Sunday, February 25, 2018


I know February isn't quite over yet... but it's close, and I don't expect anything major to happen in the next 3 days.

So.... February. What happened? I "raced" a couple of times. Quotes because they were more workouts than races, but they were in a race environment, which I like to do in February, so that once March rolls around, I'm (hopefully) ready both physically and mentally for real races.

What races did I run, you ask? Well... let me tell you.

February Race #1: Dion Winter Goose Chase (snowshoe race)
It's a 7ish km race in the trails at Shade's Mills Conservation Area in Cambridge. This was the second year of the race, and as the name implies... there's chasing of a "goose" involved. The "Goose" and "Gander" are the male and female winners from the previous year. Last year was the inaugural year, so there were no previous winners. Lisa (the RD) asked me if I would run as Gander (although due to misprint, I was the Goose and the guy was the Gander). I finished 2nd female last year, but as of the week of the race, this year's Goose was injured and unable to make the race. Lisa emailed me and asked if I would again fill in as Gander. Of course, I would. So... I was once again running with a literal target on my back.

I started 2nd row, so that I'd be in front of all the other women, since they were supposed to chase me. At the gun, I ran hard... I ran hard for I don't know how long.... a km or two... and then I was passed by a woman and was happy to be passed. This was my first snowshoe run of the season and it was NOT feeling good! Note to self.... make sure to run AT LEAST one run in snowshoes before attempting to race in them. So.. I was passed. I was now in 2nd female position. Then I was passed again. I was also fine with this, but was not going to let anyone kick me out of top 3, so I kept on keeping on. The snowshoes started to feel normal about half way through the race. The final 3 km felt pretty good and I passed one guy. I finished the race in 3rd female in a time a little slower than last year, but the course was not the same... Actually, I'm not sure if the distance was, either.

After the race, there was a bonfire at the finish area, pancakes and coffee inside, and then awards.

I ended up leaving with a pint glass full of Clif products (this was the registration gift), and two mugs also filled with Clif products (one was my prize for 3rd and the other was a draw prize), and a pair of gloves (pre-registration draw prize). It was a great way to spend the morning and I'd recommend this race to anyone.

February Race #2: Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 Mile
I'm pretty sure I've done this race each and every year since I started running.... now I need to check and confirm that "fact" to ensure that I'm not making shit up... but I don't recall ever missing a year. It wasn't always the same distance (there's an 8K and an 8 mile), but I believe I've always been at the event.

Alright. I've checked. 2007 & 2008, I ran the 8K, my very first race ever was in the fall of 2006, so... so far it looks like I am correct. I will continue to look. 2014 was also 8K, but 2009-2013 and 2015-2018 were all the 8 mile distance. I was not mistaken! Yay!!

OK... back to the event. This one, I generally run as a tempo around half marathon pace. It's a good test of fitness in generally less than ideal weather conditions. This year was no exception weather-wise. There was some snow-cover, some slush, and then freezing rain for at least half of the race. Singlets were frozen solid at the end of the race, watch faces were covered in a layer of bumpy ice. It's "character building" or something.

Anyway.... I felt zero pressure for this race, since I wasn't intending to truly race it and also since the weather forecast was crap. I lined up at the start near some people who I knew would be running around the same pace as me and off we went. I stuck with Jan for the first few km, but he started running slightly quicker than I wanted to, so off he went, then after the turn at 4ish km, Emily caught up to me and we ran together for the rest of the race. We ended up reeling in Jan and finishing just in front of him in a finish gun time of 56:08, and were surprised to find out we finished 4th and 5th female. We were chatting most of the time we were running. It was a great half marathon effort training run!
2018 "Re-Fridgee-Eighter"
Next up... Chilly Half Marathon next weekend. I'll try to write something shortly after that... but no guarantees. We all know I suck at posting. ;)

Friday, January 05, 2018

2017 Stats

While I've already done a bit of a year in review post for 2017, I didn't really include many stats. Well, I guess this calls for another post!

A few basic running stats pulled from Strava (may not be entirely accurate, but close enough):
  • Distance: 2,550.7 mi (4105 km)
  • Time: 361h 58m
  • Elevation Gain: 106,316 ft
Comparing those to 2016, distance and time are very similar, but elevation gain increased by almost 40,000 feet! I definitely made elevation gain a focus from late spring into summer last year. Hopefully I can increase that number a bit more this year.

2017 Races:
  • Distances raced: 1 mile (x1), 5K (x2), 10K (x1), 8 miles (x1), 15K (x1), 10 miles (x1), half marathon (x3, but one was part of a training run), 16 miles (x1), 30K (x1), marathon (x4), 50K (x2), and 50 miles (x1)
  • Distances with new PRs (PBs): all of the above, except the 30K and 50 mile, although the 30K was not road, so it was a new trail/XC 30K PR. (it was a good year!)
That's enough for today...  but that doesn't mean I'll post more tomorrow. :)

Stay warm, everyone (it's freaking cold outside!).

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!

2017: a year in review
I thought I'd do the Instagram #bestnine thing, but not actually post it on Instagram. The blog seems like a better place for it.
I was hoping to somehow be creative with this post, but I'm pretty sure this will just end up being a regular recap of 2017. That's how you grab a reader's attention! 

I had set some ambitious goals for myself for 2017. I knew I was going to have to work hard, and I was ready to do it. The goals were as follows: 
  • Sub-1:35 half marathon
  • sub-3:20 marathon
  • sub-4:10 50K (road)
  • sub-13:00 ENDURrun
  • sub-20 5K
  • 7:30 50 miler
The order I listed the goals is also the order that I intended to achieve them. The races I had lined up for these goals were (click the links for the full write ups):
  • Chilly Half Marathon (March) - it was a cold day, but was pretty much perfect racing weather for a late winter race. The roads were clear and dry and it wasn't overly windy. I had a great race here and finished in 1:32:01. 
  • Boston Marathon (April) - it was a HOT day! There was no good race result this day as I went into survival mode early when I stopped sweating. I still had a fun time away with the club, and we were all able to laugh about our horrible races. 
  • Niagara Ultra 50K (June) - another HOT day... and an injured toe going into the race... not a good combination. I ended up doing a lot of walking in the second half and hanging out at aid stations chatting with the volunteers a bit while I drank lots and lots of fluids. It was one of the hottest races I've ever run. I finished this one in 4:53, my second slowest 50K. 
  • ENDURrun (August) - I had a better week than I ever would have imagined! It was such an incredibly rewarding experience to take chances and try things that I wouldn't have normally thought I was capable of. I finished the week in 12:33:56, in a very close race, with 2nd place female only 6:38 back after a week of racing.
  • Fall Classic 5K (October) - Humid and warm day, but a downhill course, so the weather didn't affect things too much. I guess a cool, dry day would have produced even FASTER times. I'm certainly not complaining about anything with this race. I ran my first sub-20 and it was by a lot! I ran 19:11, which I would put an * next to due to the gradual downhill of the course, and call it more of a 19:30ish equivalent, but either way... I was definitely happy with that result! Now I just need to do it on a more honest course. :)
  • JFK 50 Miler (November) - It was cold rain for a big chunk of the race. It didn't go as I had hoped, but it did go a lot better than last year. I finished the race in 8:09:10.  
Did I achieve all of the goals? No. 
Did I achieve most of them? Yes! 

I achieved all of the non-ultra goals, but the marathon didn't happen at Boston, I actually ran my first sub-3:20 marathon on the final stage of The ENDURrun (3:16:55).

Although I did not achieve the 50K and 50 mile goals, I did actually run a new 50K PR in the fall at Run for the Toad trail 50K, 4:22. 

Moving on to 2018...
Do I attempt the ultra goals since I missed them last year? I don't think so. That's not the plan at this point, anyway. I want to take this year to focus on marathons and shorter distances, but we'll see how the year unfolds. 

Happy new year to you all!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

November: JFK 50 Miler

I started this post a few weeks ago.... or at least I thought I had started it. Apparently, all I had done was write a title.

You may recall that last year, I DNF'd at JFK after running in pain for a while (I'm a klutz and whacked my knee on a rock.. full story here.) This year, I was back to take care of some unfinished business.

That mission was sort of accomplished. I got it done... but it wasn't pretty... and it wasn't the finish time or placing I wanted. But.... I got it done in a respectable time and I didn't hurt myself.

I guess I should give some sort of recap of the race, so here goes.

It was cold at the start, colder than I was expecting. Or maybe it felt colder than it was. I know I had looked at the forecast and knew based on the temps that I should be fine in shorts and a singlet, with arm sleeves and gloves that I hoped to toss after a few miles.

When I arrived at the race start, I got out of my car and was really cold, so I made the last minute decision to wear my super thin NB jacket since it weighs almost nothing and I could just shove it in the bungees of my pack when I remove it. I ended up being very happy that I grabbed it (and that it was in the car!).  There was also rain in the forecast, so I decided on the tight shorts instead of loose. I normally wear loose shorts, but in rain? Not the best plan.

We walked to the start, and got this show on the road. I was wearing the jacket and was happy with that decision. I wore it for the first 5 miles, then shoved it into the bungees and ran without until it ended up back on late in the race... but more on that in a bit.

I'm feeling lazy, so I'm going to copy/paste the course description from the race website:
The first 5.5 miles (starting on road surface and joining the Appalachian Trail at 2.5 miles) gains 1,172 feet in elevation. The course from 2.5 to 15.5 miles is on the Appalachian Trail (except for two miles of paved road between 3.5 and 5.5 miles). This section of the AT is very rocky in sections as it rolls across the mountain ridge. At approximately 14.5 miles the course drops over 1,000 feet in a series of steep “switchbacks” that then crosses under Rt. 340 and connects with the C&O Canal towpath. The “Canal” section of the JFK 50 Mile is 26.3 miles (from 15.5-41.8 miles) of almost totally flat unpaved dirt/gravel surface that is free of all automotive vehicle traffic. The JFK 50 Mile route leaves the C&O Canal towpath at Dam #4 and proceeds to follow gently rolling paved country roads the last 8.4 miles to the finish. The Boonsboro start is at an elevation of 570 feet. The Williamsport finish is at 452 feet above sea level.
Section 1: road to AT. This was fine. I was getting a little sick of running uphill by the end of it, but it was fine.

Section 2: AT. This was slow. At first it was all good, but once I got to the rocky bits, I remembered last year and I ended up taking it SUPER easy. I did NOT want a repeat of last year. I just wanted to get through this section. I figured once I got to the Canal, I could pick it up and actually start to run. 

Shortly before the AT section ended.... the rain started. It was around 14 miles for me when it started. It was fairly light, but still... it was starting... and it wasn't going to stop for a long time.

I had a bit of a klutzy moment where I almost slipped off the edge at the start of the switchbacks. Whoops! And then I tripped on a rock (didn't fall), so... easy going down those as well. I don't know where my trail legs/feet were that day!

Section 3: port-a-potty. :) The short section at Weverton after coming down the switchbacks, but before heading under the highway toward the Canal section includes a few port-a-potties. I was looking forward to this for the last mile or so of the AT.

Section 4: C & O Canal Tow Path... just over a marathon of flat (technically a very slight uphill, but essentially flat). It was time to now actually run. I wanted to run mid-8s here and until the end of the race. Well.... it did happen "here". I ran pretty consistently, with each mile in the 8s up to the aid station where I dropped out last year. I stopped at that aid station to grab a Christmas cookie quickly to commemorate passing this one... shoved it in my mouth, and then regretted the cookie as it was difficult to get down. I kept running along and the rain started coming down harder. (it was a lighter rain up to this point.... here's a good time for a photo.. this was taken around mile 19.5, I believe. You can see the rain.. this was the lighter rain... but it was still cold and wet and as you can see by my face... not my happy kind of weather.

OK... back to the race... after mile 35 and the cookie.... the rain came down hard. I got myself to the next aid station, tried to take my jacket off the back of my pack to put it back on.... my hands didn't work. I tried to open a pack of shot blocks... my hands didn't work. I tried to put the jacket on.. nope... tried to zip the zipper... nope.. tried to do the clasps of my pack when it was put back on me... again... nope. Volunteers helped me to do all of those things... and by helped, I mean pretty much had to do everything for me because I was incapable. My hands were so cold that they just wouldn't function. Once I was put back together, motivation was gone. I was cold and wet and miserable and I had no desire to push. I was at mile 38 or so at this point... maybe 39 or 40. I'm not sure... but there was still more than 10 miles to go and I just didn't wanna. I did, of course, but it wasn't fun.

Off I went, running in my soaking wet shoes, soaking wet gloves, but slightly warmer now that I had the jacket on. After a bit, the rain did stop. But that doesn't make shoes dry. And wet shoes for hours is not my idea of a good time.

I was happy to get to the end of the Canal section, turned, running up a short hill to get out, which kind of sucked...

Section 5, final section: rolling roads.
...then turned the corner and... seriously? A big ol' hill... which probably wasn't all that big, but it looked it at the time. For some unknown reason the 3 or 4 guys that were in front of me started walking... so I did as well. In hindsight (and really.. at the time as well) I know this was a bad idea. Once you walk... it's in your head that it's OK to walk. I hadn't walked aside from a bit on the rocky section of the AT hours ago, but here... I did. I didn't need to.. I didn't feel like I needed a break.... but seeing them walk tricked me into walking. I started running again when I got to the top of the hill and kept running until I reached an aid station, where I grabbed some broth. I was just going to drink it and head on my way, but the guy who gave it to me told me that there were trash bags all around the corner, so I could walk while I drank it. Once again.. I had no intentions of walking.... but he gave me permission. I probably would have finished it by the first bag and tossed it, and got back to running, but instead I sipped, and walked, and didn't finish it until the very last bag... then got back to running.

I stopped once more before the finish, but that was to use a port-a-potty. I decided that I didn't want to have to bee-line it to the bathroom at the finish, so I'd empty the ol' bladder here. I knew I wasn't going to get the finish time I wanted anymore anyway, and even sub-8 was out of the question here since I was only 2 miles from the finish, so I stopped. I peed quickly, but then I had difficulty pulling my shorts back up! I was in there laughing at myself and how difficult it was to make cold hands pull up shorts! I got them up without needing the help of any volunteers ;) and got back at it. I picked up the pace a little from here to the finish and finished the race in 8:09 and some seconds.

I went inside... got a quick massage since there was no line.. where I was told that this was the worst weather he had seen at this race in the last 10 years. After that... I located my bag and headed to the showers! Oh that hot water was nice. I was so happy that I brought some warm clothes to change into after. I was much more comfortable and was able to sit and eat some food without shivering. :)

All in all, it was an OK day. I would have liked to run it better. I did read in someone else's write up that it seems to take 3 tries to get this race right. So.... I guess I'll be back for that perfect race. It likely will not be next year, but it will happen again someday.

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. ;)