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. ;)

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!