Which distance is correct?

  On the weekend I ran the Somersault Events Fall Colours 10k race. The route takes you from the Cumberland Heritage Museum through the local community. As the name suggested, the route has many trees that are in full fall colours. It’s also a hillier route than I was expecting; nothing outrageous but certainly more hills than flats. What I found most interesting is the discrepancy between my running app and the official distance of the race. I’ve been using Strava since May when I switched from the Nike+ app because it kept crashing and draining my battery by 2kms. 

On race day, I noticed at each km marker that Strava was hitting that distance a few meters earlier. Nothing major, but it clearly added up. By the end of the race, the app was reading 10.8 km; I checked a few other people and we all had the same extra distance. So whose distances are correct? The runners’ or the race event organizers’? At the end of the day I had a solid run and a PB. I cut 4 minutes off my race time finish at 61 mins, but if I use the app distance/time then I cut 9 mins and I came in under an hour (56 mins). Hey it’s pretty hard to complain about two PB’s in the same event. Like I said I’m happy with the results, and one day I will actually finish a 10k race under the 1 hr marker. 

Is it common for running apps to be so different than race distances?

What’s more important to you: training/recreational PB or race day PB? 

National Capital Sprint Duathlon Race Recap

I was checking out my blog posts page today and discovered some incomplete drafts. Sure it’s 6 months late, but getting to the finish line eventually is part of this journey. Since I started this recap, I’ve signed up for my first triathlon; re-reading this is a good motivator for the upcoming running season.



At last I’ve carved out some time to finish writing the National Capital Sprint Duathlon recap that I participated in August 1.  Like my running, my desire to write has fallen off a bit; thankfully in the last few days I’ve made both running and writing a priority.

Competing in a multi-sport event is new to me.  While both my sister-in-law and brother-in-law had each completed a few, I had yet to take u the challenge, until this year when my brother-in-law signed me up.  I needed the nudge, and I’m glad he did it.

Race day was near perfect. Sunny but not too hot. The race site layout was well organized. Thanks to the orientation session the night before lead by Ottawa Triathlon Club coach Geordie McConnell, I knew what to expect and where to go on race day. As recommended, I arrived an hour early. Typically parking at the Terry Fox complex isn’t great, but parking karma was with me and I found a spot right away. I took it as a good sign for the upcoming race. I also found a spot to rack my bike in the centre aisle so it was a straight line through the T zone from the run to the bike and back to the run. Also, there was a spot for my brother-in-law’s gear right beside me.  Our stuff was pretty easy to identify as I had a bright yellow MEC backpack and he had a vibrant orange towel. After getting marked up — yes the Sprint Duathlon also needed marking — we had a quick warm up run and headed to the start line.

One of the great things about Somersault Events is the relatively small number of people competing in each discipline. Even though they run multiple disciplines at each event, you’re really only racing against a small group which means the start line isn’t too crazy. My event only had 36 competitors who were sorted by gender and age category. In my age group, there were only 5 people. There were also some people who opted for Athena or Clydesdale designations (something for which I’m no longer eligible).

The first 2k run leg went fairly well, and I finished it under 11 minutes. Just before the 1k turn around I spotted my mother with a sign and cheering me on. What a great motivator! As I was approaching the T zone another competitor in my age group passed me. I knew I wasn’t first but I also knew I wasn’t last in my AG. If I could keep my sights on that guy I knew I would be okay.  My transition to the bike was pretty good, although I missed my clip which slowed me down a bit. Rookie mistake to be sure.

I was still looking pretty happy during the bike ride, even though I had a mechanical problem at 4km.

View event: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/event/19666/

Thumbs up at the bike turn-around. (View event: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/event/19666/)

My gears/cables decided that what I really needed was an extra challenge and stuck in just two gears — either the highest or the middle. Not much of of a choice.  I could get other gears to work, but it meant holding the shifter in place which is not the easiest or most natural position given that they are located on the down tube. That said, I actually moved up 2 places overall on the bike.  But the effort took its toll on the final run.

2015-08-01 | 2015 National Capital Triathlon, Duathlon and Relays

Beginning the 5k run. I DO NOT have a good race face. (View event: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/event/19666/)

My 5k run was pretty solid, but the gear issues, training gaps, and a lack of nutrients certainly made the second half challenging. With a bout 1.5k to go to the finish I just had to walk. I couldn’t imagine running another step. Amazingly, I was motivated by another runner, many years younger than me who shouted an encouraging word to keep going. And so I sucked it up and started running again. My only focus was to get to the finish line having long given up the hope of an AG success.

It turned out that while I had lost a little time, I was still ahead of the guy I had seen at the end of the first leg. Sure enough, when I finish line I was 2nd in my AG. Even though I was sucking wind just a few minutes before, I was completely reenergized when I crossed that line. Getting 2nd in AG was fantastic (the guy who won came 1st in EVERY Somersault Sprint Du 2015 event), and I’ve happily added it to my collection of Somersault podium victories. I found my brother-in-law Krishna and his friend Doug and we all celebrated our successes. As it turned out, Krishna came in first for his AG, forth overall. This was his first podium finish. Doug was the big winner of the group getting 3nd overall, 2nd male, and 1st AG.

Will I do another one? Yep! I’m already for planning for events next year.

Back at it

I recently recently wrote that I had lost the motivation or focus to run, but that I knew I needed to find it again. After reading on Twitter about a number of people who were either getting back to running or were beginning to run for the first time, I knew I had to make the time to get back at it. I’m fortunate to live in a runner friendly city; there’s even access to a great trail network at the end of my street. I’m also fortunate to have a wife who supports my running even if she can’t imagine why I would enjoy it.

Yesterday I made the time. I hit the trails for 5.5k at 6:04/km pace. Also, I went back to 1 minute walk with 15 minutes running. Given that I hadn’t run in a little over a week, I thought it best to play it safe.

I don’t have a goal race yet, but I’m toying with a fall 10k or even making a return to the half marathon. The one and only time I completed the distance, I hadn’t really trained properly. Because I didn’t know how to at the time. Now that I’ve been running for a few years, albeit off and on, I have a better idea of how to train, and I know where to look for training ideas and plans.  I also appreciate the value of encouragement. When I hit a wall and was walking during the duathlon, at about the 3k mark of the final run, a teenage runner going the other direction said “You can do it. Keep running.” She didn’t know me, but her smile and positive words got me running again and got me to the finish line under my goal time.

It felt good to be running again. I’ve found a new training plan to follow thanks to iRun magazine. They’ve partnered with sporting goods retailer Sport Chek to provide a variety of 10 week training plans (5K, 10k, half, and marathon) for people looking to race in October. Because I want the challenge, and I still hope to meet my goal weight, I’ve opted for the Half Marathon plan.  I have no idea how this will go, but I’m prepared to give it a shot. If you’re looking for a plan for the fall, why not chick out the site (http://mybestrunningrace.com/). Who knows, you might find your self pushing new limits.

Looking for motivation

In the last few weeks I’ve run a 5k race and a sprint duathlon. While the 5k was an opportunity that popped up because we were in Chicago the weekend of the race. And it fit my training schedule for the du. But now that I’m done the du, I’m at a bit of a loss. I haven’t run or biked since the race, and I’m having a hard to time “finding the time” to get moving again.  The lethargy is even in creeping into my writing; it took me almost a week to finish the BTN Big 10k recap, and I haven’t even started the National Captial Duathlon recap yet. Hopefully I will find the “time” / motivation to get going again; maybe I have to sign up for another race.

What tips do you have for getting back to running/exercise after your goal race?

A Lesson Re-Learned

This week the hot weather has returned to Ottawa, and that means taking precautions when being outside exercising.  On at least one day this week, I was either in a hurry or not very attentive before getting on my bike or hitting the trails for a run.  It didn’t take very long before I remembered why the people at the Running room store I frequent recommended Body Glide when I started running.  I’m not likely to forget now,

Keeping my focus

Bianchi World Champion Sticker put on ALL their bikes in 1987

I made the mistake this week of looking at the results of other athletes who have recently completed duathlons in the Somersault Events so far this year — okay I looked at some of last year’s results too.  I only looked so that I would get a sense of how much time it should expect to be moving.  Of course all I really did was discover how fast other athletes, who probably have more multisport experience than me, were actually able to cover the Sprint Duathlon distances.  This didn’t really need to be part of my fact finding research since I know how long it takes me to run 2 km (about 12 minutes), bike 20 km (about 45 mins), and run 5 km (about 30 minutes).  I know I’m not going to be the fastest athlete in the field, not matter how small it is, and I know I AM going to finish.  I really just want to finish.

Instead of looking at other athletes’ finish times, today I looked up tips for transitions, food and nutrition, and strength training. This information will keep me focused and be way more beneficial than knowing that somebody else finished in a time that was right for him on that particular day.

Duathlon Training Update #2

Duathlon Training Summary Week #3 continued

For the week June 28 (end of week 5) to July 5 (week 6)

Week 3 June 28 — July 5 (week 6 of BHF.org.uk Duathlon training plan for beginners)

Day Planned Activity What I Really Did Thoughts/Comments
Sunday Run/Walk: 15

Bike: 30
Run/Walk: 15.

Stretch: 10 min

Run: 6 km in 36:19 time

6:01/km AVG pace

Just glad to be running again! Went out hard.
Monday Rest Run: 5km in 30:19 time

6:02 AVG pace

Took it easier than yesterday, but still happy with progress.
Tuesday Run/walk : 30 minutes.

Stretch: 10 min

Bike: 8.5 km in 21:47 (21:16 moving time)

Bike:8.5 km in 21;10 (20:42 moving time)

10 minutes swimming approx 200 m

1st ride to summer school site.  17 km return ride should be good training
Wednesday Run/Walk 30

Bike 30 minute

Stretch: 10 min

NOTHING! Canada Day celebrations with family took precedence over training
Thursday Run/Walk: 30 minutes

Stretch: 10 min

Walk: 1.2 km dog walk

Summer School walking: approx 9000 steps — way more than 30 mins

Leg stretches to help heel

Had planned to bike, but had to change that plan at the last minute
Friday Bike: 30 minutes or swim or yoga/Pilates class Bike: 8.1 km in 21:14 (17:33 moving time)

Bike: 8.8 km in 21:14 (19:56 moving time)

Swim: 10 minutes approx 250m free & breast

Added new bike computer that syncs with Strava iPhone app so I have more accurate data. Still finding the best/safest route home — looks like I’ve got it. Nice refreshing swim when I got home.
Saturday Rest. Stretch:10 min gardening and a trip to the shopping mall

10000 steps according to Pacer app

Sunday Run/Walk: 10

Bike: 60

Run/Walk: 10 Stretch: 10 min

Run: 5 km in 29:15

Walk: 1.3 km in 12 mins

Swim: 20 mins

Walk: 3 km in 43:00

Didn’t get on the bike today, but I did manage a 5k PB. Also had a nice 3k walk with my beloved after dinner.

Duathlon Training Update #1

A little over two weeks ago my ever enthusiastic and encouraging brother-in-law signed me up for the National Capital Duathlon organized by Somersault Events. While this is yet another vote of confidence of my athletic ability, it has forced my hand (or maybe my feet) to exercise and train for something. So with 7 weeks to go before the race I’ve been forced to research training plans for duathlons, a sport I know very little about. Yes I can run. Yes I have a bike that I used ride regularly. No I’ve never used them both on the same day with ANY organization or plan. When I did cycle, I was NOT a runner. My wife doesn’t think I need to practice the cycling component at all since I rode all the time when we were first together.  Ah love.  It does truly mask some things.  Sure I rode all the time when we first together — 23 years ago! Yes this will require some training and work.

It turns out the last two weeks have completely derailed any training plan I may have had. These were, as they are every year, two of the busiest weeks at work. Add to that a nagging heal injury that I was desperate not to make worse. Suffice it to say I haven’t done any planned exercise. I’ve been so busy my son has walked the dog more than I have these last two weeks. The only good thing is that I’ve had a little time to get my bike ready to ride again.  I bought this bike in 1987; it was a top of the line bike at the time equipped with Shimano 600 group of components.  Moving from my old CCM bike to this Italian made Bianchi speedster was significant.  During the summer I bought the bike, and the years that followed, I pedaled many kilometers each week exploring Ottawa’s neighbourhoods, the Gatinieau hills, and parts of the Quebec’s Eastern Townships.


circa 1987 Bianchi Limited Edition — Ready to ride once again!

As often happens, life got in the way — okay I got married and had a family so it wasn’t a poor trade — and I didn’t ride much at all.  Finding myself a few weeks way from a 20 km ride is actually quite daunting.  Do I still have the legs? Can I manged the distance in a time that doesn’t seem ridiculous?  Can I remember how to get out of clipless pedals without falling over?

With just five weeks to go before race day I actually managed to get out for a run. I try to take advantage of my daughter’s field hockey schedule to get my runs in, and Sunday was one of those days. On an unusually cool late June day (14C) I hit the trails behind Minto Field and pounded out a 6 km run with a 6:01 pace. I went out hard and managed to keep it up fairly well the entire time. It also meant I had a nice 1/2 km walk back to the field as my cool down. Monday was another field hockey night so I managed to hit the trails for another 5k run.  I was a little slower on this run, but according to Strava I’m trending up for the route I took as I continue to get a little bit faster the more I run.

I did finally get out on my bike. I had to go to a meeting so instead of taking the car I chose to ride.  The distance wasn’t too great, just 8.5 km, so it was a good test to see if I have any cycling legs. I completed the ride to the meeting in 21 minutes, and the return was just under that time. Given the fact I haven’t ridden anywhere I feel these are pretty good times. I do hope to finish the race in under 90 minutes, but that is going to be a challenge given how little I’ve actually trained and prepared for the demands of a duathlon.

Duathlon Training Summary Weeks 1 & 2

The countdown is on with just 7 weeks to go before race day.  In the first two weeks of training I did exactly no training. Nothing. I did, however, find a 10 week Beginners Duathlon training plan on the British Heart Foundation website that is manageable for me (Training plan). Of course I’m not going to have the benefit of all 10 weeks, but since I have been running, I’m going to jump in at week 4.

Duathlon Training Summary Week 3

Okay so now I’ve actually started running and riding again and I’m jumping ahead to week 6 of the BHF training plan. Except that I’ve already made some adjustments because of my plans for the week. I have covered the required activities for the first few days of the week, but in my own order.  Monday was supposed to be a rest day, but I ran 5 km.  Tuesday was supposed to be a 30 minute run day, but I biked 40+ minutes instead.  And Wednesday is supposed to be a bike and run day, but since it’s Canada Day, and we have guests coming over, I’m unlikely to do anything.  I will just have to adjust the rest of the week.

What Have I Got Myself Into?

My brother-in-law has done it again.  After suggesting, encouraging, and goading me into signing up for a duathlon this summer, I received this email:

That’s right, he signed me up for the event. I guess he knew I would keep putting him off or avoiding his suggestions/encouragement.   For those of you who are unaware, the Sprint Duathlon is a 2k run, followed by a 20k bike ride, finished off with a 5k run.  Sure, why wouldn’t I try this?  Ummm … because I’m basically lazy!  Alright, that’s not really a good description of me, although not far off the truth.   It really is a compliment from my brother-in-law since he does have faith I can actually complete a Sprint Duathlon.  Besides, he was right about my ability to run my first 5k and my one and only half marathon.

I think I really did myself in when I told him how much I had been running lately.  What he missed, however, was the little point about me having not been on my bike yet this year.  Oh sure I’ve had grand plans, but so far the bike is still in the basement on the trainer stand I DIDN’T use all winter.  I really be testing the old adage about not forgetting how to ride a bike.  I’ve got a few weeks to remember, but I think there’s more to this than just getting back on the saddle.

Do you have any tips for training for a duathlon? Have you ever entered an event you might not be ready for?