Friday, October 4, 2013

2013 – A Year in Review

Who does a year end review before year end??? I do!! The reason is simple. I have completed all my running goals for 2013 and with only one race left, which will receive a separate post since it is a new race event, I wanted to get this retrospective done so I can finish up the year with a couple of product reviews (yes the UltrAspire Omega pack is one of them) and start looking at 2014 which right now will be a big year for me.

So 2013...How did it stack up? Since I am new to running I can’t say this was the best year ever since the nature of a newbie runner’s progression should mean that the first 3 to 5 years are positive progressions each year. But, that said, it was the best year so far. No earth shattering events or results but a good consistent progress through the year that I now look back on and feel shows I am in my element as an utra runner.

Running in 2013 started out with a New Year’s Resolution. My goal was to end the year with an average of 50km’s of running per week. That translates to a total of 2600km’s for the year. So far I am on pace and as long as I don’t suffer any injury from now to Christmas I will definitely meet that goal. My first race in 2013 was the Marathon Interior at the Dome in nearby Blackburn Hamlet on January 20th. I had high hopes when the race was announced that I could use this event to better my marathon PB of around 4:40. But three weeks leading up to the race I came down with a flu bug that put an end to any training during that period. So on race day, still getting over that flu I only managed a sub 5 hour finish time. Not a great performance but I was happy to have completed the race. 

In February and early March I had a great two weeks of running. No Ottawa was not under the influence of a warm spell...Joanne and I were in beautiful Cuba on Cayo Santa Maria where I could run to my heart’s content as Joanne had all that extra time to enjoy the beach. This time in Cuba also gave me a better perspective on the future Run Across Cuba (see and some thoughts on shoe choice and the backpack I would carry. Plus a couple of day trips to Trinidad on the West side of the Island and Santa Clara gave me a better appreciation for the road conditions I would be encountering...way more hills in that area than I expected. 

April was a prep month for the upcoming May Ottawa Marathon so many training miles were put in. I also decided to join Joanne on a 10km run for the Spring Fling Running Thing in Smith Falls instead of doing the half marathon at that event. The reason was twofold: first Joanne and I had not raced together in a while and we thought it would be fun and second, she was aiming for a sub 1 hour 10km and I thought I could pace her for the first half where she normally runs too conservatively and then let her go for a fast second half where she normally kicks my butt with her speed. In the end we finished together in 59:02. I think Joanne could have run a faster time on a better surface and in warmer conditions and without me slowing her down but that will be for a future race.

In April I also decided to do one of my non-race long runs. So for my birthday gift to myself I took the day off work, hoped on a bus to the West end of Ottawa and ran back home for a 50km fun run. This was a great day and a wonderful route with only one difficult spot where the roadway and traffic requires a heightened degree of attention not to get killed. As I write this I am thinking of repeating this run next week or in November. This time I would love to do that run in horrendous weather conditions something not unexpected in November when cold rainy days with a touch of snow and heavy wind could make for a real extreme weather run!!!! Yes I know I am nuts!

May roles around and the training seems on pace for two back to back events. With Ottawa Race weekend Marathon May 26 and the Kingston 6 hour Transcendence race 13 day later on June 8th I decided to use the Ottawa Marathon as a fast training run and put my eggs into the Kingston race. So my goal for Ottawa was sub 5 hours and I wanted to go out and enjoy myself. Plus Joanne and I chatted about her spending the morning on the course watching and since this was not an important race we decided (ok she decided and I agreed) that she would stay home to have a quiet morning by herself and do some gardening. This helped me as well since I did not feel a sense that I was keeping her waiting for me at a finish line so I could doddle along at an easy pace and enjoy the marathon atmosphere. 

 The race started out well with no problems though 39 or so km’s when on the last corner leading to the long finish straight my stomach turned. It was bad enough that I stepped off the course for a minute or two. As my stomach settled I walked a few metres and returned to a run. At this point in my head, and based on my watch, I was over my marathon PB by a couple of minutes so I was in no hurry. I even took my camera out as my stomach had returned to normal and took a video of the finish straight. My finish time was 4:42:51. I just missed my PB of 4:40:45 from 2011. If only I had known I was so close. But hindsight is 50/50 and I had to go with the knowledge that I ran as fast as I did two years earlier and felt much better at the finish line. So much so that a day later I went out for a n enjoyable pain free20km training run. 

With the marathon behind me I now spent 13 days concentrating on the Kingston 6 hour event. This was a special race since Joanne had also signed up and we agreed we would run the first few laps of the 800metre circuit around RMC in Kingston together.  I should point out that people who know me and specifically know of my running habit(s) also know that I like to run alone given the choice. One of my running friends calls me a lone wolf when it comes to running and he is right. I like the quiet and tranquility of running alone and feel that with others I need to be sociable. With Joanne I can have the benefit of her company, we can chat if we feel like it but we can also enter into our own little running cocoons, not needing to entertain each other. As the countdown hit three we kissed each other and proceeded to begin our 6 hour run. After a couple of laps Joanne slowed a bit and I sped up to see if I could hit my 50km goal. For the most part things were going well but around 4.5 or 5 hours I lost interest in the run. It wasn’t physical, I felt good and had no issues, I just didn’t see any point in continuing. At this point Joanne and I walk-ran the remaining hour together. At the end of the 6 hours I had hit 47.2km’s and Joanne had a fantastic 38.4km’s. While I felt a bit of a letdown we were able to celebrate her success of both the farthest she had run (her previous longest distance was 14km’s) and the longest she had run.  What was interesting with my result is that in 2012 I finished with 47.6km over the 6 hours which along with the May marathon time comparison was saying that at least I was consistent in time although in both cases had ended the race in a better physical state than I had in the previous event. 

Most of the remaining summer was quiet with nice runs in a variety of locations. I accomplished my second long run July 27 when I set out from my home in Orleans, crossed the Cumberland to Mason Ferry then ran back towards downtown Ottawa along route 148 with a stop at my parents home in Gatineau Quebec. In the end I finished the 71km run in under 11 hours and again while this was nearing my maximum run distance (81km’s in 2012) I felt good at the end and still had gas in the tank.

September and the Ottawa 24 hour Self Transcendence race were my next goal and the biggest for 2013. I had no pre planned goals other than to hit 100km’s. Anything beyond that would be great. The weeks leading up to the race were not the greatest in terms of a proper taper so I definitely should have been following a training plan to keep me on track. In fact not only was I not using a training plan for this race I wasn’t even consistent in my running. A little too organic even for me. Next time better planning. Anyway race day arrived and I set out at a gentle pace, hitting the 50km mark and then 50 miles on target for a possible 100 mile finish. However shortly after hitting the 50 miles and taking a break I found that my right knee would not fully bend making running impossible so for the final 9 hours of the race I was forced into a walk. In the end I finished with 112.8km’s which now that I can look at the race and training in total I feel was good for where I was but certainly can be improved upon. I also did discover that I will never again do an indoor 24 hour event. 12 hours is fine and if this type of race was held outdoors it would be ok, but indoors was just too mentally taxing to have any merit to do again. 

So now we are at the point where I am typing this blog looking ahead to the final few months of 2013 and what lies ahead in 2014. As I mentioned above, one more ultra race awaits, the 50km Mad Trapper Relentless event October 26. Along with a race report on this blog I will be submitting a report to the Beyond Marathon site, where I have posted race reports in the past. That race will officially end the 2013 season.

For 2014 I had posted a few months ago, a list of possible races. A few changes have occurred so here is an update. My first race in 2014 will likely be the Winterman half marathon Sunday February 16. There is always a chance I might bump this to a marathon distance but at this point 21.1km seems likely. After that the next event will be the first running of Courons Gatineau May 10. The plan is to run the half with Joanne at an enjoyable pace. Following that I still have not decided whether to go back to Kingston in June for the 6 hour Transcendence event or take part in the Limberlost Challenge 56km trail race in July. A few things need to come together to decide which race I will do including Joanne’s preference and if we can get work time off for the longer drive to Limberlost. After DNF’ing Limberlost in 2012 (dropped at 42km) I feel I need to redeem myself at race where i first ran an ultra in 2011.

Now August is where things get tricky for 2014. I have been toying with the idea of a FKT (Fastest known Time) attempt on the 320km Rideau Trail. I have already looked at pre run logistics and spoken with some people knowledgeable about the trail as well as run a few sections to get a taste of what the run might be like. It may be just nerves about the distance but I am wondering if I am ready to attempt something like this at the point in my running career where I have yet to complete a 100 mile race or spent any significant time running at night. So the alternative to a Rideau Trail attempt which would take place the long weekend of August 1 to 4 would be the 48 hours at Dirty Girls Ultra on August 8 to 10. This race would offer me a number of benefits including two night runs, the potential (I would consider it my minimum goal) of 100 miles over the 48 hours, more trail running experience (especially in the dark) and hydration and eating training for a long run. All this would then make the Rideau Trail attempt more palatable for 2015 and provide a bit more assurance that I could complete the FTK attempt. So this will be something to consider over the coming months.

Following the summer Joanne and I are planning a trip to Europe so may see if during our time there we can participate in at least one local event. Depending on the exact timing of that trip I may sign up for the 9runrun half marathon usually held mid October or some other road event in the late Fall which would round out the 2014 race calendar. 

I also would like to aim at completing a couple of self supported long runs as I did this year. Not having attempted the Gate to Gate 56km in Algonquin Park this year I would consider it for 2014 if we planned a camping trip to Algonquin. The Rigaud to Navan run on the Prescott-Russell trail at 100km would be one option. If I decide not to do the Rideau Trail FKT attempt then I might consider running the Smith Falls to Ottawa portion of the trail which would be in the neighbourhood of 150km’s and would offer a great planning tool for a full attempt. Finally I have also thought of the Haute Gatineau trail which follows the old train bed from Maniwaki to Low and clocks in around 75km’s and would be a good run for mid May ahead of bug season as a fun attainable goal. Extending the run to Wakefield would put the run close to 100km and make for a very nice, relatively straightforward long run.

As will any plan this one will be subject to change and modify and truly won’t be written in stone until the actual events have been completed. 2014 offers to be an exciting year with new goals and continued progress in my running adventure and lead nicely to the multi year plan of one day in the near future running the entire length of Cuba.

Stay tuned for more....Now dust of those shoes and get out for a walk or run.

1 comment:

  1. Great read Peter, as always you have awesome plans for 2014 and beyond!