Wednesday, October 29, 2014

So, Road to Hope... (pre-race)

Yeah, so Road to Hope is this weekend, and I've decided to try for a new PB. Mostly because if I don't try I'll always wonder what might have happened if I had.

Things I have going for me:

1. An awesome group to run with, led by Nicole (who paced at Niagara last weekend and hit her goal within seconds, so I'm in good hands). In theory, I should just be able to shut my brain off, wedge myself into the group, and let them carry me through the race to that sub 1:50 half.

2. I feel like I'm in the best shape I've ever been. Better than when I ran the 1:51:19 at the Chilly in March for sure. (and that race I was also paced by Nicole, so clearly that works for me - if we get close to the end on pace I look forward to what sort of motivational yelling she comes up with)

3. So far the forecast looks like the sort of weather that ideally suits me. By which I mean fairly cold. Me and heat don't get along. Me and humidity REALLY don't get along. But cold, cold I like, as should be be obvious from the fact my half marathon PB is from a March race during the polar vortex.

4. My husband is running too, which is always fun (even if he'll likely be way ahead of me).

We scouted out part of the course a few weekends ago. Yes sometimes we get a babysitter so we can run together. This is pretty much our idea of a great date.
5. The course is net downhill. I ran a 1:51:23 last year only two weeks after running flat out at Scotia, so really knocking a minute and a half off that time should be doable.

Things working against me:

1. Despite feeling like I'm in really good shape right now, the speed is just not coming easily to my legs. Runs where I attempt speedwork haven't felt great lately. Maybe race day magic will help.

2. My right leg has been a total asshole for the last week or so. Thank you, sciatica. It seems to be about 95% cleared up now, but if it flares up for Sunday I may have a problem.

3. While the course is a net downhill, there's an out and back section that did a number on my head last year. Running away from the finish is mentally tough for me, so I need to be prepared for that.

4. Speaking of mental stuff, my head isn't in the game. At all. I don't feel like I'm about to make a PB attempt. But hey, maybe being relaxed about the whole thing is just what I need?

So there it is. Last race of the year, and I really have no idea what's going to happen. New PB? Blow up bigtime? Your guess is as good as mine. Only one way to find out - run the damn thing.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Race report: Run for the Toad 2014

I knew after running the relay last year that I wanted to do this race again, but do the 25k because 12.5k just wasn't enough. As soon as I knew that at least one or two other people were willing to join me, I signed up.

Race day I met up with Sam, Kim, and Toad n00b Nicole, who we'd roped into this thing while she was all "Woo! Trails!" after Sulphur Springs, and Nicole drove us to the conservation area in her kick-ass pickup truck.

It was freaking COLD when we got there. Like somehow the temperature had dropped what felt like 5 degrees from when I left the house, and I was really regretting I didn't bring arm warmers. After picking up our kits we huddled in the truck to stay warm.

Opening ceremonies
Soon enough it was time to drag ourselves outside and get ready for the start. After pretty much having a heart attack every time they set off the canon (really, an honest to god canon to start the kid's race and the 50k race), it was our turn to line up and get this thing started.

Pre race with the girls

Start line
There were hills, lots of laughs, a desperate search for a bathroom (you'd think I'd have learned my lesson on THAT after the MEC race. Not so much), pretty scenery, Kim suffering her way through with a nasty cold like a total trooper, Nicole stripping in front of a race photographer, candy at aid stations, and the discovery that a drink of Coke at 18k or so is the GREATEST THING EVER. They need to serve that shit late in marathons, let me tell you.

View: acceptable.

Sam and Nicole taking off down the hill (OK I told them to for the photo op. Clearly we were taking this race very very seriously).

This was the first time up the scary hill. Feeling pretty damn good about things, obviously.

Jazz hands!

What the hell am I laughing at?

Shit, we have to do another loop?
Nicole was thrilled about the second trip up Skeleton Hill.

The 25k went great for me. We walked when we felt like it, ran when we felt like it, and I loved every minute. And the last 5k didn't suck nearly as much as the last 5k at Sulphur Springs, probably because a) we walked more and b) I wasn't 3 weeks out from a marathon.

Post race after we found our warm clothes
After the race, we got our medals (cute!) and our lunches (amazing). A catered (and delicious) full meal, not that half a stale bagel and a banana crap.

Lunch was freakin' delicious.

Cute! Now, could someone PLEASE tell me where the name of this race comes from???
I highly, highly recommend the Toad. The trails are pretty easy, the organization is top notch, and it's just really really fun. Definitely a must do at least once race if you live around these parts. Someday I'd like to race it, but for this year, it was just what I needed after Oakville. A few hours of easy running in the woods with no pressure and lots of laughs.

Next up is squeezing in as much cycling as I can before winter, buying a bike trainer, and oh right, my last race of the year, Road 2 Hope. I still have no idea what I'm going to do there. I'm leaning towards going for the PB, but I might change my mind. For now, though, it's time to enjoy the fall.