Chilly Half 2017

I wrote a couple weeks ago that my goals for the Chilly Half were A) 1:07:xx, B) 1:08:xx, and C) a PB (better than 1:09:30). I was pretty confident that I was back carving out new levels of fitness which is why I wanted a PB. My long tempo and threshold interval workouts were faster than ever. When I looked back on my training before the last half marathon I raced (Chilly Half, 2015), every workout I’ve run this winter blew them away. My mileage had been consistent and just a little higher than ever before. I’d encountered only a couple deviations from my plan this winter and I’d been able to correct-course quickly. Things had been going very well. I was primed for a good race after a couple disappointing marathons, a bunch of injuries and missed races, and—finally—a lengthy stretch of consistent training.

Chilly Half recap

I had all my gear packed the night before so all I had to do in the morning was get dressed and throw my bags in the car. The 2 hour drive to Burlington was a piece of cake as the 402 and 401 were deserted and I had the tunes pumping. Once I arrived, I met up with Mitch Free to get my race kit/bib and we found the hospitality area for the elites/VIPs. Having a warm place to hang out before the race was a huge perk and it was great to meet up with some other hard working runners like the GRE folks and to meet and chat with Canadian Olympian and marathon champion, Krista DuChene!

The big question on everyone’s mind was whether to wear shorts or tights as the forecast said -6°C with ~20 km/h wind bringing it down to -14ish. I decided on shorts after my warmup and I’m glad I did because I was sweating pretty good for the last 3 km of the race.

After the gun went and everyone found their place in the field, I think I was in roughly 10th or so. Over the first two km, Paul Rochus and I joined up and managed to pick a few guys off early. Around the first hairpin turn (~3 km), we rolled up on John Parrott and he joined us as we eventually reeled in Kevin Blackney around 5 km. John started to fall off our pack around 7 km and the rest of us remaining kept clicking away the kilometres, fighting the wind and averaging 3:13/km.

"A burden shared is a burden halved." [📷Edison Yao]

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We crossed the 10 km marker at 32:01 and finally made it to the second hairpin turn (~13 km), where we were ready for the tailwind all the way to the finish. Somewhere around 14 km, our pack started to fall apart as I found myself briefly in third after pulling away from Kevin and Paul. At this point in the race, I could still see Blair Morgan in second a long way up the road so I just tried to draw whatever motivation I could from the fact that there was someone in front of me. I could hear the crowds cheering “Rejean” and soon figured out that Rejean Chiassion had been gaining on me and he flew by me like I was standing still at 17 km. I told myself he must’ve been just trying to mentally crush me with that move and to just keep digging and chasing him down in case he slowed after passing me. I never caught him, but he sure helped me draw some extra effort from myself. For the final 4 kilometres, I was counting down the minutes… “3 km, that’s like 10 minutes tops – keep going!”

As I made it to the turn off Lakeshore Rd towards the finish line, I looked at my watch and it had just clicked over to 1:07. I could see the finish line and started hammering, almost sure that 1:07:xx ‘A’ goal was mine. I crossed the line with a fist-pump in a time of 1:07:46.

Thanks to Edison Yao for sharing this pic.

Post-race, I enjoyed talking with the other runners who I usually only interact with online (Strava), hearing about how their races went and what their upcoming plans are. Congrats and kudos all around – especially to Eric Bang on his new PB (1:10:55) and Mitch Free on being a few seconds shy of his PB after a few weeks of issues. Good luck to everyone tackling a spring marathon at Boston, Mississauga, or elsewhere!

What’s next?

I’m now officially signed up for the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH on April 23 – it’s only six weeks away now. Unfortunately, my body has kind of fallen apart on me after the Chilly Half. My immune system must have taken a big hit as I was sick the next day and I’m still dealing with a cold a week later. Also, my hamstring has been hurting since the day after the race so I haven’t done much running this week. I’ve been trying to use heat, massage, ice packs… really anything I can think of to help this hamstring heal but as it stands right now, I’m resigned to taking a few days completely off running after three days of minimal jogging.

My first thought when the hamstring issue appeared was that I’d bail on the marathon plans, take a week or two off to recover and absorb this good training I’ve put in up to Chilly, and then put in 8-10 weeks of focused training for the Ottawa 10K (Canadian Championship race). After a lot of thought and weighing options, I think I’m still going to give Toledo a shot. I’ve had good marathon results off really poor/inconsistent training in the past so I’m working to convince myself that the build-up doesn’t need to go perfectly to have a good race. I have some base fitness and I just need to bring that to the starting line and I believe I can improve on my 2:28:12 PB from Ottawa last May.

Time to wrap this post up. Hopefully I’ll have some good training to write about next time!  Thanks for following along.

8 weeks to Toledo

Alright. My kids are in bed, my wife is playing soccer, and I’ve got a beer in hand. If I can’t get this posted now, it’s never going to happen!

My training has continued to go well. I’ve lost only three days to injury prevention and maintenance this cycle. I’m still running so that’s what is important with a marathon eight weeks away. Workouts have been going very well and I feel like I’m rolling better than I ever have in the past.

Within a day or two of posting my last blog entry and saying how great training was going, my tibialis anterior tendon flared up and forced me to take a few days of unscheduled rest. The tendon felt pretty bad for a couple days and in the end it took two rest days and three days of reduced mileage to put that issue behind me. A couple weeks later, a quad or sartorius muscle seized up at the end of an easy run and forced me to take another rest day.

Look who finally showed up! Snow on the trail and it's nearly February.

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It always surprises me how quickly these little injuries can appear. When this type of stuff comes up, it’s really difficult to just set running aside and shift my focus to other things. Maybe it’s like a brief depression as you mourn the disruption to your best laid plans. I should probably know by now that it rarely–if ever–goes to plan and you have to kind of roll with the punches and make the best of your situation. Sometimes ‘real life’ needs to take priority. Sometimes your body needs a break. Sometimes a blizzard makes it impossible to run outdoors. I guess I just need to remind myself that – as much as I’d like to think otherwise – I can’t control how my body reacts or if/when it will break down. I can only listen to the cues it gives me and adjust my training accordingly.

Despite those brief scares, I’ve logged 140 km and 150 km the last two weeks and I’m on track for another 150 km week as I head to Burlington this weekend for the Chilly half marathon. Overall, this training cycle has been going better than all previous marathon build-ups. For the first four weeks (of twelve before the marathon), I’ve averaged 125 km/week compared to 101 for Ottawa 2016, 123 for Ottawa 2015, 105 for Waterloo 2014, 66 for Amherstburg 2013, and 59 for Niagara-on-the-Lake 2013. In the twelve weeks prior to starting a build-up, I averaged 95 km/week this time, 62 last time, 101 before Ottawa 2015, and 95 before Waterloo. Maybe this increased length of consistent running will finally give me that breakthrough I’ve been looking for the last two years. Just gotta keep going steady for another 6 weeks and then it’ll be time to taper and rest up for the race!

Chilly Half preview

The Chilly half marathon is on March 5 and there’s a great looking field of guys that I’m excited to run with/against. Two years ago (the last time I raced a half marathon), I ran 1:09:30 at this race before running 2:31:45 at the Ottawa marathon two months later (splitting the first half in 1:12:11). Since then, I’ve run 2:28:12 last spring in Ottawa (splitting 1:12:28) and just a couple weeks ago I ran a 70′ tempo workout, covering the half distance in about 1:11:30. I’m reasonably confident that I can run better than 1:10 in race conditions and given where my workouts are, I’m hoping to run more like 1:07:50 (3:13/km) to 1:08:30 (3:15/km). Those paces are intimidating but hopefully the legs have it in them on race day. (And hopefully the 30 km/h SW wind that’s forecast for race day calms down or else the last 8 km are going to be a grind!)

There should hopefully be a bunch of guys to work with on Sunday. Some are out of my wheelhouse but I think there will be a few with similar goals as mine. It helps to have people around you, pushing you, keeping those competitive juice flowing. Here are the guys I’m watching for:

  • Blair Morgan (1:05:56 downhill at Hamilton 2016),
  • Tristan Woodfine (1:08:03 at Chilly last year, 1:06:18 in Barcelona 2015),
  • Josh Bolton (1:09:00 at Chilly last year and 1:07:40 in Montreal last April),
  • John Parrott (2:26:10 at the Ottawa marathon last year),
  • Paul Rochus (1:09:41 last year),
  • Lucas McAneney (1:09:34 last year),
  • Dancan Kasia (1:07:53 at Chilly in 2015),
  • Rob Brouillette (1:11:54 last year and 1:10:19 downhill at Mississauga), and
  • Eric Bang (1:12:31 last year en route to 1:11:42 in Ottawa)

My goals are: A. 1:07:xx. B. 1:08:xx. C. Better than 1:09:30 for a PB. I’ll try to write up a quick race recap post sometime next week.

The last remnants of winter #lakehuron #seemyrun

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Marathon Fueling

Another thing I’m starting to think about with only 8 weeks until the marathon, is fueling. Last spring before Ottawa, I had a condensed period in which to train and I only had 5 runs with focused fueling. In those 2+ hour training runs, I averaged one gel per hour in liquid carbs (32g/hour). I’ve read more recently that you should target 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour so I’ve been trying to work on that this time around. In my long run last weekend, I got down a gel every half hour for 59 g/hour. I’ll practice that a few more times in the coming weeks.

That’s all the time I’ve got. Thanks for following along!

Racing back into fitness

It’s been four weeks since I ran the Ottawa marathon. I had planned to take 10-14 days off following that race but I was eager to get back to training and hopefully a better race this fall. I ended up taking three days off before getting out for two really easy jogs in that first week back. My legs were a little achy but otherwise I felt good.

In the second week, I got in 100 km of easy running at roughly an hour per day. I had been taking care to run especially easy to be sure I was recovered before I got in any harder efforts. By the weekend, I was feeling ready and I ran a 25 km hilly progression run down to 3:20/km and that put some sting in the legs; a sign of a good run.

One last shakeout on the trail before heading to Toronto for the @runcrs #Waterfront10

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For the third week back, I ran a 6×4’/90″ workout averaging 3:08/km which was pretty good but not my best. That weekend, I ran a local race—the 30th annual Huron House Boys’ Home 10K. I have run this race the last couple years and love it as it is perfectly flat and covers roads that I train on every day so it feels a little like my ‘home course’. I wasn’t sure what to expect three weeks after a marathon but I figured I’d use this as a test before the Waterfront 10K in Toronto the following weekend. I went out hard and basically faded my way to the finish line, with my first km in 3:04 and my slowest in 3:20. I finished in 32:16, which was 17 seconds faster than my time last year at the same race so I took that as a positive. It was good to see the legs coming back into form so quickly after Ottawa.

Envisioning the pancake tent

In the fourth week back, I got in a midweek 8x1000m/400m workout on the track, running arguably my best set of Ks, averaging 3:03/km. Everything felt controlled and smooth. This workout was a good confidence booster heading into a race on the weekend.

I drove to Toronto for Canada Running Series’ inaugural Waterfront 10K. This race replaced the Yonge St 10K where I ran 31.00 last spring. The old course was net downhill, dropping 8.5 m/km, but thankfully, the new course is much fairer, dropping only 1.3 m/km. I think that means it’s still not a record legal course (limit is 1.0 m/km), but there was a pretty good hill at about 7 km that makes me feel okay about calling this a fair course.

CRS put together an awesome field of athletes, including Rio-bound marathoners Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis, and Krista DuChene. I figured Reid and Eric would be out front, there would be a second pack of Thomas Toth and Sami Jibril, and a possible third pack of Josh Bolton, Colin Fewer, and Jeff Costen. I imagined I’d be somewhere in the fourth pack hoping to stay close to Josh, Colin, and Jeff.

The lead pack
Heading toward Lakeshore Blvd

After the gun went, there were probably twenty people ahead of me and I tried to settle into a good pace. We came through the first km in 3:03 which was too quick but shortly after I settled into ~3:08/km pace. I found myself in a group with Josh, Colin, and Matt Loiselle with Seth Marcaccio about 10m ahead. This pack stuck together through roughly 7 km.

Doing my best to hang on to Josh’s shoulder

There were plenty of people out cheering along Lakeshore Blvd so that helped me keep pushing. At the turnaround point by 7 km, I started to make my move as we climbed a long, steady hill/overpass. I managed to pull away from the pack I had been running with although I’m not sure by how much. I was counting down the minutes and telling myself to keep pressing the pace and not to let anyone catch me. With about a km to go, I reeled in Behanu Degefa and then I could see the finish line and my watch read 30:45 so I dug deep and finished hard. I crossed the line in 31:21 which is a 30-second personal best from the 10K I ran in December. I ended up 9th overall behind fellow Canadians: Eric, Reid, Tristan Woodfine, Thomas, and Sami.

I’m happy with my effort and how I executed the race (being aware of tangents when others ahead of me weren’t, sticking with a group and not letting them pull away, making a break when I felt strong and confident that I could keep the hammer down to the finish line). It makes me hopeful that if I can run a 10K PB with only 2-3 workouts in my legs after a marathon, I should be able to get a better marathon out of myself in the fall. Perhaps I didn’t push myself hard enough in Ottawa although it certainly didn’t feel that way at the 40 km marker! In any case, it’s great to see progress.

After the race I had the opportunity to chat with a number of runners I’ve met through Strava (basically Facebook for runners/cyclists). It’s cool to put faces to names and chat a bit about non-running stuff, too. The Canadian road running scene is made up of great people. Shout out to the GRE crew (Rob, Josh, Tyler), Jeff, and Steve and Colin for letting me tag along for a cooldown.

That’s it for now. Thanks for checking in!