Sunday, March 31, 2013

Goal Getter 2013: March Update

It just seems like yesterday that I wrote my February re-cap.  March was certainly a whirlwind of insanity.  I celebrated a birthday, ran a half marathon, worked 13 days straight (5 of which were in Miami, boohoo for me) and ran a 30km a couple of weeks later.  I set PB's in both races I did and I came very close to hitting goal #10 on my list of resolutions on my birthday (breaking 1:30 in a half marathon).   That would have been an amazing birthday present.  I guess the next best thing is knowing that I'm getting really close.  A summer of racing triathlons should set me up nicely for a sub 1:30 in the fall.  What I did manage to do is hit goal #14:  My race time was fast enough to get me a guaranteed entry to NYC in 2014.  YEAH.

One goal I did have that I didn't put on my list, mainly because I wasn't really serious about it until about a month before the race, was getting my gold medal at Around the Bay.  After my result at the Chilly Half, I was pretty sure I'd be able to do it.  It wouldn't be pretty but I'd probably be able to pull it off.  I did it but it took me almost a week to recover from it.  I went much harder than I should have. But I honestly don't think I would have changed anything, other than the fact that I should have booked a massage a couple of days after the race.  That probably would have helped speed my recovery.  Oh well. 

Got the gold!
 I'm still chugging along nicely with my swimming as well.  In fact I dragged my sorry butt up at 5:30 am this morning to get to the early swim so I could get some mileage in before I went to meet my friend for a run.   I managed to swim 2700m in just under an hour this morning.  That brought my total for the month to 11 swims totaling 23,800m.  I'm now at 231,250m which means I have less than 20,000m to go before I hit 250,000m.   I suspect that I'll probably hit the 250,000m mark sometime mid-May. 

My cycling has been sporadic but at least it's not non existent.  I'm really looking forward to getting outside and riding once the weather warms up.  Realistically that probably won't happen until the end of April but that's ok.  I've got the Computrainer to keep me somewhat accountable in the meantime.

The area I need to get a better handle on is my diet.  I was so good during the month of February but this month has been tough.  I think my crazy work schedule, mixed in with the races and G being away has made it tough to stay on track.  We haven't actually done a proper grocery shop in about a month.  THAT is highly unusual for me.  I will be rectifying that tomorrow.  My body is craving good wholesome food.  I am going to toss out all the little bits of chocolate and other junk that have made their way into the house over the last few weeks as I can't seem to control myself once I indulge.  So into the trash it goes. 

Other than that, I'm happy with the way things are going.  Next stop - BOSTON!

How are your 2013 goals shaping up?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Going for Gold: Around the Bay Race Report

"Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts"  - Dan Gable
I knew that if I wanted that gold medal I'd have dig deep.  I'll admit it, I was scared.  Scared that I'd blow up.  Scared that I'd fail.  Realistically the only person that would matter to is me, but still.  Fear is a great motivator.  It can also cause you do to some silly things, like throw your race plan out the window.  Which is pretty much what I did.  Instead of sticking with my carefully thought out plan, I chose to run on feel and when I couldn't feel anymore, I'd run on guts. 

My original plan was to be consistent and stick to 4:27's  (that would have me crossing the finish line in 2:13:30).  My fear being that once I hit the hills in the last 12km, I'd slow down a fair bit, despite the fact that I've been running hills on a regular basis in my training.  That would have been a totally fine plan except that once I started running for some reason I felt that 4:27's wouldn't give me enough of a cushion if I slowed down a lot in the rollers.  So, I ditched my plan and opted to run based on how I felt.  Not always a wise thing to do, especially in the early stages of a long distance race because you almost always feel good.  I didn't go too crazy at the start.  In fact, I was incredibly consistent.  My first km was a bit on the speedy side so I dialed it back and managed to hit exactly the same pace for the next 5km (4:20's).  In fact for the first 17km of the race, I managed to stay between 4:20's-4:25's, although my Garmin seemed to be off just a bit for the entire race.  So I think my pace was closer to mid 4:20's through the first 17km.

The First 10km: Getting into a Groove

I had my trusty "Safe & Danger" band on my right arm.  I knew that for the first 10km if I came in around 44 minutes, I'd be good in good shape.  I also knew that the pace I was running was probably going to get me to the 10km mark faster than 44 minutes.  The course is quite flat along here and relatively sheltered so you don't get much in the way of wind until you start heading north.  There are still plenty of people to draft off of as well so I was able to take shelter behind a few dudes, which was nice.  The closer we got to 10km, the more the crowd started to thin out.  I chugged along really well through here, making a point to grab water at every aid station.  My fueling strategy was the same as at my last race.  It seems to work really well for me.  There were a couple of points between 8 and 10 km where my "too slow" alarm went off so I picked up the pace.  We were running into the wind for a couple of km so it's not surprising.  As we came up to 10km I could see the clock.  I didn't pay much attention to the time on my Garmin as it seemed to be off a bit.  I was going on gun time, not chip time so the clock at 10km would tell me exactly what I needed to know. 

First 10km:  43:41.  Sweet.  I was well ahead of where I needed to be and I was feeling good.

The Middle 10km: Staying Focused

As soon as you cross the 10km timing mat, you start to climb a slight incline onto a bridge.  I felt strong going up this incline and actually passed a few people.  On the bridge, however, I slowed down.  It's one of those metal bridges with holes in it, which makes the footing incredibly uneven.  I changed up my stride going over this, which kind of bothered my left knee a bit.  Luckily I wasn't on there for too long and we were headed into one of my favourite parts of the course:  the stretch along Beach Blvd.  Last year there were people that had set up a bacon stand.  I kid you not.  Sadly they weren't there this year.  I'd be lying if I said I felt great through here.  I didn't.  But I didn't feel horrible either, I just felt kind of "meh".  I could see it in my pacing too.  My Garmin started to beep a bit more frequently.  It was almost like I was losing focus a bit.  I didn't panic though, I just kept moving forward, figuring that perhaps I was just going through a rough patch.  I kept watching the time, trying to do the math as to where I thought I'd be time wise at 15km.  I was pretty sure I'd be sub 1:06:00 which was perfect.   The clock at the 15km mark came into view and I could just make out 1:05 something.  As I got closer I saw 1:05:32.  Amazing.  I was at the halfway point.  I had at least another hour and 5 minutes.  Probably more given that I figured there was no way a negative split was happening today.   Knowing that I was well ahead of my 15km "danger" pace of 1:07:30 seemed to buoy my spirits a bit and I started to feel a little better.  I hoped that it would last as I knew that the really hard part was coming.  As we came off the road onto North Shore Blvd, Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills" came on.  How appropriate, as that was exactly where I was headed.  Into the rollers.  I cranked it up and put it on repeat.  I actually started to feel good again so I tackled the first few rollers with gusto.  I remember thinking "this isn't so bad".  Riiight.  I was then smacked in the face with the first of the really ugly rollers.  "Oh yes, now I remember."  I could feel my quads starting to burn.  I let it fly on the downhills, knees be damned.  I spied the clock at the 20km mark but couldn't make it out just yet.  As I got closer, I could see it counting down to 1:27:30.  By the time I got there, the clock read 1:27:34.  Ok, I was slowing down a little but I was still very much in my safe zone and that's all I cared about.  

The Final Leg: Finding My Guts

Remember how I said I felt good between 16 and 20km?  As soon as I hit 21km, it was like I ran into a brick wall.  My entire body hurt.  Probably due to the long grinder of a climb that you do between 20 and 21km.  I got to the top and I was gasping.  I remember looking at my watch and seeing 1:31:30.  I started trying to do the math again.  Anything to keep my mind off the pain.  We were coming towards the hilly part of the GoodFriday 10 Miler course.  There was a very short steep downhill, followed by an equally steep but a little bit longer uphill.  Pure. Evil.  It took every ounce of strength in my legs to get up that hill.  I was starting to worry that I wouldn't be able to hang on over the next 8km.  It was at this point that I noticed a guy running right beside me.  Totally keeping pace with me.  He'd occasionally pull ahead of me a bit and then look over his shoulder to see if I was still there and then he'd settle back into my pace and run beside me.  It was like he needed some company.  There was no way I was getting any words out but it was nice to have the company, even if it was only for a few km.  As we pulled out onto Plains Road, he pulled ahead.  I tried to stay with him but I couldn't.  My legs were really starting to hurt.  My feet were also starting to cramp a bit.  I was thankful to get out onto Plains Road as that meant we were out of the rollers.  All we had left was the Big 'Un in between 25 and 26km.  I caught up with my friend for a bit and ran behind him as we headed towards the valley.  Once we started heading downhill, he pulled away from me again.   I could hear the familiar chorus of Queens "We Will Rock You" and I knew I was coming up to the highlight of the race:  The little dude in the wheelchair and his boom box.  This guy has been out at this same spot, playing this song every. single. time. I've done this race.  So, just like last year, I ran up to him, gave him a high five, thanked him for being there and told him he was always the highlight of my race.  With that done, I started the descent into the valley.  Once again, I let it rip down this hill.  My quads were absolutely shredded by this point but I didn't care.  I knew that once I got up the Big 'Un, it was flat and slightly downhill for the last 3km.  What I didn't bank on was the wind.  More on that later, let's get back to the Big 'Un.  

Everyone has their own opinion on this final climb.  Some people say it's not so bad, others (like myself) say it's horrible.  So in my opinion, it's the worst climb on the course.  When you get to the top you're at the 26km mark so I suppose the only thing that would make it even worse is if it was at the 29km mark.  Thankfully it's not.  It is definitely the steepest climb on the course.  You can see it prominently on the course elevation profile.

Yeah see that lovely dip at 25km, that's the Big 'Un.

Given how hard I had pushed myself through the first 20km, I figured this climb was going to be just plan ugly.  And it was.  It was like I was carrying a knapsack with about 30lbs on my back.  My pace slowed to 5:30's and all my Garmin did was beep.  Thankfully I could barely hear it over my ragged breathing and cranked up ipod.  I can thank the Arctic Monkeys for getting me up that hill.  Much like they did last year.  I was actually wobbly when I got to the top.  I remember cresting that hill last year and actually feeling pretty good.  Not this year.   Nope.  I was going to leave it all out on the course this year.  It took me about 5 minutes to catch my breath and get back into a rhythm.  Then I noticed the wind.  Good. Freaking. Lord.  It wasn't horrible but in my already depleted state, it certainly wasn't great.  It made the last 3km just a little harder than I wanted them to be.  I tried to catch a few people and draft, anything to ease the hurt I was feeling.  I managed to do that with a wee little guy in a Longboat Runner's singlet but given that he was shorter than me, it didn't really do me much good so I moved on.   I was running on nothing but guts and fumes at this point.  Once again I started trying to do the math in my head based on what my Garmin said.  At about 28km I knew absolutely for sure that I'd make it in well under 2:15.  I think I started smiling just after I high fived the Grim Reaper.  I was guessing I'd be in around 2:12:30.  As I got closer to Copps Coliseum, I started scanning the crowd.  My sister said she'd be out with her boyfriend Jesse and I knew G would be waiting for me somewhere.  Sure enough I saw my sister and Jesse just past the 29km mark.  I could hear her yelling Go get it PK and I remember saying I've so. freaking. GOT THIS.  And making my trademark Rock On fingers (of course).  I may have been hurting but I was beyond happy.  I was smiling the entire way and trying to get the crowd to make some noise, which they did.  I took a very wide corner into Copps, pulled off my sunglasses and pounded down the ramp, wincing at the soreness in my quads.  As I turned the corner I saw the clock had just ticked over to 2:12.  I had nothing left, there was no final sprint.  Nothing.  Some guy came flying by me as I came into the Coliseum.  You go buddy.  I raised my arms and grinned as I crossed the line.  I had done it.  

Gun time:  2:12:26.  Chip time:  2:12:14.  5 minutes faster than last year.

I walked over to get my medal and as soon as the girl handed it to me, I kissed it.  I couldn't stop smiling and I totally couldn't wait to see G.  As I walked out of the stadium I happened to look up and saw him standing there smiling that smug look he gets sometimes when he knows that he was right.  I didn't care.  He was right.  I DID it.  All that worrying was for nothing.  

Good as Gold.

As I was exiting the stadium, I saw my friend from earlier.  He stopped to thank me and shake my hand.  He said I really helped him.  I thought that was really sweet.  I said that even though I didn't say anything, it was really nice to have the company.  THAT is exactly what I love about running and runners in general.   

I hobbled out to the exit of the Coliseum to go meet G and my sister.  The one thing I hate about finishing in Copps is that they make you take the escalator up to the second floor and then you have to walk DOWN the stairs to the exit.  For whatever reason they don't allow you to just walk straight out.  I guess they want to keep some semblance of order and not have everyone and their brother walking around in the finishing / food area.   Other than that, this race always delivers.  It's incredibly well organized and well supported.  It's not surprising that it sells out every year.  I'll probably be back next year to do it again, even though I'm not planning on running a spring marathon.

Me and my awesome cheerleaders.

Now I've got 3 weeks to recover and get my last little bit of intensity in before I toe the line in Hopkinton.  Some people that push themselves at Around the Bay go on to have crappy experiences at Boston because it is only 3 weeks later.  Last year I ran ATB at more comfortable pace and I still caved at Mississauga, which was a whole 6 weeks later.  So perhaps this year's experience will remind me what it's like to run with guts.  That being said, I'm not going to be stupid.  Boston isn't a walk in the park and I don't want to re-live my last experience there.   It's been 10 years since I last ran Boston so hopefully I've managed to learn something.  I guess I'll find out in 3 weeks.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

Tomorrow will be my last big run before I start my taper for Boston.  It just so happens that 30km of the 34 I plan on doing will be part of a race.  I'm a big proponent of adding a few races into a training cycle, especially if you're training for a longer distance race.  What better opportunity to practice your "A" race game plan then in an actual race situation?

I'm done fretting about trying to make my goal time for this race.  Instead, I've decided to really focus on my preparation leading up to it.  This will be the last time I get to test my pre-race fuel strategy before the big day so I'm taking full advantage of it.   I tested things out at my last race and I figured I'd have to make one or two tweaks with my race morning fuel.  This time around I'm going to add a bit more chia to my mix and I'm going to have my half Clif bar 2 hours before the start of the race instead of an hour.  I want to make sure that it has time to fully digest before I start running.

I started my carb loading on Thursday.  I normally don't eat a ton of starchy carbs but I added some sprouted grain bread into my lunch that day.  On Friday I added sweet potatoes to my lunch and my afternoon snack consisted of greek yogurt and some Love Grown Oat Clusters.  Normally it would just be greek yogurt.  For dinner, I indulged in some pasta with turkey sausage, spinach, tomatoes & mushrooms.  This morning I made whole grain pancakes with a fruit compote.  My snack was a lighter version (i.e no peanut butter) of my chia pudding.  Lunch was broccoli slaw, veggies and tuna.  Tonight's dinner will be pan seared tilapia, mixed greens and some sweet potatoes.  That's what I had for dinner the night before my last race and it seemed to sit well with me.  I used to have my pasta dinner the night before a race but it really does a number on my stomach so I've taken to eating it 2 days before so I don't have to camp out in the bathroom race morning.

I've been using chia as my breakfast before a long run and it's worked quite well for me over the course of this training cycle.  I've been trying to get my body to burn fat as fuel first before it taps into my glycogen stores.  I'm don't know how to tell if it's working (this is all new to me!) but given that I haven't bonked on a run yet (knock on wood) I'm assuming that it is.  So tomorrow's breakfast will be a big bowl of chia, almond milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a scoop of chocolate protein powder.  Yummo! 

I don't have much of a game plan for tomorrow's race, other than to try to stay consistent in my pacing.  I am probably going to run a bit faster through the first half because the second half is hilly which is sure to slow me down a little.  I had printed out a pace band but realistically I only care about my splits at 10km, 15km and 20km.  So I simplified things a little bit and made my own little pacing cheat sheet.  I think I'll actually type it out and print it off vs. using my handwritten one.  I'll cover it up with clear packing tape and I'll be good to go. 

I've got my race ensemble all planned out as well.  It actually matches my bib, which I totally did NOT plan.  And superstitious me is really digging my bib number with multiple 3s and a multiple of 3.  I do this with pretty much ever race bib I get;  I add the numbers up and then reduce it to one single digit number.  So 3+6+3 = 12 then 1+2 = 3.  Given that my lucky number is 3, I'm pretty happy.  I know, I know soooo silly but I don't care.  We all have our "things" and that happens to be one of mine. 
This is also going to be race number two of my #13in2013 challenge.  Things are rolling fast and furious now that race season has started.   Bring it on!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is It All in My Head?

After my fairly positive post on Sunday, I've suddenly become overrun with these nagging feelings of doubt.  Doubt in my training and in my ability.  I think it's because my last few training runs have sucked.  Normally I am able to brush these off and move on but I'm struggling with that right now.   Probably because I have race number two coming up this weekend.  I'm running Around the Bay 30km on Sunday.  Last year was the first time I had run it in a while and I blew my previous time out of the water and amazingly, I still had a fair bit left in the tank to crank it up in the last 3km.   This year, I want to better my time by 4 minutes so I can complete the trifecta and get myself a gold medal.   Medal colours are awarded based on finishing times.  For women, 2:15:00 or faster gets you a gold medal.   Sub 2:30 gets you a silver medal and that's what I managed to snag last year.  Bronze is awarded to anything after 2:30:00.  I did the calculations and I will have to run 4:27/km's if I want to snag that gold medal.  I did a tempo run last night at a 4:26/km average pace and it absolutely killed me.  It was a total struggle.  I can't imagine 30km at that pace.  I'm sure my weight workout yesterday morning had something to do with it but when I got home, I was feeling pretty bummed. 

Made my pace but it was seriously ugly. 

Thankfully my voice of reason was just a phone call away.  G managed to kind of talk me off the ledge.  I still have some lingering doubts (mostly to do with my knees) but realistically it is what it is.  All I can do is go out and do my best on Sunday.  If I get my gold medal, amazing.  If not, that's life.  There's always next year.  That being said, I'm going to take it easy the rest of this week.  And by easy, all I really mean is that I'm going to skip my Thursday run and I'm not going to do any legwork at the gym.  Yup, I'm living on the edge baby.  I had some A.R.T work done on my legs today and no surprise, there were a ton of knots in my upper quads.  It was pretty painful but I'm sure by tomorrow I'll feel better.  Who knows, maybe this is just my head playing it's silly games with me.  After all, my horoscope today forecasts nothing but amazingness over the next little while. 

"The sun may be leaving your sign but that does not mean the good times are ending.  On the contrary, you will soon be enjoying the rewards of the efforts you made in recent weeks.  Well deserved they are too."

If it's THIS good it HAS to be true right??? 

In other exciting news, I have officially committed to doing 6 triathlons in my favourite race series this summer.   I'm doing 5 sprint distance (750m swim, 30km bike, 5 or 7.5km run) and one Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run).  It's been ages since I've actually done an Olympic distance race so this should be interesting.   The ultimate goal at the end of the summer is to do Muskoka 70.3 (2km swim, 94km bike, 21.1km run).  BUT that will be dependent on my training partner.  She has not committed yet and until she does, I'm not putting my money where my mouth is.  Either way it's going to be a busy summer.  Thank goodness G likes to race just as much as I do!

Have you planned out your summer races yet? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Countdown to Beantown - 4 weeks to go!

Gotta be honest, when I read that title, I get butterflies in my stomach and I feel like barfing...just a little.  I can't believe there is only 4 freaking weeks left in my training.  4 weeks!!!  Gah.  If these next 4 weeks are as successful as the last 4 have been then I suspect Boston will be a good day.  Let's pick up where we left off 4 weeks ago shall we?  There was much whinging in that post and I'm happy to say that even though I've had a few crappy long runs in this cycle (including yesterday), most of my other workouts have been good.  I even managed to get all my runs in while away for work in Miami, including a 5x1000m interval workout along the boardwalk.  And to top it all off, I ran a half marathon PB on my birthday.  Not just a little PB either.  I shaved a whole minute and 9 seconds off my time from last year.  The best part was that I paced myself smartly.  I didn't go out too hard so I had plenty left in the tank towards the end.  I'm not going to lie,  it's a nice feeling to start passing folks in the last 5km of a half marathon. The added bonus?  I re-qualified into NYCM with my time.  YEAH.

Where I've taken a hit as of late is my cycling and my strength training.  I was supposed to start phase 2 of the NROL program just after I got back from vacation but that never happened and then the follow week was my race and I didn't think it was wise to start a new weightlifting program the same week I was running a half marathon.  Then I was away in Miami.  I could have started it this week I suppose but I wasn't organized enough to look up all the exercises.  So that will have to wait till next week and even then, I'll probably skip the leg part of my Thursday workout because I'm racing again next weekend.  And as for my cycling well, it had been a month since I've been on the bike but I rectified that today.  I'm not going to fret about my lack of cycling fitness right now as my first tri of the season isn't until the end of May but, I also don't want to completely slack off.  I can't get another entire month go by without riding.

As usual, I've been plugging away with my swimming.  I'm really closing the gap on 250,000m.  After this mornings swim, I'm at 218,250m.   If I can manage to keep up a monthly average of 20,000m I'll be there by sometime in May.  April will be dicey because of Boston;  I'll miss 3 days of swimming for sure, possibly 4 depending on whether or not I can drag my butt out of bed the day after we get home.  Although, I usually get out 15 minutes early so I can hit the showers before they get too crowded.  Might have to change that over the next few months so I can squeeze in a few extra meters. 

The first challenge of this month - the Further Faster Forever Badge Challenge ended today and I managed to snag 20 different badges.  I'm sure there are a couple of others I could claim but I don't have picture evidence so in the interest of playing fair, I'm not going to claim them.  It was a fun challenge and I hope they do something like that again!  Today also marks the start of the #30DaystoBoston Instagram challenge that Ty from Seeking Boston Marathon is hosting.  I can't wait to see everyone's pics over the course of the next 30 days. 

All in all, I'm pretty happy with my last cycle of training.  Now I just have to make sure I work on recovering better (i.e re-hydrating and getting more sleep) and not getting sick!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March: The Month of Challenges

We're only 10 days into March and it's been a busy one, mainly because of work.  All work and no play makes me a little cranky so I've decided that I need to add some fun to the mix in the form of a couple of challenges.  The first one is being hosted by F3 (Further Faster Forever) and it's a badge collection challenge.  There are badges for all sorts of accomplishments.  It's like being in the athletic version of the Girl Guides.  Each badge is worth a certain number of points, the more badges you collect the more points you get.  The bonus?  The points can get you prizes!   The contest runs between March 1st and March 17th.  So far I've managed to earn 11 badges.  I have yet to document everything on Instagram but given that I've got a full day of sitting around the studio supervising stuff, I'm sure I'll be able to find the time.

Badge Happy!!

The other challenge I'm going to participate in is also on Instagram and it's being hosted by Ty over at Seeking Boston Marathon and Alison at Racing Tales.  It's a "30 Days To Boston" challenge and it starts on March 17th and ends on race day.  This one is going to be a lot of fun.  I'm looking forward to seeing all the posts from all the other folks that will be racing.  I'm also really looking forward to perhaps meeting a few people in person too.  I can't believe how much the world has changed since the last time I raced Boston 10 years ago.  The last time I did the race, I ran it by myself.  I didn't know anyone else doing the race.  There was no online running community that I could hook up with and none of my IRL friends were running it either.  Now I "know" (virtually) at least 15 different people that will be running Boston this year.  The power of the interwebz never ceases to amaze me.

Speaking of challenges, getting all my usual workouts in has been a bit of a challenge over the course of this last week, but, I haven't done too badly all things considered.  Amazingly I got all my runs done while I was away in Miami.  I also managed to squeeze in a swim and one lame gym workout.  Still a lame gym workout is better than no gym workout.  I'm glad I got at least one swim in.  Hopefully that one swim will help keep me from totally dying when I go back to my swim club tomorrow morning.  

I'd be lying if I said that this past week hadn't taken it's toll on me.  Traveling for work is tough, especially when you're with a group.  Late nights, a whole lot of eating out and drinking sure does a number on your body, especially when you're not used to it.  All of that culminated in one of the worst runs I've had this training cycle.  I knew it was going to suck from the minute I started running.  But, I got it done and I was only 2 seconds per km off of my goal pace.  My legs hate me right now but it's nothing that an epsom salt bath and a massage won't fix.  

Do you travel for work at all?  Does it take it's toll on your or are you used to it?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me: Chilly Half Marathon Race Report

This race always happens around my birthday but I think this was the first time that I decided to participate when it actually landed ON my birthday.  This is the fourth time I've run this race.  The first time was back in 2008 and then I skipped several years and signed up again in 2011.  I've run it every year since and I will probably continue to do so.  It's a fairly flat course and I find it a great indicator of where I'm at in my training and what I need to work on.

Much like last year, I didn't have high expectations going in, mainly because I felt that my training hadn't been up to snuff and also because I had been under a lot of stress the week leading up to the race.  My eating hadn't been great leading up to race day either but I did make an effort to get a fair bit of carbs in on the Friday and then clean everything up by Saturday.  I did a bit of running around on Saturday morning and then chilled out for the rest of the afternoon, after I finished packing for Miami of course.

This was going to be the first race using my new pre-run breakfast of chia, almond milk, peanut butter and protein powder.  I figured I'd have to supplement with a little bit of carbs as well so I ate my breakfast about 2.5 hours before the race start and then I had half a Coconut Chocolate Chip Clif bar about 1 hour before the start of the race.  Given the slight stitch I had on my warm up run, I think I should probably have those carbs at least an hour and a half to 2 hours before so they're fully digested.  I'm happy to say that once I started racing, I didn't have any issues. 

I decided to situate myself just behind the 1:30 pace bunny.  I figured if I could keep him in my sights then I'd have a good day.  This year the race organizers had marked off corral areas but no one really seemed to pay much attention to that so as a result the start was a little congested.  I was ok with that as it forced me to slow down a bit.  I ran with the 1:30 pace bunny group for the first 2km and then started to back it off.  I didn't want to go too fast at the start like I did last year.  Last year I just ran like a maniac from start to finish.  This year I wanted to at least be smart about it and try to pace myself.  I checked my pace every so often and I was consistently hovering between 4:24's-4:30's.  Definitely slower than last year.  My legs didn't feel too hot until we hit about 4km then I started to feel better.  So I figured at my current pace I'd probably come in somewhere around 1:35 and I was ok with that.  Just after the 5km mark, I started to settle into a bit of a groove.  My pace had picked up a little bit and I was running closer to 4:20-4:22's.  I found a couple of people and hung with them for the next 6km.

The first 10km seemed to fly by.  My fueling strategy was perfect.  I had a GU Roctane about 35 minutes before the gun went off and then I had half of one 30 minutes into the race and then another half every 15 minutes throughout the race.  A constant supply of GU goodness seemed to keep my energy level consistent.  I grabbed water at every aid station and drank the GU brew that I brought whenever I had a gel.  From about 5km through to 14km I was yo-yoing back and forth with a tiny but mighty woman.  Every time I passed her, she'd catch me and pass me.  At 14km I decided to really pick up the pace.  I had been gradually increasing my speed from about the 11km mark but I figured I could probably hammer out 7km without killing myself at that point so I decided to let 'er rip.  I was pleasantly surprised when I checked my watch at the 15km mark and saw that I was just over 1:06 into the race.  Whoa!  I started trying to do the math.  By 17km I figured that I'd be pretty darn close to last year's time, maybe even faster.   I decided to push a little bit harder.

I reeled in 3 women and several guys.  I felt like I was flying.  At some points I hit some 4:10s.  I figured it was just a matter of time before my legs started to say "ENOUGH ALREADY".  Sure enough, the lactic acid really started to hit my legs at about 19km.  By 20km my calves had started to cramp and my feet started shortly there after.  I didn't care.  As soon as I came up the rise just before Brant Street and saw the crowds, adrenaline kicked in.  I saw a race photographer and started waving and smiling.  As I came towards Brant Street and saw G step out of the crowd to high five me.  I can't remember what I said but I know there was an expletive in there.  I was hurting big time.  I rounded the bend up Brant, my legs screaming bloody murder.  It's a bit of an incline to the finish line which is never nice.  I saw my friend and fellow West Toronto Pacer,  Roger, cheering me on.  When I finally saw the finish line clock, I started to grin.  As I got closer it ticked over 1:31.  Knowing it took me about a minute or so to cross the start line I grinned even wider.  I was going to beat last year's time.  I was actually going to set a new PB.  As I crossed the line, I had one last burst of adrenaline that I used to jump in air and click my heels together.  I've always wanted to do that for a finishing photo and I figured doing it on my birthday was probably the best time to do it.
My feet cramped as soon as they hit the ground
 I hit stop on my Garmin and looked down:  1:30:48.  A PB from last year's time by over a minute.  Holy moly.  Talk about an awesome birthday present!  Last year I managed to win my age group with a slower time but this year there were a whole bunch of fast old broads so even with my P.B I only ended up 3rd in my AG.  But I don't care, I'm more pumped about the P.B.  I am inching closer to that sub 1:30...I'm so close I can almost taste it.  It's funny, going into this race I was so concerned that I'd lost some speed because of the workouts I've missed in my training.  Perhaps I don't need to be so worried after all and learn to just trust in my ability.  Always easier said than done!
Proof, along with my finishers medal

Definitely negative split this one!  You can see where I started to crank it up.
 I'm thrilled with the way my season has started.  Nothing like kicking off #13in2013 with a P.B!  If I can remain consistent in my training over the next few weeks, I have high hopes for breaking 2:15 at Around the Bay. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Goal Getter 2013 Update: February

I know I'm a day late with this post but I was so busy yesterday I couldn't even *think* about anything else but work.  I'm glad to see the end of February that's for sure.  As soon as March hits I start thinking spring even though we usually still get a fair bit of snow in March.  February wasn't a totally horrible month workout wise though, at least in regards to my swimming.  I've been really focusing on being consistent in the pool and I managed to do that no problem even while we were away in Mexico.  This last week has thrown me for a bit of a loop in that regards though as work has been insanely busy.  I suspect the month of March will not be as consistent as January and February in terms of my swimming goals but what can you do?  I'll figure out a way to get something in somewhere.  I have just over 41,000m to go before I hit 250,000m.  I was hoping to do that by June so even if I do have one not so great month, I should still be on track.

Yup, yesterday's swim was only 1000m - something is ALWAYS better than nothing!
 Boston training has been hit and miss this past month.  Definitely not as consistent as I'd like to be but it is what it is.  I still have 6 weeks.  My speed may not be where I hoped it would come race day but who knows.  I'll re-evaluate closer to the day as I have 2 races coming up that should give me an idea as to where I'm at.  Speaking of which, the first one is this Sunday (The Chilly Half Marathon), which is also my birthday, which is also the day I have to fly to Miami.  Yup.  Sunday is going to be mental.  The race starts and 10:00 am.  I am hoping to be done by 11:35-ish.  I'll then have to grab my post race goodies, find G, get into the car and drive back to Toronto (the race is in Burlington which is about 40 minutes outside of Toronto), shower, grab all my stuff and have G take me to the airport so I can catch a 4:30 flight.  Yeah, I'm freaking just a bit.  I don't have high hopes for this race, but I didn't last year and I set a PB and won my age group.  Not sure that will happen this year but you never know.  I'm just going to go out and do my best.

One thing I've been very diligent about is goal #3 on my list (keep doing my rehab exercises even if I'm feeling better).  Most of my knee issues have been sorted out so now I'm working on strengthening my hips and glutes.  I've also been making a point of getting to yoga which I find has helped immensely and goes hand in hand with goal #17 (stretch, stretch, stretch).   My cycling has taken a bit of a hit as of late but that's ok, I have several months before my first triathlon.   The way things are going, I probably won't get back on my bike until mid March.  Starting tomorrow, I've got 10 days straight of work ahead of me, maybe more depending on what else comes in between now and when I get back from Miami.   I will be bringing my running stuff as well as my swimsuit and goggles to Miami.  I'm sure I'll be able to squeeze in a run or two while I'm there and hopefully a swim.  Good thing I'm a morning person because I think 4:30 am and I will become good friends over the next week.  You gotta do what you gotta do.

How are you doing with your 2013 goals?