Thursday, March 25, 2010

around the bay ..... 30k ATB road race in Hamilton on sunday... I feel tired already

So the Around The Bay road race is now just 4 days away. For those that don't live around the Toronto area ATB is a 30k race held at the end of March every year in Hamilton Ontario. This is a pretty tough race but for some crazy reason local runners love this kind of particular torture. Although I have only run Around The Bay once before, 2 years ago, I am really looking forward to it again this year. That is saying something as I would rank my ATB racing experience 2 years ago as the second most painful race I have ever run.

Hey but that's part of the fun. Maybe the fact that I had never run 30k before that race even in training might have had something to do with it (do you think) or possibly that I had done zero hill training may have been a factor as well. I kind of chalked it up to the screaming pain in my knee but hell that's just me. I was definitely not amused by the grim reaper at all and that race was probably the closest that I have ever come to seriously considering dropping out.

So what makes ATB such a tough race? Well there is the unpredictable weather, March in Hamilton can be kind of sloppy / cold/ rainy / snowy but even more then that its got to be the hills. Its not just the hills but their sinister placement on the course. You get a nice 21k of flat fast course to lull you to sleep before you move in to the next 5k of “rolling hills” (I use that term lightly) with one big ass hill right at the 26k mark. Once you get to the top of that hill its all flat or slightly downhill until the end but of course your legs are too demoed to take advantage of this.

Last year I missed out as I was doing the Paris Marathon so redemption had to wait until this year. I should be able to PB barring injury but by how much is the real question. My original plan was to run a 2:20 but I think that may be a bit too quick based on my current fitness level so I will shoot for a 2:22 to 2:25. I am going to be much smarter here and stay cautious early so that I don't blow up real good like I did in the Peterborough HM (disclaimer: racing plan subject to change at any given time due to new developments such as losing my mind at the start line or just being foolish). Unlike my first time at Around The Bay I have trained hills like crazy and have lots of long runs under my belt so I am hoping for a good race.

Kim will be running this race for the first time but has trained hard and is sufficiently worried / scared of the hill section so I think she will have a decent race as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Slainte 5K Race Report - Finally Placed in a 5K

Talk about a crazy weekend. Its bad enough that I attempted to race two different 5k's back to back but just to make it more interesting someone “Up There” decided to throw in some nasty weather conditions just to make it all the more interesting. Was it fun? Yes. Was it crazy? Yes. Will I do something as dumb as running 2 races in the same weekend again? More then likely? ( I really want to say no but that's just to close to lying for me). Here is Day 1, the Slainte Race Report. I will post the Achilles report in the very near future.

Slainte 5k

The first sign of trouble came early when I began to watch the weather forecasts mid week. It didn't look good at all with wind, rain, and small furry animals falling from the sky being predicted for the next four days. I wasn't worried however as the weather channel seems to always get this kind of thing wrong.

The second sign was that my cold was bad on Thursday and didn't seem to be in a rush to get better. Hey its only 5k I should be able to run that far without breathing right?

I still held out hope that things would be much better come Saturday morning. I mean I saw the movie and there are definitely 7 signs before the apocalypse, 2 is just some kind of minor inconvenience.

When Saturday morning arrived I checked the weather. Forecast for Hamilton looked good with pouring rain all day and 50KM winds gusting to 68KM, awesome! I really didn't want to play anymore but what are you going to do. Rob Campbell came over to pick Kim and I up, she was smarter then me (usually is) and was not running. She insisted that one race a weekend was going to be plenty for her. We scooped up Roger Moss and headed off to Hamilton. As we drove further into the monsoon Rob tried to convince me that we might get a window of decent weather during the race. I figured that we had about the same chance of a window as me winning this race .... that would be none, but I wanted to be optimistic.

We got to Pub that the race was hosted out of (hosted out of a pub, you got to like that), picked up our race kits and changed. Runners were then bused up to the start line as this is a point to point race. Even though it was wet and cold I opted for shorts which made waiting for the bus a slightly uncomfortable experience. It continued to pour rain which was pretty much falling sideways at this point. Where the heck is Robs window. Soon we were on the bus headed to the start. I was surprised how much downhill there was. I had been told there was a large downhill section but hearing about it and seeing it are two different things.

Once we got to the start there was a nice dry, warm school for us to hang out in while we waited for other buses to arrive. I was not looking forward to doing my warmup at all (today it would be more of a cold up). Still NO WINDOW. As I headed out to do the warmup I ran into George Hubbard who had done this race a couple of times. He told me that he knew a secret warm up area so I followed him back into the bowels of the school where we found a 70 meter long hall that nobody seemed to know about but us. We did a short warmup here to at least get part of it in without getting wet and then headed out to the start line. I did a few more minutes of running mainly to stay warm until they were ready to start the race, then lined up and we were off.

The Race
Right from the start this thing was tough as we headed right into the 50KM wind. What, no window? I had decided much earlier that a really good time taking advantage of the downhill to grab a fast PB was not going to happen. Instead I would just run this thing as fast as possible given the crappy conditions. I also knew that with my cold still hanging in there getting O2 was going to be challenging. On the other hand I have never had to run in really bad weather during a race ( in more then 40 races) so I have been pretty lucky. Time to suck it up.

First KM of the course was flat and windy, felt like I was running okay but was still slow at the 1KM marker. Was it actual raining harder? Somewhere between the first in second KM we turned a corner in front of a large condo and suddenly were getting slammed by the wind. I kid you not my legs were moving but I was standing still. It was like running on a tread mill. This only lasted for about 50 to 100 meters but it was really intense, definitely some swearing was going on in my head at this point. Just after I climbed out of the wind tunnel my cold kicked in as I started coughing and wheezing. Yikes, coughing and running just don't mix well but luckily it soon became just wheezing.

I raced as hard as I could from the 1 to 3KM point but man was that oxygen hard to come by. At 3KM we turned into the downhill section and none too soon. For the next KM or so it was all downhill so I was able make up some time in this section. As we approached the last stretch the road evened out again. I felt very tired at this point but tried to maintain pace. I knew it was almost over and I was very close to PBing. I turned into the last 200 meters and could hear both Roger and George yelling at me to finish strong. I could see the guy just in front of me who looked to be around the same age as me so I dug for a final push. Man did it hurt, I mean badly. I actually swore out loud (one choice four letter word) as I passed the guy. I hope he didn't think I was swearing at him. As far as I can remember this would be the first time I have sworn out load at a finish line but I have cursed many times in my head during races and out loud during training runs. Swearing aside I was pretty happy with my finish and managed to run 21:03 which was an 11 second PB.

Post Race
We all headed to the mini van and got changed then when into the pub for chilly, beer and the awards. As I went back past the finish line I saw some poor girl looking really bad. Her boyfriend was trying to encourage her to walk the last 15 meters to the finish. That was no easy task as she was completely out of it, totally spaced out and throwing up as she walked. Yikes.

Got into the nice warm bar and found the other Longboaters already into the beer. Once again we took a pile of awards. Roger Moss finished 3 overall and Rob Campbell placed first in his age group. All together we ended up with 8 runners placing in their age groups.

For the first time ever it turns out that I was one of them placing 2rd in my age group which came as a big surprise. I will take it tho given the course conditions. As it turns out the guy I passed at the end was in my age group so the pain was worth it.

Final Results
Time : 21:03
Overall Place : 44/495
Age Group : 2/23

Friday, March 12, 2010

Race Weekend Achilles 5k and Slainte 5k ... training update

This weekend I am signed up to run 2 different 5k races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. This was not in my master plan, heck it wasn't even in my minor plan. So how did this happen?

Well I signed up for the Toronto Achilles 5k sometime ago. This race has become somewhat of a tradition for me. I ran my first 5k race at the Achilles 2 years ago and PBed there last year. Its a great race, fast and flat. Even more important it has free beer and Lucky Charms cereal at the finish line. How can a guy pass that up?

Then a few weeks ago some of my running buddies convinced me that I should come with them and run the Slainte 5k in Hamilton which is on Saturday. Its a really fast course with a nice downhill section right around 3k, you know the place in the race where you are slowing down and wondering why you would ever actually run a 5k. I couldn't resist this so I signed up. Also there is beer at the finish line. How can a guy pass that up?

The plan is / was to run the Saturday race hard then see how I feel on Sunday. If I feel great I will run it hard as well. If not (more then likely) I will either start off fast and see what happens or pace Kim. She was smarter then me and is only running the Sunday race.

Funny thing is this great plan is now up in the air as I have been nursing a cold since Monday. No run Tuesday, No run Wednesday, back running Thursday but still not over this thing. GRRRRR. Looks like now I will run both but play each by ear. Which brings me the the last few weeks of training.

Last week training went really well. My legs felt totally fine and recovered quickly from the Hamilton Half Marathon. I came back with a very strong week putting in 117km (73 miles)for the week.

This week was much tougher. I felt my cold coming on Monday morning but still got my run in. However missed the next 2 days so mileage will take a dip this week.

Seems like the last 6 weeks have been two good weeks, one bad week, two good weeks. It's been very frustrating as I just seem to get going good and I hit a speed bump. I can't complain though as at least I am injury free.

Watch for my race report or reports coming early next week.

Oh ya if you see me at a race this weekend please come say Hi cause colds are for sharing after all.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Peterborough Half Marathon Report or a Brief Moment of Insanity

Peterborough Race Report
Have you ever heard the saying that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again but expect different results? Well sometimes that's me with racing. Every once in a while, maybe 1 race in 10, I find myself living out this definition. I guess its my body reminding me to smarten up, you would think that extreme pain would ingrain lessons learned deeply but with me not so much. I'm the kid that shouldn't leave the house without a hockey helmet. Read On.

Kim and I were both looking forward to this race. I hadn't run a half marathon in quite awhile so I expected to PB. Fellow Longboat Gregoire Bonhomme was kind enough to pick us up and give us a drive to the race. In return I own him beer, now that's a sweet deal right there. On top of that the race start was 12:30 so we didn't have to leave for the race until 9:30 am. It so nice not to have to be up at 5 to race.

I had been worried about the weather all week with a big storm coming in on Friday and Saturday but by the time Sunday arrived the Chicken Littles at the Weather Network had been proven to be premature with their "the sky is falling", apocalyptic weather forecasts. Thank goodness I though I might actually have to wear a hat.

We got up to the race in plenty of time and met up with a bunch of other club members, picked up our race kits and got changed. The racing conditions were fantastic, sunny and 3 degrees. I decided to run in shorts, no hat, no jacket... sweet.

I should also mention that this was a really well put on race. Great facilities (YMCA), great volunteers. These guys know how to run a race right. I was so glad to have picked this winter half over the Chilly in Burlington especially given the problems I have had with VRpro races and the Chilly last year.

Race goals were simple, top goal to run under 1:37, middle goal sub 1:40, low end goal to PB. I knew my proper pacing, had my strategy, what could go wrong. Yeah right, where have you heard that before.

I started out well or so I thought at the time. On reflection I started out well if I was a much, much faster runner then I actually am otherwise I started out way,way,way (add some more ways in your head and just keep going)fast.

I had planned to put in 4:40kms to start and then pick it up a bit later in the race. Man what the heck happened to that plan. First to KMs were in the 4:15 range, oopps. I reined in back in a bit and at 3KM was running at 4:30, which is still too fast this early on but hey I felt good. Sure my heart rate was already right at threshold pace but I could just pull back some if it started to creep up, besides I was feeling good. I could hear the tiny voice in my head telling me to easy up and stick with the plan but I just pushed it deep down inside where it couldn't bother me anymore. Sometimes, like today, that voice sounds just like Peter Griffin and who the hells going to listen to that guy anyway.

The course itself is an out and back, very flat, very fast. I hit 6KM in great shape hitting all my readjusted on the fly splits that were for a much faster runner then me. I looked at my garmin.... oh oh, HR was above threshold and now steadily climbing and by the time I hit 8KM I knew I was in for a difficult ride. What was I thinking. I mean its not my first ever race and we all know that the longer distance races are all about pacing properly. What a butt head. I could hear Peter Griffin laughing and I imagined him saying "told ya" over and over again. I had a good time going but was now having problems maintaining pace, legs felt great, lungs were on fire and only 13 KM left to go. Yikes!

The rest of this race became an exercise in pain. As I slowed down from lack of oxygen I could see my time bleeding away. Somehow I was able to maintain at least some sort of pace. At 18KM I tried to speed up some but soon was coming up with new and ingenious ways to combine every curse word that I know. I come from the East Coast so I know a lot of them.

We passed the 20KM marker and then turned onto the final straight away which was somewhere around 800 meters from the finish. I could see the finish but man was it a long way away. I ran and ran but it didn't seem to be getting much closer. I checked my HR which had long ago pushed into 400 meter track work out range (98% of max). As I pushed I remembered how Roger told me about how he had passed out just before the finish line at the Bread and Honey and woke up in an ambulance. I contemplated this to help keep my thought off of my lungs which were no longer burning cause they had become scorched to a crisp. Legs felt great tho.

Then I was at the finish. I somehow managed to surge at the end passing two people just in front of me.

Post Race
Ended up PBing by 4:40 minutes but if I had run this race properly I would have been quicker. I figure I lost about a minute off my time by being foolish. Good lesson that comes at a great time with a month to go until ATB. I am sure I will remember this lesson forever (HAAAAHAAA as if).

This is a really great race. I will do it again for sure and highly recommend it. They know how to put on a great race that's for sure.

Also a big congratulations to all the Longboaters at this race. Lots of PBs and top finishes in individual age categories including Roger Moss (5th overall) and Rob Campbell (7th overall and a new club record for the 50 -55 age category). To check out how everyone did as well as what Roger had to say about me in particular be sure to go to his coaching blog. Its worth the trip.

Final Results
Time 1:38:45
Place 101/513
Age group 14/39
Pace 4:42
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