Fail fail fail fail….

I’m not really in the business of doing product evaluations.  I just don’t have the patience that reviewers like DC Rainmaker appears to posses.  These guys are so thorough it almost makes me sick.

It turns out that I should have waited for their review of the Fenix 2 to make it to the web.  At the time (pre March 20), I was considering the Suunto Ambit 2 and the Garmin Fenix 2.  The Fenix 2 won because like the Suunto, the claim was it would operate for 50 hrs of battery life and the watches have a comparable feature set.  I don’t often run for 50 hrs, but most watches will barely get you 8 hours, and from time to time, I will be out running for 8 hours or more.  The second reason I picked the Fenix over the Suunto was because I already owned a Garmin HRM that is compatible with my very nice Polar strap (no chaffing).

When I first started running, I only focused on running pace.  That after all, is a measure of how fast you are going, and the faster the better right?  Well not in all cases.  Heart rate tells you much more.  The more you can relate to how hard you are working your heart, and how quickly your RHR recovers,  the better off you are.  You don’t want to be running 125 km at 90% HR.  Well if you physically could sustain that, I guess there is nothing wrong with that.  But many folks fatigue long before 125 km is reached if that is how hard they are pushing; just sayin’.

Anyway, I am here in Grande Cache getting ready for the big day.  I am have been reviewing my time goals, my fueling plan, and last but not least, my equipment readiness.  Since owning the Fenix 2, I have had some serious trouble with it.  At Seaton it froze and failed to record the whole race.  Similarily at Limberlost, I have a full summary, but an apparent lack of data points. Suffice it to say I wasn’t coming to Grande Cache with just one device.  Good foresight (or just paying attention to the signs).

As I ranted earlier, I bought the Fenix 2 on the assumption that I could use the HRM and GPS for 50 hours of battery life.  You’d think you could safely make the assumption seeing as how you’d be hard pressed to find anything that mentions otherwise in the literature that Garmin offers.  In fact, in the little ditty that they have on Ultratrac mode, the method by which you supposedly attain the 50 hours of operation, there is no mention that the ANT+ sensor is disabled.

So what is the significance here?  ANT+ is the protocol that the Fenix 2 uses to have nice polite conversations with your HRM.

Fenix 2: “That is 90 bpm, thank you.”

HRM: “You’re welcome. Oh by the by, I have another update for you, add 10 more bpm.  It appears that he may be running!”

Fenix 2: “Copy”

You can imagine my surprise.  The manual only tells you have the truth.  Please prove me wrong and find the note that informs you that Ultratrac disables ANT+.  Manual is found here.

So this is the straw that broke the camels back.  I will hang up the Garmin and I will be going back to the Polar which was able to record my GPS points for 21 hours of the nearly 23 hours I was out there.  To add, it was also capable of recording my heart rate for the entire race.

Polar longevity

Failures in track recording

FAIL

 

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Full Tilt Training

It has been less than a week since I ran the Ottawa marathon and I have two months ahead of my second Canadian Death Race (CDR).  My goal for the CDR is to run the race in less than 18 hours.  I’m thinking I can do it.  A result of the intense training that I have been subjecting myself to.  I say that I am subjecting myself to it, as if it were a negative thing, but I actually like it.

So what is the intense training?  Once a week I head to the gym and do intervals on the treadmill.  It really isn’t the ideal way of training considering that this is supposed to be hill training.  Given the terrain in south-western Ontario (where I live), it is my only option.  I progressively made it up to 8 minute intervals.  8 minutes of running with the incline at 15% (the highest setting) with the objective of keeping my heart rate at or above 95% max. This is followed by an 8 minutes recovery where I let my heart rate drop to 60% max. Repeat.

With all of the racing I have been involved with over the last two months, I have been in a race/recovery cycle.  As such I have been on a hill training hiatus, until today.  I was looking forward to it.  I had swapped my NB MR00 for my Nike Free 5.0’s for the last two runs and decided to continue the week with them.  On the advice of my coach since my calf muscles had been tightening up.  I got on the treadmill and the mental struggle began.

First rep down and I wasn’t feeling all that confident about my effort.  I felt like I was kicked in the gonads.  I wanted to quit.  It seems that there is a theme developing here (see all previous race reflections).  I start and I want to quit.  But for some reason the feeling of regret would be more painful than just doing it.  So I try to ignore the negativity and find my way through the negative thoughts.

The second rep is done, but I am not feeling that much better about my effort.  My quads were feeling sore and they seemed to be giving out on me faster than normal.  I needed to hit and hold 181 bpm for 8 minute intervals.  While I seemed to be able to hold it, I didn’t feel like I could do this another 6 times.

180 bpm is where the red block starts

180 bpm is where the red block starts

Rep 3 and 4 were brutal and demoralizing.  The silver lining was that by the end of the 4 rep I was half way done.  The last four reps were a struggle to get to 181 bpm.  I started trying self coaching devices like repeating a mantra.  “Push through it”  I’d repeat.  Push the up button to speed up.  When I couldn’t hold it any more down a couple.  I’d realize that I still hadn’t hit 181 bpm, so speed up a bit more.  Slowly creeping up to 181 bpm.  The strange thing here is that after the demoralizing 3rd and 4th rep, each one seemed to get easier.

I relate this progressive ease to life in general.  As a teen, life beyond high school seemed impossible.  High school was enough of an adjustment for me.  I looked forward to moving on, but it seemed that all the responsibility would be monumental.  Early twenties, life still felt like a bit of a mountain to climb.  What with all the bills and stuff.  Having to pay for everything and figuring out how to budget and follow then actually follow through.  Yup, intimidating but certainly something that you feel good about once you notice that you are adapting to it.  Present day, not easy, but more or less figured out and feeling good.

Today’s workout brought me back to the realization I had about how amazing our bodies are.  With each rep, I found I had to push harder.  Sometimes finding that I really needed to dig deeper.  I had to find the inner beast to help me through it.  As the workout progressed, my body went from hating me, to punishing me, adapting to the situation, then loving me. Strange.

Alberta, Alberta

When I first had it in my head that I wanted to take on the Canadian Death Race, it wasn’t too long after I happened to visit my sports medicine doctor. His advice to me was to go the mountains  at least 2 weeks in advance to aclimate, and I would have some time in my taper to get to know the course.

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Once I got to Grande Cache, it was 9pm or so and there was still plenty of light. I grabed some dinner at the Big Horn Grille and chatted with the server. She recommended that I join a Facebook group that all the local mountain runnes are members of.  I did that and this awesome couple has taken me under their wing as a result.

We met up and tackled leg 1. What a great and reassuring experience.   Though this is one of the easier legs, the experience has reassured me that my anticipated time for leg 1 is realistic. Further to that, the folks I was running with knew the course well and although they are not “elite”, they were tonnes of help.  So my plan of attack is really starting to take form.

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Here is some advice: don’t drive through a mountain range with a Chevy Spark.

Sun!

It is finally getting nice outside here in the dub (Kitchener – Waterloo) and I logged about 9 hours of running. Wish I had thought about preparing for the runs and that I would have learned my lesson after my first weekend run.

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No, that’s not a fancy new white shirt with hilarious spots.  The red is not paint either. It is not comfortable sleeping!