Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Post-Race Thoughts

Thank you so much for all of your awesome comments on Sunday's race. You have all been so supportive and just knowing there are so many people out there rooting for me means a lot.

I recovered remarkably well and had to consciously force myself to slow myself down during yesterday's 6-miler over lunch. My legs feel great, I didn't end up with any blisters or chafing and my only gripe is one tender toenail. It feels fine in my running shoes, but is not happy in my work shoes. Sock feet at the office today!

Speaking of shoes, I ended up wearing my old ones on Sunday. There were a few minor annoyances with the new pair (though I am now convinced they are fine) and I didn't want to take a chance for 18.6 miles. My last pair carried me through the Disney Marathon, a half marathon PR and finally the 30K, which was quite possibly the best race of my life. They've now been shelved and I'm hoping this new pair will bring many good things.

With a significant PR in both the half marathon and 30K distances this month, it's time to work towards the hat trick - a strong marathon on May 16th.

I went into this race hoping to use it as a guide to determine a realistic marathon goal. My "A" goal was 4-hour marathon pace of 5:40/KM or 9:09/mi and I finished with an average of 5:25/KM or 8:43/mi feeling great with a significant negative split on a challenging course and without tapering. So what does this mean?

A sub-4:00 marathon is well within reach.

Since 4:00 has seemed like such a pipe dream goal for the last two years, I'm having some trouble wrapping my mind around it. The above stats and conditions would in fact dictate that I could possibly finish quite a bit faster than 4:00 (on a good day), but with a current PR of 4:26:02, I don't want to bite off more than I can chew.

That being said, I have underestimated my ability for both of my last two races... but a marathon is not to be taken lightly.

Sorry if this post is a bit discombobulated - there are so many thoughts swirling around in my mind!

With four long runs remaining, it's a bit early to start thinking about my race plan and official goal(s), but I would appreciate any ideas and feedback from those of you who have been following my progress.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Around the Bay 30K Race Report

a.k.a. Third Time is the Charm

Recognized as being North America's oldest road race ("Older Than Boston", as printed on the back of the infamous tech shirts), Around the Bay is by far one of the most prestigious and celebrated races around. My friend Kenny recently wrote an excellent tribute to this esteemed event - read it here.

As I mentioned on Thursday, this was my third year in a row registering for this race, but my first time being able to run it.

I had three four goals:

Top Secret "A+" goal: 2:45:00
A: (I hope I can) 2:50:00 (4:00 marathon pace)
B: (I think I can) sub-3:00:00
C: (I know I can) PR sub-3:05:03

The results:

Clock time: 2:46:27.7
Chip time: 2:42:33.6
Pace: 5:25/KM (8:43/mi)
Overall: 2042/5698
Females: 502/2683
F25-29: 63/315


After a week of assessing obsessing over the weather forecast, we awoke to a near-perfect day for racing. It was a cool (but not cold) overcast morning in Hamilton with little wind and rain expected later in the day. After several wardrobe changes, I eventually settled on capris and a short sleeve race shirt over a long sleeve. I added a cap (in case the rain came early), a Bondi Band (in case my ears were cold) and throwaway gloves (tossed before 5K) to complete the ensemble. I opted to carry my 10-oz Nathan Sprint handheld for water my Spibelt for gels, a combo that has worked perfectly for several races now.

I decided not to taper for this race (with the exception of skipping Thursday's tempo run) since it was "supposed" to be a training run for my upcoming marathon. Having run 18 miles and 20 miles on the previous two weekends, I wasn't expecting peak performance, but I still wanted to see what I could do.

I carpooled to Hamilton with my training group (we had quite the motorcade with 4 full vehicles headed down together) and we all snagged excellent parking close to the start and finish area at the Coliseum. After hanging around inside for a bit (and taking advantage of the washroom facilities), it was soon time to head outside to line up. We made it to the starting area later than I would have liked and ended up pretty far back, well behind the 3:00 pacers. With entry to the corrals from the back only, there really wasn't an easy way to make our way up, so we just settled in and waited. Not ideal, but not the end of the world.

Pretty soon, it was time to GO!

Some of our group before the start:

(back row, second from left)

The Race: First 10K

Some of us had discussed possibly running together, but I didn't commit to anything. I hadn't even told anyone what my "real" goal was. My tentative plan was to start out around 5:40/KM and see what happened. For the first couple of kilometres there was a lot of weaving and jockeying for position, making it very difficult to find my pace. Surprisingly, they were clocking in right where I wanted, though I was all over the place trying to find my way around people in order to accomplish that. Some of us had managed to stick together, and one of the veterans promised me it would thin out in the later miles. It was extremely crowded for most of the first 10K.

We were running through residential and industrial areas and there wasn't much to look at. It was also pretty much flat.

First Gu at 8K.

I was just plugging away, keeping an eye on my pace, chatting off and on and preparing myself for the miles ahead. I was constantly analyzing how I felt as compared to recent long runs and my half marathon a few weeks ago. My splits were ticking by faster and easier than I expected. I was cautious not to run too much faster than 5:30's and it helped having someone by my side so we could keep each other in line. There was still a long way to go, but I had a feeling it was going to be a good day.

10K split: 55:20

5:39 - 5:32 - 5:43 - 5:31 - 5:30
5:31 - 5:22 - 5:30 - 5:21 - 5:23

The Race: Second 10K

It felt good to have a nice "chunk" out of the way. One third down, two thirds to go. There was some congestion at the first relay exchange point, and more weaving and dodging as runners of various paces were jumping in. Fortunately the bulk of runners had thinned out a little, so this wasn't too much of an issue.

At this point it was just myself and my training buddy Jayne running along together. Neither of us are particularly chatty racers, but the company was still nice.

There's nothing particularly memorable about this section. I must have been in the zone! There still wasn't much to look at in our surroundings, though we did get some water views once we hit 12K or so. It got a little bit windy (we had been sheltered for the first part of the race), but nothing unmanageable.

Before I knew it, we were crossing the half-way timing mats at 15K. First half split: 1:22:53. This was another relay exchange point, so we dealt with some more congestion as we headed into the second half.

Just after 15K we crossed over a steel lift bridge where it was quite windy and the footing was sketchy. Thankfully we made it safely across without issue, though it did put a little wobble in my legs.

Second Gu at 16K.

As we approached the 20K mark, I knew the real fun was about to begin. I was cruising along, making great time and feeling fantastic. Bring on the hills. In fact, some rollers had already started.

20K split: 1:49:57 (second 10K in 54:37)

5:20 - 5:25 - 5:27 - 5:28 - 5:26
5:24 - 5:25 - 5:26 - 5:22 - 5:16

The Race: Final 10K

I glanced at my Garmin as we passed over the timing mat. A one-hour 10K and I've got my "A" goal. This is in the bag. Jayne and I agreed to take a short walk break so she could choke down a gel (she has trouble with them). We walked maybe 30 seconds before picking it back up, and this would be the only time I walked throughout the entire race.

For quite a stretch, we faced hill after hill (after hill). I felt strong on all the "ups" and found myself passing people all over the place, then allowed myself to fly down the other side. The scenery was improving and I was actually enjoying the ascents and descents, which kept things interesting. I was pleased to see that I was holding on to my pace without struggling.

Third Gu at 24K.

I lost Jayne on the hills and managed to catch up to Brian and Doug, two of the "vets" from our group. There was no hiding their shock at seeing me. Both were very supportive and encouraging me, saying all the right things to make me feel even better. They started talking to me about the upcoming hill ("the big one") and promised that it would be all downhill to the finish after that. The worst best part was seeing runners running uphill in the distance. It seemed to go on and on, around a bend and farther up. The guys advised me that when we reach the bend, we're 3/4 of the way up. I knew I could handle it.

At the bottom of the hill I had the pleasure of spotting the famous dancing little person. He shows up every year, blasts music and cheers runners up that hill. Awesome.

Then up, up and up we went. I stayed on Brian's tail and kept the pace steady all the way up this beast. At the top, he turned to find me behind his shoulder and asked, 'How was it?' to which I replied, 'Not nearly as bad as I thought.' He started laughing and we continued on our merry way, soon discovering that we had lost Doug on the climb. Shortly after the hill we ran past a cemetery (how appropriate!) where two people dressed as the Grim Reaper were out cheering and offering high-fives. Apparently they're out every year as well.

All that was left to do now was cruise to the finish. I was pretty confident that 2:45 was within reach, but I picked it up a bit just to make sure. We chatted about the finish line and Brian warned me to watch my step on the ramp going into the stadium. It started drizzling rain with about 2K to go. I could see the Coliseum straight ahead and it was time to really turn it on.

I was flying. I glanced down at my Garmin a few times and saw 5K pace! Adrenaline was surging through my veins as I got closer and closer to the finish. I even blew past two guys from my team who are in a faster pace group (!!!).

Around the corner, down the (steep!) ramp, into the stadium, crowds cheering like crazy, arms in the air! One of my most memorable finishes to date.

I was truly in shock when I finally hit pause and saw 2:42.

Final chip time: 2:42:34 (final 10K in 52:37)

5:48* - 5:31 - 5:16 - 5:28 - 5:20
5:18 - 5:21 - 5:23 - 4:54 - 5:05
*includes walk

Group shot post-race:

(front row, second from right)

Unfortunately I got stuck with a mens' shirt. The womens' were sold out by the time I registered (two months before the race). The ladies' are a pretty purple and fit way better. It's too bad because I really like the style, but this is just way too big and boxy.

Post-race thoughts to follow!

Not to forget Tall Mom's Virtual Race for the Cure!

Unfortunately with my multiple wardrobe changes, I didn't end up wearing any pink - oops! - but 21.1 kilometres of my race are dedicated to the cause.

Virtual Half Marathon Result: 1:54:17*
*Calculated based on average overall pace.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I have a little confession to make. I had a top secret "A+" goal that I hesitated to share with anyone: that was 2:45. (Shhhhhh!)

Around the Bay 30K (18.6mi) Results:


5:25/KM (8:43/mi)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I finally got some new kicks! I've been needing another pair of my trusty Saucony ProGrid Stabil CS's for weeks now, but I always have trouble tracking down my size. (This time I got two pairs!) A pair actually came in 2 weeks ago and they were my usual size 10.5, but they were too big! We compared them with my previous 10.5 and there was definitely a difference. Ugh! We were able to send them back and thankfully the new pair(s) fit just right. And the best part is, I got a new colour! Every pair I've had previously has been blue. Introducing: PLUM!

Check out the worn down heel on my old pair. Yikes!

2. It was freeeeezing for our group run tonight! Hard to believe I was able to wear shorts and a tank last Thursday. We had an LT run on the schedule, I opted to skip the LT portion to save my legs for Sunday.

3. Speaking of which.... Sunday, March 28th: Around the Bay 30K, "Older than Boston"

I've registered and been unable to run in both 2008 (ITBS) and 2009 (separated shoulder). Here's hoping third time's the charm!

While this race is technically a training run for my upcoming marathon(s), I'm definitely seeking some 30K redemption from that miserable race last summer.

As usual, I have three goals:

A. (I hope I can) 2:50:00 (4:00 marathon pace)
B: (I think I can) sub-3:00:00
C: (I know I can) PR sub-3:05:03

Around the Bay is known for its challenging rolling hills in the final 10K and the weather is not looking good. Keeping this in mind, I don't expect to achieve my "A" goal, but I don't want to sell myself short either. Anything could happen!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bike Ride, Physio, Tofu!

For the first time since we bought our new bikes, it isn't raining today! Hallelujah! Hubs and I both had the morning off work, so we took advantage and went for a spin. It's absolutely beautiful out right now, but it was still around freezing this morning, so we had to bundle up. (Hmm, it's a lot windier on a bike than on foot!)

It was so much fun! (Even though I was riding the brakes and trying not to freak out when we went downhill.)

We just cycled around the neighbourhood (a little over 5K) and along some local paved trails... where I may have taken a minor spill when my back tire spun out on an icy patch. Don't worry, my bike is okay!

And for those of you dropping the "T-bomb", I do not foresee a triathlon in my (near) future.


After the bike ride, I had to get ready for my physio appointment (the reason for taking the morning off). I haven't been in for a 'check-up' since September and while I haven't had any issues (knock on wood), it never hurts to make sure everything is nice and loose.

My PT was pleased with the way everything felt and as always, I walked out of there feeling like a million bucks. Sometimes I think a good physio therapy session is better than a day at the spa.


In other news, hubs and I picked up some tofu for the first time yesterday. I'm definitely going to be stealing some ideas from Lacey. Any and all suggestions welcome!

Tonight: 10K group run! Wearing: shorts!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"What the heck happened to you?"

It's Tuesday. It's lunchtime. It's cool, windy and raining. Work is busy. There's only one thing to do: INTERVALS!

With a 5K coming up next weekend, Coach Hubs suggested some shorter repeats at 5K pace. I decided to set out for 10 x 500 metres at somewhere between my current 5K PR pace and goal 5K PR pace.

Target: 500m @ 2:12 - 2:15



It's tough running short intervals outside of a treadmill/track. I had to constantly check my Garmin and slightly over-ran the 500m on almost every single one. BUT the workout is a definite success!

Just as I was settling back down at my desk after doing my best to freshen up, one of my co-workers came around the corner, took one look at me and said, "What the heck happened to you?"

INTERVALS, that's what!

Maybe I should have used more powder...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up and Look What I Got!

First things first, look what I got!

Here's what she looks like up-close.

I didn't want a mountain bike, but didn't necessarily want a road bike either, so hybrid was the way to go. I decided on this one because, well, it was the prettiest bike in the store. What can I say? I was just looking for something to ride casually and leisurely and it seemed like a good fit. It's super comfortable and I pretty much smile like a goofy kid as soon as I get on.

Hubby got himself a road bike, which is what inspired the bike shopping to begin with. Needless to say, I couldn't let him have all the fun.


In other news, I ran a pretty awesome (almost) 20-miler with the group yesterday morning. It was a particularly scenic hilly mountainous route with some memorable climbs, but lots of good company for distraction. One of our companions who is currently recovering from an injury was kind enough to set up another amazing aid station for us complete with fluids and plenty of fruit and goodies. We are truly spoiled!

I felt fantastic (though definitely sore in the later miles) and ran my fastest pace yet on a 30K+ run.

32.0 KM (19.9 mi) - 3:08:21 - 5:53/km (9:28/mi)

For comparison I ran a 20-miler last August at an average pace of 6:23/KM (10:16/mi) and in December at an average pace of 6:20/KM (10:11/mi).

After the run (and after indulging in many leftover goodies from our aid station), I forced myself into an ice bath for the first time in months. There may have been some cursing and a lot of grumbling, but these legs definitely needed it.

Including a nice and easy 10K run on Saturday morning, that wraps up another "marathon distance" weekend.

Next Sunday: Around the Bay 30K, the oldest road race in North America.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Foto Friday

Just a quick one...

The photos have not been fully indexed (annoying!) so it took a lot of clicks to find this, but here it is:

Finish line pic from Chilly Half Marathon

(Definitely one of my happiest finishes!)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three Things Thursday

It's still Thursday for a couple more hours...

1. Thank you so much to everyone who has already donated to my fundraising efforts for Kids With Cancer. I've added a link on the right sidebar for those that requested it. Fundraising (and the giveaway!) will continue until the race on May 2nd. Special thanks to Kenny, Amanda, Heather, Lindsay, Marcia, Anne, Morgan, Kathleen, Beth, Patricia, Mark, Alicia and everyone else who has expressed interest.

2. Please send some good thoughts over to Marky Mark who had surgery today to treat prostate cancer. Our upcoming race Harry's Spring Run-Off supports this cause and Mark is fundraising here. (Fellow run blogger Yumke is also fundraising here.)

3. On the weekend I picked up my very first pair of Nike Tempo Track Shorts (in hot pink) when I spotted them on clearance at The Running Room. Aron has raved about them so much that I had to give them a try. I wore them for the first time tonight (gorgeous early spring weather!) and I am definitely a fan. I'm going to be needing a few more pairs for sure. Appropriately, I was able to test them out on a tempo run. The tempo portion was only 3K so I pushed hard for a 4:34/KM (7:21/mi) average. It was quite the workout, but it felt great.

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Thanks to everyone who voted for my sister in the John Frieda hair contest. With your help she secured a spot in the top 5 and has moved on to the final round for a chance to win $1000!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Help me make a difference for Kids with Cancer! (***Giveaway!***)

This May I will once again be running Toronto's infamous Sporting Life 10K to raise money for Camp Oochigeas.

Camp Ooch 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.

Every child deserves to experience the wonder of camp. After all, enjoying the outdoors and having fun are two integral parts of being a child.

This cause is close to my heart because last January, my good friend Erin's three-year-old son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Nolan has had a difficult year, but continues to fight. Camp Ooch makes a difference in Nolan's life and we can help them make a difference in the lives of all Kids with Cancer.

We were the top fundraising team last year and with your help, we hope to have the same success this year!

If you would like to make a donation (no amount is too small), please visit my fundraising page.


For each $1 donation, your name will be entered in a draw to win a shoebox filled with goodies. The contents will remain a surprise as I continue adding to the shoebox right up until the event date of May 2nd. A winner will be randomly selected at that time.

If you make a donation, please email me at sykes (dot} marlene (at) yahoo (dot) ca to secure your entry.

Thank you so much for your support!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Interval Tuesday!

After the crummy weekend weather, we've had two beautiful days of 15C/59F and sunny skies (to continue for the remainder of the week).

I took a much-needed rest day yesterday, but headed out to enjoy it over lunch today. Intervals were back on the menu!


800 - 1600 - 800 - 1600 - 800

Goal times*: 800m @ 3:31-3:36, 1600m @ 7:02-7:12

* target window = [5K goal pace] - [existing 5K PR pace]


800m @ 3:30
1600m @ 7:05
800m @ 3:34
800m @ 3:50 (fail!)
100m @ 4:48 (meh!)

I was dying before I got half way through the second 1600. 7:05 is quite possibly the fastest mile I have ever run, so this shouldn't come as a surprise. I called it quits at 800 and sucked wind for a couple of minutes before trying to salvage the workout with a semi-decent 1000. I'm honestly not sure if my targets were too aggressive or if I just didn't have it in me today. Try, try again. I'll still consider the workout an overall success because I was working my butt off out there.

I also need to bring water on warm and sunny days like today. I was able to run comfortably for an hour+ without water all winter, but I was foaming at the mouth suffered today.


On a completely unrelated note.....

Please vote for my Sister!

My kid sister is trying to win a John Frieda "Most Improved Hair" contest. Voting ends tomorrow and we need to keep her in the top 5 in order to move on (currently in 3rd). If you can spare a moment, please follow the following link and click on "I like this!" (You can vote once per day.)

Vote for April!

Thanks so much!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It sounds like many of us have been "enjoying" a windy & rainy weekend. Kudos to everyone else who braved the elements and got out there for some damp miles.

My 11K run yesterday morning set the tone for this weekend: it was extremely windy (40 kph/25 mph ++) and started to sprinkle toward the end of the run.

It ended up raining all afternoon yesterday, all night long and has been raining all day today. Needless to say, it did not let up for our long run this morning.

My group had a 30K/18.6mi long run on the schedule for today, and I certainly wasn't going to let the weather stop me.

The temp was cool (just above freezing), the skies were grey, the wind gusted and it rained the entire time.

There wasn't a whole lot of chatter as we buckled down against the wind and tried to ignore the dampness soaking into our skin. Although we were quieter that usual, misery does love company and we got through the miles together. One of our friends even came out to set up an aid station for us, complete with water, Gatorade, strawberries, bananas, cookies and chocolate.

There may have been a lot of whining, complaining and even cursing along the way, but we got it done.

30.0 KM / 3:00:32

(A 4:31 improvement over my 30K race last summer.)

Post-run pic in the washroom before a long, hot bath. (This is what my new hair cut looks like after a long, wet run.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Not pushing it"

So much for that... my legs felt pretty much back to "normal" yesterday and as usual, I got caught up in the excitement of running with the group.

After our regular ~2K warm-up jog to the park path, we set out for our 5K tempo run. I tagged along with someone from the 3:45 marathon pace group for the first half, then gradually pulled ahead.

5K @ 5:00, 5:00, 4:50, 4:50, 4:35

(= 8:03, 8:03, 7:47, 7:47, 7:22 / mi)

I'm really getting the hang of these workouts and hoping to incorporate some longer tempos runs later in this training cycle (something I have not done before).

In other news, IT'S FRIDAY! As I mentioned yesterday, we have our first big 30K (18.6mi) long run this Sunday... unfortunately, it's supposed to rain all weekend. :/ This could be one long and wet run.

Have a great weekend, and stay tuned for a fundraising giveaway next week!

Win a Oiselle long sleeve top @ I Run Because I Can

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments on my Race Report. I've been asked to share a few words on the subject tonight at my clinic... hmm, how can I compact that long winded report into just a few minutes?

2. I ran a light 10K on Tuesday that felt pretty good, though I definitely noticed some lingering soreness and fatigue. I headed out for another light run yesterday evening, a 5K jaunt to the grocery store where hubs was waiting for me. Tonight we have an 11K run with 5K tempo run with clinic; not sure what to expect out of my legs, but I won't push it too much, especially with our first 30K (18.6mi) run of this training cycle coming up on Sunday!

3. What do you think of my new hair cut?

P.S. Win workout towels @ The Happy Runner and One More Mile gear @ Endurance Isn't Only Physical.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bondi Band Winner

Thanks for all of your entries on the Bondi Band Giveaway.

The 85 comments translated to 99 entries, which were entered randomly in Excel, the winning number selected by The winner is:

Please email me to claim your prize!

Don't forget to take advantage of the following coupon codes:

Buy 3 get 1 free, coupon code: ONE

Buy 5 for $25, coupon code: FIVE

Monday, March 08, 2010

Race Report: (Not so) Chilly Half Marathon

On Friday I shared 3 goals:

A. (I hope I can): sub-1:50:00

B. (I think I can): PR sub-1:52:29

C. (I know I can): Event PR sub-2:01:00

Thanks so much for all of your awesome comments on yesterday's quick post.

Here are the stats:

Clock time - 1:47:52
Chip time - 1:47:41
Average pace - 5:06/KM = 8:13/mi
Overall - 565/2499
Gender - 126/1323
F25-29 - 13/159

Pre-Race: On your marks, get set...

Being at the beginning of March, the weather is always unpredictable for this race. We lucked out this year with the most beautiful weekend yet - clear, sunny skies and sweltering mild temps from about 2C (36F) at the start to 10C (50F) by the time we finished. Perfect!

Here's what I wore and I wouldn't have changed a thing.

The start time of 10:05 allowed us to sleep in til 6:30 and leave the house in daylight. We live about an hour away and arrived in plenty of time to snag a great parking spot right near the start/finish area. We took a short walk to the host hotel where they were handing out the ladies' race shirts which hadn't been available in time for kit pick-up. This worked out well because we were able to hang out in the hotel lobby for 45 minutes or so before making our way back to the start line.

We carpooled with Patricia and Ueli, our Goofy companions, and the four of us got to catch up with Mel when she spotted us at the hotel.

We had several other friends running that day and I was looking forward to watching out for everybody on the out-and-back course, including Juliana; and Meghan (first half!). Shout outs to Laura and Marci, though unfortunately I didn't get to see them out there.

Before long, it was time to make our way to the starting area for one last stop at the port-o-potties before squeezing into the corrals. There were many more runners this year (3300 in the half) and I decided to line up pretty close to the front - closer than my pace would dictate, but I have had too many experiences with a crowded start and dodging slower runners. I made sure to stick to the right side so I wouldn't get in the way (I later learned that I had made the right choice - many of my friends who started farther back had a slow start with a lot of jostling and weaving).

I have to admit that I was extremely nervous about this race - I honestly can't remember the last time I was this nervous! I just hoped that my nervous energy would translate to speedy legs when it was time to run!

The Race: ... Go!


The course changed this year and had us running primarily on Lakeshore Boulevard. We started with a short out-and-back to the west followed by a long out-and-back to the east (with a short leg to the north for the turn-around). It was also flat as a pancake.

And we're off! It felt good to hit "Start" as I crossed over the timing mats. The nerves gradually subsided and I quickly found my focus.

Unfortunately there wasn't a 1:50 pace bunny. I'm still not completely confident in my pacing abilities, so I monitored the Garmin pretty closely as I settled in. I had written my target 5K, 10K, 15K and 20K splits on my hand in permanent black marker (watch out for a pic below) - I absolutely loved this and will be making it a habit for future races.

My plan was to aim for a 5:10/KM pace (8:19/mi) and try to hold it steady throughout the race. I knew we'd have a pretty significant head wind (20 kph) for the final 8K, so if I could bank a small cushion I would feel good about that. The kilometres were ticking by fairly easily and I concentrated on memorizing how that pace felt so I wouldn't have to check the Garmin so frequently.

I often caught myself questioning, 'Can I really keep this up for 21K?' but promptly shut off that voice in my head and worked on 1 kilometre at a time.

I was on my own and couldn't seem to find anyone to pace with - there seemed to be spurts where I was getting passed all over the place, but the next minute I would be working my way through a crowd. I was running fairly consistently, so I knew I just had to keep it up and not get caught up with others around me.

4:58 - 5:09 - 5:13 - 5:05 - 4:58

5K split: 25:23 (goal 26:03)

People-watching became a welcome distraction after the first turn-around, and I had already spotted a few familiar faces.

It was a pretty quiet course with no entertainment and minimal crowds; I was really glad that I had loaded my iPod with power songs to keep me pumped up. I coasted through the aid stations (which seemed to be well-stocked with water, E-load and gels) since I had opted to carry my 10-oz Nathan Sprint handheld, which worked out perfectly.

At 7K I got to see hubs who was out being awesome and supportive since he wasn't able to run. It was a great boost to see him and tell him I was doing just fine.

(I'm holding a Gu in my left hand which I took just after 7K.)

We were on a long straight stretch, working our way gradually toward the turn-around. I was feeling pretty decent and just hoping beyond hope that I could keep up the pace. I was chugging along, becoming even more consistent with my pacing and enjoying the beautiful day. I had long ago tossed my gloves and now rolled down my arm sleeves as we soaked up the sun over the lake.

5:04 - 5:05 - 5:05 - 5:00 - 5:09

10K split: 50:46 (goal 52:07)

At this point, I just wanted to make it to the final turn-around so I would know that we were on the way back to the finish line. During this time I was watching the kilometre markers for the 'back' portion on the other side of the road. Seeing 18, then 17, then 16, all I could think was 'It would be so nice to be over there right now!' This is usually the part of a half marathon where I wish I had a fast-forward button. Kilometres 11-15 always feel like a bit of a dead zone - you're well into it, getting tired, but not close enough to think about the finish yet.

Though of course I was thinking about the finish... visions of crossing that line in under 1:50 kept me going and helped keep me strong and focused. I knew what I had to do... in fact, I was doing it!

Finally, the turn-around! And there's the wind. Funny how I had barely noticed it urging me along from behind on the way out, but here it was slamming me in the face. I could tell that I was immediately forced to work harder to maintain my pace, but it wasn't unmanageable.

I knew I would get to see all of my friends again soon and kept my eyes peeled. I heard my name and called out to people all over the place. It was amazing and I felt a wave of euphoria wash over me as I waved and smiled, knowing I was getting closer and closer to achieving my goal.

Best of all, I was on the way back!

I downed another Gu at 14K and added a bit more water to my handheld from a cup, spilling most of it all over myself since I tried to do this while running. I knew I had a few good gulps in there, which would be enough to bring me home.

5:03 - 5:05 - 5:04 - 5:03 - 5:11

15K split: 1:16:12 (goal 1:18:11)

16K/10 miles is a big milestone in a half marathon - just 5K to go! As I passed the kilometre marker, I took a brief inventory of how I felt. I was tired and working hard against the wind, but feeling surprisingly good overall. I definitely didn't feel like I had it in me to pick it up, but I knew I could keep going.

Around this time I realized that I (almost) had it in the bag. Barring any major catastrophes, I was confident for the first time that I could actually finish this thing at my "A" goal of sub-1:50. It was an incredible feeling and I knew I could enjoy the remainder of the race.

I was finally seeing those 16, 17 and 18 KM markers and yet, they didn't seem quite so close to the finish line from this side of the road. Hmmm....

I stopped checking my Garmin compulsively and instead focused on picking people off ahead of me and passing whenever I could. (In my experience, I am usually getting passed during the last 5K, so this was a welcome change!) I was focused and determined.

5:04 - 5:11 - 5:04 - 5:13 - 5:01

20K split: 1:41:45 (goal 1:44:15)

I could finally hear the crowds as we neared the final turn toward the finish line. More specifically, I could hear my friends Leanne and Erin cheering like fools and ringing their cowbells. (Hubs told me later that he knew I was on my way up the finishing chute because he could hear them screaming my name from 200+ metres away - awesome!)

Final splits - 4:52, 0:57 (0.22K, Garmin)

Chip time: 1:47:41 (goal 1:49:59)

I crossed the finish line with my arms in the air and let out a holler. I was ecstatic and could not stop staring at my watch.

(With Patricia & Ueli - proof that I wore my jersey after the race.)

Post-Race Thoughts

I did it. I really did it! I'm walking around on cloud 9 with relief and joy and maybe a little bit of shock. I've never put so much pressure on myself for a specific time goal, which definitely explains the nerves but also the drive.

This was my 10th half marathon (!!!) and not only the fastest, but the most consistent, strongest and smartest I have ever run.

I hope this is a sign of good things to come for the remainder of this year in running...

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 07, 2010



Friday, March 05, 2010

Half Marathon this Sunday!

This Sunday is the Chilly Half Marathon and my first "race" of 2010. (I'm not forgetting about that little thing called the Goofy Challenge, but this is the first event of the year where I intent to race for a PR.)

I first ran Chilly in 2008 (back in my days of getting 2 comments on a race report!) and volunteered last year.

Finish line, '08:

Practicing chip removal, '09:

I'm actually not a really big fan of this event; they've been known to have organizational issues (ran out of shirts and bags last year, women's shirts not available on time this year) and it's over-priced (you can run a marathon around here for the cost of this half). That being said, the timing works out great and it's a flat and fast course. This year they've changed the route to an out-and-back and for the first time, the entire road will be closed for runners. I generally don't mind out-and-back races and I'm hoping it will be beneficial to my mental game. If nothing else, I hope that it gives me the opportunity to see several familiar faces along the way.

Unfortunately this is the third year in a row that Hubs has registered for this race and not been able to run. In 2008 he was injured, in 2009 he was out of the country on business and this year he's injured again. :( I know he would love nothing more than to be running on Sunday, so when I'm tired and hurting at 10 miles, I'll remind myself to suck it up and be grateful that I'm able to run.


A. (I hope I can): sub-1:50:00

B. (I think I can): PR sub-1:52:29

C. (I know I can): Event PR sub-2:01:00

I've been going back and forth between feeling confident and terrified. Hopefully my training will come through for me on Sunday and I will feel strong both mentally and physically out there.

In my heart, I know I can do this. In my brain, there are seeds of doubt.

Here goes nothing!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Three Things Thursday - the "lucky" edition

***Please note that I've added some coupon codes at the bottom of the Bondi Band post.***

1. I recently won Mom's Best Naturals Cereals from The Happy Runner. Read the full review on Mom's Best here.

I was expecting to receive a couple of trial-size boxes, so I was pleasantly surprised when this arrived!

I've already put a good dent in both boxes and they have definitely earned my approval. The Sweetened Wheat Fulls and Raisin Bran are very similar to Kelloggs' Frosted Mini Wheats and Raisin Bran respectively, two of my all-time favourite cereals. What I like more about Mom's Best Naturals is that they use "only the highest quality ingredients. There's nothing artificial, no added saturated fat or hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup." Tastes great and better for you!

2. I was also the lucky winner of a Core Ball + DVD set from Setting You Free. These arrived yesterday and I didn't waste any time trying them out.

The DVD offers "A wide range of beginning level routines teach the basics of working with a ball while progressively challenging routines allow you to power sculpt your abs. There is no better way to get fit and in shape than with these core ball routines!"

I obviously haven't had a chance to get through every routine yet, but I really like what I've tried so far. I can definitely see this Core Ball + DVD making regular appearances in my workout schedule.

^ Not the most flattering pose. :/

3. Lastly, the lovely Leana tagged me to receive the Gorgeous Blogger Award!

I've been asked to list six random things about me. In keeping with the "lucky" theme, here are six things that I have won in my lifetime.

1. A 7-day trip for two to London, England (took my Mom, June '07)
2. A first-year scholarship to University
3. Rebecca Run 5K (female winner) - July '09
4. Hella Sound Running Track
5. Lift Your Sole jewelry
6. Agave Number 9 gels

Sadly, I have not yet won the lottery.... (sigh)

Want to get lucky??

KALYX Sports Bra @
Setting You Free

Inperspire Towels @
Tall Mom on the Run

Kettleworx Essentials @
Running Off at the Mouth

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bondi Band Giveaway!

Bondi Band was kind enough to send me some products recently and I've been able to try them out. I have constant hair issues (I hate having hair in my face and mine goes mental when I run) and these are an excellent solution!

What Bondi Band has to say:

The simple premise of Bondi Bands is to offer comfy, colorful, and creative headbands to fit every lifestyle and personality.

By using stretchy and breathable material, we allow Bondi Bands to fit virtually every head size comfortably and fashionably.

Our buyers constantly search for the newest and trendiest fabric designs and complement them with traditional craftsmanship to bring our customers the best product available on the market.

Bondi Bands are available in countless styles and patterns, and they offer various hats and swim caps in addition to their trademark headbands.

Here's what I got to try:

(I love the ponytail hole in this hat!)

I also have a Goofy 2010 Bondi Band that I picked up at Disney and wore for both the half and full marathons.

What I love about Bondi:

Style! - pages upon pages of colorful, unique and FUN solids, patterns and sayings to choose from.

Versatility! Can be worn lower or higher on the forehead depending on the look/feel you are going for. Sometimes I even use mine as an ear-warmer (this is why I originally bought one in Alaska Florida).

Comfort! I barely know it's there thanks to the light Lycra material.

Staying Power! - Once the Bondi Band is in place, it does not move! With other headbands, I find I am constantly adjusting, but Bondi Bands stay put.

To WIN this Bondi Band:

1. Visit the website, click around and let me know what you think.

2. Become a fan of Bondi Band on Facebook.

3. Follow Mission to a(nother) Marathon, or let me know that you already do.

Entries accepted until Wednesday, March 8th at 12:00 Noon EST.

Can't wait? Use these coupon codes NOW:

Buy 3 get 1 free, coupon code: ONE

Buy 5 for $25, coupon code: FIVE

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

February Wrap-Up + Lunch Intervals

Quick February Wrap-Up:

February officially kicked off training for Spring 2010 Marathons. I'm running with my awesome training group again and working on incorporating some of my own speed work (see below) geared towards (hopefully) 5K, 10K and HM PR's to come.

February Mileage: 258.6 KM = 160.7 mi


It's Tuesday and you know what that means... another round of lunch intervals!

I've had so much fun over the last several weeks coming up with a different workout every Tuesday. [Open to suggestions!] I know I've benefited significantly from pushing myself on these solo runs in addition to group speed work on Thursday. I've broken through a barrier which has prevented me in the past from pushing myself this hard without the group or treadmill. Every week I've been working my guts out by the last repeat and learning how to shut off the little voices that say 'You can't run this fast!' or 'This hurts, you can stop now.'

I'm really hoping to see these efforts pay off in my shorter distances races coming up in the next few months.

Speaking of which... with a half marathon this weekend, today I decided to go for longer intervals at lower intensity.

Goal: 3 x 2000m @ 5:00/KM (8:00/mi)


1000m warm-up
2000m @ 4:47, 4:50
500m recovery jog
2000m @ 4:54, 4:48
500m recovery jog
2000m @ 4:57, 4:51

I don't like the fact that I slowed down throughout the workout, but I crushed my 5:00/KM target so I'll consider this a success! I just need to learn to control my pace from the beginning, especially on longer sets.

On another note, it's an absolutely beautiful sunny day and I had my sleeves rolled up as I splashed through puddles of melted snow. It's too early to believe this, but Spring is in the air!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Weekend Recap!


After skipping Thursday's planned LT run due to bad weather, I set aside some time on Friday evening to make it up on the dreadmill treadmill. It's been a long time since I've put in any miles on the "Running in Place Machine" (Thanks Ken!) and I was not particularly thrilled about it. On the plus side, I liked having the ability to plug in my speed and just run with it, not having to worry about pacing myself.

I decided to keep the pace slower than my last two tempo/LT workouts so that I could hold it for a full 5K. I set the treadmill to 7.2 mph (8:19/mi = 5:10/KM) after a warm-up and the miles ticked by pretty easily. By the time the tempo portion was complete, I wanted nothing more than to get off of that thing, so I forced myself to stick it out for a mile cool-down and then I was done!


For the first time in several weeks, I did not run on Saturday. (Normally I would have taken Friday off.) I attempted to sleep-in (apparently I can't force myself to stay in bed later than 8AM anymore) and had a pretty low-key day with the hubby, running some errands and visiting some family.

It snowed for about 24 hours straight, but it was mild enough that most of it was melting. This resulted in slushy, wet and messy roads! I wasn't sure what to expect for Sunday's long run...


It was time for our group long with with 25K/~15mi on the schedule. The snow had stopped and fortunately the roads were relatively safe with just a few lakes puddles to dodge. I ended up with a massive soaker when I misjudged a step, but luckily it was at the end of our run. I felt pretty good and enjoyed many laughs along the way, as always. I found a surprising kick for the last few K's, clocking 5:41, 5:46, 5:26, 4:51. (Where did that come from?) It's a great feeling to finish strong.

After some more chatter and half-hearted stretching on my part (I admit it, I am a LAZY stretcher!) it was time to head home and get ready for the GOLD MEDAL HOCKEY PARTY.

Sarah hosted and Mel was able to join us as well. We had a fantastic time with great company, plenty of drinks & bites, and the game of the century! We even had an authentic Olympic Torch (thanks to my sister)!

As I mentioned earlier, I may have made a few deals with the Hockey Gods in order to secure our win... anyone have tips on running in 100% polyester?? See below for the jersey I will be sporting at the Chilly Half Marathon this weekend.

Some photos from the festivities:

This is how Canadians chill drinks in February - in snow!

My Olympics Rings cake (and Wayne Gretzky # 99 Riesling):
(Hey Lindsay, those are M&M's!)

My sister's torch - we didn't have the stand so we had to get creative!

Me in my jersey with the torch:

Sarah & I celebrating!

(Last chance to win RunningSkirts at Endurance Isn't Only Physical!)

"Canada's Golden Games"

It was an unforgettable night as Canada not only won the gold medal in the most intense hockey game I have ever seen, but also broke the record for the most gold medals ever won in the Winter Olympics.

It was a celebration of epic proportions as we watched the game surrounded by friends & family, and the moment that Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime is not one that can be described in words.

When the game went into OT, I made a few "deals" with the Hockey Gods should Canada win the Gold Medal, and I will remain true to my word. As such:

(1) I will be running in my Canada hockey jersey at the Chilly Half Marathon next weekend, and

(2) Hubs and I will be naming our first-born child (whenever the time comes!) after Sidney Crosby (perhaps as a middle name since we already have a niece named Sydney).

We take our hockey and Canadian pride very seriously.

I have never been so proud to be Canadian! And this morning I have quite the "Olympics hangover".

Full weekend recap to follow......