Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014 Forest City Road Races Half Marathon Race Report

Trying to train through the unrelenting Polar Vortex Winter of 2013/2014 left me with a big unknown in my preparation for my first goal race of 2014.  It was a modest goal.  Try and better my 2011 finishing time on a tough course. 
Most of my training consisted of one hour 10km runs on the treadmill at an easy 6min/km pace.  Only once the weather appeared to be getting better was I able to transition outside for some longer-ish runs on the weekend.  I had a couple of bad weeks at the end of February, beginning of March and was continually struggling with annoying tenderness in my right hamstring.

As the race became closer, I pushed through some much harder training runs and spent considerable time on the race route focusing on the hills that permeate the last half of the route.   I could get my pace dialed and was actually quite happy that my plan to finish between 1:45 and 1:47:30 was achievable.

When Lucy asked if she could run with me as my plan would give her a PB under 1:50, it seemed like a no brainer.  On one of our runs along the route she was cranking out solid 5:04min/km.
Race morning arrived crystal clear and cold.  Temperature at the starting line was hovering just above freezing.  It was also going to warm up nicely as the sun rose higher into the sky.  The wind was brisk at times out of the northwest but shouldn’t be a factor as the routes constantly changes direction it a large figure eight.

With the morning being so close to freezing at 2C, I opted to wear a long sleeved Under Armor shirt under a loose fitting bike jersey, my Zensah calf sleeves and thigh sleeve over my cranky right hamstring.  I knew it was going to be a bit risky if the sun really began to warm things up but I couldn’t risk letting my lower back get too cold early in the race.  I went with two shirts and hoped to finish quickly.

As we positioned ourselves on the outside edge of the start, Lucy locked and loaded RunKeeper on her iPhone, donned her earbuds and we were off.

Around the park, past the finishing chute and the easy downhill to Wharncliffe passed by exactly on plan and pace.

As we entered the University and began heading to the park, I could feel we weren’t tracking close enough to a 5min/km pace.  I was seeing numbers all over the place on my watch. Through the parks, past the London pacers water station where my wife and kids were volunteering  and into old north,  we rolled through 10K Along Cheapside in 50:37   Well on pace to finish just under 1:47 but I was having quite a bit of tightness through my lower back and high in my right hamstring.  The early morning cold was working against me.

We started giving some time back along Adelaide incline and Windemere hill(s) and that continued as we passed through the University gates and back into the Park.

Breaking the race down after the quick most downhill first 5K, we dropped about 3 seconds per kilometer when you break the race down into 5 kilometer sections.

Pace S1
Pace S2
Pace S3
Pace S4

Not exactly text book pacing.

The toughest segment of the race is transitioning out of the park system as you begin to approach Ann Street after running under the Oxford Street bridge.  Unless you know the course, you think your hill is done until you see Talbot climbing slowly towards the traffic light at Central.   Even Central has a grade to it until about 100 meters from Richmond.  It was this section that sucked the life out of me in 2011.  

I wasn’t going to allow that to happen again.  I trained this section and although I wasn’t having the greatest day though my right side posterior chain, there was nothing going to stop me along that section.

Until I crossed Richmond.

Calf twinge.



This is not happening.

And another one

My internal dialogue would not have made it past the network censors.

I watched Lucy get ahead of me and drifted in behind her for the first time of the day.

According to my watch, if the race had been an even 21 kilometers, we hit 1:47:28.

It wasn’t and that last 100 meters was a race against my calves.  Watching the video of me crossing the finish line my right side is a disaster.  
Lucy was happy, she set a new PR and finished second in her age group!

I was happy (the race was over).

My physiotherapist who I see very shortly, I’m not sure that he’s going to be happy.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One Year Later

I have to turn away from the television
When I think about those who lost their lives
And those who survived
About suffering
About my friends 
And luck
Tears come often and easily
My throat burns when I try to hold it in
Whisper a silent prayer
Lace up my shoes and run

Monday, April 14, 2014

Two Weeks

Only two weeks until the 2014 edition of the  Forest City Road Races Half Marathon.  

In polar vortex friendly South Western Ontario, Mother Nature is still being a bipolar bitch with brief glimpses of nice weather.  We are about to plummet from a tropical 16C to -3C over the next 12 hours.  So while the weather was good this past weekend, I managed two solid albeit slow long runs.

After a winter diet of steady treadmill 10K runs, it appears I can manage the half marathon distance but I’m struggling to find any consistent speed.  After so much time on the treadmill,  my cadence is down to a lowly 160 steps per minute.  I'm concerned, but then again, I may be over analyzing as usual.

The last time I raced this event I was somewhat disappointed with my finishing time after wasting a strong start.  The last couple of kilometers didn't go as well as planned,  I was out of gas and falling apart mentally and physically.

So as disappointed as I was with the result,  two weeks later, I had an exceptional half marathon in Toronto even with another miserable  final two kilometers.

So knowing the FCRR course,  and my predisposition to finishing with my brain and tank completely empty,  I hit those last 4 kilometers hard yesterday.   Last year’s trail running makes the climb out of the park system seem less challenging.  Certainly what in the past has felt long and labored along the grade of Talbot and Central became strong and controlled on tired legs.

So,  just two weeks left.

Two weeks to work on picking up up my cadence.

Two weeks to relieve a tight stiff back.

Two weeks to massage a cranky hamstring.

Two weeks of madness. Stressing over every ache and pain and niggle.

Yup, I'd say I'm ready to race.

Are you ready?