Race Report – Hypothermic Half and Training Update

Late last month Nicola ran a half marathon “race” as part of our marathon training for Ottawa. Since the training is a long haul and sometimes you need a reward in the middle we decided to run the Hypothermic half in Saint John. We wanted a bit of swag, a medal and a night out of town…even though SJ is only an hour away.

We lucked out in a big way as the race day had light winds and was pretty mild for the end of February. Of the two hypothermic half marathons in New Brunswick held every year, SJ always has better weather. Of course you pay for it with the difficulty of the course as SJ is very hilly.

The Race

Now, we were not in any type of a hurry so when everyone else left us in the dust we were content to just run our slow pace and enjoy the day. We, however, were not in the mindset to run all of the hills; call it fatigue, call it rebellion, call it denial…whatever….we were not ready so we ended up walking a lot of the hills.

At the second water station we met a couple of our very good friends, Rod and Jo, shared a few laughs, hugs then we were on our way again. We were both wishing that we could have met them at every station as the burst of energy was awesome.

 

In the end we finished with a very slow time but honestly, based on our training, we were right where we should have been; the run just felt like a lot more work than it should have been. We did manage to arrive a few short minutes after the brunch buffet had started so we didn’t have to wait around to get fed, always a bonus to me.

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I think the photo of us after the race tell a story, we were both tired, physically but also mentally, which would be a theme for the next month up to now.

 

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Training

Our training since the half marathon has been very spotty. Both of us caught the bug going around and I got quite sick for a week, add this to a work schedule which included some weekends and we have postponed a few weekends of running. In addition, our runs during the week have also suffered. I am hopeful that as it gets warmer in combination with the later sunsets that we will get more of our intermediate runs in. Right now we are both sick once again, having caught the “boomerang” bug as it seems like a lot of people are getting sick with the same symptoms twice this winter. So, this weekend, which was supposed to be 30km, has been moved to next weekend. I managed to get 27km in last weekend and Nicola 22km, so we are not far off, it just sometimes feels like we are missing too many long runs.

Which is why I schedule us for a 16 week training plan. First, we are both masters runners, so we need more time to recover, second, the winter is a hard time to train, runs get missed, third, illness can pop in and derail your plans so it’s best to put buffers into your plan. Some may argue that such a long training cycle causes the fatigue to which I would say to each their own. This cycle has been fraught with numerous speed bumps and the longer cycle has allowed us to take breaks when we have needed them. I am not worried as it is the end of March and we will be running 30km, so with almost 2 months before our race we are in good shape.

I do hope that your training has been going along smoothly and if it hasn’t that you aren’t panicking about where you are or where you need to be, stay the course and follow your training and if you must deviate, make smart decisions.

Chris

One Foot in Front of the Other

Running Plans for 2017

Seeing how it’s already the middle of January, I reckon it’s time to lay out my running plan for 2017; there will be new races, familiar races and a race to celebrate Canada.

Next month I will be running the hypothermic half in Saint John for the second time. When I mention that I will be running this race most people ask me if I’m nuts as this is a hilly course. The alternative would be to run in a boring industrial park in Moncton and that just seems like a waste.

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May will see myself, my partner Nicola and a host of people gather in Fredericton for its race weekend. This time around I will be running the half marathon. This will be my second or third time running this distance in Fredericton…interesting side note, this was where I ran my first half marathon in 2011.

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Later in May will be the big, destination, celebrate Canada, race for the year, the Ottawa marathon. This is one of the biggest races in Canada and with it being the 150th birthday year for Canada we expect the race to be extra special. I will be running it with my love Nicola and our good friends Rod and Joanna, the excitement will be hard to contain as the date draws near!

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Then….crickets.

Yup, I have nothing planned for a number of months aside from training. I really want to focus on my distances at the half level and lower.

In Septemeber I will be running my first trail race in Fundy national park of 10 km. This is also a hilly course but I am looking forward to mixing up my race experiences and there won’t be any mosquitos in September!

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In October Nicola and I will head to Nova Scotia to participate in the Valley harvest weekend, again over the half distance. It will be my second time at this distance and Nicola’s first crack. This year the race is celebrating it’s 25th year so we are again hopeful that the swag, which is usually quite good, will be even better! This race occurs over the Thanksgiving weekend which will give me a chance to visit my parents.

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Tentatively, I may run the new 1 mile race in Saint John in August and perhaps run the beer run again, also in August. I would like to run the 10k race in Moncton in October after a good summer/fall of training to see if I can set a new PB. I set my current PB for 10k there and really love the second half of the course.

Who knows what small races I may wake up and drive to over the summer ,however I would really love to enjoy my weekends this summer with minimal racing intrusions, so they may be few and far in-between.

Right now the spectre of winter training continues to gnaw at my brain but as the weather improves, my excitement for this year will grow.

Where are you racing this year?

Chris

One Foot in Front of the Other

My Shoe Decision – For Now

When last I published a blog, seemingly ages ago, I was searching for replacement runners for my Saucony Mirage 5’s…RIP fantastic shoes.

To refresh our memory I was looking for a tempo run/long distance shoe with a 4-8mm drop and neutral to mild pronation support. After much research I ventured out one fine afternoon and tried on a number of shoes to try to narrow my choice down.

  1. Saucony Ride 9 – First shoe that I tried on, felt great, snug and responsive but stiffer than I normally wear. Has a 8mm drop and was the second cheapist shoe that I tried
  2. New Balance 880 v6 – Felt great as well, more cushioned and my ankle was wrapped by the collar, however my foot seemed to move around during my short test runs, also a 10mm drop
  3. Nike Pegasus 33 – Too narrow across the whole foot
  4. Brooks Ghost 9 – The best feeling sole hands down when I ran in them but they were too narrow in the forefoot…so sad!
  5. Mizuno Wave Rider 19 – Good fit but it was the most stiff of the bunch due to their construction.
  6. New Balance Vazee Pace 2 – I tried these on at a different store and they felt great but would be better suited as an up tempo/race shoe.

After all of that I selected the Saucony Ride 9‘s due to their fit.

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The Results So Far…

It has been a few weeks since I started running in these and I really notice the stiffness and also the chance in drop from 4mm to 8mm, it doesn’t seem like much but it really alters your running. At first I had a bit of calf pain, sore shins and sore feet in general from the change in striking point however lately it is only my feet that are still a bit sore and even that is going away. I managed to get to a 5 min/k pace on the treadmill the other day so hopefully I am getting accustomed to the shoes.

It is now winter though and I have been wearing my Skechers outside for the few runs in the snow that I have been doing. For consistency I will probably have to buy an additional pair of 9’s for my winter training, assuming that I can completely transition to them and that I like them over long distances. If not I plan on looking at the New Balance Zante 2 which have a lower drop and might be better suited for longer distances.

As they say, stay tuned!

One foot in front of the other

Chris

Wheel of Shoes

So now that my marathon is out of the way, I have retired my two pairs of runners that got me through training and that race. They were the two last pairs of Saucony Mirage 5’s that I could find as unfortunately they are a discontinued model; I seem to be making a habit of this as this is my second set of runners that I had liked to be discontinued.

So now I search for a replacement, honestly a couple of models as I like to rotate my shoes. I might add that I have also retired my speed work shoes and will be looking to replace them as well since I was not overly fond of them.

I have worn a number of different brands of different drops and stability. Stability isn’t really a problem as I have run my fastest races in neutral shoes, however I generally only wear shoes with a drop of 4mm or less. I think, however that I will move up to 8mm as that expands my choices of shoes.

To begin I have moved back to a pair of Skechers Go Run Ride 5’s, I wore a pair of the 3’s for my marathon in Chicago so I had no trepidation of trying them again. They are neutral with a 4mm drop and are very stiff. Upon putting them on they feel cushioning but the stiffness replaces the springiness of energy return of the usual rubber. So far I am undecided after about 4-5 runs of a distance of up to 7km.

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Skechers Go Run Ride 5

I am also looking at different brands that I have never tried before; among them New Balance, Nike and Mizuno. The biggest problem I see now is the price of these runners, they have become really outrageous! I managed to get my Skechers on Amazon for under $100 because they are a unpopular color. From my reckoning the median price point is around $150…that’s pretty steep for something that you will wear for a few months. On the other hand I am running and don’t want a bad or cheap pair and end up injuring myself.

So I will pick up a pair here and there and see what will fit my feet and not cause problems. I don’t start my next marathon training cycle until the new year so I will have time.

I would welcome any suggestions.

Previous runners worn: Vibram 5 fingers. Saucony Vrata, Brooks Cadence 2, Skechers Go Run Ride 3, Skechers Go Run Speed, Merrell road, Saucony Type a5 and a6, Saucony Mirage 5.

One foot in front of the other.

Chris

Race Report – Marathon #4

Recently I ran marathon #4 at the Prince Edward Island marathon on the lovely island of PEI. The course was a point-to-point variety with the marathoners starting about a 30-40 minute drive from downtown Charlottetown and running their way back.

We were bused out to the start on a truly beautiful morning; I was running my first marathon with my love Nicola and our good friend Rod was running the first leg of a relay marathon. At one point we had the sun rising on one side of the bus with the hunters moon setting on the other; incredibly beautiful.

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Near the Start

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Brackley Beach

It was a bit chilly at the beginning of the race with temperatures near zero degrees celsius however we are Canadians who also knew that we would warm up quickly upon running.

The first 3-4km of the race were run next to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on one side with an inland water body on the other…it was pancake flat which helped us ease into the race and find our pace. We turned more inland at this point but were still following the inland water body and gawking at a few “shacks” that I’m sure cost more than I could predict. We were still running with Rod at this time which seemed to make the km’s go quickly by. We were also running at one point with a man from Manitoba named Doug who was running his 51st or 52nd marathon; he wasn’t sure actually!

At around 6km Rod finished his leg then we ran with his lovely better half, Joanna. Nicola and Jo promptly scooted out ahead and chatted which was fine because I was enjoying the course and the colours. Sadly after a further 5-6km we bid Jo a goodbye and ran on our own. I must admit that I enjoyed having a relay as part of this race, not only did we get to run with our friends but each exchange point had very excited, energized participants and friends alike cheering them on.

Having left the water vistas earlier we were now running through rolling farmland vistas plus an increase in the wind. Now it wasn’t “a right gale” by any stretch of the imagination but it was gusty and right into our faces; from about 16-17km until 21km we ran in to the wind and I certainly noticed a difference in our running during this time.

My right calf began to bother me during this time as well, it wasn’t near bad enough to slow me down but I was of course concerned about later and my stride.

At this time we turned and ran on a multi-use trail of crushed gravel that wound its way  for 13km through farmland, occasionally an orange pumpkin field and lots of trees. This part of the run is actually a gradual downhill and we were keeping our desired pace until about 32km when Nicola had a bout of vertigo that brought her to her knees within a few steps. The awesome fighter that she is we only stopped for a short period and were back running again. Unfortunately between this and my leg, which had become progressively worse began to plant a bit of doubt in our minds.

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Trail Section

At 34km we exited the trail on the roads, only 8km left and it was on asphalt!

Nicola began to cry, I was a bit confused. Was she hurt, angry, frustrated? No she was happy to be off of the trail and have only 8 km left. At this point we were at about 3:50:00 or so and even with a slow 8km we would be under Nicola’s time from Vancouver, which was a mark she wanted to break badly.

I wasn’t aware of how badly unfortunately because we really didn’t talk about pushing through pain or difficulty to achieve this PB. As a runner i should have known better and I should have both pushed myself but also pushed Nicola on a bit more because we started having more unplanned walking breaks. Nicola had assumed that we were well under the PB time, which we were initially, but once we started walking, it tightened considerably. I mistakenly assumed that we were walking because of vertigo or my leg or that we were tired but we had both assumed that each was needing the walking breaks when it turned out we were both prepared to push through!

D’oh!!

I love that each of us was concerned about each others condition but if we had communicated our desires and condition better, we could have skipped a number of the walking breaks.

Nicola had also discovered late in our training cycle that her watch didn’t have the battery power to last for the whole race, thus after about 32-34km she had no idea of our time or pace and was relying on me to keep us on point as it were. This is where I tripped up as i didn’t keep informing her of our progress. If i had continued to alert her on how much time we were losing we would probably would have also skipped a few of the walk breaks.

After series of hills we roared our way to finish, with Nicola dragging me, sprinting, to the finish.

Curses! We were over Nicola’s time from Vancouver and she hadn’t realized our time until we were within sight of the clock.

As we crossed the line Nicola was completely upset, confused, crying, mad and all of the other things that competitors would be. It was a shock for her to see that we would not set a new PB after a great training cycle. I was happy to have finished and was very happy that I had maintained my energy level through the marathon for the first time; each of my previous 3 had seen me hit the wall….but I was despondent that my love was so unhappy and disappointed.

I knew her mindset well because I had felt the same way after Chicago and she reminded me of that fact during our discussions afterward.

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Finisher Medal

We walked to the community centre to get a massage…well I hobbled as my calf and glute on the right side had become a solid mess then met a slew of people for food and beers….mmmm beers.

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Massage…YAY!

We stayed the night in Charlottetown, had a great meal, then drove back to the beach where we had started the next day and took a nice walk no the sand…beaches are great for recovery in case you didn’t know. We even stopped at Vesey’s seeds and picked up a few things for our garden.

After coming home on Monday we had dinner and talked about the race, what went right and what went wrong. Physically we were both good aside from my leg and her head….these were known quantities. We talked honestly about out lack of communication during the run and vowed to never let it happen again. We also agreed that we were being pretty hard on ourselves seeing that we had both just finished running a marathon…together! This has and will always be our main goal, when you can run together with the person you love, especially over a long distance, and finish, then you are some of the luckiest types of runners!!

For me, my races are over for the year, I was wanting, perhaps, to run one or two shorter distances but my schedule has conflicts. However, in the new year training will start again for the Ottawa marathon at the end of May. We will be running it together with our afore mentioned friends Rod and Jo, and we are extremely excited.

Chris

Race Report – BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

The BMO Vancouver Marathon is billed as one of the 10 most beautiful that you can run. I have decided that I am not running a marathon this year so instead I ran the half distance while my girlfriend ran the full distance.

The Good: Expo, Crowd Support, Favorable Course, Location of Finish, Transportation to Start Area

The Bad: Start Area, Platinum Package ($99), Accessing the Start Area, Race Start Times

Average: Swag

My girlfriend was looking for a race to run her first marathon and since she has family in the area, we decided to run Vancouver and then vacation for a number of days afterwards. The Vancouver marathon has a “platinum” package that will grant you priority lines and other benefits, so as an addition to her first marathon we both signed up for the package.

We arrived on the Wednesday before to try to acclimatise to the time change and stayed at a private residence.

The Expo

On Friday we went to the expo in the morning to avoid the masses of people that would no doubt arrive Friday evening and Saturday. There wasn’t a line-up and we received our bibs quickly and without any problems. As part of the platinum package we could have bypassed the lines to our own bib person if need be, a benefit to be sure if you find yourself running late but it didn’t make a difference to us. We wandered the expo, purchased a few race items of race gear and chatted with John Stanton. It should be noted that I thought that the types and variety of gear was better in Vancouver than I found in Chicago last year. Included in your race kit was a free ticket to access the “Canada Line”, the elevated mass transport system of Vancouver, to get to the start line on Sunday morning.

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The Fredericton Family

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Fun at the Saucony Booth

Race Day

My half marathon started at 7 am while the marathon started at 8:30 am, a strange reversal of normal times, which I believe tries to reduce the influence of the higher number of runners in the half because they run down a main corridor of the city. To access the start area in Queens Park, we had to take public transit, hence the free ticket. We walked from our downtown hotel to a station, then rode the train for about 10 minutes to our stop. However, the walk from the station to the park took a good 10 minutes on it’s own, which was never mentioned and subtracted valuable time from my warm-up and general race preparedness. Outside of the park there were numerous UPS trucks charged with brining your checked bags from the start to the finish. Here the platinum package was helpful because we had our own truck which we accessed within seconds. To get to the truck however was a bit of a trek as we had to completely cross through the race area to access the platinum only tent. The access to the tent, while noted on the web page and maps, was VERY POORLY NOTED, IN FACT THERE WEREN’T ANY SIGNS AT ALL. After crossing the area we checked our bags, leaving me with 15 minutes to get into a race mind-set and warm-up. Again the placement of the tent didn’t seem to be well thought out because there really wasn’t much space to take a warm-up run so I ended up starting the race more or less cold. I was assigned a bib number in the back of all the corrals but with my platinum bib I joined the corral just where 1:50 and 2:00 were separated. It was spacious at the back of the corral but no one questioned us about our corral placement or even sought to verify our right to be there.

The race weather was perfect though with sunshine, cool temperatures and light winds. After the singing of ‘O Canada’ which I really liked by the way, we were off!

The Race

It starts with a little uphill then there is a LONG downhill down Cambie street, then you cross over the Cambie street bridge. The bridge is not very elevated so it’s more of a speed bump. After that you perform a switchback near the Olympic village then head through Chinatown, then the Yaletown district before you head towards Stanley Park. Sadly Chinatown was kind of boring, closed and it contained the only hill downtown. Once in Stanley park you run flat for a bit, double-back and then climb one of the two hills on the back 10.5 km, in fact the hill started at around the 14 km mark. Checking out my splits I had run too fast from 2 km until about 10 km and I was starting to feel winded, hence when I hit the hill I had to walk, which made me mad and embarrassed, I ran again and managed to run the second hill in the park and even got a bit of a boost when the 2:00 pace bunny passed me but I couldn’t sustain it. At that point I decided to dial it back a bit, take in some of the beautiful Stanley Park vistas and enjoy the last 3-5 km. I picked it up over the last 1-2 km but when we exited the park there was a small but stiff hill which lead up to the street and a longish, straight finish. I hate these small hills at this point, they always piss me off when they are included there and if I was a race director I wouldn’t include them….But that’s just me. I trotted to the finish in a time of 2:05:48, not horrible but well off my goal time of 1:55-1:57.

Race Profile from Runkeeper: Vancouver Half

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Finished!

I was/still am disappointed but tomorrow is another race day. I finished unhurt, with another nice medal and another half marathon completed; my 11th. The inclusion of musical bands along the course is always touted as being an energetic lift when you pass them but I found them to be pretty horrible and it was only a band near the exit of Stanley Park which made me smile. I didn’t use any of the water/fuel stations as I carry my own but they seemed plentiful and well spaced. There were supporters along the streets, even with a 7 am start, so I salute the residents for their support.

Post Race

After the race I hugged my fellow Fredericton runner Stephanie and then started walking to the back of the finish chute, I was looking for the platinum signs because it was there that I could pick up my gear and grab a sandwich and a beer right next to the finish line. When I double-backed to the finish line I found the sign and a woman who directed me up one floor in the Coast hotel to collect my things, there was an escalator up to the floor but not one back down; an oversight. I headed to the platinum section, grabbed a couple of wraps, had a beer and watched some of the finishers. I would not qualify the food or the beer as anything special, certainly not worth paying extra for. On a side note, when my girlfriend finished her marathon around 1:30 pm she discovered that there wasn’t any food or beer left; certainly poor planning, poor execution and more or less a theft of registration money. The finish line is nicely located from most of the major hotels in the downtown core and took me only minutes to get back to my hotel.

Overall

Both the half marathon and in particular the full marathon course are pretty, with good support and can lead to PB’s. I would not recommend a purchase of a platinum package unless some major changes, additions are made: 1) add a free massage 2) transportation to the start area from a downtown hotel of your choice 3) ensure food/drink throughout every race 4) better location of bag pick-up.

I would recommend the race for the general runner as it also includes a nice medal, good course and isn’t too crowded.

The start area in my opinion needs better signage and more volunteers to answer questions, also an estimate of total travel time from downtown hotels to the start area, including the walking, should be supplied.

Next Up for Me….Bluenose 10 km, Sunday May 17th in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Thanks for reading!

One foot in front of the other

Chris

Exercise Week in Review

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Yes I know I’m a day behind on my weekly resume and yes I promised a race review but I’ve been deeply immersed in The Teapot Dome scandal recently; no that’s not true, I’ve been studying my French because I have a big exam next week. However as a break I will write up last week’s workout’s as a substitute.

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Teapot Dome Scandal

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I love French

My Week:

Monday: Cycled (indoors) for 14 km.

Tuesday: Ran 10 km tempo run.

Thursday: Ran 9.5 km with 5 X 1 km intervals embedded.

Sunday: Ran 4.6 km, easy, cut short due to running partners injury.

I’m more or less embracing the taper now but still firing a few intervals during one run to keep myself sharp. Down to 10-12 km this upcoming weekend then short runs ahead of my Vancouver Half on the 3rd of May. Right now I’m a bit tired from school and other things but will catch up on my rest soon and I will rock Vancouver.

Weekly totals: 14 km cycled, 24.1 km run.

Monthly totals: 49 km cycled, 89 km run.

Until next week, one foot in front of the other.

Chris