Saturday, 29 December 2012

Boxing Day 10-Miler Race Report

This was the 92nd running of the Boxing Day 10-Miler in Hamilton, Ontario. They used to start this race at 11:00 a.m. A few years back, they pushed it further back to 12:00. I don't know whether it's to allow people to fight off their food and drink Christmas hangovers or to allow the shop-a-holics to get their Boxing Day sales fix, but either way, I'm grateful for the extra hour.

My husband and I woke up to howling winds.  Not a comforting way to wake up when you're racing.  What can you do, but get out there and get it done anyway.  The weather was calling for 15 cm of snow.  That didn't happen overnight -- woohoo -- so I'll take my small mercies where I can get them.

After my husband and I got ourselves ready, we went to pick up a couple of friends and made our way to the race.  It was only 15 minutes away and we had no problem finding parking in front of the YMCA.   We weren't too thrilled with the $12 parking fee, but once we found out a friend got a $72 ticket for not paying it, we stopped complaining.

Registration was painless and we got a toque with our registration.  I got a little noggin' so the hat was just freakin' huge  a touch too big for me.  Everybody met up by the bleachers in the gym and we all headed over to the race start.  Hamilton got a bit of snow overnight and the roads looked slick.  I thought I might need to revise my race plan.  Found out after the fact that the race director had salters go through the whole route to avoid any problems for the runners.  Sweet!

We got to the race start and I finally met Sam from Daily Mile.  It was great to finally meet her after many months of chatting on DM.

The start of the race was a bit slow as it usually is till the crowds thin out and everybody finds their paces.  I knew I wanted to finish around 1:25, but anything better than 1:29:50 was a PB for me.  I ran with my girlfriend Janine who has qualified for Boston too many times for me to count.  A 1:25 for either of us would have been a record time. 

The wind was a factor a couple of times, especially before you hit the pier and run through the Pier 4 Park.  Once we made the turn into the marina we were good.   The path all along the waterfront was clear.  The water looked cold but the waves were very cool.  It was through here that the wind side-swiped us a few times.  Nothing like getting knocked over by runners. 

We hit the half-way point right on target, but we hadn't hit the hills yet.   The first hill isn't so bad, but it's the Chedoke hill which is the kicker.  AND that's where the wind was, full-on in the face.  The hill is incredibly steep but the wind made it feel like we were getting pushed back by a wall.  My lungs were ready to explode by the time I got to the top.  I took a short walk break to wait for my friend, but she told me to keep going.  I knew she'd catch me once we got to the down hill section. 

The next few kilometres after the hill has a trail and then you're back onto a residential area.  I love this part of the race....until you hit Aberdeen.  It's like this realllly looooong climb up the escarpment that never seems to end.  Once you finally hit the turn, you get this nice down until you hit another hill.  It was on this down section that Janine caught back up to me.  But just for good measure there's another little hill within the last kilometre of the race....ugh!!  And it's all in the wind...again!

But there's just a couple more turns and you're into the finish chute.  So we pushed through it and gave it our best shot to try and make our goal time.  We missed it by 1:15.  Official time was 1:26:38.  Chip time was 1:26:15.  Janine won her age group and I managed a 7th place finish.  I literally jumped for joy when another friend told me how I'd done.

We headed back to the YMCA gym to warm up and meet up with everybody.  They put on a good post-race spread. There was hot soup, fruit, water, bagels and cupcakes.  We got changed and stuck around for the awards to watch Janine get her gold snowman belt buckle -- did they make it with yellow snow?

Then it was on to Slainte's Pub to get our beer -- free with your race bib.  That alone is worth the entry fee! 

Even with the 40+ kph winds, our group had lots of PB's. What a team!

This race has become a tradition and it's a great way to hook up with friends that you don't get to see in the days leading up to Christmas.   Here's a sampling of some of the gang that came out:

Happy New Year!!  Here's to a year filled with good health, happiness, good friends, wonderful family, new adventures and new beginnings.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Happy Holidays!!!!

Merry Christmas, everybody!  Hope you get to spend it with the people who are near and dear to you.   I also wish you no drama, lots of laughter and lots of running.

Next up:  Boxing Day 10 Miler.  I'm really hoping the 45K winds and 15 cm of snow don't materialise. 

Until then, I will be spending the next few days with friends and family.  Can't wait! 

Friday, 14 December 2012

2012 Races and Results

Last year, I resolved to start pushing myself  in my races.  I used to save my target races for the ones where I would aim to do my best, which meant one or two races a year.   I decided that I wanted to see how well I could do at shorter distances and started coming up with some pretty good PBs -- for me anyway.   My first two races this year I wasn't aiming for anything other than a finish.   Even though my Ironman Lake Placid wasn't, technically, a PB, it was better than my goal finish time by 13 minutes and it was better than my Arizona finish three years ago.  In my opinion Lake Placid is a much harder course.   So yay me!

Here are my details:

Chilly Half Marathon -- March 4, 2012 --- 2:16

NYC Half Marathon -- March 18, 2012 --- 2:30

Around the Bay 30K -- March 25, 2012 --- 2:54  -- PB by 13 minutes (last PB was in 2005)

JDRF 5K -- April 28, 2012 --- 24:05 -- PB

Angus Glen 5 Miler -- June 28, 2012 --- 59:17

Ironman Lake Placid -- July 22, 2012 -- 15:17

Oakville Half Marathon -- September 23, 2012 -- 1:55 --  PB (and the course measured 316m too long)

Detroit Half Marathon -- October 21, 2012 -- 1:51 -- PB

Boxing Day 10-Miler -- December 26, 2012 -- Unknown  -- still to come :-)  (Hoping for a PB, but weather is always a huge factor with this race)  Time to beat:  1:29

I only have one race confirmed for next year, but I'm waiting to hear whether I got into the NYC Half again.  December 20th is the announcement date -- can't wait!  I've been very fortunate thus far to have been randomly selected through their lottery two years in a row.   Here's to hoping for a third year in a row.

I'm still on the fence about the Chilly Half.  I'm definitely in for the Around the Bay and am leaning towards the Toronto Good Life in May.  I've done Mississauga twice and I hear the Toronto medals are huge.  I like medals, all medals, but especially big, obnoxious ones.  They are my kind of bling.

Tonight I'm excited to finally see the Nutcracker Ballet...for the first time ever! 

Am I the only person who has never seen it before?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

2012 Year in Review .... For Now. More To Come.

A blogger I follow reviewed her 2012 and encouraged others to do the same.  I've answered the same questions that she posted, but will have a more fulsome review later in the year.  So here's my preliminary 2012 year in review. 

1.  Best Race Experience:    Without question, it was Ironman Lake Placid.   I worked my butt off (literally and figuratively) for this race.

2.  Best Run:  Running the NYC Half Marathon in March with some amazing friends.  This one was for fun because my target run-only race was the very next week and I wanted to save the PR for that one.

3.  Best New Piece of Gear:  My Garmin 910 XT.  I love how it tracks my swim workouts. It tracks my distance so that I don't have to count laps in the pool-- I'm a spazz when it comes to that -- and also gives me my distance in my open water swims.  This baby gives me all the minutiae of detail that I want for my swims, my bike rides and my runs.

4.  Best Piece of Running Advice:   Someone telling me I needed to start training for myself.

5.  Most Inspirational Runner(s):   I loved Grete Waitz.  Such a class act.  But now I am inspired by the runners that I train with.

6.  Sum up Your Year:   I am stronger than I think, but I need to be stronger and less afraid to do things.

Feel free to tell me what your year was like, or do as I did and post on your own blog.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Motivations and Inspirations

I have a great life and feel very fortunate to have the things I do.  A lot of times, I need to remind myself of this because I get sucky when things don't go as planned.  So I look to my friends and family, near and far, real and virtual, for some added inspiration and motivation.

Biggest Motivation for 2013:  I am on a quest to qualify for Boston in May. 

To that end, I've embarked on a new training plan and trying to qualify is a huge motivator for me to stay on track through the winter.  I haven't raced a marathon (other than in Ironman -- and there's no racing going on there) in over two years.  This will be my first attempt at taking on a BQ and I'm overwhelmed at the support I'm getting from my fellow runners.  Their offers of pacing me on some of my training runs is much appreciated.  

I'm even making my husband pull out the treadmill from the corner of the basement and set it up because there will be no excuses this winter that it's too icy and snowy to run.  Just an FYI, I hate winter and I hate treadmills.

But I love to run and I love to run with people and on my own.  I'm inspired by new runners, especially when they have that first moment of  "Yes, that felt awesome!"  I want that feeling to stay with me as I continue to age.  I've started doing some solo runs on Saturday mornings on a path near my home, and the first time I went, I ran into three running friends I hadn't seen in years.  They are my inspiration to keep on keepin' on.  The "youngest" is in her 60s and the oldest is in her 70s.   I want that in my life when I hit their age and I hope to still be running with the people I run with now.

I'm also inspired by my friends who have had spectacular success in racing this year.   I want to see them continue on that path to greater accomplishments because they deserve it after all the hard work they've been putting into their training.

The past few months that I've been logging my workouts on Daily Mile, I've "met" a great group of people that also inspire me everyday.   A lot of them have children (I don't) and they manage to fit in many workouts nonetheless.   So I'm grateful to them for kicking me in the pants even though they don't know that they do.

I am constantly reminded that in this crazy world there are many people who have amazing souls.  We are fortunate to have our health and to use that for the good of others.  I am proud to be surrounded by philanthropic people who use their passion for fitness to raise funds and awareness for causes like The Ride to Conquer Cancer, The Healing Cycle (which raises funds for palliative care in Ontario), Craig's Cause Maritime Bike Tour (which raises funds for the severely underfunded area of pancreatic cancer), to name a few.   They inspire me to be a part of this incredible community.  I have participated in all of the above and will continue to do so in the years to come.   And if there's something else that has an event that strikes a chord with me and raises awareness and requires funding, I'll probably do that, too, because we can all use a little help sometimes.