Monday, March 03, 2014

A late first post of 2014

It’s a good thing I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions… If I did, more regular blogging might have been one of them and I would have failed miserably!

Since it’s been a while, this will serve mostly as a brief summary/update of the past few months with a wee bit of what’s coming up.


A Change:

After running with the Runners’ Choice marathon group for the past several years, I decided a change was in order. I definitely enjoyed my time with that group and am appreciative of everything I got out of it, but it was time for something new.

In the fall, I started sporadically showing up for Health and Performance training runs, but I became an official member of H+P in December 2013.

Races Past (what’s happened over the winter):

  • Santa Pur-Suit 5K – I don’t remember a lot of the details of this race since it was back in early December, but I do know that the weather was good. I ran it in 22:36, which is my 2nd best 5K time so far. Not too shabby for running in a Santa Suit!
  • Frosty Trail 6 hour – The very tough conditions this year caused everyone to cover significantly less distance than previous years.
    I ran 40.1 km, which placed me 4th overall (male and female), with only 2 runners completing more than a marathon in the 6 hours.
  • Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8K – The first race in the 2014 Waterloo Running Series and also the first in the brand new Battle of Waterloo.
    I didn’t expect much from myself in this race, since it was my first one coming back from a lower leg/ankle injury, but I surprised myself with a new 8K PB of 36:09!

Races Future (upcoming spring races):

So there you have it… a brief update. Now, bring on spring with clear roads and sunshine!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Super Quick Update

It appears I've been slacking in the blogging department again, so I thought I'd throw something together super quick as a bit of an update from the last post in October to now.

I've only run 2 races since my last post and both were short races in the Waterloo Running Series.

October 20, 2013 - Oktoberfest 5K
There are both 5K and 10K options for this race and I would normally choose the longer distance when given those options, but since the Oktoberfest 5K was my very first race ever back in 2006, I always run the 5K at this one.

This race went relatively well... the end result was good (a new PR), but the race itself didn't go that well. I went out too fast and had an absolutely miserable 4th km. Luckily, I was able to pick it up a bit again in the final km and finish in a chip time of 22:22.

December 7, 2013 - Santa Pur-Suit 5K
This was the 2nd annual Santa Pur-Suit, which was a fun event where my mom, sister, niece, and nephew also took part. All participants must wear the entire suit of pants, jacket, belt, beard, and hat. In looking at the photos, I was one of the few who kept their beard on properly for the duration of the race. Actually, my whole family did, so I guess we were raised to play by the rules!

This race went pretty well for me. I went out too fast again (or... I didn't keep up that pace like I should have... I will try to work on that) and slowed a bit later on, but finished in a time of 22:40 (chip 22:36), which was my second fastest 5K and was good enough for 4th place woman overall and a default 1st in my category (2 out of the top 3 female were also 30-34).

Other Running: This past Sunday was the annual Run to St Jacobs, which is organized by Runners' Choice in Waterloo. It snowed a lot from Friday right up to Sunday morning, and the roads were not cleared well, so it was more difficult terrain than usual. I was running the 19K route (which turned out to be just about 20K) after running 4km from my house to the store. Let me tell you, it felt more like 34km than it did 24km. The run was completed at Stone Crock in St Jacobs, where we had a well deserved buffet brunch. It was a great morning with lots of good running friends.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Views from the Run

I’ve taken some photos recently while running and I haven’t written a blog post in a while, so here are some photos from my phone.

The first was taken last Thursday evening at Columbia Lake and the last 3 were taken yesterday along the Grand River.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 7: The Marathon

Today’s marathon was the 7th and final stage of the ENDURrun. It started at 7:30am and was a bit cool at the start, but we all knew it was going to warm up very quickly.

Just 2 days ago, it was brought to my attention that while my actual goals for myself before the week started would end up with finishing times for the week of either 15:35 (my “ambitious” goal) or 15:59 (my “realistic” goal), with my cumulative times so far and my goal times for my final 2 stages, I would be about 15 minutes over 15 hours for the week. I didn’t think about this while running the 10K yesterday, although I did come in ahead of plan, but this morning the possibility of a sub 15 for the week crossed my mind. If I ran a 3:57 and change today, I would just squeak in under the 15 hour mark. My fastest marathon time is 3:51, but my 2 previous ENDURrun marathon times were 4:08 and 4:12.

The course for today’s marathon is a 21.1km loop, that is run twice. My plan was to run a conservative first loop and then pick up the pace a wee bit in the second.

The first loop went well and felt comfortable. I crossed the half way point around 1:58.

The second loop got ugly. It got hot. The legs got heavy. I was pretty sure the possibility of running a 3:57 or better was gone. The stretch between 31km and 37km felt like it took forever. I had a few rough, slow miles in that stretch, but once I got past that point, I was okay again.

As I headed into the final 3km stretch, I glanced at my watch. It was still ever so slightly possible to come in at 3:57. I picked up the pace a little and plugged away up the hills to the park in Conestogo. When I had about 1 km left to go, I looked at my watch again. It wasn’t going to happen, but it was going to be close. I ran around the corner to the finish line and crossed the line at 3:58:12. So close!

My total time for the week was mere seconds over 15 hours. I’m very happy with how I did this week, but it was a wee bit of a kicker to be SO CLOSE!

Overall, this was a fantastic week and a real confidence boost for me. I exceeded my expectations for every single stage. I managed to finish with Personal Best (PB) times in the half marathon, the 15K, 30K trail, 10 mile, and 25.6K trail (and ski hill) and I finished with ENDURrun best times in both the 10K and the marathon. My overall placing for the week was 3rd female, which was also very exciting.

This has been a very rewarding week in both running and in the social aspect. It was great to spend the week with such a great group of people including the runners, volunteers, race director & family, the spectators, and supporter from afar. Thank you to everyone!

So, once again…. after 8 days, 7 stages, and 160km, I am still One Tough Runner.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 6: 10K Time Trial

It’s tough to run a 10K race the morning after Chicopee. My legs did not want to race today, but they had no choice (or at least I didn’t give them one) and my legs and I ran.

As with the 15K on Monday, this stage was a time trial, with runners starting a minute apart from slowest to fastest. Since the 10K distance is a popular one and since it is now the weekend, there were a number of guest runners. The guest runners submit their predicted finish time with their entry and are slotted into the starting order accordingly.

The course for Stage 6 is a point to point from a park in Elmira to the race director’s house in Conestogo. It is mostly on long stretches of country roads with minimal shade. The course is also a slight net downhill, so it does make for some good finish times.

After socializing in the parking lot for a while, it was my turn to start (I started 38th today). I waited for the countdown, while chatting with Lloyd for a wee bit… turns out he had my predicted finish time down as 47:33. Did he actually expect me to run that today? (My best 10K is 47:57)

I went out today, planning on running around a 50 minute 10K. As I ran along, I noticed that my pace for the first bit was a bit faster than I expected, but nothing crazy, so I wasn’t concerned about it and just kept running along, trying to find a good rhythm to maintain and keep going to the finish. It worked out well, as I only had 1 km at 5 min and all the others were a little bit faster. I finished the race in 48:19 and was 3rd female again.

I have my usual post-race food photo to include on this post, but I can’t seem to find my phone right now. I will add it to this post once I locate it.

[Edit: I found my phone, so here’s the photo.]
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It was breakfast food day today.

ENDURrun Stage 5: 25.6K Alpine Run

I’m a little late with this stage’s blog post as I was out and about all of yesterday after finishing the stage. Now, as I drink my coffee and eat my toast before stage 6, I have a chance to write about yesterday’s difficult stage.

Stage 5 is on a ski hill. It’s not a huge ski hill, but it’s still a ski hill. The course is 5 laps of 5.12km per loop. There were some course changes this year, which made it a bit more demanding than it already was.

The Loop:
From the start line, we run through a short flat section, toward the first ascent up a gravel service road. It is long, it is gradual, it is a pain. After reaching the top of the hill, we run along the top briefly, and then nip down into some trails. This section has a straight sandy “down”, and then it winds back up to the top of the hill. Once at the top, it’s back out the way we came in, but instead of heading down the service road, it’s straight down a ski hill. Hang a right at the bottom, run past the start finish area, and then straight UP another ski hill. I didn’t even attempt to run all the way up it this year. I’d run to certain spot just above the bottom and then walk up. After reaching the top of this evil hill, it’s across the top and into some more trails, which of course headed down and then back up, but it was gradual and there were small ups and downs throughout. I like this section. Once out of those trails, run over to another ski hill and run straight down it. At the bottom of this hill was the main change to the route. In past years, we would turn left at the bottom, but this year, it was into the woods to the right. This section contained some narrow boardwalks and trails and was quite flat. The flat didn’t last too long, as after this was another “up” through some trails between hills, but this one was shorter than some others. Once at the top again, run across the hill, and then straight down the final descent, hang a left at the bottom, run between the volleyball courts and the trees, and through the finish chute.  Do this 5 times and you’re done.

With the course changes, I didn’t know how my time on this stage would be affected. Last year I ran the stage in 3:01:37, the year before 3:12:08. As I waited for the start of the race, I was hoping for sub 3, but not sure if I could accomplish it. I hoped to run around 35 minutes per lap. As the laps went by, I started thinking that I wanted to start lap #5 at 2 hours and 20 minutes so that I would have 40 minutes left to complete my final lap and have a PB. I did just that. There were some seconds on the clock as well, but when I passed through the start finish to start my bell lap, the clock started with 02:20 and I was very happy about that. I finished the course in 2:57 and change, finishing 3rd female. I also maintain my 3rd position in the overall standings.

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As usual, my platter of food.

Now it’s just about time for me to leave for stage 6, the 10K time trial, so off I go! I will post about the TT later today.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 4: The Hilly 10 Miler

Stage 4 is the only evening stage of the ENDURrun. The start is at 6pm, which is tough in itself. It’s nice to have the extra recovery time after the previous day’s 30K, but prepping for an evening race is very different. What to eat? When to eat? Do anything during the day or just take it super easy? I ate a fairly normal breakfast and lunch and then a snack around 4pm.

I arrived at Camp Heidelberg about half an hour before race start. I got myself ready, chatted with others, and then whacked myself in the knee with the vehicle door when I went to throw my extra stuff inside. Crap. Why am I such a klutz? It felt like it was going to bruise, but at least wasn’t right on muscle, so it didn’t feel like it was going to affect running too much.

Just before 6pm, Lloyd took attendance and we walked as a group down the hill to the start. This death march is done so that the race starts and finishes on an uphill.

The beginning of the race is pretty quick because after the short uphill, it is a gradual downhill for the first 3ish km. Once the course throws the runners back onto Wilmot Line, it is a steady series of large hills with one monster of a hill around the 5K mark. I ran the first bit while chatting with a couple of other runners so that I would keep myself from going out too fast, but when I glanced at my watch I did notice that I was going a lot faster than I felt I *should* be. I realize that it was because of the downhill and I wasn’t doing anything crazy, but it made me think about it a bit.

I tried to run by feel again today, wearing the watch, but not paying attention to the watch. I did look at it a few times throughout the stage, but not much at all. On the up hills, I ran up each of them quite steady (mind you a bit slow) with the exception of one around the 14K mark when my knee decided to act up a bit, so I walked for a chunk of that hill to give it a break. On the down hills, I let myself go as fast as I could while still feeling in control. This helped to get myself partway up the next hill without having to feel like I had to put out too much effort. While doing this, I did pass a couple of runners pretty much on each ‘down’ and then they’d pass me half way up the next ‘up’. It was kind of fun to keep switching positions with them. They pulled away from me in the last 3rd, but it was good while it lasted.

I finished today’s stage in 1 hour 22 minutes and a few seconds, finishing 3rd ultimate female. This was another PB for me as I came in 3 minutes faster than my previous best.

Tomorrow is Rest Day, so I will not have a race stage to report on. There may or may not be a Stage 4.5 post, depending on what goes on during the day.

Great run tonight everyone! It was great to see a lot of PBs again tonight. It’s now time for lots of rest and recovery before we tackle Chicopee on Friday morning.

Good night.

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My post-race platter of food. It’s 11:30pm and I still feel full.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 3: 30K Cross Country

Last night, I got to bed at a reasonable time, but for some unknown reason, I woke up several times in the night. I saw the clock at 2-something, multiple times between 3:00 and 4:00, and again at 5:00. I didn’t feel too tired when my alarm did go off at 6:00, but it was still frustrating to not have the good sleep I was hoping for.

Pat picked me up this morning and we arrived at Bechtel Park about a half hour before race start, which allowed a bit of time to get ourselves ready, chat with some other runners, and get to the start line without having too much time to get too cold (it was quite cool and windy).

My plan heading into today’s stage, which is a 5K loop run 6 times, was 31 minute laps. This would have me finish in 3 hours and 6 minutes, 4 minutes faster than last year. I wanted to be conservative, with the first lap nice and easy, and hopefully pick it up a wee bit and maintain consistent laps.

I felt very good out of the start, holding back and not going out too quick. I didn’t care if people passed me and I just kept to the plan and ran what felt nice and comfortable. Starting about half way through the first lap, I started running with or near Dusan, a man from my running group with Runners’ Choice who was running as part of a relay team today. He said he was hoping for sub 3 hours today (and that he did!). I was a bit concerned about sticking with him, but I felt like I wasn’t pushing it too hard, so I kept up. As we passed the start/finish line after Lap 1, I saw the clock and it started with 28. Hmmm… would I be able to keep this up?

Laps 2, 3, and 4 went by and I stuck with Dusan, but on lap 5 I went away on my own. I finished up the final 2 laps and crossed the finish line in 2:50:20, over 20 minutes faster than last year! I finished 2nd female today, but will stay 3rd in the cumulative results for the week so far.

I wore my Garmin today, but I was pretty good at not looking at it. I wanted to be able to look at my splits after getting home. I was pleasantly surprised at how consistent I was and was very happy to see that my first lap was my slowest, the second lap was my second slowest, and there was less than a minute between my slowest lap and my fastest lap. Today felt really good.

I was too cold after the finish today to really take any photos, but I did take one of my food. I ate a LOT today. As I told Chris Duke a couple times on the course… I was hungry.

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Tomorrow’s stage is in the evening, so we have the luxury of a bit of extra recovery time after today’s tough stage. I am definitely looking forward to not setting an alarm when I go to bed tonight and look forward to a relaxing first part of the day tomorrow.

Great run today, everyone!