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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Race Report: Durham Quarter Marathon

A great day!

Full results
Final time: 51:45, pace: 4:55/km (55th/330, 14/42 in Men 30-39)

Start Line

A well organized event, had no problems at all registering. They should really consider brining in some porta-potties for the women, though... there was a line of about 50 women trying to use the mall facilities with 10 minutes before the start! Fortunately for me the men's room had no such issues.

The Course

The course starts by winding through a ravine park on multiuse trails. They are a bit narrow, but once we got about 1K in it spread out enough that it wasn't a problem. This part is generally downhill, a nice way to start.

The path comes out of the ravine at 5K, and that's the end of the downhill! After a short (but grueling) hill climb (and down the other side!), you end up on city streets through a quiet residential area, and it's flat or gradually uphill for the rest of the run.

Very pleasant course.

My Race

This was my first time doing 10 and 1s in a race. That is, running 10 minutes, walking 1 minute.

At 1K, either there was no sign or I just missed, so I was a bit lost on my pace at the start. I hit the 2K mark at 8:55, which was 40 seconds faster than I should have been. I probably went out a bit too fast, but downhill so it's not as off pace as it sounds. Things were feeling good so I kept it up.

My first walk break just happened to be right at the water station - perfect! It felt a little weird walking while everyone else was running, that was a first for me, but despite my impatience I kept walking for the full minute.

The rest of the first 5K flew by, when I left the treed path I was a minute and a half ahead of where I needed to be.

The rest of the run I just pushed as hard as I felt I could maintain for the 10 minutes between walk breaks. They really did make a difference, I could feel myself fading towards the end of the 10min running portions, but after the break I felt recharged and fresh.

After my last walk break at 43:00, I found my second wind and ran hard to the finish... I haven't seen the official results, but by my watch I finished at 51:39, about 50 seconds quicker than my goal time! So I'm really happy with that.

The 10 and 1's were fantastic. I was the only one I saw doing them, although I'm sure those further back probably were too. I really doubt I would have been any faster without them. My personal best 10K time is a little weird, it was in November in pretty imperfect conditions, but the pace there was 5:12/km. Today my pace was under 5:00/km.

Split Times

This is more for my own personal record keeping than anything I'd expect other people to be interested in... but here it is anyway. :)

The target times are based on a pace band I generated here, that accounts for walk breaks.

KMTarget TimeActual TimeDifferencePace/km

3 *14:55


* - denotes a kilometer that included a walk break.

My pace was supposed to be 4:48/km on kilometers without breaks, and 5:19/km on kilometers with it. Interestingly I mostly hit my pace on the walk break kilometers, but not on the others. I'm not sure yet what this means, but I did feel a bit of fade towards the end of those 10 minutes of running.

I didn't get under 5:00 through the middle to late portion of the race. I think this is partly due to it being slightly uphill, but also I felt quite fatigued. I had enough for a really good push to the finish, which felt great!

All in all, a great day, and assuming everything lines up right next year I'll likely do this race again!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brick Training

A "brick" is basically when you go from one discipline to another during the same workout.

The most critical is the bike-to-run transition. This is where the term "brick" gets its name - when you try to run after you bike, your feet feel like bricks!

I did my first brick today. I took the advice of internet pundits and started slow... did a 1.5K run after my 20K bike.

It was just as tough as advertised. The legs just didn't want to cooperate... it took a good 1/2 kilometer before I finally started to get some running pace going, and I was almost done before I felt good.

I'm going to do a few more of these mini-bricks (2K or so after a bike ride) before I try a true brick workout.

There seems to be two schools of thought...

1) Standard - Bike 20-30K (second 1/2 harder than first), then run 5K or so fast


2) Broken - Bike 10K, run 2K, repeat 3 times increasing intensity each iteration

I'll try both and see what works best for me... but I think either should work just fine. Distances can vary a bit based on what's being trained for.

There are also swim-to-bike bricks... but honestly, I can't be bothered. I swim in the pool, getting from there to my locked up bike for a ride makes for a really clunky transition.

I do swim-to-run bricks, but only because running to the pool is fun. :) It's probably useless as a brick workout, but it's a good way to get in both a swim and run on the same day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pace Band Tool

Cool pace band tool to create a custom pace band, which tells you at what time you need to be at specific points during your run/race.

This one is neat as it allows you to enter walk breaks!

Not much more to say about it, other than ... enjoy! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Running in the Rain

I love running in the rain. It takes the usual endorphin rush from exercise and adds some kick, like hot sauce on chicken wings, icing on a cake, or beer on a patio.

I wasn't planning on running today, but then I saw it was pouring and pouring, so I couldn't resist popping out for 5K! It was wet and wonderful.

Of course it has the potential to be really miserable... so here's what you need to do.

Step 1: Ditch the cotton

Cotton absorbs water and makes life in the rain really wet... stick with thin synthetic fibers.

Step 2: Keep the feet from sloshing

Nobody wants sloshy wet feet. It feels nasty, you'll be prone to blistering, and your feet will be heavier.

Socks - I go with the thinnest dual-layer socks I can find. This helps guard against blisters while keeping the feet from being drenched. You can't avoid wet - but frankly if you sweat like I do, you're always wet, so that shouldn't bother you! But you want to avoid soaking wet.

Shoes - any decent shoe should shed water with ease. I have ASICS Kayano 13's, and I can step right in a 6 inch deep puddle... and within a couple of steps it feels like it never happened. Good shoes are designed to get rid of moisture, not absorb it, so as long as you're not running with the $49 Payless special, you'll be fine.

Step 3: Fight chafing

Getting wet makes for more friction on anything that's rubbing. A rub you might not notice in the dry becomes raw or blistered when things get wet. Body glide anything that might rub... I'm afraid I'm about to wade into the "too much information" category, but for me that means nipples and inner thighs...

(A brief but necessary diversion: why do men have nipples!? I don't use them, they add nothing but aesthetic value... and they cause me so much grief! Proof we're not Intelligently Designed if I ever saw it.)

Step 4: RUN!

It's a rush for me to get out there and fight the elements, whether it's cold, snow, rain, or searing heat. It just brings out those very primal senses that I think we all have.

But when it's warm, rain is the most refreshing and exhilarating of them all... It cools you off just the right amount, while presenting enough of a challenge to be more interesting than a normal run. Passing motorists turn their heads to see the idiot who got caught in the rain, not knowing you're out there on purpose...

And of course you never know when an event you signed up for will have bad weather. I'm not going to spend a year preparing for Ironman only to bow out after 10 hours because it's raining during the run... so it's best to get used to it, understand it, and get some experience in it before you face it in more important circumstances.

Have fun!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Durham Quarter Marathon: Preview

In one week, I'll be participating in the Durham 1/4 Marathon. It takes place in Oshawa, starting along a really nice trail through the heart of Oshawa, and finishing on the shores of Lake Ontario. It's so nice, I might even forget I'm in "the 'shwa"! ;)

It is a weird distance... 10.5K instead of the usual 10K. And I'm having a very hard time with pacing for this.

Based on the McMillan Running Calculator and my best 1/2 marathon time of 1:53:55, my 10K pace should be around 5:07/km. I have one previous 10K result of 5:12/km.

But there are a few big caveats...

1) All my best times (1/2, 10K, and 5K) are from winter... ice, slush, extra layers, all slowed me down
2) I've lost 10-15 pounds since those times


3) I'm only about a few weeks back into running after taking 4 months off with an injury
4) This will be my first ever racing doing 10 and 1s (walk breaks)

All of this has be really scratching my head as to how I should pace this.

The course is interesting too... the first half is gradually downhill, the second half is more or less flat. So the first half time should be less than the second half.

I'm thinking 5:00/km (52:30 finish) will be best case scenario. I'll do my best to keep close to that, even with the breaks. I might pay for it in the last few kilometers, but theoretically the walk breaks should keep me fresh for the finish.

Theoretically. :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Swim Progress

I swam 750m straight in the pool today! This is the length of the swim for my next triathlon, so this gives me the warm and fuzzies.

A bit ahead of schedule, but I had successfully done 2x400m last week with only a short break between, so figured I'd give it a shot.

My instructor told me I'd find a pace I felt like I could do "forever", and I think I finally found it. Even after 750m I felt quite fresh.

The only problem was my pace... it took about 21:00, which for me felt OK, but looking at previous results in the triathlon would put me in the bottom 10%.

I only started swimming more than 25m at a time in January, so I'm not too bummed about that, but it's obviously something I'm looking to work on in the winter. I have a need for speed!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Triathlon Gear

I'm not going to put dollar amounts next to all of this stuff because it would be slightly terrifying...

- Bike
- Clipless Pedals
- Aero bars
- Water bottle holders
- Water bottles
- Speedometer
- Underseat bag
- Pump
- Spare tires
- Patch kit
- Multitool
- Helmet
- Gloves
- Cycling shoes
- Cycling shorts
- Cycling jersey
- Arm warmers
- Leg warmers

- Shoes (2-3 pairs a year!)
- Socks (the two-layered blister-free kind)
- Orthotics
- Shorts
- Technical T-shirts
- Water bottle belt
- Gel bottle
- Running jacket
- Stopwatch (I'm low tech... some have GPS!)
- Race belt (to hold number on race day)

- Swim suit & Tri Shorts
- Goggles
- Flippers
- Finger paddles
- Stopwatch/lap counter
- Pool ;) or in my case, passes for the one at the Rec Center!
- Wetsuit (I currently rent)

Not sport specific
- Dog spray
- Body glide

- Sports drinks - Gatorade/eLoad/etc (powder)
- Sports gels/beans/gummies

- Race entry fees
- Gas to get there

You can get by with less, but to do it right, I find it's best to have the proper equipment. You don't need swimmng fins, for example, but it helps you learn to kick.

I don't want to know how much I've spent... many thousands I'm sure.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cycling Cadence II

Today I rode my 35k route with the goal of keeping my cadence at 90rpm.

Things I noticed straight away:

- Uphill (even gradually uphill) I tend to settle in at 75-80rpm and push too high a gear.

- Everywhere else (downhill & flats) I'm naturally gravitating to 90rpm. A few exceptions where I chose to downshift today when I normally wouldn't have, but pretty close.

So today's word of the day: DOWNSHIFT!

And it made a big difference straight away.

Normal average speed: 30km/h on a really good day, pushing hard
Today's average speed: 31km/h on a rainy day, pushing not so hard

My normal average for the first half (mostly uphill) is around 25km/h, today it was over 27km/h... clearly that's where I saw the biggest benefit straight away. I think I was slightly faster downhill and on the flats as well. Today's effort normally would have given me about a 29km/h average, so I was able to find an extra 2km/h. Over an hour of riding, that's about 4 minutes, over 7 hours it's almost half an hour!

I think the key here is that I've been pushing wrong. Instead of upshifting, I should be trying to spin faster. Using lower gears is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of intelligence and maturity! :)

I'll keep training at 90rpm and get more used to it, I think there's still more speed to be found just from this one change to my riding style.

Friday, July 11, 2008

BMI: What is normal, anyway?

My BMI is finally at 25.0... good-bye "overweight", hello "normal"!

So what is normal?

In 2003, only 47.8% of Canadians were "normal", according to their BMI.

When less than half your population is "normal", how "normal" is it really?

And that leads us to the problem: people think they're fine because they look like the people around them. But almost half of the people around us are overweight or obese.

In our society, it's as normal to be overweight as not... we Canadians are not a healthy bunch (but hey, at least we're better than Americans!)

Now that I'm finally not overweight, I am really surprised at how fat I still am. When I first did the BMI calculation, I thought 6'0" and 185lbs would be skinny! I'm not fat, but I'm not skinny. I still have love handles and a small gut.

Don't ignore BMI.

You are likely not a bodybuilder, your bones aren't heavier than everyone else's... the reality is that if your BMI is above 25, you are at an increased risk of developing health problems. You don't have to become a triathlete to fix it - control calories and get even a moderate amount of exercise and you'll lose weight.

As for me, on to the next goal! 175lbs, here I come!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cycling Cadence

Cadence: the rate at which you turn the pedals on your bike, in rotations per minute.

I was under the impression that my cadence was quite quick at around 70-80... but thankfully my uber-cycling friend Hank straightened me out.

After a bit of googling, I found this fantastic article.

Bottom line: Most training and all racing should be done at a cadence of 88-95 rpm.

I'm going to really focus on this, as this seems to be one of the big keys to speed, especially when it comes to sustained speed over a long distance. Hopefully I can get from 32km/h over 25k to the mid-30's, and be able to push over 30km/h on longer rides.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Swim Training - Sprint Triathlon (750m swim)

In preparation for my Sprint Triathlon in August, I'm building up the distance I can swim without stopping.

I've done 400m non-stop before, but with the longer distance I figured I'd be better served at starting from shorter increments and gradually making them longer until I was doing 750m straight.

I didn't list my warm-up or cool-down, but I usually do 2x50m to warm up and 1x100m to cool off at the end. I've only listed my Key Workout, I'm usually in the pool 3 times a week. On the other days I bring in fins or hand pads and work on my technique - body position, kicking, arm stroke, and breathing.

WeekKey workout
June 305 x 150m (750m)
July 73 x 250m (750m)
July 141 x 400m, 1x350m (750m)
July 211 x 200m, 1x600m (750m)
July 281 x 750m
July 281 x 850m
Race Week!Easy swims

Comments are appreciated! I completed a 6x100 and then the 5x150m so far without trouble, so on my way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Montreal Esprit Triathlon (Ironman distance)

I was cruising some forums, trying to find an ideal Ironman for myself, and stumbled on the Montreal Esprit Triathlon.

There is an Ironman distance, as well as a half, Olympic and sprint.

I looooove Montreal. And I'm a huge F1 fan... so the idea of doing a race that includes 41 laps around the Circuit de Gilles Villenueve has me over the moon! It's flat, which should make life a bit easier than the mountains of Lake Placid. And the swim area should be very calm - it's in an enclosed rowing area.

Downsides: It's not a WTC event, so while it is the full Ironman distance, it's not technically "Ironman Montreal". Do I care? I don't think so... but maybe a little! The course is cool, but doing 41 laps of the same track is a little much! I guess the F1 guys do it, but they're going 300km/h. And while there were about a thousand participants last year, less than 100 were doing the full Ironman distance, so I'd miss being part of a really big event and group.

I'll be mulling it over, but it's definitely a possibility.