Monday, 17 September 2012

Milton half marathon race report

I was working night shift this week, so there wasn't any way to set a proper sleep schedule in anticipation of this race.  It's just barely close enough to drive there in the morning, so I was up at 4:30am.  Arriving at Milton around 7, I roamed looking for a Tim Hortons.  There's the Coffee Culture, the Starbucks.  What kind of Philistines are these without Tim Hortons all over.  I found one nestled in a gas station and stopped for a coffee and bagel #2.  Bagels with peanut butter are my pre-race food.  I drank a can of Monster on the way, and got a coffee with the bagel, which didn't sit well with the Monster.  I felt bloated and ended up vomiting the excess before heading to the race site.  

The race was the Go train station which was great.  There's tons of parking by at the start line, so you can sit in your car or keep your warm clothes on right up until they play the national anthem.  The weather was great too, sunny and cool, but not so cold at the start to be wishing for gloves.  Local hero Ed Whitlock was there trying to set another world record.  I got a picture of me with Ed, but one of us looks like hell in it and it ain't Ed, so I'm not posting it.

We headed to the outskirts of town.  The cyclist in me swooned over what a lovely field it was there under the morning sunshine.  I settled in just ahead of the 2hr pacer.

Outskirts of town East
I was feeling disappointed however that we weren't headed anywhere near the escarpment.  They promised spectacular views of the escarpment.  We turned to the West, and suddenly there it was.

Outskirts of town South
Turning the corner to the North I took another picture.  When I put the camera back in the  satchel  it must have bumped my phone because my music volume went way down.  The volume buttons are on the side of the phone.  My bluetooth headphones have been acting up so I didn't expect them to be able to fix it.  If I hit the wrong button, I could change the track, and my music of choice today was two 60-minute tracks recorded straight off the radio.  If I changed track it would star one of them at the beginning and I would have to listen to that section over again.  So I took out the phone and clicked up the volume.  Fine. Put the phone in the satchel and the music stopped.  I took the phone out and went looking for the play button.  I use the phone for business and if I lose it I can't have someone browsing my e-mail or spamming my contacts, so the screen is locked.  I have to enter the code just to open it to turn the music back on.  I was crossing an intersection about then, so the drivers must have thought geez what a loser I am texting during the race.  I got the music going.  At least it didn't reset to the beginning of the track.  I didn't want to put up with this nonsense anymore, so I put the phone in the other pocket of the satchel...  with my Gu. I don't leave packets behind, so it was in there with the gummy first two packs.  Soon I would add a third.  For me, the half is a 3 Gu run.

The promised spectacular view of the escarpment
This was just past halfway and there was plenty of gas in the tank so I turned it up a notch.  ...or maybe I just thought I did.  The 2hr pacer continued just moments behind me.  I passed a handful of folks.  Then there's a short out-and-back after looping around the block.  I wasn't paying attention and missed Ed Whitlock running past the other way.  Last time I raced him was in 2005 and he beat me by over two hours.  This is half the distance and I've been practicing, so I managed to keep it to 20 minutes.   
They were lining up for pictures with local hero Ed Whitlock

Was that course official?  Sometimes they can adjust the start/finish to reconcile the distance, but usually there's an out-and-back with a turnaround. Start/finish was right at the entrance of the parking lot. Hope so because Ed set a record for 80-84 in the half at 1:38.  I'm going to come back in 35 years to try to still be within 20 minutes of that.

I hung around after trying not to look too much like I was stalking Ed.  Most of my shots of him were brutal, being fuzzy or in shadows, but I got something good enough to post to his Wikipedia page.  

Oh all right, here's the pic of me with Ed

I went to phone home to say I was on my way back but it was glued inside the satchel by now.  It took quite a wipedown to rescue it.

Why haven't I done a half before?  This is a great distance.  It's far enough that you really have to work for it.  It takes long enough that you have a sense of accomplishment.  A 5 km race is over so quickly it seems hardly worth the bother.  It's like Olympians in fencing who lose their first and only match in 2 minutes and that's all they get.  Years of training, the long trip to the event, and over in a flash.  For me, runner's delirium sets in at about the 10 km point, and fades away around 20 km.  In my marathons, the 3rd quarter is fatigue and depression, and the 4th quarter is a world of pain.  Here in the half marathon, it's nothing but good times.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Mont Tremblant is fastest

I found this site which has statistics for all Ironman races.

The average time for Ironman Mont Tremblant is 12:31, which makes it the fastest Ironman in North America, about the same as Florida which is 12:37.  It's almost a half-hour faster than Lake Placid and Penticton, both of which come in at 12:54, and 45 minutes faster than Wisconsin which at 13:16 is the one of the hardest courses out there.  Interestingly, the Lanzarote course in the Canary Islands looks brutal with its long high mountain climbs on the bike, but scores times similar to Penticton.  

I expected Mont Tremblant to sell out early like Wisconsin which the last couple of years sold out online the first day.  Last year MT sold out in 10 days, but here we are 3 weeks away, and it's still got openings.  Mont Tremblant 70.3 on the other hand is already sold out.  Last year it was into the winter before that happened.  So I was wrong about needing to go there to get my registration for 2013.  No problem, it was a great day as a volunteer at Ironman 2012, and it feels good to give back to the sport like that.  Now for lodgings, I found that the resort is largely booked.  I would have selected the Les Manoirs condo again, but the 2-bedroom units are all taken.  It was an excellent location, and a fair price for such a nice unit.  The resort still has some at the new sector, but it's a kilometer or two away, and sure doesn't look like walking distance like I had in June.  I will have to think about that some.  I definitely want a condo so I can cook my own food.  Pre-race eating is essential to a good race.  

Mont Tremblant offers a unique opportunity to compare athletes who did both races.  Since the Ironman is two loops of the same course as the 70.3, it will really show how someone's times compare.  This year we had 413 athletes finished both races, plus 23 who entered but recorded a DNF in whichever.  The site above calculated a comparison factor using 70.3 and Ironman races on similar courses.  At MT it's the same course, and the athlete fitness will be comparable with only two months between events.  He estimated Ironman times at 2.1 times the 70.3 time, or times 2 plus 40 minutes.  Both calculations get similar times.  The MT data comes up with a scaling of

     Full = 2.17 * half + 10 minutes

Here's a scatterplot of all athletes who did both races.  The 0.0075 offset equates to 10 minutes.

The 4 people slower than 7:40 in the 70.3 didn't finish the Ironman.  Nine others with various 70.3 times had DNF at Ironman.  The slowest swim in the 70.3 at 59:35 finished both (7:25 / 15:47).  Anyone who biked the 70.3 slower than 3:52 didn't make bike cutoff in the IM.  Slow runners still tended to finish both.

My 6:10 finish in the 70.3 puts me at 13:30 for the full.  Cool, now I don't even have to go.  as if.  

Monday, 10 September 2012

Gatineau Park

I remarked after Mont Tremblant that there wasn't any particularly long or tough hill there.  The Monte Ryan downhill section on the return is definitely the one which I remember most fondly.  On Monday the day after volunteering at the Ironman, I visited what I think of as a big hill.  

Road to the summit
Behind the parliament buildings, looking into the distance across the Ottawa river, rises the hills of Gatineau park.  

When I lived here for the summer in 1986 my favourite thing to do on a Saturday was ride off into those hills.  It's been that long since I've biked up to the Champlain Lookout.  I parked at the Visitor Centre and unpacked the Fiori.  I see some of the reasons it made such a great ride.  It's a long climb, but really shallow.  The roads have little traffic, and are posted for slow speeds.  There's plenty of other bikers out.  Most of all, it isn't a great distance.  From The Hull river crossing to summit is only 25 km or so, which makes for an easy light day.

Champlain Lookout.  Red drink for the red bike.
One of the locals