Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Erie Marathon Race Report

I think it's pretty clear by now that I'm an inconsistent blogger.   My late race report this time around, though, isn't entirely my fault.  I'm totally throwing somebody else under the bus here because I've been waiting for her to upload photos so that I can steal them from her instead of from the official photographer Emoji

To be fair to her, she is a little busy training for her first Ironman in Florida which is coming up in just over three weeks.  She might be a touch preoccupied and stressing out just a teensy bit and I know that loading pictures so that I can steal a couple for my blog isn't exactly high on her list of priorities.  I forgive her.  But I'm digressing.

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, this hasn't been my most ideal marathon training session.  I've been dealing with lack of motivation and then injuries so marathon performance was going to be based on how I felt race day.  

Saturday morning we made our way down to Erie.  We went straight down to pick up our race kits and were immediately charmed with where we were going to be running.  It was a beautiful drive into Presque Isle Conservation Area.  (Found out while we were there that the Americans pronounce Isle like aisle not eel -- the French way).  

After making a couple of stops for lunch and "snacks," we went to check into our hotel.    We got ready for dinner and then had what is becoming a pre-race ritual "snack."

Laura, Sabrina, me and a Prosecco traveller.
Soon after we were off to dinner to meet the gang.  

WTF Crew
Dinner was delicious and we all left soon after so that we could rest up for race day.

I'm not the greatest sleeper at the best of times, and the two days leading up to the marathon were awful.  I woke up on the Sunday feeling pretty rough.  I was exhausted, which didn't help my frame of mind because I was still undecided about how I was going to run this race.  We were required to get into the campgrounds early because there is only one way into and out of the park and it was part of the race route so we were there at 5:30 and the marathon didn't begin until 7:00.  I also felt bad that the hubs and Laura came that early with me because they were doing the half and their race didn't start until 7:30.  That's an awful lot of waiting around.

Seeing that we had so much time on our hands, I curled up in the car and tried to get some more sleep.  It was at this point that I decided I wasn't going to try and BQ.  I honestly wasn't sure whether I even had it in me, but the possibility was always in the back of my mind.

Around 6:30 I went to join the bathroom line up which, of course, was very long.  I was cutting it a little too close for my liking to get to the start line so I ended up doing a brisk warm up to the start line once I was done.  I met up with Janine who had offered way back in May to pace me for this race.   She still agreed to stick by me, even though I warned her I might not be able to hang on to her pace.

After both the Canadian and American national anthems were played (huge Canadian contingent here), we were off.   I surprisingly felt really, really good.  I'm not sure where my energy came from (maybe that little nap in the car?), but I had absolutely no cardio issues on this run.  I'd been concerned about this because this whole training session my cardio has felt off.   Janine and I had decided that we would run a 5:45 pace for the first half and then try and pick it up for the back half if we were still feeling good.  

Just a couple of stolen photos with one while we were still running together.

Feeling really good at this point.

I lost Janine around the 16K mark when I needed to remove the Boston Strong wrist band that I actually wore around my ankle because it's too big for my wrist.  My right ankle/calf had started to bother me and I thought it was because of the band so I removed it and tucked it into my fuel belt.  Turns out that wasn't the case because that pain never really left me for the remainder of the race.  I lost at least a minute or two there because I couldn't quite get my laces to feel right after that and I kept trying to re-do them.  I had told Janine to go on without me and if I could catch up with her I would.  If not, I told her to keep running and have a strong race.  So I carried on, on my own, for what turned out to be the remainder of the run.  

This race is a complete double loop of the park so you would be passing the finish line area.  There were tons of spectators there and our own group of well-wishers so it was great to see everyone there.  The volunteers at this race are fabulous and many of the water stops were themed.  One of them was the Hallowe'en gang and they were completely decked out.  I passed them four times.  I don't know how??

Other than losing the minute or so earlier, I was on track at the half-way point to at least make an attempt for my 2015 BQ time (I move up an age group next year).  Soon after the half way point, maybe around the 26K mark, I started to feel my legs falling off the rails.  Part of this route is on concrete which I don't do well on.  I discovered this in 2008 when doing the NYC Marathon.    One of the other reasons, of course, for my falling apart is the lack of tempo and speed work this summer.  My body wasn't used to running that kind of pace for that duration so all I can say is that I was beyond happy that I held on for at least 26K.

The back half of the run was pretty quiet and lonely but the route is beautiful running along Lake Erie.  I was pleased to count only 4 people that were able to pass me on the second half of the run and I definitely passed more than 30.

The remainder of the run was focused on staying positive and continuing to run as strong a race as I could.  The legs were pretty cranky, but I reminded myself how happy I am when I run and that it would all be over soon enough and then I would have a nice long rest before I had to train again for anything of significance.   With 3K left to go, I told myself that I wasn't allowed to have anymore walk breaks.  Somehow, I managed to pick up the pace again and finish it off.

Not what I was aiming for, but I have absolutely no disappointment whatsoever with my finish time of 4:14:47.

I gave it everything I had and my legs felt like crap when I was done.  The first thing I did when I got back to the hotel room was ice my legs, my feet and did lots of stretching.   I'm not sure if it was because of that (or perhaps all the wine at dinner), but I have never had a faster recovery after a marathon as I did after this race.  I had only a little trouble with stairs.  I didn't need to do the two feet on one stair when going down and I didn't need to hang onto every imaginable surface to sit on a toilet.!

I am happy to report that everybody who did this race had a fantastic time.  Lots of PB's were accomplished and everyone wants to come back next year.  It is so well-organized and they love how many Canadians come down.  They also have a high percentage of people who qualify for Boston every year.  From their website:

"....we had the 2nd highest percentage (31%) of finishers qualifying to run the Boston Marathon in our 2013 race."

I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking to qualify.

The hubs (after his PB) and me.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Five Days to Erie Marathon

I can't believe it's only five days away.  I think I can safely say that this is the least confident I've been going into a marathon.  This hamstring injury has taken hold and it isn't letting go.  I think it loves me just a little too much because it's hanging on for dear life.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm going to drop down to the half.  I think they're all hoping I will because they're worried about me doing some serious damage.  I've considered that option, but to be honest, I don't want to at this point.  (I sound like a petulant child)  I've done all the training, put in all the long runs, and while they haven't been stellar, I got through them.  I've been smart (in my opinion only, of course) because I didn't do any speed or tempo work in efforts to prevent further aggravating the injury.  The hamstring doesn't feel worse, but it doesn't exactly feel great either.  Once this marathon is over, I am part of a Tough Mudder team two weeks later.  I know, not exactly the wisest decision I've ever made, but we are all doing this for fun and there are no time aspirations -- thank goodness!  I will probably do no running after the marathon in order to rest up for the Mudder.  Then there's a little relay trail run a week after that.  I have given this last race some serious thought and that is one that I will consider dropping out of if I feel that it will do more harm to my hamstring.

So while I understand why my friends think I should consider doing the half this weekend and I really do appreciate their concern, I will have a very long rest and recovery after the Tough Mudder and the Run for the Toad -- if I do that one at all.  There will be lots and lots of swimming, elliptical and biking in the interim (after some rest, I swear) before training for this happens in January.  

I'm not sure I will be able to run my way to a BQ on Sunday, but I'm not doing it for that anymore.   My lack of ability to run hard this summer has taken a toll on me, mentally, and it's made me feel less than adequate as an athlete.  I know what my accomplishments have been in the past two years and I won't let this injury diminish what I've been able to achieve.  This weekend is about the community of friends (some might say more like family) I have built in the many years since I became a runner.

I am the only one who places expectations on my results.  Quite simply, I love to run.  This weekend will be a success regardless of the result because I will be surrounded by an amazing group of individuals that I am proud to call my friends.

So, Erie, I hope you're ready for a bunch of Crazy Canucks coming your way!

How delightful that the weather is going to be "delightful."

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Let's Do It Again

Because I think this is the healthier version of a mid-life crisis, this is what I will be doing to celebrate the year I turn 50.

Until then, I have a marathon in less than two weeks, a Tough Mudder and then a relay trail run.  I will be taking a much-needed rest after this and will get back to serious Ironman training in January.  I will get in the pool sooner than that.  It's been a while and my swim is my weakness.  Any good swimmers out there?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Midsummer Night's 30K Run -- The Mind Rules the Body

This day started off with my second day of being at the CanFit Pro conference.  I started early on Friday morning and went until 3:00 Sunday.  I purposely registered myself for mostly lectures so that I would be ready to run 30K on Saturday night.  I couldn't help myself, but I did register for a TRX session on Friday night.  My arms were sore for days.

So Saturday morning on the train I sat like this the whole way:

I got to meet Brendan Brazier, the creator of the Vega Line.  Really great speaker and I loved both of his sessions that I took, but he was a little awkward in person.  He was offering one of his books for free but they were limited so I made sure I got back to the Expo quick.  Snagged the book and a photo op.

He's really tall and skinny, but, yes, I know I'm short.
Getting prepared for this race while being at a fitness conference all weekend was a bit of a challenge, given that I'd be there from early morning. I needed to make sure I had enough proper hydration and nutrition so  I made extra food for dinner Friday night so that I could put it in a container to take with me for lunch.  I also made plain quinoa as a pre-race fuel because I knew I would be hungry for something solid to eat before the race.

I hightailed it out of my last session of the day and got changed into my run gear.   It was going to be a hot night for a run.  I just can't catch a break with this weather!  I'm really, really hoping Erie will be cooler.  I was meeting my group at the ferry dock for 3:15.  I walked over from the convention centre and was met with lines and lines of people waiting to either buy tickets for the ferry or waiting to get on the ferry.  Luckily we had our tickets included with our race kit.

It was a bit of a gong show meeting up with everyone and getting on the ferry, but once there we made our way over to the Franklin fountain to try to meet up with SamEmma, Nicole and other Daily Milers who were running this race.  There was no one that I recognized there so we headed over to the race site and found a shaded area to hang out till it was time to run.

On one of our many pit stops to the loo, I got to meet Marlene.  Super sweet and super fast lady!

After returning from one of my port-a-potty trips I find out that more than half the group went to get hotdogs because they were hungry.  Ugh!  Some were smart (??) and only ate half a hotdog.   A couple, like my husband, ate a whole one and paid for it during the run.  Hello, Mr. Firefighter?  Can I borrow the fire station toilet?  Just ignore the noises, please.  Yeah, nice one, honey!  We're not allowed on Centre Island anymore.

So, after a hideously long line up to check our bags, I went to another long line up -- the one to start the race.  Why, oh why, did I sign up for the 30K?  Everybody else was doing the 15.  Damn  me and doing an early marathon!

I did get a chance to see Sam and Emma while I was waiting for the race to start and chatted with them for a bit before the gun went off.  I wished them both a great race and lined up.   Since the race this year was on the island because of construction issues in Toronto, it was a pretty narrow start on the path.  Pace Fairies were all pretty close to each other and it took a while before there was any semblance of control.

I've been injured lately (there, I've finally admitted it) so I decided that this was going to be a run to get it done.  I knew I needed to keep my hamstring/glute/hip flexor relatively happy if I had any chance of finishing up this whole training session.  I placed myself between the 3:15 and 3:30 pacers because I wasn't sure how this was going to go.  The first few kilometres were too fast.  I was running sub 6:00s and I knew that it would probably come back to bite me in the ass if I kept up that pace.  So I did a lot of running by feel, but also needed to look down at my Garmin every once in a while to make sure I wasn't going too fast.  I had to keep forcing myself to slow down.  I knew I felt okay, but I could begin to feel the hamstring pulling and I didn't want to aggravate it.

The worst part of this race was having to battle all the bikes, quad bikes, walkers (not those in the race) and generally oblivious people that there was a race going on.   I think the race director should have made up a bunch of signs and placed them around the islands letting people know that there would be a race in progress.  I actually saw a runner collide with a cyclist in front of me.  Luckily they were both okay, but they were both shaken up over the collision.

So the leg was pretty good for about 10K and then I could feel it starting to get really tight.  I knew this would be a bit of a battle and would be a mind over matter situation.  And it was conveniently the theme of their race shirts so I had lots of reminders.   Speaking of, it was 90 degrees out there.  Who wears long sleeve shirts to race in that kind of weather?

Anyway, I'm making a short story very long.  I didn't actually mind the boardwalk area, unlike many others.  It just felt like a long stretch and their 28K marker along the boardwalk was actually at 27.5 so that played with my head for the last kilometre which seemed like a freaking marathon away.  This was when my race mantra of "the mind rules the body" went into overdrive.

I wasn't thrilled with the grassy areas, especially when the last kilometre was all grass.  Thank goodness that it wasn't completely pitch black when I was coming into the finish because the neon shirts the volunteers were wearing helped me sight to the end.

I think this is the only race I've ever done where my Garmin was bang on with the distance.  As soon as I hit the mat, my Garmin registered 30K.  I'll give the race directors an A+ for that, but I know a couple people took some short detours because of all the loops.  I'm glad I didn't.  I don't think my leg wanted to do more than what was required of it.  I was grateful for the cheering of the hubs with 200m to go and my friends cheering me on at the finish.

(The only decent photo and my results):


But all I wanted to do when I got my aluminum water bottle (they're getting smaller and smaller every year) and medal (still awesome) at the finish line was throw up.  I'm not sure why but it was pretty overwhelming.  I managed to keep it down and walked over to where the gang were sitting in the beer tent.  No one saved me any, the bastards!  I'm not sure I would have been able to keep it down anyway.

This is where I found Kenny and I finally got my Boston band that I won in his giveaway.  Yay!!  Thank you so much, I love it!

Skinny wrists means it goes on the ankle
After I managed to get changed we all wanted to head home.  That's when we found out the delay for the ferry back to Toronto was 1.5 to 2 hours.  No way.  I was getting wave after wave of nausea and I knew I wouldn't make it.  We heard about the water taxi and that it was $10 per person so we all decided we were willing to pay the price.  Twenty minutes later we were on a boat back to the mainland.  Best money spent.  Oddly, the boat ride back settled my stomach.  No idea why, but once again I'm grateful.

So, will I do this race next year if it's on the island?  Not likely.  Getting on and off the island was inconvenient, especially since we're a 45 minute drive away.  Dodging bikes, walkers, children and dogs was bordering on dangerous, and the route became tedious for those doing the 30K when you had to cover the same area three times.  I love this race, especially when you get sweet medals and shirts like this:

But I may reconsider if they bring it back to its original location.  Will I do the 30K again?  Again, not likely because I don't plan on doing another early marathon.  I like the 15K distance, especially when it's a late afternoon/early evening race start.

Plus, I may be doing a very different kind of race the same weekend as this next year, but I haven't decided just quite yet.  I'll need to make a decision very, very soon because it WILL sell out.

Please stay tuned........

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Mind is Ready

But the body is not.

After a couple of months of being unenthused about training for my next marathon, I'm beginning to get that excited feeling of training again.  Unfortunately, my body isn't exactly on the same page as my mind.  I've been struggling with some nagging pains -- I won't say injuries -- in my left hamstring, hip flexor and my left arm.  The arm has since resolved itself with some rest.

I was ready to start pushing those running paces again, but I decided it would be wise to lay off on any speed and tempo runs for a couple of weeks.   Things were beginning to feel a little better, so I went for a semi-speed session last week after my self-imposed rest just to try out the legs.  Well, I was one hurting unit after that attempt.   So without further procrastination, I made an appointment to see my ART guy, aka Dr. Pain.  After two visits, the hamstring is much better.  The hip flexor is going to take some work, but he hasn't said I can't run.

He even encouraged trail running.  Good thing because we went up to Paris for the Run for the Toad training run this past weekend.   I expected some hard climbs, but there was a continuous stream of non-stop hills right from the start. Tough day but amazing fun.  It was a really well-organized event and a great course with some awesome views.  I was signed up to do the two loops of 12.5K but the downhills were beginning to aggravate the hip flexor so I only did part of the second loop and called it a day at 16.5.  16.5K of tough trail running is equivalent to the 30K road running I was supposed to do for the weekend, right?

The gang that came out for the Run for the Toad practice run:

Worst hill.  Felt like I was climbing a wall.

So after a couple of ART visits and some very intimate time with my foam roller and little blue ball being massaged into my hip flexor, I will go for a tempo run tomorrow and hope that there's no residual pain.

I am eager to train hard again and I only have six-and-a-half weeks before my marathon.  I've had to think hard about my goals for September's marathon and this setback may dictate what I do.  I've been pondering dropping down to the half marathon, but I haven't made a firm decision yet.  I have some long runs coming up and the Midsummer Night's 30K mid-August.   How I decide to run the Erie Marathon may be a race-day decision.

All I know is that I'm happy to have the fire in my belly again.  While I'd like to say that it doesn't matter to me if I decide I can't go for my BQ in September, the reality is that that isn't entirely true.  It would be the icing on the cake and a validation that I only seek for myself.  But in the end, what does really matter to me is the fact that I have the ability to run and that the exhilaration of running has returned.  All it took was a little irritation in my body to remind me how very lucky I am that I get to run.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Peachbud 10K Race Report

Last Christmas we gave my oldest nephew a race registration as a gift.  He could pick whatever 5K or 10K race he wanted and he could hang out and run with his very cool aunt and uncle -- that would be me and the hubs, just in case there was any doubt.

He loved the gift, thank goodness, and he would finally get to experience some of the adventures that we constantly (ad nauseam?) talk about at family gatherings.  He's a hockey player and has been since he was a kid so I know he's a strong athlete and he would probably kick my a$$ on the run.

I'd never done this race before, but I was there last year when a bunch of my friends did it and they all enjoyed it.  When they mentioned doing it again, I was on board and suggested to my nephew it would be a good race to do.  It worked with his schedule and I got us registered.

He'd given me a couple of training updates in the weeks leading up to the race.  Things like, "I did a 5.1K in 24 minutes and I had lots left in the tank."   Of course you did, you 22-year-old aerobic engine, but have you done 10K before in the heat and humidity?  Damn whipper-snappers!

Race day arrives and it happens to be a very hot and humid day and they're calling for thunderstorms.  Just perfect!  So I get this text from my nephew:

I'm not thrilled with running in that kind of heat either and my left hamstring has been giving me grief for a couple of weeks.  The plan was to go as hard as I could but keeping in mind I didn't want to jeopardize my marathon training for a 10K this early in the season.  My nephew's goal was to do it in around 50 minutes or just do the whole thing without stopping.   Based on how I've been feeling lately, I knew 50 minutes was out of the question for me and I told him so.  We were going to start together and assess from there.

I wasn't feeling great during the day and fueling for a 7:30 p.m. race is a bit tricky and something I hadn't done before.  Maybe the extra-large lunch didn't help my feeling of discomfort.  Blech!

We get to the race site and race kit pick up is a breeze.  Race tech shirts were really, really cute (white for the ladies) and very masculine for the guys in a dark forest green.

Thankfully, the evening clouded over and the threat of thunderstorms subsided.   It was slightly cooler and windier in Grimsby.  We had about an hour to kill so we got ourselves organized and we each did our warm ups.  I can tell by my warm up that the race may not go as well as I would like.  My nephew, on the other hand, is raring to go.

Yes, I look really short but he's 6'1"

The 5K race went before us so he got a kick out of watching them all take off.   We're now lined up and ready to go.  We decide that we'll go out a bit slower so that we can save some kick for the end.  I remember waiting for the gun to go off and thinking that I didn't want to be the 101st person to cross the finish line.   This race has a graduated medal system.  The first 100 get gold medals, the second 100 get silver, and everyone else gets bronze.  In retrospect, I should have mentioned this to my nephew.

The first 2K in and I see we're averaging 5:15 paces and I know that I haven't got it in me to hold on to that pace for the whole thing.  Just before the 3K marker, I told my nephew to go ahead and I'd see him at the finish.   And just like that he was off like a slapshot <-- probably the only hockey metaphor I'll ever use.

This race has a few rollers but nothing too difficult.  It's actually a really pretty route.  There's an overpass and a slightly steeper hill before the 6K mark that are of any significance.  I felt like I'd been pushing the pace and I wasn't sure whether there were anymore hills after this so I took a really short walk on the steeper of the hills so I could re-group and then took off again.   The rest of the race was flat but slightly into the wind.  

There were tons of volunteers and aid stations and even the firefighters came out and opened up one of their hoses (TWSS :-p) to cool us off.

I'd been playing rabbit with this older gentleman for at least 6K of this run but around the 7K mark, I decided that I needed to pick up the pace.   I knew for sure that the route would be flat from here and I wondered (in vain apparently) if I could catch my nephew.  That was definitely not happening, but I must have picked off at least 20 people in the last 2K of the race.   I found out later that the older gentleman was in the 70+ category and came in only 45 seconds behind me.  I want to be that fast when I grow up.

I think my lungs were ready to burst by the time I got to the finish line.  I never caught my nephew but I found him at the finish line.  He did it in 51:05.

That makes me one pretty damn proud aunt, I can tell you.  He was pretty happy -- and hooked!   We went inside the arena to check race results.  That's where I discovered I came in 3rd in my age group.......

....and my nephew discovered he came in 101st.  Hmmm, he was not happy.  But since he caught the racing bug and won't meander his way into the finish line again, he's decided to do another race and is doing the Downtown Dash.  I gently told him that he needs to assume that the person in front of him is in the same age group and he needs to kick it all the way into the finish.  He won't make that mistake again.

Just as an aside, the woman who won the masters was in my age group so I got bumped up to second.  I stuck around for the awards because I knew they were giving out medals.  If I had known it was going to be the exact duplicate of what I got for finishing, I'm not sure I would have waited the extra half hour it took for them to present the awards.  What?  It was 9:30 and I hadn't had dinner yet.  Yes, I could have eaten the hot food that was at the finish, but I wanted my pizza and beer.

The crew at the finish.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Tough Mudder? Oh Yeah!

What am I thinking??   It's two weeks after my September marathon!  Am I nuts!?!  The things I do for friends!    I'll be getting muddy -- and possibly electrocuted -- with this gal:

I love you, girlfriend, but I would have been happy just to hang out having dinner -- which I may be eating through a straw after September 28.

So, training?  I'm thinking I may need to work on doing lots of pull ups.  I'm not sure I can do even one at this point.  Anyone have any other helpful suggestions?

Monday, 10 June 2013

Slowly Getting the Mojo Back

It was a tough couple of weeks after my marathon.  I really wasn't sure about doing a fall marathon and I pretty literally left it till the last minute to register before the price went up.  Two hours to be exact.    If you read my last post, then you know I've registered for another marathon.  I'm ready to get back at it and have had a couple of good, but challenging, runs since this journey started.  Before I decided to jump back on the bandwagon, the hubs and I went on a great vacation to San Diego and did some fun stuff like this:

Segway Fun in LaJolla
Running on the beach in Coronado

Doing some trail running in LaJolla

Hanging out at Petco Park in sweet seats behind home plate to watch the Padres play
I've also decided to change my training around a little.  I won't be running six times a week anymore because I'm back to riding my bike with these awesome ladies:

Girlfriend on the right is doing her first Ironman in November.  Girlfriend on the left is a 4x Ironman!
I've been hitting up the stairs on the Hamilton Escarpment for a great butt and calf workout.  I've mastered Chedoke (well, okay, not really -- I thought I had polio two days after I did Chedoke for the first time last week).  The hubs and I did Kenilworth last week, and this week I am tackling Chedoke and Dundurn stairs --  Yeah, we're hardcore that way! -- with the hubs, this awesome gal and another awesome gal who I finally met in real life on the weekend though I've known her through Daily Mile for over six months.

Sweaty goodness after an early start on the Chedoke stairs.

Yoga has been a staple for the past six months.  I just can't believe it took me this long to try it.  I'm in love.  And now that the weather has been nicer - sort of - I've been pulling out my mat, my Bosu ball, my stability ball and doing some strength and core workouts in my backyard.

Slowly, but surely, all of the above things and being surrounded by truly incredible friends is leading me back to the one thing I truly love to do:  run.

And just because this picture makes me happy, I want to include it just to sign off.

The group I run with and some DM friends at the Moon in June.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Time to Start Again

It's been a whole four weeks since my marathon and I've been cajoled into contemplating a fall marathon.   So the nod is for the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle.  Technically, I guess it's still a summer marathon because it's on September 15th, which means that it could be just as warm as the last marathon I just ran.  At least I'll be training through the summer heat this time and won't have to worry about varying temperatures.  Go ahead and get cold if only for that one day.

It's touted as "quite possibly the flattest course in the country."  The country being USA, not Canada.  It's probably the least expensive marathon I've ever registered for at a whopping $50 and it's only a three-hour drive from home.   So at the very least it's another fun road trip with my best running buddies and shopping in Grove City.

To be completely honest, I'm not quite ready to be mentally in the game for this training.  I feel physically and emotionally spent from this past winter/spring training.  As much as I enjoyed it, it was tough.  

I'm hoping that this running funk is just a temporary one.  I shouldn't say it's a running funk.  It's a training funk.  And more of a training "alone" funk.   Most of my runs had been solo through the winter, but I'm going to have a couple of training partners this time around and someone (maybe two people) to pace me at the marathon.

Me and my pacer, Lynn :)
She qualified for Boston (again) in May at the same race I did.  She's awesome and wicked fast.   Janine has also been coerced into agreed to pace me to my qualifier.  She's run Boston countless times and has run over 20 marathons.

Lynn and Janine, aka "my pacers"
I am surrounded by greatness and truly incredible people.  I am thankful for wonderful friends.

So, here's to getting my groove back -- hopefully sooner rather than later.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

JDRF 5K Race Report

Working backwards, this was the last race before my marathon.  I'll give a little background before I get to the details.

I have a running friend who works for Ford and they are the major sponsor for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation 5K.  This particular race is held in Oakville.  They started this race three years ago and she asked a bunch of us if we would be willing to participate.   I had never done a 5K race before so I was game.

I've done it every year since.  This is a small race, roughly 300 participants, and you get some pretty good race kit and post-race goodies for such a small race.

The first year I did this, I came third in my age group.  Something I'd never done before so I was pretty pumped.  Last year, I took 50 seconds off the previous year and came in second, but I got bumped up to first because the woman who won my age group won the Masters.  Sweet!!  Thank you very much, unknown fast woman.  But wait.....she beat me by a measly nine seconds!!  Ah, if I had only known, I wonder if I could have run any faster?

Fast forward to this year.  Once again, we were asked to participate so I went on a little re-con mission.  I wanted to know if this woman was racing again so I checked, re-checked and checked yet again the confirmation page to see if she was racing.  I was bound and determined to beat her and to try and take the Masters title away from her.  (Competitive much?)  She wasn't racing!  Well, at least as far as online registration went.  No worries, I know what she looks like now so I scoured the crowds on race day to see if she came out.  Not that I could see.  Woohoo, victory could be mine.

When we arrived at the parking lot, I bumped into one of my Daily Mile friends, Laurie Ann, and we wished each other a good race.  She is a diabetic and has raised many funds for this event.  In fact, she was the top fundraiser last year.  I also met her husband and kids, one of which was racing, the other being pushed in the stroller by dad.

As I was walking towards Laurie Ann, I saw another woman at the back of her vehicle who had some lime green KT tape on the back of her legs.  She looked fast -- whatever that means.

I put myself as close to the front of the start line without looking like a tool for getting so close.  The gun went off and I took off.  I knew this would be a sufferfest, and I was prepared to suffer.  I hurt for the whole 5K.

Around the 2.5K mark I see lime green KT tape girl passing me.  I thought to myself that this could be someone I need to hang on to.  I tried, I really did, but she was just too fast.

Turns out she was someone I needed to hang onto.  She won the women's Masters and she beat me handily by 50 seconds.  I take comfort in the fact that she's eight years younger than me and I still won my age group.

The small one for finishing and the big one for my age group win.

Four other friends and the hubs also raced and everyone had PBs.  Three of us podiumed (is that a word?) so we were one happy run club.

My buddy Kevin came in 2nd in his age group and my buddy Kerry came in 3rd in our age group

That's the gang who raced....
...and that's a hurting face coming into the finish.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Toronto GoodLife Marathon Race Report

 Last things first, I guess.  Since this is the freshest in my mind, I will start with this recap and then work my way backwards.  In my last post, I wrote about my goals for this race.  I had hoped to qualify for Boston, but that didn't happen.  As the days go by, my emotions vary about my results.  I shaved 20 minutes off of my best marathon time, which occurred in Chicago in 2005, so I am very, very happy with my finish time and my overall results:

Based on what I'd accomplished this past year and using the Around the Bay as a gauge, I believed I was on track to qualify.  This is where the mixed emotions come in.  I worked REALLY hard this past winter/spring and put a lot of effort into all of my training.  I also trained very differently than I had in the past. I ran six days out of the week when I used to only run three.  This may seem like an extreme jump, but I'm an Ironman triathlete so working out six days a week (sometimes with double or triple workouts in a day) was not a foreign concept.  But I was strictly running and only began to incorporate Moksha yoga into the mix in January (a godsend in retrospect).

In the end, I did not get my Boston qualifying time, but this race is a success and will give me a reference point for my next marathon.  Yes, things are already in the works for the fall to see if I can still squeeze into the 2014 Boston race if I can manage to get this butt to qualify.  As I keep telling my running group as I recover, though:  I am not committing to anything at this point.

On to the race:  We stayed in Toronto at a hotel downtown and had an awesome dinner.  The hubs and I and the girl in the middle (who was running her very first marathon) had one and a half portions of the pasta.  Can you say moo?

Oh, yeah, there was some Prosecco, too.
We clean up real nice, I think.
That's the hubs on the left

As for my experience at Toronto, I again have mixed feelings.    I found the Expo a little disorganized.  Bags were not being provided to carry our race shirts and bibs, so it would have been nice to know ahead of time so that we could have brought our own.

Bib 964 -- born 9/64 (I thought it was a good omen) -- and my pace bands
Everything went smoothly the morning of the race and I was ready to go.

I messed up on the whole shuttle bus thing to the start so we decided to take a limo -- cuz we're cool cats -- to the start.  We had lots of time to chill and use the port-a-potties many times before the gun went off.

There was nobody in my group running my pace so I knew I was going solo on this one again.  We all hugged/kissed and gave each other best wishes for a great race.  I couldn't hear what was happening at the start line because the announcer sounded like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon (Wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah).  I didn't hear our national anthem (if they played it at all?) and I didn't hear them announce if there was going to be a moment of silence for the victims of Boston.  I had my own as I stood there and waited for the race to begin.

I seeded myself between the 3:50 pacer and the 3:55 pacer as I wanted to stay just ahead of the 3:55.  Probably the first mistake I made.   I didn't want to be glancing down at my Garmin the whole time and wanted to go by feel so I thought this would be a wise move.  As the kilometres went by, I noticed that he was going out way too fast.  I kept seeing him creep up ahead of me so I naturally thought I was going too slow so I kept picking it up.  I overheard one of his group finally call him out and tell him that he was going out too fast for what his pace should be.  I actually overheard him say that he was averaging 5:24s when he should have been averaging 5:34s and was "banking" time.  I'm not a fan of that approach so I finally decided to let him take off.  This was after 15K.

The aid stations were a gong show in my very humble opinion.  You never knew when they were coming until you saw a whole herd of people cutting you off at the last minute as they discovered that they were right upon us.  Thank goodness I decided to bring my own fuel belt so that I had my own hydration.  Their website did say that there were frequent aid stations -- and there were -- but I never expected that at around the 30-32K mark one of those water stations would have absolutely nothing left to offer.  They ran out of everything.  Seriously??  It's not the volunteers' fault, but I had no water left in my bottles and was hoping to fill up at that aid station.  The day was very warm at this point and I was struggling.  I needed to take a gel but wasn't relishing the thought of taking it without some water with which to wash it down.  I'm glad I decided to finally take it anyway because there wasn't another aid station in sight for at least another 4K.  This was on a stretch that seemed never ending along the Martin Goodman Trail before the turnaround to head home.

The beginning of the route takes you through some beautiful parts of Toronto.  I was born and grew up in Toronto but now live in a suburb so it was great to see parts of the city I haven't seen for a while.  It really is a lovely race, but with the heat of the day and the chaos of cyclists and pedestrians on the trail for the last half of the race, that part of the run was beginning to wear on my fraying nerves.   The fact that I could see my Boston qualifying time slip through my fingers didn't help my frame of mind.

The last 10K is what really did me in.  There wasn't any shade in this section of the race and it was a very sunny, warm day.  If you're from around these parts, you'll know that Mother Nature wasn't very kind to us this winter and spring and we didn't exactly have the time to acclimate to this sudden change in temperature.

I had many negotiations with myself in the last hour of this race.  I consider myself a social runner so running on  my own for this long at this pace was beginning to bring me down.   Having someone to share the pain with almost makes things easier.

With 5K left to go in the race and with the oasis of the aid station at the 37K mark where I stopped to down two glasses of water and fill my bottles back up, I looked at my Garmin and did a mental calculation that I thought would still allow me to come in at 3:55.   I don't think I should rely on my math skills at that stage of a race.  I was close but I don't think I was close enough.

The last 3K were a sufferfest and my heart broke when I passed a woman having CPR performed on her around the 39K mark.   It turned out to be an 18 year old, Emma van Nostrand, from Sydney, Nova Scotia.  She later died at hospital where they discovered she had an undetected heart condition.  So incredibly sad.

I knew there was nothing I could do and there were already four people around working on her and I could hear and see the fire trucks coming.  I carried on but that sight weighed heavily on me.  After a brief stop to stretch out the legs, I convinced myself to keep going and try not to make anymore stops.

I could finally see the 41K marker but that last stretch on Lakeshore before the turn into the finish seemed to take forever.  Maybe because my final Garmin calculated a 42.58K total distance??  I knew the course measured long, but I did my best at cutting the tangents.   Seems like I may need more practice at that.

As evidenced above, my finish time was 4:01:26.  I had a personal best by 20 minutes and I know that is nothing to be sneezed at.  As difficult as this was, I managed to fake some smiles for the camera.

So the question for me now is:  Do I attempt a fall marathon in hopes of qualifying for Boston in 2014?   Our group is contemplating the Presqu'ile Erie Marathon on September 15.  If I qualify, that may give me the last opportunity to squeeze into the 2014 race.  At this point, I'm the only hold out.  I have two friends who have already committed to pacing me to my qualifier.  Everybody else is on board to run either the full or the half.    I will announce my decision in the upcoming weeks.

Here are some fun photos post-run and from the post-race party:

That's one big medal...or one really small head.
Can be used as a coaster.
Everyone who raced.  First timer in the front left of the photo and BQ gal in the black top in the middle

My favourite photo.