Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015 STWM post race report

At the beginning of this year, I set out a few goals for myself. PB at the Bluenose half in the spring, PB and finish top ten at the Tely 10, and run my first competitive full marathon. 2 out of 4 is a pass right? Well, it was 3 out of 4, and I'll get into that in a bit.

I ran the Bluenose half in May, and this was my second time at the race, and I did a recap earlier, but I know I didn't push myself hard enough even though I did PB. The Tely 10 (my fourth) was in July, and I ran a 4min PB, but missed out on the top 10 (I finished 13th, so no complaints).

This past weekend, Jenn and I travelled to Toronto for the #STWM (HASHTAG!!), Jenn to watch and cheer, me to race. I spent the majority of my Tely 10 training to help gear me towards running my first full marathon, and I spent hours on the roads during August and September doing long runs and work outs. In September I went out and completed a 31km run by myself with 20km done at race pace. This was the run that truly told me I was ready, I mean I was alone the whole time, and I nailed the workout. Going into the race, I stated to Jenn my goals. A goal was to run 2:42, B goal break 2:45, C goal, finish, and my A+ goal, break 2:40. Workouts indicated 2:40-2:42, and if the stars aligned I felt I had a shot at cracking the 2:40 barrier, but I wouldn't go hunting for it, I was going for my A goal first.
We flew into Toronto at 6:30pm Friday night, and made our way to our relatives condo. We headed out to Queen street to grab a couple of things and eat. Saturday, we munched on a couple of croissants and cinnamon buns (carbs baby), and headed out to the race expo and to do some shopping. Fast forward to lunch time, I'm stuck in IKEA with no snacks, and I won't eat there because it would only mess up my stomach before the race. See where I'm going yet?
Back at the condo, we drop out purchases off, and hit up an Italian place Jenn's uncle suggested, and I wolfed back bread and pasta. I snack on some toast later in the evening, and hydrate.
5am, race morning, I'm up eating a banana, and two bagels, followed by water. I feel great, and I'm excited to run. We make our way down town to Nathan Philips Square to take a photo and soak up some of the atmosphere before I jump into the corral and run around TO.


I gotta say I like this, I'm usually running smaller races back home so I'm usually at the front of the line, so it was a completely different experience starting a little farther back. Lots of energy from everyone that was around we, and it was special running up University in such a large crowd. I started to ease into my pace, and I was watching for the 1km marker to make sure I didn't go out too fast. I passed the marker and my watch said 0.92km, so I switched to elapsed time and noted 3:53, right where I want to be for the first 5km. As I was nearing the 5km mark, and the first water station I noticed an elite female runner lying in the middle of the road, and I knew what happened without even seeing it. When we first walked down Queen St on Friday, I noted the streetcar tracks, and I won't lie, they scared me, because they were deep and it wouldn't take much for an injury. So I knew she must have stepped in one coming down Bathurst, but I wasn't expecting what I read later that day (broken femur). I put my head down and concentrated on the road, and forgot about what I just saw. Around 9km two guys from home running the half caught up to me and we chatted for a bit, but they slowly pulled away from me over the net few km. Great race for both Jamie West and Fraser Clift, way to go guys. I ran with a pack of halfers until the split, then I was alone, or so I thought. Another full guy was right behind me, Josh Smith from London ON, We chatted for a while, and stayed together for the next probably 4km till I noticed our pace had dropped over the last two km. So I said I wanted to speed up a bit, but he wasn't feeling it so I went alone. At this point I think I was 24km in and I felt amazing, I was running up Bayview and passed a couple of runners ahead of me, and saw my friend Jason White from home coming the other way. We both edged to the middle of the road and gave a big high 5, it's good to get motivation during lonely stretches like that. I made the 180 degree turn on Bayview, and had a little trouble getting my pace up, but I pushed and I was right back where I wanted to be, for the next 3km. I made the turn onto Eastern Ave to go over the Don River when I got a hit from the wall. It happened so fast, I was really surprised, my legs were aching and my turnover was gone. I went through 30km in 1:56, which I was really happy with, but knew was slower than my goal pace, and that bridge played a factor. Kilometres 30-35 I split around 04:30/km, and my legs were shot. I saw my wife and uncles around 31km and they said I looked great, though I didn't feel it. On my way back I saw them around 34km, and Jenn (my wife) said I looked like I was suffering, and I was. My lungs were fine, my HR was great, but my hamstrings were completely drained. I stopped just before the 35km timing mat, and had a quick walk break, and I did this pretty much every km until the finish. There was nothing left in my legs, and I downed a couple of gels, some gatorade, and rubbed them. I kept pushing but my legs had had enough, so walk breaks it was. I crossed the line in a time of 2:58:31, a PB, a BQ and a fast time.
It's not the time I was going for, but I wouldn't trade it for the experience I gained, and the race itself. I have to say, Canadian Running Series put on an amazing race, and they really have the city of Toronto involved, the neighborhood cheer zones were awesome. Especially The Beaches, where it felt like everyone was urging me now, and calling me by name.
It's been nearly a month since the race, and I'm finally sitting down to finish this report. I thought I had everything planned out, but my meal planning the last few days before the race was garbage. I didn't have anything with me when I was in Ottawa, and didn't take enough with my on Saturday when we were out shopping, so I'm not surprised by my confrontation with the wall during the race.
So there we have it, my first marathon in the books, will I run another, I'm not sure but it's almost certain. I plan on taking it easy from now until the New Year, and just run when I feel like it with no work outs or weekly distance goals. Once the New Year starts I'll start in on a new training plan to get my 5k time down near 16min ( currently 16:40), and bust out another half in Halifax or Ottawa in the spring, with a goal time of sub 75.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

2015 Mews 8k

First off, I need to plug another blog post I did for the Canadian Running Series as one of their digital champions.
Running and Family: A Balancing Act
It went live Thursday, and I haven't had much of a chance to jump into people's thoughts on it, as my family and I went to our families cabin for the weekend, and there's no internet service. I know, no internet, but it's by choice. After a relaxing four days, I finally sat down to write about my latest race, the Mews 8k.

This race is a staple on the St. John's running scene, and has been around for a long time. Many people use this race as a primer for the race of the year around here; the Tely 10. With the Tely being 16km/10miles, this fast 8k race is a great predictor for how people will do in two weeks.

I went into this race looking to break 27 minutes, and hopefully get around the 26:30-40 mark, as I felt that my fitness was pointing towards those times. The morning of the race, the weather was on my side, about 8 degrees and overcast. I made my way over to the start area and did my warm up with my hoodie on to try and warm up my upper body. With a few minutes till the start, I ditched the hoodie, did a couple of strides and made my way to the line. The weather gods were on our side this day, as the clouds slowly started to part, and the sun made its appearance, which put everyone in a great mood to start the race.

Once the gun went, I jumped to the front of the chase pack (the two guys every thought would take the race did at the start, and really it was a race for third, or so we thought). Coming into the first km marker, Peter Power, one of the veterans of the local racing scene made a move and darted to second place, which surprised a number of people. Myself, and three others stayed together, and attempted to reel in third place. At the 2.5km mark, there's a right hand turn onto a long straight stretch, and another runner and myself used this to our advantage and split around the other runner, and put distance between him and us, and narrowed to gap to third. Just before the 4km mark, the route makes another right hand turn onto Empire Avenue, which is a steady downhill for the next 3km. At this point the runner I was with made another move to jumped into third and hammered it for the next km to put some distance between us. I locked in between the runner who was now in fourth and slowly reeled him to within maybe 10 feet during this downhill section.
With 1km to go I was feeling great and confident in my race, but noticed that fourth was speeding up, and I was late to match. By the time we were on the last 500m to the finish he was a good 40 feet away, and I started to get disappointed, but I remembered what I told a friend of mine a few days earlier. I can outkick anyone, if we're in a group, or its a sprint to the finish, I'm coming out on top. So, I started to kick, and noticed I was pulling him in, but not fast enough, so I kicked again, and barrelled down on him like a freight train. I played a lot of ultimate, soccer, basketball, baseball, and pretty much everything with short bursts of speed, so this wasn't surprising that I was catching him, the only problem was my timing sucked. I kicked too late and finished right on his heels.
Kicked too late
Lesson learned.

I crossed the line in 26:50, and I'm really happy with my effort and result, as it was a 47 second PB at that distance, and I'm feeling strong and ready for a great result at the Tely this year. Hopefully I'll get that recap up quicker. My training so far has been going great, and I'm excited to see what I can do this year at the Tely, and this fall when I run the #STWM in Toronto.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


As a runner, there is nothing more important than avoiding injuries. The easiest and best way to avoid injuries; prevent them, and consistency is the main ingredient needed in prevention. I'm writing this the night before my Sunday morning longish run. This year I'm averaging 5.5 run days per week, and have noticed a huge difference in my running. I mean look at this past month alone. You'll notice I take every Saturday off; I have two young children (5 and 2 in August), so I always make that day running free.

Let's compare that to last year which was only 4 run days per week. Last year I had a bad Achilles problem that reared it's ugly head twice, and derailed me for a number of weeks. I tried too hard last year in my build up to the Tely 10 and ignored the first issue with my heel. I had orginally blamed the hot weather (which still didn't help) on my performance, but I limped away from the finish line and know that was my issue. In October of last year I ran the Cape to Cabot 20km road race and finished second, however during my cool down, I noticed the issue again. Since then I have been consistent with my running, getting out as often as I can, and always having a longish run every week. I had a late evening work out with 5km at 5k race pace last week, and nailed my fastest time over that distance, and I owe it all to being consistent. I'd run a 5k earlier in the year, but it was only 3 weeks after I had surgery on my neck, so all things considered I was happy with running 17:30, and know that I can go faster. Also, I ran a half marathon back in May, and finished second but was 2 minutes behind the time I was shooting for. Again I'm happy considering I was by myself, and the only person ahead of me was Olympian Abel Kirui, so I wasn't chasing him, and wasn't worried about my time, I just ran an easy race and held my lead over third.

I have two races coming up next month, and I can't wait to see how this helps my racing times. There was a race today that I have completed in the last two years, and I want to give a shout out to a couple of runners. I won this race last year, and have to say its great fun, and the whole community helps to pull off the event, and the only reason I didn't go this year, is that it's hard to mobilize two young children for a 90 minute drive early in the morning.

First of all big shout out to David Freake for taking the win today in a blazing 24:07 to establish a new course record. Secondly to my buddy Mark Hayward who is working his way back into racing form from a big break, who blew away the time he was shooting for by over a minute. He's quickly hauling himself back into race shape, and letting everyone know he isn't going anywhere.

I'm building a great routine here this summer, and can't wait to continue it through past the Tely 10, and work up to the STWM in October.

EDIT: I realized yesterday that I didn't explain consistency correctly in regards to my running. Last year I averaged 4 run days per week, but sometimes I was running 3, then 6, 5, and so forth. This year I committed to 4 or 5 runs for the first two months of the year, then I consistency started running 5 days a week, and now I'm at 6 days a week. I made sure I ran the same days to create a routine for myself, and it has helped greatly, hence being able to run 6 days a week and no issues. Consistency is about routine (which I am all about with two young children), whether you're running 3, 4, or 5 days a week, or whatever number. Get into a routine and consistency will be the norm.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

That was a first

I've been running for years, and something happened this weekend that hadn't happened to me before. I've ducked behind trees, and bushes for number 1 before, but never have I needed to go 2. I know it happens often, but it was a first for me.
I was doing a late evening long run with a number of hills, and just as I was hitting the last hill on the way out I had some stomach pain, and gas. I shrugged it off, as I typically pass gas during longer runs, but by the third time it happened my head was on a swivel looking for a port-a- potty. I came up on one of ball parks in town, and I quickly ran down the lane looking for the bathroom. All I can say, is thank you for still having your bathrooms unlocked at 9pm on a Sunday.
I look at it this way, it's just like getting in the distance; it's 'money in the bank'. It's an experience, and I know what to pay attention to now.
Now on to a better discussion; running. I've finished my first training week for the Tely 10 here in St. John's in July, and I'm feeling great, and if training goes as well for this race as the half I did in May, I'm getting the PB I'm looking for. The weather is finally warming up, and I'm enjoying my runs along the many trails through the city, and surrounding area.
The hardest thing about training with a young family is getting everything done both family wise and running. I typically run at 5am during the week as my family is 'usually' still asleep. With the sun coming up earlier now, our oldest has been frequently waking up when I'm gone, and that in turn wakes up our youngest (not yet 2). They're not getting the rest they need, and they are cranky all day, so I try and do some runs at night, but that takes me away from helping out around the house once they're asleep, and spending time with my wife. If I run in the morning, I can spend lunch time walking with my wife, and then the evenings we watch some TV or read some books. It's a hard balance of running/family life, and I'm trying my best to keep everyone happy. Hopefully as the summer progresses, the children will be tired enough that my early runs can happen and I can to spend as much time as I can/want with my family, and still get in all the training I need for the Tely 10 and the STWM in the fall.

Monday, May 25, 2015

1 Mile race report

Another race in the books. That's number three for the year. I've completed a (windy) 5k, a half marathon, and yesterday I ran my second 1 mile race.
I believe this is my third attempt at writing a blog, and I've finally figured out why I can't stay with it (besides my obvious lack of writing skills), is that I put myself onto too hard of a deadline considering I'm not a writer. I thought I would be able to sit down once a week, which doesn't seem like very much, and talk about what I've been doing. It's amazing how I keep forgetting I'm an introvert, and have trouble expressing myself.
On May 17, 2015 I ran my second half marathon, and later that evening I noticed on a running website I frequent that another runner from the same race had did up a race report. I commented on it, and he asked me to write one myself. He wanted to read a different point of view of the race, since I had finished runner up. I thought it would be fun and gave it a shot. It was actually pretty fun, not as fun as the race, but I enjoyed recapping everything that went on during the race. I'm going to try recapping the rest of my races for the year, and see how it works out.

That's the link to the previous race report, which was about my second half marathon. The following is my report of the 2015 ANE Mile.

First off, ANE stands for Athletics NorthEast; which is a running/cycling club here in St. John's, NL. They are a great club who put off some really well run races (my particular favourite is the Cape to Cabot, which has sold out in less than 4 hours).
The 1 mile race is staged on a mostly straight stretch of road near probably the most popular lake in the city for exercising, and has a slight downhill, which makes it fast. This was the third year of the race, and going into it I felt my fitness was good enough for me to win. During warm up (if you can call it that, it was -1C with the wind chill that morning) I knew it would be hard, so I literally kept running around the area until 30 seconds before the gun went off.
I looked around and noticed only two people who I thought might be a challenge, and my confidence increased. Once the gun went I took the lead and hit my pace immediately (I felt that one week after racing a half, 4:45 for the mile was reasonable), and one of the guys I thought could be competition was on my shoulder. I stayed in front, and moved ahead of him about 500 meters into the race, and then I heard some more footsteps. They were on my right shoulder, and I knew he was still on my left a little, so I thought it was just someone pushing to jump on with us.
Turns out at the halfway mark two different runners split us and took the lead, and it kinda took me by surprise. I felt I was keeping on pace, and that I would pull them back in. I didn't want to counter that move for fear of pulling my hamstring (which I had felt stiffen up during the half), and let them go. Another 200 meters in, and it was evident that I wasn't going to catch them, and felt confident in holding onto third place. With probably 200 meters to go, I could hear the wind flapping the bib of the runner behind me! Oh no, I am not going to be caught, and I kicked and sprinted to the finish, and I heard the runner let out a big groan as I put distance between us. I crossed the line 10 seconds back from 1st and 2nd (photo finish; which happened the first year of the race as well) in 4:45 right on my predicted finish time.
I'm happy with my result all things considered, and I'm extremely happy where my fitness is right now. I'm going to be hitting my training again now for the Tely 10 in July, and then it's buckle down time for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. I've been accepted as one of their Digital Champions, and I'm going to do my best to get people talking about the race. #STWM