Friday, December 27, 2013

2014: The Year of the Real Deal

A while back I hinted at a big adventure for 2014.  Well folks, the pieces are all falling into place.  The final piece to the puzzle was put in place this morning and quite frankly, I'm so freaking excited I can't even bear it.  Next year is going to be EPIC.  Why?  Because G and I just signed up for this:

Yes folks, that's a 70.3.  And yes, it's in Luxembourg.   We are off to race in Europe once again.  Why Europe?  Well, why not I guess.  It came about on my suggestion that we take a nice trip to Italy in the summer to celebrate 10 years of marriage.  G said that would be great.   A couple of months later G says, I'd like to do a 70.3 next year.  In Europe.  Ok, not really my idea of a nice romantic holiday but the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.  After all, this is what we love to do together.  Yes, I'm a bit apprehensive about doing a longer distance race.  Especially the swim.  BUT, I have to remind myself that this is a half Ironman.  I made it through 2 full Ironman races in one piece, I know I can get through this.  That being said, I am never happy to "just get through" something.  That is not in my nature.  I am a competitor and I want to go out and race it.  With my early season race card filling up and my lofty goal for Boston, I didn't think I could hammer out a training plan that had me peak for Boston, while still getting a good deal of cycling in and then peak for Luxembourg a short two months later.  I needed help.

Enter my friend and colleague Tom Nesbitt.  He mentioned to me that Real Deal Racing was putting together a multi-sport team and he had talked me up big time to one of the owners.  A few weeks later, I happened to meet said owner (Mike Mandel) and talked to him briefly about coaching.  I was just starting to do some research on coaches.  I am definitely someone who follows her gut and I immediately liked Mike.  But I also feel I have to investigate every avenue so that's what I did.  But I came right back to the guys at Real Deal.   I wanted to have my FTP test done so I contacted Mike and said I'd like to go ahead with that at least and that I'd like to talk to them about coaching.  So the night of my test was also like an interview.  They had to make sure I wasn't nuts and that we were going to be a good fit as a team.  By the end of that test, I was completely sold.  Both Mike and Ming are great guys and I'm so excited to be working with them this year.  I have complete faith that they will help me get to where I want to be and it's nice to know that they are excited to be working with me as well.  To quote Mike: We are taken by your passion and excited by your past results and considerable potential.   To say I'm pumped would be an understatement.  

The other big change for 2014 is that I will no longer be racing for Team Running Free.  I am now a part of the Real Deal Multi Sport team.  It's a small but mighty roster of talented athletes and I am honored to be one of them! 

2014 is definitely going to be the year of the Real Deal.  Booya!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve!

To say that the last few days have been chaos in the Big Smoke would be an understatement.  Our weather has been all over the place with temperatures rising and then plummeting.  We've been dumped on with snow and now, good old Mother Nature has covered the city in ice.  So needless to say, I've taken my workouts inside.  Yes folks, I hit the 'mill on Saturday for just over 13km and I did it again this morning for another 7km.  That was before the sun came out and melted some of the crap on the roads.  So of course, I HAD to go out for another run.  It would have been a cryin' shame not to.  Words cannot describe how happy that made me.  It may have been -10 but I didn't care.  I was OUTSIDE in the SUNSHINE.  It doesn't get much better than that.  What a fabulous way to spend Christmas Eve day. 

Our neighbourhood was lucky enough to not lose power during or after the storm, thank goodness.  I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am for that.  It meant that I got to spend my Sunday afternoon like this:
There was a good solid nap involved- I'd been out late every night for the last four nights in a row (say what?!). And of course, a couple of hours of Top Gear watching.  It was so nice to have a lazy Sunday after all the running around and late nights I've had over this past week.  It was also G's birthday and he was happy to spend the afternoon with his feet up in front of the fire.

We don't start our Christmas insanity until tomorrow.  G and I usually have a nice dinner and exchange our gifts tonight.  Tomorrow we go to his sister's place in the morning and open presents with the kids and then we drive to Guelph for dinner with my family.  And more present exchanging.  Then we drive home.  On Boxing Day everyone comes to our place for another feast.  I seriously LOVE this time of year!!!

Merry Christmas to all you folks that follow along.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!!

Do you have any Christmas traditions? 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Testing Testing.....

As part of my "Big Things in 2014" plan, I decided I should probably get my functional threshold power tested on the bike.  I had my lactate threshold tested on the run just over 2 years ago and on the bike about 7 years ago but this whole "functional threshold" thing was new to me.  After doing a bit of research it is essentially the same thing except the number you end up with is not heart rate based but power based.  It's a number that is measured in watts.  What are watts?  Watts, in the most basic of terms, are the amount of power you are able to generate on the bike.   Why is this important you may wonder?  Well, unlike heart rate, which can be influenced by many things like temperature and dehydration, watts are absolute.  Your power is your power, period.  Thus, for training on the bike, it makes much more sense to train with power vs. heart rate.  Now that I have a computrainer, it's something that I want to take full advantage of.  Especially if I want to improve my cycling.

Enter Mike Mandel & Ming-Chang Tsai from Real Deal Racing.  Real Deal offers FTP testing as well as coaching services and computrainer classes all over the city.  These guys know their stuff.  They live and breathe cycling. 

So last Thursday I dragged my slightly scared butt over to RPM for a 90 minute session with Mike & Ming.  One of my fellow coworkers has been participating in a study with Ming and has referred to him as Dr. Pain.  He posted a video on Facebook of the end of one of his testing sessions.  It was scary stuff.  So I was super nervous.  I know how to push myself on the run and I've learned to handle that pain but the bike is a whole other world. 

Mike got my bike up on the trainer and I hopped on and did a warm up.  I chatted with them about racing and next years plans and then Mike explained the test to me.  He was going to have me do some cadence drills to get me really warmed up, then I was going to do a few one minute efforts and then I was going to go into a 20 minute all out ride.  The key, he said, was to not go out too hard or your power would drop off substantially by the end.  In running terms it would be like hitting the wall in a marathon.  Mike advised me to pick something to focus on to take my mind off the eventual discomfort I would feel.  I opted to focus on my cadence up on the screen in front of me.

I watched the countdown on the screen and as soon as the 1 disappeared from the screen, I cranked the pedals.  I watched my watts spike.  I shifted gears to find the right balance of cadence and power.  I settled into a pace that I thought I'd be able to maintain for 20 minutes.  The first 5 minutes didn't feel horrible.  I was toeing the line between comfortable and uncomfortable.  Mike asked me what my effort level felt like and I said about an 8 out of 10.  I went on to say it kind of felt like a tempo effort in running, because at that point I could still speak in full sentences. 

I was thankful for the spinning class that was happening because the instructor had some good tunes cranked.  The next 5 minutes definitely felt harder and I could see my heart rate had started to climb into the 170's.  That was definitely 10km race pace territory.  My breathing became more and more laboured.  I kept my eyes on my cadence, occasionally glancing up to look at my watts.

My cadence went something like this:  99, 99, 99, 101, 99, 99, 98, 100, 99, 99, 99, 99, 99, 99, 99.  I was almost hypnotic.

I watched my watts start off around 192 or so and then by the time I hit the halfway point of the test they had dropped to 190.  I didn't want them to go below 190.  No rhyme or reason for it, I just didn't want it to go below that.  At the halfway point Mike says you're past the hard part, this is going to be easy.  I laughed.  Because at that point I could still laugh.  Then the encouragement started.  Both Ming and Mike were encouraging me to push harder and try to get my watts up to 191.  I dug a little deeper.  I hit 191.   More encouragement to go for 192.  The shovel came out and I dug a little deeper.  I saw 192 come up on the screen.  At this point, I was really starting to feel the pain.  I was told I had just under 8 minutes left.   Good God.  I knew it was only going to get worse.  More encouragement from the guys to get one more watt.  I found 193.  My heart was in my throat.  My legs were burning.  Mike asked me what my effort level was and all I could say was hard.

With just under 5 minutes left I was at 193 watts.  The guys were pushing me to get to 194.  They were joined by a woman who was setting her bike up for the time trial session that was scheduled after.  She chimed in by saying I was the leader and she was chasing me, she was right on my tail.  That seemed to light a fire under me and I managed to crank out another watt and hit 194.  At this point I could not longer focus on anything.  I was working so hard I couldn't see straight.  My cadence appeared as a blur on the screen in front of me.  The boys were pushing for one more watt.  I didn't think I could do it.  I put my head down and hammered on the pedals.  Just when I felt like I was going to die, I heard the cheers.  I hit 195.  Now all I had to do was hang on.  I had less than 2 minutes.  I put my head down and kept grinding.

Grinding it out:  Shot courtesy of Mike Mandel / Real Deal Racing

When Mike announced I was done, my first words were "Somebody get me a bucket."  I immediately stopped pedaling but Mike said I shouldn't stop.  So I sat up and switched gears so my legs could spin.  He said I could stay there as long as I needed to so I did.  I was actually a little afraid to get off my bike as I wasn't sure if I'd actually be able to stand or walk.  So I spun my legs until my heart rate came down and I had some feeling in my legs again.

I maxed out at 195w.  To determine your functional threshold power, you take your max watts from this test and minus 5% so that put me at 186w for my FTP.  I have no idea if that's good or bad, all I know is that it can be improved upon as my cycling fitness is next to non existent.

I can honestly say that's probably the hardest thing I've ever done physically.  But I'm glad I did it.  I now have a training tool to help guide me through my winter training.  Once I start riding outside, I'm going to have to invest in a power meter if I want to continue training and racing with power.   That's a whole other expense that I don't want to think about right now.  So many toys, not enough money, ha ha.

This is what I got at the end of my test.  I can do this test again on my own at home in a few months to see if I've improved.  Not sure if I want to go through that kind of pain again, but I'm sure my curiosity will probably get the better of me.

Have you ever done this test? 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow Day Bake-o-Rama & A Giveaway Winner

Ok I know I'm always moaning about how quickly the weekends go by but this weekend seriously FLEW by.  I got home on Friday and then the next thing I knew it was Sunday night. WTH.  Looking back I guess you could say I was pretty busy.  Friday night G and I wandered up the street to check out the new restaurant that opened.  Seems like everyone else in the neighbourhood had the same idea.  About 20 minutes after we sat down, our neighbours showed up and 15 minutes after them another couple that lives the next street over showed up.  I think we were all pretty happy that the 'hood finally has a decent restaurant within walking distance.  It's a pizza place and while the service needs some improvement (it was good when we got it, they just seem a little disorganized right now) the food was excellent, as was the wine.  We'll definitely go back. 
Dessert - Strawberry Tiramisu
Saturday morning I dragged my butt out of bed and went to a TRX class.  I had planned on running afterwards before the snow storm really hit but when I got out of the class and back to the car, I discovered that my front passenger wheel had gotten a flat.  So, I called my knight in shining armour and he came up to change the tire.  Really I should have just called the roadside assistance that comes with the car but I never think to do that.  I then had to drop the tire off at Kipling tire so they could patch it up.  That whole process set me back an hour and a half and by the time I got home, the snow was really coming down.  Add to that the bitter wind chill and winds and I opted to stay inside and tackle my Christmas baking.
Gotta be festive!
 As if being on my feet for 4 hours wasn't enough, I decided to get on the bike late Saturday afternoon.  It wasn't pleasant given the hard effort I put in on Thursday (that will be another post in itself).  My legs felt flat and heavy but I toughed it out and managed to ride for just under an hour.  I can't let my cycling slide over the winter like I did this past year. 
Sunday, G & I hit the pool but I really wasn't feeling it, especially since it was almost all stroke work so I pulled the pin after 45 minutes, went home and did some more baking.  G came back and then we went off to get our Christmas tree.  Our neighbour told us to go to Ikea because they had trees for $20.  So off we went.  I think we picked the perfect tree.   We brought it in and had to let it settle before decorating it.  So, I finished up my next round of baking, threw some chicken in the slow cooker to make this insanely delicious dinner and then got myself dressed to finally get out and do my run.  It was slow going and really messy but I got it done and that's all that really matters. And I saw this beautiful sight. 
Looking back on the weekend, I guess I was more than a little busy.  I had hoped to get out and finish my Christmas shopping but that didn't happen.  Looks like I'm going to have to try and tackle that this week. 

In the meantime....I have a winner for the Health & Fitness Holiday Blog Hop!  It's Sarah Griffiths Briggs!  YAY!  Congrats Sarah!  I'll be contacting you shortly for your mailing address.  Thanks to everyone who entered and a huge thanks to Kristy for organizing it! 

What did you get up to this weekend? 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Running the Numbers at B&BT

I normally wait until the end of the year to do my recap, and I will probably still do so,  but I have been inspired by a post that Ty at Seeking Boston Marathon wrote, to do something a little different in the meantime.  If you read his post, you'll see that it doesn't just focus on all things running, which I thought was pretty entertaining and refreshing because running is more than just miles logged.  It also comes with it's own set of experiences.  So, I'm going to #RunTheNumbers from this year and, I'm hosting a link up so all of YOU can #RunTheNumbers with me.  Share your random running and non running numbers by linking up to this post with the handy Linky at the bottom of the page.  Feel free to grab this image as well or create your own and join in the fun!


The number of pairs of running shoes currently sitting by the front door.  Coincidentally 6 out of 7 are Mizunos.  I've definitely become a huge fan of their shoes over the last year and a half.


The number of black toenails I've had this year.


The number of black toenails I currently have.

253, 407

The number of meters I've swam so far in 2013.  I still have 10 sessions left this year.  We'll see how many of them I get to between now and the end of the year.  For now, that's 253.4km.  That would be like driving from Toronto to Kingston.  


The number of pageviews on my #BostonStrongTO post.  That has been my most popular post on this blog to date.  My Boston race report is not far behind it.

13 of 14

The number of races where I made the podium.  The only race I didn't was The Boston Marathon.  Those fast folks are a whole other category of speedy.   Yup, it was a freaking epic year of racing.  Bling Bling!


The number of times I made it to hot yoga in the last year.  I really need to work on that.

Lost Count

Of the number of blisters I got.   I come by my blog name honestly folks.


The number of days you have left enter my Health & Fitness Holiday Giveaway

How about you? Link up below and #RunTheNumbers ! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How Was Your Year of Running?

I love the end of the year in the running blogisphere.  Everyone takes a step back and shares the highlights of their year.  It's nice to reflect on the things that went well.  I find it incredibly motivational to read about other people's experiences so I'm excited to participate in Miss Zippy's #yearofrunning13.  I'm looking forward to reading about everyone's 2013.  Amanda asked 6 simple questions.  Some of which were very easy for me to answer and some of which required a bit more thought.  This year seems very surreal on so many levels, I don't think I've processed it all just yet.

Without further ado, here are her questions:

*Best Race Experience:  It was Boston, hands down, despite the horrible events of that day.  I executed the perfect race.  I ran happy and I reminded myself to be grateful even then the going got tough and I wanted to stop.  I really took in the atmosphere of the race and the support of spectators.  They are the ones that really make that race what it is.  I can't begin to describe the difference that made in my day.  I crossed the finish line with a P.R by over two and a half minutes.   I'm really looking forward to going back next year and celebrating the amazing city that is Boston. 

*Best Run: #BostonStrongTO:  This was a run I organized a week after Boston.  Brian at Pavement Runner came up with the idea and asked me if I would be interested in heading up a Toronto edition.  I jumped at the chance.  There were probably about 50 people that came out to run around High Park in Toronto's West End.  The outpouring of support and camaraderie that was shared that day still warms my heart and probably will for years to come.   

*Best New Piece of Gear:  My Garmin 910xt.  I am such a data junkie and this thing gives me SO much info it makes my head spin.  The best part is, I can use it for all 3 sports (swim, bike & run) because it is completely water proof.  Best $$ I spent this year for sure.

*Best Piece of Running Advice I Received:  Ironically, it's the same as Miss Zippy's and even more ironic is the fact that I got it from reading her blog, ha ha.  She spoke very highly about MAF training and after reading up on it, I decided to try it on my long runs only for about 6 weeks in my down time after Boston, leading up to my triathlon season.  It was difficult to slow down that much but I did find that by the end of my first 4 weeks, I had actually gotten faster at the same low heart rate.  It's definitely something I'd try to incorporate into my training if I have significant down time after an event, or, heaven forbid, after coming back from an injury. 

*Most Inspirational Runner:  Emily Eliason a.k.a Run Emz.  I've never met her but from what I see over the interwebz, I think she has the most gigantic heart.  She comes across as ray of sunshine, always positive, always grateful and incredibly humble. Plus anyone that can run over 100 miles on a treadmill for 24 hours straight is amazing. 

*If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?   Self discovery, respect, grateful, beyond expectations.  All of those words sum up my 2013 running year.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Health and Fitness Holiday Giveaway Hop

Well that's another weekend gone!  Only 17 days left till Christmas folks, are you ready?  I don't know about you but I can't wait.  I've still got some vacation time left and the studio usually closes between Christmas and New Years so I'll probably have a couple of weeks off.   I'm looking forward to hanging out with G and my family as well as getting some things done around here.   G put the lights up today and brought out our Christmas lawn ornament but we still need to get our tree.  I've been really hit by the Christmas spirit these last few days so I'm jonesing to deck the halls and get the tree up.  But that will have to wait until next weekend.  In the meantime I'll start wrapping my Christmas presents.

Speaking of presents, I'm excited to announce that I'm going to be part of a Health and Fitness Holiday Giveaway Hop that Kristy over at Runaway Bridal Planner is hosting.  YAY!  There are 30 of us in total, all hosting giveaways!  Not only will you get introduced to new blogs but that's 30 different giveaways to enter!  You might be able to win a few extra stocking stuffers for yourself or another runner in your life.  Happy Holidays indeed!

I've put together a bunch of goodies from Clif and of course a pair of Sweat Pink laces as my giveaway item.  I may add a couple of things to it later on in the week, I just have to make sure I can get my hands on them.  My giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada so go on and get clicking on that handy little Rafflecopter giveaway widget.  And don't forget to hop on down the list of all the participants.  You'll see it at the bottom of this post. The giveaway runs from Dec 9th to 16th.  The winner will be announced on the blog on the 17th and will also be notified via email.  You'll have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. 

Happy Hopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Making The Most of Your Off Season: Hit the Weights

Racing season has come to a close here in Canada.  That officially means it's OFF SEASON.  I don't know about you but I love the off season.  Some people dread it but I look at it as an opportunity to work on things that need improvement.  Not only is it a chance for your body to rest and recover but to re-build as well.

It's also a great time to work on strength and technique.  If you remove the physiological stress of racing, you should be able to add a third or even fourth weight workout into your training routine.  That's what I've done.  During racing season I lift twice a week, as basic maintenance.  I probably lift about 50% of my one rep max during my weight workouts because I'm also doing other hard workouts so I don't want to tax my system too much.

In the off season, you're generally in maintenance mode (i.e few hard workouts and no racing) you should be able to increase your weights to lift much heavier or add that third day of lifting in.  Why do this you may wonder?  How will it benefit me come race season?

Let me count the ways!   Here are my three favourites:

1.  Strength training will help make you faster.  Not to toot my own horn but, I am a good example of this.  I've been going to the gym for years but I never really did any sort of heavier lifting.  I avoided the squat rack like the plague and instead chose to do a lot of functional exercises with lighter weights.  Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for those but if you want to work on building speed, don't be afraid to make friends with the squat rack.  It wasn't until I started an actual lifting program in late 2010 that I actually began to see results both in the way my body looked and performed.   Fast forward 3 years and my times have continued to drop, despite getting older.  I'm chalking it up to the fact that I take advantage of my off season and lift heavy which in turn, has allowed me the strength to really push myself.  Strength training increases your leg strength and improves your bodies efficiency to use energy and oxygen.  According to Charles Polloquin "Increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently is a primary goal of endurance training, and it is measured by VO 2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake. Simply, if you can decrease the amount of oxygen needed to run at a certain speed, you’ll be able to sustain a fast pace for a longer time and likely be able to run faster overall."

2.  Strength training will make you leaner.  Contrary to popular belief, you WILL NOT GET BIG.  You'd have to be in the gym pretty much every day and eat nothing but chicken breast and spinach.  Oh and you'd have to cut out the endurance THAT'S going to happen.  Strength training helps decrease body fat which will result in a leaner you.  And leaner = lighter and lighter = faster.  See a pattern here?

3.  Strength training can help prevent injuries.  This alone is probably the best reason to hit the gym.  I'm no doctor but I'm sure that many running injuries could be prevented with a good strength training routine.  Almost everyone has one side of their body that is stronger than the other.  If you incorporate single leg work into your strength training plan, you can work at building up strength in your weaker side, resulting in a more balanced, efficient stride.  

For even more reasons to hit the gym you can check out Charles Polloquin's 10 Reasons here as well as Running Competitor's reasons here.  The Running Competitor article also has several links to various exercise programs that are beneficial to runners.  Win / win!

Do you strength train?  If so, do you change things up in your off season or do you continue with your same routine?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Last Hurrah: The Tannenbaum 10km

Yesterday marked the final race in my crazy year of racing.  14 races in 2013.  That's a lot.  I don't think next year is going to be quite as mental.  Not when I'm planning to have a few big things on my racing plate for 2014.

I had wanted to do this race last year but ended up going to Paris instead.  I know, poor me.  With no fancy trips like that scheduled for this year, it was definitely going to be a part of my racing calendar.   I had heard good things about it and figured it would be good to have something to keep up some of the speed work after Scotia.

After Scotia, I dialed back my speed work by taking my track work / interval days out of the equation.  I still kept up my tempo runs with WTP as I really enjoy those sessions as well as the company.   I've also kept up my long runs so I'm not starting from scratch when I start training for Boston.  All that being said, I wasn't sure what I'd be able to pull off time wise at this race.  It was a slightly winding course and the wet and cold-ish weather had resulted in a bit of ice along the route.  We were warned to watch our footing.   I figured if I could come in around 40:00 minutes or so, I'd be happy.

The race starts at the snack bar in The Beach in Toronto's east end and runs west along the Martin Goodman Trail.  It's a lovely place for a race.  It's a small event that actually sold out this year.  At only $40, it's a fantastic value.  The swag bags are great (you get a toque instead of a t-shirt - can't get any more Canadian than that!) and there are excellent draw prizes as well as post race massages and food.  Cobs Bread was one of the sponsors and they had PILES of gingerbread scones post race.   Best post race treat EVER.

I got there fairly early, found some parking and proceeded to do a nice easy warm up along the boardwalk.  My legs didn't feel awesome and my heart rate seemed high for the pace I was running so I didn't really have high hopes for a stellar performance.  I just figured I'd do my usual go hard and leave it all on the course and see where I end up.   I wanted to break 40 minutes but wasn't sure how possible that would be. 

I ran into a few friends while milling about at the start so I spent a bit of time catching up with them.  Then folks started shuffling forward.  It was almost Go Time.  I saw a guy holding a sign that said 40 minutes or faster so I tried to line up as close to him as possible.  I spotted a few ladies up ahead hanging out with the large group of dudes from the Black Lungs.  The really speedy people.   I figured the narrow path was going to be a bit tough to navigate with all these runners so I moved up a bit more.

They started the countdown and then we were off.  I hammered out of the gate.  No easing into any sort of pace.  It was run hard right off the bat.  I figured my body would eventually tell my ambition who's boss but for the time being my ambition pushed the pace.  The first few hundred metres were a bit tough.  I should have seeded myself a little further up as I had to do a lot of dodging people and running on the grass was a bit treacherous due to the slippery footing.  No big deal, I just know for next time.

The trail was fairly straight until about the 2km mark where it started to wind out of the park.  I had run my first km in 3:48.  I was definitely working.  By kilometre number two my body had told my ambition to chill out.  I hit it in 3:59.  I hoped that the next 8 would be around the same pace.

I was in a pack of people for the next km.  I figured that once we got into the Leslie Spit, we'd spread out so I hung on to the fast dudes in front of me.  My long haired friend from Scotia was there again and I stayed behind him for as long as I could, using him as a pace bunny.  As we entered the Spit, the group I was with started to splinter.  I was running side by side with a younger girl and I could see another girl slightly ahead of us.  The younger girl beside me really pushed me to catch that other girl - we were running stride for stride.  We reeled the other girl in and motored past.  I looked ahead to see how many other ladies I could see.  I counted at least 6 and they were a fair bit ahead of me.  I wasn't sure if I had it in me to catch any of them but I sure as hell was going to try.

If it's windy on the Spit, it can suck the life out of you.  That happened to me at the MEC 10km in the summer.  Thankfully this time around, there was no wind.  None.  Conditions were absolutely perfect.  My shadow and I hammered along towards the 5km mark.  Then, all of a sudden, I lost her.  I figured her and I would run stride for stride for the rest of the race, she seemed to be running so strong.  I was coming towards the turn around so I was able to see how many women were in front of me.  Sure enough I counted 6.  A couple of them looked to be in their 20's, then there was Michelle Clarke who I know is in her 30's and another woman whose age I couldn't place.  She could have been in her 30's.  Maybe in her 40's.  It was hard to tell.  Michelle and this other woman were only about 300-400m ahead of me.  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make up the gap.  I figured they'd have to slow down for me to catch them as my splits had been pretty even for the first 5km:  3:48, 3:59, 3:58, 3:57, 4:00.

I was feeling surprisingly strong through 5km.  Yeah, I hurt but I didn't feel like I was fading yet, which really helped buoy my confidence.   As I made my way towards the 7km mark, I realized that I was starting to reel in Michelle.   I pushed harder.  My lungs were burning.  Just before 7km I caught her.  Never in a million years did I think I'd catch her.  I ran with her for a bit and encouraged her to push.  I think that's why that km ended up being the second fastest one I ran (3:54).  Surprisingly I managed to pull away from her.  I couldn't see any other women ahead of me.  I was starting to do the mental math at this point.  Less than 12 minutes.  Then my watch beeped and I realized I just passed 8km.  Sweet.  Less than 8 minutes.  I knew at that point that I would break 40 minutes.  The question was by how much.  I turned back into Ashbridges Bay and was warned by a volunteer to watch out for my footing so I slowed down.  Shortly there after I came up on the mystery woman who was off to the side of the path, walking.  WTH?  I asked if she was ok and she said "Not really but I'll be fine".  Then she proceeded to cheer me on.  That is why I love runners.  Right there.  Seriously amazing. 

I hit the 9km mark and glanced down at my Garmin:  4:04.  Whoops.  Guess I better pick it up.  I could see the finish line.  Out of nowhere, a couple of guys came barreling along and passed me.  I had nothing.  There was no way I was hanging on to anyone.  I could feel my hamstrings starting to scream at me.  I kept my eyes on the big orange arch at the finish line.  As I got closer I could see the clock counting down.  I came flying across the line and hit stop on my Garmin:  39:39.  I had done it.  Broken 40 minutes for a 10km.  I couldn't believe it.

I got my medal and ran into Dave Emilio the race organizer.  He asked how I did and I told him I finally broke 40 minutes.  That got me a hug and a congrats.  I went back out on the course and did a short cool down run.  I cheered my friends Rooster and Linnea in and then went to get my bag.  It was damp and chilly out and I was starting to get cold.   They didn't waste any time posting results.  Shortly after I grabbed my bag, I saw the results were up.  I wandered over to take a look.  I found my name and was very happy to see a few things:  4th woman overall and 1st in my AG, which meant that I got first place Masters Female because the age groups were in 10 year increments.  WOOHOO.

I met up with my friend Kirsten and we milled about with a bunch of other folks while we waited for the draw prize / awards ceremony to start.  I helped myself to a second gingerbread scone.  Oh my.  Dave started with the draw prizes, then took a break to announce the overall winners.  Another Team Running Free Athlete, Mindy Fleming, ended taking third place woman overall.  YAY Mindy!  Dave then asked if I was still there so I put up my hand and he then announced that I had won first place Masters Female.  I went up to get my medal and was handed a hat and a cheque for $75 as well.  SWEET!  That's the first time I've ever won money at a race.   What an amazing way to cap off a stellar season of racing.  I honestly don't know how I'm going to top this year, I really don't.  I do know that I will be back at the Tannenbaum 10km next year to defend my title and see about setting another course record. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

#GoalGetter2013 - November Update

Well folks, here we are, only 31 days left in 2013.   The holiday fun is literally just around the corner and I can't wait.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's take a look at now November went shall we?

Main goal?  Work on my flexibility.  I won't say EPIC fail but I'd say pretty close to it.  I made it to yoga ONCE this month.  ONCE.  G has been 6 times in the last 10 days.  WTH?  Although, I have been making an effort to foam roll and stretch a bit more, even when I haven't done a work out.  I really need to keep on this as my PT seems to think that my knee issues are a result of my insanely tight calves and ankles.  Yes, everything is connected.  So moving forward this will be something that I HAVE to do on a regular basis.

I also said that I was going to get back to heavier lifting and strength training 3x a week.  Check - sort of.  I'm back in the gym and the squat rack and I have become friends again but instead of lifting 3x a week, I'm lifting twice a week and then I've added a TRX class as my third day of strength training.  Good LORD is that ever hard.   It works all the little muscles that the big lifts don't always get to.  I thought I was in pretty good shape until after my first class.  I was sore for 3 days.  3 freaking days.  But I loved every minute of it.  I'm going to make of point of doing it as much as I can in December.  Once training for Boston starts, I'll have to forgo it but for now, it's staying. 

Goal for December?  Maintenance baby.  That's it.  I've got a good thing going right now, my body is in a happy place and I'd like to keep it there for as long as possible. 

How did your November go?