Tuesday, April 30, 2019

MEC Race #1 - Citadel Hill, 2019

So I hadn't intended to run the Citadel Hill MEC race this year. Not that I haven't enjoyed it in the past and not because I haven't done well at it, but just because I didn't feel drawn to it for some reason. But the fates dictated I would be back. A couple of weeks ago we Nuun Ambassadors in Canada got an email stating we could get a free MEC race entry. So here I was again.

I think part of the reason I wasn't really drawn to racing this event was that I felt like I had given it my best runs in the past. My goal is focused on other races as well, so I didn't really want to push my focus away from my training and in reality, my legs are toast from training and doing Park Runs, so I knew I couldn't give 100%. Still, with free entry and a bunch of my running club members going, I figured it would be a decent training run anyway. It is always easier to push harder in a race than when training solo.

The weather was decent this year, one of our few non rainy Spring days. The sun was sort of out, though the wind was cold and gusty. I did a small warm up to check out the route (it changes yearly due to construction issues) and then waited for the start. 

I selected to race the 5km, as I also wanted to get a good solid training run in later that day and knew that I could recover from this one. Our race started 5 minutes after the 10km. 

Soon we were off and I ran with the lead pack. I lead for the first kilometer or so before being over taken. I then regained the lead after about 2 kilometers and then lost to again around kilometer 3. We ran up and down the hill a lot. Almost 90 meters of climbing in 5k is tough on the legs.  

By the end of the first lap it was just us in the top 2 running together.  The crowd wasn't an issue, though running tangents was tough with various speeds of runners around coming and going and the bottle neck of running up a small uneven stair case through a tunnel (I loved that bit and managed to not get stuck behind a crowd both times through).  

I fell back a few seconds from first and knew after 4 km in that the gap was likely to hold as I didn't not have any sort of kick in me that day. I pushed through hard and finished in 17:19, 5 seconds off the lead. Now I wish that was a legit 5km time for such a tough course, but it was 200m short give or take. So I will have to be just as happy with my 3:39 min/km average pace on those hills with beat up legs that didn't want to run. I think that with a little less crowd to deal with being able to run sub 18 on that course would be completely doable for me.

So the training is coming along great. I am well in sub 18 minute 5km territory now, I have been pushing the speed in training but trying my best to deal with any lingering aches and tired muscles. I am surely much more tired and worn out these days than in previous years of training, but I also know that my May will be busy outside of sports and will be used far more for maintenance and race prep than outright speed training.

Perhaps a few more Park Runs will be in order over the coming weeks (last weekend was cancelled due to a fierce storm).

I switched back to the Brooks Launch for this race and still haven't taken out my racing shoes yet this season either. The Launch are a bit heavy but quite supportive and I thought would be ideal for the hills.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Shoe Review - Saucony Freedom ISO 2

So last week I was at a Saucony demo session and I won a pair of their Saucony Freedom ISO 2. I decided to wear them all week and put them through a variety of runs to see how I felt about them in general and where they will end up in my shoe rotation.

First off, I had two colour options if I wanted to walk away with shoes that day (thanks Aerobics First for having the event and for spotting me shoes from your shelves). My option was black or ViZiRed / Black. I opted for the ViZiRed version as nothing says fast like red.

The basics. This is considered a neutral shoe, so it doesn't have any support for pronation issues. I usually run in neutral shoes, so this works well for me. It has been awhile since I have used Saucony (they discontinued a previous shoe I loved), so I will confess I don't know the difference that well from pre ISO models and the newer ISO and ISO 2 models. The drop on this shoe is 4mm. The outer / upper is a new knit construction, which apparently shaves weight.

Okay, so how was week 1? Well I did 2 easy runs of approximately 40 minutes each (one was hills), 1 interval track session (10x400), a 5km race and warm up/cool down and a long run of a little over an hour.  So that that ticks all the boxes it seems.

This shoe has more cushion than the other shoes in my current rotation and by that I mean noticeable cushioning. It is what I consider a plush shoe. You feel the extra little bounce. That doesn't seem to make it less responsive though, as the intervals went fine and the 5K race I did helped me set an early season PB of 17:47. Usually I consider "bouncy" shoes to be not my go to shoes.

Weight. Well my other current trainer is the Brooks Launch and when I look at the specs they both come in within a few grams of each other around 255g. That being said, the Freedom "felt" a little heavier. Since it isn't, I assume it the bounce versus more firm feeling of the Brooks. Again, this didn't seem to affect my training or racing and my long run on steep hills was fine as well. As I am training for 15km races currently, I won't be putting longer distances in yet, so I won't know how these fair after say 1.5 hours or more.

The heavier feeling may also actually come from switching from 8mm to 4mm drop. I know that sounds odd, but I have felt this before switching to lower drop shoes. If that is the case, I expect that feeling to disappear quickly.

Shoe construction seems really nice. The knit is stretchy but keeps the foot in place. The colour is wonderful and there seem to be many options.

My big thumbs up goes too the laces. Seriously. The laces tie and don't have to be double knotted. I can't say this happens for many shoes and me.

So, a positive thumbs up over all. Where will this shoe fit in my rotation? Easy runs for the most part I think. The EVERRUN foam seem to give a little extra cushioning that will be great on recovery runs, easy hill nights and probably slower paced long runs.

Edited add on May 5, 2019

So I do have another thing to add. While the knit construction is really nice, the mesh is very open at the toes. When running in wet conditions (not puddles, just wet pavement) you socks will instantly get soaked as the spray comes up and over your toes. Other shoes I have seem to employ a tighter weave near the toe and this slightly more tight weave seems much better at keeping toes dry in mildly wet conditions. So maybe this isn't my wet day shoe.

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Weekend of Wins

Okay, so it wasn't a weekend of big races but a couple of low key fun races. But it was a good weekend of achieving goals. 

We started out Friday with a good romp on the #MyHomeCourse 5K charity run, raising over $2000 for the Terry Fox Foundation. The weather was great, the course hard with hills and twists, but I managed a course record and another early season sub 18 min 5km with a 17:53. I won the run too, but it was that time that made me happy.

Less than 24 hours later and I was racing another 5km run with the local Park Run. Only it was cold, windy and rainy. I managed an 18:03 and a win. I was really happy with that time though. Back to back and well below my 15km race pace effort. Also racing in variable conditions was great. 

I finished with along run on Sunday, hosted by Aerobics First and Saucony. I ran 15km on the race route for the Bluenose and managed a great easy effort Zone 2 run at below 4:20 pace. That felt good (though year, by the end my legs were tired).

So, I didn't win a training run, but I did walk away with a new pair of Saucony Freedom from a  draw prize. Can't wait top try them out.