Sunday, November 29, 2009

Training Update

It's now been five weeks since I started training with Paul O'Callaghan so I thought I'd give a brief update. So far I have only done 3 of the 10 Milers I mentioned in my previous post. The Thetis Relay replaced the one of them and last week it it coincided with a rest day so the rest day won out. This will happen from time to time since the rest day changes each week with the 7 day on 1 day off schedule. The last time I did the Broadmead 10 Miler, the weather did not cooperate for the 2nd time and the driving wind and rain was pretty unpleasant. It was tough to keep myself warm enough. Run wise, It was decent however, as I took 3 minutes off my first time there despite wasting some time figuring out the route (it will take a couple more tries before I have it all memorized).

On Sat, we usually have a interval session on grass and these sessions can be pretty tough. Yesterday we did 12x30 sec uphill with about a minute rest jogging back down. While 30 sec doesn't sound like much, if you go full out, it becomes pretty tough. By the end of the last few repeats, I started to feel a little nauseous and that rarely happens to me. For the first time, I also wore spikes which really made a huge difference in traction; particularly since the grass was wet and muddy. Unfortunately, the right shoe wore my heel raw so I have to figure out what is causing that. After the repeats, we were supposed to hammer out a 1 Mile interval. The first couple of hundred metres were fine, but I could really feel the effect of the hill repeats and it became a struggle to keep the legs moving particularly up the little hills.

Overall, I've been pretty happy with the program although the increased mileage has caused my shin splints to flare up a bit. They are still in control, however, and only a minor annoyance. Of a little more concern are some issues I am having with my right heel which has been causing me some discomfort at the beginning of my runs and sometime during the run. It is not bad enough to affect my training, but I want to make sure that it doesn't become a big problem. I've been seeing a physiotherapist and have seen some improvement. Hopefully, it will be history in a couple of weeks.

This week the training enters a new buildup phase with 3 quality sessions per week rather than just the two. There will be a track workout on Tue, the 10 Miler will move to Thurs, and Sat will continuous to be a grass interval workout. The track workouts should be interesting as I haven't done a lot on the track before. As long as I can keep the injuries at bay, I think this phase will start to pay off starting in the new year.

Yesterday, I also checked out the Gunner Shaw race at Thetis. I've raced this one for the last 4 years, so for the fist time, I decided to volunteer and was given a Marshaling post at the north end of Lower Thetis Lake. It was actually pretty interesting to see the race from a different perspective than I normally do and it was good to give a little back to the running community. All of the races are totally dependent on volunteers so its good to pitch in sometimes. Congratulations to Jason Loutitt who took the win and a big kudos to my training partner, Shawn Nelson, who ran to fantastic 2nd place finish in a strong field. His improvement year over year, is quite outstanding. I guess the new training is really paying off.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thetis 20K Relay

November 11, 2009

I think I mentioned this in my post about the relay last year, but I am still (pleasantly) surprised at how popular this event is. There are no race numbers, you time yourself, and there is minimal prizing or post race food so it is great that it sold out for the second year running with over 600 registered. I think one of the main reasons it is so popular is that there are not many other local relay running events. This race allows you to get four people together to run around both Thetis Lakes, and your teammates can cheer you on while you are doing your leg. The distance its modest (under 5km per lap), the terrain relatively forgiving, and taking place on Remembrance Day, has no other races to compete with. All in all quite the fun little event which the Prairie Inn Harriers have put on for 13 years now.

With so many people in the event, parking is an issue unless you arrive pretty early. Sonja and I did not, and ended up having to hoof it a little ways. Not a big deal, but it didn't leave a ton of time before the race started. Conditions were great for this time of year, dry and mild, so a shorts and a short sleeve were all that was required. The first year I did the relay back in 2005, it was only a couple of degrees out and the rain absolutely pounded down. I remembered being completely soaked within minutes and freezing later while waiting for my teammates. It is still stands as the worst conditions that I have raced in.

I've done this event 4 times with various teams, so this year I decided to try it as a solo. This would also fit in well with my training program as I had a scheduled 10 Miler anyway so I traded that tempo for this race. The trick with a solo effort (besides the possibility of getting bored with 4 laps of the same trails) was not to go out too hard initially. Most of the runners would only be doing a single lap so trying to keep up with people I normally would run with would be quite unwise. There were 7 other solo racers, with Jeff Hunt being the fastest. Jeff is a experienced ultra runner and I thought that pacing him for the first lap would be a good way to make sure I didn't go out too hard (I didn't actually end up doing this, but it was a good idea anyway).

"Ready Set..." Photo Credit: Sandi Heal

Once the race began I quickly got into a comfortable rhythm. I rarely wear my heart rate monitor in a race, but I decided to use it this time. It turned out to be a good tool to have, particularly on the first lap. Even though it felt comfortable, the heart rate started to creep up steadily so I tried hard to keep it in the low 150's (under 90% of my max). I ran with Jeff for the first couple of km, but then he had to pull off to tie a errant lace (I'll give you tips to avoid this next time Jeff:-)). I passed a few single lappers who had gone out too hard and felt strong going over the 3 small hills near the end of the loop. I finished the first lap in 17:25 feeling good. It was great to see so many people cheering on myself and others at the transition zone. It really does give a little energy boost when people shout your name as you pass them so thanks to everyone who cheered us on!

My goal for the day was to try to keep the laps steady (or even slightly speed up with each successive lap). With this in mind I kept what I thought was the same pace as the first lap, but unfortunately held back a bit too much finishing that one in 17:59. Seeing this I pushed harder on the 3rd lap, determined to get my time down to around 17:30. I started passing runners on their 2nd lap and from here on in, I ended up saying "On your left!" quite a lot. Pretty much everyone was great at letting me by although a few still got confused about what left meant. Clocking in a 17:36 got me close to the first lap speed and I was feeling quite good so with a single lap left, I ignored the heart rate monitor and pushed the pace. The final 3 hills hurt and forced my pace down, but I hammered out the flats and downhills quite well. With a hundred meters to go, I didn't feel totally spent, so I sprinted in for a 17:27 lap and a 1:10:27 total time. This was good for a win in the solo division and 6th place overall. While I probably left a little bit in the tank since I didn't feel as drained as usual, I was still generally pleased with my performance and how smart I ran the race. The Senior Men National Triathlon Team took first place in a blistering 1:01:34 (15:23 average laps). Final Results. It was great to see some many Harriers out and I hope this little event continues on for many years to come.

Checking my splits with race director Bob Reid. Photo Credit: Sandi Heal

I'm going to continue to concentrate on my training for the remainder of the year although I will be heading over to Vancouver in early December to run the Gunner Shaw XC race there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Training Program

Since I haven't posted anything is a little while, I figured I was due to get something up here. As I noted in my previous post, I decided to hire a coach this fall and start a more regimented training program. I decided to go with Paul O'Callaghan who is a former Irish international runner with some stunning racing history and personal bests. He qualified for the 1988 Olympic Games and has competed in a total of 6 World XC Championships. It made since to me that someone with such a stellar running career would know something about what works and what doesn't.

I'm now on my second week of the new training program. The basic program calls for 7 days on, 1 day off. The idea of having a rotating day off is to avoid your body from getting used to have the same day off each week and therefore starting to anticipate getting that break. At first I was a bit worried that having to run so many days in a row since would leave me constantly fatigued and unable to get quality workouts in as I was used to running only 4-5 days a week. However, once I saw the schedule, I realized that it wasn't going to be too bad. While it calls for a lot of days in a row, only 2 of the days are hard workouts, the rest are generally pretty easy, with some days with only calling for an easy 20 minute run.

The main hard workout is the now somewhat infamous "O'Cal 10 Miler." which usually consists of a hard hilly tempo one in the Broadmead area. The first time I did this route, the skies opened up and dumped on us the entire time so we got completely soaked - quite the nice initiation! I was eased into the course though as Paul had Jairus Streight show me how to navigate the route and we ran at a fairly relaxed pace. Last week we did the 10 Miler on the last 16k of the RVM Half Marathon route. At this time, I ran with Eric Findlay, Sean Chester, and Shawn Nelson, all of whom are currently faster runners. We went out pretty hard and after about 15 minute I wondered if I was going to be able to survive the hectic pace. I stayed close to all 3 of them until around 8km when I relaxed just a bit. Once I got into my groove, I was actually able to feel pretty strong for the remainder of the run. I finished around 58min which is pretty solid for a training run for me. Having others to chase during is definitely going to help me in the upcoming months.

This Wednesday there will be no tempo run for me. Instead I'm going to be running the Thetis 20K Relay solo for the first time. Getting my pacing right so I don't die on the last lap is critical.

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