Larry's Blog Pages

April 30, 2007

April Training

Got all my training in today so I am able to relax tonight for a change. 42k on the bike during the two way commute. Very windy conditions today, specially tonight so things were very tough but results slowly showing on the bike. Hit the Lakeshore for a very quick 8k run at lunch. Didn't have my stop watch (very forgetful these days) but by the clock on the side of the Queen's Quay building it was at most 33 min's. It felt quick and I have gone below 32 before so I think it was just a little over that magical 4 per km pace. Sporting Life 10k this weekend so one more quick trainng run tomorrow and then taper for rest of the week. Can't wait as I really think I can hit my goal.
After a grueling 17K run late last night I decided to take it a little easier today and stick to 10K or so but combine it with a trip to the bike store to pick up my bike stand. I got geared up and threw on my backpack to bring it home. I wanted to go at a slower pace but that always changes once you get moving so I got the the store a little quicker than I expeced and a lot sweatier than planned. The sales rep grabbed my bike stand and brought it out to the front desk. It was in a box that had no way to fit in my backpack so I stood there for a minute and thought about my options. As usual I selected the most insane solution and started to run back the 5 or so km's home with the box under my arm. Luckily, it was very light but when the legs started to get tired my whole stride suffered. I was going to stop and get on the bus but for some reason my legs just kept moving. I actually made decent time with the awkward parcel and now have a great stand to tune up my bike on.
Technically a day off running and cycling today so I just hit the ice for an hour and a half of goaltending during a fun game of pick-up. A good little sweat but nothing compared to a real training session but my body needs a day to relax. Just looking at some running sites and then round out the day with some push-ups. Hopefully, the weather clears up so I can bike to work in the morning. Good night all!
More meaningful time spent on the bike this morning and evening with the daily commute. Little scare in the morning as my rear brake cable slid out of place and I was without rear brakes for the rest of the trip into work. Happened at a bad spot going down a little slope with speed just as a turn for the Lakeshore path approached. Made the turn but was a little too close for my nerves. Tightened the cable for the ride home so that went smooth. Supper and family time and back out for a good 10k run, although legs were a little sluggish to start still hit my goal for the night so good day of training!
With the warmer weather getting better everyday, I can finally combine my commute to work with some training by getting on the bike in the morning and pedeling 21km to my office. I am not one to take many relaxing rides so it is a great training run to get the blood flowing in the morning and to build a great appetite in the evening. 42km round trip is just what my upcoming duathlon season needs as I am very green on the bike and really want to compete this season with my age-groupers. I am always accepting cycling tips so fire them my way ( )!
Not one to stick to a schedule, I decided today would be a good day to run home from work, an 18k journal from the heart of the city along Bloor to the West Mall / 427 area. It started out very windy and very wet with a major thunderstorm passing through the area. That could not slow me down and I pushed along making pretty decent time even with a few stops along the way for traffic lights. Just before High Park, I caught another runner and we continued along together for approx. a km so that was a friendly positive to the run. Felt strong for most of the run and ended up at the desired location in around the time expected, just under 5min/km. A quick stop for a refreshingly cool Gatorade and a short little walk home to re-fuel on supper.

April 23, 2007

ENDURrace 8K - Waterloo

Spring is here in all its glory and this made it a great time to finally pull out the shorts for running. As most male runners can attest, tights are comfortable but create an open door to many jokes and harsh comments from passing traffic.

I arrived in Waterloo just minutes before the gun as highway 401 was a mess and I had just wrapped up a slow, frustrating game of golf with my buddies. The Run Waterloo group was more than accommodating and rushed me through the registration process and made all the nessacery adjustments to ensure my time from last week would be added to this race for the overall combined event time. After getting through check in I headed for a quick change and fast fuel up of Amino Vital and a power bar. I wanted to get them in the system earlier but could not reach them while driving so I had to get them down quick and run to the line.

The little jog over there acted as my warm up along with some standing stretches as the race crew counted down the last seconds leading up to the horn. Off we went along the same starting stretch as the week before along the back side of the community centre of RIM Park. I could tell the pace was not as brisk right from the horn so I settled in around 20 runners back of the leader and got into an early pace that I hoped to maintain for the duration of the race. As we heading down University Ave., a nice two lane road with a fresh, fast surface, we lined out to protect ourselves from the slight breeze blowing into our faces. The first km passed in just under 4 minutes, which was the pace I was aiming to hit, so I took note of the stride and tried to repeat the motion turn after turn. We approached our next corner as we made our way to the mile marker on Northfield Drive, a single lane highway with many rolling hills, and the leaders began to pull away down the slope and up the first hill in the horizon. A group of five of us let them go and settled into our own pack in a nice consistent pace as we hit KM markers two through four along this stretch. By this time the hills started to take some victims and our group dwindled to three as we turned right onto Sawmill Road through a little settlement with some gracious cheers from the local residents. This was just a short tease of flat road that made way to our next right turn back towards RIM Park on Woolwich Street. Our race experience was tested right away on this section with a steep downhill decent that rubberized the leg muscles and lead to brief flat piece of ground to a bridge that required full concentration due to the uneven nature of the bridge surface. The race was now only 2k from completion and I was picking up the pace after a tasty GU gel and coming up to a group of two more runners that had been a little out of reach earlier. I have always loved the hills and our next one was a doozy. I knew that I could catch both of them there and maybe crack the top ten for the race. The hill was a pace killer to be sure but I leaned into the grade and pumped my way past one of the runners half way up and came up on the heels of the next as we hit the crest. We were almost even as we pushed on to a horizontal stretch of back country, His stride on the flats was a little smoother than mine at this point and he effortlessly started to pull away down the country road leading to the familiar finishing leg (last 1.5 km was were we completed the ENDURrace 5K last week). We twisted down a small hill along the back side of the community centre's soccer pitches relieved to see the finishing banner. My target was now out around 40 metre in front and I knew I only had 500 metre left to bring him in with an uphill to the line as my only advantage. One last turn and up to the line we raced. He heard my footsteps quicken with my challenge and picked up his turnover with a final sprint. So close but I could only narrow the gap to 3 seconds at the line but good enough for tenth spot and a very satisfying race in perfect weather and a country side setting.

The Après-Race was once again very good with plenty of food and drinks to re-fuel and friendly atmosphere to relax and chat with other participants. A very nice family from Waterloo joined me for the awards and were very socialalbe and very knowledgeable on the runs that the Kitchener-Waterloo area has to offer.

I will have this two run series marked for next year so come join me in Waterloo for a nice break from the rat race in the GTA.

Larry Bradley

April 20, 2007

ENDURrace 5k - Waterloo

With the family out of town for the weekend I was looking for something to do with my spare time and came across this race on the web around noon (kick-off party had me out a little past my bedtime). I was actually looking for a low key event for Sunday but when I noticed the 6pm start I jumped all over the chance to run. I have not raced this distance in awhile and was looking for a gauge to see how my training was working and to get a smaller race under my belt before the Sporting Life 10k. I ran around the house and gathered my gear, food, gels, etc. and jumped in the car for a relaxing drive to the tri-cities.
I printed off the web page for the race and the instructions were bang on so this was a nice start to the event. The venue was a new, massive community centre (RIM Park) on the outskirts of Waterloo and was a nice and quiet park setting. The community centre contained the registration area in one of the large banquet halls that also served as the post race holding area and was conveniently close to the start/finish line and parking lot (lots of spots and FREE). After completing the registration I got changed and started to warm up. The arena was large enough to hold a couple of hundred people in the hallway and lounge areas so most participants took advantage and stretched inside as the temperature was a little on the cool side. With around 10 minutes left before the gun I went back outside to get in some running and to drop off my gear. My car was right beside the line so I didn’t have to worry about storing my stuff in safety.
As 6 o’clock neared all entrants hit the line and waited for the horn. They counted down the final seconds and the horn blasted and we were off. The group bunched down the first stretch and into a corner but there was enough room to pick a spot to get into the pace early. The road course was mainly fast and flat with very little traffic (police and traffic control were on site as well), so there was a lot of open room once you got moving past the first 400 metres. Each km was marked with a large sign and very easy to see from a distance so you had no trouble figuring out where you were and all turns had friendly volunteers and pylons to point you in the right direction. They had a water station at the mid-point of the race that was down a long, straight stretch of country road which was a refreshing change from the city scenes I see all week in Toronto. This straight-away ended around the 3.5k point of the race and we turned toward the arena where we hit some small, rolling hills as we twisted along the 4k portion of the run, taking us to the last turn up a small grade climb of 200 metre or so to the finish.
I was not exactly sure how my race was going as I forgot my stop watch, but was happy to see the time clock at the finish ticking towards a new personal target. I hit the jets and came across the line in a new PB, a full minute faster than my previous race time for this distance. I had a feeling my training was making progress but this was a nice confirmation of that assumption.
I waited around for the awards ceremony held in the banquet hall and fueled back up with their pizza, bagels, oranges and yogurt. The hall was well laid out for this event and there were plenty of tables for all competitors and fans. After a long list of draw prizes from their running sponsor they drew a bib number for a mountain bike. This created quite the moment of levity as the winner started to take the bike for a little spin but, as he turned back to the podium, he lost traction and hit the ground. He was alright physically but had bruised his ego. Funny stuff. After the overall top three winners were presented their awards they handed out medals to the top three in each age group and also top in weight categories, teams and couples.
Overall, I was very impressed with this event and had a great day for a low cost of $25. The event staff and volunteers were friendly and cheerful, the course was fun to run and the atmosphere after the race was welcoming and supportive.
Well done RunWaterloo!

Larry Bradley

Running Safely at Night

Spring has finally arrived and the fair weather runners have emerged from their health club treadmill caves. With warmer weather making the outdoors bearable again, the number of people we share the roads, sidewalks and paths with will increase and so will some of the risks that accompany these crowded areas. As a die-hard runner, I braved most of the winter nights (I run mostly at nights due to other commitments but definitely do not endorse night running) and became accustom to being one of the few souls outdoors and may have became a little complacent during these cold, solo workouts. Over the past couple of weeks I have had a number of encounters during my nightly runs (and cycles) that have been a little concerning.

Firstly, I had a group of teens shadow me as I ran down a usually well traveled, main street of Toronto. Although, it was probably just their way of mocking me and having a laugh at my expense, you never know what may happen and you have little control when strangers approach from the backside. Another incident occurred last week as I cycled at night in a quiet, residential area opposite a large park. A group of younger men were walking out from the park to cross the street over to the sidewalk when they spotted me coming down the road. I wanted to avoid any possible conflict with the rowdy bunch so I directed my bike into the other lane but one of the men was determined to create a scene and doubled back to try to kick out my back wheel. Luckily, he slightly grazed the rubber of the tire and I was able to keep forward momentum as they shouted obscenities to remind me of my fortune. Add these two examples to the carton of eggs that struck me from a passing vehicle in the stomach as I cycled home from work last fall and you can see why safety is an ongoing concern to me as I train.

With these incidents fresh in my mind, I thought it would be wise to revisit some safety tips we should all consider as we continue with our passion for this sport.

-Run in the daylight if at all possible - Unfortunately, some of us have other commitments during these hours and must train in the night to stay active. In cases when you must run in the dark remember to stay in well lit, populated areas that are familiar to you.

-Run with a cell phone - When selecting a cell phone make sure it is light and compact to fit in your running gear. Also, purchase running gear that has a pocket large enough to hold your phone for emergencies.

-Run in groups - If you have friends, co-workers or neighbours that also enjoy running try to organize running groups that will give you the safety of numbers and also some nice conversation to help make the exercise even more enjoyable.

-Be seen when running - Make sure you have reflective material that can be easily seen by motorist, cyclists and others in your running neighbourhood.

-Carry a whistle - If you feel threatened give the whistle a blow to scare off strangers and attract the attention of others around you. I have seen some really good ones made for hockey coaches with elastic bands that wrap around your wrist.

-Do not carry money - Except for a quarter for an emergency call (if you do not own a cell phone) or bus fare please leave excess money and debit/credit cards at home. If you are approached you will have nothing to hide and hopefully they will not pursue you for anything else.

Although, I am not an expert by any means on safety or personal security, I believe I have experienced enough during my running adventures in this metropolis. Hopefully, some of these quick points will help you remain safe and sound so that you can enjoy this great activity for many years to come. If you have any other tips on running safety please comment on this piece as I would love to hear from other runners with their suggestions and opinions.

Be safe!

Brooks HVAC Gloves

For someone that spends a fair amount of time outdoors and in the cold there is one part of my body that has never really adapted well to the elements, my hands. This makes gloves a very important running accessory throughout the winter and for most of the spring and fall, as well. This season I decided to try a higher end pair of gloves in the Brooks HVAC. These comfortable, form fitting gloves are designed with special X-Static® fiber that spreads the heat evenly throughout the glove, except the pointer finger and thumb that have more of a fleece feel to them. The palm has a padded area that remains cool during the run and is a nice coolant when things get heated up on the longer runs. Each glove has a pocket on the top of the hand designed to carry transit cards, debit cards or change that can come in handy when you find yourself stranded a little farther from home than planned. These gloves seem to be more durable than the yarn Brooks Thermolite® gloves that I previously wore and dry a lot quicker due to the material composition (70% polyester/20% nylon/5% spandex/5% X-Static®).

I have tried many other gloves, and mitts, in an attempt to find a pair that keeps you warm but do not over heat and these have been the best of the batch. I can use these gloves on days that dip to -10 degrees Celsius or ones that push into the teens (above Celsius) and remain comfortable the entire run. The only correction I would recommend to Brooks is to keep the whole glove a consistent wind resistant material as the fleece portion on the pointer finger and thumb can be a little cooler than the rest of the unit on the windy days. I believe these areas are made of that material to allow you to wipe sweat from your forehead area but I would prefer it to be all one piece of fabric. If you enjoy warm, dry hands during runs on those cooler days make sure you make a little investment and try these technical gloves and be confident that you are in good hands with Brooks.

My Race Report - Angus Glen 1/2 Marathon

November 5, 2006

A perfect day for running at the scenic Angus Glen golf course for their second annual charity run. I selected this race based on a 16 week training schedule found in the Running Room book by John Stanton and wanted to committ to a race to stay motivated during the summer. With my past marathon time in mind I wanted to aim for 1:35 for the 1/2 and believed it would be a very tough challenge, especially with the hilly course ahead of me.
As we finished our pre-race stretches I wished a friend good luck and headed to the line to wait for the final few seconds for the horn. The fire truck hit the horn and we took off from the golf course and down a quick stretch of highway on Kennedy. This led to a nice, new sub-division where we weaved through the freshly paved streets at a pretty quick pace for the first few km's. I felt great but didn't want to get too carried away with the others and kept to my own race. After running through the maze of houses we ran back out to Kennedy and headed north up a decent slope past the golf course. As we filed up the road the pack started to thin and a bunch of us settled in to a nice pace at just over 4 minutes / km. This group continued to move together out to the east on Elgin Mills and towards the eight and nine km markers. A few dropped back after hitting some minor hills near the next intersection at McCowen where the great volunteers directed us north again up. We hit the 10km marker in 44 minutes and I was very happy to be in the hunt for my goal with plenty of energy in the tank. The pack seemed to drop to three at the halfway point and we started to hit more hills as we travelled west along 19th Sideroad. At this point my legs were ready for the challenge so I kept the rythym going and started to pick runners off one at a time with some pretty good hill work. It was a 5 km uphill section and I had made up roughly ten spots and was still running strong and counting down the km's. I hit Warden and started head south where a headwind confronted us and started to wear some of the other runners down. I could see around four in the horizon and took aim to reel them in. Running as confidently as ever, I passed all but one in the next two km's and settled inline with the last one of my targets. We hit the downhill together and pulled away from the others as we neared the last three km's. We grabbed a final drink in the valley and up the hill back to Kennedy we ran. I could now feel the legs getting heavier but he was in the same condition and was soon in my past. As I hit Kennedy the funnel effect create a new look as the 10 km runners/walkers merged with us so I weaved my way through the masses but couldn't tell who I was passing or may try to pass me? I don't think anyone was fresh enough so I turned on a final kick for good measure down the stretch ino the golf course drive and finished strong in 1:30:26 (chip time) for a negative split on the back side capping a very satisfying race.