Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Boston 2014

Where to start?  I have all sorts of mixed feelings about this day, good and bad and it's taken me a while to process them all.  Sometimes you have to step away from a not so positive experience to see the positive in it.

I had very high hopes for this race, I really did.  I was aiming for a 3:10 marathon.  Something I thought I had in me...and perhaps I still do, I just didn't have it in me last Monday.  I have re-hashed the day many times in my head.   Looking back on it, there are a few things I would have done differently.  Some things I had no control over - the weather being the main factor.  Nothing like training through a freezing cold winter on with about 80% of your runs on a treadmill, only to have to race in what felt like baking hot conditions, the hottest of them being in the Newton Hills.  Mother Nature's cruel joke.

I am disappointed that I didn't make my goal time.  But I honestly can't be disappointed with my effort.  There were points during the race where I totally felt like giving up I was in that much pain.  I walked several times.  I've never hit the wall as hard as I did that day so the fact that I finished only 5 minutes slower than my time last year blows my mind.  Last year I ran an absolutely perfect race in perfect conditions.  Yes, the hills slowed me down but they didn't kill me.  This year, they had me for a mid afternoon snack.

But as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself.  And I'm focusing on the negative.  Sure, the conditions weren't ideal and I might not have had my ideal race but the race experience itself was everything I thought it would be.  If you ever wonder what it's like to feel like a rock star, the run along Boylston to the finish is probably the closest thing to it.  I get goosebumps thinking about it.

So let's start at the beginning.  You might want to get comfortable, this is a long one.

We got to Boston on the Friday afternoon, checked into the hotel and then went directly to the Expo to get my bib and do some shopping.  Thankfully it wasn't that crazy.  I ran into my friend Dave and chatted with him for a bit.  I didn't go too crazy this year as I wasn't a big fan of the orange & blue colour scheme.  What can I say, I'm a bit of a traditionalist, ha ha.  I bought a few things and poked around the various booths.  My fave score was the Apera duffel bag at 20% off.  After the expo we wandered back to the hotel to drop everything off and go find a place to have dinner.  We ended up at Jacob Wirth & Co.  It was like walking into a German Beer Haus.  If you've ever been to the Hofbrau Haus in Munich, this was very similar.  The list of beers on tap was 44 long.  Forty Four beers on tap.  Seriously?!  I died.  I had a glass of Blueberry Stout.  It was a very small glass so I figured I'd be fine.

Last year our Saturday was spent wandering around Boylston & Newbury streets, shopping.  This year was much of the same.  We spent a solid 2.5 hours in Nordstrom Rack and then met up with my friend Joanne at MJ O'Connor's.  We sat in the same booth that we sat in after the Marathon last year.  There was a lot of that happening.  I could only hope that it meant I'd have the same kind of day as last year.  After we parted ways with Jo-Anne, we continued our little shopping extravaganza.  G put on a clinic at Banana Republic.  I was done after that and that is saying a lot for me because I like to shop.  So we made our way back to the hotel and tried to find a place that was taking reservations at a reasonable hour. That was next to impossible so we ended up heading over to the Ritz to have dinner with Jo-Anne at the bar.  I had this lovely pasta dish and we shared an absolutely delicious flatbread.  We sat around and chatted for a while and then parted ways.  I wanted to get a good nights sleep.

Sunday morning I had a very short 20 minute shake out run so G and I went down to the Charles River once again.  He wanted to run for a bit longer so I turned around and headed back to a nearby Starbucks.  I grabbed coffee and before I knew it, he was back and we were off to breakfast.  We hit up the Black Seed Cafe - the exact same place we went to the year before.  And we ended up sitting in the exact same table.  And, I had pretty much exactly the same thing as the year before.  I was trying to get as much of last year's GOOD juju as I could.  Last year we spent a lot of time wandering around.  This year I didn't want to do that again.  So we stuck close to the hotel.  We spent more time shopping on Newbury street.  Boylston street was a mad house so we avoided it as much as possible.  Sunday night we went to the same restaurant we went to last year and I had the same salad for dinner as last year.  By 8:30 we were back in the hotel and I finished up getting my things together.  By 10:00 pm I was in bed and I fell asleep relatively quickly.

My alarm went off at 5:15 and I got up to have a quick shower.  I taped myself up, got dressed, covered myself with sunscreen and Run Gooed my feet.  I ate my breakfast and watched the live coverage from Hopkinton, my stomach filled with butterflies.  At 7:00 am G and I made our way to the buses, which were a 5 minute walk from our hotel.  It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be.  I had a grabbed a banana from the hotel and I wished I had grabbed a water for the ride to Hopkinton as my mouth was starting to feel pasty.  The nerves were setting in.

The bus loading was quick and I found myself seated to a lovely woman from Baltimore who was also a triathlete.  She had a very unique name but of course, since I didn't write it down, I forgot it.  Ugh.  Anyway, we chit chatted the entire ride which made the time pass quickly.  Before we knew it, we were pulling into the school grounds at the Athlete's Village.  The first thing I noticed was the security.  They had people screening for bibs as soon as you entered the village.  The second thing I noticed once I got into the village was the sheer amount of people.  Last year there was a fair bit of room to spread out.  This year it seemed like every inch of room on the ground was occupied.  I found a spot in the sun and laid out my old Scotiabank heat sheet.  I sat there for a few minutes enjoying my coffee and people watching.  The vintage warm up ensembles that people find at thrift stores could make an excellent coffee table book, ha ha.

There were SO many people it was crazy.  I was looking at the porta potty lines and I found it hard to see where they ended so I figured I'd better get into one of those asap.  I sat in the sun a while longer and listened to the announcements.  The energy was palpable.  Just before I decided to get up, the announcer said they were going to have a moment of silence for last years bombing victims.  Never in a million years did I think that 32,000 would be completely quiet.  Boy was I wrong.  All you could hear was the breeze blowing through the trees.  I shed a few tears along with a few other folks.

I abandoned my sunny spot and got in line at the porta potties.  I figured I had just over an hour before I had to get into my starting corral, that should give me more than enough time.  Right.  The lines were moving like molasses.  But that was ok.  It gave me time to chat with other runners and snap a pic of this infamous sign.

50 minutes later, I got into a porta potty, which surprisingly wasn't too gross and still had toilet paper!  Win win!  After I got out, I went over to the clothing deposit area to start to strip down.  While I was there I saw Ty (Seeking Boston Marathon).  I had seen him running through Boston Common a couple of days earlier.  We chatted for a bit and I wished him a good race.  I took my Energybits, deposited my clothes and made my way over the line up of people that were in my corral.  They had announced there was going to be a fly over by 3 military helicopters and sure enough a few seconds later these 3 humungous choppers rose up over the tree line.  Apparently it was going to take them 15 minutes to get from Hopkinton to Boston.  I wondered how I could hitch a ride.

The next thing I knew, our group was moving along.  I was chatting away with a girl who had run last year.  She was super excited to be back.  It was nice to have the company on the long walk to the corrals.  We joined up with another girl who had also run last year and we chatted about our race experience.  I saw these guys and had to take a picture.

Beer, Donuts & Cigarettes, just what you need to get through a marathon!
Just after we saw these guys, one of the girls I was with pulled off to go and use the porta potties near the corrals.  I was going to go and then the other girl I was with said she was going to but was worried we might miss getting into our corrals.  Which of course, worried me, so I skipped the porta potty and chalked up my urge to pee to my nerves.  Big Mistake.  As soon as I got settled into my corral, I realized that yes in fact, I had to pee.  Awesome.  I knew I wasn't going to have the time to get down to the porta potties and back to my corral so I only hoped there was going to be an on course porta potty in the first few miles.  Or better yet, that the feeling would just go away when I started running.

I don't remember a lot from the start this year I was mentally trying to prepare myself for the next 26.2 miles.  I do remember thinking that I was already boiling hot and I wasn't even moving yet.  Of course I had the time for a selfie.  Those arm warmers came off in the first 5 minutes btw.  Totally not necessary.

The next thing I knew, we were off.  Just like last year, I held back while the herd passed me by.  It's such a steep drop those first few hundred meters.  I was amazed at the sheer number of spectators through here.  As well as police.  Wherever there were spectators, there were police.  There were a TON of kids out watching this time, arms outstretched looking for high fives.  It was impossible not to smile.  It was also difficult to not get swept up in the pacing of others.  I felt like I was doing a good job of holding back.  My first km was 4:30 on the nose, which is exactly where I wanted to be.

We were heading into Ashland where the infamous biker bar was.  I could hear the music before I could see them.  People were out in full force here.  Many of the spectators were standing on the roofs of their cars.  It was awesome.  I focused a lot on the spectators this year, smiling and thanking them for being there.  I was chugging along at close to my goal pace which was no easy feat given the sheer amount of bodies around me.  My need to pee never really went away so I was now in almost  desperate need of a porta potty.  I figured there had to be on at the first aid station which was supposed to be somewhere around the 4km mark.  I spotted the aid station and behind it 3 porta potties.  I think I sprinted ahead of people and jumped over the small berm on the side of the road to get into the closest one.  The first two were occupied but the third was empty.  Thank goodness. If I had to wait in line I think I would have gone nuts.  I have to say, I think that was the fastest pee I've ever taken.  Looking at my splits you can see where I stopped.  I'm guessing I was in and out of that porta potty in about a minute.  I grabbed a Gatorade and rejoined the crowd.

Spot the pee break?

I had conveniently forgotten how rolling the first few km's are of this race.  It's not straight downhill.  My legs were feeling great though.  Not like last year where they felt like crap until about 7km.  This year I felt great from the get go.  Clearly the benefits of a solid taper.  I could only hoped that they continued to feel this way for a while.  I soaked up the energy from the spectators, smiling the entire time, reminding myself to be grateful and run happy.  I hit the 5km mark in 23:54, which was a bit slower than last year.  I was chalking that up to my pit stop.  I figured once we got into the flat lands I'd settle into a good steady pace and hopefully be able to hang on to it.

The hills started to even out into flatter ground and I finally found my groove.  I hit the 10km mark in 47:05 which was a minute slower than last year.  But I felt like I was picking up speed and I was still feeling good.  Excellent.  I chugged along through here, making sure I hydrated at every aid station.  It was really warm out.  Much warmer than I had hoped it would be.  Not having trained in the heat, it can really take a toll on you.  I figured if I hydrated well, I should probably be ok.  I had taken my first GU at 45 minutes in.  My plan was one Roctane every 45 minutes or so.  It was slightly different than last years plan which was 2 gels per hour, which I felt might have been a bit of overkill, especially in conjunction with my fluid intake.  So this year in training, I dialed it back a bit.  In retrospect, I probably should have just stuck with what I knew worked.

I settled into an awesome groove for the next 5km.  I felt good, albeit a little hot.  There was an occasional cool breeze that blew across the course from time to time but for the most part, you were running in the sun with very little wind.  I saw the 15km marker coming up and waved to the photographers.  I hit 15km in 1:09:27.  Last year I came through 15km in 1:09:04 so I was almost back on track.  All my km's from 10 through 15 were all sub 4:30 which was perfect.  I was actually gaining some time now.  I could only hope it was enough to get me through the Newton Hills.

Running into Natick this year was just as amazing as last year, if not better.  I simply could not believe the amount of people that were out cheering on the runners.  I don't even know why I bothered with music that day, I couldn't hear any of it.  I grinned like an idiot through here, despite starting to feel a bit worn down.  My legs were starting to feel sore and the heat was wearing me down.  Amazingly my knees seemed to be fine. Just outside of Natick the exhaustion really started to kick in.  I knew Wellesley College was coming up and I hoped it would give me the boost I needed.  I crossed the 20km mark in 1:32 and change.  Pretty much on par with last year.   Shortly after that I could hear the cheers.  It was crazy.  It was just the boost I needed as I ran my fastest km (4:22) of the race through there!

Despite the feelings of fatigue and exhaustion, I was still managing sub 4:30/kms.  It didn't feel easy but it wasn't killing me either.  I crossed the halfway mark in 1:36:55 which was only 8 seconds slower than last year.  I had almost caught up to my previous year's pacing but I was fighting a battle with the heat and my body.  By 22km, I was really starting to hurt.  I was absolutely dreading the hills.  I kept pushing, maintaining just under my goal pace.  I crossed 25km in 1:54:40, only 3 seconds slower than last year.   At that point I figured there was no way I was going to beat last year's time because  I was heading into the hardest part of the course and it was the part that I was least prepared for.  I was also starting to really struggle mentally.  I just wanted to stop and walk.  The self talk started at about 24km.  I tried to remain positive and thankful but my body wasn't buying it.  I was not enjoying myself.

The first of the Newton hills is horrible.  It's a long grinder, much like Heartbreak Hill.  Running into Newton was pretty special though.  Once again there was a ton of crowd support.  That brought a smile back to my face.  I really started to feel the affects of the heat here.  This was the hottest part of the course.  I could feel my face getting hotter and hotter and I was losing energy big time.  A lot of people were pouring water over their heads but opted not to.  I dumped it on my chest instead because I've made that mistake before and I ended up with a brutal sunburn.  My legs were totally aching at this point.  I kept telling myself that I wasn't going to walk just yet.  I figured when I made it to 30km I'd allow myself to walk if I felt I needed it.  I hit the 30km mark in 2:18:30, 12 seconds slower than last year.  I was actually surprised it wasn't worse than that given the way I was feeling.  I talked myself into running another km.  And then another km.  At this point I was heading into Heartbreak Hill territory.  The crowds here were amazing once again and even though I was really struggling, I couldn't help but smile.  Surprisingly I heard someone call my name and I looked over to see my friend and fellow WTP'er Roger Jonas.  His wife Karen was racing as well.  I smiled and waved, relieved to see someone that I actually knew.  He told me I was looking strong but I certainly didn't feel it.

I tried to keep my focus in front of me by looking up the road but I was so tired my head kept dropping and I kept looking down at the road.  My form had gone right out the window.   I looked up to see a huge inflatable banner that said The Heartbreak is Over.  That made me laugh out loud.  The hill might have been over but the heartbreak wasn't even close to being done.  The drop down into Boston College territory was excruciating.  My quads were completely fried.  I actually slowed down on the down hill because the pounding hurt so much.  I wanted to cry.  Even the boisterous frat boys of Boston College couldn't pull me out of my world of hurt.  I told myself that worst case scenario I had an hour left.  Even that seemed way too long.  I just wanted to be done.  I had mentally checked out.  I hate that feeling of being so miserable that you just want it to be over.   It's not a fun way to race.  I had to dig really deep to re-focus.  I figured I'd walk at the next aid station and give myself a little break.  So at the 34km mark, I grabbed a Gatorade and slowed down to a walk.  My legs were wobbly.  I drank the entire cup while walking.  That seemed to help me a bit as my next two km were both sub 5:00 min km's.  I remember Pharrell Williams "Happy" came on my ipod and I started smiling.  I figured if I could maintain this then maybe all wasn't lost.

It was not to be.

By 37km the wheels completely fell off the wagon.  I hit the wall and I hit it hard.  No matter how hard I tried to push, my body couldn't go any faster.  Every step hurt.  I was getting close to Cleveland Circle where I knew that Barb was going to be.  She was the woman that took pics of me last year and then found me on Facebook.  She told me she was going to be on the left hand side of the road by the trains so I made sure I situated myself there.  I spotted the trains and kept my eyes peeled for her.  Sure enough I spotted her with her camera.  Had I not been so gross, I would have stopped to give her a hug.  Instead, she got a big smile and wave from me, which she caught on camera.   I may look happy but my body language says otherwise.  My shoulders are totally rolled in and when I see that I know I'm tired.

The last 5km felt like a death march.  It took every ounce of strength for me to keep moving forward.  I stopped to walk somewhere around the 39km mark and took a picture of the crowd and the Citgo sign.  I wanted to keep walking but I also just wanted to be done.  So, I started running again.  The crowds were unreal as I ran along Beacon Street.  I could only imagine what it would be like turning from Hereford onto Boylston.  I finally got to the 1 mile left sign and mentally told myself it was only another 8.5 minutes at the worst.  Just after you pass that sign you run under and underpass and you have to run up a small hill.  The small hill felt like Mount Everest and I was so exhausted I had to stop and walk.  Luckily a photographer caught it on camera.

Yup, stick a fork in me, I'm done.   I didn't even have the energy to run with 1km left.  Shortly after I passed the photographer I realized that I was almost there so I started running.  I was gobsmacked by the wall of noise as I ran towards Hereford.  The enormity of everything hit me square in the jaw as I made that turn onto Hereford and I started to cry.  The turn onto Boylston was like running onto a stage.  You never realize just how wide that road is until you're running down the middle of it.  Last year I had the energy to put in a surge.  This year I had nothing and I didn't care.  I kept my eyes on the finish line and willed myself forward.

And just like that it was over.

I hobbled down the finishing chute, completely spent.  I immediately texted G to let him know I was done.  It took me what seemed like forever to get my medal, heat cape & water.  I was tired and cranky and just wanted to sit down but my legs were not willing to move at more than a shuffle.  So I hobbled over to the K, dodging other people on legs as unsteady as mine.  It was a pretty comical.  I found G and hugged him, immediately starting to cry.  I was so disappointed in myself.  I felt like I failed.  I felt like I gave up.  G said he thought I did great under the circumstances.  This year was exactly like the first year I ran Boston (2003).  I trained through a really cold winter, only to have race day be 20 degrees.  I had a complete meltdown that year.  This year, I was only 5 minutes slower than last year and the conditions were pretty much perfect last year.   I can't complain about that.   G and I had a long discussion about my feeling of failure.  I kept beating myself up over the fact that I mentally threw in the towel.  G argues that I didn't because I still kept moving forward and I didn't quit.  Quitting would have meant a DNF.  I can't argue with that logic.  In retrospect, I think I discovered a whole new level of stubborn, which as an endurance athlete, is not a bad thing.

I may not have had the day I wanted to but I was definitely happy to be a part of this years race.   It really was a celebration of strength and unity.  I am incredibly grateful to have had the experience of running Boston 3 times.  That being said, I won't be going back next year, even though I re-qualified.  That race took a lot out of me both mentally and especially physically.  I think this old body needs to chill out for the early part of next year and running a marathon in April doesn't really fit into the "chill out" plans.  I do hope to be able to go back again some day.

 With goal race#1 done, I'm now focusing on goal race #2 which is only 7 weeks away.  I'm not sure who's brilliant idea it was to do this.....

Oh right.  Never mind.

Stay tuned for 7 weeks of complete and utter #Mingsanity.  I suspect it's going to be wild ride.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Mini Vacation: #Mingsanity Week 16

This is going to be the shortest #Bestfoot post ever.  My last week of workouts consisted of the following:

Monday:  I ran the freaking Boston Marathon (race report to come!)

Tuesday:  I walked hobbled around Boston and ate everything in sight.

Wednesday:  I slept in the car on the way home.

Thursday:  I slept in and celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss with G.

Friday:  I dragged my butt out of bed and tried not to drown at swimming (swam 1300m)

Saturday:  Lounged around on the couch drinking coffee in the morning.   Had a massage in the afternoon after spending 3 hours sitting in traffic due to the closure of the Gardiner.  It's amazing how cranky that can make a person.

Sunday:  I was a shuttle driver, cheerleader & picture taker for G and my two friends that raced Paris to Ancaster.  Did an easy 35 minute ride on my new saddle when I got back.

 Total workouts this week

Swim:  1300m
Bike:  20.53km
Run:  42.2km

Total time:  4h 21 minutes of workouts.  3h and 21 minutes of that was my race, ha ha.

Now I have to mentally get my head back in the game and focus on the next 7 weeks of crazy to get ready for IM 70.3 Luxembourg. Ming and I were emailing yesterday and it looks like these next 7 weeks are going to be all about the bike.  I'm still running 3x a week but 2 of those runs will be off the bike.  I've got doubles almost every day now.  I'm also going to his lab at U of T tomorrow night for some more testing.  I'm a bit nervous about this as I suspect it will be quite unpleasant, ha ha. 

Make sure you check out the other #Bestfoot ladies blogs this week:  Krysten, Amanda & Ericka - there's been some pretty amazing stuff happening! 

How was your week of training? 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

'Twas The Night Before Boston: #Mingsanity Week 15

4 months of training, 2 pairs of shoes, hundreds of Instagram photos and almost 700km covered to get me to this point. Tomorrow morning I will be lining up with 36,000 other crazy folks to run the 118th edition of the Boston Marathon.

I'm freaking out a bit but, like a kid at Christmas, I'm also pretty excited. I think it's going to be an incredibly special day and I'm looking forward to soaking it all up. The city is ready to go, the energy here is palpable. There also seems to be way more people here this year than last year which is not surprising.

I've done a couple of runs over the last few days and my legs are feeling good. My knees are another story. They aren't horrible, but they're not 100%. Nothing I can do about any of that now except to realize that at some point tomorrow, it will become mind over matter. Although, this is the most well rested I've been heading into a race and that has to count for something. This was how my week panned out:

Monday: slept in

Tuesday: 8km run

Wednesday: 800m swim

Thursday: off

Friday: off

Saturday: 5.74km

Sunday: 3.33 km

I think that worked out to about two hours of workouts, haha. Now that's what I call a taper!

Yes, I have a time goal, but I'm going to run like I did last year- with no expectations, just gratitude. As my coach said: "There is no pressure for this run, believe in your training and the work you've done. Go out there and really enjoy yourself and have tons of fun with it!"

That's exactly what I plan on doing. Watch for that big grin on Instagram tomorrow!



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston 2014: Am I Ready?

One year ago today, the unthinkable happened.  Bombs went off at the finish line of one of the most hallowed races in running, killing 3 and injuring 264 others.  The shock, disbelief and outrage that followed was magnified a thousand fold by runners around the world.  In the days that followed, runners united all over the world to run for Boston.

In 6 days I will be back at the start line in Hopkinton.  I've trained through a very tough winter and I pushed myself hard this year.  I feel like I'm physically ready.  I might not be at 100% (damn knees) but I'm close.  Mentally I know what I'm in for so I think I'm ready for that too.  The bigger question  is, will I be emotionally ready?

Over the last few weeks there have been several features and interviews with some of last years victims.  There is an entire spread in Runners World.  I excitedly sat down to read month's issue and was surprised to find that I couldn't get through the stories without crying.  Anytime I read anything online about the race, I find myself tearing up.  Watching last years news coverage this morning brought a new flood of tears.  I was shocked and very upset last year when all of this happened but over the months that followed, it became a distant memory.  They say time is a great healer.  Now all of those emotions are coming back.  I am thankful that we didn't actually experience or see any of it but we saw the aftermath and that was enough.  I had a hard time watching the news coverage in the days following.  I had originally told G before the race that even if I re-qualified, I wasn't going to go back.  That changed the minute those bombs went off.

Running a marathon is an emotional experience at the best of times.  Last year I smiled from start to finish and was practically laughing out loud when I got to the finish line I was so happy.  I want this year to be the same and I will do my best to make it so but I also think I need to be prepared for the inevitable flood of emotions that will come.  I suspect that there will be tears shed at the start and as I make that turn on Boylston.  When they come, I'm going to let them flow. 

Yes, I have a lofty time goal for this race but when it comes right down to it, the day is not about a finishing time.  It's a celebration.  It's a day to pay tribute to the victims and to celebrate the unity and strength of the running community and the amazing city of Boston.  And for many of us, a day that will hopefully bring some closure.

The tears will come but I will be ready. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Countdown Is ON! #Mingsanity Week 14

Holy Smokes.  This time next week I will be toeing the line in Hopkinton.  I'm starting to FREAK OUT with excitement but I'm sure I will quickly forget about that once my week gets underway.  Last week was crazy busy and this week looks to be much of the same.  I've got two back to back 13 hour shoot days, the last one being the day before we leave for Boston.


Needless to say I spent Sunday making a list and packing as much of my stuff as possible.  Unfortunately I will have to finish packing on Thursday night when I get home, probably around 10:00 pm, because we're going to hit the road around 5:00 am on Friday.   Good thing I can sleep in the car. 

Last week was my first week of taper so my volume decreased quite a bit.  It was all about easy workouts and rest, rest and more rest.  This week, the goal is much of the same.  I've already written off my Thursday morning run and potentially my Wednesday morning swim due to work.  Before I start getting into this week, let's look at my last week of training.  As usual, I'm linking up with the Bestfoot ladies, Krysten, Amanda and Erica to recap my week of training.

Monday:  2400m swim

Tuesday: Hilly 10km run + body weight workout.  Had an optional bike workout but got home from work late so I skipped it.

Wednesday: 2050m swim

Thursday:  easy 10km in a.m. with my friend David, testing out the Wave Rider 17's.  40 minute ride in P.M (was supposed to be an hour but I was hungry and bored so I got off early.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  Last long run!  17km in the books followed by a quick body weight workout, followed by a massage.  Yes!

Sunday:  Skipped our swim because we were out late.  60 minutes on the trainer. 


Swim:  4450m
Bike:  46.39km
Run:  38.64km

Total time:  6h 42 minutes. I suspect that this week's hourly total will probably be similar or a wee bit less.  After Boston I'll be lucky if I see another week like this for a while, ha ha.

How was your week of training?  Who has a big race coming up?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Taper Time! #Mingsanity Week 13

Two Magical words:  Taper Time.  Yes gang, I've officially started my taper for Boston.  Of course, the universe being they way it is, in my world reduced training volume almost ALWAYS comes with increased workload at work.  Which in turn comes with stress.  It NEVER fails.  So, here's hoping that I manage to get adequate rest AND not get sick over the next two weeks.  Fingers crossed.  Now, on the FUN part...what I got up to this past week.  I'm linking up with the Bestfoot ladies Krysten, Erica & Amanda to recap my week of training.

Monday:  I normally swim on Mondays but I opted to sleep in.  ATB really wore me out so the rest was necessary.

Tuesday: a.m.:  70 minute easy spin on the trainer + core work. p.m.  really easy run through High Park.  I was told to run hills for the next couple of weeks so I did just that despite the fact that my legs were sore.

Wednesday:  2350m swim

Thursday:  a.m. 15km run with 10km at tempo pace.  Ran nothing but hills so instead of focusing on pace, I worked at pushing it up the hills.  Legs were still a bit sore but I felt pretty good otherwise.  Core work, push ups & single leg squats post run.  p.m.  55 minute easy spin.  Was supposed to do 70 minutes but got home late.  Didn't want to be riding until 8:30 at night. 

Friday:  2050m swim. 

Saturday:  28.22km run.  Was supposed to do between 25-30 km so this was perfect (even though I had set out to do 30km).  Super hard run.  Ran through High Park, did TONS of hills and ran into the wind for a large part of the run.  By 24km I was feeling pretty rough.  By 26km I had had enough so I called G and had him meet me on my way back to the house.  He picked me up at just past the 28km mark.  That was enough for me.  I completely checked out.  Was supposed to do weights after but I was exhausted.

Sunday:  60 minute easy spin, followed by a 3050m swim. 

Totals for the week:

Swim:  7450m
Bike:  80.93km
Run:  56.58km

Total time:  11 hours of training.  Never thought I'd say this but that actually felt kind of easy.   I must be getting used to the #Mingsanity, ha ha.

How was your week of workouts?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thinking Out Loud #9

Wow, it's Thursday already!  You know what that's time for some Thinking Out Loud!  Every Thursday I link up with Amanda for some random musings, that don't always have to do with running or triathlon.  It's a mixed bag of tricks friends!  Here's what's been floating around my head lately.

1.  I am going to make these Honey Almond roasted chick peas this weekend.  I saw the recipe on Amanda's blog and couldn't stop drooling.  Sweet, salty and savoury = YES PLEASE.  I need to get back on to the healthy snacking bandwagon.  If I really like them, I'll make a batch to take with me in the car to Boston.

2.  I didn't think it was possible but, I've had my heart broken by a pair of shoes.  Remember how excited I was to get my new Mizuno Wave Rider 17's.  Well, I got them and they are TOO BIG.  I ordered my normal size and it was positively HUGE.  Cue sad face.  Of course, G tossed the box and I wore them outside (had to see if I could possibly run in them) so I can't return them.  I guess I'm going to have to try to sell them so I can re-coup some $$.  I tried on the 7.5 and it fits SO much better although there is a weird crease across the toe area when I push off that I think will probably drive me nuts and cause some blisters.  So, I am torn.  I don't want to spend more $$ on a shoe that I'm not 100% convinced is right for me, even though I liked the ride.  It's definitely lighter than the 16's and it feels positively zippy but if it doesn't fit me well, then I think I have to take a pass.  I can only hope that the 18's resolve this issue or else I may have to switch to a different shoe.  Booooo!  

Why oh why could you not be perfect??
 3.  Spring is finally here.  The weather as of late has made me very very happy.  Yes, we've had some cooler temps but for the most part, it's been pretty darn spectacular.  It really is all about the little things sometimes.

4.  Remember last week when I was saying that I haven't bought any "normal" clothes in a while?  I rectified that last Thursday.  I'm dreading my credit card bill.  But, I've got some new things for summer that will pack well so you know I'll be taking them to Europe with me.  I'm especially excited about this dress and this top.  Come on summer!!!

5.  I don't know what is going on with my hair as of late but it's growing like a weed.  I think it's the increase in training volume or something.  At this rate, I'm going to have a massive rats nest on my head by my next appointment, which isn't until MAY!  Ugh.  Does this happen to anyone else?

6.  In other news, I think I may have found THE ONE for me.  Yes, folks, I think my search for the perfect saddle is over.  Say hello to the Cobb Max.  Mine won't be this green colour, it will probably be white.  I can get it in pink so it will match my bike BUT....I'm not sure how much longer I'll actually HAVE my current bike so I figured white would be a better option as it goes with pretty much anything. 

It might not look comfortable but trust me, it is!

7.  I finally hit 500,000m in the pool this week!  I had been hoping to get there by mid March but I didn't swim as much as I thought I would in February.  So now I get a fancy new swim cap and a pin.  Yay!

Ok, your turn!  Tell me something random!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

You Can't Always Get What You Want: The ATB Race Report

But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you the song says.  Those Rolling Stones fellas really hit the nail on the head with that one.

Brace yourself folks, this is a long one.

I said over and over again that this race was going to be practice for Boston.  I said I wasn't aiming for a particular colour of medal, I just wanted to race smartly, practice my pacing and get used to running without a fuel belt.  

Bulls**t.  I was just kidding myself.  Deep down, I still wanted that gold medal.  I figured with the right pacing I'd get it.  It might be close but I'd get it.   But I didn't.  I missed it by 6 bloody seconds.  Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Those of you that follow me on Instagram know how it all ended.  I've re-hashed the race in my head on and off for the last 48 hours.  I've talked to G about it.  I've talked to Ming about it.  Realistically, I did what I set out to do but somehow that wasn't good enough for me.  Somehow it still ended up being about that damn medal. 

I am far too competitive and much too hard on myself for my own good.  I let a "bad" day / race throw me for a loop.  After Sunday's race I had serious doubts about my ability to be able to run 3:10 at Boston.  And who knows, maybe that is a pipe dream.  But what are dreams if they aren't BIG?

I am thankful for G and Ming who both helped talk me off the ledge.  This was Ming's response to me on Monday:  "Yeah, trust the work you've done and don't doubt yourself. You've analyzed what happened and what needs to be done so flip the page on that and move on... don't get suckered in mentally and over-analyze too much.  Believe me, your body will respond very quickly to hilly stimulus. The first 1-2 hilly runs, you'll feel strained a little... but 2.5 weeks is a lot of time for your body to adapt to a new stimulus. So I have confidence you will rock it at Boston!"

Sometimes I just need a good kick in the pants and a new game plan.

I'm making Sunday's race sound like it was a total disaster.  It wasn't.  It was just a lot harder than I had anticipated it would be.  But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger right?   On to the nitty gritty of the day...

G had been away all week and hadn't gotten any workouts in and as much as I love having him at my races, I didn't think it was fair to drag him all the way out to Hamilton to sit around for 3 hours.  Luckily I still had company.  Thanks to the wonderful world of the Interwebz, a few weeks ago I met up with one of my blog readers / twitter followers to discuss Boston.  It will be Jo-Anne's first Boston and she wanted to pick my brain so of course I more than happy to oblige.  To say we hit it off would be an understatement.  We chatted away for over 2.5 hours.  She was also doing Around the Bay so I offered to carpool out.  She picked up our race kits on the Saturday and then she arrived at my house at 7:30 am on Sunday and we were off.  Due to my lead foot, we made it to Hamilton by shortly after 8:00 am.  Needless to say, we didn't have an issue with finding parking or waiting too long in the porta potty line.  We did our warm up together, went back to the car and dropped our stuff off and then jogged over to the corrals.  She was in Corral C and I was in Corral A so we wished each other luck and parted ways.  I had to pee once again so I ducked into the Quiznos right by my corral and got in a small line up.  There was less than 10 minutes to the start.  Thankfully the amazing store manager went and unlocked the staff washrooms so the line up moved along nicely.  I was in and out and into my corral with about 3 minutes to spare! 

While I was standing in the Corral, I heard someone call my name.  I looked over to see a woman smiling at me. She looked kind of familiar but I couldn't place where I knew her from.  This is the problem with social media sometimes, especially if you're on a few different channels.  She introduced herself and I thought I heard her say Katrina - the music was loud, the announcer was talking and I have a hard time hearing at the best of times.  We chatted for a bit and she mentioned that her husband was also shooting for 2:15 so she had told him to keep me in his sights.  Not hard I suppose, given that I had let the 'fro fly free. It was only after the race when I was on Instagram that I realized this woman was Irina - a fellow Daily Miler and IG follower. 

I found the 2:15 pace bunny and got in with the group.  Kathleen Wynne did the countdown and messed it up (!?!) and then we were off.  My legs felt pretty good out of the gate.  I thought I might be a bit overdressed but knew that we were pretty sheltered at that point and figured it would change once we got out in the open.  Of course my first km was too fast (4:15) but that's the pace that the bunny was running as well so that's where I stayed.  At about 3km in I heard someone say Hi Phaedra and I turned to see Zindine, a fellow Daily Miler (and Irina's husband).  I chat with him for a bit and then move along.  Shortly after that I hear someone else yell my name and I turn around to see my sister's friend Tracy.  I totally flip out and she runs up to run with me. We chat for a bit, but she is super speedy so she pulls away after a while.  That little pack of us was filled with people that I knew (or knew of).  Shortly after I saw Tracy, I ran into Dave Emilio, another Daily Mile pal, fellow Boston runner and Race Director for the Tannenbaum 10km.  I also spot Kenny Yum just ahead of me, yet another Daily Miler.  I ran with Dave and his friend for a little.  That made the time pass nicely.

They changed the beginning of the route this year and I have to say, I don't like it.  The old route was flatter and had a bit more shelter.  This route had virtually no shelter and I think we climbed no less than 3 bridges.  Not fun.  There were some points on these bridges where the wind was gusting so much it was blowing me sideways.  It was a very windy day on Sunday and I think that really made things so much harder for me.  I was never really sheltered from it, despite the fact that I was running in a pack.  And of course, it never seemed to be at my back.  That would be too easy.

My plan to get fluid at every aid station worked like a charm, although it did slow me down a fair bit.  There were 2 aid stations in particular that were horrible in terms of organization & volunteers and I'm chalking it up to the fact that they weren't fully manned.    The one that really stuck out was the 11km aid station.  I had to stop and back track to grab fluid.  It just seemed like everyone wanted fluid and there weren't enough folks doling it out.  I felt kind of bad for the volunteers.  I made a point of grabbing both water and gatorade at each aid station with the exception of the last one at 28km.
My fueling plan was as follows:
Prior to start:  30 Energy Bits + GU Roctane drink (1/4 of a bottle), 45 minutes in: 1 GU Roctane, 30 minutes after that, 1/2 a GU Roctane, 15 minutes after that, the other half of said Roctane.  That took me to 90 minutes in.  At that point I was well into the hills in the back half of the course.  My plan was to take my last full Roctane at 1:45 in, figuring that would be enough to get me up the big hill and to the finish line.  I missed the 1:45 mark and ended up taking it at 1:48.  No biggie.  

I was doing fairly well until the 11km mark.  Then I noticed that my right leg was feeling really sore (IT band area) and then my left glute really started to hurt.  I made a mental note to myself to get a gait analysis done at some point in the near future.  I am clearly favouring one side over the other and I need to figure out how to fix that.  Anyway....back to the race.  I'm chugging along ducking behind some taller runners trying to block the wind but feeling pretty crappy.  At this point, I can't fathom that I still have 19 km to go.  I pass the 14km mark and I look up to see Ming running along the road in the opposite direction.  I was totally surprised to see him, I didn't think he'd be there.  He must have been looking for me with the 2:15 pace bunny but I was a fair bit ahead of him.  A minute later he runs up beside me and asks me how I'm doing.  I say I feel like crap and that I'm just going to hope that I can hold on to this pace through the hills.  I'm not convinced that will be possible but I'm damn sure going to try.   He tells me not to worry that it's tough out there today because of the wind.  That made me feel a bit better.  He ran with me for a bit more and then peeled off just before the relay hand off.

I was starting to get a little fed up with the wind.  It was constantly in my face (I had windburn by the end of the race).  The wind has to be one of the most demoralizing things to race or train in.  You have to work THAT much harder to move forward at the pace you want, therefore you tire out more easily.  It's so frustrating.  On the plus side, it does make you stronger, eventually.  But I wasn't thinking about that at that point in time.  I was cursing under my breath.  Once I got into the rollers, the wind seemed to die down but now I was faced with nothing but hills.  I did what I could to get up them but my winter on the treadmill translated into a serious lack of strength on the hills.  I lost a lot of speed through here, although I did make sure that I hammered the downhills to make up for something.

By about 24km I was totally dying.  I wanted to quit.  I really really did.  I thought to myself there is no way in hell I can run a marathon at this pace.  No.  Freaking.  Way.   But, I didn't stop.  I didn't even slow down to walk.  I knew that if I did that I'd be done.  Surely I could suffer through the next 6km.  And if I stopped there, I wouldn't get to see my favourite dude - the little guy in the wheelchair playing We Will Rock You.  You can't do Around the Bay without high fiving the little guy.  So, I kept going.   Soon enough I could hear Queen blaring and I ran up to him, thanked him and gave him a high five.  I let myself really fly on that downhill, as I figured I'd have to fight my way up the Beast.   That was exactly the case.  It was ugly.  My legs and lungs were completely on fire.  I got passed by a tiny wisp of a woman and I vowed to keep her in my sights so I picked up the pace as best I could.  She was always just in front of me....until we got to the top.  Shortly after I crested the hill and my heart rate started to settle down and I proceeded to try to reel people in, she being my first target.  I caught her.  I had just under 4km left.  I started to push the pace.  Just before I got to the Grim Reaper my legs were saying they'd had enough. My mind had other plans.  And so the conversation began:

Mind: "Uh, hell NO.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  You got a race to finish now suck it up and get yo ass moving." 

Legs:  "I. Just.  Want. To. Stop.  I'm hurting.  I can't do this anymore."

Mind:  "Shut up legs"

I manage to pass a kilometer focusing only on the pain I was feeling, nothing else.  Once I saw the 29km sign, it was all systems go.  A green light went on somewhere and the pain no longer became so relevant because all I could smell was the finish line.  I really started to push the pace.  I caught a girl who had passed me on the Beast.  She tried to stay with me for a bit.  She asked if we'd make 2:15 and I said I thought so.  I told her to keep it up, that she had it and that she was doing great.  I pulled away from her and really started hammering.  My finish line blinders came on.  I turned down the ramp into Copps Coliseum and saw the clock counting down.  I wasn't even thinking about whether or not I'd make it in time to get a gold medal.  I watched the guy in front of me cross the line and then all of a sudden two people came out with a rope and ushered him inThe volunteer handing out medals turned to me and said I'm sorry as she handed me a silver medal.

I was pissed.  Then I was upset.  I was so close.  I didn't want to get my picture taken by the photographers that were milling about, I just wanted to sit down and sulk in a corner.  Which I did for about 5 minutes until I realized that my legs didn't really hurt that much.  I walked around for a bit more and noticed that I was walking fairly normally.  Bonus.  So, I sat down, stretched and waited for Jo-Anne.  I ended up chatting with a lovely guy from Ottawa and then Jo-Anne showed up.  She had a great race - she ran a 2:37!  Shortly after she arrived, I saw Christina and ran over to say hi.  I also met Britt, who follows me on IG - it was nice to put a face to the handle.  I chatted with them for a bit then went back to Jo-Anne.  We gathered our things and headed outside.  On our way out I spotted Jodi, another IG friend / blog reader that I'd yet to meet IRL.  I ran over, tapped her on the arm and she threw her arms around me and give me a big hug.  The three of us chatted for a while and then Jo-Anne and I went back to the car.   Seeing / meeting those folks really put a smile on my face and made me forget about how I was feeling.  

G said he knew I wouldn't be happy unless I beat my previous year's time but I knew going in this race wasn't about beating last years time.  For me it was more about the medal.  Of course the ultimate goal was to race smartly and practice my strategy for Boston.  The more I think about my day, the less important the colour of the medal is.  Despite feeling crappy by 11km in and having less than ideal hill fitness, I still managed to hang on to my goal pace in very windy conditions.  I honestly can't be disappointed in that.  I may not have gotten what I wanted, but I think I definitely got what I needed.

Look out Beantown, here I come.