Tag Archives: marathon

Race Report: Blues Cruise 50k – My First Ultra

Six weeks ago I had this compulsive idea to sign up for the Blues Cruise 50k Ultra Trail run. I found out about the race through a friend who had done it a few years ago and it has always been floating around in my mind. I really didn’t have any real intentions to do another race after finishing the Steelman Olympic Tri in August. I always wanted to try doing an ultra-running  event and something finally jarred me to sign up for this one. I had already fallen pretty deeply into off-season mode at this point and had already gained about 13 lbs, so getting into greater-than-marathon shape would be a bit of a stretch. I changed my goal to basically building up some longer than marathon endurance and not really focus on speed. Instead, I would just enjoy the being out on the trail for the day.

Training?

My weekly training for the race consisted of more difficult hour trail run, a bit slower less technical run, then one longer LSD run on Saturday, followed by another hour run the Sunday to shake out the previous days run. Rest days would be sprinkled in between. The long Saturday runs started out at 2.5 hours and worked up to around 4.5 hours before tapering a week out from the event. I have to say I really enjoyed getting off the road and into the woods for my training runs. I am fortunate to have a ski area a couple miles from my home that has some pretty technical mountain biking trails that make for serious trail running. Along with a few face plants and turned ankles. Trail running will quickly teach you to lift your feet.

I also had a week of vacation in Asheville, NC thrown in there which was a help. If you are not familiar with Asheville, it is a very outdoorsy and active place. There are vast amount excellent mountain biking trails in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest just outside of the city which make for fabulous trail running. So I was able to log some good miles down there trail running and mountain biking. We had planned this trip before I signed up for the race, but it could not have worked out better. I would also recommend picking up Trish Browns’ book “Asheville Trail Running: Taking Bent Creek and the Mountains-to-sea Stride” which is a great resource for the trails down there.

The Pre-Race

On Sunday, October 4th I headed down to Blue Marsh Lake near Reading, PA for my first trail ultramarathon. I hadn’t overly advertised that I was doing this event since I didn’t have any great expectations about my performance. I just wanted to complete it in whatever time it took. It is the off-season and this was to just be something fun and different to do. I heard that the ultra running scene is a bit more laid back and fun compared to the typical road running scene where people are obsessed with times and pace. That sounded a bit more my style and I was looking forward to it. Also, the thought of running in the woods all day sounded like a lot of fun. Wow…running just for the fun of it? What a concept?!

When I arrived at the lake, I followed another car into the Dry Brooks Day Use area where the race start was located. I followed him down to a parking lot where people were setting up some tables and tents. I was surprised to see that we were the first runners there. This was really odd given I was only an hour earlier than the start of the race. I thought “Wow…this really is laid back!” After I made a trip to the port-O-john, the guy from the other car asked if I was running in the race. I said “Yes.” He said, “I don’t think this is for the race.” Just after the words left his mouth a lady below yelled “Are you guys here for the race?” She then followed up with “it is down below closer to the lake.” Doh! So we drove around the other parking lots and finally found the one with the race start on the other side of the hill. There was a race sign down the road with an arrow on it, but it was past the point where we had made a left turn. Not a great placement.

Congregating at the Race Start

Congregating at the Race Start

Despite being a little later now, there still was not a large amount of racers in the parking lot. I headed over to the bib pickup table to get my race number(#295) and some swag. We got a really nice, soft long-sleeved tech shirt and a running hat plus some race flyers and RoadId coupons in the bag. We would also get a long sleeve 3/4-zip pullover for finishing the event. A pretty good deal considering it was only a $70 race. I have done tri’s costing double that and got much less.

It was a relatively cool & cloudy morning ranging in the low 50’s(F) which was perfect for a run. We had recently gotten a ton of rain in the last week, so I had no idea how muddy the trails were going to be. Fortunately, it stopped the day before and was holding off for the day. The forecast actually showed a high of 60 and partly cloudy with a bit of wind. I hung out in the car and just chilled while more people rolled into the venue. I told my wife Denise not to come because I didn’t want her to have to sit around there for what would probably be about 6 hours or so and it was silly to drive two cars there. I told her I would post updates on my Instagram and also turn on the Live Tracking feature on my Garmin 920xt so she could watch my progress in real time. That is if it worked this time and I had cell coverage.

At 8:10 I started getting ready. I was carrying my running Camelbak which was stocked with a few Amrita Bars and some Osmos Hydration mix packets which I was trying out. I also had a drop bag that I would pickup at the 18-mile aid station. I packed a PB&J, some rice chips, Skratch hydration mix and a fresh pair of socks. I had purchased a pair of CEP compression socks a couple days before the race, which I got more for the protection from the elements than the compression. I packed the other pair of socks in case I didn’t like the high compression socks.

And We’re Off…

I headed over to the race start, dropped off my drop-bag along the way, and lined up at the back of the start line. I snapped a quick selfie to let my wife know it was starting. It wasn’t long before they were calling out the last few seconds countdown to the start and then we were off.

Start line selfie

Start line selfie

The herd of around 400 runners gently ambled up the road and then broke off onto the trail. We then were down on “all fours” as we maneuvered under a gate that kept motor vehicles off the trail. It was starting to feel more like a steeplechase run than an ultra. I quickly regretted lining up so far back in the pack as I got stuck in a long line of slower runners as we made our way through the singletrack trails. I kept trying to spot some passing area ahead while still maintaining some view of the immediate trail coming underfoot. In hindsight, getting behind some slower runners may have been a good thing since it kept me from going out too fast.

Trail running is a whole different animal compared to road running. Not only do you have to pay attention to the typical personal things while running but you also have roots, rocks and hills to deal with. Not to mention other runners in front of you, which only gives you a split second to make decisions or else you are doing a face plant in the dirt. If you are not focused and in-the-moment while trail running, you will be done pretty quickly. And not in a good way. In addition, you most likely have a few pounds of water strapped to you and anything else you need to carry along. The aid stations are usually a bit more spread out due to the inaccessibility to the trails.

The First 10 Miles

The first 10 miles were pretty easy. The terrain was fairly flat and once I got past the slower folks I was able to pick up my pace a bit. My mile splits decreased down to a 10min/mi pace by my 10th mile. I did get slowed down by a bee sting on the back of my right calf and I turned my ankle about 3 times. I thought my new socks had a tag or pin poking in the leg, but I eventually realized I had been stung. The socks did a good job of protecting me from the weeds hanging over the trail, but they don’t do much against bees.

I also have a bad left ankle that frequently rolls on my for no apparent reason. This usually happens on flat terrain too, so I can never blame it on something when it happens and I just have to look stupid. Well, it didn’t fail to happen 3 times on the flattest part of the race. The last one really hurt too and I wasn’t sure if I would recover from it. Of course, it happened when I was in the middle of a long line of runners and everyone was asking if I was ok. It did eventually shake out and I continued on.

Photos at 7-mile point compliments of funwithphotos.smugmug.com

2015 Blues Cruise 50k Trail Ultra

2015 Blues Cruise 50k Trail Ultra

2015 Blues Cruise 50k Trail Ultra

I took in extra water at each aid station along with some pieces of boiled potatoes with salt on them. In between aid stops I would nibble on an Amrita Bar that I neatly stashed into the little pocket on my Camelbak strap. I would slurp some water from the hydration pack routinely as I ran along. I was eager to drain it to get some weight off my hips, but I guess that would require taking a pee which I only did once.

Things Start to Get More Difficult

So much for the easy stuff. At mile 10 I finally encountered the much-anticipated hill known by mountain bikers as “The Judge.” On Strava it is known as the Stump Ln Climb. I have ridden it, or should I say walked my bike up it before, so I knew what I was in for. It averages a 14% grade of 3/10’s of a mile but has sections that are almost up to 30% grade. Going down the other side was no treat either. It was a little more of a switchback trail which helped level out the steepness.

The start of "The Judge"

The start of “The Judge”

Things started to get a bit tougher from the “The Judge” on. We climbed about 1000 feet in elevation gain over the next 6 miles, where we only about 800 in the first 10 miles. My pace started to creep back into the 11-12 min/mile range. My plan was to walk fast up the hills, bomb the downhills and steady on the flats. I started getting some tightness in my hip flexors which was fighting for my attention. I tried to ignore it and figured it would go away eventually or just be replaced by something else that hurt more.

I hit the mile 18 aid station and they retrieved my drop bag for me. I was really that hungry for my PB&J but could feel some hydration setting in. I was starting to accumulate some salt which was quite visible on my black Amrita tech shirt. I poured a Skratch Labs Lemon-Lime Matcha pack into my hydration bladder and topped it off with some water. I crushed my bag of rice chips and funneled it down my throat. I also snagged some more potatoes which taste so good during an endurance event. The mile 18 aid station is the one with the ladies in the German Lederhosen outfits, so I was in no rush to leave.

Another climb!

Another climb!

Eventually, I left mile 18 aid station and pushed on. After mile 20, things started really tightening up and hurt a bit. The 1300 additional feet of climbing we did over the next 10 miles surely didn’t help at all. I was also starting to cramp up in my inner thigh/groin area which I thought was odd for running. This would be more expected playing hockey or something with a skating motion, but not running. I finally had to give in and stop to stretch it out. I watched a handful of people that I had passed earlier trot by me. One guy who I had been running with most of the day went by and held his hands up saying “what’s going on?” That was a bit heart-breaking.

Only 4.6 miles to go!

Only 4.6 miles to go!

In Familiar Territory

I finally reached the dam spillway that feeds the Tulpehocken Creek which is familiar territory. I knew I was only a couple miles from the finish at that point and I was relieved. I also realized that the sun had come out and it was a particularly nice day. The nice breeze kept the temperature in the perfect running temperature zone. We spilled out onto the road that leads into the parking lot for the dam but it was mostly uphill. Everyone in front of me was walking and I succumbed to the peer pressure and joined them. The pavement just hurt. My feet hurt with every step. I could have really used a pair of Hoka’s right now. I was now looking forward to getting back on the trail again. Never happy!

We came to a sign that marked the entry back to the trail and made a sharp left which led to another steep climb up a grassy hill. Ugh! I started to run again as I reached the top of the hill. It was a good thing too. As I made my way around the hill I saw a trucker hat with the Wyoming bucking horse symbol on it. My foggy mind even recognized that hat! Under it emerged my wife Denise who decided to surprise me by driving out and meeting me on the trail. It was the push I needed to get me through the last mile or two. We ran together back to the parking lot that she parked at and then I continued on.

Happy to only have a few more miles to go!

Happy to only have a few more miles to go!

As I crossed the driveway a few equestrians were coming up the drive as well. One tried to shortcut me to the trail but I managed to beat them to it. I pushed on and back into a more wooded section again. The equestrians caught up to me again and were running up my back. I decided to let them pass since it seemed like they were going faster than I. They were not very friendly when they passed me and they slowed down again after they passed me. I was coming right up the back of them and it was looking as if I would have to pass them. At the last minute, they sped up and then I never had to deal with them again.

We crossed another driveway and Denise was standing there snapping a couple more pictures as I slowly ambled by. I knew this was the drive that I rode in on the morning to get to the race start so I knew I was almost there. We ran along a farm field and I saw a couple guys standing along the trail with finishers shirts on cheering us on. We made a quick left after that and then I recognized the start/finsh line area. I passed one other guy before the finish who looked like he was struggling a bit.

Home Stretch

I finally reached the grassy area before the finish line and there quite a few people there cheering the finishers on. Right before I got to the finish line, a little girl came running across in front of me(see her in pic below) oblivious that I was coming. I had to slow down and grab her by the shoulder so she didn’t run into me. Everyone got a laugh out of it though. I crossed the line in 6:29:25, which was a tad bit slower than I had hoped, but I can’t ask for much since I only started training for it 6 weeks before. I was happy just to have completed the distance and was able to enjoy the day. I am hoping my legs will keep that endurance in their muscle memory so the next time I do an Ironman Marathon it will seem short.

Coming into the finish after almost running over the little girl behind me

Coming into the finish after almost running over the little girl behind me

2015 Blues Cruise 50k Trail Ultra

Finish Photos compliments of funwithphotos.smugmug.com

Reflecting…

Given this was my first “ultra” distance running event, one of the first questions I thought to myself and my wife asked was “Will you do another one?” I think probably will. I already started searching on UltraSignup.com. I don’t know if I will do the same race or even the same distance, but I have to say I really enjoyed it. I like being off-road and in the woods and I like the more laid back culture of the people that participate in these events. I would like to do something in a place that is a bit more rugged and deeper forest. I would probably want to try a little longer distance such as a 40 or 50 miler. Even a 100k may not be out of the question.

 

Finish Photos compliments of funwithphotos.smugmug.com

2015 Blues Cruise 50k Trail Ultra

2015 Blues Cruise 50k Trail Ultra

 

 

My Birthday Marathon

Six months or so ago I thought it would be pretty cool to run a marathon on my birthday. So I signed up for the D&L Heritage Marathon. It was early on in my training season and I was feeling like I could do anything at that time. The toll that 5-6 months of solid training takes on your body never really crosses your mind at this time of year. Not to mention being well into middle age now.The triathlon season ended with a nagging IT Band as my reminder. I was back into 7 weeks marathon training after two weeks of recovery. And now that day had finally come.

I kept telling myself and my wife that if the IT Band starts acting up or hurting I would stop and pull myself out of the race. Or maybe just do the half? I really do not want to jeopardize my hopes of completing Ironman Lake Placid in July. But, I knew damn right well I would have to be in severe pain before I would quit this race. My wife was volunteering so we needed to be there by 5:30AM.  We were gaining an extra hour of sleep with Daylight Savings Time, but for some reason I was unable to sleep from 1-3AM. I was not nervous about the race itself, but more about the damage I might do to myself. The 4AM alarm eventually came and I sucked down my smoothie, grabbed my run bag and off we went. The temps were in the high 30’s but it wasn’t windy. The only people at the race start were a few volunteers, so I did a lot of waiting around. We were parked a football field away from the car, so I made several trips back and forth.

2012-11-04 05.59.43

They usually limit the half and full each to 750 entrants, but since the New York City Marathon was cancelled and Hurricane Sandy, they extended the registration until the day before. They also accepted up to 820 entrants. While I was getting ready back at the car, I heard some guy yelling to me if this was the parking for the marathon. I looked over the open car door and replied “Yes”. He immediately parked next to my car and continued talking very loudly out the open window to me while pulling into the spot on the other side of the car. He also managed to yell directions to his wife on the cell phone, who was lost somewhere on MacArthur Road, while steering the car and talking to me. “Oh boy” I thought here we go. I just wanted to hang out at the car and collect my thoughts a bit before the race and now I would have to deal with this nimrod. He spoke with what sounded like a New York City accent, but told me later he was from Berwick, PA. He was screaming at his wife at times on his cell phone and then asking me if I knew where such-and-such a place was. Each time I responded I knew where that was, but I had no idea how to get here from there. This guy acted like he had drank about thirty expresso’s and was really wigging me out. He told me how this was his first marathon too and that he had not run at all in the last three weeks! I told him “well at least you are well rested!” Smile

I managed to sneak away from him and head back across the field to officially check-in and chat with the wife a bit. I thought the Berwick Bulldog would be gone by then so I headed back to the car. No such luck. I got in the car to warm up a bit and closed the window on him. Get the hint dog? 7:30AM came and I ditched the warm clothes and secured my fuel belt. I ended up helping my wife fill water cups for a while since she was alone and people were getting their last hydration in before the start. The half started 10 minutes before the full and I somehow missed that. My wife said are going to line up or what? I didn’t even realize they full was lining up already. I hung in the back of the small start group and off we went.

We made a loop around the block on the road and headed up a small section of the Nor-Bath trail and back around again before heading across Northampton to Canal park. We headed past my wifes’ water station on the loop back D&LMarathonNov2012-5and I gave her a high five as I passed. The entire beginning of the run, I was on constant alert for any signs of IT Band issues and feelings in the side of my knee. IT always kind of lingers there just letting you know that it is there and one false move and it will break you down. I felt like I was running on a tightrope. We eventually made our way through Northampton, across the Lehigh bridge and onto the D&L trail. Once on the trail, the next 10 miles went by pretty quickly. I managed to keep a steady 9-9:30 pace for the first 11 miles. I passed the Berwick Bulldog around 6 or 7 miles and he was not looking good. I said “Hi” as I went by and he yelled back to me. Actually he kept yelling something but I eventually went out of earshot. Thank God!

At around the 13 mile mark we diverged off the trail onto another paved trail that climbed up through Slatington. It was a nice path with a stream coming down aside of it, but it was a continuous uphill. This is where things started to get a little uncomfortable. My feet really started to ache. The good thing was that it took my mind off my knee/IT Band. There was a motocross track partway up and this guy was hitting some major air time. It took my mind off the torture I was putting myself through for a few seconds. Eventually I reached the top turnaround and the gang from Endurance Multisport were there handing out water and aide. I walked a bit as I chugged down some water. Then made my way back down the hill. It was a little better going down. I also decided to dig out my ziploc full of energy chunks and Honey Stinger waffles as I was getting a bit hungry after what was now about 15 miles. The bag was just a moosh  of crumbs so I just strapped on the old feed bag…literally. Yummm!

When I reached the bottom of the Slatington path I refilled my fuel belt bottle at the aide station and popped in a Nuun hydration tablet. The next 2-3 miles were mostly a blur, except the part were you run past the finish line. Ugh! That really sucks the life out of you. Then about a mile after that was another aide station, which was cool, but then I saw people lumbering up the VERY steep path to the left of the volunteers. I blurted out “you have got to be kidding” to the young volunteer as I grabbed a water from him. I scurried side-to-side up the narrow path trying to add some diversity to my form and incorporate some different muscle groups for assistance. I managed to pass an older gentleman who was partially hunched over and had a duck-like running form. Once we crested the small but steep hill, we ran along what was no more than a tractor path that gradually ascended up towards the north side of the Lehigh Tunnel on the PA Turnpike. This provided a nice view, but things were really starting to hurt now. The rocky terrain below was not helping either. What is this an ExTerra race or what. At some point, the older gentleman that ran like duck, passed me and I never saw him again. My wife later saw him finishing before me and she started to worry. No wonder! I was worrying when he passed me.

Eventually I reached the turn back down to the lower path which was marked by two volunteers dressed like some kind of animals. They were jumping and dancing around and guiding you down the steep road. The first couple steps down were excruciatingly painful on my knees, so I was forced to walk until it leveled out a bit. The route turned right onto a a flatter road which eventually paralleled the rail trail. I spotted my wife at the juncture and she ran down to the turnaround and back with me. It was good timing and it took my mind off of the hurting. Right after she left to head back to the finish line I passed the 23 mile mark. Only 3.2 miles to go! A 5k right? Piece of cake. Not! The next 2 miles were painful. I stopped once to try to stretch my IT Band, but that was a mistake. When I started to run again both my knees were screaming! After 25-50yds the pain eased a bit. No more stopping now. I actually ended up passing a few people which was surprising, but I guess they were hurting more than me.

D&LMarathonNov2012-3

When I hit the 25 mile mark, I felt a sense of calm come over me. I knew I was going to finish this. I had not looked at my overall time much during the day, but I knew I was over 4 hours. As time went on I really didn’t care. I could see the bridge at the finish line approaching and I tried to pick it up a bit. It is funny how all that pain kind of washes away in that last mile. As I turned into the finish lane I heard someone yell behind me to “catch him!” I turned and saw a guy in an orange shirt turning it up behind me, so I kicked it in for the finish. Done in 4 hours and 27 minutes and 45 seconds. Not the most stellar performance, but given the situation I am happy to finish in one piece. At least my legs now know what 26.2 miles is like now. Oh yeah and it is my birthday. Never thought I would be running a marathon at 44 years old.

D&LMarathonNov2012-1

I grabbed my medal and headed to the food tent for a veggie burger and some killer bean soup. Nice they thought of us veg-heads. Actually the veggie burger had egg in it, but I really didn’t give a shit at this point. I guess I am caught up on my B12 now. I never ended up seeing the Berwick Bulldog again and I didn’t see anyone listed in the results with his first name, so I assume he didn’t make it. Oh well. Now it is time to rest. Ironman training will be here before I know it. Happy Winter!

Catching Up on Falling Behind

I am starting to think this off-season marathon thing was a bad idea. Despite my valiant efforts to resolve my ITBS issues from my last tri, I am still running and it keeps coming back. Although it is not very consistent as to when it strikes. Sometimes it is around 6 miles other times it is at 17 miles, or it doesn’t happen at all. I am very confused by it really. I had planned on running around 22-24 miles yesterday and was feeling great the whole time up until the 17th mile, when it felt like I was stabbed in the side of the knee. I had been wearing my IT Band Strap the whole time which seemed to have helped up until that point. I was stretching it out every few miles too. But this time nothing would provide any relief. Fortunately, I only had less than a mile to go at that point and I made my depressing walk back to the car. This was my last big mileage week before the D&L Marathon, so there will be no more chances to build from here. My only hope now is to rest it well and try to gut it out on November 4th. I very well may pull the plug on it if it starts bothering me during that race. The race was more for fun, than a priority for me. Lake Placid is the priority and if I can start rehabbing it sooner I will.

Additionally, I have invested in a new pair of Newton Distance running shoesNewton_Distance_Mens_2012_angle this week. I was hoping that the addition support would provide some needed relief to me knee. They did see to and the additional cushioning provided relief to my feet in general just from the pounding they take over 20 miles. My old Newton MV2’s Newton_MV2_Mens_2012 were over 400 miles and they had seen better days. This month’s Triathlete Magazine also had a article in it that posed the question whether you should run an off-season marathon. All signs led to NO. One of reasons not to was if are you nursing an injury such as ITBS.

Despite the injury, I am getting some decent training in. I am also keeping up with my off-season strength training which was one thing I really wanted to accomplish this off-season. The bike has been pretty much resting quietly in the basement except for one ride with some of my co-workers. 2012-10-08 18.08.46It is getting dark so early here in the Northeast that it makes it really tough to get a good ride in during the week. I did sign up for a bike fitting at Sleeping Dog Pro Cycles, so I am hoping that should help some of my knee issues as well. I had been having some “weirdness” in my left leg towards the end of the tri season, which I am not sure if that is related to the ITBS, that I hope to resolve. Seemed to have started right after the new crankset was installed. John(from bike shop) also said he could possibly get me 1-2  mph from the fitting which would be awesome. I am hoping Santa brings me a CompuTrainer for Christmas this year since I will need to log some miles indoors during the winter. That should help make that time more valuable and fun. Looking forward to training with Power too, which I have not done before. It is a lot of money, but could be worthwhile.

In addition to our weekly dining out at The Honey Underground , we found another good little place right around the 2012-10-19 19.22.29corner(Emmaus) called The Trapp Door. While they only really have one, appetizer, soup, and entrée that is vegan(or vegetarian) what they had was really good. I had the Butternut squash soup and the Roasted Stuffed Baby Pumpkin which was killer. My wife had the same entrée and the Celery Soup which was awesome too. In addition to the good food, they had a beer selection that you would dream of. They have cask ales pumped from the cellar, beers on tap and a  huge bottle selection to boot. I did pay the price for having a few high alcohol  IPA’s from the cask the next morning. Ouch! They also have entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. They 2 guys playing while we were there were pretty good. Definitely worth checking out.

Well, the next two weeks are supposed to be taper/recovery weeks so I am going to take advantage of that and do some major RICE(Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) therapy during that time. I think I would be happier to cure the ITBS issue and maybe end up doing a half-marathon than doing the full and being in pain again.

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Getting into Marathon Mode

I am finally settling into some consistent marathon training after some post-half Ironman recovery. The Ironman Muskoka 70.3 run course left me with a very sore and inflamed IT Band and running a 9 miler the week after the race was not the brightest of moves. The hilly course and the camber of the road really tore it up. I am sure my form also got a little out of whack during the race as well. Fortunately, after some diligent stretching, massaging, strengthening and icing it appears to have fully recovered. I was starting to get a little panicked since I am signed up for the D&L Heritage Marathon on November 4th.

On Saturday I did a 17 mile run with only some slight discomfort. One positive that came out of this was that it forced me to re-align my Chirunning form and strengthen my hip muscles. On my Saturday run I noticed that when I really focused on my form the pain in my knee would subside. Most notably when I aligned my pelvis correctly. I also found some articles that indicated that strengthening your hip adductors improves ITBS issues(Hip abductor weakness in distance runners with iliotibial band syndrome. http://physio-optima.ca/bibliotheque/bit.pdf ) . So I have been diligently doing “Clam-Shells”, “Fire Hydrants” and side-lying leg raises for the past couple weeks to strengthen up my hip muscles. In addition to this I have also started a total strength training program at a local fitness center in order to build up before the onslaught of Ironman Lake Placid training ramps up in the new year.
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Yesterday I headed over to Rodale Fitness Park in the rain to do what I hoped would be a tempo run. I wasn’t sure what my ITBS would be like after doing ~17 miles on Saturday. I started out with a nice, easy pace for my first 10 minutes and things were feeling really good. I decided to jack up the pace a little bit more. Still felt good. And it continued for another 6 miles. Not even a hint of ITBS discomfort! WTH? Amazing how it could just disappear like that? Maybe I just needed 17 miles to fix it? Probably more like 17 miles of form focus that is starting to become firmly in-place. Hopefully this continues and I can get back on track with my training plan which has been a little behind since I was trying not to make things worse up until now. Hoping to do ~20 miles this weekend and then a good recovery week thereafter. Only 31 more days until the D&L Heritage Marathon.

2012 Ironman Muskoka 70.3 Race Report-T2 & Run

T2

Heading out on the run--Ironman Muskoka 70.3I was so relieved to arrive into T2! For one the hills were over. At least I thought so. And two, I had not suffered any mechanicals. While walking my bike to the rack, I did notice that my tire was just slightly rubbing the frame. Can I use this as an excuse for my slower bike split? T2 went really well. I had my socks on already, so I just slipped my New Balance Minimus Roads’ on, grabbed my run hat and Fuel Belt and I was on my way. I did start heading out the bike exit and a volunteer quickly redirected me in the proper direction. I saw my Wife over, in what I thought was an out of the way area, but it all made sense once I headed out the run exit. She was standing along the chute that we headed out of. I swung over to give her a smooch, which I think surprised the shit out of her. Everyone around her made a loud ”Ahhhhhhhh” as I hit the exit timer. Time for a run!

T2 Result: Good
T2 Time: 2:14

The Run

Toronto HarborfrontWell the anxiety of what my legs would feel like on this years run was swirling in my head. I was ecstatic to realize I had some legs this year. This was most likely due to an increase in brick workouts this season, increase in sodium intake and also saving it a little bit on the bike. I went out with the intention of running 9:30-10:00 pace for the first 2 miles. I noticed that I was having trouble going that slow unless I was going uphill. After that first two miles the course was relatively flat and ran along the major roadway Highway 60 for a bit and I got into a nice cruise pace. My legs were feeling so good. Then we crossed the highway and headed onto Fairyview Drive. This is where the hills began.

The course seemed to be constant uphill from this point until the turnaround on Williamsport Road, with one very long uphill right before. I really don’t mind going uphill, except that obviously my pace slows down. When I reached the turnaround point I glanced at my Garmin and saw 57 minutes. I thought “Ok, cool under an hour, time to turn it up a notch!” All along I had been vaguely trying to calculate if I still was able to come under the 6 hour mark and thought I was most of the day. Even at this point I still thought I had a chance. The course should be mostly downhill or flat from this point on. The problem I didn’t anticipate was the toll the downhills would take on my IT band.

Toronto HarborfrontAs I was cruising down Muskoka Road 3, I could feel a tinge of irritation in my left knee. I knew instantly that it was IT Band issues which I had dealt with about a decade and a half ago on my right side. That time it also occurred running downhill. I tried to take it easy and eventually I made it to the flatter section coming off of Fairyview Drive. Instead of heading back down Highway 60, we then took a little walking path that ebbed and flowed through the fields paralleling the highway. This seemed to slow me down a bit. Not sure if it was my knee, my mind, or just that I was getting a little tired. I eventually reached a wooded section that seemed to motivate me a bit and the pace picked up some. A relay guy came by me and gave me some words of encouragement which also gave me a boost. With about a mile to go, I finally realized this was going to be real close for hitting the 6 hour mark. I then tried crank up the pace a bit more.

The small section down Cookson Bay Crescent was a push. A volunteer at the turn down said “Almost There”.  To which I replied “Almost Molson Time!”. The downhill stretch tested my IT Band some more and I hoped nothing disastrous would happen at this point. The climb out of Cookson Bay was a little killer of a hill. I even had to resort to the  Jens Voigt tactic of telling my legs to “Shut Up!” I even became vocal and I am sure the guy in front of me heard it, but at this point I really didn’t give a shit. It helped! As I turned onto Canal Road I blew past a bunch of people. I had less than 2 minutes and still had a half mile to go. It was not looking good. Then when I got to the Deerhurst entrance I realized I had to come in the back and all the way around the transition area. So there was no chance at this point. I was disappointed, but happy to be done and feeling pretty good.

As I came down Canal Road I was trying to spot my wife in the crowd but didn’t see her anywhere. All through the finish chute I didn’t see her anywhere. WTF?? As I came into the finish line there were two other pretty close in front of me, so in order to clean up there finish photos and mine, I laid back a bit. This gave me more time to scan for my wife, but still nothing. They held up the finish ribbon for me and I continued through the finish gate. Immediately greeted by volunteers and my finishers medal was placed around my neck. As the volunteer walked me back a bit and chatted I saw my wife running down from the road with a disappointed look on her face. She tried to catch me coming down the road and just missed me and then also missed me coming through the finish. She heard my name announced as she got up to the road. Thank God for pictures!

Toronto Harborfront

Run Result: Great
Run Time: 1:58:30(9:05 min/mile)

I finished and I feel like I finished strong. My wife commented that it looked like I didn’t do anything. I really had to take a leak as I had been holding it for most of the run for fear of losing precious time. I didn’t have the nerve to wet myself either, so l held it. Last years Miami 70.3 run was a 2:19(10:39 min/mi pace) and this year was a 1:58(9:05 min/mile pace). Chopping off 21 minutes is a huge improvement and I am very psyched about that. Especially considering the over 700 feet in elevation gain/loss compared to the bridge in Miami. All-in-all I am immensely happy with the way this whole season has progressed. I feel like I am making large improvements in every facet. I guess that is something that comes with the experience. Ironing out those mistakes every year.

Race Result: Great!
Race Time: 6:02:55(*for 72.8, not 70.3. I figure for 70.3 my time would have been around a 5:52:25)

Toronto Harborfront

Now it is time to relax! A week off camping in Algonquin Park is just what the Dr. ordered. Pretty soon I will be ramping up again to get ready for my race of races, Ironman Lake Placid.