Sunday, February 21, 2010

Survived the long day.

My extra-long Saturday went off without a hitch. The weekend started out with a basketball game on Friday evening which we won by 15. It was not a pretty game, but we took the lead ad held it. I think I scored about 8-10 points. I was supposed to go t a dinner party already in progress, but I went home to sleep instead, which I think was the wiser choice as I had to be up at 7:00 on Saturday for the Hypothermic Half-Marathon. The weather looked like it would be a manageable -1 degrees, but it was snowing. Alex and I picked up Franck, one of my running partners, on the way. We went to pick up our timing chips and ran about 2.5 km as a warmup. It was still snowing and there were some treacherous icy patches on the course. Franck has always been quicker than me in our runs and has a best marathon time of 3:07, but I could not have predicted how fast he would be in the actual race.

My hope for the race was to finish in under 1:35 and ideally, very close to the 1:30 mark. To do 1:30, I would need to maintain a pace of 4:16 per kilometer. There were 453 runners in the race, quite a large turnout for an amateur race in the middle of winter. Franck and I placed ourselves near the front. I knew I was not one of the absolute fastest guys, but I figured I would not hold too many people up either even if some faster people started behind me.

As we got going, I was in site of the leaders for a few minutes. I was wearing my GPS watch, so I could see my time elapsed, distance run, heart rate and pace. I saw that my early pace was too fast, under 4:00 for a while, then around 4:05. I tried to will myself to slow down, but it was not easy. I knew that the key to a good time over a long distance was to pick a pace you could maintain and save energy. I don't know what made me think I could maintain such a pace, but it was not realistic. The race was made up of three laps of 7 km. I completed the first lap in under 30 minutes (I had told Alex to come outside at the 30-minute mark to cheer me on, but I was there too soon!) but I knew that I would be paying the price later on. I felt like crap after one lap. Franck and the other fast guys were long gone.

In the second loop, I struggled to keep under 4:20 as a pace and mostly managed. At about the 11 km mark, a guy who had been slowly gaining on me passed me and began to pull away. I was then even more certain I had gone out too fast. The third lap was uneventful. I was finding it tough out there. It was not too slippery, but it was still snowing and the wind was blowing it everywhere. I kept telling myself "only 5 more km"... "only 15 more minutes". Still, I was struggling. A couple more runners passed me in the last 3-4 km, but not the swarms of people I was expecting. I was actually lapping some of the slower runners who were completing their second lap while I completed my third.

Finally, the finish was in sight and the race that seemed to have been going on forever was over. I managed a time of 1:33:40. It was slower than I had hoped, closer to 1:35 than 1:30. However, after having mismanaged my pace and really struggling for the last 2/3 of the race, I was satisfied. Alex was waiting and greeted me at the finish. I was really exhausted, as can be seen from the photos she took. Franck was there too. I knew he was fast, but he finished in 1:26:01. Holy crap. I guess I can't blame the winter conditions for my time then, as they seemed not to affect Franck at all.

The results are up today and Franck ended up 5th over all, out of 453 runners. Wow. I was 23rd, and I can't complain about that. It makes me feel better about my so-so time to see that it was still good enough to put me roughly in the top 5 per cent. It's time to stop foolin around now and begin marathon training for Ottawa!

Even though my race was over, my day wasn't. I had a quick bite at the post-race buffet and headed off to coach my girls' basketball team. My starting center was not there, but the girls played a solid game. We lost by seven, but I can't really fault the way they played. The opposing team had more wins than us and now have 6 wins to our 3. We are sitting in a precarious 6th place out of 12 teams and I don't even know how many teams make it into the playoffs.

After the game, I went home to relax a bit before heading back to the high school to coach the grade 9 girls. The first half did not go very well. The offence was simply not there, and the team went down by 22 points at half. My best 7th grader was borrowed so the team would not lose by default and she did really well, considering she was two years younger than the other girls. The second half went better and the final margin of victory was 22 points, which means that we were not outscored in the second half. Too little, too late.

I had time to relax a bit more before going to Alex's cousin's birthday party for her husband. I left a bit early and got to bed at a reasonable hour before sleeping for 11 hours. My calves are still sore, but otherwise, all is good. A long day, but a good day.

Here are some photos taken by Alex:

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Before the race, eating power jelly beans

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End of the second lap, one to go!

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Finish line... finally!

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Just after the race, feeling dead.

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Me and Franck. Franck doesn't even look like he's run 2 miles!

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A few minutes later...

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... feeling a bit better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blog Title Change

As you may have noticed, I just changed the title of this blog. I felt that a title referring only to automotive topics no longer reflected the content of the blog. In fact, since I started this blog a couple of years ago, my hobbies have multiplied and I have found myself writing about running, coaching and playing basketball, and several other topics... hence the name change.

As an illustration of this, I don't really have anything automotive to post about. As far as the other topics go:

Girl's basketball: our team suffered our worst defeat ever last week against the first place team in the league. We lost 56-17. I think we only had 3 points at half, so there was a decent improvement in the second half. The other team was very fast and they could shoot and play defense too. We really had no chance to win, but I would have preferred a closer game. I think the girls were a little stunned at the beginning of the game and they played a bit nervously. I have to learn to show them how to play with confidence even against superior teams.

My own team has done OK. We lost by 5 points 2 weeks ago. I had 14 points in the first half and none in the second. I missed two foul shots in the last minutes, as well as a 3-pointer. Could this have made a difference in the outcome? Maybe. Last Friday, we won by about 20 (I scored my season high: 16). I stuck around to sub in for another team and we won that game as well, so it was a good night.

Nico's dad Christian drafted a 12-week marathon training plan for me, for which I am thankful. The training will officially start in March, but I have to be in decent shape from the beginning. That means that my current 2 runs per week are insufficient. After my half-marathon this Saturday, I will start running 3 times per week. As for Saturday's race, I would like to put in a good time, although I suspect I will be closer to 1:35 than to 1:30. Christian said that if I want to do a marathon in 3:15, I need to be able to do 3 km in 11:30. I am still waiting for the weather to be warm enough to try to set a fast 3 km time.

Saturday will be a long day, as I have the half-marathon at 9:00 and I'm coaching my girls at 12:00, as well as Val's grade 9 girls at 4:00. Did I mention I also have a basketball game Friday night and parties to attend both Friday and Saturday? Sunday will likely be spent on the couch watching the Olympics.

Speaking of the Olympics, I'm so glad that Alex Bilodeau managed to take Canada's first gold medal on home soil. Maybe glad isn't the right work... relieved?

Cool cars spotted:
AMG C63
Audi S5 convertible
BMW M3
BMW M6