Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Running and racing 5k with Dad

Training and touring
My Mum and Dad were here the past week for a visit. Among other things, Dad and I ran together a couple of times and also lined up for one of the MEC races on the final day of their visit. 
First run was on a Sunday, and the altitude in Calgary, 1,000 metres, was a little tough for him, though he finished up ok. On their last visit here in 2007, I was the old me and huffed and puffed to keep up. 
Tuesday, I took the bus to the gym, did my core stuff then ran 10k home. It's the first time I've done this "duathlon" since May, before the marathon. 
A drive down to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump later on. 
Wednesday was speed intervals, so I went back and forth in front of Dad to correct any wrong turns - there was one ("the wrong fork"). 10.5 k total for me. Although shorter than me, this photo makes Dad look about 4 foot (which he isn't). 
A trip to Fort Calgary for some history and Benny Hill-ing after that.
Thursday was weights and no run (/no fun) day, and Friday was a short 4k, including one at race pace. We had a drive around Kananaskis country later on.

Running roots
During their visit, Mum told me about the time I got my sports badge as an 8 year-old in the cubs (Boy Scouts). For the 50 metre sprint, I was last. For the 400 metre "distance race", I went almost the same pace as the 50 and passed everyone with just over 100 metres to go. A shock result at the time, so Mum says. An early sign of my modest level of talent? 

Race day
Saturday, 9am race. Arrived nice and early to get a parking space, which I thought would be tight (spot the Calgary race veteran). 
PB was 19:25 up to that point. During speed sessions for marathon training I had thought that this was beatable, although I had only been 2 weeks back into training after light running on holiday in Asia, not to mention eating like an Emperor's entourage. 
Dad does a local 5 miler each year (he's wearing the shirt), a 10 miler and has done several half marathons. 
Today was his first 5k however. He predicted he'd manage about 27 minutes and change for a guaranteed PB. 
The plan for me was to go with the flow for the first km knowing that it would likely be too fast, then keep it in the low 3:50s and speed up in the last k if possible. The course is an out and back next to the Bow River, slightly downhill for the first half. There's usually a north westerly headwind for the return direction too. 
10k started at 9, with the 5k due to start at 9:10, which was changed to 9:05. Some kids (10+ I think) lined up in the front row, which they probably shouldn't, however this race series is not overly serious. 

A busy start, and there was a runner with a shoulder bag/ purse (!) to get around. 
The trip hazards/ kids tried to stay at the front, lasting about 2 minutes. 
I settled down to 3:50/km picking a lady in front as a pacemaker. 
Counting those in front, which is a struggle for me even standing still, I guessed I was about 15th. At 2k there were 10k runners to pass. 
The 5 minute gap between races would have best been left at 10 minutes for both 5 and 10k-ers. Frequent trips to the grass, and I overtook my first pacemaker. 
The turnaround was tight, and the pathway full of the rest of the field coming the other way. This might have led to me and the 3 in front running on an adjacent pathway for a while and going a bit further than the 5k.
At race pace, the change to slight uphill was noticeable as well as a head wind of about 10 kmh. 3 runners in front slowed as a result, and I passed them within 2 minutes of the turnaround. I did quite a bit of satisfying overtaking for most of the race, not just kids and ladies with handbags.
Dad passed by in the other direction, thankfully 30 seconds before a glitch with my gopro stopped it recording. 

Catching up the next lady (lots of quick girls in this race), she found a little speed when I got to her shoulder to overtake. The same thing happened about 30 seconds later, but the 3rd time there was no response. I felt like staying behind, though I knew this would involve settling for missing a PB. 
At the 4k sign I had trouble breathing quickly enough, and now used the guy ahead as a target to stop myself slowing down. Blessed are the pacemakers. "There's the car park, almost there." "PB up ahead." "No more 5ks ever again." 
My target man casually looked round to check on me, having me covered if I were to find the extra speed, which I didn't. My time was the priority, although the cap on backwards is on the list of fashion choices I prefer to finish behind me. All I would need for the PB was to override the urge to coast. 
I crossed the line in 19:18, a PB by 7 seconds. In another 7 seconds I was lying down getting my breath back along with 3 or 4 others. I shook hands with a few of the "leave it all out there" club after finding my feet. That's the thing with the 5k: lung-busting, but ready for action again after a few minutes.
The official time was 19:20, though I think the clock (started for the 10k and minus 5 minutes) was slightly off, so I'll go with my watch. It says I did 5.05k, so could perhaps subtract 11 seconds but will stick to 19:18. 
Dad managed a 27:30, his predicted time. This race series doesn't do age categories (yet), nevertheless I declare him AG winner.
I was 6th overall, and 4th male. I have quite a collection of near podiums, but a PB beats a podium every time. Still, it's a good placing, not to mention I can't remember overtaking that many people. 

Post race, we headed to Bow Valley Ranche for brunch. Bambi was superbly cooked, and it was a beautiful summer's day in Alberta. A great day overall before Mum and Dad headed home the next morning. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Holiday in Korea and China

Silent for a couple of weeks due to holiday, also due to various www things being blocked in China. I was there and in Korea for a couple of weeks. What did I get up to (that was vaguely running related)?

Coming 3-5 weeks after the Calgary Marathon, a holiday inevitably reduces running volume. Ideally, I'd take a holiday immediately after. This worked quite well as a recovery period - legs had started to creak a little after Run the Runway. 
I have loads of pictures and stories from my trip to China, Korea, China again and Seattle for a day. Being a running blog and all, I'll try to keep it relevant to running and movement in general. It's ended up being very much about the holiday after all though, as I like to do loads of walking and explore. 

First stop Shanghai, where I lived 2000-2003. I met my wife the year before in a nearby city, Wuxi. She'd flown out 2 weeks before, to get some of the "boring stuff" done. 
The funny signs (as opposed to very frequent, but less amusing typos) were confined to the hotel room this time. The below has morphed from "pot lights". 
Here below is a common sight in Chinese hotels - a throne phone. "Please send some paper up." "Police? I'm stuck", etc.
The hotels may be better than they used to be, though they are a touch Liberace, but some finer points still escape them. The gym has no mats, and a wooden floor which I made a mess of in the heat - air con wasn't switched on just for me. It probably goes for days at a time without use. The area was not good for running, and the pm 2.5 readings for Shanghai are usually 70+ which is about 10 times that of Calgary, so it was the better-than-nothing treadmill.

We flew over to Seoul for a 5 days. This has been top of my list of unvisited countries since going to Japan last year. First up was a trip to the Joint Security Area (JSA), the only place on the North-South border where both sides come face to face. 
Me at the JSA, in front of the border, which itself is the raised concrete line between the 2 blue huts. 3 North soldiers are standing the other side, the South soldiers all wearing helmets stand facing them. All on the South soldiers here are hand-picked, and Taekwondo black belts/ experts. We were only allowed to stand on the steps and take photos for a few minutes. The North soldiers had a way of marching up to the line that made it appear they weren't going to stop. Lots of silly posturing. 
Only about 10 minutes staring down the North Korean army, then we had to get back to the bus. For the record, I am wearing the shirt I ran my first marathon in.
Next morning: run time! I had a good scenic route mapped out, and wanted to use this as a trial run before using the gopro the next day. I took my phone with me the first day and took a few pictures, running the same route the day after with the minor missteps taken out. The video for that ought take a while to edit, don't warm up the popcorn just yet.
About 2 k in, a steep hill, with various statues at the top. Shortly after, some nice rolling hills in a large hillside park. I ran past some elite looking guys with Korean flags on their singlets. On the national team? I couldn't find the top in any store. 
This was outside a folk art museum. Some childhood game apparently, though could be misread. 
Doing a loop around a palace wall, I ended up running past the Blue House, official residence of the President. Lots of police. There were 2 blocking the path, but when I gestured that maybe I should turn back, one of them waved me through. I did the Korean nod - a bow without really bowing to most police officers I came across, which was a lot. The next day, 2 different cops didn't move, but let me through when I said I went that way the day before. I'm not sure I was really supposed to be there, as I don't think I saw any other civilians (certainly no civilian cars) in that area. They took me for who I was, a harmless tourist runner. 
Cheongye stream is a new development, where once an elevated road stood. A nice end to a great holiday run. Bathed in sweat, but loving once again a well planned sightseeing run. 

Later in the day, we went hunting for music. One store led to another, the one above in a loft with 2 cats and finally a tiny one with everything I wanted. There were bands playing in the street near Yonsei University, one selling their own Cd which I bought. 
Part of an afternoon, with my wife taking a break, I walked for a couple of hours in the old part of town with San Francisco style hills. 
All in all, a great place to run and walk. Fun and safe with great street life and people who always tried hard to help a lost visitor. 

Back to Shanghai and the hotel treadmill. I hit on an alternative video idea. I wore the camera using the chesty mount, set it to take a photo every 5 seconds and went walking and took the metro until the batteries ran out which was over 5 hours later. Hopefully the time-lapse vid which I'll make it around 5 minutes long hoping it turns out ok. 
A few days later, we went to Wuxi on the train. It is around the same size as Calgary, though is home to about 5 million people as opposed to Calgary's 1.1 million. I could've run outside, there's an historic canal near the hotel. If the whole 2 weeks had been in China I might have. 
A couple of nice discoveries while out walking in the evening though. A centuries-old part of the city that had previously been very dilapidated had a new lease of life as a cultural area as well as restaurants, etc. There was a time not so long ago in China when it would've been torn down and replaced with something hideous and tacky. 

I took a ride on the brand new (one week old at the time) metro system. Once another line or 2 opens, I hope to make another time lapse walking video.
Finally, if you haven't had Xiaolongbao, you haven't lived. You must specifically come to Wuxi for them. It would be a dream come true if these were waiting at my next marathon finish line.