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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Race Report: Whitby 10 Miler


If you've ever done one of this guy's races, you know it's never quite perfect.  In this case, inexplicably, there was no Gatorade/eLoad/anything.  Just water.

Inexcusible.  It's 16km, runners absolutely expect it.  I paid $50, that should have been good for a few cups of Gatorade.

The same guy organizes a few Whitby races - most notably this one and the "WIN Marathon".  I know a few runners who avoid his races like the plague - I keep going back, figuring after all these years he'd have figured it out.  He hasn't, and likely won't.  So you've been warned.

(I really hate to rag on the local guy, too because I love having local race options... but it's overdue.)

One other thing... there were orange spray-painted kilometer markers that were bang-on, but then there were signs that were for some reason off!  In the end the measure was close for the 10 miler (but way off for the 10km I'm sure - again, why??).  Attention to detail, please!

My Race


1:15.27 (13 of 114 overall, 3/8 age group, 12/44 men)

This race was a spur of the moment decision.  After last week, I wanted to do something... but wasn't sure what.  There was also a cyclocross race just up the road from me that I've done a couple of years in a row (that is awesome)... but my bike is out of commission and I got too lazy to fix it, so the 10 miler it was!

This race is by the water, on the waterfront trail mostly - which is quite lovely, but always windy.  It's also fairly hilly, depending on which direction you go.

In this case - we started out with a 10km out-and-back to the west, which is flat, followed by a 6km out and back to the east which is hilly.

I planned to started out at 4:45/km, figuring no matter how bad things go that was my "worst case scenario" pace.  Last week at the 1/2 marathon from hell, I ended up averaging 5:12/km... so really, it could actually get worse, but I wasn't going to have any of it today!

The first kilometer, though, was net downhill by quite a lot... so I ended up coming up to 1km at 4:14/km.  This was my fastest kilometer of the day... a bit stupid, really, but I immediately backed off and found a more reasonable pace.

Here are all my splits.

1 4:14.8 - net downhill, a bit excited, too fast?
2 4:41.3 -
3 4:44.4
4 4:46.1
5 4:48.2 - slightly uphill, backed off
6 4:39.6 - slightly downhill, enjoyed
7 4:41.8
8 4:38.8        
9 4:45.4 - strong wind by lake        
10 4:53.4 - uphill, windy        
11 4:44.9 - uphill, headwind
12 4:53.1 - uphill, headwind        
13 4:46.6 - downhill, then uphill        
14 4:48.7 - worst hill of race...        
15 4:40.3 - a bit of a hill but started to think of finish...         
16 4:30.6 - kick it!!!  Heart rate topped out at 194bpm...

Average pace: 4:42/km - which on a windy/hilly course I'll take!  Especially after last week.

Average heart rate was pretty high for a 16km... 179bpm.  First 6km or so were in the 170's, rest was 180+, then the 190's over the last kilometer.  Two weeks ago I did a 10km, with an average heart rate of 183bpm, and max of 191bpm... so I think I'm still running a bit high for whatever reason.

Next up... 

... nothing!  Well at least nothing more for 2012, next race will be in 2013.  I need a bit of a break from running, going to take next week completely off before I get back into anything.

Race Preview: Whitby 10 Miler

I decided last night to do this race today.  It was between this and the Durham Cyclocross Classic, also in Whitby, but my bike needs fixing and I was too lazy to do it so...

I did this race years ago, but only the 10km.  It starts somewhere different this year, but still is on the Whitby waterfront.  Presumably it will be a bit hilly but not too horrible (one big hill if it goes the direction I expect).

I am going to be pretty conservative - start out at 4:45/km pace and see where things are at, then pick it up at 5km if things are looking OK.  I am promising myself right now to stick to this for 5km, no matter how it feels!

This is definitely my last race of 2012, so it will either be a dose of redemption or a last kick in the gut.  I'll let you know in a few hours!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dude, Where's My Pace?

Went out for a run today, my first since my disastrous 1/2 marathon.

Today (8km):
Pace: 4:57/km, Avg HR: 162bpm

That's a bit higher than I would normally see at that pace, but consider...

1/2 marathon:
Pace: 5:12/km, Avg HR: 177bpm!

I still haven't been able to pin-point what went wrong... maybe it was just a combination of things.  I haven't felt 100% the last few days, a bit lethargic, so it could just be I'm fighting a bug of some sort.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm thinking of doing a 10 mile race this weekend.  It's local and I'm stupid.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 Racing Year in Review

When I say something is bad or horrible, I mean my performance, not the event itself...

Tough year.  I was due I guess... but between my own injury and family health matters I got a slow start to the season, and nothing really came together for me until very late.

My 2012 Performances
  • Whitby Waterfront Workout (10k) - bad - first race back from injury, did pretty lousy
  • Paris to Ancaster (60k off-road bike) - horrible result... big step back in the overall standings vs previous years... again, injury kept me pretty benched so undertrained
  • TREAD 6 Hour Relay - great, team had fun and did well, things were looking up!
  • Moraine 4 Life Relay - great!  in 3-way tie for the win, we had a great day as a team... my performance wasn't great but not totally off either
  • XC Mansfield Marathon (30k mountain bike) - horrible... DNF'd with a mechanical then suffered badly in the heat when I started the shorter event
  • Muskoka Grind (offroad triathlon) - horrible... my first non-mechanical DNF.  I was sick and shouldn't have even tried...
  • Ride4United Way (160km bike) - OK? I guess... I suffered but finished. 
  • Logs Rocks & Steel (Adventure Race) - awesome!  2nd of the male teams, and for the first time this year, improvement over a previous result.
  • Tour de King - OK... it was a tough day, hit a tree, but had fun and finished not bad
  • Ajax Run the Lake (10k) - Good!  Had a fun tussle for podium spots (which I ultimately lost) and my pace was pretty decent.
  • Downsview 1/2 Marathon - Horrific.  Disappointing.  Worst race I've ever done.
The best races all year were the team ones - partly because they carried me (in the case of the Moraine Relay!) but also because I did really well in them for whatever reason.

No running PBs this year, which can be expected given I had a late start on training.  I thought it would come around in time for that Downsview 1/2, and my training paces leading up to that suggested it had - but race day really disappointed.

Had my first ever DNF - for any reason - followed very shortly by another DNF when I tried a triathlon while still sick. 

So good riddance 2012.

2013... here I come!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Race Report: Downsview 1/2 Marathon

So that was probably my most disappointing race ever...

I have no idea what happened - I was just slow.  Very slow.  Any time I got anywhere close to target race pace, my heart rate went crazy... and my pace for most of the race was a full minute per kilometer higher than what I had targeted.  Something was really, really not right.

I'll get back to that in a bit, but first... the race!

The Race

Downsview 1/2 Marathon.  First time event, and wow did they draw a great crowd!  Almost sold out, and some very nice touches.

The good:

  • Race cap instead of shirt - yay!  I think we all have enough shirts already... but I really nice running cap is always welcome.
  • Personalized race bibs (see picture).  Usually something you get at big marathons, nice!

  • Neat location - Downsview was actually pretty cool, running by the hangers, on the taxiways, and through the little park they have there now
The bad:
  • The aid stations were pretty bad... I hate to rag on volunteers, but there weren't enough of them and they didn't seem to know what they were doing.  At the first one, there was no Gatorade/eLoad... at the next one, there was one volunteer giving it out one cup at a time!  The guy in front of me grabbed that cup, so I had to help myself from the table... not cool!  And the cups I go were so unfilled it would have been comical if it weren't so irritating.  I don't really blame the volunteers, they need to be given clear direction on what to do.
  • The race was advertised as "flat" - but the first and last 4km were anything but.  Rolling hills, some of them pretty steep (and definitely pace-impacting!).  There are certainly better 1/2 courses for a PB, which surprised me - I thought this one was going to be ideal
  • Bathroom line-ups were brutal!  More porta-potties!  Or some trees for the men to pee on.
  • Kilometer markers were way off.  I think the final distance was right, but if you were relying on the km markers for pace, good luck.  19km sign was at 19.5km, most were off by at least a few hundred meters - and then others were bang-on.  A crap-shoot.
So a few things they can improve on.  All in all it was pretty decent, though, I would do it again.

My Race

Horrible.  Confusing.  I have no idea what went so wrong.

I started out near my target pace of 4:30-4:35/km.  Really early on, I noticed my heart rate was quite high - into the 180bpm range.  This is higher than my tempo heart rate normally, so I was a bit confused, but chalked it up to race day nerves or something.

But it didn't come down.  In fact, it went up.  When it hit 185bpm and I was getting to the 6km mark, I knew this just wasn't going to work... I dialed the pace back, but still felt awful.  I felt like I was in full blow-up mode at 7km!  Crazy.

I finally backed waaaaay off, all the way to 5:30/km pace, which is my LSD pace.  Still, my heart rate wouldn't go under 170bpm.  This was really the story to the end, struggling to keep a 5:30/km pace while my heart rate was something I only ever see on tempo runs.


I did a 7km tempo race just this Wednesday...

4:28/km average pace, 168bpm average heart rate

How can I hold 4:28/km over 7km with a heart rate of 168bpm in a training run... but then four days later at the same pace I'm at 185bpm?  And had to slow down to 5:30/km to get back into the 170bpm range???

I'm stumped.  Maybe I'm coming down with something, I don't know.  Just a bad, bad day.

Final result was 1:50+, vs my PB of 1:36... I mean it was just crazy bad.

Kind of par for the course in 2012 for me, so best to just turn the page and look ahead to 2013!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Race Preview: Downsview 1/2 Marathon

This is a new race on the Toronto scene, a half marathon at the Downsview airport.

Race website

Big flat wide-open airport.  Sounds great for a PB.


What I didn't consider when I signed up (back when it was warm) was if it was a cold and windy day, like last weekend...  this could actually be a hellish race, huge wide-open space with nowhere to hide from the elements.

Fortunately it's going to be 15C and Sunny!  In October!  Dodged that bullet.

My Goal

My PB is 1:36, which I did in Whitby last year. 

I was about 10 pounds lighter... but somehow my pace is still pretty close.  It's not impossible, anyway...

So I have 3 pace bands prepared, one for a 4:30/km pace (sub-1:35), one for 4:35/km pace, and one for 4:44/km pace (sub-1:40).  I intend to start out close to the 4:35/km for the first few kilometers, then pick it up to the 4:30/km and see where my heart rate is.  If it all looks and feels OK I will go for it!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Betsy Andreu

You're more likely to find Lance Armstrong than Betsy Andreu if you google for "hero"... but she is clearly the bigger "man" of the two.

She doesn't head up a charity, she doesn't sell bracelets or speak at fundraisers.  But she has far more integrity, and for those looking for role models she should be far higher on the list!

Through everything, her story never changed.  Lance doped.  She had her name dragged through the mud by Lance and his people, she was sued, but she continued to tell the truth about cycling - a truth many didn't want to hear.

I have two girls, and if they grow up to have half the principles and courage of Betsy Andreu I'd be proud!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Race Report: Ajax Run the Lake 10k

Course was pretty much what I'd figured - hilly and stiff cold winds.

My Race

Result was pretty much what I'd figured - 42:42 (although course might have been ~200m short per my GPS?) and around a 4:20/km pace.  Good enough for 5th overall and 4th of the guys.

Had a fun little race with one other guy.  I was by myself up to about the 7km mark, then I noticed I was gaining on someone.  We hit the final turn-around at 7.5km and he saw me... then it was on!

A bunch of rolling hills sat between us and the finish.  I seemed to close the gap on the way up... and down.  This was going to be easy!  But then he'd open it up again when we'd hit a flat.  And so it went until the very last hill when finally I caught and passed him on the descent.

... but there was still 500m to go.  I could hear his footfalls behind me.  I tried to fire up the pace to break his spirit, but he matched me step for step.  I was now under my 5k race pace, into the sub-4:00/km pace zone, which I knew I couldn't hold for long... and he was matching me.  I really needed him to hit his wall!

As the finish came into view, I could hear him start up a finishing kick.  I tried to respond but that took me into a total blow up zone - he breezed by and took it by a few seconds.

So I lost this one - but man was it fun!  And really drove me to finish hard, which was exactly what I needed.

My Whining

The course markings were really off... like waaaaaay off.  The 5km sign was at 4km!  I had no idea how long this race was going to actually be - were the signs where the organizers actually thought 5km was?  If so, was it going to be 1km short?  2km?  Or was the distance right but the signs wrong?

In the end the distance seems to only have been off by about 200m, which is close enough it could have been right and my GPS off a little.  But still - really inexcusable in this day and age to be so wildly off on the kilometer markings - when they're that wrong, it's better to not have them at all.

Anyway, it's a local community fundraiser race, not the NYC marathon, so I won't hold them to toooo high a standard... just irks me.