Monday, May 13, 2013
Went canoe'ing on Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario.
The bottom was very calm, wide and the current was light.
Once we got to Bailey and went under the bridge, the current picked up a bit, and it was much tougher to paddle upstream. There was one particularly tough section where the water flow was fast, we almost didn't make it up - took 3 tries!
Hazard of note - golf course. Golf balls flying over our heads... a tad dangerous! Not much you can do except paddle like hell.
We made it up to north of the 401, a total of about 6km, before heading back for 12km round trip. All in all a very pleasant paddle, much of it away from civilization (while being surrounded by it!). You can likely go further north, we just ran out of gas!
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Men 35-39: 61/177
Why Marathoners Live Longer
Want to extend your life by 10 years? Run a marathon. In the last 10km, time slows to the point where it feels as though 10 years have passed. Hey, I didn't say they'd be good years!
Settled into a comfortable pace, kept my heart rate low.
Ate a bazillion calories (4 gels, a 5oz gel bottle, a 300cal bottle I carried of liquids, and as much course Gatorade as I could drink without barfing...)
Felt good up to about 30km.
Last 10km still smoked me. Realized I couldn't hold my target pace, backed off, then backed way off... held on to at least break 3:40 and set a new personal best (previous was 3:44+).
Heat may have been a small factor, certainly felt it in the closing kilometers as we were in full sun and temps were up to 20C.
But ultimately I think the bigger factor is still weight... I don't think I can pull off a 3:35 without dropping some pounds, as I really trained hard and by the book for this one. Not much more to do on that front, without quitting my day job!
Negative/Even Split? Yeaaaaah Right!
I really noticed the rest of the crowd slowed down with me... my pace went off by 30-40s per kilometer, yet not that many people were passing me, and surprisingly I was still passing other people!
I've read before that the vast majority of marathon runners fade at the end. There seems to be the assumption that they didn't pace it right, but I think if you can't put in mega mileage then you can pretty much expect the heart rate to creep higher and the muscles to stop doing what you're telling them in those last few kilometers.
Maybe it'll be different for me at a lower weight, we'll see! I'll have to try it.
Friday, May 3, 2013
My Marathon History
I've yet to get it right.
2008 Toronto Marathon was my first ever marathon. Goal was to finish, I finished, 3h56. It was all very exciting at the time, but faded badly by the end.
2010 Toronto Marathon was my second ever marathon. Goal was 3h35, but I fell apart at the end (again) and rolled in at 3h44 - pretty disappointing.
Then I did the 2011 NYC Marathon, where I ended up with a knee injury causing me to limp to the end. 3h55, ouch.
I spent 2012 working out what caused my injury (hip rotation issue) and spent the year sucking, but adapted to a new running style that has really worked for me.
2013... here we go!
2013 Goal and Preparation
Goal pace is 5:05/km for a 3h35 finish.
This year I followed the 3h35 Furhman "FIRST" plan. I have stuck to it nearly 100% and things have felt great.
The plan was tough. An interval session, tempo run, and a long run every week. Intensity on every run, intensity on all the cross-training. Hammer hammer hammer. Even the long runs gradually sped up, to within about 10s/km of target marathon pace by the end of the plan. It was relentless, but I enjoyed it more than I dreaded it (generally).
Injuries - none! Nagging pains - none! With all that speedwork, I figured I'd be in trouble, but no problems.
I also did Around the Bay (30km) this year, which went well. Managed a 5:01/km pace on a much tougher course... so the only question in my mind is how I hang in there for that extra 12.2km!
It's changed since I did this race last back in 2010 - the last 2-3km used to be a gradual uphill, now it's flat. That can't hurt!
Monday, April 15, 2013
My 8th P2A ended in a DNF due to mechanical. Spoiler alert!
After a week of soggy chilly weather, we actually ended up with a pretty nice day. Single digit temperatures (Celsius) but sunny and the wind was coming from the West (ie. from Paris to Ancaster)!.
I expected the conditions to be attrocious... the organizers were cutting out sections, and after last year I could only imagine the absolute worst.
I felt pretty OK at the start, but not enough to really push. I picked up some good wheels for most of the long opening rail trail, tried not to lead whenever possible.
They had cut out one of the first single-track sections - usually it's the first real test of the leg with a few steep short climbs. Can't say I missed it that much!
We crossed the first major road and into a section that goes through what is little more than a ditch. This was the first sign of mud, and it was pretty bad, but not as bad as last year. Last year I'd walked almost all of it, this year I rode most of it. Also felt pretty good riding past others walking... having an extra low gear helped there, my wheel spin was dramatically improved (even though my tires were pretty bald).
After leaving that we hit the road, and I was still feeling pretty good!
New section followed around an apple orchard. Mostly gravelled road, a bit of mud and a little hill on the back end. Nice addition!
Back on the road, grabbed a few wheels here and there, but with the tail wind it wasn't as critical. Still felt pretty strong.
Next up was the muddy rail trail, which again was entirely rideable compared to last year. So despite the fears of mud, it wasn't actually that bad...
After that, back on the road... and I found myself alone going into a headwind. There was a group quite for ahead of me and another quite far behind, just couldn't link up with either. After awhile a few riders caught me, but they were moving a bit too quick for me to hold on... not a great part of my day!
Passed halfway feeling pretty OK. Pretty much where I had expected to be.
Another rail trail followed, no issues, straight-forward. But just as I left it and hit the road again, I heard a rather loud clunk from my bike - not sure what caused it, and everything felt OK after, so didn't give it much thought.
Final challenge of my day was the horse field... it was squishy and barely rideable. Had to walk a few parts. I don't remember what it was like last year, but it was brutal today, zapped any energy.
Shortly after this, after a brief stint on the road, I was on a muddy farm lane when boom, my rear derailleur hanger snapped.
This has happened to me previously on my mountain bike, so I thought I might have a spare. Frantically looked through my saddle bag, nothing.
Tried "Plan B" which is to turn the bike into a single-speed - by-pass the rear derailleur and shorten the chain. Not exactly what you want at P2A, but could get me to the finish.
Unfortunately my chain was badly bent, presumably what caused the failure in the first place. I had one SRAM powerlink, but to remove the section with the bad link would require two, and I didn't have them. Also didn't have a chain tool - a guy who had suffered the same fate stopped to try help, but it was clear I was cooked.
(I later learned you can re-use a pin in a pinch... might have worked!)
After the Failure
Walked back to a very nice volunteer, who was very helpful in keeping me warm but had no phone or anything to contact the race organizers.
Surreal moment - she gave me her race volunteer shirt when she went off to talk to a local farmer to get him to keep me warm in his truck! So there I was in a volunteer shirt directing cyclists - certainly not how I had envisioned spending my day. I'm happy to report that the participants are extremely nice to volunteers, many thanked me for my time (which was only inadvertently donated).
Found my way back to another checkpoint, where I met a local HAM radio operator who was also donating his time. He radio'd organizers, organized a pick-up, and after freezing my butt off for the better part of an hour I finally found myself in a van on the way to the finish.
Haven't had much opportunity to meet the volunteers at this race, as usually I'm preoccupied with racing... I have a whole new appreciation for them, lots of smiles and generosity.
Well, I have a chain and rear derrailleur to fix... but now I have to get back to focusing on the Toronto Marathon in 3 weeks. Next year I'll be back and ready to rock.
Friday, April 12, 2013
My eighth P2A! In a row, no less.
The funny thing is that after my first I left swearing and figured I'd never return... now it wouldn't be spring without it.
Last year was a muddy mess. The muddiest P2A of my first 7 attempts - it was just ridiculous. I mean it's always muddy, but it rained right up to the start of the race and everything was soaked... normally dry sections were soupy with mud.
This year couldn't possibly be worse, could it?
Umm, yes, it could! It's been cold an rainy/snowy all week, so the ground is absolutely saturated. The mud must be horrific...
The only saving grace is that organizers have reported cutting out a few sections on account of the mud. I doubt it will change the character of the race significantly, there will still be mud, and lots of it... but maybe we'll get a reprieve now and then too!
I can't really say I'm ready for the race this year. My focus has been on running, so cycling has taken a back seat. I've only ridden outdoors a handful of times, and indoors once a week most weeks. So my expectations are pretty minimal.
Time is a useless metric in this race, because the course changes every year and the conditions are just as variable.
My personal best placing, though, was in 2011 - 316 out of 1188, just outside of the top 25%.
Last year I was coming off an injury and plummetted down to 597/1188 - barely in the top 50%.
So I'd be pretty happy somewhere in between, top 500 or better. It's not much of a goal, but I can add cracking the top 300 or 250 to 2014.
Riding the same bike as the last two years - my Kona Jake the Snake Cyclocross bike.
One thing I have changed is the gearing. It had a 46/36 crank and 12/25 casette on the rear, which just wasn't quite enough gears for that last hill! I left the front but changed the rear casette to an 11/28.
This gives me extra gears at both ends - the 11 so I won't gear out hammering the flats and downhills, and the 28 for making it up that challenging last climb. The price paid is the gaps between cogs are bigger, but in my training rides it hasn't been noticeable really at all. When I'm climbing that last hill I'm sure I won't be thinking "I wish I still had that 12/25!".
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Very interesting results in my training.
I've been following the Furman FIRST plan, which is big on prescribing paces for all your workouts. So instead of doing all LSDs at the same pace, they increase the speed as the weeks wear on.
This is from my Garmin data, for the three 32km LSDs in the program (last one was today!)
|Date||Pace/km||Average Heart Rate|
Quite a fluke that they all happened to be exactly 154bpm, but that suggests a very good improvement in fitness. The same heart rate is sustaining faster and faster paces, suggesting my heart is gaining efficiency as the training is progressing.
Now my one deviation from the plan - instead of a 3 week taper, I'm taking 4 weeks and doing Paris to Ancaster bike race next week... I'll still be doing three runs, but LSD will be pulled back from 32km this week to 24km @ 5:14/km. Then I'm back on plan for the last 3 week taper.
Hopefully it all works out! I'm pretty excited by what I'm seeing so far, and I've felt great.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Result: 2:30:55.7 (chip)
This Race is Hard
I had intended to make this a test run of my planned marathon pace, 5:05/km.
Planned pace: 5:00/km
Actual pace: 4:57/km
Average heart rate - 167bpm
Early on, I felt great and the downhill really was helping me out. So despite my knowing that the worst was yet to come, I let it all flow a bit. I thought my heart rate was under control, which I would define as in the low 160's - but looking back now at my Garmin data, my average was 167bpm. A bit higher than I should have been at early on, I'll have to make sure I don't do that during the marathon!
Planned pace: 5:05/km
Actual pace: 4:58/km
Average heart rate - 173bpm
This is where the race really starts. It stops being easy and starts being a bit of work. From about 18km on, the hills start in earnest... at this point, they're rollers, which you can take advantage of on the way down and let take your pace away on the way up.
I felt good, strong, so I didn't change my pace as planned - just kept targeting about a 5:00/km. Average heart rate through this section was 173bpm - still pretty good for me.
Planned pace: 5:15/km or worse
Actual pace: 5:06/km
Average hear rate - 178bpm
Sweet mother of God. This section is punishing.
There are several long climbs, and they're all pretty tough. I did my best to make up time on the downhills, but it was definitely tougher at this point.
Yet my overall average pace was still under 5:00/km... even at the top of the monster climb at 26km, I was still showing 4:59/km.
Was sub-2:30 possible, for a 5:00/km pace? Certainly at that point I thought so!
Planned pace: Bust a move
Actual pace: Got busted (~5:10/km or so)
Average heart rate - 183bpm (max 187bpm!)
The big hill was behind me, all that was left was the net downhill last ~4km. Hold 5:00/km to the finish and I had it!
- It may be net downhill until the end, but it's actually up until 28.5km! I did not know that.
- That hill may have been behind me, but it's effects lingered
- I went more than 30km - probably because in the big crowds at the start it was tough to take the most efficient line...
So I made a pretty hard effort after the hill to get to 5:00/km pace, failed miserably and found myself in a pretty dark place. I actually walked for about 5 seconds before telling myself to harden the f**k up and finish this thing like a man (well, like a man getting beat by quite a few women).
Nursed my heart rate down a bit and then finally hit the real downhill - then I managed to do OK to the finish.
And I was truly finished - spent 100%. "Are you OK?" from medical staff spent. I left it all out there (and change!) today, and not for any particularly good reason, other than the usual one - it's a race, so race it damn it!
My former PB was from 2009, 2:41:05. Pretty easily beat that, and 5:01/km was quicker than my 5:05/km goal so all in all I'm pretty happy. Although the way I felt in those closing kilometers didn't exactly make me think "I can't wait to do another 12km on top of this"...
The good news is that the Toronto Marathon is net downhill and pretty flat toward the finish. I still have a month and change to train and hopefully make some progress on my weight. 5:05/km should be possible!