Sunday, June 26, 2011

Old Habits Die Hard

Whole Food Fuel from the Farmer's Market.
This past week has been hell.  I haven't been this busy in a very long time.  3 jobs in 4 days, 2 of which are big.  That means long hours at the studio and very little time to myself.  That also means I need to plan ahead if I want to stay on track with my meals.  I had every intention of doing just that for most of the week.  In fact, for the first few days of the week, I was quite good.  Then the stress started to take over.  I started to function on auto-pilot.  I started to get too tired to care.  That combined with lack of workouts is a dangerous place to be for me.  I didn't workout Thursday, Friday or Saturday.   Friday at 5:00 pm I was sitting in the middle of a casting, stressed to the gills, stuffing pink candy popcorn into my face.  About 3 big handfuls.  It tasted gross and gave me a pink tongue. I didn't really want it, it just happened to be there so I ate it.   I suppose I thought somewhere in the back of my mind that it would help calm me down or distract me from all the stress I was dealing with.  It didn't.  It just gave me gut rot.  

This is an old habit of mine that I thought I had conquered.  Mindless eating.  People always say "oh you train all the time you can have that piece of.....or that handful of.....".   Maybe.   But I didn't lose almost 20lbs and lean out by eating crap.  I make a conscious decision about what I put in my body.  Once and a while I'll indulge in some chips or ice cream and I won't feel bad about it.    Because I don't think that one should go through life in food denial, unless of course you're training for a figure competition.  But the majority of us aren't that extreme.  A little "bad for you" can be good for you as long as you don't make it a regular occurrence.   I aim to eat healthy 80%-90% of the time.  That means that 5-6 days a week, I'm eating healthy, mainly whole foods.   1-2 days a week I "slack off" a bit.    That seems to work for me under "normal" circumstances.  This past week has been anything but normal and I know this coming week is going to be just as challenging.   The big question is, now that I've identified the issue, how am I going to deal with it.

That remains to be seen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Random Thoughts on Racing

I was thinking about what I enjoy about racing while in the pool today.  It's not uncommon for my mind to wander when I'm swimming laps.   Most people think I'm crazy, the folks I know that do race (whatever the sport), get me.   For me, racing is not just about competing.  That's part of it.  The big draw for me is the fact that I am forced to live in the Now.  Those of you that know me, know that I'm always planning something;  dinner, my weekend, my next training plan.  You name it and I'm probably working on a plan for it.   It's what I do in life and in work.  When I'm racing, I become very aware of my body and how I'm feeling.  It's all about assessing how I feel at that very moment in time.  Can I go faster?  Should I back off?   I don't think ahead to the next km.  It's all about the here and now.

That for me, is the single best gift racing has ever given me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Was I Scared Of?

The Pale Green Pants With Nobody inside them!

Oh wait.  That was Dr. Seuss.  Heh.  I loved that story as a kid.  It always kinda scared me even though I knew how it ended.

Much like my first open water swim of the season last Saturday.   I KNOW I can swim.  But something really stupid happens to me as soon as I step into a lake with the knowledge that I have to swim a certain distance in it.  I tried my best to remain calm and rational leading up to the swim.   I even went for a warm up swim, panicked a bit during it but figured I'd gotten it out of my system.    For some silly reason I situated myself at the back of the pack, thinking it would be better for me to swim over people vs. having people swim over me.  Realistically I would have been better off at the front because I spent the first few minutes trying to find free space.  Which caused me to panic.  Once I found free space, I panicked because I kept getting splashed in the face and because my breathing was so erratic, I kept choking on the water.  This resulted in a whole lot of back and breast stroke for the first 175m or so.  The next 175m I actually managed to mostly swim due to the current pushing me forward.  The last bit was a combo of angry swimming and breast stroke.  Yes, angry swimming.  I was angry with myself for getting so wound up.  I didn't drown.  Nothing happened to me.  The scary monsters never surfaced.  What the hell was I so afraid of?

I didn't really think about that as I jumped out of the water and ran into transition.  All I thought about was how slow I was (it was 10:50 when I exited the water, 11:31 by the time I got into transition).  And the fact that I had just managed to rip the strap off  the watch portion of my heart rate monitor while trying to get out of my wet suit.  ARG.  So now I was going to race watchless.   AWESOME. 

T1 was a bit of a mad scramble for me.  It was under 2:00 minutes, which for me is still pretty good.   I was behind in the pack of ladies in my AG.  There were about 4 or 5 of them ahead of me and one of them was on her way out just slightly ahead of me.  I managed to catch up to her on the long run up to the bike mount line and then I passed her on the climb out of the park.  One down and 5 more to go.

The bike was only 20km on slightly rolling hills so I figured I'd ride like I didn't have to run after.  Which means I went all out.  I started off hard and then backed off a bit because I wasn't sure I'd be able to maintain that pace and not having any sense of time didn't help either.  The surprising part was that I was able to stay in my aerobars for almost the entire race.  That is HUGE for me.  They felt comfortable.  And I have to say, I really love my bike.  At the 10km turnaround, I finally passed the guy in front of me that I couldn't quite get around for the longest time.  After that, I rode as hard as I could.  I didn't get out of the big chain ring, which is another big thing for me.  I'm not usually a big chain ring rider.   This time I got into the big chain ring about 10 minutes into the bike and never got out of it.   I took one Roctane just after I got on the bike.  I figured it might help buffer the lactic acid in my legs.  Worked like a charm.  I caught 2 more women in my AG on the bike.  I was only passed by 2 people, both women that were NOT in my AG.  Whew.    I dismounted off my bike and booked it as fast as I could in my cycling shoes into transition.

T2 was also a bit of a mess.  I had a hard time getting my cycling shoes off (3 straps on each shoe!) and getting my running shoes on.  My hands didn't seem to want to work.   I should have raced in my Zoot shoes but I didn't know what sort of surface we'd be running on so I opted to wear my Newtons given that I haven't run on pavement in my Zoots.  Turns out the run was almost all trail / soft surfaces so I would have been fine.   I finally got myself sorted and out onto the run just as another woman in my AG was heading out.  I caught her in the first 200m.

I had done exactly 3 bricks leading up to this race.  To say I was ready for this would be a joke.  But, 3 bricks are better than no bricks and I think that the 3 that I did actually helped.  My legs felt relatively good considering.   I passed a lot of people on the run.  I was definitely cookin'.  It hurt a LOT but I expect it to.  It's only 4km.  You have to go hard.  I saw Gary just as I came up on the 1km mark.  He was almost done.  Just before the 1km mark, I managed to catch and pass 2 more women in my AG.  I settled into a good groove and was happy to hit some pavement across the top of the dam just so I could get some good footing in.   At the 2km turnaround I checked to see if there was anyone else in my AG that was close.  Nope.  WOOHOO.  I wasn't 100% sure but I figured I was either in 2nd or 3rd.   By this point I was seriously sucking air.   I tried to relax my shoulders a bit in the hopes that would help my breathing.   I crossed back over the dam and hit the 1km left mark.  I dug a little deeper.   With about 500m left, I saw Gary and Roger Hospedales chatting, they cheered me on and I grumbled something about the hurt I was feeling.   I caught an older fella just before we turned down onto the finishing chute.  No one was in front of me but I still gave it my all to the finish line.  I pulled my watch out of my back pocket and looked at it: 1:13:25.  Not bad.

Series Director John Salt was at the finish line greeting everyone and he welcomed me back to racing when I told him I'd been absent for the last 3 years.  I thought that was a really nice touch.   I think it's great to see a race director out there getting to know the folks who actually race in his series, putting names to faces.  His races are always really well organized and I really enjoy the vibe.  Everyone is really friendly and the venues are generally quite nice.  This venue in particular was great.  As much as I freaked out about the swim, the water was actually quite nice.    The bike course was all little rollers, no big climbs, totally my speed considering how little I've actually been riding.  As for the run, I would have preferred pavement but I think the softer surface was actually better for me.  

I met up with Gary and Roger afterwards and we wandered off to get some eats.  The post race food was nothing short of awesome now that Hero Burgers is on board as a sponsor.  All they need is a beer company on board and I'd be in heaven, hehehe.    We tried to look at the results but there were too many people so we lined up for a burger instead.  I was curious to see who had the better run split between the 2 of us.   Gary said he ran 4:38's according to his watch.  I thought I was faster than that but had no idea because I didn't have my watch.  So I went to check on my splits after we ate (found out I was second in my AG -woohoo!).  My splits said I ran 4:43's.  Drat.  I didn't think to double check Gary's so for the longest time, I thought he beat me on the run.  It wasn't until we got home that he told me his recorded splits were 4:47/kms.  HA!  He went back online the next morning and saw that Sportstats had updated the timing and he was credited with running 4:38's.  He then told me I managed 4:23's.   I beat him on the run by one full minute.

Oh YEAH, hubby got chicked on the run.

Final stats:

500m swim:  11:31  T1:  1:44,  20km Bike:  41:27 (29km/h avg)  T2: 1:20  4km run:  17:30 (4:23 km avg).

 I was second in my AG and 13th woman over all.  Not bad considering the lack of cycling specific fitness I have.    This result has definitely motivated me to get myself into the water, get over that stupid fear and get on with it already.     A few more practice sessions in open water and I think I should be fine, just in time for the last half of the season!

Next up:  maybe the Welland Sprint Duathlon next weekend.  Not 100% sure yet. 

I think I'm just a little addicted.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Let The Irrational Freak Out Commence

Yup.  It's started.  The good old irrational freak out. 

What am I freaking out about you ask?

My first triathlon in almost 3 years is what.  Mainly the swim portion.

But don't you swim 2-3 times a week already you ask?

Yes.  But that's in the safety of a pool.   This is the wide open space of a lake.  There are no lane lines to follow.  The water is not clear.  The bottom (if I can see it) is not smooth.  It's dark, murky and generally creepy.  I don't do myself any sort of favours by imagining all the potential scariness at the bottom of a lake.  Dead animals.  Huge old dead trees.  Maybe even dead bodies.  There is a  scene from Jaws always comes to mind.  You know, the one where Richard Dreyfuss is scuba diving at night by an abandoned boat and he finds a big hole in the hull of the boat.  In the big hole, he finds a huge shark's tooth.  He goes to pull the tooth out and the decaying, chewed up head of the boat owner pops out and Dreyfuss proceeds to scream like a girl all the way back to the surface.  THAT scene.

Yes, you could say I have a bit of an overactive imagination. 

How do I deal with this? 

Other than mentally telling myself to stop being a scaredy cat, I find that distraction is the best way.  Fear of open water swimming is not uncommon so there is plenty of useful info online, especially geared towards newbie triathletes.   This article is quite helpful.  Both techniques mentioned in it are essentially a form of distraction.  It's all about taking your mind off the "unpleasantness" of the activity by either focusing on internal factors (i.e how do I feel, is my technique good etc) or external factors (i.e what is going on around them).  I usually prefer to focus internally because for me, external focus still reminds me that I'm in a lake, surrounded by a bunch of other people.  Basically, I'll pick something I'm doing and focus on it for the entire swim.  During an Ironman swim (3.8km) Ive been known to count my strokes.  That is a mind numbing activity and usually keeps me occupied for a fair amount of the swim.   One two three, breathe, one, two, three, breathe.  It's kind of meditative actually.  In an Olympic distance swim (1.5km) I remember humming Rush's YYZ for the entire 30 minutes it took me to swim that distance.   Very motivating and I actually managed to get a really good rhythm going.

Hey whatever it takes to soothe the screaming child inside my head. 

The swim this weekend is only 500m.  Realistically it shouldn't take me more than 10 minutes to do that so I'm sure I'll survive. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me take those first few steps towards keeping The Irrational Freak Outs at bay.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Good Things Come in Threes

And since I consider 3 to be my lucky number, mainly because I was born on the 3rd day of the 3rd month, I thought that getting a bib number with 333 on it might just be a sign of good things to come.

I spent the latter half of this week kicking myself for registering for this race.  It was one week after I ran the T.O. Women's Half and I thought it might just be too much for me to handle.  Once again, the Specter of Self Doubt nagged at me all day Friday and Saturday.  My friend Linnea, who always manages to look at the positive side things said to me "Who cares, do what you can, go out burn some calories and get a tan."   Perfect advice.  

I had taken it relatively easy all week.  No weight workouts and just short intense runs (2 to be exact) a couple of short bike rides and a couple of swims.  All total I don't think I worked out more than a total of 4 hours.  Which for me is not a lot.  Normally I'm up around the 8 hour mark for a week.  But I figured my body needed the rest.  It didn't help that this week was also quite busy at work and that I either worked late or was out late every night this week.  For a creature of habit, this was not ideal.  But, there was nothing I could do about any of it.  I took it very easy on Saturday and kept off my feet for most of the afternoon. 

We got to the race site with 40 minutes to spare so I went out and did a short warm up run (8 minutes) and then waited in line for the loo.  I had a bit of time after to do another 2 minutes of pick ups.  My legs didn't feel great, but they didn't feel horrible either.   The temperature had risen to about 18 degrees at 7:30 am which meant that this was going to be a hot one.  Oh well, nothing I could do about that either. 

I said goodbye to Gary and wove my way up into the crowd to get as close to the start line as possible.  Which was a little challenging given that they narrowed it down with gates so it created a bit of a bottleneck.  Oh well.  As I stood there waiting, I felt a sense of calm wash over me.  This race didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.  It wasn't my A race.  It was a training race.  I wanted to see what I could do on tired legs.  Just how much I'd hurt and how I'd deal with that when that time came.

The gun went off and I shuffled my way through the starting gate.  There was a 5km that started at the same time as the 15km so it was a bit hairy for the first few km.  Of course, I flew out of the gate and started running 4:15 km's.  Ummm....yikes.  That hurt and I was gasping for air.  I finally managed to slow myself down and settle into some kind of rhythm by the 3km mark.  I felt crappy though.  Really really crappy.  I toyed with the idea of turning off at the 5km turn off but opted not to.  That would defeat the purpose of this race.

Just before 4km in I had my first bit of Roctane.  I had brought 2 with me and wasn't sure if I'd use both.  The way my legs were feeling at that point, I wish I had brought 3.  But alas.  I was going to have to make do with that I had.  Somewhere around the 7km mark, I actually started to feel good.  I had been trading spaces with another woman for about 2km.  I'd pass her a bit and then she'd surge ahead.  I'd catch her again and then she'd surge ahead again.  I wasn't going to play that game so I tucked in behind her as we climbed one of the many rollers on this course and stuck behind her until we hit the 8km mark.  I started to pick it up a bit here as I was feeling really good. 

It was at this point that I saw the first place woman heading back.  She had a HUGE lead.  I also thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see where I was in the pack.  Eventually I saw the second place woman.  Then the 3rd.  The 4th, 5th and 6th all ran by in a small pack and then I saw the 7th who was not too far ahead of me.  SWEET!  I was in 8th place.  I had no idea how close any of the other women were but I figured I'd catch a glimpse of them at the turnaround.  Sure enough, the woman I had dropped was there but she had fallen back a fair bit.  I noticed a few other ladies but no one really seemed to be gaining.  YEAH.

Until I hit the 10km mark and this little Asian woman passed me like I was standing still.  Holy smokes.  I'm not sure were she came from but I didn't have an answer for her.  At this point my legs were starting to scream at me.  I had slowed down a fair bit as well.  I had one Roctane left.  I decided to down the entire thing.  I figured worst case scenario I had 25 minutes left (if I slowed down to 5 minute kms).  I seriously thought about that.  I thought about stopping and walking.  I thought about giving up. up is not my style.  I finish what I start.  I just had to suck it up and give 'er.

At 11km the course started to climb a bit and I struggled to keep going.  I shortened my stride a bit and pushed my shoulders back and lifted my head to look "up" the road.  This seemed to help somewhat.  I made it to 12km and grabbed some gatorade at the aid station.  Only 3 more km.  Less than 15 minutes.  Run through the pain.   Stay in the top 10.  Stay in the top 10.  That was my mantra. 

Just past 13km, the course goes uphill again.  I pushed hard going uphill.  I could feel that last big surge of adrenaline building in me.  If my legs had lungs, they would have been howling in pain.  They felt numb.  I was huffing and puffing.  I got to the top of that hill and turned the corner, knowing that I was on the road that went down to the finish line.  I could see the woman that passed me earlier up ahead.  I pushed a little harder.  I was spent.   I got close to her but ran out of real estate.   Oh well.  At least I was still in the top 10!

I found Gary and we wandered into the school to get some food, stretch and check the results.  I have a tough time guessing anyone's age just by looking at them but several of the women in the lead pack looked young.  The rest of them were probably around my age or older at least.   Turns out that only 3 of the women in the lead pack were younger than me.  The rest were my age or older.  Talk about a tough field.  Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when Gary told me I was third in my age group!  333 race bib and a third place finish.  SWEET!  Gary went back and looked at the results again to see where the first, second and third overall women's finishers were and because one of them was in my age group, I got bumped up to second place as the race policy was that they didn't duplicate categories.  So since this woman got second overall, that took her out of first place in my age group and bumped the second place female up to first and me into second.  WOOOHOO!  My second podium of the season.  And on tired legs to boot.

Maybe there is something to all this racing after all.....

Me with my second place finisher's plaque.

Cute finisher's medal.

Stay tuned for next week's Woodstock Tri race report.  Or the Big Kennedy Showdown as I'm calling it.  Who will have the better run split?  Me or G?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Taking it to the Next Level

Now that I've got 4.5 months until my A race, it's time for me to get back into the gym and get back to some good solid strength training.

I have been a gym goer for the last 7 years but truthfully I don't really know much about strength training.  I am a relative newbie when it comes to weights.  I've always done relatively basic strength work, focusing on the larger muscle groups, which has definitely helped me out but I feel like it's time to up the ante.

Enter Krista Schaus' "Next Level Training". 

She is one of the PN exercise experts and she has developed a great program for folks that are looking to get stronger but are still perhaps some what new to the gym.  Many of the ladies on the PN Forum have done this program with great results and have had nothing but positive things to say about it.  Looking through it, I realize that I sure do have a lot to learn.  I think I'll be spending a LOT of time on You Tube this weekend looking up how to do half of these exercises properly.  Because if your form is not correct then you won't reap all the benefits of the exercise and even worse, you could end up injuring yourself. 

I have to say, I'm pretty excited about starting this program.  It's 12 weeks in length with 3 different phases.  It also means that I'll have to hit the gym 3 times a week, which might be tricky but I'm willing to give it a go.  I will probably have to ease up on the weights a few weeks out from Scotia but by that point I think I should have a solid enough strength base to really help me push through the pain that I'm sure I'll feel around the 18km mark. 

Who knows by the end of it all, I might actually have some nice muscles to show for it as well!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Expect The Unexpected - Toronto Women's Half Race Report

As a producer I live by this.  I don't normally take it account into my personal life though.  I suppose I probably should given the way things have been happening as of late.

This past weekend I ran The Toronto Women's Half.  I have never run a race that was just geared towards women.  I have to say that race director Cory Freedman is definitely on to something.  From the wonderfully designed race t-shirt (shout out to my talented friend Natalie Serkin for that), the amazing swag bag, the fantastic Fireman Aid station and the awesome finishers medal, Cory has managed to create a wonderful event that really is geared to a womans sensibility.  I have to say this is the first finishers medal that I've been able to wear the day AFTER the race and not feel like a geek for wearing it!  I can see why the race sells out early.  This was only the 3rd year and I think it was sold out by February.  There are 2 other races in the series, a 10km in August and an 8km in October, both of which I plan on doing.   The vibe of the race is incredibly laid back.  Lots of really good energy.  Even amongst the fast ladies at the front.   As we lined up in the starting corral, I noticed a lot of chatting and laughing.  I don't ever really recall seeing that at larger mixed gender races. It was a nice way to start a tough 21.1km journey.
The race course is a challenging one.  They had to make a few last minute adjustments to construction on Pottery Road so I'm not sure if those changes made it even tougher or easier.  There were false flats and a couple of nasty climbs, especially the one at about 18km coming back over the bridge at Don Mills.  That was just plain EVIL.  The race took place on the bike path through Sunnybrook and Taylor Creek Park.  I'm not generally a fan of racing on paths but this was really nice.  It was almost like trail running without the trail because there were trees everywhere.  There were some points where it seemed pretty desolate (i.e no one around cheering) but the same could be said for any smaller road race.  The volunteers were amazing as were the race marshalls and the random spectators that dotted the bike paths. 

I was incredibly nervous leading up to this race.  Mainly due to the fact that I felt like I hadn't really trained enough.  Which was absolutely ridiculous but even after all my years of running, I have yet to be able to really quell this completely illogical fear no matter how much I have trained.  My training was somewhat spotty but I did a few over distance runs during this round of training as well as a whole lot of racing in a 2 month period (8km, a 10 miler and a 10km).  So realistically I was well equipped to run 21.1km.  My goal was to go sub 1:45.  I figured I had that in me at least.  I ran a 1:47 at the Chilly Half in March on less training and in crappy conditions.  I figured shaving 2 minutes off shouldn't be an issue as long as I tapered well and rested up before the race.  Well, I think I nailed one of those 2 things.  The taper went very well.  The resting up before the race, not so much.  I spent the Saturday before the race running around the city.  I made sure I packed some food with me but realistically it wasn't enough.  By the time I finally got home and sat down, it was about 4:30 pm and I could have eaten a horse.  Instead I had a burger and then another burger patty, both with cheese, and a salad.  Probably not the best pre-race food but it was quick and easy.  I slept surprisingly well and got up early.  We made it to the park in plenty of time.  I did a short warm up jog (in restrospect this should have been MUCH longer than the 500m I ran) and then stood in line for the porta potty.  I wandered around the race site with hubby, saw a couple of friends and tried to relax.  I eventually made my way into the starting corral and saw a few other Team RF athletes from the Newmarket store.  Chatted with them for a bit and then got ready to race.  I got up towards the front, behind the really fast looking ladies, as I figured it would be nice to have the space.  I figured I'd get passed by some faster women but hopefully not a lot.

The gun went off and I took off.  Far too fast of course.  5 minutes in and I felt awful.  It took me about 4km to calm down.  I ended up running with a couple of other women for about 2km or so and that helped slow me down.  At points were were running 3 abreast and I kinda felt like we were Charlies Angels.  There was a blonde, a brunette with shorter hair and then me.  Not really Kate, Farrah and Jacklyn but whatever.  We kept up a relatively decent pace (about 4:50-4:55's) and I thought ok, if this is all I've got today then so be it, it will still get me to the finish line under 1:45.   I did feel at times like I was struggling and I was a bit concerned that I was going to start to slow down as the km's ticked by.  Especially when I hit a false flat and my pace slowed to 5:00-5:05 km's and my heart rate spiked.  That didn't help the negativity that was starting to creep in.  What did help temporarily banish those thoughts were the random cheers of "WOOHOO" echoing through the trees that I'd hear every so often.   I couldn't help but smile.  There were points along the path where runners would be passing each other, one group on their way out and one group on their way back and there was a lot of cheering, woo-hooing and shouts of "you go girl".  It was pretty amazing.  I found myself smiling a lot, cheering women on, calling them by name (thank goodness for personalized race bibs!).  This in turn seemed to affect my pace.  My step became lighter and I felt like I was being pushed along by the amazing energy that was making it's way along that trail.  I eventually pulled away from my Charlies Angels pals and settled into my own pace.  I hit the Fireman's Aid station and was quite pleased with what I saw.  No one was shirtless, at least not yet, but they were a fine looking bunch of men, that's for sure. 
The aid stations seemed to be well placed, although the only ones I really used were the Firefighter one (twice, ha) and the one at the 14km mark (with the crazy wig wearing folks).  The rest of the time I relied on my own supply of water and GU Brew.  I had my fueling strategy pretty much down pat and never really experienced any sort of drop in energy which was great.  Thank goodness for Roctane.  That stuff really is liquid gold.  I finally settled into a decent groove at about the 10km mark, which I went through in 47:36.  I actually felt like I had stopped hurting and that I was running well.  Note to self, next time I need to do a solid warm up as it shouldn't take me 10km to feel "good".  This feeling continued right through to about the 18km mark when I hit the back end of the Don Mills bridge.  Oh good GOD.  It HURT going up that hill.  There was another little hill after you descended from that one that also hurt.  It was like my legs hardly had time to recover the from the nasty uphill before they had to go up again.  The lactic acid build up in my legs hurt.  I had managed to hold it off until 18km so I was pretty pleased about that at least.  I had definitely picked up the pace a bit because I was slowly reeling in 2 women that had passed me earlier.  At 19km they had a chocolate aid station.  I wasn't going to grab anything here but there was a little girl about 4 years old who was so excited to be handing out chocolate bars that I had to stop and grab one just because she was so adorable.  I didn't really have any place to put it so I hung on to it.  Just after I passed that aid station I came up on woman number one who had passed me earlier.  She had stopped and was bending over.  As I ran up I asked if she was ok and she looked at me and I thought she nodded slightly so I kept going.  A little further up the path, there was another woman who was having trouble as well.  She was running and then stopped to walk as I passed her.  Just before the 20km mark, I saw a bike marshall riding towards me.  It took me a minute to realize it was my friend Tara Norton.  She had ridden out to see where I was at.  She turned around and rode me in, blowing her whistle.  SWEET - I had my own bike marshall!!  People were trying to figure out who this chick was (me), since the winners had crossed the finish line already.  My own husband didn't even know.  He thought that maybe Tara was bringing in the Masters Leader and then he realized it was me.  He was pretty surprised.  As was I to be honest. I had been doing mental calculations from about the 16km mark based on running 5 min km's (knowing that I would be faster than that) and I figured I'd be coming in around 1:43 or just under.   Once I hit the 19km mark I knew that I was going to be way faster than 1:43.  I ran that last km as hard as I could.  It hurt like hell.  As it should I suppose.  As I approached the finish line I saw 1:41:31.  My official time was 1:41:37.  

Holy Crap.  I was beside myself.   That was a new PB for me by 2 whole minutes!   I certainly didn't think I had that in me going into this race.  My goal of a 1:40 half marathon at 40 is DEFINITELY within reach.  Gary thinks that I should set myself a "hard goal" for my A-race (something like a 1:35) and see what I can do.  We shall see.  I do know one thing for sure.  1:40 will be going DOWN come October.  Of that I am absolutely certain.

Final results:  5th of out 227 women (my age group was the largest so I am quite pleased) and 22nd overall.

I'll take it.

Next up:  The Bread and Honey 15km this weekend.