Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Around the Bay - Spectator's Perspective

The 115th (Older Than Boston) Around the Bay Road Race took place on Sunday. This marks the second year in a row that I have registered and backed out due to injury (ITBS last year, shoulder separation this year). I have to admit - when I saw the forecast of heavy rain and winds, I wasn't too disappointed not to be participating this time around. But I do hope this race is in the cards for me next year.

We were up early and carpooled into Hamilton with some friends. It was overcast when we left the house, started sprinkling along the way and raining by the time we arrived. We met up with Sarah and her hubby at Copps Coliseum and stayed inside together as long as possible before heading toward the start.

I was excited to run into Mel who was anxious-excited-nervous about her first 30K. Hubby snapped a quick pic of Mel and I before we wished her good luck and sent her on her way.

If you haven't already, make sure you check out Mel's "Coming up from behind" race report - she did awesome!

At this point, it was really raining and I don't think any of the runners were particularly looking forward to the long, cold, wet and windy 30K ahead.... except maybe my husband. He loves this stuff.

Mark had offered to pace our friend Patricia who is running Boston next month, targeting a 2:30 finish. Colin (Sarah's hubby) was running his first 30K and hoping for something around 3:00.

We saw them off at the start and managed to pick them out in the hoards of runners as they passed. Here's a quick shot a snapped at the start.

(Our friends and husbands are in there somewhere, probably about 3000 runners behind these guys!)

We scurried back inside Copps to grab a hot drink and find some great seats in the front row where we could watch the finish. Here's a look at the set-up inside the coliseum. The screens aired footage from the street so we could watch for the runners before they entered the finishing chute.

We got comfortable and enjoyed watching the 5K finishers come in, which definitely helped pass the time. We even got to witness a proposal at the 5K finish line - how cute is this? Kind of hard to see, but the banner says "Melissa, will you marry me?"

(She said yes!)

It wasn't long before the 30K winner came in with an incredible time of 1:35:29.

Hubby and Patricia came in right on target at 2:30 (unfortunately Mark's chip didn't register at the finish line so he has splits through to 20K but no official finish time - kind of frustrating!). We were amazed at how well they did with the conditions. They were literally soaked through, head to toe... but still smiling.

It wasn't much longer before Colin finished strong, also on target for his 3:00 goal. Very impressive for his first 30K in some crap weather on a challenging course.

To hear more about the event, check out Yumke, Sonia and Vava's race reports.

Congratulations to all!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Missed turn, 20K, new swag and good lucks

I met up at 7 this morning with 5 others from my running group for a run in the country. (Note about where I live: I love that I can drive south for half an hour and be in downtown Toronto, but drive north for 10 minutes and feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere.)

They were running 30K but I had dropped off my car at a friend's house along the route on Friday night so I could duck out early. I also decided to set up a water/gatorade/fruit aid station at this point. I love nothing more than orange wedges during a long run - unfortunately, they're a little too messy to carry with me.

The weather was pleasant at about 2C/36F to start and 6C/43F toward the end, slightly overcast as the sun rose on the horizon. Most of the route took us along picturesque Canal Road which runs alongside (surprise) the canal, with nothing but farm fields on the other side of the road. It was quiet and serene, a nice change from the residential routes I typically run.

I was feeling strong and comfortable throughout the run, just enjoying the scenery and company. As it turns out, we must have all been in quite the zone because we missed our turn! Instead of taking more quiet country streets to our destination, we ended up on a major highway and had to run about 5K into the wind (we realized at that point how sheltered we had been on Canal Road) with heavy traffic and no idea how much further it would be to our rest stop (my end point).

It became a bit of a mental struggle, but my energy level was still good and I led our small pack the rest of the way, which worked out to just about 20K exactly - my goal/plan for the run. I was relieved to be done and the others enjoyed a short break before continuing on their merry way.


After my run, I had a quick shower and bite before hubby and I headed to Hamilton for the Around the Bay expo. I even picked up a little goodie for myself.

(Don't mind the fact that my forehead looks massive in this picture.)

Good luck to Mel, Sonia, Vava, Yumke and everyone else running ATB tomorrow (including my hubby!). Unfortunately, there is a lot of rain in the forecast. Maybe it's not so bad that I'm sitting out this year...


Also, big huge good luck to TFH who will be running her first marathon tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

From Zero to Yasso (TIART)

I have never been one for "speed work." In my two years of running, I have not had the discipline to do it on my own, which is one of the biggest reasons I was so excited about joining a marathon clinic this year. Unfortunately, that skiing incident took me out of the game completely for four weeks (and I have spent the last four weeks easing back into it) so I've missed out on a lot of the meat of this program.

Fortunately I was able to join the group tonight for Yasso 800s.

After a 4K warm-up, I decided to stick with the 4:00-hour pace group (who I ran with pre-injury), so our target for each 800m was 4 minutes. I decided not to look at my watch and just try to keep up with my pace group leader (this is a quick pace for me right now). Well, I managed to hang on for dear life and got through 5 sets. And I actually kind of loved it.

Appropriately, this week's Take it and Run Thursday topic is: Tips to satisfy the need for speed: Tell us about a tip, technique, training idea or magical potion you use to help you become or stay fast(er).

I don't have a whole lot to offer based on my (in)experience, but TFH and Felice wrote some excellent advice on the subject today, so be sure to check out their posts.

As for me, running with a group (or even a partner) is key. I just can't see myself going out there and doing this on my own... at least not yet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Running for a Cause

I don't typically fund raise for events because let's face it, I would constantly be asking my friends and family for money. I'm making an exception here because this one hits close to home.

The Sporting Life 10K taking place in Toronto on May 3rd is one of my favourite events. This year, I have decided to participate for more than just a medal (and hopefully PR).

My friend Erin's three-year-old son Nolan was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year.

The Sporting Life 10K raises money for Camp Oochigeas - For Kids With Cancer.

Camp Oochigeas is a privately funded, volunteer based organization that provides kids with cancer and kids affected by childhood cancer with a unique opportunity for growth through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences.

Nolan has already spent a combined total of five weeks at The Hospital for Sick Children and has a long road of treatment ahead of him. Nolan's family has witnessed first-hand what a different Camp Ooch can make for these children.

I hope to raise some money for Camp Ooch in Nolan's honour and will be running the 10K as part of a team called Nolan's Dream Chasers.

If you wish to make a donation, please click here!

You can also view Erin's fundraising page here.

Thanks for your support! No amount is too small.


Some unexpected plans came up for this evening and I have lunch plans, so I realized last night that I'd have to run in the morning. In order to finish the 10K I had planned, this meant a 5:00 AM wake-up call. I am not a 5:00 AM kind of person. Even as I laid out my clothes, set the alarm and crawled into bed early last night, my mind was full of doubts that I would actually do it. But you know what? I surprised myself! I was up, lightly fed, watered and out the door by 5:30. 10.30K/1:01:32. Legs were dragging at first (definitely feeling the squats and lunges from H.O.T. last night), but I got into a groove and managed to enjoy the dark and peaceful run. There's something to be said for finishing a run before the sun has even begun to rise.

Only problem is... it's 8 AM, I'm at work and ready for a nap!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just another manic Monday

For the most part, last week went well. I feel like I'm back in the groove, although I'm frustrated that my comfortable pace is 15-20 seconds/KM slower than pre-accident. I know I just have to be patient and for now I should be focusing on building up the mileage.

Quick recap of last week:

Monday: 5K
Tuesday: xtrain (HOT)
Wednesday: 10K
Thursday: off (major DOMS)
Friday: Hooray Spring 6K
Saturday: 17K
Sunday: off

17K went well. I probably should have checked the weather first because I was running a 'destination' route from home to my Mom's house - the entire run I headed south into the wind! Combined with some serious hills, I definitely got some resistance training, but my energy level was good, no aches or pains and a great run overall. It actually felt easier than last weekend's 14K.

The plan for this week:

Monday: 6K at lunch, 60-minute Spin class tonight
Tuesday: HOT
Wednesday: 10K w/ Run Club
Thursday: ~12K with clinic - Yasso 800s
Friday: off
Saturday: 20K
Sunday: Around the Bay - cheering for hubby and many of our friends, especially Mel (!!!) E.T.A.: and Sonia and Marci!

But first, it's time to catch up on your blogs!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The results are in

As I already mentioned, today I participated in RunningLaur's virtual race, the Hooray Spring 6 Miler KM. As I mentioned in my post earlier today, I dropped down to the 6K due to some persistent muscle soreness from my fitness class on Tuesday and knowing that I'll be doing my long run tomorrow.

I set out at lunch to enjoy the sun and log my kilometres. I love sneaking out of the office at lunch for a run, but the only problem is... we don't have showers. So I get back, all sweaty with a red face and matted hair, peel off the running clothes and have to put my work clothes back on. It's not pleasant, nor is sitting at my desk for the rest of the day. But sometimes I just gotta do what I gotta do. And hey, it usually means my co-workers keep their distance.

Anyway, the run went well. I held my pace steady (within 5 seconds/KM) the entire time and finished off 6K in 32:49.

Special thanks to RunningLaur for organizing this virtual event. Can't wait to see how everyone else did!

Spring is in the air

But I don't think Mother Nature got the memo. It's -6C/21F here this morning, going up to a sweltering 1C/34F this afternoon. At least it's sunny!

Nonetheless, today is the Hooray Spring Six Miler, although I have decided at the last minute to drop down to the 6K distance. I'm experiencing some serious DOMS from my HOT class on Tuesday and I'm doing my long run tomorrow, so I should probably take it easy on the legs today.

I've offered to set up a water station for my marathon group's long run on Sunday morning, hence switching my long run to Saturday. I thought it would be a good way to give back a little and stay involved.

As planned, I ran with the group on Wednesday evening (10.08K=6.26mi, 1:01:01). I struggled a little toward the end (10K is still a pretty long distance for me at this point), but enjoyed the run.

Thanks for all the Birthday wishes for Mom yesterday. We had dinner out with the family followed by cake and ice cream at my place. The cake was a hit and my sister has requested the same one for her Birthday this Sunday. :) Looks like I'll be doing some more baking this weekend.

Happy Friday and Happy Spring to everyone! I'll be back soon with my race report.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

HOT, Virtual Races and Birthday Cake

As I suspected, High Octane Training (HOT) kicked my butt hard. It was the first time I had done any strength or core training since the accident and I definitely felt it. We worked the upper body with free weights and body bars and the lower body with squats and lunges, peppered with high intensity bursts of cardio on the stepper and finished 'er off with an ab workout on the mat. I'm happy to report that my shoulder held up great - no problems whatsoever. Of course, everything else is hurting this morning.


A couple bits of business to address... I updated yesterday's post to include RunningLaur's Hooray Spring 6-Miler this Friday. We even have a bib! If you'd like to participate, it's not too late. Just leave a comment for RunningLaur and join in the fun.

And finally, I hope you'll join me in supporting Marci and Christy in their endeavor to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Society through Joints in Motion. You can do so by making a donation and participating in Reese's Run on April 24th. Don't wait too long, because early bird prizes will be awarded soon.


Tonight I'll be joining my group at the Running Room for a hilly 10K then baking a cake for my Mom's Birthday, which is tomorrow.

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Niagara Weekend in Pictures

First stop was the Jackson Triggs Winery for a tour and tasting.

$20 got us six sample-size glasses of wine each, a plate of cheese, a tour of the winery and $10 off any wine purchase. Not bad!

Of course, we left with some loot.

Next stop was Niagara-on-the-Lake for some lunch and a quick stop at the British import store. We can't leave NOTL without picking up some of our favourite goodies.

After wandering around NOTL a bit, we headed into Niagara Falls to check into our hotel. We booked the Deluxe King Fallsview Whirlpool Suite.

Our view from the room:

Once we had settled in, we headed down to the falls to see the usual sights.

Once our feet had had enough, we headed back to the room to chill out (and enjoy some of our recently purchased wine) before dinner.

We had a 7 o'clock reservation at the hotel restaurant, and this is when the excitement began. Just as our food arrived, the fire alarm went off! At first we were asked to remain calm and stay where we were, but within 5 minutes we were all instructed to evacuate. We trudged down 26 flights of stairs and were ushered out of the building. Fire trucks had arrived on the scene, although we never really found out what was going on. Hubby wasn't wearing a coat, so we couldn't hang around outside to find out. Instead, we headed to the nearest restaurant (Boston Pizza) for some grub. By the time we were finished, we were allowed back in to the hotel.

The rest of the evening was less eventful. We made a brief stop at the casino where we lasted about 10 minutes before we got bored (gamblers we are not) and then turned in early for an in-room movie.

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast in bed before it was time to check out and head home.


Thanks for all the excellent 5K advice. Hopefully I'll be able to put it into effect and come home from Boston with a new PR.

I ended up doing my "long" run (14K) before we left on Saturday. We got up at 6am and hubby joined me for the first half. Having only run up to 10K prior, I definitely felt it at the end, but I was able to finish it off and wrap up a 34K week. Had I not been injured I would be running almost that far for a long run right about now, but at least I feel like I'm making progress.

Here's the plan for this week, finally incorporating cross-training back into the schedule. Spin is no doubt going to kick my butt - I haven't been to a class since December!

Monday: 5K
Tuesday: HOT (high octane training) + elliptical
Wednesday: 10K
Thursday: off
Friday: 5K (Update) Hooray Spring 6-Miler
Saturday: Spin
Sunday: 17K

And now it's time to wrap up this long post and catch up on what you guys have been up to. I hope everyone's week gets off to a good start.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Is it me, or has this been a long week? I don't know if it's Daylight Savings or looking forward to our weekend away, but the days have been d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g. Friday has finally arrived and I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday was a blustery day in the Greater Toronto Area with wind gusts up to 90kph. I wimped out and ran my 5K on the treadmill,dragging my feet every step of the way. I don't know what the issue was, but I wasn't feeling it at all. Maybe the wind would have been better? Anyway, I slogged it out in >30 minutes. Ugh!

Thankfully yesterday's run was much better. I met my clinic group and had a great time running with my friends again. It turned out to be 10K instead of 12 and we finished in just under an hour.

For today's Foto Friday I dug up this shot from the finish line of my 5K last summer. If you look closely, you can see my time on the clock to the right: 23:35.

I would really love to beat that at the B.A.A. 5K next month.

What's your best advice for a 5K PR?

Have a super weekend!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Here we go again

This week marks the first week of my training plan for the Mississauga Half Marathon on May 10th. I have a nine-week program courtesy of the hubby, which establishes my base for a few weeks before working on my stamina.

It feels great to be following a program again. I'm determined to stick to it as closely as possible (I have a history of only loosely sticking to the plan), because I would really like to see a 5K, 10K and half marathon PR this spring. Ambitious? Yes. Realistic? Maybe not. I still don't know what to expect of my body after returning from injury, but I have high hopes. I've decided to take advantage of not training for a spring marathon by working on my speed.

Don't worry, the next three weeks will include slow, base-building miles before attempting any speed work. We'll see how it goes.

The plan for this week is:

Monday - off
Tuesday - 5K (done)
Wednesday - 5K
Thursday - 12K*
Friday - off
Saturday - 14K
Sunday - off**

* I'll be joining my marathon clinic group Thursday evening for their LT run, but I plan to join a slower group than I was running with previously.

** Typically my long run would be on Sunday, but hubby and I are spending the day and night in Niagara Falls on Saturday so I thought it would be nice to go for a run in quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake before checking in to our falls-view hotel.

Speaking of hubby... HE'S HOME! He landed safely in Toronto around 10pm Saturday night and stepped off the plane wearing shorts! It was about 1C (34F) and raining. Needless to say, he's still adjusting to the temperature shock!

Here's a quick pic of Mark after an extremely rainy run in New Caledonia:

Not much else to report here. Thanks for all of your comments on my big news. I'm super excited about it!

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I waited more than 24 hours to receive this email:

"Your Entry is CONFIRMED."

"This year, the B.A.A. will host a 5K timed road race in place of the traditional Freedom Run. The B.A.A. 5K will take place the day prior to the running of the 113th Boston Marathon. The race will offer a fun and competitive course for athletes and - for those who have always dreamed of crossing the Boston Marathon finish line - a 'non-qualifying' chance to do so."

How cool is this? When my girlfriend sent me the link, I knew I couldn't pass it up. I'm going to be there anyway, and what a unique opportunity to be a part of this inaugural event and cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon!

B.A.A. 5K


Yesterday I enjoyed the gorgeous weather and went for a run around our little local lake in short sleeves! Looks like another beautiful day today, but I'll be taking the day off and aiming for 12-13K tomorrow.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Announcement delayed

Sorry to leave you hanging, but I'm still waiting on confirmation so the big news is going to have to wait... hopefully not too long!

I got out for a little 5K yesterday evening after work. I took it nice and easy because I knew I would want to get out there again today - it's going to be a glorious 15C (59F) this afternoon! Time to bring out the capris.

In other news, hubby comes home tomorrow! Everyone keeps saying, 'Wow, the time flew by!' Easy for you to say. ;) It's been a long seven weeks.

Have a great Friday and hopefully I'll be back with my little announcement soon.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Spring '09 plans revisited

In light of recent circumstances (shoulder separation, blood clot, four week hiatus from running... all that fun stuff), I had to make some adjustments to my race schedule for this season.


Robbie Burns 8K Road Race (January 25 '09)

Took place the day after my injury. (Incidentally, my friend's son who ran with my bib placed first for my age group.)

Chilly Half Marathon
(March 1 '09)

Several of my friends were running this event so I decided to get involved by volunteering. It turned out to be a great experience. (See last post.)

Around the Bay 30K (March 29 '09)

This is the second year in a row I have sold my bib due to injury. Next year will determine if third time's the charm or if I'm just cursed.

Blue Nose Marathon (May 17 '09)

At first I planned to switch from the full to the half, but my hubby and I (after much deliberation) have decided to postpone our trip to Nova Scotia until September due to the number of work days I missed with my medical issues. Hopefully we can incorporate the Bluenose into our 2010 plans.


Sporting Life 10K (May 3 '09)

Mississauga Half Marathon (May 10 '09)

(See sidebar ~~~> for complete '09 schedule.)

I'm excited about both of my new events on the schedule. Training kicks off next week! I would love to see a PR in both events, but I'm still easing back into running at this point, so expectations are not too high.

I'm going to have another exciting announcement tomorrow (hopefully) so stay tuned!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Tales of a Volunteer at the Chilly Half Marathon

We woke up to temperatures of about -15C (5F) with a windchill closer to -25 (-13). As I layered up in my warmest clothing I thought of the runners and knew I would have a difficult time figuring out what to wear if I had been racing that day. I hate being over-dressed, but being under-dressed in those temperatures can be dangerous, especially with all the standing around before and after the race. Thankfully, the sun was out in full force all day to take some of the edge off. As it turns out, I saw runners dressed in everything from shorts (!!!) to ski suits.

Random observations from chip removal:

• It was exciting to see the 5K speed demons coming in ~16:00; just don't get in their way!

• Many women crossed the finish line in tears - what a powerful thing to witness.

• Why do some people feel the need to tie the timing chip right into their laces? I untied and retied so many laces, I felt like a kindergarten teacher.

• Most people offered up the wrong foot when we asked to remove their chip.

• Latex gloves are a good idea. You never know what could end up on those shoes; snot, spit, (*gulp*) urine!

• Fluorescent yellow Mizuno volunteer hats are awesome.

• Always tell the runners that they look good... even when they don't.

• Upside-down plastic bins are not the best idea as a foot stool. When a person doesn't have any feeling in their legs, they are quite possibly going to put their shoe right through it.

• There is nothing like the gratitude of a runner who has just completed a race. Almost everyone said thank you (and many profusely!) One lady even told me she loves me.

• Note to self: don't guzzle water while the volunteer is bent over your shoe. There is a good chance you are dripping (drooling?) water all over his or her head.


I had the opportunity to see many of my friends at the finish line. It was dirty work at times and crazy busy as the 1:30 - 2:30 half marathoners poured in, but still fun and totally rewarding. I would do it again in a heart beat.

Special thanks to all the runners who made it worth while to sit out in the freezing cold on a Sunday morning. It was a great experience to be on the 'other' side.

I would like to send out a very special congratulations to my friend Erin who ran her first half marathon yesterday, despite missing three weeks of key training while her baby boy was in the hospital last month. She did absolutely awesome! Until yesterday I only knew Erin virtually, so it was wonderful to finally meet her at the finish line after following her journey from zero to 21.1. You rock, Erin!


Random photos:

Diggin' the volunteer hats (that's my sister's BF):

Volunteers need to eat too:

Checking out our cool hats in a reflective building:



I did manage to squeeze in a quick 4K when I got home (it had warmed up significantly by the afternoon) before heading to a Birthday party. I'm hoping to build the mileage up slightly this week before starting a new half marathon program next week. I have a new goal race and I'll tell you about that soon.

Thanks for reading!