Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Barrelman 70.3 Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

This past weekend in Niagara Falls I put a bow on my 2015 triathlon season.  I had decided to end the year with a bang and signed up for the Barrelman half iron-distance race…way back in March when I registered I had every intention of this being my goal race for the year.  As the race drew closer however, instead of getting excited about racing I was just excited to be done with racing for the year.  It has been a long season, and my last few races have been a bit of a disappointment for me as I have suffered out on the run (which should be my strongest discipline).


The race was set to take place on Sunday, starting in Welland and ending up down in Niagara Falls.  Michelle, the kids and I headed down to Welland on Saturday to take care of kit pickup, racking my bike in T1 (where it would stay overnight with a tarp over it since the weather was calling for rain…lots of rain) and attending the athlete's briefing.  Everything went smooth enough but the rain did end up coming in while we were there…it was bucketing out.  Better to get it out of the way though and not have to worry about racing in the rain.  I ran into quite a few people I knew from the London Tri Club and just from around the tri scene, so it was nice to catch up a bit and wish everyone good luck.  After leaving we drove the bike course into Niagara Falls, checked into our hotel and then went to do what we do best…carb load.


Sunday morning came and it was just perfect outside…sunny and cool, amazing racing conditions.  It was set to warm up to around 20ºC as the day went on, so certainly wouldn't have to worry about it being a scorcher out there on the bike and run.  We jumped in the Jeep and were at the swim start at the Welland International Flatwater Centre by 8:15…plenty of time before my wave went off at 9:10.  The venue itself was great…it is at the end of the Welland recreational canal and is where they hold all kinds of rowing events, including the recent Panam Games.  There are stands on the banks for spectators and they were able to enjoy great views.  I finished setting up my transition area, kissed Michelle and the kids and went down to get a bit of a warmup swim in.  I was able to hang out for a bit before the start with some of the ladies from the Tri Club (Trudie, Mary Elizabeth and Carol), always nice having some company to help keep the nerves at bay.


Swim - 2000m
34:13 (1:42/100m), 12/43 AG

The water was perfect…cool, clear and flat.  The canal is a great place to swim, so easy to sight.  There were orange markers along the route and green tetrahedrons for the turns.  On top of that there were markers almost the entire way out and back used for rowing, so it was super easy to stay in a straight line.  I wasn't able to find any fast feet around me so I ducked out into some cleaner water and just plowed along on my own.  There was a lot of congestion as we were in one of the last waves, so I was coming up behind a lot of slower swimmers.  I've been fortunate in the races I've done this year to be in the first or second wave every time, so it was just my turn to be near the back.  I knew this would happen going in so I just didn't let it bother me.


The swim went great though, I was really happy with it.  No issues with leaky goggles or getting kicked and pulled by other swimmers…just a nice swim.  I had been hoping to do the swim in 35-36 minutes, so was happy to pop out of the water at 34.  A quick run in front of the stands full of cheering spectators then up a concrete stairway to T1, followed by balling up my wetsuit, goggles and swim cap to throw in my wetsuit bag (as T1 was in Welland and T2 was all the way in Niagara Falls).  In and out of T1 in 1:47 including the run up, not too bad.


Bike - 89K
2:34:32 (34.6km/h), 11/43 AG

As I ran up to the mount line coming out of T1 there was a crowd of people that had basically stopped in their tracks to get on their bikes…I was able to find just enough room to scoot between them and then leap onto my bike to get going.  Out onto the bike course things were just as busy for quite a while…lots of slower riders from the earlier waves to navigate around.  We set out to the west from Welland where we would do an out, then loop down to the shore of Lake Erie and back to Welland, then out east to Niagara Falls.  The 25K out portion down to Lake Erie had a nice tailwind, but that meant the last 65K of the ride would be into a headwind.  I used the tailwind as best I could to really get going and then planned on just maintaining a strong pace with a fast cadence for the duration of the ride.  I kept my cadence over 100 for the entire ride (12 avg), so I was never really pushing too hard.  The course itself is very flat…my Garmin only showed 94m of elevation gain on the bike over 90K, compared to 114m on the 21.1K run.  I actually prefer some hills on the course as I am light enough that I end up passing a lot of people on climbs and can use the descents to pick up speed…a flat course you just end up pushing the entire ride.


I was able to fuel well on the bike, taking in a full bottle of Gatorade, another bottle of water, a Clif bar and a couple of Louis Garneau gels.  I knew I was pretty well hydrated as I actually needed to pee towards the end of the ride.  The only anxious moment I had on the ride came right at the 10K point when I passed another athlete.  I called out "on your left" as I always do to make sure he knew I was there.  I gave him plenty of room and after pulling back in front of him I heard him yell "Oh shit!" followed by a crash as he rode right into the 10K marker sign.  I was already a ways up the road and didn't see it happen, only heard it.  The bike lane might not be the best place to set up the distance markers (basically a little sandwich-board type sign if you haven't seen them before), but also a reminder that you need to pay attention at all times and keep your head in the game.  One of the pros I know was actually leading the race on the bike and rode right into a parked police car at a T-intersection.  He crashed hard and his bike went flying…his day was done but thankfully he is doing okay.  I came upon the scene not too long after and the ambulance had just finished loading up.  I didn't know what had happened, nor did I know it was someone I knew in there, but it is always unsettling to see that on the course.


Run- 21.1K
1:35:10 (4:31/km), 7/43 AG

It was a bit of a long transition in T2…having not really seen the area until I got in there I only knew roughly where my rack was.  I found it easily enough (luckily I ran on the correct side of the rack) and my bike-to-run bag was waiting for me with my shoes and visor.  I always race in my New Balance 1400 flats, but this past week I decided that with the run being a half marathon I would go with something just a little more comfortable in my Saucony Kinvaras.  The Kinvara is pretty much my everyday training shoe and the shoe I wear for marathons so I wasn't at all concerned about running the last leg of the triathlon in them.  Once I had my shoes on it was another long run to the end of transition and I was in and out in 1:42.

Despite my last few runs being slower than I had hoped, I had come off the bike with my legs feeling good for all of them.  My problem was just that I would tire out really quickly, which I figured had a lot to do with the heat but I couldn't say for sure.  I wouldn't be able to use the heat as an excuse today though because the temperature was perfect.  I took off with legs that felt good despite having just rode 90K and I saw my family almost right away when I hit the run course.  High fives all around and I was off for the first of two loops.  We ran along the river for a little bit before ducking into Dufferin Islands Park.  We had a little out and back in there before heading up a big hill past Marineland and along Portage Road towards Casino Niagara.  Heading up Portage we could feel the mist from the Horseshoe Falls and it was certainly a welcome addition to the run.  I was going along at a good pace, but I kept telling myself to slow it down and not burn up those matches too soon.  I was trying to keep my pace around 4:30, but the first couple kilometres were a touch quick (4:06, 4:07).  The climbing helped bring my pace into check and I was able to settle into a good groove between 4:15-4:25 for quite a while.

Once we finished climbing the hill on Portage we ducked onto a public walkway the goes behind the Casino.  There were lots of people out walking back there but the race had enough volunteers around to make sure no one was getting in the way of the runners.  I saw a mother with her two little girls sitting on a bench watching us and gave one of the girls a little wave…she smiled and waved back happy to be a part of the action.  When I came by on my second loop they were still there and she started shouting "Mommy!  I remember him!" as she jumped up and waved at me…made my day Smile.

As we exited the pathway we had to descend a flight of stairs to get back to the street…there was a short set of three or four stairs up and then the long flight down.  The volunteer was yelling out "up the stairs then down the stairs" and I couldn't help but sing out loud (I got a few looks…)

Wee Willie Winkie, running thru the toon,
Up the stairs, down the stairs, in his nightgoon
Rappin' at the windaes, tappin' at the locks,
Are all the bhoys and ghirls in bed?  For now it's 8 o'clock

My Mum would be proud.  I got to the bottom of the stairs and then it was a massive downhill…nearly 100 feet in just 200m.  Quite the quad burner after the long incline.  Then it was onto the Niagara Parkway with the Falls right beside us…hard to explain in words what an awesome feeling it is to run past the Falls.  You can't help but appreciate the power and the beauty and it inspires you to push on (which was helpful because it was immediately back to a long incline).  I got back to Kingsbridge Park where the finish was and saw the family again as I set out for loop number two.  More cheers and high fives to fill up my tank for the final push.  I was at 45:37 for the first half of my run and I saw that my overall time was only 3:57:xx…I only had two goals coming into the race, one being to finish with a decent run and not feel like a piece of garbage, and the second being to go sub 5-hours.  If I could manage the first goal then the second was a virtual lock.  Knowing this helped me push through the second loopp even as it started to get tough around 14K.  There were a couple times towards the end where I contemplated a little walk break through a water station but I pushed those thoughts out of my mind.  There wasn't another race on the calendar for me to save myself for and there wouldn't be a chance for redemption.  I was going to push through to the end with everything I had.  As I ran past the 20K marker I switched my watch over to just see total time…I wasn't only going to break 5 hours, but I was going to be under 4:50.  I dug deep to pull out whatever was left in my legs and ran that last kilometre hard…I saw Michelle and the kids as I came down the finishing chute and I slowed up to just enjoy the moment.  One of my running buddies just went sub-3 on her marathon last week to net a massive PR and she had one of the best finishing pics I've ever seen…she had a huge smile on her face as she fist-pumped her way across the line.  I guess she was my inspiration as I was punching the air as I came across the line in 4:47:21 (although I also seem to be sticking my tongue  out for some reason??)


I had smashed my goals, my expectations and my previous best effort.  I was thrilled with my result and I felt great in the process.  I collected my finisher's medal and hat then went over to enjoy the moment with my family.

4:47:21, 36/496 OA, 9/43 AG

Multisport Canada put on a great event as always and this is one of those races that people will keep coming back to.  It is a fantastic event with a beautiful course and easily the best swim venue I have ever raced at with the Flatwater Centre.  John Salt and his team deserve heaps of praise and this event will only continue to grow year over year.  Thanks to John, his team and all of the volunteers that made this such a wonderful event.

Thanks as well to my family for being out there supporting me…despite my best efforts to be fast, I know it was a long day for you.  Your cheers, smiles and high fives really helped me push through so thank you!


Monday, August 17, 2015

2015 Goderich Olympic Triathlon Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

On Sunday Michelle and I got up early and took off from the cottage to go take part in the Goderich Triathlon about an hour's drive up the coast of Lake Huron.  Michelle would be taking part in the Duathlon while I was taking on the Olympic Tri.  We had never done this race before but had heard good things about it from a number of people and were looking forward to seeing some new sights.


We were on the road just before 6am and arrived at the race site just before 7.  We had plenty of time to rack our bikes, pick up our race kits, etc as well as say hi to a few people who were also racing or had made their way up to Goderich just to cheer us on.  This was our club race for the year so there were plenty of familiar faces out there on the course as well as a London Triathlon Club tent stocked with ice cold water, which would certainly come in handy on a hot day like this.


Swim - 1000m
20:26 (2:03/100m), 3/12 AG, 11th Overall

Rough swim.  We started at 8:30 and the waves were crashing pretty good right away.  This was one of those triathlon swims where the best way to describe it is swimming in the washing machine.  All of the Olympic triathletes started together in one wave and there was plenty of crashing and banging out towards the first buoy.  The water was rough right from the start, but as soon as we were clear of the breakwall it got really tough.  The waves were large enough that they would slam you in the face and I'm light enough that they would pick me up and drop me at times.  The water itself was beautiful though…nice and cool and an amazing shade of clear blue.  It was tough sighting with the waves and the early morning sun, but I "only" added an extra 65m to my swim based on my Garmin, so I kept it fairly straight.  As much as the swim was rough and tumble, I actually enjoyed it.  Once I was able to just settle into a decent rhythm I was fine.  I lost the fast feet just before the first buoy but I managed to keep them in sight most of the time.  Overall I was happy with this swim.

bike dismount

Bike - 42.5K
1:17:56 (32.7kph), 3/12 AG, 10th Overall

An uneventful T1 (that's always a good thing) had me in and out in 1:21.  I hopped on the bike and immediately had a long climb up the hill from the beach.  The temperatures had already started to climb as well and it was hot by now.  The sun was beating down and my legs were in for quite the hill workout.  I knew that there were some hills on this course, but I didn't realize that it was basically all climbing (over 1100 feet).  Usually I am good with the hills, but this was tough.  I can bounce right up a regular hill just staying in my big ring no problem, but these hills went on and on and on and on.  Even when you got to the top of the hill it would keep going!  I had no choice but to drop into the small ring on a few of them.  I normally aim to ride the bike course around 35kph, but that simply wasn't in the cards with this course.  I still managed to keep it close to 33, which is over 20mph, so that is pretty solid.  I managed to hold my cadence in the 95-100rpm for most of the ride, averaging 97 overall…just keep spinning  Smile  I passed a few people, a few people passed me…nothing too exciting really, just a lot of hills.  The most exciting part of the bike was my dismount (which you can see in the picture above).  We finally have a good downhill section but it is coming back down to T2 at the beach, with a sharp left-hand turn ahead and volunteers yelling at you to slow down.  I slipped my right foot out of my shoe easy enough, but when I went to tug the heel strap on my left shoe to get my foot out, the entire shoe came off in my hand!  (again, see photo above Winking smile)  The left pedal also happens to be the side I dismount on, of course.  Smooth.


Run - 10K
48:02 (4:49/km), 5/12 AG, 13th Overall

Ugh, the run.  Still the leg of triathlon that needs the most work (funny, isn't it?).  I started off the tri season in June with a sub-20 5K run and a 40 minute 10K, but my last 3 races have all been in hot weather (upwards of 30ºC plus humidity) and I have been just sapped on the run.  The worst part is that my legs feel fine…I get off the bike and I'm able to run well, but the heat just beats me down.  Goderich was more of the same and I'm really going to need to figure this out for next season.  The run itself was beautiful…we ran up the beach hill and then darted off to the rail path, which is a chip & dust trail that is great for running on.  Quite a bit of the trail is shaded which at least kept the sun off of us.  Of course, this is Goderich so that meant climbing the whole way out to the turnaround.  As I turned onto the rail path I saw Michelle up ahead of me completing her second run of the day.  I came up behind her and gave her a little kiss on the shoulder and wished her well…she yelled at me that I better not pass her again or else I would need to carry her the rest of the way.  She was looking good though and finished up well.  I went out hoping to hold the pace around 4:30/km and was doing a decent job of it up to the 5K turnaround, coming through 5K in 22:55 (4:35/km).  Once I hit the turn though I was done…the heat was really getting to me and I was starting to play mind games with myself.  My brain kept telling me to stop and take a walk break, it was okay, blah blah blah.  I knew this was coming and I pushed it out as best as I could.  I decided that I would walk through just one water station so I could actually get a whole cup down and another to pour over my head and I stuck to that plan.  I was really encouraged to see a bunch of my teammates coming through on the run course and we cheered each other on…there were lots of great results out there for a bunch of people I knew!  Eventually I made it off the trail and back onto the road where I gave it a strong finish line kick.  I heard Tom yelling my name and knew the finish chute was just around the corner and I cruised through in 2:28:51.  The time was good enough for 6th overall and second in my age group, much better than I had expected after the strugglebus run.


It was a tough day but in the end it was a fun and successful day.  Michelle did great too and made a podium appearance taking 3rd in her age group woot woot!  The race itself is very well organized with plenty of great volunteers.  It is a tough course but it is also a beautiful course…I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a challenging race.  A nice surprise at the end of the race was a food truck was set up and was offering free breakfast sandwiches to all athletes…what a great post-meal snack!

Couldn't beat the support we had from the London Tri Club as well…the shade of the tent (and the ice-cold water) was such a relief after the race and it was great having Tom, Nancy, Catherine and Richard all make the trip from London just to cheer us all on.  And thanks to Tom for all the great pictures!  I stole most of the ones here from him Open-mouthed smile


Now it's time for a little race break as I have just over a month to get in my final training for the Barrelman Half Iron in Niagara Falls.  Time to work on getting my run straightened out!

Thanks for reading folks!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Guelph Lake I 5150 Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be racing yet again…it was the Guelph Lake I 5150 (Olympic Distance) Triathlon this time around.


I have raced Guelph a couple of times before, in fact it was my first triathlon back in 2012 when I did the Try-a-Tri.  It is a great venue with the swim in a lake big enough to accommodate a single-loop 1500m swim, low-traffic country roads with a few rolling hills for the 40K bike and a 10K run that winds through the park.  Kennedy and Michelle were tagging along as my support crew/cheering squad on Saturday morning and we were on the road bright and early at 5:30.  We pulled into the park shortly after 7 which left enough time to comfortably get set up in transition and take care of all of the logistics before my wave started at 8:03.  In no time at all I was grabbing my wetsuit and heading down to the beach…it was race time!


Swim - 1500m
24:27 (1:37/100m), 4/29 AG

My swim start wasn't great when I raced Woodstock a couple weeks ago, but I managed to scope out a better starting position this time around.  I had space to work in right from the start and somehow avoided elbows and flailing arms so that I could get off to a quick start.  The swim loop here at Guelph is great as you swim all the way across the lake, hang a right, swim along the shoreline, then a right turn back to the other side of the lake where you started from.  Plenty of buoys (5 on each side I think?) make sighting really easy too.  I was cruising at a good pace, breathing easy and never feeling panic.  I was in wave 2, 3 minutes after the first wave, and I was coming up on wave 1 swimmers about 400m in.  There were a few other red caps (wave 2), but the majority around me were purple wave 1 caps…definitely a good sign.  I tried to draft off of some feet, but found that was slowing me down as I wasn't able to find any fast swimmers to work with…that will be my swim takeaway from this race, find the fast swimmers in my wave and stick with them from the start.  As I got back to shore I lapped my watch to record just my swim time as the chiptime is recorded heading into transition, which is a bit of a run away.  My actual swim was 23:36, good for a 1:34/100m pace…fourth out of the water in my age group and my best ever!


Bike - 40K
1:07:29 (35.6 km/h), 2/29 AG

I made the run up to T1 and peeled out of my wetsuit…I was encouraged to see a full rack of bikes still there knowing that my swim had set me up for a good bike.  I got my bike shoes on, strapped on the helmet and took off across the mount line with a running leap…still not a full-on flying mount but still a lot quicker than years past.  T1 was 1:23, pretty happy with that as my T1 transitions have always been closer to 2 minutes.  I was off to the bike course and was promptly passing people as we made the 5K climb on the only section of really rough road on the course.  I was hoping to ride the course around 35-36 km/h and I was keeping the pace right there the whole time.  There are a few turns on the course but I was able to hold some decent speed through them…I'm starting to build some handling ability as I get more and more comfortable on the bike.  I was riding up through the pack and feeling good with a quick and easy cadence…my average for the ride was 102, even quicker than last time out.  The hills weren't all that tough and I was able to get through them with good gearing while holding aero, in fact I only had to come out of aero for the corners.  I saw the leaders on their way back to T2 as I was about 5K to the turnaround and I was surprised that there really wasn't a whole lot of people ahead of me despite being in wave 2.  I hit the turn and speed back to transition and was finally passed for the first time by a couple of guys in the last 5K, when we were back on the rough surface.  There's my bike takeaway, learn to hold my speed on poor surface.  I slipped out of my shoes as I got back to the park and made the running leap off my bike just before the dismount line (scraping my long toe on the asphalt in the process…ouch!)…I wrestled my bike around the sharp turn and into T2 with the second fastest bike in my age group, and right on target of where I had hoped to be.


Run - 10K
40:04 (4:00/km), 1/29 AG

The run is where it all went wrong for me last year in this race (long story short, I cut the run course short by about a kilometre, resulting in reporting myself and getting a penalty).  The run in general was also my weakness last year in my return to triathlon…I would push too hard on the bike and have spent legs once I got to the run.  I figured it out in the last race of the season at Lakeside, where I ran a 20:07 5K after I took it easy on the bike, and then again in the first race of this season at Woodstock where I put up a 19:33 5K after a quick bike where I was spinning quick and not pushing the big gears.  Those were both 5K's though and I was now facing a 10K, and was coming off a 40K bike instead of 20K.  I really wanted to go sub-40 minutes off the bike, but I knew that was a tall order.  T2 was a quick in and out as I slipped into my New Balance 1400 flats and hit the run course.  Michelle and Kennedy were there to cheer me on as I made the turn out of T2 on my jelly legs…unfortunately I completely whiffed on the high five from Kennedy.


I really wasn't feeling great on the run, but I was moving at a good pace.  It is always such a strange feeling to be running fast but feel slow, but that's the triathlon run.  I ran through a few guys as my first three kilometres were all under 4 minutes.  On kilometre 4 I turned off the park road and onto the goat path…this stretch is a grassy, gravelly mess of a path to run on and just isn't fun.  I kept pushing though as I was now starting to tire a bit…I hit the 5K point and my watch showed me my split of 20:01, ever so slightly below that sub-40 pace I was looking for.  As I made my way back to the road I made a left turn (instead of the right I made last year) and set out on the section of the course I had never seen before.  As I came up on the turn I could see how I missed it last year…I was running alone again this time with no one else around (ie no one to follow) and there were no volunteers there directing traffic either.  No signs marked the turn, only pylons that could be confusing if you didn't really know the course.  This second out and back section quickly peeled off the road and took you down a loose gravel path to a 180° turnaround, the second such turn on the run course.  You ran down a somewhat steep hill to the turn and then went right back up it.  I was keeping my pace right around where it should be, but these middle kilometres saw me slowing just a bit.  I was back on the road for the homestretch and dropped the hammer and gave all I had for the finish.  I clocked another sub-4 9th kilometre and then finished up with my fastest split of the day, a 3:49 10th.  I made my kick down the chute as I heard cheers from Michelle and Kennedy.  The clock was showing 2:17:xx and I knew that I would go under 2:15, which was the goal time I was aiming for.  My run ended up just shy of sub-40 at 40:04, but it was the quickest of the day in my age group.


I crossed the line with an official time of 2:14:34, which was good enough to place me second in my age group and 19th overall (in a field of over 400 athletes).  I also managed to beat my "cheater" time from last year by almost 2 minutes.  I felt great!  We stuck around to cheer on other athletes, fill up on the postrace food (Subway!) and collect some hardware up on the podium.


Once that was done we packed up the Jeep, dropped the top and set off for the cottage to enjoy the rest of the Father's Day weekend.  The kids even got me this awesome card…


Thanks for reading guys!  Next race on my schedule is the Bluewater Olympic Tri on July 25, can't believe I have to wait another month to race again Sad smile

Monday, June 8, 2015

MSC Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

Hey all, it's race recap day!  Seems that races are the only thing that motivate me to post these days…sorry about that.

I signed up pretty much last minute to race the Multisport Canada Series season opener in Woodstock, which is relatively close to home at only 45 minutes away.  The Sprint was the longest distance offered, but they also had their Give-it-a-Tri as well as Duathlon options.  I signed up for the Sprint (750m swim/20K bike/5K run) figuring it would be a great opportunity to put my offseason training to the test and knock the rust off my racing legs.


I arrived at the race site about an hour and a half before the start, so I had plenty of time to rack my bike and go through packet pick up.  I was glad I was early as the pick up line got really long really fast.  I snagged a primo spot on the end of the rack, literally step from the bike in/out, and got to the business of setting up transition.  I was also able to meet up with all kinds of people and catch up a bit, so the time passed quickly.  It was a cool morning, but the sun was shining and the water temperature was recorded at 20°C, so it was looking like it would be a great day to race.

Swim - 750m
13:35 (1:48/100m), 6/29 AG

I was in wave 2, so we set out 3 minutes after the first group left at 9:00.  I had almost forgotten how fun the mass swim start was, but I was reminded about 100m in as I was clocked across the head and was forced to stop to fix my flooded askew goggles.  There was a pretty good crush of swimmers until we hit the first turn buoy and then I was able to find clean water and get moving.  There was a bit of a chop on the lake, but nothing too bad, especially after the turn.  I was able to settle in to a good rhythm and cruised to shore at a much better pace.  Overall it wasn't my best swim and I know I can do better, but it wasn't terrible.

photo 4

Bike - 20K
34:51 (34.4km/h), 6/29 AG

I ran up the hill to T1 and peeled out of my wetsuit as quick as I could.  I noticed that the rack was still pretty full, always a good sign.  I strapped on my helmet, put on my bike shoes and then ran towards the mount line.  T1 took 1:24, which is pretty good for me…I was pleased as everything went smoothly.  As I got to the mount line there were 3 or 4 people stopped and trying to get on their bikes, so I just ran right through them and once I was clear I was able to make a flying leap onto my bike in one nice smooth beautiful motion (at least that's how I imagine it looked!).  It wasn't a full-on flying mount as I still had to clip my shoes in, but it was much better than my usual stop-at-the-line-and-get-on method.  As soon as you get on the bike there is a big hill to climb coming up out of the park and it is designated as a no passing zone.  I had to hold back a bit, which really sucked because I have worked hard and become a pretty decent climber, while some of the riders in front of me well…not so much.  I find it so tough to slow down on a climb and lose your momentum and then try to get it going again.  Oh well.  As soon as I was out of the park and able to pass I continued up the road nearly 5K to the first corner, a pretty nice steady climb.  There was a pretty decent wind out on the course and it somehow seemed to be in your face the whole time, but it wasn't enough to really bother me.  I was picking off riders throughout the course and only counted two guys that went past me, one of which was Strava buddy Luke who finished the race 9th overall.  Luke went screaming by just after the turnaround and yelled at me, "Time to hammer Mike!".  I thought I was hammering!  I was able to get some great speed on the last 5K coming back to T2 as I rode hard on the downhill.  Entering the park we were again subject to the no-passing zone, but at least this time the only rider in front of me was moving quick as well.  I got my feet out of my shoes and swung the leg over to make a solid running dismount…my Dad would be proud (he always makes fun of my crappy mounts/dismounts, so I had to work on them just for him).

photo 1

Run - 5K
19:33 (3:54/km), 3/29 AG

T2 was a breeze, nice and uneventful…in and out in 57 seconds.  The run was a 5K out and back and we covered all kinds of surface.  There was grass, dirt, gravel and a little bit of pavement mixed in when we crossed over the dam.  It was a tricky course as there were plenty of twisty narrow sections with two-way traffic which made it difficult to pass.  I had been warned about the run though and that it was a tough setup…but it's the same course for everyone out there.  My legs felt good as I had maintained a high cadence on the bike and I was off right from the get go.  First kilometre clocked in at 3:55 and I was able to keep pushing it from there.  I moved through the field scoping out ages on other runners calves…I felt great and had plenty of people to chase down, something I haven't had in running races in quite a while.  I loved having that motivation to push harder!  I put down a 3:47 second kilometre and cruised through the turnaround in under 10 minutes.  I had one goal coming into the race and that was to go sub-20 minutes on the run…I was well on my way.

photo 5

There were still a few people out in front of me on the way to the finish line, but I was also encouraged by the runners on their way out on the run…lots of familiar faces offering words of encouragement to help me keep pushing on.  I managed to keep every kilometre in the 3:xx's and as I turned into the finishing chute I gave a big kick even though there wasn't anyone there to kick with.  It felt great to finish strong!

photo 3

Official Time - 1:10:19
33/361 OA, 6/29 AG

Very pleased with the effort and the time…nearly a 5 minute PR for me in the Sprint distance.  I just wish that my age group wasn't so deep!  It was a great day out in Woodstock and I was able to have a good race and take away a few lessons learned as well.  Clearly there is still room to improve on the swim, but I was moving good once I found some clean water…need to get used to swimming in the washing machine Smile.  I was also happy to see that the higher bike cadence worked to keep the running legs fresh…19:33 on this course is a big mental boost going into future races.

Congrats to all my buddies who raced as well, there were good results all around!  Big thanks as well to the volunteers and Multisport Canada who always put on an excellent race.

As for my race calendar, next up is Guelph in a couple of weeks where I'll take on the Olympic distance Tri…already looking forward to it!

Thanks for reading, cheers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CheapRunnerMike's 2015 Forest City Road Races Half Marathon Recap

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

Well that title's a mouthful…now on to the recap.  You heard all about Michelle's race yesterday and she did so well and I am very proud of her.  Way to go Michelle and Mum as well!

The Forest City Road Race is probably the biggest running race on the calendar here in London and it is certainly one of the best organized races in these parts as well.  I always look forward to running it and this would be the third year in a row for me to take on the half marathon.  I have had some success here in the past and even took home the age group win last year.  I was fresh off a PB a couple weeks ago at the Run for Retina and wasn't really sure what to expect from myself this time out.  I had just run a 1:23:20 and would love to go a bit faster, but just wasn't sure if I could.

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

Race morning was cool but bright and sunny…really great weather for racing.  We all headed down to Victoria Park for the start of the race and I got a little warmup run and some stretching in while chatting with some fellow runners waiting for the horn to go off.  I don't usually go right to very front of the group but thought today I may as well…I was going to go for it.

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

The race started right at 8am…there wasn't much of a countdown, I just heard someone say "10 seconds" and then about 3 seconds later the horn went off.  Jackson and my Dad were just around the first corner where they had a good spot that they could see everyone from and I had a plan…I was taking a page out of Derek Yorek's book and decided that I would bust it off the line in the hopes that I could come around that corner in the lead so that Jackson could see his daddy "winning" the race.  It's a good thing they were standing in that spot and not another 100m down the road, because they were able to see my short-lived lead.

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

The leaders swallowed me up well before the 1km mark despite going way faster than I ever should…first kilometre was 3:32.  As I waved the top 4 runners goodbye I briefly ran with another guy until the 2K point. I was going good but his pace was just a little too rich for me and I didn't want to try and hang with him either.  Just after he left I was joined by one more guy and our paces matched up well and we took in the third, fourth and fifth kilometres together before we hit a hill heading into the University of Western Ontario and I broke him.  I then ran solo for the next 8K.

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

After a quick sprint through the university I turned into the park system and headed towards the course's big hill.  As you exit Gibbons Park you have to tackle a solid climb up St James Street, a 20m incline (65 feet) over 800m.  This was my slowest kilometre split of the race at 4:03.  I finished the hill and continued with the long uphill climb through the beautiful Old North subdivisions to Adelaide St and hit the halfway point.  I had been running all by myself for a while now and the only energy I had to feed off of were the great volunteers that were lining the course and cheering like crazy.  Their encouragement really helped me push on!

Photo: Twitter @InsomniacRunnerY

It was around 13K that I noticed the runner ahead of me was getting a bit closer…as he made the turn onto Windermere Road I checked the gap…he was 250m ahead of me.  There was another decent climb coming up on Windermere and I figured I would do what I could to try and chip away at the gap.  I was keeping the pace quick at 3:53/km (about 6:15/mile) and just tried to keep it there knowing I was making up time on him.  I had a couple of surges along the way as we came back to the university again and I was able to use some short downhill stretches to speed up my legs and by the time we were back into the park system at 18K I had closed the gap to just 50m.

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

I guess that was the point that he realized I was going to overtake him because he decided to pick up the pace.  I tried to answer as best I could, but chasing for 5K had taken it's toll on my burst.  I did pick it up a bit but not enough…I finished strong with my last kilometre clocking 3:35 (a 5:44/mile pace) which was proper fast and left me feeling appropriately gassed as I crossed the finish line.

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

It was great coming down the finishing chute and hearing cheers from my Dad and Jackson, as well as Chris and Strava buddy Abe.  I crossed the line with a new PB of 1:22:15 (3:54/km, 6:14/mile) which I had figured was good for 6th overall.  All the runner-geek details can be found here.  This is the face of someone that has left it all on the course…

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

Once I crossed my Dad said he thought I was 4th place…I was almost positive I was 6th but was happy no matter what.  We waited around for a bit and went to cheer on Michelle and my Mum, then headed over to check out the awards ceremony.  I had been checking for results for a while, but none had been posted yet.  The ceremony started with the overall winners and then moved to the Age Group awards.  When they called up the top 3 in my age group and I wasn't among them I knew that something was wrong…at 6th overall there might have been another old guy like me, but I knew that the top guys were Western University runners.  I went to the results board and there was finally something posted…but my name wasn't listed ANYWHERE.  I ran into Abe and Spencer and Abe mentioned that he heard a couple of the leaders took a wrong turn out of the park and went off course, so maybe the 4th place my Dad thought I had was accurate.  I set off for the timing trailer to try and get things straightened out.

It turns out that there were some issues with the bibs and timing, especially in regards to people with the same last name.  Michelle mentioned that when she crossed the line they called her Mike, and apparently when I crossed the line I registered in the system as Michelle.  Once they figured everything out it turned out that I had placed 3rd overall!  I asked them if they were sure because I thought there were a few guys in front of me and they said that there were issues with a couple of the leaders getting DQ'd (perhaps validating what Abe had heard?), and yes, I was indeed 3rd overall.  ell that had me pretty excited!  I took the good news and let the family know and Michelle decided to get a picture of me on the podium since the awards ceremony was already finished.


Well there was a little bit more to the timing issues apparently as the final results posted online showed me in 4th place…I chatted briefly with the Race Director and he said that the timing company spent the night going over the finish line video to make sure they got everything right.  So I guess after some confusion it was settled…4th overall out of nearly 500 runners!

Congrats to all my buddies who ran as well, with PB's for Michelle and my Mum, a new PB as well for Boyd, and Albano, who put up a 1:25 in his first ever half marathon!

Thanks for reading folks…

Monday, April 27, 2015

1st 1/2 Marathon of 2015

Posted by CheapRunnerMichelle

Hi friends! Well yesterday marked my 4th consecutive year running the Forest City Road Race. The 2012 FCRR was my 1st race ever, and I did the 5km distance....and it SUCKED big time....but none the less I was hooked - I caught the running bug.

You may (or not) remember that I ran the 1/2 marathon at this race last year. I had a lot of knee issues last year, and coming back to this race my only goal was to finish feeling good! (Something that I hadn't ever experienced at the end of a 1/2). After being at the RunDisney marathon back in January, and then doing some research, and ordering Jeff Galloway's book on the #runwalkrun method, that's how I've been training this year. Other then a little knee issue I had about 6 weeks ago, training this way has been going awesome!!

I was running this race with my MIL (her 2nd 1/2 marathon ever), and she had asked me earlier in the week what my goal was for this race...and in all honesty...I was really just looking at this race as a training run for my upcoming 1/2 that we are doing in Niagara Falls the 1st weekend in June. This distance fit in nicely with our training plan right now, so I had decided that although it would be great to PR...that's not what I had my sights set on for this race...I just wanted to DO, and more then anything FEEL, better finishing this year than I did last year (which ended up being 2:58:57)

Mike and I were up bright and early, and after a 1/2 a bagel, Mike taped my knee up for me


we were off to the races (literally)


We met up with my in-laws once we arrived at the park and chatted with a few fellow runners that we always tend to run into at local races. After our pre-race photo we headed to the start line


And we were off...we started all of our gadgets (gym boss, watch and iPod) and then right away we settled into a comfortable pace, ensuring we weren't too quick out of the gate only to lose momentum later. It was nice to have someone to chit chat with along the course, allowing me to not stress about pace or how far I still had to go etc. Before we knew it we had passed the 2km mark, and I spotted a friend up ahead that had come out to cheer us on...this was especially a nice treat 'cause I knew we wouldn't see another cheering squad for us until the 20km mark


I knew that at the end of this race, we would be asked to vote for our favourite "water" station, so I really made sure to pay attention to each and every one of them...my fav was the London Pacers station. They had music pumping, great race signs that made me really chuckle both times we passed their table, and were just super encouraging to each runner as they came through! With doing our run/walk/run (3/1/3) it just so happened that our walk breaks for the most part always corresponded to the water stations - which worked out really well!
It was my MIL's first time running this race, so she got to run in a lot of places/paths that she had never been on before, and couldn't believe how many really nice running paths our city has to offer. You know it's funny how we can get "stuck" running the same thing over and over again (ahem...cough...all of my training has been on the treadmill), so it was so nice to be out enjoying ourselves!

At about the 14km mark, we needed a port-a-potty stop...but they were both occupied, luckily though, just up behind them there were public bathrooms...which happened to be open! After a 2min pit stop, we were on our way. While on our pit stop, I was calculating our pace etc. and knew that we were going to have a great race if we could stay on track. With the Jeff Galloway training plan the goal is for race day, that you should be feeling good still at the end of your race that you can run through the last number of km's. We had decided at the beginning of the race that we would talk about it at km marker 17, and decide how we felt at that point. My MIL was having a toe issue, so we decided "hey today's a training run" and we want to finish feeling as good as possible, so why mess with what was working for us...so we kept on with our 3/1/3.

We high-fived each other at each km marker (one of the best marked courses I've ever run, with each race's km markers in different colours to easily distinguish your race), and I was thrilled when we reached the 20km mark, we rounded the corner into the home stretch, and I immediately started looking for my FIL, Michael and Jackson...to be honest, I knew that we were running faster then Mike would expect us to, so I wondered if they would even be there yet...but lo and behold they were and we were able to get a few high-fives in with them


Now we were in the final block, turned a couple corners, and I asked my MIL if she knew what we were at, and she said she hadn't been looking on purpose...well we headed down the final stretch and the announcers announced Sue and Michael (yes you just read that right...Mike will have more on that story this week), and we crossed the finish line 2:27:36....what?!?!? That was a 31:20 improvement for me over the same race last year, and a 12:28 PR for both my MIL and I!!!!! Wowzers...I wasn't sure that I would ever break 2:30:00, and here we did...and more importantly I felt great!!! I am thrilled and so happy to have finally found a plan that seems to work for my body.


It was a GREAT race, great weather, a great day to be out there running!

Thanks again to the organizers and volunteers of the 2015 Forest City Road Race!!!

What's your go-to meal/treat after a race?
Ours is always pizza