Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 2013 recap

November stats. One of my lower mileage months in a while!
Run: 146.6 km
Time: 14:19:09

My primary focus this month after the Road 2 Hope has been rest and recovery. After an intense fall training/racing season,  I was tired. And there were a few nagging pains here and there - the groin problem from Scotiabank that kept coming back, a random pain in my thigh that come out of nowhere (and disappeared about as quickly). Nothing particularly major, but enough to know my body was saying it needed a bit of a break. So I took some days off, and now I've dialed back the mileage and taken my running slow and easy for the last couple of weeks. Other than that one LSD with Sam where Sam forgot the 'slow' part - although it's pretty good evidence of how far my running has come that a 5:34/km pace over 14k wasn't hard to maintain. But I'm mostly skipping speedwork for a while and sticking with easy running. I'm now ache and pain free and feeling really energized and excited about winter training.

Why do I haul my ass out of bed early to run? This helps.
My husband and I managed to get in a run together (yay for ditching the children!), and my brother came out to Burlington to run part of the Around the Bay route. I get way too much enjoyment out of taking people on the hilly section of the route for the first time.

Beautiful run along the lake on a very very cold day.
I've also visited the Chedoke stairs twice, which is always a good time. I'm not doing any speed work right now, but climbing those stairs really bumps up the heart rate. I love how there are always at least a half dozen people running up and down, too. Very motivating. It's a terrific low impact but very intense workout.

289 steps. I can get about 2/3 of the way up running before I have to slow down and walk the rest. Future goal: Run the whole thing without stopping.

The view from the top of the stairs. It's prettier in summer and fall, that's for sure.
I made it back to my once a week TRX class, and started doing some TRX/kettlebell work.  I've been doing this workout that I found online somewhere or other and I like it because I can do it at home with my knock-off TRX and kettlebells:

warm up
10 burpees
15 pushups (full pushups, on toes)
10 burpees
15 TRX rows (suspending as much body weight as possible)
10 burpees
15 TRX pikes
10 burpees
20 bodyweight squats (or pistol squats if feeling particularly peppy)
10 burpees
20 kettlebell swings

Take breaks when needed to complete each exercise with perfect form. Repeat entire sequence x2.That's a hundred burpees total. It's painful, but in a good way. Sort of. Admittedly the first time I did it I was sore for 4 days afterwards.

I need this shirt.
I've also been doing more yoga, especially this video. Feels good. All part of laying the groundwork for marathon training in January! It may be the off season, but I'm not slacking, that's for sure. Not with all that yummy holiday food to eat in December. I plan to keep running easy (around 40k a week), strength train 2x a week, and then in mid-December I'll start increasing the run mileage to 50k a week so I'm prepared to start my training plan in January.

Oh right, time for this sort of thing again.

Basically, it's all good. I am really enjoying running easy and without much of a structured plan right now (other than a general target for weekly mileage), so I plan to continue like that for a bit.

And now the countdown is on to Christmas vacation. Bring on the holiday food!

Random: I asked my husband to buy me some chocolate. This is why he's not allowed to have a Costco membership.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Race report: Downsview 5k 2013

(I knew as soon as I hit post yesterday the photos would finally show up for this race!)

One last race this year, this time with my husband. Since we both tend to be pathologically early for everything, we arrived way early at the race site and had a lot of time to kill. That did mean we got a sweet parking space only minutes from the start line.

Start line. Grim weather. Note how very very empty and wide open it is. With nothing to block the wind. That's important.

We'd picked up our kits the day before (lots of samples, hooray! especially the Sports Suds, I'm a big fan), so we wandered around for a bit, checking out the start area. We quickly realized that the wind was going to be a huge problem. It was strong and cold, so after finding the indoor bathrooms (which had a way shorter line than the porta potties, score!) we retreated back to our car to keep warm until it was time to go to the start.

The lipstick sample was exciting. The colour is... something. If I'm ever playing the Tin Woodsman in a production of The Wizard of Oz it'll come in handy.
After a short warm up, we made our way to the corrals - yes, corrals! At kit pick up we were asked our planned finish time, and since we both planned to be under 26 minutes we got placed in the first corral. I loved that they did this; people self-seeded really well and I barely had to do any weaving or passing in the first km of the race.

Waiting for the start. Freezing my ass off. So glad I grabbed my vest on the way out the door.

After the start my husband ran with me for about 400m, then pulled ahead, as I expected him to (he's faster than I am). Once I'd confirmed I had managed to start my watch correctly (didn't want a repeat of the scotia screw up ), I hid it up my sleeve so I couldn't see my pace.

My thoughts through each km:

1k: 4:43
Ugh, gravel. Hope this doesn't last long. Onto a paved path, excellent. This is going well. Feel strong. Hey a photographer! Smile! No idea how fast I'm going but I feel pretty good.

I know it's the beginning of the race because the gloves haven't come off yet. The literal gloves, not the metaphorical ones. I actually like this photo but $30! Holy crap! I'll wait and hope for a discount code or something, because damn.
 2k: 4:47
There's the wind. This sucks. Gotta find someone to run behind. No one close. Oh good someone is coming up behind me, I'll tuck in behind them. 

And it's a nine year old boy. How is that helpful?? Gah. And he's stopping to walk. Even less helpful!

(much of the 2nd km was run into a headwind, so maintaining that 4:47 took a lot out of me. I'm impressed I ran it that fast)

3k: 5:03
Oh yay, uphill with the wind coming across the path instead of a headwind. That's a fun change. We must be getting close to the turnaround. Ugh it's uphill too. Surely at some point all this uphill will translate to downhill? No? This is one of those races where it all feels uphill even when it isn't? Delightful.

There go the leaders. Huh, haven't seen that many women ahead of me. Pace must be OK. Oh there's my husband! He looks strong. I feel like I'm going to die. One foot in front of the other, just keep going. I hate my music. Shut up Britney, I don't want to work. Bitch.

4k: 5:05
Another photographer. And another one? 10 feet behind the first one? Ok. In theory this means I'll get at least one decent photo. Or maybe just a huge number of terrible photos. 

The answer was none of the above. I got a small number of mostly terrible photos. I do love that vest, though, and damn it looks good in pictures. How'd my watch sneak out of my sleeve?

This sucks. I hate 5ks. Why do I keep running 5ks? I am so stupid. Oh there's that crosswind again. I can't believe I pay money for this. Still no one to draft off. And there's the 9 year old boy again blowing right past me. I hate kids. Oh, he's stopping to walk again. Loser. I'm better than a 9 year old! Yay me!

WTF another photographer? How many photographers are there on this course? Oh look, the guy in front of me is pulling a total Nicole, I should do something more than grimace at the camera. Watch, this will be a random guy with a DSLR and not a race photographer at all.

He was a race photographer. I'm...getting arrested?
 5k: 5:02
More uphill. There's the finish. Fucking gravel path, screw you. Ugh. God I hate races where you can see the finish from like 500m away. It's SO FAR. Try and speed up. Except there's that damn headwind. And there goes the 9 year old again. Damn it. He is totally useless for blocking the wind. And why is he sprinting so fast? Enough of this. I hate 5ks so much. 

Chip time: 24:58 (I didn't catch the 9 year old. You never catch the 9 year old, don't even bother to try)
Gun time: 25:06
Age group place (30-39): 6/78 nothing wrong with a top 10 finish; plus it was a 10 year age group instead of the more usual 5. I'm going to assume that everyone ahead of me was 30-34 and I totally won the 35-39 category. HOORAY!
Gender place: 24/331
Overall place: 102/579

Not a bad way to round out the fall season. There was a lot working against me this race - only a week after Road 2 Hope, I developed a cold the day before that gave me a super sore throat and had me light headed and feeling generally shitty the morning of the race, the nasty nasty wind, and the unfamiliar course that turned out to be hillier than I expected. Even with all that I got under 25 minutes and I'm pretty confident without the wind I'd have come close to my Canada Day time.

No skirt! I know! But I'm pretty sure those purdy tights made me faster.

As curious as I am to know how fast I could run a 5k properly rested, not sick, etc, NO MORE 5ks until spring. Or summer. Worst distance ever. So much pain for so little reward.

Race Review

Would I run this race again? Absolutely. Great kit, nice fitting t shirt (women's sizes, yay!), extremely well organized start area. I found it an enjoyable course, and admittedly the race director can't do anything about the wind. Probably. I mean, he's not a wizard. I assume.

The 5k is entirely within Downsview park, so no worries about traffic, and the route was set up nicely so that although it was sort of a double loop, it didn't have the soul-crushing horror of running through the finish halfway through the race. Since the park is so new it's a bit barren, but it's going to be really nice in a few years when the trees start to mature. The hills aren't really that big, and I would love a chance to run that same route on a less windy day.

Bow before my epic Paint skills. That wind coming across the side really sucked.

My only complaint is that the Running Room location where the kit pick up was held was kind of a pain in the ass to get to via car, but we could have picked up our kits on race day so really that was our own fault. And they ran out of men's medium shirts so my husband got stuck with a large shirt he can't use.

(Oh, and speaking of my husband, he finished in 24:19 - he was a bit disappointed, he wanted to be under 24. Pretty good for his first ever race, though, and later in the afternoon it became clear he had some sort of stomach bug going on, so he also ran that not feeling well. I'm betting the next time he runs a 5k he crushes that time by a minute or more.)

All in all, a pretty satisfactory end to 2013 racing. Now, a few weeks of easy running and lots of core/strength training before training for spring race season starts!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spring 2014 plans

I am taking rest and recovery very seriously this week, so not much running going on. I have a recap all ready for the Downsview 5k, but the photographers are taking forever to get the photos up, so here's a post on my 2014 plans. Since so many of the races I wanted to do had early deadlines to get the cheapest price, I'm already registered for my main races through May:

1. Chilly Half Marathon. I have a soft spot for this race because it was my first half marathon. Plus, it's my hometown half, which means I run the course all the time and it makes race day logistics so much easier. I would like to at least match my Road 2 Hope performance on this relatively flat course, and possibly take a run (HA HA) at a sub 1:50 half. My husband will also be running this race as his first ever half, so that'll add some extra excitement. Patty will likely be a pacer, which means I might have to be responsible for my own paces (yikes). Maybe Janice will run it with me; she's making lots of crazy plans.

Pre-Chilly last year with my "little" brother.

2. 30k Around the Bay. A favourite local race that is on my must run list every year. First off, I want redemption from last year, where I lost 5 minutes waiting for a train and missed going under 3 hours by...4:53. AUGH. How much under 3 hours I aim for is up in the air. Most likely I will be doing whatever Patty tells me. Last I heard that was 2:45. Patty's nuts, but in a way that results in me getting massive PBs, so lead on Patty and I will follow. Also it will be Amy's first Around the Bay, so now we won't have to kick her out of Burlington (I wasn't sure you were even allowed to be a runner living in Burlington and never run Around the Bay - gotta get Amy across the finish before the running police find out about this).

This train, man. I am still not over this train.
 3. Mississauga Marathon. My first ever marathon. Eep. And that's all I'm saying about that right now.

4. Sulphur Springs 25k trail run. The Run for the Toad gave me a serious trail running bug, so I'm really looking forward to this. I'll be running it with Sam for fun (unless she decides to abandon me in the woods, what with her being way faster than me! Don't leave me Sam!). It's also completely hilarious that running 25 kilometers is now something that I consider fun.

"Hey, you want to run around in the wood for 3 hours or so? And I mean actual running, not hiking. Running. With hills and everything."
"That sounds super fun! Sign me up!"

So those are the 4 races I've already signed up for.  Lots of training to do this winter, that's for sure.

Also in the plans, maybe:

5. Some sort of 5k. Some sort of 10k. Maybe the Moon in June 5k, just because I enjoyed it last year and placed for my age group for the first time ever. Patty's in my age group now, though. Curses. If Amy shows up too I'm gonna have to bust some kneecaps. Also I'll take a look at the MEC race series because their races are only $15, so I could actually afford a few tries at new 5 and 10k PBs without going broke. I think they had at least one 8k last year and my 8k PB is super out of whack with my actual abilities, so I wouldn't mind tackling that distance, too. The husband is going to want to run some 5 and 10ks, so we'll have to figure out what will work for both of us.

With our age group swag from the Moon in June 2013. Photo swiped from Patty. What, you've never gotten a lawn ornament as a prize before?
 6. Canada Day 5k, maybe. What can I say, I have a red and white outfit all arranged for this race (I may or may not have purchased a white running skirt on sale specifically to wear for Canada Day. I admit nothing). Having an appropriately festive outfit is a good reason to run a race, right?

Lots of big plans! Right now, however, my plans are to curl up on the couch with a book and a mug of tea. This rest and recovery thing is pretty sweet.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Race report: Hamilton marathon Road2Hope half marathon 2013

This was sort of a bonus race for me - I hadn't originally been planning to run a second half marathon this fall, but then the whole Burlington Skirt Brigade signed up and hell, I didn't want to be the only skirt sitting at home with race envy. I wasn't sure if I was really fully recovered from Scotia, but figured nothing ventured, nothing gained, so what the hell let's try for another PB. The several km of downhill couldn't hurt, anyway.

Amy picked up my kit for me, saving me a trip (thanks Amy!). Nothing too special, and the shirt is...not really to my taste, although it does fit me nicely and is a good quality tech fabric. I'll save it for Canada Day but probably won't wear it otherwise.

No name on the bib? What kind of low-rent race is this? /race snob

I don't really do a big carb load for halfs anymore, but the pre-race burger and fries has somehow become a tradition (um, not the morning of, but for dinner the night before). Hey, whatever works, right?

Why is there no Five Guys in Burlington?? On second thought, that would be bad. I would eat way too many burgers.
Carpooled to the finish with AmyPatty, Sam, and Nicole, and we got ourselves onto the shuttle buses and up to the start with plenty of time to spare (kudos to the organizers for this, the shuttles were plentiful and it all went very smoothly). In preparing for this race I spent as little time as possible thinking about overall paces and such, figuring I'd just stick with Patty and Amy and hope for the best. The stretch goal was to go just under 1:50, and the main goal finish faster than Scotia for a new PB. I went in with only the vaguest idea what sort of paces would accomplish either of those goals. Running blind!

It was leg-numbingly cold outside, so thank goodness for the community center to hang out in pre race. Check out Patty's sweet pink throwaway front and center there. Amazing what you can find at the dollar store.
We did the usual pre race stuff (line up for the bathroom, hang out, run into people we know, line up again, etc). One of the people we ran into was the lovely Irina, who I've now met twice and she's just as adorable in real life as she is on her blog (although her blog is dangerous territory for me, since reading it really makes me want to do a triathlon. Must resist the dark side.).

Photo via Irina. We were, as far as I could tell, the only people crazy enough to be wearing skirts. Also I kind of like this tallest one in the group thing, that never happens to me.
Soon enough it was time to venture outside and get ready to race. Did I mention it was COLD? I knew I'd be fine after a few km, but damn my feet were numb waiting for the start.

Start area, sort of? I think? I don't even remember taking this picture. For all I know it's from a totally different race.

We tossed our throw away clothes and huddled up for warmth while they counted down to the race start. And we were off!

When we started, I couldn't feel my feet. It was the strangest thing; like running with bricks instead of shoes. I crossed my fingers they would warm up, because it felt really really weird. Fortunately by about 2k they thawed out and felt normal again. The first 5k were fairly flat, and as usual at the start of the race the kilometers felt short, although my watch was beeping them off right on target (I couldn't see my watch, because it was under my sleeve - a deliberate choice. I'm including the splits in this post but at the time I didn't see any of them).

5k: 26:21

Red Hill Valley time! This was FUN. All caps fun. Hello big old downhill. The only unfortunate thing was there was a bit of a headwind, and I was really hoping that the wind would only be while we were up high and maybe it wouldn't be so windy by the lake (FORESHADOWING).

Seriously, the downhill at this race is awesome. I loved that section.
Took a gel at 8k; felt good and strong through the downhill and through 10k. Fortunately the downhill doesn't end abruptly; it's fairly gradual so I didn't notice my legs objecting too much as we switched more to flat running. Splits do show a bit of a slowdown through km 10, though.

V for victory! Except we're only 9k in. Oops.

10k: 51:28 (ha, that's technically a 10k PB)

Off the Red Hill and onto the trail to get the rest of the way down to the lake. Here the wheels started to come off a bit. It all started to feel a lot harder. On the trail there's one very short but steep climb and that woke my quads right up and they were not at all happy. In addition, I was starting to really feel the same groin pain issue I had during Scotia - not nearly as painful as it was during Scotia, but it was really distracting.

Things are getting serious now. No more antics or shenanigans like up there on the Red Hill.
The start of the out and back section on the beach path at 14k was mentally really tough; knowing we were running away from the finish line and would have to run all the way back was harder than I expected. Here I think my familiarity with the area worked against me, because it seemed to be taking forever to get to the landmarks I know from long runs. It was also in this section that the 1:50 pacer went past us, which was demoralizing. Basically, this part was a struggle.

And I haven't even mentioned the damn wind yet. It was blowing across the path, off the lake, so at least it wasn't a headwind, but every time a gust would hit me I would swear a bit because it wasn't fun to run with, at all.

15k: 1:18:12

At this point I'd been holding a second gel in my hand for about 3k, trying to talk myself into taking it. I was pretty sure a shot of sugar would be helpful, but I just could not seem to bring myself to actually rip it open and eat it. Finally around 16k I managed to get about half the pack down, and tossed the rest at a water station. It did seem to help a bit. I also had a side stitch, but lately I always seem to get a side stitch during races and I'm getting pretty good at ignoring them.

At 17k we finally reached the turnaround to head back towards the finish. Amy was pulling away at this point and Patty and I kept yelling at her to just GO when she would slow down to wait for us. Since she didn't run Scotia I had been figuring she'd have a bit more left in her legs towards the end of the race, so I wasn't surprised.

The good part of the turnaround was we were finally heading towards the finish. The bad part was now we were on the beach side and were getting the full force of THE WIND. It was not good (master of understatement I am). Towards 20k Patty started to pull away from me and I couldn't work up the energy to keep up with her - my legs felt so heavy and tired and it was a constant battle with my brain telling me to stop and walk. I had to keep thinking about what I had written on my hand to force myself to just keep moving forward.

20k: 1:44:47
5:25/5:24/5:19/5:23/5:23 (I'm laughing at the 5:19, I distinctly remember that was the km where Eminem's Berzerk came up on my playlist - I seriously should have just listened to that on repeat for the last 5k)

About 500m from the finish there was a runner lying on the ground being given chest compressions with a huge group of people around him. I hope he's OK - news reports say he was taken to the hospital.

As I rounded the corner to the finish I tried to kick a bit but that wasn't happening. All I could think about was the race finally being over and that I just wanted to stop running and maybe never ever run a race again (as usual, the 'never race again' thoughts vanished pretty much the moment I crossed the finish).

Yeah, that face pretty much sums it up. Can I stop running yet?
Final km: 5:20; final 270 ish metres (or whatever) 1:16 (allegedly a sub 5 pace, so I guess I did manage a bit of a kick after all)

Chip time: 1:51:24
Gun time: 1:52:19
Age group place: 54/157
Gender place: 248/1003
Overall place: 639/1746

Good medal - I like the bridge on it, which I assume is the skyway, what with the boat and all there.
So on the one hand, I felt like the last part of this race was a huge struggle. Way harder mentally than the last 5k of Scotia, that's for sure. But on the other hand, I did take a couple of minutes off that Scotia time. Looking at my paces during the last part of the race I didn't fade nearly as badly as it felt at the time - I would have sworn I was running 5:50s through that last 5k. And I didn't stop to walk even though I REALLY wanted to. So now that I sit down and look it over, I feel pretty great about this race overall. The dream of a sub 1:50 half feels a lot more achievable!

Post race, with PBs for almost everyone. Great race skirt brigade! Even if we totally failed to talk Nicole into a skirt. Since she technically doesn't live in Burlington we'll forgive her. For the record, I was quite comfortable temperature wise once we got running - I tend to overheat really easily when I run and the skirt was the right choice for me.
I would run this race again for sure, and in fact I've already tentatively penciled it into my fall 2014 plans. The organization was great  - lots of buses to get to the start, warm place to wait, well organized finish area, and super sexy warming jackets at the end instead of space blankets. I really enjoyed the route, and it was a great final half for the year to take advantage of being in fall race shape.

Hot off the Paris runways. You know you are jealous.

When I got home, my wonderful husband had a plate of pancakes ready for me. I don't know if they were actually the greatest pancakes of all time, or if they just tasted so good because I was literally shaking with hunger by the time I sat down to eat them. Thanks to him, not just for the pancakes, but for being so supportive of all this crazy running nonsense. I promise, not as many races next year!

Next up is a visit to my physiotherapist to figure out just what the heck is going on with that groin strain - I thought it was fully healed but clearly not. Then, Sunday is the Downsview 5k. I have no expectations for this 5k. I plan to spend much of this week lounging around like a great big slug, and even with that I doubt I'll be fully recovered from this half before that race. Downsview is really my husband's day - it's his first race ever. I'm so excited to see how he does and to share the race excitement with him.

Replace Hedonism Bot's grapes with chocolate and you pretty much have my recovery plan.