Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Goodlife Victoria Marathon | October 12, 2014

Chip Time - 3:11:07
Overall - 86 / 1565
45-49 - 14 / 116
M - 75 / 791
Shoes - Brooks Pure Flow (Red)

I had put pretty big expectations on myself for this race. Having run a strong PB of 3:04 in May at BMO Vancouver Marathon I was hoping to build on that and really wanted a 3:00 on the books. Mostly, I was working towards a vaunted velvet smoking jacket. Sigh. (see below)

As if on cue, the last speed training session 10 days prior to the race I managed to tweak my hamstring. Unexpectedly this was on my right leg, which had not bothered me at all. Being that last year at this time I wiped out and surfed on my ribs for a few meters, this didn’t seem like much of a setback. Fortunately some physio and taking it easy for a few days helped to settle it down.

Race morning I was feeling good. I hadn’t picked up a cold and my body felt mostly injury free other than the usual aches and pains. The weather had cleared up from the previous days’ rains, a nice temperature and not too windy.

I went out with purpose, aiming to keep a consistent 4:15 pace. I felt good to start and fell in with a few other guys that were also aiming for 3 hrs. I probably went out too fast for this course, erring on the side of a little quicker than 4:15 pace rather than slower. We ran together for a bit before breaking off at a water station.

This course is not “hilly” per se but it’s a rolling course that doesn’t let up. The climb up past the golf course was enough to start dropping my pace. I never really did settle in to a comfortable pace, other than a few sections that were probably descending a bit. By the halfway I was “just” on pace but I knew that it was going be challenging to keep it up. I had forgotten that the turnaround was a couple km’s past the halfway point and this was a little tough as there’s something about heading back that can give you that kick.

By 30k I was 2 minutes behind pace and unfortunately I didn’t have anything left in the tank. I was fueling well and drinking fortunately but to no avail. By 33k I was about 5 minutes behind pace. I knew at this point it was just becoming a rescue mission, getting to the finish. It really was a classic case of the last 10k beating me up as I desperately watched my pace per km climb. (A quote I just found from Reid Coolsaet's coach “There’s 35 km — and then there’s the second half of the race” - Dave Scott-Thomas)
It was great to see Alan and Melissa around 37k and have Alan offer to run me in but by this point I was really in the pain cave and chose to suffer it out alone. Many times in the last 7 or 8 km I had to talk myself out of walking. I really just didn’t want to see the 3:15 go by me at this point. “Just keep moving. You can salvage this if you just keep moving.”

I felt almost as bad as I did 3 years ago coming into the finish line, but fortunately this time I was 34 minutes faster! A 3:11 is my second best time so nothing to complain about. (Last year I was itching to even get near 3:15).  It was great to see my brother Colin and nephew Evan at the finish line as well as the awesome BRC crew, Emma, Jan and Greg 2.0!

Race Post-Mortem

I think the biggest thing going against me in this race was that I never did get my mileage back up after my 50 miler in July. August was busy with family visits and travelling and I didn’t even get 300 km’s in. September I missed some mileage from injuries and just barely scraped in 300 km’s. Compare that to my 3 months of near 400 km per month running leading up to Vancouver. I was likely training a bit too fast, not adhering to my zone 1 on the long runs, and maybe not enough long runs. I also fell off my daily core and strength routine a bit.

Near the finish - End the suffering!
Sums up how I felt. (w/ Colin) Photo by Emma

BRC represent! w/ nephew, Evan - Photo by Emma

East Side 10k | September 13 | Vancouver

Chip Time - 37:58
Overall - 43 / 1461
45-49 - 3 / 71
M - 35 / 694
Shoes - Brooks Pure Connect 2 

The East Side 10k was my 2nd 10k for the year and I wasn’t expecting any revelations in my finish time. I ran a strong PB of 37:49 on the very flat MEC 10k Fast Blaster in April and this course is much hillier. I just wanted to get in another race before Victoria Marathon to test my fitness and this fell about month before.

I’d been experiencing some hip and hamstring issues but with physio they seemed to be settling down and by race morning I felt about as race ready as I could. I ran the 3k down to the start line to warm-up.  

This was the 2nd year of the race and it’s part of the Canada Running Series that draws a fast crowd. It was great to see many familiar faces including many of the Fraser Street Run Club.

My race plan was to go out hard, hang on tight and hope for the best.

Siskiyou Out Back (SOB) 50 Miler | July 2014 | Ashland, OR

Gun Time - 9:19:32
Overall - 32/87
Shoes - Brooks Pure Grit 2

Spoiler alert: Yes, I finished
Towards the end of 2013 I decided that 2014 would be as good at time as any to run my first 50 miler. I’d just run Squamish 50k in the summer and knew that Squamish 50 miler would probably be a brutal introduction to that distance. When I ran SOB 50k in 2012 I remembered a much more runnable course and a great destination in Ashland, so readied myself to sign-up.

With this goal in mind I came into 2014 with the goal of getting much more weekly mileage in. From most of what I had read and overheard, the best preparation for ultra distances is to get in solid mileage at an easy (zone 1) pace and to try and train on race specific terrain as much as possible. (I also still had to train for BMO Vancouver Marathon in May, but knew that extra mileage would be beneficial towards that as well).

2014 Training
The SOB 50 miler course is near Ashland, OR, just north of the California border, in late July. (In fact, the out and back course briefly crosses into California before heading back.) I knew it was going to be a hot one, and fortunately Vancouver was getting amazing sunny weather to train in in the weeks leading up to the race. I made sure I was getting runs in during the midday heat and with a backpack on as well.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Race Report: BMO Vancouver Marathon 2014

Chip Time - 3:04:17
Overall - 110/4933
M 45-49 - 9/369
M - 97/2816
Shoes - Brooks Pure Connect 2

Even though I officially BQ'd (Boston Qualified) last year, this race is a breakthrough for me. My BQ was actually somewhat anticlimactic as Greg pointed out some time after BMO last year that I would be a year older in 2014 and thus meet the 45-49 3:25 qualifying time.

I had high hopes for this race, having had some great results in other distances this year, as well as it being my home course. A couple of weeks out, just as we were heading into taper mode, I managed to strain my hamstring. This made for one of my more grumpy tapers. It wasn't terrible but enough to be uncomfortable. I got to Treloar Physio right away for a few sessions and it settled down a bit. My 16km a week out was a still little achey and sore so I took the Wednesday 10k off. By Friday I did an 8k shake out run that was hot/muggy and my leg still wasn't feeling great.

I slept in late on Saturday morning but, not surprisingly had a terrible sleep on Saturday night. To top it off I started to feel a scratchiness in my throat on the Saturday before the race, which I wrote-off to taper-hypochondria.

The weather was super clear and getting warm in the week leading up but the forecast showed it cooling with rain for race day. As nice as the weather was for last year's race, it was the hottest on record and definitely slowed everyone down.

The rain started in earnest on Saturday night and I could hear it pouring throughout my restless sleep. Careful what you wish for.

Leah dropped me off at the starting line around 7:30am in the pouring rain. I had my garbage bag over me and sought out the covered spaces near the buildings. The rain seemed to slow to a drizzle about 15 minutes before the start so I shed my garbage bag and extra t-shirt… had a gel, and as we started moving to the front in our corals again the rain came pouring down.

Not long and then we were off. My feet were wet and I was a little chilled getting moving. I saw the 3:15 pace bunny just ahead as we were heading up Cambie and kept close. He was moving much quicker than a 3:15 pace but it was good to have a group around to start as I was warming up.

I eased into my pace (a little quick) and, surprisingly, after the week of taper doldrums and worry I was starting to feel pretty good. We turned on to 49th and I tried to be aware not to get caught up in the momentum. I knew I was going to get some speed heading down 49th and held myself back as best as possible. At around 7 or 8k I overheard a guy I was following ask if those around him were aiming for 3:05 as well. hmm? Maybe.

I took my first gel at 7k shortly before Camosun and felt great as I got to the hill. I knew I had a bit of padding time from the run down 49th so pulled back a bit and didn't try to overdo the hill. (I was a little disappointed the local radio station wasn't playing Highway to Hell on repeat this year). Another bit of a climb on Imperial and left onto 16th. I decided to take another gel at 12k, 5k past the first one, and kept up a schedule of a gel every 5k for the rest of the race. (I mixed up my gels this year to keep it interesting, 2 Vega, 3 PowerGel, 2 Hammer Gel plus an extra PowerGel they gave out on course).

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Race Report: MEC Race Series 10k - Race Three

Chip Time - 37:49
Overall - 5 / 246
M - 5 / 124
Shoes - Brooks Pure Connect 2 

I’m not gonna lie, I’m surprised by this finish time. I knew I had a personal best in me going in to the race, and was pretty confident a sub-40 would be possible, but a sub-38 was wayyy beyond where I thought I could push myself. (My previous “official” PB being last year’s 42:36 Longest Day 10k).

Woke up to an absolutely amazing morning on Saturday, had my breakfast and ran an easy 6km down to the start line at Devonian Park (Denman & Georgia). It was nice to get there about 25 minutes early and just enjoy the sunshine. Everyone was in a good mood and lots of great energy from the mingling runners (around 300 10k racers and just over 100 5k racers).

This had to be the most “shy” race start I’ve ever taken part in. When they called the 10k runners up and asked that those looking for a competitive time come up front, I was surprised to find myself standing at the start line with Stephen Lamb and a few others tentatively wandering up. Usually, especially in self-seeding races, you can’t even get to the start line and get stuck trying to get around slower runners in the first few hundred meters. (Noticeably absent were the speedy blue VFAC shirts).

Heading for finish line - Photo by Leah
The race start was delayed by 5 minutes, but soon enough we were speeding out on to the path towards the park. I definitely went out fast, more of a 5k pace of 3:37, and could feel it. I knew I wanted to stay sub-4 minute but that was a little crazy. I made a point of pulling back, thinking a 3:50 was my best case race pace (based on my recent 5k race time).

I knew I was doing OK when at 5k I could still see Stephen in the distance.

Fortunately a couple of runners had gone out ahead of me pretty strong and I tried to keep them in sight for a target. I got past a couple more that went out quickly but started to fade just before 5k, and then worked my way up to catch up to the other two runners working in close pace to where I was. I hung on to them for the next few km’s, noting we were still holding a strong sub-4 pace.

My thought process was something like “Wow, this pace is too fast, if I can hang on until 5k I can pull back and still make a PB…”… “yep, this is tough, I’m at 6k now, if I can hang on until 7 I could just walk a PB in…” …“holy crap, I’m at 8k and pulling ahead…” “…9k, one km to go, I hope those guys behind me don’t have anything left cuz I sure don’t…”

Just before 8k I found myself able to surge ahead. At this point I wasn’t doing the math but knew I would be coming in at a really solid time. (My watch was only set to Pace and Distance, no Time Elapsed). There was the only modest hill just over the stone bridge heading to the 9k marker on the East side of the lagoon. It was a little tough that late in the race.

I pushed as hard as I could up the path along Georgia to the sharp left turn just before the finish… high-fived Leah on the sprint in and looked at the clock in amazement.

It still surprises me how much different training is from race day. I can feel like I’m giving it 110% on a tempo Wednesday, and yet come race day I can usually still find that next gear. I’m also glad that my training is teaching me to trust my instincts and not be a slave to the watch. I would’ve pulled myself way back had I gone with what I assumed I could do.

It was an excellent prep race for the fast approaching BMO Vancouver Marathon.

The MEC Race Series is well organized and inexpensive. Lots of fun. I'm sure I'll do more.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Race Report: St. Patrick's Day 5k | Vancouver

Garmin splits
Chip Time - 18:38
Mile Time - 05:57
Overall - 96 / 1,715
Div M45-49 - 3 / 52
Shoes - Brooks Pure Connect 2 (Green, of course)

St Patrick’s 5km was my first official 5km race. I’ve done a few 5km “time trials” along False Creek in my marathon clinics (and last year managed to get just under 20 minutes). I’ve been running well and seeing some good progress on my tempo runs but I was curious to see what I could pull off. I figured I might try a stretch goal of sub-19 and see what happens. 

Sunday started rainy as I ran the 7km’s from VCC down to the start line at Stanley Park. It was about 15 minutes from race time as I got finished up at bag check and I followed the crowd over to the start line on Pipeline Road. There was quite a crowd already but I managed to spot Jan up close to the front near the Elite corral.

It wasn’t too long until the Maserati pace car revved up and we were counting down.

There was a good crowd to start but fortunately the road was wide enough and it thinned out pretty quickly. The downhill section to start really gets you moving quickly and I did a 3:39 first km.  I’m not used to seeing a mile marker but snuck in under 6 minutes. Second kilometer I knocked down another 3:39 and still feeling pretty good, though the course started to undulate a bit more. 3rd kilometer was still a respectable 3:45. I think I could’ve pushed the 4th kilometer a bit more but there was a downhill section that I found almost as tough as the climbing section, especially at that speed. Just heading into the 5th km I actually spotted Jan ahead and tried mightily to find more in my legs to chase him down. Unfortunately the last km is mostly climbing and it was a tough slog.

I crossed the finish line, chip time, in 18:38, which was much better than I expected. I definitely think the extra mileage I’m running, with the challenging Wednesday tempos and hill work are all adding up well.  

All in all a really fun race with lots of great costumes and energy! Unfortunately I couldn’t stick around for the green beer afterwards.

[update] Check out James' race report here: http://james.wanless.info/2014/03/24/2014-st-patricks-day-5k


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Race Report: First Half Half Marathon 2014

Chip Time - 1:28:15 [PB]
Overall - 143 / 1,927
Div M45-49 - 19 / 126
Men - 121 / 875
Shoes - Brooks Pure Flow 2

Unexpected entry. Unexpected weather. Unexpected result.

I missed the original sign-up when First Half Half Marathon sold out (as usual) in the fall so wasn’t even sure I was going to run it. Fortunately I’ve been feeling good and Andrea’s entry came available for me to buy a couple weeks prior.

Leading up to the race weather reports were not looking good for Sunday morning. Wind and rain were being called for and I was psychologically preparing for a chilly start, if not a stormy race, especially near the water. (Fortunately I had just purchased my Mizuno sleeves when I picked up my race package from Forerunners!)

Last year I ran my PB of 1:33:45 at the First Half. With my decent Seattle Marathon finish in December and some playing about on the McMillan Calculator I figured I could beat that time, maybe by a couple of minutes. I printed off a visualization I keep at my desk and I had a 4:15/km (1:30 finish) pace as best case scenario and a 4:21/km (1:32 finish) as a more realistic goal. Training had been going great, getting lots of miles and speed was definitely improving.

I ran from my place about 4k to the Roundhouse for my warm-up and was feeling ready to roll. A few minutes visiting with all the running buds, warming-up, last-minute gel and water and we were out to the start line.

Turns out race morning wasn’t raining, and by race start it was actually starting to clear a bit. Only concern now seemed to be how windy it would be around the park.

Unlike last year, I made sure I was in the crowd and up closer to the front by race time. I figured I would go out fairly strong and moderate once I got a feel for it. A 4:06 on the first km and I was a little concerned, quicker than even my best case 4:15/km race pace. Ah well, see how I feel at 2km, a 4:09…   reign it in a bit, Dawg. There’s a small incline leading up into KM3 which brought me down to a 4:24 which seemed reasonable at the time.

I kept clicking off the sub-4:15 km’s and, feeling great, and throwing caution to the wind, decided to see if I could hold on to it. Hell, this wasn’t my goal race so if it fell apart at least I gave it a shot!

Nice to see Rob volunteering around the 8km mark and he snapped this “way too happy” photo.

At 10k I had a quick look at my watch and realized I’d just PB’d my 10k race time by about 12 seconds (42:24). Hmm? How will the second half of this race play out?

At halfway I was still feeling great and holding on to my pace. It was good to even start dropping a few runners as we headed around the West side of the sea wall. I managed to find a couple groups along the way that I would draft behind to avoid the wind and then get past and find the next group.

2nd Beach Pool and Greg 2.0’s smiling face and high-five kept me going heading in to the gravel path around Lost Lagoon. I was surprised to find myself knocking down a 4:02, 4:04 and 4:01(19k) this late in the race and still feeling good.

The last few km’s have the only significant hills but their pretty short. I dropped down to a 4:18 for that last km, before hitting the really enjoyable downhill along David Lam Park to the finish line. I knew I was racing well and in the last few km figured I could hit the 1:30 mark but I was genuinely surprised to come in at a 1:28!

Nice to see so many friends out running and get a chance to visit while chowing down on the plentiful post-race food that First Half puts out every year.

All in all, a really great day for a fun race. Kudos to the volunteers, organizers and sponsors who make it possible!

Photo by Greg Herringer on flickr

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