Sunday, 7 November 2010

At long last, sub 2:00 HM!

As I said in my previous blog, I wasn't particularly feeling the race mojo - still mentally recovering from the marathon. 

I got to Confederation Park, a little worried about getting to the start, as I was a bit gun shy about shuttle buses after the marathon debacle, and there was a lineup of buses ready to go. THAT'S THE WAY IT SHOULD BE DONE! 

Determined to conquer the pace demons, the opening kilometers were slightly faster than goal pace, but I knew there was a giant downhill coming up. Passed the 2:15 bunny, who was ahead of where I started, for some reason. 

The giant downhill: 
Effortless 5:00/km pace. AMAZING. I actually could have gone faster, but wasn't 40 s/km faster than goal pace fast enough? Clocked a smoking 4:58/km in the 6th km. Most of this section, Beth was about 10 m in front of me, she is much stronger than me on downhills. 

10K, I checked my Garmin and saw the incredible time of 53:20, unexpectedly beating my ancient PR of 56:16 set waaaay back in 2008 in my very first 10K. 

12K. Running the tangents. Beth said something about running a 6:00/km pace the rest of the way and still making it under 2:00. Something happened and I got ahead after exiting the highway. 

15K. Made the turn onto the lakefront path. Familiar territory. I run here at least once, sometimes twice a week. 

16K water station. Path packed on both sides with exuberant, cheering high school kids. What a boost! 

17K. The km markers are bang on with my Garmin up to this point, but I started to press lap at every km sign. I figure holding a nice, comfortable 5:40 pace will get me to my goal, however, I could not let myself forget that nothing is a done deal until the finish line is crossed. 

20K. Sudden turn onto loose rocks, unpaved path. WTF?!?!! Fortunately this is short but I came off the unpaved path and there was a slight uphill. AGGH! Where the hell is the finish line? 

Finally saw the finish line when the Garmin was showing WELL over 21.1 kms. I saw a 2 on the clock and thought "oh NO, NO NO NO!" but then realized the clock was for the full marathoners. 

It's been a long road getting from there to here...but I am finally a sub 2:00 half marathoner! I've PR'd my last 4 races...but ready to transition into winter base building in order to get ready for even bigger and better running adventures in 2011. 

Official chip time: 1:57:26 
Field Placement: 635 / 1359 (46.7%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 38 / 97 (39.2%) 
Gender Placement: 261 / 782 (33.4%) 


Monday, 18 October 2010

GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon/RW Challenge race report

- passed 4000 lifetime kms run during the marathon. 
- passed 1500 kms run in 2010. 
- passed 30000 Spark lifetime fitness minutes 
- celebrating my emoticon today! 

official chip time: 4:38:33 (PR!) 

The Good: 
- solidly met stretch goal 
- felt as good as can be expected between kms 35-42.2 
- managed nutrition/fluid intake well 
- no blisters or chafing! 

The Bad: 
- got a bit frazzled by some unexpected pre-race adventures 
- still too many walk breaks in final stages 

Expo/The Day Before 

Met Challengers and RW editors for an easy shakeout 2 mile run. 

Rick Ball (single leg amputee WR holder in the 10K, half marathon and marathon) , Mark Remy (author, RW online editor, writer of RW Daily blog) 

Mark Remy, me, Jen van Allen (RW special projects editor) 


The race was a point to point course, and there were shuttles to the start from a few downtown hotels, about a mile from the finish. The half started at 8 and the full at 9, I get downtown just past 7 to discover a HUGE lineup for the shuttle going around the block. People (presumably panicked HMers) started jumping into cabs. I didn't have any cash on me, so I stepped out of line and yelled at everyone, "I am driving to the start, and whoever wants a ride is welcome to come!" 2 guys take me up on my offer, Matt, who was doing the half, and Victor, who was doing the full. We get into my car around 7:30 and I burn rubber towards the start in order to get Matt there in time and I'm worried how to get near the start with the road closures. About 2 blocks from the start, Matt says, "oh @#$*, I haven't pinned my bib and I have no pins!" Due to a past wardrobe malfunction, I now carry safety pins in my purse and I give them to Matt, who is still frantically trying to pin his bib as I pull up 1 block from the start at 7:58. 


Miraculously, I found parking within view of the start that appeared to be legal and I'm still kind of frazzled as I approached the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the meeting place for RW Challengers, but the extremely calm RW staffer who directed me to the entrance also reassured me there was plenty of time to race start. Lots of other runners were trying to get in but were turned aside, "This is a private party." I loved being VIP! Inside, it was beautiful: 

Shiny clean bathrooms! No stinky portapotties! 

Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bagels, fruit and Gatorade for last minute fueling. 

One of the things that makes this race unique is the Psyching Team, who are at the expo, walking around the start, and ride the course on bikes, offering general support, but also one on one to anyone who looks like they need it. The psych I was talking to before the race was asking me my motivation for running the race. I kept telling her that it was for personal satisfaction, but upon closer reflection, my TRUE motivation for running? 

This race marked the logical conclusion of the path that I set on, upon discovering I was pregnant in July 2009. I wanted to prove that a "regular" woman can have a baby and return to pre-pregnancy shape or better, without a personal chef, trainer, or nanny. 

A course map for those of you following along at home:

The early stages (kms 1-21) 
Stopped to retie my shoe in the first km. Should have checked the temperature before leaving Toronto Centre for the Arts - as soon as we ran into the sun, I knew the arm warmers were a bad idea. 
There was no 4:30 continuous pace bunny, so my plan was to run with the 4:30 10/1 bunny but keep running during the walk breaks. 
Hogg's Hollow hill. Good thing this hill was early on. It was long, but I am not known as the Girl Who Eats Hills For Breakfast for nothing. 
Forest Hill - a decent number of spectators for a Toronto race. Still hanging with the 4:30 bunny. 
Rosedale Valley Rd. (16K) - glorious fall colours. I'm zoning out to my music and getting in a good rhythm. I think, "if Beth showed up to cheer me on, this would be awesome." 
Bayview Ave. (18K) I thought I heard someone yelling my name. I looked up and there was Beth on an overpass with a GO PATTY sign! 
Eastern Ave. (19-20K) I remembered that the last time I ran on this street, it was around the 37K mark of my last marathon, when I had bonked and was praying for death. And this day I was feeling good! 

1st half split: 2:15:31 (gun time) 

The bad part aka get this @$^&%$ wind out of my face! (kms 22-31) 

We turned onto Queen's Quay/Lakeshore heading west and was immediately hit with a strong headwind. Stopped to refill my water bottle at a public fountain and take a short walk break and lost the 4:30 bunny. The only thing that got me through this section was seeing Greg and Bryden (who were looking for me coming back the other way) and counting down the kms until the turnaround, so I could enjoy having the wind at my back. 

The Wall and Beyond (kms 32-39) 

My goal for this final section was simply to walk less than my previous 2 marathons. My reach goal of sub 4:30 was out of the question at this point, but a PR was still very possible. I just kept my pace faster than 7:00/km. I had run the first 30K between 6:20-6:30/km pace. I thought about all the things I was doing right: I hadn't hit the wall, I had no blisters or chafes. "It hurts up to a point and then it doesn't get any worse." which led to, "The faster you run, the sooner it stops hurting." So I kept running. 

Staying strong at 31K. 

The final stretch (kms 40-42.2) 

Made the final turn, which in reality is a tiny incline, but at this point in the marathon felt like a mountain. Remember how earlier I wished to see Beth and she appeared? I thought about how nice it would be for her to run me in, but alas, the Running Gods did not answer my prayer this time. Passing many runners who were walking along dejectedly made me pick up my pace, determined to finish strong. I knew the last mile took me almost all the way around Queen's Park Circle, but I knew there would be no more walk breaks. Those 18, 20 and 22 mile training runs with fast finishes had taught me well. 

42 km split time: 6:05/km. 

Field Placement: 1504 / 1991 (75.5%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 83 / 120 (69.2%) 
Gender Placement: 432 / 652 (66.3%) 

Then it was off to Hart House for the post race party. 

A buffet of roasted veggies, sandwiches, wraps, fruit, smoothies, and BOOZE awaited us after we showered and had a massage. It pays to be slow - not too many people were in line for a massage after me, so I lucked out and got almost 30 minutes of rubdown instead of the 15 I was supposed to get. 

GIANT HONKING MEDAL, with a quarter as size reference. It hurt my neck to wear, but I earned it! 

Monday, 6 September 2010

Bittersweet PR


GAH. I feel like Ryan Bradley in Spirit of the Marathon, who missed a BQ by 20 seconds. 


I needed to remind myself that I had to step WAY out of my comfort zone in order to reach my goals. 

The weather was absolutely perfect, 17C, cloudy, low humidity. 

In the early kilometers, when every split was coming up at PR, but not sub 2:00 pace..I took it a bit too easy. My time at 10K was my 2nd best performance EVER, but my only mistake was not pushing it in the next gear early on and having to compensate in the late stages of the race when I had little left. 

The one thing I am really proud of is that I ran every step of the race - even in my previous half marathon PR, I walked through water stations. 

Nothing left to do but try again. 

Field Placement: 320 / 534 (59.9%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 17 / 32 (53.1%) 
Gender Placement: 94 / 241 (39%)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Mississauga HM race report

- scenic course, at least 90% of it was downhill. It was a pleasant surprise as Mississauga is known as stereotypical suburbia, a concrete jungle, but the race took us through a university campus, alongside a river, the shore of Lake Ontario and a treed residential neighbourhood with palatial houses. 
- spaced my gel intake perfectly, never felt like I was running out of gas. 
- absolutely glorious day, not a cloud in the sky, low wind and humidity. 
- ran almost perfectly even splits. 
- did not pee through clothes, took 1 pit stop in a bush at 11K. (more on that later) WHY do people waste time to line up for the portapotty when there are perfectly good bushes to pee in? 
- despite risking the wrath of the chafing gods by wearing a skirt with panties, not shorts underneath, my inner thighs remain chafe-free. THANK YOU BODYGLIDE. 
- no blisters 
- my last 3 races my Garmin time matched my chip time EXACTLY, I am getting really good at switching off the Garmin right as I hit the mat! 

- I must've dropped my extra pad when I took my gel at 7K, so after my pee break I just prayed. Fortunately my post partum incontinence has improved a LOT in the past 2 weeks and 1 pad kept me dry for the entire race. 
- the shuttle back to the race start (race was point to point) was stuck in traffic, it took 90 minutes to get back to my car. 
- I didn't pick up the pace until 19K. As Nickelback sings, "feeling way too damn good" - I forgot it's supposed to hurt a bit during a race! 
- my beloved Drymax Maximum Protection sock sprung a leak over the big toe. 

Random fact: 
- Daniel Njenga (of Spirit of the Marathon fame) won the marathon.

Duration: 2:16:43 
Pace: 6:29 / kilometer 
Field Placement: 3569 / 4925 (72.5%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 304 / 428 (71%) 
Gender Placement: 1802 / 2821 (63.9%) 

Monday, 3 May 2010

Sporting Life 10K race report - so close I could taste it

Race day dawned partly cloudy and not much wind, a change from the forecast on Friday. Bryden and I stayed at my parent's condo on Saturday night. Usually I eat some kind of yogurt or cheese or peanut butter to get protein in at breakfast, but Greek yogurt is next to impossible to find here and I forgot to ask my dad to buy PB. So coffee with milk, a whole grain pita with butter and Marmite, plus a pear for breakfast, and I ate it around 5:30 am, race start was 8:05. There was a water station with Gatorade at the start, and I am kicking myself for not having any. 

By kilometre 2, my head was spinning because my carby breakfast was a distant memory. By kilometre 5, I was still on pace for a PR, but I got a nasty side stitch. I've been getting stitches the entire post partum so far and I have no idea why. I took a short walk break. Stitch came back. Walked again at km #6. Walked through the water station at km 7 and had a sip of water but nothing made the stitch go away or even lessen, I should have just run through it for all the good the walk breaks did me. 

By km #8, the course flattened out (no more downhill flying) and my Garmin was showing 45 minutes and change. I knew there was no way in hell I would be able to run 2 kms at a 5:00 pace, so the PR was out the window. My next thought was, "run comfortably hard and go for the finish under an hour", which I did. Kilometre 9 it started to rain a bit..course went downhill again and when I realized I was in danger of missing my stretch goal of sub 1:00 with the finish line in plain view, I managed to dig a bit deeper, found my finishing kick and came in at 58:45...actually my 2nd best 10K time ever, but ultimately disappointing when it came down to a stupid nutrition mistake costing me the PR. 

And the icing on the poo cake was that I got a giant chafe from my HRM strap, which has only ever happened before during a marathon, when it is understandable. 

Field Placement: 6592 / 11913 (55.3%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 543 / 1221 (44.5%) 
Gender Placement: 2742 / 6684 (41%) 

At least I didn't pee through my clothes (damn PP incontinence!) and Bryden looks good wearing a medal. 

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Frosty 5K race report + another gratuitous belly pic or 2

I had 3 race strategies: 

1) run a long warmup and get everything out of my system *cough* pre-race. 
2) walk through the water station. 
3) start slow and run a negative split race. 

1.6K warmup and 3 bathroom stops later, I barely make it into the corral before the horn. I felt every single one of the 4000 calories (not exaggerating) of greasy Chinese food I ate last night still sitting in my stomach but somehow magically disappeared between the warmup and race start. I was in the 5th row, which would have gotten me killed by Kenyans in a marathon, but since no one lines up properly in a 5K, I didn't even get shoved. 

Splits (minutes per km): 

I haven't seen a 6 as the first number of my pace for a VERY long time! The second half of the course features some mild downhills and then a mild uphill in the last kilometer, so I took it easy until the turnaround, realized I felt TOTALLY AWESOME and then turned on the afterburners as much as I could. 

Official chip time: 32:58. My slowest non-preggo 5K? 31:42. 


With Beth (fingersandtoes) and Stacey (brontemom) post race: