Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cobble Hill 10K

January 24, 2010

Since I am already behind in posting this, I'll skip most of my usual preamble. My training has been going fairly well although I was a bit concerned that the extra volume would leave my legs fatigued for the race. Fortunately, while my legs were heavy the day before, they ended up feeling good during the race. I had slept well the night before, but woke up feeling pretty groggy and during the drive up felt much more like crawling back into bed than running 10k. I had a bit of coffee and once we were under way I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt.

While some people claim that Cobble is a fast course, I don't find it particularly so. It is not overly difficult, but contains quite a number of small hills that soak up the seconds. Last year I posted a 34:20 here, and this year anything less than that would have been quite disappointing. Ideally, I would be able to get a time around 33:30 (3:21 pace) , but I would have been satisfied with a sub 34 min time.

The first 2 kilometers of this course are fast with a net elevation loss so I wasn't worried I was going to hard when I posted two sub 3:15 splits. There is a turn around just before the 2km marker for a short out and back section, and I felt comfortable while making the turn and then pushing hard back up the hill. I passed Mark Nelson on the climb and set my sights on Ian Hallam, Eric Findlay, and Nick Walker who were running together a little ways in front of me. Around the 3km mark, still feeling strong, I decided it was time to bridge the gap and quickly managed to pull even. I knew what times these guys usually run and thought that if I could hang in there with them, I would be doing well. Kilometers 3-5 are mostly a gradual climb and hills still being my friend, I set the pace for a short time. Soon we also reeled in Swawn Nelson who was slowing somewhat.

My 5k split was 16:42 which I was quite pleased with as it set me up nicely for a solid PB as long as I could avoid falling apart in the last half. Unfortunately, I started to feel the fast pace around 6km and Ian, Eric, and Nick slowly began to pull away. I could have dug deep to hang in there with them, but that may have lead to disaster since there was still 4km. Instead, ran my own race and concentrated on keeping the rhythm going. I continued to run with Shawn and keep my effort and pace pretty steady for the next couple of km. I actually thought that I would be able to drop Shawn since he seemed to be struggling a bit, but around 8.5km he put a surge on that I had difficultly responding too. I tried to power though the last km in an attempt to close the gap and managed to hammer it into the finish line for a final 3:13 km, but couldn't quite catch up.

My final time was 33:31 good for 10th place (and a surprising 1st in the M3034 category) and a 10 sec PB over my 2009 Sun Run time. Better still, it was a respectable 49 sec improvement over my 2009 time on this course. AP Balliargeon-Smith from the National Triathlon Centre won in just under 32 minutes, edging out Kenyon Nixon Kiprotich and Sean Chester. The top woman was Magali Tisseyre coming in around 36min. Other notable performances go to my girlfriend, Sonja, who took a whopping 1:30 off her best 10k (particularly impressive on this course) and Jeff Hunt, who also set a PB and seems to be getting faster all the time.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the way things went. My PB was not huge, but considering it is not a particularly fast course and it is still early in the road season, I feel I am well on my way to posting a sub 33 time in April at the TC and Sun Run. Final results.

Full splits:
3:12, 3:14, 3:25, 3:19, 3:32 (5k split: 16:42), 3:22, 3:21, 3:25, 3:27, 3:13

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Screw Shoes

I recently made some modifications to an old pair of Brooks Cascadia's. I cannot take any credit for coming up with this idea as I have seen it in magazines and online a number of times. However, generally the idea behind adding metal screws on the soles of running shoes seems to be to improve traction on ice and snow. Most of the time in Victoria, there is thankfully a lack of such frozen substances on the ground so it may not seem as though it would be particularly useful. However, I got to thinking that if it works on ice and snow it may also work to improve traction on wet rock, roots, logs, bridges, and mud all of which can be found in abundance here.

Once out on the trails, I found that my idea was correct and traction was greatly improved on nearly all surfaces. Traction on roots, wooden bridges, and logs was excellent. Grip on wet rock was also very good although it was still possible to slip on very smooth rock. Grass and mud traction was also improved, although if the mud was deep, it didn't help as much (I suspect that only long spikes would work in this case). The only real disadvantage that I found was that when running on hard surfaces such as pavement, the shoes were a little more punishing on the feet, but I did manage to mostly alleviate this by removing screws in the heel strike area where there is high impact. The only other thing that might be an issue is that they improve traction so much that if you don't happen to be wearing them, you might get over confident and end up biting it bad.

Making the modification was pretty easy. I just purchased some 1/2" sheet metal screws with 1/4" heads from the hardware store. Specifically getting this type of screw is important since most of the improved traction comes from the ridges on the screw heads. I used a small bit to pre-drill some holes in the high points in the sole and then added the screws by hand. I'm sure you could just use an cordless drill to add them without pre-drilling but I didn't have the proper bit at the time. If you have thinner soles, 3/8" long screws might be a better option to make sure they don't stick through into the inside of the shoe. Also, if you have gel or air packs in the shoes, it is obviously important not to puncture them.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Prairie Inn Pioneer 8K

January 10, 2010

Pioneer is the very popular first race of the Island Race Series. I'm quite surprised at the level of competition that shows up for this local race. Thanks for the stellar field can largely be given to Bob Reid who manages to recruit many elite runners from the island, the mainland and beyond. It probably also helps that there is a small prize purse and it is the now part of the Timex BC Road Running Series. Other than the Sun Run and Times Colonist, this is likely the most competitive road race in BC. Thanks to the race director Randy Jones and all the volunteers who made this 31st running of the Pioneer another great success.

This was my first road race since I started my new training with Paul O'Callaghan and therefore my first real test to see if the plan was working for me. I was feeling optimistic about my running, but I didn't have any expectations that I would be setting a huge PB. I did however, want to at least better my 2009 time on this course (26:57). If I could also go under my 8k PB of 26:45 that would be a satisfying result. Based on this, I planned to try to go for a 26:30 (3:19/km pace) and see how things went.

I arrived about an hour before race start which normally gives sufficient time to get a race number, use the facilities, and have a short warm up. Unfortunately, I spent a good amount of time waiting in line for the bathroom so my warm up was a truncated one. In my experience though, I have not found a relationship between my performance and my warm up. Sometimes, I have not warmed up at all and felt just fine and other times I have done a full warm up and under performed. The body definitely does take some time getting the systems running well during intense exercise, but I find the the adrenaline at the beginning of the race more than compensates for the lack of a full warm up.

Most of the first kilometer is downhill which leads to an extremely fast time. I managed to avoid the flailing arms and legs and passed the first km in 3:01 in around 25th place. Only in my dreams could I run an 8k at that pace, but I wasn't particularly worried about going so fast since it is largely on account of the downhill start. Shawn Nelson passed me near the 1km mark and knowing the speed he is capable of these days, I didn't attempt to respond. Around 1.5km, I saw Craig Odermatt take a nasty tumble on the pavement. He was apparently tripped up by somebody, but with the assistance of another runner (Shelby Drope) he was up and moving again soon. He momentarily fell back a bit, but soon enough bombed on ahead to a strong finish.

The second km passed in a another quick 3:13, but I knew some slow sections were on the way so having a few seconds in the bank was good since I didn't feel I was over stressing myself doing so. There is a fairly long hill through Brentwood Bay that makes it difficult to post a good time on the 3rd km, but I moved well and passed Shelby and gained slightly on the other in front of me. I ran on my own not really gaining or losing ground until around 5km when Nick Walker caught and passed me. He often seems to start out a little easy and then finishing the latter half strong. I considered trying to tag onto him, but instead elected to set my own pace. I reeled in another runner at 5.5km who was fading a bit. A few hundred meters from the turn around I spotted the leaders Steve Osaduik and Richard Mosley coming back and running neck and neck.

By the turn around I still felt like I was able to maintain a strong pace although 6-7 km was a slow 3:27 despite seeming just as fast as the others. Around 6.5 km I spotted a runner heading off the road into the bushes. Apparently he really had to take a wiz although it seems like he would have been able to hold if for 6 more minutes. It definitely cost him a few positions. The final km is pretty much all uphill since it is the reverse of the opening km. Last year, I recall really struggling to keep my form on the last km so it was encouraging that I felt much better this time and was able to maintain a good rhythm.

As I rounded the final corner to the finish, I took a look at my watch - 2o sec to make it under 26:30 - I ramped it up and mounted a respectable kick, but was not quite able to get there in time instead finishing in 26:35. This was good enough for 19th place in a strong field and more importantly was a 10 sec PB (and 22 sec improvement over last year). Not a huge breakthrough, but definitely heading in the right direction. I was also encouraged by how comfortable I felt (relative to other races). Steve managed to out kick Richard for the win in 23:35; a time I would be ecstatic to get with a minute of. It was great to see a large number of other Harriers and runners that I have come to know over the years. I'm looking forward to a great year. Final results.

My splits were: 3:01, 3:13, 3:27, 3:20 (4k split 13:01) 3:21, 3:25, 3:27, 3:22

On a more serious note, the recent tragic earthquake in Haiti got me reflecting on just how fortunate we all living here. We have the luxury of being able to participate in an activity that only has value for our own enjoyment (and ego) while so many others could only wish to have enough resources to meet their basic needs. This should help to put things into perspective next time you have a bad run or race.

Free Blog Counter
Poker Blog