Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Track Tuesday & August Wrap-Up

This morning I hit the track solo because my track buddy is recovering from the Quebec City Marathon; Congrats, J!

We're "enjoying" another heat wave here and the thick, humid air settled in early this morning. I was a sopping wet mess after my warm-up at the park and even stripped down to my sports bra once I got to the track. (Thankfully nobody was around to witness my flabby white tummy!)

My real speed work is on Thursday (8x800), so I set out for longer, slower intervals of 3 x 3200 (= 8 laps = 2 mi) at tempo pace of sub-5:00/KM (8:00/mi) with short (200) recoveries.

3K warm-up

3200m (2mi) @ 15:43
3200m (2mi) @ 15:57
3200m (2mi) @ 15:53

1K cool-down

Average interval pace: 4:55/KM (7:56/mi)

And that wraps up August with an all-time high of 347.6 KM* (217.3 mi) - including three races in three weeks.

*If I hadn't been sick, I could have surpassed 350 easily! &*$^@!

How was your month?

Monday, August 30, 2010


After Saturday's race, I decided I was well enough to tackle the long run on Sunday.

Our group met at a local golf club for the start/finish; one of our runners works there and scored us a great deal on brunch as well as access to the facilities for a post-run shower. By that point I came this close to jumping into one of the water features on the golf course... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Running from a different location afforded us the opportunity to experience a new route. We enjoyed mostly quiet country roads, which is always a nice change from the hustle and bustle of running in town.

The first 6-7K took us through the hills of Kettleby.

Kettleby is surrounded by the rolling hills of King Township. The hamlet sits predominantly on a rise of land between two valleys of the looping Kettleby Creek. Hills surround the western, southern and the central parts of Kettleby while taller hills ranging as high as about 350 metres (1,150 ft) are to the north and reach close to the highway linking Orangeville and Newmarket.

The morning started out nice and cool, but warmed up promptly as the sun rose. In Kettleby, some of the hills were so drastic that we felt a significant temperature change from bottom to top. It would have been nice to hang out in the valley because it was getting hot.

The majority of the route after this initial section would be relatively flat, but the sun would be relentless.

We were running mostly on wide open stretches of road surrounded by the farm land of Holland Marsh, which offered zero shade. The sun was pounding down and started getting to many of us early on.

One of our runners is tapering for a 100-miler (!!!) and set up a travelling aid station for us, with two pit stops offering an abundance of cold beverages (not the kind we really wanted!), fresh fruit and candy. This helped immensely in breaking up the run and allowed us to tackle it one leg at a time. I was going through fluids like crazy and the fresh, juicy orange wedges tasted like heaven.

After the final pit stop (with about 5K to go), I was really feeling it. I knew my body was run-down from being sick and running a hard 10K the day before. In hindsight, I probably should have called it quits and taken advantage of a ride back. Instead, I filled up on whatever I could, stuffed ice cubes down my top and decided I could stick it out. I knew I would have to slow down and incorporate walking in order to finish, and I was okay with that. Someone else from my pace group was also suffering, so we agreed to stick together and make our way to the end one way or another.

We walked. A lot! Near the end we could barely run 1 kilometre at a time. We would agree to run to a certain tree, where we would then linger in its shade as long as possible. I had to stop at a farm house to beg for a water refill when I had already emptied my bottle after just 20 minutes or so.

The extent of our "conversation" during this final stretch:

me: "It feels like we're running in an oven."
him: "What?"
me: "Oven."
him: "Yep."

him: "Just let me know when you need to walk."
me: "Okay..."
him: "Do you want to walk?"
me: "Okay."

me: "I think my Garmin is broken."
him: "Why?"
me: Everytime I look down, we have only covered 100 metres."

At long last, we reached our target distance and agreed to walk it in to the golf club.

Toward the end, I noticed that I had goosebumps and my skin felt cold to the touch; definite signs of dehydration. I was glad not to be alone out there. Having taken 3 Salt Stick capsules and consumed as much fluid/gels/fruit as I could handle, I knew there wasn't anything I could/should have done differently. My body was likely out of whack from being sick and it was a tough run all-around. The frustrating thing was that my legs felt pretty good; the rest of me didn't.

33.8KM - 21.0mi
5:55/KM - 9:32/mi

This is one "character-building" long run that I'm happy to have behind me.

The cool shower post-run felt fantastic and the extravagant brunch at the club really hit the spot. Suddenly, it all seemed worthwhile.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Toronto Women's 10K

After coming down with a cold last week, I took it extra easy on Thursday and Friday. When I woke up on Saturday, I decided I was feeling good enough to run (but not race) the Toronto Women's 10K.

We headed to Sunnybrook early for race-day kit pick-up. Last year we got awesome Lululemon race shirts, but this year they switched to caps. They aren't bad, but it's still a bit of a disappointment and not something I will likely wear often. The full size bottle of Immunity FX, on the other hand, was a major score; especially given my current condition!

I can eat these like candy, right?

After hanging around for a while and looking for some friends who were also running, it was soon time to line up. I kept my jacket on until the last minute because there was a nice chill in the air.

After some urging from hubs, I decided to move a little closer to the front. I was feeling pretty relaxed about it, but I didn't want to start off dodging people and weaving all over the place. At this point, I knew I was in no condition for a PR (and had no intention to try!) but I hoped I could still pull off a decent time. I planned to play it by ear, see how I felt and use that as a gauge to determine whether or not I could handle a long run the following day.

Off we go!

Naturally, I was too fast out of the gates. I glanced down to see a 4:30/KM (7:14/mi) pace several times during the first kilometre and concentrated on reeling it in. Unfortunately I realized after it was too late that I had left my handheld with hubs. Doh!

KM 1 - 4:47

My throat was already feeling dry (likely from coughing so much in the previous days and even that morning) and I really regretted not having my own water. Thankfully we hit the famed water station hosted by firefighters at 2K. It was a nice touch.

I had also forgotten my sunglasses (gah!) which resulted in a nice squint for these photos snapped near the beginning of the race.

KM 2 - 4:48

We were running along the paved paths through the park. It was open to the public, but luckily there didn't seem to be too many people out and those who were cleared the way. We ran over several bridges, some with speed bumps (ouch) - all of which was familiar from when I've run the half marathon and 5K previously.

At 3K there was an short but steep climb followed by a sharp turn; we ran down the other side, but it was too steep to feel good. I was still feeling alright; no coughing spells, which I was most worried about.

KM 3 - 5:00

Around 4K we got to see the leaders running back toward the finish. I was ecstatic to see that my physiotherapist was in first place!* I gave her a little cheer and enjoyed watching all of the leading ladies as I made my way to the turn-around.

KM 4 - 4:50

We ran downhill to the 180-degree turn around. The sharp turn around a pylon killed some momentum, especially when followed immediately by a climb back up the hill. At least we were on the way back!

KM 5 - 4:55

I enjoyed looking out for friends headed the other way and it offered a good distraction. I was tiring and trying hard not to slow down.

KM 6 - 4:55

The most noticeable climb on the elevation chart above (with the map) came at 7K and it wore me down. I slowed pretty significantly and couldn't seem to find any steam after that.

KM 7 - 4:59

Just after 7K, the 5K'ers joined in from their turn around point. The pack was moving a lot slower than we were (they had started 15 mins. later) and it immediately became congested as I wove my way through. I even ran off the path on the grass several times to avoid a traffic jam.

KM 8 - 5:11

I was drained at this point and wishing I had taken it easier, telling myself I was too sick to be running this fast. I was tormented by all the usual thoughts that arise toward the end of a race when you're suffering; I even considered stopping for a walk.

KM 9 - 5:12

Finally, with one kilometre to go and the finish line within ear shot, I found something in the tank to pick it up. My friend Patricia snapped this pic as I made my way toward the finish. Finally smiling.

The following photos were also taken on the home stretch as I worked on passing the 5K'ers in purple bibs.

Official Chip Time: 49:18.7
Average Pace: 4:56/KM = 7:56/mi
Overall Pace: 28/332
Gender Place: 28/331 (yes, there was one male)
F20-29: 12/102

It certainly wasn't my best 10K race performance (now I'm itching for another 10K this season for redemption), but I'll call it a good effort and a decent tempo pace.

Stay tuned to find out how the long run went this morning!

*My PT went on to win the race in 37:03!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Foto Friday

I'm siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick. *whine*

I've been fighting a bit of a cold all week. It wasn't too bad until yesterday when I was a coughing, sniffling, sneezing, congested mess by the end of the work day. After much internal debate, I made the smart decision to call off last night's run. I can't remember the last time I missed a run! It stings, but I need to get healthy.

Today was a scheduled rest day and I took the day off work. I actually feel quite a bit better this morning but I will be taking it easy all day and hoping to be well enough for my race tomorrow and long run Sunday.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I had a "maintenance" appointment on Tuesday night at physio; after a good rub-down, I walked out feeling nice and loose. Unfortunately I found out that my PT is leaving the practice for 20 months to work in another country. I'm definitely bummed becuase I have really come to know and trust her over 2.5 years; hopefully she will return. In the meantime, she has referred me to the owner of the practice (a.k.a. Dr. Pain - uh oh!) who is also an experienced runner and I know he'll take good care of me.

2. Tonight I'll be running 800m repeats at clinic. I've really been looking forward to taking up speed work again with the group to push me along, but tonight I'll be taking it on the easy side because...

3. This Saturday I'm running the Toronto Women's 10K - 3rd race in 3 weeks if you're keeping track (4th next weekend). Interestingly enough, my (former) PT will also be competing. There goes my chance at winning... ;) Anyone else going to be there??

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MWMLR - "Mama Goes Masters" Virtual Race

Today I ran the 8.25 mile distance option as part of my MWMLR for MCM Mama's Virtual Race.


Event: Mama Goes Masters Virtual Race
Distance: 8.25mi (13.2KM)
Date: August 25, 2010
Start Time: 4:29 AM
Location: Tom Taylor Trail - Newmarket, Ontario
Terrain: Paved running/cycling trails, gentle rollers
Conditions: 14C/57F, clear, dark
- 2 runners (hubs and myself)
- 1 kid on skateboard
- 3 dog walkers
- 1 fox
- unknown number of mystery critters rustling in the bushes


Distance: 13.2KM (8.25mi)
Time*: 1:14:29
Pace: 5:37/KM (9:02/mi)
*Computed based on overall average pace


Distance: 19.0K (11.8mi)
Time: 1:46:35
Pace: 5:37/KM (9:02/mi)

Happy 40th Birthday, MCM Mama!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Track Tuesday

After hosting the water station on Sunday, I headed home to join hubs for a recovery run. It was one of those runs where I felt good physically, but mentally was not into it. Hubs was lagging behind (he ran a lot harder than I did on Saturday), which did not help with morale. After a little bit of whining from both of us, we ran 11K to round off another weekly mileage milestone for me at 93K/58mi.

This morning Juliana and I met dark and early for another track workout. I'm saving myself for speed work with the group on Thursday, but didn't want to pass up the opportunity to run at the PRIVATE! NO TRESPASSING! track with some company. It turns out we had more company than we bargained for when a little fox came out to play. He was just hanging out on the track, watching us run around and around. We tried in vain to scare him off, but he wanted to stick around. He was harmless and playful; A couple of times he pulled J's shirt and water bottle off the bench, dragging it across the ground. Too bad neither of us had our cameras!

I decided to run some moderately-paced, controlled intervals of 2000 metres (5 laps) with just enough recovery in between to grab some water. I finished them off in 9:58, 9:51, 9:37 (average interval pace = 4:54/KM = 7:53/mi) while J ran her own workout, and we finished off 10.5K to start the day.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Midsummer Night's Redemption

"Wanderers of the night..."

Saturday night was the 5th annual ("Act V") Shakespeare-themed A Midsummer Night's Run (30K) taking place in Toronto's east end, mostly along waterfront trails.

Starting at 5:30PM, it's a difficult time to run long distance. Unlike last year I decided to have fun with it and run more conservatively this time around. My goals were to put in some quality training and feel good beginning to end. Of course, I had a somewhat secret desire to beat last year's "A" Goal of 2:50.

We headed to the race extra early, as usual, and found great parking nearby. It was sprinkling rain so we found some shelter under a tree and hung out while we waited for everyone else to arrive.

We took some pics once everyone showed up.

We killed some time with the usual pre-race routine of multiple visits to the port-o-potties, bag check and a warm-up run for hubs. Pretty soon it was time to line-up.

I like this race because it creates a fun, laid back atmosphere without the usual hustle and bustle and high anxiety at the starting line. Everything felt very casual as we stood around chatting during those final moments before the gun.

Kelly, Angela and I (the other girls in crowns) had decided to stick together and treat it as a typical long run for the most part. Lynn (with the tutu) joined us for the first several kilometres as well before picking up the pace and continuing on her own.

We maintained a pretty steady 5:45/KM (9:15/mi) pace and kept things comfortable and conversational. The first 10K took us through a mostly industrial area; pretty boring without must to look at, so it was really nice to have company. I got to see hubs briefly here on the first of many out-and-back portions.

The thick, humid air felt like a suffocating blanket surrounding us and we were already wishing for the rain that had been forecasted. We were drenched already and taking in fluids like crazy. It was a good feeling not to have any time pressure, as I thought back to how miserable I was feeling at this point last year.

Self-portrait fail:

At around 11K we headed out onto the Leslie Street Spit into Tommy Thompson Park. With views of Lake Ontario on both sides of us, we enjoyed a breeze and the sound of waves crashing against the shore as we made our way along the newly paved road. (Last year this section consisted of mostly rough and broken asphalt; it was a definite improvement!) It had started to rain very lightly, which was much needed! It would continue for most of the race.

Don't mind the blurry on-the-run pics:

We were getting tons of compliments on our outfits, which always gave us a big boost. It's fun running in costume and surprisingly, the crowns, fairy wings and sashes weren't too much of a nuisance. At one point, we heard someone coming up from behind with some kind words. As he passed, we realized it was multiple world record holder Rick Ball.

We crossed the half marathon marker and timing mat just over 2 hours as we made our way out of the park. It had been pretty quiet out on the spit, so it was nice to get some crowd support once we were back on the main roads.

We were now headed toward Ashbridge's Bay Park where we would run a short loop before heading back to the finish. I spotted Kenny who was already on his way back, with hubs trailing close behind. (I found out later that they had run together for a while.)

Around 25K the girls felt that they needed to slow down a little and encouraged me to go on. I knew I had a lot in the tank so I decided to push it for the last 5K. I started passing people all over the place, watching my average pace drop as I went. A few spectators and volunteers who recognized me from before asked, 'Where are your friends?'

I snapped this self-pic along the way:

The last five ticked by in 5:16, 5:13, 5:19, 5:08, 4:45. Before I knew it, I was rounding the bend for the finish.

30.0KM (18.6mi)
Chip time: 2:49:06
Average pace: 5:39/KM (9:04/mi)
F20-29: 26/83
Women: 97/335
Overall: 280/651

I quickly found hubs who had finished in 2:26 for his first race post-injury and a PR.

We collected our medals and stainless steel water bottles (nice perk!) before heading our separate ways. It was still raining and we were all ready to get home; but not before a group pic with the ladies!

Overall, a very successful and FUN race.

On Sunday morning Kelly and I decided to set up a "travelling water station" for our group's long run. We wore our outfits and were reportedly a sight for sore eyes for many on a tough and rainy run. We weren't quite ready for this pic, but I still think it's pretty cute.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I slept in a bit this morning because I'll be running with my training group tonight. It's not unbearably hot in the evening this week for a change, so I decided to take advantage. I've only been running with my buddies on Sundays recently, so the company will be great.

2. I was just taking a look at my race schedule for this year; I've completed 13 so far with 6 more scheduled. I can't very well finish off the year with 19 races. Time to decide how to fill in the blank...

3. Speaking of races, this Saturday is A Mid Summer Night's Run (30K). I had a terrible race last year, but this time around I'll be treating is as a training/fun run, sticking with friends and even dressing up (stay tuned!); it should be a great time!

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MWMLR and Logistics of Early Morning Runs

It's Wednesday and that means one thing these days: MWMLR (mid-week medium-long run) time! I increased slightly this week (from 18 to 19K) and in some twisted way, I was looking forward to it. Even with the 3:45 wake-up call!*

This week we are enjoying a glorious reprieve from the heat/humidity with a morning temp of 15C (59F). Heaven!

I decided to drive to our local park to take advantage of the quiet, empty paths. It felt a little eerie at first, but I knew hubs was there as well (believe it or not, he had started running an hour before me!) and we ended up seeing each other a couple times. I saw one other runner, but for the most part I had the world to myself! (At least, that's how it felt.)

There's some lingering soreness in my legs, but energy-wise I felt fantastic. The kilometres ticked by easily and before I knew it, the sky had started to lighten up as I neared the end of my run.

19.0KM (11.8mi) - 1:44:29 - 5:30/KM (8:51/mi

*I've had a lot of comments about the obscene early hours that I'm running these days.

Looking back, I started running in the morning simply to beat the heat. (The last two years when I was training for September marathons, I did not have to contend with the weather we are having this summer.) I have never been a morning runner previously and always envied Aron and J, among others, claiming that 'I just can't get out of bed.' The truth is, it became routine quite easily and now I don't want to look back. It's not about the weather anymore; I love jump-starting my day with a run and not having it hang over my head all day long. I relish my free time in the evenings and although I'm running more than ever, it has not been a struggle whatsoever to fit it all in.

It helps a lot that hubs is running in the mornings as well, so we are both going to bed early. I tucked in at 9:00 last night, earlier than most of the kids on our street. I prefer to get 7-8 hours a night, but I can usually catch up with 8-9 hours on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday night. (Those of you running in early the morning with little ones of your own to look after... I don't know how you do it!)

Other than adjusting the sleep schedule, I just make sure that everything is laid out the night before so I don't have to think too much in the morning - no different than I do every weekend for long runs.

I try to run early enough that I have time after the run to refuel, put up my legs and/or take an ice bath as needed (which I did this morning!) rather than rushing around to get ready for work. I hate being in a hurry, so I'm willing to give up 30 minutes of sleep for this.

And that's about all there is to it! How do you start your days?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

20-Miler Recap and Track Tuesday

After Saturday's City Chase adventures, I was in a world of hurt and still exhausted come Sunday morning. I knew it was going to be a struggle to get through a long run, but I also knew that I had to do what I had to do. To make it even more interesting, Sunday turns out to be one of the most humid days we've had all year. It was extremely muggy at 6:30AM and crept close to 40C (104F) with the humidex by the end of our run.

The majority of our group was running a shorter distance (fall-back week), but a few of us wanted to tackle our first 20-miler so we set early for the extra. It helped breaking the run into two parts, although we were definitely nervous about what the remainder of the run had in store for us when we found ourselves soaking wet and pretty tired from the first part. After 13K, we made our way back to the starting point where we picked up the rest of the group. This was also a great opportunity for fluid refills - we were going to need it!

I popped a couple of Advils for pain management (City Chase had trashed my legs!) and it worked, for the most part. Throughout the run, I kept wondering which was worse - the uphills which were exhausting or the downhills which were painful. Either way, the bigger concern was the thick air and the feeling that we were overheating. Occasionally we enjoyed a breeze, but when we didn't, it was downright unbearable. I was truly tempted to just stop and sit down on the side of the road. Most of us seemed to be running out of fluids but others shared and we all looked out for one another. I could not have been happier to have company; it's the only way I was able to keep moving.

As we neared the end of the run, we had to climb a steep embankment in order to pick up a trail that would take us most of the way to the end. We practically had to get down on our hands and knees in order to get up there. We finally made it, but many of us were feeling woozy so we decided to walk for several minutes until everyone felt well enough to continue.

Eventually, we made our way back. Between the conditions, my weekly mileage (a new PR of 89K/55mi!) and City Chase, this was one of the most difficult long runs I can remember.

32.5K (20.2mi) - 3:16:11 - 6:02/km (9:42/mi)

After the run, we were all treated to an awesome pool party, BBQ and wine-tasting (at 11AM, love it!) at the home of one of our runners. I went straight in the gorgeous swimming pool in my running gear and stayed in until I smelled the food. It was just what we needed to unwind after an extremely challenging run.

The beautiful pool:

A peak in our host's 1800-bottle wine cellar:

After a much-needed rest day on Monday, I was ready to hit the track this morning. My legs were still feeling pretty tired and beat-up, but I had plans to meet Juliana, so I figured I would warm-up and see what I could do. It was great to have company, especially sneaking onto the "PRIVATE! NO TRESPASSING!" track. After a nice warm-up at the park, we headed over and stumbled noisily crept quietly around the school buildings, down the steps to the track.

It was still dark, dead quiet and somehow welcoming. J and I were each doing our own thing, but it was nice to have someone there. Another guy showed up to run a lap or two, but didn't stick around.

The workout: 6 x 800 with 400m (roughly 2:30) recoveries

3:22 - clearly a little too eager
3:31 - that's better
3:29 - telling myself it's okay to stop at 4 repeats
3:30 - telling myself I have to do at least 5
3:24 - made it this far, might as well finish up!
3:27 - ahhhh, done!

Average = 3:27 (4:19/KM, 6:57/mi!!)

I'm definitely pleased with how well this went. After dropping J off at her car, I ran a little farther to wrap up 13K (8.1mi) for the day.

Finished just in time for sunrise.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Toronto City Chase 2010, Round 2!

On Saturday my sister and I (Team "Blister Sisters") participated in the Toronto City Chase alongside Juliana and her hubby Mike (Team "Married With Children"). We arrived in the city bright and early to pick up our race kits, only to realize we were at the wrong location! In June the start/finish was at Nathan Phillips Square; this time it was at Metro Hall. Luckily it was only a short walk away and we had plenty of time.

We picked up our race shirts, bibs and transit passes, got ourselves organized and eventually went to grab some breakfast while we waited for the start.

Here we are, all ready to go:

Pretty soon it was time for opening announcements, final instructions and finally we were told where we could find our clue sheets. Roughly half of the teams (divided by a crack in the pavement) were sent to Union Station, while the other half (including us) were sent to Roy Thomson Hall. As usual, it was a mad scramble to this location where innocent and unsuspecting volunteers were swarmed and tackled by hundreds of lunatics in red shirts.

We retrieved our clue sheets without losing an eyeball and the four of us found a spot to sit down and decide where to start. We spent 15 minutes or so de-coding clues using our knowledge of the city, a map, Mike's GPS and a few phone calls to hubby. We realized that several Chase Points were relatively close together toward the west end of the city. We marked out a few locations on the map and headed to the subway before wasting too much time. We decided to head to the farthest destination firs,t then work our way back downtown. We had some time on the train so we worked on a few more clues and fine-tuned our plan.

Chase Point #1: Once Upon A Time - Your parents used to read you stories of lore that were captivating, and never a bore. Runnymede Branch is where it starts, listen closely and show off your smarts.

Our first stop was at a library where we listened to a short story and had to correctly answer at least 3 out of 5 questions. It was pretty simple; the only issue with this Chase Point was the crowding of people squeezing through the doors and trying to have their answers verified in order to collect the stamp.

It was a short walk up the street toward High Park for the next two stops we had planned, but we happened to pass by another Chase Point at the local Running Room along the way. It's hard to miss all of those red shirts!

Chase Point #2: Hostage - At Stanton's High Park store you have lots of fun, wandering the streets to become undone.

There was a bit of a line-up, but we decided to wait it out. We took advantage of the time and facilities for a pitstop and water refills while we were there.

Quick pic in the line-up:

We were chained to our partners back-to-back and given a list of clues to help us figure out the lock combination using posted phone numbers and street addresses in the area. It was pretty comical seeing all of us hobbling along the sidewalk, chained together, frantically searching buildings and scribbling numbers. We ended up with five possible numbers for the three-digit combination and then came the hard part: trying them one at a time. It was extremely frustrating, especially since our lock kept sticking. We found out that volunteers were offering some hints, so we begged for some help. She said she could verify that we have the correct numbers, so we chose 3 of our 5 possibilities and they turned out to be correct. Mike and Juliana had already finished so they helped us work through each possibility and we still couldn't get the thing open.

Finally the volunteer absolved us of our frustrations, opened the lock and let us go. This ended up taking way longer than we expected, nearly an hour including waiting time. Onward!

High Park was just up the road and the next two challenges were in the same area, which allowed us to make up some time.

Chase Point #3: Seize the Summer - To retrieve this clue, text the word "Summer" to XXXXX. (The text message then said "With a flick of the wrist, send the disc for a ride, after checking in with the Molson crew at High Park's north side."

We had to toss a frisbee from point to point along a course, with an allowance of no more than 12 tosses from start to finish. (Fortunately, they weren't counting!) At the second 'leg' we had to hit one of four hockey sticks with the frisbee and were warned that something good or bad would come of it, depending on which stick we hit. Unfortunately we hit the one that sent us back to the start. When we arrived there for a second time, we hit the stick that forced us to wait until another team arrived. Fortunately, that only took a minute or two. Finally, we made our way through the course and collected our third stamp.

Chase Point #4: pHace Your Fear - Your teammate's pH will determine your fate, a quick test and you'll be handling something you might hate. In High Park just south of Bloor, we have a few friends you'll need to endure.

I had my pH level tested using an indicator test strip. My pH level of 8.0 determined that my sister would hold a scorpion on her arm. (Other critters on hand were a small crocodile, tarantula and a snake.)

As you can see, she didn't mind.

Chase Point #5: Attention! - .kraP uaiauhtiL ta werc eht ot troper ... ytiliga, krowmaet, htgnerts, deepS. (Speed, strength, teamwork, agility... report to the crew at Lithuania Park.)

We were given a list of tasks to accomplish as we made our way through various bootcamp-style stations.

- 40 push-ups (team total)
- army crawl without touching wires more the 3x (per team)

- 100 jumping jacks (team total)*
- walk across two tire "bridges"

- 80 squats (team total)*
- navigate through a minefield of eggs blindfolded (with partner's verbal direction)

- 30 burpees (team total)*

* My sister was having a hard time with the physical challenges and wasn't feeling well when she got up from the army crawl, so I completed all of the jumping jacks, squats and burpees for our team

Chase Point #6: Sweeeet Ride! - This is your time to shine and be heard. Grab a few friends and check your tone; Sing loud and proud but don't forget the words/// Find your ride in the parking lot at Keele Subway Station.

Here we found several parked vehicles and we had to find two non-participants to sit in a car with us and sing along with a song on the radio for at least one minute. At first we thought it would be impossible to find anyone to participate, but one awesome couple had parked themselves in the backseat of one of the cars and hung out back there singing their hearts out so that several teams could take turns collecting their point.

Chase Point #7: S.W.A.T. - We should all be careful when holding a gun, though tactical training can be plenty of fun. Close Quarters Battle is the name of the place, dodge enemies and don't get hit in the face.

Here one partner had to suit up and head into a warehouse, potentially being shot at by paintballers while trying to retrieve a golf ball. The worst part was that the coveralls and masks were soaked in sweat and the place was not air conditioned.

Suiting up:

Putting on the mark:

And pulling it off in disgust - ew!

Okay, here we go!

We found the golf balls and made it out quickly without being hit. We suspected that they were shooting blanks, but realized when we left that some Chasers had been hit (and had the welts to prove it). I guess we got lucky!

Chase Point #8: Chilly Choices - During the first part, your teammate will need some success, or the second part will lead to plenty of stress. If you're looking for something sweet, come down for a treat. Greg is scooping, so all you have to do is eat.

The idea here was for one teammate to sample and identify seven flavours of ice cream. If he or she guessed any incorrectly, their partner would have to eat a live cricket. We took a look at the samples and they all appeared very similar; nothing obvious like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. Juliana tasted one and knew she would not be able to identify it, let alone all seven. In the interest of time, we decided to skip the tasting and accept the live cricket.

Capturing my cricket. I smushed it on my knuckle first.


Chase Point #9: Abracadabra! - Copperfield won't have a leg up on you, after we teach you a new trick or two. Check in at "The Rock", a 600-ton fragment of Canada's glacial shield.

We found a magician in the Yorkville area where we had to learn a quick card trick and demonstrate it to passersby. It was pretty simple and only slightly embarrassing convincing a couple of ladies to watch our silly trick.

Chase Point #10: Check in at the Union Station Goodlife (we had to decode a letter puzzle to determine those instructions)

This is a challenge I've completed at each City Chase event. Upon entering Goodlife Fitness, each team is asked to select a chocolate bar. We are then informed that we will have to burn off the number of calories in that bar, as a team. We chose a Mars Bar and had 240 calories to burn. My sister went on the elliptical, while I chose (big surprise) the treadmill. I cranked up the speed and incline and worked up a good sweat until we reached the magic number.

J and I after getting off the treadmills:

Final chase point completed! From here, we were on our way to the finish line. Thankfully it was just a short walk, because we were all exhausted.

We stopped for a photo op before crossing the finish line with a time of about 5:30.

It was a hot, humid and sunny day and the four of us were completely spent after trapsing around the city all day. It was an exhausting but FUN day! I know I'll be going back for more.

I woke up Sunday morning in a world of pain, but I still had a 20-miler to complete! Stay tuned to find out how it went...