Monday, 5 December 2011

How not to run a marathon! Rock n’Roll Las Vegas Marathon Race Report!

It was a beautiful day in Las Vegas for the inaugural Las Vegas Marathon at night. The race started at 1600hrs which would mean it would be dark part way through the opening half and night for running portion on the strip. I had decided prior to going on tour that as a treat once I got home we’d go as a family to Las Vegas and I would run the marathon.  This would be only the second open marathon that I have run. I have run three marathons in total but one of those was at the end of Ironman Canada in 2010. I was pretty confident going in that a 2:45(3:55/km pace) was easily within my grasp but I wasn’t convinced that I had done enough long runs to really be comfortable racing the later part of the marathon. My coach seemed pretty convinced that I should be able to run faster than a 2:45. 

We left the Desert Rose Resort where we were staying for the week at around 1500hrs and walked to Mandalay Bay where the race would begin. I had already completed my warm-up before departing the Resort as I wasn’t sure how much room there would be at the start. I hung around with the wife and kids and then at around 1540hrs I entered Coral 1 where I was to start. There was lots of space in the Coral and people were a little hesitant to move to the start. Once they started the announcements people quickly moved to the front of the coral. I positioned myself in the second or third row and a little to the left. I wanted to go a tad slow and pick-up my pace to race goal almost immediately. When the gun sounded we were off. I manoeuvred around a few people took the opening left turn onto West Hacienda avenue and then almost immediately we had to climb the overpass to the Highway. I settled into my pace trying to sit on a 3:50/km but my pace was fluctuating with the terrain and wind. The first couple miles flew by and I was immensely enjoying the experience. The legs were feeling great and I knew this was going to be a fast race.
I kept checking my watch to monitor the pace. I was running in the 3:40s/km and I knew this was too fast. I tried to settle into my appropriate goal pace but I was just enjoying the experience too much to settle down. I finally gave up trying to hold myself back and decided I was just going to run and let the race unfold. It was about this time that Brian Mishasiw, the owner of Brainsport in Saskatoon, caught up with me. I didn’t know Brian at the time but I decided I was going to run with him.  As the race continued we talked a little and that is how I got to know Brian a little. With Brian and I running side by side the pace picked up significantly and at one point I glanced at my watch and realized we were running 3:39/km or something similar. We finished the zigzag of the first half, crossed the timing mat, and made the turn onto Las Vegas Boulevard for the second half. When we crossed the mat for the first half the time was 1:17:27 I knew at this point that the last ten kilometres of the race were going to be mentally tough as I had clearly overexerted myself in the first half.
I was still feeling great at this point and we continued to hammer along at a 3:4x/km pace but I knew it was only time before the legs started to tighten up. The next ten kilometres continued to fly by as we ran up the strip. There were lots of people cheering and it was just an awesome experience. By the 19mile marker my legs were starting to tighten up. I knew that I had a 2:45 in the bag I just needed to keep moving and not stop running. The legs were sore and the pace started to drop to about 4:00/km. I knew I only had another 40ish minutes of running left and knew I could finish. I was sore but there was no way that I was quitting. The mile markers slowly passed by and with each marker my legs were tighter and the pace dropped a little. I mentally calculated the time remaining after each mile marker and knew that I could do it. With about 2 miles remaining my legs were really hurting and sore but I just kept reminding myself that I was not a quitter and that I was running to the end.
Brian and I hit the final aid station with a little over a mile to go. I could tell Brian was hurting more than I was as he didn’t jump back onto my feet after the aid station. I tried to elongate my stride and up my tempo for the last mile. I just kept pushing knowing that the finish line was just ahead. I saw my wife and kids just before the turn into the finish shoot and gave my wife a high five. I was hoping that the kids were paying attention as I wanted to give them both a high five as it always makes their day. They were both unfortunately a little tired at this point and relaxing in the stroller.  I made the turn to the finishing shoot. I couldn’t quite make out the clock but put in the last surge I had left and crossed the line.  I didn’t find out until I got back to my room but my time was 2:40:13. I finished 8th Overall and 2nd in my Age Group.
I waited at the line for Brian and then congratulated him on the great race. I was very appreciative to have run the race with Brian. He pushed me most of the way and made my experience that much greater.
So the moral of the story is don’t run a 1:17:27 first half if you know you can probably only run a 2:40 marathon. I suffered in the last 8kms of the race and was reminded of how much racing a marathon actually hurts.  I am a firm believer in negative splitting but clearly on this day I didn’t follow my own philosophy I just wanted to run. A positive split of 5 minutes is pretty terrible but hey I am not complaining as I just ran a PB, a 2:40 Mary, and ran a ½ Marathon PB(1:17:27) at the same time! So the question remains…what’s next!

Gear Selection: Garmin FR60, Brooks ST5s, Wigwam Flash Pro Socks, Brooks Shorts, Brooks Singlet, Headsweats Visor, Oakley Jawbones (Yellow Lenses), Light Running Gloves (Compliments of the BMO OkanaganMarathon).

Special thanks to:
my Coach Brian Grasky for the great workouts over the last few months, the positive encouragement, and the race strategy (though I probably failed to execute as he envisioned)
GEC for the sponsorship opportunity (we need some GEC singlets)
my lovely wife and kids for the daily support, encouragement, and providing me the time to train
last but not least for all my friends and family who are always a source of encouragement and motivation.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

2012 Race Schedule

Well it's getting to be that time of year where the race schedule for next year starts to become clear and well defined. The Ironman races were selected last summer in order to permit early registration and guarantee my entrance. The races selected were Ironman St George and Ironman Coeur d'Alene. Brian, my coach, and I have gone back and forth in the last few weeks refining the race schedule for next year. It looks to be a combination of long course triathlon races and a couple road races. So here goes the proposed race schedule for next year:
  1. Ironman 70.3 Texas
  2. St Albert 10 Miler - St Albert, AB
  3. Ironman St George
  4. Canadian Forces Running Nationals (1/2 Marathon) - Ottawa, ON
  5. Ironman Coeur d'Alene
  6. CF Triathlon Nationals - Gatineau, QC
  7. Ironman 70.3 Calgary
  8. Canadian Army Half-Marathon - Ottawa, ON
  9. Ironman 70.3 WC - Las Vegas, NV
  10. Ironman WC - Kona, HI
It looks to be a very busy and challenging year. Continue to follow my blog throughout the year to follow me on my exciting journey.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

STARRT Indoor cycling class

I drafted up an e-mail the other day and had it sent out to the STARRT (St Albert Road Runners and Triathlon) Club members the other day gauging the interest of the members towards a weekly indoor cycling class over the cold winter months here in St Albert. The results have been extremely positive. Looks like I'll have to get myself in gear and develop a training plan for January through April. I am very excited to be able to organize something like this and give back to the club in this manner. It'll also give me an oppertunity to connect with more of the club members. The intent of the weekly cycling class will be to assist the participants in building their aerobic base. We'll start at about 1h15 minutes and work up to over 2hrs.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Monday, 10 October 2011

Okanagan(Kelowna) 1/2 Marathon

So we packed the car and headed for Kelowna from St Albert on Friday. It was a very uneventful drive, the kids were great, and the scenery was fantastic. Eleven hours later we arrived in West Kelowna at my relatives.
On Saturday morning we drove into Kelowna to City Park to pick-up my race kit and check-out the start / finish area. No issues picking up kit as the process was quite streamlined and the volunteers were extremely helpful.
We headed back home and had some lunch and then I saddled up and headed out for a light ride to Summerland. A little under 3hrs and 80+kms later I returned. My legs were feeling good and I was getting a bit anxious for my race. It would be the first time I was racing a 1/2 Marathon in almost a year. I had managed to get a good deal of running in during my deployment but had focused almost completely on my base. I wasn't sure what type of pace I could hold but I thought a 1:20 should be in reach. The remainder of the day I relaxed around the house and mentally prepared for the race the next day.
I managed to get to bed shortly after 2100hrs but of course I tossed and turned for a few hours. I awoke at 0500hrs eager to get some breakfast down range and anxious to race. I had a bowl of oatmeal, two eggs, and two cups of coffee for breakfast. We headed to City Park at 0630hrs parked and then walked to City Park. It was the first time completing this race so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
I warmed up for 10-15 minutes with a few pickups hit the washroom for the last time and then went to the start coral for 0735 (the race started at 0745). I move near up to the front, about the second or third row back and anxiously awaited the start. The countdown started and then we were off. I started out much quicker than I wanted at about a 3:30 pace and quickly tried to dial in the pace. I always find it takes a kilometre or two to really settle into the pace. By the end of the second kilometre I had the pace dial back to about 3:50/km and was feeling really strong. I had watched 4 athletes move ahead from the start so new that I was sitting in 5th place. My intent was to run my race and not focus on the competition. By kilometre eight two of the athletes just ahead of me were struggling to hold their pace, or that is what it appeared to me. I didn’t really want to up my pace at this point but I knew that similarly I didn’t really want to have a couple athletes hanging just behind me. I moved up and made my pass. I could hear the other two athletes working to hang with me, but I didn’t surge yet. Fortunately, we were going through City Park again by this point and a group of athletes running the Marathon (all congested around a pace bunny) were just ahead blocking most of the path. It was at this point I seized my opportunity dropped the hammer and opened up a gap with the two other athletes. My pace was up and I knew it was now time to sustain it…3:45/km here we go for another 10+kms.
I continued to hold my pace around 3:45/km until I caught the second place athlete around 12-13kms. He looked to still be cruising at a good pace but my rate of closure was quick so I figured another definitive pass was in order. I completed the pass upped the pace slightly and continued to push. I knew that I had no choice but to hold the pace to the finish. The kilometres quickly passed by and I couldn’t wait to see City Park and the finish line. Finally there it was I pushed a little looked up at the clock and saw 1:18:5X something and new that I was not going to break 1:19 but I was certainly under 1:20. I crossed the line in 1:19:08 (gun time) a little weak and wobbly but excited with the results. I congratulated the winner David Matheson who had run a sub 1:18 despite having added an additional 400m to his race but missing a turn earlier in the race. I had lost sight of David at around kilometre 5 or 6 so had no idea how much further up the road he was.
My race gear selection included my Brooks ST5s, Brooks Shorts, Under Armour Base 1.0 Long Sleeve shirt, Wigwam Ironman Flash Pro, and of course my Polar S725X for pacing and HR data.
I was very pleased with my results. Looks like my base training this past seven months has really paid off. If I can continue the focus and add some speed work I should be in good shape to run a 2:45 at the Rock n’Roll Las Vegas Marathon in December.