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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Race Report: Mind over Matter (off-road duathlon)

First off - I finished 6th overall, 3rd in my age group.  Cooler still - I was fastest in the first run, so I entered transition as the duathlon race leader!  That's never happened before, it was an awesome feeling.

1:56:39 (6/25, 3/9 M30-30)

OK, so there were only 25 people in the duathlon... still counts!

Trail Run (3k)

13:23 (4:11/km - 1/25!)

The opening run... I knew from a dry run I did a couple weeks ago that I could hit this one hard and still be OK for the bike, so that's what I did.

About 1k in, I was in a pack of 4, a few seconds behind the lead pack of 4.  Then we hit the downhill... this is something I've practiced a lot, and I always seem to pass a whack of people downhill.  They hit the brakes, I keep my legs going and fly by... so I found myself up with the lead group at the turn-around.

At this point I just wanted to try take the lead and see if anyone would respond.  I did, they didn't, so I decided I might as well finish 1st at something... rest of the race be damned!  The adrenaline of leading made the job seem easy, and I entered transition in 1st place.



I thought it went OK, but I left transition a few spots down from where I'd entered it, so I guess it didn't... I don't really practice this much, and I spent some time monkeying around with my watch that I really shouldn't have.

The Mountain Bike

1:03:08 (9/25)

The problem with being near the front of the race is the pressure to stay there... I'm used to having a slow swim, then spending the bike passing dozens of people.  Instead I was the one getting passed, mostly by the top competitors in the triathlon who fed in with us after their swim.

My heart rate was through the roof early on in the bike, so I dialed it back a bit.  

The course was far more technical than I'd expected - not that it was all that technical, but based on descriptions I'd read and pictures from other years, I thought it would be dead simple.  It wasn't!  There were a few logs to jump over, a few rocky sections to navigate, roots, all of which made more difficult in race conditions because you're pushing for time.

I made a really dumb mistake because of this - I'd locked out my fork not expecting much to bump over, and forgot I'd done that for the entire first lap.  I felt like I was getting bumped around a lot but with so much else on my mind (dealing with traffic, heart rate, etc) it didn't click.  I also had never ridden the course, or even in Kelso, so the first lap was tentative as I figured it all out.  

Near the end we got to the ski hill... woah.  It was steep, granny gear steep, and worst of all it featured a false top!  I thought I was cresting the top, but it was only about 2/3rd with some of the steepest climbing to the top of the chairlift still to go.  All I could think of on the way up was "oh man, I have to do this again!?".

Second lap I felt much better - I was no longer being passed and was well into my groove.  Also my fork was unlocked (duh!) so my bike was handling much better through the bumpy stuff.  The hill didn't phase me, I knew what to expect this time... finished it off strong on the descent.

Transition 2


Racked bike, changed shoes, started to go... then my buddy and a volunteer watching both yelled at me "your helmet!".  Oops!  Took off my helmet, probably didn't help my transition time any but made me laugh which is its own reward, right?

Trail Run (8.5k)

39:03 (4:44/km, 4/25)

The goal on this run was to keep my heart rate in check and not blow up!  I started out a bit pokey, as you have to re-climb the hill we climbed previously on the opening run.  Then it dodges into what I'd call "real" trail - windy twisty trails around trees, elevation changes, rocks and root.  Very pretty in there!  

I caught up to another duathlete who was stretching out his calf muscle, and as I passed him he immediately got going again... I could hear him right behind me, stalking me, so figured it was time to lay down some hurt!  I brought the pace up just a little, and within a minute or so the sound went away.  With all the little switchbacks I could peak over to see if anyone was gaining on me, nobody was, so I just concentrated on holding my pace.

The final few kilometers go around the lake, which is flat as a pancake (but windy) and you can see exactly where everyone ahead and behind you are.  I was close to one other person (who ended up being the women's triathlon winner) but other than that there was nobody.  Gave it a final finishing kick and felt very satisfied with a job well done!

Post-race Navel-Gazing

Super-fun race!  Can't wait to try another off-road duathlon (or tri) next year, it was far more entertaining than regular triathlons.

A bit surprised that my runs went so much better than my bikes (1st and 4th on runs, 9th on the bike)... but that might speak more to the crowd than my personal abilities.  There were some hard-core mountain bike folks there, who probably weren't such great runners, and some of them really nailed that bike.  Regular triathlons seem to be more about runners who got bored and started biking!

I was first on the 1st run!  I win the prize for "went out too hardest".  Although honestly, I didn't feel like it cost me anything on the bike or the last run.  This strategy seemed to work out really well for me, and it felt good to be leading a race.

Next up: Logs Rocks and Steel Adventure Race!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Marathon Training for the Easily Distracted

Between now and the NYC marathon, I have:
  • Off-road duathlon (trail run + mountain bike)
  • Adventure race (canoe + mountain bike + trail run)
  • 1/2 marathon
  • Cyclocross race
  • 5k
Yes, I know, I lack focus... but hey, I'm in this all first and foremost to be healthy and have fun!  All of these will be fun, so here we are.

My training plan for NYC has thus far been 3 runs per week (LSD, Tempo, Recovery) and 2 bikes (Tempo/Hammerfest/Hills and LSD).  Once I get through the last bike events, this will become 4 runs per week before I taper off for the marathon.

 It's not exactly what marathon training plans call for, but the biking fitness does carry over somewhat into the running.  Having those long 4+ hour bike efforts under your belt when you line up for a marathon helps!  There is also the intensity you can achieve on a bike without nearly as much injury risk as running intensity.

Hopefully it all works out and I coast to a new marathon PB!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ironman Reminiscing

Two years ago today, I became inmate #487 in the insane asylum that is Ironman Canada.  You really do have to be a little bit crazy to look at 3800m of swimming, 180km of biking and a full 42.2km marathon and think "that sounds like a good idea!".

The days my kids were born and my wedding were all special days... but the day I became an Ironman was the greatest day of my life.  It wasn't just the overwhelming experience of the day, but the immense sense of accomplishment of all the dedication and training it took to get there.  It was especially meaningful as I had never really been an athletic type growing up, and having come from being a pretty tubby "marshmallow man" it was the exclamation point on my transformation to a healthy guy.

Two Years On...

I am keeping my eyes on the prize, and that is to stay fit and healthy.  That was the goal when I started the journey, and it will be the goal until I die (hopefully of old age!).  I actually weigh less than I did when I did Ironman, my running times are quite a bit improved, and I feel like I'm a better all-around athlete (and I feel I can actually call myself an athlete!).

Will I do Ironman again?  Yes, someday.  But I want to do it right, with a real performance goal, not just "to finish".  That means even more training than the first time, and with young kids I just can't do it right now.  So I'm concentrating on all the other things I enjoy - mountain biking, cyclocross, adventure racing, marathons... that takes up plenty of time as it is!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Race Preview: Mine over Matter

Mine over Matter is like an X-terra event, minus the brand name.  Off-road triathlon - swim, mountain bike, trail run.  It takes place at the Kelso Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario.

Check out this awesome video of the 2010 race... this is a must-do!!!

I was hoping to get out there at least once to check it out, but it hasn't really come together, so I'm going in a bit blind.  All I know is that there are some very long climbs on the bike course (goes up a ski hill) and it's two loops... I don't imagine the rest of it is flat either.  Should be a good challenge.

I haven't had my "swimming mojo" this year, so I am doing the duathlon (trail run - mountain bike - trail run).  I did a mock duathlon in training this weekend of similar distances just to get a feel for the transitions, it went well.  Seems that I can go pretty hard on the first run without hurting my bike and second run excessively, so that will be the plan.

Can't wait!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Race Report: Kyle's Run

Kyle's Run is a 5k/10k trail race in Whitby, Ontario to raise money for the Canadian Liver Foundation.  It takes place in Cullen Gardens and Heber Down, both full of trails and trees - perfect for a trail race!

I did the 10k, and my son Jack did his first ever race, the kid's 1k!

He totally rocked it... I was a bit anxious about how he'd handle running an entire kilometer, but he didn't slow down at all - just ran right through it.  I was shocked and delighted!  A natural?

You bet!

My Race

The 10k started late as someone had vandalized the signage overnight - grrr, who sabotages a charity race??? Punks.  By the time we got going it had heated up a fair bit, and with the humidity I knew it was going to be a tough one.

There were some super-quick looking younger runners, presumably cross-country kids, so I decided before we even started not to even try keep up with them... good call, as the winner beat me by a lot!  I settled into a pretty quick start across the grass and onto the opening trail.

The first 3km or so were flat and easy, and there was a fair bit of shade to keep cool.  I passed a few of the young guns, got passed by a couple who were behind me, but settled into a pretty good rhythm.

Soon after we turned on to another trail, which was more muddy and a bit slower... but still very easy compared to the hills.

Oh, the hills!  I run here all the time, so I knew they were coming, but they still smacked me around.  Very steep, I could barely run up them and found myself slowing to a walk up the biggest of them.  By now I was pouring sweat and my pace was dropping, but I kept pushing to try keep my position.

No dice - the guy that was chasing me for about the closing 4km or so finally caught me and I just didn't have anything to respond with.  I managed a finishing sprint just to keep my time under 50:00, finished in 49:55 or so.  There was no official timing or placing, but I think I was something like 7th or 8th of the 35 or so runners who braved the 10km (the 5km was the more popular option by a long shot!)

The Course

The 5km is flat and not technical at all, suitable for anyone who can put one foot in front of the other!  The 10km uses the 5km course but the middle 5km is very challenging, there are steep uphills, downhills, rock, sand, if it rains there'd be mud... lots of fun to some of us who are a bit more sadistic, your mileage may vary!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Cycling Community is Full of Nice Folks

I had a flat today.  More accurately, I had two flats today... and only one tube.

While I was pulled over by the side of the road, at least 30 cyclists went by.  At least one from every single group yelled out "everything OK?" or "got everything you need?".  Every one.

Ultimately I learned three things:

  • Don't let your tire get worn down so thin that a minor flat becomes a calamity... I had two holes in my tire, presumably from running over some glass or something, but they would have been nothing if not for the state of my tire!  The second tube didn't stand a chance, lasted about 10km before it too went kaboom!
  • Cyclists are a nice bunch of people
  • Don't leave the phone where your wife can't hear it if you expect her to answer it... oops... but she eventually answered and picked me up (thanks honey)