Thursday, October 22, 2015

That's All She Wrote: #STWM 2015

Normally I would have graced you guys with a weekly recap on Monday but I can sum it up in one word:  TAPER.  It wasn't a very exciting week.   So instead, I'm jumping right into my race recap while it's still fairly fresh in my mind.

As I mentioned last week, this was the first time in ages that I've gone into a race without a time goal.  I hoped to be somewhere in the 1:30's but I didn't have a solid goal.  I figured I'd start with the 1:40 pace bunny and see how I felt.  If I felt good, I'd pick it up.

I had my usual pre race bowl of steel cut oats and hit the road just before 7:00.  I got almost every single green light on the way there.  Woohoo!  I headed down Bay street and hoped there would be space by the bus station.  Sure enough, I grabbed one of the last spots on the street.  SCORE.  I had to meet up with the #BBFFit girls at 7:50 am for a pre-race photo op.  It was COLD (fact, it was snowing at the start- WTF,  it's OCTOBER).  I ran down Chestnut street and ducked into the Doubletree Hilton to use the washroom.  That's the bonus of having run this race multiple times, you know where all the warm washrooms are, ha ha.  There was no line up so I was in and out in no time.  I ran down to Richmond and over to University and found Carmy and Janice right away.  We stood around chatting and waiting for Morgan.  A couple of minutes later, Morgan arrived and it was picture time!

I was supposed to meet my pal David up at a building on University just north of Armoury around 8:00 so I wished the ladies good luck, hopped into a porta potty and then ran up to meet David and his pals.  I waited there for a while and didn't see them so I wandered down to the corner of Dundas and Amoury and waited a bit there.  No luck so I wandered back up.  They were waiting inside the building so they let me in and I got to hang out in the warmth for a while.   One last bathroom stop and we all started to shed some layers.  We had 5 minutes to get to the start corral.  Luckily David and I were in the first one so we didn't have far to go.  They were singing the National Anthem when we got down to the corrals so David and I booked it over to the opening and made our way up towards the middle of the pack.  I spotted the 1:40 pace bunny a ways ahead so we tried to move up a bit but there were too many people so we gave up and waited for the gun to go off.   A few seconds later we were off and running.  

Normally I take off like a shot once the gun goes off but because I was actually running with someone, I didn't.  Instead, I mirrored David's pace.  The first bit of the course is uphill to Bloor so we were working a bit from the start.   That and there was a lot of dodging people.  Speeding up and slowing down etc.  Once we got up to Bloor, we seemed to find a groove.  My plan was to hit every aid station and get either Gatorade or water.  Or both, depending on how I was feeling.  We hit the first aid station and I grabbed a Gatorade and managed to actually get most of it in my mouth.  A-MA-ZING.   There were a ton of spectators along here and U of T actually had a full on cheerleading squad out, pom poms and all.  That was pretty awesome.

We turned onto Bathurst and really started picking up the pace.  We were going downhill so that was easy enough to do.  David was keeping his eyes peeled for the 1:40 pace bunny.  Apparently he wasn't too far ahead of us.  Most of Bathurst was a bit of a blur.  David and I spent most of it yammering away.  I do recall running by the Black Toe Running cheer station and hearing my name called out by a fellow WTP'er.  We closed in on the 1:40 pace bunny as we got to Front Street.  I heard my name again and turned to see Andrew Chak, another social media pal, who was running the marathon.  Shortly thereafter I saw Kristen Bowers, yet another social medial pal and one of the first few athletes that I coached.  I had seen her at the start and she gave me a huge hug.  She's a real sweetheart.  She was chugging along, looking strong and we waved to each other.  There was some pretty awesome crowd support along the Bathurst bridge as we turned onto Fort York.

As we got out onto Lakeshore I noticed a little bit of wind, but nothing too bad.  I still had my gloves on but my hands were boiling so I opted to pull them off.  I stuck them down my shirt until I had gone through the aid station.  I knew that G was going to be at the 12km aid station so my plan was to leave them with him.  We passed the 9km mark and started going over the Gardiner overpass by Dunn.  The little climb winded me and David and I turned to each other and both said that kinda sucked, ha ha.  We were coming up to the 10km mark and I announced that I was tired.  David said he was too.  The next few kms were kind of quiet.  I knew once we got closer to the aid station that there would be a ton of crowd support.  I was surprised to see it start earlier than normal - there were lots of people hanging out in the median by Palais Royale, which was GREAT to see.  The intersection of Lakeshore and Parkside was also packed.

We got to the WTP aid station at 12km and I immediately spotted G so I ran up to him, blew him a kiss and handed him my gloves.  I got some WTP crew love as I ran through the aid station.  David was hoping to shed his vest but never got a chance to get over and toss it.  We were heading to the turn around at Ellis and the crowd support here was phenomenal.  It's always great along here but this year there seemed to be so many more people.  And it was LOUD.  I wasn't running with music so I really noticed the cheers.  We hit the turn around and I could feel the wind slightly at our back which was nice.  David managed to ditch his vest when we passed the WTP aid station on the way back.  My energy was flagging so I took a gel.  My lower back was also really starting to get sore and tighten up.  I started to feel like I was running a little off balance.  I focused on keeping my shoulders back and my chest out.  That helped but I'd still feel the occasional nerve pinch in my glute.  Only 7km to go.

My friend and co-worker Caitlin was running the half as well.  It was her first and I really wanted to see her so David and I stayed close to the middle of the road to see if we could catch a glimpse of her.  I didn't see her but I saw Brie Young, a fellow Mizuno Run Bird, who had spotted me first and called my name - more woohoo-ing ensued.  As we ran towards the Legion, the Steel band that is always there was playing Hot Hot Hot and it reminded me of my Auntie Carol.  I smiled to myself and knew that she was cheering me on from somewhere.  David and I kept scanning the crowd for Caitlin but never saw her.  We crested the hill at the Legion, complained about how that sucked, and continued on. 

We motored along Lakeshore and I could feel myself getting tired again.  We got to 17km and I said to David that I thought the chute might come out over the next few km.  He said no way, we have 4km left, you'll be fine, you can do it.  So, I followed his lead.  At 18km I spotted Danielle holding one of her awesome race signs.  So I ran over and said hi.  There was some woohoo-ing and then I had to pick it up to catch David.  I went through the subsequent aid station and slowed down a bit.  Once again I had to pick it up to catch David.  He was pushing the pace a bit.  We started to climb the Spadina ramp, which is another tough little climb.  Our chatter had died down a fair bit by this point.  I think both of us were tired.  We had planned on doing a silly finishing photo that involved jumping so I hoped my legs would be able to do it.   2km to go.

We came to the marathon / half marathon split and up ahead I could see the 20km archway.  The street was PACKED with spectators.  I saw confetti flying through the air.  The Parkdale Road Runners had set up an EPIC cheer station.  It was deafening running through there and it was just the pick me up I needed.  We turned onto Bay Street and I was grinning.  As soon as we crossed Lakeshore the wind hit us.  My hands were freezing.  David gave me one of his gloves.  We powered up the steep little hill and made our way up Bay Street.  I was really starting to feel it.  I was tired.  My form was slipping.  But I stuck with David.  The crowds got increasingly louder the closer we got to the finish.  People started sprinting by us but we held back and let them go.  We wanted to make sure we had a clear path in the finishing chute.  We rounded the bend and let a few more people pass us.  We could see the finishing chute and as we got closer I turned to David who started counting down.  3-2-1 - JUMP.  At least that's what he did.  Because I'm a spaz, I jumped on one.  So I jumped AGAIN.  By that time David had landed.  What a gong show.  But the pics are hilarious so I bought them. 

At least both of us have our feet off the ground!

We crossed the line in 1:35:09 which wasn't a P.R for either of us but we didn't really care.  It wasn't about a P.R for me.  I knew I wasn't in any shape for that.  It was all about having fun and hanging out with one of my good friends.   David and I have done many of the same races but we've never actually run together in the 3 years we've known each other so I'm really glad we got the opportunity to do so before he gets CRAZY fast again and I won't be able to keep up with him.

When I went back and looked at the stats, I saw a couple of things that surprised me.  1) I was 8th in my AG.  I certainly wasn't expecting to make the top 10 and 2) we ran a negative split.  I can't remember the last time I negative split a race.  I told David he has to pace me from now on.  I think he thought I was kidding.  D, if you're reading this, I was serious. I promise to pay you in chocolate and homemade ginger molasses cookies!  You have it in writing. 

I have to say, I absolutely love this race.  It's no wonder I've done it 6 times.   If I can manage to get and stay 100% healthy for 2016, you know I'll be toeing the line again next October with an actual goal.   For now it's time for me to take some time off my feet and to work on fixing the little niggles that have been hanging around for far too long this year. 

A huge thanks to Burnbrae Farms for sponsoring me into this race and fueling my training.

Bring on the OFF SEASON!

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