Monday, March 31, 2014

T-Minus 3 Weeks: #Mingsanity Week 12

Well now that race number two is under by belt (recap to come later on this week), it's almost time to wind down for Boston.  I've got 3 weeks left.  This weekend will be my last long-ish run (30km) before I really start to chill out.  This past week was really low key so I'd actually be able to recover from the two hard weeks that I had.  I also had a few after work events so that meant I was either missing a workout or doing them back to back. But I didn't have anything terribly long or too intense so that was good.  I felt pretty tired at the beginning of the week but seemed to bounce back towards the end.  At least I thought I did.  But I'll save that for my race report.  For now I'll recap my week of training.  As usual I'm linking up with the Bestfoot ladies, Krysten, Erica & Amanda.  Let's see how this week went down.

Monday:  1800m swim.  Was supposed to swim easy but ended up leading my lane on a progressively harder set so I got out before things got too crazy.
Tuesday:  13km run with 11km at tempo pace.
Wednesday:  1600m swim.  Super hard set so I didn't stay long.  Coach told me to take it easy this week.
Thursday:  30 minute ride + 8km run with 4x600m repeats.
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  1650m swim + 30 minute ride + a really short run (1.5km) to test out my new Mizunos.
Sunday:  5km warm up + 30km race.

I have a medium volume week this week with nothing too intense until later on in the week.  I've been instructed to do all my runs in High Park for the next 2.5 weeks since I felt like the hills in yesterdays race got the better of me.  That's what happens when you spend most of the winter running on a treadmill.  I think that's part of the reason I was so wiped out yesterday  I was in bed asleep before 9:00 pm.  I skipped my swim and slept until 6:20 this morning.  I definitely needed it.  I have a massage scheduled for after work so I'm hoping that by tomorrow evening my legs will feel better.

How was your week of training?

Friday, March 28, 2014

The ATB Game Plan

First off, I'd like to point out that this is my 5th post this week.  I've posted something every day.  I can't remember the last time that happened...if at all in the history of this wee blog.  HIGH FIVE!

So...on Sunday I'm racing Hamilton's legendary Around The Bay 30km for the 3rd year in a row.  I've had so many people tell me that this is not a great tune up race for Boston, it's too close to the race, if you go too hard you won't recover in time blah blah blah.  I learned this the hard way last year.  Last year, I REALLY raced this because I wanted that gold medal something fierce.  I got it but I think my race at Boston suffered a bit.  My legs were tired and I'd say I was at about 95% health wise.  I didn't feel totally fresh going in.  I DO NOT want that to happen this year.  So I'm going to stick to my pace even if I do feel good.  This is about PRACTICE. 

My official game plan from Ming is to run this at "slightly faster than my Boston pace" which would mean I'm somewhere between 4:25-4:27/kms.  He said if I can maintain that in the last 10km of rollers, I'll be in a good place for Boston.  I'm not sure I'm up for that as it's not that far off last year's pace so I may start off a bit slower and then work into that pace.  I figure if I stay with the 2:15 pace bunny for the first half of the race (4:30/kms), that's perfect. 

I learned my lesson last year in terms of poor recovery so this year, I have a massage scheduled for the next day so I'm sure that will be beneficial.   This will also be my last 20+ miler before Boston so it's my last chance at getting a good solid run on hilly terrain in.  I've had a pretty low key week mileage wise and I feel like my legs are starting to bounce back after the beat down of these last 2 weeks.  I do wish that my knees would just figure themselves out.  I was so hopeful on Wednesday when I spent all day on my feet, running up and down stairs with absolutely NO knee pain.  I felt like my old self again.  My hopes were dashed when I went out to run yesterday morning and my knees absolutely killed.  But, it was only for the first few minutes.  It's almost like my kneecaps have to figure out where to go when I start running.  As soon as they figure that out, I'm good.  Afterwards though I was in a lot of discomfort.  Today I'm totally fine again.  It's really strange.  Taping helps them so I'll definitely be doing that this weekend. I'm also massaging my kneecaps and the area around my knees, which sounds weird but it actually feels really good.  My PT told me to do this and I find it helps.  I have been worrying a lot about my knees as of late but my Chiro told me not to worry.  She thinks that the Graston work will sort it all out.  I don't know.  I suspect that a lot of it is just from plain old overuse.  I've made an appointment to see a sports doc but I don't get in to see him until April 29th.  Ugh.  So for now I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing:  ice, Graston, stretching & mobility work, KT tape & the occasional dose of Deep Relief gel and anti-inflammatories. 

As I mentioned before, this race is about practice.  I'm going to practice my pacing and mainly my nutrition and hydration strategy.  Last year I ran with a fuel belt.  This year I'm going without.  This is a big deal for me, especially since the aid stations at this race are anywhere between 3-4km apart.  At Boston they are at every mile.  So, I know if I can make it through this race, I'll be totally good for Boston.   I finally caved and bought myself some Energybits as I noticed a big difference training without them and thankfully they arrived last week so I'm well stocked up.   Now I just need to figure out what to wear!

Who else is racing this weekend? 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thinking Out Loud #8

Hey-Yo, it's THURSDAY.  This week has flown by.  Probably because I've been a super busy little lady.  Work has been busy and I've had a few weeknight social activities (which normally never happen) so it's made this week go by really quickly.

I'm linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for my weekly randomness. 

1.  This has been a big part of my life for the last 3 days.  I'm racing on Sunday and I CANNOT get sick.  My throat has been sore since Tuesday and that is usually a precursor to me getting sick.  Fingers crossed I've managed to fight it off.

2.  Speaking of racing this weekend....this is the forecast.  Can you say JACKED?????  It's about bloody time, thank you very much. 
3.  I actually went out shopping on Sunday!  I can't remember the last time I had time (or energy) to go shopping.  Christmas maybe?  I was on the hunt for some cute spring clothes but ended up buying athletic gear instead.  Clearly I have a wee bit of a problem.  Although I DID need a new sports bra. 

I'm going to have another chance to redeem myself this evening.  A friend of mine is the CEO of a Toronto based clothing company called Miik and one of the owners is have a friends and family sale.  I own a bunch of their stuff and it's by far some of the most comfortable and stylish clothing I own.  The BIG plus side?  I'll get to spend some time with a bunch of my friends, there will be wine and I don't have to walk around a mall!  Win/win.

4. I recently signed up for a 2 year membership on Lumosity.  I signed up when they had a free trial a few months ago and I found it to be a really interesting way to challenge my brain.  I enjoy doing crosswords but I feel like there are certain things that I could improve upon, mentally.  My memory being one of them.  So when I saw that they were offering 30% off memberships, I thought why not?  I think it's important to keep your grey matter just as active as your body.  They recommend you "train" 3-5 days a week. The tests / games take about 30 minutes to get through.  I've only just started so I'll report back in a few months to see if I notice a difference in anything.

5.  I finally saw a preview for 24:  Live another Day.  OH BOY.  I LOVED 24 when it was on, even though the story lines got a little far fetched towards the end, it was still enjoyable.  Needless to say I'm super excited that Jack is back!!!  I've got May 5th circled in my calendar!

6.  Miracle of miracles:  I think this week is the first week I've done both my mid week runs OUTSIDE instead of on the treadmill.   Can I get a HELL YEAH??

Your turn!!  Tell me something random!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Details Details....

I can't believe that our Europe trip is less than 3 months away!  We've finally finalized all our travel plans for our big European road trip.  Since we are flying in and out of Paris, we were hoping to spend some time in France other than in the airport.  Our original plan was to stay in the countryside, perhaps near Alp d'Huez but apparently there are a ton of races happening the week we're looking at staying there and a lot of the accommodation has been booked up already.  So, we went back to our original plan of visiting the south of France.  When we leave Italy, we'll drive along the coast and spend 4 days in Nice.  Ohhh la la.  I'm pretty sure a day trip to Monaco will happen while we're there.  From Nice, we're going to head to Grenoble and spend 2 nights there so we can drive to Alp d'Huez and ride up it.  I'm still freaking out about that descent although I think it will be much nicer on my fancy rental bike.

That, my friends is a Pinarello Dogma.  We had a few options to choose from and I went with that.  I wanted to ride something that I could never justify buying.  Here's hoping I don't crash it. 

After our stay in Grenoble, it's off to Paris to spend one last night in France before heading home.  A bit of a whirlwind yes, but it's a whirlwind I'm looking forward to! 

It seems like such a long way off but I know it will be here before I know it.  I'm already thinking about what to pack, ha ha.  I'm sure the list making will start in a couple of months.  Details details.

Speaking of details, it turns out there will be a few other details I'm going to have to figure out before we go.   Specifically when to eat breakfast on race day because apparently our race starts at 12:00 noon.  Yes, you read that right.  NOON.  WTH?  Although there is another area on the website that says it starts at 10:05 so who knows.  If it is noon, that's just insane.  Most 70.3 races start at 7:00-8:00 am.  Maybe as late as 10:00 am in some cases.  But NOON???  That opens up a whole other can of worms in terms of fueling.  I'm either going to have to eat a double breakfast or try to sleep in as late as possible (if I manage to sleep at all) and eat my pre-race meal later in the morning.  I'm sure I could try to practice this in training but that's going to make for a whole lot of late training rides which I'm not sure I'm too crazy about.  

The good news is that this race has wave starts so I will be with all the other "old broads" in my AG.  Right now there are 34 women in my AG including me.   The wave starts run between noon and 1:30 pm.  So the finish line party will start once the last wave has gone off and will go until 7:30 pm when they close the race course.  If it's anything like the finish line party at IM Switzerland, it's going to be a blast.  Maybe they'll have a D.J. and Red Bull on the run course too!  After all of that there is the official finishers party as well. I definitely want to stick around for that.

Of course I've been doing as much online course recon as I possibly can.  Especially regarding the swim.   Thank goodness for Google Street view!  I now know what the river we're swimming in looks like.  I know exactly the area that we swim in and I have a decent idea as to what I can use for sighting.  That's the thing with destination races, especially ones that you don't have the opportunity to train on ahead of time.  If you're like me and want to be prepared for certain in things on race day, you need to try to do as much course recon as possible before race day.  Unless of course you're my husband who will pretty much race anything, anytime.

This is the river we will be swimming in.  It's quite pretty!  And that's the bridge that I *should* be able to use to help me sight.  In fact, in some of the other aerial shots I saw, I think I've figured out where transition will be etc.  So exciting!!

Clearly the swim is what I am most preoccupied with as it is the thing I am least comfortable with.  I'm dealing with some "issues" regarding this leg of the race that will probably end up in a separate post on another day.   At least I have a few months to try and get my head sorted out.  Buckle up friends because that's going to be a FUN ride!

Anyone have any recos for places to go, things to do while in any of these places?  Other than drink lots of wine and tour vineyards, ha ha. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Recovery, It's Part of the Program: Barefooters Review

When I first started running, I just went out and ran, pretty much every day.  I wasn't running far, usually about 4-5km a day.  I ran that same 5km from Monday to Friday and I'd take the weekends off.  That was my little routine.  The weekends were my recovery time.  Once I started doing longer distances, I found that I needed to start incorporating things like massage into my routine to help me recover.  As I got older, things like compression gear and ice baths also became part of the regular routine in addition to massage.  The more things I had in my arsenal to aid in the recovery process, the better. 

Enter Barefooters.

Late last fall, I was approached by Michelle Clarke, a fellow runner, to see if I wanted to try out these recovery shoes.  As a runner, my feet take ridiculous amounts of abuse.  Our feet need to be treated with TLC if they are going to continue to allow us to run.  I'd seen Krysten wearing these shoes on instagram and then she mentioned how much she liked them in a blog post so I thought, why not?  I spend a lot of time on my feet on weekends when I really should be sitting down and relaxing after my workouts (have I mentioned that I have a hard time sitting still?).  I usually spend 2-3 hours doing some sort of food prep on the weekend so of course, I'm standing.  And I'm standing on a hard tiled floor in either my socks or my slippers.  Not the best choice, especially after a hard long run.  But, meal prep helps fuel my training so it's not something I'm going to skip either.  So, I started wearing my Barefooters inside during my meal prep.  GENIUS if I do say so myself. 

What makes these shoes so great?  Well for starters, they make your feet feel awesome.  I'm attributing that to their Oooaaahs reflex insoles (seriously that's what they're called!).  They are "removable insoles designed with reflexology principals in mind. The bumps are there to provide stimulation and to support the natural movements of your feet."   They are so much more supportive than my slippers (uh, hello!) and that makes a big difference in terms of how fatigued my legs end up feeling after standing around for 2-3 hours.  Especially after doing a long run.  The insoles actually make my feet feel amazing after a long run.  I totally get why they called their insoles "Oooaaahs" - I'm pretty sure that's exactly what came out of my mouth the first time I put them on. 

Unlike some other popular clog type shoes, these actually stay ON your feet.  These fit my feet perfectly without any slippage.  The fit is glove-like without being too tight.  I have room around my toes which is important to me especially after a race.  My feet take a pounding when I'm racing and I usually have a blister or two and some sore toenails if it's been a longer distance race.  I don't want anything touching them.  There is enough room in the toe box of these shoes that I don't have to worry about that.  Add a pair of compression socks and I'm good to go!  Needless to say, I will definitely be taking them with me to Boston for my post race walk to MJ O'Connors pub!


The really exciting news (for me at least) is that Barefooters have just recently added a flip flop to their line up.  This is my kind of shoe.  I LIVE in flip flops in the summer and would love to get my hands on a pair of these.  I'm hoping they expand the colour range beyond the brown and black.  I could definitely see myself taking a pair of these to Europe this summer and wearing them every day.  Barefooters, you need to make these in white!


If you're looking for a comfortable, eco friendly shoe and you believe that the road to good recovery starts with your feet, then I highly recommend you get yourself a pair of Barefooters and experience what it's like to Feel Great.  

Disclaimer:  Barefooters gave me these shoes in exchange for a honest review.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pumping Up the Volume & Pulling the Pin: #Mingsanity Week 11

Wow.  What a week.  Sure my previous week had more hours but this one seemed way more intense. I guess that's why Ming classified it as high volume.  To say it knocked me on my ass would be an understatement.  Although I think my super long work day (got to bed at 2:00 am) & less than ideal food choices on Tuesday (ate McDonalds!!!) might have had something to do with it as well.  Top it all off with an eye infection and suffice to say, my body was clearly flipping me the bird. Thankfully this week is a recovery week, just in time for Around The Bay on Sunday.

As usual I'm linking up with the #Bestfoot ladies, Krysten, Amanda & Ericka to recap our week of workouts.  Let's get down to business!

Monday:  2200m swim

Tuesday:  18km run with 16km at marathon pace.  Yes, you read that correctly, that's 18km on a TUESDAY morning.  This was followed by a 50 minute computrainer ride.  Ming gave me a 90 minute ride but said if I couldn't do it not to worry about it...50 minutes was a good compromise.

I was so. freaking.  hungry. after this but I had to rush off to work.  We were shooting at McDonald's Head Office so I ended up having (I hope you're all sitting down) a quarter pounder with cheese and french fries.  And then I worked until 1:00 am.  Got home and was in bed just before 2:00 am.  Soooo not the best thing after the double workouts I did.  But I got to sit in this AWESOME chair that made me feel like a kid again.

Wednesday:  Day off.

Thursday:  a.m.  80 minute ride with a swollen and red left eye.  Off to the walk in clinic by my house to get it checked out.  Oh hello eye infection.  Nice to meet you antibiotics.  What's that?  No swimming until it clears up?  Ok then.  P.M:  I had a 12km run scheduled with 5x1200m repeats but that didn't happen.  My legs DID NOT want to work.  I managed just over 3.5km and decided to pull the pin.  I was clearly not recovered from Tuesday's epic day.  I ended up in bed asleep by 9:00 pm and I slept until 6:30 am the next day!

Friday:  OFF - I was supposed to swim but couldn't due to my eye infection.

Saturday:  25km run with 3x5km tempo repeats.  Ming said if my legs were still tired I could just do 2km repeats. My legs felt a whole lot better, still a bit on the tired side but at least they were able to go.  I did 2x2km repeats and then ended my run with 5km at tempo pace.   This was followed by 40 minutes of weights.  Hello box jumps.  So glad I didn't fall on my face.

Sunday: 3200m swim since my eye infection had settled down.  A nice distance set again this morning.  This was followed by an 80 minute easy spin.  Followed by eating ALLTHEFOOD.  There is something about a back to back swim / bike that makes me really hungry.  The crazy thing?  I actually ate 3 pancakes stuffed with ricotta cheese after swimming, just BEFORE I got on the bike.  As soon as I got off the bike I was hungry again.  Holy hollow leg.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  5400m
Bike:  87.37km
Run:  46.85km

Total time:  9h 21 minutes including my one strength session.

4 weeks from today, I will be toeing the line in Hopkinton.  I get butterflies just thinking about it. If I don't get my knee issues sorted out before then, I'll be going in at less than 100% which wasn't really the plan.   But, I'm learning that the older I get, the less my body seems to want to stick to any sort of plan.

How was your week of workouts?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thinking Out Loud #7

I'm baa--ack!  It's been a couple of weeks since I've done one of these.  All of a sudden things exploded in my life and I was in a perpetual state of busy-ness.  But it's kind of quiet now so I'm getting back on the T.O.L.T wagon at least for this week.

I'm linking up with Amanda at Running With Spoons for some random fun.

1.  BIG NEWS:  I am officially a certified running coach.  I found out earlier on this week that I got 92% on the practical component of my certification.  This was one of my goals from last year, it just took me a bit longer to get everything done.  To say I'm jacked would be an understatement. 

2. Boston is 32 days away.  HO-LY Crap.  I get butterflies thinking about this.  The illogical part of my brain is telling me I'm not ready.  The logical part of my brain is telling me I'll be fine.  I'm sure this battle is going to get very heated over the next few weeks and will play out in these virtual pages so bear with me.

3.  Pancakes at 10:00 pm are just as good as pancakes at 10:00 am.  Even if they are McDonald's pancakes.

4. I am absolutely IN LOVE with my Oiselle Flyte shirt.  It's super comfortable and soft.  Not to mention stylish.  And I love this lime green colour. 

5.  I also bought another pair of running shoes.  I told myself I was going to wait until I got to Boston and shop at the Expo but Mizuno released these babies and I couldn't control myself.  I now have shoes to match my Oiselle shirt.  Because you know, looking good equals feeling good and that always puts a bit of spring in my step!

6.  Speaking of happens to the first day of it.  You'd never be able to tell by looking outside, but it's here.   I saw on the news this morning that we are going to experience colder than normal temperatures due to the large amounts of ice still on the Great Lakes.  How awesome is that?  NOT VERY.   I seriously hope this summer is scorching hot.  It has to be to make up for this dreadful winter.

Ok your turn.  Tell me something completely random!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pump Up the Volume: #Mingsanity Week 10

As I mentioned last week, this weeks workouts started with a warning from my Coach: "This is going to be tough, just plow through it".   It wasn't really what I wanted to hear but hard weeks are part of the program.  Without them, you can't grow as an athlete.  Knowing it was going to be a tough one, I had a deep tissue massage on Sunday.  And then a Graston treatment on Tuesday morning.  I think that might have been a bit too much for my poor little legs but, it did help them feel a lot better once I finally recovered from it all (which was Wednesday btw).  I didn't have any knee pain Monday through to Thursday.  My treadmill run on Thursday seemed to have aggravated something and my knee pain was back by EOD Thursday.  However, it was mild compared to what it used to be.  Perhaps because I am acutely aware of any pain I feel in my knees now, who knows.

On to the fun part of this post:  what I actually got up to this week.  It was a big one folks.  As usual I'm linking up with the #Bestfoot gang:  Krysten, Erica and Amanda.  Follow along as we put our Bestfoot forward this week.  Let's get down to it....

Monday:  Impromptu day off:  My massage left me feeling quite tired and I was really sore so I slept in.
Tuesday:  a.m. 10km run with 8km at tempo pace.  Didn't happen.  I ran, but it turned into a "do what you can" run because my legs hadn't recovered from my massage yet.  I followed that with a body weight circuit, which was also kind of sucky.  p.m:  90 minute boring as hell trainer ride.  Decided to use it to do a Game of Thrones recap.  Tested out a new saddle as well.  Jury is still out on that.
Wednesday:  2200m swim.
Thursday:  12km run with 5x1200m repeats @ 4:40.  Nailed it.  But I did have one weird knee pain moment, then everything was fine.  Followed that up with a body weight workout.  P.M.:  80 minute trainer ride.  Another snooze fest.
Friday:  2200m swim.
Saturday:  35.53km run followed by a weight workout.  Ran through High Park with my friend Stephanie.  I was so happy to have the company for a change.  I was supposed to run 10km at 4:20 pace but since it was such a hilly run, I opted to push the pace for the last 6km of my run.  I wanted to see what I could do on tired legs.  I actually felt like I could have gone longer.

Sunday:  3200m swim followed by a 90 minute trainer ride with 2x30 min @ 120/140w.  Amazingly my legs felt alright.  They were a little sluggish at the start but once I got going they felt pretty good considering the beat down I put on them the day before.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  7400m
Bike: 132.87km
Run:  57.56km

Total time:  13h 27 minutes.  Good.  Lord.  I have to wonder what my peak weeks will look like once I really get into the "meat" of my 70.3 training.  Granted I won't be doing 35km long runs but I suspect that time will be replaced by time in the saddle. 

Work is going to be a bit nutty this week so I'm not sure what I'll be able to get done especially since we're shooting overnight on Tuesday which means I won't be swimming on Wednesday morning.  Unless I don't bother going to bed but that's sooo not going to happen.  So we'll see how I manage to fare this week.

How was your week of workouts?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Living Up To It's Name: The Chilly Half Marathon Race Report

This would be the fourth year in a row that I've run this race and it will probably the last time I do it for a while.  It's time to explore different early season options.  Or perhaps next year it will be time for me to chill out for the first few months of the year.  Who knows.  What I do know is that this race TOTALLY lived up to it's name this year and I'm not sure I want to run through that crap again.

After a reasonably nice day on Saturday, I woke up to a fresh coating dumping of snow.  I had flashbacks to 2011 when the same thing happened.  The big difference between 2011 and this year was the temperature.  Not only did we get a large dumping of snow (more than what was expected) the temps were supposed to be hovering around -12.  Minus freaking 12.  Seriously.  That didn't bode well for setting any records, especially since I haven't been running outside much.  In fact, the only outside runs I've done in the last few weeks have been my long runs.  I've been on the treadmill for all my mid-week workouts because it's either been too cold, too icy or too snowy. 

My game plan was the same as last year.  Comfortable pace for the first 13km and then at the turnaround, drop the hammer and see where that got me - Coach Ming said the same thing, although he suggested I start pushing the pace at 10km.  My goal was to come in under 1:30.  Even if it was 1:29:59.

I went out and did a 3.5km warm up.  It was freezing cold out.  I trudged through the snow up and down side streets and then made one last stop at the porta potty then made my way back to the Performing Arts Centre to find G who was right where I left him.  I handed over my water bottle &  took about 20 Energy Bits that I washed down with some GU Roctane.  I was going to be racing without a hydration belt.  I did it at Scotia with much success but I had a feeling today would be a bit more challenging due to the weather.  Last year, drinks froze so I figured the same thing would happen this year for sure, given the temperatures and that left me feeling a bit uneasy as I didn't think I'd get enough fluid in.  My plan was to have fluid at every aid station and take a GU Roctane at the 10km mark.  I figured the Energy Bits would get me to that point given the effort I was putting out.  I brought along an extra Roctane just in case.  I had no idea how the cold was going to affect me other than make things more uncomfortable than usual.

G walked with me to the start and I got my customary good luck kiss before I wandered off through the crowd.  I found the 1:30 pace bunny and situated myself just in front of him.  I was actually feeling fairly comfortable temperature wise and I'm chalking that up to my Mizuno Breathe Thermo top.  That top is amazing.   Anyway...I spotted Carm, Peter & Connie, some of my fellow WTP'ers.  I saw speedy Roger Jonas just ahead of me so I figured I was in the right spot. 

The anthem was sung and everyone shuffled up to the front.  The countdown started and then we were off.  It didn't take me long to cross the start line.  I resisted the urge to hammer down Brant Street.  My knees were feeling a bit sore,  footing was dodgy and I didn't want to risk slipping on anything so I took it easy through here.  I figured once we got out onto Lakeshore the road would be a bit better.  I settled into a pace that felt comfortable for me and motored on.  When I glanced down at my watch at the 1km mark, I was surprised to see 4:09/km roll across my Garmin.  Um.  Whoa Nelly.  I figured I'd better slow down because I didn't think I'd be able to maintain that pace.  I managed to dial it back for the next few kms to closer to 4:15/kms which is where Ming wanted me to be.

I got into a good groove.  I felt like I was working but not too hard.  As predicted, there were ice chunks in the water & Honey Maxx so it was difficult to hydrate well.  I tried to grab a cup of each through every aid station.  For some reason I assumed that the aid stations would be every 2km but they weren't (note to self: always read the pre-race and course description info, d'oh).  This threw off my plan with having my gel at 10km.  I think it was actually closer to 11km when I got to have my Roctane.  At this point I could feel a slight twinge in my right hamstring.  Ugh.  It was cold out and I was kicking up all sorts of wet from the road.  My nice white Mizunos were no longer white.  They were a sad shade of grey.  And my tights were a mess.  Such is life.

There were two women in front of me that I tried to keep in my sights.  I was closing in one of them until I hit the 11km aid station to grab a drink and slowed down.  She pulled away and I didn't start to reel her in until just past the 13km mark.  As I neared the 12km mark, I saw the leaders coming back.  The guy in first had a huge lead.  I was watching for the women.  I was curious to see where I was at in the pack.  I counted 8 women and I knew there were at least 2, maybe three in front of me so I was just outside the top 10.  Wow.  I figured that if I dropped the hammer at 13km I should be able to pass a couple of them. 

As I came up to the turnaround just past 13km I got to see who was in front of me.  I was closing in on the girl that I had been shadowing for a while but what really spurred me on was seeing one of my West Toronto Pacer team mates, Karen.  She is FAST.  She is also in my age group so we were fighting for a podium spot.  She became my bunny.  I rounded the pylon and started to pick up the pace.  I was working hard.  I caught the girl I was shadowing and she tried to stay with me.  I don't know how long she was there for, all I could focus on was Karen.  I finally caught her.  It just about killed me.  Now I had to stay in front.  I had just passed the 14km mark when I saw my friend David who gave me a thumbs up.  The next thing I knew I heard my name and a man in black jumped in front of me and started running.  Enter the Dragon:  Ming the Amazing had come out to pace me in.  Seriously freaking awesome.  I felt like I had my own personal escort.  We were flying by people.  We reeled in another woman and I was now officially 10th.  The next few kms were F.A.S.T. :  4:02, 4:07, 4:05.  Sweet Jesus, I hoped I could hang on but I had a feeling that things were going to get real ugly, real fast.

I heard Nicole yell my name and I smiled and waved.  Or maybe it was a grimace.  I don't know.  I do know that I was really hurting.  At 16km my foot started cramping.  Ming was pushing the pace and it was all I could do to hang on.  The self talk started, along with my mental math.  I focused on one kilometer at a time vs. thinking about how much time I had left.  We hit 17km and I could feel my hamstrings starting to really seize up.  I started to slow down.  I could feel the wind leaving my sails.  The last 3km would be run on fumes for sure.  Just past 17km the girl I passed earlier, caught me.  I had nothing, absolutely nothing left in the tank to try to chase her.  It was all I could to hang on to Ming.  I choked out the words "I'm dying" but Ming was having none of it.  He encouraged me to push through.  For the next 3km, he kept urging me on.  Just after we passed the 20km mark he started to get really excited, he was counting down the meters, telling me I had it, and to just keep pushing.  As we ran towards Brant street, I saw G who was yelling something but I couldn't quite hear what it was.  Ming kept pacing me until I had about 200m to go then he pulled off (he only had the 5km bib on).  Those last 200m hurt so much.  My lungs were burning as were my legs.  I could see the clock counting down and I heard the announcer call my name as I came up to the finish line.  I looked up to see 1:28 something.  I crossed the line and almost collapsed into the arms of my WTP teammate, Roger Jonas.  We were both gasping for breath.  I turned around to find Roger's wife, Karen, right behind me.  We high fived each other on a great race.  Then I saw Ming and he gave me the biggest hug and told me I did amazing given the conditions.  I've never had a coach pace me for anything or invest themselves that much for me in a race situation.  I know for sure I wouldn't have pushed as hard as I did if it wasn't for him being there.  I know it's still early in the season for me, but I feel my decision to go with Real Deal for coaching was probably the smartest thing I've done in a while.  Seriously folks, if any of you are looking top notch coaching, I highly recommend you check them out. 
The only race pic I like.  That's Ming behind me.
Final time:  1:28:40.  Not a PR but I didn't expect that given the conditions.  It was, however a PR for that course and enough to put me in second place for my AG.  First race of the season and my first podium.  I'll take it, thank you very much.  It was nice to catch up with a few of my friends after the race as well.  On our way home we met up with a few more of my friends to start my week long birthday celebrations.  I scarfed down a burger and sweet potato fries and then stopped for a caramel flan latte (not the best post race recovery food).  I wanted pancakes but we missed the brunch cut off by 30 minutes.  Boo.

Next up is Around the Bay 30km.  Last year it was all about getting a gold medal.  This year, I'm not going to be so stupid.  It's a practice run for Boston, plain and simple.  I think last years race took a lot more out of me than I anticipated.  I still had a PR in Boston but I don't think I raced it to my full potential.  This year will be different.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Do What You Can: #Mingsanity Week 9

First of all, I want to thank all of you for the birthday wishes last week.  It really made my day.  I was hoping to get my Chilly Half race report done last week but that hasn't happened.  Life and work took over most of my week which left little time or energy for anything else.  It will come though, I promise.  I can tell you one thing, it took a lot out of me.  I figured I'd be recovered by Thursday but no.  Perhaps it had something to do with the wicked Graston treatment I had on Tuesday and the fact that I didn't have a massage until yesterday.  Shame on me. So this week became a kind of "do what you can" week. 

Anyway, let's get down to business.  I'm linking up with Krysten, Amanda & Erica as usual to put our #Bestfoot forward.  This is how my week went down.

Monday:  2200m swim.
Tuesday:  was supposed to do a 12km easy run but I slept in.  I slept like crap probably because of the two large glasses of wine I had with my birthday dinner.   I was supposed to run 12km easy.  Oh well.  I did get up and do my body weight workout.  P.M  45 minute easy spin at 100 rpm or more.
Wednesday:  2200m swim
Thursday:  12km with 6x1km repeats.  I ended up doing 9.6km with 4x1km repeats because my hamstrings were killing me, followed by weights.  P.M.  80 minute spin at 95 rpm or higher.  B-O-R-I-N-G.  But at least I stayed on the bike the entire time.
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  22km run with 2x8km @ tempo.  Ended up doing 23km with 8km at a faster than long run pace but not tempo.  Legs were totally fried.  So fried that I even skipped my gym workout.  Box jumps were not going to happen, all I wanted to do was lie down.
Sunday: 1850m swim.  Had the WORST sinus headache so I got out of the pool early.  It was so bad I had to take a sudafed before I got on the bike.  Bike:  90 minutes, 3x20 min @ 120/140/160w, no breaks.  Coach said if my legs were still fried I could do 120/140/120.  I ended up doing
120/140/140.  It was tough.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  6250m
Bike:  117.81km
Run:  32.60km

Total time including weights:  9h 16 minutes.  Can't wait to see what next week is like, ha ha.

This week is a high volume week and Ming has already warned me it's not going to be pretty.  Nothing like logging into your workout page and the first thing you see from your coach is:  "This is week is going to be tough, just plow through it."  Um.  Ok.  Should be interesting given the fact we're shooting on Wednesday and Thursday.  But I'll do my best.  Saturday I have my first 20+ miler scheduled (33-35km with 10km tempo).  I hope my legs are up for it.  I'm going to head to the hills again in High Park.  Boston is only 6 weeks away so these next few weeks are going to be BIG.  Bring it on.

How was your week of workouts?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Race Season is Underway: #Mingsanity Week 8

I guess you could say that this past week was a kind of like a taper week.  Which for me is unusual leading up to a "C" race.  Normally I just keep my volume as is, race, and then perhaps adjust afterwards if necessary.  This is why I decided a coach was necessary this year.  This past week was a nice break and it left me with pretty fresh legs heading into Sunday's half.   This week I'm ramping up again but thankfully I've got a few easy days early in the week to recover from Sunday's effort. 

I'm linking up with Krysten, Amanda & Erica, albeit a couple of days late, to share my #Bestfoot progress.  This is how last week went down...

Monday:  2450m swim
Tuesday:  8km run with 3km at tempo...once again on the dreadmill + weights. Worked late so I missed my P.M. bike ride
Wednesday:  1600m swim.  My Masters group was on a recovery week last week so this session was almost all drill work. 
Thursday:  6.4km run + weights.  Was supposed to do 8km with 400m repeats but my knees and legs were sore from the Graston treatment I had the day before so coach said I could take it easy.  P.M.  45 minute easy spin on the bike.

Friday: OFF
Saturday:  Was supposed do to a 30 minute swim + 30 minute ride but neither of those things happened.
Sunday:  Chilly Half marathon.  Scheduled mileage for the day was 26km.  Did a 3.5km warm up and thought about doing a 1.5km cool down after the race but that didn't happen. 

Sunday's race was a cold, snowy sloppy mess but, I was really pleased with my effort and will be recapping that later on this week so stay tuned for that.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  4050m
Bike: 23.67km
Run: 39.08km

Total time: 6 hours on the nose, including strength training.  I highly doubt I will see another week like this until I start my taper for Boston, ha ha. 

How was your week of training? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Reflections on 43 Years

Today's post would usually be reserved for my #Mingsanity update but you'll have to wait another day for that.  Instead I'm going to take the opportunity to reflect on my life thus far.  Because that's what you do when you turn a year older, right? 

Yes folks, today is my birthday.  Birthday number 43.   It feels weird to see that written down because I still feel like I'm in my late 20's.  My body would say otherwise for sure, although the dude at Starbucks this morning said he thought I was 26.  My latte was free, but still I left a nice tip, because moves like that need to be appreciated, ha ha.  These days, I have aches and pains that I didn't have 5 years ago.  It takes me longer to recover from hard workouts.  I can't indulge in too many treats like I used to without my pants getting too tight.  All that aside, I still feel young and that's a good thing.  I've always thought that age was just a number and the older I get, the more that rings true for me.  I guess it also helps when people tell you that you don't look your age, like the dude at Starbucks this morning.  I think I can thank my parents and their good genes for that one, although I do think that running and living an active / healthy lifestyle plays a major part in that as well. 

When I was in my early 20's I often wondered what kind of "grown up" I'd be.  What kind of job would I have? Would I be married?  How many kids would I have?  I knew that marriage was something I wanted but not right away.  The same with kids.  As for my job / career, I originally went to University with the desire to be a teacher, which then changed to wanting to get into Art Therapy.   My 4 year bachelor program took me 5 years to complete (dropped a course first year so I could keep part time hours at my cushy government job and pay my rent) so by the time I got to year 5, any desire to stay in school and continue my education had gone by the wayside.  I wanted out.  I wanted to start working and stop living like a student. 

When I graduated from University, I had no idea jobs like mine existed.  By luck and a series of happy accidents, I fell into what I'm doing now.   I remember my photography professor telling us that very few folks actually went on to either become professional photographers or actually work in the field so I feel very lucky to have at least ended up working in my chosen field of study.  I may not be behind the lens but I'm behind the scenes and that's just the way I like it.   I've been a producer for close to 17 years now, with almost 14 of them at the same place.  Guess you could say I like my job, ha ha. 

My job wasn't what has brought me the most amount of happiness though.  It was and is, running.  If it wasn't for running, I wouldn't have met G, period.  I knew within the first 3 months of dating G that he was going to be the man I married.  2 years after we started dating, we were married.  We assumed that kids would follow.  Unfortunately that was a chapter in our life that never came to be.  We struggled with infertility and we went through 2 very dark and emotional years before we gave up.  We did contemplate adoption but after everything we had been through over the previous two years, we decided that we had enough emotional upheaval in our lives.  The adoption process is a stressful and lengthy process here so after much discussion and soul searching we came to the very emotional conclusion to move on.  Do I feel that I am missing out on something by not being a mom?  Sometimes.  It's taken me a while to make peace with that.  I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade our current life for anything.  I think we made the right decision for us. 

Sure my life isn't what I thought it might be when I was in my 20's.  It's better....better than I ever thought it would be and I'm looking forward to the next 43 years.   Hopefully I make it that far and I really hope that if I do, I'll still be swimming, biking and running.