Saturday, December 10, 2016

JFK 50 Miler: My very first DNF.

Saturday, November 19, 2016 .... race day.... not my day.
Lets back up a day.
Friday. I drove the whole way down (8ish hour drive) in one day. I weighed the pros and cons and decided that sleeping in my own bed two nights before the race and saving the cost of a hotel room outweighed the con of driving for so long... next time, I might rethink this. I think sitting in a car would be OK, but not being the driver. I'm not sure if this actually affected anything or not, but it's something to think about for future trips. We did stop for a while for a bit of a walk and then lunch, which was good, but it was still a lot of driving for one day when racing the next.

Pre-race was not the greatest... got into the car slightly later than planned, but still should have had plenty of time to get to the race.... but I didn't know it would be SOOOOO DARK! We missed a couple of turns, so it took slightly longer to get there than it would have if we could actually see. Then parking was fun.... but got a spot, didn't care how far it was.... got to the school, checked my bag, hit the washroom, and then headed to the start.

Walking to the start, suddenly there were people running past us. I was a little confused by this, but then Andrea checked the time and it was 2 minutes to start time! So, we started running as well. Got to the start while the anthem was being sung. Phew, didn't miss the start.... got into the start area.. further back than I realized we were... and then the race started, which was less than ideal, being in  a spot that was not where we should have been, but after we got in front of some others, it was open road and all was well. (for now)

The first section (road with some climbing) was decent, as it should be... it's road and it's early.
When we hit the AT, I was super happy to start running in the trails and felt great, although once the rocky sections started, I soon discovered that my shoe choice was not a great one. I could feel everything through them. I ended up being a little cautious in there, which was frustrating because I normally love running trail. I got back into a relatively OK groove of some sort when I managed to clip my toe and suddenly I was down... directly on another rock. Bruised palm of my left hand, banged up, cut, and bruised knee. I walked a bit and then tried to run again, and it wasn't too bad, but I no longer trusted myself on the rocks and ended up mostly walking any of the very rocky sections and only running when it was more dirt or sparse rocks. I fell around mile 12, so I only had a few miles until I was off the AT and was about to start the C&O Canal towpath.

The knee was quite sore with any real bending, but I figured I would see how it felt on the flat section of the course. The towpath started out not too bad, but I knew I was going slower than I wanted to... I tried to pick it up a little.. just to make it a slightly more respectable pace and I was moving fine... until around mile 21 when my hip started to hurt. I guess I had altered my gait without realizing it and now I was paying the price. I took a bit of a walk break and then tried to make sure I was running normally, continuing to move forward, deciding I would get to 25 and reassess at that point. Once I was around 25, I decided to get to 30. When I went through the aid station right around 30 miles, I was informed that the next one was the Christmas aid station, so I decided that's where my day would end. I could hang out there and eat Christmas cookies while I waited to be picked up. I started running and maybe a half mile down the path, my hip was preventing me from running. I walked for a bit, then tried to run again and couldn't even run for a minute before walking again... so, I figured I'd be walking the next 4 miles or so... but then a runner who I had talked to briefly earlier caught up to me and struck up a conversation. I let him know that I was going to stop at the next aid station, but I started running again at that point, and ran with him until we got there. The distraction of conversation was enough to get me there without having to stop again until the aid station. I thanked him and wished him luck in the remainder of his first 50 and I walked over to an official to let him know that I was dropping.

This was my first ever DNF. I'm disappointed, of course, but when I realized that at the pace I was going, that it would end being at least another 3 hours before I would finish, I knew stopping was the right decision. Running that much further would not have helped anything and I would likely have a nasty injury right now. Instead, I just had a bruised knee, hand, hip and pride. There will be many more races to run... and as I like to say.... future running is more important than running today.
Total mileage for the day... 34.4 miles. 6:22:12.

There were a few positives from JFK.
- It was a beautiful day while I was running and the weather didn't turn nasty until after I stopped.
- I got to watch Andrea finish in 8th place female.
- I have learned some lessons from running over half the course and I know a few things I would do differently next time. And there will be a next time. 
- I had a fun weekend away with a running buddy.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Two Marathons and a 5K

I was going to write a post for each race, but I don't feel like it, so..... here's three weeks of running all in one post.

Fall Colours Marathon - Sunday, October 9th, 2016.
I had no plans to run this one and didn't even have the thought of running it until maybe 3 days before the race. I had a 25ish mile run on the schedule, so it just seemed to make sense to jump into a marathon and have other people to run with and also have aid stations. I decided not to register until the morning of, though, in case I changed my mind or woke up not feeling well, etc.

Let's backtrack and give a little breakdown of the week. I'll do this for the other races in this post as well.

M - 7.5 miles easy pace.
T - 15x 1 min 5K effort w/ 1 min recovery jog. Total including warmup and cool-down: 8.5 miles.
W- 6.4 miles easy pace.
T - Workout with Steve. 3.5 mile tempo at 7:16/mi pace, which was right where I wanted to be, pace wise. It felt really good, smooth, almost easy. Total including warmup and cool-down 8.7 miles.
F - No run. Rest/driving day.
S - I ran from my sister's cottage to the nearest small town and back. 13.5 miles

Sunday - Fall Colours Marathon. 26.2 miles. As I mentioned, this was a last minute decision to run a marathon in Ottawa, while I was in the area for Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving). I decided that I should run it in a finish time of around 3:30 to 3:45. I started out nice and easy, feeling good. I looked down at my watch after a bit and was very surprised to see that the average pace so far was around 7:40/mi. It felt quite comfortable, so I didn't adjust and just kept running. I kept the effort feeling good, not pushing, and I surprised myself by finishing the marathon in a time of 3:24:04. It was a very small race, so I actually finished 2nd female and 4th overall. The course was a double out-and-back with several turns and was moderately hilly (nothing crazy, but not a "flat and fast" type course). My finish time is actually a new PR/PB for me, which I was not planning on, nor expecting, especially since I was going into this as a long run with aid stations, not a race. Needless to say, I was satisfied with the result. :)

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon - Sunday, October 16th, 2016.
This one, I WAS planning on running. :)

The week leading up to this planned marathon was a little different than the week leading up to the above marathon. I needed to recover and be ready to roll again... but I didn't want to slack off TOO much either... I decided no workouts.. just easy runs.

M -  5.6 flat miles around my parents' house. Felt a little stiff at first, but loosened up quickly and felt pretty good.
T - Super slow (ridiculously slow, really) 3.6 miles. Took this as a sign to take Wednesday off.
W - No run.
T - 5.4 miles with Steve and Payton, 8:47 ave pace. Felt normal. Phew. I was a little concerned after Tuesday, but all appeared to be well.
F - No run. I took the train into Toronto, worked, went to the race expo at lunch, worked some more, hung out with coworkers, then walked to my hotel, checked in, then walked again to go out for food.
S - Ran to the race start location just to get an idea for the next morning, then continued on to MEC where I did a bit of shopping. Walked around after that, went for breakfast, did more walking, etc. Turns out, I walked over 20K that day. I really have good marathon prep. :) (and I also apparently flip flop between miles and km)

Sunday - Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I ran to the start area, checked my bag, went to the hotel across the street to use the washroom, then headed toward the start area and did some more warming up inside my corral. I ran into some people that I know, which is always nice, so I had people to chat with before the start.

I was initially planning to run this one fairly hard, but then I randomly ran that other marathon last Sunday and unintentionally ran a PR, so I dialed back for this one and ran it more as a long run than a race. I walked through aid stations if I felt like it (and I did feel like it a lot because I was SO THIRSTY and wanted to actually drink, not just get a sip.. it was warm and humid and humidity seems to do that to me). I decided that taking it easy would end at by 35K and I would pick up the pace and run strong to the finish. Unfortunately, there was no 35km split in my results (I guess the mat/my chip didn't work when I passed over), so I don't know exactly how the 35-40K stretch went, but I do know that from 30km to the finish, I passed 199 runners, and in the last 2.2 km, 62. I don't take any joy in seeing others struggle, so I did offer words of encouragement as I could and as I felt appropriate, but it was definitely a confidence boost to run that last section at a quicker pace and feel strong. My official finish time was 3:35:31.

I don't have any photos from this race, but a guy from KW who introduced himself to me on the course did.... so, here's his tweet (with link to photo).

Fall Classic 5K - Sunday, October 23, 2016.
I registered for this one back in January. I do it every year because it was my first race back in 2006. The other reason I registered in January, was the series discount. :)

M - very short and slow run. I ran a whopping 1.83 miles and it took me 20 minutes.
T - Rest day. No time to run and a rest day made sense.
W - 4 miles easy pace.
T - a little under 7 miles with Steve, easy pace. It was raining, so it got super dark early and we didn't have headlamps, so we had to tread carefully in the trails on the way back.
F - 5 miles easy pace.
S - Not a fun run. I ran with Andrea (that part was good) and I was hoping to run 20-25 miles, but I needed to cut it short. I was feeling overall just not great... one of those days where your body just doesn't particularly want to run. I could deal with that, but then my right hip started tightening up around 7 miles. I stopped for a moment, did some stretching, etc, but it was still there.... it continued to bother me, so just before 9 miles, I decided that I needed to cut the run short and start heading home. After a bit I thought... I wonder if it's actually feeling like this because of running a long run slower than usual. I know I've had some other days where the body just gets angry if it's going at a not so normal pace... so I quickened my pace for a bit and the tightness/pain went away. But... at this point I was just a mile or two from my house and I still didn't feel great, so I was still quitting. I got in 16 miles.

Sunday - Fall Classic 5K.
I had very low expectations today.
When I started my warmup my legs felt like lead. I was running VERY slowly and could not seem to get the legs to go any quicker.. I hopped onto the track (the race started at a high school) and tried to stride the straights... I was getting down to half marathon pace... then closer to 5K pace, so things were feeling a bit better, but still slow since I was only maintaining those paces for 100m or less. I went back out onto the roads, and by the time I was finished my warmup, I was comfortably running a little over 8 min pace. Good... the legs seem to be working again. I ditched my extra clothes in my car, then headed back to the start area. I went inside for a bit, since it was still a little early.. then when I went back out, I was talking with a runner and just about to get into the starting area when the horn blew! Whoops! I thought I still had a few minutes! So... I jumped in, and got through the start, successfully and surprisingly not tripping over anyone or causing anyone else to trip. The race happened and was pretty uneventful, which I guess is a good thing. My km splits were the most even I have ever run in a 5K and I came out of it with a new PB! My finish time was 20:46, which is 30 seconds better than this race last year.

I really needed this today, after yesterday's run.

If you would have asked me before the race what I was expecting to run.... I honestly would have said 23+. I did NOT think my legs had sub-21 in them today, but I guess they did!
Total mileage for the day: 12.1.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Run for the Toad 50K Relay

A few months ago, I received a facebook message asking if I had any interest in being part of a relay team at the Run for the Toad 50K. I knew I had a wedding to attend that day, so I said that I wasn't sure if that would work out. After I checked the invitation, I noticed that the wedding was at 7pm, so there was no reason I could not be at the race in the morning, since it's only approximately a half hour drive from here. I agreed to be part of the team and it was determined that I would run either the 2nd or 3rd leg. As the day got closer, 3rd leg became mine.

Saturday, October 1st, 2016.

Got up, got ready, started driving. I was going to stop on the way and get coffee and a bagel, but decided to just drive straight there. I knew there was coffee at the race and I believed there was also something to eat.

I arrived at the entrance to the park in good time, but unfortunately, arrived around the same time as many others and had to sit in a long line of cars, waiting to get in and park. It took over 20 minutes from when I started my turn signal until I was parked. I had arrived in plenty of time, and Bryan had already picked up our teams' numbers and bags the day before, so all was well, but I did think about those behind me. I imagine they were a little stressed.

I walked over to the big event tent, grabbed a coffee and an apple fritter (breakfast of champions!) and talked to some people. Found the team members, saw Brendan off for the start of the race and then headed out for a short warmup with Bryan, who was running 2nd for the team.

Brendan finished the first leg in 3rd place, which was 1st of the open relay (There's a Team Canada vs Team USA that is separate).

Bryan started leg #2 and I headed back out for more of a warmup with Steve, who was spectating and also working at a booth in expo type area.

I tried to keep moving after my warmup so that I wouldn't get too cold before I was tagged in. It was chilly out, but I didn't want to have too much clothes on in case he suddenly came in and it was time to run. I had a long sleeved shirt with me, which really didn't keep me very warm at all, but I knew it was only going to be for a short time.

Bryan came in, tagged me, and off I went.... faster than 5K pace.... whoops! I noticed this before the first turn and slowed down, I have no idea what I was thinking... I obviously wasn't thinking at all. Brendan ran the first 5K with me (or mostly just ahead of me), which was great. It was good to have someone to follow/chase since the relay is spread out by this point, so all you have around you are 25K and 50K runners who are going much slower. It's just passing passing passing.... He jumped out when we got to 5K and I was on my own... trying not to slow down. My first km after he left concerned me because it was around 5:30! but then the next was 4:30ish, so I guess it was a slow section of the course, or I hit the button at the wrong time or whatever. I wanted the watch to show an average of around 8 min/mile, preferably slightly under, but I knew the watch wouldn't be overly accurate in the trails.

When I hit 9K, Brendan jumped back in. I wasn't expecting this, so it was a pleasant surprise! I finished up my leg and tagged in our final runner. I maintained our position from when Bryan was running, which was what I was hoping to do.

I did a short and very slow cool down when Derek was running and then walked with Brendan to find him on the course, and then headed to the finish area with the rest of the team. Derek crossed the line as the 3rd open relay team.

Here's how we did for our laps:

Brendan: 48:56
Bryan: 55:30
Me: 61:07
Derek: 51:11
Total time: 3:36:44

Friday, September 30, 2016


Here we are.... the last day of September 2016 and I've written zero blog posts all month. There is a reason for this.... I haven't raced. I know I don't have to race to write, but, it certainly makes it easier to think of something to write about! :)

After ENDURrun was over, I didn't really have any concrete race plans for the fall. My initial plan at the beginning of the year was to focus on a spring marathon, then the ENDURrun, and then a fall 50 miler.

With the anemia fun in the spring, I scrapped the marathon, which lead me to wonder if a fall ultra would even be a good idea. I decided to not make any decisions until late August, when I knew how my body had handled (and recovered from) a week of racing.

I took a very easy, low mileage week and then a week of more normal mileage, but no workouts, just easy running. Everything seemed to be going well, so I registered for JFK. From then until now, I've just been training (and working and regular life stuff, of course). There will be some races coming up, so there should be some blog posts coming as well... and they just might be slightly more interesting than this one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 7 - Marathon

The 2016 ENDURrun has come to an end. Sunday, August 14th, was the 7th and final stage: the marathon.

The race started and finished at the same park in Conestogo where it all began one week prior, but the course was not the same. The ENDURrun marathon course is a 21.1 km loop that takes you from Conestogo, through Bloomingdale, Kitchener and Waterloo, back to Conestogo, run twice.

I arrived at the park around 45 or so minutes before race start, stowed my bag under a picnic table, said hello to various runners and volunteers, signed in, got myself ready, and lined up at the start. I spoke with Mark McDonald about potentially running with him, Alexandra, and possibly a couple of other runners, who were looking to finish in around 3:30. My arbitrary A goal was 3:30, but I would be perfectly happy with 3:30-anything. I lined up near them, but when the race started, they seemed to shoot out from the line. I wanted to ease into this race, not crash and burn. I did not want to be pushing this early. I ran the first 4 km fairly easy and slowly got myself into the pace range that I wanted to be in for the bulk of the race. Around 10K into the race, I started passing a few people. From 13K on, I was on my own.

I crossed the half way point in 1:46:00. I was hoping to maintain the pace I was running as I crossed half for the second loop, but at around 24K I could feel painful blisters forming on a few of the toes on my right foot. I think my shoe had gotten wet from throwing water on myself at a couple of the water stops. These blisters were very difficult to ignore and I started playing mental games to get myself to the next water stop (they were placed every 3K) and then I would allow myself a very short break to grab a drink and to get a bit of relief from the blisters.

Around 30K, I felt like I was really slowing down and was thinking that this race was going to go downhill rather quickly, but by 34 or 35K, I no longer noticed the blisters and was back to running around or just under 5 min per km.

The final 3K of this marathon, I was feeling great and ran well under 5 min for each of them. As I ran up the final couple hills up Northfield and was about to turn the corner to the finish, I knew that I was going to be finishing under 3:35. My official time was 3:34:04. My second loop was 2:04 slower than my first, which isn't ideal, but is definitely not too shabby considering the giant puffy blisters I found on my feet when I removed my socks and shoes.

It was great to talk with everyone about their marathon, their week, their journey, to share a bit of pool time, socialize over eating much delicious food, and then to share in everyone's success at the awards ceremony. This year, there were 38 finishers of the Ultimate division of the ENDURrun. A group of 38 people who shared a journey of however many steps it takes to run 160km.

The overall win for the week went to Rob and Angela. Mark Meyers and myself placed second, and Kyle and Hunter placed third. The Rookie awards (fastest time by a first time finisher) went to Patrick Voo and Hunter Kelly.

Full Cumulative Results.

For the sixth year in a row, I have truly enjoyed this week of racing, cheering, socializing, and comradery. It truly is an event like no other.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 6 - 10K TT

Just like Monday, today's stage was a time trial, so the runners started a minute apart from slowest to fastest.

I was scheduled to start at 8:50 this morning, but wanted to get to Lloyd's around 7:30 to ensure I had a ride up to the start (it's a point to point race) and could leave my car at the finish. I was apparently excited and in a bit of a hurry to get there and I didn't realize it until I saw the police car sitting just off the side of the road and glanced down at my speedometer, that I was speeding (whoops!). I drove past the cop, and as expected... he pulled out.. on came the lights, and I pulled over. I got my very first speeding ticket ever. He asked me where I was headed and thought it was funny that I was on my way to a race... seemed appropriate.

So... after the interesting drive to Conestogo, I parked my car, put my bag in the backyard, and made my way into a car to get a ride to the start.

It was nice to watch people starting their race as I did a slight warm-up (it only totalled about a half mile, but I wanted to get the legs moving and a bit loosened up).

When it was my time to start, I headed over, waited until Lloyd counted me down, and I was off. Steve Schmidt was nice enough to come out this morning and ride his bike on the course. It worked out especially well when I no longer wanted to wear my hat. He took it from me and brought it to the finish. Thanks Steve!

I went into this race looking to finish around 45 minutes. My official finish time was 45:12. It was another super humid day today and I was absolutely drenched with sweat when I finished. At least I know I wasn't dehydrated!

This was BEFORE I went in the pool.
There were no changes today in the top three on either side. Now, with 117.8km down, we have one final stage to run tomorrow: the marathon. It's a two loop course, starting at the same park as last Sunday's half marathon, but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow!

Friday, August 12, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 5 - 16 Mile Alpine

Today's stage was what most consider the toughest stage of the ENDURrun: a sixteen mile (25.6km) race at Chicopee Ski Hill. The course consists of a 5.12km loop, each containing 3 long climbs, sections of single track trail, and some straight descents down the ski hill. This loop is run 5 times.

The weather was definitely less than ideal today. It was over 95% humidity and it was hot. Volunteers and spectators alike were kind enough to spray us down with water, hand us ice cubes, and dump water on our heads and backs. If it wasn't for all of these wonderful people, this could have been a pretty disastrous race.

Final stretch to the finish (Photo from H+P Twitter feed)
Times were slower for pretty much everyone this year (I'm not sure if anyone was quicker this year), due to the weather conditions.

My lap splits weren't great today, but ignoring the first lap, they weren't too horrible... I'm not sure what I was thinking on the first lap!
Lap 1: 30:08
Lap 2: 32:45
Lap 3: 33:04
Lap 4: 34:49
Lap 5: 34:56

Man that humidity made it a tough day.

I finished first female ultimate today, but only by 2:27. I have reduced the gap to an even 20:00 behind Angela.  On the men's side, Rob won the stage, and now has a 1:12:26 lead on Mark. Hunter and Kyle both remain in third. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 4 - Hilly 10 Miler

Last night, in whatever hot temperature it was, we ran the 10 mile stage of the ENDURrun. Even though it was not going to be overly fun due to the heat, I knew it would be better than last year.

With the heat and humidity, it was not the stage to try to hit the goal time that I had set for myself months ago. That was a good weather goal, not a heat and humidity goal. So, I ran it, walked through most of the aid stations, getting in lots of fluids, getting sprayed by volunteers, and getting water dumped on my head.

Photos by Jeff Wemp

In the end, I did actually come close to my best on this stage. I was only 9 seconds slower than my 2014 time on this course.

Nothing changed in the top three tonight on either side, either in the stage or the cumulative. Rob now has a lead of 52:01 over Mark, and Angela has a 22:27 lead over me.

Tomorrow, we take to the ski hills and trails. It's a tough, but fun, 16 miles of up down and around Chicopee Ski Park and I am most definitely looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 3 - 30K XC

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the radio informing me that a heat warning had been issued for the region and would last until the end of the week. Great. Oh well, everyone is racing in the same conditions, we just need to be smart out there and hydrate hydrate hydrate!

When I arrived at Bechtel Park it was still quite pleasantly cool, but obviously that was not going to last. The sun was rising, and it was strong.

The race started out at a fairly conservative pace, which was exactly what I wanted to happen. Going out too fast on this long course is never a good idea. The first 4 laps, the temperature didn't seem too bad, but it REALLY heated up after that. Laps 5 and 6 were very hot when out in the sun, but the trail section gave some much needed relief.

My laps weren't as consistent as I would like, but they weren't atrocious. Here's how they went:

Lap 1, 26:06: started out with Catherine, who was running the first leg of the Schmidt Family Relay. She went ahead (of course) somewhere around the school yard section, I don't remember if it was before, after, or in. After that, I stuck just behind Val with Hunter just behind me for the remainder of the lap.

Lap 2, 25:37: Val picked up the pace and moved ahead, I picked it up slightly as well, but was well back from Val and ran solo for this lap.

Lap 3, 25:52: Solo until Jordan (Schmidt Relay) yelled at me while running around the soccer field that he was going to catch me, which he did about 1km or so later, just after entering the woods. I expected him to pass me and keep running, but was pleasantly surprised that he slowed down and ran with me. It was great to have company.

Jordan and I at the end of Lap 3: half way for me
Lap 4, 26:46: I ran this entire lap with Jordan as he was doing 2 loops for his relay. We ran this one a little slower than I probably should have, but that's OK. We were yapping the entire time that we ran together, which at the time I thought was a good idea, to keep the pace on the conservative side for the middle laps, but perhaps should have been more aggressive. But who knows.. that could have backfired with the heat in the final two laps.

Lap 5, 26:22: Lloyd started his relay lap and I thought maybe, just maybe, I'd have company again... but no... he wanted to run faster. :) This lap was run solo. The heat was rising, but I ran it quicker than the previous lap, so that was good.

Lap 6, 27:07: This final lap was tough in the heat. I stopped at the aid station just after the start/finsh, grabbed two cups and actually walked to the first corner to drink them.. not because I wanted a break from running, but because I wanted to be sure to actually get the fluids into me instead of just spilling them all over the place. The sun was strong and it was hot.. I wanted to focus on hydration. After that severe slow-down, I got back to business. Running in the full sun for the first half of the lap made me feel like maybe my fitness wasn't where I thought it was... I was very happy that this was my last lap and was starting to do math of... even if I slow down to x pace, I will still finish under 2:40. I really thought I was going to suffer this entire lap. I walked through the aid station by the playground as well, drinking 2 cups, but then as I got going again and entered the woods, I felt so much better! It was amazing how much of a difference just getting out of the sun made. I felt strong again. I finished up my lap, and crossed the finish line in 2:37:49. I wasn't happy that my final lap was over 27 minutes, but when I thought about the fact that I walked through 2 aid stations, it made sense. I still would have rather run it quicker (obviously), but I'm glad that I was thinking about the conditions and making sure I was hydrating well.

I finished in 2nd Ultimate Female again today, 3rd female overall (Val of the H+P Women's Team was 1st woman across the line).

Post-race photos:
Lloyd reading the results
Listening to Lloyd
Platter o' food

Cumulative Results after Stage 3 (top 3):
Rob 4:04:27
Mark 4:45:44
Kyle 4:56:41

Angela 5:07:28
Me 5:24:19
Hunter 5:39:40

After the race, I saw emergency vehicles entering the park and I learned that a runner had gone down about 2K from the finish. We were informed in the post-race announcements that he had been taken to the hospital, but that he will be OK. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Justin!

Monday, August 08, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 2 - 15K Time Trial

Although today's stage started at 8am, only one runner was to start at that time. The runners each started one minute apart, from slowest to fastest based on yesterday's half marathon results (or seed times provided by relay and guest runners). I was slotted to start at 8:41, but due to some no-shows and some people who have had to drop out of the ultimate competition, I started a few minutes earlier.

Starting a race alone is very different than starting with a pack. It worked much better for me today, as I could head out at a reasonable pace and not get carried away and go out too fast with others around me. In this stage, since I started after some, but before others, the name of the game was to catch as many runners as possible and to try not to be caught. I almost thought I was going to make it to the finish without being passed by a single runner, but Rob passed me in the final stretch.

I ran a lot smarter today than yesterday, with fairly even splits. I finished the stage in 1:07:32, which was my fastest time on Stage 2 by two minutes and 15 seconds. I am very happy with that result.

Since the race started and finished across the street from the Race Director's house, we were able to take a dip in the pool immediately after the race, which was very welcome. There was some more delicious food today, as usual, which was enjoyed poolside.

There were no changes in the cumulative top 3 today. Rob has increased his lead over Mark to 19:30 and Angela has increase her lead over me to 12:31.

Although it's been fairly warm already, tomorrow, we will really start to battle the heat. The weather forecast is currently showing a high of 32 for tomorrow, 35 Wednesday, and 35 again on Friday. Hopefully they are wrong. One can hope, right? Hydration will definitely be top of mind for the remainder of this week.

Great work today, everyone! It's now time to rest up and get a good night's sleep before running around and around and around Bechtel Park tomorrow morning.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 1 - Half Marathon

This morning, at 8am, the 2016 ENDURrun began.

Today was the half marathon, the first of seven stages, which will total 160 km between today and next Sunday.

The start to the day was cooler than it has been lately, which was absolutely fantastic. The sun was strong, so it did warm up pretty quickly on the course, but overall, I really can't complain about the weather today. If only it was going to stay that way

This year, a couple of new traditions started before the race start.
  • Past Gold Jersey holders are now allowed (and encouraged) to wear their gold proudly for stage one.
  • A pre-start group photo is taken (and a separate gold jersey wearers photo).
The official photos aren't available yet, but here is Dave Rutherford's photo that I've "borrowed" from Facebook.

I went out a little too quick today; I pointed out that fact to Patrick Voo, who was running near me at the time. I attempted to back off (or at least I thought I did), but apparently that didn't really happen and a few K later I was wondering what the crap I was doing. I felt good... but it was only a few km into the race. I kept going along, trying to slowly ease off as I went, until I was closer to the pace that I had planned to run. It sort of worked, but not really. There were some slower and some quicker miles here and there, not overly consistent. The effort, however, didn't seem to fluctuate a whole lot. I definitely ran a positive split today, but I'm happy with the overall result. My average place ended up being what I hoped, and I ran a 26 second PR, so I'll take it. Maybe some day I'll learn to run this course a little more evenly.  

Top three on the men's side were as follows:
1. Rob Brouillette: 1:14:01
2. Mark Meyers: 1:25:43
3. Kyle Den Bak: 1:30:24
And the women:
1. Angela Batsford-Mermans: 1:30:28
2. Me: 1:38:58
3. Hunter Kelly: 1:41:34

After the race, it was time for socializing and time to enjoy some of the marvelous food. I couldn't tell you what I all ate, but I know there was a burger, some hummus, sweet potatoes, some salads, jambalaya, and a smoothie.

I forgot to take my usual photo of my platter of food until I had already eaten my burger and probably some of the other food on my plate... but I did take one eventually!

Tomorrow, at the 15K Time Trial, starting in Conestogo, Angela and Rob will be the only runners allowed to wear gold (or yellow). The starting list has already been posted, so we have our approximate start times and I am slotted at 8:41.

Now it's time to rest up, and be ready to race again in the morning. Great work today, everyone!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

ENDURrun - Pre-Race Meeting

ENDURrun starts tomorrow!
Which means the pre-race meeting was today.

It was great to see and catch up with some people that I haven't seen in a long time and also good to hear the updates on the course changes, volunteer duties, etc.

To keep with tradition of previous years.... here's a photo of the swag bag o' stuff.

Links to follow for the week:

Friday, August 05, 2016


On July 9th, I ran the 28K race at The Limberlost Challenge. It was definitely a challenging course this year. There were severe thunderstorms all night and the rain continued during the race, quite heavily at times.

The race course is a 14K loop "alongside five lakes, several ponds and wetlands, across creeks and boardwalks and under some amazing rock formations" in Muskoka. The first lap was muddy from the rain, but wasn't horrible. There were already some knee deep spots, but just a few... and the muddy sections were relatively short. That definitely changed in the second loop. It was a mud fest. There were now very long super slippery sections, sections of thick sticky mud, and more knee deep mud. Most of these bad sectionswere in the second half of the loop, so there was a brief amount of time (with around 6K left) where I actually thought I might finish with a sub 3 time. Those thoughts went away rather quickly when I came across the long mud sections!

I completed the first lap in 1:29 and the second lap 1:45. So, if I thought I might finish sub 3, you can get an idea of just how slow that last 5-6 km was!

Last year's lap splits: 1:33, 1:42.

I finished the race quicker than last year and moved up a few positions (3rd female this year), in tougher conditions... so I am definitely pleased with how it went. 2016 finish time: 3:14:43.

Next up... The ENDURrun!

Monday, June 13, 2016

I raced! (Guelph Lake 5K)

Post-Race, post-awards.
Yesterday, I decided to test out the ol' body at the Guelph Lake 5K. It was my first race in months and, more importantly, my first race since starting iron supplements and starting to turn this lovely anemia around. I'm likely not quite fully recovered yet, since it's only been 2 months, but I feel good; I must be very close.

So, back to yesterday. I raced. I raced a 5K and it didn't go badly! It was perfect temperature, but it was windy. I'll take that over hot and humid weather! The course is a loop of rolling hills through Guelph Lake Conservation Area (campground), starting and finishing near the main beach.

I was happy to see my final result of 21:28, which is actually my second fastest 5K, and to see that I finished 3rd place female. It's nice to know that I can run like myself again.

Now to keep working hard to prepare for ENDURrun, which starts in less than 2 months (a very scary thought right now)!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


I'm excited about the progress, so I'm sharing!

On April 12th I had my blood drawn in an attempt to determine the cause for the various symptoms that had been thrown at me. This week, I went back to the lab to see what improvements, if any, my blood would now show after one month of iron supplements and dietary changes.

April 12, 2016:
May 11, 2016:
As you can see, my ferritin level has increased from less than 5 up to 40! I'm still anemic, but I now have the iron stores that my body needs to get out of its anemic state. I'm very happy to see my hemoglobin up from 99 to 113. Soon, I'll have the blood of a healthy person again!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Training, "racing", and health.

It's been an interesting few months since I last posted...

I got a coach.

After a month of attempting to figure out some sort of training plan, getting nowhere other than to the land of frustration, I decided that I needed someone else to do that for me. So... I started looking into coaches online. I was looking for someone with ultramarathon experience, since I plan to continue running at least one ultra per year most years. I found someone that looked like they could be a decent option, and asked my friend Adam, who is a coach, for his opinion... which ended up turning into him becoming my coach! It was something that neither of us really considered because of the above noted ultra criteria, but after some discussion, figured this could actually work. So, I am now training with Fastisfun Personal Running Coaching.

I attempted to race a few times.
The key word is definitely "attempted."
I had my worst races in 3 or 4 years.

My first race of the year was the Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 mile on February 21st.
It did not go well. I had difficulty trying to even stay below marathon pace.

Here's what I wrote in my log after the race...

That sucked. I'm not sure why, but I didn't want to race; there was no adrenaline, no excitement, etc. I think I kind of went into it with a negative frame of mind... thinking about how I was more fit last year, etc... essentially setting myself up for failure.
Mile splits: 7:08, 7:32, 7:41, 7:38, 8:05, 8:12, 7:53, 7:29

On the plus side, it was a fun pre- and post- race with lots of great performances by friends and teammates. Also, I had some fun with being a double agent of sorts. Fastisfun had put in a couple of teams, so we took some photos with the singlets, etc, but I was racing on a team with Health and Performance (I'm still a member), so that was the shirt that I was actually wearing during the race. Terry, from H+P took the following photo:

On April 3rd, it was time to run Around the Bay 30K, which is generally one of my favourite races of the year.

Log notes from that day...

I felt so rushed this morning.... things were not going right on my way to the race, so it took longer than it should have.. I jogged from the car to the stadium, threw my stuff inside (after it took forever to get to the section where I was supposed to be meeting some people and where I was going to leave my bag), hit the washroom, then back out for a km more and 4 strides. Then got into my packed corral.

The Race:
Cramp in my side around 12K, took a while to go away.. when it did, I felt nauseous.... and the nausea kept recurring for the rest of the 30K. I kept taking walk breaks to try and make it resolve.. I would start to feel better, get back to running again.... re-pass a bunch of people... then it would come back. This was the cycle for over half the race.

(Something I didn't mention above was my ring finger on my right hand.. it went numb before half way through the race and did not return to normal until after I finished)

Wee Cool down of sorts:
I was cold... so I went back in after slightly more than a km.

I finished ATB 15 minutes slower than last year.

And then the following Saturday was my Aha race.... ENDURrace 5K.

Log notes:
First bit of the race was good. I felt good. But... before 2K I was already feeling drained and starting to slow down. I was asked right after I finished by a runner that I'm usually pretty evenly matched with if I've had bloodwork done recently because she's noticed that I'm not running like myself. So yeah... today was the day that I now really do think there might be something wonky going on. I have my doctor's appointment on Monday, so I'll get him to give me a requisition for a whole whack of stuff and see what (if anything) is going on with my blood. I kind of hope there is something... 'cause then there would be an explanation and hopefully an easy fix so that I can get back to running well.

There was a bit more to it than what I wrote above. Around 2.5K, I had a bit of numbness in my legs. Just before 3K I tried to get back to a normal 5K pace... I got there ever so briefly. I felt like I was running hard... the effort was there... but I glanced at my watch and thought "really?" I was only going approximately half marathon pace. I kept trying to push but the pace would not improve. In fact, it got slower and I was down to marathon pace and slightly slower by 4K. After the final turn, about half way to the finish line I tried to kick. Everything from 3K on had been a test at this point, trying to see what my body would allow me to do. So.. I pushed HARD... the end result? Not even what I would normally average on a 5K. I at least got just under 7 min pace in that final short stretch, but barely.

My finish time was 23:48, which was my slowest 5K since 2012.

I saw a doctor.
Two days after my "aha moment" of ENDURrace 5K, I had an appointment with my doctor. I rambled off all of the random symptoms I had been having, some of which I had for 3+ years (see photo to the right for a post-run hand for me), but never thought a whole lot about them until they became more and more frequent,

I had Raynaud's symptoms for over three years. They started in 2012, but were infrequent. White fingers only occurred maybe once every couple of months and resolved fairly quickly with some warm/hot water. They also used only affect maybe half of each finger until this past year, when (as you can see in the photo) the full fingers started to be affected and symptoms became more and more frequent, occurring after almost every run.

Other symptoms I had recently were: cold hands and feet, headaches, needing to sleep 9+ hours per night, fatiguing more quickly when running (workouts had gotten more and more difficult... I kept feeling like stopping in the middle of workouts and runs... it was frustrating and was very difficult on the mind), and some numbness in a finger and also in my legs. The fatigue and the numbness were what brought me to the doctor. By the time I attempted the 5K, I figured it was quite likely iron related.

I was given a requisition for blood work including a CBC and ferritin and I was on my way. I promptly stopped by a lab that same morning to have my blood drawn.


I actually laughed when I saw the results the next morning (I love being able to get my results online!). I expected them to be off... I expected low ferritin, but I didn't expect the ferritin to be THAT low and I also didn't expect full blown anemia.

I called my doctor's office to book an appointment to go over the results, but they stated they would review the results and call back with recommendations. So... I waited.... and waited... I got a call back at the end of the day requesting for me to come back in. So, I booked an appointment and wandered over to Shoppers to talk to a pharmacist. I wasn't going to wait until I went back to the doctor to start supplementing. The results were clearly showing iron deficiency anemia and I was going to get started on treatment ASAP. (as a side note, I read and assess lab results daily as part of my job, so I do have knowledge in this sort of thing). I discussed my lab results with the pharmacist, who recommended ferrous fumarate 300mg tablets. He mentioned that these particular pills have a tendency to cause more side effects than some others, but that it has the highest amount of elemental iron, so due to my super low ferritin, this would be ideal. So.. starting the same day that my lab results became available, I was on iron supplements three times a day.

A couple of days later, I saw the doctor again, went over the results, answered a bunch of questions to ensure there was no other cause for anemia suspected, and was informed that I was doing exactly what would be recommended to me. Excellent!

I left with another requisition, which I will use mid-May to see how things are progressing and to make an educated decision on whether or not to run the marathon that I'm registered for at the end of May.

I'm on my way back.

As of today, I've been on iron supplements for three weeks. I'm amazed at how much better running feels already. I am definitely not 100% yet (and won't be for another couple of months, most likely), but seeing as I was likely anemic or at a bare minimum iron deficient for a really long time, feeling part way to normal is amazing! Workouts are no longer something I dread. I don't feel like I need to drag myself to complete a longer run. I am enjoying running again... and I absolutely cannot wait to have normal blood with enough hemoglobin to deliver all of the required oxygen to my muscles!

I am actually glad that things got as bad as they did because otherwise I might not have seen the doctor, I might not have had bloodwork done, and I might not be on this road to becoming a person with healthy, normal blood.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

2015 has come and gone... and so has the first month of 2016!

I guess it's time to finally post a year in review.

At the beginning of 2015, I decided on three main goals for the year: my first 50 miler, ENDURrun, and a fall marathon. Here's how they went.

50 Mile
My first 50 miler. Rock the Ridge in New Paltz, NY.
It went better than I could ever imagine.  I headed into it with an "A" goal of 7:45, thinking that would only happen if all the stars aligned... but I somehow managed to finish in 7:39:24, taking 2nd place female!

I truly enjoyed this race and was running with a smile on my face through most of the race.

Three weeks before ENDURrun, I stupidly jumped my weekly mileage up by 20 miles. I new it was a dumb idea, but mentally, I felt like I needed to have a 70+ mile week. I hated how low my mileage was in June and July and I needed a confidence boost.... a confidence boost and a sore ball of the foot. Whoops. Turns out I sprained my second toe on my left foot.

So.... needless to say, this event did not go as well as it did the year before. The foot was mostly OK, but it acted up on a few of the stages. I did manage to run a faster 15K (stage 2) and 30K (stage 3) and felt fantastic during those stages. I almost dropped out of the race during stage 5 when I was in pain for the first two laps of the 5 lap course. I told myself that if it still hurt at the end of lap 3, I was out. But... the pain went away and I actually enjoyed the last 3 loops of this course. I saw my chiropractor immediately after this stage. She gave me a mini lecture, telling me again to STOP WEARING FLIP FLOPS (not while running of course.. haha.. but post race, and just walking around, etc) but also told me to finish ENDURrun since there were only two stages left, This time I listened. Too bad I love flip flops. I miss them. I used to live in them as much as possible.
So back to the event... I ended up finishing the week in a very similar time to my 2013 result, which I was fine with. This year... this year it will be much better. :)

I wrote about each stage as they happened. These recaps can be found here: August posts.

Fall Marathon
In October, I ran the County Marathon. I won't go into details, since I wrote all about the race here.
I went into the race with a goal time of sub 3:30 and finished in a net time of 3:27:52, a PB by almost four and a half minutes. I was definitely happy with how this race went.

Some other races happened as well.. and they went mostly well.
Below is a list of all races I raced or participated in during 2015 and my results.

- Frosty Trail 6 hour (as a training run) - 52.5 km, 2nd female.

- Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 Mile - 59:55 - 5th female.

- Around the Bay 30K - 2:22:07 - 111th female.

- Marden Half Marathon - 1:39:24 - 5th female.

- Rock the Ridge 50 Mile - 7:39:27 - 2nd female.
- Seaway Run 4 Jump 5K - 21:41 - 1st female

- Niagara-on-the-Lake 50K - 4:26:45 - 5th female.

- The Limberlost Challenge 28K - 3:16:09 - 6th female.
- Dirty Dash 8K  - 42:06 - 2nd female.
- Downtown Kitchener Mile - 6:26 - 5th female.
- Health & Performance 2.2K - 9:21 - 13th female.

- ENDURrun - 15:12:56 - 8th female

- Harvest Half (ran as a marathon race pace workout) - 1:45:57 - 10th female.
- Laurier Loop 10K (ran as a progression run workout) - 49:49 - 6th female.

- The County Marathon - 3:27:52 - 5th female
- Oktoberfest 5K - 21:16 - 13th female.

- REMEMBERrun 11K - 51:18 - 3rd female.

- Santa Pur-Suit 5K - 22:08 - 6th female.

So there you have it, 2015. There have been lessons learned. Now to put those lessons to use and come out with a fantastic 2016! My first race of the year will be the Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 mile, which is coming up soon in just 2 weeks. Wish me luck!