Monday, March 2, 2020

The 2020 Training Season is Well Under Way

So I haven't posted in awhile but I haven't just been sitting around. My first planned race isn't until May with the Bluenose (and I am still not 100% decided on what I will be racing there). Usually by now I have raced something, but the MEC series is now over, I am only skating this year for fun, and there is no Tri the Oval.

Overall the weather hasn't been that bad. Yes, a few storms here and there, but really, nothing that has lasted on the ground for long. So my goal so far has been to train hard for the running season.

Though I had great success last year with my running, I have been training the same way for quite some time and it is time to change things up a bit and experiment. Normally I am a fairly low mileage runner with 60km weeks being large and the fear of injury on big weeks being a driving factor for staying with what works.  Now however, it is time to try a few risks (smart and calculated risks).

So I have been building my run mileage, not focusing on speed as much, and so far so good. January started out fairly normal, having had a nagging knee pain right before Christmas. I built up my long run a bit, but focused more on running a bit longer during the week, taking my 40 minute weekly runs to 50 minutes. By the end of January I was up in the 60 km range.

I kept that mileage up, focused on recovery and started to build the long run even more, plus a mid week long run as well. Now in February I also started to build in climbing / hills more as well. Races here are seldom flat, and though I never shy away from hills, I realize that I could be doing more. By the end of February I had achieved two weeks with new mileage highs for myself , 89.5 km and then 96.5 km. I didn't run weeks like that when I did my marathon a few years back.  These weeks also included long runs in the 30-34 km range and over 1000m of climbing each week.

4 loops of Parkland and over 400m of elevation?  Yikes

Now that I have hit those numbers, it is easy to just want to go further, but now is not the time. The smart play is a small taper then a look at doing a little more speed.  I'm going to keep the weekly runs to 50 minutes and drop the long run a bit.

But hey now, it wasn't all just builds these past months. What else was I up to?

Well, I was selected again to be an Ambassador for Nuun, an electrolyte drink for athletes.  This is my second year and it is a product I quite like a lot. I'm not one for consuming a lot of calories on runs, even long ones. But having a slightly flavoured drink does help me drink more often, and thus stay hydrated (a good way to help recovery). With almost no calories, it works well for me.

I continue to run parkruns when I can and will be focusing on my goal of at least 1 sub 18 minute 5 km run per month. I began January 1st with a parkrun in Boulder, Colorado. My 19:23 time was not my best of course, but in snow and at altitude, I'll take it.  After coming home, I snagged a 17:44 at the local parkrun. So January was now clear.

Then I was asked by Paula J. to help her on her quest to better her indoor Masters record for Canada in the 5000m. Not being a track guy at all, I wasn't sure how much help I would be. But we ran side by side and got her to her goal and beyond with an 18:08.  My first track meet went well then it seems.

My run club held its AGM and elected 2 new board members. I feel really great about continuing to serve on the board and guide our fun group. Go BLTRunners!

I helped Luke MacDonald and friends organize another micro charity 5K fundraiser run in support of Team in Training (raising funds to combat Leukemia). The weather held on what was looking to be a bad day, and we had a great event.

And then February parkruns happened as well. I started the month with a 17:35 5K (meeting my goal) then ended with a 17:34 5K on super tired legs (then managed a 34 km run the next day). I am really happy with those numbers.  The BLTRunners also took over the parkrun one week as well, and the numbers swelled to 60 runners that day.

So yeah, it has been a decent start to the year and I am looking forward to what March and April bring. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

2019 Year in Review

So I was away over the year end and didn't really have a moment to see how the year went for me.

January started with loads of training and a bunch of time on the Oval, speed skating and group skating. For once, I had no racing at all in January and that was to be the goal for the year, less racing with more chance for recovery for the big events. I had also become a Nuun Ambassador this season, a product I use frequently while training and travelling to replenish electrolytes.

The main goal was going to be the Bluenose 15km, but that wasn't until June, so I did need something to break apart the training regime. First up was the Frost Bite 5 Miler in February.

The day was actually really nice and not frosty at all. The course suited me well, with rolling hills. There were a few spots with some ice near the start, but ultimately it was perfect. The training had been going well, and I managed to finish first in 29:24. I showed up to this race with a good sized crew of BLT Runners as well, so it was fun cheering them on at the finish.

Following this was the Moose Run, 25km of non-competitive racing. I usually take this opportunity to pace someone and this time it was Sarah, who was running the first 8km of the relay option. She did great and then I finished the first half running and chatting with a few others before turning the remaining 12 km into a hard tempo effort, dropping my average pace on the way out  of 4:37 to a 4:14 avg in total. It was tough but fun.

Then I went to do a parkrun. I didn't really think much of these events to be honest. 5km, free, weekly timed events. I had nothing against them, but didn't see them fitting into my schedule very often.

I went to the first one (second parkrun) to pace Sarah again and we did well. I went to the next one with a goal of sub 18 minutes, something I try to get at least once a year for the past few years). It was hard due to the nature of the course, but I achieved it with a 17:48.

Next up I helped my buddy Luke organize a 5 km fun run fundraiser. I was able to run it and managed to do a great time again, then the next day following it up with a back to back great effort at parkrun. 17:53 then 18:03.  April finished with a 2nd place and sub 18 min effort on the MEC Citadel Hill 5 km race.

May was spent back at training, throwing in some m ore parkruns along the way as well. Then June hit and it was all racing all the time.

Things got kicked off with a rainy and frigid Duathlon in Shearwater. I was happy to see my 5 km race pace from the parkruns carried over to the duathlons, where I did my first run in 17:43. Ultimately I finished second overall with the fastest runs and faster overall.

I then hit my A race of the Bluenose 15km. The day before I paced the Bluenose 5 km for the 20 min or 4 min/km pace. Then show time and I took off with the top three runners. This race was going to be intense for me, holding a pace to start that was going to be much faster than my finishing pace. This course was heavy on the downhills to start, so I took advantage of that, pulling into a solo second place effort, running my fastest 10km pace ever for the first 10km, then eventually crossing the line second overall, first in Age Group and with a great effort of 56:33. I had hoped for a run in the 55 min range but maybe that was optimistic? Regardless I felt like that was the effort I had.

Next up was the Tire Trot 5 km race. I won that last year and came back to defend my title. I won again and ran a little faster. I think those parkruns were starting to really take hold. The best part of this race though was what I won:

June ended with the Baddeck Duathlon. The first 5 km portion of the duathlon is all hills and I mean really crazy big hills. I managed my fastest start to this race in the four years I have raced it, with a 18:14. My bike went well, even with my bike computer flying off and I came in to the second run in 5th place overall. I threw down some fast times (in fact the fastest run splits) and pulled out a third place finish against some of the fastest duathletes around. I felt really great. Always a fun event in Cape Breton.

 I trained on the trails in July and August and went over to PEI to compete in a 25 km trail race. It was super hard with constant rolling hills. I gave a good effort on a  hot and humid day but the finish result wasn't great due to someone removing the trail markers in the last few kilometers. Up until then I was second place overall. The top 6 runners fell prey to this sadly. But all in all a great effort on the trail. I also took this time to complete a full trail run on the Bluff Trail for my birthday. It was raining and muddy, I fell at least once and had a great time. I beat 3 hours and will be back next year to see if I can't do better.

Come September, I did a little bit of Race Directing for a Canicross event, then it was Rum Runners Weekend and another MEC race. In Rum Runners, our BLT Runner team placed well and I managed third place on my Leg 8 run. It was a hot day and the course had some fun hills. I paced out the 12.8km at 3:45 and had a decent cushion back to fourth.

The next day I showed up for a slightly cooler 10 km flat trail race. Again a third place, but a really good sub 37 minute 10km effort on really beat up legs proved that I had found some speed this year. And the BLT Runners won the Club challenge for the first time, which was great!

One final Duathlon in October, meant one more hard bike ride. A new to me course (I missed last year) turned out to be great, as it let me shine on the run with a 17:33 start to lead the group onto the bike. Eventually I feel to fourth, but fought back to third overall and an Age Group win in the end.

Next up was supposed to be a more casual bit of pacing at the Valley Harvest Half Marathon. Then a little less than a week before the run, I was asked to step up and pace Paula to a PB. Now, I find this to be a fast course, but it is hilly and there can be tough windy parts, but I did step up and we ran a 1:21, which truthfully, I was a little worried about doing. It was only 1 minute slower than my PB. But I guess, since I didn't race a Half this year, I may have been strong enough to pull something out under 1:20? Hard to say, but this day was Paula's.

As much as I wanted a rest, I had one more race to do. Flyin' Nutz 10 km trail race is a really tough event. I won it last year while getting lost (super twisty and turny) on a really rainy day. This day was snowy and cold. I won again, after getting lost, but also bettering my overall time from last year and taking the win only within the final kilometer of the race. Never give up.

I already posted about my race director duties. The Movember Run is always my biggest, but our micro "My Home Course" events were great as well.

I threw down more parkruns when possible and ended the year with 26 of them in total, one out in Boulder over Christmas. I managed numerous sub 18 minute runs on a tough course (all uphill in the second half) and I managed to snag a new PB in the 5 km at 17:19.

Now as January is here, back to some less intense stuff, more snowy events (I hope) and maybe some recovery, though knock on wood, I had no serious injuries all year and nothing that prevented me from being active.

I finished the year with 2643 km of running,  6356 km of biking and 262 km of other stuff (skating, swimming etc...). Let's bring on 2020.