There we go!

There we go!
Pushing the Nitro Button

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Commonwealth Mountain & Ultra Distance Championships 5km

Before I talk about my 5km race I have to mention the AMAZING races that have happened in my home town in the last 2 days. Just to put this in context, this event is a world class running event, which took place in Llandudno – a town of no more than 20k people. The feeling I get when I think about this is somewhat a kin to Barak Obama turning up at my door for a cup of tea and a slice of cake! Some of the GREATS of Ultra-running have been running around the town I do my long runs through :o

Now I’ve got that off my chest, I’ll get onto the really good bit, but just before I do I’d like to take a second to mention that Lizzi Hawker has just completed a World Record distance for 24hr race for women with 15mins to go in the race. A moment of silence please……………………………….. For more on this please see -

Now, my small part in the days racing started 25 mins after my youngest daughter completed her Fun Run mile. Always a sucker for a sad story, she decided the glory had gone and helped the little kids at the end of the pack to keep them going until the end. As we cheered her in, my friend’s daughter was declared the winner and interviewed by local radio! 

5 mins after the Fun Run was the Elites Mile Race. The organizers had managed to pull in some of the best Milers in UK. The hope was that within the pack there would be a good chance of breaking the 4 min barrier! As the runners went off this became increasingly unlikely as the course required hairpin turns after every 400m. The final winning finishing time was 4.21 – but I can’t find the name of the guy who won it L

My race was the Open 5km which was run on the Llandudno Promenade at 7pm on Friday 23rd.
Weather conditions were as near to perfect as is possible in Llandudno. The timing of the race meant that there would be no direct sun on the course. The promenade itself is a flat strip of tarmac 30m wide which runs for 1.2 miles along the north shore coast of Llandudno.  The only downside to this race was that the route involved 4 360degree hairpin turns around a cone placed at each end of the course.

As 7pm approached I decided to get as much of a warmup in as I could. Not having run a 5km race before, I had taken advice from my DM friends, the gist of which was that I should take any easy run and finish with some strides. I managed to cram this into the 3.30 mins just before the off!

I normally try to judge my position at the start of races based on how fit the people around me appear to be. This race was not chip timed so I was less concerned about my starting position as I would be timing the race on my watch myself.  As the gun went it took no more than 15 sec to get to the line and I was off!

Mile 1 in 7.05 – The congestion at the front of the race seemed to dissipate quite quickly with the really speedy people running off and leaving space for me to get into my stride. My cadence was good at 91 but my stride was messed up a bit as I hit the first hairpin turn. I appeared to accelerate out of the turn quicker than most of the other people running at my pace, which was handy when trying to overtake. The only sense of pace I had while running was from my watch. I was seeing 7 min pace pretty consistently and so I was pretty happy to keep that going. Av HR was a very easy 149 (87%).

Mile 2 in 6.59 – As mile 2 started the race had completely opened out. There was lots of space between me and the people behind me and I had a few people in my sights. As the mile went by we crossed the finish line for the first time and my friends shouted encouragement – I was having fun J My cadence was solid at 89 average and my HR was stable around 158 (93%) At this point I spotted a small pack of runners who had been running in front of me from the start of the race. They would be my target.

Mile 3 in 6.53 + 36sec (.1m) – Mile 3 included 2 hairpin turns of the course. I had targeted a small group of runners near the end of the previous mile and I slowly drew them in. The slight breeze which had come up in the last few minutes had a nice calming effect and I really felt I had reserves of energy that I have not felt before. During the final parts of this mile I appeared to be running past large numbers of runners while I was feeling pretty easy – even calling out to my friend to encourage him as he came towards the finish! The main problem I had during this section was the lack of light. It was so dark by this time that it was almost impossible to see the finish. Fortunately, the people at the line were making so much noise it helped me orientate myself. As I approached the finish area I passed the final few people I had targeted in the last section of the race. I stopped my watch just after crossing the line. I was, for 30 sec completely incapable of speech! My Av HR had come in at 162 (95%) for the final mile and the cadence was a sprightly 89!

* Update the results have just come out and I was 54th out of 138. Happy with that!

My biggest lesson from this event is that I have not found my “right” 5km pace yet. Even the final mile was not that tough. When I do my next 5km I’ll be a bit more ambitious as to my pace – I think sub 20min is definitely a possibility!

Next race is my A race for this year - the Chester Marathon on 9th October  - and I just can’t wait J

Monday, 5 September 2011

Llanrwst Sprint Triathlon 2011 – September 4th 2011

The weather up to Sunday had been quiet but rainy. I had moved into running a few years back after a series of crashes due problems with rainy roads. So it was with delight that I woke on Sunday morning to see clear skies and, almost unheard of, very little wind.  My training had been focused on my Autumn marathon, my second, so the time I had spent swimming and biking were pretty limited. I had swum a total of 2 hours in the previous 3 months in preparation for the race L but had biked for just under 250 miles. Notably my biking miles had almost all been pretty easy efforts with nothing even remotely in the LT/Tempo zone – this would bite me in the bum!
My swim start time was 10.15 and I had anticipated completing the 400m in around 10min. Happily this is exactly what I did, the results show exactly 10 min as my swim time. Transition 1 took a little longer than I might have hoped at 2 min 44 sec. I had made the mistake of not drying myself off before trying to put my compression top on! After wrestling with myself for 90 sec I just managed to pull it down, HR strap on, socks on, shoes on, helmet on, bike off rack, glasses on and OFF!! I ran my bike to the end of transition and jumped on. Then I remembered to set my Garmin to record the bike J The delay with this was not so bad as the first half mile of the route was designated a “non racing” area, due to traffic /safety concerns. My first mile on the bike reflected this coming in just under 19 mph. The next few miles of the race were on lovely flat roads with no wind. My speed reflected this as I averaged just under 22mph for miles 2-5 with avHR of 153 and av Cad of 95. The world was fab!!!! Mile 6 saw a few small hills which dropped my speed down to 20mph for miles 6 and 7. Now came something I wasn’t really expecting, bad prep I’m afraid. The following mile saw my speed drop to just over 12mph! The hill the confronted me was no more than a 500ft climb but when I tried to push as I approached the hill I just didn’t have any strength there. In addition there were 2 other riders who, on the narrow country roads, had decided to weave their way all over the road. The on-coming cars didn’t help much either! After getting to the top of the hill then came the fun J The next mile was at an average speed of 28.2 mph. Unfortunately this didn’t make up for the hill but at least it was a start! The next few miles saw a return to 20-21mph average speeds with cadence never dropping below 90 and avHR was stable around 152. Coming up to the second transition there was a traffic queue and cars coming towards me on the other side. Slowing down considerably for the final half a mile, my average pace came down to just over 20mph, good for 38th out of 160 on the day and 6th in my age group. As I entered T2 I dismounted and proceeded to go down the wrong row of racks for my bike!! After finding where I should have been it was bike racked, glasses off, helmet off, bike shoes off, running shoes on and then run the wrong way!! Get shouted at to “Go over there!” then out of T2 and onto the road. I was a bit surprised when the announcer mentioned, over the annoy, that he knew me from my other running events in the area – who knew J. T2 took 1 min 51 sec – good for the second slowest on the day!! Now for the run. One of the few specific things I had done to practice for this race was a brick session. I had not had any problems running off the bike in training and that seemed to be the case as I ran down the road noticing my sub 7 min pace! This settled down to around 7.30 pace until I hit the first hill. The climb was just over 300ft at a grade of around 13% - I decided a short walk was in order. I actually passed a bike rider who was going up the hill, while I was walking!  Trying to keep my HR below 160,beyond which I tend to explode, the top of the climb saw a quick turn and back up a little further. Mile one was completed in just over 9min. The path saw a small undulating section then up a further 200ft to the turn point. I like to encourage people as they race, most of them like it too J, but I also find it has the added benefit of helping me forget the pain I’m in. As the decent started the people I had passed on the bike leg, who I’d already encouraged as I passed, were in for another dose of happiness! Most of them shouted nice things back as well! Mile 2 was completed in 8.07 and then the decent of the main hill came. I had hopped I would have some zip left in my legs for this, and my cadence did average 88 for the final mile but I was starting to feel a bit tired. As I pushed towards the line I felt as though I could have done better. No crazy, sub 6 min sprint to the end – as I normally do – just an easy-ish  7 min pace up to the end. My final time for the run was a disappointing 24.52 good for 45th on the day and 7th in my age group. My Final time of 1.27.57 was OK but not great! I have lots of lessons to learn from this race, which will not be my last J. Firstly, if I want to swim better then I need to practice! Then, T1 – don’t get dressed in T1 – get bike!! The bike leg was OK but I should check the route and do some proper Tempo work if I want to get that pace up to the 22mph region, which shouldn’t be out of the question. T2 – it might be an idea to think about a land mark to aim for and also try to spot the exit when setting up before the race.  Finally, a bit of hill work would probably have knocked at least a minute off my run time. I think next year, oh yes there will be a next year J, will see me aiming for sub 80min!!