Saturday, July 24, 2010

10k birthday run

It's been a nice relaxing few weeks of holidays for me, most recently a few days in PEI visiting my one and only daughter. She's in her last year of vet school and had a little break in her studies so we were able to visit without interrupting her train of thought.

Speaking of which, I'd been thinking but not able to decide what race to run while here for the weekend. Last year I had done the 5k after just a few weeks back running after my operation. But this year the training has been more or less uninterrupted since the Big Sur marathon and I've been slowly ramping up both the mileage and intensity with a scattering of race 'tests' thrown in for good measure. So, 5k or 10k? I've been unable to choose until last night when my 'coach' suggested that I must be ready for a longer race with all the miles in the bank.

So 10k it was, for the Cox & Palmer Run for PEI Prostate Cancer in downtown Charlottetown, PEI. For some reason I was very hyper before this race and had trouble getting my warmup in with a few cursory strides after a 1-2k jog. Once the race started I took off like a scared cat with the 1st k in 4:08 instead of the desired 4:25 which I'd remembered to write in the palm of my hand. The next k settled in a bit with a 4:17 as I matched strides with the 3rd place lady and we rolled along for the next 5k with occasional switching of positions. At the 5k turnaround in 21:42 I was in 14th place and still hot on the heels of lady with the good pace.
The return 5k leg seemed much harder than the 1st 1/2 and I somehow managed to -ve split it by 9 seconds with a 21:33. There was alot of huffing and puffing, trying to stay on my 4:25 pace and eventually my 'lady-friend' (we did exchange a few words) fell off the pace during a slight downhill stretch on this basically flat course. I then overtook a male runner who offered little resistance and slowly drew in the 2nd overall female during the last 2k. She allowed me to pull up to her shoulder but with about 500m to go, pulled away in her sprint finish. You can see my slight increase of speed in the splits but watching from the sidelines it would not have been very obvious to anyone. Here's the downhill finish for your viewing amusement.

Final time of 43:15 (official times now up and I gained 2 seconds!) was a nice surprise and I'll take it as an unexpected 55th birthday present. I've now earned my beer, ice-cream and cake and look forward to a nice meal tonite with the family.

Cheers and keep on running so you never get old in mind or spirit!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grand Manan 1/2 race report

For some reason I'm not able to come up with a catchy title for this post so I'll try to stick to the basics. It's not that there was nothing out of the ordinary for this race located on the island of Grand Manan a 1.5hr early morning ferry ride away from the mainland. The fog was so thick today that we couldn't see the wharf until we were within 50 feet of it but unfortunately a cool foggy day was not in store for the race.

Due to the remote location, this race usually has a small turnout of less than 50 runners but it is very well organized. The mid-summer weather out here in the middle of the Bay of Fundy is also 'usually' cool and foggy and the nearly flat route makes this a PR tempting course. As an added bonus they had also revised the route this year with the removal of the 'hill' (only 100 ft or so) in the out and back section for the 1/2.

After my usual cursory warmup of a 1/2 mile jog and stretching we were lined up at the start and sent on our merry way. By this time the fog had burned off and the sun was beating down on us unmercifully with no cooling sea breezes to speak of. Due to the small size of the race I had lined up at the front and went out with the expected race leader doing my best not to get overexcited and pass him right off. Despite trying to hold back the 1st kilometer went by in 4:24 and I found myself sitting in about 3th or 4th spot.

My plan for the race had been to try for 4:40 per kilometer pace which is the predicted speed for a 1:38 1/2 marathon based on my last 5k race. Of course like all other 'race plans' this was out the window almost from the get-go with the 2nd k in 4:35 at which point my Garmin decided to fog up on the inside and thumb it's nose at me (time to just run Mike!) So I just ran by feel trying to stay within myself knowing it was going to be a long hot run. I was almost immediately passed by 2 runners, including the 1st female but I resisted the temptation and just kept plugging away.

By the time I reached the 10k mark in about 46:40 (according to Garmin as the race marked it a bit short) the temptation to cut my losses and stop with the rest of the 10k runners was very strong with the increasing heat. The prospect of 11+ more kilometers at this effort in this heat (and did I mention the humidity) was daunting at best but I found other distractions (roadkill) to keep me going.

But 1st a couple of plots from SportTracks which I've just started to play around with. You can see my heartrate over the course of 13 miles showed a gradual increase which is more likely due to the effects of heartrate drift as a result of increasing body temperature in the humid, hot, still air and not so much from increasing effort (though I'd like to think so). I definitely did push it harder in the last k trying to get 3rd but more on that later.
This is another neat plot from SportTracks showing my kilometer splits compared with the overall average pace of 4:47/km (goal was 4:40). You can see I was under average pace (faster) for the 1st 7k, popped around for the next 4k and then above average (slower) for the next 10k. The final split of 0.2km was my 'sprint' for the line trying for 3rd but wasn't even close.

Some of that popping around was due to my overtaking a couple of slowing runners (roadkill) who had passed me earlier. I chatted with the lead female as I came up on her that "I didn't want to pass her" but she graciously allowed me to go by without tripping me into the ditch. At this point I was just slowing down less than the other runners and by the 16-17k mark I was able to overtake yet another 'cooked' runner who had gone out too fast for the conditions.

Since the final part of this course was a 5.5k out and back I was now able to determine that I was in 4th place overall with a chance for getting into the money for the top 3 men. My next target was only a couple of 100m ahead with about 3-4k to make up this distance. For some reason he ignored my mental pleas to stop and walk but then it seemed he was slowing in the final 2k. I pushed it as much as I was able but there was just not much left to give as I came to the final straight quite a bit short. My final time was 1:40:30 for 4th overall (with Garmin details here) and race results should come soon (here).

So, it was a good effort but not quite the result that I'd hoped for. My target was for a sub 1:38 with a range of 1:35 to 1:40 in my pre-race notes. It was just the heat and humidity that won out today and was not quite the PR course we'd hoped for. Talking with the other runners after the fact, we all seemed to share the same experience, too hot, too humid, no wind, oh well, try again next year.

That's all I got for now. My next race will be in a week's time on my 55th birthday. I'm doing either a 5 or 10k in Charlottetown, PEI, the same race I did last year on a nice dead-flat waterfront course. Wish me luck and good running!!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Canada Day blast off

Long time no post but I thought it was about time to come out of the woodwork on a special occasion like Canada Day here in Canada. It was a perfect day for running with bright sunny skies and mild temperatures around 18C/65F . After arriving early in plenty of time to pickup my number, find a washroom and do a quick 1k warmup to stretch the legs I was good to go. I started fairly close to the front so as to not have to trip over people during my planned fast start with my eye on one kid with a big hat who tried to show me up here at the same race last year.

Over the past four weeks my training has been rolling along quite well with total mileage in the range of 35-45 miles per week with a longer run of 12-14 miles, one tempo run each week of 5 to 8k, and one speed workout each week with 800's, 1k or mile repeats. I've taken my paces from McMillans tables based on my most recent 10k of 46:00 back in May. My most recent speed workout of one week ago had 6x1km repeats with 800m recovery in an average time of 4:10/k. Granted you don't get 800m recoveries on race day but this workout did give me confidence that I had 'some' speed endurance at least.

So after a crowded start and some weaving about I was able to settle into a reasonable pace with the 1st km in 4:13. The next km was mostly head down going up the main hill in the course as I tried to hang onto my friend John who is a strong masters runner. He helped carry me along to the next kilometer split in a disappointing 4:36 which was the last time I looked at my watch as the lactic continued to build and my main concentration was simply running as hard as possible without 'blowing up'. It was a little deflating at this point to hear the 'pitter patter' of a runner gaining and passing me as I went sailing down the other side of the hill with my legs going as fast as I could make them go. Granted the runner, Mike Coyne, is a top masters runners with ranking in past years with Running Times but he is 5 years older than me and was running the 10k which started 200m behind us! Still it was a little hard to take.

Mike was almost the only runner to pass me the entire race but nearing the last km, more footsteps. The runner must have noted my panic because 'she' then said "Don't worry I'm only running the 5k!" I almost laughed but was able to gasp out that she was in for some competition. We then proceeded to exchange places a couple of times before she pulled ahead for a few meters as we finally neared the finish. As I said before, I had stopped looking at my watch after the poor 2nd km and was amazed to see the 21:00 just ticking over as we approached the line. Final time of 21:14 which equates to an 18:21 and a 70.7% age group rating which made my day. Results are now online and my Garmin story is here with the gory details.

Trevor was here for the 10k today and seemed to have a good day.
He ran solid even splits in my books as I say him cruise by the 1st time at 25 minutes and then finished in 11th overall (even if he got nipped at the line by a 5 year old doing the 5k! ). Sorry about that Trevor but you left yourself wide open for it.

I'm now keen to tweak my training plan for the rest of the summer and have already begun to look at slightly faster training paces based on today's result. The next planned race is either a 10k or 1/2 marathon in 2 weeks depending on how the long runs are going but there is lots of time to decide before then.

That's it for now. Have a great rest of Happy Canada Day or just a great day wherever you are!