Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon Race Report

I finally completed my first “ever” straight out marathon on October 7th. Up until now, I have not had a desire to do a marathon, but for some reason the Bizz Johnson Marathon caught my eye. First of all it is all on trail – and a very nice trail at that. Secondly, the course is perfectly suited to me – 10 miles gradually up and then 16 miles gradually down. The only factor that I wasn’t sure of was the altitude which was at or above 5000ft. The race was also 6 weeks after Ironman Canada, so the amount of time and energy invested in getting ready for the marathon would be minimal. This is how I have always wanted to approach my first marathon – using the fitness from Ironman racing without a lot of focus on “running” miles. I was going to try and practice what I preach, and go into the race without any expectations. So a group of us – neighbors Andrew Block, Jason Tuffs, Jay Prasuhn and Paula headed to Susanville for the race. Paula opted for the half marathon while the rest of us decided to do the full marathon. Paula wanted us to take a race pole and decide when during the marathon would we all be thinking that Paula was the smartest of all by choosing the half marathon instead.

My plan was to be very conservative the first 10 or so miles on the uphill and then see what I had left for the remaining 16 miles. Having never done a marathon before, I felt a little unprepared; I didn’t know how much I would need to eat, and I really didn’t know what pace I could hold for the entire distance. All I could go by would be the nutrition that I used and the pace that I had done some of my long runs.

The race started at 9am – so a late start in relative terms. We were thankful of this as the temperature in the morning was hovering right around the freezing point (32F). At least this wasn’t an Ironman race – running I can deal with cooler temperatures. We were bused up to the starting point and then all hung out for a few minutes before the start. About 700 of us stood around in the cool temperatures waiting for the start. After a quick rendition of the Star Spangled Banner sung by all participants, the race was off.

I really stuck with my pre-race plan and started conservatively. I was holding about a 6:40 pace for the first 10 or so miles, which felt quite comfortable. I was quite amazed that I did not notice the altitude – I guess it was just one of those days. Andrew was running stride for stride with me for these first miles. Then the downhill came and I was in my element. There is nothing I like more that running downhill. Suddenly the same effort was yielding sub 6 minute miles. By about mile 10, I had passed the leader and was now at the front of the race. It was quite strange to be leading the race outright – I certainly had expected that I would have some company during the race. I continued on pace, and felt good, fully expecting that I would start to feel the distance at about the 20 mile point if not before. It was really only the last 2 or 3 miles that I was ready to be done – up until that point I felt relatively good. The great thing was over the last miles, we started to catch some of the half-marathon runners as well as some of the early-bird marathon runners. This made it easier seeing and passing people. I crossed the finish line – with everything feeling great. My NEWTON shoes were awewome. My legs felt great and I had NO blisters. With more cushion in the forefoot, not only did this help with the impact on the quads, my forefoot never got sore at all which you would think would happen running on a rocky trail. All in all the race was a great success, and I can now say that I have run a marathon. Taking the pole after the race – I was OK until about 23 or so miles, Andrew wished that he was doing the half marathon at about 18 miles, Jason at about 10 miles and Jay about half way through. As a group we did pretty well taking 3 of the top 10 places, with Jay meeting his goal coming in under 3:30 and Paula placed 2nd in the Half Marathon

Now it is time to take it easy and enjoy some time at home!!!

Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon – 10/07/07 – Results:

1. Heather Fuhr W35-39 2:46.35

2. Christopher King M30-34 2:59.56

3. Andrew Block M35-39 3:03.24

4. David Ayala M25-29 3:06.47

5. Jason Atwood M25-293:07.47

6. Jason Tuffs M35-393:12.17

7. Neil Smith M35.393:12.58

8. Reid Weber M25-293:14.10

9. Darin Quigley M40-443:15.10

10. Bob BrandsM40-443:15.22

For complete results go to: redwoodtrails.com

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Ironman Canada 2007 Race Report

I am happy to say that the 25th running of the Subaru Ironman Canada is now one for the record books. The event in itself certainly did not disappoint. Having never raced this race, despite being a Canadian and having race Ironman races for 18 years – I did not know what to expect. I remember how much support the race received from the community the last time I was here watching many, many years ago, and could only imagine that things have only gotten better. This certainly was the case; the City of Penticton really embraces this event and has turned it into a phenomenon. NA Sports also made a conscious effort to step things up, wanting to make the 25th Anniversary very special. Numerous anniversary celebrations, made the week leading up to the event fun filled.

One of my favorite events of any race is the kid’s run – this event was one of the biggest that I had ever seen with upwards of 300 kids participating. Included in the field were my two nephew’s Kieran and Landon Fuhr. They did awesome and really enjoyed the run and of course getting the finisher medal was pretty cool too!!

Another one of highlights of the pre-race activities is the Underpants Run. I had heard a lot about the Subaru Ironman Canada version of the Underpants run, so I knew it was an event that I could not miss. Give the conservative Canadians an opportunity to run around in their GAUNCH – and you won’t believe how many people will turn up. Paula even got to participate in her first ever underpants run!!! Money was raised for children in need and everyone had a blast.

The race itself was going to be an exercise in execution for myself. My training leading up to the race had gone well, and I was ready to race but I knew my limitations. I set a very specific race plan for myself based upon the training.

For the swim, the plan was to swim strong but under control and minimize the damage.
The water was great and I had a relatively uneventful start. I settled into my pace – unfortunately just missing the feet ahead (which would have put me a couple of minutes faster). The swim time was slow, but then I realized after having heard how far behind I was that it was slow for everyone.

Once on the bike, I raced with my SRM power meter, and from training, I knew that there was a very specific wattage that I would be able to push and if I could stick to that, the ride would only get better throughout. I stuck to the plan on the bike – the girls up front were putting in a great deal of time into me early on, but I did not panic or get upset – I just hit my wattage. As the ride went along the time gap started to stay the same as the girls upfront were starting to feel the damage of the early part of the ride. I did have some rough stretches, in particular the rollers after Richter Pass – we had Kona like winds through this section which was making getting into any rhythm difficult. A little reprieve from the wind during the OUT of the out-and-back section and I was able to regroup and feel strong to the finish of the bike. Sticking with the plan, I came into transition quite a few minutes down (about 15) but very happy with my ride. I did what I had set out to do and what was within my realm of capability given the training that I had done.

Now it was time to put the Newton’s on and hit the pavement. Out of all my training, my running has felt the best it has in a long time. This is a good and bad thing. Good in that I hoped to be able to run a strong marathon, bad in the fact that sometimes it is hard to hold back to a reasonable pace at the beginning if things are feeling really good. My plan was to run conservative the first ½ of the race and then try and be strong for the last 6-8 miles where the wheels usually fall off. So off I went running at what was feeling like a very comfortable pace – but based upon the mile splits it was probably a bit too fast. I got to the turn around and I was gaining time on the leaders. At the ½ way point, Lisa Bentley had overtaken Linda Gallo for the lead Sara Gross was just behind that. I was about 10 minutes behind Lisa, 8 behind Sara and 5 behind Linda. Figuring out the math, I was going to have to do something pretty incredible if I was going to catch Lisa, but there was the possibility that I could catch Linda. I kept running, but I did start to feel the affects of the pace that I had set on the way out. So much for running strong the last 10km – back to survival mode it was. One of the great things about the run course in Penticton is that there are people cheering you pretty much the whole way. So, even when I started to feel tired, the crowds were there to keep me going. Finally at about 22 miles I caught up to Linda Gallo to move into 3rd place. I kept running as strong as I could to the finish and was very happy to cross the line in 3rd place in my first ever Subaru Ironman Canada.

So, all in all the day was a great success. I went out there and did what I could do based upon my limited training, and did so with a smile on my face. A huge thank-you to NA Sports for putting on a great event. Joe Dixon the race director made my first trip to the Subaru Ironman Canada very special and I thank him and his crew for that. From being on the other side of things more this year, I do know how much work it is to pull a race like this off – it is no small feat. Everyone involved needs a huge pat on the back!!!

No it is time to get back into some mountain biking and paddle boarding. I am looking forward to getting back on the trails with my mountain bike and doing some paddle boarding. These two activities have been put on the back burner over the past couple of months.

My next goal is running my first ever straight marathon. I will be doing the Bizz Johnson trail marathon on October 7th. I have never done a marathon without having swum 2.4 miles and cycled 112 miles before hand, but have not really had any desire to do so. This marathon caught my eye as it is one trails and more importantly, it is a great course. On an old railroad bed, the trail is nice and smooth and is 8 mile of gradual uphill and then 18 miles of gradual downhill. I think that has my name written all over it.

For the first time in 17 years, I will not be toeing the line at the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona. This was a very conscious decision on my part after my race there last year. I look forward to experiencing Kona in a different way – and have no regrets on the decision at all. I feel like I have accomplished everything that I have wanted to in Kona and will thoroughly enjoy being on the sidelines.

Back in the Swing of Things

Since the last update, I have been keeping very busy with working, training and racing. This season is all about balance, and doing things that I want to do. Because of this, I have jumped into many more local short races than I normally would. In the past I never really wanted to do a race unless I knew I was prepared. Well for the most part this season, that would mean that I would never be racing – so I just jumped into some races without feeling fully prepared. This is a fun way to approach races – no expectations, just go out and have a great workout.

A couple of my main goals for the year are #1 – try my hand at an XTERRA race and #2 – do Ironman Canada which I have never done.

Well, goal #1 of the XTERRA race was very much an eye opener. I had been doing quite a bit of mountain biking, tackling things at my pace and getting a little better. Believe me, I had no delusions of grandeur when entering the XTERRA race, but I did think that with the more time spent on the mountain bike, it might pay off. Well, it quickly became clear that I was totally out of my element. It wasn’t like my fun little training rides where I took my time and made it through things. I was constantly losing time during the ride, I guess I am not used to having that many people around me when I am mountain biking. I made it through one lap of the two lap bike course without any incidents – I had actually made it up a couple of the things that I didn’t make in training – but I continued to be light years behind the leaders. To add insult to injury – with a few miles to go up a slight grade my pedal literally fell off. I thought that my foot had unclipped from the pedals, so I pulled off to the side to get out of peoples way – as I did so and set my foot down, my pedal was still attached. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I tried to get the pedal back on and I could not get it threaded back on. So there I was, wondering what I would do now. I knew that if I could get myself to the top of the last hill, it would be all downhill and I could coast to the transition. So I pushed, ran, single legged my way to the top and then was able to coast down to the transition sans pedal. I probably got there just before the leaders were finishing. Because I had no reason not to finish, I headed out on the very tough run course, and completed the course. In reality, the mishap with the pedal did not make that much difference – I would have still been in the same place that I was regardless. I ended up 6th pro – not bad hey! – well that is 6th out of 6. So my XTERRA career was not meant to be.

What I realized is that I thoroughly enjoy riding my mountain bike, but I do not enjoy racing my mountain bike. It takes a certain person to do well, and I certainly do not have that – there is no way that I will ever overcome my fear to ride downhill fast. Even if I could hold my own on the uphills (which I couldn’t) the time lost on the downhill was way too much to overcome!!! I already had a great appreciation for the XTERRA athletes and what they do, and my experience just reinforced this – they are awesome and hardcore!!

So now it is onto goal #2 – Ironman Canada which is on August 26th. I have been watching quite a few races this year and so now it is time to get back on the other side of things. My preparation for Ironman Canada started with the Lake Stevens 70.3 race on July 9th. Because I have not done any long races this year, I figured I had better get in at least one 70.3 or half distance race before Ironman Canada. My training had been fairly consistent, but definitely less than I would usually do for a half – but nothing like baptism by fire. The main purpose of the Lake Stevens event was to see where my fitness level was and to serve as a reminder as to the difficulty both physically and mentally of longer races. It is easy to lose sight of reality sitting by the sidelines and watching athletes compete. The race went as well as could be expected – nothing spectacular by any means, but certainly a starting point for my preparation for IM Canada. I had some moments where I had to remind myself what I was there for – so I was happy to conquer these demons and finish strong. Most of the girls that were racing are very much at the top of their game – so to be anywhere near them was a great feeling.

Most people would assume that my Ironman Canada preparation had started months ago – but not so. The Lake Stevens race was a kick off – but I still had a couple of weeks after the race before I began my Ironman preparation in earnest. I know that there is a limit to what my body can handle as far as training goes and how much time and energy I am willing to invest to get ready for the race – the magic number seems to be about 5 weeks. I can look at this and it is manageable – something I can get my head around and focus for that amount of time – any longer would be counter productive. I get myself into the best shape that I can in this time frame and toe the line and be as competitive as I can.

I was able to go and check out the Ironman Canada course in Penticton during our Multisports.com Ironman Canada training camp which took place on June 13-15th. This was my first opportunity to ride or run on the course. I had spent some time in Penticton many years ago, but this was before my Ironman days. The course is truly incredible – back to old school Ironman racing. I knew that this was an event that I wanted to do and what a better time than now – for the 25th anniversary.

Now it is time to buckle down and do the final preparation for the race. I will keep you posted on how the race goes.

Heather

2007 Early Season Update

We I guess it is about time for an update, since we are already into April. It seems that the time is just flying by – wasn’t New Year’s just last week?? This season has been a little different for me so far – as work has taken more of a forefront thus far. Between the Multisports.com training camps and coaching work along with my new position as Pro Liason for North America Sports, I have been keeping very busy. It has been an enjoyable change, and one that gives me an appreciation for all that goes on behind the scenes of the various events.

We have had a number of Multisports.com camps thus far, as well as a few personal weekend clinics. One in particular gave me a great jump in my training. I had a request earlier in the year from a young up and coming triathlete (Tatiana Vertiz) to come and do a personal week of training with me over her spring break. As my plan for the early part of the season has been to concentrate more on the work side of things, this seemed to fit right in. Having been in the sport for a long time, it is always fun to be able to share the knowledge with someone that is so willing to learn. Tatiana was a breath of fresh air to my somewhat jaded view on triathlons. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but sometimes it takes someone with an incredible interest in and excitement for the sport to just give me a little reminder. We had a great week of weather here in San Diego while Tatiana was here so the training was awesome. I even introduced her to a couple of my new found favorite things to do – paddle boarding and mountain biking!!!

I have been spending more time on my mountain bike this spring and have been really enjoying it. My plan is to test the waters in a local Xterra race here in Temecula on May 20th which should be interesting. My skills have definitely improved, but there is still a long way to go to be even in the same zip code as the Xterra athletes. I have always said that athletes that are at the top of their sport whether that be Xterra racing, mountain biking, swimming etc are there for a reason. They are there because of their hard work, determination and let’s not forget, talent. I have no delusions that I am going to go into an Xterra race and be anything more than average. And, to be honest, this is part of the allure of the event – no expectations, just getting in a great workout and having fun.

The other sport that has become one of my favorite things to do is paddle boarding. It has been great to get out on the water, without really being in the water. Again, as with mountain biking, I am pretty average when it comes to paddle boarding, but that is the fun part of it. I am a paddle boarding nerd!!! Just like a newby to any sport, I am keen to learn all the training tips and techniques. Paddling has taken priority over getting to the pool – which is going to have to change sometime soon. My hope is that the added strength I have gained from paddling with transfer over to swimming – I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Last weekend I had my first official race as the Pro Liason at the Ford Ironman 70.3 California race here in Oceanside. We had an incredible field of 70 professional athletes competing – probably one of the largest fields you will see in any of the races this season. It was interesting to be on the other side of things and watch the athletes get ready for the race and then compete. Because I am not anywhere near the shape I need to be in to be competitive in a 70.3 race, I enjoyed watching. There was part of me that wanted to be out there, but that will be after I get in a little better shape. Next it is off to the Ford Ironman Arizona which is next weekend. Again, I will be behind the scenes helping out the professional athletes. My time will come later in the season when I plan to be at the start line of Ironman Canada. This is one race that I have never done, but have always wanted to do. Penticton holds a special place for me as Roch and I used to spend quite a bit of time there in the late 80’s. It has been over 15 years since I have been there, so to finally compete there in the 25th Anniversary race will be a lot of fun.

One main change for me this season is that I will be wearing NEWTON running shoes (www.newtonrunning.com), which I am very excited about. The whole idea behind the shoe is to allow athletes to become more efficient runners by facilitating forefoot running. Being a forefoot runner already, I find that the NEWTON shoes allow me to run how I want to, and that is up on my forefoot. The less time that an athlete’s feet spend on the ground, the faster and more efficiently they will run – makes sense to me. I have done a couple of road races in the shoes – and they are great. The shoes just really make you want to run fast!!! You can check out the Newton running shoes at the website above, and you can test them out at EXPO’s of all the North America Sports events this season.