Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 - The Year of the Race Organiser

So I have been volunteering at events for awhile, helping out and over the last few year I also took on organising a charity race for Movember. This year I took it to a new level.

It started in December 2017 actually when Luke MacDonald noticed that donations to the Terry Fox Foundation were to be doubled (then tripled by Aerobics First). While giant charity events can be great things, Luke has been a big fan of the small event, someway for the individual to make a difference.

So Luke contacted me and asked how we could get some sort of event going. His idea was to take his local 5K run route and make it an event, then somehow get others to do the same. So the My Home Course Event  style of micro charity run/race was now well underway. 

I helped with the logistics of setting up the registration, the timing system, and the Facebook event page. We gave ourselves lots of lee time, with the event taking place in April.

This time around, I organised then got to take part. I had a great run on Luke's course as he lead me through the turns, while the Team in Training Crew helped volunteer as course marshals. It was a great small event. 

Our event rubbed off on Craig as he decided we had the perfect 5K home course right in our back yard on the BLT Trail. Taking the notion of a quick turn around for these events, we immediately started to organise with the help of Scott and Nicole. Less than a month after the first event, My Home Course was back, again raising money for the Terry Fox Foundation.

We brought in the concept of Chips and Timing as well (a nod to chip timing) offering  a bag of chips as runners finished. We had another great turn out, many from our own run club. This time I stepped up to Race Director as well.

Stepping away from the run scene, I also love cycling. I lead a group trail ride weekly all summer long. But for two years now, my friend Sheldon and I have gotten into event organising as we have put together a non competitive 65km Sportive ride. The event goal is to provide a safe ride for people that want to push their limits while keeping the cost low. Year 2 saw an increase in riders and great weather.

With little time to rest, I was also working on a more competitive Canicross event.  This event also saw an increase in participation as the growth of competitive harness dog sports continues in the Maritimes. I am really proud to be able to help grow this sport by hosting canine friendly events, and for this year we donated all proceeds to the Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia. 

The main event for me each year has to be the Movember Run. This is a slightly bigger event with a turn out of 100 runners, split between people only and canicross. This was our 8th year and we donated almost $3300 and over $23000 over the whole 8 years.  I am proud of the community support this event has continued to draw out and it is great working with my friend Mike in getting this event rolling each year. 

So with the main event over, I was ready for a rest. But can one truly ever get a rest? I received an email stating that Prostate Cancer Canada was having a donation matching month, with every dollar donated tripled by a National Labour Union. With little time to spare, I brought back Craig and we got a new My Home Course Event 5K up and running with some volunteer help from Nicole and Elizabeth. We did this one in a single week, and while the total donation amount isn't exactly known, we do know that we are directly responsible for over $1200 going to Prostate Cancer Canada.

The run went well, some runners pushing hard, others having a good fun run and chat. 

 So, with 2019 coming to an end, I just had to have a quick look back and I am really happy with the work I and my cohorts have accomplished this year. We got people active, we raised funds for charities, we offered opportunities for those that don't get to race or ride often with groups. We also hopefully have planted a seed in the form of micro charity events. Again, large events that bring in big sums with flair and excitement are great, but so much can also be achieved on the local level.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Flyin' Nutz Trail Run 2019

Well the season ending race for me the last two years has been Flyin Nutz. This is a 10 (ish) km trail run near Halifax. The course is constant up and down with about 290 (ish) meters of elevation gain, almost all on single track with switch backs. It is hard to get an exact distance as GPS in the woods can be a bit of a guessing game some days.

Last year it was warm and rainy. This year we had sun. But in November sun often means cold and it certainly was. -2C with a decent wind when we arrived at sign in. Oh and it had snowed the night before.  Now the snow was minor, but it has it's own issues. It hides some tough footing on the trail and it makes roots and rocks really slippery.

Craig and I did a brief course recon / warm up for the first kilometer of the route and it didn't seem too bad. We headed back to the start, debated clothing choices, and then made our way to the start line.

Soon we were off. The start is a tough one with the route immediately funneling down to a narrow path. You need to get their quick if you want to take advantage of clear trail. I made it there first last year, second this year. Mike made it there first and we both tore up the tough 100m climb to get going. Once up, he was kind and let me by and I took off. This section is pretty flat, so it is a good time to get some speed in. Then another short but tough climb and the main single track begins. 

I pushed hard in this section and could feel the other runners breathing down my back. 

The first tricky section is really marked well and volunteers guide you through it all. The hard part is actually figuring out how close others are to you, due to all the switch backs that are short and tight. 

I had actually pulled out a small lead at this point and push hard to climb a hill and gain more advantage. Then it was sort of a head down tough section following this. Last year it was shortly after this point where I tan straight and missed a turn. Well I got through that section, then missed a turn and went straight in a new area. Lead was blown again. I actually laughed out loud but turned back and headed on again. This year I think I went about an extra 500m, but it was fast running and I wasted little time in pushing back. Still, I lost the lead and had no clue by how much.

I started to work my way back through the field (I think I fell to about 10th). This hurt as I was now running a little faster than I had hoped to. Soon I was coming up on the toughest section in the middle, tough due to the harsh decent and climb at the start and finish of it. I just passed what was third place and the two of us entered this section together. 

I could feel him right on my back for most of it, but I guess I pushed a bit and gaped him soon enough. I reached back to the crazy climb out of the lake side section and pushed to go up. Jodi said that the next runner had just crested this climb so I gave it a good go. 

Now I was running into the middle and back of the field as I worked my way back to the start.  I was gunning hard and finally found out I was actually in third (I was confused as to whether I was third or in third). Part of me said, whew, back on the podium and a clear trail behind you, so don't worry. Part of me said, giv'r. Part two was winning. 

I passed Dave and he said, the next runner was about 1.5 minutes ahead. That's a good chunk of time, but I figured, at least I would have a decent overall time if I kept pushing hard. No more power walks up the steep inclines, I need to keep going. I took some risks and then started to see flashes of blue up in the woods ahead. So now the reality of regaining second was there.

We started through the tight switch backs with around 2 kilometers to go and I was now seeing the ground between myself and second closing. The legs were not happy, the lungs hurt, but the heart was strong and telling me, let's do this.

I caught second finally and he was really decent again about letting me by. He tagged on and pushed along with me but I managed a small gap. Then with about 1 kilometer to go I caught 1st and passed to regain the lead. 

This section started with a super crazy down hill of about 200 meters which I went down in a  fairly uncontrollable, risky, but in my mind justified manner. The bottom I knew was fast (with a few tough rocky bits), so if I hit it quickly, I could take advantage of the burst of speed before second place could. Then soon I was out on the pipe line section and was able to really open up the stride. I finally looked back and saw a bit of empty space. Really at this point I just had to remain safe. But I wanted to get a fast time, so i pushed it a little more. 

I popped back into the woods one more time, then out into the open and to the finish line. Needless to say, I worked hard this year, way harder than last year and finished in 1:03, 1 minute faster than last year.


Thanks to NS Trail Runners for organizing this, thanks to the sun for coming out, thanks to the other runners who were really decent when a faster runner came upon them, and thanks to the BLT Runners who came out to compete and enjoy the run as well. It is best with a group. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Valley Harvest Half Marathon 2019 - Pacing Duty

So my race season was pretty much done with the Riverport Duathlon. It was time for a much needed rest after a lot of racing and hard Park Runs all year. Because so many BLT Runners were headed to the Valley Harvest marathon weekend, I had opted to join them in the form of a Pace Bunny with True North Pacing. The goal was a 1:35 half marathon, something I can do easily enough that i could chat and encourage runners as we ran, but also a pace that was fast enough to feel comfortable for me while running.

The week prior though, I got a request. A friend was really wanting to grab a new PB in the half and wanted a little help to do so.  The catch? It was a sub 1:22 Hmmm.

Well, some wrangling behind the scenes and we found a solid replacement for me as the 1:35 half pace bunny (thanks Bradley), we re-entered me as a runner in the half and I started my taper.  Also, let's be clear, I haven't raced a half this year and while I have been having a great season of racing, pacing out a half at a little more than 1 minute slower than my PB was going to be interesting.

Race day was here and I got up at 4:30 am to be driving our car load to Wolfville for a 7:45 am start. The weather was stunning (it had rained hard the day before) with the forecast showing overcast, low wind and temperatures around 10C. So now it was just up to the old legs to hold.

So after a brief warm up and some chatting we hit the start line. Paula (who I was pacing) seemed ready to go. She had trained really well, and seemed eager to get the show going. 

A solid looking line up for this half, with some fast people right behind as well, as I pointed out which way to go (I start my pacing duties even before the race it seems).

And soon we were off. It is always hard to control the pace of a race from the start. The adrenaline makes a super fast pace feel easy. I looked down after a few hundred meters and we were well above pace. The lead two runners were pulling even more ahead, but I started to ease things back a little bit. We crossed the first kilometer in 3:40. Way too fast, but really understandable and being flat, this would kill us later in the race. 

Soon we were on pace in the mid 3:50's and cruising along. The crowd of runners was still pretty big around us. As we started down the first major hill Paula wanted me to ease back a little bit, and I obliged as we began to figure out each other's running style. A few runners passed us, but we quickly repassed then on the next up. 

My goal, of course, was to stay as close to Paula as possible, while holding our pace at the goal of around 3:53. Part of this is done by adjusting pace to stay with the runner while also easing ahead just enough to pull them to give a little more effort. It is a delicate balance for sure. All the time focusing on the road ahead as well. So for me this meant really listening to Paula breathe and how her foot steps sounded. I have a tendency to push the uphills and so it became very important on this course with long gradual uphills to not overdo it. 

Eventually we seemed to figure this out with minimal communication verbally. We zoomed through the marathoners that had left prior to us, the subtle headwind keeping the temps and nice cool. As we approached the turn around we were well in third and fourth place (or actually both second place for female and male runners). Then as we turned, the wind went silent (tail wind!) and the temperature climbed a little. Still with the overcast skies it was great.

Now began a longish climb. We tackled it no problem, hanging out around a 4:00 min pace, dropping our average from 3:51 to 3:52. Then the downhill began. Valley is hilly for sure, but it is really a series of runnable hills, and this downhill section is fast. This section begins with a kilometer of steep downhill but is almost 3 km long in total and brought our average speed back down a bit. For the steepest part I let Paula run beside me, choosing her own pace, before zipping back in front of her as it lessened in pitch.

As we crossed the dike area (normally a place with a horrible headwind and leg strength sucking hill) it was great to still feel the wind at our back. We were closing in on the final stretch. My concern now was choosing a line to get Paula through as we started to run through the 10 km runners (whose race started after ours). The road is very wide, but I didn't want to waste too much effort weaving around, and luckily we got through easily (the runners were all very good at running consistent lines, which makes choosing your path much better).      

I am not going to lie. At this point I was slipping a bit mentally. I have run much faster paces this year, but not really for this length. If I had been running for placing, I probably would have looked behind me and saw that I had a decent lead and eased up a bit. But I was running for two (that sounds weird) so quickly dug myself out of that rut and pushed us along the road to home. 

I was watching the distance drop and soon we were within the final kilometer. I counted down in an effort to spur Paula along with track like distances hoping to mentally change this from along distance event to a track event in our minds. We hadn't really discussed the finish, but her coach Derek was on hand and yelled out for her to keep push hard to keep on my tail. So I pushed harder to drag her along the track at Acadia to the finish. I also was clearing the path again, though the 10 km runners were still great at avoiding us. 

We crossed the line well under 1:22 and only 2 seconds apart. I saw pictures of Paula's stride at the finish and she was giving a great effort. We crossed the line at a 3:20 pace by my watch. More importantly we crossed the line at 1:21:32 for a 3:52 avg. We both finished in second place for female and male, third and fourth overall and both won our age group. So, yeah, that was successful.

That was great work for Paula. She had the speed that morning. I'm glad I did as well. The run felt great overall and physically I was there no problem.  I have paced a few fast runners before, but usually my longer distance pacing is a much more casual affair for me.  

After a breather and a water, I grabbed my True North Pace Bunny shirt and hat and went back out to find some BLT Runners. I lead Amanda, Jacquelynn and Elizabeth home. They all had great runs, as did many other BLT Runners.  All in all, a great day of running. 

Okay, now I get to rest? Ha ha. 

Oh and a little analysis? The red line (top) is my heart  rate, pegged at around 171 the whole race and the pink line is my cadence. Pretty smooth. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Riverport Duathlon 2019

This wasn't a year I got to do a lot of multisport, but I did get to do what I consider the best multisport around, some duathlons.

The year ender in Nova Scotia is always Riverport, and it never fails to end the year on a high note.

I didn't get to do this race last year, but I was back again this year and to a new course (due to some road construction). Instead of the 4km/28km/4km race I was used to, it was now at the standardized distance of 5km/20km/2.5km.

The day was wonderful weatherwise. The temperature to start was pretty cold, but the wind was low and the sun was bright. 

We racked our bikes, had our race briefing and soon were on the starting line.

As usual, my goal these days is to try and grab a good strong start on the first run. My bike won't be the strongest, but I know that, so i try to get a win where I can. As the race started, I took the lead early and never relinquished it. For the first 2.5km, I could hear Colin and Andreas behind me. I had found a good strong pace early on and went for it. I didn't even bother to check my watch and just ran what I knew I could handle. This si a super flat course, so I knew a fast time was up for grabs.

At the turn around I had gapped 2nd and 3rd by a little and pushed on. By the time I came into T1, I had thrown down a 17:34 min 5km and had opened up a 21 second gap to second.

My T1 time wasn't the fastest but at 28 seconds, was pretty good. I was on my bike fast and off for 20km of hills.

We shared the race course with the Do a Du racers. So the bike course was a 10km out and back, which they did once and we did twice. There was a  slight wind, but overall it was calm riding. I managed to hold onto 3rd place through the first 10km and was doing my best to keep Kevin behind me.

Coming back from the 5km turn around for the second time, I had to stop a little longer at the stop sign due to an oncoming car. This probably knocked me back 15 seconds or so, but it wasn't a huge deal. I was still in third some how until about 2km to go, when Kevin finally dropped me to fourth place. Lucky for me, this was the fastest part of the course and I didn't loose that much time to him compared to the hills.

I came into T2 about 200m behind Kevin, quickly dismounted and then threw down a fast transition time (fastest of the day) of 22 seconds, taking back 3rd place as we headed onto the run.

Nothing feels as "fun" as hitting that second run. With a short distance of 2.5km, though, I knew I had to push to make up any time I could on the leaders.  Alas, the best I could do was put down some fast kilometers and cement my 3rd place overall. I clawed back a little time, but was still 1 minute down on the eventual winner Andreas. We actually shared the fastest second run, both coming in at 9:17.

In the end my overall time was 1:02:47, 3rd overall, 1st in Age Group. I felt pretty good about it. I know my running has improved this year and I think my biking got a little stronger thanks to some good winter training. Still not as good as the top guys on the bike (I was 10th fastest at 34.2 km/hr) but good nonetheless.

Elizabeth competed in the DoaDu and had a great result with her strongest runs ever in this race.

In our three races it was a 2 to 1 win for Colin. I managed to win all the 1st runs in the three Dus I entered this year though and I'll take those wins. 

Oh and with the Age Group win today, I even secured a spot at World's, should I wish to go. I don't think I will opt to go, but it was a nice bonus to qualify.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Weekend Double - Rum Runners and MEC 2019

So this happens way too often. I get signed up for the local MEC race, then join into Rum Runners and realize that they are back to back on the one weekend. Now I guess I could just not sign up for one, but alas. At least this year I got a free entry thanks to Nuun to the MEC race, so it wasn't a wasted opportunity.

First up was Rum Runners. The BLT Runners had 4 teams running this year with some great people on board. As is usual, we had to work out some last minute changes due to injuries, but the teams were filled.

I arrived at the start of Leg 2 with Craig. We got some team pictures done with most of the squad and then began the process of wrangling team members to make sure they got to their start lines on time. All went really well, the weather was great (though it could always be cooler). Then after watching 7 Legs start and finish, it was my turn.

I have been lucky to do almost all of the Legs at Rum Runners and this was my first year doing Leg 8. There were some heavy hitters with Road Hammers, Outliers and Maine-Iacs leading the way in the Legs so far. My goal was to run hard and try for a pace in the 3:40-3:45 area and hopefully get a top 5. I have been Top 5 at Rum Runners in all years but my first where I was 8th on Leg 6.

We took off on time and I knew I had to stay near the front. It is hard to pass in Rum Runners since you have to stay off the road, and Leg 8 had a really tough bit of washout to start on the road side. I was quickly into 4th place and tucked in neatly running a good pace.

Leg 8 is really hilly for the first half or so and I knew I needed to take advantage of that. I do like the hills. First place was long gone, but I needed to keep myself up front as much as possible, and by kilometer 4, I surged on a hill and took second place. I held that for quite awhile, only finally relinquishing it around kilometer 8 or 9 to Judson from the Maine-iacs. He quickly put a gap on me, but then settled back into a similar pace. I thought about surging up, but truthfully, I knew where I was effort wise and that was too early to make that kind of move.

The rest of the race was really pretty even. I held my position, my pace was relatively even and I entered the final 2.5 kilometers of flat even road in my pace zone. I finally looked back and had a sizable gap on fourth, so I knew I just needed a strong finish to hold onto a great position and time. 

The heat was certainly taking its tole but there had been a decent cool breeze blowing. This was a now a head wind, but it didn't matter much. I felt good overall and was happy to see the finish, even getting cheered on by fellow BLTers and their taunts of how good their ice cream was.

I crossed the line with an average pace of 3:45 min/km for 12.8 km and was totally happy with my performance against some tough runners.

The next morning I awoke and headed off to run the MEC 10km trail race. This race was dead moderately flat with some mild turns, for an out and back.  I wasn't expecting a lot, but hoped to hold a 3:45 pace again for the day. There was a few fast runners in the crew and soon we were off.

I immediately fell to third and again, there isn't much to say as I stayed in my position for the whole event. It was hard, I looked at my watch way too much, which is a good sign that I was tired. It was overcast and cool to start, but soon was raining and the humidity was rising. I watched at First and second pulled away and I was really feeling done.

Soon though, the finish line was in sight. I didn't have a true kick to push through but did find a little extra pace in these old legs, dropping to a low 3 min pace as I crossed the line in 36:59 officially. I think this may be a PB for a stand alone 10k, though I did run 10k faster to start the Bluenose 15k earlier this year (it was net downhill though). Nice to see a time that starts with 36 though. I was happy finishing third and grabbed a quick Nuun to celebrate and get those precious electrolytes back.

I am pretty happy that while sore, I'm not that sore.  That may be the bigger victory. Oh and I tried the Brooks Pure Cadence in the 10km race. They seemed like a fine shoe, though maybe not as fun as my New Balance 1500's.

Great work on the BLT Runners in all things this weekend, with our teams doing wonderfully at Rum Runners, and then following up by taking the Participation award for most team members showing up to the MEC race. This is an award we tried to get in years past, and then we managed to grab it just by being excited about going to these events. Great work everyone, keep racing strong.

Oh and a shout out to Avery Deacon and her sister Anna for conquering the Berlin Marathon today.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Where has the Summer Gone? 2019

So it has been awhile. After June I made a switch for the summer to trail running, like last year. This year with the goal of a nice race in PEI. Along the way I had some great adventures. 

I began with a birthday run on the Bluff Trail. For those that don't know, it is approximately 24 km to do the out limits of the whole trail system of single track fun.  I had never taken the time to do the whole trail before and I must say, it was darn fun, though tough for sure. Next time I do it, I hope it isn't raining.

Our local Park Run has been an absolute awesome event since I started going to it earlier this year. 5 km of fun. This summer I used it mostly as a tempo run, as I always find doing those solo tough. In this environment, a pseudo race, I find it much easier to push myself.  I have had some great success as well, with many sub 18 minute runs.

When Luke shows up, we try and do a litter run afterwards as well.

Oh and there was this one Park Run where I ran, finished and switched into volunteer mode. And why not, these events need support to exist and giving back is easy to do. #highvizhero

The race in PEI went pretty well. I feel I ran a strong and solid effort for it. Sadly, someone removed course markers (not other racers), so we at the front missed a crucial turn. Eventually we found our way back on course but that added an extra 3 km and dropped me from 3rd to 10th overall. The course was stunning though and is a run I think anyone that likes to race on trails should consider. 

From the trails of PEI to the trail of Colorado. It was off to visit family and when we do that, you can't miss out on running there. The elevation, the heat, the threat of rattle snakes (I did see one) and the jet lag make for some tough runs, but the scenery is wonderful. 

Back home and another Park Run with members of the BLT Runners, who have been strong supporters of this event. In fact for Canadian running clubs, we are the fourth biggest group attending Park Runs. Congrats to us! 

Oh and this weekend? Well, I went to Park Run on Saturday and was feeling good. I knew I want ed to give a good hard effort and even wore my fast shoes. The weather was cool, there was no wind and I thought I had a good shot at a good time. 

Kyle showed up and said he was going to grab a good sub 17 minute time. I knew I couldn't do that, as my PB was 17:31, and this is a tough course (downhill 2.5 km and then uphill 2.5km). I thought if I could hang with him on the downhill, that would give me a good shot at getting near my PB. And I did manage to hang with him, clocking the first 2 kilometers at 3:20 and 3:22. Kilometer 3 is half down ad half up, but it is more flat at that point, so I managed a 3:26. Kyle was pulling away at this point but I could use him to mentally pull me along through kilometer 4, which is the toughest. I dropped my average pace to a 3:36, but as I started the final kilometer I looked and my avg pace was 3:27, well below my PB time from earlier this year. So I pushed the pace up a little until the final 200m and gave it what I had left. I crossed in 17:19 and a new PB was born. That was hard. My heart rate was truly maxed out.

With Fall approaching, I will be into a few different things, race directing, Rum Runners, pacing at Valley Harvest, and one more duathlon. Still loads of fun to be had.   

Monday, June 24, 2019

Baddeck Duathlon Weekend 2019

Year 4 of the Baddeck Duathlon has come and gone and it was once again a great event. Sure, it is a tough course with a dirt road run featuring steep climbs, and a rolling road loop of 22 km that has a few rough spots (and one way bridges), but the scenery is awesome, the venue quiet from most traffic (I saw maybe 4 cars the whole time), and the hosts once again proving how to welcome everyone. 

As usual we make a weekend of it and head up the night before. This time the drive was horrendous, with torrential rain and highway driving at 50 kph for long sections. We made it though and checked in this year at the Silver Dart. The weather meant we could take full advantage of the outdoor pool and other amenities, but we did have a great room with a stunning view. 

Luckily for the fourth year, the weather cleared and by race time the roads were dry and clear, the air temp cool and yes, a bit of a headwind, but it kept the bugs away!

I got to the race site early to get setup and took my bike out for a quick spin.  Then after putting it in transition, I did a short jog to warm up the running muscles.

We had a brief race briefing and headed to the start. The first 5km run as I mentioned is on a dirt road with the first kilometer going straight up, it reaches a daunting 16% grade for a brief time, averaging just under a 5% grade in total. So basically my kind of race.

Soon we were off. I took the lead. Last year I tucked in behind other runners and didn't run my own race. This year I decided to just give it my best effort. I made it over the hill (ha ha) and pushed through to the turn around, staying in first, my lead at that point not huge but there was a gap.
I finished the fast downhill section and ran into T1 with a time of 18:14, getting what I want in these races, the fastest first run and this year a nice gap to second place of 17 seconds. Add in my transition time of 33 seconds (Colin took that by 1 second) and I had a small lead heading onto the bike.

I wasn't sure how long the fast bikers would take to catch me, Ryan though made sure it was quick, zooming by a mere 2-3 kilometers in. Wow.  Then I waited. Colin came by next, but it was closer to 7 kilometers in and another few before Andreas passed me. Usually heading into the halfway point, the big guns have made their push and I get dropped back much faster. I guess my winter training had paid off at least a little bit.

It wasn't until kilometer 16 that Allan powered by me. I was now in fourth overall but knew that if I pushed hard enough to stay as close as possible to Allan I might be able to catch him in the second run. He did slip away a little more than I had hoped and by kilometer 18 Daniel just zipped ahead of me. Just hang in there! I glanced down to check on the distance again and to my surprise my bike computer was gone. I guess I hit a bump and knocked it off. No stopping to go back though!

Daniel never really lost me and we entered T2 together. I dropped a minute off of my best time on this loop. With the head wind near the end, I don;'t think that the weather helped significantly over previous years either. That made me happy.

Andreas and Ryan were long gone but I found Colin and Allan racking their bikes and switching to running gear. Off they went, but I pipped off right behind them.   

 As we hit the hill I could see Colin and Allan maybe 100-200 meters ahead. I mustered all I had in my legs. This run was short but was going to be intense.

I eased closer as my stride finally started to open up a bit. By the turn around I was right behind Allan and finally got by him. Now it was all down hill for a kilometer. I was inching closer to Colin and didn't know what he had left in his legs. Certainly in our last race he pulled away near the end. I could have played it safe and just ran behind him but opted to go for it. I averaged a 3:30 pace in that second kilometer, just slightly pulling ahead of Colin and speeding up to a 3:19 pace for the last 500 meters. In the end I took him by 2 seconds and wow, that was it. I had the fastest second run and that felt great. Third overall in a tight race from 2-6 against some fast guys.

I managed to jump back on my bike for another 12km of riding to find my bike computer, it was fine. Back at the event, we had a great bit of catering again this year and filled up before we packed the car to head off for more weekend adventures of hiking in the highlands.

The weekend never really warmed up, but we managed to avoid the rain. The Highlands never disappoint with so much to see.

And yes, we took the dogs.

Because Newt loves to explore.

And while our wet Spring has meant a lot of running in wet conditions, and a seemingly depressing grey skies, it also means awesome waterfalls. So we chased those all weekend as well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Michelin Tire Trot 5K - 2019

Well another weekend another race. Back to the Tire Trot in Bridgewater. Last year we decided to go down to the 5K trail race for some fun out of town. Quite a few BLT Runners attended. Once again, the BLT Runner hit the town in full force, probably double the number from last year.

This is a 5K on a crusher dust trail with some switchbacks and ups and downs. Not the slowest course, but also not the fastest. It was my only sub 18 min 5K last year and I won last year as well. So back I came, hoping my legs were recovered to give a good go at getting into the 17:30's.

The weather was bright and sunny and way too warm. But it was 5K so you just deal with it. Luckily the course is quite shaded, so the heat on the actual course isn't as bad.

Craig D and I went out for an easy 3km warm up and course scout. As Craig hadn't run it before I wanted him to see the switch back, the tight areas etc... Then it was back to watch the kids race and finally line up for our race.

Knowing the layout, I knew to get to the start asap. From the gun, I took the lead and headed out. I knew to make up time in that first kilometer as the rest of the race is pretty tough. I hit the first kilometer at 3:20.

It seems that almost the whole race is slightly up hill after kilometer 1. I pushed hard through to the turn around and started back where you find a little relief in a moderate downhill section, though you also have to run through the crowd behind you a bit. Luckily everyone was really good about making sure I didn't get blocked. The tight nature of the course and the large crowd made it so that I managed to run by people until kilometer 4 before finding some alone time.

Really, it turned into a race of holding on. The up hill just gets worse towards the end and my legs were just tired from 2 weeks are hard racing. I pulled a decent lead out, but still wanted a good result. I pushed through to the finish in 17:53. Not exactly were I hoped to be, but it was what I had.

As I crossed line a nice little kid handed me a piece of paper which had this on it:

So that was really cool. Even cooler than the nice medal they give out.

5Ks have been my thing this year and I have had some great results, but soon I will be needing a bit of a rest I think. Well after this coming weekend anyway.

Thanks to Tim Chesnutt for snapping some great pictures. His races are coming up soon (Epic).

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Bluenose Marathon Weekend 2019

So it was Bluenose Marathon Weekend in Halifax. This year it was moved back into June due to some conflicts and after seeing rain for what seems like an appropriate amount of time to consider Ark building, we finally got some sun.

Sun is great when it comes to standing around at the start and walking back to your car afterward, oh and hanging out on the deck post race. Sun during the race can be tough. We hadn't done much training in heat, and there was very little breeze or shade on course. So we all knew that it would make things a little tougher. Still, it could have been much worse. 

My first duty on the weekend was as a Pace Bunny for True North Pacing in the Saturday 5K. I was picked to pace the 20 min 5K. Usually pacers don't pace at these faster speeds, but I know what it was like trying to crack 20 min on a 5K and I knew this wouldn't affect my race the next day, so I was really happy to do this.

I lined up near the front but not on the front row and soon was swarmed by runners and from what I could tell within the first 300m, falling backwards to probably 60th place or more. Of course this is the usual exuberance of a 5K race and I was soon casually running by people. As I expected a decent crowd had gathered around me, many of whom were young kids from a variety of local running clubs. This was great. 

Part of my role as a Bunny is to hold pace, but also encourage and talk to the runners to help them keep their mind off of the toughness of the race. As a coach I also tried to remind them of proper running posture and arm swing. 

It was great fun and there were quite a few runners near me (both ahead and behind) as I crossed the line. A few thanked me, and that was great. I ended up 33rd overall. For a local race that is amazing to see so many runners in the sub 20 world.

I used my Brooks Launch on that run and they were a great choice, offering me just enough cushion but still felt peppy at a faster pace.

The next morning it was time for me to race and I had chosen the 15K this year. As it turns out I am really glad I did. Sunday was even warmer than Saturday and with the longer distances I knew it was going to be tougher. My goal was a 3:44 pace or under.

As the weather was nice, standing around was easy to do, so we got to the start a little earlier than the last couple of years. I lined up with a few other runners I know and soon we were off.

The Half and Full marathon had a 20 minute head start on us, but due to their course taking a different route at the start, we soon caught up with the back of the pack. I was in third at this point and had drifted slightly off of lead two. My goal though was to run my pace and not worry about placing. I mean we always hope for a good placing, but you have to run what you can.

We worked our way through the crowd as we approached the North End of Halifax, and sought all the shade we could. Soon I ran by a cheer squad that some of the BLT Runners had set up. It was great and I felt pretty good at this point.  We were now about 5K into the race and I was below pace time by a little.

The first 10K of this course is pretty fast and I knew I had to take advantage of that, though without going too hard. I was always going to lose a little time in the last 5K. 

Just before kilometer 7, I managed to catch up to Neil in second. He had been running well, but I guess pushed a little too hard (he had also run really well the day before) and drifted back from first. I decided not to play any games, stick to the plan and pushed on. If Neil could stick to me, then that was fine. Turns out he didn't.

This was the big downhill section, so I managed to pass a lot of other runners from the half and full. Then as we hit the bottom of the hill we were forced into this very narrow section. I had a few choices, but opted to run on the gravel off to the side. Not the fastest route or surface, but the smart choice.

Certainly weaving through the crowd wasn't the greatest but generally I was able to run the line I wanted to.

I hit the 10K mark and my Garmin registered a time of 36:58. So that was my fastest 10K time ever.

Now it was time to suffer. The heat was building and the uphill portion began. First was a steep climb up to Young Ave, then a quite out and back and on to South Park which is a gradual climb until almost the end of the race.

I was now all alone. First place wasn't too far away but certainly not close enough to push for and really, based on my heart rate data, I was at the limit. Third place was far enough behind that i could have eased a bit, but really, who wants to do that.

Every time my watch beeped, I was so happy another kilometer was done. Then the huge downhill of Cogswell was upon me. I ran done hard, mentally getting ready for the final climb to the finish line.

This was tough, and lonely. I have never been on the stretch of street in this race without a crowd around. Here I was in second overall and it was just me. That felt odd and fun. Lots of cheering and crowd support as I pushed hard to the finish.  I came across the line in 56:33. I had fallen short of my goal by a second a kilometer, but I know the weather played a small part in that. You have to race smart on the day you are given. And again, my heart rate data proved, I was at the limit. 

It turns out I was fastest in the top three in that last section. Was I just pushing harder or had first place settled in to a pace based on his knowledge of the gap? Hard to say. But I am happy to know that was the hardest part and that I wasn't settling. I pushed that gap down from almost a minute to 30 seconds and pushed the gap to third to 1 minute.

After the race it was time to chat with fellow friends and BLT Runner members. Some had PB days, other had fun days other lent their services to pacing duties. 

So I was second overall and top Male in the 40-45 Age Category. I won this fancy cutting board.

I am really happy with my performance, my training and my placing. Sure I wish I could have paced a little faster, but the heat and the solo running make it tougher. I need a pace bunny I guess.

Thanks to the support of the BLT Runners and Aerobic First and all the volunteers that make these events doable.

On this run I wore my New Balance 1500v2. I think it was the right choice. My feet were happy at least.