Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sugoi Brand Championing--the selection

The news came this afternoon, something I knew about myself already, from the years of loyalty. I have been selected as a Sugoi Brand Champion. Very exciting!!

I have been using and abusing my Sugoi gear in Vancouver for the better part of 12 years, and no matter how much mud, rain, water, sun, snow, road grit, blood, sweat, or anything else I brutalize it with, it just keeps up with me. I can honestly say that I do not think I have ever disposed of any Sugoi product–it is darn near indestructible.

I am proud to officially represent Sugoi at all of my upcoming events in 2012. The last of the Fraser Valley Trail Series, Race #4 is here in the lower mainland/ Aldergrove this coming weekend, and after 3 races, I have steadily improved my placings and finish time over my 2011 results.

Last week was the PRR First Half Half Marathon, where I threw down a 1:27:31–cutting 2 and a half minutes off of my half marathon PB from 2010. The next big event is the 20th anniversary Chuckanut 50km out of Fairhaven, WA. Long training runs upwards of 30, 40, or 50kms lately have become almost a spiritual experience. Perhaps starting at 5:30am helps this, as I am nearly asleep for the first hour of the long run.

This is all the set up for the BMO Vancouver Marathon where I will be shooting for a 3:07:00. I need to be under 3:10:00 to meet the Boston Qualifier. Should I make my time goal, you bet I will make the trip to Boston in 2013. Three months to go before the BMO, I have the distance in my legs, now I just have to get the speed up. 2012 is just getting better and better!!!!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The 2012 First Half Half Marathon or How to prepare to race and earn a personal best

Today I burned a match. In my book of matches, today was the day where I decided to use the override button on my brain and push myself to crack the elusive 1 hour 30 mark for a half marathon.

A brief history of my half marathon race results (just to bring you up to speed)

I started running half marathons in 2004, at the First Half Half Marathon presented by the Pacific Road Runners of Vancouver. For that run, I was a newbie to distance running. I trained to run each mile, walk for 20 seconds. That was fine, and I remember completing it and feeling good, setting myself with a benchmark of 1 hour 42. This would be the result that I would have for about 3 years, in and around 1hour 42 and change. Until 2008. In 08, I would post up a time of 1:37:12, surprising myself with that result, 5 minutes faster than the previous 3 years. 2009 would have me shave only a minute off of my time, 1:36:10. I remember feeling like I left it all out there, but did not make much progress from the previous year.

In 2010, the Olympics were in Vancouver, so my beloved PRR First Half would be cancelled due to security restrictions and venue usage. So instead, I signed up for the Historic Half in Fort Langley, and managed to tap out a 1:30:08, again surprising myself and setting a serious personal best cutting 6 whole minutes off of my time. This was amazing--I was stunned and felt great. I think the Olympic spirit charged me up to put out that PB, and the downhill into Fort Langley along 88th did not hurt me in picking up some speed to the finish.

For 2011 I was recovering from shoulder surgery. I returned to the First Half, and was disappointed to post a 1:31:25, albeit with a metal plate in my shoulder, 6 months after my bike crash. I remember feeling poorly after the race last year, that I had given so much to come up short on what might be considered an easier course than the Fort Langley Climb-a-thon of 2010. Which brings me to this year, 2012.

How to prepare for a personal best result

This year my approach has been different. I have many more long runs in my legs earlier, and the long runs are up to 39kms in prep for the Chuckanut 50. The endurance is in my legs from the long distance, but my speed work has been limited to some short 8 and 10km races called the Fraser Valley Trail Series. No intervals, just trail races. Speed work is necessary in order to go fast and stay fast, and I have not put any time into intervals. Over the last few days, Sean's and my regular runs have been keeping us going through the week, with the races/long runs on the weekends.

So, in order to post up a PB like I did today, going from a 1:42:10 to a 1:27:30 in 8 years, just shy of 15 minutes, here is what I did, Cole's notes form:
  • Experience and knowing the course is a given
  • I have managed to lose 13 lbs since Christmas, managing my sleep and diet--no/less beer, no sweets, smaller portions
  • Drinking lots of water over the last few days
  • Getting to sleep around 10pm nightly 
  • Taking time to rest when I feel like I need it, not pushing myself to train when I am pooped
  • Eating a big bowl of pasta the night before the race 
  • Keeping my legs moving throughout the week, even at lower intensities
  • Taking 4 Sportlegs casules, oatmeal as breakfast, 1 gel before, 2 gels during the race
  • Using The Stick and compression socks and tights to aid in recovery. I ran in compression socks today.
  • Hitting the overide switch in my brain when things get really hard and tough--a brain function that cyclocross has allowed me develop. I managed to do this a number of times today
  • Develop a plan--time goals, pace goals, a ballpark time goal or time goal range. I called these my soft goal, and my hard goals. Today I had this. It helped.
Today I shot for a 1:25:00. I fell short. I feel great about the result. The funny thing is, I started running this half marathon in 2004, dreaming of running it faster. There have been many hard years that have left me dehydrated, sore for days, injured, in the fetal position clutching my stomach, running to the bathroom multiple times, feeling shattered.

Data from the First Half Half Marathon 2012

I feel like I have achieved my dream of running it faster. But now, where do I go? How much faster do I want to go? I ran a 4:09km pace. I did not think this possible a few weeks ago, let alone a few years ago. It is 5 seconds faster than my race last weekend at Derby Reach. That is impressive to me. Mike Murphy ran a      1 hour 13 and change today, good enough for 16th place overall. Today was hard, but now later in the day, I feel pretty good, a testament to my fitness perhaps. Do I look at achieving a 1 hour 25 for real next year? Or 1 hour 23? Right now I am content with my form and result. As I get older, I seem to be getting faster. Or more stubborn.

Today, the weather was wet, warm at 8 degrees, and overcast. Conditions were perfect for running, and I was overdressed with tights, and undershirt, long sleeve, light tights, gloves and a toque. I ditched the toque and gloves, and wished I could have taken off my shirt. The race went well, I slipped with my time a bit coming through the mile markers, but was only a few seconds. I was not too concerned when I did the math to see that I was only 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, down on my time checks, knowing that I was staying within reach of my hard goal. My pace fluctuated greatly over the course, all within about 20 or 30 seconds per km, as I would look down at my watch and see my pace per km displayed before me 3:53, 4:02, 4:09, 4:19, 4:26, 4:15. The day mostly went like that. I had to keep telling my legs to "Move dammit", concentrating on form and consistency. I think that was one of my goals for the day--to be consistent from start to finish. Coming through each mile marker was tough, thinking after each one "I have how many more miles to do?" I knew that if I could get to the halfway point by my time goal, I would be in good shape to set up for a PB. 

KM Time Checks:

5km           = 20:36
10km         = 41:26
Halfway     = 44:04
15km         = 1:02:56
20kms       = 1:24:10
21.1km     = 1:27.30

By the numbers, I ran an negative split half marathon, running the second half faster by nearly 40 seconds. I have not done that before. Aren't people supposed to slow down as the race goes on? For now, I am content.

After the race, the relief of finishing was immense. Crossing the line, I tried to catch my breath, closed my eyes and attempted to keep standing upright without hitting the pavement. I walked over to the Powerade and Powerbar tables to down some shots of goodness to help begin the recovery. At the bag collection, I changed into my dry, comfortable clothes, but had trouble getting my shoes off for the cramps in all parts of my legs: toes, feet, ankles, calfs, hamstrings, quads. I had trouble taking off my race clothes and shoes, and had to walk in circles to keep my muscles from becoming guitar strings. I suspect that the hard effort is the reason that I feel so shattered this evening. Tomorrow and the next day will be awesome days to recover, rest, replenish and recharge. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Must watch: To Catch a Bike Thief.

This is going to be very entertaining. Probably the best "reality" TV show going. Shot in Vancouver, the bike thief Mecca of North America. Checkit!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The 2012 Fraser Valley Trail Series--Houston Trail Footrace

The last month I have been through some ups and downs, but right now am currently working on an "up". Injuring myself in the Resolution Run in crescent park on New Year's Day left me hobbled with a sprained ankle, sore achilles tendon, and a huge question mark on my progress. Treating those injuries has been better than good, as I can now get out of bed in the morning and not limp around until the lower leg and foot warm up. it has been so good that 9 days ago, me and my brother in law, Sean, ticked off a 39km run in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Forced rest the week before due to illness left me feeling great, along with an improved bed time of 10 pm.

Which leads into last week. With the #3 race of the trail series on Sunday, my lead up was great--3 runs mid week, a CX ride on Saturday, and a chance to open up the engine on the course that is quite difficult with varied terrain--steep hills, undulations, and flats. I was looking to improve on my time of 45 minutes from last year.

Feeding on homemade ravioli and broiled chicken the night before (thanks Fab and David!), I was more than fueled up for the race. I even popped some Sportlegs and a mocha gel before the race, just to have some more jump and fend off the cramps when I needed it most.

The start of these races is so low key and chilled out, there really is nothing to get too worked up about. Nerves do not play a factor in the FVTS races. It is a great feeling to be able to go and run hard without the butterflies. At the start of the race, I did not start my watch until about 800m into the race. I was running faster than I wanted to, but knowing the course is much of the battle, and I know that the hills would play a factor in drawing some time off of the high speeds I was putting in.

I ran much of the race with Darren Walton, trying to gap him on the downhils. He would catch me on the uphill kickers, and we would even each other out. Mark Rowat, a New West runner registered for the Chuckanut 50, beat me in the last race in Campbell Valley, so on of my goals for this race was to beat him. Those downhills were me friends, as it felt great to open up and go full gas down them, caution be damned.

Darren and I would run the last 3 kms together, until the final straight stretch down to the finish, where I put a dig into him, beating him by 8 seconds and setting a series and personal course best of 42:19, good enough for 7th place--my highest placing yet. Running the last km at a 3:40 pace was comfortable, if not on the edge. Sean followed up 46:05, Mark Rowat at 43:49. Our winner yet again is the awesome Mike Murphy blazing a 36:39. He runs so smooth and so fast. Another great race from Peninsula Runners--well organized, fun, and friendly. Thanks to them!

Up next is the First Half Half Marathon.Things are really coming together for me and my run. The ankle is much better, the fitness is there, and the strength and endurance is all falling in line.  I need to work some magic and hammer out a quick pace to beat my 1 hour 30 personal best. With this weekend's run in the books, I feel that a 1 hour 27 half marathon is doable.

Time to set up a firm goal. An average of 4:14 per km this week for 10 kms, I feel like 4:02 per km is doable, perhaps my highest maximum average at this point in my running life for a half marathon. That would put me in at 1 hour 25 minutes. We will see. One more run to go before a bit of rest and then Sunday.