Sunday, 28 December 2014

The obligatory 2014 roundup post

In the past, the year end roundup post has been full of numbers, stats and dreams of PBs in the coming year.  This year I'm doing something a little bit different.

As I was planning this post in my head, I thought for a second, "I haven't accomplished much this year." and then promptly stopped myself. I may have "only" run 2 PBs this year, but obviously my achievements this year aren't in the speed department, they are in learning to like trail running, and finally learning to ride a bike after 36 years. Even though Paul is still giving me shit for saying I wouldn't as recently as May.

I also felt like it was noteworthy to mention all the new people I met through running/ran with this year.  I love meeting runners; it's like we are old friends right away!


Kim (since we never ran together before this year)

...did I forget anyone?? I feel like I'm missing someone or two...


Running: 2374.1K (goal: 2400)  I believe I've been over 2600K the last 2 years, but thanks to the advent of Audrey Lexa, my fall HM training cycle was only 4 days a week instead of 5.

Bike: 1369.07K. Holy crap.  I had no idea I rode that much, especially considering I couldn't even ride more than 200 m without falling over at the end of May.

Other (strength training, yoga, a couple walks and exactly once on the elliptical): 70:11

What's next in 2015?

1/17 - 1 hour Frosty Trail Run
3/1 - Chilly HM (2:15 r/w pacer, of course)
3/29 - ATB
4/18 - MEC Burlington Race 1
5/3 - Mississauga HM (hopefully pacing)
5/23 - Sulphur Springs 25K
6/7 - NFWHM (pacing)
6/20 - 5peaks Rattlesnake Point
Sept - Chase the Coyote
9/27 - Oakville HM (pacing and it better not be the same weekend as CtC)
TBA - a duathlon
various trail races, possibly another obstacle event, and also MS Bike Tour, as time and finances permit.

2014 wasn't a great year for me personally, but I am still satisfied with my fitness achievements.  Here's to better things in 2015!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Confessions/Road2Hope HM race report/crazy ideas

This training cycle wasn't stellar.  I've always had a tendency to cheat (ie take rest breaks) during solo runs but the last few long runs, the breaks were getting ridiculous.  My 26K trail long run took me 3:22 but 4:47 in real time.  I was stopping every 200 m to stretch or massage my calves, which had a lactic acid-like burn and tightness, not excruciating, but felt like I couldn't run through.  Rest days and compression did little.  Magnesium cream definitely helped, but the issue still felt like just plain old fatigue.

I went to get my usual pre-race Graston/ART and when I mentioned the calf fatigue, Kevin told me that he suspected it might be compartment syndrome. However, he didn't tell me not to run, so on Sunday, I popped ibuprofen, slapped on Voltaren and KT taped my calves and hoped for the best.  

After missing out on sub 1:50 at last year's race, the plan this year was to lighten my HM racing schedule to focus on R2H. I ran most of my long runs on trail, so although I had the time on my feet, I didn't feel like I had the endurance effect of a continuous road long run, something that came back to haunt me at my disastrous pacing gig at Oakville last month.  Or was that mostly just my calves being ornery?

Race morning was a bigger clusterfuck than anticipated.  I have my old phone, which I use as an alarm, set to manually update time and I turned the clock back before I went to bed.  Apparently despite the manual setting, the clock still automatically went back another hour.  So I thought I was getting up at 5:15, went downstairs and saw everyone online on FB already and realized it was actually 6:15.  2nd mistake - I didn't read the part on the site that said the last bus left at 7:15 so my warmup consisted of running across the parking lot to the bus. 

Found the gang (#burlingtonskirtbrigade + Nicole + Kim) in the gym just as they were calling people to the start.  For the 2nd year in a row, the starting horn went off with us all crammed on the embankment on the side of the road. As the pack started to disperse, Nicole picked up the pace and I kept up for...maybe 500 m.  My calves felt all right, but my gut feeling told me that racing in the red zone for 21.1K wouldn't be a good idea.  I've already qualified for corral C at ATB.  I don't need a half marathon PB.  I needed a smart and quality race, one where I didn't blow up. So I dropped back a bit and let everyone go.

KMs 1-5: 5:23, 5:32, 5:23, 5:24, 5:36

I was actually pleasantly surprised that I could hold these paces comfortably, considering my speedwork had been a struggle, to say the least.  Greg, in his first half, started farther back and we ran together for about 1K and he took off just as the on ramp for the Red Hill came into view, despite him saying pre-race that he was going to run 5:40/k pace. Ha ha ha.

KMs 6-11: 5:18, 5:07, 5:24, 5:36, 5:43, 5:51

The original race plan called for sub 5 pace on the Red Hill, the wind made it impossible to gun it.  Ran with Kim on and off.  1st gel at 7K, few walking steps at the next water station for a drink. At the off ramp to Barton, I kept my stride very short, praying my calves would stay calm and they did.   I heard someone say "nice outfit!" only to realize they weren't talking to me, but to a girl wearing this hideous skort with neon yellow CEPs, an aqua tank with a neon yellow reverse mullet jacket that was really short in the back so that the tank was visible.  

KMs 12-16: 5:46, 5:59, 5:34, 5:42, 5:47

I was dreading the Red Hill section, because it's switching from road to trail during long runs that my calves have been the most unhappy.  Came to the bottom of that ridiculous brick hill and walked it. Calves still hanging in there.  Next hill was the one where the pavement began and kept my form and still felt good.  Bad habit wanted me to walk after that hill but I remembered:

Thank you, Mapleview lululemon, for my race day mantra.
2nd gel, very brief walk break through the next water station.  There was pretty much no break from the wind through this part of the race and I knew that at least after the final turnaround back on the beach path there would be a tailwind.

*2 guys bitching about the wind*
Me: yeah I can't wait to get out of this fucking headwind.
Guy #1: you should draft behind someone tall.
Me: like you?
Guy #2: I'm short and wide.  Pick someone else.

KMs 17-21.1: 5:51, 5:43, 5:45, 5:42, 5:35, 5:15

It was distinctly warmer with the wind behind me.  There were a lot of people walking/stopping to stretch and I kept moving, Relentless Forward Motion! I felt really good in this section and I felt like I passed a lot of people but my pace didn't show it.  I love being so familiar with the course.  Pass Hutch's.  Pass Wild Waterworks.  Pass the yellow bathroom.  Now a little incline.  I heard someone yell my name and I snapped out of my zone to catch Brandon's eye and yell hi back.  Garmin beeps 21K right at the final turn.  Now kick!  The clock was counting down the back half of 1:59 so there were some wild sprints going on all around me.

Happy to be finished, not so happy with our times.

Ah, the big old what's next?

My crazy idea is that in 2015, I am not going to be going for any PBs, except at ATB.  I will not run a marathon. I will pace my favourites: Chilly, Mississauga, NFWHM, Oakville. I will try more trail races.  I will return to Chase the Coyote.  I will try a duathlon.  I'm going to practice changing gears and attacking escarpment hills with Audrey Lexa.  I will try Spartan Super.  I might tackle a few swimming lessons. I've spent the past 7 years always pursuing time goals, and I think it's time for a change.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

My first DNF :(

As I've said before, one of my very real fears about trail running is falling and damaging my already frail ankles further.  Although, my ankles are actually a lot stronger since I started running, they sustained a LOT of damage during my step aerobic days.  But since starting to trail run this summer, I hadn't had a single face plant.  Every time I'd catch my toe, I would manage to stay upright and any pain would be gone within a minute.  I've been wondering when the lucky streak would end.

This was last Wednesday's run.  It was a bliss of runner's high and unicorns and I obviously knew things were too good to last.

The drive up to Mono Cliffs was uneventful, my GPS did not lead me wrong and I didn't even have to park on the road.  Saw Robin sitting on her rear bumper, got my race kit and chatted before the race.  It was cold sitting there but as the sun rose higher in the sky, I was glad I decided to wear a tank top.
The Coyote.

Because Robin and I didn't get a nice posed pic post-Mississauga.

There were a couple of end-to-end Bruce Trail runners at the race, including a lady who fired the starting horn for the Sprint race.  My plan was to keep everything EASY and nothing like what I'd usually feel like a "race effort" to be.  The first 2K was uphill, I walked the steeper part, as Pierre and Robin had advised me and all was well.  The next section was still uphill, but technical but then flattened out into a gradual downhill.

Then It Happened.

I caught my toe on a root, turned my ankle and landed on my butt.  The wind was knocked out of me, I massaged my ankle and thought I could still continue after catching my breath.  Many runners passing by asked if I was ok, but two people actually stopped.  It was the end-to-end Bruce Trail lady and her running partner.  She introduced herself as Rhonda, a RMT and massaged my ankle a bit while her running partner ran on ahead to the next aid station.  I tried to keep running several times and I was dizzy to the point of nearly blacking out and I'd sit down again.  Rhonda gave me a damp Buff to put on the back of my neck and asked me to drink water and eat some candy.  Finally, the shock wore off enough to keep running for a sustained amount of time but at one point Rhonda and I thought we were lost due to the lack of orange marker flags and turned back a bit but figured we were on the right course after all.  She asked if the BT blazes on the trees were white or blue and I thought she was colour blind.  Her running partner returned and told us that he had alerted the next aid station.  The three of us continued onward and Scott would say things like, "big root, head left", "rocks coming up" and thought it was for my klutzy ass's benefit.  Between us and the aid station were the infamous stairs.  I had to stop on the landing because I was seeing stars again, we all took water at the aid station but then there was another ascent..I glanced at my Garmin and it showed 5.6K and thought, I could gut it out for another 9K, finish DFL or I could just call it a day.  I chose the latter and returned to the aid station, letting Rhonda and her RP continue on.

This was actually a wrong turn I made during my walk of shame back to the start/finish area.   As I approached the finish, runners/spectators saw me walking and would shout encouragement, which made me feel even worse.  The clock read 1:38:xx which would have been an excellent finish time for me and I actually saw some people who had been directly behind me finishing as I slunk off to the side specifically to avoid crossing the finish and being handed a medal.  

When I got home, I googled Rhonda.  Holy crap.  She is a BAMF in the truest sense of the word, and completely generous in spirit, as she threw whatever race goals she had to help little ol' ME.  Even though CtC marked another crap race for me, I am amazed by her kindness and for that I am so grateful!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Oakville HM race report

After having trouble running faster than 6:10/k during my 22K long run the week before the Oakville HM due to tired legs, I had thoughts of switching pace assignments with Amy.  But I nailed the test run on Thursday and thought I was good to go.  

Went to the kit pick up nice and early to find a huge lineup due to a bib number assignment snafu.  Fortunately Sam found me in the lineup and she took a picture of me with the well meaning but creepy race director of NFWHM because I was wearing the race shirt.  Then I scored this sah-weet lole cycling jersey for 50% off at the expo.

Then I felt an itch on my tricep, and yup another mosquito bite.   I had laid out the same outfit that I wore for Richmond but decided at the last minute to wear something different.

Race morning dawned early and I was driving the Skirt Taxi.  The usual pre-race meetup and pictures with DM friends, potty stops (I wisely put my sign and water bottle outside the PP this time!!), fielding the usual questions from participants about pace..blah blah blah.  One big difference: I did not feel supremely confident, as I do when pacing 2:15.  After seeing the forecast calling for 70% chance of rain, I debated wearing my Drymax socks but didn't want to break the #burlingtonskirtbrigade uniform.

Emma, Amy, Yours Truly, Sam, Kim, Zindine, before the deluge.

I was totally on pace through 15K, rain and all.  The people around me were very quiet and when I asked questions all I heard was crickets and the tinny music of some girl who thought that the other race participants would like to enjoy her music as well and told her to put her damn headphones on.  The headwind on Rebecca, humidity and rain started to wear on me.  I dropped my sign as it was becoming a sail.  I've always done runs with lots of breaks, and it never had an ill effect during races...until now... 

Splits 15-21K (goal 5:55/K):


There were lengthy walk breaks.  People asked if I was doing 10/1.  No, I'm just having a really shitty day.  I considered DNF but realized that a shitty finish time would be preferable.  Why do I always think about dropping out when things are going poorly? I have the racing mind of an elite! I considered walking until Amy caught up and running with her.  I ripped my ears off and no one gave a fuck since I had no pace group anyways.  I guess you could consider that to be the silver lining.  

I felt a bit better around 19K and realized if I could pick up the pace, I could salvage some kind of decent finish time.  So I pushed it and pushed some more, treating the finish like my final repeat at the track.

So, it goes without saying that I'll stick with 2:15 r/w in the future, and I'm working on my mental game to keep moving during races. Relentless forward motion!

Official chip time: 2:06:14
Pace: 5:59 / kilometer 
Field Placement: 417 / 673 (62%) 
Age group: 30 – 39 
Placement: 46 / 106 (43.4%) 
Gender Placement: 159 / 333 (47.7%)

Next up: Chase the Coyote 14.4K Challenge and I will see Robin there, although I'm sure she never wants to run a race with me ever again.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Muddy Puddles

This is Peppa Pig and her little brother George.  They enjoy jumping in muddy puddles.
However, the last time I checked, I am not a pig and I do not enjoy mud, although a little bit on a trail run is tolerable.  And I can't quite explain my aversion to obstacles -  I'm not afraid of heights but the general feeling is a holdover from my childhood, when everything physical was impossible and frightening.

Going into this race, I felt like my training was solid, if not spectacular.  Not having access to a gym since late March meant my strength training since then has consisted of bodyweight exercises, kettlebells (8-16 kg), TRX, and a pullup bar with a resistance band.   Unlike 99.99% of the runners I know, I strength train diligently year round.  So I was in decent, but not top shape.  Since committing to train for Mud Hero at the beginning of June, I've been doing weights sans gloves, in order to strengthen my grip.  Lastly, as you know, I've been running trails at least once a week to prepare for the terrain.  I was assured by everyone I knew that there would be people who literally roll their 300 pound asses off the couch race morning, stuff their cigarettes and chips into their back pocket of their cotton shorts at the start and complete the race/obstacles successfully and that my years of running/ST would put me well ahead of the pack.

The night before the race, Greg and I went through the course map on the website and talked through every obstacle.  The 2 that I really had issues with were the cargo nets and the Kong, mainly because I have a tendency to climb up and be too scared to get back down.

I was already a panicked mess a few days leading up, to the point where people told me if I felt so bad, I should just skip it.  But chickening out on things really isn't what the Real Patty would do, right? I have a prescription for meds to be used only at anxiety causing situations, but I was warned by my doctor that I would feel relaxed and possibly sleepy.  We never discussed the drug use should the anxiety causing situation be an athletic event.  So I skipped the drugs and fought the rising panic.  The night before, I took my regular daily antidepressant and washed them down with a few too many drinks.  Even 10 minutes before the race, I turned back towards the car several times, and at one point lay on the ground in tears, trying to summon up the nerve to walk to the start.  No one else was acting like me.  Everyone else seemed able to relax and have a good time. Why can't I do this too?!?!?!

We were signed up for the 10 am heat, and lately I've been totally addicted to PC Hawaiian Buns with globs of butter and a piece of fruit for breakfast.  It's not terribly filling but sufficient if I head straight out the door to run.  So I packed a Luna bar but Greg and I shared it in the car around 8:45 am.  

The few times Greg and I have run "together", it has meant me trailing along at least 50 m behind, even though he knows damn well that I cannot run the paces that he does.  Of course the race last week was still on my mind, where he swore we'd run together but was out of sight by the 1K mark and rubbed salt in the wound by finishing 10 minutes ahead of me and ran backwards on the course, wearing his medal, to look for me.  I'm sure you can imagine how much I appreciated that gesture. The original plan was that we'd run our own races but at the very last moment, I challenged Greg to stay with me - really stay with me - for a minimum of 1K.  Not wanting to punch my way through hordes of walkers, we lined up in the 2nd row and took off with no warm ups before, save the walk from the car.  Upon the very first hill, I was dizzy and a bit faint from the lack of food and had to walk, even though this was the easiest trail I'd ever run.  

Not going to give a play-by-play of every single obstacle, but some of the "best".

1. Cargo net climb - this was the absolute worst.  I got to the top and was too scared to put my leg over the other side.  Then I was afraid to climb down backwards, so I was basically clinging on to the net at the top for dear life and I had a total freakout.  People were trying to tell me I was doing great. Um, I'm stuck on a net and can't get down..obviously I am not doing great, stop fucking lying to me!  Somehow I got down but I think I spent 10 minutes here.  Then after getting down the anxiety got the better of me and I lay down on the ground, completely freaked out.

2. The Kong - I had visions of me with either leg stuck in a hole, dangling and no way to lever myself out.  But someone suggested butt-scooting across and I did it at the side, with one hand holding on to the frame.

3. Demolition Derby - I swear, one of the cars there was my old 2002 silver Protege.  But i checked for a telltale scuff near the gas tank door and it wasn't there.

4. Balance beam - this would have really sucked if I had fallen.  I started scooting over sideways, but my feet ended up at an angle and that actually worked even better than sideways because about 3/4 of my foot was on the beam.

5. Every single mud pit was above Greg's waist.  Drowning in a mud puddle is not how I want to die. 

Remember how I used to be afraid that I'd step into shoulder deep mud while trail running? Please, make the obstacles midget-friendly.

So I can't say I enjoyed myself, but afterwards, I was angry at myself, a) for being irrationally scared and freaking out and b) not trying my best and having a really embarrassingly slow finish time.  I was also annoyed that this race was just mud and not much in terms of strength or athletic skill. Greg tells me Spartan is much more along those lines and I would like to do the 10K Spartan next spring, leading up to Tough Mudder next summer, because my whole self imposed cognitive behaviour therapy method of "doing it until I don't hate it any more" worked for me when I was starting to exercise, and more recently with trail running.

My "I'm not having a good day" take on Nicole's signature #runnerd double thumbs up pose.  Also: epic muffin top, ew.

I'm having such an awesome time, can you tell?

I almost didn't take a medal because I didn't feel like I deserved it, and I did, but put it in the mud at the finish.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Goodbye trail race virginity: Iroquoia Trail Test race report

A couple of weeks ago, I was suddenly aware of a strange feeling.  Did I have indigestion or perhaps a touch of fever? No, it was a crazy and sudden desire to do a trail race. This time of year has no shortage of trail races and Iroquoia Trail Test was nearby and the 7K was an affordable price.  Wait! the 18K promised more than twice as much trail fun for only $10 more, plus I wouldn't have to juggle my schedule in order to fit a long run in.  But Greg was interested in the 7K and I thought it would really suck for him to have to hang around and wait a couple hours for me, plus 18K in the woods is a really long time without any company.  And then Emma said she was LR-ing on the Sunday, so my decision was made.
I had no goals in this race except a) not die on the hills b) not fall flat on my face c) not get eaten alive by them damn skeeters and d) a teeny tiny hope that I'd finish under an hour.  On the drive up to Crawford Lake, I was quite nervous but we arrived before I got in a wholesale panic.  I found a bunch of trees to do my business only to find other runners squatting nearby, fortunately everything that should have been hidden was.  I like how trail runners make like a bear in the woods, because I had no intention of repeating my porta-potty nightmare at NFWHM.

The 7K and 18K runners started together, with the 34K people starting earlier.  Greg and I had said we would run together, but I knew from past runs that he has different ideas of what "running together" meant so when he got ahead of me right away and then 100 m ahead less than 1K in, I yelled for him to go ahead, but I was annoyed by that.

7 KM – A good test for the novice trail runner –  largely flat but with some technical bits
ha. ha. HAHAHAHAH!  I had no delusions that this would be the trail equivalent of the Chicago Marathon, but I think only about 2K of the course was actually flat.  Since I suck equally at running up and down hills on trails, all I heard constantly was "on your left! on your left!" and some bare chested speed demon would blaze by, leaving me to navigate the trails on what was not necessarily the best way through. (read: rocks. roots. very slippery. much trip. wow.)  Amazingly, I managed to stay upright the entire time, walking 99% of the hills and running as quickly as I could on the flats.

I went through 5K in 45:xx, good gawd! and was REALLY glad I didn't sign up for the 18K, as I realized something that I enjoy about my trail training runs is the feeling of being alone in the woods.  I didn't like people breathing down my neck and having to dodge the speed demons on what should have been singletrack.

Greg came running back to find me (ugh! I hate that!) and I was veeeeeeeeery glad to be done.  I felt like I chickened out a LOT on the hills, but not too bad considering I biked 36K yesterday and was at the end of my training week. Will I do another trail race? yeah probably.  It might be a LONG time, if ever, before I'll want to tackle anything like the 25Ks that seem to be a pretty common trail distance. Somehow the mosquitoes did not find me, and I was happy to accomplish 2 of my 4 goals.

The #burlingtonskirtbrigade has always told me that trail races have better food. Peameal bacon sandwich? yeeeeeeeeeeeeeah! Sure beats a stale bagel and green banana!

Greg and I will celebrate 10 years together on August 18. Next week our anniversary adventure so to speak, will be jumping through muddy puddles at Mud Hero.

Official chip time: 56:16
Pace: 8:03 / kilometer
Field Placement: 46 / 62 (74.2%)
Age group: 0 – 39
Group Placement: 18 / 21 (85.7%)
Gender Placement: 29 / 41 (70.7%)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Fall plans 2014

I'll join everyone in the fall plans/goals post.

“You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.” - Percy Cerutty

Exploring the road less travelled..or some kind of philosophical shit.

So as a challenge (or torture device) to each other..I have agreed to do an obstacle/mud run, if Greg runs a half marathon in return.  I would have preferred to do Tough Mudder, in case this is one and done, go big or go home, right?  But there is the small problem of Greg not being fit enough to run 20K by mid-August and he objected.  The obstacles scare the crap out of me, I don't like getting full body muddy - my only similar experience is doing an outdoor boot camp for work, doing pushups in a field full of mud and goose shit..however, it was November 11th and the instructor invoked WWI soldiers toiling in the trenches for 4 years and suddenly the goose shit didn't seem so bad.  Anyways, I digress...

So what am I afraid of? I'm not sure.  Apparently Greg saw various out of shape looking overweight people doing Spartan in June, but I have never been good at climbing and scaling walls.  The only training I've been doing is kettlebells sans gloves and scaling walls at the playground.  If there are horizonal monkey bar type obstacles I'm completely fucked.

Next up is pacing gig #6 at the Oakville HM.  I've got 2:05 continuous, which is faster than my customary 2:15, but at 5:55/km, should feel like LR pace on a good day.

Last fall, we had stayed overnight in Corning, NY en route to Richmond and were disappointed that we only had about 12 hours there, not enough time to explore the quaint shops and the glass museum.  So we planned to go back to run the half but it sold out.  The 5K is still available, and my friend Heather, who runs a sub 20 5K and a running coach, offered to pace me to a sub 24 in the 5K as her post baby comeback race.

Finally, we have Road2Hope HM.  I would like to run sub 1:50 or at least PB, but I am pretty chill about things, since I punched my card to magical ATB corral land already.

Originally I had written my training plan with the customary 5 days of running, but in the next couple weeks I am going to rewrite it, replacing one day of running with biking, and more biking as a 2nd workout as time permits.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A week of new adventures and some long term goals

So just a few short weeks ago, I was adamantly insisting that I would never trail run, and how my bike riding was going nowhere fast.

My, how things have changed.

I decided to start running trails at least once a week until I don't hate them anymore.  I can't say that trails have suddenly become my new BFF, but I am enjoying the scenery (most of it only a 5-10 minute drive from home), I haven't fallen or broken anything..yet, and I have been eaten alive by mosquitoes a couple of times but I noticed both times I was wearing the same outfit, so maybe mosquitoes are particularly attracted to my red CEP sleeves and striped ivivva skirt.

Last Monday, I ran in Bronte Creek as the sun was rising.  My legs were feeling peppy and I was thrilled that the run was going so well.  I took a path that ended within sight of my car parked across the street, but there was a chain link fence that I followed for a bit.  It looked like the fence ended, so I waded through waist deep grasses only to find..more fence!  I ended up with scratches all over my legs and a bite on my finger and a run that was about 1K longer than anticipated.

Then on Wednesday, I got really brave and mapped out a route through the RBG.  

It was beautiful, but the weather was humidity soup. I quickly sweated off all the Off I had put on, I got lost and when I stopped to consult Google Maps, I promptly got attacked by mosquito swarms from hell. 

On the biking front, Emma explained gears to me in a way that my dense self could finally comprehend and I achieved my first distance PB of the week on Friday when Beth and I rode 12.7K but I failed twice to make it up a hill. (more on this later).

Saturday, Irina and Zin arranged a group bike ride.  I was totally freaked that I would be in over my head, but Zin rode with me for the first 12K.  Right away, there was a big hill heading up to Guelph Line, I shifted gears and Z yelled, "OTHER WAY!" Explains why I couldn't make it up the hill on Friday, eh? :)

I originally planned to ride 15-20K, but I felt fantastic so kept going a bit more and ended up with a giant bike distance PB of 23.83K! I forgot to restart my Garmin at one point so I think the actual distance was closer to 24. I realized that my rides weren't slow due to me being a shitty cyclist, but rather just half-assing the effort. Suddenly speeds of 15K/h+ felt easy after Zin gave me some tips on pedalling. 

Standing out in a sea of black shorts and fancy bikes. (photo by Irina)

Finally, on Sunday I was going to do my long run with Nicole, but she cancelled.  Greg and I scrambled up a sitter for Bryden, and ambitiously planned a 15K bike/10K run brick that got cut short after the sitter informed us that we had exactly 2 hours from drop off.  Since the bike was mainly through city streets, I didn't get a chance to pick up speed like I did on Saturday.  But I did get up the nerve to ride in the bike lane all the way downtown!  On the way back, I tried again to take one hand off the handlebars to wipe a drop of sweat that was tickling my nose and promptly went flying off my bike, face planting on the (side) street.  Greg informs me that I flew through the air very gracefully.

I find that now that I am getting the hang of the bike, I am enjoying it A LOT and now I totally understand Greg's disgust when we were dating 10 years ago, I tried to convince him that Spinning was the Most Fun Exercise Ever.

*deep breath*

So here's my long term goals:

Get a better bike for my next birthday and a duathlon in 2015.  Start to learn to swim in 2015.  Triathlon - which once seemed like an impossible dream - before my 40th birthday (June 2018).

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Girl power - Niagara Falls Women's HM/SkirtSports virtual HM race report

I'm 3 for 3 at this event. The first year I signed up on a whim, horrified by the $100+ price tag and volunteered to pace in 2013. NFWHM has gotten better each year. The first year the atmosphere seemed a bit forced. I wasn't actually planning to run this year but I got the email calling for pacers. I asked Nicole and Amy to join the pacing team, mainly because of the free wine in the race kit but when I mentioned the lululemon outlet they were like YAH LET'S GO!!!!
Originally I was given the 2:05 continuous assignment but when Nicole ended up with 2:15, I had to offer to switch. It turned out for the best because I really didn't feel like remotely running fast after Mississauga anyways.
I was really looking forward to Saturday. Race kit pickup at a mall that was completely dead except for the runners.
Race kit pic stolen from Amy obviously. I don't feel like laying out all of my swag, plus I've drank 3/4ths of the wine already.


Amy, spying the rack of pacesetters. Followed by a very nice lunch with Nicole, Fergus, Brigette and Amy.

Race morning dawned absolutely flawless, if a bit warm. I had also signed up for the SkirtSports virtual half because hello, free skirt?
arty sideways pic by Nicole, posing with my SkirtSports bib.
Visited the porta-potty, which really was lavender scented and had flowers inside. Then the most horrible thing that could have happened happened. My penis bottle fell into the porta potty. Fortunately (?!) it landed in the blue stuff, not in a pile of shit and without thinking I actually reached in and picked it back out. I rinsed the bottle off the best I could at the sink and rejoined Amy and Nicole. We were approached by some lady who asked if we had seen Anna, I was momentarily shocked in wondering how a random person knew that we were friends with Anna, but it turns out that Anna had told her to look for the 3 pacers. 

You didn't really come here to read about me running a slow half, did you?

Some random thoughts from being in the corral and during the race: 

  •  I saw the mythical runner in the yellow lace strappy nightie again. I guess she didn't die of chafing after last year's race. 
  • During my first pacing gig, someone asked me to hold the sign up higher because they needed to see it every moment. I was totally floored by the request and complied at the time but then got angry about it later. I'm wearing bunny ears and a flashy outfit, I'm sure you can see me at any time, and if I'm not in sight, then perhaps check your race plan instead of bitching to the pacer about it. Today, I was again asked, quite rudely, to hold my sign higher, around 5K. I should have said, "if it's so important to you, why don't YOU hold the sign up high the rest of the way?" But what I really said was, "I'm sorry, I can't..I'm wearing bunny ears and it shouldn't be hard to see me." and one of my pacees yelled, "Don't you know her arm will fall off?!" 
  • The double out and back course made for many cheering opportunities. I must've blinked and missed Amy during the first out and back but saw both her and Nicole on the back half.  
Pacee: you pacers get a lot of love! 
Me: Oh, they are my running buddies and I drove. They have to be nice to me if they don't want to walk home! (I kid, I kid!) 
  • lots of skirts! tutus, running skirts and sparkle skirts galore. 

Not going to bore you with the splits, but suffice to say even though my goal pace was 6:09/k and most of my 10 minute running segments were 6:11/k, I still came in faster than my goal of 2:14:5x. Oh well, better to be under than over so I really shouldn't complain. 

Official chip time: 2:14:24 
Field Placement: 609 / 1994 (30.5%) 
Age group: 35 – 39 
Group Placement: 129 / 372 (34.7%) 
Gender Placement: 604 / 1978 (30.5%)
What an awesome looking group of pace bunnies. Totally nailed our pace assignments too! Must've been the Power of The Skirts!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

My shameful secret

The natural assumption is I can bike, swim and that a triathlon is the natural progression. My dirty secret is that I can't swim or bike. I never learned either as a child. In 2008, I took a 3 hour adult learn to bike course and can ride about 200 m down the street, but can't even turn a corner without falling. I went home after the class to practice and I SAW people leaning out of their cars and on their porches, pointing and laughing at me. It was not my imagination. So fast forward to today and I got my bike out for the first time since 2008. Rode a straight farther than I ever have before, maybe 500 m? and turned my first corner but along the way crashed several times into trees, cars, curbs and fell off. And because it was a nice day, people were outside, staring and laughing.

I know I "should" not care what other people think, but the shame is so strong. What to do about it?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Why I refuse to trail run

Every year, when the spring thaw comes, pretty much everyone I know heads out on the trails.  Not me.  "Just try it, you might like it!" they plead.  Nope nope nope.  These are the reasons why I will stick to the roads.

Mud and general messiness

I joke about fearing shoulder deep mud and water crossings wrecking my outfits, but seriously, mud washes off.  This is the least of my concerns.


Not only do I seem to get bitten far more than the average person, I have a very bad reaction to bites.  I have gotten bitten on my hands while wearing a jacket and long pants, inside a restaurant, and inside my car.  While wearing copious amounts of Muskol. The swelling that follows a bite can only be relieved by prescription strength antihistamines.

I like my ankles

I have broken my right ankle (fell down on grass while playing tag when I was 7) and sprained both ankles multiple times.  Every time I have injured my ankles, it's taken longer and longer to heal.  I fear the next time I fall down, it will be the Big One that puts me out of commission for months.  I've faceplanted on an unseen acorn or something while on the practically paved Chedoke Radial trail.  I can't imagine what a klutz like me would do when confronted with something more technical.

Bronte Creek Provincial Park: This is as trail-like as I get.

Occasionally, I do feel the urge to get closer to nature and I'll run in Bronte Creek or on the Red Hill trail. But I keep my eyes on the ground at all times, wear a lot of bug spray and I'm always relieved when I complete the run unscathed.  Or I'm super annoyed when I find new welts on my person and have to spend the next few days doped up on drugs.

I hope these are valid enough reasons to appease my trail-loving friends who can't seem to understand why I stick to the roads.  It's not about being open to trying new things.  It's because I can't.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

from the EachCoach newsletter

I've been minimally involved with EachCoach, occasionally getting a blurb printed in the weekly updates in the National Post.  I had a phone interview with Ben Kaplan last Tuesday and thought my picture would make last week's column and was somewhat disappointed when it didn't.  But then this email landed in my inbox this morning:

Amazing, inspiring, high five-worthy work on Sunday! Thanks for contributing your adventures to our page! You crossed your finish line, and are awesome.

Now, the big question is: What are you going to run next? No point training all winter just do stop here. Let us know: What will your next goal be?

As ever, here's a picture we love. This is Patty, a piano teacher who ran Mississauga, and needed help to make it across the finish line. "This was my ninth marathon and I made a stupid error," she says. "I thought I'd learned my lesson, but apparently not." 

We received all sorts of pictures, but chose Patty's for one reason. During her race, the worst thing happened. But Patty's not giving up. "Maybe I won't run another marathon until 2015, although, when I say that, that seems like a really long time," she says. "I want to cross that finish line on my own.

What are you running next? Whatever it is, let us know. We want to be there cheering you on.

Stick with it,
Ben and the EachCoach team

Monday, 5 May 2014

I am a sub 4 marathoner

Pre race goals: 
base: upright and smiling 
stretch: PB (4:10:28) 
reach: sub 4 

In the weeks leading up to the race, all I could think about was my TFL issue, considering there was quite a bit of pain even in my little 3.5K shakeout on Thursday. I got the KT tape people to tape it up at the expo, and initially it caused more referral pain, but by the time we left the expo, my leg was feeling significantly better. 

Race morning, I slapped a large amount of Voltaren on my hip and IT band, taped up both and met Sam J. and Amy D. at a plaza near Sam's house. 

Walking to the meetup and standing outside, it was COLD COLD COLD. Almost regretted the short sleeves, but I knew it would be much warmer in the sun. The first half was uneventful. Very uneventful. We talked a bit, probably more than Robin would have liked to. On Indian Road and Truscott, she told me to draft behind her to cut the headwind and it definitely made a difference. Aside from a little bit of strategic passing, the goal was to conserve energy for the end. Robin B.'s strategy was to run up the hills easy, which I thought I have done in the past, but not as easy as she ran them. 

1st half - 1:57:12. Right on pace. 

Then things got ugly. I was mentally prepared for brutal winds in the Lakeshore/Southdown stretch and was still drafting behind Robin, but I was a few metres behind. I didn't like running behind her because it felt like I was constantly trying to catch up. Made it to 20 miles still on pace. Robin giving me the pep talk "just an hour left!" "single digit countdown!" I took my 4th and last gel at 33K. STUPIDEST NEWBIE MISTAKE EVER. In past marathons, my fueling strategy has been 5 gels, one every 7K. Somehow I totally forgot this and only brought 4 with me. You'd think I'd compensate by taking Gatorade at aid stations..nope, water only. 

I'm sure you can figure out what happened next. I was falling off pace, Robin pretty much screamed at me non-stop, "HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT THAT SUB 4? DO YOU WANT TO BLOW IT WITH LESS THAN 5K TO GO?! DO YOU WANT TO GET THIS DONE NOW OR GO HOME AND THINK ABOUT IT UNTIL THE FALL?" I was trying desperately to keep up but my legs were rebelling. I'd stop for a 5 second walk break and Robin would stop, turn around and physically shove me onward. 

In my dazed state, I saw Greg at the 40K mark. At this point, I was barely functional but he knew that his job was to get me to the finish. I knew I was wasting energy by saying "I can't!!!" and at that point I was thinking I already had a huge PB in the bag and forget about sub 4. But Robin kept yelling... 

Then at 41K, I went down. Greg and Robin each grabbed one of my hands and pulled me back up. Apparently Elaine F. and Phil L. were there but I did not see them. Made the turn into Lakefront Promenade and I could see the number on the clock was a 4. The original plan, Greg was supposed to jump off since he wasn't a registered runner but I needed both of them to pull me along. I saw Sam J. and Irina S. cheering and crossed the finish line and went down immediately. But I stopped my Garmin! lol There have been several races where I thought, "I'm gonna give it all I've got and the medics are going to have to cart me off the course in a wheelchair." I didn't think it would actually happen but it did. 

In the medical tent, I poured water and Gatorade down my throat and recovered to stagger out to the finish, where Emma I. and Amy D. were getting their medals. I will always be sad I didn't get to see them finish! 

I had a little ache in the outer part of my foot so I thought a massage would be a good idea. I sat down to wait and then my hip flexor cramped up. Then both my calves, multiple times. And my foot joined in as well. I'm lying on the massage table with ice packs everywhere, freezing to death and it was hard to tell if my body was shaking from the cold or the cramps. Greg showed me the FB post with my chip time and if I wasn't so cold and in pain, I would have cried tears of joy. Every time I tried to move, another part of my leg cramped up again. So the massage people got another wheelchair and back to the medical tent I went, where I laid flat on my back and the nice medic people iced and massaged me a bit more gently and was finally able to stand up and stagger to the shuttle. My hip and IT band never gave as much as a twinge all day. 

So after 9 marathons, I have finally dipped under 4 hours, but not in the triumphant, fist-pumping way that I had imagined. I am SO SO SO SO eternally grateful to Robin, for putting up with me, especially since at the start Emma told her that I am not prone to whining and that's pretty much all I did for the last 10K. I am also completely grateful to Greg, because Robin could not have dragged me over the finish by herself.

This picture speaks louder than words.

Official chip time: 3:59:26 

Field Placement: 304 / 722 (42.1%) 
Age group: 30 – 39 
Group Placement: 36 / 86 (41.9%) 
Gender Placement: 98 / 305 (32.1%)