around the bay

2011 Race Calendar

This is the time of year when I build my race calendar for the coming season. More accurately, this is the time of the year when my race calendar sort of forms itself. Some are races that are a more-or-less permanent fixture for me; some are similar to races I’ve done previously, but in different places or on different dates; others are the results of suggestions or invitations from other runners; some are entirely new initiatives.

My 2011 calendar is a mix of all of the above. Here’s what it looks like:

Around the Bay 30K, March 27, Hamilton, Ontario. I’ve done this race twice. It’s a challenging route, it’s got lots of history behind it (first run in 1894, three years before the Boston Marathon), and it’s well organized. In 2009, I ran it in “regular” running shoes and with a small group of friends. The weather was dreadful (6C and torrential rain). I finished in a time of 3:02:45. This year, I ran it solo, in my VFFs, and the weather was better (3C and partly cloudy). I finished in 3:16:23, but without the pain and cramping I’d experienced the year before. This year, I’ll do it in my VFFs (unless I get really crazy, and try it barefoot), and would like to finish somewhere close to 3 hours.

Mississauga Half Marathon, May 15, Mississauga, Ontario. I haven’t done this one before, but I know the route well, as I did the full marathon in 2009 and again this year. I had a horrendous crash and burn experience at 27K in 2009. This year, I completed the race In my VFFs with an “I’m just cruising” time of 5:26:29. I’m going to do the half this year, barefoot, and with a goal finish time of around two hours. (My PB for the half is 2:02:55.)

Next up will be something new, the Self-Transcendence 6 Hour, June 4, Kingston, Ontario. This is a time-based rather than distance-based race. It’s a variant of the the Niagara 50K Ultra, which I ran in each of the past two years. In 2009, I ran the 50K Ultra in conventional shoes and a heavy rain, and finished in 6:19. This year, I ran the Ultra barefoot, and made it to 35K. I’m going to do the Self-Transcendence 6 Hour barefoot. If I get close to 50K in the alloted six hours, I’ll be happy.

At the end of August, for the third time in a row, I’ll do- the Toronto Underwear Affair 10K. It’s a cancer fundraiser, it’s lots of fun, and it’s the only race I do each year where I ask for pledges. I ran it barefoot this year, and finished in 1:04. Next year, I’ll be barefoot again, and will try to finish under the one hour mark. (My PB for the 10K is 58:18.)

Then it’ll be time for another new one – the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, October 16, Toronto, Ontario. This will be my first barefoot marathon, and one I’d like to finish in about 5 hours. (MY PB for the marathon is 4:30, set way back in 1980.) In some ways, this race will be an even bigger challenge that the 6 Hour race in June. There’ll be a lot more people running in the event, and much more a feeling of competition.

That’s a pretty ambitious program for a nearly-senior citizen with metal in his leg and cancer in his prostate. It may or may not turn out as planned, depending on training and external factors. (John Lennon once sang “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” How well I know the truth of that!) But it’s a good calendar, and I think it will bring both a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction.

Around the Bay 30K Race Report

It’s been almost a week since I ran the Around the Bay 30K race. It usually takes me this long to process a race experience and write about it. So here goes…

As I noted in an earlier short post, my finishing time for the AtB was slower than I’d wanted. (I finished with a chip time of 3:16:23, whereas the time indicated in the following finish line photo is my gun time.)

I’m not unhappy at all, though, with the 3:16 finish. For one thing, finishing any race is a joy, as I was told by an orthopedic surgeon five years ago – after breaking my hip – that I would never run again. Secondly, I ran this year’s AtB in a more relaxed state of mind than last year. I much prefer running alone than with other people, and I get nervous and distracted when I run with a lot of people. And there were a lot of people at the AtB – 7,000 in the 30K solo category, and 1,250 in the two- and three-person relay teams. (Another 1,250 ran the 5K event, which started an hour earlier than the 30K.) This year, part of my plan was to run within myself and not get thrown off my focus as much as I usually do.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the people part of the event. Just before the start of the race, I met my friend Len A., whom I race with once or twice a year. It’s always fun to see him, and compare notes about training, goals, etc. I got many positive responses to my Fivefingers KSOs, and had some very pleasant conversations with other runners about them. I even ran with a fellow who was also wearing KSOs – the first time that’s happened to me in a race.

Unlike last year’s AtB, the weather this year was decent. It was 2C or so at the race start, and about 4C when I finished. It rained very lightly about 3K from the end, but that was late enough in the run that it didn’t bother me. (Last year, it rained heavily for the duration of the event.) So the sun shone, and the roads were dry. For the end of March in eastern Canada, that’s pretty good!

I started following the 3:00 pace bunny group, and stayed with them until about the 18K mark. The AtB route is flat until about 17K, and then gets into some rolling hills. I do uphills quite well, but slow down on the descents (can still feel those in my hip, even after five years). And this year, I decided to power-walk up the very steep hill at the 23K mark, reasoning (correctly, as it turned out) that this would enable me to run relatively strongly for the finish.

Why did I finish more slowly than I’d planned? I think I started out too quickly, for one thing. I would have done better to run with the 3;15 pace bunny. And I didn’t fuel as consistently as I might have. Just got distracted, I guess, which is a terrible excuse.

As I’ve said before, this is a great event. The course is a good one, the rolling hills are fun, that climb at 23k presents options re strategy, and the event organization is flawless. The AtB’s usual quirky features were all there – the midget at the 22K mark who you’re supposed to high-five for good luck, the guy dressed as Superman at the top of the long, steep hill, and the Grim Reaper (and his son, L’il Grim Reaper) who greets runners as they pass the cemetery just before the finish.

I finished upright and smiling (well, almost smiling), without pain, and I acquitted myself with honour. That, in the end, is all one can do.

Next year I think I’ll start with the 3:15 pace group, and see if I can do that “power surge at the end” thing. And I’ll remember to fuel consistently. And I won’t get nervous.

And I’ll have fun. That’s guaranteed!

Recovery Run

My legs were still a bit sore after Sunday’s Around the Bay 30K race, so this morning I did a 10.5K recovery run at an easy pace. I was prepared to go a shorter distance, but I felt surprisingly strong, so did the whole scheduled 10.5. I’m glad I did. It helped a lot that, though the temperature was only -2C, the sky was clear, and I ran towards the rising sun. That’s always a very positive experience for me.

I definitely had that “strong old animal” feeling this morning!

p.s. I’ll post a report on Sunday’s race soon. I’m still processing all that happened – and waiting for the official photos to become available.

6K, Race Pace

This morning’s run was 6K at my target pace (6 mins/km, or 10 km/hr) for Sunday’s 30K race. I did the run in my VFF KSOs and on the treadmill.

I chose the treadmill rather than an outside run because I wanted to nail down my pace. This is my last structured run before the race, and I wanted to lock the pace into my head and my body. I chose to run in the KSOs rather than barefoot (which is what I usually do on the treadmill, and is by far my preference) in order to avoid even the possibility of hot spots or blisters.

I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I’ve got a couple of very short, very easy “play” runs tomorrow and Saturday, a complete rest day on Friday, and race packet pickup on Saturday.

Still waiting for final news of Sunday’s weather. The latest forecast is for isolated showers, a low of 0C and a high of 7C, and a wind of 15 km/hr. I can live with that.

10K and Tapering

I had a good 10.5K run in my KSOs this morning, at a pace 80% of my MHR (Maximum Heart Rate). My tapering for next Sunday’s Around the Bay 30K race is going well. For the rest of the week, I’ll run less frequently than I have been doing, run shorter distances, and at near-race or race pace. I’ll also do a couple of long, slow pool workouts, and will take Friday off to rest.

I’ve decided on my footwear for the race (my gray/green KSOs), my race fule (Hammer Perpetuem), and my strategy (start near the 3 hour pace bunny, set my pace from him/her, and perhaps walk some of the steep hill at the 25K mark so I can finish strongly). I’ll make my final decision about attire on Saturday evening, after a last look at the weather forecast. Right now, the long-range forecast for next Sunday is for variable cloud and a high of 5C. That’s not bad, and would make for decent conditions for that distance.

Speaking of conditions, here’s a photo of less-than-ideal conditions on the 1907 edition of the Around the Bay:

Looks kind of cold and wet – and I don’t think road traction would be much improved by following a team of horses…

More Treadmill

I’m continuing to enjoy having (and using) the treadmill. Even on a morning like this (it’s overcast and reasonably mild at -4C), when running outside would be perfectly acceptable, I chose to run inside and on the treadmill.

The obvious upside, of course, is that I don’t have to layer up as I would if I were running outside. I don’t like wearing clothes at the best of times, and putting on the layers of clothing needed to be outside in a Canadian winter makes me feel like I’m being buried alive. More running-specific benefits are being better able to maintain my focus on form and pace than I would outside. This is a big plus for me, as I tend to get sloppy with both over any significant distance. And, almost best of all, I get to run barefoot on the treadmill, whereas I’d certainly have to wear something on my feet at temperatures such as -4C.

I’ve got the treadmill set up just the way I want it. On the wall in front of me as I run are two things – an elevation profile of the Comrades 90K Ultra, and a map of the Around the Bay 30K route. Both help when I want to deepen the “treadmill trance” experience.

This morning, I did 10K at a tempo pace, meaning that I ran the bulk of that distance (aside from short warmup and cooldowns) at 85% to 90% of my maximum effort. And very pleasant it was, too!

Running, Reflexology, and More

It’s been an interesting few days for me.

On Tuesday evening, I gave a talk on “Reflexology and Running” to a half marathon clinic at the Square One Running Room in Mississauga. Eight people, plus three staff. The talk was well received, and I’m now on the Running Room’s speakers’ list, so expect to get some more gigs like this in the future.

Of course, I wore my KSOs, and was able to present the case for barefoot/minimalist footwear running. Had to be diplomatic about it, though, as I was, after all, in a running shoe store. (I felt a bit like a free-love advocate talking to a bunch of nuns… ) Still, there was quite a bit of interest in the KSOs and the rationale behind wearing them and running in them.

I only had 30 minutes, so my talk was very much a summary. I covered the following: what reflexology is and the theory behind it; what it does and how it works; some examples of evidence-based research regarding reflexology; and how it can benefit runners. In the latter section, I talked about stress relief and reduction; macro and micro stress/relief patterns; circulation enhancement (blood and lymphatic systems); maintaining immune system health; preventing injury; and how reflexology can help runners maintain their bodies as a “tuned system.”

Yesterday morning, I ran 15K on the treadmill. That’s quite a long time for a treadmill run, so, to pass the time, I imagined I was running the Around the Bay 30K I did last March. (The good bits of it, anyway… )

And, to complete the sequence, yesterday afternoon I registered for the upcoming Around the Bay , which takes place on March 28, 2010. This race sells out very quickly, so early registration is a necessity.

The Around the Bay is the oldest footrace in North America. The first running of the ATB was in 1894, which makes it three years older than the Boston Marathon. In fact, “older than Boston” is the ATB’s marketing tagline, and appears on the back of the race t-shirt. (I really enjoy running with my white hair and beard and “older than Boston” written across my back.)

I did the ATB this year, conventionally shod and finishing with a time of 3:02:45. The weather was really crappy (5C, torrential rain, and very windy). Next year, I plan to do it in my KSOs. But, if the weather is decent and my training goes well, I may do it barefoot. Finishing in three hours or less would be wonderful.