Vlog 7 – 2017 Race Schedule

Vlog 7 – 2017 Race Schedule

This weeks video I look at my 2017 race schedule. This isn’t set it stone, but it’s my current plan. My goal races will be Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Arizona, but I’ll look to do well at a couple halfs at Eagleman and Barrelman. I expect as the season progresses I’ll add a few more races to this list. Let me know if you’re going to be at any of these races, and if you see me be sure to say hi!

Surf City Marathon – Feb 5. Milton Sprint – June 4. Eagleman – June 11. Rose City LC or IMMT 70.3 – June 25. Ironman Lake Placid – July 23. Barrelman – Sept 17. Ironman Arizona – Nov 19.

Achilles 5k Race Report

Achilles 5k Race Report

March 13 was the Achilles 5k.  One of the nice things about this race is the start/finish is only 500m from my condo, which made pre-race logistics super simple.  This would only be my second 5k race.  I did the Ajax 5k back in 2014 when I was training for the Chicago Marathon.  During that time I was completely focused on running, and I ran 17:17 at that race.  I haven’t done much high end speed work this year, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I pulled sub18:00 out of thin air as the time I wanted to run.

*One thing I wanted to note, I do not think a hard 5k is easy given that most of my races are much longer.  A 5k run well really hurts.  It starts hurting early on and doesn’t stop until after the finish line.

Pre Race

The race didn’t start until 10:30, so I went for a swim before the race.  I really didn’t think a 30 minute swim a couple hours before the race would hurt my run, and it might even be a good warmup to get my heart pumping.  I had an english muffin after my swim, and then waited until about 10:15 to head over to the start.  I never do too much of a proper warmup before a race.  As I made the short run over to the start I accelerated to max speed a couple times.  I figured that was good.

The Race

I lined up near the front, the gun went and we were off.  I usually check my watch a lot when I run.  I calculate my pace, what pace I need to hold to finish in X time, etc.  I didn’t do that this race.  I checked my watch when it went off for km splits, but otherwise I just ran.  As I mentioned, I haven’t done much hard running, but I have done a lot of really hard bike workouts.  Early on as I settled into a pace I told myself this is just an FTP test; it’ll be done in less than 20 minutes, it’s going to hurt, and it may even hurt early, but you will make it.

The 5k was out and back in the shape of a ‘C’ on streets I was familiar with.  After the first couple hundred meters the race really thinned out in front of me.  There was a gap that had opened up in front of me of about 25m to the next runner.  As we ran along Wellington, the longest section of the course, the gap was holding at about the same distance.  I made it to the turnaround in about 8:28.  On the way back I began closing in on 3 runners in front of me.  I focused on running tall and kicking at the back of my stride to take full advantage of the tail-wind.  The runners just up the road were the carrot for me all the way back on Wellington, and I made it past them before we turned back onto Spadina.  At that point the next runner was well up the road and the wind was no longer at my back, it was just a matter of toughing it out for about 4 minutes to the finish.  I was red-lining all the way to the finish, and one of the guys I had passed on Wellington came back around me within sight of the finish line.  I was already going all out and had no response for him.  I crossed the finish line in 16:53, a new PB.

Coming into the finish (thanks for the photo Maria)

Coming into the finish (thanks for the photo Maria)

Result: 16:53, 3:23/km pace, 11th overall

Post Race Thoughts

I learned a bunch of things at this race:

  • I always believed the best way to run faster is run.  I still believe this to be true, but I now believe there is more carry over fitness from the bike that translates to the run than I once thought.
  • I should look at my watch less and run more.  Often in races I’m checking my watch every couple minutes to ensure my pace is steady.  I didn’t do that this time, I just ran.  I think that relying too heavily on my watch could hold me back at times if I’m seeing numbers I’m not used to seeing (i.e. pace under 3:30/km), especially in such a short race.
  • This result means that when I do get back to regular track workouts and intervals (which I plan to this week) I need to raise my expectations for my paces.  I find the mental aspect plays a major role in tough workouts.  I need to wrap my head around expecting to run some faster times in my speed work.
Running in LA

Running in LA

Lisa had to head down to LA for 6 days.  Since my work is portable I decided I should leave the (not as cold as I would expect) Toronto winter for some running under the Los Angeles sun.  While Lisa was cooped up working for most of the time I got a chance to run all over the city.  I ran around Beverly Hills, Franklin Canyon, Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon, Santa Monica, and Redondo/Hermosa Beach.  Below I’ve written about what I thought of each from best to worst.

Redondo/Hermosa Beach

We stayed in Redondo Beach on Saturday night.  Lisa and I got up to run Sunday morning.  I didn’t know much about the area, or what to expect, but it turned out to be great.  From what I’ve heard rain is a rarity in these parts.  Well, we must have been lucky, because it was wet and windy.  Despite these less than ideal conditions it was still my favourite place to run.  The beachside path seemed to span forever.  There were a number of other runners out getting in their Sunday run too.  Even on a sunny day I don’t think the path would be crowded.  For most of the run it’s residential to the east and beach to the west as you run north/south along the path.  The path is easy to follow, and most of it is straight and spacious enough to do some repeats.  If I was in the LA area this is where I would want to come to run.

Pros

  • Beautiful oceanside route
  • Easy to follow
  • Other runners on route
  • Quite long, you can continue up to LAX along the beachside path
  • Lots of bathrooms

Cons

  •  Flat route, no good if you want hills
It was pouring when we ran so I don't have any photos from the run, but here's a sunset picture from Redondo Beach

It was pouring when we ran so I don’t have any photos from the run, but here’s a sunset picture from Redondo Beach

Franklin Canyon

I tried to find information on Franklin Canyon before I left, but found almost nothing.  If it wasn’t for the fact that this seemed like the closest spot to our hotel for uninterrupted running (no lights/stop signs), I likely wouldn’t have given it a second look.  But it was, and so this is where I ran a couple times.  There is a long run up through some very quite residential streets before you really get to the canyon.  This route is a big hill.  You go up most of the time until you reach the top, and then you’re running down to get home.  Some sections are very steep, and burn the legs going up, and smash the quads coming down.  The footing is good, most of the route is on pavement.  There are a number of trails you can run, and I tried one, but I learned from this trip that I’m not a trail runner.  Maybe it’s just that I lack the technical skills, but I found I had to run a lot slower on the trails, plus they just seemed like a great way to twist your ankle.

Pros

  • Great hilly run
  • Good surface, I didn’t have problems with slipping
  • Trails, if you’re into that
  • Quite route

Cons

  • No good if you don’t want hills
  • You can’t always trust Google Maps (common in LA), some of the roads are gated communities so you can’t get through.  I found this route especially bad for this
  • I ran this canyon 3 times and I only saw 1 other runner, and maybe 15 walkers/hikers, so if you like seeing people this isn’t for you
Franklin Canyon

Franklin Canyon

Santa Monica

Santa Monica was a run I was really looking forward to.  I love to run along the coast, I really enjoy watching the waves crash in as I go.  Usually these routes attract a number of other runners, and Santa Monica was no different.  We must have passed 200 people in LA Road Runner tshirts, maybe more.  They were spread out in different pace groups.  I love that they had some many people out running, but I didn’t think it was so great that some of their groups were so large that they took up the entire path.  Santa Monica was about what I expected.  This was the first run Lisa could join me on, we did an easy 12k.  Early in the morning we had no trouble finding parking.  I figured there would be a certain element of homelessness to these parts, but I wasn’t expecting as many ‘spaced out people.  We came across a handful of stumbling individuals who were in their own world, weaving all over the path. We didn’t see anyone who was confrontational, but I would still consider this a strike against running in this area.  As we were finishing out run, just after 10AM on a Saturday, it was starting to get busy on the path.  I wouldn’t run here if you weren’t going to be done by about 10:30ish because the path would be too congested with beach-goers, walkers, etc.

Pros

  • Really pretty route
  • Lots of other runners (at times too many, when a group of 60 LARR take up the whole path)
  • Lots of bathrooms and water fountains
  • Easy to follow

Cons

  • Gets very busy, especially on the weekends (after 10AM on the weekends I wouldn’t even try to run here)
  • Some parts feel a little seedy
  • A number of people on the path in their own world, weaving all over the place, which creates a hazard
  • Completely flat, if you want hills

Santa Monica Path

Post run on the pier

Post run on the pier

Griffith Park

Griffith Park seems to be an iconic place for people in LA to workout.  When Lisa and I road-tripped up to LA from San Diego last year we saw the sunset in Griffith Park and noticed a lot of active people around.  I saw some people running up to a peak in Griffith Park, so I knew when I was coming to LA that I wanted to run up there.  I came to Griffith Park on a weekday morning, and it was buzzing with people.  Not overcrowded, but lots of people around.  Some people hiking, others just taking pictures of the Hollywood sign, and a few running.  I thought about running on the road up to the Observatory, and then taking a path to the top, but ultimately decided to take paths all the way to the top.  As I’ve mentioned above, I’m not a trail runner.  I likely had the wrong shoes for the path because in sections it was steep and I found I had to run very gingerly.  There was a fine sand on top of the hard rock/stone trail, which was slippery at times.  The path was so steep in some sections that it was more like stair climbing than running.  The views are great from the top, and it’s a good spot to get in a workout; certain sections of Griffith Park would be great for hill repeats.  But this isn’t really a place you can watch your pace as you run.

Pros

  • Beautiful park
  • Easy to find your way (the Observatory and Hollywood sign are landmarks you can see from a good chunk of where I was running to get your bearings)
  • Other active people around to get you motivated to move

Cons

  • Some parts are crowded
  • Parts of the trail don’t have the best footing for normal running shoes
  • Steep sections make it difficult to feel like you’re getting a good run in (slow going up and down)
Griffith Park

Griffith Park

A look down at the Observatory

A look down at the Observatory

Runyon Canyon

I was really excited to run Runyon Canyon, but it ultimately turned out to be a bit of a let down.  This could be partly my fault, and not knowing the route, but on my way down it was so steep that I was walking a good portion of it.  There was even a steep staircase for a section of it.  If I was to do it again, then the route that I took up I would also take down.  Unfortunately, this means that only a very limited section of the canyon is actually runable.

Pros

  • If you follow the route I took to the top you can get in a solid, long hill repeat
  • Everyone in the park seemed to be moving, unlike Griffith Park who get a lot more people standing on the paths/trails taking pictures

Cons

  • Some sections too steep to run down, with poor footing
  • To get in a good run of over 5k you’d have to do laps or repeats
  • Trails seemed very poorly marked to find my way to the top (again, it would be fair to put this on me)
Runyon Canyon from the top

Runyon Canyon from the top

You can see people coming down the steep bit

You can see people coming down the steep bit

Beverly Hills

I don’t think Beverly Hills is necessarily known for it’s running, so I didn’t have high expectations of it, and it didn’t really deliver anything special.  I think Franklin Canyon is technically in Beverly Hills, but we wont count it because it got it’s own section above.  There aren’t weren’t really any parks around the area.  This meant that any running was through either residential areas, or commercial streets.  I will say when I was running for a couple km’s along Wilshire Blvd I seemed to hit a lot of consecutive green lights, which made running here a little better, but it’s not somewhere I’d choose to run unless it was my only option.  The curbs are very high and as the km’s build you start to feel stepping off and back onto them in your run.

Pros

  • If you want to see what Beverly Hills is about then running can be a good way to see it, I didn’t run into any problems with motorists or pedestrians

Cons

  • All the running is in residential/commercial area, no uninterrupted stretches that I found
  • Running up and down the high curbs can take a toll on your quads
Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

LA Running Notes

  • Transit in LA is brutal.  I considered taking transit to some other far out places to run, like the Rose Bowl, but the public transit options were lousy.  Even to get to Griffith Park from Beverly Hills took over an hour
  • With that said, it does seem like Pasadena has some great running routes, and miles of running paths around the Rose Bowl
  • Nike offers free group runs/workouts in LA, which could be worthwhile if you’re uneasy running on your own (LA Road Runners would also likely be a good bet, but that’s just a guess)
  • When I was running in Beverly Hills a lot of drivers seemed distracted, and they rolled through stop signs, so make sure you’re aware and alert when you run

 

This isn’t an extensive list of everywhere to run in the LA area, and it’s not even a comprehensive guide to the 6 places I listed.  This is my biased opinion of these spots based on my experience running them (many of them I only ran once).  I typically run on paved, or hard-packed and relatively level paths.  If you enjoy the steep, twisting undulations that trails can offer I’d disregard my opinion.

Redondo Beach

Franklin Canyon

Santa Monica

Griffith Park

Runyon Canyon

Beverly Hills

2015 Review: By the Numbers

2015 Review: By the Numbers

As 2015 comes to a close it was an incredible year.  I got to travel to some new and incredible places, I pushed my body further than I ever had before, and I got to meet some awesome people along the way.

2015 Travel Stats

  • New continents visited: 1 (South America)
  • New countries visited: 2 (Ecuador, and Panama)
  • New provinces visited: 1 (British Columbia)
  • New states visited: 5 (California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Wisconsin)
  • Trips: 10 (New York City weekend, San Diego Training, Boston Marathon, Connecticut Challenge Quassy, Niagara-on-the-Lake wine tour, Lake Placid Training, Whistler Ironman, Whistling Straits PGA Championship, Niagara Barrelman, Ecuador and Galapagos backpacking)
  • Nights away: 49

Where I’ve been in 2015

Challenge Quassy Half Ironman

San Diego

Boston Marathon

New York City

Whistling Straits PGA Championship

Lake Placid Training

Niagara-on-the-Lake Wine Tour

Whistler Ironman Canada

Vancouver

Quito, Ecuador

Cuyabeno Reserve Amazon Rainforest

Banos, Ecuador

Quilota Lake, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands

Los Angeles

2015 Endurance Stats

  • Hours of exercise: 619
  • Time spent swimming: 78:12:08
  • Distance swam: 204,170m (equivalent to Toronto to Barrie, round trip)
  • Time spent cycling: 335:25:49
  • Approximate distance cycled: 10,952km (similar to cycling to Nicaragua and back to Toronto)
  • Time spent running: 164:42:59
  • Distance run: 2,137km (same as running Toronto to Orlando)
  • Races completed: 8
  • Running events completed: 5
  • Triathlons completed: 3
IM Canada Training: 8 weeks of build complete

IM Canada Training: 8 weeks of build complete

Sunday I completed my 8 weeks of build training for IM Canada.  I actually did the 8 weeks over a period of 9 weeks because I took a couple days off before and after Boston for some rest and recovery.  In my previous 11 week phase (base) I was injury free and didn’t get sick.  This time I wasn’t so lucky, getting sick the first week, and also having nagging knee pain by the end.  I did manage to complete my first of two big training days, which may need a post on its own, and I’ve got in a couple outdoor rides.  Once again my cycling was the most structured of the 3 sports, with swimming and running being a little haphazard.

What I did:

  • 8 weeks of base spread out over 9 weeks
  • Trainer Road 8 week sustainer power build plan
  • The Boston Marathon (2:59)
  • Joe Freil big day workout (huge confidence booster)
  • Dropped all strength training post Boston

By the numbers:

  • 16:48:00 of swimming, 49 950m (12.9%)
  • 77:21:08 of cycling (59.5%)
  • 31:28:51 of running, 419km (24.2%)
  • 4:25:00 of strength (3.4%)
  • 130:02:59 total (approximately 14.5hours/week)
  • FTP increase from 280-300 (did not actually test my FTP, just continued to bump it up when bike intervals no longer seared my lungs)
  • Peak run week was 78.4km (35.55k was done over various brick runs)
  • 4 days of no workouts (day before/after Boston, and 2 days before IM simulation workout)
  • 5:00:00 IM simulation ride was 221W average power, 228W normalized power (167km)
  • 2:00:00 IM simulation run was 4:26/km for 27.1km.
  • Only 3/9 weeks I got in over 6000m in the pool (I aim to do at least 7000m/week)

What I did well:

  • The IM simulation big day workout was a huge success.
    • The day didn’t start off well at Centennial Pool, it was way to chaotic to do any sort of workout.
    • My bike goal was 210-215W average.  I was riding a 41km loop.  After 3 loops I was at 218W feeling strong and I decided I’d push a little harder the last loop.  I managed 221W and felt good.
    • On the run I wanted to run 4:30’s for 2 hours.  Between the bike and run I ate too much and had stomach cramps for the first 7k.  I told myself to just keep moving forward and I eventually overcame them.  My pace, and outlasting the cramps make me feel good about IM Whistler.
  • Got in all my key build bike workouts
  • Nutrition focus on the bike.
    • On the trainer I noticed my energy level was much higher late in workouts if I took in a steady stream of fuel.  On my long rides I’ve focused on doing this, as well as using the same fuel I plan to use during the race (honey waffles).

What I didn’t do so well:

  • Not enough swimming!  This was a mix of being sick, the PanAM pool closing (with it’s awesome hours), and not making this enough of a priority.
  • Not enough run workouts.  I always tried to get in a 5k brick at 4:30/km pace or better off the bike.  I also got in a long run a week.  But I didn’t do much other running.
  • I need to improve recovery.  This may fly in the face of wanting to swim and run more, but I also mean recovery in terms of getting in the right foods right after workouts, and getting enough sleep.  I need to do a better job of this.

What’s up next:

  • 9 weeks of Ironman specific training.
    • More sessions outside
    • Focusing on even watts on hilly terrain
    • My second IM simulation day
    • Longer weekly brick
  • Challenge Quassy 70.3
    • I’ll be looking to ride around 240W and run under 1:30
  • Open water swimming
    • I’d like to have at least 10 open water swims under my belt before I toe the line in Whistler