Monday, September 3, 2018

Crooked Trees Duathlon, Keppoch - 2018

Sometimes a little gem appears and you just can't say no. Thus was the case of the last minute Triathlon Nova Scotia Off Road Duathlon at Keppoch Mountain. This race didn't exist until a hole in the schedule appeared and a great group took it as an opportunity to jump in with something new and unique to the area. 

Keppoch has become a bit of a local draw in Nova Scotia for Mountain Bikers, with great flowing trails up and down the mountain and some crazy gnarly steep descents. So adding an off road duathlon was, logistically, not a problem. 

I was entry number 1. I am by no means a mountain biker, but I am a duathlete and this new challenge fit perfect with my trail running program I have been focused on this year. At the very least, I'd get a great workout for the day.

I drove up the morning of with Sarah and Heather, both taking in the (maybe the smart choice) Sprint Distance Du, while I signed up for the Standard Distance. We arrived and the casual atmosphere was really nice.  

So, I don't even own a mountain bike, but my good buddy Sheldon at Sportwheels, hooked me up with a loaner. This Norco was older stock and is used as a loaner at the shop, but he tuned it up nicely and the shifting and brakes worked perfectly. And based on my test ride, it had just enough easy gearing to make it up the steepest climbs. 

As this was the first year for this race and it was kind of last minute, the crowd was small, but that doesn't mean there wasn't some tough competition. Certainly there were a load of people who were awesome on a mountain bike. A race briefing before the race showed us just what the course was going to be like and what trail riding etiquette was in case we came across other riders.  

Race organizers decided to start us back from the trail entrance for the first run in order to spread the field out a bit rather than have a crowd of us try to enter the woods all at once. Soon we were off and Peter, Daniel and I lead the way for the Standard Distance race. 

The trail was wonderful. Up and downs, twists and turns.  Daniel fell less than a kilometer in, but jumped back up quickly. Soon  he and I took off from Peter before the main climb of the first run. This run went from the base to the top of the hill, covering over 150m in less than 1.5 km. It was tough but we made it up and then Daniel took over with some very fast downhill running. I didn't stray too far though.

A brief foray on an access road lead us back into the woods and some really fast, downhill.  So fast that we both missed a portion of the course and went a different way. Apparently not the only ones to do so, though Peter managed to actually run the correct way. That made us come into Transition slightly behind Peter, having run an extra 0.5 km. 

As i opted to bike in my trail shoes, I had a blazing fast T1 and was first out on the bike though. But within 1 km I was passed by Peter and Daniel as they put some strong effort into getting into the single track first. Still I made decent time, banking on being able to do 30 minute laps (this was a double lap course in my race). 

I'm not going to say this was easy. It was tough. Most of the trail up was quite smooth, with some super steep switchbacks. But i made it to the top and began the descent. Unfortunately I dropped my chain a few times on some super rough patches. Realistically that made me lose maybe 2 minutes  or less. But it did mean that I took the second lap a little less vigorous.  At least I think that was why I took it easier. It was also likely because the first lap was tough. 

By the time I reached the top of the climb the second time, my body was really feeling things. My back was tight, my arms were weak, and my quads were destroyed. Still, all I had to do was go down!

And down I went, on a tight switch back, I was so tired that I grabbed too hard on the brakes and fell off the bike.  Luckily I was going slowly and the damage was just a scraped knee and shin. I was back up and riding quickly, but overall it looks like my second lap was minutes slower than the first. I was also passed near the end by Tim C. who was flying down with supreme control. 

Luckily for me, Tim C. only passed me near the end of the ride down and I caught back up to him in transition 2. I was back into running form quickly and headed back to the toughest hill around. This run was shorter than the first but basically included all the hardest parts of the first run. I made it to the top of the climb, grabbed some water (darn it was hot), and headed for the downhill single track. Happily this time the race director had fixed the issue with people going off course, so I ran the correct way, popping out and crossing the finish line in 3rd place.

Daniel had blazed to the win off of a strong mountain bike, Peter coming second a few minutes ahead of me, and I was totally wiped out but oh so happy.  I had hoped to beat 2 hours but eventually came in officially at 2:02. The dropped chains and fall didn't help, so I think I was physically there for my goal, which is great. 

This was one of the toughest events I have ever raced. It was a whole body beating, I dare say tougher than the marathon I raced a few years ago, and tougher than any triathlon of a similar distance I have done.   

It was great to see Heather and Sarah do really well, both winning their races (the one Sprint race became a sort of Sprint and Sprint Plus race due to the various paths chosen). We drove back to Halifax, but not before stopping for a yummy burrito at my favorite stop in Truro, Habeneros. 

Word is they are planning an off road triathlon next year as well as the duathlon. Colour me interested. But maybe I'll try and get on that mountain a little earlier, just to get my upper body acclimated a but. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Another Weekend of Fun and Training Aug 18-19

Another summer weekend has come and gone. The weather wasn't the greatest for doing a lot of summering, but it wasn't bad for running. The clouds in the morning made for a cooler feel. 

I got up bright and early to try and beat the rain on Saturday. With a big day of training, I try to keep breakfast simple but "sturdy." As I wasn't racing coffee was first thing on the menu and the Aeropress was the way to go with some lovely beans from Costa Rica (thanks Java Blend). With that went a nice sized bowl of oats, with a little brown sugar and some butter.

I have been focusing on 2 hour long runs as I get ready for my Fall trail race. So far this has been 2 hour trail runs, which means somewhere around 18-22 km of running. But this day I decided to go and check out the first Leg of the Rum Runners Relay. I will be racing this one in about a month or so. In my mind it was a 12 km distance, so I thought, run from home and then run the Leg. Anyway, it was more like 13.5 km, so by the time I got home, I got my 2 hour run in, but also 27.5 km. That was my longest run in awhile, but it did feel good. So training is going well. 

Here I am at the halfway point of my run, also know as the beginning of the race. I look so happy.

25 km later and I made a joke about arriving first. I'm also a little more tired by this point with another 2.5 km to get to home. 

That was it for Saturday. But then Sunday, I took out too great athletes, Lindsay and Mark, to coach them through a trial triathlon. Both are racing next weekend in their first race and this helped them get the feel and understanding of what was going on. We did the full thing as well. Nice 800m swim to get started, then to the bike for 25 km, and finally a 5 km run to end the day. Then we chatted a bit about race prep as well. They will do great. We didn't push too hard as this was a trial run, and also my legs were still a bit heavy. 

Looking forward to see how my legs feel this week and to getting back on the trail. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Chase the Pace 1 Miler 2018

This past weekend I took part in the Chase the Pace 1 Miler. The goal of this event is to have pacers run the track at a set pace, while people try to get a PB. I signed up hoping to finally break 5 minutes (though really this would only be my 4th attempt in 3 years to actually try to do so).

I had hoped there would be a 5 minute pacer, but the closest pone to my goal was 4:50. That is quite a bit faster than I figured I could sustain. So the question was, do I follow that faster pace, drift off near the closing laps and hope to hang in, or go out easier and see if i could make up the time by the end.

I'll be honest, I usually have some sort of a plan, but come the time for race day I was totally without one. Track running for a PB is not my strength and so I was totally out of my element.

One thing I did know though, was to make sure and get a good warm up run in. I did so with Luke. He was going to be chasing his goal of a 6 minute mile (which he got).

Well, it came up to race time, and I got my race shoes on and headed out. Many of the runners had spikes on. I think this probably threw me a little as spikes do help you run faster, and now I wasn't quite sure what sort of speed people would be running.

So having psyched myself out, I basically dropped to the back of my pack and tucked in. For the first 100m or so, we were all together, but soon enough the lead group started to pull away. That left four of us running together with me at the rear. By the end of the first lap we were down on our goal time by 6 seconds. So not a great start.

By halfway through the second lap a small gap formed between our pack. I made the choice to surge past the next runner, then bridge up. The three of us then met the next lap down even more time on the goal. 

As the final corner of the third lap approached, I realized that I wasn't going to make that sub 5 minute mile. But I also knew I could salvage a good finish, with a strong final lap and at least beat the guys I was running with (wink). 

So I laid down a fast lap. I pushed hard and surged even harder coming to the finish. I put a pretty big gap between myself and the three guys behind me. I think my final time may have been 5:08? 

What I learned was that track running and road running are way different. Doing loops makes it tricky to really know your pace. Ideally I would have had a pacer at the pace I was hoping to achieve. I didn't, so it was kind of best effort.  Also, I should have trusted my legs and pushed harder earlier on, my timid start to the run let me down.

Many great runs were had by others though and I still have some speed in my legs, so it isn't like it was a bad day. The Mile will go away now, and maybe next year we can try again. But onto other challenges now.

Thanks for the warmup running Luke, and the great race Bryan. 


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

MacPass Mile 2018 and the Rest of the Weekend

Wow, August already? This hot summer has been trying as far as training goes. I guess in this instance, it is a good thing that my main goal is a Fall trail race where overall speed isn't as important as getting some good time on feet and some hills in. 

So it was Natal Day Weekend in Halifax and that meant it was time for some racing. This year I opted to do the MacPass Mile again, a 1 mile race across the MacDonald Bridge. This is a tough mile as it starts on a downhill, then a steep uphill and finally an equally steep downhill to false flat finish. This race separates into A Women's Race, then a Men's Race, followed by a Girl's and finally Boy's race.  

The heat was gone from the proceeding days and like last year, the rain came. A good steady rain as well. At least it was cool! My main goal is time and not placing, and due to the hilliness of this mile, and the slippery nature of the surface, I didn't want to kill myself, so I didn't try to specifically place well.  

Here we are all lined up, slightly wet, but with a good warmup in our legs (Craig, Jordan and I had a great little warmup run with some strides)

The idea is to head out strong to be able to choose your line and avoid painted road surfaces. But you also have to be careful on the downhill start not to blow out of hamstring or go so hard you trip.

I took the steep climb reasonably easy, saving myself for the downhill. By the top of the hill I think I was in about 8th or 9th place. As I crested the top, I had plenty in the tank and started to pick up the pace. By the mid point of the race I found myself in 4th. 

Now it was all about mental power and holding form. You have to not over stride coming down or the pounding will just drain you before the line. 

I pulled away from 5th place but in no way could catch 3rd. Check out that gap!

As I approached the line, the clock was nearing 5 minutes. I pushed a little extra, but just didn't make the mark, finishing in 5:03. Still that was better than 5:07 from last year and it hurt less. Not bad, considering I haven't done much out right speed work this summer. That was good enough for a 3:08 pace, 4th place overall and 2nd place in my Age Group.

It was also great seeing so many BLT Runners hit PBs as well. Many smiles were shining in the rain.

The new tradition is to gather as many people as possible and head over to the Montreal Bagel place for a treat and chat. This year I opted for the BLT Bagel. Mmmmm.

That fuel was then put to good use as Craig and I headed out to do some hill repeats. No, not those, run up hills fast and stroll down kind. Instead I found a 2 km hill with a 3.7% average grade and we ran up that and then down at an easy pace. My goal was 2 hours of running on hills and this provided that. Craig had to leave after 3 and really only got to run in the blazing hot sun that had come out. My next 3 were done in pouring rain. It was nice having some company for the first bit. 

26 km in total and 2 hours later I was at the Bike and Bean to meet my wife (she did some hills as well). I could literally ring out my clothes. 

I'm not a huge beer drinker, but after close to 30 km of running I figured I could have one. This hit the spot, Nine Locks. 

The next day was a rest day, so into the woods for some hiking we went. Dang it was hot.

So a pretty decent weekend of fun and running and hiking. Oh, and a few moments of feet up and relaxing as well. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

How Was Your Weekend?

So the weather was downright nasty on the weekend. Humid, rain, cloudy, warm. That means retreat to indoors and come back stronger later right? Nah.

On Saturday my friend Sheldon (from Sportwheels) and I organized the second annual Sportwheels 65km Sportive Trail Ride. A nice safe way for riders to get a long ride in that has support along the way and a BBQ at the end. For many riders it is a great way to kick off training for the longer century rides that come in August and September. In total I rode 75km (some added support) on the St Margaret's Bay Trail, had some great chats and met some new people.

Then Sunday it was time to hit the trails to get training for my October Trail Race. I stayed close to home using the Bluff Trail system to get a 15km run in. I learned a few things about shoes on that day, which is why we train. It was also a wonderful day to just get out of the daily grind and into nature.

As I sit and drink coffee in my air conditioned office, I do think, dang, it would be great to get outside. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Aylesford Lake Triathlon 2018

This post is a little behind as the triathlon was last weekend, but I had hoped to get a few more pictures before I wrote it up. Alas...

Well anyway, I love this Triathlon and this year it was almost cancelled, until 2 great guys stepped up and made it happen. Thanks Jeff and Andrew.  This year I opted to go back and retry the Standard Distance (1.5/40/10) that I had done well at 2 years ago. I don't do a lot of triathlons each year but thought if I was going to do this one, it would be hard.

I arrived and was happy to see that I was presented with the #1 race bib as the official leader of the points series. I also received a special gold swim cap which only the points leader can wear. I'll take these moments when I can.

The lake was really nice and calm, the sky cloudy and the wind low. Perfect conditions. While I am not a strong swimmer, I was feeling comfortable going into this race.

Check out that cap!

Soon the race was off. We ran into the water, or in my case, traveled at an easy pace to get comfortable.  I hit the water and had no issues with panic and just started swimming. Now I did swim fairly wide to the side to start, wanting to ease myself in and soon I had a good rhythm going. two years ago, I was a little faster in the water, but as a non swimmer, it is hard to maintain that without a lot of work. I reached the half way point about 2/3rds of the way back in the field.

I managed to finally get out of the water in 29:43 and in 15th place.  I will admit I had a slower time with my wetsuit this year and that was likely also showing up in my overall time as I didn't rush the transition zone.  When I did get in, I was able to breeze through in 42 seconds for the second faster T1 of the day.

Then to the bike! 

I got a rhythm going quickly and started to catch up with people. This course is rolling hills with a few good climbs. I knew I didn't have a lot of hope catching all the top guys, but I did want to make sure I finished as close as possible to the leader, as this is how points are awarded. 

Sadly I have no pictures, but coming into the end of the bike ride I had worked my way up to 8th place with an average speed of 34.1 km/hr. I blew through T2 in 40 seconds and was off on the run.

The run starts up hill, a steep up hill and on bike legs that feels horrible. Still, I knew that with a little effort I could catch at least a couple more people. About 2 km into the run, I caught up with Craig and could see Paul. I pushed hard and by the end of the first 5K I had closed the gap down to Paul. Finally, at about 6-7 km into the run I passed for 6th and pushed hard again.

Ideally I had hoped to go under 2:20, but I ended up crossing the line at 2:23, 6th overall, 1st Age Group. My swim had been much slower than the top guys, in some cases 7 minutes slower. That is hard to make up. So I am happy I made up as many places as I did. The run was a little long, and I completed it is 41:45, 3rd fastest of the day. 

Overall, quite happy. I had a couple of really ugly training weeks leading up to this race, and while I felt good that day, I think it took a little of my mental game away. Also, heck, recovery from the races I have done in May and June has been rough. Still, I had fun.

This is a great event, I was privileged to be the wearer of the golden cap and can't wait for the next event.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Baddeck Duathlon 2018

Now in its third year, the Baddeck Duathlon is a great event and one I have no issue with driving a distance for. What used to be the weekend of my favourite triathlon is easily one of my new favourite races. 

The weather this year was great, crazy considering how bad the weather in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton in general has been so far this Spring/Summer. Sunny with a few clouds, a light breeze and mid teens temps. Perfect.

This event also has a later start time, so the morning is super relaxed. Eventually though, we all have to meet in the big circle to get our race briefing.

Then it is off to race start, where apparently we have to wait for someone (no names, ha ha). Now as much as I would love to win this event, it is great to see a strong top 10 group of people show up and for there to be a great race. It means I have to push myself, and that is part of what we like doing, right?

Soon we were off. Run 1 is a 5km route on a gravel road with the start being a 1 kilometer climb, before a small dip happens and then the climb continues. It certainly is a hard run, but a hard run is better for me (I guess?). I quickly took second place and watched as first zoomed away. Wow, Tyler was fast. The best part of the run? Possibly when an emu ran up to a fence and screamed at me.  Or possibly when I got to the turn around, still in second, and knew that the big downhill was coming.

I pushed fairly hard on the downhill to make up some time, but in no way could catch first.  Still I came in to T1 in second with a time of 18:04. I was happy with that.

A quick 32 second transition and I was off on the bike for the 22km route around Big Baddeck.

I'm not bad on the bike, but I am certainly not as good as the top guys. So it always comes as a surprise when I get to catch and pass someone. Within a few kilometers I was in first. That was short lived though as within a few more kilometers, Allan passed me for position. Then by 10 kilometers in I was passed by Daniel and Colin to fall back to fourth.

Now I knew that my run, even on a short course could be enough to hold my position "if" I could stay as close as possible to the next few guys I knew would be coming along.  So I pushed and pushed hard. Soo, I looked down and saw I was coming into the finish, still in fourth. This was good news. I popped off my bike, ran through T2, switched to running gear and was off. Combined time was 40:38 and I was still in fourth.

Catching third seemed unlikely, but I knew that the 2.5km second run (same course) meant I couldn't let up.  Also you just never know.

500m in I realized how hard I pushed the bike, as my calf started to cramp, something that hasn't happened to me in years. It was at this point that I was worried I may have to walk and therefore lose my position. The cramp seemed to subside and off I went. The turn around came quickly and soon I was running down hill again.

I pushed it and managed to maintain my spot, zooming through the finish line with a second run time of 10:14. I had clawed some time back from second and third place, but not nearly enough. Still year 2 and I finished in 4th again, though this time 1 minute faster on the same course with similar conditions.  I was pretty happy. 

My overall time was 1:09:30.

Thanks to the organizers for hosting again and the locals for always being welcoming. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bridgewater Michelin Tire Trot 5km - 2018

A free race you say? Sure I'll sign up. I said that many months ago and finally that day arrived. The week leading up to it, I wasn't sure if I was going to "race" it, or just run it since many others in the BLT Runners were headed up that way. I mean, I had just finished a tough Duathlon the week before, hadn't really trained for a 5km and well, I was tired. But the few days before I decided sure, let's give it a go.

My goal was "simple." Let's aim to run a sub 18 minute 5km. Based on my results from earlier races this year, I had a sub 18 in me, but wasn't able to show case it. So this "moderate" terrain course was a good chance. And really with a switch to trail running, maybe the last great chance I had.

So a bunch of us met up for a carpool and headed down. Upon arrival, we signed in (super easy) and were delighted with the lovely weather. Or should I say, concerned about actual heat. It was 8:30 and the sun was high and bright.

Sarah and I did a course recon and were happy to see that much of it was going to be shaded, so that was a relief. It meant we could stand around in shorts prior to the race and not freeze.

Okay I guess I'll take the jacket off

A kids 1 km race was held before ours, and it was fun to watch close to 100 kids have a great run.

Then we were up. Run NS gave us some great opening remarks (there were a few issues with the course). Then just like that we were off.

The race starts with a sharp downhill for 200m, the a sharp 90 degree turn, so I knew I wanted to be out in front and not caught up in anything. And based on the course recon, I knew the first kilometer was a gradual decline.

Quickly we left the pavement and hit the crusher dust that made up 90% of the course. A quick glance back and I didn't immediately see anyone, but didn't want to take any risks as I know some people hold back. Then there I was, pushing hard to keep my pace up on the soft ground, occasionally enjoying the scenery, and just like that I was at the turn around.

As I turned to come back, I finally saw the next 2 guys. They seemed to be maybe 20-30 seconds behind me at that point. I am really bad at judging the turn around, so off I went trying not to be caught.

Now I had to go back on a narrow path with about 300 runners coming at me. I must say that most everyone was great at getting out of the way. A few waves and cheers, a few high fives as I pushed along. I appologize that I can't really focus much when racing on individuals, and I certainly can't do a lot of chatting back, so sorry if it looks like I am not paying attention to those cheering.

There were a few groups of runners that I actually had to run through the middle of, but luckily it all worked out. Welcome to out and back racing on a tight trail system.

By the time I hit the final kilometer, I knew that it was looking good for me as I couldn't see anyone behind me. My focus had to go back to not winning but getting a sub 18. So I had to kick up the effort. The soft ground and now consistent up grade were taking their toll. But soon, I popped out of the woods, back onto the pavement and to the finish. A hard kick up the last little incline and I crossed the line with the win and my goal. 17:56 officially. 

I credit the really short shorts with the win

So that was that. A manged to wait at the finish line for many other runners, cheering them home. And so many BLT Runners as well. A quick stop at the local Timmies for a post race coffee with the car pool and we were off to home. 

Now a few more multisport adventures and then it is trail season for the most part (MacPass Mile will likely still show up and maybe another MEC Race). 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Shearwater Navy Duathlon 2018 - Sorry no photos

So as I have done for many years now, I awoke on an early June morning to take part in the Navy Duathlon at Shearwater. The event has been going strong for awhile and combines what is usually the first Sprint Triathlon of the year (as they have a pool) and a Duathlon. Back when I started doing this we would have 20-30 people in the Duathlon, as everyone else was excited about being wet. In later years our numbers have slipped from that peak.

So this year I woke up and the wind was howling. It was June but the ambient temperature was a paltry 4 degrees and with the wind, I fear lower than that.

As I arrived at the race venue an hour before my start time (due to the pool swim it is wave starts) and was greeted by the news that the pool swim was  cancelled. The Race Director and TriNS Officials felt it was too great a risk to have athletes come outside wet from the swim, jump on a bike and probably end up getting hypothermia. So now everyone was in the Du! Competition! What likely would have been 8-10 people was now 104. We were still going to race in waves, so the results overall would have to wait until the end of the day though. 

So the start time came, we had a briefing, we almost blew away and or froze to death waiting to start the race (a few helmets blew away for sure in some of the gusts). Eventually we were off. As the event was 2.5 km run / 20 km Bike / 5 km run, I knew I needed to get off to a fast start to get ahead for the ride. I am a decent cyclist but by no means one of the faster guys out there. And on a hilly course with so many corners, I knew that I would need any lead I could get.

*the distances are the official ones, but each leg was slightly short, so I'll just give my paces / speed

I pushed out at the start and took off, hoping to come in first from the run. I like to do that. At only 2.5km, it was short and fast, I averaged a 3:30 pace and came in first (though officially 3rd as other heats had some faster people).  It was a hard but manageable pace on crusher dust.

I popped off my running shoes, grabbed my helmet and then tried to grab my bike. The wind had made it intertwined with the bike next to it. So after freeing that up, I ran to the mount line and popped on my bike. Not a super fast transition, but at 38 seconds it was okay for 10th place.

I took off on the bike, starting with a big climb to get to the course. Then I started out with a fast first section, which was a tail wind. Then a switch back to a head wind. The wind was brutal, at times you were soaring at crazy speeds (over 50km/hr on the flat) and at other times crawling along at 20 km/hr. Also the cross winds almost knocked me down a few times.

By the end of the ride I was really happy to only been passed by 3 people and held many other at bay. In fact the last person to pass me only did so right near the end, so I didn't drift too far from him. I hit the next transition having averaged about 30 km/hr (slower than previous years, but with good power output for me). I then proceeded to almost zoom through T2 (my shoe had blown away) and got out finally to start the final 5 km run.

I passed the 3rd place (in my heat) runner and then proceeded to turn up the heat on positions 1 and 2. Really though, they had a big lead and at only 5 (really less than 5) km I didn't have a huge chance at catching them.

Eventually with a few hundred meters to go, I had reeling Kevin B in but still cross the line 5 seconds behind him. It was a really good comeback, but he had made up too much time on that bike for me to mount a true challenge. I managed an average of a 3:50 pace for that run and crossed in what would become 7th place overall.

It was a tricky race, not know where you were relative to others, and dealing with the wind, the cold and sometimes the heat. Even the run was tricky in the cross winds. Still it was fun having such a large duathlon field. Hopefully we can get that more often in the future.

Thanks Navy, for hosting for another year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Blue Nose Half Marathon 2018

So it is that time of year again where I post about my experiences with the BlueNose Half Marathon. It seem every year I opt for the Half distance at this race, though this year the 15km option certainly was tempting. Regardless, the half it was since this year boasted a new course that maybe could have been faster on paper?

The expo was fun, seeing Aerobics First as the main running shoe company was great. Seeing Eric Gillis in their booth and chatting with him about coaching and running was equally as fun.

Well, months of training, loads of hills, tempo runs that made me throw up, all the good stuff and finally race day came. And so did the rain. Lots of it and the temperature was around 10-14C depending on which weather app you use.  Okay, so that means that the race wasn't going to be as smooth as we hoped, but it was what it was.

I parked by my office and waited there after a little warm up run with Craig and Scott. We switched to race gear and with 15 minutes or so walked over to the start, watching the 10k runners head off.  Then as we started to get near the race start, we saw the crowd at the line and the announcer send them off. What!? We ran to get into the race, only to find out it was the 15km start. Whew, but ahhhh!

Soon though we were lined up and ready to run.

And we were off. My goal was to start out a little above goal race pace as were headed slightly down hill for quite a bit. I ended up going off at about a 3:30 pace, which was way to fast. Still, I just eased up a bit and by the time we hit the 4th kilometre I was on track and with a good group of runners. We tackled our first hill, I eased up a bit and then picked up my pace.

Now I was pretty sure that I would spend a huge portion of this race alone, as is usually the case. The results seem to show people with in a minute of each other, but in reality, you never are near those people.

I tackled the dreaded park with ease this year as it was reverse and thus mostly downhill.  By the time I was back to road running, my pace was around the 3:49 mark.  Ultimately I would have loved to finish this race at or faster than my Moncton pace from last year, as with the course being long, I never got my official PB from that race. But it was super flat, perfect temp and dry unlike today. So I knew that anything 3:51 or below would still give me an official PB in the Half distance. So far so good.

Just as we were we approaching the 10km mark, I picked up a position and saw my 10km split as 38 minutes. Not bad, not my best at the Blue Nose, but perhaps holding back that little bit meant I would have something to tackle the big hills that were coming.

Now though, the wind that was there was gone as was the rain. With the tail wind pushing me along, the humidity in the air and thus the perceived temperature started to climb. I felt it very quickly and it did not feel good. Luckily I dressed light.

What was unapparent was just how much of an incline the flat streets along the water front were giving us. And from that gradual incline, we hit the hills of the North End. First Valour, then Devonshire in quick succession. At this point Lee from the Road Hammers passed me like I was standing still. Zoom. Yikes.

These hills average about  a 5% grade hitting over 7 in some spots. Ugh.  I was able to use my hill skill though, to catch the next runner and put some distance between the 2 of us. Lee was off in the distance though.

Some crazy twisty streets and soon I was on Isleville. Turns out it is a hill too, so much up on the second half with little rest.  I ran by Sarah and Jordan and this year had enough energy left to smile. Last year at 5km in, I was so sick I didn't even see them.

Then more twisty turn and a few bouts of head wind. Yikes, was this ever going to end. I won't lie, but my heart and breathing were totally fine, while my legs were just dying. Maybe the humidity? Definitely the hills. I knew I was quite hot.

Now at the 17km mark a guy ran up to me and we ran together for a bit. I have no idea where he came from, but obviously his legs were a lot fresher as he started to pull away. I looked at my pace as I tried to keep up and we were around 3:36, so I knew I had to ease up just a bit. Now my average pace was 3:50, and while I was happy with it, I certainly would have liked to gotten it lower.

 I knew that the rest of the race was mostly flat with a huge downhill before the finish. With 3 km to go, I managed to convince myself that if I could push the pace a little more that in only 12 minutes I would be done. So I did. Slowly I started to catch Eric, who had taken off with the leader at the start. Last year I caught him with less than 2 kilometres and while I knew he was fading, for me to push to catch him at this point, nope.

Finally the downhill, I did my best and pushed hard, legs feeling like they were done, turning the corner and knowing that I would be in a sea of 10 and 15 km runners. I was right. I started up the main finish line, but was overwhelmed by a sea of people, so I quickly took to the marathon chute (for marathon runners to skip the finish line for their second lap) before ducking at the last moment over the finish line.

Somehow in the last 4km I moved my average pace up from 3:50 to 3:48. Officially a PB and officially a 1:20 half marathon runner (1:20:21 officially). 

I had a great time training with this group, sometimes helping them, and sometimes learning from them. I must say the BLT Runners is really a good crew.

Some of us even placed in our Age Group:

Last year I won, this year I placed second.  Overall I was 8th in a tough field and on a really tough day on a tough course. Sounds like a lot of tough. Well it was the day, we ran it, and it tried to fight back.  I'm feeling it a bit in the legs, but did manage a trail run in Colorado to help loosen things up.

Anyway, back to Blue Nose. Thanks to the support of Aerobics First and the BLT Runners, and the extra push I got trying to stay ahead of Craig during our Parkland Loop runs.