Friday, June 7, 2013

The Meat in My Triple Header Sandwich: The Bread & Honey 15km

The last time I did this race was in 2011.  And much like this time around, it was also the middle race in a triple header  for me.   The week before I had just run the Toronto Women's Half and the week after I was scheduled to do the Woodstock Sprint Triathlon.   MSC shuffled the date of Woodstock around last year so now it's the last weekend in May which made that the first race of this year's triple header.  Good thing as my legs felt a whole lot fresher today than they did the last time I did the race. 

This is not a big race by any stretch.  I think there were just under 400 people that ran the 15km.  That doesn't mean there aren't some seriously amazing runners that come out to race.  It seems to be very popular with a lot of run clubs so there's always a good turn out of very strong runners.  This year was no exception.

In the days leading up to the race, I was feeling a bit run down, almost like I was fighting a cold.  The Friday before the race I woke up with a sore throat, headache and slightly stuffy head.  I thought oh no, here we go.  G had been really sick a couple of weeks before so I figured it was just a matter of time before I got it.  I started in with the "hard stuff' right away.  Advil Cold & Flu to the rescue.  I took a couple of those over the course of the day.  I left work early, went home and fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours.  I got up, ate something, watched a bit of TV and then was in bed asleep by 9:30 pm.  I slept right through till 7:00 am.  Whoa.  I felt better when I got up.  Not 100% but close.  I took another Advil Cold and Flu and got on with my day.  By the end of the day on Saturday I felt good enough to race. 

Sunday morning I got up to the sound of rain.  Awesome.  It was also incredibly muggy.  Double awesome.  On my way to the race site, the skies opened up and it started pouring HARD.  I thought about turning around and heading back home but I kept going and shortly after I turned off the highway onto Mississauga Road, the rain stopped.  Thank goodness.  I got up to the race site nice and early, found parking very close by, picked up my race kit, dropped everything off in the car and proceeded to do a warm up.  I had a lot of time to kill.  G was going to ride his bike up to the start so he could get a ride in while cheering me on.  Smart fella.  I sat in the car for a bit after my warm up and debated about what socks to wear.  I had my injinji's on but my calves were feeling a bit fatigued so I thought maybe I should switch to my compression socks.  I wavered back and forth and finally opted for the compression socks.  In hindsight it was totally the wrong call but whatever.

G arrived and I hung out with him for a bit.  At that point I was kinda wishing I hadn't signed up for this.  I wasn't really feeling it.  But, I was there so I figured I was just going to make the the best of it. I then ran into another friend of mine, David, who was just coming off a bad case of the flu but opted to race anyway as he's training for a late summer marathon to try and qualify for Boston.   I said goodbye to G and David and I made our way over to the start line.  I muscled my way through the crowd towards the front.  There is a 5km that starts at the same time as the 15km so the start line of this race can get pretty congested. 

I didn't really have a race plan, all I knew was that I hoped to come in around 1:05:00 or so.   I hoped that was possible given my lack of speed work over the last few weeks.  The gun went off and we all shuffled across the start line.  All the really speedy ladies took off.  I figured there was no way I could hang with any of them and I wasn't about to try.  Of course I started out way too fast.  My first two km were both 4:04's.  Then I dropped to 4:13 and hovered between 4:12-4:18's for the next 4km.  Then we hit the rollers.  It was at that point that the sun started to poke through the clouds and the temperature felt like it doubled.  I could feel myself totally overheating.  My shins were hot and I cursed myself for changing my socks at the last minute.  Nothing I could do about it at that point.  This was the first race I did without my fuel belt as well so to say I was dying for a drink of something was an understatement.  I was parched.  I grabbed at least 3 cups of fluid at each aid station.  2 to drink and one to pour over my head.  That offered a temporary respite from the humidity for about 5 minutes.

As I headed into the rollers, a course marshal told me I was the 5th place woman on the course.  What what??  I found that hard to believe.  I figured I'd find out at the RBC turnaround.   My km's through the rollers dropped to 4:24-4:30's.  Solid evidence of my complete lack of hill training as of late.  It was around the 6km mark that I noticed I had company.  I glanced to my right only to see my buddy from Around the Bay.  Small world!  Once again he paced me.  He'd pull in front and check over his shoulder to see that I was still there.  Amazing.  Between the heat and my effort level, I couldn't really get any words out but on hung on to him for as long as I could.

Me and my ATB Buddy!
This course is not easy by any stretch.  The first 4km or so is fairly flat but then you hit a series of climbs, some short and steep, some long and gradual.  It can also get really windy, which it happened to be.  So after you finish climbing you usually get slammed with a headwind.  At this point I was totally dying.  For once my legs actually felt ok, it was my lungs that were suffering.  This was new for me!  I was heading towards the turnaround so I figured I'd have a chance to see where I really sat position wise.  As I turned onto Financial Drive and headed towards the turnaround I got the first glimpse of the woman's leader.  A short woman with an awesome mohawk-ish hair cut.  She was cookin.  Right behind her was a woman that had passed me early on in the race and right behind her was speedy Michelle Clarke.  Those were the top 3.  I counted 3 more women after they passed, which meant that I was in 7th.  Two positions ahead of where I was 2 years ago.  Not bad.  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to catch anyone but we still had 6km left so anything was possible.

Shortly after I made the turnaround, I saw my friend David.  He was looking pretty strong.  We exchanged a wave and a few words of encouragement.  I took advantage of the slight downhill and picked up the pace.  I figured once I got back out onto Creditview, I'd have wind at my back and that would help.  It didn't.  All it made me feel was hot.  As I ran towards the overpass, I could see a woman about 500m in front of me.  Sweet, a bunny to try and catch!  I needed some kind of motivation because I was completely dying and I could feel myself easing up so it wouldn't hurt so much.  I climbed the overpass, pacing off my Around the Bay friend and hammered down the other side with a new found determination.  I was going to catch her.  We turned off Creditview and on to Argentia, heading into the wind once again as well as a long gradual climb.  I inched closer and closer to her.   Just past the 11km mark, I caught her.  She stayed with me for a bit and then I pulled away.  At 12km we hit and aid station and I actually stopped to grab 2 cups of Gatorade and drink them.  She caught me and passed me and the chase was on again.  I reeled her in again and passed her on the downhill on Kitimat just before we turned onto Mississauga Road.  She ran with me for a bit and then I started to pull away.  It was flat here so I felt like I could push it.  My ATB friend was still out in front of me a bit but he started to pull away.  He glanced back over his shoulder and slowed up a bit.  We were coming up on the turn onto Brittania and I knew we'd have to climb another hill before we hit the turn onto Joymar and the last 500m of the race.  He started to pull away from me on the climb.  I didn't have anything left.  I struggled up that climb and turned onto Joymar.  I was afraid to look back, I didn't want to know if anyone was coming up behind me so I just ran for all I was worth.  I glanced at my Garmin and saw that it had just ticked over to 1:04.  I figured I'd break 1:05 but that it would be close.  I finally got close enough to see the finish line clock as it counted down.  It was at 1:04:20 and counting.  18 seconds later I crossed the finish line, completed soaked and totally spent.  In hindsight that was not the best way to race that day given the humid conditions.  It took me longer to recover from that effort, which in turn affected my training this week.  Hindsight is always 20 / 20 and all I can do is learn from my mistakes.

I knew I was the 6th place woman over all but I wasn't sure where I ended up in my AG.  This race usually has a lot of fast "old broads" so who knew where I'd end up.  G and I wandered into the school gym so I could get some post race food.   My feet were cramping like crazy so we went back to the car so I could get out of my compression socks and my running shoes.  I wished I had brought a pair of flip flops.   I wriggled into my injini's and slipped on my Zoot Ultras.  I had a massive blister from my compression socks too so walking was not easy.  Shoulda stuck with the Injini's.

By the time we had gotten back to the gym, the results were up so I went to check.  To my surprise I was first in my AG.  I then though that perhaps I might get first place Masters female because the second place woman over all was 45-49.  I somehow missed the 4th place woman who was also in the 45-49 year old age category.  She ended up getting first in the Masters category and I got second.   First or second, didn't matter to me.  The fact that I placed over all was awesome.  I knew it was a course PB for me as well but I didn't know by how much.  Turns out I took over 8 minutes off my time from the last time I did it.  Yowza.

I'll probably be back again to do this race again.  It's a good little race to help keep your training sharp after a spring marathon / half marathon. 

You know I'm dying when I'm looking down at the ground.  My face is also a nice shade of red.



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