Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finishing November on a good note

I met a friend bright and early this morning for 19K. She trains in heart rate zones and needed two 'sets' of 15 minutes in zone 3 (what that means to me is fast). We did a 15 minute warm-up, then a 15 minute burst at just over 5:00/KM (speedy for me). We cooled down with a 5 minute jog, then completed round 2 in zone 3. This time we were running up a steady incline and the pace was closer to 5:15/KM, which still kept our hearts going. The remainder of the run was supposed to be zone 2 (to me this means conversational pace) but we faced a ton of hills ("Not another one!) so we often found ourselves back in zone 3.

I don't actually train with a heart rate monitor, but apparently I like to pretend that I share the heart rate of my running partner. I was constantly asking, 'What zone are we in now?" as if my heart rate would be the same. Hubby has a fancy new Polar HRM so I think I'm going to try it out this week - it might be interesting to see just what my heart rate is on an easy run compared to a more difficult run.

Unfortunately my running buddy had a lot of knee problems during the second half of the run and we took several walk breaks. It was still a good run overall and we finished 19.15K in 1:54:35 for an average pace just under 6:00/KM. More than anything, I was glad to have the company.

Today's run rounded out my week at just over 40K plus 3 hours of cross-training.

And tomorrow officially marks the beginning of training for my 2009 race schedule. I have a fancy-shmancy program thanks to my hubby and can't wait to kick it off.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

T.G.I. Festive-Photo-Friday

(First, happy belated Thanksgiving to my American friends! I hope you all had a great day filled with family/friends and feasting!)

I'm feeling super festive this year, so you may have to tolerate Christmas-themed Photo Fridays until, well, Christmas!

(To participate in Photo Friday, just post a pic and let NikeMom know.)

That's our tree, which has been a-glow for two whole weeks already. I turn it on every evening when I get home from work and it just puts me in a great mood.

In other festive news, I've finally put a (small) dent in my Christmas shopping. I've started using my lunch hours when it's not quite as busy as evenings or weekends. Hubby and I plan to get another good chunk finished tomorrow.

26 days til Christmas!

On the running front:

A slushy 5K Wednesday after work - had planned 8 but just didn't feel like it. How's that for an excuse? My mileage has suffered a little this month, but I'm in maintenance so it's all good. Here's a glance at my runs for the month (so far) - first in kilometres, then miles.

Yesterday was four boring miles on the 'mill before Spin class. I definitely felt more than usual exhaustion in the legs during spin, but it was bearable. (Although Iw as *this* close to keeling over by the time I got home.) I think I'll stick to running before class on Thursdays for a while.

I have a short run planned for tonight, Boot Camp tomorrow morning and 19K for Sunday. Let's hope it goes better than last Sunday's "long" run - I'll be sure to eat more than salad for dinner on Saturday.

That's about it for me. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If cross-training doesn't kill me...

... will it make me stronger?

I walked into my High Octane Training class yesterday evening - arms, abs, quads, inner thighs and tush still sore from Saturday's Boot Camp. Every squat, lunge, crunch and lift stung as we worked our muscles to exhaustion. The bursts of cardio in between felt great and kept everything pretty loose. I absolutely love the class - for the instructor, the music, the variety and (most importantly!) the workout. But holy crap, it's exhausting.

I followed it up with a quick run (5.39K = 3.35mi in 29:43) before collapsing on the couch to catch up on some TV. When it was time for bed, I could barely carry my legs up the stairs. I had planned 8K for last night, but knew I didn't have it in me. I'll make it up tonight or in the next couple days.

I'm having a very difficult time staying motivated to run by myself on these cold, dark and icy/snowy evenings (whereas I loved running solo in the summer). I can't wait for my marathon clinic to start in January, when I'll be meeting the group to run three times each week. 'Til then, I'll latch on to company when I can and suck it up when I can't. Tonight will be solo... meh!

Tomorrow I'll be trying something new and running before Spin class. It's all about experimentation.

In other news:

• I lost 2.2 lbs at WW on Monday
• I have 17 working days til two weeks off for Christmas (!!!)
• I really need to start Christmas shopping…

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, November 24, 2008


I hope everyone had a great weekend! I stayed off the compy for the most part, but caught up on almost everyone's blogs last night. Probably have a little more catching up to do this morning. Congratulations to everyone who kicked asphalt in Philly! Can't wait for the reports.

Quick recap of last week:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: H.O.T. + 6K
Wednesday: 9K
Thursday: Spin + 5K
Friday: rest
Saturday: Boot Camp* + 4K
Sunday: 14K**

*Boot Camp totally kicked my butt again on Saturday. We had a different instructor who did a lot less yelling but still kept us pumped up. We had 6 strength stations from chest presses to squats with body bars to push-ups, with bursts of cardio in between. My butt, quads and arms are still killing me!

**Yesterday I had planned 17K and drove out to the country to meet a girlfriend. My legs felt like dead weight from the moment we left the driveway and it was a struggle to make it as far as I did.

I'm still adjusting to the new cross-training schedule and running three of my runs immediately after a fitness class this week really did a number on my legs. But I think the bigger problem was not eating enough this week. I've been trying to lose the marathon bulge (just 1 lb to go!) and definitely kept the calories low this week. I should have known that chicken salad for dinner on Saturday was not going to cut it for a long run. Live and learn.

I'm planning to stick to a similar schedule this week with improved nutrition and see how my legs are for a long run next Sunday. If I'm still dragging my feet, I'll need to re-assess.

For now, this week looks like:

Monday: 60 min. yoga class
Tuesday: H.O.T. + 8K
Wednesday: 8K
Thursday: Spin + 5K
Friday: 5K or rest depending on the legs
Saturday: Boot Camp
Sunday: 19K

I'll leave you with a sneak peak at what else I was up to this weekend:

Friday, November 21, 2008

My first "Brick" + Photo Friday

Last night was a first. I went to my scheduled spin class (which I am really getting the hang of! yay!), bolted home to change and headed out for a little run with the hubby. He promised "recovery" pace so I figured, what the heck? I had a serious case of the jelly legs at first, which quickly turned into lead legs. It was so freakin' hard and I wanted to quit so many times, but just kept moving. In the end it felt like we had run much further than 5.6K, and much faster than 6:03/KM. I was convinced that my legs were actually going to fall off, but miraculously they are still attached and even carried me upstairs and into a hot bath when we were done.

So they call this a "brick" workout, right? Does it count when it's a spin class as opposed to actually biking?

I felt so hardcore!

And on that note, here's my Photo Friday contribution, which further proves my hardcore-ness.

(If you want to participate, just post a pic and be sure to let NikeMom know.)

This was taken at outdoor paintball with my company (sweet work function, huh?) last year. I'm holding my gun in the air because I've been hit... hmm, maybe I'm not so hardcore afterall.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

TIaRT: Gratitude

The theme this week for Take It and Run Thursday at the Runners' Lounge is thank goodness for running.

I am thankful for running for my physical health.
Running is good for my physical well-being - I have never been in such good shape in my life. I am strong and fit. In addition, training also encourages and reminds me to maintain a healthy, wholesome diet. I'm much less-likely to indulge in junk food because I know that it impacts my running (ever try to run after eating McDonald's for dinner?). It also keeps me out of the wine... most of the time.

I am thankful for running for my mental health.
Running is my 'happy place'. If I have a bad day or have a lot on my mind, going for a run (even if I don't feel like it) will lift my spirits almost without fail. Sometimes it's the fresh air, sometimes it's the company (if I'm running with friends), often it's just the "me" time that I needed. I can go out and run for 30 minutes, an hour, even three hours, and for that time I don't need to worry about anything else. Not a care in the world! I almost always come back from a run in a better mood.

I am thankful for running for the challenge.
I thrive on the satisfaction of reaching new milestones and achieving goals. And each time I cross a finish line, I am overwhelmed with pride and a sense of accomplishment. A couple years ago, I would never have imagined I could do this. Now I feel like I can do anything.

I am thankful for running for new friends.
I have met an incredible group of people through my local running community. There are no less than 8 people that I can call or email at any time and almost always find a buddy or two to run with on a moment's notice. I didn't even know these people this time last year! Not to mention all of my wonderful bloggie friends - you motivate, encourage and inspire me. What would I do without you?

I am thankful that running is something I can share with my husband.
I am fortunate to have a hubby who also runs. While we don't always run together, we share the love of running, support one another's goals, share the triumphs and failures and perhaps most importantly, recognize the kind of commitment it takes to be the best runners we can be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Double Trouble

Wellll, I didn't get out of bed this morning for a run. We got a ton of snow overnight (didn't make for a very pleasant drive to work) and it was freeeeeeezing cold, so my bed was just too darn comfortable.

HOWEVER, I went to my H.O.T class this evening (again, so much fun and super workout), came home, got changed and immediately went for a run with hubby. I had asked him to wait for me so I could tag along because otherwise I knew my butt would be on that couch the second I got home.

We clocked a little over 6K with a 1K warm-up at 6:09 and the subsequent 5 kilometres progressively faster as follows:

KM2: 5:46
KM3: 5:28
km4: 5:20
KM5: 5:11
KM6: 5:06

It was nice having the company and trying to keep up with him the entire time - which I certainly did! I even took off in a sprint for the final stretch and left him in my dust. (Yeah, I know he let me 'win' but I can pretend...)

Thankfully the roads had (mostly) been cleared, but we had to dodge some snowy & icey patches. I have to get used to keeping my eyes on the ground again, especially in the dark. Temperature wise, it was a brisk -4C (25F) but zero wind, and it was actually pretty refreshing.

And now I am absolutely zonked and some trashy television (ahem, 90210) is calling my name.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Squeezing it all in

This week looks a little something like:

Monday: off (supposed to be yoga, but I have dinner plans)
Tuesday: morning short run (if I can get up!), evening H.O.T. interval class
Wednesday: evening 8K
Thursday: evening Spin class
Friday: morning short run (no time after work)
Saturday: Boot Camp
Sunday: 17K run

In this time of limbo, I was hoping to maintain 30-40K weeks. Last week I only ran 25; this week looks like 30-35 depending on the morning runs. It's definitely taking some adjusting as I incorporate cross-training and I'm glad I started now while I'm not on a run program. The way I see it, I'll have a few options once training officially starts up in December: cut down the classes, learn to run longer after work and/or learn to get out of bed early enough to run before work. It would be much easier if I didn't have to work...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I survived boot camp, and a slushy 12K

Yesterday morning I had my first taste of Boot Camp.

This is not your mother's workout! Join in this military style workout designed to kick your butt.

They weren't kidding!

The instructor, Tracey, walks in, a tough-looking lady in an army tee that says "DON'T MESS WITH ME!" I learn right off the bat that the answer to every question is a resounding SIR YES SIR! We start with a cardio warm-up - jumping jacks, jogging in place with high knee kicks and a step routine. We then broke off into three separate stations - standing lunges with the rear leg raised on a step, walking lunges with 10-lb free weights and thigh crunches on a balance ball. We went through each station twice, with bursts of cardio in between, several rounds of push-ups (I can only do the girlie ones) and we finished it off with the ab workout from hell. (Owwwwwwww!)

At once point, Tracey caught me doing something wrong. She gets up in my face...
Me: I'm not telling.

She was tough and I often caught myself checking to see if she was looking so I could slack off and catch my breath for a second. (Shhh, don't tell.) It was one of the best workouts I have ever had and I actually loved every minute of it - even when I hated it. I'll be going back!

We spent the rest of the day watching the Santa Claus parade with hot chocolate (in the rain!) and decorating the house. The dreary rain eventually turned to snow, and it was looking particularly festive by the time we called it a day.

Last night I realized that after nine consecutive days of working out and/or running, I did not have it in me for a long run today. I managed to latch on to a couple friends who were running 12K and met them at 9 this morning. I woke up to a snow-covered neighbourhood. It was 0C (=32F) but felt great as the sun warmed up. Unfortunately, the snowy roads and sidewalks quickly became a slushy mess and it turned into a pretty wet run. Still, with good company it was enjoyable. One of us was sick, one of us was recovering from a severe hip injury and one of us (me!) was just plain exhausted, so it was a slow 12K at 6:02/KM pace.

In the process, they also convinced me to join the full marathon clinic starting in January. We will have a combination of 8 different instructors with extensive experience and it's going to be a great bunch of people. These instructors go the extra mile to organized varied routes, often point-to-point, and always plan a brunch for afterwards. Sounds like just what I'll need to get the miles in through this Canadian winter.

But for now I'm looking forward to a relaxing afternoon. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2008

T.G.I. (Photo) F.

It's Photo Friday for anyone who wants to participate - just let NikeMom know if you do.

Here's hubby and chubby (that would be me last December) after the 2007 Santa Shuffle.

I'm feeling particularly festive and have a Christmas-filled weekend planned, including our local Santa Claus Parade, putting up the rest of the exterior lights, decorating the interior (even the tree!), all the while listening to some Christmas tunes. Can you tell that I LOVE CHRISTMAS?! All that will be left is the baking, but it's far too dangerous to start that so soon. I don't want to turn back into the Marlene pictured above. ;)

Weekend plans will also include a 7.5K run tonight, Boot Camp class tomorrow (still not sure what that entails!) and long run (going for two hours) on Sunday.

Have a good one!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is that a cramp, or....

...just my stinging abdominal muscles?

Last night I went for my scheduled 7.5K run, and immediately felt a sharp pain under my ribs on both sides. It felt like a cramp so I just tried to breathe deeply and ignore it. Unfortunately, it would not subside and I felt it through the entire 40-or-so minute run. It was on my way home that I finally realized it wasn't a cramp at all, but my screaming abdominal muscles as a result of the previous two nights' fitness classes.

I've mentioned before that I have always neglected my core, so after the pilates-infused yoga on Monday night and core-segments of Tuesday night's interval class, I was definitely feeling it. I keep reminding myself that I have to stick with it and it will hurt less every time... right?

In other news, we booked our flights to Halifax last night! WestJet was having a seat sale and we scored a sweet deal for our tickets from May 13-20, 2009. The Bluenose International Marathon falls on Sunday the 17th, so this gives us a 4 days before to explore and a couple days after to recover before the flight home. Next step: registration!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adventures in cross-training


It was cold and rainy after work and I couldn't get myself out the door for the short run I had planned. Instead, I ate a quick dinner and headed to the gym early for 30 minutes on the elliptical before my first yoga class.

Yoga was great. The class was pretty small, only about 12 ladies, so we had lots of room. The instructor turned the lights off, which made me a lot more comfortable. We started with a series of light stretching and easy poses, working on our deep breathing. The second half of the class included more challenging poses, but we were encouraged to take it only as far as we could comfortably. It included several Vinyasa sequences of movements through various poses, which I enjoyed because it felt more active.

Being "Body Sculpt Yoga", I wasn't too surprised by the extensive core work. My core is an area I have always neglected and I could barely complete half of the sequence, but I know I will improve over time.

I left class feeling loose and refreshed, but my shoulders were definitely feeling the downward dog the next morning!


Last night was my first H.O.T. (High Octane Training) class. Based on the title and description, I was pretty nervous, but the instructor was very welcoming and made me feel at ease immediately. She helped me get set up with all the equipment (body bar, free weights, BOSU and step). Our individual stations took up quite a bit of space, so luckily there weren't too many people in class. We started with a warm-up taken from the Zumba (latin dance) class, which got me warmed up and relaxed. The rest of the hour consisted of intervals from high-intensity cardio (step routines, jumping jacks, various dance moves) to strengthening (squats and lunges, BOSU balancing, crunches, free weights). It was an incredible workout, and Can't wait to go next week!

So cross-training CAN be fun afterall!

Tonight is a 7.5K run. Tomorrow morning 5K before work (hopefully I can get my butt out of bed again!) and spin class tomorrow night. Woohoo!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend Recap

Thanks for all of your enthusiasm and support on Friday's post. If I shared my 2009 plans with anyone outside of the running-blog-o-sphere, I would surely be greeted with looks of disbelief and people asking "WHY?" From your comments, it looks like I will have the opportunity to meet up with Canadian bloggers at many of the events... now we just have to convince some Americans to join us. :)

I mostly stayed off the computer this weekend. Since I spend my week days more or less glued to my desk from 8 to 5, it's something I try to avoid outside of work. I'm caught up on everyone's blogs (I think?) so now it's my turn!

Saturday I woke up early for a quick 5K (actually, 5.65) before heading out of town for the day for my cousin's baby shower. I didn't experience any post-spinning soreness, but I was feeling the lead legs Saturday morning even after taking Friday off. I still finished the run in 32:15 for a 5:42/KM pace, which is about average for me.

Sunday morning I slept til 9 and woke up not feeling like running at all. It was cool and dreary, looked like rain and the couch and television were awfully appealing.

Me: I don't feel like a long run today.
Hubby: Well, I'm still running.
(5 minutes later)
Me: Fine, I'm coming with you.

So, we geared up and headed out into the chilly air. I had a route previously mapped in my head that took us past the Running Room for my mandatory 3K restroom break (EVERY TIME!), then through some older neighbourhoods and eventually to our favourite (paved) trail through the parks of Fairy Lake. There were some significant hills, but I was able to recover on the downhills and enjoyed the run. It was kinda nice having some company, even though he started pulling away from me in the last couple kilometres when I started fading (note to hubby: do you know what it means to run TOGETHER?! just kiddin'!). The numbers were: 14.10KM, 1:23:32, 5:55/KM.

We ran a few errands and had a mostly quiet afternoon. I sipped hot chocolate while watching hubby positioned himself on the roof hanging Christmas lights. I know it's early, but this is our first Christmas in a house and I just couldn't wait!

My pseudo-plan for this limbo week is as follows:

Monday: 5K + yoga class
Tuesday: High Octane Training class
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 5K (AM) + spin class (PM)
Friday: 7.5K
Saturday: Boot Camp class
Sunday: 20K

Friday, November 07, 2008

2009: Revealed

It's no secret that my plans for 2009 have been in the works for some time now. I realize that everything won't necessarily go according to plan, but here's what I would like to see on the calendar next year.


Training! It's too darn cold (and blizzards too likely) to race in Ontario during these months.


1st: Chilly Half Marathon, Burlington, ON
I ran this race last year and loved it. Plus, almost everyone I know seems to be running it so it seemed like a good way to kick off the season. Space is limited to 2000 and it sells out very early, so I already registered for this one.

29th: Around the Bay 30K, Hamilton, ON
The oldest road race in North America (Older Than Boston, as advertised on the shirts). I registered last year but had to sell my bib due to ITBS issues.


20th: Boston Marathon
Don't choke on your Gu, I clearly did not qualify, but my girlfriend did and I wouldn't miss it. We're already planning the road trip.

26th: Hartwell Challenge Half Marathon Relay, Aurora, ON
We're "competing" (and I use the term loosely) as couples with a group of friends. This is a great (and small!) local event where I volunteered last year and I can't wait to be a part of it again.


9th: Desjardins 10K or Hazel 5K, Mississauga, ON
This was intended to be my first marathon last year, but it didn't work out. Not sure which distance I will go for, but it looks like a great event.

17th: Bluenose International Marathon, Halifax, NS
This is the big one for next year. My aunt lives in Nova Scotia and has generously offered to have us stay with her for a week and will also show us around the beautiful province. It's reputed to be a challenging but scenic course. Hubby will run the first half with me.

23rd/24th: Ottawa Race Weekend
This one is on my list, but the timing clearly doesn't work out this year. We're planning a weekend getaway to support some friends and hopefully meet up with some bloggers.

31st: Toronto Women’s Half Marathon
This will be its inaugural year and offers some truly unique and "girly" amenities, from the 19K chocolate station to the Firefighter's Water Station, not to mention a special finishers' memento (details are still hush hush). Hmmm, sounds a lot like the Nike Women's Marathon...maybe some Tiffany bling? The event was capped at 1000 and has already sold out, so I'm glad I registered early. This one will no doubt be for fun!

June (if I don't need to sleep all month to recover from May)

7th: MudRun 10K, Toronto, ON
We completed this challenging and dirty trail race this year on a team of 3 with a friend of ours and placed 6th. Next year we're going for top 3!

20th: Mitsubishi City Chase, Toronto, ON
An "urban adventure" team challenge similar to The Amazing Race with challenges to be completed all over the city. I knew immediately after the race that my first time would not be my last.


11th: Rebecca Run 5K, Newmarket, ON
I placed first (in my category) this year, so naturally I have to go back to defend my title! (Although, I'm sure that won't happen again...)

19th: Nissan 10 Miler at The Distillery, Toronto, ON
It takes a scenic and historic route in Toronto, and it's a unique distance for us Canadians, so I want to take advantage.


22nd: A Mid Summer Night’s Run 15K/30K, Toronto, ON
I heard rave reviews from some friends and also like the idea of running at night. Not sure which distance - 30K would work out well in training for a September marathon, but I'd like to incorporate a 15K race. We'll see!


7th: Labour Day Oakville Half Marathon
This is a maybe, as it might be by only shot at a Fall half-mary, even though it's still Summer.

27th: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
I've told a few people that I would not run this full again because I hated the second half of the route, but part of me wants to make it a tradition since it was my first. And overall, it's a great event and the biggest in Toronto.

The End!

We'll be in England for most of the month of October and there are limited races around here in November and December, so I'll be playing it by ear. I think that's enough for one year anyway, don't you?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just when my quads were starting to forgive me...

I go and take a spinning class!

I knew it was going to be tough, but holy freaking crap! That was a grueling, intense, kick-my-ass workout. I was literally pushing myself to the limit for a solid hour. At times I felt like I was going to fly right off the bike, and I could actually see my muscles trembling. I felt sort of clumsy and awkward since I don't have the right form and I didn't know the positions, but I started getting the hang of it toward the end.

And I loved every minute of it!

I'm feeling the jelly-legs right now and I'm thinking I might be in a lot of pain in the morning. Oh, and I can't feel my butt. But the instructor tells me it will get easier.

(Note to self: bring a towel next time!)

Take it and Run Thursday: Transitions

It's Thursday again and this week's topic is Running Through Transitions.

I mentioned yesterday that I am currently in a state of limbo, having completed my last race of 2008 and not yet ready to start training for my first race of 2009. It got me thinking about the fact that I've allowed myself to fall into a bad habit of limiting my exercise exclusively to running. It seems that I run... or do nothing. I know how important it is to incorporate cross-training, and yet I don't do it. I've tried using the elliptical or bike at the gym and even lifting weights occasionally, but I find it dreadfully boring and can't seem to stay motivated.

In the spirit of transitions and change, I'm trying something new. I'm a member of a fantastic fitness club with a wide variety of classes (all included!), and I've never tried a single one. I went online, printed the schedule and descriptions of the classes and decided on a few that I'd like to try.

Body Sculpt Yoga: Discover the subtle, dramatic way yoga can transform your body. Sculpt, lengthen, strengthen and align.

Boot Camp: This is not your mother's workout! Join in this military style workout designed to kick your butt.

H.O.T. (High Octane Training): Get your heart rate up using a combo of athletic based movements and intervals.

Spin: Ride your way to a new level of fitness in this exhilarating body challenging class.

It's going to be a new experience for me incorporating cross-training, especially in the form of group classes. I'm turning over a new leaf! There's no time like the present, so I start tonight with my first ever spin class. I don't want to give myself too much time to chicken out. I even woke up early this morning for a sunrise 5K (only the second or third time ever that I have run before work).

I'm in for a beating tonight, aren't I? Any words of wisdom for a first-timer?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I went for a nice little recovery run with hubby after work today. It felt good to get my legs moving again and a lot of the discomfort in my quads quickly disappeared.

5K @ 6:08 pace (3mi @ 9:52 pace)

For the first time in months, I find myself in a state of limbo with no race on the schedule. I'm using the down time to regroup mentally and hopefully enjoy lots of leisurely runs (and cross-training). I know my body needs some recovery time after a few intense months of pounding the pavement, and my mind could use a little break as well. I love having races on the calendar, but it's also nice having a little bit more freedom and flexibility. This Sunday, I'm gonna run as far and as fast (or slow) as I feel like.

A few people have asked if I'll be running any more races in 2008, and the answer is no. I'm retiring for the year, with a shoe-box full of bibs and medals to show for it.

But don't you worry, training for 2009 will be starting in no time; 25 days to be exact... December 1st. The 2009 race calendar (13 planned so far) will be posted on Friday.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The downside of downhill

Oh me aching quads!!!

Check out this hysterical video that Erik posted. I'm pretty sure we can all relate! Watch for the girl hobbling downhill at about 0:10... yep, that's me right about now! I was loving the 6K downhill on Sunday, but now I am definitely paying for it.

Everything else is feeling great (other than an ugly blister on one toe) so I can't complain too much. And it felt pretty darn good to update my personal record in the sidebar. :D

I'll be in limbo for a couple weeks before training officially begins for my first race of 2009. Details coming soon!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hamilton Road2Hope Half Marathon Race Report

Earlier in the week I came up with A, B and C goals for this race. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, taking into account my sporadic training since the marathon five weeks ago (only two runs over 10K, max being 14) and persistent foot pain (still not sure if it's PF - more on that in another post).

I stuck to my usual pre-race regimen of pasta for lunch and dinner, lots of water and a quiet evening. I checked the weather once more for good measure and tucked myself in at 10:00. Fortunately, we were able to set the clocks back Saturday night, which means it was actually only 9:00. I slept okay - not great, but not terribly.

The alarm went off at 5 and hubby and I were up, fed, dressed and out the door by 5:45. We picked up our groupies (my Mom, sister and her boyfriend - world class spectators, photographers & supporters!) and hit the road for Hamilton shortly after 6AM.

We arrived at Confederation Park where we left our groupies to catch one of the many school buses to the start line. It was a short ride to a local school where we were able to keep warm. We arrived extra early (7:30 for a 9:00 start) but it was nice to have some time to relax. They were offering free Tim Horton's donuts and coffee which I thought was a nice touch. I had packed a banana knowing that by the time the race started it would have been 4 hours since breakfast, but my stomach was giving me grief and could only get down a bite. I don't know if it was nerves or just stomach issues, but I wasn't feeling too hot.

The marathon was starting half an hour before us, and I was fortunate to see Marci (and her hubby) briefly as they headed to the start line. She was running her second full marathon in two consecutive weeks in her endeavour to become a Marathon Maniac. Make sure you check out the report if you haven't already because not only did she become a Maniac, but she set a new PR! Congrats again, Marci!

When it was almost 9AM we headed out, used to port-o-lets one last time (there were indoor washrooms available in the school, but the lines were too long) and walked to the start line. It was a small-ish crowd of <1000 and no corrals, so we lined up pretty close to the front.

Unfortunately, there were some complications shutting down the highway and we ended up starting about 15 minutes late. It was cold (~2C=35F) but we huddled in the crowd under the sun and managed to keep relatively warm. Many runners were jogging up and down the street, which is something I probably should have done.

The race finally began at 9:17 and I was excited just to get moving. I felt some stiffness initially, but warmed up pretty quickly. I was wearing light pants and a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve, which turned out to be perfect. I rolled up the sleeves and tossed by cheapie dollar store gloves within the first couple KM's.

I started out pretty fast knowing that a significant downhill was coming up soon and targeting a 5:25/KM pace for the first half. The first 3-4K were on quiet residential streets and flew by. I took a gel at the first water station (3K) because breakfast had been more than 4 hours ago and I was already feeling it. The volunteers were the best I have ever seen. I believe they were all from a local high school because they were all wearing matching colours. Every aid station had a cheering section as well and some were so loud it sounded like the finish line! They gave me a real boost every time I passed through.

Before I knew it we were on the Red Hill Valley Parkway, where the entire north-bound lanes had been shut down. It was actually pretty neat running on the highway! Many cars travelling in the south-bound lanes were honking, so that was fun. (they probably thought we were nuts!)

The best part of the highway portion is that it was on a constant downhill for about 6K. Approximately 2 kilometres were at a 3% decline with the remainder at about 1%. I was basically coasting and letting my legs carry me. A few of those KM's came in under 5:00 but my average was around 5:15. I felt strong and was enjoying the race.

We had to leave the highway at around the half way point (and were greeted with a steep uphill). My pace at half way was on target at 5:21/KM. I was confident at this point that I would come in under 2:00:00 and maybe close to 1:55.

We followed some side streets at this point until we reached the waterfront. I noticed my pace was slowing a little, but kept it under 5:30. I took 2 Shot Bloks (=1 gel) at the aid station closest to 12K. It was around this time that I discovered I had been over-hydrating. I had been drinking water AND Eload at every station and was barely sweating. I could feel it sloshing around in my belly and it was not a nice feeling.

At 13K we reached the waterfront and hung a left to follow a street running parallel to the beach (about 20m from the water?). I could feel quite a breeze coming off the water, but tried not to worry about it even though I knew we'd be running right next to it in just a couple kilometres.

Sure enough, we made the turn at 15.5K and took a narrow, paved waterfront path along the beach, which we would follow all the way to the finish.

Enter LIFE SUCKING WIND. It was a constant head-wind from that point on, and felt like it must have been at least 35-40 kph. The sun was bright and I wasn't cold, but I was having a really hard time staying upright - let alone running - in the wind.

I slowed down significantly. I may have let the wind get to me a little too much mentally, because I suddenly felt like I was dragging my feet. I was also feeling very sick and worried that I wasn’t going to be able to keep the water down. People were passing me constantly and just couldn't will myself to keep up the pace. Most of these kilometres were over 6:00 and I saw my average gradually slip to 5:40, which would equal a 2:00 finish.

I had been taking brief walks of 10-20 seconds through the water stations (approx. every 3K) but it was getting harder and harder to start running again. I felt my dream slipping away and almost gave up on two hours.

At about 17K, the 2:00 pace bunny passed me (an old man!). I was able to keep him in my sights and held on for dear life. I wanted to catch up to him just to ask if he was on target or slightly ahead/behind just to find out what I had to work with.

At about 18K there was a sudden, steep incline (very short though) and I pushed so hard up that hill I actually thought I might keel over. Somehow I caught up to and even passed the 2:00 bunny! I kept telling myself that I just had to get to 19K and it would be cake from there. Who was I kidding? 19 turned out to be my slowest kilometre!

I finally saw the 20K sign, glanced at my watch and knew I could come in under 2 hours. I pushed as hard as I could. We ran parallel to the finishing chute before making a turn and bringing it home, and I saw hubby (who had finished at 1:36!) and my Mom and sister waiting for me. DH jumped in to run with me a few paces. I was flooded with relief to be so close to the finish, but still could have curled up in a ball at the side of the path. I'm pretty sure I gave him a look like "Is this ever going to end?!"

(That's the 2:00 bunny in yellow shorts behind me!)

I barrelled through it and eventually crossed the finish line. I was disappointed that there was no time clock for the half marathon, but thankfully remembered to stop my Garmin immediately. I looked down and saw 1:58:32 and could have cried with relief. I grasped one of the rails because I was sure I was going to pass out. Somehow I managed to get my medal, remove my chip and stumbled over to hubby and my family. There were some excellent post-race goodies: pizza, Doritos, bagels, fruit, pop. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any of it down.

At least I was finished!

The car ride home was not fun. I have never felt so sick after a run and let’s just say it was a good thing I had a barf bag. As hubby says, I “opened the dam”. Sorry for the TMI. I immediately felt better, but it was short-lived. When we got to my parents' house, I was sick again in the washroom, them curled up on the couch in a blanket. I was able to eat a few crackers and felt a smidge better. When we got home I laid down again for a bit, but wasn’t able to eat anything substantial until much later that evening. I ended up going to bed at 8:15 and slept straight through to 6:30.

Overall, it was a great event and I had a good experience, despite the windy kilometers and aftermath.

The Stats

Gun Time: 1:58:32
Overall Place: 447/843
Gender Place: 186/475
F25-29 Place: 22/45
Chip Time: 1:58:27 = PR!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Half marathon mini-recap

Sweet downhill on the highway from KM 3 - 10.

Life-sucking winds on the waterfront from KM 13 to the end.

Drank too much water and threw it up in the car on the way home (sorry for the TMI).

1:58:29 (unofficially).

(Not sure what I am doing here. I was delirious. Hubby rocked the half with a 1:36 finish! That was his goal for NEXT year.)

I saw Marci briefly in the school gymnasium before the marathon start. Hope you had a great race, girl! Back-to-back marathons... amazing.

Full report & more pics coming soon.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Final thoughts

Tomorrow is the Road2Hope Half Marathon in Hamilton. We picked up our kits this morning and they leave a lot to be desired. I was a little disappointed that there was no goodie bag whatsoever. We received short-sleeve technical tees (long sleeve would have been nice for November) and the ladies' shirts are way too short. I ended up taking a large and it still barely goes past my waist.

The 5K and 10K events were going on today and the finish line seemed to be well-organized with plenty of support and spectators. It was nice to see exactly where the finish line is, since it wasn't clear on the maps provided.

Shuttle buses will take us from the finish at Confederation Park to the starting line, where we will have access to a local school to stay warm (phew!).

In weather news, the forecast is calling for 2 degrees C (26F) at the start, warming up by only a few degrees toward the end of the race, with winds around 20KM/H. It will be chilly, especially on the lake, but better than humid (or a blizzard).

Clothes are laid out, Garmin is charging, Ipod is loaded with new music (first race with tunes)...I'm ready to go. Time for a quiet evening with some spaghetti and a movie!

This will likely be my final race of 2008, so hopefully I can finish it off with a bang! I can already taste the PR.

And one more thing: Happy Birthday to Sarah!