Flying and Running

As part of the Digital Champion Program with the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I have written a blog that talks about balancing both marathon training and a full time flying job. Take a look what my day looks like along with challenges and advantages of combining my two passions.

Use the hashtag #STWM on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see more runners training for the marathon on October 19th!
http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/blog/2014/08/flying-and-running-by-mike-thornton/

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Eaton’s Downtown Dash 5k – Race Recap

I’m a little behind on recapping here. I raced my first ever 5k almost two weeks ago on July 17th in Burlington. Eaton’s Downtown Dash is a fairly popular race. It’s on a weekday evening and still had a deep field for both 5 and 10k distances. Coach Rick and I made a plan to race a 5k a couple of months ago simply because I had never done one and I needed a bit of filler for the summer to keep me motivated.

When I first started running I went right into 10ks so it was about time I worked backwards a little and tried a 5k out. In the past I figured it made more sense to pay only an extra $5-10 and get another whole 5k to race. 5k is an animal of it’s own though, as I found out. <20 minutes of shear agony. The atmosphere was great. Lots of local Brant area runners out including Coach and several other of his athletes. Going in I had a conservative game plan to run sub 19 minutes, planning 3:48/k which just snuck me in at 18:59. I warmed up with Derek Flint and John Anderson who are two great local guys. They’ve got some serious kick and told me to avoid the hype at the start or the whole race could be a blow-out.

The race went well. I went out a bit quick being near the front but it didn’t end up feeling too bad. Splits were:
3:33, 3:57, 3:53, 3:44, 3:38
This gave me a finish of 18:47. Average pace 3:45/k, 23rd overall and 4th in 20-24 age group. For my first 5k? I’ll take it.
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Overall I’m glad I could push down the last two k and come in a little quicker than planned. 5k is painful! Looking at this race after, I realised I had never run that fast for that long consecutively ever! Hello new speed record. It was nice to feel some race hurt again. I had been in a bit of a funk since Ottawa.

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Local Brantford area runners

There’s much more work to be done in the 5k and related distances. I had a chat post race with Coach Rick about focusing on shorter distances next year. I think working on some speed will make me a better runner and will overall help the longer distances too. I know I have the endurance, but a real good sprint is something I’m still warming up to.

My best buddy Shea always comes out to support me :)

My best buddy Shea always comes out to support me 🙂

Next for me is Rock The Road 10k in London on August 17th. If you’ve never run it before it’s a fast, flat and fun 10k. There’s live music on the race route and beer garden at the finish. Also, expect a blog mid-August as a part of the STWM Digital Champion program!

Ottawa Half-Marathon Race Re-cap

On May 25 I raced the Ottawa Half-Marathon. This was to be my fifth half-marathon. Five already? Jeez. Halves are probably my favorite race so far. I think it’s because I don’t race them as much as 10ks and they’re faster than marathons so I tend to get more competitive and excited for them. I also seem to be able to monitor my body better and really know when to start turning the pace up in the back half. Earlier this year I raced the Chilly Half in March but used it more as a gauge to see where I was at while coming back from injury. This race had been hyped up for months on Twitter. Lots of people, and elites in attendance as well as several events which I had friends running in. Having never been to Ottawa before, I was excited to see some sights and race a new course.

I traveled to Ottawa with my good friend and fellow runner/pilot, Shea. Shea works for Porter and hooked me up as her guest on a stand-by booking. Dirt cheap but free drinks and food. I like. We were planning on meeting up with friends Mike and Nicole. Mike had paced me earlier this year at Around The Bay but in Ottawa had his eyes set on a 10k PB. Shea was also running the 10k while Nicole and I ran the half. Shea and I checked out the race expo on Friday. It was huge! I always end up spending way too much money at expos. I saw my friend Krista (Duchene) at the iRun booth. It was nice to see her out despite her recent femur fracture. She always has good advice and I feel really lucky to be able to ask her questions about training. After spending some time looking around and saying hi to a few familiar faces we called it a night. All weekend we battled the desire to walk around Ottawa but wanting to rest our legs as well. On Saturday Shea and I met up with Mike, Nicole and their friend Ryan. We all went down to the 10k and as Mike, Shea and Ryan raced, Nicole and I watched and cheered. I always enjoy cheering. I yelled my face off at Lanni Marchant and Rachel Hannah. After locating everyone after the race I exchanged a few texts with Coach. “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate” he said. It was going to be hotter than we were used to for race day. I’m pretty sure I’ve never drank so much water in my life. I wanted to be ready for this race.

Race morning came and I felt pretty good. A little tickle in my throat but not a big deal. I had breakfast (a bagel with peanut butter and a banana), more water, Honeymaxx and we headed down to the race. Warm-up went well. I thought it was nice to be coming to a race for once with no niggling injuries or pain anywhere. I was hydrated, rested, tapered and hungry for a fast race. Just before the start I was totally pumped to find Mike appear by my side. He had scored a bib online from another runner and had told me he may run with Nicole or I. I wasn’t expecting him to find me in such a dense mass of people. Having just PB’d the 10k 14 hours earlier I was elated to have him by my side again. “I’ll stay with you as long as I can, bro. No promises though” he said. What a champ! Mike was good at keeping me in check by not going out too fast too early.

The gun went off and we lit up the road. The pace was very steady through the first 5k. Slightly slowing by a couple of seconds every km we finally found a solid pace into the second 5k. We split the 10k at 41:01 (4:06/k). Pretty much right where we need to be. The original plan was to go out in 4:05s and then turn up to 4:00s later. At half way I told Mike that if he needed to back off it was cool. “No way, man. We’re crossing that line together.” Friggin right, bro! I find it amazing that I have a race partner I can lock into like this. He may have been tired but Mike looked strong for the whole race. As we pushed on, we crossed into Gatineau. There were a few climbing hills which slowed us down to a few 4:08-4:13 splits. Not the end of the world, I thought. It was hot and not ideal for the original game plan. If we could manage to maintain 4:05 through the back half and maybe push a bit in the last 3k, I’d be happy.

As we crossed the river back to Ottawa, Mike and I continued to feed off of the crowd around us. We were getting high fives and throwing our arms up for more cheering. We were also keeping track of how many compliments we got on Mike’s beard or his crazy coloured shorts. Small distractions or a good cheer can really help you in tough times during a race.

We pushed into downtown Ottawa, past the Convention Centre where Ryan and Shea were watching. Only 2.5k to go. Boy, was it hot. Stupid hot. Why is it so hot?! We kept the pace constant as we came through into the last km. As we got closer we started pushing a bit. We saw the finish and let the legs hammer. With a couple hundred meters to go I left Mike and hammered to the finish, crossing in a time of 1:26:48. Mike finished a few seconds behind.

So although we couldn’t execute the race exactly to plan, conditions considered, I’m happy with how things ended up. The original plan from Coach Rick was to aim for anywhere between 1:24mid to 1:26low so not too far off of where we planned. Final results were A 1:50 personal best of 1:26:48, 124th overall, 15th in 20-24 Age Group.

For the next little while I’ll be recovering on vacation in California :). I may be running an easy paced half-marathon while I’m there. I’m planning on running an easy trail race in Brantford June 8th. Other than that, I’ll be taking time to make sure I recover properly so that come the end of June, the marathon build for STWM can begin without issue. Until then friends, see you on the roads or in the airways!

Mike

A New Chapter: First Blog & Spring Race Catch-up

Hey! Look who got a blog! I figured it was time to join the 21st Century and start keeping tabs on where I’m at with running. This blog is more of a personal tracker more than anything. I find it important to write down race re-caps and training notes on what I’m feeling, how things went, what worked and what didn’t, so, here we go!

It has been a very busy and rewarding Winter and Spring for 2014. With the help of my coach and several very good friends I’ve managed to push down some personal best times after my first marathon last fall. the 2013 edition of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was an amazing experience. I plan on dedicating a blog to it later but for now, lets recap the races of the Winter and Spring.

Returning from injury, I ran the Robbie Burns 8k  and the Chilly Half-Marathon as testers. I’d been feeling better since about Christmas so Coach Rick Mannen and I used these races to see where I was at. Nothing too crazy. I was being patient, careful and listening to my body. I had my eyes set on a strong performance Around The Bay so these races were really used to get back into the swing of things. Both went well. The cold was a big factor; We ended up racing into the minus teens which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

With these two races to build my confidence back I took on Around The Bay. ATB was the last race I had done before beginning work with Coach Rick in 2013. Last year ATB took me by surprise. I had heard of it’s monstrous hills and really just jumped in to it after having previously coached myself through two half-marathons. Needless to say, I had a hard time in 2013 and was very humbled so in 2014, I was out looking for revenge. I put the experience of a marathon build and my new knowledge of proper recovery to good use. Before the race I tackled the hills a few times to ensure there were no surprises from the course this year. The race itself was nothing short of perfect. I had the luck of teaming up with my good buddy Mike Bentley. Mike had just recently qualified for Boston so I was glad to have someone who I could relate to by my side. (More on Boston later) Running with Mike was great. He is extremely positive and a bit quicker than me which is nice when I need the extra push. On my side I had a bit more of a build so we helped each other where the other needed a hand. We cruised the first 15km of the 30km course making conversation and keeping each other in check. We got to the lift bridge at half way and couldn’t believe how far we had come so quickly. We were ready to take on the hills that lay before us. The hills were strong, but Mike and I were stronger. We powered through with energy to spare. I’m not saying that the last 4km cruise into Copps didn’t hurt, but it hurts less when you’re stride for stride with a good friend. In the end, We crossed the line with a time of 2:12:10 which for me, compared to 2013 was a 10 minute personal best! Thanks Mike and Coach Rick for all of your help!!

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Since ATB things have really been on an up-swing. After a couple of weeks recovering, I ran the Toronto Yonge Street 10k. I had won an entry to this race through a Canada Running Series Facebook contest. “Sure” I thought, “I’ll give it a go for kicks.” Ha! Known for its net downhill course TYS10K usually yields some fast times for everyone. I ended up smashing my 10k PB by 1:40 to a 37:59 finish. Not bad! Two PBs in less than a month? I’ll take it! CRS really puts on a good race.

A couple weeks after TYS10K I ran a local race. The Brantford Rotary Classic 10k was my first ever race two years ago. It’s nice to race on home turf and support local charities. This race didn’t go exactly to plan. I may have gotten a little excited and really hammered the first km. Good job Mike… I was pretty gassed for the rest of the race and had a bit of trouble keeping my pace below 4:00/km. Lesson learned. Keep your cool and don’t get over excited. Easier said than done right? Although I was disappointed with the time, I still managed a 6th place overall finish which is the best finish to date in that race. Cool!

The last and final race of the Spring season was this past weekend in Ottawa. I’ll hold off on that for now and have another re-cap for the half-marathon. Until then friends, thanks for reading and I’ll try to keep this as updated as I can. Big plans and as Coach Rick says, faster times ahead!