Race Recap – 5 Peaks Trail Run – Heart Lake

Whenever a blogger hasn’t posted in a while, they always lead with something like “Don’t worry, I’m not dead!” and I always have a reaction along the lines of “I wasn’t thinking that at all.”  I’ve been swamped (still am, in fact), and there are quite a few topics I want to write about to get caught up on, but last things first….  I raced the 5 Peaks Trail Run Series – Heart Lake Sport course this weekend.

I ran this race last year in September, and doing it in the summer had an entirely different feel. Just like last year, there was a Kids’ Challenge Fun Run of just under 1 km that both Shark Boy and the Lightning Kid participated in.  It’s fun to see them actually improve year over year: I’m pretty sure Shark Boy can pace himself better so that he keeps up a more consistent tempo, and the Lightning Kid finished much faster too.  They make me so proud.

Game Faces.

Shark Boy raises the flag (or ribbon) of victory (or participation).

The Lightning Kid approaches the finish line with Mama in tow

The Kids’ Challenge course had many of the same features as the sport course, only shorter, naturally.  We took off from the starting line and dropped down into a little valley where we circled a field, while going up and down a few hills that surrounded it.  It was all led by a volunteer and there was a tiger mascot to motivate them right to the end.  The really great part about this venue for kids is there was a splash pad right next to the race site where the boys got to spend the time while I was off on my race.

This year, I decided to seed myself in the 4th wave rather than the 3rd.  I think I got passed a little too much in the early first kilometre last year, and I wasn’t exactly at my fastest going in.  In spite of the guidelines they give you as to wave vs. benchmark time (the pre-race bulletin called it “…the 5K time you could run immediately after eating a plate of nachos, with a beer or two to wash them down, followed by an ice cream sandwich for dessert.”).  By the time I had finished getting my good luck kisses, I had a little trouble getting to the front of the 4th wave, but I still think it worked well.  

The single-track didn’t start till 500-700m into the race, so there was plenty of time to get things sorted out in terms of runners’ paces and who should be where in the pack.

I started my Garmin a little late (and my MapMyFitness app even later – I hope no-one was listening to the robot lady in my phone calling out false kilometre marks), and I quickly noticed a little problem.  I recently added a new heart rate sensor and I think that reset my HR Zones and values; according to what it displayed, I did nearly the entire race above 90% my maximum heart-rate (I later found out that the programmed max was 187 bpm, and my max of the day was 197, so now at least I have a new, up-to-date maximum heart rate).

The course spent a lot of time in the shade of the forest, which I really appreciate; I had a hat and sunscreen, but I don’t like to rely on those more than I need to.  Even the little bit toward the end (I think well after 4km on a 7km course) that was more sun exposed was well thought out – there was only a single aid station on the course, but I thought it came at the perfect place the first time I passed it, and you got to pass it again another time.

I took a couple of walk breaks during the race, but they were more in anticipation of hills and wanting to be properly energized for the climb than necessary to recover from fatigue.  My favourite hill was a near vertical climb that slowed people down to a crawl.  I used my trick from last year to make the crawl literal and used my hands to get extra traction to make the climb.

I made the final climb to the finish line with a smile on my face, and finished in 45:46 which is more than a minute slower than last year, but with my training schedule (or lack thereof) I wasn’t too surprised and quite pleased.

After a slight cool down in the shade and getting a few snacks into me (including mint-chocolate Clif Bar Builder Blocks!) I met my wife and kids coming back from the splash pad.  We had the briefest of moments to meet with Jessica of Laces and Lattes (which is not only a good blog, but an excellent running resource) – if not for her, I think I would have forgotten that the race was that weekend.  I also got to meet Robyn Baldwin, and she fell victim to the charms of the Lightning Kid:

So much fun meeting @apkussma‘s fam jam. I may have wanted to kidnap your son just so we could eat cookies together
— RobynBaldwin (@RobynBaldwin) June 21, 2014

He didn’t give her nearly the attention I wanted him to, because he was so busy stuffing cookies in his mouth, but maybe he knows more about playing it cool than I do.  Rounding out the group of tweeps I met is Mark Sawh, who was better known to me as Spider-Man (from the Yonge St. 10k).  Based on the conversation I had with him, trail running has another convert…

I wish we’d been able to hang around more for draw prizes and other fun, but we had to get to Burlington for the race kit pickup of the TriKids Burlington triathlon Shark Boy would be doing the next day.  Guess what my next post is going to be about?

Gear Corner: Reviewing the Fitbit Flex

There are an increasing amount of activity trackers on the market these days, including models from Jawbone, Polar and Samsung but I chose to get a Fitbit Flex. My reasons are that Fitbit syncs with Earndit and Pact, as well as I could get one for Air Miles (which I had racked up enough of).

The Fitbit Flex came with two wristbands (one large and one small) as well as a USB cable for charging. Inserting the unit into the wristband of choice is easy enough – in fact, it seems to be fitted so that you can’t put in in wrong and have the lights/LEDs not display. Fastening the wristband is straightforward, but not easy to do one-handed, especially if you don’t want the band to be too loose on your wrist. With a little practice, this becomes a non-issue. In addition to the cable, there is a wireless adapter that you plug into your USB port so the Flex can sync its recorded data automatically when it’s within range. I honestly don’t use this feature, since I always sync to my Smartphone or iPad with the Fitbit app.

I find I have to recharge the Flex every 3 days or so, possibly because I’m a little obsessed with seeing my data update and sync often during the day. If I’m not careful, the Flex won’t make contact in the little socket for the charging cable, and it won’t charge.

Though the app gives you all kinds of things you can track (manually entering activities, food log, weight, body fat%), my main motivation for using this thing is steps taken and tracking sleep.

Tracking Activity (Steps)


This is the Saturday before the Yonge St 10K.  I took it easy, no workout, but I still had to take the kids outside, pick them up, a few light chores around the house.  So I still burned well over my recommended 2100 calories.  This is one of the things I like best about having the Fitbit Flex.  I wanted to write a post about ‘The Calories I Can’t Count” for all those little things that tire, without being part of a workout or training plan.  Now I have a rough measurement.


Sunday was the race, so you can see how I racked up the steps, calories and ‘very active minutes’.


The day after the race, was one of those days where I would usually have to miss my slotted workout (which I usually do at lunch).  I was on a training course all day, which usually makes for a very sedentary workday.  Here’s where Fitbit (and GymPact) help; I parked far away from the office, took stairs and extra walks on every break I got, and managed to exceed 10,000 steps on a day where I was booked too heavily to make it to the gym.

That training course lasted till Wednesday, and on Thursday I made it to an intense bootcamp class.



The class had things like mountain climbers, lunges, and burpees, and I question how well the Fitbit Flex can track those movements since it’s only giving me credit for about 200 calories for the 40 minute class, and I’m pretty sure it’s worth than that (to say nothing of how the ‘active minutes’ didn’t increase much either).

All in all, the Fitbit Flex let’s me feel good about days when I seem to be tired without having done a ‘workout’ and is helping me stay active during non-workout periods and burning more calories during the day.  I’d say it helped me with my most recent DietBet.

Tracking Sleep

This feature is a little less interesting to me, since I know that my sleep is of poor quality; the Lightning Kid wakes us up a few times a night.  Still I’m curious, and like the activity tracking, the Fitbit could do a job of ‘keeping me honest’ so that I know a little better how much/little sleep I got; if I feel tired, I might exaggerate – what feels like 4 hours might actually be closer to 6 for example.


My biggest problem is I think it underestimates my wake-ups.  That night, the 3:00 wake-up (visible in red), was due to… um, a call of nature.  But the Lightning Kid woke up at 4:30 and I had to rock him and put him back down.  This involved some squirming on his part that often wakes him back up again, so I had to restrict his flailing – the point is that I was on my feet for 10-15 minutes and the Flex marked that as ‘Restless’ sleep.  So I don’t put the most faith in this feature, but it’s better than nothing.

Overall, I’m really happy with my Fitbit Flex and continue to use it daily.

How do you feel about the activity tracker trend? If you have one, do you use it/like it?