Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The County Marathon - October 4, 2015

As I mentioned in my last post, my drive to Picton took longer than usual, but I was still there in plenty of time to swing by the Crystal Palace to grab my number, shirt, etc.and to meet up with Pat, his family, and Kyle, who were already having lunch at Coach's Pub just a block or two down the road.

After consuming a wrap and some fries, it was time to head to Barley Days Brewery, which was conveniently on the way to Pat's cottage and was also one of the sponsors of the race. 
Pat and Kyle at Barley Days
After some samples and purchasing some bottles of Wind & Sail Dark Ale (4), Harvest Gold Pale Ale (2), and Snake Bite Apple Ale (1), we headed to the final destination of the day: Pat's cottage. 

Pat's Cottage, on Lake Ontario

After getting settled in at the cottage and getting race clothes, etc ready for the morning, Christian (another friend from ENDURrun) and his wife stopped by and we had a pasta dinner. During the conversations that occurred, Christian mentioned that he was just running this marathon to cross October off his list (he's running one every month in 2015), so he didn't care about his finish time... so.. I took this opportunity to suggest that he could run with me if he wanted to. He asked what I was planning to run and I said "sub 3:30"... he said OK. So... it looked like I would have some company!
Dinner time!
After dinner and dessert, there was a bit more chatting and hanging out before heading to bed at a reasonable hour. There were races to run in the morning!

Marathon Morning: 
I got up 5:45ish, poured a cup of coffee and made myself some oatmeal. After eating my breakfast, I hopped in the shower quick, got ready, packed up my car, and then we all drove in a caravan of sorts to the start. My car was staying at the start but the other three cars were being taken to the finish. Pat's daughters (Hunter and Taylor) were running the half and had to be shuttled to the start line from the finish area, so Donna (Pat's wife), Taylor, and Hunter drove their two cars and Kyle's car to the finish. 

The start was at an arena, so there was a lot of space indoors for people to wait and plenty of washrooms. No getting cold standing around before the start... that was definitely nice.
Bag check was being done right next to the start line, which was also great because you could keep extra clothes on until the last minute. I had arm warmers on, but took them off just before I handed in my bag. Pat had handed out throw away gloves that morning, so I kept those on for the start of the race.

Race Time!
I got ready to line up and noticed a 3:30 pace bunny, so I said to Christian that the bunny is not allowed to pass me, and plopped myself just a little in front of him.

Air horn blew and we were off. I started slightly quick, but not horribly quick and I settled into the pace that I wanted to be in pretty soon after.

Christian didn't start right beside me, but he caught up to me just after the first turn and we ran together for pretty much the rest of the race. 
There was an aid station every 2k, which seemed to make the time FLY by. I kept thinking wow... there's another one already? and said things like "we're already at 16K?" It was a great feeling.
A Pit Stop..
What I was dreading before the race, happened. I had to make a pit stop. I was thinking about it for a bit and then decided to stop at the 20K aid station to use the port-a-potty. I was in and out in less than a minute, but saw an unfortunate sight when I started running again.... the 3:30 bunny was ahead of me! The pace group had passed me when I was in the john.... I started trying to catch them because I was supposed to be ahead of them! But... then realized what I was doing after a few minutes and thought about it logically. I was running on pace for what I wanted to do, which meant I was running slightly faster than that pace group, which also meant I would catch and pass them eventually. There was no need to try to catch them NOW. So.. I resisted the urge to chase. It was too early in the game.  

I did pass them eventually... it took about 10K to do so.

The rest of the race
Christian stopped a few times on the course to use port-a-potties and to say hi to his wife. This was mentally good for me since it mixed things up and I sort of had a little game of sorts... "how many km until he catches back up to me?" :)

So... the first time he stopped... it was 2km. The second time.. 3k... the final time was over 4. That was around mile 23 or 24... I don't remember exactly, but I know that it was when I decided to push. He mentioned to me after the race that I was pulling away from him up a hill, which was very nice to hear.
I was extremely focused for the last bit. Not that I lacked focus early on, but I pretty much had tunnel vision for the last 4km. I had a job to do and I was going to haul my ass to that finish line as best I could. 
As I had mentioned to a few people, I had a dream two nights before before the race where I was looking at the race results and my finish time was 3:28:00. My goal for this marathon was sub 3:30, so the time in my dream made sense... and on race day, I crossed the finish line and looked at the time... 3:27:57. My net time was 3:27:52; a new PR by almost four and a half minutes!

My previous best marathon was 3:32:19 at the Buffalo Marathon last year and prior to that, was 3:51:28 at my very first marathon in 2011 (Mississauga).

Back to this year... overall it was just great. The temperature was really good... the wind was a little strong and in a less than ideal direction, but the course was nice and there were more spectators than I expected.

I'm very happy with how I ran my race. I ran smart.

I ran the first half of the race in a little under 1:45 and the second half just under 1:43. It was my very first negative split and it felt good.

Race results can be found here.
My medal - it's in the shape of Prince Edward County
After the race, I enjoyed some Barley Days beer while chatting with some other runners and then watched the awards, where I won a pair of Altra shoes as a draw prize.

After the awards were done, Pat drove me back to my car in Wellington and I headed up to my sister's house to spend the rest of Sunday hanging out and drinking wine. Thanks Alison!

This was one of the best race weekends I've had in a while, since it was truly a race weekend away and not just a race that happened during a regular weekend at home. It was great to stay with runners the night before the race, (Thanks again Pat!) and it was nice to be able to extend my weekend into Monday and not have to drive straight back home on Sunday afternoon. I'm looking forward to having more weekends like this in the future.

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's been a while...

My last post was back in August... ENDURrun time... and I had an injured foot.
Since that time, my foot got better, training resumed, and racing happened. I was going to write a post about the time from then until now, but it turns out that's 10 weeks! So... I will break up this update post into two or three posts. Today's post will cover the weeks between ENDURrun and The County Marathon.

August 17 - 23
Total distance: 15 miles
The foot needed to get better and I needed to let it. This became very clear when I attempted to run on the Monday. I started running, it started hurting, I headed home. I ran one mile that day and I didn't run again until Friday. Those rest days were very good to my foot; I ran a pain free 7+ miles with Craig and Val on the Friday morning! Saturday and Sunday, I was camping with my family at Silver Lake Provincial Park so I kept the runs short (3.1 & 3.5 miles), but also did some paddling on both Silver Lake and Black Lake.

View from my SUP: Silver Lake

View from my SUP: Black Lake

August 24 - 30
Total distance: 61.3 miles
This week, I got back into training. I did a couple of workouts with Health and Performance, had some solid longer runs at decent paces, and was back to running every day. It felt great to be able to get back into training and not have pain.
M: 7.7 miles total including 3x (5 min half marathon effort, 5 min 10K effort, 3 min recovery) and some strides
T: 5.1 miles solo
W: Track Workout - 9.2 miles total including 2x (1 mile at half marathon pace, 400m recovery), 1 mile 10K pace, 400m recovery, 1 mile 5K pac
T: 7.7 miles with Craig
F: 4.2 miles solo
S: 10 miles with H+P
S: 17.3 miles with Lumi from Runners' Choice

August 31 - September 6
Total distance: 54.3 miles
I did one track workout (Yasso 800s) on the Thursday and it went quite well. On the Saturday, I had to drag myself through my 18 mile long run on a hot day. The rest of the week was relatively uneventful: just regular runs. I took one day off this week.

September 7 - 13
Total distance: 73.1 miles
Solid week with a midweek workout alternating marathon and half marathon pace and a Saturday long run of a little over 20 miles.

September 14 - 20
Total distance: 59.2 miles
M: 7.5 miles including 20 min half marathon effort, 4 min recovery, 6x 1 min on/off.
T: 8 miles
W: 6 miles including 10x 1 min on/off
T: 3.5 miles
F: 5 miles
S: 20.4 miles including 13.1 miles at slightly over marathon pace at Harvest Half
S: 8.6 miles
Finishing the Harvest Half - photo by Kailey Haddock

September 21 -27
Total distance: 46.4 miles
Taper time. Runs were a bit shorter, but included two H+P workouts a progression run on the weekend at the Laurier Loop 10k.

September 28 - October 4
Total distance: 49.9 miles
Marathon week! Shorter runs, a wee workout of 1 mile marathon pace into 1/2 mile (ish) half marathon pace, then 5x 1 min on/off, a day off on the Friday and a super short run on Saturday morning before hopping in my car and sitting in it for way longer than expected due to a highway closure... but I still arrived in Picton in time to grab my race number and to meet up with friends for lunch. I will go into this weekend in more detail in my post about The County Marathon, which I will write in the next few days.

So there you have it... somewhat of an update. Really, just a boring list of runs... but at least there were a couple of photos! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 7: The Marathon

On the way to stage 7 yesterday morning, someone on the radio mentioned a heat advisory. What perfect weather for a marathon!

I already knew this was a "no pressure" marathon for me, which felt great.

I was going into the final stage in 6th place for the week, so top three was not a possibility unless something bad happened to those ahead of me, which I'm happy to report did not happen.

Earlier in the week, it looked as though I had a chance to beat my time from last year, but the slip 'n' slide that was Chicopee made that disappear. The only way I could get a personal best ENDURrun week would be to run a 3:22 marathon, a PR by 10 minutes. That would be an extremely tall order on a perfect weather day after a nice taper, let alone on a day with a heat advisory after already running 120km in the week leading up to the race. So since that was out of the question, I knew I could run a nice comfortable marathon, enjoy the day, and survive.

The start of the race was more conservative than I have ever seen it. I was happy that people looked like they were going to be smart out there. It was not the day to be reckless. Not that recklessness usually gets you anywhere... but a fast start often happens.

I was initially in a bit of a pack, which started to thin out after the first couple of kilometers. I then ran with Lumi for a while, up to maybe 5 or 6 k, and then ran the rest of the marathon with Joanne. It was great to have someone to run with. I truly enjoyed having company the whole time.

About 1km from the finish, telling the photographer (Jeff Wemp) that I was glad to see that he was still in the shade.. apparently I talk with my hands.
After we finished the seventh and final stage, I ran to my car to get the beverages for Joanne and myself that I had mentioned and promised earlier in the run, and then hung out with all of the other ultimates, guests, relay team members, family members, friends, volunteers, and the race director. What a great group of people to spend time with on a sunny Sunday morning and afternoon!

The week went by quickly, as it always does, and now it's unfortunately time to get back to regular life. I know many people are already planning for next year's ENDURrun. For me... I first need to focus on making sure my toe/foot heals properly, then get back at it and hopefully run a strong fall marathon.

Thanks to everyone in the ENDURrun community, both near and far. Although each year it is a little different and some years have more positive aspects than others, the positives ALWAYS outweigh any negatives that there might be. This week truly is a highlight of each year for me; I love summer camp for runners!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 6: 10K Time Trial

Similar to stage 2, stage 5 is a time trial, with runners starting one minute apart, chasing people all the way back to Lloyd's house. There are some differences, though. Monday's stage was 15K and was an out and back. Saturday's stage was 10K point to point from Elmira to Conestogo.

I started at 8:43am and it was already quite warm and very humid. I was happy that it was a short and flat stage today both because of the weather and because of the body that was a little angry with me. My calves were tight and my foot was iffy. Not horrible, just iffy. At least everything seemed OK once I started running.

I finished the stage in 47:37, which is around a minute slower than last year, but I'm perfectly fine with that. I was thinking about the pool for a good chunk of the race, so that is where I went almost as soon as I was done.

Swimming, massage, food, more swimming, and then out for lunch with some of my fellow runners. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning and early afternoon!

In the evening, we were back at the Schmidt house for the traditional pre-marathon dinner/potluck, which is always a good time thanks to the incredible hospitality of Lloyd and Julie.

Going into the final stage, the marathon, I am in 6th place ultimate female with a cumulative time of 10:42:46. I am a little under 14 minutes back from 5th and 22 minutes ahead of 7th. In all likelihood, those positions will remain the same, but anything can happen. So, we will have to wait and see!

Friday, August 14, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 5: 25.6 km Alpine Run

I should be going to bed, but I just realized that I didn't post anything!

Today was interesting. It was wet, muddy, and slippery, pouring rain at times, with a thunderstorm or two.

I almost dropped out of the event today. My foot was not my friend in lap two, but got better in lap three. Hopefully the final two stages being road will keep things relatively happy.

I'll add more to this tomorrow or the next day, but for now.... this is all I'm posting.

Results can be found here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 4: Hilly 10 Miler

Photo by Jeff Wemp
I don't have a lot to say about last night's stage. My head wasn't in it and then the body followed suit.

Me trying to look like I wasn't in pain. Photo by Jeff Wemp.
It happened. It's done. Moving on to Chicopee tomorrow (drink up, Sebastian!)

I almost forgot to include this photo.

Stage recap and results.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 3: 30K Cross Country

I've been a bit of a slacker as it's 11:43am on Wednesday and I haven't yet posted anything about yesterday's stage. Slacking ends NOW!

After significant rainfall on Monday afternoon, it was uncertain what the conditions of the course would be like for Tuesday morning's 30K, but it turned out to be in great shape! The conditions were fantastic. The trails were dry, it was mostly cloudy, there was a breeze that would occasionally shake some droplets of water off the trees onto the runners below, offering a bit of relief without getting drenched. I have absolutely no complaints about the conditions at all. It was pretty near perfect.

I started the stage in 7th place overall in the ultimate female competition, and finished in 6th. I came in 6th on the stage as well in a finish time of 2:42:11, which was over two minutes faster than last year. My splits weren't too bad, either: 26:22, 26:55, 26:46, 27:28, 27:23, 27:20
I went into the stage hoping for 27 minute splits. I did the first lap a bit too quick, but my average split time was 27:02 and I didn't slow too much later on, so I'm OK with that.
I was happy with how I ran yesterday and I truly enjoyed myself on this stage. I had fun out there, even with a confrontation with a raccoon. It kept things interesting and gave me an excuse for lap 4 being my slowest! :)

After finishing, drinking my recovery drink, getting some massage treatment, and chatting with other runners about their races, I finally sat down to eat some food.

Mmmm... food

There were no changes in the overall winners/leaders after stage 3. Rob and Vicky will still be in gold tonight for the 10 miler. I look forward to seeing everyone in a few hours!

Monday, August 10, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 2: The 15K Time Trial

Today was so much better (for me) than yesterday!

I slept more (still not as much as I wanted to, but more), I woke up looking forward to running today's stage, I was well organized, and I felt ready to roll. This was a much better start to the day than yesterday... aka scatterbrain day.

The stage 2 format has a staggered start and I was scheduled to start at 8:32 am, so arriving at the Schmidt house just before 7:30 gave me plenty of time to put my post race stuff in the back yard, talk to other runners, do a very short warmup, watch some of the others start their races, and be ready to go when my time came.

A description of the stage can be found on my blog post from last year, but I'll give a super brief overview here. The 15 km course is an out and back, is quite flat, and has long straight stretches along only three roads. The bulk of the course is on paved roads, with the middle section on a gravel road.

Starting the race, I felt good; I felt happy and excited. My head was in it today, and that was definitely what I needed to happen. If my head's in the game, that's where the focus will be, not over-analyzing the little things that might not feel "quite right" with the body. Whether it was my head or whether my foot was actually significantly better today, I didn't have any foot pain aside from a bit of mild discomfort for a brief couple moments around 10K. 

Most of the race was relatively uneventful as far as how I was running (a good thing!). I had a great time out there today, the high fives were flying and the hellos and good jobs were plentiful. It is so nice to be able to see absolutely everyone on this stage! That is definitely a highlight for me.

Since everyone started at different times today, according to their expected finish times or placing from yesterday, the finish is a rapid succession of runners coming down the final stretch. It was a lot of fun to watch everyone coming in and it was interesting to see the actual results being updated and posted as we watched. Since the fastest runners stated at the end, the rankings of today's stage were constantly changing as more people finished.

In the results, Rob (53:41) and Victoria (1:01:03) won for the ultimates again, increasing their leads over second place; they will wear the gold jerseys again tomorrow. The H+P Men's A team won the relay again today, with Adam Hortian running 48:49!

From the race website: Stage 2 Recap and Results

I've never had a finish time so close to other runners at this stage. 5th (Joanne), 6th (Leigh Anne), and 7th (myself) finished with with very close times of 1:09:40, 1:09:46, and 1:09:47. This made me super excited (and perhaps a little hyper... sorry if I was a little on the giddy side, Leigh Anne! I'll be more calm tomorrow, I swear.) to think that perhaps I won't be running all by myself in some of the longer stages, especially the marathon. It would be great to have some company.

One other thing:
I don't recall if I mentioned the dead skunk on yesterday's course, but today has now marked the second day in a row with a dead skunk. If there's another one at Bechtel tomorrow...........

And on that amazingly appetizing note, I will leave you with the usual post-race food photo. :)

Sunday, August 09, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 1: The Half Marathon

Stage 1 is complete (recap and results) and well... today was great in some aspects and the opposite in others.

It was a great day weather wise. It didn't get too hot, there was a nice breeze, but no obtrusive wind, the company of the other runners, volunteers, spectators, team members, guests, etc was fantastic.

Now the not so great side...
I slept like crap last night. One of my worst night's sleep ever! It took two hours to fall asleep and then I woke up at least 4 times between 1am and 5am. I slept through my first alarm and woke up with the backup. Not a great start to the day, but man was I glad I set a backup alarm!

It definitely wasn't the first time I've slept poorly the night before a race, but it put my whole morning out of whack. I was such a scatterbrain, so it was also good that I planned ahead and had all of my stuff organized the night before!

The race itself started out good for me, but went south rather quickly. Two weeks ago, I hurt my foot.. not quite sure what I did, but I've had it checked out a couple of times and there's nothing really "wrong" with it, so I think it might be bruised... but I have some pain in the ball of my left foot. It's not constant, and it's been resolving for the most part with it mostly being pain free, just with the occasional pain here and there, so I was hoping there would be no issue today. Unfortunately, that was not the case. 5K in, I felt it. It mostly went away after another 5 or so km, but I had apparently altered my gait and ended up with a sore hip for the second loop. Whoops. So needless to say, this was not my finest half marathon... but that's OK It's a long week, and provided the body cooperates, there will be much more running to be had (and enjoyed!) over the next 6 stages.

Now back to the positives...
  • I witnessed many happy runners.
  • I saw several great performances by ENDURrun rookies, two of which earned the gold jerseys (Rob and Vicky), and one who also set a new course record for Stage 1. Congrats Vicky!
  • I got some treatment from KW Health Connection.
    I enjoyed some fabulous post-race food.
  • I went for a swim in the Schmidt pool. 

and also... tomorrow is another day. After that? There are still several more to come... but I will take this one day at a time.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone on the course tomorrow morning!

Saturday, August 08, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 0 - Pre-Race Meeting

It's that time of year again... ENDURrun time!

This year seems to have absolutely flown by! I can't believe it's already August 8th and I have already been to the 2015 ENDURrun Pre-Race meeting at the Schmidt house.

Pre-Race Meeting at the Schmidt House

As you can see from the above photo, there is a large field this year. Now, that group of people also includes some spouses and friends, some Sport Contenders, relay team members, guest runners, as well as the Ultimate Contenders, so it is a little inflated, but there are also people who were unable to make it to the meeting tonight. We will not truly know the total number of athletes competing in the event until the stat of the race tomorrow morning at 8:00am.

There were 67 people registered to compete in the Ultimate, however, it is already known that 8 are unable to start for various reasons. This brings us to 59 ultimate contenders expected to compete in this event.

Last year was the biggest year so far, with 46 Ultimates toeing the line at Stage 1 and 42 completing the entire event. Unless an additional 13 people do not show up tomorrow morning, it looks like this will be a record setting year!

As usual, I will be blogging daily, providing some brief updates, some photos (they tend to be of the food...), maybe some links to various sources of info, etc.

For today, I will leave it at this... I look forward to seeing all of the happy/excited/nervous/anxious/terrified faces tomorrow morning morning in Conestogo!

The Swag. You gotta love the swag.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Coming up in 2015...

The year has mostly been planned, so it's time for post to outline my key events of the year. This year, I will be focusing on three main events: my very first 50 mile race, the ENDURrun, and a fall marathon.

Focus #1: My first 50 miler (May).
I've never run 50 miles in one day... but I will! My biggest run so far has been the Horror Trail Run 6 hour ultra, where I ran approximately 38 miles (61 km). I am excited to be jumping up to 50 miles and am happy to be putting in the work to get to the start line feeling fully prepared on race day.

The race itself is Rock the Ridge, which is set in the gorgeous Mohonk Preserve, a non-profit nature preserve in the majestic Shawangunk Mountains. The course is absolutely beautiful, which was one of the reasons I was drawn to this race. I'm looking forward to spending a bit of time here in early May.

If you would like to support my race and my efforts to help raise funds for the Mohonk Preserve, donations can be made here.

Focus #2: The ENDURrun (August).
For the 5th year in a row, I will be competing as an Ultimate contender in the ENDURrun. This year's registration is booming with 60 ultimate contenders already registered for an event that is more than six months away!

My past cumulative finish times for the seven stage event:
2011: 16:02:18
2012: 16:07:02
2013: 15:00:36
2014: 14:06:52

I hope to improve on my performance again this year and I will try my best to make that happen.

Focus #3: A fall marathon (October or November).
I have never run a fall marathon, so this year is the year to do so! I haven't fully decided on a particular race yet, so I don't have anything else to report here at this time. :) 

What's happened so far this year:
So far in 2015, I participated in the Frosty Trail 6 hour run, the winter equivalent of the above mentioned Horror Trail race. With the snowy conditions and my lack of high mileage training in November or December, I was using this race as a long training run to kick start my 50 mile training. I wanted to run at least 50km, but other than that, I had no real goals. I finished the 6 hours with a distance of 52.5 km, placing 2nd female and 4th overall. 

Thanks to Christopher Giesler for the photo. You can see more photos from this event on The Intrepid Method's running blog.

So there you  have it, the upcoming year in a poorly written nutshell of a blog post!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year!

Since it's New Year's Day and I haven't posted anything at all since August, it's a good time to post a bit of a year in review of 2014.

After a successful 2013 (I started to be more consistent in training and achieved PRs in 5K, 8K, 10K, and half marathon) I had high hopes and bigger goals for 2014. Number one on my list at the start of the year was a big marathon PR, but I wanted to keep the training momentum going and most of all, I wanted to be consistent in my training, keep my mileage up, do more workouts, etc.

Quick highlights and running accomplishments from 2014:
- First full year of training with Health and Performance - I've absolutely loved being part of this team/club.
- PBs in every distance (or time) that I raced: 5K (twice), 8K (twice), 10K, 15K, 10 mile, half marathon, 25K, 30K, marathon, 50K, and 6 hour ultra.
- Some podium finishes and my very first win.
  • 3rd female at the Frosty Trail 6 hour, the Great Canadian Trail Run 10K, the ENDURrun, Mudpuppy Trail 12K, and the Santa PurSuit 5K.
  • 2nd female at the Creemore Vertical Challenge 25K just behind H+P teammate Jessica, and the following day I placed second at the Dirty Dash 8K.
  • 1st female (and 3rd overall including the males) at the Horror Trail 6 hour ultra.
 All in all, I'd say it was a pretty great (and fun!) year. I will work just as hard (or harder) this year and will make 2015 just as great (or greater)!