Monday, April 27, 2009

Police Half-Marathon Official Result

My official time is 1:53:34, for a pace of 5:24.
I placed 609th out of a field of 1833.
84th out of 194 in my age division.

Very happy with that.

L n K

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The 2009 Calgary Police Half-Marathon

Considering how I felt yesterday, this was a pretty good run. I woke up the day before feeling a little scratchy in the throat, and after meeting friend for breakfast, seemed to be flirting with stomach flu or something. Later in the day, and into the evening, I was better, and suggestions on the L n K of hot water with lemon helped lots too.

This morning, I felt much better. I got suited up, opting for an extra tee between the technical shirt and windbreaker. It was a relief to discover no wind or snow as had been promised in the forecast. It was a little brisk, but actually a beautiful morning.

I drove to Mount Royal College, parked and walked into the building. Given my penchant for usually being ridiculously early, there weren't too many around yet. Lots of police of course, and the technicians were setting up the mats at the starting line, where the sensors pick up the timing chips.

I ran into the WaveRunner and chatted briefly before hunting down the bathrooms. Then went outside to jog up and down the parking lot, stretch the calves and generally try and warm up. It was staying nice, so I decided to strip off the second tee.

Finally the crowd started to gather in the starting chute. I had no idea where to be, so opted for somewhere in the middle. A noisy, chatty crowd drowned out the PA system, but I could make out the last few seconds of a countdown. At zero, there was a great whooping, and then we stood around for a few minutes, while the crowd in front filed out of the chute. It was about three minutes before I finally stepped across the starting mats.

After that, not much to tell. A long run down 50th, then over toward the water treatment plant. That was the first narrowing of the trail. Crossing the dam seemed especially narrow. It was a little wider for a ways, until crossing Glenmore, then in the forest behind Rockyview Hospital it was narrow again.

Coming out beside the hospital, I had some momentary disorientation, not recognizing the construction. I thought for a moment it was all the new stuff that had been built at the entrance to Heritage Park, but that was at least a kilometre and a half ahead of us. This was all new building on to the hospital.

The run through Eagle Ridge was quiet, although a couple of kids had carboard signs and an old stereo going in one driveway. Then the new entrance to Heritage Park, and we were on the trail along the reservoir again. Lots of people cheering here.

We went straight on to 90th Avenue, then right. I had never notice that 90th is a long, long slowly climbing hill. Someone cheering on the sidelines said we were about to reach a nice flat stretch, and I kept waiting to get to it.

At South Glenmore Park we turned in and through the parking lot, and straight through the adjacent playground. The path goes directly through and at each side is one of those narrow jogs in the chain link fence that you have to zigzag through. I think it's to keep cyclists from shortcutting through there, but we ended up almost stopping at both, having to walk through single file.

And then the flat part. All along the south side of the reservoir. It's a long stretch, but didn't seem to take long at all. In no time we were at the long hill that descends down to Weaselhead Flats. There's a little twisting and turning and a lot of the path is sheltered. I was expecting some icy patches, but there was only one bad spot, attended to by a couple of EMS personnel.

Around the last corner and onto the flat part of the Flats, we were surrounded by pussy willow. I began to notice the odd hat or glove on the path, having been lost by a runner up ahead.

The next challenge is the long hill that climbs up from the Flats. Before that a narrow run across the bridge crossing the Elbow river. I hit the hill with lots of energy. I was surprised at how easily I was climbing. I had lots of leg, and didn't slow down much at all. At the top, another crowd cheering, plus the Police Pipe and Drum band performing.

A quick zip through another parking lot, and onto 66th Avenue, and what seemed like the longest stretch of the whole run. It was only about a kilometre and a half, but it seemed to take forever. Finally turned the corner toward Glenmore Trail again, a short buzz through another neighbourhood.

It was after I crossed Glenmore again, the I was pretty sure I wasn't going to beat my PR. Still, I wanted the best finish I could make, so it was head down and push hard. The rest of the race was a blur.

I crossed the finish line only three minutes off my PR, accepted my medal and a bottle of water, and proceeded to have a tremendous coughing fit, probably from breathing in that good old dry prairie air.

I had a great run. Achy and sore, and stiffening quickly, I found the post run snacks and called it a day.

Distance: 20.13 Time: 1:44:15
Average speed: 5:10 min/km. (11.64 kph)
Rest distance: 1.36 km. Rest time: 11:00.
Total distance: 21.49 km. Total time: 1:55:15.

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: It was L n K all the way.

Weather: mostly cloudy, -2C to start and finishing at 1C.

Hard run, and a good run, but no PR out of this one.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Very Spring-Like Spring Day

The promise was of sun and warmth. No sun, but we did get the warmth. It's a lovely day out. The chinook arch is standing off a little to the west of the city, and then a clear band of blue sits just out of reach. On the far side, cloud hangs over the mountains, so that everything visible is in shadow.

Down the bluff as usual and across the rive to the promenade. There is hardly any evidence left of winter, just the odd block of ice in the shade of the cottonwood stands. And for some of those, the beavers have already been munching. I didn't see any evidence today, but last Sunday there was quite a bit down by Sein Lok Park. I'd forgotten.

With great weather comes great crowds, and it was busy. No real traffic jams, though I did have to slow in a couple of places to wait for oncoming traffic before passing the odd group.

The Stairs were busy, too, but I didn't have to slow to a walk on any of it; people were reasonably spaced out on them.

A very nice, warm but grey run.

Distance: 6.70 Time: 37:16
Average speed: 5:33 min/km (10.21 kph).

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: L n K (a favourite!).

Weather: Cloudy and 14C.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One Week to the Police Half

For some reason, I was thinking last night that it was time to back off on training, cuz I have a race next weekend. Thinking I just need to do a 10K in the morning. But really, a half marathon isn't much more than what I usually do on a Sunday morning L n K, so what would slacking really do? Feeling sheepishly lazy, I decided to continue with my usual run to Edworthy and back.

I wore just shorts and a tee, and it did feel a little crisp. Not uncomfortably so, and by 15 minutes I didn't notice. In fact the temperature was pretty much perfect for running.

I knew it was going to be another fast run, since the first interval was already fast. I suppose running the down-slope of Nony's Awful Little Hill and the Centre Street bridge helped with that.

Already on the promenade there were a lot of people out. Runners and walkers, and near Chinatown, tai chi and different kinds of meditative activities.

Not too much happened on this run. No races to get in the middle of or anything like that. Mostly just hunkered down and ran. I had a fast start and a fast time, rounding Angel's just before 50 minutes, at least five minutes faster than average.

On the way back, again nothing much other than pushing hard. Near the soccer field at 19th Street and Memorial, I spent a walk break trying to release a little tightness in the hip, but while running it never bothered me at all. It may have been one of those transient aches that seem to get worked out as I continue running.

At The Stairs, I took The Path and pushed hard all the way up. That felt really good, and actually I had a good fast run up the last half of the hill. The really steep part in the bottom half slows me down no matter what, even walking.

Just at the top of The Path Under The Stairs, was my last walk break. Nice to walk along the top of the bluff and take in the view. That left about 600m to the end of the run, and I took it a little slower.

Distance: 16.53 Time: 1:24:23
Average speed: 5:06 min/km. (11.64 kph)
Rest distance: .904 km. Rest time: 9:00.
Total distance: 17.43 km. Total time: 1:33:23.

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: Blue Moon by Tommy Emmanuel.

Weather: mostly cloudy, 4C to start and finishing at 9C.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Stiff Nor'wester

Working from home, I had planned on a nooner, but with sleep being such a problem lately, I couldn't make it any farther than the couch. An hour nap, though, and I felt much better.

But a cold blustery day for April. The wind had a definite bite. I felt a little overdressed after I got out the door, but a few minutes in the wind convinced me I was dressed about right.

I ran my usual 7K loop, not really fast like on the weekend, but a nice pace. On the 14th Street bridge, I had the wind at my back, and then I felt I had too many layers on. But as soon as I got to the other side and tacked into the wind, I cooled off about right. Just a real chill in that breeze

Ran the stairs, and then kept the running pace at the top, although slow, of course. I do find my recovery time getting shorted if my breathing is any indication. Good run.

Distance: 6.71 Time: 39:25
Average speed: 5:52 min/km (10.21 kph).

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: Jeepers! L n K.

Weather: Light snow and 2C with 45 to 55 kph wind.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Slept in a little bit, at least later for me, so was a little bit late in getting through my morning ritual with coffee and the newspaper. And a little bit later in getting out the door for this run.

It is a spectacular day for getting outside and doing anything, certainly for running. Shorts and t-shirt, of course, not even worth considering anything warmer. I crossed the avenue I live on and on to the street to the bluff. At the park by my starting point, a large group of kids stood with pastel baskets in hand, clustered together and smiling at assorted adults with cameras, while one of them explained the scope and rules of their egg hunt.

Along the bluff, were lots of cars parked on both sides of the street. People were wanting to be out in the spring weather, I imagine. I got to the top of The Path Under The Stairs, shuffled down about 20 metres before deciding to go the other way, towards Centre Street.

As I got near Eau Claire, I saw runners with racing bibs, warming up. Another race? Lots of people milling about by the Y, but I couldn't see if there was a starting gate or something. However the pylons set up to direct running traffic westward, and the group of EMS personnel gathered near by clinched the idea a race was about to start.

I kept on along the side of the river to Crowchild, where I crossed to the north. I briefly thought about continuing all the way to Edworthy on the south side, but last year at this time there was still several feet of ice in places below Spruce Cliff from the natural springs that dribble out of the side of the forested slope. Best to give it another month before checking it out.

At the end of Crowchild was a volunteer setting up to direct traffic and I asked what was happening. It was the Spring Trio, and I was about fifteen minutes ahead of the start.

I soon passed the turn around for the 10K run, at which volunteers had just finished setting up. I passed and continued on, passing a few more markers for the 15K part.

A quick turn around Angel's, and then I started meeting the front runners on the 15K. It seemed like there was a lot of traffic all of a sudden.

True to what ever I've been doing lately, I was fast, having a couple of intervals well under 5 minutes per kilometre. I was having a good fast run again, and began to run into lots of traffic too. Lots of good mornings, but the racing crowd were a little focused and often I don't think they even noticed I'd said anything.

Passing under Crowchild, traffic thinned a lot, as the racers were directed to the south side of the river. I kept the pace up. At 10th Street, I discovered the path under the bridge was open. They must have chipped the ice away, since there was still a thick layer beside the path.

Eventually I got to The Stairs, I climbed the first two flights to the first landing, and stepped off on The Path. I was almost to the top when the alarm buzzed for my last walk break. Just as I topped the path and stepped on the red shale along the top of the bluff, I began the last interval, and took it a little slower, for the last six hundred metres.

Distance: 16.42 Time: 1:25:49Average speed: 5:09 min/km. (11.64 kph)
Rest distance: .8627 km. Rest time: 9:00.
Total distance: 17.50 km. Total time: 1:34:49.

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: L n K.

Weather: Sunny, 8C to start and finishing at 11C.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Another Nooner

I love running at noon, along the paths along the river and close to downtown. Two Tuesdays in a row now, and it's been wonderful.

But I had a long, though productive morning, so was out a little bit early. It's so nice, and was strictly shorts and tee weather - finally!

Except for loving the lovely weather, and being out in the sun and running at noon, it was a pretty standard deal, up to 14th and back.

Distance: 6.66 Time: 35:30
Average speed: 5:19 min/km (11.26 kph).

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: I have no idea, but it was an annoyingly repetitive tune.

Weather: Sunny and 9C.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

New Shoes

I did some checking this week on my running stats, and discovered my Asics were getting up there as far as distance, currently about 768 km. They've been feeling a little flat and hard lately, so I imagine the cushioning is pretty much done after all that. But I quite liked them.

However, that meant another ordeal of buying shoes. I went to the place where I'd bought them, hopeful that that model hadn't already been replace by a new and improved version. No luck. The GT-2130 has been superceded by the GT-2140, which as usual, is a completely different shoe, and a completely different fit. So back to square one.

They did still have several pairs of the older one in stock, piled by the window, and at a discounted price, however the smallest was size 9. A brief moment of hope was dashed as I tried them on. Sloppy heel and a little too roomy. Damn.

So began the endless round of trying on shoes and walking around the store while the sales guy made trips to the back for more. A pair of Saucony's was almost chosen, but there was just a slight squeeze across the arch, which I knew would cripple me within a kilometre. I finally settled on, amazingly, a pair of New Balance 769's.

I've never liked NB's, but have been surprised by them in the past. These ones seemed to have a great fit, but the sponginess was a bit of a concern. Not to worry, though, they actually were completely out of my awareness this morning, before I got to the bluff.

Fantastic morning for a run, or for anything outside, and the rest of the day promises to be the same. I crossed the river at Centre Street as usual. and the first walk break was pretty chilly. Just past the brass propeller, (commemorating some river boat, I think) I heard a countdown on a loudspeaker, and could see a big crowd at the Eau Claire Running Room lined up, and pointed in my direction. A volunteer a hundred metres on said it was something called the CBI Hustle for Hunger. Just as the starting gun went off behind me.

Being a 10K, I was soon overtaken by the fast ones. Surprisingly, after being passed by a couple of dozen runners, I was keeping pace with most of them. It felt very good to be keeping up with the front of the pack at their 10 km pace, although in retrospect, they were probably saving the speed for the last half.

I paced the group for awhile, meanwhile threading through the usual sunny Sunday morning crowd, also out in the sunshine. Lots of traffic out there this morning. I ended up chatting with Julie, freshly back from teaching English in Japan for four years and contemplating training for the Honolulu Marathon in December. Also trying to decide whether to go back to Japan to her boyfriend, or try to convince him to give Canada a try. Long distance relationships have got to be tough. L n K Just before crossing back across the river at Crowchild, I took a walk break and wished her a good run.

At the race's turn-around point, I trundled on through, and kept the pace that I was pumped up to by being in the middle of the race pack. Nothing like being surrounded by fast runners to get you going fast, too.

I was at Angel's Cafe quickly after that. The return trip was pretty uneventful. I passed Peter-Mark, a friend that I see out there quite often, and we high-fived in passing. Uneventful but fast. Perhaps the new shoes had an effect, I don't know. But I was pushing quite hard from Crowchild all the way back to The Stairs.

I took The Path to the top of the bluff, and then the usual finish along Cresent Road to 4th Street. Wonderful run on a beautiful morning.

Distance: 16.42 Time: 1:24:40Average speed: 5:09 min/km. (11.64 kph)
Rest distance: .9797 km. Rest time: 9:00.
Total distance: 17.40 km. Total time: 1:33:40.

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: None - never seem to occur when I'm head down and fast.

Weather: Sunny, -6C to start and finishing at -1C.