Friday, April 29, 2011

Back to training

As much fun as the post PB high is, I realize that I have another race in exactly a month from today where I want to PB again so I had to go back to training. I am not quite sure how to train for a half marathon anymore. Should I just take my marathon training and cut it in half? I like the long distance tempo runs too much to do that! At the same time, summer is around the corner and my bike is a very appealing alternative to the bus system to get around so my training will not be completely focused on running this year :) Summer is also a very social season so hopefully I'll find a way to continue to squeeze my training in, for now it's been a bit of on and off where I cancel some of the planned sessions in favor of happy hours and dinner with friends...

Here is the training I have completed since the Half in Montreal:
  • Tuesday 19 - Tempo run with Ottawa Front Runners - 10km in 46:54
  • Thursday 21 - Speed training with Ottawa Front Runners - Fast laps at ~4m/km, recovery at 5m/km
  • Sunday 24 - 20km bike commute to Easter dinner - 49:38
  • Monday 25 - 20km bike commute from Easter dinner - 46:19
  • Tuesday 26 - Tuesday run with Ottawa Front Runners (wet and windy, rings a bell?) - 10km in 50m (1 fast km at 4:25)
  • Thursday 28 - Speed work was canceled when no one showed up so I went long - ~17k in ~1h25m (rainy again!)
So while I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front, I was able to continue training. I tried to return to the pool this week, however the pool was closed because of a chemical imbalance. I'll try again next week :) I also have to get back into the weight training, however with tapering for Ottawa Race Weekend coming up, I'm not sure how much of a routine I can make of that one :)

If anyone is coming down for Ottawa Race Weekend, get in touch with me, we can arrange a pre-race or post-race meetup. I will be hosting a pasta dinner on the Saturday night for anyone interested, non-runners also welcomed! Leave a comment with your email or DM me on Twitter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Montreal Asics 21k

Wow! Montreal Asics 21k turned out to be quite a fun weekend! The weather was really scary on Saturday night with a mix of ice pellets, wet snow and freezing rain. I spent the Saturday walking around and shopping, not the best race prep routine, I know! It did warm up a little bit for Sunday morning but it was still quite wet and I was really worried about the weather. The day started with my friend Thiago participating in the 5k run.
The weather did not stop people from enjoying their races:
Unfortunately for him his race was really wet with rain everywhere and huge puddles on the course:
He still did a really good time coming in just over 22 minutes:
Once Thiago finished, we got ready for my race that started an hour and a half later. Lucky for me the rain cleared up and all that was left to deal with was the 25km/h gusts of winds here and there. After much debate about wind breakers and thighs vs loose pants, I decided on my tempo outfit that has seen me through some fast times before:
We slowly headed to the start area and I waited for the gun to get going. With about 2500 runners, the start area was crowded but it was still manageable.
As soon as we started running I noticed the gusts of winds. We ran by the giant roller coasters of La Ronde and then looped it up to run by the start line again (this course looks familiar! ;). It was a good thing that the course is fairly loopy, with all the winds, it helped break up the resistance to alternate between tailwind and headwind. I ran well and fast. My conservative strategy was to run the first half at a 1:40 pace and see where that would go. Instead I let myself get carried away by the tailwinds and didn't worry about my speed until I hit a headwind where I pushed to maintain my target pace. This paid off big time with my KM splits:
  • 4:40
  • 4:36
  • 4:31
  • 4:26
Thiago was really good about finding spots to see me.
I kept going after the first loop where started heading towards the F1 race track.
  • 4:25
  • 4:31
  • 4:32
  • 4:33
  • 4:39
  • 4:30
  • 4:31
Running on the race track was awesome. I could see the stands where all the spectators come to watch the races. Tire marks were visible everywhere. I chatted with someone from Ottawa that had been to the race before and he kept recounting me where he saw cars pass each other, etc. Surely everyone's minds were on the track and how cool it was to run on it. When I passed by the start line, I noticed the small squares that the cars use to align themselves and the inscriptions Salut Gilles! at the start line. How awesome! Once we turned around the water bassin, the wind really became a killer. Runners organized in flocks (just like geese) and took turns breaking the wind for the rest of the group.
  • 4:36
  • 4:48
  • 4:47
  • 4:41
  • 4:40
My strategy was to conquer the wind and to the surprise of my fellow runners to issue a huge shout: AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! every now and then to release some of the pressure and get some more frustration to carry me through. Sorry guys if you found this annoying :) We finally turned the corner and got into more sheltered area where the wind wasn't such an issue. That's where I started thinking about my finish and realizing that I was way ahead of 1:40 and that if I pushed, I could probably even break my goal of 1:38, which I thought before the race was pretty aggressive already without the crazy winds.
  • 4:30
  • 4:40
  • 4:26
  • 4:35
  • 4:37
Then a final sprint to the finish line that was tucked away after a turn and somewhat uphill!
With a last minute sprint where I passed 2 or 3 guys, I was able to finish with a super time of 1h37m20s! A new PR! I was ecstatic. Couldn't believe my eyes! Look at my time! Look at my time! Awesome! Yeah! The Endorphin were surely rushing through my veins!
Overall this race was an awesome event. Even with the weather I would do it again. The course is a bit loopy but affording us the ability to run on the race track really makes up for it. If I was the organizers I would rejig the finish area a bit. I like to see the finish line from far away so I know how much I should push. Also put markers like they do in Ottawa 1km to go 800m to go, 500m to go, etc. The swag was decent with a good shirt and an OK medal. The fact that I spent the weekend shopping in Montreal also made the experience one to repeat often ;)

I think I ran a decent race and wouldn't change anything about it. My chosen outfit was comfortable, my strategy of bringing my own sports drink allowed me to stay hydrated on my own terms and my pacing paid off big time. Now I have to see if I can repeat this in Ottawa and break the 1:35 mark.
Right after the race we showered at the race facility (how awesome is that where you can shower right at the race!) and headed home on the bus. We were fortunate that the bus wasn't full, so I could kick it up and relax with a nap:
A lot of the Montreal runners are coming for Ottawa Race Weekend so we'll see you out there!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ready for Montreal!

First of all, I apologize for being so quiet lately. If you are my friend in real life or even on FaceBook, you will know that I have been going through some changes over the last few months that culminated over the last 4 weeks, the most significant one being my return to being single. It's allowed me to refocus my priorities and objectives and devote lots of time to my training. I'm actually doing great given the circumstances and have a positive outlook on life and beyond! Now that this is out of the way, let's talk about the good news!

I feel very much ready for Montreal. I believe I can get a new PR and probably even break 1:40 if I am having a good day. Yesterday's training was a regular speed 10k with a 2km speed test thrown in there that was meant to confirm my confidence about this weekend's half marathon. I ran with my friends from the Ottawa FrontRunners. Let me rephrase that, I met with the FrontRunners and Mark and I went ahead and left everyone else in our dust ;)

While I had warned Mark that I would speed up for a 2km interval at the middle of our run, he was caught by surprise when I darted off. To my surprise, he caught up with me and didn't even feel winded. We'll have to be rougher on him in the future, he is definitively under training. The 2km went by fairly quickly with splits of 3:52 and 4:06! Woot Woot! I was aiming for 4:20 splits so my confidence is now way up. The recovery after wasn't even that difficult with the next 2 kms at 4:51 and 4:45. Look at all that green on the heatmap:
I think I'm definitively getting my shape back this Spring. It was awesome to be running in shorts and short sleeve tshirt again. I am looking forward to my performance in Montreal and the rest of my running season this year!

If you are in Ottawa, consider joining us for the Ottawa FrontRunners speed workouts on Thursdays. We meet at 6:30pm at the Lisgar entrance of City Hall and head to either Parliament Hill or a local track to do some drills. We try to keep the drills varied every week and the bunch is always a fun group to be with.