Sunday, November 19, 2017

October Races Part 2: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

I'm sitting in my hotel room the day after JFK, so what better to write about than a race that happened a month ago? ;)

Let's see what I can remember... it wasn't an overly eventful race except for the fact that it was the first time in my life that I've had an adverse reaction to a gel. My favourite flavour had been discontinued, so I used a different flavour of the same brand thinking it would be fine.... nope. Turns out strawberry banana powerbar gels do not agree with me.

OK.. I'll back up a bit now.

I stayed in Toronto for the weekend of the race. Since I work in the city, I went to into the office on the Friday (as usual), stayed in the city for the weekend and then worked in the office again on the Monday (not the usual... I'm generally at home on Mondays). It was a good weekend overall.

On the Friday night, I enjoyed some live music and went for a walk along the waterfront. Saturday, I met up with a friend for lunch, then had dinner with some friends from my run club who were staying in Toronto Saturday night for the race Sunday. Then, on Sunday, it was race day.

I started out just in front of the 3:15 pace group, and was running along comfortably, when I noticed at 6k ish that I was next to the 3:10 group... whoops! I wasn't intending to be there, but sort of went with it for a while, but around 18 or 19k, I realized that it felt slightly more difficult than it should this early in the race. It didn't feel hard, but I knew it felt hardER than it should. So, I backed off a wee bit. All was well after that, until around 26K when I took the aforementioned gel that did not agree with me. It made me want to throw up. I battled that.... but by the time it no longer made me feel sick, I was mentally out of the game. I got back into it around 34K, but at that point, it was just to stay under 3:20. I finished in 3:19:21... so nothing great, but nothing horrible.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

October Races, part 1: 5K

Fall has arrived for real, it seems, but that wasn't the case for most of the month. We've had unseasonably warm weather in the second half of September and into October. Well, I guess it wasn't unseasonably warm every day, but certainly more days than usual.... and of course.... on race days.

First up, was the Fall Classic 5K on October 15th.

This was a big race for the club (Health and Performance), as we had 70 or so athletes in the race! You can see how well everyone in the club did by reading the H+P recap here. There were some fantastic performances by many of my teammates!

For myself, since I ran the 15K at ENDURrun in 1:02:00, I knew there was no reason I couldn't go sub-20 in this 5K. If I didn't... something either went horribly wrong or I really didn't race it... especially since the course is a net downhill. Enough of a downhill that I would want an * next to my result to indicate that the finish time was aided by the course and not a truly accurate reflection of fitness level/ability on that day. Due to the course, instead of sub-20 as my goal, I had a goal of sub-19:30, and 19:15 in the back of my mind as what I truly wanted to aim for.

So, after that disclaimer.... here's how it went.

I arrived at the shuttle bus location, got onto the bus, sat down, heard another runner talking about their race number.... crap. I forgot mine at home! So.... I got off the bus, back in my car, drove home, grabbed my number, back into the car, back to the shuttle bus, and to the start line location. Luckily, none of this took very long and I was still at the race start at least 45 minute before race start. I went for a warmup jog with Emily and Gillian, did some strides with Gill, then got into the start (I didn't miss it this year, like last year! haha).

The gun went off, and it was a bit of a frustrating start, someone went down, people were all over the place, it was crowded... but it happens. I started 3 or 4 rows from the front, so I can't even imagine what it was like behind us. The race started in the parking lot of a school. Once we got onto the street, it was a lot better, but there were still the usual people here and there that started closer to the front than they probably should have, which made me (and many others) have to dodge runners not to trip over them. Once that was done.... it was great.

I ran hard, but controlled... and I don't really remember a ton about the race itself. I know that I was keeping an eye on some runners that I'm not normally in sight of, which was kind of cool. I tried to not let them get too far away.

2017 Fall Classic

The kilometers passed, and I intended to hit lap as I saw each marker, but turns out I completely missed the first one. I hit lap for the first time at the 2km marker.

My splits per the markers were:
1 & 2  7:25 - quicker pace here, but also the most downhill part of the course.

As I was coming around the final corner and could see the finish line clock, and I saw that it still started with 18 (just barely, but still under 19). I  I actually hadn't been paying much attention to pace or time, just ran. I knew I was going to finish in 19-something, but didn't pay any more attention to time or pace than that. I focused on runners that I wanted to reel in, and worked hard to try to do so.

I crossed the finish line with 19:15 on the clock, and a chip time of 19:11. I had achieved my goal and it felt great. Hopefully, I can run around the same time in the spring on an honest course.

After a short cool-down with Sam and Jon, it was time to head to the food and awards area. It was great to see so many people I know place so well in this race. I ended up 8th female, 50th overall, which I was quite happy with.

2017 Fall Classic

I don't race a lot of 5Ks, but now that I've run this one well, I think I might do them a tiny bit more often. It's certainly not my race distance of choice, but they can be "fun" from time to time. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Summary of September

It appears that I've neglected the blog, once again. I tend to get a little lazy when ENDURrun is over. I slack. I've been slacking in the blogging and also slacking in the strength work that I was doing leading up to ENDURrun, and a bit in the rest of my training as well. Not too bad... but I've been lacking a bit of motivation to work as hard as I wanted and intended. Looking back at previous years, I tend to feel about the same at this point every fall. Then I generally look back and see that it hasn't actually been nearly as bad as I thought it was. I really haven't been focusing on 50 mile training, though.... we'll see how JFK goes next month.

But for now... here's how September went.

I'm going to ignore the first three days of September.. for no reason other than it was the end of a week and I feel like starting with a Monday.

Sept 4-10 - The week of.... nothing, really. I can't think of anything of interest. It started with Labour Day, but nothing else was different than a regular week.
Monday - 6.2 mile run.
Tuesday - Wee WO: 7.1 miles, including 4x Marshall Hill.
Wednesday - 7.1 miles, combo of road and trails.
Thursday - WO: 4x 1.5 miles at half marathon pace. 15.7 miles total.
Friday - no run
Saturday - Long run with H+P: 17 miles.
Sunday - 10 miles
** Total mileage for the week: 63.2 miles. Total elevation gain: 3,097 ft. 

Sept 11-17 - Another week of nothing special.
Monday - nada
Tuesday - WO: 6 miles at half marathon pace. Total run: 8.3 miles.
Wednesday - 8 miles combo road and trails.
Thursday - Wee WO: 8 miles, including 4x 2 min hard.
Friday - 3.5 miles
Saturday - 15 miles
Sunday -  20 miles: 16 miles road, then 4 miles trail.
** Total mileage for the week: 62.9 miles. Total elevation gain: 2,844 ft. 

Sept 18-24 - The week of the Harvest Half
Monday - 7.1 miles trail
Tuesday - 0
Wednesday - 1 mile x2 commute runs in the day, then 6.3 miles in the evening.
Thursday - WO: 5x 1km @ 5K pace. Total run: 11.7 miles.
Friday - 7.6 miles
Saturday - 18.1 miles, including a half marathon at around marathon pace. This was a last minute decision to hop into a race (Harvest Half) since it was a super hot and humid day and aid stations sounded like an amazing benefit. Gillian and I ran most of it together, talking pretty much the entire time, then Gill went ahead to run the last 3K as a fast finish. I maintained my same pace for the last 3. She invited me along for her fast finish... I declined. :) We ended up finishing 1-2 for the women (small race). I ran 1:37 for the half.
2017 Harvest Half
2017 Harvest Half
Sunday - 13.3 miles, mostly trail.
** Total mileage for the week: 66.4 miles  Total elevation gain: 3,196 ft.

Sept 25-Oct 1 - The week of The Toad and the Beer Run.
Monday - WO: 8 miles including 8 min 10K pace and 10x 1 min hard.
Tuesday - 4.4 miles
Wednesday - 5 miles
Thursday - Wee WO: 7.8 miles including 6x1 min hard.
Friday - 3 miles
Saturday - Run for the Toad 50K. I ran this as a training race for the 50 miler, so I guess I'm doing *some* 50 mile training..... just not much that's 50 mile specific. The race was fun. Well, mostly. The last loop got lonely.... but the first 3 loops were great! It's a 12.5 km course, so you run that 4 times if you're doing the 50, twice if you're running the 25K. I ran it at a comfortable pace, but didn't dilly dally. I didn't race it, but I didn't saunter. I ran a solid 50K, finishing in 4:22, 10th overall, 4th woman.

Sunday - Kitchener/Waterloo Beer Run: 10ish K route with beer sampling stops. This was a super fun day with some of my H+P teammates.
** Total mileage for the week: 67.7 miles. Total elevation gain: 3.907 ft.

So there you have it: September (and the first day of October). Next up, Fall 5K Classic tomorrow... More proof of how much I'm focusing on training for a 50 miler. ;)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 7: The Marathon

This past Sunday, was the final stage of the ENDURrun 2017, the marathon.

The evening before the marathon, Will and Jordan came to my house. We ate pizza and drank a beer. Jordan told me what time I would need to run in the marathon to get a top 10 finishing time: 3:17:05.
He then wrote about it on the ENDURrun blog: A primer for Sunday’s Stage 7
It was not as fast as I thought it would have to be, which surprised me, but was still something significantly faster than I've ever run (my best marathon was 3:24:04), so I didn't think too much about it... but did keep the number in the back of my mind.

After they left, Paul (a past ENDURrunner and also a volunteer) came with his daughter and one of her friends, as they were staying here for the night and volunteering in the morning. I stayed up a little later than planned, but nothing crazy. I was definitely in bed by 11.

The final stage starts earlier than the other stages, so morning came quick. And... I woke up with a sore throat, but figured even if I'm getting sick, it shouldn't affect me too much on the first day of symptoms. It's usually day 2 or 3 of a cold when it starts to affect functionality (which, by the way... is where I am right now as I write this). I got up, made coffee, toasted my bagel, and got ready to head to Conestogo.

The race:

Catherine was behind me the first loop. Right behind me from 2-4k, but then dropped back a little... not much, though. Maybe she just didn't want me to hear her, I'm not sure. So, I was ahead coming through half, but she was not far behind at all. On the second loop, she came up behind me, then ran next to me and said we should work together. I didn't know if she was serious or not... but I was hoping she was, because it would be nice to not have pressure for the rest of the marathon and just run together. I had been completely by myself until this point.

We ran together for maybe a km.. probably a little less.. I glanced at my watch and saw the current pace of 6:55/mile.... so I backed off and let her go. I knew that was not a sustainable pace for me and had to trust that it wasn't for her, either. This was around 26k, so really there was only 10ish miles left in the race... so I also knew that she needed to be almost a minute per mile faster than me for the whole rest of the race to beat me for the week. I tried to keep my pace around 7:30. It was hot at this point and I was starting to not feel great. The pace was still ok, but I was so ready to be done. I walked through two aid stations so that I'd get a bit more liquid in me, and then I actually ended up walking briefly a couple of times because I wanted to give up.. then after a few steps I'd get mad at myself and start running again. I wasn't going to just GIVE this away. Once back on University, I was in a bit of a better head space, but it wasn't until I was almost at Northfield that I had any confidence again. I hadn't seen Catherine since before turning onto Bridge because of the turns, so I had no idea how far ahead she was. Logically, it wasn't far enough, but my brain wasn't being so logical. I thought I had lost first... until I saw Emily on Northfield and she told me that Catherine was only a few minutes ahead. I didn't fully believe her, though... because sometimes someone *thinks* it was only a "few" minutes, when really it was 10. So.... I picked it up slightly, turned onto Northfield, stared up ahead, looking for a white shirt.... and I saw it! I saw the white shirt off in the distance! If I can see her and I'm on Northfield... all is well. she's only a km away at the most. I ran hard up that final stretch, getting back down into low 7s and the final km or so just under 7... turned the corner and saw 3:16 on the clock. I didn't get to break the tape because I came in seconds after Merzi, but that's ok. There actually aren't even any finish photos of me, which is kind of funny. But also fine. Lloyd came over and congratulated me, as did others, of course... because...  


And won it with the 10th fastest time!! 6th fastest person. That's just nuts. I never knew I could hit those times. I also know that if I wasn't in gold, I most likely wouldn't have. But wanting to KEEP the gold... I worked extra hard and went for things that seemed unattainable.. but turns out they weren't! There's no way I would have run 15K at sub 6:40 pace if I realized I was running that pace and if I didn't have people to chase. I certainly would have never been running with Dave and Mark at the 10 miler (not that I was able to stick with them the whole time, but I tried... and didn't blow up badly or anything, just couldn't stick with them). And Sunday? I would have been more than happy to run 3:20 or even just over, which still would have been a big marathon PR... and actually... 3:20 would have been ok, I still would have won... but I didn't know that at the time! For all I knew, she was going for the stage record... and if that was the case, I needed to run sub 3:18. 

I did not want to have to run that fast on Sunday.. .but I'm definitely proud of myself for doing it. I took well over an hour off last year's time and came in over 26 minutes faster than my aggressive goal! I am also super proud to be part of only the 3rd year in history where three women have finished with sub-13 times AND the closest race for top three women EVER. Catherine was 2nd for the women and my Health & Performance teammate Valery was 3rd. On the men's side Rob won, H+P teammate Nick was 2nd, and Stefan was 3rd. What a week!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 6: 10 Time Trial

This is going to be a quick on. It's Sunday morning, the morning of the marathon... so I need to get something up here before I leave for today's final stage!

OK.. the 10K.

Joel (H+P teammate) met me at my house around 7am and we drove to Conestogo. Parked the car by Lloyd's house, left a few things in the yard for post-race and then got shuttled up to the start in Elmira.

The race is formatted the same as Monday's race, so the runners start one minute apart, with the fastest runner starting last. My estimated start time was posted as 8:53, but since there were 4 scratches, I was now starting at 8:49. The other girls were starting 4 or 5 minutes ahead of me, due to some guys between us in the cumulative results as well as relay team and guest runners that are slotted in according to the seed times they provided. On Monday, I had the advantage of starting right after them, so I could keep an eye on what they were doing the whole race. This time, not so much. I couldn't see them at all.

I started behind Thaddeus (also from H+P), and Robyn (also H+P) started behind me. I wanted to reel in Thad and not be caught by Robyn. I never caught Thad, but I did close the gap a bit, and Robyn did not catch me. The 3 of us finished in the following times: Thaddeus 41:41, me 41:15, Robyn 40:25.
2017 ENDURrun Stage 6: 10 KM Time Trial

Catherine got me by 6 seconds, which I didn't know until the results were announced as I had no idea what she was doing since I couldn't see her. I'm actually not sure if I would have been able to tell a 6 second increase on a one minute lead, anyway.

Heading into today's marathon, I'm 9:45 ahead of Catherine, who is 5:26 ahead of Val. On the guy's side, Rob is 53:32 ahead of Nick, who is 44:20 ahead of Stefan. 4th place Andrew (who started a half hour late on Stage 1 and has been jumping up the list each day) who is 10:19 behind Stefan.

But.. that's enough about today's race! I need something to write about later on. :)

Have a good race today, all who are running! And for those who are following along, Thank you for your support and I hope you've enjoyed my little posts.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 5: 16 Miles Alpine

I'm a little late with writing this one... it's Saturday morning and I need to leave for Stage 6 soon, but I have a few minutes, so let's see if I can whip something up here.

Friday. Yesterday. Stage 5.
I woke up ready to roll. It was the only day (so far) this week that I didn't want to stay in bed when my alarm went off.

I got up, got ready, and headed down to Chicopee Ski Hill. Once there, I caught up with some Health & Performance team mates and did a very short warmup. We lined up for the start, and were off into our first of 5 loops around the hill, each of which includes going from the bottom (or close to the bottom) to the top of the hill four times, plus one partial.

Here's my description of the course:
- short flat section to the never-ending gravel service road climb (which turns 3 times and you're still climbing after each turn)
- flat across the top
- turn right and head straight down a sandy hill
- sharp left at the bottom, then single track back to the top
- across the same top section, but opposite direction
- run straight down a ski hill
- across the bottom
- straight UP a bigger ski hill
- over the back of the hill, down some stairs, and then single track down the back
- and back up.
- pop out of the trails, turning right, across the top
- run straight down another hill
- into trails with boardwalks (very slippery boardwalks yesterday), and then flat trail with some evil little stumps that I swear jump out and grab me at least once each year at this race.. this year was no exception... I went down in lap 3.
- once out of that section, a short grave then grass bit, bringing you into what used to be called Goat Trail (and I will continue to call it that), which brings you back to the top over two sections. I think this is my least favourite part of this course.
- pop out at the top, run over the top, and straight down another ski hill
- turn left at the bottom and run mostly straight to the start/finish area
Do that x5.

On Thursday, it was looking like the course was going to be a mess, but it was actually in really good shape by the time race start time rolled around. There was just a little bit of mud and the boardwalks were slippery. It was probably close to the best conditions for this stage I have ever seen/felt. Last year was super hot and humid. The year before was thunderstorms.

My race: I went out a bit quick on the first loop, but it worked out ok. I finished first female in 2:27:10 and improved my lead going into stage 6 by 3:51. Oh! I ran up North (the big straight up the ski hill climb) without walking a single step on laps 1, 2, and 3. On lap 4, I walked briefly... just the distance between two flags and then started running again the rest of the way up. Lap 5 was a different story. I ran part way, then walked from one flag to the next, then ran the next one, then walked, then ran, etc. In previous years, I walked on each of those climbs, at least for part of each.

Every single runner finished within the time cut-off again today, which is fantastic! It's wonderful to see everyone pushing themselves and then seeing the pride beaming as they come across that line!

It has been so amazing this week, to have so many people from the club out watching, cheering, running, etc. It is such a boost, especially on days like Stage 5. Thank you H+P!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 4: Hilly 10 Miler

Evening stage. That's always tough for me. What to do all day? What to eat? When to eat?
  • I mowed the lawn...
  • Did a bit of housework...
  • Wrote yesterday's blog...
  • And waited for it to be time to get ready to leave.
I arrived at the race site about an hour before start time, chatted with some other runners, hit the bathroom a couple of times, ran around in some sort of super short warm-up of sorts.... and then it was time to walk down the hill to the start. 

Shortly after the race started, I found myself in a pack with Dave, Merzi, Mark Meyers, Stefan, and a few others, including Catherine, who I didn't actually realize was also in this pack until I happened to catch a glimpse of a white shirt out of the corner of my eye (all the guys were shirtless). We stuck together along Conservation, and then thinned out a bit once we were into the hills on Wilmot. 

I don't quite know who ended up where (I wasn't looking), but I know I was with Mark for a bit, Mark and Dave for a bit... Then.... Catherine passed me around 8 or 9 km into the race. So... for the second half of the race, I was chasing her. I never caught her, but at least I didn't give up too much. She got me by 43 seconds on this stage. I am still in the gold going into Stage 5, with an even 6 minute lead.

My finish time for stage 4 was 1:11:02. My first time actually running a decent race on this stage. It's always been a horrible one for me in the past, with my previous best time on this course well over 1:19. I felt good, in control, breathing was normal, etc. I'm very happy to have finally run a decent time on this stage. Of course, I would have preferred to take the win, but I can't be upset with the improvement I made over previous years... I'm also happy that it's done.

I'll add some photos to this later. Right now it's time to head out to meet people for lunch!