Larry's Blog Pages

May 31, 2007

AdiPacer - Scotia Bank Waterfront Half Marathon

With swag in hand it is official that I will be leading some great runners down the waterfront in the Scotia Bank Half Marathon on Sept 30th. Adidas sponsors this pace bunny program and has been generous in gear which is very much appreciated. I am leading the 2:15 continuous charge of runners and look forward to the task and the training runs planned to get the runners prepared. Frist one is this Saturday, June 2 so it should be a blast putting in a nice long run with some folks looking to hit their goals in this race.

Hope to see you on the course!

May 22, 2007

Victoria's Duathlon - Waterloo

Although the Victoria Day long weekend is not the true beginning to summer, it has long been treated as Canada’s first summer holiday and this year the weather was absolutely perfect! With this beautiful weather hitting the region all multisport enthusiasts can sense summer right around the corner it comes naturally that we want to get started with the season to test out all our winter training and the new equipment collected over the break.

The first event on the schedule was held this past weekend on the holiday Monday in the quiet outskirts of Waterloo at the Community Fellowship Church. I set out on my trip a few hours before the 11 am start time and arrived at the site in plenty of time to register and pick up my race kit before putting my bike on the rack and starting a warm up. The staging area was very well set-up and conveniently close to the large parking area making it ideal for athletes to get set up without any long walks or shuttles. The Church was built more like a community centre and offered a very good facility for registration and post-event festivities central to the transition area and the parking lot.

Even though I was early by my standards, I still did not beat the rest of my age group to the transition area so I had to make my way to the overflow area and find an empty rack to get my things in order for the race. By this time the weather was warming up so I decided to make some last minute changes to my gear before heading out of the paddock for some quick stretches and to look around to acquaint myself with the start/finish area.

At 11:00 am the Elite athletes, and then some, pulled up to the line and were rushed off by the horn, down the Church driveway into a left turn down the first of many country roads covered during the event. My age group was in the second wave, three minutes behind the Elites and soon we were out of the gate and on the heels of the first wave. The 4k run to start this duathlon was mostly flat with only one average hill on the loop that went up at around 600m into the race and then took us down around 3.2k on the way back to the transition to the bikes.

I went out quickly in our wave and focused on a few better athletes that I hoped I could stay close to during the run (knowing they would pull away from me in the ride). I was pretty certain they would pace me to a respectable first leg of the race and we hit the first km marker at roughly 3:30 (even with the uphill climb), and maintained the pace as we flattened out and watched the first wave loop back down their side of the road. It didn’t seem long before we approached the 2k turn around marker that sent us back down the right side of the road where we got a good look at the competition. It was motivating to see some of the other runners chasing you down and I knew I wanted to hold them off so I kept up the pace with the leaders of our group. Shortly after the 3k sign, we plunged down the hill that was followed by a very minor grade back up to the driveway, hitting the transition area in good shape just under 15 mins.

In T1 I slapped on my helmet, strapped on my shoes, squished in a quick GU tri-berry gel and made a dash for the “bike on” line. It didn’t seem like I was in there long but the transition was poor on the stats sheet and is a definite area to work on in training.
I was now on the bike, clipped in and ready to see if the extra cycling I have worked on would pay off compared to my times at the end of last season. Reading some info leading up to this race I fully expected the hills and it didn’t take long for our group to start the roller coaster that would make up the terrain for close to the entire ride. With the slow, hard pumping ups also came the speedy downs, even on my cheap bike, some reaching over 60 km/hour. I pedaled as well as I ever have and really pushed the bike but my lack of experience and department store bike left me a little behind some of the competition I had used my running to pull away from earlier. Oh well, it’s only my third duathlon and plenty of time to improve in this discipline.

During the final 7k of the ride, a group of four other cyclists and I battled back and forth as I would grab the lead up the hills and they would take back the positions on the downhill portions and flats. Even though I know I will be able to hold them off with more training, I loved the chess game it provided and it was a fun race within the race that sped up the entire group as we twisted through the country side leading us back to the transition zone for the final 4k run. My average speed on the bike posted at 34.2 km/h, close to 2 km/h better than my pace from last fall but something I need to increase even more to be more competitive in this sport.

The group pulled into the “bike off” zone together with my bike slightly behind them at the line. With another slower than anticipated change of gear I started back out to the same 4k route on foot a little behind. It didn’t take my legs long to stretch out and I rapidly over came the deficit from my slow transition and charged past them and up the hill. I then caught a few more runners and followed by a small gap as I turned back for the final 2k of the event. Looking around at the 2k turn I felt there was only one person running at a pace that could catch me and a few ahead in the distance that I had a realistic chance of reeling in. It wasn’t long before the tall, smooth runner pulled up to my right and settled into a side-by-side run for over a kilometre picking off a few others that were beginning to fade in the heat. We continued past 3k and started down the hill together but his long legs covered the downward slope more efficiently and he started to pull away with only 500 m remaining. I hit the driveway and looked back and did not see any other challenges so I decided to exhaust the tanks and make a final sprint to the line in hopes of taking back that one position. The lumpy grass path leading us to the finish line was a little unsettling under my rubberized legs but I kept my balance and had just enough gas to catch and pass him with only 50 m to spare. The final push also helped me hit my goal to go under 4 mins/km on the last leg of the race.

In retrospect, it was a very satisfying first multisport race of the season and provided a lot of reinforcement that I am still improving. There were a lot of the Team Running Free teammates out competing hard with great results. I got a chance to meet a few of the group and that was worth the trip alone. The weather was fantastic for this event and I can only hope every race weekend will match these conditions. The race crew put together another well run event that was organized, competitive and, as always, the volunteers were terrific!

See on all on the road soon!

May 6, 2007

Sporting Life 10K

For a night runner, an early wake up call is not always the way you want to get going to test your abilities against 8000 other runners but when you need to rely on public transit to get you to the starting line that is only the first struggle of the event. I have a bad habit of usually rushing around too much on race days so I was determined to change this routine and had everything packed up and ready to go the night before the run. Well, one missed bus, one slow bus and one taxi later and I arrived at another race later than anticipated with only 15 minutes to spare.
The worst part about being late this time was that I was supposed to meet two co-workers at a specific time and place that we selected earlier in the week. As I wandered into the vast crowd of athletes I noticed the cargo vans packing up so I pulled up beside the first one in line and got dressed quickly into my running gear, grabbed a few carbs from my bag and handed my extra gear over to the crew as they were sliding down the door. With this important duty off my checklist, I headed out to find my friends and hopefully get in a bathroom break before the gun. As luck would have it, I happened upon them only a minute into the search as they were waiting in line at the bank of port-a-potties. Looking at the time and the line up to get to the bathroom, I realized I would not have time to wait any longer so I wished them good luck and headed to the front of the pack.
As I made my way along the sidewalk to the starting line I could sense the excitement in the air and had a bad feeling I was not going to get to my time slot to hit the starting mats with the other runners of my pace. I scrambled up the side of the mob of people and got up near the front just as the gun went off. It took a couple of stutter steps to get in line with the crowd right before the starting banner and then I was off through the traffic. Although, runners were asked to line up according to estimated finish times, many were not in the right spot so I had a lot of weaving to do to find open daylight to allow me to settle into a pace. The downhill nature of the run made it difficult to tell if I had gone out too fast but my legs were feeling fresh so I decided to stick to that speed until the first KM marker and then adjust gears if needed. The marker didn’t seem to take long to reach and a voice on the megaphone clearly barked out the time so there was no need to pull back my long sleeves to check my watch. 3:44 for the first tenth of the race felt about right so I held that pace and continued down the unusually traffic free street and through Police patrolled intersection after intersection.

(I am in the red Running Free hat with red Brooks shorts near the front)

We rapidly hit the next KM marker with the group around me holding a steady pace, pretty much identical to the first split. With two k’s under our belts we continued down the steep hills of Yonge Street and were joyfully greeted from an overhead bridge by a vocal group of fans that pushed us along to our first slightly uphill grade of the race. I still felt strong and knew the upcoming climb (the only real uphill of any visible slope) would not wear on me at this stage of the race so I pushed on maintaining my pace and concentrating on my task ahead.
During the third KM we encountered another speedy decline that sent us speeding down the open street near Summerhill station and under another bridge then back to a more gradual decent to the lake as we passed St. Clair Street.
By this point of the race I had become accustomed to running with several members in the group so I knew which section of the road they preferred and was able to visualize the next portion of the race. We continued along past Bloor Street and came up on the fifth KM flags at 19:18 of the official time. I felt like I had a lot left in the tank at this point but knew the land was going to flatten out soon. Also weighing in on my course management was the wind coming from my left side that I figured we would be running straight into it once we turned east further down the street at Adelaide.
The crowds were great down this stretch of Yonge and the urban music near Dundas Square was a timely pick-me-up and a fresh diversion from the analytical stats turning in my mind. Heading further along Yonge, to areas more familiar to me, I was a lot more certain of the upcoming terrain allowing me to prepare for the left turn at Adelaide. This occurred just after seven kilometres and I was actually able to sling shot past a bunch of runners who took the turn too wide due to the number of people reaching that point bunched up like grapes. Footing on this stretch of the course was a little dicey due to the streetcar tacks laid down the middle of the road and, with the next turn to the right side, I settled close to the curb to avoid getting caught up on one of the rails. We traveled east along Adelaide for roughly 900 metres before turning back to the south on Sherbourne. This was a quick little feeder road to our sprint down Lakeshore, in the cool shadows of the Gardner Expressway. Hitting Lakeshore West we lined out in a string of runners with the wind to our backs. The nine KM marker approached but I didn’t dare look at my watch as I didn’t want to loose my focus and break the pace in my rubber legs. With less then half a kilometer left we hit the Air Canada Centre and I knew exactly how much track was left so I put it into high gear ready for a great finishing kick. The second last turn on to York brought the finish banner into site and I just tried to hold off any challenges from behind. With only 300 metres to go one caught and passed me and we made our final turn for home on Bremner. I thought he had me with his sudden burst of speed but I was not going down without a fight and just as I hit my kick his engine stuttered and stalled and I was able to regain my position from him about five metre from the timing mats.
I looked at the official time and was relieved to see the time very close to the time I visualized the past few weeks and was even happier when I looked at my stop watch to see 23 seconds less (which was true as per
Now that the race is over I have had some time to look back on the event as a whole and not just the race itself. The weather was fantastic and just perfect for running. The opportunity to test your abilities against some of the very best runners from Canada, and even the World, is simply amazing. The volunteers on the course, the police at all those intersections and folks at the finish area were all very friendly and respectful of the athletes making my experience a positive one. Even when I came late to hand over my bag they did not complain or turn me away. They were careful taking the chip off my race shoes so they were not damaged. The crew recovered my bag quickly so I was able to stay warm and dry off in no time at all and the folks at the drink and food stations had an endless supply of treats so I could re-fuel. The only issue I had with the whole event, and it would not deter me from entering again, was getting to the start via TTC. From my house it just takes too long by bus and with all the road closures. It is one area I will have to plan a little better next year so that I can get a proper warm up and fuelling in before hitting my marks.
Overall, it was a fun race with great atmosphere (cheering crowds and music along the way) and terrific volunteers. I would recommend to all runners looking for an early race in the season. I will be back to improve on my PB, with asterisk.