Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The County Marathon - October 4, 2015

As I mentioned in my last post, my drive to Picton took longer than usual, but I was still there in plenty of time to swing by the Crystal Palace to grab my number, shirt, etc.and to meet up with Pat, his family, and Kyle, who were already having lunch at Coach's Pub just a block or two down the road.

After consuming a wrap and some fries, it was time to head to Barley Days Brewery, which was conveniently on the way to Pat's cottage and was also one of the sponsors of the race. 
Pat and Kyle at Barley Days
After some samples and purchasing some bottles of Wind & Sail Dark Ale (4), Harvest Gold Pale Ale (2), and Snake Bite Apple Ale (1), we headed to the final destination of the day: Pat's cottage. 

Pat's Cottage, on Lake Ontario

After getting settled in at the cottage and getting race clothes, etc ready for the morning, Christian (another friend from ENDURrun) and his wife stopped by and we had a pasta dinner. During the conversations that occurred, Christian mentioned that he was just running this marathon to cross October off his list (he's running one every month in 2015), so he didn't care about his finish time... so.. I took this opportunity to suggest that he could run with me if he wanted to. He asked what I was planning to run and I said "sub 3:30"... he said OK. So... it looked like I would have some company!
Dinner time!
After dinner and dessert, there was a bit more chatting and hanging out before heading to bed at a reasonable hour. There were races to run in the morning!

Marathon Morning: 
I got up 5:45ish, poured a cup of coffee and made myself some oatmeal. After eating my breakfast, I hopped in the shower quick, got ready, packed up my car, and then we all drove in a caravan of sorts to the start. My car was staying at the start but the other three cars were being taken to the finish. Pat's daughters (Hunter and Taylor) were running the half and had to be shuttled to the start line from the finish area, so Donna (Pat's wife), Taylor, and Hunter drove their two cars and Kyle's car to the finish. 

The start was at an arena, so there was a lot of space indoors for people to wait and plenty of washrooms. No getting cold standing around before the start... that was definitely nice.
Bag check was being done right next to the start line, which was also great because you could keep extra clothes on until the last minute. I had arm warmers on, but took them off just before I handed in my bag. Pat had handed out throw away gloves that morning, so I kept those on for the start of the race.

Race Time!
I got ready to line up and noticed a 3:30 pace bunny, so I said to Christian that the bunny is not allowed to pass me, and plopped myself just a little in front of him.

Air horn blew and we were off. I started slightly quick, but not horribly quick and I settled into the pace that I wanted to be in pretty soon after.

Christian didn't start right beside me, but he caught up to me just after the first turn and we ran together for pretty much the rest of the race. 
There was an aid station every 2k, which seemed to make the time FLY by. I kept thinking wow... there's another one already? and said things like "we're already at 16K?" It was a great feeling.
A Pit Stop..
What I was dreading before the race, happened. I had to make a pit stop. I was thinking about it for a bit and then decided to stop at the 20K aid station to use the port-a-potty. I was in and out in less than a minute, but saw an unfortunate sight when I started running again.... the 3:30 bunny was ahead of me! The pace group had passed me when I was in the john.... I started trying to catch them because I was supposed to be ahead of them! But... then realized what I was doing after a few minutes and thought about it logically. I was running on pace for what I wanted to do, which meant I was running slightly faster than that pace group, which also meant I would catch and pass them eventually. There was no need to try to catch them NOW. So.. I resisted the urge to chase. It was too early in the game.  

I did pass them eventually... it took about 10K to do so.

The rest of the race
Christian stopped a few times on the course to use port-a-potties and to say hi to his wife. This was mentally good for me since it mixed things up and I sort of had a little game of sorts... "how many km until he catches back up to me?" :)

So... the first time he stopped... it was 2km. The second time.. 3k... the final time was over 4. That was around mile 23 or 24... I don't remember exactly, but I know that it was when I decided to push. He mentioned to me after the race that I was pulling away from him up a hill, which was very nice to hear.
I was extremely focused for the last bit. Not that I lacked focus early on, but I pretty much had tunnel vision for the last 4km. I had a job to do and I was going to haul my ass to that finish line as best I could. 
As I had mentioned to a few people, I had a dream two nights before before the race where I was looking at the race results and my finish time was 3:28:00. My goal for this marathon was sub 3:30, so the time in my dream made sense... and on race day, I crossed the finish line and looked at the time... 3:27:57. My net time was 3:27:52; a new PR by almost four and a half minutes!

My previous best marathon was 3:32:19 at the Buffalo Marathon last year and prior to that, was 3:51:28 at my very first marathon in 2011 (Mississauga).

Back to this year... overall it was just great. The temperature was really good... the wind was a little strong and in a less than ideal direction, but the course was nice and there were more spectators than I expected.

I'm very happy with how I ran my race. I ran smart.

I ran the first half of the race in a little under 1:45 and the second half just under 1:43. It was my very first negative split and it felt good.

Race results can be found here.
My medal - it's in the shape of Prince Edward County
After the race, I enjoyed some Barley Days beer while chatting with some other runners and then watched the awards, where I won a pair of Altra shoes as a draw prize.

After the awards were done, Pat drove me back to my car in Wellington and I headed up to my sister's house to spend the rest of Sunday hanging out and drinking wine. Thanks Alison!

This was one of the best race weekends I've had in a while, since it was truly a race weekend away and not just a race that happened during a regular weekend at home. It was great to stay with runners the night before the race, (Thanks again Pat!) and it was nice to be able to extend my weekend into Monday and not have to drive straight back home on Sunday afternoon. I'm looking forward to having more weekends like this in the future.

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's been a while...

My last post was back in August... ENDURrun time... and I had an injured foot.
Since that time, my foot got better, training resumed, and racing happened. I was going to write a post about the time from then until now, but it turns out that's 10 weeks! So... I will break up this update post into two or three posts. Today's post will cover the weeks between ENDURrun and The County Marathon.

August 17 - 23
Total distance: 15 miles
The foot needed to get better and I needed to let it. This became very clear when I attempted to run on the Monday. I started running, it started hurting, I headed home. I ran one mile that day and I didn't run again until Friday. Those rest days were very good to my foot; I ran a pain free 7+ miles with Craig and Val on the Friday morning! Saturday and Sunday, I was camping with my family at Silver Lake Provincial Park so I kept the runs short (3.1 & 3.5 miles), but also did some paddling on both Silver Lake and Black Lake.

View from my SUP: Silver Lake

View from my SUP: Black Lake

August 24 - 30
Total distance: 61.3 miles
This week, I got back into training. I did a couple of workouts with Health and Performance, had some solid longer runs at decent paces, and was back to running every day. It felt great to be able to get back into training and not have pain.
M: 7.7 miles total including 3x (5 min half marathon effort, 5 min 10K effort, 3 min recovery) and some strides
T: 5.1 miles solo
W: Track Workout - 9.2 miles total including 2x (1 mile at half marathon pace, 400m recovery), 1 mile 10K pace, 400m recovery, 1 mile 5K pac
T: 7.7 miles with Craig
F: 4.2 miles solo
S: 10 miles with H+P
S: 17.3 miles with Lumi from Runners' Choice

August 31 - September 6
Total distance: 54.3 miles
I did one track workout (Yasso 800s) on the Thursday and it went quite well. On the Saturday, I had to drag myself through my 18 mile long run on a hot day. The rest of the week was relatively uneventful: just regular runs. I took one day off this week.

September 7 - 13
Total distance: 73.1 miles
Solid week with a midweek workout alternating marathon and half marathon pace and a Saturday long run of a little over 20 miles.

September 14 - 20
Total distance: 59.2 miles
M: 7.5 miles including 20 min half marathon effort, 4 min recovery, 6x 1 min on/off.
T: 8 miles
W: 6 miles including 10x 1 min on/off
T: 3.5 miles
F: 5 miles
S: 20.4 miles including 13.1 miles at slightly over marathon pace at Harvest Half
S: 8.6 miles
Finishing the Harvest Half - photo by Kailey Haddock

September 21 -27
Total distance: 46.4 miles
Taper time. Runs were a bit shorter, but included two H+P workouts a progression run on the weekend at the Laurier Loop 10k.

September 28 - October 4
Total distance: 49.9 miles
Marathon week! Shorter runs, a wee workout of 1 mile marathon pace into 1/2 mile (ish) half marathon pace, then 5x 1 min on/off, a day off on the Friday and a super short run on Saturday morning before hopping in my car and sitting in it for way longer than expected due to a highway closure... but I still arrived in Picton in time to grab my race number and to meet up with friends for lunch. I will go into this weekend in more detail in my post about The County Marathon, which I will write in the next few days.

So there you have it... somewhat of an update. Really, just a boring list of runs... but at least there were a couple of photos! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 7: The Marathon

On the way to stage 7 yesterday morning, someone on the radio mentioned a heat advisory. What perfect weather for a marathon!

I already knew this was a "no pressure" marathon for me, which felt great.

I was going into the final stage in 6th place for the week, so top three was not a possibility unless something bad happened to those ahead of me, which I'm happy to report did not happen.

Earlier in the week, it looked as though I had a chance to beat my time from last year, but the slip 'n' slide that was Chicopee made that disappear. The only way I could get a personal best ENDURrun week would be to run a 3:22 marathon, a PR by 10 minutes. That would be an extremely tall order on a perfect weather day after a nice taper, let alone on a day with a heat advisory after already running 120km in the week leading up to the race. So since that was out of the question, I knew I could run a nice comfortable marathon, enjoy the day, and survive.

The start of the race was more conservative than I have ever seen it. I was happy that people looked like they were going to be smart out there. It was not the day to be reckless. Not that recklessness usually gets you anywhere... but a fast start often happens.

I was initially in a bit of a pack, which started to thin out after the first couple of kilometers. I then ran with Lumi for a while, up to maybe 5 or 6 k, and then ran the rest of the marathon with Joanne. It was great to have someone to run with. I truly enjoyed having company the whole time.

About 1km from the finish, telling the photographer (Jeff Wemp) that I was glad to see that he was still in the shade.. apparently I talk with my hands.
After we finished the seventh and final stage, I ran to my car to get the beverages for Joanne and myself that I had mentioned and promised earlier in the run, and then hung out with all of the other ultimates, guests, relay team members, family members, friends, volunteers, and the race director. What a great group of people to spend time with on a sunny Sunday morning and afternoon!

The week went by quickly, as it always does, and now it's unfortunately time to get back to regular life. I know many people are already planning for next year's ENDURrun. For me... I first need to focus on making sure my toe/foot heals properly, then get back at it and hopefully run a strong fall marathon.

Thanks to everyone in the ENDURrun community, both near and far. Although each year it is a little different and some years have more positive aspects than others, the positives ALWAYS outweigh any negatives that there might be. This week truly is a highlight of each year for me; I love summer camp for runners!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 6: 10K Time Trial

Similar to stage 2, stage 5 is a time trial, with runners starting one minute apart, chasing people all the way back to Lloyd's house. There are some differences, though. Monday's stage was 15K and was an out and back. Saturday's stage was 10K point to point from Elmira to Conestogo.

I started at 8:43am and it was already quite warm and very humid. I was happy that it was a short and flat stage today both because of the weather and because of the body that was a little angry with me. My calves were tight and my foot was iffy. Not horrible, just iffy. At least everything seemed OK once I started running.

I finished the stage in 47:37, which is around a minute slower than last year, but I'm perfectly fine with that. I was thinking about the pool for a good chunk of the race, so that is where I went almost as soon as I was done.

Swimming, massage, food, more swimming, and then out for lunch with some of my fellow runners. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning and early afternoon!

In the evening, we were back at the Schmidt house for the traditional pre-marathon dinner/potluck, which is always a good time thanks to the incredible hospitality of Lloyd and Julie.

Going into the final stage, the marathon, I am in 6th place ultimate female with a cumulative time of 10:42:46. I am a little under 14 minutes back from 5th and 22 minutes ahead of 7th. In all likelihood, those positions will remain the same, but anything can happen. So, we will have to wait and see!

Friday, August 14, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 5: 25.6 km Alpine Run

I should be going to bed, but I just realized that I didn't post anything!

Today was interesting. It was wet, muddy, and slippery, pouring rain at times, with a thunderstorm or two.

I almost dropped out of the event today. My foot was not my friend in lap two, but got better in lap three. Hopefully the final two stages being road will keep things relatively happy.

I'll add more to this tomorrow or the next day, but for now.... this is all I'm posting.

Results can be found here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 4: Hilly 10 Miler

Photo by Jeff Wemp
I don't have a lot to say about last night's stage. My head wasn't in it and then the body followed suit.

Me trying to look like I wasn't in pain. Photo by Jeff Wemp.
It happened. It's done. Moving on to Chicopee tomorrow (drink up, Sebastian!)

I almost forgot to include this photo.

Stage recap and results.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 3: 30K Cross Country

I've been a bit of a slacker as it's 11:43am on Wednesday and I haven't yet posted anything about yesterday's stage. Slacking ends NOW!

After significant rainfall on Monday afternoon, it was uncertain what the conditions of the course would be like for Tuesday morning's 30K, but it turned out to be in great shape! The conditions were fantastic. The trails were dry, it was mostly cloudy, there was a breeze that would occasionally shake some droplets of water off the trees onto the runners below, offering a bit of relief without getting drenched. I have absolutely no complaints about the conditions at all. It was pretty near perfect.

I started the stage in 7th place overall in the ultimate female competition, and finished in 6th. I came in 6th on the stage as well in a finish time of 2:42:11, which was over two minutes faster than last year. My splits weren't too bad, either: 26:22, 26:55, 26:46, 27:28, 27:23, 27:20
I went into the stage hoping for 27 minute splits. I did the first lap a bit too quick, but my average split time was 27:02 and I didn't slow too much later on, so I'm OK with that.
I was happy with how I ran yesterday and I truly enjoyed myself on this stage. I had fun out there, even with a confrontation with a raccoon. It kept things interesting and gave me an excuse for lap 4 being my slowest! :)

After finishing, drinking my recovery drink, getting some massage treatment, and chatting with other runners about their races, I finally sat down to eat some food.

Mmmm... food

There were no changes in the overall winners/leaders after stage 3. Rob and Vicky will still be in gold tonight for the 10 miler. I look forward to seeing everyone in a few hours!