Sunday, November 27, 2011

Icing on the Cake-MCC Chilly Willy 15km

The breeze coming through the living room window seemed a lot cooler than the forecasted 10 degrees.  I hemmed and hawed about what to wear.  After 13 years of running, I still struggle with this.  I really didn't feel like racing.  It was grey, rainy and windy.  Not exactly the kind of weather I want to run in.  But I talked a friend into racing so I figured I'd better go.

I packed my bag with some warm post race clothes and grabbed my Running Free vest as an afterthought and stuffed it into my bag.  I headed out the door into the rain.  Yuck.  Did my usual double check in the car before I left.

The rain seemed to get heavier and heavier as I drove west towards Port Credit.   I knew that racing down by the lake it was going to seem a whole lot colder.  Sure enough when I pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car, I almost immediately started shivering.  Awesome.  Good thing I brought a few layers.

The registration process was slow but they were allowing folks to register race morning so that held things up a bit.  This was a really small grass roots race so I didn't expect it to be a super slick production.  The volunteers were all very friendly.   There was a small tent with timing mats and a clock which was the start and finish line.  Other than that, there was NO indication of where the route went.  I had checked online and there was no course map.  Very frustrating.

I went and did a little warm up run with my friend Kiki and we made it back with 5 minutes to spare.  I peeled off a layer and pinned my number on, grabbed my ipod and kissed Gary goodbye.  I was still trying to get myself organized at the start line.  I could barely hear the race marshall talking.  I heard something about a cyclist leading people which was enough info for me.  The next thing I know, someone yelled go and we were off.  MY watch didn't start right away so I had to hit it twice to get it going.  I was near the back of the pack so I spent the first couple of km dodging people.  I tried to keep my friend Rooster (Glenn) in my sights.  He's pretty speedy so I figured if I could hang on to him I'd be good.  I passed a couple of women and then another couple.  At that point I thought I was the lead woman.  My friend Linnea caught up to me after our little meander around the point and back and she passed me.  I caught her again as we crested a small hill.  She told me that there was another girl ahead of me.   Really?  Interesting.

I chugged along, glad for the fact that I wore my vest.  The rain was never terribly heavy but it was constant.  My feet were soaked by 3km in.  Gross.  I gave up dodging puddles and just ran through them.  I picked off a few young bucks that thought they were all that.  I don't know if they were too pleased about being passed by a chick, especially an "old" one,  since they surged right past me shortly after I passed them.  But they couldn't hold the pace so I caught them again.  Choke on my dust.  

There were no course markers at all along the course so I had no clue how far I had run until I hit the one and only water station.  As I passed I heard the guy yell "5km".  Ok.  I checked my watch:  21:18.  Certainly not anywhere close to my 5km PB but not bad.  I started doing the math in my head.  I knew I had gone out too fast so I figured I'd definitely slow down by 10km.  I figured if I could manage to do each 5km segment in 22 minutes or so I'd be around 1:05.  Perfect.  The course ran through the bike path I always train on so I was able to totally let loose, knowing exactly what to expect at each turn.  The turnaround point was at the driveway to Marie Curtis park.  I finally got to see the girl in front of me.  She wasn't too far ahead.  Excellent.  Target acquired.

I could still see Rooster as well so all was going according to plan.  I figured the turnaround point was probably 7.5km in so I thought I was halfway done.   I don't know why but I figured it was an out and back.  That would have made the most sense.   Had I been paying attention to the time on my watch, I would have realized that it was really only about 6km.   I pushed along, grabbing a water as I passed the aid station again.  I took in half a Roctane as my legs were really starting to feel it.  I was going to save the other half for 45 minutes in, which if my calculations were correct, would mean I'd have another 20 minutes left.  That would be just enough to get me through.

We came along the path towards Hydro road and I was on auto pilot.  I could still see the lead girl in front of me.  I didn't seem to be closing the gap.   Push harder.   Crossed Hydro road and headed back towards Lakefront Promenade.  As we crossed Hydro Road, I caught a glimpse of the lead girl.  Ohhh, not too far off now.  I looked at my watch and thought Holy Smokes, we're not far from the finish line and it's not even 45 minutes in.  Hmmm.....I wonder if we do another loop of the point, I hope so, cause I'm closin' in.   As we made our way towards the road where we turned down to finish, I saw the bike marshall riding towards us.  What??? Oh God, please don't tell me we have to go BACK out again??  We were directed to go right  so I figured we were heading back out to do a loop around the point.  I now had a clear view of the girl in front of me.  The gap seemed to be closing.   Sweet.   As we entered the path on the point, Rooster really started to close the gap on the lead girl.  I wasn't far behind him.  He caught her and passed her.  I was about 100m behind him.  I started to push it.  She looked back and saw me but I don't think she had much in the tank.  I pushed harder to try and close the gap as we rounded the bend, I was just off her shoulder.  I thought about staying there for a bit but opted not to.  I didn't want to lose Rooster.  I passed the girl and took the women's lead.  The second half of the Roctane had hit my system and I was feeling good.  I was definitely working hard.

We made our way back along the path and had to head back out towards Lakefront Promenade.  I was hoping the turnaround was there but as I got closer I didn't see anyone standing there.  Crap.  Don't tell me we have to go all the way back out to Hydro Road??  I was starting to get a bit cranky.  My legs were really starting to hurt.  I had managed to catch up to Rooster and was running right behind him.  I didn't want to push myself too much harder as I had no idea where we were supposed to turn around.  I hung out behind him and then he started to pull away a bit.  I didn't have anything.  We got towards Hydro Road, crossed it again when I saw 2 guys standing by the side of the path a little further up.  At LAST!  I hit the final turn around and knew that I had less than 10 minutes left.  I glanced at my watch and figured there was a really good chance that I'd break 1:05 if I could hang on to my current pace.  I saw the girl I passed coming up to the turn around.  I had put a decent gap on her but I wasn't about to ease up.  As we came back across Lakefront Promenade, I started to pick up the pace.  I actually started to close in on Rooster.  I caught a young guy on the path on the way back.  I passed him like he was standing still.  I could see Rooster about 150m in front of me.  He had the afterburners on.  Cripes.  I crossed the road and busted my butt towards the finish line.  I saw Gary sitting in the car with the window down, taking pictures.  I waved and powered my way to the finish line.  I glanced at the clock as I crossed the line: 1:04: something.  ohhhh yeahhhhh!!!  A new PB for 15km.

Not only did I take 8 minutes off my previous 15km time, I ended up with the women's overall win.  That's the icing on the cake for me!   Not a bad way to cap off an amazing season of racing.

Now it's time to me to chill out, enjoy the holidays and perhaps start formulating a plan for next year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Snippets from a Saturday Morning Run

Out the door into the sunshine.

Woof Woof.  Hi Maggie, cute sweater.  No I can't stay and play, gotta go for my run.

Down Riverside to the top of the hill.  Take in the view.  Picture time.  Palace Pier in silhouette.

Palace Pier

Off I go.  Across the street, boogity boogity.  Ugh, tights are sagging.  Red light, stop, adjust tights.

Maybe I'm overdressed....nah.

Hit the path.  Left or right?  Hmmmm....right.

Eastbound towards Ontario Place.  Lots of runners.  Even more cyclists.  Oh look, sun hitting the water, birds overhead.  More pics, click click.  Bob and weave around the pack of walkers.

Wow those trees look great.  Click.  

Robo Cop runner in full compression gear.  Avoids eye contact.  Far too focused on running like a superhero.  Ha ha ha ha.  

Uphill to the Legion.  Ohhh cops are out - SPEEDTRAP!  Wonder if I'd register on the radar.  Chug chug chug up the hill.  Turn up the volume.

He's nearing the brink but he thinks first 
The parallel universe could be the perfect scene
He's nearing the brink but he thinks first 
The parallel universe could be the perfect scene
He's nearing the brink but he thinks first
The parallel
I think you should know you're his favourite worst nightmare.....

Past the Argo rowing club.  Rowers!  Ohhhh this is a nice pic.  Gel time.  


Blue skies, seagulls and airplanes.  Almost at Ontario place.   Hmmm....right or straight? Last time I went right.  Straight it is.

More runners.  Loads.  No one waves.  Cranky buggers.  Didn't your mom ever teach you about manners.   Watch the cyclist!   Stick to the right.

Inukshuk.  This deserves a picture.  Love this.   Look both ways before getting back on the path.       Around the bend.  Hello there Mr. Smiley; wow you're tall.  Nice shirt, I've done that race too. 


By the trees.  Memorial sign.  Beautiful light.  Winding path to Tip Top Tailors.  Wonder if I'll get to Spadina?  Hmmm...maybe, not sure.

Down the path past Tip Top.  WOOOOOSH.  Into the wind tunnel.  Holy smokes. Out on to Queens Quay.  43 minutes and change.  Probably won't make it to Spadina.  Bathurst.  Red light.  Almost 45 minutes out.  Keep going?  Yup yup.  Look at that.  45 minutes out and I'm at Dan Leckie Way.  Close to Spadina but not quite.  Gel time again.

Turn around.  Red light again.  Cabs everywhere.  Legs feel good.  Time to pick up the pace.  Going to negative split the run.  West along Queens Quay, retracing my steps.  Back into the wind tunnel.  Pushing pushing.  By the trees & memorial sign.  Runner up ahead.  Target acquired.  Caught.  Bye Bye.

Go go, around the bend.  By the Inukshuk.  Into the wind.  Where did that come from?  Bloody hell.  More runners up ahead.  Pick, pick, pick.   

Off on your way, hit the open road,
There is magic at your fingers
For the Spirit ever lingers,
Undemanding contact in your happy solitude

Caught you.  And you.  And you.  On the promenade.  Right into the wind.  Chilly.

Down the hill past the Legion. Here comes the Robocop Runner again.  Avoids eye contact again.  Well aren't you just too cool for school.  

At the Palais Royal.  Smells like burnt toast.

Ohhhhh yeaaaahhhhhh.   You wreck me baby.  
You break me in two.  
But you move me honey, 
Yes you do......

Sunnyside Pavilion.  Shelter from the wind.  Hello Mr. Smiley.  Nice to see you again.  Legs are starting to tire.  Pace is hard.  Heart rate hovering around 165.  Give 'er.  Tourists on a bench.  Family snapshot.  Say Cheese!

There's something wrong 
With this plot
The actors here 
Have not got

A clue
Baby I'm howlin' for you.   
Da da da da da, da da da da da.

Getting closer.  Red light turns green.  Gotta go, can't stop.  All the way across Lakeshore.  Queensway, red light.  Gu wrappers into the garbage.  Should be home soon.  Another 10 minutes, maybe?

Up a wee hill, on the Kingsway.   Careful, lots of cars. Cross the street.  SWOOSH. Lexus on the wrong side of the road blows by me.  Idiot.  Up the Riverside hill.  Push push push.  Ouch ouch ouch.  Legs hurt.  Want to stop.  Heaving lungs.  Lactic acid.  Ease up.  Catch my breath at the top.  Second wind, back at it again.  Minutes from home.  Musical interlude, playing air bass in my head.  Leave That Thing Alone.  Bring me home boys.  Round the bend and down to the pathway with 3 minutes to spare.

Happy Days. 

All images Copyright Phaedra Kennedy, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now - Sable Optics Goggle Review

I have gone through more types of goggles than I care to admit.  Having a small face means that I am limited to a few styles and even then, those styles don't always work well for me.  The big issue I have with most goggles is lens clarity, followed closely by fogging.   I don't know which is more annoying to be honest.

My husband got a pair of the prescription goggles from the Team Running Free silent auction and he went on and on about how good they were.  I figured they were good because they were prescription so he could finally see clearly.  He said otherwise.  I thought $50 was steep for a pair of goggles so I never bothered investigating any further.

This year I was lucky enough to get a free pair of the RS 101 goggles in the Team Running Free product lottery, with the caveat that I had to review them.   They couldn't have come at a better time as my current goggles were driving me crazy.   I was curious to try them as I had noticed many of my fellow Master's club members wearing them.

After much fiddling and experimentation with changeable the nose pieces, I finally settled on one that seemed to keep the goggles where they should be on my eyes without pinching the bridge of my nose.   I have to say, the goggles did not disappoint.  They were crystal clear and they didn't fog.  At least for the first few times I wore them.  About a month after I got them I noticed they started to fog up during swims.  Not a lot, just slightly.  It was enough be a bit distracting.  I cleaned them as recommended.  First time back in the pool they seemed fine.  There seemed to be one "fuzzy" patch on the left lens but I thought it was just another foggy patch.  I continued to use them until after an open water swim, I lost one of the seals around the lens.  It just popped off and I lost it in the water.  Not to worry though, I contacted Sable and they shipped me a replacement pair of seals that just easily popped back on.  At no charge I might add.

When I was putting seals on I looked through the lenses and noticed that the left one had what looked like a smudge on it.  I gently cleaned it off only to find that it wasn't a smudge it was a series of small scratches.  This would explain the "fuzz" that I was seeing, and that I thought was actually fog.  I was disappointed to say the least.  I was very gentle when cleaned them so how they became scratched is beyond me.  It obviously doesn't take much to scratch the lens on these goggles.  Either that or I'm a lot harder on things than I think I am.  Good thing Sable offers a one time lens replacement.  I may actually take them up on that.

I have since borrowed by husbands second pair of Sables (after a very annoying experience with a pair of Tyr goggles) and I'm having the same issue with fogging.  I haven't cleaned these ones for fear of scratching them.  I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong if anything.  They are always sealed well around my eyes so I am at a loss.  Today's swim was no exception.  Within 10 minutes the goggles were completely fogged up.   I don't want to pay $50 for a pair of goggles that fog up within 10 minutes of use after only a month's wear.  If that wasn't the case, I'd give these goggles a 10 out of 10.  The fit is great and the customer service is excellent but I expect a little bit more from a quality stand point for the price.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stay Golden

The chill in air belied the golden light.  I stepped out onto the curb, inhaled the crisp air and turned my face to the sun.  A small smile spread across my lips.

I love days like this.

I started my watch, more for time than for anything else, and headed down the street.   The sky was a clear bright blue which was tempered by the warm mellow glow of the late fall sun.  It was a perfect day for a long run.  I eased into a comfortable pace and made my way south towards the water.  The sun on my face and the rhythm of my breath was calming.  As I came to the top of the Riverside hill, I was struck by the beauty of the light across the Humber River Valley.

Humber River
Copyright Phaedra Kennedy 2011

Days like this make me truly appreciate being able to get out and run.  I'm truly lucky.

I stopped to walk along the edge of the valley.  I didn't have anywhere I needed to be so I stood for a while and savored the view.  The weather had been unseasonably mild for the last few weeks so there were still plenty of leaves on the trees.  Most of the red ones had gone leaving behind the seemingly hardier orange and yellow leaves.  This just amplified the sense of being enveloped in a warm golden glow.  As I continued along to the waterfront, I couldn't help but be reminded of the scene in the movie The Outsiders where Ponyboy recites Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay.  The character of the light in that scene was much like the character of the light this morning.  Sadly I knew that these days of glorious light would be short lived.  The impending grey of winter was looming.  Daylight savings time was upon us and the days would be shorter, nights longer and weather colder.

Nothing Gold Can Stay.

I headed east along the waterfront into a chilly wind.  The sun was still hanging fairly low on the horizon, taking it's time making its low arch across the sky.  I was running into the golden light, it's warmth being slightly overpowered by the wind.  I knew that by the time I turned around the light would be gone.

Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Lake Ontario
Copyright Phaedra Kennedy 2011
I continued my journey eastward, stopping a few times to appreciate the view of the lake.  I made my way out to the gates at Ontario Place and decided it was time to turn around.   The sun had climbed higher and the shadows had become shorter.  The golden light had faded into the clear bright blue of the sky.  The chilly wind was now at my back, nudging me home.  The magical light may have gone but what it left behind was just as beautiful in it's own right.

Nothing Gold Can Stay.

I climbed up the Riverside hill, huffing and puffing with the extra effort.   As I crested the top of the hill, I glanced down into the valley below.  A lone rower was gliding his way across the glass-like water towards the marsh.  He quietly disappeared behind the reeds, leaving a hint of a wake behind him.  Much like the golden light of fall, making way for the cold light of winter.