Road To Montreal

Some people take the long weekend to go to the cottage, relax, and de-stress.   As a competitive inline skater though, I have other options.  This long weekend I exercised the racing option, by competing in the Marathon Roller de Montreal.  This is my 3rd 42k race of the season, the first being the Metrodome, and the second being the Texas Road Rash race.  Montreal still felt like the first 42K race of the season though, or at least “an early season race”.  For many skaters it really was their first race of the season.

For myself; aside from the othe races, I had 4 weeks of training leading up to Montreal.  A quick summary of my training:

DateWorkoutNotesWeight (lbs)Body Fat (%)
April 20
April 2160 HR 140 Spin bike
April 2245min Stair sprints
April 2310/30 Spin bike
April 24
April 2532.32 SkateModerate w/Bike Chases
April 2821K SkateRun 4 Reach
DateWorkoutNotesWeight (lbs)Body Fat (%)
April 2737.07 SkateRace Pace167.418.00%
April 2826.4 Hill (P8) Skate1st P8 Session
April 2910K Run - 51min 44sec169.218.30%
April 30169.618.40%
May 1
May 230K skatecapacity intervals170.418.70%
May 372K skatelow intensity167.817.80%
DateWorkoutNotesWeight (lbs)Body Fat (%)
May 434K skate10/30 workout166.817.40%
May 517k at P8 with race team169.418.30%
May 636K sakteactive recovery16717.50%
May 7
May 810K Run - 46min 39sec16717.50%
May 9
May 10
DateWorkoutNotesWeight (lbs)Body Fat (%)
May 1143K skate165.917.10%
May 12
May 1310K (22min)
25K skate
10k 70%
10/30 workout
May 14
May 1510K (21:50)
20K - 5x1min sprint
10k 70%
5x1 @ 90-100%
May 16
May 1742K Montreal Marathon1:17:50 (11th place)

As you can see from the training log, my early season training has been good, but not necessarily super intense.  My planned peek is September, and perhaps even October, as I want my final race to be the Houston Inline Marathon.  For now my work has been very heavy on distance to build up my base conditioning, with some spicy workouts thrown in to taste :)

I’m currently at a fairly big disadvantage in terms of pace training; I’m the head coach at our club and I have to coach a lot of sessions, so while I’m coaching, I can’t train with the race team.  I don’t mind training on my own, but its a lot better to train with other skaters, especially when they are faster, and you can work your fitness/technique up towards theirs.  On your own, what seems challenging, might not really be so much.

Also battling the bulge from the winter :( Looks like I hit the cola and chips a little too hard this winter.  I should be able to get my body weight/fat under control in a few weeks, but it will be sometime in June before I’m in decent condition for racing.  For Montreal I felt “ok” but for sure, far off my peek.  I’m hoping that the Canada race (July 1st) will go much, much better.

As they say though, one must live in the moment…Montreal:

If your a guy, I only need to say one word: shrinkage.  If your not a guy, let me just say that 6C weather combined with gusting 30kph winds do not make for ideal skin suit wearing conditions.  It could have been worse, it could been all that plus rain.  Fortunately it was a dry race though.

Despite the conditions, everyone managed to get of the start line with no problems.  As far as I know it was a clean race with no falls (although I think someone fell in the 21K group at the hairpin turn.).  The venue is the F1 track on the island park to the south of Montreal.  The track is generally in very good condition and has excellent pavement.  The hairpin turn is the only feature of the course that could be cause for concern.

The hairpin turn is a 180 degree turn with a radio of about 80 ft.  It might seem like plenty of room, but when you come up on it at 34kph…it seems a lot smaller.  Its also a turn to the right, most skaters are much more conditioned for turning to the left, so the packs usually just parallel turn through the hairpin.

The other big features: a long slightly downward back straight, followed by a small hill up to an S chicane before a tight left and back to the hair pin (the start line is just after the hairpin before the back straight).  This year the course was in great shape, but the chicane was littered with twigs.  Wasn’t too big a problem, but it took out at least one skater.

Late in the race (3rd last lap) I came up behind Morgan, heard a squeaking from his wheels, and heard him yell for a skate tool.  I figured one of his bearings had blown, but after the race he told me a twig has wrapped itself around the axle of one of his wheels.  Morgan had to resign the 42K, but he skated the 4K race afterward.

One other note, there were no water trucks this year!  Last year, as we came down into the chicane there was a big water truck backing on the track, with a lot of yelling from the pack it stopped and we buzzed by…but that could ended differently.

This year my goal was simply to stay with the lead group, skate conservatively and try to hang on to the lead group right until the end.   This race is also part of NROC, so my secondary goal ws to place as high as I could among the Pro Masters NROC skaters (this is my second NROC race of the season).

Going into the race I was worried the lead group was just drop me right away, since being an NROC race we thought some of the top US skaters might show up, and they would push the pace.  We did get a few competitive skaters from across the border, but it didn’t end up pushing the pace very much.  Off the line, 3 packs formed and jostled around all down the back straight right through the paddocks area.   It was kind of cool to see that much traffic at the front of the race.  It was a relatively small race compared to St Paul (now defunct) or Northshore, but everyone had the gaz, and we had three lines charging ahead for most of the first lap.

In the second lap things thinned out a bit and big group formed at the front, 15-20 skaters I think.  The pace didn’t feel too hard, but I guess that the power of the pack; afterwards I was told the first lap was something like 6min 20sec, which is a very decent lap time (the kind of lap time you would dream about during the 24 hours event).    After that though the pace leveled out and there were a lot of 7min and change laps.

In fact the first 7 of the 10 laps were pretty flat.  I passed up a few times, as far forward as third from the front, and while there were surges, there was nothing that seemed like a hard pressed attack.   Then again, being burried in the pack, a lot of the explosiveness would have been absorbed by other skaters closer to the front, and they were likely doing a lot more work bridging any gaps.  I talked to other skaters after the race though, and it didn’t seem like there were any big attacks in those first 7 laps though.

Once we were skating the cold and wind were not so much of an issue; your mind focuses on the race at hand you just don’t have time to think about the wind.   I spent a time buried in the pack, but also at the back (the suicide position), and back there you have to constantly deal with the gaps created by the pack’s slinky action.   There just wasn’t time to be cold :)

Later in lap 7 though, things finally picked up.  Out of the chicane there was a strong enough attack (while I was at the very back) that I couldn’t close on the gap that opened up in front of me.   My legs just didn’t have the gaz to increase the speed enough.  My breathing was ok, it was just my legs not turning over fast enough.  Once I was completley dropped off, I settled into cruising mode, and just focused on sweeping up the chase group and other victims.  Chances are if it wiped me out, there would be others getting wiped out, just at a later point.

In interesting thing about that kind wipe out; I’m an endurance guy, not a sprinter.  So although it hurts me to do a prolonged attack, it hurts a sprinter a lot more.  I don’t have as high a peak sprinting speed, but going from my 80% to my 90% doesn’t hurt me as much as it would hurt a sprinter.  So what I’ve seen a lot is that some skaters don’t get dropped right away, but when they fall off later, they really fall off.

By the start of the 2nd last lap, I had caught up to the chase 2 group.  You can see in the results that the lead group eventually split into two, and the the tail group split again.  Our chase 2 group, was me, Morgane Echardour (from Montreal), and Brian Oswald  a Skater’s Quest team member.  For lap 9 we just rotated and worked on catching other victims from the lead group.

Just after the Paddocks I recognized one of the guys from Montreal that I knew was a strong skater, I tapped Morgane and pointed to him, saying lets grab him, Morgan spoke to him in French, and he hopped on back of our pack.  But I guess he was too wiped out.  By the final lap it was back down to Morgan, Brian and myself.

Hernan Diaz was with us for a little while on the last lap.  He was hanging out at the back letting us pull.  I was really worried, if Hernan had any kind of sprint like Herb Gayle, then he would take us all to school at the finish line.  It turned out to not be an issue though, by the last 2K of the last lap, it was just me Morgane and Brian again.

I’m not really sure what happened, by that last lap we where definitely not hammering.  The three of us were all tired, we were working good together, but we where not charging hard kind of thing.  I think maybe by the end the pace of the lead group’s pace combined with the low temperature had just sucked the life out of a lot of skaters.

When it was clear that that it would be us three at the line, I felt I had to do something to try and wear down Morgane.  Brian was skating really well, probably better than me, but I didn’t know if he had a sprint left in him.  I do know for sure that if Morgane had any gaz left, she would use it to eat my lunch at the finish line.  I’m not exactly famous for my sprinting abilities, so to even the odds a little I attacked in a couple of places after the S chicane and before the final stretch into the hairpin.

My hope was that the attacks would wear down Morgane more then they would me.  Whethor or not it actually worked…I don’t know.  But as an endurnace guy, my options were to either survive more attacks or try to get a prolonged breakaway.  I wasn’t feeling like I had so much gaz left, so I opted for a couple of quick attacks.

Going into the final stretch we rotated one last time.  I came up front and kept an eye over my shoulder.  With 200m to the hairpin, I took a last glance didn’t see Morgane or Brian stepping out, so I decided to put the hammer down and make for the corner.  I managed to get to the corner first, and had the advantage of the inside line.  I think Morgane did try to get around me, but the extra distance would have made it a tall order.  Coming out of the turn, I made one last push for the line, and was happy that much lunch hadn’t been eaten :) .

Video: Kaye Kwok

As races go, it wasn’t super eventful.  I had more racing fun with Morgane and Brian in the last two laps then in the prior laps.

Kudos to Morgane, she took home 1st place among the women, well earned. Throughout the race she constantly worked hard to stay in with the lead pack.    She held on to the lead pack (as did Brian) longer than I.   Brian if you read this; we need to get the same jersey or something so we can work together in the next race, this is the second race this year where we end up together!

The full results have been posted.  I placed 11th out of 90.  If I had held on to the lead pack, I don’t think I would have beat any of the chase 1 guys to the line, so I don’t think it would have changed my final placing.   I managed to pull down a time of 1h 17min and 50sec, ~2min behind the winner Peter Doucet who finished in 1:15:22.   Last year the lead group came in under 1:12 or 1:13, my time from last year at Montreal was 1h 14min.

Last year I placed 10th.  Its hard to say if I did worse or better this year.  If not for getting gapped half way through the 7th lap, I likely could have finished in the 1:16 area (dropped a minute), but as I say I don’t think it would have changed my ranking, I don’t think I would have beat any of the chase 1 guys to the line.

A PB was out of the question; my fasted marathon time is a 1:12 (Canada Day last year).  I’ll be hitting the training hard between now and Canada day and for sure I want to try and come home from that race with a 1:10 or at least a 1:11.  My dream race would be to come home with a sub 1:10 finish time.  After that I could hang up my skates and die a happy man.    It not something ni my control though, even if I’m fit enough to skate that kind of a marathon time, I can only go as fast as the pack goes, and the pack (I skate with) is racing for rank, not finish time.

Some photos have been posted already; Cor Beattie has a great gallery up on Flickr.  Wilby snapped off lots of shots, but hasn’t posted a gallery yet, stay tuned!

Next u pis the 24 Hours Endurance event, following that will be the Canada Day race, where hopefully I will place higher and get closer to my fantasy finish time :)


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2 Responses to Road To Montreal

  1. Andrew Hegarty says:

    Sounds like you did great…

    Chat me up and we can discuss what to do until Canada Day.

  2. Pingback: Report & Video- Marathon Roller De Montreal- Live Breathe Skate « Speed Skate World- By Peter Doucet- Online Since 1999

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