Larry's Blog Pages

April 26, 2010

Run4Hope 5k - Race Report

With the Run4Hope races being held by our triathlon club, Fletcher’s Meadows Cross Trainers, I made myself available before the race to do some set up work. This meant for an early morning start to the day but I was more than happy to assist as I was not able to attend in 2009 due to a work related trip. This year, my trip would start a day after the race so I made sure to be prepared in the days leading up to the event so that I could do as much as possible to help out.

When I arrived at Brampton’s Professor’s Lake Recreation Centre, I was a little early and was able to get a quick tour of the finishing area for the 5k from another club member, Richard Westwood, who was serving as the race director this year. When we wrapped up our walk around the little loop in the wooded area, the others were starting to file in so we quickly got to work on our tasks.

This race is a very important part of the Falcons’ community involvement so it was imperative that we had the race site as organized and user friendly as possible for the participants. This was the first year, in the six year history of the event, that it would be held at this location so we all wanted to make sure all the bases were covered. The turnout of club members, family and friends was amazing and it did not take very long to create the race course and staging areas that the organizing committee had envisioned through the many meetings leading up to this day.

As things appeared to be finalized with the set up, I was able to get my race kit and start my warm up with plenty of time to relax and get mentally ready to tackle my 5k distance. This is not a long distance but when you have an ambitious goal in mind, you have to visualize the game plan before trying to execute on the course.

I slowly jogged the back end of the course where more attention would be required as there’s a smaller loop added to the 3.3k asphalt path that circles the lake. I wanted to make sure I had all the little twists figured out because going through these areas blind can lead to confusion during a race. I have encountered this in the past and using your experiences is a major advantage when it comes to racing.

Being comfortable with the course, I made my way to the starting area and continued my warm up as the others found their spots on the starting grid for the mass start of 5k, 10k runners and 5k walkers that would make up the field. I knew a few of the guys from the sign up lists so I knew I would have some rabbits to chase out on the course. One of them was participating in the 10k and I wasn’t sure how he was going to attack the first loop of his distance so I wanted to make sure not to get caught up in his race.

As we all waited on the line, I talked to one of the young speedsters in the 5k. He told me that his goal was 16:40, much quicker than I would be attempting on this day but it was a good thing to know. I could tell by this gifted athlete’s warm up that he was more experienced than his peers so I wanted to make sure I kept him in sight to help me hit my goal of a sub-18 minute run. Many high school aged runners are very quick but they often lack the pacing and distance control so it is usually not wise to gauge a race based on their starts.

After the usual pre-race announcements and directions, we were set off on our little journey around Professor’s Lake starting with a few quick twists through the centre’s parking lot. The starting line was very crowded with many excited racers so I jumped out of the gate very quickly to find open room. I led through much of the first 200 metres before I dropped into a more manageable tempo and allowed four others to take the lead as we hit the asphalt trail. Among that group was the eventual 10k winner setting a blazing pace that I judged as a touch quick for me to follow. I was pretty sure the others that went by would not be able to hold their current rate of speed and assumed I would eventually move past them if I held a smooth tempo.

We rounded the lake in a counter clockwise fashion, hitting the first km marker along the way in 3:20. This was right on target and I was feeling very strong and confident in holding that speed for much longer than in the past. Usually, I get out of the blocks around this split time only to feel exhausted and watch the seconds tick away split after split. Hopefully, that would not be the case on this day.

Just after the first “k” sign, the young fellow I had spoke to before the race made his move up beside me and slowly began to pull away with a very smooth, efficient stride. With his calm and calculated start, I could tell he had enough running experience to hold this form and finish the race within his goal time so it was a matter of me keeping close. I jumped in behind as we slowly picked off the few runners starting to fade from their overeager beginnings.

We wound through the paths and roads (that were very well controlled and safe, thanks guys and gals!) making up the first three kilometres of the race. The leader’s gap was increasing but I did not feel that I was slowing much so I kept my focus and got ready to make the turn off into the short forest path leading out to North Park Road. I used all the awesome encouragement from the other Falcons along the course to keep motivated and pushed past the four km sign well ahead of my target. There were now only a few tight, quick turns through the walkways in the connecting neighbourhood to negotiate before rejoining the other racers, heading for home.

At this point, I was running alone in second and was very close to the finish area. I had enough in the tank to turn things up a notch and swiftly navigated through the gravel path in the forested area before hitting the parking lot, bursting into a final sprint for the line. I could not make out the “seconds” number counting up on the display clock but could see a seventeen in the minute column. I did not want to let off the gas as I appeared to have my goal in reach. After I crossed the line our race MC, Rob McCue, announced my time at 17:20 (along with a few other nice comments, Thanks Rob!). It was forty-five seconds quicker than my previous best at this distance and I was thrilled with my effort.

After taking five months off from racing, and missing Around the Bay, I was really itching to race and this was the first real opportunity to fit into my schedule. I was confident that my training had improved my running since last year but, when you are often running on tired legs during workouts, it is tough to know exactly what to expect on fresh legs.

Hopefully, this is a sign of many great things to come this season as I continue my preparations for the upcoming summer triathlons and my goal race at Timberman 70.3.

I would like to applaud the Falcons’ race committee for organizing a top notch event. You folks did a great job bringing the race to a new location and we able to continue the strong, growing tradition that is the Run4Hope. Congrats!

Also, the volunteers and Professor’s Lake staff did an amazing job all day and deserve a big round of applause for helping make this event a huge success. A running friend of mine, Sheldon Gragg (“Doonst” of fame) was very kind to set aside some of his Sunday morning and assist the cause so I would like thank him as well!

Great work folks!

April 19, 2010

5 Months feels too long...

It has been 5 full months since my last event (Egg Nog Jog 10.8k) so I am itching to get back into the game. I have been training quite a bit and am happy with many aspects of my overall fitness so it should be interesting to see how I do.

This weekend, my triathlon club (FMCT) will be hosting the Run4Hope races at Professors Lake in Brampton, Ontario. There will be 5k and 10k distances to pick from and I think I will start off at the 5k level for 2010. Given that Victoria's Duathlon in May will be a shorter, sprint style race, I want to let the legs go and see if I can break that darn 18 minute barrier. I only ran one 5k race last season and it was the X-Country event in Guelph last fall so the course was not too speedy and the other times I have run the distance lately have been in duathlons, so I don't count them (distances are not always true, effort is not maximum due to other stages of the event, etc.)

Check out the web site for details...

Also, I will be out in Vancouver next week for work. I will have a few mornings to run in Stanley Park so if anyone else is up at around 6am (west time) let me know and we can hit the park for a few km's. Email me if you are interested at I think I will be able to run Tues, Wed and Thurs (depending on time of flight). If anyone has an extra bike, maybe we could get a ride in instead...

April 16, 2010

3 down, thousands to go...

This week, I finally took myself to task and pulled my lazy butt out of bed to start this morning workout routine I have been talking about for the longest time. The first morning (Tuesday) was a tempo ride so I was a little worried that I would not have the usual energy to push my limits. After a small warm up I actually got up to speed and had a very decent effort.

Unfortunately, I missed my planned lunch time workout due to work meetings so I had to move my schedule around and ended up getting in a run that night. I made sure to go for the run earlier than my old ways but it still seemed to affect the next morning as I squashed the idea of an early morning minutes before the alarm was to go off and enjoyed some more zzz's. I eventually put in a solid, lunch time swim but could not muster up anything that evening after the rest of the family turned in for the night.

Missing a second workout motivated me the next morning (Thursday) and I decided to fit in my track session at this point. A few km warm up to the track and then 10x400m was completed followed by a cool down back home, the long way. To be honest, the track workout did not go so bad. I am not sure that I want to do many speed workouts as my early workout but at least I am feeling better about the option. Only thing that really threw me off on this workout was the damn Garmin 405! So annoying when it gets wet. Add in a nice, controlled lunch time bike ride and then our club swim just after supper and I was looking for bed much earlier than usual which worked well for the next day.

I was amazed to wake up 15 minutes before the alarm and I was feeling ready to roll. I geared up and headed out to the great spring morning. It is the first time this year (that I have noticed) that it has been warm and fresh right away. The last few weeks have started out chilly (on my very short ride/commute to work), eventually getting warm by lunch time. This was a pleasant surprise as I was having issues locating my tech hoodie for under my helmet and did not want to waste time or wake anyone looking for the darn thing.

After yesterday's workouts, I knew I was in for a slower ride but I still wanted to put in some solid pushed along the way. Standing still, the wind seemed non-existent but it really seemed to be against me for the first portion of the tour. I kept rolling along into wind hoping I would benefit on the way home. Thankfully, it did and I was able to fly across the last few roads leading back to our house pushing up the overall average. I actually did not expect to hit that this morning so I was happy about the effort, without over doing it.

Now, I just have to keep things in order (no late night runs/rides this weekend!) and stay in the routine I seem to be settling into.

Just before I sign off, Best of luck to all those in Boston next week! Have a great race and enjoy the experience.

April 13, 2010

Plugging along...

Last time I mentioned that I was just getting in a bunch of workouts but not really sticking to a plan. It is a week later, and the work load from my daytime job is pretty high these days so I have not found time to sit down and design my plan of attack. Although, I kind of like being flexible, I also feel that I may be falling behind others who may be going through their proper periodizations and weekly routines. Sometimes my head just spins trying to think what is best for my goals this season.

Only thing I really know these days is that I want to get faster. Much, much faster! I am not sure what fuels it and I am not sure if it is always the best way to look at the sport but that is my current mental make up. I would love to just train for fun and race for fun but it is not how it plays out. I do not look at the people that can just enjoy it as a fun time any differently. I totally respect their direction and believe each person has their own agenda but something deep inside my head (if I had a brain I would have used that in place of head...) tells me to go fast, try as hard as possible, push. I guess that is why I have seen decent improvements in the short time spent in the sport (but may sit a little too close to the edge of the dreaded burn out)...

Sometimes, when I do get the opportunity to train with the group, or other friends, I feel I am trying too hard and hope they don't think I am showing off. It is just the way I ride, run, swim. There is always going to be an effort but I am still having fun so I hope nobody takes it the wrong way.

Love to hear anyone else's thoughts or suggestions for my game plan?

Take care,

April 7, 2010

Post Easter Update

Well, it has been a few weeks between blog updates. Mainly because I really have not had a heck of a lot of interesting news. I have been working a lot, hanging out with family and keeping up my training during the opportunities that pop up.

To start, I missed the Around the Bay 30k road race. When a race forces me to sign up extra early, I often forget the dates so many weeks ago, when my wife mentioned that she had a work related getaway, the weekend she stated didn't seem too important. The week before the race we discussed our upcoming plans and realized we had a conflict. I am not too SMRT.

As I was no longer going to run that race, I decided it was time to get serious about the bike. Since I was running so much during training (in order to break 2 hours at ATB), I was afraid I was going to be very far behind last year in terms of bike fitness. Thankfully, the speed is still there but I really have to work on maintaining the effort on the medium (40k to 60k) distances. Thanks to the great weather we have had in the Mississauga area, I have been able to abandon the trainer and experience the preferred resistance of the roads.

This is key for me as I never quite trust the resistance settings on the trainer or life cycles at the gym. Until you add the wind and hills, it just seems to be too much of a guessing game. In the past week the wind has really picked up and added some extra leg zapping gusts. In previous years, I would have been upset, thinking the wind was ruining my ride. Now, I have learned to use this element to push hard and battle to add even more blocks to my bike fitness.

Yesterday, for example, I wanted to gets some hill work in on the bike but only had a small window of time to ride. As the wind was blowing up a storm from the west, I decided to grind it out with a massive effort towards Milton. This 20k stretch is very flat but with the force of the wind I could use this road close to my home to work on some tough resistance training. I knew the ride back would be a piece of cake so I put in a very big push for the entire first half and my legs were cooking by the time I reached the halfway mark.

I then took a quick water break and then turned around with the aid of the wind. I did not totally relax. I am always trying to see just how fast the wind can take me so I hamered a solid ride home as well. Too add some extra miles, I zoomed around the Erin Mills portion of town and ended up with a nice 50k tester before heading home for supper.

With the triathlon season less than two month away, I really need to sit down and hammer out a strong plan as I have been free training on top of my run program I was working on. I know the basics of the plan but I need to get organized and stick to it, although, the flexible approach right now is not too bad as there have been gains and I am not lacking the effort in my sessions. The biggest component would be to add some more rest, if anything.

In an attempt to become more of a morning person...

If anyone is interested in an early Monday morning (say 6:00am) track session or short ride, please let me know. I need the motivation of another person to make sure I get out of bed. Right now, Monday (up until race season) is my best day as I do not have to get the kids ready for day care. If it is another day of the week, I would have to make sure to be home by 7:00am (sorry for the boring details).

Talk soon,