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Monday, May 30, 2011

Ride Preview: Ride for Heart 2011

The Ride

The Ride for Heart in Toronto is one of the biggest rides anywhere in Canada... thousands and thousands of people come out to support Heart and Stroke Disease Research.

It's also the ride that really got me doing distance riding in the first place... it never occurred to me to bike 50km before I came to Toronto and heard about this ride!  I did that distance a few times, then eventually 75km.

When I bought my road bike, I did it a couple more times before deciding it was just too dangerous... the speeds we hit on the road bike isn't conducive to a large charity ride, too many people riding unpredictably.  I put it on ice for a year or two...


... but then my kids got to the age where they can do it with me, so I'm back with a different goal - pass the love of cycling on to them!  I use a trail-behind bike that attaches to my bike and we go out and hammer the 50km Ride for Heart.  It's a big accomplishment for them, and fills this daddy with pride and excitement to see.

This year I'll be riding with my oldest daughter, Meghan, who is now 8 years old.  We'll do the 50km again, which we first did back when she was in kindergarten!  Can't wait.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How To Build a Wood Bike Rack

This took me a few hours...

It's basically two 8 foot long 1x2s with a bunch of cross pieces to hold the tires in place.

You can use 2x6's for the cross pieces and save yourself a bunch of time (cut a bunch of 24" long 2x6 sections, screw them in, done),  but stores were closed to I used what I had around.  I created a bunch of 6" long pieces of 2x3 and 2x4, and attached it to 24" long 1x6" sections.  The key was just to make sure the height of the cross-pieces was at least 6", anything less and the bikes didn't want to stand up all that well.

Main things to note:

  • Tire width - they're all different, so check your bikes as you go, and adjust the spacing 
  • Sand the wood - you wouldn't want a splinter causing a flat 
  • Handlebar width - again, I put my bike in each successive slot before I set the next one to make sure the handlebars didn't overlap
  • Use screws instead of nails - you might want to move some of the cross pieces to accommodate different tire widths or bike widths down the road
That's really it!  Feel free to comment if you have any questions.

How Not to be a Race Photographer

My wife took one picture of me at the Whitby 1/2 Marathon...

... awesome.  LOL!  And no, I'm not either of the guys sitting on the benches!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Race Report: Whitby International North Marathon (Half) 2011


New PB... 1:36:05 (previous: 1:38:54)
26/229 overall, 8/29 M30-39... all in all a great outing!

The Course

It was tougher this year than last year for a few reasons...

First, course changes -  they took out a flat out-and-back they used to have near the end and replaced it with an earlier out-and-back that was full of short hills.  On the bright side, you don't have to see the finish then have to run a few more kilometers... on the down side, the new section is tougher!

Second, the trail conditions - they use a gravel trail for a section that last year was hard-packed and pretty easy... this year it was wet and mucky!  It was almost like a trail run, I even came close to losing my shoe at one point.  It's about 750m each way, so 1.5km - not the end of the world, but tough.

And finally the wind seemed to be in my face most of the day... going south, east, it just seemed like every time we turned the wind was still there!

My Race

Started out feeling great (especially for 7am), had a tail-wind for the opening kilometers, and a slight downhill. Went out a bit faster than the goal 4:30/km pace, but still well within myself.

When we turned south, I thought it was going to be downhill and easy - instead we had a headwind and I think it was still uphill for a bit!  Used the 3:35 pace bunny as a wind screen as best I could.

Hit the new section, there were a few little sharp hills.  It was early enough in the race that it didn't bother me too much, I let my pace go a bit.  Average pace was still in the 4:30/km range, still feeling like the 1:35 could be there...

... but then we got to the trail section.  It was mucky and wet, I could really feel my pace drop and it became tougher.  Add to that a rather steep climb with loose footing and my pace was shot.  Once we hit the road I tried to find that 4:30/km again, but it was a struggle.  I never quite knew if I was going up or down, and when we turned back south that headwind took its toll.

Then the trail section again, and more really washed out sections... in one I lost my shoe (almost)!  I shouldn't complain too much, I actually passed several people who weren't as adept at trail running... I could hear a lot of grumbling.

The rest of the race I struggled for pace.  I could tell my 1:35 target was gone somewhere around 16km - I knew I had to make up time in that stretch and it just wasn't coming to me.  There is this silly little steep uphill as you leave Victoria and go back south - it is so short and simple, but I went way into the red there... took me a minute to come back!  I was on the edge.  Pace ultimately got worse, last few kilometers were around 4:45/km... so finished 'er up just shy of my goal.

Garmin said I only ran 20.89, which is about 200m short... I suspect it just lost some accuracy on the curvy bits.

Ultimately I was left wishing I had done Mississauga or Toronto last week, I really think I could have hit that sub-1:35 on one of those courses.  Still, the race was mostly well organized and if you're not obsessed with every second it's a nice challenge.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Race Preview: Whitby International North Marathon (Half) 2011

The Race

The Whitby Marathon.  This is the second year of this event, I did the half last year.

The half marathon course is reasonably flat and fast, except for one exception - a short gravel trail you do in both directions (just shy of 6k on the way out, 10k on the way back).  It's not a perfect PB course, but still pretty quick and not that challenging.

(Edit: I picked up my kit and there is a small change to the course... I believe the new section is as flat as the old section they took out, but I won't know until tomorrow!)

(Edit #2: done race... see race report... the new section wasn't as flat as the old section!)

The full follows the same course, but the other half has more rolling hills as it winds along the waterfront trail.  They've changed a section from last year that winded through some ugly industrial, now it stays on the trail.

My Goal

Last year my goal was sub-1:45 and I shocked myself with a 1:41:10... I've since bettered that in February with a 1:38:54.

New goal: sub-1:35!  I don't know if I'm quite there yet, but I should be close.  It still feels pretty bloody tough to run that pace for any length of time (4:30/km) but I'm going to give it a shot.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Race Report: EpiPen Take Action Event (Whitby 5k)

Did this one mostly for fun...

Garmin data

Local charity race, no timing this year (not even a clock!) - wasn't expecting that, last year they had chip timing!  Much smaller deal, probably because they didn't use Running Room for registration (and the bad forecast for rain, which never really materialized).

The 5k and 10k started together, so at the start it was tough to know who I was even racing.  Two women took off in front of me, and after about 500m I looked behind me... nobody for a long way back!  Not often you clinch a spot on the podium by the first corner.

I was trying to keep around a 4:00/km pace for the whole race, but with the hills it was a bit challenging.  I was a bit quicker in the first kilometer (3:55/km), then slower in the 2nd... by the half I was really close, 4:01/km average.

Shortly after the halfway point I managed to get in front of one of the women, and caught up to the other... but I just couldn't close the gap.  I was about 15 feet behind her for most of the way back, but at the finish she left me in the dust with her finishing kick!

I crossed the line 2nd, which was pretty cool!  Small race, but hey, I'll take it. :)

My time was 20:12 (4:02/km) - a personal best, but still shy of that elusive sub-20... and I gave it everything I had trying to win this thing too!!!  I figure if I can do 20:12 on a pretty hilly course, I think a 19:59 is there on a flat one.  My GPS shows me at 20:02 at the 5.00km mark... so... close...!

After about a 10 minute break after finishing, I decided to do a 5k cool-down on the same course.  I finished 2nd in the 10km too (they did the course twice too)... not that it counted, but c'mon, that's funny. :)  There were no more than 10 people doing the 10k.

All in all a pretty decent day!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Race Preview: EpiPen Take Action Event (Whitby 5k)

I'm doing the Whitby 1/2 marathon next weekend, so figured I'd do something fast and intense this weekend - why not a 5k race?

The EpiPen Take Action Event is a 5k/10k in Whitby, in support of the Asthma/Allergies folks. 

The course is a bit hilly...
... and a lot curvy
... and the wind by the lake can be strong
... and the forecast is for rain!

But hey, I always love a bit of a challenge, and it's local so not a big time investment. 

This is probably not the race for me to get that sub-20 (my ultimate 5k goal for 2011) but my plan is to go like stink until it hurts to go any stinkier!  No real goal other than to have fun and go hard, and get beat by as few people as possible.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Race Report: Sporting Life 10k 2011

The Result

A new Personal Best by a mile - so I'm going to start with the result!

40:53 (360/12159, 44/736 M35-39) ... top 3%!!!

Sizzling!  My goal was sub-42 and I wasn't even sure I could get that, so I'm super excited about this one.  My previous PB was just under 45 minutes at this same race two years ago, so I knocked off about 4 minutes...

How?  A bit of weight loss and a lot of work.  I added interval training this year for the first time, and it's done wonders for my speed.

Oh, and that tail-wind at the end didn't hurt either... and of course the legendary Sporting Life 10k net downhill.  But finishing top 3% really makes me smile.  I have to think there isn't much more speed to find at this point, I won't be getting much thinner and there's a limit to how much I'm willing to train.  These really are my peak years right now, so I need to soak in these accomplishments.

The Race

This one is pretty awesome.  Looking back from the start line, it's just a sea of people standing on Yonge Street in Toronto... almost 15,000 registered!  I seeded myself in the first couple rows of the second corral (40-48 minute finishers) to make sure I wasn't caught up in the crowd.  The road is pretty wide, but with that many people it's easy to get stuck!

Temperature was perfect, about 8C and overcast.  Wind was from the south east, but I didn't really feel much headwind, and got a boost from the tailwind going west.

From the start I felt quite comfortable.  As expected my GPS lost it's mind a few times with the tall buildings, but I went by feel and paced myself with the people around me.  Marked the laps manually at the kilometer markers (when I saw them - missed a few).

I've practiced a fair bit of downhill, and I found myself really flying by a lot of people every time we hit one.  The real key is to keep the feet moving and make sure you're not throwing on the brakes when your foot hits the ground.  It's almost like your foot is already starting a back-swing when it finds the pavement when done right!

I hit the halfway point at 20:05 - this would have been a new 5k PB if it ended there!  The downhill really helps a lot, I think it's good for about a minute.

I knew my pace at 6k had to be 25:00 to be on pace for 42:00, and instead it was 24:08... this gave me a huge boost, I knew I just had to keep my tempo pace to the end and I'd have that 42:00 finish.  From there I set a few kilometers in the 4:15-4:20 range, kept things well within myself until the last kilometer... then hammered out a 3:55 in the last one to seal the deal!

How'd the Organizers Do?

As far as I could tell, everything was awesome... they had a last minute change and had to give out the shirts at the finish.  I thought that might mess up the finishing chute, but it cleared out totally fine thanks to a nice long stretch from the finish to the shirts/food.

I didn't use the bag check and didn't drink on the course, so can't comment on any of that!  Looked like they had tonnes of volunteers though.

Nice medal - they put a single woman on it this year (presumably due to the whining of some people when one year's medal featured only men!).  I gave it to my kids as I usually do, they played Olympics.

Great fun, maybe I'll be back next year... sub 40?  So tantalizingly close...