Sunday, 27 December 2015

The obligatory 2015 roundup post

Thames Valley, Sulphur 50K, MS Bike, Avon Trail
R2H 1K, Agnes & I, Virginia & I, 100K bike ride
#waterfallbeer, 16 mile creek, Mississauga Marathon, Spartan Sprint
BT southern cairn, I <3 deadlifting, Chase the Coyote, CtC with Greg

2015 is the year where 2 very significant things happened:

1. I became pretty much a full time trail runner.
2. I ran my first ultra.


Frosty Trail Run - 1 hour of 2K loops at Camp Heidelburg.  I do not like this format of racing.  I like to feel like I'm going somewhere when I run.


Gave MAF a good try.  These days, I'm leaning closer to the 80/20 approach, which still emphasizes the importance of slow running.


First adventure with Rhonda at DVCA, very decent sub 2:50 at ATB with zero speedwork.


Avon Trail Thru Run (2nd adventure with Rhonda).  Signed up for my first ultra, Sulphur Springs 50K.


Ran Mississauga Marathon for the 4th time, first time as a pacer, which was also my 10th road marathon.  Sulphur Springs 50K, my first ultra and where I met Agnes.


Ran NFWHM for the 4th time, 3rd as pacer.


My first and LAST Spartan Sprint.  

August/early September

75K Niagara MS Bike Tour, 100K bike ride on Labour Day weekend.


Ran with Virginia Gingras for 3 days as she set a new Bruce Trail female FKT.  I returned to Chase the Coyote for the new 21-ish km distance and did not DNF.   


Super fun Vulture Bait 25K in London, preceded by a 10K "warmup" in preparation for...


...a third adventure with Rhonda, the Thames Valley Thru Run, new time/distance PB run. (8+ hours/54K)


Paced Tannenbaum 10K for the 2nd year in a row, took part in RunTOBeer.  Completed Toronto BT Club end to end run, awaiting badge.



Run: 2579.8K (I will definitely get to 2600K by year end!)
Lifetime total: 17122.1K
Bike: 1829.2K
Sprained right ankle: around 5-10 times.


Final thoughts:

The theme for this year was FUN.  I explored many new places, saw many beautiful things with like-minded friends.  I just shared a quote on FB the other day, "When I used to run, it was about making my body go as fast as I could go.  Now it's more about getting out there and being free." That sense of adventure will carry me into 2016 as I train for my first 50 miler at Sulphur Springs.  I am not completely filling up my race schedule as I have plans and ideas for my own trail adventures!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Thames Valley Thru Run

First off, this was NOT A RACE.  This was a fat ass end-to-end trail run, of which I did approximately half.

The run started southwest of London, about 20 minutes from my MIL's apartment, she kindly got up at stupid o'clock to drive me to the trailhead, I had left my car in a downtown London parking lot 56K away.  The trail passed by MIL's apartment at exactly 50K, but I wanted to make sure I had a new distance PB at the end of the day.

There were about 20 ladies invited, but there were 4 doing the full distance: Rhonda, Robin, Lizzy and Catherine plus me at the start and Catherine H. dropped in for a few kilometres in the afternoon.  We were supported by Clay and Steven.

The first section alternated between country roads and muddy farmer's fields.  We peed trailside, in a row, as a group (as girls do).

 If we lost sight of blazes, we retraced our steps and consulted the map (as girls do).  At one of the first aid stops, a hunter stopped his truck to comment that we were being dude that was on purpose!

One benefit to being a midget is that I never have to worry about my head colliding with van trunk doors.
At one point, we were running towards a forest, heard gunshots and saw birds flying away above the trees.  It was definitely unnerving to be running towards the sound of gunfire! As you can see from the pictures, we were dressed in bright colours and we were singing songs, yelling, hooting and using whistles to make sure we were heard. We were in a valley when a shot fired, VERY close to us.  We could see the hunter at the top of the forest, Robin shouted some choice words at him and we got the hell out of there as fast as we could.  Most of the forest was not too technical, but had lots of narrow and steep singletrack, plus all the leaf cover on the ground.

I got laser therapy on my wonky right ankle after the fall I had last week, and of course I stepped in a gopher hole in a grassy area and went down.  All the other ladies were standing over me, Catherine helped me up, Rhonda gave me a ginger chew (which was miraculous for the post-ankle roll pain/nausea) and they made me lead so I wouldn't get dropped.  We walked a couple of kilometres, until we got to a very "shuffleable" provincial park.

Throughout the day, I ate orange slices, Pringles, Chips Ahoy, Timbits and drank a bottle each of ginger ale and regular Coke.  I had Mio drops in my hydration vest and I had a headache that got progressively worse despite popping vitamin I for my ankle.  It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that I figured out the cause - electrolyte imbalance - and taking 2 salt caps made the headache go away almost immediately.  Then this morning I read the label on Mio vs. Gatorade - Mio has about 1/3rd the electrolytes as Gatorade, plus with the cool temps I really didn't think eletrolyte imbalance would be an issue, but now I know.

Running through London, Catherine H. joined us, and we ran through a lot of residential neighbourhoods and multi-use paths. By some miracle, every dog we met was leashed and well behaved.

This is Apollo.  He managed to charm even me.  I loved his striped socks.

As the saying goes, "what happens on the trail, stays on the trail" but I must share this story.  We came out of the woods to a busy street with wide guardrails on both sides.  Being about 40K into the run, climbing over them was rather painful and we didn't see any blazes on the other side so back over the guardrails we went to retrace our steps and read the map description, which led us down a very steep embankment, under the road, and back up the other side. "Then follow the multi-use path to the left." All that guardrail climbing for nothing!

The last few kilometres took us through Springbank Park and towards downtown London.  It was already starting to get dark, and I needed to be back home to meet up with the Sporty Spice girls at 6:30. I also underestimated how hard it would be mentally to run past the apartment.  After passing the 50K mark, fatigue really set in and I walked most of the way to the next checkpoint.  Still got my new distance/time PB, 54K in 8:25.  Steven and Clay drove me back to my car, which was fortunately still where I had parked it the night before.

If I had been mentally/physically prepared with appropriate food/clothing to run the full distance, I would have, as Rhonda informed me there was no FKT for the Thames Valley Trail.

I missed rescuing the injured runner, the Fireball whiskey and the instant ramen, but I had SO MUCH FUN!!  Fat ass group runs are the best, even better than races and I look forward to Rhonda's next trail adventure!

The first bite of real food at GNO, after eating crap on the trails all day long.  Photo by Nicole.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Vulture Bait 25K race report

I'm trying to remember what prompted me to want to run Vulture Bait, thinking back, I'm pretty sure it was Jeff's video race report.

Just as Virginia had predicted, there were deferrals and I got off the wait list.  I stayed overnight in London and it was a very easy 20 minute drive to Fanshawe Conservation Area.

To prepare for the ultra distance fun run in November, it was suggested to me that I run 10K extra to get over 20 miles and since the race started at 9, it made much more sense to get it in beforehand.  I had packed my bags in a disorganized manner and forgot a few things, such as underwear and my headlamp.  7 am it was still pitch black and I thought I would have to run road, but when I checked in to get my race kit, Jennifer-Anne, the race director, gave me a brand new headlamp, they were actually selling them, but she let me have it for free.  She suggested that I go a particular direction (which ended up being the last 5K of the course) and off I went.  Of course I wished I could just run the course by myself instead of waiting for the race start!

The course looped around Fanshawe Lake.

Most of the trail was flat and easy.

Glorious sunrise!
Got back with just enough time to throw the headlamp in my car, pin on the bib and take a gel.  The trail was down an extremely steep grassy embankment from the pavilion that was race central and I had this horrible thought that the race would start with a climb back up the embankment.  

I seeded myself in the middle of the pack and we were off.  There were a few very mild grassy hills and I walked them, not knowing what was coming up later.  The race spread out enough that even on the singletrack sections, I had sufficient breathing room most of the time.  At one point, I felt like taking a little walk break, and thinking I was alone, did so and immediately about 6 people passed me! %$&$@!!! If I'd known there were so many people hot on my tail I would have kept going!  There were several long (~1K) road sections that were mostly downhill and I picked off the people who had passed me fairly easily.  

There were only very small hills on this course, it was pretty much 100% runnable.  I mentioned how flat the course was to the lady behind me and she said I was crazy, but seriously, compared to Sulphur, VB is absolutely pancake flat.  There was one small water crossing with about 6K to go, people were picking across the rocks but I said fuck it and ran through the ankle deep cold water, which felt good on my feet.

I first saw these signs heading out on my solo 10K, but I was getting tired of stopping and turning around to read them, and I was in a hurry heading back so I didn't really see them either.  I did pass the 2 "rednecks" setting up their aid station.  They were dressed Duck Dynasty style with plastic duck decoys, banjo music (as threatened in the sign) and mini beer kegs.  I normally would not booze during a race, but I was thirsty, I had run 30K already, what the hell!

There was a very nice buffet of meatballs, mac & cheese, salad and cake back at the pavilion, along with free massages (that I didn't have to wait an hour for!) 

Did you know that I have a lifelong fear of glowing red space heaters?  Now you do.
I LOVED the course, it's very convenient for me, and I'm thankful that London didn't get the 15 cm of snow the weather people were forecasting all Friday night.  I didn't sign up for 50K this year, thinking it would be a close shave to make the 7 hour cutoff, but seeing the course now makes me think that sub 7 will be achievable.  I'm putting this on my list for next year!

Got a little souvenir for my car.

Official gun time: 3:21:06 (Garmin time was 3:15:43.  Dunno what happened there, it didn't take me 6 minutes to hit start after they yelled GO!)
Field placement: 136/181 (YAY a midpack finish!)
Gender placement: 61/97
AG placement: 52/76 (I was in the 1-49 AG)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Chase the Coyote race report

So I was back for some major CtC redemption.  The co-RD, Norm Nadon, read my race report of woe and offered me free entry.  When the new 21-ish kilometre long course was announced, I went for that distance.  May as well run as much as I can if I'm going to drive an hour each way!  Excellent swag: CtC buff-type thing, Saucony headphones.
Just like last year, it was a beautiful early fall morning.

My only goal for the race was to finish, and I thought I would be over 3 hours, maybe closer to 3:30.

We're off!  Note the guy in the yellow singlet.

Right away, I fell to the pack of the pack, in a small group of 4.  There was a guy in a 70.3 shirt, he mentioned how he's never done a trail race.  I was surprised he was so slow...I would have thought a trail noob would more likely start out way too fast and the hills would kill them later on.  I ran slowly up the gradual incline that's the first 2K but walked Cardiac Hill.  

Top of the Lookout.
The girl in the Nike shirt came up behind me quickly, maybe she was late to the race.  She bounded over the rocks, and made "woohoo!" sounds every 10 seconds that came out more like deranged owl hoots.  I was too glad to let her pass.

I reached the downhill where I fell and walked carefully through.  I guess I experienced all of the big hills in the 5K portion I ran last year!  The course was mainly singletrack, gentle rolling downhills, very little technical sections.  Even the "roots of all evil" were not scary at all.

The thing that confuses me about trail races is how I can be a midpacker/occasional AG on the road, but near DFL on trails.  I wonder if I fall to the back of the pack at race starts because I hate running trails with people, especially people behind me? I walked very little at this race and really don't think I am that bad of a trail runner - in fact running a similar (slower) pace was good enough for a BT FKT for Virginia!

I passed the guy in the yellow singlet, he was yowling with pain with every step and gasped out "CRAMPS!" in between yowls.  I alerted the next aid station but I actually think he managed to finish.

Throughout the race, I kept catching glimpses of Mr. 70.3, he was maybe 100-200 m ahead but I finally caught him at 18K.  I thought I was last at this point, and passing him motivated me to run strong to the finish to guarantee I wouldn't be last.  I passed one more female walker around 19 or 20K and that was it.

Agnes and her friends Kristin and Delano.

So happy to finally finish and get this lovely medal!

Official chip time: 2:57:25
Field placement: 67/71
AG: 30-39
AG placement: 10/10
Gender placement: 25/27

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Autumn Trail Adventures

Yesterday, Virginia Gingras set a new end-to-end female FKT for the Bruce Trail.  I did not know Virginia personally before joining her for parts of 3 days of her 900 km run, but heard about the need for pacers through a post in a FB group.  I am so honoured to have a small part in her amazing run! I am starting to enjoy these types of runs even more than races.  There is great food, new friends to talk to, and zero pressure.
Day 12, Steve Forrest, Lori Ference pacing Virginia through Cedar Springs.
Rest stop at Kerncliff, with Virginia's sister Velma (blue), Sarah from lulu Oakville (sunglasses) and the Hayden XC team.
The new queen of the Bruce Trail takes a picture with lil ol me!
This weekend, I will be running the long course at Chase the Coyote.  I'm back to atone for my DNF last year and finishing will be the only option!

The next race after that will hopefully be Vulture Bait 25K.  I got accomodations, etc. all figured out, thought I would sign up around NOW but Virginia told me that the race had been sold out for ages.  I am currently 10th on the wait list.

I was going to finish my 2015 season with the Guelph Winter Running Festival HM, but the race starts at 1 pm, and I don't mind running through the early afternoon, but starting then?  hahah, some serious zombie girl would be happening.

Lastly, this week I was invited to a special trail event that is happening in November sometime.  I am pretty sure I'm not allowed to talk about the details yet, but I am stoked to have been invited to something so cool!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

MS Bike Tour Niagara report

First off, I want to thank everyone who donated!  I surpassed my goal of $1000, and online donation is still open, if anyone cares to donate a few dollars.

The reason I chose to participate in the MS Bike Tour is that my SIL, Beki, has MS, and I wanted to do something small for her.  I was already planning to sign up, but the MS Society had a booth with a wheel of fortune at the ATB expo and I spun $10 off the $20 registration, you can't pass up a deal like that.


Arrived at the start with the jersey I had picked up the night before that was several sizes too big and fortunately was able to exchange for a smaller size with no questions asked.  The ride was supposed to start at 8, but at 7:59 people were still milling around but the start wasn't too late, around 8:05.  This was NOT a race, but I didn't want to be a cruise either, so I pushed fairly hard out of the gate, passing a lot of people.  The course was described as VERY flat but the first section of the loop was definitely downhill and I wondered what it would be like on the back half....

Lately, I've been having trouble eating breakfasts that are light enough to let me exercise but keeps me full throughout.  I ate a hard boiled egg before yesterday's LR and it helped a lot, so this morning I ate 2 eggs, but that was several hours prior to the start.  There were aid stations every 15K, and I bypassed the first one.  After the 40Kers made their earlier turn back to the start, it was apparent that the people doing the long course were the speedsters, and I thought I was going at a pretty good clip, but I was getting passed constantly.  There were 'tour leaders' who are basically mobile aid, they would ride with you if you want, or help change a flat, etc. if necessary.  When they passed me, one of them asked if I was all right, because he had mistaken me for some other girl who had told him that she wasn't sure she could make it the whole 75.  Uh, I ran hilly trails for 7 hours, I can handle a 3 hour flat bike ride, thanks.

The 2nd aid station at 30K (I called it the first on my IG post since it was the first one I actually stopped at) was just a tent in a field.

It was stocked with all kinds of fruit (oranges, bananas, apples, local peaches, grapes) and I chowed down, although I was wishing for donuts or cake.  Pretty soon after leaving that aid station, I started to get really loopy from all the fruit sugar.  I considered eating my emergency protein bar but stuck it out to the next aid station.

which was....aid station heaven!

whole wheat tortilla, turkey, cucumber, tomato, couscous salad, more local peaches, perfectly crisp grapes.
Rejuvenated by the protein, I continued on.  I rode the first hour at almost PB speed (25.5 km/h) and although the event was officially untimed, it would be a thrill to finish under 3 hours, as my 75K training ride took 3:21.  Made the turn onto the return leg, along the Niagara River - I remembered this section of road from the NFIM marathon from hell in 2012.  Back then, it was a 20 mile death march, and today it was headwind and slight uphill for 20 miles.  AGH!  

By this time, the pack had completely thinned out and I was alone on the road.  There were cars and other cyclists, but no one else doing the MS Tour.  The course was very well marked with huge neon green signs.  I overheard some guy at the finish telling his wife that he got would have to be in complete la la land to miss the turns.  I got passed by a pack of male cyclists, one dude hung back to ask if I was OK, that I looked tired and totally done.  I was actually feeling quite fine at that moment and I am really curious if I have some kind of Cycling Face where I look like I'm dying, when I'm not.

I was really struggling to keep the speed above just 22 km/h and the headwind along the river.  I stopped briefly at the last aid station just to refill my bottle with Gatorade.  The final section was on a multi-use trail.  Those of you who ride with me know how much I despise riding on those.  There were tight turns getting on the trail from the road, and my favourite, slow oblivious walkers.  Plus it was narrow.  

Finally back on the road 5K from the finish and I see nothing that looks familiar.  They said at the start that the 40K route was a bit long due to construction, but didn't mention if the 75 was long as well, since the back half was the same.  My hands were getting really numb and my lady parts were in terrible shape.

I came up to a stop sign, the first stop sign I actually made a complete stop at all day (there were cops stopping traffic at the other major intersections) and saw the finish line about 200 m down the road but I had to wait quite awhile because that road was busy! what a way to kill my mojo right at the end!

I am careful not to let factors like weather influence my opinion of an event.  The absolutely fantastic weather certainly didn't hurt, and I wish there were flat country/low-traffic waterfront roads to ride on around here!  The course was very accurate, and the aid stations were perfectly evenly spaced apart and well stocked. I wasn't a huge fan of the multi-use trail, but it wasn't a deal-breaker.  I certainly wouldn't mind doing the MS ride again.

Official Garmin time: 75.4K, 3:09:49.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Spartan Sprint Toronto race report

After last year's Mud Hero debacle,  I have since gotten a lot of therapy for anxiety, leading up to a session last week, where I outlined, in writing, my expectations going into this race:

1.  we would run together
2. Greg would not offer me any help unless I specifically asked for it.
3.  if one person (me) was unable to complete an obstacle, the other was not allowed to brag or gloat about it.

Saturday turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far.  We were scheduled for the 11:30 heat but drove to the site early.  We parked in a field right near two Very Large Dead Things, which led to us gagging and throwing up in our mouths a bit before running away to the start and lining up for the 11 am heat.  Lots of gym rat girls and 20-something douchebag guys, including a group in different superhero shirts, strutting and posing.

Greg told me last year he ran the hills.  I do not run hills, except in road races.  I walked slowly up the hill, letting him go ahead.  The first couple of obstacles were really easy.  The first wall climb came up and I saw the large space underneath the wall, and rolled under instead.  

Occasionally Greg was ahead of me, most of the time he was behind, because I would either skip the obstacle and do 3-10 burpees instead of the 30 prescribed for punishment.  At one point, he was behind by a lot, and I lay down in the mud in a shady place and napped for a few minutes to wait for him.  

At the sandbag carry, I thought the women's weight was too light, so I switched with Greg.  Behind me were the superhero douches, whining about the weight.  I turned around and said, "I bet you don't like that the little Chinese girl is carrying the men's weight without complaining, huh?" That shut them up.  

The only parts of the race that I really liked were the trails, but I can get trails without the obstacles.  

While I didn't have a full scale panic attack like I did at Mud Hero, I just can't wrap my head around the whole "badass" attitude.  I think true badass-ness is achieved through overcoming other kinds of obstacles other than man-made ones.  

Some dude said "great job, hon!" at the end of this obstacle.  I had to resist the urge to throw mud at him.
People kept saying, "this is supposed to be fun!" I wasn't having fun, AT ALL.
Official chip time: 1:28:01.  

It would have been a LOT slower if I had attempted more obstacles.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

2015 Niagara Falls Women's HM race report

I would have never guessed, after all the races I've done, that NFWHM would be the one where I have the most meaningful streak going.  I've done ATB and the Chilly HM more times, but I have run Niagara Women's since the inaugural race in 2012.  

Went to pick up race kits for Kim and myself, and couldn't pass up a chance to run the southern terminus of the Bruce Trail.  The cairn is located near Brock's Monument at Queenston Heights.  My Canadian history interests have mainly focused on WWI, but I started reading about the War of 1812 after visiting the monument and it was fascinating.  In no other war have the Americans had their asses kicked so many times by the British/Canadians! and very close to home, Burlington Heights is as far as the Americans have ever invaded into Canada. /end history lesson.
A guy took pity on me contorting to get a selfie at the cairn and graciously offered to take my picture.
Race morning, Kim was late picking me up because she took the wrong exit off the highway, and there was a loooong lineup of cars to get into the parking lot. (everyone who didn't pre-pay for the parking pass at kit pickup, shame on you!) We both really had to go and when we parked with 10 minutes to race start, decided not to risk porta-potty lineups and went in the bushes.

The race start was delayed several minutes due to the number of people still arriving, so I didn't manage to seed myself correctly; I was ahead of the 2:10 pacer in the corral. 

I chose to use my new Garmin Fenix, uh because it's new, instead of my old reliable 210.  Support for intervals on the Fenix must be added manually, and I didn't have a chance to test it out before the race.  So at the race start, I was fumbling with the buttons, and didn't figure out how to turn on the intervals until 3K in.  I ran the first 2 sets of run/walk "manually" and if you look at the splits, it was recorded as one big chunk, like a warmup, so I had no idea whether or not my running pace was right.  I ran by feel and that wasn't very reliable, considering the first 3K of the course is downhill, but I hit 5K at 31:xx, so all was good.

We hit the halfway point at exactly 1:07.  I started out with a large group, but one girl (Nicole) was right by my side.  I called her Rebecca in my head. Nicole's Garmin was beeping the 10/1s about 5 seconds before mine and it was driving me loony.  

I'm posting this picture because WTF? why is my tongue sticking out?
Technology got the better of me later on, when I got a FB notification on my Garmin, and accidentally turned it off for a few seconds while trying to dismiss the notification.  So I said to Nicole that we'd go with her 10/1s for the rest of the race.  

Posting this picture because my arms look fucking ripped.  Kettlebells have been paying off!

"A photographer, everybody wave!" That's Nicole in the pink socks.
Making the final turn, the Garmin was showing 2:13:xx so unless I totally walked the last stretch, I would again miss the sweet spot of being < 15s under my goal time.  I'd rather be a lot under than dawdling too much and being 2 seconds over like at Chilly though!  Nicole was the only person who stuck with me to the finish.  Not sure what happened to the rest of the group.  I ran the 2nd half in 1:07:29 so can't fault the pace bunny for being erratic. 

Nicole said she was recovering from hip bursitis, glad she finished strong.
I wore my InknBurn lace singlet that I had originally bought for Sulphur, but gave me horrible pit chafe on a training run.  Thankfully, there were no chafe problems, as I put on about half a stick of glide beforehand.

Kim wanted to go back and take pictures with the cute firefighters. Wasn't gonna argue with that.
Official chip time: 2:14:29
Field placement: 583/2337
AG: 35-39
AG placement: 106/438
Gender placement: 571/2322

Monday, 25 May 2015

Sulphur Springs 50K race report

I got pretty sick of being asked, "are you excited?" leading up to the race.  The answer was NO.  If I let myself get excited, that would lead to nerves and downward spiral from there.

My only goal for the race was FINISH.  Peter was sick/injured and when he decided to go, Nicole convinced him to start slowly with me.  I was going to hitch a ride to Dundas Valley with Henro, but he was sick and wasn't sure he was going to go.  So I got a ride with Steve, whom I have met once at the Avon Thru Run.

Even though the morning forecast called for cool temps, I stuck with my tank + skirt but also had a throwaway jacket.  Except that Steve texted that he was early and already in my driveway, so I ran around, grabbing things and forgot the jacket.

Got out of the car at DVCA, and damn it's cold! I got my bib and shirt, I could have put on the shirt to keep warm but I wasn't going to jinx myself by wearing the shirt before finishing.  Found Henro and Peter.  Saw Steven and Rhonda. It's kind of amazing how many ultra/trail people I know already!

I have a Garmin 210, and from the Avon run, I knew that the battery would be close to death around 7 hours, so I didn't turn it on until the last possible second.  But then the race started and I still didn't have satellites.  I didn't get satellites until at least 10 minutes in.

The first "lollipop" loop on Headwaters was great, if a bit crowded, especially in the beginning when we were running with the 25K-ers, and then on the downhill when the 10K-ers were starting their race.  But I saw Beth!

Back up Martin Rd. for the first time and said hi to Clay, who was heading downhill, and then Peter and I heard someone saying something about the HoJo and it was Robin!  We didn't need anything so onto the first 20K loop.  The pace still felt great, the temperature was absolutely perfect, no wind, no humidity and there was not a single mosquito in sight.  

My nutrition plan, thanks to Alissa, was to eat every hour.  I think the first 2 hours I had gels, and then the 3rd hour coincided with an aid station, so I had some oranges and a ginger ale.  There was cantaloupe at the aid stations, of all the foods. *gak*

Peter went into the race with shin splints and he said the pain was tolerable, but being sick from the flu was making him woozy.  I ran on ahead and talked a bit to a lady (Agnes) who had said, "I'm sure we'll be passing each other many times today." I broke one of my rules and called Greg just past the halfway point (showed 25K on my Garmin) to tell him I was still on pace for 7 hours and people who overheard my conversation laughed, probably at the absurdity of someone talking on the phone while in the woods during a race.  Peter said he was going to drop out back at the start, we saw Clay and Robin again going down while we were heading up.  Also Jamie from IG.  I had felt a little hot spot on my big toe, so I put BodyGlide on it and said bye to Peter.  Two seconds after I started running, I felt the telltale scrape of a chafe starting on my pit, so I doubled back, slapped on more BodyGlide and off I went for real.  My Garmin showed 26K at the start of the 2nd loop.

Robin had (jokingly?) said I'd probably catch her but the longer stop made it impossible.  It really was amazing how spread out everyone was.  Pre-race, I was really worried about navigating the steep, narrow and technical downhill connection from Monarch to Sulphur Creek Trails in a crowd, but I was pretty much alone, sometimes with Agnes and behind one other dude, Burgundy Shirt in Road Shoes.  Occasionally a speed demon in the relay blew by us, and Jeff Rowthorn, looking cheerful.  

I've always heard that trail runners are the friendliest people around, and the support of the other competitors was amazing.  Literally every runner I saw said "great job!" or "looking good!" with a big smile and I had a big smile on my face in return.

Alissa had said in her wise words of pre-race wisdom that I should count steps: 50 running/25 walking to keep myself from trudging.  I did walk a lot in the 2nd loop, but I never felt like I was doing a death march.  Sometimes I would catch myself walking pretty flat/downhill sections and when I forced myself to run and count steps, it never felt like my legs were going to fall off and I definitely never felt so bad that I had to wait 10 minutes for things to change.  The old cliche Relentless. Forward. Motion. kept me going and I didn't really need motivation to not quit (unlike pretty much every other race EVER!) but I remembered that I already ordered the 50K car sticker so... :)

The final time on Headwaters, Agnes directed me the wrong way and I ran about 5 metres before everyone at the aid station yelled for me to come back. "I want my 5 metres back!" But then she gave me great news, I was thinking that there was still 10-15K to go and it was actually less than 10, as her watch was showing 38K - mine was showing about 35 - and that Headwaters is a lot shorter than the advertised 10K. Also that we were on pace for sub 7 hours. Right before tackling the Three Bitches for the final time, I gave Greg another call, "I HAVE LESS THAN 10K TO GO, GET YOUR ASS TO THE FINISH!", made the turnaround and enjoyed that final extended downhill.  My thought was, I have done this crazy race.  All I have to do is not fucking trip and hurt myself! 

At the bottom of Martin Road, Robin was waiting for me, which was SO SO wonderful of her!  I kinda wish I could have run some of that hill, but walking would get me to the finish just as well.  My Garmin beeped low battery as I was climbing the hill. I did run the final stretch into the chute.  Greg didn't get there in time to see me finish.

So I have finally done what I swore I would never do: run an ultra and on trails, no less!  And now I want to do more!  But most of the ultras around here are in the summer, and I haaaaaaaaaaate heat, humidity and most of all, mosquitoes.  I was looking at a 50K in the fall but training would have to start NEXT WEEK and I can't deal with that...but there will be more ultras in my future, there is no doubt about it.

Official chip time: 6:54:12
Pace: 8:18/km
Field Placement: 83/127 (65.4%)
Gender Placement: 41/50 (82%)

The celebratory burger and poutine from Chuck's was delicious!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Mississauga Marathon 2015

I've been wanting to pace a marathon, but thought if I was going to put myself through a marathon training cycle that I would want to race.  Enter Sulphur Springs 50K, and pacing a marathon as my last long run made perfect sense.

My assignment was 4:30 run/walk, and I prepared with an 8 day mini-taper.  If I didn't have the time goal, I wouldn't have tapered and run by feel.  

The whole thing seemed incredibly surreal, picking up my pacer gear, pinning on the MARATHON bib, getting on the shuttle to the start, I still couldn't wrap my head around, "hey I have to run a marathon today."

Amy, Emma, Robin, Jana, me, pre-race.
A totally normal occurence pre-race is that various people see my ears and sign and say, "oh I'll be running with you today!"  A girl, Malgorzata, found me before the race, followed me to the porta-potty, chatted to Robin and Jana and trailed me to the corral. It was her first marathon and she was obviously nervous.  

photo by Malgorzata.

Sam and Nicole passed by, and I grabbed them for a quick picture.  As I was fishing my phone out of my belt, I asked Nicole to hold my sign, but she held it high up in the air and yelled to the crowd, "have fun running with this girl! she's a pro!"

My race plan was a small positive split, since the first half is the one with the extended downhills.  It was mostly overcast, which kept things comfortably cool.  Ran the Mississauga Rd. hill easy-peasy, thankfully we hit a walk break about a minute after the crest of the hill.  An older gentleman, Don, complimented me on perfectly pacing the effort of that hill.  Shortly afterwards, I felt a gurgle in my stomach.  My brain started going on overdrive.  Is there a bush or tree up ahead? would it be better go to during a run or walk interval? Unfortunately, we were running through a residential neighbourhood, and the closest bunch of useable trees was in someone's front yard, behind a high stone step.  I would not have time to go behind the trees, so I handed my sign to Malgorzata, squatted as low as I could and pulled a Paula Radcliffe, ignoring the participants saying, "OMG! look at the pacer!" I don't think I took more than 30 seconds, but having to sprint back to the sign felt like the longest run ever and I prayed the extra effort wouldn't come back to haunt me later.

Made the turn onto Indian Rd. and it was clear there was a group closely following me.  "THIS IS WHERE THE SHIT GETS REAL!" I yelled.  I got rid of the sign at this point. "You can find me by now, right? Pink hair, crazy socks, bunny ears, pink skirt?!"  In the group was Malgorzata, Don, Anna, Linda, Lesley, and a guy in green plaid shorts that I'll call The Belcher.

What a difference from last year.  There was pretty much no wind at all.  We all talked a bit.  It was Anna's 2nd marathon and she had run close to 5 hours at Scotia last fall.  Linda was doing the marathon for her 60th birthday, which was upcoming.  Don was also doing the marathon (his 40th!!!) to celebrate HIS 60th birthday.  The Belcher punctuated the conversation with urps.

Went through the half in 2:13:30, exactly as planned.  Even the wind tunnel heading west on Lakeshore towards Oakville was only a slight breeze.  Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kim's car with the vanity license plate slowly driving by.  "KIM! KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM!!!" I screamed, she rolled down the window and snapped a picture of me.  Very shortly after that, I saw Steve (whom I had met at the Avon Thru Run).

I look happy (I felt happy?!) but really, I was just screaming for Kim.
Took one little "unauthorized walk break" (as I called it) at the crest of the hill on Meadow Wood.  The sun was out and it was getting really hot.  A lot of people find the big rolling hills on Lakeshore to be killer, but I find the downhill really helps to break it up. I took another unauthorized walk break and the whole group walked with me.  "GOOOOOOOOOO!!! gogogogo you guys! DON'T MAKE ME SCREAM AT YOU AGAIN, I'M TOO TIRED!" I felt a teeny, tiny bit of a "wobble" - blood sugar dropping.  I remembered to bring 5 gels this year! downed the final gel and perked up.  I didn't have any more brain power to check with my pace band to see if we were on pace, the later kms were on the far side of my wrist and what? I needed to turn the band to the top of my wrist?  too much work. Even if I was off pace, I was still pretty damn close.  At the lighthouse, a spectator asked if I was on pace.  "yes!" I replied testily.  "really?" he asked.  Did I look horribly off pace? 

Despite the slow pace, the marathon went by surprisingly fast.  Before I knew it, we were at 40K.   Those goddamn bugs and pedestrians were everywhere.  The main group was still with me, Anna was right beside me, I wonder if the poor girl got a decent race picture?  I knew I was slightly off pace, and walked about 30 secs of the final walk break, jogged for the other 30 and then turned it up for the final km.

I felt like running along the chute and across the finish line upright and smiling was the joyful celebration that I missed out on last year.

Anna and I, seeing the finish.

Marathon #10.  A success!
Official chip time: 4:31:15
Field placement: 439/738
AG: 30-39
AG placement: 42/82
Gender placement: 144/281

At the finish, Don came up and again remarked on how great my even splits were.  Linda said, "I knew you were dying, but you kept it together enough to get us in on time."

2 days post-race, and my legs are actually feeling decent.  The countdown to Sulphur is on!