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.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Navy Trident Duathlon 2019 - The Wet One

 So Duathlons are not known to be wet. That's triathlons. We don't swim in our events, but we might as well have this year at the Shearwater race.

Like last year the air was a bit chilly and the wind was high (bad enough to ban disk wheels). But alas that wasn't  enough and shortly before our race started we had the rain come down. And it was hard at times.

Still, we hardy duathletes headed out to the start line. The race was a 5K run, 20K bike ride (a bit short) and a final 2.5K run. The runs were pretty flat and both used the same course. The bike ride was crazy hilly and twisty, though the same course we have used before.

As soon as the race started I took off with the goal of not only placing well, but also getting the fastest runs. The other guys are pretty darn fast on the bike, though I will admit I put in some extra efforts this winter on the trainer.

It was a strong headwind running out and we did the 2.5K course twice to make 5K. I held the lead the whole way, but was impressed that Colin managed to stay so close to me. We both finished sub 18 minutes and for me that was quite something. I had never done that to start a duathlon before, though based on my Park Runs, it was not totally a shock. I crossed the line in 17:43.

To the bike and as usual I managed to get through transition pretty fast. I was off onto the bike and held the lead for quite a bit, finally getting passed by Colin early in lap 3 of the 4 laps.  I was really struggling with the head winds, but managed to get in some great efforts with the tail winds and also on the climbs. The wet roads didn't really seem to be an issue, though I was very cautious on one 180 degree turn.  I was waiting to get passed by Greg and Kevin, though only Greg did and that was right near the end of lap 4, after which I managed to pass him back right near the end. I was really impressed with my effort and finished the bike in second place with the 3rd fastest bike split (the actual time is off due to my Garmin getting messed up but it was around 32 km/hr.

To the run and this is where I finally noticed the cold. My hands were so cold from the bike that I had issues getting my helmet off and when I did get my sneakers on and stat on the course, I couldn't feel my feet at all. It was probably 1 km before I did.

Colin had built a lead of about a minute on the bike and I had work to do. I pushed hard and really started to gain on him. Sadly the 2.5K course just wasn't enough. I did end with the fastest second run in a time of 9:22 but I missed catching him by about 16 seconds. Still I was really happy. Faster than last years and in what I would call worse conditions.  All those tempo runs and time on the bike trainer have helped a lot I think.

A wet but happy Ian

So second overall and first in age group. This year the Duathlon passed out age group medals. But I was most happy for the hot shower.

I like a good solid top group at the races and this didn't disappoint. The top 5 were all pretty tough competitors. We all beat the weather and came out to tell the tale.