Sunday, April 30, 2017

St. Paddy's 5K and Sun Run 10K RRs

Quick updates from two local races.

St. Patrick's 5k

Fun race as usual for me and hard for me not to do it since the race director is Steve, but the competition was fierce as advertised. After party with beer was fun too. This year I ran a bit slower since it was only a week after my UBC du race. Only steps from the downhill start, I got overly excited and got this unusual feeling when my chest strap heart rate hinge came unsecured. I had to hold the monitor for the rest of the race (pretty much the entire race), here's a look at the messed up data, which some heavy vertical oscillations. :)
Lessons learned: always check that chest strap is secured. I was stoked to still sneak into the top 100 - finished 97th overall.

Sun Run 10k

I was hoping to represent our tri club team but we didn't secure enough members to qualify. So Winston had to go rogue and run for himself. Less pressure, more individual glory. Race execution went slightly better! I started the race with Nathaniel, UBCTC alumni, near the back of the blue group. I was afraid of getting run over by the speedsters but mostly didn't want to get in their way. :)

I could see one of our M2M training partners Judy most of the way, stoked for her for crushing a PB time! For me, I had a black cloud over my head and had to not take too many risks as my marathon was coming up in 6 days in Nashville. Still a great time, finished pretty much where I expected to me based from recent interval efforts. 37:43. Here's a slightly better representation of my run dynamics. Here's the data:

Two races, two about 20s shy from my PBs from last 2 years. One was a build down, and the other was a build up. I'll have to race both the 5k and 10k distances properly another day to hit a PB again one day. But the focus this year is some marathons and multi-sport. :)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Another Wet Rainy One! - UBC Tri/Du RR

It's been a few months of off season, I'm excited to get back at it. UBC Tri-Du was my first race of the 2017 season. Also last February, I just transitioned into a new job, I can become a working man again! No more mid-day naps between jobs, unfortunately. PB's will now be tacked on with an extra minute or two of grace. :)

Of course just when I thought I can escape the swim, the rain comes pouring down. The sky just came down. The previous 3 of 4 du-s at UBC were some of the wettest I've been in. This one was one of them. At least this beat the snow that came down from last week. One cancelled race earlier this year is more than enough. 
Instead of the swim, stick a run, and you get run/bike/run for the duathlon but really it felt like swim/swim/swim with the cold miserable rain.

Run1 - Jen and the lead group took off, I hanged onto 4th into T1. Jen had cold fingers and unfortunately had a little picnic in T1. I will need to help her with getting some speedy laces for next time!

Bike - It got windy along SW Marine Dr. I was averaging a little slower (mostly due to caution) on the course on this day around 36.X km/hr when normally it would had been maybe a kilometer or two per hour quicker. Our friend Morgan almost caught me at T2, she was only a few meters behind me when I dismounted. I didn't dare jumping off the shoes as the bike rack was within a parking spot reach.

Run2, I couldn't feel my toes. Probably I should had dressed more than just tri-suit and arm warmers on this day. Luckily the race was just long enough to bare without them. I hung onto 3rd overall to finish.

The finish was too cold to hang around! I was frozen but I survived.

Overall it was a cold race. I got a little running nose afterwards and had to take the following week easy.
Credit: UBC REC

I didn't mount my new bike gadget (Edge 520) on the right aero bar (had to be on the left one to sync better with the power meter). So a lesson learned for next time. Here's some neat run dynamics by the FR735xt. My form became less beautiful the second time around, as expected. :) 
Run 1 vs Run 2

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Year 2016 Recap - Brace Yourself for more Graphs.

Being process driven, I like to marvel the new set of dorky graphs from 2016! Put on your nerdy glasses for another boring post on number crunching data. For the original post from 2015, click here

1. Shoes by Year

Last year I wanted to start training with cushion shoes. This method has given me an advantage in getting more softness and protection for my poor aging joints and calves. For racing, I can then use the lightweight racing flats and feel like I'm flying and get those ground contact times down. :)

The Brooks Ghost is a great cushion shoe for 20km-25km LSD runs. Still light enough but cushy enough for protection. 

The asics Cumulus is a slightly greater mid-cushion, perfect for sprinting down hills and is built like a tank. Be careful of its obnoxiously long shoe laces, as I do tuck them in so I don't trip. Its secondary gel cushion technology makes it soft on the heel especially.

The adidas Boston and adios are new editions from 2016 too. Watch for them in 2017, they are dangerously fast, I'm slowly transitioning into racing in them. :D I normally have been racing in New Balance's 1400s.

2. Distance and Intensity Flow Diagrams 

Since 2015, I kept track of workout intensities for each day.

Red meant Race Days/Time Trial Efforts,
Orange meant Lactate Threshold,
Yellow meant Intervals,
Limegreen meant Steady State, and
Green meant Easy Only Days.

Usually after a big race in red, you'll see some solid green easy days.

Lots of easy bike workouts here in green, which gives me more base to focus on running.

You might be wondering about the missing data after September. I did take a little break from swimming, that's indeed just me slacking off. :) 

3. Intensity Breakdown

Here's the aggregation by intensity. The run comparison is neat as more percentage is spent in easy and more racing as opposed to 2015. Less volume and less intervals, and yet despite more racing, was the strategy for 2016, which resulted in personal PBs in half and full marathons last year.

4. Bike Terrain

For 2016, I was still training blind without the power meter for the most part, but the volume is up there. 2017 will be fascinating with the new power meter.  :)

5. Lucky Shoes for Long Course Races

A Winston's classic graph. It looks like there might be one more big race for the 1400s before I retire them.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Last Chance to Run on the Floating Bridge! - Amica Seattle Marathon RR

There were a bunch of justifications I made, some of them silly, to do this race.
  1. My last race in Victoria was a race in Canada for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and hence now this brings us to Seattle for the American Thanksgiving.
  2. A bunch of friends from Adidas Runners Vancouver and our Cambie Run Club were going down, so it was a bit of a no brainer for Jen and I to tact on this race to end the 2016 season with them. Also a chance to visit my good friends in Seattle, Michael and Daniel.  
  3. Also, mostly it was my last chance (eh hem…my first and maybe only chance) to run on the I-90 scenic floating bridge, which was my excuse for choosing the marathon over the half distance. The half marathon version goes near but doesn't actually go over the floating bridge.
Morning Start @ 5th Ave + Harrison St

Bonus: Also I guess there’s some added symmetry to do an east coast US marathon in Boston earlier in the year and now a west coast US marathon in Seattle to end the year.   

YES, I’m a bit of race snob when it comes to these minor details in race destinations planning. I’m all about the patterns.
  • Double heartbreak hills for my races in Boston and Zurich for 2012.
  • Double canyons from Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Canyon on LaSalle Street in Chicago for 2013.
  • Double marathon races in Toronto for 2014.
The Race:
Some great opportunities to pose under the Space needle prior to race start. We were lucky to have perfect conditions - dry not too warm, not too cold. It was raining heavily the day before. It was a casual late start for the marathon peeps at 8:15am. The half was originally scheduled for 7:30am but got changed to 7:45am. I got to watch Jen prep for her half race just a little bit earlier and afterwards, I mimic her exact pre race stretch spots and warm-up drills to get ready.

The anthem got played and we were off. My strategy was to run a little faster on the flats and then coast up the killer hills near the end. This means positive splitting more than what I would normally do. It also didn't help that the timing mat was at 13 miles instead of 13.1 miles.

This was a fun race, a scenic but brutal course. The elevation grade changes are steeper than I had hoped.

The course starts near the Space Needle and heads east towards Lake Washington in a generally giant counter-clockwise loop, with a twist to get on and off the floating bridge. Most of the hills are at the start and near the end.

It's like a scene from King Kong, we ran away along the hilly streets of Seattle towards these highway on-ramps. Seeing the mono-rail cars above was really cool! 

6-7km We run across a large tunnel to escape the downtown traffic

8-12km Flat and floating bridge! We head towards and back from Mercer Island, and a second tunnel. Too cool and fun!

The course settles down and is mostly flat with minor turns, also completing a loop around Seward Park (about half way). To my surprise, I wasn't sure if I was off course as there wasn't a half way timing mat. Of course, I later realized the 'halfway' mat was actually earlier at 13 miles.
Madrona Park view along the route

Now to the business end of the race...

31-35km welcomes the deadly hills. A cheer zone was at the bottom. Lots of people started to pass me! I was running until that point before approaching the big hill on Madison Street. Instead of an acute angle turn, Darn you Galer Street was taken to short-cut onto the big hill, which is steeper than the actual big hill. My jaw dropped. My legs without much hesitation came to a grinding screech. My pace band was thrown out the window. It was just getting to the finish line at this point. Many mountain goats such as Alan from our run club at Cambie were flying up those hills, making me feel like I was moving backwards! Gravity was also no help! Thank you.

The final 7km which is the portion I like to race the race within the race. I had nothing. Unlike Boston where I was charging. I was slowing down. Please end the suffering!

Over positive 5 minutes split, I ran 3:03:47. Not pretty style points, but not bad. I'll take it! The evil pacer for 3:05 marathon did it by half relays, so he was just charging towards the line. Curse his fresh legs! :) There's a race photo of us just before reaching the stadium finish, one of us in clearly more pain than the other.

Here's the nerdy graph of my recent marathon compilations. As you can see the obvious last 7km in general aren't so pretty.

After the race, Jen helped me grab my bags as I couldn't walk.
No passing outs! :) 

She also won some prize money for one of the top ladies to spend at the EXPO, superstar, I know! But the lady at the expo cashier heard about her generosity and wouldn't let her 'just' buy gifts for her friends, instead she ended up getting 8 more free shirts along with the original gifts. I don't think Jen wanted shirts initially, but now ends up getting more than she bargained for. Sharing is caring. :D

Memorial Stadium @ Finish area

Thanks for reading. Until the new year! Happy New Year, sad old year. Merry Christmas too.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chasing an inch, losing a minute - Goodlife Fitness Victoria - Half Marathon RR

One year passed by so fast!
Perfect conditions race morning!

Reading last year’s race report on the 8K sunrise run, I was reminded that I just moved in with roommates Brendan and Jon this time last year. Poor Jen is out for this race too this year, so I had to go at it alone and roadtripped with some friends, Eric and Katrina.
A DJ rocking fat beats at the race expo

Running is a cruel sport. I’m not going lie, this will be a pretty boring update. I held 6th in age division spot pretty much the entire way. Feet were numb, lungs were going, and steps were shuffling. And I did the half marathon. I forgot how much running really hurts!

Beautiful course with nearly perfect conditions on race day. Considering the Saturday before was pouring rain, I’ll take it!

Honestly, I was chasing the coveted sub 1:21 NYC qualifier, but realistically the body could only handle a little over 1:22 on this day.
Nerdy graph alert!

I faded pretty quick near the end while others were gearing up for a sprint finish. But that didn’t matter much since 1:21 was out of the question already early on. On a positive note, a great result leading up for the Seattle Marathon! Until next time!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Community Festival Fun at Edmonton - Standard Du RR

Edmonton is known for its many summer festivals.

The ITU World Triathlon Edmonton weekend was a festival for not just athletes but for the community as well. Little BMX bike course for kids to kill time, beer garden for adults and of course festivities for the athletes. A distance for everyone, and a fun 5k run goose chase.

I chose the Duathlon standard distance to qualify for next year's event in Penticton. But let's be honest, the sprint and standard Triathlons were the big ticket main events - i.e. if I were to do this again, I'm choosing those ones. Even their finisher's medals were bigger. :P The elites raced the sprint distance.

It was a fun, not-very-competitive event unlike the atmosphere we are normally accustomed to. The TV commercials even promoted that the super humans are coming. You can tell the city gets behind this event with the all road closures.

Scenic morning at William Hawrelak Park

Not much information was given to us before the race other than the distances were 10km-40km-5km run-bike-run. The athletes guide didn't have much to go by other than Pokémon Go was not to be played on course, (probably a joke). :)

For us it was 3.5 out-and-back loops inside the park, we started at the end of the loop along the road. Then 4 laps of a challenging course consists of hills, twists and turns.
Up Emily Murphy hill, down back residential street Saskatchewan Dr, and then follows Groat road over the bridge for a second gradual hill and turn around on 107 Ave NW overpass, back on Groat road and into the park. Amazingly all of the roads were closed for us. We finished it off with a 2 loops inside the park again.

The first run was a touch short (9.1k) and the second run was a touch long (5.1k). The bike was close (38.7k). I was chasing after my friend Irvin, tri-veteran and former run coach of UBCTC, the entire time as he finished 5minutes quicker than me. Candy bars and fresh fruits was served at the finish with a nice heated tent. I was impressed by the huge finishing towels. Since the duathlon was the first to start and transitions wasn't going to be opened for another few hours, we were kind of forced to mingle with the others to share our glory stories. :)

The next day, we were treated with the elites putting on a show! It was fun to witness the action on the big screen in the grand stands and see the battle between series leader first place Mola against second place Johnny Brownlee. The sprint favours Johnny Brownlee, he was giving high fives! I think we might be back next year to do this again. :)