Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Forest City Road Races - Half Marathon

The last time I did a standalone half marathon was in August 2012 (race report here) back in Perth. I don't usually sign up for run races simply because I try to limit my spending on race entry fees and typically I could do a 21km run on my own in training. But as the triathlon racing season here starts pretty late - around late May/early June, I thought why not give it go. At least, I have something to train for over the long winter months. It would be awesome to run a new personal best, last clocked in July 2011 (race report here) in Perth as well, but given a different course and not being able to run outdoors much in winter, I was just going to give my best and see how the day unfolds.

The day before the race... weather wasn't very good. It was gloomy and really windy. Even when we went to collect my race pack at Victoria Park, we were running for shelter from the strong winds and impending rain. We had lunch at Angelo's and it was our first time there. We had a pasta to share and ordered a huge serving of breakfast waffles with gelato. We had a coupon that gave a complimentary scoop of gelato with my pasta, so two scoops of ice cream - makes a very indulgent lunch! I think we just found our new favourite place! For dinner, Li-Ann cooked pasta too, so you can say, I was well carbed up for the race!
Race morning came. I had a good night's sleep and was up at 5.45am. Went through the usual routine - put on contact lenses, breakfast, some stretching and mandatory toilet sit-down hahaha. The weather changed for the better... much better. It was near perfect actually, a bit cold... at 3 degrees Celcius but sunny skies and light winds. We were worried of the road closures and not being able to find a parking spot, but there were no problems at all and we arrived at Victoria Park at 7.15am. I guess it was due to the different start times for the half marathon (8am), 10km (10am) and 5km (8.30am). And the roads were only partially closed.
We met up with Tom - London Tri Club president and helped him set up the tent. I was able to leave my bag there rather than with the masses at the event bag tent. Li-Ann was a volunteer race marshal that morning. Her station was about 30 minute walk from the race start it felt a bit odd that our roles were somewhat reversed, and she was leaving to get ready earlier than I was. I was still feeling full from breakfast so I didn't eat the energy bar I brought along. I chatted a bit more with Tom and waited until about 15 minutes before the race start before I did some warm up jogs.
One last visit to the portaloo and it was time to go. Luckily I checked the venue map just before, otherwise I wouldn't have known where I would need to go for the start as the different events started in different sides of the park and Victoria Park is not a small park either. I strategically positioned myself near the front women. I should have started my Garmin signal earlier, had a bit of a panic attack when the Canadian national anthem was almost finishing and my watch was still searching for it's signal! But it activated just in the nick of time and off we went!

With a turnout of about 500 runners for the half marathon, it is a bit smaller than the running events I used to do in Perth. I started off pretty quickly and was surprised that there were only a group of 10+ runners with me and the gap was getting bigger - the faster ones are speeding ahead, but I seem to be running away from the group behind too. The early pace was probably a bit too quick - 3:50 per km I did! I was only able to hold on to the top women for a while but after that, they started pulling away. A couple more guys overtook me as I settled into a more steady pace of about 4:15 per km.
The course goes through Western University and has some gentle rollers with a couple of short, steep climbs as we come out of Western at the 8 to 9km mark. I managed to overtake a person in front after the first climb. Shortly after, I met up with Li-Ann marshalling at the 10km mark. She commented that I looked a bit warm in my long compression top and bottoms. She was probably right. Usually I can run through a half marathon without having a drink but I decided take one at the next station.
I found that that each km marker was about 100-200m after each time my watch beeps. I had to keep that in mind to forecast my finishing time. We ran through Western again after the 15km mark. I was able to overtake a couple more guys. That was good for morale and I found myself going a bit quicker after. Although a PB was no more on the cards, I was close to running a sub 1:29 if I could maintain the pace. But the final km was a steady climb which put me back another 10 seconds. And as I got back to Victoria Park, my watch beeped for the final 21km and it seemed like I had another 3 corners of the park to run around.
I finally crossed the line in 1:29:17, my 3rd best half marathon time. I was 14th overall and surprisingly got myself 2nd place in my Male 30-34 age group. Looking at the results, the 13th person (also 3rd place overall female, gosh these girls are fast!) was a good 3.5 minutes ahead and the 1st person in my age group was 10 minute ahead, so even clocking a PB would not have changed my position at all. Full results here.

Here are my km splits:

1km - 3:50
2km - 4:01
3km - 4:16
4km - 4:16
5km - 4:13
6km - 4:14
7km - 4:06
8km - 4:09
9km - 4:21
10km - 4:15
11km - 4:16
12km - 4:14
13km - 4:16
14km - 4:13
15km - 4:11
16km - 4:12
17km - 4:11
18km - 4:12
19km - 4:17
20km - 4:19
21km - 4:10
21.3km (based on my Garmin) - 1:10 

I wasn't expecting a prize for my 2nd in age group placing, but I heard an announcement to that up to top 3 in age group prizes were given at the registration tent. So I went to check and got myself a small prize of $10 gift card at Runners' Choice store. Hey, better than nothing, right?
Overall, I'm pleased with the result. Would have preferred to have ran a bit quicker but without any specific speed training, I can't complain. It's pretty good way to start the racing season! My training program under Coach Sheri Fraser (or as she calls it herself, the Sheri Torture!) started this week and I look forward to what this season brings.

Race pictures courtesy of Zoomphoto.ca

Monday, 28 April 2014

Week 4 of 26

I have conveniently made this week a recovery week after the past 3 weeks build. Ending it with the half marathon race at Forest City Road Races.

Monday, as usual, was a rest day. Originally I planned to cycle on Tuesday but the weather looked gloomy with some strong winds, so I ran 12km at Springbank instead. Still ran it pretty hard, clocking the same time as last week.

Wednesday, I rode to Southwold. The plan was to do 75kms. Temperatures were about just under 10 degrees Celcius but with the strong winds, the chill felt closer to freezing point. I was shivering pretty badly and was cycling way below par. About 50kms into the ride, I decided to call it quits and gave Li-Ann an SOS call to pick me up. I rolled for about another 7km, so that I was a bit nearer for her to get me.

Thursday, the temperature rose a bit. I rode to Thorndale this time. It was still windy, but not half as bad as the day before. Clocked 75km as planned. Friday, I did the only swim session for the week, main set of 1000m, 10 x 100m on 1:45, 1000m. My swimming has stagnated and maybe even deteriorated a little lately. Could be the additional training hours, so I feel a bit more tired. What used to around 15+ minutes for a 1km swim, I'll now be happy to clock anything under 17 minutes. Still, I'm not too worried as I think my open water skills would improve with the weekly Splash N' Dash sessions in Lake Whittaker when summer comes.

Saturday was another rest day, or rather, pigging out day! We had pasta for lunch at Angelo's and ordered a huge serving of breakfast waffles with gelato ice cream. I had a coupon for another scoop of gelato that came with my pasta, so yes we did indulge a bit! For dinner, Li-Ann cooked pasta too, so you can say, I was all carbed up for the race the next day.

Sunday, ran the half marathon at Forest City Road Races. It was pretty chilly at the start with 3 degrees Celcius but other than that, a perfect day. Sunny skies and as I was dressed in long compression top and bottoms, I did feel a bit warm midway through the run. I ran my 3rd best time - 1:29:17 and was 14th overall. Scored a surprise 2nd place in my Male 30-34 age group and won a small gift of $10 gift card at Runners' Choice shop. Race report to come soon.

Week 4 of 26 stats:

Swim 3.5km (1 hour 2 minutes)
Bike 132.5km (4 hours 34 minutes)
Run 33.1km (2 hours 21 minutes)

Total 169.1km (7 hours 56 minutes)

Monday, 21 April 2014

Week 3 of 26

With a rest day on Monday, my first workout was on Tuesday. Can you believe it? It actually snowed, in the middle of April! Luckily I scheduled a swim session, main set - 10 x 100, 500 steady, 5 x 200, 500 steady. Was feeling a bit tired and had shorter rests than usual for the same intervals.

The next day, the weather warmed up a bit and most the snow from the day before began to melt. But it was still pretty cold when I did my ride in the afternoon, I could barely feel my fingers and toes. The same 60km ride to Thorndale but few minutes slower than last week.

Thursday it warmed up nicely and I did a 12km run at Springbank. Decided to bring out the Saucony Fastwitch's again, to test them out as they would be racing choice for Forest City half marathon next weekend. What a difference lightweight racers make and I went another 20 seconds quicker than last week.

Friday was Easter public holiday. I could have rode longer but I only did a 75km ride to Lakeside and back. My wife asked why didn't I schedule a 6 hour ride... gosh, she's even tougher than my coach! The skies were a bit gloomy but luckily the rain held back. In the afternoon, I did a swim session, main set was pyramid swim 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100.

Saturday I squeezed in a 110km ride before leaving for Markham to visit my wife's cousins for the weekend. I rode to Southwold and it was headwind on the return journey all the way. My legs were pretty shattered. A roadie tried to hitch a ride. Usually I don't mind but I wasn't in best of moods so I slammed on the gas to drop him off. I paid for it later though... it was a long stroll all the way home.

We spent the night in Markham. Had a late steamboat dinner with plenty of good food and dessert. We were going horseback riding on Sunday morning. Initially I wanted to run 20km but I was only able to squeeze in 16km, just to round up my total weekly mileage to 280km. Felt tired on the way out but after the turnaround, somehow I had an extra gear and was able to run hard all the way home.
Li-Ann after her ride. Her horse was more obedient than mine.
Li-Ann's cousin - Sara and myself. Apparently her horse has a crush on mine.
Week 3 stats:

Swim 7.0km (1 hour 58 minutes)
Bike 245.4 (8 hours 9 minutes)
Run 28.1km (2 hours 4 minutes)
err... horseback riding (50 minutes)??? My bum feels so much more sore compared to cycling, so I reckon this should count! Hahaha

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

shi shang zhi you mama hao

Today is my mum's birthday. Since I've moved overseas, I have not been able to celebrate with mum in person. That's 13 years... and counting. I usually wish her either by giving a call or through Skype. Sometimes I get my sis to run around to get a present. Most often, I choose the lazy route and transfer some money so my mum can buy something for herself.

This year, her birthday is even more special as it marks her official day of retirement. She has been a teacher all her life and if I'm not mistaken, it has been almost 25 years since she has started teaching in SMK Subang Jaya. Did you know that all 3 of us siblings went to the same school that mum taught in? My mum was born to teach and we always joked that she has in-built loud speaker. I remember vividly when we were having our SPM trials and we could hear her teaching from the opposite block! Love it or hate it, it was what it was. I actually found it pretty cool that mum's closest friends are those who have educated me and seen me grow up.
My mum and yes, that's me! I was probably 16 then and it was cool to wear shirts that are 3 sizes too big.
My sister shared pictures and video clips of mum's farewell ceremony with us. And it was clear how much she was loved, both by students and fellow teachers. And so they should. Mum is a dedicated and caring teacher. She often puts others first and her needs last. Even at home. Each time we come home from an outstation trip, no matter how late it was or how tired she was, she made sure that all our things were unpacked away, clothes washed, meals cooked - ready for the next day.
Mum's retirement, taken from my sis' Instagram. Dad and sis surprised her by showing up. Dad even brought a large bouquet of flowers!
Mum loves to travel and see the world. Now that she has retired, we hope that she has more time to do that without having to worry about school holidays or marking exam papers. I look forward to travelling with her and dad to the USA later this year.
There's no horsing around when mum's around hehehe
Happy birthday mum! Sorry I've missed out on yet another birthday. Congratulations on your retirement! Best wishes and may you enjoy it to the fullest in this new chapter in your life. 

Lots of love from Canada.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Week 2 of 26

I learnt from last week and scheduled a rest day on Monday to recover from the big weekend workouts.

On Tuesday I did my usual 12km at Springbank. It was a nice sunny day and with the long sleeves, I was overdressed. Had a nice tailwind on the return lap and ran a low 52 minutes for the distance. Wednesday was a 60km ride to Thorndale and back. Had a slight headwind on the way back but still manageable.

I did not wake up for a morning swim this week and did my session on Thursday evening. Partially because Li-Ann and share a car, and I planned to swim on my way to work, it didn't feel right dropping her off at work at 6am in the morning! For the swim, I decided to do something different with a main set of 20 x 100m - odds were freestyle, evens were individual medley. Then a 400m steady swim, finishing up with 12 x 50m - odds were either butterfly or backstroke, evens were freestyle. Friday I did the same 60km ride as Wednesday, and had very similar conditions. I even clocked just 1 second quicker! I like being consistent :)

The weekend came and although I cycled the evening before, on Saturday morning, I did a 100km ride to Southwold and back. It was sunny and the winds were pretty calm. I had 3 layers on and I was baking inside. Finished with an average of 30.4kph, so I was happy with that as I usually ride slower on this route - some rolling climbs and plenty of turns, so it does slow me down. In the evening, I spent an hour in the gym.

That night, I was tracking my sister and a few athletes whom I coach back home, racing Putrajaya 70.3. The live feed, however, wasn't updating very well. So I stopped tracking just before midnight and went to sleep. The next morning, after catching up with my sister (who by the way did very well for her first 70.3 with limited training!), I went out for a 22km run. It was warm enough for me to wear a singlet. I tried on my new Asics GT2000 and a new pair of socks as I ran out of running socks (pun, not intended!). Probably wasn't the wisest thing to do for a long run. But it felt alright other than feeling a bit snug which tends to happen with new shoes.

Started well at about 4:30 per km average but after about 10km, my back felt stiff and legs didn't have much in them, so I slowed down to 4:45-5:00 pace. Could be a combination of the late night's sleep and my first 100km ride the day before. Anyway, I willed myself to finish. I had Taylor Swift's 22 song playing in my head and deliberately made the distance to 22.22km, finishing just a few steps off my front lawn!

In the afternoon, I did a quick and dirty swim session with main set of 6 x 500m to help recover from the long run. The pool was pretty busy with a few lanes being reserved for a coached swim session. All the splashing made me feel as if I was swimming the ocean!

Week 2 stats:

Swim 7.0km (2 hours 5 minutes)
Bike 220.3km (7 hours 6 minutes)
Run 34.2km (2 hours 36 minutes)
Gym (1 hour)

Total 261.57km (12 hours 47 minutes)

Monday, 7 April 2014

Week 1 of 26

So I said I'll share my training log up until the big race - Ironman Malaysia, Langkawi on September 27. Here's the first week of my 26 week build up.

Originally I didn't plan a rest day this week. I started the week off with a 50 minute session at the gym, alternating between arms, legs and core. My legs were still feeling a bit sore from the weekend run and on hindsight, I should have taken this day as a rest day. This became even more true on Tuesday. It was nice and sunny outside but the winds were really gusty and I didn't want to risk being blown off my bike after having not rode outside since November. So I went on the trainer but I felt no power in my legs at all. I decided to call it quits after 15 minutes.

I did make up for it the next day. I got home late and only started my ride at 6pm but luckily we still get daylight until past 8pm, so I was able to get a 60km ride in. I went to Thorndale and back. A pretty decent effort too, if I say so myself, averaging at 32kph.

Thursday's weather was a bit gloomy. I did a 12km run at Springbank, had a nice tailwind on the way out. The wind was blowing so strong that my legs could barely keep up with it. On the return lap though, it was pretty tough and I had to dig deep try maintain an even split - was slower by 3 seconds on the way back.

Friday it rained most of the day, so I spent another 90 minutes on the trainer. I'm not sure whether it's because it's getting warmer and I'm feeling more uncomfortable, or the resistance on the trainer actually gets harder with the higher temperatures. I was struggling to hit the speed I usually do in winter.

The weekend came and because I took an unscheduled rest day earlier, I packed two workouts on each day. Saturday I did a swim in the morning with my favourite main set - pyramid swim of 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, 500m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m. At first, I had the whole lane to myself and then, 3 other guys came and did sprints. Yes, it was pretty crowded and in a 25m lane as well!

I took a nice long nap in the afternoon and hit the road for a long run in the evening. I've been gradually increasing my long run the past few weeks and this week, the plan was to hit at least 21km. The route I took got my clocking 21.7km with a 4:30 per km average, so I was pretty happy.

Sunday's weather was nice and sunny. I took my bike out for a ride heading towards Thorndale again and then a loop around Lakeside. The wind picked up on the way back and you guessed it, it was a headwind! My average speed dropped a bit but still glad to have done 90km in just over 3 hours. I was pretty tired but had a couple of hours rest, before I did a long swim set just after lunch - I was burping curry chicken! Main sets were 1km, 10 x 100m, 1km. The first two sets were okay but I did not have much left in the tank by the 3rd set and it was 30 seconds slower than the first.

I'm quite pleased with this week's training. I haven't been able to pull myself out of bed for a weekday morning swim but hopefully, I'll be motivated enough to do that next week.

Week 1 stats:

Swim 7.0km (2 hours 2 minutes)
Bike 205.1km (6 hours 24 minutes)
Run 33.7km (2 hours 30 minutes)
Gym (50 minutes)

Total 245.83km (11 hours 46 minutes)