Edmonton Hypo Half Marathon Post Mortem

Well, my first ever endurance race of any kind was a great success! It was an awesome experience and a great chance to measure what my 6 months of training has done for me. I finished the half-marathon(21.1km) with a time of 1:37:19 and ended up in 4th place overall and second place in my age group, Male 20-29.

The Conditions

They were just horrid. There was about 1.5 inches of loose snow making it feel more like a cross country run than something that was supposed to be on a pavement road. I spent a lot of time zig-zagging looking for the most packed down places to run and when the side walks were cleared by the residents of the area, darting from side walk to side walk. Based on what the  runners who beat me had said about his regular times vs his time today, the snow cost me about 7-10 minutes. Another challenge was passing walkers and slower runners. Because there wasn’t a whole lot of packed snow, I wasted a bunch of energy passing people although many were nice enough to let me pass by down the best path on the road.

My shoes did okay, but have about 400km from them and are starting to lose some of their grippyness. A trail running shoe may have almost been better for the conditions.

Another thing that didn’t really help my cause was a 7.5 hour 3am greyhound to Edmonton the day before the race followed by a 7 hour shift on my feet at work. Although it didn’t really seem to come back to haunt me it may have potentially affected my performance.

The Race

I felt pretty confident in my training that I could do well going into the race. I felt like I could run sub 1:30 but set a cap at 1:40 for what I thought was the lowest I would accept from myself. At the start I managed to line up at the front of the pack with the other fast guys so I didn’t have to weave in and out at the start of the race to get clear of all the traffic. I realized after about 100m that it was going to be tough to make my 1:30 goal so I started to pace myself a bit better. For the first 2km I ran with a pack of 3 other guys who turned out to be the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers. After a while I realized I was a bit out classed by these more experienced and better trained runners and dropped my pace from about 4:15 to 4:30 because my legs were getting tired from sliding so much.

As the race went on I began to develop more of a strategy. I paced myself much more carefully on the slippery roads and really picked it up on the side-walks and down hill portions of the race which seemed to work the best for making up time and maximizing efficiency. Another problem that I had was that I had been working on leaning forward slightly during my runs, I’ve found that extra forward momentum causes my pace to quicken a bit. However with the slippery conditions it was impossible to due this as it would cause you to lose traction. So I was forced to run pretty well straight vertical.

My splits were not bad although I would have liked to see them a bit closer to each other.

First 10.5k: 47:37

Second 10.6k: 49:32

Near kilometre 14 or 15 things really started to get tough as you are far into the race and the legs are starting to feel it a bit, but the end is still quite some ways away. My pace began dropping slightly, although I made a conscious effort to try and stay quicker than 4:40 by focussing on passing the runners and walkers ahead of me. As I got closer to the end I wasn’t quite sure how hard to kick it and where I should really start to go full out but I definitely felt like I pushed myself close to my upper limit and put out too as close to as much effort as I possibly could.

Training

Although I was pretty happy with my result there is definitely a TON of room for improvement. I wasn’t happy with my 174bpm heart rate avg, that definitely points to the need for some more base work, although I am impressed that I could push my cardio-vascular system that hard for that long. I definitely need to get some more volume under my belt. Although I did a bunch of long runs, I need to start running at a quicker pace closer to 4:45-5:15/km as opposed to 5:45-6:15/km to help my base out. One thing I will definitely do for my next race is interval training at my racing pace as well. It’s tough on the body to train at race pace all of the time and seems to be a really good alternative and perhaps even more effective at improving race pace as well.

What Now

I’m undecided as to whether I want to focus on triathlons specifically for the time being now or tackle another half-marathon on the side. There is an interesting one at the end of April called the Edmonton Police Foundation Half Marathon that I might do as its well before my other triathlons. I know the paths which are great to run and it looks to be a nice there-and-back race with 3 hills along the way which could prove to make it a bit more interesting of a run.

Ohhh! And here is the runkeeper for the race: http://runkeeper.com/user/deredowl/activity/72568047

Getting pumped up for 21km's right before the race started.
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Bike Power Day

Workout Stage: Build 1

Week: 2

Workout Type: Power Biking and Stair Sets

Purpose

Last night we started with a new workout for Tuesday nights. Instead of doing the regular 1 hour run, 1 hour bike, we did a 2 hour run followed by some running. The basic idea of this new workout day is to build more muscle mass for the biking portion of triathlons or for road racing. Now that we have developed some muscular endurance and have cardio in place, the advanced or more serious members in the club are doing this to help gain some more power on the bike and muscle in the legs.

We started with a basic warmup and then did 2 x 1 hour sets for building power on the bike which looked like this:

(Repeated Twice – 1 Hour Each)

Warm Up, 5-10 minutes of spinning

Exercise 1 – Big Hill Climb x 3

The trick with this one was to try and be at maximum threshold by the time you reach standing climb and maintain that until you enter recovery in Aero. The target heart rate should be between 165-180 bpm.

2 min aero(90-95  rpm),

1 min seated(Up intensity, 85-90 rpm),

1.5 min seated(Up intensity, 80-85 rpm),

1.5 standing(Maintain intensity, 65-75 rpm),

2 min aero(Maintain, 90-100 rpm),

3 min aero(recovery, 90-100 rpm).

Exercise 2 – Max Effort 1 Min On/1 Min Min Effort Recovery x 5

This exercise is designed to work on power as well, target heart rate should be between 165-185 during the sprint. During recovery, back off as much as possible to allow the legs to recover. You want to be pushing the biggest gear you could manage on a flat straight away while still feeling powerful. I find I am the most powerful at 95-100 rpm so I tried to find the highest resistance that I could hold at this cadence over 5 sets.

On the 4th set, try and beat your 1 set cadence by approximately 5 rpm. On the fifth, set try and hold your first set cadence.

Cooldown – 10 minutes

Cooldown Speed Set:

Start at 80 rpm, build up 10 rpm / 20 seconds until you reach 120 rpm, hold for 30 seconds, then reduce cadence by 10 rpm every 20 seconds. Make sure to put enough resistance on at high cadences so it feels like you are pushing against something to avoid doing damage to your legs.

For the remaining time do whatever it is that you normally do during a cool down.

After doing this twice we went and did a great run workout also emphasizing leg power.

Warm-up

10 laps around the track or approximately 2km run.

Exercise 1 – Stair Set w/ Lunges

Next we did 3 stair sets with approximately 24 stairs per set and 10 stair cases in the set. In between sets we did active recovery by performing 60-80 walking lunges(30-40 each leg).

Exercise 2 – 5 Lap Recovery w/ Karioka and Buildups

Next we did 5 laps or so to get the legs going again after some inducing some heavy stress from the stairs and lunges. Following this we did 3 sets of Carioca(video linked below) going each way once per set for a total of 6 times over a distance of about 30m. After this we did 4 sets of build ups which consisted of about 15 butt kicks, 15 high knees, then accelerate to ~90% of top speed over 25-30m followed by gradual deceleration. These are designed to work on quick twitch muscle development and helps allow the body to coordinate movements at higher speeds.

All in all this workout took about 3 hours. My Garmin said I burned about 2400 calories so be sure to bring a bunch of water, eat well before the workout, and bring some snacks to eat during the workout as well.

Note: Living in Edmonton, Alberta in the winter means we ride spin bikes until the snow goes away in March or April. While the spin bikes are awesome, they are no replacement for getting out on the road and actually riding.