Monday, April 30, 2012

Keeping the Cooties at Bay

This is the critical week for me.  Forget all the weeks of training, this week is the *big* week.  It's the week that I absolutely have to stay healthy.   The last thing I want is to get a cold the week of my A-race.  Knock on wood, that hasn't happened yet but my gallivanting in the Caribbean last week is a sure fire recipe for a germ invasion.  In fact, I felt like I was getting sick the day after we got back.  After a couple of solid nights of sleep, I am pretty sure I nipped it in the bud.

But just in case, I'm taking extra precautions this week.  Those precautions involve a regular dose of Cold FX Daily Defense, along with some extra vitamin C and drinking a lot of fluids.  Given that my sinuses are also prone to getting infected, I've taken to using the neti pot daily and I'm keeping my trusty Sudafed handy as well.  I've had to take one this morning already.  If I even feel the slightest scratchy throat or sniffle, I'm busting out the Oil of Oregano.  Maybe I'm going a bit overboard but I'd rather be safe than sidelined this Sunday.

What do you turn to to try to keep a cold at bay?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Eat, Drink, Repeat

My view for the week.
I was going to title this post "How Not to Taper" but I can't say for sure if my shenanigans this past week have been a bad thing or not.  I guess I'll find out next weekend. 
I do know one thing, I'm glad I have another week to get back to "normal".  As much as I enjoyed the week away, I'm glad to be back home, away from the buffets, beer and blender drinks.  7 days of "Eat, Drink & Repeat" will do a number on anyone, no matter how fit they are.  There was a scale in the bathroom in our room and Gary actually weighed himself at the beginning of the week and at the end of the week.  I didn't bother.  I didn't want to know.  By the middle of the week, I felt gross and I was incredibly bloated. Par for the course when you go to an all inclusive resort, at least for me anyway.  But, it was a vacation.  Vacation to me means a break from everyday life.  So I took a break from my regularly scheduled healthy living and indulged in a week of quasi debauchery.  Once and a while it's nice to let loose.
I had big plans to run at least 3 times while I was there.  Those big plans never materialized as I was too busy having fun.  I made it out twice.  I did manage to run 10km a couple of days after my 5.5km outing.  I was tempted to try and run longer but the sun was climbing higher along with the temperature so I pulled the pin.  That and all I really wanted to do was lie down and listen to the ocean.  I got a lot of that done this past week along with a few naps on the beach, which is never a bad thing.  I wouldn't say that I've come back well rested though.  Sub-par air conditioning,  past-my-bedtime booze filled evenings and a rock hard mattress resulted in less than ideal sleep.  At least the lounge chairs were comfy enough to nap on!  Good thing I've got just over a week to catch up on my sleep and get rid of the last bit of bloating from my 7 days of eat, drink & repeat. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Feelin' hot hot hot.....feelin' hot hot hot. Yah Mon! Greetings from Jamaica! I'm sitting in the lobby of the lovely Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton, sipping a nice strong Jamaican coffee and nursing a small hangover from the Bride to Be's stagette last night. The trip has been wonderful so far. Amazingly I have not managed any weird sunburn patterns but I still have 3.5 more days to rectify that. After 2 somewhat booze filled days, I finally managed to get to bed early and get out for my first run at the resort yesterday. I wasn't expecting to be able to go far. I figured if I could get a couple of laps around the resort in, I might make 5km. It wasn't going to be an easy 5km. There is no such thing as flat here. I got out the door at 7:15 and it was already stinking hot. I ran up to the road along the top of the resort and just about died. It seriously felt like it was straight up. I followed the road along to the other side of the resort and wound my way through the paths and down to the beach. I got a lot of strange looks from the hordes of early breakfast goers. No matter, I was going to earn my pancakes this morning. I ran along the beach towards the point where all the fancy bungalows were and ran around the tip of the point. As I turned around I realized that it was going to be back up hill from there. 15 minutes in and I was already drenched. One loop of the resort was just over 2km. It was so hot I actually contemplated jumping on the dread mill at the gym but much to my chagrin, the 3 treadmills they had were all occupied. So much for that idea. So it was back out to the top road and back around the loop again. Up the gut busting hill. Down along the bottom end of the resort and along the beach. It may be hot as Hades but I really can't complain about the view. It's beautiful. I'd post a pic but I can't figure out how to load it from my ipad. As I huffed and puffed my way back up towards our building, I thought about breakfast. I looked at my watch as I stopped: 5.52km in just over 30 minutes. I wanted to run longer but I wasn't sure I could handle another lap. It was getting hotter by the minute. So I gave in and headed upstairs to shower and get some food. I'll try and tackle 4 loops tomorrow. I'll just have to make sure I stay away from the Dirty Bananas and Red Stripe. For now it's time for me to hit the beach and have a nap. Life sucks sometimes doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bust out the Big Guns

T-minus 2 days till we're off to the beach.  I've got my suitcase almost packed, gotten my hair done, taken my pasty white skin to the tanning booth and I'm even getting a manicure tonight.  I have one last thing to take care of before I am truly beach ready.   I've got to give myself a pedicure.  Given the current state of my feet, this is no small feat.  I haven't had a pedicure in years.  Mainly because the last pedicure I had was so awful that I ended up with sore feet and a wonky toenail.  Call me scarred for life I guess.  That was about 10 years ago.  I often think it would be lovely to go and have one done again but I don't think I'd want to subject an esthetician to my awful runners feet.  I imagine they'd have to bring out the big guns to deal with the callouses.  Much like this scene from Dumb and Dumber, with the exception that I at least cut my toenails on a regular basis.

I took a cruise through Winners to see if I could find a pedicure kit or some kind of fancy pumice scrub to at least soften the callouses a bit.  I can't take them off, not at this point in my training.  I managed to find a fancy little kit for $5.99.  What a bargain!  So tonight's task will be to fix up my feet so they are ready to be seen in public.  I've picked out a lovely corally red colour that should cover up the black toenails quite nicely with about 3 coats.  Here's hoping that my little kit is up to the task and that I don't have to break out the power tools.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Boston or Bust?

Boston Marathon Logo copyright of the Boston Athletic Association.
The Holy Grail of Marathons in now underway.  Boston has started.  So far, the big news this year has been the temperature.  It's supposed to get hot.  Really really hot.  Inexperienced runners were recommended to defer to next year.  I get that the BAA has to cover their butts and put that out there but do they really think that anyone that makes it Boston is going to say "Uh, well it's supposed to really hot, so maybe I'll just wait till next year."   Hell no.  The year I ran it, it was stinkin' hot and I had trained all winter in temperatures that hovered around the -15 mark.  Was I given the option to defer to the following year?  Nope.  Would I have?  Absolutely not.  I didn't train for 20 weeks, fork out all kinds of money and take time off work to take a trip to Boston just to watch the race.   I went to run it.  I went to experience all that is Boston.  When race morning arrived and it was already around 15 degrees at 9:00 am, I figured it was going to be a warm one.   I ran it back in the days when it started at noon so I had 3 hours to kill before the race started.  That meant 3 hours for the temperature to climb as well.  And climb it did.  It was in the mid 20's by the time the race started.  I have no clue how hot it was when I finished, all I knew was that I wanted to sit down in the shade and nurse my sunburn.
I knew going in that I wasn't going to set any PB's.  During the race I tried to maintain a decent pace but realized that the heat was going to get the better of me if I didn't slow down.   So I swallowed my pride and ran when I could and walked when I couldn't.  Either way I was going to get to the finish line, it just wasn't going to be as fast as I had hoped it would be.  Looking back, my time didn't really matter.  What mattered what that I actually got the opportunity to do it.  Crappy day and all, I'm really glad I did.

If you qualified for this years race, would you take the deferment or would you race?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

12 weeks in: Mississauga Marathon Training Update

The Universe finally seems to have gotten it.  I can't believe I've actually made it through these last 4 weeks with minimal disruption.  I also realized that my updates have not really occurred when they were supposed to!  HA.  I'm actually a week off.   As of today, I've got 3 weeks left till Mississauga, not 4.  So it's pretty much taper time.  I'm so glad my friends Mike & Mel decided to get married in Jamaica this week.  Yah Mon.  We're off to the land of Bob Marley and jerk chicken on Thursday for a week of fun in the sun.  I know I'm going to have to do some training while I'm down there.  It may only involve sprints to the bar but that's better than nothing, right?  I've logged all the long miles, now I just have to focus on intensity and getting some rest.  Sleeping on a beach counts as rest right?

These last 4 weeks haven't been too bad.  I've missed some runs due to racing, recovery and getting sick but I've tried to get most of my mileage in.  The bigger deal is that I haven't missed a long run yet and I don't intend to.  I couldn't see myself running 23km around the resort in Jamaica so I'm going to do my long run on the Wednesday night before we leave.  That still counts in my books!

So this is where I've netted out over the last 4 weeks.

Week of March 19th
I was still dealing with some residual leg issues so I cut my distance back a bit for each run this week.  I was also going to be racing Around the Bay that Sunday so I didn't want to overdo it during the week.   I was also still fairly busy at work.
Scheduled Mileage:  68km  Actual Mileage:  58.14km - not bad.

Week of March 26th:
I was recovering from Around the Bay so I figured my Tuesday night tempo run was definitely not going to happen.  It was a scheduled "easy" week so I didn't mind cutting back on my mileage a bit.  My Sunday run that week was only 17km.  What a treat that was!
Scheduled Mileage:  47km  Actual Mileage: 36.25km - not bad.

Week of April 2nd:
This was supposed to be my biggest week of mileage yet.  I had a race and my longest run within 2 days of each other.  I was planning on racing the Good Friday 10 Miler so I had to shuffle all my runs around.  I was going to use that race as my long tempo so my Tuesday night run ended up being hill repeats.  I didn't quite get the entire 12 km done but I was ok with that.  I also skipped my easy run during the week.  Sunday's run was my 36km course recce.  Made for a pretty huge week of mileage but I still missed my target. 
Scheduled Mileage:  71km  Actual Mileage:  65.13km - pretty darned good. 

Week of April 9th:
This week started off with such promise.  I felt a little run down on Tuesday but not too bad.  I figured I'd go out and run at least a 13-14km tempo vs the 17 I was supposed to do.  I ran just under 15km and when I got home, I couldn't warm up.  Uh-oh.  Sure enough I woke up that night with a totally stuffed up nose.  I thought it might have been allergies because my ears and palette were itchy so I took an allergy pill.  Took care of the itching but not the stuffy nose.  The stuffy nose turned into a runny nose and a lot of sneezing which then turned into a nasty cold and had me on my ass all day Thursday.  I probably should have stayed home Friday as well but I didn't.  My big goal this week was to get my 32km with hills run in and I was doing that on Saturday so I could go and watch the G-man race Paris to Ancaster again.  I woke up Saturday morning feeling a whole lot better so I managed to get that run in at least.
Schedule Mileage:  67km    Actual Mileage:  47.03.  Yikes. 

The big question now is will I have done enough to get me to a sub 3:20 marathon?  I don't know.  I don't think I've ever missed as much training as I have with this particular marathon.  I do know that when I train for New York, I may re-think the long tempo runs.  They are a generally a very tough effort and I think those are the runs that really kill me.  I may actually cap those at a max of 15km but we'll see. 

Now it's taper time. Time for me to pack my bags and get my fun on in Jamaica. 

Irie, mon.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kiki, Me & The Marquis

Whose idea was this anyway?

Those were the first words I uttered to my enthusiastic training partner, Kiki, when I met up with her this morning in High Park.   She had warned me on my way in that the park had been invaded and she wasn't kidding.  The cherry blossoms were out and so were the tourists so getting a parking spot was tricky and it was only 8:00 am.  I couldn't imagine what the park would be like by the time we finished our run.  Total chaos I'm sure.   But the blossoms were definitely a sight to behold.  I had to take a pic, which of course, doesn't do them justice.
Cherry Blossoms
We had a 32km run to do that was supposed to include hills.  So, me being the slightly insane runner that I am, figured that we should tackle the Marquis de Sade running route.  Aptly named as it covers 18 hills in 21 km so if you're big on inflicting pain on yourself then this is the route for you.  I had transcribed the map into written directions and sent a link of the g-maps route to my phone so we were covered direction wise.  Given that the route is only 21km and we had to do 32, we opted to run down to the Lakeshore and head east for 5.5km, turn around and run back to the start of the route. 

Off we went through the park, dodging tourists with cameras and dog walkers out onto Lakeshore Blvd and on to the bike path.  For some strange reason I figured I'd be great in shorts, my calf sleeves, a couple of t-shirts and my arm warmers.  Uh.  No.  The forecast called for a high of 17 and it was 7 degrees and sunny when I left the house.   But it wasn't a warm 7.  Oh no.  There was a bit of a breeze that was just enough to make it chilly.  By the time we hit the Lakeshore my fingers were frozen.  For some reason I opted not to bring my gloves.  D'uh.  I figured once I got going I probably wouldn't notice it but for now I was pretty miserable.  No matter I had crazy Kiki to distract me and keep my mind off the cold.

As usual the conversation flowed well and before I knew it we had turned around and were heading back to the park.  I was still feeling the remnants of my cold.  My pace on the flats was slower than normal but I was happy to be able to get out so it didn't really matter.  This run was not about pace, it was just about getting through it.  I knew going in it wasn't going to be pretty or fast.

We made our way around the bottom end of the park and up Spring Road hill.  No other choice there as the only way to get in to the park from the way we were coming was uphill.  We got to the top and I took out the map to see where we had to go.  Thankfully we were headed out of the park for a bit.  We made our way out to Bloor and went west to Clendennan.  We headed north on Clendennan towards Glenlake where we'd tackle hill number one of the route.  We chugged up Glenlake towards High Park Blvd.  We'd be heading back into the park and hitting the trails.  We got back into the park and I checked the map again.  I realized at that point that all the rights I had typed were actually lefts. Ha ha ha...oh my.  So we took the path to the left as there was no path to the right.  It was now onto the trails.  After 12 km, I can't tell you how nice that felt.  The ground was springy and soft, a welcome break from pounding the pavement.

We meandered our way through the trails and back out to the bottom of Spring Road.  Yup, we had to go up it again.  So, up we went.  Then it was back onto the trails and then back out around to the bottom end of the park.  We followed that along to Centre Road and made our way up that.  That was hill number three.  We were both huffing and puffing at the top.  We both agreed that there was a good chance we'd be walking up the hills by the end.

We spent the next few km running around the park, on and off the trails.  As predicted, the park had become even busier.  I've never seen the park that packed.  We were dodging clueless camera toting pedestrians left right and centre.  The route finally took us off the main path onto a trail and out of the chaos.  Ahhhh.  We motored along the path.  Kiki was running low on water so we figured we'd stop at the Starbucks so she could re-fill her bottles.  We had to get up the Ellis Stairs first.  That was climb number four.  I wish I took a picture.  Those stairs go straight up.  Our quads were burning by the time we got to the top.  I welcomed the breather as Kiki went for water.  I knew the next hill was going to be really ugly.  I've run up it many a time.  Good old gut busting Ellis Park.  It's a long hill that has a slight switchback in it that kicks up to what seems like 90 degrees straight up with about 100m left to the top.  It's awful.  But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

We were at 18.5km in, just past the half way point of our run as we tackled Ellis Park.  This next section was going to be tough.  It was a lot of climbing and descending.  Up Ellis Park, down Morningside, then back up Morningside to the lights at Windermere.  We caught the tail end of a red so we got a wee breather.   Then it was off down hill again to South Kingsway.   A whiff of bacon cooking elicited a groan from both of us as we made our way down Morningside.  Mmm....bacon.  We chit chatted away on the flats along South Kingsway.  We had the big Riverside Drive hill waiting for us.  That whole leg of the route was just plain evil.  More stairs and steep hills.  We dragged our butts up Riverside Drive and then turned onto Riverside Crescent to a very steep downhill that curled around into a rather unpleasant climb to another set of stairs.   There was a lot of bitching and many a swear word.  Sure it may look pretty but I think this was climb number 8 and we were at about 23km in to the run.  I couldn't fathom another 9 km of this.  Had I been on my own there was a good chance I would have wussed out and done the rest of my run on a flatter route.

Stairway To Hell
But I dragged Kiki out on this adventure and I wasn't going to bail.  At least not yet.  We got up the stairs and meandered through the Riverside 'hood to Bloor Street.  Of course there was one more climb before we hit Bloor.  I checked the route again and we were supposed to head up Traymore to Riverside Drive north and then over to Old Mill.  The Old Mill Hill is notorious in the High Park area.  It is long hill that is fairly steep and has a lovely little switch back at the top of it that really kicks you in the teeth.  Luckily we were only doing the first part and then jogging off to the left to go up Humbercrest.  Which was also another long hill but according to the route, we turned off in a park and followed a trail for a bit.  We found the park and my heart sank as I saw yet another set of freaking stairs.  MutherofgodIamsofuckingtiredofstairs.   At least they weren't very big.  We ended up in a weird little alley and followed it around back onto Humbercrest.  Now it was on to St. Marks.  At least we were going down it at this point.  Even then I had to go it slowly.  It is STEEP.  This was the route that I ran on Tuesday night with my run group.  When we got to the bottom of St. Mark's we figured that there was no way we'd finish the route and be right on the money with our mileage.  We figured there was a good chance we'd be over 32km and at this point both of us just wanted to be done.  We had 6km left and 2 choices.  Turn around and make our way back and add on in the park or keep going and find an alternate route back.  Turning around meant going back up St. Marks.  My legs were feeling it and the thought of going up that hill was not appealing in the least.  So we opted to run up to Dundas and make our way west.

Of course I completely forgot about the lovely hill that takes you up to Dundas.  At 25km and 11 hills in, this one was almost puke inducing.  I had to walk at the top.  I remember saying to Kiki that I almost felt drunk that's how wobbly my legs were.   Whose bright idea was this again...?? Oh right, it was mine.   All I could think about was having a nice hot cup of coffee and some bacon and pancakes.  Kiki suggested we head west along Dundas and the follow the river back to the Old Mill area so that's what we did.  I had to stop a couple of times to stretch out my legs.  They were really sore.  Everything was just starting to ache.  We had just under 5km left and what I thought was only one hill left.  Then Kiki broke the news to me:  we had to climb Old Mill Hill, all of it, to get our mileage in and get back to the park.  Mutherfucker.

We were so close.  It was time to hunker down and git 'er done.  We ran along towards the Old Mill Hill and turned up it.  The second time around didn't seem to hurt as much.  Until I got on to the switchback part.  Oh. My. God.  I was heaving by the time I got to the top.  We slowed our pace down to recover from the effort and made our way towards Jane.  Kiki suggested we run along one of the streets further north so we could avoid the busier areas near Bloor West.  Smart girl that Kiki.  We made our way towards Runnymede and I could smell home.  Only 3km left.  I wanted to head south on Runnymede and go back towards the Running Room but Kiki suggested we go a different route.  I just wanted to stop.  I was really hungry, really tired and really really sore.  But I followed along.  I would have been happy to do 31km but Kiki wouldn't hear of it.  "Nope, you're doing the full mileage."  Ahh bless her.  So we made our way through the neighbourhood towards Clendennan.  We followed Clendennan to Bloor.  Now I could really smell home.  So close.  My watch said we had about 1km left.  I figured there was a good chance we'd be over 32km.  We got to the lights and entered the park.  It was insanely busy.  There were cars everywhere and hundreds of people.  We ran along the top loop, intending to do a partial loop back to the car but I glanced at my watch and noticed that we were almost at 32km.  So we cut across the field with the baseball diamonds and headed towards where I parked.  I ran along looking for the car.  I didn't have to look far.  It was 3 spots in from the end.  I felt like I had been gone forever.

I glanced down at my watch 32.32km in 2:57:27.  I had hoped we'd be under 3 hours.  We just made it.  Even with our altered route, we managed to cover 16 hills.  Now it was time to find coffee, food and a warm place to sit and savour our achievement. 

Route Elevation.  Yeah, it's ugly.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pass The Kleenex

"You know you're getting old when it takes longer to rest than to get tired."

This is what the opening lines of my daily Tri Rudy email post said this morning.  Which is ironic given that I've been contemplating this very fact over the last couple of days while laid up in bed with snot filled head.  Yes, I got yet another cold.   Incredibly annoying and very inconvenient if I do say so.  This has been the second one this year and it's only April.  Last year I think I got sick once.  I'm chalking it up to the marathon training.  That added weekly mileage.  I'm no longer a spry 30 year old runner.  I've got another 11 years on this bod and while I'm not old by any stretch, my body definitely can't seem to handle things it used to be able to.  Which is very frustrating.  I'm used to being on the go and having a relatively full schedule but I obviously need to rest longer than I have been in order to recover fully.  With this in mind,  my plans last weekend probably could have been better executed.  Did I really need to go on the 4.5 hour shopping spree with my hubby the day after running a hard 10 miler? No.  Would I have been better off sitting on the couch with my feet up drinking water.  Perhaps.  But there is a fine line between need and want.  I figured the walking around would do me good.  And I got a cute pair of shoes.  I also got to help my hubby drop a boatload of cash on some very nice clothes which is a rare occurrence and always fun.
I don't think following up my epic 36km run with a big Easter smorgasbord of chocolate, cheese and wine was a smart move either but you can't say no to a big family gathering without a good reason and "I need to recover" wouldn't cut it around these parts.  So, I went to bed later than normal on the Sunday night, slept in on Monday but obviously not enough and went right back into my regularly scheduled routine on Tuesday.  Weight training in the morning followed by a 15km tempo run in the evening.  And sure enough I woke up Wednesday morning feeling not so great.  I at least had the smarts to skip my swim but it was too late.  The cold had taken hold and by Wednesday afternoon I was back home in my grubbies with a box of kleenex.   I spent all day yesterday laying around dozing in and out of a Benalyn Cold & Flu induced sleep and watching Game of Thrones in between naps.  It seemed to be exactly what I needed.  I am feeling much better today.   Still not 100% but definitely getting there.   I'm sure with some more Benalyn Cold & Flu and another good nights sleep, I'll be ready to tackle the Marquis de Sade run tomorrow.   At least that's the plan for now, we'll see how my body feels about it in the morning.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Sunday Adventure

This past Sunday marked the longest run of my marathon training.  A whopping 36km.   I figured this would be the ideal time to take a tour of part of the marathon race course.  I mean why not?  I wouldn't put a quote together without doing a little footwork so why not do the same for a marathon, literally.  That way you kinda know what you're getting yourself in to on race day.   I'm very familiar with the last 14 or so km of the race course as I've run out that way and back many a time.  But the middle bit, not so much.  So, I dragged my butt out of bed at 6:00 am on Sunday morning, ate what I think will be my pre-race breakfast (pumpkin pie oatmeal) and got myself ready.  The plan was to have Gary drive me up to about the 6km mark and then I'd have to find my way back to where the finishing area in Lakefront Promenade Park.  I printed off the course map and tucked that into my vest.  I figured there would be a lot of stopping to refer to the map to make sure I didn't take a wrong turn.  I was actually really excited.  It didn't really phase me that I had 36km to cover, I was more excited by the new running route.   I was going off on a big adventure!

It started off relatively well given the fact that as soon as I walked out of the house, I found a loonie on the driveway.  Never a bad thing when you start your run with a profit!  It was quite chilly out so as soon as I got into the car I turned the seat heater on and tried to warm up.  20 minutes later I was nice and warm but it was time for me to get out of the car.  After driving around the U of T Mississauga Campus, Gary deposited me at the top end.   Off he went to the pool and off I went to find some bushes.  The cold makes me pee so I ran around for a while trying to find optimal shelter to answer natures call.  Not much around those parts so I ducked behind a tree and hoped that no one would be wandering around the campus.  It was pretty early on Sunday morning so I figured I'd be safe.  Business done, I headed off around the back loop of the campus and back out to Mississauga Road.  It was very quiet.  There were a lot of low laying clouds that made it quite hazy out.  For now, the sun seemed content to stay tucked in under it's blanket of haze which made for a cool start to my run.

The marathon course meanders down Mississauga Road, past some of the most beautiful homes outside of the city.  Lots of "Oh Wow's" as I ran along.  Everyone still seemed to be hanging around inside, enjoying a nice lazy Easter Sunday.  I followed the course along to Indian Road just south of the QEW highway.  The marathon course turns right onto Indian Road and heads west all the way out to Lorne Park.  I knew I'd be passing more monstrous homes along here.   The sun had finally started to come out along with some pedestrians and their 4 legged friends.  Yup, lots of dog owners in this 'hood.  Plenty of friendly Good Mornings! when I went running by.  There were a few rollers along here, but nothing too tough.  I happened to glance down at my watch and noticed that I had been running for over an hour.  Seriously??  I felt like I had just gotten started.  Nice.  I also noticed that I was just over 12km into my run as well.  1/3 of the way done already!  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was holding between 4:50-5:05's.  I figured given Friday's escapades that my legs would be rather disagreeable but they weren't.   Guess I really do bounce back like a 5 year old (so says my PT).  I was so wrapped up in the scenery that I almost missed the turn off for Lorne Park.  Yikes.  I crossed the street and figured it was time to shed some clothing.  I yanked off my arm warmers.  I had already bunched up my gloves and shoved them into the one spare holster on my fuel belt so the arm warmers were shoved on top.   Time to refer to the map again as I was heading into very unfamiliar territory.

Ok, down Lorne Park to Truscott Drive.  Got it.

The map went back into my pocket and I chugged along.  I was starting to get warm and wished that I had not bothered with my vest but alas, it was really the only place I could keep my gels and the marathon course map.  I couple of other serious runners/triathletes passed me along here.  I could hear the clip clop of their stride as they approached.  They were running in time and maintaining a solid pace.  They made it look easy. They passed me on the other side of the road without a wave, seemingly in serious conversation.  I crossed the street and took up behind them, admiring the view.  Sometimes there is absolutely nothing wrong with men in tights.

I came to a set of lights at Clarkson and thought this must be where I turn but something didn't seem right.  Time to refer to the map again.  Drat.  Not Clarkson, Southdown.  I had to continue west to Southdown.  So I had another large suburban block to go.  Off I went.  Once I hit Southdown, the landscape changed.  The homes became smaller and there was a bit more industry around.  I went south on Southdown all the way down to Lakeshore.  Talk about desolate.  At least this wasn't near the 30km mark of the race.  30km and desolate can really test a runners spirit.  I felt like I was in the middle of no man's land.

I ran out to Winston Churchill Blvd which was a little farther than I needed to go but given that I wasn't exactly sure where I started I figured what the heck.  I passed a couple of water front parks that I figured I'd have to turn down but I couldn't figure out from the map which one it was.  I took the second one which brought me to a lovely park on the water.  You'd never know you were in the middle of an industrial wasteland.

I exited the park and hit the water front path again. I was trucking along when I spotted it, folded up on the sidewalk.  Money?  Sweet!  $5!  I was now up $6.  Not bad.  I turned north onto Southdown Road.  I knew I had a turn off coming but couldn't remember the street name.  Time to refer to the map which had now become quite soggy from sitting in my vest pocket.   Next turn at Orr Road.   I passed a few runners going the other way and waved.  They're probably doing the same thing I'm doing.   Shortly after I passed the runners, I hit the 28km mark of the marathon course.  I figured that's why there was a big orange 28k painted on the sidewalk.
I glanced at my watch and saw that I was almost at 22km.  Perfect.  I guess I had been dropped off in just about the right spot.  I could see a side street just up ahead.   I figured that would be Orr Road.   It was and I turned onto a lovely tree lined street.  It was very quiet with few cars and even fewer pedestrians.  A few cyclists sped by me but that was it.   I meandered my way along here, through another lovely tree lined section of road.  I was looking for Meadow Wood.  That was the street that was going to take me back to Lakeshore.  I hit Meadow Wood and started to ohh and aahh again.  I was back in the land of beautiful houses.  Amazing.  I hit a small steep hill here.  It wasn't too bad but I suppose if I added another 6 km to my legs it might have been a different story.

I hit Lakeshore and knew that I wasn't too far from home.  I was coming to where the start of the 10km race was.  This was a section of rollers.  Only a couple but I could feel them in my legs.  I knew I had another little jog to do in through Jack Darling Park.  I got to the park and couldn't quite figure out which way I had to go so I followed the road into the park, along the bottom and back up the bike path.  Another small incline.   My legs were still feeling pretty good though.  I checked my watch again, almost 28km.  I saw a cyclist approaching so I started to move over when he started to slow down as I approached.  I then realized it was Gary.  He had ridden out to keep me company.   What a sweetheart.   I took the opportunity to shed the vest and all the other extra stuff that I had brought with me and handed it off to my sherpa on wheels.  Gary and I chatted for a bit when I looked up to see a woman running across the road with a big grin on her face.  It took me a minute to realize it was Linnea.  What are the chances?  She was out running with her friend Jackie.  I stopped and chatted with them for a bit.  I was almost at 30km.  Only 6 km left.  My legs still felt good.  The run was supposed to be an easy one but I thought I'd try to pick up the pace for the last 6km.  Why not?  So the G-man kept me company as I pushed the pace.  I was actually feeling really strong till about 34km.  Then my legs really started to hurt, especially my left knee.  I stopped with about 1.5km left to stretch my IT band.  I started up again but my knee was still bugging me.   Should I stop, I was almost done....

Nope.  No stopping.  I did slow down though.  That seemed to help.  I made my way into Lakefront Promenade Park, the smell of home drawing me in.  Gary had taken off bit earlier and ridden back to the car.  I ran along the bike path, past the 42km mark, trying to picture myself on race day.  Almost there.   I could see the parking lot up ahead and I pictured the finish line with my goal time on it.  My legs were hurting as I suspect they will when I hit that mark in 4 weeks time but I felt ready.  Ready to tackle the 26 mile monster once again.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Channeling my Inner Bunny: Good Friday 10 Miler Race Report

I have to admit, I wasn't feeling up to racing this morning.  But, given that I re-jigged all my workouts this week so I could race, I figured I might as well.  And, I wanted to see how much quicker I'd be able to do this race in comparison to last year.   Gary gave me a goal time of 1:07:30.  I figured I'd go sub 1:10:00 which would be a 6 and a half minute improvement over last year's time.  I'd be happy with that. 
It was a perfect day for a race.  The sun was out and it was nice and cool.  There was a bit of a wind but it wasn't too bad.   I opted for shorts and a long sleeve once again but decided to give my compressport calf sleeves a go instead of my compressport full socks.   Perfect choice.  I topped it off with my Team RF vest, although I probably should have worn my singlet.  But you live and learn, right?  14 years of running and I still can't seem to get it right.

I didn't have a particular plan for this race.  I just figured I'd go out and run it like I ran the Chilly.  Go as hard as I could for a long as I could.   Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  Given that the distance was shorter than the Chilly, I figured there would be less of a chance of an implosion.   Last year I started a bit farther back from the front.  This year Linnea and I were almost right up at the front.  They go by gun time so I figured every second would count.  I knew I was racing some fast women.

The gun went off and I took off.  My lack of a really good warm up was apparent in that first km.  My legs felt a bit sluggish.  I figured that wouldn't last much past the big hill that was coming up.  I thought about trying to pace myself for the first bit but I was caught up with a bunch of guys and running on adrenaline.  On the downhill before the big climb, I was caught by a couple of women.  And then on the hill I was caught by 3 more.  Crap.  Two of them were holding a strong pace and started to pull away on the hill.  No way I was hanging on to either of them.  Then the other 3 women passed me.  And then another one, last years race winner Paolina Allan.  Not the way I wanted to start the race.  I managed to tuck in behind one of the ladies and stick to her.  We made our way along the rollers and up to Plains Road.  I managed to pass one of the women.   Paolina was pulling away so I figured I probably wasn't going to catch her.   I had two other women in front of me and I ran with them towards the cemetery and down the hill back towards Plains Road.  When we made the turn onto the downhill we were hit with a strong wind, coming out of the north east.  At this point we split up a bit.  I figured the run along Plains Road was probably not going to be very pretty and it wasn't.  I remember running side by side with one of the ladies.  At some point along Plains Road we lost the third woman.  Much like last year, this stretch was very windy.  I was actually feeling pretty good through here and pushed the pace.

I saw my friend Kirsten through here and gave her a high five.  She was looking strong.  I managed to pull away from the girl I was running with.  She wished me well.   I thanked her and pulled away.  Now I was running solo.  And a wee bit scared.  I knew that at any point, any one of these women could come along and pass me again.  I wasn't sure if I'd have anything left to respond with.  There was no one in front of me for at least 600-700m and the few folks that were ahead of me were some really quick moving guys so I didn't think my normal reel 'em in game was going to work.   I had no bunny to chase.  I had become the bunny.  Great.  Not generally a position I like to be in.  I suppose I am a predatory runner.  I feel like I do better when I have someone to chase.  I don't like to be chased.  But that was precisely what was happening now.

Given that it was Easter Weekend I figured I might as well try to channel my inner bunny and run for my life.   I came through the half way point in 33:56.  Not bad.  Not a PB for 8km but given that I had another 8km to run, I couldn't complain.  I knew one of the ladies was still relatively close to me because I could hear the crowd cheering Go Ladies as I went past.  All I could hope was that I could hold my pace for the second loop and that the other ladies behind me had gone out too fast.
I barely held it together up the big hill and through the rollers.  I was feeling pretty rough.  I made it back out to Plains Road and realized that somewhere along the way, I must have put some distance between the women behind me.  Sweet.  I was struggling a bit and eased up a bit on the down hill that led back to Plains Road.  Running completely solo into the wind was going to be tough.  I hit the wall of wind and pushed my way along.  With about 3.5km left, I suddenly had company.  I glanced to my right to see a woman run past me.  Don't panic.  This is good.  You can draft off her.  So I tucked in behind her.  Ahhhhh.  Funnily enough I was passed in this same area last year and I drafted off that woman, only to turn around a beat her across the line.  Hopefully I'd be able to do the same this time.
I glanced at my watch and we were doing just over 4 minute kms.  It felt effortless thanks to my new friend.  I stuck behind her for as long as I could.  If she surged, I surged.  I wasn't going to let her go.  We were joined by a guy who we quickly ditched as we turned towards the 9 mile mark.  I could hear this woman's husband / boyfriend who was riding his bike along side her, telling her she only had 1.5km left.  I took advantage of the slight down hill to push the pace.  I figured I could go all out for another 7 or so minutes.  I was hoping that this woman wouldn't have an answer to my surge.  I could hear her just behind me.  I channeled my inner bunny and pushed again.  I glanced down at my watch and saw 3:57 km's.  Hell yeah.  I suddenly realized that there was also a very good chance I'd make Gary's time goal he set for me.  I definitely knew I'd be well under 1:10.  Woohoo.  As I made the turn up the road towards the finish line I thought about last year's race and the crazy push to the finish line I made then.   There was no way this bunny was going to get caught.  No way.  I couldn't hear anyone's footsteps any more but I didn't let up.  I turned the corner and saw Gary and just beyond him, the race clock at 1:07:25.  Ahhhhhh!   I pushed as hard as I could.  Would I make it???

Nope.  1:07:38.  Missed it by 8 freaking seconds.

Ah well, it was certainly better than I expected to do so I was quite pleased regardless.  Then Gary told me I was the 6th woman across the line.  Sweet!!

I ended up 3rd in my age group this year but got bumped up to 2nd because Paolina won the over all Masters race.  Last year I was slower but ended up first as Paolina was the overall winner and then Linnea got the overall Masters win.  Just goes to show you the caliber of women that were at this years race.  The fact that half of the women in the top 10 overall were in my age group says it all.  There were a lot of fast old broads out there! 

This years race seemed to have more volunteers on the course, which was great.  The race swag was excellent as well. Entrants got a great little knapsack along with 2 sample sizes of Clif Bar products.  At registration I was able to grab a couple more Clif Bars as they had some extras.  Always a bonus! The prizing was also really good as well.  Last year I got a pair of Saucony arm warmers, which I then lost at Scotiabank in October.  This year, I lucked out and got another pair!  Yeah!

As much as I didn't feel like racing, I'm glad I did.   I quite like this race course and I have to say, I really like the 10 mile distance.  Long enough that you need to put in the miles but short enough that you can go hard.    I may just make this a Good Friday tradition.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Run to the Hills

Songs can inspire us in so many ways but I gotta admit, this is the first time I've had a song inspire a run workout.  Guess there's a first time for everything right?  I had originally planned on doing some mile repeats last night but I wasn't sure I felt up to the puke factor of said repeats.  I was updating my shuffle playlist and listening to a few new (old) songs when this song came on.  I had downloaded this the other day after seeing a commercial for some DVD that was coming out.  It took me back to my high school days and my rocker / guitarist boyfriend.  Thanks in part to that rocker boyfriend, I have pretty diverse taste in music but I'm not a huge heavy metal fan.  I can appreciate it and some stuff is quite good (Metallica especially) but most of it I find a bit over the top.  That being said, there is something about the beat and the bass line of this song that I love.  And you can't deny that Bruce Dickinson has a superb set of pipes on him.  He makes a lot of noise for a little man.

The light bulb went on.  Given that I have done zero hill training this year, I figured I was due.   I was going to run in High Park so instead of running mile repeats around the top loop, I would warm up and then tackle my hill repeats on good old Spring Road. 

I did a nice easy warm up around the back end of the park and made my way over to Spring Road.  I let my shuffle play what it wanted to.  At the end of my first repeat, on the way down the hill, Run to the Hills came on.  Adrenaline pumping, I turned around and tackled my second repeat.  Much harder than the first.  The wailing guitar and thumping bass pushed me up that hill.  Wow.   I had to force myself not to try and play air guitar while running.  There were lots of people around and I looked crazy enough as it was.  The song ended and I hit repeat.  Why not.  Up and down, repeat.  Up and down, repeat.  That song got me through repeats 2 through 5.  I wasn't sure about a sixth but decided I might as well.  So off I went just as the song finished.  I decided to let the shuffle do it's work again and let it play.  Next up The Arctic Monkeys "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor."  I had to laugh.  Iron Maiden followed by The Arctic Monkeys.  Talk about opposites. Two very different bands but I love them for the same reason.  Their music gets me going.  And anything that can give me that extra kick in the pants is a good thing in my book.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Cure for What Ails You

It's been a rather boozy weekend.  For a lightweight like me, that's never really a good thing, even though it's fun at the time.  I can't drink like I used to, nor do I really want to because it usually takes me a few days to feel "normal" again.  Boozy weekends usually entail later nights as well, which means I'm going to bed later but still getting up at the same time due to my annoying internal alarm clock.  Less sleep=serious cranky pants, just ask my husband.
Today was no exception.  We rolled in at about 2:00 am last night, which is way past my bedtime.  As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out.  Amazingly I actually managed to sleep in past 7:00 am.   I woke up around 9:30 am to the sound of rain hitting the bedroom window.  Booooo.    Me and my foggy head wandered downstairs and flopped on the couch.  I had to do a 17km run.  My plan was to run out to where we parked the car last night, pick it up and drive home.    It was overcast and misting out - not a full on rain but enough that after 17km I'd probably be fairly wet.  I really didn't feel like going out but I made my breakfast and went upstairs to get ready.   I came downstairs and got myself sorted when I heard some rumbling outside.  Thunder?  Gary opened the window to double check.   It rumbled again.  Yup, that's thunder.  Perfect.  Just then the skies opened up and it started to pour.   I announced to G that he'd have to drive me up to get the car as there was no way I was running in this crap.  I hadn't missed a long run yet this year so if I missed one, then so be it.  15 minutes later we hit the road.  I got the car and made a few stops on the way home.  As I was driving home, I noticed it had stopped raining. 

Hmmmm.....maybe the streak wouldn't have to end.

I got home and puttered about for a bit, still procrastinating.  A large part of me really just wanted to sit on the couch and be lazy.  There's something about a night out on the town that just makes me feel so lethargic the next day, even if I didn't overindulge that much.  But, I do know that sometimes the best way to kick a hangover on it's ass (other than to start drinking again) is to sweat it out.  Now this doesn't work for every type of hangover.  You need to be able to stand up and put one foot in front of the other without falling over and you really should be able to keep liquids down.  If you can't do either of those, sweating is not going to help you.  In fact, you probably don't have any liquid left in your body to sweat out.  At that point you should probably just crawl back under the covers and pray for sleep to take you quickly.

Luckily I only had 3 pints of beer and a sip of a nasty shooter, which for me, is still a fair bit of booze.   It was just enough to make me feel groggy when I got up.  By the time I had actually stopped messing about, the rain had stopped.  I had no excuse now.  I got dressed and headed out the door.  It was damp out but the temperature was actually quite nice.  My legs felt a bit tired but I hadn't bothered with usual warm up.  I also rode by bike and ran the day before so I wasn't surprised.  As the km's clicked over, my legs started to feel better.  By the time I hit the turn around, I felt great.  I had started to work up a good sweat and the fog had cleared.    The skies may have been gloomy but I was in a great mood.  As I made my way home, I caught myself smiling.  It was official.  I hadn't missed a long run yet this year, that and I felt a million times better than I did when I left. Funny how a little sweat equity can be the cure for what ails you.