Monday, June 17, 2013

Race Report! Johnny Miles Race Weekend

The sun was (finally) shining Sunday morning as I stepped out of my family's new-to-us camper trailer that we had set up in my father's backyard. I was back in my old home town of Pictou, only a few kilometers from the beautiful town of New Glasgow where the Johnny Miles races would begin in a couple of hours. I got my daughter set up inside my father's house, happily crunching at froot loops as my husband Richard and I pinned on our bibs and brushed our teeth.

We managed to score a parking spot less than three blocks from the start line and quickly found what was left of the complimentary breakfast on the main street. The event had sold out so 4000+ people and their families filled the otherwise sleepy main street of New Glasgow in eager anticipation. Music boomed and runners adjusted their fuel belts, laces and hats, some people looked around nervously, others with determination. Richard and I bumped into a friend who was running her first 10km race and wished her luck as she joined the porta-potty line. We stood around in the shade, waiting patiently for the 10km race to begin.

The Johnny Miles started the marathon runners first, the the 5k starting just 5 minutes after, then the half and 10k runners together, 5 minutes after the 5k runners. Even with the short start intervals there didn't seem to be any issues, everyone was very respectful and there seemed to be very little pushing in the narrow downtown streets. One gentleman, who was celebrating his 99th birthday (!), was walking the 5k race with a huge support crew of family. They all wore green "99 club" shirts as the walked en mass. The course itself had to be changed this year as there was road construction. This year we would go through the north end of New Glasgow, then into Abercrombie, then to Trenton and back to New Glasgow in one large rolling hill  loop.

Richard and I started off a bit faster than I thought we should go, averaging about 6:44 per km, so I spent about 1.5 kms trying to get him to slow it down a bit so we could aim for a more even pace of 7 mins per km. After 2kms he did, I think simply because the slow grade hills through the north end of New Glasgow eventually took a bit of a toll. We enjoyed the crowds on the side of the course through Abercrombie and thanked the volunteers and police officers who kept us all safe and hydrated. Once we came to the 4km mark we made a turn towards the town of Trenton. We passed the Trenton power station and enjoyed some cool breeze as we headed into town again. Richard and I took only 2 walk breaks on the hot course, both at steep hills later on in the race. I enjoyed touring my old high school stomping grounds as we weaved through Trenton and back to New Glasgow. There were ample water stations and it was very rare that there was an area that didn't have at least one person cheering us all on. As the finished neared Richard said something like, let's give 'er, and I took off, cruising down the last hill and through the huge crowds lining the finish line. Richard finished seconds after me and we grabbed our medals and sat down to catch our breath. We didn't get a PB-far from it for both of us-but I think Richard would agree we had a great time on a challenging course. We eventually stood up again, grabbed out bagged complimentary lunch and headed back to my father's house. Mission accomplished :-)


Friday, June 14, 2013

Back on Track..err..Trail

After a couple of weeks of "rest" where my overall weekly mileage was cut by about 50% I decided to try out some cross training activities to fill the void of the usual running time. I printed off a triathlon plan, although I have no plans to actually do one in the near future, but I thought it would give me some parameters to follow for some decent swimming and cycling workouts. I did this last summer and found it to be a great way to keep things fresh, strengthen my upper body a bit and cut a few pounds.

My cycling skills are pretty weak but I've found cycling is a great compliment to running hills. Whenever I feel myself red-lining as I run up a hill I remember what I would do if I were on a bike and I "gear-down" so to speak, slowing and taking shorter steps. This usually gets the job done and I'm up and over the hill before I know it. With all the rain we've had in Nova Scotia this spring I have developed a fondness for the bikes in the gym across from my work. My favorite-of course-are the ones that allow you to pick a scene to ride through on a big display screen right in front of your handlebars. I still haven't beat the pacer!

My swimming has certainly slowed since the good-'ol-days in my youth of swim meets and time trials, but I still enjoy jumping in and getting in some laps. I've found, since I started going beyond 42.2kms, that my shoulders don't get alot of attention, which has caused them to be a bit stiff after really long runs. Swimming has been a great solution for that. I've also found it's great for keeping up my ankle flexibility, a huge plus when I'm on some of the tougher technical trails.

The best part about scaling back these past few weeks is the lack of pressure to get a certain amount of mileage in during a run, and I've run more for time than distance. The other day, during one of the very few sunny, hot days we've had this spring, I took off down a common walking trail in my neighborhood and was happily surprised to find a new trail some ATV-ers had made. It led into some low brush and pretty cool geology than was fun to scramble up and down. Eventually the dips in the trail became filled with water and when I finally hit a spot (about 2 miles in) that had ducks swimming around I figured it was time to double back. I had misjudged my water needs though, and even though I was only about 4 kms from home I knew I would need something to avoid over heating. Luckily one of the small rivers that cross the trail was empty of fishermen so I jumped in, shoes and all, and splashed around surprised at how freaking cold the water still is. Refreshed I climbed back up to the trail and headed home, squishing shoes and a big smile all the way ;-)

Ah, but now it's back to training time. I've skipped the build phase of my 52 km training plan, since I'm confident that with my recent (albeit slow) trail race of 50 km I have the endurance factor in check. This time around I'm focusing on overall speed and dong alot of speed intervals. Jodi and Karine's races require almost super-human quad strength to handle the massive climbs and descents of their courses but the Lou52 has only a few short hills, much more similar to the trail terrain close to my home. Of course I'll still fit in a few of my favorite trail and road races until the big Lou52 race in August. The next one is this weekend in fact, the Johnny Miles 10km race in my old hometown of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. This year the route has been changed so instead of the beautiful trail you normally run on for half of the race the runners will get a tour of the North side of New Glasgow, prior to heading into Trenton and coming into New Glasgow again for the finish. I'll have my  "I don't train, I race" husband beside me as we celebrate Father's Day. Stay tuned for a race report early next week:-)