Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ajax Waterfront Half Marathon - PR

Miha and I raced the Ajax Half Marathon on Sunday. Ajax is a little town, located east of Toronto, where we live right now. We are doing this race every year, since we moved to Ajax 3 years ago. Coincidentally this race started 3 years ago so we can say that we are doing it since its day one. And we plan to do it for many years to come.

The route starts and ends at Rotary Park and it winds along the shores of Lake Ontario. The scenery is beautiful and the race has sold out for every year so far. It has that feeling of a little town race, which I like very much. Everybody is very friendly and nice. Plus it costs only $30, if you register in advance. Most of the big races charge double the price.

My first half marathon was Ajax Half Marathon, in 2008, and I did it with almost zero training. I finished then in 1:43:54h and I remember even now how hard that race was. My left knee was hurting for the last 5K but I sucked it up and kept running. At some point I was limping, but I kept running. I was really happy that in the end I managed to run for the entire race. The next year I managed to finish the same race in 1:34:55h, which was a PR at that time. And because in 2009 I trained properly, that race was much easier.

As you realized from the title, I got a PR on Sunday. Here are our results:

I finished in 1:30:48 h and beat my previous Half Marathon PR time by more than 4 minutes. And considering that my stomach bug is still bothering me, I am really happy with this result. For the first time I managed to get a negative split. My average pace in the second half was 2 seconds faster than in the first half. My primary goal was to get a negative split, regardless if I get a PR or not. That's because until now, at all my previous races, I always started too hard and then faded at the end. This time I raced by Heart Rate instead of racing by feeling. After failing a few times in the past, I realized that I do not have the experience to pace myself properly by feeling. So I decided to use my HR monitor as a pacing device. Regardless of how well I felt or how many other participants passed me, each time my HR spiked over 170 I slowed down and kept telling myself that my goal is to finish strong, with a negative split, even if I do not get a PR. In the end this strategy paid off. I felt strong all the way to the end and finished with a long sprint for the last 2K. My average HR was 170 and my max HR was 182.

Miha was aiming for 1:45h, but she did not feel too well and finished in 1:50:59, with one minute more than her PR. I am sure that in a good day she can get her PR down to 1:45h.

Also my friend Dan finished his first half marathon on Sunday. He finished in 1:46:21h and he was extremely happy with his result. He has every reason to be happy. It is a huge achievement for him considering that a few months ago he was afraid of running 5K.
Dan and I work downtown Toronto, in the same building, and get together during the lunch break almost every day. I guess that for a while I exasperated him with my triathlon talk and in the end he decided to give it a try. Now he exasperates me each time when he manages to improve his 5/10K time by 1 second :0). And lately he managed to get a PR every week. After finishing the half marathon with a 5:03 min/km pace he told me that a few months ago he could not run 1K at that pace. It is amazing how much you can achieve if you put your mind into it.
Dan bought a Garmin 305 GPS watch, after I lent him mine for a few days, and he's fascinated by it. I've never seen anyone so in love with a GPS watch. He keeps telling me that  it was one of the best purchases he ever made.
He also decided to do the Muskoka Half Ironman next year. Actually, we'll do it together. I am not so sure about my performance in year from now, but I know that Dan will perform very well.  It makes me happy knowing that he caught the triathlon bug from me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chasing that elusive BQ time

Today Miha and I did the Toronto Marathon. As you probably deducted from the title, none of us qualified to Boston. It just wasn't our day. I was sick and I had to slow down after 21Km and then I bonked at Km 36. Miha was sick too, but at least she managed to get a PR, so she's happy with her result.

Here's how the day went. For more than a week, Miha and I got a cold or some sort of mild flu and we did not feel well. I also got some stomach bug that gave me heartburn feelings and bloating. Last night I was coughing for a couple hours until I managed to fell asleep. In the morning my stomach was making the rumblies and I had to throw up and use the washrooms three times. Not a good way to start your day, especially when you have a marathon later on.

We got to the start line, in the Mel Lastman square, just a few minutes before the race was about to start. Then I followed Bryan's advice: go to the front of the start line, so that you'll appear in the race start photo, the one they might use to promote the next year's race. As you can see from our Time vs. Chip Time, we managed to achieve this very well, we actually were in front of the elite runners, just next to the official mascot, a white and blue big bear.

Once the gun went off, I sprinted and then moved to the side so that I won't get in the way of the faster runners. I've decided to follow the 3:15h pacing bunny and in the beginning all went very well. My heart rate was between 160-165, which is OK for me and I felt in good shape. After 5K, my HR went above 170 and I started to feel a little bit tired. At that point I already knew that I won't BQ today. From there on my HR slowly went up to 172-175 and it kind of stayed there. 175 is quite high for me and I started feeling more tired. I managed to keep up with the 3:15 pacing bunny for the first half-marathon and once I passed the 21.1 Km sign I realized that my HR was above 180. At that point I knew that it was time to slow down if I still wanted to finish the race. Also my left knee started to bother me more and more. My half-marathon time was 1:35h - 4:30 min/km, which was very good but I knew that from there on it will only go up. So, I slowed down to 5:10 min/km and my HR dropped under 165 bpm. I managed to keep that pace up to Km 36 when my left knee started to bother me really, really bad. And then the walk of shame began. I walked for the next 4K. Once I got back to downtown Toronto, I saw my friends who came to cheer me up. They saw me walking and kept telling me to start running and that the finish line was close. Thank you Ildi and Levi! I started to slowly run and once I got on the University Avenue, there were hundreds of people cheering you up. Some of them were yelling my name (it was printed on my bib) and were telling me "Go Ironman, you can do it. This should be easy for you" (I had my Ironman t-shirt). For some reason my knee pain seemed to vanish and I was running faster. My pace for the last 2.2K was under 4:40 min/km and I finished strong with a long sprint, passing everyone in front of me.

I finished in 3:42 hours, 27 minutes above my goal and 24 minutes more than my PR. It was not a good race but it taught me a few lessons, number one being: "Qualifying to Boston is not as easy as you think".

Miha finished in 4:08h. Her A goal was to BQ and her B goal was to break 4 hours. She did not accomplish any of them, but she was sick and in the end she was happy that she got a PR. Her previous marathon time was 4:14h at Mississauga Marathon in May.

We both plan to do Boston Marathon in 2012 and we have a year to qualify for it. I learnt my lesson today and I won't say anymore that it's easy to BQ, but I still think that is an achievable goal if you train properly. I know that there are many of our blog friends who want to BQ for 2012 and it will be really nice to run with them the most famous marathon in the world. And then get together and celebrate!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bucket List

Today I was reading a post on SlowTwitch about What's Your Endurance Bucket List?. Skimming through the entries I found quite a few that were interesting and so I've decided to make my own Bucket List. This is work in progress and it will probably change quite a bit in time:

So, here it is, in a random order:

 - Qualify and finish the 5 World Marathon Majors: Boston, New York, Chicago, London and Berlin

 - Qualify to Ironman World Championship 70.3

 - Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

 - American Zofingen Long Course

 - Pikes Peak Marathon

 - Antarctic Ice Marathon

 - Athens Classic Marathon

 - Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race a.k.a. Race Across The Sky

 - Finish Savageman and get my brick in the wall

 - Alpe d'Huez Long Course Triathlon

 - Comrades Marathon

- Though Mudder

- Warrior Dash

- American Triple-T

 - Qualify for and finish the Ironman World Championship in Kona

- Skydiving

 - Take a ride on the highest roller coaster in the country

- Bungee Jumping

- Dog Sled ride in Alaska

 - Marathon every year till I am still able to walk 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kids of Steel

Enough about me (for the moment being). Today's post is about Maria and Stefan, our KOS (kids of steel) children. Maria is 6 1/2 years old and Stefan is going to be 5 next month. They could not be more different. If I were to describe them in 3 words, here's what I'd say:
Maria: competitive, smart, annoying
Stefan: charming, confident, laid-back

I guess that Maria is more like me and Stefan is more like the mail man, or one of our neighbors. Ha-ha. He's just different, in a good way. He'll probably not be very good at school, but he'll not have self-esteem problems like Miha and I had. Maria, on the other hand, might have self-esteem problems, but she will be the first in her class and probably be a podium triathlete.

As much as I'd like to take credit for our awesome kids (and if you know me, you know that I like to take all the credit all the time), there's not much that I did. If you ask Miha, she'd say that there's nothing that I did beside being there (our bedroom) 9 months before our kids were born. Hey, being there, is not as easy as you might think. It is actually easier. Ha-ha. Miha, one of the best mom there is,  on the other hand, did a very good job raising our kids. But, mainly, we were just plain lucky.

Maria and Stefan participated in a few races in in the last 3 years. Below are a few pictures about these races. They say that a picture is worth 10,000 words, so I am adding a lots of pictures because I am not good with words.

The year of 2008
Maria - Orillia Kids of Steels- August 2008

The Iron Family - Orillia Kids of Steels- August 2008

The Iron Family - Orillia Kids of Steels- August 2008

The year of 2009
Peterborough YMCA Kids 1K Fun Run - February 2009

Maria - TriKids Mississauga - June 2009

The Iron Family  - Tri Kids Oakville - July 2009

The Iron Family  - Tri Kids Oakville - July 2009

The Iron Family  - Tri Kids Oakville - July 2009

Stefan - KOS Beaches - September 2009

 Stefan - KOS Beaches - September 2009

Tudor, Stefan, Andrea, Maria - KOS Beaches - September 2009

The year of 2010
East End Kids Of Steel Triathlon - June 2010 

TRi KiDS Oakville - July 2010

TRi KiDS Oakville - July 2010

TRi KiDS Oakville - July 2010

TRi KiDS Oakville - July 2010

Beaches KOS Duathlon - September 2010

Beaches KOS Duathlon - September 2010 - with friends