2015 Year in Review

on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 at 8:09 PM

It's been a few years since I've done any sort of year in review for the blog.  I guess it's mostly because in the last few years, I only "trained" for a portion of the year so updating the blog and reflecting on things for the year didn't really make sense.  This past year has been the first year in quite a few years where I really tried to train over the entire year which included training through last winter.  Most of this training was for the purpose of trying to get back to Boston which did result in a qualifying time last May, but as it turned out, this wouldn't be enough.  While there was always a desire to get back to Boston, if I don't, it's not the end of the world.  I suppose as the bombings fade into history, the feeling of wanting to go back has begun to diminish, which is a shame.  As runners, we should never forget. I suppose I could always try to Rossi my way to a BQ time.  I find the whole Rossi thing to be fascinating.  As someone whose marathon times are near the time that he allegedly ran to get into Boston, it's interesting to see how his training paces and race times are not similar to anything that I'm doing which leads me to conclude that he definitely cheated.

I don't really want to do the heavy training that was required in the past, but I do want to maintain some level of running that allows me to remember why I fell in in love with the sport to begin with, but to give me enough free time to do other things that inevitably get put on the backburner when training gets more involved. Having said that, while going through my Daily Mile profile a few weeks ago, I realized that I was on track to break my record for yearly mileage of 1891 which was set back in 2009 and that I only needed to average about 35 miles a week to get to 2000 for the year.  While 2000 is a nice round number, it's just a number, one more than 1999 and one less than 2001.  Alas, with the odd missed run and the Christmas break, the 2000 goal is unattainable right now.  I am currently at 1950 for the year so a new record which included a run today.  I think I may have actually run more at some point over a 12 month period in the past, but for the calendar year this is a record, with still a few days to go.

Speaking of which, this was the first day of a new training cycle to prep for a May 1st marathon.  Again, im targetting one of the Toronto based ones on that date.  Yes, I'm even considering the Goodlife course again even with the disastrous markings from this past year.  I just have to be more aware of the possible screw ups and be prepared to adapt. The weather has been pretty good these past few weeks, but as Murphy's law would indicate, the first day of my training plan had mother nature dump a few cm of snow with rain on the ground. Ending up going to the gym. First treadmill run since March. Yeah, I've been paying gym membership fees for the past 9 months. I did go a few times to swim, but no treadmill running or anything else since March.

I donated blood last week trying to get at least one donation in for the year, probably should have done it sooner so the first few weeks are going to be a bit of an effort in recovery trying to recover my red blood cells.  I think this upcoming year, I will try not to go crazy on the mileage, but will try to do more strength training.  I've always said that in the past, and I may do it for a week or so and then I just stop doing it.  Leading up to my 5k back in November, I spent about a month doing core work and leg strength exercises and that seemed to work allowing me to PR, but in December, I slipped off the bandwagon.  I hope to change that in the new year and to do at least 2 strength training sessions per week and to supplement that with more stretching exercises. I've been going to the RMT during December to use up my benefits and it's embarrassing how inflexible I am and how much it hurts when I get an assisted leg stretch.  Of course, this is all good in theory, whether it works out, time can only tell.

As for races this year, there weren't that many. There were the two marathons and then two 10k's, two 5k's and an 8k race. I may try to do more races next year, but I'll have to see how the training goes.  I will probably not use races as training runs as I've done in the past. I'm currently registered for Around the Bay on  April 3 and I'm thinking of trying for the silver medal which requires a 2:15 gun time over 30k.  This would be 7:15 min/mile pace which is the pace that would be required for a 3:10 marathon.   I've never actually raced a 30k. Any I've done in the past have always been done at part of some marathon training thing as either a long run or marathon pace run so this should be new. 

Wish any readers out there, the best of wishes over the holidays and may your training for 2016 be injury-free.

Holly Jolly Fun Run 5k Race Report 2015

on Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 10:30 PM

I decided to do a 5k last weekend. I've tried to go sub-20 in the 5k on numerous occasions, all of which have failed miserably.  At the very least, I was hoping to best my PR which was 20:21 set back in 2008. I haven't been doing much training since the marathon, just doing easy miles.  Two weeks ago, I did a 3 mile LT run around the track at around 6:50 min/pace and that seemed sustainable and then last week I did 5x1k at 4min/km pace to see how the speed might hold up and that went okay so I thought why not?  I was originally planning on doing the Downview 5k which I did last year.  This year they moved it into the airstrip field and the race takes place on the runway so perfectly flat, but that race ended up selling out a week early.  The only other option, so I thought was a 5k in Whitby, 30 minutes away, along their waterfront which is a bit hilly. Then on Friday, I heard on the news about the Santa Claus parade in Toronto which was taking place that Sunday and the Holly Jolly Fun Run. This race takes place along the route right before the parade and while it's advertised as a "Fun Run", it's actually a race that's chip timed on a certified 5k course. Doing a bit more searching around, the course is a definite PR course being net downhill, with the first half being completely flat and the second half having almost a 100 ft elevation drop, with no uphills.  Also since it takes place before the Santa Claus parade, you have lots of kids and their families lining the streets cheering you on providing a big city marathon type atmosphere, but you only have to run 5k!

Online registration had ended, so I headed downtown on Saturday to register.  I was expecting to pay $100 as a last minute entry since that was the last pay tier on the website.  Yikes!. It's not as bad as it sounds since you get a $50 tax receipt for a charitable donation and the race itself would be $50.  When I got down there, I found out it was only $70, still with the $50 tax receipt so the race was only $20. Apparently the $100 also gets you 4 VIP tickets to the parade.  The actual kit consisted of a red toque and red mittens.

 So race was actually at noon which means not having to wake up early. Got down to race site at about 10:45 which was a bit too early. Mulled around for a bit and checked bag at the last second at 11:30. Wore sleevelees T and shorts but it wasn't too cold, about 12C.

Warming up for this was a bit difficult.  While on the side streets where it would have been easy to do strides, I realized the sidewalks were filling up pretty quick with people and that I might have difficulty getting to the startline so I ended up getting onto the course fairly early. I couldn't really do strides on the race course, cause there were little kids crossing back and forth on the street so you really couldn't build up any speed without the risk of running them over, so I ended up just doing some light jogging for about 5-10 minutes and then got into the corrals.

One thing I've learned about 5k's is that I tend to go out too fast.  In fact, I would say most people who do 5k's go out too fast.  I decided I was not going to start anywhere near the front.  They were announcing that people near the startline should be capable of doing a 5k in less than 25 minutes. Okay that's me. Then they announced they had a separate corral for people who would go less than 20 minutes. Okay that could be me, but I wanted no part of that so I started a bit back. Ex-Raptor Dikembe Mutombo was there as part of some promotion and was taking selfies.

That's me in the back.
The way I figured it, if everyone went out too fast, then the people I started wtih would probably be going out at 4min/km pace but would quickly fade, so my plan was to rely on them to make sure I was at the proper pace. 

So the race starts with some confetti cannons and we're off.  I hold back for the first little bit and am slowly passing people so the plan worked. First stretch is a straightaway and I quickly try to settle into a good breathing pattern. Do a quick pace check and it's hovering at around 6:20pace which is exactly what I wanted. My HR monitor strap started to slip down and I had to hike it back up. Was worried that it might come undone. The km markers were marked with people wearing sandwhich boards which when you think about it makes sense since it would be hard to see signs on the sidewalk and having a person wearing it means it's mobile in the case that it needs to move around. 

1km: 3:56

First km is perfectly on pace, continue running a bit and my GPS watch hits the first mile at 6:22 and was feeling quite proud of myself. I kinda thought the crowds would be louder, but I guess the people aren't there to see me runs and that's okay.  I continue running trying to hold a steady pace, constantly checking my watch for lap pace. Pass by the 2km sandwich board person and time checks off at


So this was a bit slow, even though my watch had said I averaged 6:19 min/mile pace for this. I was still feeling pretty good and not fading as I typically do when I go out too fast. At this point, I had turned south and was running down University where the downhill starts. We go around University circle and then the straight stretch by hospital row with the large buildings. I didn't really rely on GPS pace after the 2nd mile clicked in at 6:14 since I knew the tall buildings were messing with the crappy GPS on my watch.  My goal at this point was to just to gradually catch people. I missed the 3 km marker, but ended up passing the 4km mark at:

4km: 7:56. (3:58 min/km pace)

So crossing the 4km marker, I was still breathing quite hard, but still wasn't experiencing the fade that I normally do. Also my HR hadn't spiked to this point though even if it had, I wouldn't have known since I hid the HR display on my watch.  With just about 4 minutes left of running, was feeling pretty good.  Continue on gradually catching up to and passing some people (and getting passed myself by a few) and head south under the Go train tracks and then turn left with about a 100m to finish in Maple Leaf Square. Could see as I turned the corner, that the clock was well under 20 minutes and knew that the sub-20 was going to be in the bag. Ended up doing the last km in

5km: 3:50

So final chip time of 19:49, gun time of 19:55. Finished 21st overall and 5th in my AG, though there were no prizes so placements don't really matter.  Polar stats and map. HR maxed out at 189 right at the end and there were no sustained HR spikes.  There does appear to have been one at the start, but it looks like it reset pretty quick. It could also just have been my HR strap slipping down and it not getting a good signal. I readjusted just before the 3 minute mark where the signal drops off. 

So yes, I did get my sub 20, but some of that was due to the net downhill course.  I'm still pretty sure, even if the course had been flat, I would have still PR'd. I haven't set a PR in any race distance in more than 6 years so this was a welcome end to the training season. Definitely a fun race and I would definitely do it again!

New Favorite Toque!

Scotiabank Waterfront Half Report 2015

on Friday, October 30, 2015 at 11:04 PM

Ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon as the 1:45 pacer again two weekends ago which is the 7th year in a row I've done it.  It's always a fun time and a chance to give back to the running community.  I enjoy doing the pace bunny thing, but a part of me thinks that by doing the pacing gig, I give up a good opportunity to do a race in the fall that is close-by.  I could have signed up do the full marathon which would have given me a month to recover from my mid-September race.  As it is right now, I would have to travel to Niagara Falls or Hamilton in the weeks after Scotiabank to run a full.

I know for a few years, they had backup bunnies for the full at each race time. The backup bunnies would get a free entry to the race, but would only get the pacing gear if the original bunny dropped out and they were called up.  Pacing gear consists of a free pair of shoes, a hat, shorts and the pacing T-shirt.  I'm not sure if they offered the backup positions this year, but it seems that being a backup full marathon pacer might be a good deal if you want to run the full.

In past years, Brooks was the sponsor and they provided the shoes and gear and the distribution to the runners was done very well. It appears this year that the race couldn't find a shoe sponsor who was willing to pay to be the official sponsor.  The race appears to have struck a deal with Asics to provide the official race t-shirts, but there was no other Asics branding anyone else.  I guess no one wanted to pony up the cash.  As a result, the race itself ended up purchasing the gear for the pacers which consisted of Asics shoes and no-name brand shirts and shorts. I'm sure that they were able to get a discount for the shoes.  I don't know if it was a result of the race having to pay for the gear, but the pacing team also appears to have been a tad smaller with 5 fewer than last year.  We didn't actually get the gear until the week before the race and didn't get the shoes until the day of the expo.  The hat was kinda interesting. It wasn't one of those generic running hat, but a limited edition Ciele that retailed for $45.

I headed down to the expo Friday after work to do a one hour PR thing that all the pacers are required to do during race weekend.  It's an opportunity to meet with racers and answer any questions that people might have.  In year's past, we had a spot in the official shoe sponsor retail area, but this year they positioned us at the signing wall where people could sign and send good wishes to others.

Pacer Selfie!

On race morning headed down fairly early.  The race started at 8:45am, but the race was saying that bag check was only open to 8am.  This wasn't quite true as it was open much later.  I think I dropped off my gear at 8:15am. Another pacer from California wanted to take a pacing group shot at 8am, so I ended up doing that but there was only a handful of us who showed up, maybe 8 or so.  Moved into the corrals at 8:30 after downing a gel and drinking about 2/3 a bottle of water.  Wore the Polar M400 on one arm, but still not quite trusting the GPS on it, also wore the Garmin 405 on the other arm which I've used successfully in the past.

I wont go through a km by km breakdown since I've done that last year.

Km  Km Spilt
1 0:04:56 04:56 0:04:59 -00:03
2 0:09:53 04:57 0:09:57 -00:04
3 0:14:43 04:50 0:14:56 -00:13
4 0:19:39 04:56 0:19:54 -00:15
5 0:24:32 04:53 0:24:53 -00:21
6 0:29:21 04:49 0:29:51 -00:30
7 0:34:23 05:02 0:34:50 -00:27
8 0:39:23 05:00 0:39:48 -00:25
9 0:44:30 05:07 0:44:47 -00:17
10 0:49:31 05:01 0:49:45 -00:14
11 0:54:26 04:55 0:54:44 -00:18
12 0:59:24 04:58 0:59:42 -00:18
13 1:04:25 05:01 1:04:41 -00:16
14 1:09:21 04:56 1:09:39 -00:18
15 1:14:19 04:58 1:14:38 -00:19
16 1:19:15 04:56 1:19:36 -00:21
17 1:24:12 04:57 1:24:35 -00:23
18 1:29:12 05:00 1:29:34 -00:22
19 1:34:09 04:57 1:34:32 -00:23
20 1:39:10 05:01 1:39:31 -00:21
21.1 1:44:39 05:29 1:44:59 -00:20

A couple of things. Goal pace was about 4:59 min/km and I really had intended on being slow for the first 2 kms and that's what I told people I was going to do since the first two kms are on a bit of an uphill.  It's only about 25m so not a heck of a lot but I should have been slightly slow the first two km even though the actual pace was around where I wanted to be overall.

The third km kinda levels out and this was a little too fast on my part (4:50). I think it's because I was running down the centre of the street running west on Bloor and coming to an aid station, I veered to the north side of the street since everyone was running on the south side and sped up a bit so the running north and then running south again wouldn't lose too much time but it looks like I sped up too much. Plus maintaining the effort level after the uphill portion probably caused me to be a tad quick.

Km 4 through 6 are basically downhill and this is where I picked up a bunch of time which was my intent.  At 6 km, I was 30 seconds ahead of where I needed to be.  Almost half of that was gained in the first 3 km which shouldn't have happened. I'm not sure why km  9 was so slow. It looks to be a fairly flat part of the course.  It could have been a tangent issue as this was on lakeshore with the three lanes of traffic or it could have been my subconscious slowing me down knowing that the 10km timing mat was coming up which I crossed at 49:30 which was 15 seconds ahead of where I wanted to be which I think was okay.  From this point on I think I figured out the pace properly and with no tall buildings around, I could rely on the garmin for accurate pace feed back. From that point on  to 20k, I was hovering between 4:55 and 5:00 min/km.  At 20km I was 21 seconds ahead of where I wanted to be which means I had picked up an extra 6 seconds over 10k which I think was acceptable.

Like last year, my HR monitor strap slipped down and eventually became unhooked again. This happened at the 30 minute mark.  I had actually tightened the strap in the corrals just before race start and it stilled happened.  It never happens during training or during my races.  I think it must have something to do with carrying the sign which requires me to hold my arm up. The jostling and the weird arm position, must cause my chest and ab muscles to flex in a different way that allows the strap to slip down.  I tried to hike it back up, but could only do it on the one side at a time while carrying the sign and that caused it to come undone.  I ended up just carrying the strap the rest of the race.

The last 1.1 km is running up Bay St. which is a slight incline.  At this point, I had 21 s in the bank and was facing a bit of a dilemma.  Sure I could slow down a bit and eat into that 21 seconds and finish closer to my goal, but I still had a bit of a group with me.  This was different then in years past when I would rarely get people that would run with me the whole race.  They would either get dropped or take off in the last few kms. Yes there were those types of people this year, but there was a small group including one girl who literally ran beside me the whole race. She refused to stray more then a few feet. I had noticed she was breathing quite heavily at the start and usually that means they'll drop off, but here she was running beside me during the last km still breathing quite hard.  So these people had earned that extra 21 seconds as a result of my errors and I think it would have been selfish to take that away from them so I maintained the 5 min/km pace going up Bay and did the last 1.1 km in 5:29 which is exactly 4:59 pace. Yeah!    So finished in 1:44:39 which is 21 seconds under my goal, but probably the most satisfying finish as a pacer job as looking through the splits, there were a bunch of people who started with me, crossed the 10k mat with me and then finished just ahead of me.  Yes, I did end up yelling at people to pick it up with 400m to go and off they went. 

I ended up buying the race pics cause I thought there were a couple that might look okay. I've never really had a good one as a pacer.  It's hard to tell with the small thumbnails they give.

Near the finish

Clearly sleeping on the job

A fellow bunny had forwarded me this comment from someone and it's always nice to see that people take notice of good pacing, though my recollection of the start doesn't quite jive with what he said, but hey I'm not going to take issue if he thinks I did a good job.

"I thought I'd chime in with my pacer experience at SWTM Half Marathon. F rancis N g was the 1:45 pacer and his pace was solid. With all the traffic for the first 1.5 km we were a little behind pace, so to make up for the set back he picked it up, slowly and deliberately, and by 3 km we were back on pace and he never wavered. He paced by effort, not by pace so the uphills were a bit slower and the downhills were a bit faster.  I kept him about 10 steps behind me until about the 19 km mark when I picked it up as much as I could.  He brought everyone in at 1:44:39. I will look for a pacer again for my next target Spring race."


Toronto Peace Marathon 10k 2015 Race Report

on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 10:40 PM

Two weekends ago, I ran the KCCA Toronto Peace run. I ran this race last year and thought I'd do it again this year just to see where the fitness was at.  I only decided to do it late in the week and they didn't offer registration through the normal channels but did it themselves and then pay through PayPal or you could pay on the day of the race.  I thought it would save them a little money if I just paid in cash, but in hindsight that was probably a bad idea since from their standpoint, why would you register someone if they haven't paid?

Anyhow, how I prepared for the race was a recipe of how not to do prepare for the race.  I left home early enough and got about 2/3 of the way down to the race site by car when i casually glance down at the passenger seat where I had thrown the stuff that I thought I would need: water bottle, gel, sunglasses and phone.  I realized that I had forgot my wallet so I had to turn around to go back. I guess I should have just paid online. Anyhow, by the time I get back to the race site, there's only about 30 minutes to race start and of course I'm not registered so I have to sign up again and they have to phone in my reg info to the timing mat guys. They used the same bibs with the straps that they had last year and I had forgotten the safety pins that I would need to clip the straps to my shirt in my car so I jog back to the car. I quickly jog back to the race site and I notice my HR is spiking, and there's only a couple of minutes to race start.  I ended up lining up about half way into the crowd and am trying to do everything to get the HR to reset, but nothing seems to be working. The horn goes off and at this point I'm trying to decide if I should wait or just go.  I ended up just deciding to go and treating the run like a good tempo effort.

The first little bit, I just try to maintain a nice steady pace and end up passing quite a few people.  About 500 m in, I look down at my watch to get a sense of how fast I'm going and I notice that my HR is reading about 175 which means it had reset. Nice.  I noticed my lap pace is about 6:30's whch was a tad fast.  I was hoping to go a bit faster than the time I ran last year of 44:03 (6:55 min/mile pace), but I was feeling kinda good and with the HR somewhat normal, I had high hopes.

The route was actually a tad different this year.  Overall, the start and turnaround were the same as last year, but they added some slight differences where the route forks into two paths, the out portion would take one fork and then the return path was on the other fork.  The km markers were  non-existent so I only have GPS splits.

1 mile: 6:31
2 mile:  6:41
3 mile: 6:41
4 mile: 6:49
5 mile: 7:13
6 mile: 6:55
6.4 mile: 2:38 (6:35 min/mile pace)

I ended up passing most people in the first mile. During mile 3, I ended up passing a white-guy which I thought was a little strange, but I realized after that he was Patrick Brown, the leader of the PC party in Ontario. He was going at a pretty good clip. At the turnaround, I see there's only two guys ahead of me, one guy who I'm pretty sure I'm not going to catch and another guy who's only about 15 second ahead of me.  They had a timing mat at the turnaround this year so no timing issues like what happened to me last year. Split time of 21:05, but I think this was a bit longer than 5k, maybe 5.1k. So after the turnaround, I gradually try to reel in the one guy I think I can catch and I pull up beside him, but I don't think the guy liked being passed as he sticks with me running right beside me for a while.  During mile 5, he pulls ahead of me and charges up the hill, but I think he went up too hard on the hill, as I was able to slowly pull up to him and pass him for good after the hill.

Finish time of 43:33 which was 2nd overall, first in my age group.  The route was a bit more than 10k. My GPS says it was 6.41 miles. I measured it last year in Google Earth and that was 10.245km , but I thing the route this year was a tad longer so maybe 20-30m more so I think the 6.41 mile measurement is about right which means I averaged about 6:48 pace for the whole thing which is about the same as I what I ran this spring.

Unlike last year, I ended up going to the awards ceremony and did win an age group prize, a Korean dinner plate set and a glass plaque. They also had a raffle for a tablet, TV and round trip airfare to Korea. So pretty good for only a $25 entry fee.  I noticed this year, that there really was an effort to speak more English during the race and afterwards. I think it probably had to do with the fact that there were so many non-Korean politicans around. In addition to Patrick Brown, the premier, Kathleen Wynn was at the race as well as a whole bunch of people from different areas running in the federal election.  I can understand if you'ra the local candidate from the area where the race takes place, but why would a candidate from up in Thornhill get special mentioning at the awards ceremony in mid town Toronto, I don't know.

Age Group Prize

When I started the race, I had assumed my HR would be high for the whole thing, but funny enough, no HR spikes as can be seen from Polar data. HR touched 186 once and then hit 185 a few times in the middle. It started to drop after the hill on the way back into the low 180's. I wonder if I could have run faster. I definitely slowed down during mile 6 but maybe I could have kept the HR up for a bit longer. 

I'm starting to wonder if 6:50 is my limit for speed. I always seem to hover around that pace when I get tired. This is the same pace that I ran a 10k in back in June and the 8k back in April. Even back in my faster days, I don't think I ever did my LT run's faster than  6:50 pace.  I think it may be breathing limit for me as at this pace, I'm generally panting quite hard.  If I increase my ventilating limit, maybe it would allow me to go faster.  I was thinking maybe if took up swimming a bit more seriously in the upcoming months in addition to doing some more weight training, I might be able to change that.

Oh well...

on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 8:52 PM

As expected, I didn't get into Boston.  The cutoff this year was 2:28 which is a significant increase over last year and was even more than the cutoff the year after the bombings.

Even if I had ran my goal time in Erie of 3:13:15ish, that wouldn't have been enough and I would have needed another 45 seconds beyond that.  I suppose I'm okay with that. 

With Boston out of the question for next year, it now turns to what's next? I decided not to enter the Tokyo marathon lottery for next year which we had to in August.  The race is in February.  I had already entered the London marathon lottery, which was in late April and with the potential of Boston, I didn't want to run the risk of getting into all three.  As it turns out, I'm doing none of them.  I did enter the Berlin Marathon lottery and the results of that come in November for a race next September so if I don't get into that, I may try to do Tokyo through a tour if spaces are still available.  It would mean another training cycle would have to start towards the end of October which means no more marathon attempts for the rest of the year.

As for the 2:28 time period, that seems kinda high.  That's already half way to lowering the qualifying time by another 5 minutes.  While I have previously said that I had no desire to attempt another 3:10 marathon in my life, here I am looking at having to do one to get into Boston. While I like running, I don't necessarily like having to train hard to run a marathon so I''m not sure Boston will be in the next few years if it requires me to run that fast.  3:15 I can kinda manage, much faster than that I don't know.  My BQ time drops by 10 minutes in a few years so there's always that possibility.

As for the rest of the year?

I do have to do pacing duties for the scotiabank half again. I've done it for the past few years and it's a good time.  They changed sponsors this year. While it was Brooks the past few years, they switched over to Asics this year and they've had some problems getting things worked out.  We still haven't received our pacing gear yet and it's two weeks to race day.  Thankfully, Asics isn't a full sponsor so we aren't mandated to wear their shoes like in previous years. That's good for the marathon pacers since they don't have to worry about untested and unfamiliar shoes on race day.

I did do the Peace run last weekend. 10k race and came in 2nd overall, race report to come. Not sure I want to do any more races.  With the Boston letdown, I have no desire to race anytime soon so I guess I'll just enjoy these next few weeks of running for no particular reason.

And the Waiting Continues...

on Friday, September 25, 2015 at 9:08 PM

So I applied to run Boston next year with my 70 seconds.  I'm 99.9% positive it won't be enough though.  The number of people who got in after week 1 is more than it has been in the previous 2 years which most likely means that the cutoff will be more than it was 2 years ago at 98 seconds and there's a good chance it may be higher than 2 minutes. 

With the cutoff being so high, I'm leaning towards not doing another marathon this year since I'm not sure I would be in a position to run a 3:12 marathon, maybe after another full training cycle, but certainly not after a 5-6 week between marathons program. 

I registered for a 10k race tomorrow which is the Korean Peace Marathon (10k) which I did last year.  It's inexpensive and would allow me to get a good tempo effort in which has been severely lacking in my training this past summer. I may also with the time left in the year take another shot at the sub-20 5k and maybe race a half which I haven't done in 5 years. 

Erie Marathon 2015 Race Report

on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 9:57 AM

To quickly summarize, I finished the Erie (Presque Isle) Marathon in 3:18:10, about 5 minutes slower than I would have liked so no BQ time, unless I can get my birthday changed on my ID to show that I'm actually 4 years older.

Took the day off on Friday and drove down.  I was hoping to leave midday and avoid rush hour, but didn't leave until about 3pm.  Who knew that rush hour begins at such an earlier time.  Crossed the border in Fort Erie on the Peace Bridge, the same bridge that I crossed during the Niagara Falls marathon last year.  I think I arrived at around 7pm or so.  I ended up staying at one of the closer hotels to the race site, which in hindsight, i probably didn't have to do since it's literally in middle of nowhere. Not much else to see or do in the area. If I had to do it again, I would have stayed more in "downtown" Erie, which had more eating options.  Saturday I spent driving around trying to find stuff, which was miserable because it rained all day. Not just light stuff but buckets of the stuff. I was worried about this carrying forward another day, which would have been a disaster.  I had to drive into the state park where the race takes place to pick up my kit and there was flooding on the roads. I felt sorry for the exhibitors at the kit pickup since it took place outside under tents on grass.  Even under the tents in some places, you had to stand in one-inch standing water.   Thankfully, the rain was forecast to go away by the following morning, but they were predicting a strong wind.

After picking up my kit, I was trying to find one of those gatorade drink bottles with the twisty spout on the top which I could use during the race.  I didn't bother to bring anything from up north since I had assumed they would have them.  I had to try a number of different place: Walmart, Target, K-mart, a few grocery stores and a pharmacy, nothing.  I eventually did find one in a dollar store of all places, where I had gone to buy some throw away gloves.

After getting that and a throw away rain poncho in case the rain didn't subside, I had to head back to the park for the pasta dinner, which wasn't what I thought it would be.  They offered it during registration and it was really cheap.  I realize why when I got there.  It was in a small pavilion that was outside. While there was protection from the rain, there wasn't protection from the wind which was still blowing around quite significantly.  Basically, the seating consisted of a bunch of picnic tables. You would grab your food, eat and leave.  No entertainment other than chatting with other people.  I was in and out in a little over 30 minutes I guess. Headed back to the hotel after to veg out and went to bed at about 10:30.

I had set my fitbit to wake me at 4:30am, which was good cause when I woke I noticed that the alarm clock in the room was blinking. I guess there had been a short power failure or something during the night. Hopefully no one doing the race had slept in because of it.

Ate my customary bagel with peanut batter, washed down with some water and gatorade at around 5am and left for the park at around 5:30am.  There were some traffic issues getting in and I wasn't parked until about 6:05 or so.  The temperature while driving into the park was a bit warmer than I would have liked. The thermometer in my car was saying that it was 17C, which is a bit warmer than the 13-14C, they were predicting and this was when it was still dark out.  While walking to the race start (should have brought a flashlight), all I could hear was the howling wind rustling through the trees. Not a good sign.  Arrived at the race start and did the portapotty lineup a few times to empty the system which was difficult, it being completely dark. Luckily I had my phone which provided some illumination. I did some light jogging but I wouldn't really call it a warmup. Moved into the corral with about 5 minutes to 7am which was the race start time and positioned myself just behind the 3:15 pacer. Then proceed to wait another 20 minutes or so just standing around as they delayed the start by 18 minutes. Glad I hadn't warmed up more. They played the Canadian and US anthems and then we were off.

First mile consisted of me trying to start off slow. As is typical, I wanted to avoid the HR spiking thing so I didn't want to get too far ahead of pace. The first little mile was on a fairly narrow road, and it was hard getting into the proper pace with the bunch of people.   According to the lap pace functionality of my watch, I quickly found myself falling behind pace and the 3:15 pacer moving ahead of me. I started to up the pace a bit and hit the first mile marker at

1 mile: 07:35

So 1 mile in and I'm already 10 seconds behind where I wanted to be, no problem. At this point, the crowd has thinned out so I decide to try and run the next few miles at the proper 7:22min/mile pace that I was aiming for using my polar M400 for lap pace feedback  I missed the 2nd mile marker, but hit the third at

3 mile: 14:51 (7:26 min/mile pace)

My watch had me doing 7:21 min/mile pace for the two miles which was the pace I was aiming for, but it seems that it was off compared to the actual splits.  I realized that this was going to put me into a bit of a hole if I kept bleeding off 5 seconds every mile.  At this point 4 miles in and I'm already 19 seconds behind where I wanted to be.  I started out the 4th mile kinda quick because I realized I was dropping behind, but thought I had dropped into a tad bit faster than goal pace to try and gain back a few seconds over the next few miles but then I hit the 4 mile marker at slightly faster than I wanted.

4 mile: 7:09

I'm not sure if this was accurate or not since my GPS pace was 7:19 which seems like a big difference.  I should mention that by this point I've run for about 30 minutes and my HR was acting normal.  It was averaging in the mid 160's which is what I'm guessing is around where my marathon pace HR should be so things are looking good.  In fact, I remember thinking around this time that this was going to be a good HR day since it hadn't spiked and I was more than 4 miles in.  Alas, it would not last, as the HR spiked during mile 5.  Since I knew from May that I could run pretty much the whole marathon distance with it spiking, I just continued on.

5 mile: 7:29

Mile 5 was a crappy split, even though my watch said I averaged 7:20 pace. The GPS on this polar watch is quite crappy and probably with it being worn on my left wrist facing the interior of the park with the trees, it was having a hard time figuring out my pace.

I decided I needed to make a a concerted attempt to catch back up to the 3:15 pace group. The reason for this was the wind. The strong wind that was coming off of Lake Erie was from the NW. The course is a two loop course and the way the course was laid out, the wind was going to be a head wind starting at about 9.5 miles and then again at the 22.5 miles mark.  The 3:15 group I could see in the distance was pretty big and I would need them to block the wind. The only problem was they were about 40 seconds ahead of me. 

Erie Marathon Course

 I spend the next few miles bumping up the pace.  With the crappy GPS, I needed to run a bit more of an effort level to  try and catch back up to them.

Mile 6: 7:17 (GPS pace of 7:15)
10k split: 45:53 (7:23 min/mile pace from start)
Mile 7: 7:07 (GPS pace 7:09)
Mile 8: 7:20 (GPS pace 7:14)
Mile 9: 7:33 (GPS pace 7:17)

I was still having some concerns with the GPS pacing which was inconsistent. By mile 7 I had caught back up to my pace band and was slightly ahead of where I wanted to be.  Mile 9 has the only "hill" of the course which is just a short incline up a small bridge  which then quickly drops back down again. It's a bit steep, but short.   The problem was that by mile 9, I was still a little bit behind the group. By the 10k mark I was 20 seconds behind and I was trying to catch up but I think they were pulling off splits that were faster than the 7:27 that they should have been aiming for so I wasn't gaining as much ground as I would have liked. I also couldn't bump up the pace that much more to try and catch them because I was concerned that my lack of LT runs this past summer wouldn't allow me to run much more faster than I already was without hindering my performance.  Bottom line was that by the 9.5 mile mark when the headwind started, I was not with the 3:15 group and had to struggle through the wind on my own.

Mile 10: 7:26
Mile 11: 7:30
Mile 12: 7:27
Half  Split 1:37:09 (7:25 min/mile pace from start)
Mile 14: 15:07 (2 mile average 7:33)

So these miles show the tale of the tape. With no group to block the wind, and everyone else around me starting to slow down, I had to fight through the wind on my own. The pace wasn't too bad, but the effort felt hard.  While I had caught back up to my pace band at mile 7, by the time I hit the half, I had already slipped back behind by a not too insignificant margin of  32 seconds.   Also the pace was feeling a tad tough. Usually, I pass the half and it should feel normal. Not like at the start of the race, but it shouldn't feel like a struggle, like it was at this point.  Now it could have just been because I had run for a few miles into a head wind, but I was pretty certain at this point that it was going to be hard for me to surpass the 3:13:50 that I ran back in May as it was going to require me to run a 30 second negative split for the second half and I was already having difficulty maintaining the required pace at this point, but I soldered on trying to hold pace and see how long I could go.

Mile 15: 7:24
Mile 17: 14:36 (7:18 pace average)
Mile 18: 7:53

I'm not sure what happened during mile 18 that slowed me down so much, but I think it could have been long since I'm pretty sure the 2 mile split before that where I supposed average 7:18 can't seem right so it must have been short.

Mile 19: 7:29
Mile 20: 7:36 (Official Split of 2:28:55, 7:27 pace from start)

So I got to the 20 mile timing mat  and with the 20 mile mark being the "half-way" point of the race, I knew that it just wasn't go to happen so I started backing off the pace since I knew the bridge hill and the wind were coming up.  This pace would have put me just over a 3:15 marathon, but with this race not being a double dipper that would qualify me for 2017, meeting a 3:15 qualifying time now was going to be meaningless to me since I already had a faster qualifying time from back in May.  Rest of the race went as follows.

Mile 21: 7:47
Mile 22: 7:58 (bridge hill)
Mile 23: 7:51 (start of windy portion)
Mile 24: 8:04
Mile 25: 8:10
Mile 26: 7:30
Miles 26.2: 1:57

I only stopped to walk once which was for a short bit during an aid station in mile 25 to make sure that I downed two cups of fluids since I had assumed that this was the last aid station for the race. Other than that, I ran the entire way. I was able to bump up the pace for the last mile or so just so that I could finish strong.

Final chip time of 3:18:10 which put me 202 overall and 31st in my age group. 

Yes, I'm a bit disappointed with the time, but not all races can be great.  I did think the temperature was a bit warmer than I would have liked.  I never really felt warm, but looking through the race pics, I see that my shirt was sweaty and I see a bunch of other people had removed their shirts.  I think the wind helped to cool you down, but we were still sweating and losing fluids.  I don't think I every got dehydrated but I think I was getting close to it by the end, thus why I had to stop to drink fluids during mile 25. Also I think the scrambling around the day before didn't help.  My fitbit shows I walked about 7k the day before the race and that didn't include the 2 mile shakedown run so maybe I was a bit more tired then I should have been on race day.

The post race support is pretty good. The mylar blanked, water, bananas, chocolate milk and subway sandwiches.  I hand around for a bit and got the obligatory post race photo with medal.

Don't mind the portapotties in the background!


So generally nice race. Lots of aid stations, once every mile and well stocked. The delay at the start was a bit unnerving because it undid any warmup you may have done.  The temperatures as I said were a tad warm and the wind was not pleasant. With a loop course, you would think that any headwind would be counteracted by a tailwind at some point, but it doesn't work like that on Presque Isle. When you're running into the headwind from the NW, you're running right by the lake. When the wind would theoretically be a tailwind, you're running on the other side of the peninsula where the interior of the park with it's trees block the effects of the wind. The course would have been perfect if it had been run in the reverse direction.Tailwind by the lake, headwind blocked by the trees.

Polar GPS and HR info and the course map is available here.  HR spiked at 32 minute mark about 4.2 miles in and lasted the whole race. My HR during the spiking portion was about 5 beats slower than it was back in May so maybe I could have run a bit faster cardio wise.

Some raw stats.

Mile Split Actual Time Time Ahead
of Goal
1 07:35 0:07:35 -0:00:12
3 14:52 0:22:27 -0:00:19
4 07:10 0:29:37 -0:00:07
5 07:29 0:37:06 -0:00:13
6 07:18 0:44:24 -0:00:09
7 07:07 0:51:31 0:00:07
8 07:21 0:58:52 0:00:08
9 07:33 1:06:25 -0:00:02
10 07:26 1:13:51 -0:00:05
11 07:30 1:21:21 -0:00:13
12 07:27 1:28:48 -0:00:17
14 15:07 1:43:55 -0:00:39
15 07:24 1:51:19 -0:00:41
17 14:36 2:05:55 -0:00:32
18 07:53 2:13:48 -0:01:02
19 07:29 2:21:17 -0:01:08
20 07:36 2:28:53 -0:01:22
21 07:47 2:36:40 -0:01:46
22 07:58 2:44:38 -0:02:22
23 07:51 2:52:29 -0:02:50
24 08:04 3:00:33 -0:03:32
25 08:10 3:08:43 -0:04:19
26 07:30 3:16:13 -0:04:27
26.2 01:57 3:18:10 -0:04:55

10k split:        45:53 (7:23 pace)
Half split:       1:37:09 (7:26 pace beteen 10k and half)
20 mile split:  2:28:55  (7:31 pace between half and 20M)
Finish:            3:18:10 (7:56 pace between 20M and finish)

So it looks like I will have to wait and see if my 70 seconds from May will be enough to get me into Boston for 2016.  Registration for us mortals will start on Monday so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I have had some thoughts on maybe trying to do the Hamilton marathon in November so not to waste the summer of training and shoot for a BQ time for 2017 but that's a bit in the air. I guess I'll see if I get into Boston 2016 and then decide.

It's On!

on Friday, September 11, 2015 at 9:45 AM

I'm going to Erie.

The weather forecasts haven't really changed much temperature wise. Now being only 48 hours out, I can get hourly forecasts and all sites are generally predicting ok temperatures. 



Weather Network

Weather Underground

All under 15C. I'd still like it a tad cooler, but I suppose it's way better than what they've been having recently.  I went for a run this morning in 16C and though it was nice for a recovery run, marathon pace requires a bit more effort so the extra coolness would be welcome.  The wild card is now they are predicting a good chance for rain, not a lot though. On the plus side, it probably means cloudy day which means no sun bearing down on us. 

The Montreal and Rochester forecasts for next week are predicting higher temperatures so I suppose I'd rather take my chances with Erie now than hope for cooler temperatures next week. 

I was reading on the facebook page for the marathon and someone mentioned that there are biting insects when they were out there last weekend.  For some reason, I'm like a magnet for mosquitoes so this has me a bit worried.  I guess I'll have to wear some insect repellent the morning of, but I've never worn that during a race and you know the old adage, don't do anything new on race day. 

Last week of Taper (maybe)

on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at 5:43 PM

So the Erie marathon is next weekend and I"m leaning towards going.  If this crazy heat that we've had this past week continued on, I would not have gone, but the weather forecast is borderline.  I had decided a few weeks ago that I would only do Erie if the low temperature for race day was under 15C.  Any warmer, and I think it would be too warm to run a good time. I've been monitoring the extended forecasts for the past week and it's hovering around that temperature.  I'm not sure which forecasts are more accurate so I figured I would check them all. Today 8 days before the race, the forecasts are looking as follows.


Weather Channel

Weather Network

Weather Underground

All the US sites are reporting under 15 for a low and the Canadian one is reporting 16C.  So it's still a bit iffy.  Race starts at 7am which is just after sunrise so I don't think the high temperatures for the day will come into play.  Adding to this is that the extended forecasts for September 20th in Rochester NY, which is a marathon a week later that would allow me to double dip for Boston, is forecasting almost perfect marathoning weather with a low of 10C and a high of 12C. Rochester is a bit hillier course so I'm not sure the better temperatures would offset the hills.

Hopefully the temps will drop down a bit more for Erie that will make the decision easier. Where's that Canadian arctic air when you need it?

As for training this past summer, I think it's been okay.  I loosely followed the Pfitz plan, but didn't do all of the extended LT runs.  My goal was just to build upon, but not necessarily crush training to at the very least maintain my fitness level.  Total mileage is about the same, but the quality probably wasn't there.  Fitness wise though I think it's probably about the same or maybe a bit better than it was back in May, if only due to increased aerobic fitness.  However I'm a bit heavier, maybe only 1-2 pounds so not a lot but from what I've read that could add a few seconds/mile to marathon pace.  As for the pace I'd like to aim for, I think 3:13:15ish is around where I want and maybe I'll adjust in the later parts of the race if I'm feeling good.  This is around 7:22.6 min/mile and 4:34.8 min/km.  Yes I realize this is anal retentive like precision and is only about 1 second faster than the pace I ran back in May, but the courses were different. Whereas Goodlife was a course with a big elevation drop, Erie is flat so I figure that the Goodlife course probably added a few extra seconds to my average pace so I'm hoping that a summer of training will get me those seconds back plus one more. 

Double Dipping

on Monday, August 3, 2015 at 7:43 PM

Training for this cycle has been sort of on track.  I've been loosely following the Pfitz plan that I've follwed so many times before, but I haven't done all the runs as prescribed.  My goal was to try and maintain fitness gained over the winter to make another BQ attempt in September before the BQ qualifying window for 2016 runs out.  So the odd missed run or LT run cut short hasn't worried me too much.

A few weeks after my May marathon, I had signed up for the Erie Marathon on September 13, 2015. It's relatively close by in Erie, PA and is about a three hour drive away.  I was initially looking for a race that would allow me to double dip, that is qualify me for both 2016 and 2017 and in years past, the Erie Marathon fit the bill.  I had assumed that this years race would do the same.  In July, Boston released the timing for the registration phase for the 2016 race and it appears that it's a week later than in years past which means that the Erie marathon is no longer a double dipper.  It would allow me to qualify for 2016, but not 2017.  A race done a week later on September 20, 2015 however will allow a double dipping.

Yes George, double dipping is okay ... for races.

So this now poses an interesting dilemma for me.  I liked Erie because it's pancake flat, but the no double dipping thing is making me reconsider.  I've looked into races on September 20 which would be double dippers and there are a few, including one in Rochester, NY which is even closer.  There's also one in Montreal.  However, these courses seem hilly by comparison and I'm looking for a fast, flat (or net downhill course with few hills). If I had been a bit more serious about training and bumped up the mileage, these might be doable, but I don't think my fitness is that much greater than it was back in May so there isn't really much more of a cushion for me.  I'm still looking at September 20 options as there seems to be quite a few marathons on that date.  I originally had no plans to fly and was looking for something relatively close by, but I will re-evaluate that if I can find a race with a fast course.

The other option is to do two marathons this fall, one to qualify for 2016 and one for 2017.  I could do the Erie race and then do a November/December race which allow at least  6 weeks of recovery from the first marathon.  The Hamilton marathon on November 1 is close by, is a net downhill, fast course which is a good BQ course. If I wanted to fly out to the west coast, CIM is an option in December if it doesn't fill up.  Running two races isn't ideal however.  The last option is to not run a September race and only attempt to qualify for 2017 by running an October or later race and hope that my time in May will be fast enough for 2016.  This is a bit iffy as a blog has done a calculation and is guestimating the cutoff will be 90 seconds for next year.  The only way this would drop is if Boston announces a significant increase in the number of participants for next year. This isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility so there's still a chance that my 70 seconds will be enough. 

So I still have time to think about it with a little over a month to go until Erie.  It's a tough decision to make and I'm still weighing the options. 

Rebecca Run 5k Race Report

on Sunday, July 5, 2015 at 7:30 AM

I ended up not doing the pride 5k race last weekend. It was forecasting wet and windy weather so wasn't sure I wanted to do that. Instead decided to do the Rebecca Run 5k which was yesterday. I've done this race before and it's  my PR race from back in 2008.  Going into this I really tried to taper and probably overkilled.  I did 8 miles which included 5x800m on Tuesday at 4min/km pace and then rested for the rest of the week. I was hoping to try for the sub-20 thing, or at the very least to best my PR.

Race takes place up in Newmarket.  I ended up signing up in person at the last minute. It was a bit steep for a 5k at $60 (even last minute), but it goes to a good cause which is supporting Spinal Muscular Atrophy research.   I probably wouldn't pay that to a for-profit race, but this I don't mind.  Race kit wasn't too great. My previous time, it was well packed. This year, it was only a shirt and an Esso 5c/L gift card discount for 100L of fuel.

I arrived with only about 30 minutes to race start and downed a gel and some water with about 20 minutes to go.  Proceed to try and do the warm-up with the HR spiking as usual which it did and then tried to get it to calm down.  Then with about 5 minutes to go, downed a half bottle of water and then headed into the corrals.  They had corrals setup and the first corral was sub 21 minutes which I was in. I didn't want to start right at the start, but with the narrow paths, I did want some room to maneovour if I needed it.  I was probably 2nd or 3rd row back. The course this year was different than in previous year due to construction.  Before, it was a mix of pavement, boardwalk, crushed gravel and a tour of the little park area.  This year was a straight out and back on pavement.

So the race starts and I start to go out as usual nice and controlled  trying to get a feel for the pace.  I was targeting around 6:25 min/mile pace (4min/km).  Breathing seems in check and everyone seems to be going the right pace.  I glanced down at my watch and notice my "lap pace"  is in the 6:05 min/mile range which I thought couldn't be right so I continued to chug along.  I missed the first km marker, but looking back at my GPS data, it would have reported about 3:50 which is 6:10min/mile pace which was way too fast.  My watch beeps at the 1 mile mark and it reports a 6:07 first mile which I still thought couldn't be correct so I continue on.  About the 6:50 mark, the HR starts spiking.  I think I was trying to adjust my breathing rate and I could just feel it take off.  I decide to see how far I can go before I start feeling the effects.  I pull up to the 2 km mark and hit the lap button and see a split of 7:40.  F?ck. Waaaay too faast. This was 6:10 min/mile pace over 2 km.  At this point, I'm feeling that I'm already starting to fade but I guess that I've banked about 20 seconds so I figure I can slow down a bit to recover over the next km including the turnaround and maybe I can salvage the race. The third km hits at 4:17 which puts me just about on 20 min 5k pace, but I couldn't switch gears and ramp the speed back up. A couple of times during km 4, I start to think how easy it would be do just walk it in, but I try to push through.  4km is in 4:18 and the 5km was in 4:21 which included a sprint towards the end.  I had kinda given up during the 5th km and there were a couple of times, I ease off the throttle, only to try and increase it again when I realize that it's only a couple more minutes of running, but still the last km was the slowest of the race at 4:21 (7min/mile). 

2km: 7:40 (3:50 min/km pace)
3km: 4:17
4km: 4:18
5km: 4:21

Polar stats and route

The HR took off at the 6:45 mark and held that way for most of the race. It ended up resetting by itself with about a minute to go in the race.  Max HR (during the non spiking part) was 187  right at the end. 

So finish time of 20:37. Finished 13th overall and 4th in my age group.  Course seems measured right and the marker distances seemed okay.  16 seconds off my PR so not as close as I would liked.  Really started to fade after the turnaround, but think that was mostly do to the 2 km of running at a pace much faster than I would have liked.  I'm sure the HR spiking had something to do with it also.  Looking back at the race, I probably should have tried to start out at a perceived 10k pace which based on my effort two weeks ago would have put me at about 6:30min/mile pace which would have hopefully made the race less of a struggle towards the end.  Also, I probably should have trusted the GPS lap pace measurement earlier on which would have allowed me slow down sooner.  I'm still not sure I trust the polar GPS measurement so it's hard to rely on the pace it's reporting, but I guess I have to rely on something.  The missed 1 k marker was my fault since it was clearly there because I saw it at the 4k mark (out and back course). I probably should have hit the lap button around the 4 minute mark to reset the lap pace cycle which would have allowed me to realize that I was going too fast sooner. 

I really like the race and the new route. The out and back worked and there didn't seem to be to be any problems with congestion. There was the odd pedestrian on the path. I don't think there were any cyclists, as that could have been  a problem but here were signs warning people that there was something going on. There was an aid station just after the 1k mark which is also at the 4k mark on the way back.  They have hotdogs afterwards as well as fruit, chips, cookies, cottage cheese and chocolate milk so quite the food spread was put on.  Temperature wasn't too bad at about 17C, no wind and there were a few clouds so the sun wasn't too much of a problem.

Orderly Finish Line and Organization

BBQ setup

I stuck around a bit after to read the stories about the children effected by SMA. Every year they have a different honoree and they have a little write up, usually from the perspective of the parents, of how it's affected them.  It's heartbreaking to read some of these stories especially when you read that a newborn only lived for less than a year.  You can read some of their stories here.

The race was near a community centre where they had a bit of a farmer's market.   I stuck around a bit longer than I had planned because they had this 11 year old kid who was on stage performing.  He was pretty impressive.  He played the piano and guitar and he sang.  Here a video of him doing some Billy Joel.  

I'm not sure I will attempt another 5k until the fall. I really would have liked to see how I would have done if I hadn't started out so fast. Next time, I think I'll just trust the GPS and run at exactly 6:26 min/mile pace and then just try to hold it till the end.  I can't seem to figure out pacing in 5k's myself and I don't do enough of them or interval training to really get a handle on the effort level.  I might try to do a time trial around a track at some point but it's hard to do those on ones own so it helps to have others to run with.  There doesn't seem to be anything good in the summer, so it looks like it'll have to wait until fall. 

Port Union Run for the Lions 10k Race Report

on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 7:52 PM

Did a 10k race yesterday. I've been wanted to try out a shorter race since the marathon to see where the fitness was at.  The Run for the Lions race coincides with a local Waterfront festival, but it's out in the east end, rather than downtown. It's a small little thing, but it seems it would be a good family thing, because there are a bunch of kids activities, like rock climbing, small simple rides and inflatable bouncy castles, all for free.  The race is just one of the components of the festival, though the race isn't free.

I did this race back in 2008. I did remember doing this a while back , but thought I had done it before I started this blog so didn't bother to check my race recap.  Back then it was only a 5k and it was really more of a fun run.  No official race results and you had to time yourself.  Googling around a bit, it seems that they have evolved the race a bit. They added a 10k option, and have chip timing so it's somewhat official. I originally wasn't sure I wanted to do the race because the course originally was an out and back with the first km or so along the lake and then you head north, presumably uphill. My race recap from before seems to suggest that the uphill part isn't so bad.

Original Course

However, while checking around earlier in the week, the race announced they had to change the route because of wash out conditions on the trail heading north. So the 10k race was changed where it was an out and back to the east to cover off 5k (and have the 5k'ers finish), past the start/finish line and then run west for another out and back to cover off  another 5k. This means that most of the race would be on the waterfront which I presumed was going to be flat so I registered. It was cheap at only $35. We got a cotton t-shirt. No age group awards, no medal, no frills, which I'm completely fine with.

After registering, the race director sent out an email saying the new route has a significant hill at about the 8 km mark even though it's on the waterfront.  Oh well. My goal doing this was to try for 4:15/km (6:50min/mi) pace for a finish time at around 42:30. I managed this pace for the 8k a few months ago on a hilly course so I thought trying to push that to 10k on a less hilly course with some additional weeks of training would be doable. Prepared for this race in a similar fashion to how I prepared for 8k race I did a few months ago including the breakfast of 2 packets of instant oatmeal and the warmup about 20 minutes prior to start which consisted of getting the HR to spike which it did, doing 2 hard strides and then walking around to get it to calm down and was ready to start.

There was a mass start of 10k'ers and 5k'ers so I positioned myself a little back from the start. Only took me 2 seconds to cross the start line. Start was a bit delayed which was sort of annoying because I didn't want to cool down too much. Anyways after a short delay, we are off. First little bit, I start off smooth and controlled, trying not to blast out of the gate. Come to the 4 minute mark and I start looking around for a 1k marker. None to be found. Great, the course wasn't marked. Guess the race hadn't evolved as much as I would have liked, since they didn't have markers back in 2008 either. 

My Gps autosplits at the 1 mile mark at 6:31. Yikes, a bit fast. I continue on and reel in some people.  The second mile includes the turnaround at the eastern part of the course which also has an aid station handing out water.  Somewhere during the 2nd mile, I check my watch and it shows my HR is spiking, but looking at it afterwards it appears my HR monitor wasn't getting a good reading.  2nd mile split is 6:54. I don't think I consciously slowed down at this point, but maybe I did because I wanted to back off the effort level. Also since this mile contained the turnaround, I'm sure some time was lost to the sudden deceleration of the turnaround. There was also a wind coming from the east so that was also a factor.

We continue running back towards the start line and I'm running with 2 other guys and we're sort of jockeying for position which is sort of good cause it results in a fairly good mile 3 split time of 6:41. Nice. The other two guys move ahead of me at this point and it seems that they are turning on the gas and I realize that they are most likely doing the 5k and so they are almost finished.

As I approach the start/finish line they had a weird three chute split of the timing mat. 5k's would finish on the left, 10k's would finish on the right but coming from the opposite direction and those like me at the moment who were half way through the 10k would run through the center.  The center chute wasn't that wide, maybe 1.5m or so but because it was a small race (34 total people doing the 10k), there wasn't much congestion. Running over the timing mat however gave us an intermediate split time which is something you usually don't get during 10k races. The timing mat gave me a "5k" split time of 20:31 which I saw on the clock as I was approaching. I had a feeling right away that the 5k was probably short since there is no way that I just ran 4:06min/km (6:36min/mi) pace for 5k.  So the two guys as I thought, peel off to the left chute to finish and I continue on.  At this point, I'm running by myself, and have no idea how many people are ahead of me. I can see the lead woman about 40m ahead of me and I'm slowly catching up to her. I pass her shortly before the 4 mile mark which has a split of 6:44. Pretty good. At this point, we're heading north on the first of two out and back portions at the western part of the course.  This first part follows the path of the normal course which heads north. There were some smallish hills, but not the sustained uphill that I thought.  As I approach the turnaround I had counted that there were three people ahead of me.  As we reach the turnaround, another aid station and then we head south.  At this point, I'm resolved to running by myself since I'm pretty sure I can't catch the three people in front of me and I'm just hoping I can hold off the lead woman We head back towards the lake and once we hit the waterfront trail, we then do another out and back to the west. This part contains the hill that the race director was warning us about and boy it's a doosie. This would be the slowest mile of the whole race at 7:18. Another turnaround, and water station and we head back east towards the finish line. Mile 6 is 6:50 and the last little bit which my GPS measures at 0.1 was done in 33s.

Final finish time of 41:33 which would be a 10k PR by about 30 seconds. Pretty sure the course was short though. My GPS measures it a 6.1 miles which is about 160m short. I asked around after and various people had it measured at between 9.66km and 9.85km. I measured the course in google maps and it measures as being 9.82km. Not quite exact due to the hills, but close enough.  My time for 9.82 km would have me at 4:14min/km (6:49 min/mile pace) which would convert to a 42:19 10k time so goal was met.  I came in 4th overall.

1:    6:31
2:    6:54
3:    6:41
4:    6:44
5:    7:18
6:    6:50
6.1: 0:33

Polar stats and map

I had thought during the race that my HR was spiking, but it was jumping all over the place and I can see afterwards that it was just not getting a good reading. It started doing this during this week. I wonder if the battery is running low.  I've only been using it for a couple of months so it's hard to believe the battery is dying. It does appear to get some good readings at a couple of places, including a sustained stretch from the 4 to 4.8 mile. Highest Hr was 185 for a brief moment. 

Polar HR

I also ran this with my Fitbit which has an optical HR sensor and it reports a non-dramatic HR profile with no spiking.
FitBit HR
Nice course. Nice scenery.  Might do it again, if they fix some of the issues like having marker signs on the course. Also, the course could easily have been made longer by extending any or all of the turnarounds by some additional distance to make up the 180m or so difference.  As I mentioned before, the race isn't really the main event of the festival. I wouldn't say that it doesn't get the attention that it deserves, since I'm sure a lot of time and effort still went into organizing the race, but I get the feeling that the race director isn't a runner so wouldn't be familiar with what might be important to racers.  For me for a 10k race, it has to be a fairly accurately measured course with markers.  Even if the total distance isn't accurate, as it was here, having markers on the course is still important as it gives me the ability to pace myself, without having to rely on GPS.

I am contemplating doing the Pride 5k next weekend, to take a crack at a sub 20 minute 5k on a certified course, but I think it will depend on the weather. I don't like running short races in the heat. Otherwise it will have to wait until the fall.