside Chiropractic and knowing my limits.

The most important thing I achieved that day though? See the next blog post.

Monday, October 2, 2017

One Weekend Two Races 2017

This was a big weekend. I ave done this in the past, and was even injured at the time. That was when I was dumber. I am less dumb now, notice I said less.

Anyway, Saturday started with my now traditional walk to the start of Leg 2 of the Rum Runners Relay in Halifax. With my running clothes in a bag, a little food and a hobo like attitude I search for my team of people I don't know and prepare for a day of trying to find rides.

This year I was running Leg 7 of the relay. After last weekends decent result in the MEC race, I figured I would be able to do well enough and keep my streak of top 7 finishes alive. Unlike last week, this Leg of the relay was anything but flat. It was hilly, and while it doesn't have the total vertical gain of some of the Legs, it has the most per kilometer. At 9. 4 km long it has 122 m of elevation.

Oddly it is the hills that made me dread this Leg. Nope, it is the fact that every year I have attended the Rum Runners Relay, this particular Leg is super hot and humid. It takes place at 1:50 pm and just seems to be tough weather wise. This year though I lucked out. The recent humidity had broken, the clouds were in and the air was cool. Perfect for running.

I lined up near the front and after our race brief we were off.  I decided to run mostly by feel on this one and tucked in with the leaders, four of us together. Soon we were the only four in sight of the lead car.  Drew had held back a little bit but was now moving to take the lead, with the runner from A Few Good Men with him. I held my ground, knowing the big hills were coming. 

As we fought up the first of these hills, it became apparent that the Mountain View Runner (I think also named Ian) was starting to fall back a bit on pace, so I bridged him and took solo command of third place. I pushed hard up and down each hill, remembering all the extra training I had done earlier in the year for Bluenose. It certainly helped.  And before you know it, I had beaten the 5 monsters and was in the final 3 km, which is relatively flat. By this time I finally glanced at my watch and was really happy to see my pace was rather good. I also finally glanced back and saw I was all alone.

I won't lie. At the 8 km lark I was tired. But my core work this year has done wonders and I was able to keep running strong. The finish is a tight 180 degrees and up hill. Knowing that all that matters is time, I pushed through hard and finished third in 34:26 with an average pace of 3:43 (it was 150m short per my Garmin). My official pace is 3:40. Not as nice as last years win, but I will say a far better run.

How did the saga of my hobo journeys go? Well I had made it to Leg 7 start, then was left behind after my great run, found a drive with Denis, refound my other drive, but lost my pack and change of clothes, then got all that back and finally managed to get home somehow!

The next day as I awoke early (again) and dragged my carcass out of bed, I was ready for another race. This time the every fun Riverport Duathlon. I knew I was not going to be able to give this race my A game, but it is too much fun not to do.

The field was down in overall size this year, but the number of tough athletes was way up. It was a great field. I hoped I would be able to at least give some good runs, as I hadn't done a lot of bike training this year. My warm up run though made me feel like crawling back into bed.

Still I took to the start line and was soon running. The pace seemed fine at the start, though ultimately my Garmin wasn't doing anything so, I had no idea what I was running. So I hoofed it as best as I could. I quickly fell into 6th place, and while I feel like I could have pushed it past some of the guys ahead of me when fresh, I certainly couldn't that day. Still I apparently had enough oomph for a 3:36 pace and a 14:22 run for the first 4km. (Last year I did 14:08 in the first run)

That isn't me waving

To the bike, but not before a brain failure made me have to go back and remove my running shoes. D'oh. But then I was riding. This year I wanted to see how well I could do  riding by cadence and trying to keep to high. So I didn't look at distance or speed (I know the course well enough though). I did well but the uber bikers did manage to pass me. Eventually dropping me to 12th overall. The second half of the ride was also really rough with some nasty paved areas. I wish I could say that my cadence experiment was a success but then I was about 1 minute slower on the bike this year. But a fair comparison? Probably not. While riding the flats was fine, the hills just couldn't be over with quick enough, as my quads were burning.

  I was happy to see the finish line though and made a decent dismount (with a flying bike shoe). My transitions were pretty mediocre though, like much of the race I was just kind of in a fog. I could certainly race, but had no zip. Both my transitions were about4-5 seconds slower than last year.

But now, I had the chance to shine! My 2016 result was bad, as my injured knee didn't allow me to actually run the second run, rather I did a shuffle jog sort of thing. This time I headed out and pushed the pace. With about 500m to go I finally caught the 11 place guy Paul, and overtook him, claiming a small victory. I ran the second leg in 14:53 for a 3:43min/km avg pace. I was happy with that, and a 1:20 time overall. That was 2 and a half minutes faster than last year.

Not my crowning achievement, but overall I was pretty happy. I was inured, I had the strength to push through two tough events and give it my best effort in both.  Certainly I wouldn't suggest racing back to back events that mattered to you (though I do love both of these events), but finding those limits can be something nice.

Then we finished the weekend with a 7 kilometer hike.

Now to rest up for Moncton in 3 weeks.