Thursday, July 06, 2017

April Part 2: Boston Marathon

Monday, April 17th. Race Day.
Val was in wave 1 and I was stating in wave 2, so she had to catch a bus before I did. This worked out quite well, since there was no getting in each other's way, etc. I got out when she was leaving.
As I was getting ready, I heard a noise... I thought it must be Val's phone... a backup alarm going off? I was looking around, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from, when I realized it was the hotel's alarm. There was then an announcement about an "emergency" in the hotel. My floor was not being evacuated yet, but I was to "stand by for further instructions."

This all happened shortly after 6am right when I was getting ready to leave the room to grab a coffee. My plan was to hang out in the hotel with my coffee for a few minutes, then leave for the buses. I had plenty of time before I was meeting Emily, so I thought I would relax and enjoy it. Not so much. With the alarms going off, I decided to get completely ready for the race, grab a coffee on my way out, and then drink it in Boston Common. I didn't want to run the risk of not being able to get back to my room if I attempted to get a coffee now!

10 minutes later, the emergency was called off.
I then had the fun of trying to go in the opposite direction of all of the people who had been evacuated trying to get back IN. It didn't take too long, though. I got my coffee. The building wasn't in danger. All was well.

Ready! Time to head to the buses.
When I stepped outside, it was already hot. Ugh. The weather forecast still seemed to think it was only going to be a high of low to mid 70s (still super warm for April, but yeah...). They were wrong.

I walked to the corner where Emily and I had planned to meet up, going through security on my way there. Smooth sailing coming from the side I entered from, as I approached the spot, the entrance by the corner was much busier. I waited there, drinking my coffee, when I saw Emily walking across the street. After she got through security, we wandered over to get onto a school bus for the ride to the start.

Once we arrived at Athlete's Village, our photo was taken, and Gill ran up to us to tell us where she and Sean were sitting. I was surprised that she saw us! It was great to have a little group to hang out with while we waited for our waves to be called to the starting corrals.
Emily and I

We lathered ourselves up with sunscreen while we sat on the grass, since the sun was out in full force and there weren't really any clouds in sight. We had throwaway clothes on when we arrived, but they soon just turned into something to sit on, since it was nowhere near cold or even cool outside. Shorts and singlets were more than enough.

It wasn't too long before we each started our journey to the start. I was happy that Vicky found me on my way there! It was nice to have someone to talk to on that walk over, once Emily and I were separated.

I entered my corral, Vicky kept walking to hers as it was closer to the front. And... I waited. After what felt like an eternity, yet super short at the same time, we started moving toward the line and we were off.

The crowds in Hopkinton were great! I enjoyed the first little stretch with so many people cheering the start of the race.  After this, though, I didn't find it nearly as amazing as people seem to think it is. There were lots of people out, yes, but... I don't know.... it didn't amaze me. Maybe I need a good weather year. One where I'm not already sweating buckets a mile in.

I managed to spot someone (Rhonda) I had met on the Friday evening at the shake out run and ran with her for a few miles since we had very similar goals for the day, but when we were just about to hit 6 miles, I made a pit stop and she hit the water station, so we parted ways and never saw each other again.

A couple miles later.... I noticed that I had stopped sweating. That's no good. So.... game plan for the day, which had already changed a bit due to the heat, changed again... to drink LOTS of water and electrolyte drinks. My new mission was to start sweating again and to not end up in a med tent. From that point on, I grabbed two cups at each and every water station and walked to ensue that I drank every last drop in those cups. I would also dump water on my head when I had the chance. Any freezie being handed out was also more than welcome. And the wonderful spectators who were handing out bottles of water.... you're the best!

So.... I guess in hindsight, the spectators were pretty spectacular. They were so helpful! They gave so much to us and really saved the day.

Since I was walking through aid stations, I actually had a walk break every single mile for more than half the course. This is certainly not something I would normally do. But... I still wasn't sweating.
I felt pretty good other than being super hot, but not sweating, and was running relatively well when I was actually running. I was looking at the big picture while I was out there as well. Taking precautions today meant that I'd feel fine tomorrow and could resume training for other races that would be coming up over the next few months. This was now just a long run, not a race.

Hooray for water.
As I crossed the finish line on Boylston (not even in a BQ time....), I was happy to be done and more happy to be handed a bottle of water. So happy, in fact, that I held up the water for my finish line photo, not the medal. :)

I made my way through the finish, just wanting to get out the other side, where I started to run, getting some looks from people as I had a medal around my neck, space blanket and bag of food in one hand, and a water bottle in the other. I ran to my hotel, walked in the door and was congratulated on my marathon and directed to a room where the hotel had put out snacks for the runners! That was a pleasant surprise. I grabbed some food there, and continued to my room, taking the stairs (it was only two floors up... but still fun to say I took the stairs).

I had finally started to sweat, by the time I got to my room. Yay! I was re-hydrated!

A couple minutes after I arrived in the room, Val showed up, escorted by hotel staff (she didn't have a room key with her). Good thing I wasn't naked! Anyway.. we got straight to our post-race beers from our previous night's shopping and chatted about our mornings, while also catching up on news over social media regarding the others from the club.

Happy to be done and happy to have cold beer.

Once we were cleaned up, sat around for a while, and enjoyed our beer, it was time to head out and meet up with the rest of the Health & Performance crew to share war stories over food and more beverages at FiRE+iCE.

Val, Gill, and Emily who was unable to make it.

I mentioned war stories earlier... all of us from H+P had a pretty rough day out there in that heat and humidity and sun, running pretty awful positive splits. But.... we lived to tell the story and we were all able to laugh about it.

H+P results can be found here:

We had a fun time out for food and drink, but I had one other thing I wanted to eat that day: a Boston cream pie.

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Race day was not the end of my trip, but the rest will have to come in the next post or two. :) Nothing like dividing stuff up to have something to write about on the ol' blog! There will be lots of photos in the next two posts. So, you'll have to come back soon to check those out.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

April, the month my blog has ignored.... until now. (Part 1 of.... I'm not sure yet)

Nothing eventful happened the first couple weeks of April, so I will start this mid-April. Actually... this post will likely be about one week. We'll call it "Boston Week."

Thursday, April 13th
I took this day off work. I had some things I needed to do before leaving for my trip, so I wanted to be sure I had time to get those done and then drive half way to Boston without feeling rushed. Starting a vacation week frantically is never fun, so I wanted to avoid it! It worked.

When I arrived at the border early evening, it took all of 5 minutes to get through (including my wait behind other cars), so that was a pleasant surprise! Quick and painless. Nice.

On the other side, I drove for a bit, then stopped to get some food and a coffee. Ate and drank the coffee while driving, and arrived at my hotel at a decent hour. I had some time to hang out and watch tv for a bit before hitting the hay.

Friday, April 14th
Got up, had some free breakfast at the hotel, and then hit the road. Almost ran out of gas.... (long stretch of highway with no gas, got off the highway, arrived at a gas station with my car saying "1km to empty" on the display.. talk about cutting it close!) got to Boston early afternoon.

Checked in to my hotel, turned around, walked toward the elevator, and someone I knew came out! I wasn't expecting to run into people I know so quickly! Talked to Lumi and her daughter for a few minutes, then threw my stuff in my room, and headed to the expo.

I was SO happy that I got there on the Friday because there were no lines. I walked straight up to get my number and the same for my shirt. I didn't have to wait behind a single person!
Obligatory number pick-up selfie (sent to the teammates)

The expo itself was great, too, it didn't take too long to check it all out because I could actually walk around freely. I got my Sam Adams 26.2 beer samples, and walked around with looking at merchandise that I was most likely not going to buy. I ended up buying some nuun since I forgot mine at home, and got a sweet Boston bottle from them. I did swing by the North Face booth for a very specific item, which I now know is called the "Stow and Go" bra. I just called it the bra with the pocket across the front. I bought one, then quickly looked around the rest of the expo and headed back to my hotel. On my way back, I ran into more people that I know. :)

Got to the hotel, changed into running clothes, and ran to the Runners' Choice pop-up shop where I was going to get my free gloves, watch the live show of Super Secret Mystery Meeting, run with them, and then eat pizza and drink beer. It was a lot of fun.

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Saturday, April 15th
Val arrived Saturday morning, so once she got to the hotel, we headed out to a coffee shop
for coffee (obviously) and a little something to eat. After caffeination had occurred, we walked over to Boylston where we watched the 1km and mile races. When Val went to get her number and go to the expo, I headed to the Strava pop-up for my free socks, then did some shopping for a visor at the New Balance store, since I only brought hats and the forecast was looking to be hotter than expected.

Once all of that was done, we headed to Rock Bottom for some beer and food.

In the evening, I wandered around and ended up at Harpoon where I had one beer and then walked back to the hotel.

Sunday, April 16th.
Coffee, then run with Val.
Post run sandwiches.
Post run. Pre-sandwiches.
Afternoon patio beer with Emily and Garret in shorts and a tank top... in April. I'm usually a jeans kind of girl unless it's really warm out... It was hot. 

We decided to check out the pasta dinner, but when we saw the line for the pasta party winding around the building outside, we walked past, went out for dinner, sitting on a patio, in the nice hot weather. Well... nice for sitting on a patio.... not so much for what the next day had in store.

On the "way back" (it was a little out of the way to find a store that was open), we shopped for some post-race beer, and headed back to the hotel to get to bed at a decent time.
The purchases.
The photo that happened when I was going to take the above photo, but accidentally had the phone on front-facing camera (I didn't accidentally take the photo, but laughed when it was on front-faced and then had to take the photo).

That's enough for this post... I'm going to stop here. There will be more coming soon. I will write a race day post, and then I'll write about the week post-race.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Niagara Ultra 50K - June 17, 2017

Well... the Niagara Ultra 50K happened. It wasn't pretty, but it happened.

As I mentioned in my last post.... I hurt my big toe on my left foot by stupidly kicking a stump (accidentally, of course, but I should have been paying more attention) while running at Chicopee. I had hoped it would be pain free by race day, but I was not so lucky. It's nothing super painful, but it's there. It's an annoyance, and it's something that makes the body try to adjust or compensate... and well, it's never a good thing when that happens.

The race may not have gone all that well, but overall, it was fun weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Heather and Andrew.

They picked me up on Friday after work and we headed straight to number pickup to get our numbers and sweatshirts. This race always has nice hoodies, with a different colour each year. This year was black.

After we picked up our stuff, we checked in, then headed out for dinner. Well, "out"... we were eating in the same building where we were staying.

After dinner and a couple drinks, it was time to think about sleeping. Morning was going to come quick. I got into bed, set my alarm for 4:50am and went to sleep. I slept not badly. I only remember waking up once, so that's not bad at all. Got up with my alarm, and headed out the door to walk to Tim Horton's for a coffee and bagel. I was walking back (it was about a km walk each way), trying to eat my bagel and spilled coffee all over my arm. haha. Whoops! At least I didn't spill TOO much and still had more to drink. :)

Got back to my room, showered quick, got ready for the race and headed out. As soon as I put on my running shoes, I knew things were not going to be great. I had discomfort just with wearing shoes. I hoped this would go away quickly, but as I walked to the race, it just remained.

I arrived at the race with enough time to eat a couple of tim bits, hit the port-a-potties, say hi to Dave, and get lined up.

The race itself:
  • I felt the toe with pretty much every running step
  • I was able to mostly ignore it for about an hour
  • The side of my foot started to hurt.. crap.. I've altered my gait
  • Walked some to try to "reset" my running gait
  • The toe felt ok when I walked
  • I walked too much because of the above
  • Thought maybe I'll drop when I get to 30K. That's still a solid long run.
  • Spent too much time at aid stations in the shade, but had fun chatting with the volunteers, who were amazing!
  • Decided at 30K that I'd finish the race. I could walk the last 20K and be under the time cut-off.
  • It was hot
  • It was humid
  • I was drenched in sweat
  • Finished 5th woman in 4:53, my 2nd slowest 50K.
I guess I need to come back again for a revenge run. :) It is a great race. Super well organized and a great course.

Now... some photos. The first two are from Dave and the 3rd is what I posted on Instagram on Saturday:

Since the race, I haven't run. I want this toe to heal completely, but it's driving me nuts how long it's taking. It's not like I truly injured myself (well, I guess maybe I did.... ), all I did was kick a small stump when running.... that's all! How many times have I tripped on a rock or a root or even a sidewalk or curb and been fine? So many. Oh well. It will get better. Hopefully very soon.

Next up race wise.... I'm not sure. Possibly Limberlost, but I'm not going to sign up just yet. I have a mile race next month and then ENDURrun in August.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Catching Up: May and the first half of June

I started a post a while back.... like over a month ago.... about Boston and April in general, but still haven't finished it, so I'll put that one on the backburner for now and move on. It will be here at some point, but not today. In the meantime, I don't want this blog to sit idle.

So.... let's pretend April didn't happen for now. I'll give a May and first half of June recap here and then maybe just maybe be a little more regular at writing stuff going forward.

I ran one race in May, but I wasn't actually racing it. I was never planning to race it. I signed up for the Ottawa Marathon maybe two weeks before the event, with plans of running it as a long run leading up to the 50K in June (which is coming up this weekend). It was 3 weeks before race day, so it seemed like an excellent time to jump into a marathon and with family in Ottawa, it would be an inexpensive weekend away. Plus, it's Canada 150 this year, so I figured it would be a good year to take part in the fun that is Race Weekend in Ottawa!

But... let's back it up a bit and talk about all of May.

The first three weeks of May were solid training weeks. I got some decent long runs in, and some solid workouts. Mileage was where I wanted it to be as well. I was feeling good. Actually, that statement is untrue. They were great and I felt good until the second last day of week three.

I was running my long run, which also included a workout component and.. around 9 or 10 miles in, my foot started to hurt a bit. Not so much that I needed to stop, but it was *something* and I didn't like it. I had this dull pain in the side of the ball of my left foot. I had done my run with a large out and back section and this started around the turnaround, so it's not like I could really just stop anyway... I had to get back on foot whether it was running or walking... and well... running is a lot quicker. So, I continued and the pain went away after a while, so I didn't need to take a shortcut back to my car. I finished up my 22 miles and headed home.

The next day (Sunday), I went out to run what was supposed to be 12 miles. It became 4 miserable miles. I had heel pain, foot pain, ball of foot pain. You name it. Not fun. I took Monday and Tuesday off running completely and went to see my chiro on Wednesday (she's fantastic, by the way). She worked on my calf and my foot and gave me some exercises to do at home. I ran a short easy run that day and a short workout the next, and by Saturday I felt great again! I'm continuing to do my exercises to make sure this doesn't happen again!

I drove to Ottawa straight from work on the Friday. Traffic wasn't too bad getting out of Toronto for once, so that was good. I arrived Friday evening around 8pm and my sister had already picked up my number and shirt for me. Thanks Andrea!

Saturday morning, we took a lazy coffee drinking morning for a few hours before I headed out for a run and was pleasantly surprised to see how good I felt. It was great! No pain.

Got back, went out and about with Andrea and the dog, then it was off to watch the 10K! The 10K was the Canadian Championships and is always a fun race to watch. This year, I knew a lot of people with Elite status in the race, so it was even more fun to be able to watch them warming up in front of the line, and starting ahead of the pack. My sis and I watched just around the corner from the start, then headed toward the finish, to watch from the VIP tent. Oh the perks of having a sister who works at City Hall. :) Cheering from the tent with open bar and food was a lot of fun. Andrea sent me some photos that she took:

It was great to not have to be concerned about what I was eating or drinking or the fact that I was on my feet for several hours the night before the marathon! I was already enjoying this not racing the marathon thing and it wasn't even race day yet. :)

Sunday morning, got up at 5, got ready, headed downtown. No warmup before this one, since I was planning to start out nice and easy anyway. The "plan" (which really wasn't much of a plan at all since I hadn't come up with a real one)... so the loose plan, was to run the first half nice and easy and then run around goal 50K pace for the second half.

I started running, and found myself just behind the 3:30 pace group, which was where I kind of wanted to be, but there were too many people and it was frustrating so, I passed them after a bit and planned to just stay a little in front of them where there was more room. I was running along, enjoying the sights and the spectators, giving high fives to kids on the street, etc. I was having fun! Around 8 miles I glanced at my watch and noticed that my average pace was quicker than I intended it to be. Whoops! So at this point any loose plan that I had went out the window. I was still enjoying myself and it still felt easy, so I just kept doing whatever. When I was crossing a bridge a while later, I thought maybe I should back off a bit until I get to 20 miles and then try to pick it up and run the final 10K strong. Well.... that's when the temperature really started to rise. It got hotter and hotter and the sun was beating down in full force. I made full use of aid stations and had fun along the way. I wasn't suffering or anything, but I wasn't going to try to push things too much, either. I had a freezie incident at one point... a very nice person who was handing out freezies happened to cut both ends.... so I was dripping red sticky liquid all over my legs. I actually ended up pulling off to the side to eat my freezie and then start running again! haha. I didn't want to give up my freezie, but I didn't want it to keep dripping on me! :)

I finished the marathon in 3:31, which I was perfectly ok with. I wasn't trying to hit any goal times, I had a solid long run, and an enjoyable one at that!

Afterward, it was back to the VIP tent. :) I spent a few hours there, which was fun.
Ottawa knows how to put on a good race weekend!

After my mini-vacation was over (I took Monday off work to drive back), it was now June and I was having a decent week of running, but.... I ended up getting sick less than a week later, so no workouts and no long run for me. At least it was only 2 weeks from race day, so the timing wasn't horrible. Close enough that I'm not missing out on gaining more fitness before race day, but also far enough out that I'd be fully recovered from the virus going into the race. I figured this would be the last of my "bad luck" heading toward the 50K.... but... I'm me.....

Last weekend, I had a good 12 mile run on Saturday, then Sunday morning met up with some people to run at Chicopee. All was going well until I managed to kick the same little stump that I've kicked in the past (it's maybe 2" tall and not painted or anything, in a section where there may even be some woodchips.... not overly visible, but still my fault for not seeing it).... this time I kicked it harder than I ever have before... I went down, but that wasn't the painful part.. it was my big toe. It's now 4 days later and it's still a bit swollen and still causes discomfort. Fingers crossed that it's 100% better Saturday morning. It's certainly nothing to be concerned about injury wise or anything.. there's no discolouration and movements don't hurt, but I'm guessing there's just some swelling pushing against the nail, that with pressure against my toe when I toe off, there's a bit of pain. I'm just taking it easy this week to hopefully aid in as quick a deswelling as possible. :)

And.... now I'm caught up! (except for missing April)

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Rest of March (and first 2 days of April)

In an effort to write more regular posts, I've decided to throw something together about what's happened since the Chilly Half. Nothing exciting has happened, so this may be really boring, but it will be something... and something is better than nothing, right?

I'm not going to bore you with too many details, so I'll just summarize each week and make note of anything that stood out for that particular week.

March 6 - 12: The week when I finally ran a 20+ mile run
The week after Chilly. I didn't do any structured workouts this week, but I did run with the Wednesday Night Tempo group at Runners' Choice. I had no idea what they were actually going to be doing, whether it was a longish tempo run or tempo intervals, so I just planned on following along and doing whatever they were doing. If they started to run hard, I ran hard. If they ran easy, I ran easy. It was good to mix things up a little and was fun to run with different people.

On the Saturday of this week, there was some more mixing up of things. This was the day of the "Pop-up run" where Run Waterloo and H+P planned a long run together on the ENDURrun Stage 1 course. The course is a 13ish km loop followed by an 8ish km loop (it's a half marathon). I ran the big loop, then the small loop, as one would normally run it, but then another big loop so that we (myself, Trevor, and Brian) got a decent long run in. It was my first 20+ mile run since the fall, so I was very happy to finally get one in. It was bugging me that I hadn't run any yet this year. It was also great that it went well! The average pace for the whole run was 8:18 min/mile on snow-covered roads, so I was happy with that.

March 13 - 19: The week when I finally ran 60+ miles
Last week included my first 20+ mile run in what felt like forever, and this week, my total mileage was finally over 60 miles. The week consisted Tuesday and Thursday workouts. One went well, one not so much. The Tuesday workout (4x 1 mile), I did on the treadmill and I just wasn't overly into it, so it was a struggle. The Thursday workout went so much better. I was back outdoors and I ran it with Steve, which made it feel so much easier! Thursday's workout was 2 miles warm up and cool down with 6 miles at half marathon pace. It was a nice confidence boost for this one to go well. On the weekend, snow surprisingly showed up on Saturday morning and made for some crappy wet snow and slush situations. I ran 18 miles with Gillian and we were slushed by vehicles several times. The following day, the weather was so much nicer! I got together with Trevor and Payton and ran a very enjoyable 11.7 miles.

March 20 - 26: The week when I caught a cold.
It was a solid week otherwise. I did a couple of workouts and I got in another 20+ mile long run.... I just felt a little more tired than usual doing them. I lucked out in that I only had a head cold, no chest involvement.

March 27 - April 2: The week of extra Toronto
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I work for a company in Toronto. I work from home three days per week and I go into the office two. Well, that's my normal week. This week was different because there were a couple of events going on. We were hosting a client party at the office on Tuesday evening and I had a conference to attend on the Wednesday. Due to these events, I stayed in a hotel Tuesday and Wednesday nights and returned home Thursday night after work. I had great intentions of getting some solid runs in while I was in Toronto, but with the cold and with the time spent at the events, it didn't quite happen. I still ran, but not as much as I had hoped. It was probably for the best, though. I really did need to get over the cold.

My Tuesday evening workout became a short 3 mile progression, which went well. I squeezed this one into the limited time between the end of my work day and the party. I was glad I got something in.

The party was fun. Good food & drink, good people, music, and even caricature artists!

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After a late night a morning run was not going to happen before heading to the convention, which officially started at 8:30am, with breakfast starting at 7:30. I arrived shortly after 8. After getting back to my hotel at the end of the day, around 6:30pm, I was going to meet up with the Toronto contingent of H+P, but decided that a short easy run and early bed would be best. I ran a little over 4 miles.

On Thursday morning, my alarm went off and I decided that I was not going to run. I re-set it and got some more rest before heading into the office. I ended up taking a zero day this day and I was perfectly happy doing so. Friday was an easy 5 or 6 mile run after being back to working from home.

On the weekend, I had a really good run on Saturday. I did 16 miles, which included 12K at marathon pace and 2x 1K around half marathon pace. I ran all of the tempo portions with Emily, and the easy parts with both Gillian and Emily (Gill was ahead for the tempos). All three of us (as well as several others) are running Boston in a couple of weeks, so it was great to do this with them. My average pace on the whole run was slightly quicker than the pace of my current marathon PR, so I was definitely happy with how the run went.

Sunday, I had a two part run, as it involved running to watch my niece play volleyball. I ran there, and then ran home afterwards. I got in a little over 10 miles total.

All in all, it was a decent month of training and now I have just 2 weeks until race day. Getting sick was an inconvenience, but the timing was actually pretty decent. If I had to get sick, three weeks out from race day certainly is not the worst time. I only missed one workout, and ended up with a fairly minimal reduction in mileage in a week that ended with very solid long run workout.

So there you have it. I seem to have rambled a bit more than I expected to... :)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chilly Half Marathon

March 5th, 2017: The Chilly Half... I had never run it before, but I had heard only good thing. OK, maybe not only, but mostly. The only negative I ever heard was that if it's a windy day, it's a very windy course since there's nothing to block the wind coming off the lake. So, a minor negative, really. Everything else was positive.
I decided in the fall that this would be a good race to run leading up to Boston. Perfect timing, and a good, fast course to test out the fitness and (hopefully) build up some confidence for April.

I arrived in Burlington nice and early on race day. I wanted to make sure it was a stress-free morning, so I left my house not long after 7:30 and was parked about a block from the start/finish by 8:20am. Perfect! I had lots of time to wander around and check things out, talk with some friends, get a warmup in on a bit of the course, ditch some stuff at the car, and go back to the start to line up. It was great not feeling rushed for any of that. 

One thing I noticed when walking around and also when running, was how much colder it felt there than it did at home when I was leaving. The wind coming off the lake made a big difference. But... the sun was strong. When there was no wind it was comfortable, but when there was wind, it was a bit on the frigid side. The wind didn't seem too bad, so I didn't feel like I needed to cover my ears and was able to wear a regular hat (cap), capris, two thin shirts, and thin gloves.

For my warm-up, around I did a 2 mile run with an out and back on the course, then another half mile after stopping at my car to get my number on, etc. I finished up the second little warm-up run about 15 minutes to race start.

As the race started, and we turned the first corner, I noticed that I was just behind the 1:30 pace group. It was windy in this section, so I tucked into the group to get some shelter from the wind. This had me running a little quicker than I intended to run, but it was a bit of a downhill and it kept me out of the wind. I only stuck with them for maybe 5 minutes or so. I got back onto my own game plan at that point. Well.. sort of. My plan for this race was to keep my pace just under 7:15. Aside from the first mile at 6:51, I was running just over 7 mile pace and it was feeling great. So, I figured I'd roll with it. 10K marker... felt great, then reached 10 miles in 1:10:something... and... only 5K left! I was NOT going to slow down a single second. I was focused on a couple of runners in front of me and actually picked it up slightly to sub-7 pace for those last 5K.

I finished the race in 1:32:01. 01..... I couldn't find 2 seconds somewhere? ugh. but I didn't (and don't) care about that... it was my fastest half marathon so far (by several minutes) and a nice confidence boost.

Just before the final turn to the finish: ~12.9 miles
I was proud of myself, not for the finish time itself (I was happy with that as well, of course).. I was proud of how I ran the race. I was super happy with my splits, which I've included below. I'm becoming a smarter runner!

After the race, I ran a cool down with Graham and then went out for chilly and beer at one of the local establishments. The nice thing about this race's post-race festivities, is the spread it out. There are several bars near the finish line that all serve the beer and chilly to the runners instead of just having it in some gym or community center or whatever.

After the beer and chilly, I went back out to watch more friends finishing and then out for lunch on the way home. All in all, it was an enjoyable race day. I think this race might find it's way into my race schedule again in the future.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Late 2016 & Early 2017: playing catch-up

I've been slacking in the blog department again. The fall races had come and gone, I wrote about them... then came winter... and I stopped.. writing, that is, not running.

Let's see if I can remember what's happened since the last post. It's a good thing that I have Strava to remind me.

I did actually have a race in December, but it's one that I don't really think much about. It's a novelty race... but at least only in the fact that a Santa suit is worn. It's still a regular race if you disregard the outfits, which are made of felt, by he way. I hear felt is the new technical fabric for running clothes!

The race is called the Santa Pur-Suit and is put on the main running organization in the area, Run Waterloo.

Photo by Julie Schmidt
My mom has also run this race every year since it starts, which is the main reason that I also run it. It's become a family tradition. My parents were also nice enough to pick up the race kits before arriving at my house on the Friday evening: one less thing to do race morning!

We went out for dinner somewhere.... (I can't be expected to remember THAT much about that day... although now that I said that, I think we went to B. Hmm... I will consult Untappd to find out.... Yep.. we did!), then back to my house.

Saturday morning, we headed to the race, which starts and finishes at the YMCA in Waterloo. It has nice spacious indoor facilities where people can stay warm if it's a cold day. I don't believe it was overly cold that morning, but it had snowed the night before, just as it had each and every year of this race.

I ran started a warm-up solo, then joined some of my Health & Performance (H+P) teammates on theirs. The not-so-cold temperatures made some of the snow turn into slush, which wasn't fun, but hey.. everyone was going to be dealing with the same crap on the roads.

We headed back to the start area and got ready to race. My only real goal for this race was to run it quicker than I had in the past, and hopefully finally be under 22 minutes. I was not hoping for anything close to a real 5K PR, just a Santa Suit PR.

My past times in this race:
2012 - 24:21
2013 - 22:36
2014 - 22:15
2015 - 22:08

The race itself was fairly uneventful... some slippery and slushy spots, but overall, the course was in pretty decent shape. I finished in 21:56. Finally, I've run sub-22 in a Santa Suit. I finished 7th female, and my team, comprised of one guy and a bunch of women, won the team competition.

H+P Dashers minus Larry (L-R: Erin, Emily, myself, Anne) - photo taken at our club Christmas party
Speaking of the Christmas party (see caption above), H+P unveiled the Club Standards that night: new time goals to target, based on gender and age (open vs master). This goes hand-in-hand with our team rankings site, which has been in place for a while now (a year or two? I'm not sure anymore). It's fun to have some friendly rivalries within the club. It is so inspiring to see so many race times drop lower and lower within the club.

I didn't have a single race in January, it was a month of training. I can't think of anything worth mentioning from that month... on to February!

The return to racing happened in February, with interesting conditions. As I'm sure a lot of people had this year, February was warm this year. It was much warmer than usual, and there was no snow for the bulk of the month. This sounds like it would be a good thing for running, and it was for the most part... I got in great training runs with solid footing, but, I had registered for a snowshoe race. I was starting to think that it was going to turn into a trail race, but there was snow the week before the race and it was announced that the conditions were good for snowshoes on the course.

Race #1 - Snowshoes on little snow
The morning of February 4th, I drove to Shades Mills Conservation Area for the inaugural Dion Winter Goose Chase, which was also my very first snowshoe race.

I arrived nice and early, picked up my number, chatted with a few other runners, and then headed out to do a warm-up on the course in my trail shoes. The course was supposed to be a 3 km loop, run twice, so I figured I would just run it once as well as the little bit from and back to the building for around a 4 km warm-up. I ran around a bit and found the start, went through, and started following the flags. After a while, I start to wonder why I don't feel like I'm heading back toward the start/finish area. I looked at my watch and saw that I had already been running more than 2 miles... and I have no idea where I am. I was still following the flags, so I was clearly on the course, but I had run a distance of more than a full loop... and couldn't see anything that I recognized. I looked around a bit, trying to figure out a way to take a shortcut back, but nothing looked familiar. I started running again and calling out "Hello?" hoping that marshals were out on the course and could direct me back. Time was passing and it was getting closer and closer to start time. I needed to get back to the building, take off a layer and get my snowshoes! I was stressing for a moment, but then just found it funny that I managed to get myself lost. I was only planning on running this race for fun anyway, no goals, just a first attempt at running hard in snowshoes. If I missed the start... I missed the start... not the end of the world.

I finally found my way out and got myself to the building with only 7 or 8 minutes until race start. Got myself to the start and got my SS on just in time, while they were making announcements. Turns out the course had been changed and was now a single 4 mile loop. No wonder I was confused on my warm-up!

I lined up, and the girl beside me took off with the gun, but slowed a little after a km or so. I passed her and she stuck on my heels, until she passed me back around 1.5 miles (yes, I realize I keep switching between km and miles... that's just how I roll). I didn't react to her passing me. I just didn't have my head in race mode and just kept plugging away and let her go. Unfortunately, this put me in no man's land. I ended up slowing down a bit and then had to remind myself that even though I wasn't that into it.. I was still in a race and needed to at least run somewhat hard! So... I picked it up and could see people through some of the trees ahead, so I had some sort of target, something to focus on to get myself to pick up the pace and try to close the gap at least a bit.  I was gaining on the girl a bit, but then a hill showed up.. one that I somehow managed to miss on the warm-up, so I had no idea it was there! I was not expecting this large climb just before the end of the race. I did not handle that climb well... so there was no further closing of any gap. I got myself to the top, ran down as quick as I could and finished the race 56 seconds back from her. Not close at all. But... still 2nd female (8th overall) in my first snowshoe race, so all in all, not a bad day.

Just before the unknown-to-me hill. Photo from Spafford Health and Adventure.
The conditions... there was not much snow at all, but it was still nice that the race remained a snowshoe race. I had registered for a SS race two years ago that had been cancelled due to too much snow! (the roads hadn't been plowed yet and nobody could make it to the park).
Race results and recap can be found here.

Race #2 - Trail shoes on snowy and slushy roads
On Sunday, February 12th, I woke up and looked out the window.... what the crap? Snow... and lots of it. It was completely clear out there the night before. In fact, it was really warm the day before! This was less than ideal.... but it's February... what can you really expect?

I arrived at RIM Park with lots of time to spare before the start of the Re-Fridgee-Eighter, the first Run Waterloo event of the year. I met up with teammates and the conditions were on everyone's minds... what shoes to wear? I brought three different pairs because I wanted to see what the roads were like around that part of town. As I drove in, they were just starting to plow, but first round plowing doesn't generally get down to the pavement, so it was iffy.. plus, that was the main road.. what would the smaller roads be like? The answer, as it turns out, would be very very snowy.

I ended up putting on trail shoes, went out for a warm-up with Val and decided that the trail shoes would stay on for the race. A road race in trail shoes..... didn't seem right.... but in the end, I was very glad I made this choice.

In the race itself, I don't think there was a single section of clear road. It was either a thin layer of slush and snow, thick slush, or thick snow. During the race, it snowed, and there was also some freezing rain. I guess it is supposed to be a winter race.... .and it certainly was!

I ran most of the race around what I considered to be half marathon pace, and that's because I couldn't go any faster in those conditions. I felt like I ran it well, that I raced well. I ran the 8 mile distance in 58:22, which I would not have been happy with on clear roads, but in this... I was quite happy with it, especially when compared to last year, when this race was the first indication that there was something wrong with me. It took 2 more races last year before I knew I was anemic, but this was the first race that felt crappy. OK... back to this year. I placed 6th for females.

The best footing on the course. Photo by Julie Schmidt.
After the race, which was the first of any of his races that Lloyd Schmidt has missed since becoming RD back in 1987, a group of runners brought the race to the hospital, where he was recovering from cancer surgery. Lloyd means a lot to everyone in the running community (as well as to many outside of the running community); he is constantly giving and is one of the most selfless people I know. A short video about Lloyd and the event can be found here.

I think that's a good place to end this post. I'll write about last weekend's race in a separate post.