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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Race Report: Around the Bay 30km 2013

Result: 2:30:55.7 (chip)
1215/6848 overall
181/489 M35-39
979/3420 Men

This Race is Hard

Seriously hard.

I had intended to make this a test run of my planned marathon pace, 5:05/km.

First 15km

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!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Race Preview: Around the Bay 30K

1907 Around the Bay
Around the Bay is the oldest road race in North America... but it's only 30km, not 42.2km, so it doesn't get the full respect that the Boston Marathon does (oh, and it's in Hamilton, which is kind of the opposite of Boston).

8,500 will take on the 30km (plus a bunch of relays, 5k runners, etc).

I last did this race back in 2009... I've always meant to go back, but if I want to give Paris to Ancaster a serious run in early April, biking has to trump running in March.  This year my goal is the Toronto Marathon, so it fits perfectly as a dry run.


I want to just hold my planned marathon pace of 5:05/km.  This is considerably faster than what I ran in 2009 (5:22/km), but I'm in considerably better shape.  It's also in line with my result at the Peterborough 1/2 marathon.

If I can manage that pace over a pretty tough 30km and still feel pretty good, I will have the confidence for the 42.2km in a little over a month!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Running, Biking, and ... Rail History? Really?


I'm a bit of a rail buff, which you'd think has nothing to do with running or biking.

Yet, here we are.  Abandoned rail lines especially pique my interest, and when running there are many opportunities to spot where old lines once were.  Some have even been transformed into recreational trails (such as the 90km Victoria Rail Trail I posted about in the past).

I created a separate blog to talk specifically about rail history in the Durham Region.  My first post is about the abandoned Canadian Northern Railway line that once ran through Whitby.

Enjoy!  Or be completely bored if it's not your thing.  Either way.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

McMillan Running Calculator vs Reality

There are several pace calculators out there, but McMillan is arguably the most popular.

They claim to be able to predict your race pace based on a time for a different distance.

I plug my best 5k time into it and got this:

My 10k PB was on a cheater course (net downhill) so that explains why it's a touch faster than the prediction.

My 1/2 time is pretty close to the McMillan estimate (and I think I can hit the estimate on the right course!).

My marathon time is nowhere close.  In fact I don't for a moment think that the pace McMillan predicts is attainable for me... it's just waaaay off.  I went out just over 5:00/km at the NYC marathon, and that was about as fast as I dare dream of running over 42.2km.

Why.... ?

Is McMillan overly optimistic over longer distances?  Is the weight penalty a bigger factor as the distances get longer?  Or is it just highly personal, and I'm good at pushing through short intense pain but can't hold it together over 42.2?

Inquiry minds want to know.

Marathon Training Update II (Furman FIRST Plan)

I'm currently training for the Toronto Marathon in May, using the Furman FIRST plan.

The key features of this plan are

  • intensity rather than mileage
  • cross-training (with intensity!) rather than easy runs

There is no mailing it in, no easy or recovery runs.  Every one of the 3 runs per week has a purpose and prescribed pace.  Even the LSD is done quicker than a typical LSD pace, getting faster as the weeks go by.

At first I was hitting the paces with relative ease, but as the weeks wear on the training has been breaking me down!

Track work:  These have gone generally well.  They hurt and suck of course, but are rewarding at the same time.

Tempo runs:  Hit and miss, but most of the misses have been on account of conditions rather than my own conditioning.  I was a couple seconds off target pace on my last run (4:37/km when goal was 4:35/km) but the sidewalks were really icy so that cost me time.  I ran in the snow the week before that and missed my pace by a few seconds as well.  Not going to lose sleep over it!

Long runs:  Good, but tough.  I'm surprised how bagged I feel by the end of some of these runs - the pace is well off my planned marathon pace, yet they really take a lot out of me.  A big difference between 32km at the end of a hard training week without a taper and race day, though, so I remain optimistic!

Cross Training:  I've been alternating between bike workouts and the rower, depending on how my legs feel.  Both are great workouts, although my normal bike fitness really isn't there... but I can still eek out a strong cardio workout.

All in all I have enjoyed the plan so far, and doing those long runs early in the program gives me more confidence that I won't be fading as badly in the closing kilometers!  If I can get that licked it'll all have been worth it.