Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll Race Report

...continued from Seattle Recap Part I


After a late night and restless sleep, the 4:00AM alarm came far too soon. Mel enjoyed a little extra sleep, but I'm anal about my morning routine so I roused myself and went through the motions of getting ready (slowly). I woke up with the same headache and 'off' feeling I'd had since arriving and expected it to be one long day.

Mel wasn't feeling so hot either so we commiserated together as we hit the road at 5:10. Jill and her hubby had offered us a ride to the start, so we met up with them (and Zoe) at a local mall to ride together in style. Jill was super pumped to be running her first marathon and her energy was infectious. I started getting excited!

Thanks to Mel's not-so-secret-anymore back road directions, Jill's hubby was able to drop us off super close to the start without any hassle. We paused for a quick photo.

Zoe, Mel, Marlene, Jamie (Jill's friend), Jill

As you can see, we're wearing our 'warm-ups'. It was a cool and overcast morning, pretty much ideal conditions to run in. The temperature was about 55-65F (which still means nothing to me, other than comfortable) and thankfully the sun remained hidden by clouds all morning. And it didn't rain! (The irony is that I found out later it was raining at home, while everyone had warned me about the wet weather in Seattle.) We definitely lucked out for race day conditions.

First stop: Brooks VIP washrooms! Mel was able to score some passes for us and we were greeted by volunteers in tuxedos with mints and Gu Chomps on silver platters, then treated to flush toilets in heated trailers with all amenities, including fun printed Run Happy toilet paper. The best part was NO LINES! (The line-ups for the regular "honey buckets" were unreal over an hour before the start.)

Next stop: Corral 6 for our pre-race bloggy meet-up and more photo ops!

It was awesome to see everyone and share some hugs before getting ready to start. With about 15 minutes to go, Amanda, Mel and I made our way to our corral (#10 out of 38) and it was READY, SET, GO!


Mel has done a fantastic job of recapping our adventures from 0 to 26.2 so make sure you rock 'n' roll over to Tall Mom's Race Recap if you haven't already. Mel remembered all the details of our random sightings (thong girl, camera man) and friends we "ran" into along the way.

It took us about 12 minutes to cross the starting line and it was incredible to see the sea of people behind and in front of us. The corrals were started in waves, which seemed to help a lot with congestion because we rarely found ourselves crowded on the course.

The route was really enjoyable, starting in Tukwila and finishing in downtown Seattle. The first 9 miles took us through some residential neighborhoods and then through a park along the Lake Washington waterfront, which was beautiful. Kerrie was waiting for us before Mile 4 with her camera, sign, balloon and cowbell! Spectator Extraordinaire!

Mel is waving near the middle, I'm off the the right and Amanda is tucked behind the guy in front. THANKS KERRIE!

I felt like I needed to use the washroom for most of the early miles, and finally decided to stop when I spotted a short line up for the honey buckets at mile 7. Given that I was technically racing without a goal, it wasn't worth it for me to continue running in discomfort. I felt so much better! I told the girls I would try to catch up, but Mel surprised me by turning around to cut some of the distance. Amanda was feeling good at that time and continued on her way. We would see her a few more times during the race, but did not have it in us to catch up.

The first Gu station was shortly after my pit stop, and I grabbed a handful. I'm a Gu junkie and they rarely supply this brand at races at home, so this was exciting for me. We giggled away as I spent the better part of a mile trying to stuff my bounty into pockets and elastic gel holders.

Miles 10 and 11 took us over the Lake Washington Bridge for an out-and-back. It was windy but offered some amazing views. Mel kept saying that she had missed most of this last year since she was so focused, so I made sure to take it all in.

After the bridge, we made our way toward the downtown area. We knew we were approaching the finish line, though we still had a long way to go. This was tough, especially since Mel and I were both feeling pretty mentally tired already. We both knew we could physically run a marathon, but neither of us felt mentally prepared as we had been for our goal marathons in May. Thankfully, we were in it together and we knew we would get there, having a blast no matter how tired we were.

Half Marathon Split: 2:06:42

Spotting Mel's friends just past the half way mark was exactly what we needed. We paused for hugs and a photo. We allowed a minute or two to tick by without a care in the world... until one of Mel's friends jokingly shooed us away and suggested that maybe we should start running again. Okay, off we went!

We made our way onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct for a lengthy out-and-back from miles 16 to 21. Both Mel and I decided to make a quick stop in the honey buckets for some instant relief before starting the 1.5 mile climb. This was one loooong hill and just when I thought we should be nearing the top, we turned slightly and it kept on going. We had anticipated walking if needed, but surprised ourselves when we were able to keep on trucking and barely slowed down. We enjoyed a short downhill before finally reaching the turn-around.

Suddenly that "short downhill" seemed much longer as we climbed back up on the way back. Fortunately we knew we were approaching the glorious 1.5 mile long descent toward mile 20. At the bottom, I had to stop for the honey buckets again. This was getting ridiculous. I felt like I had to go so badly, but I finally got in there and.... nothing. I don't know what was up with my bladder that day, but the same thing had happened at Disney in January. It must have something to do with being more relaxed and less focused, because I never have to pee! Anyway, after this episode, I told myself 'That's it! You're not stopping again until the finish!' Mel was such a good sport and joked that I was the Official Honey Bucket Inspector.

We hit the second and final Gu station, so I grabbed a couple more (I couldn't help myself!) and stuffed them wherever I could find room.

We continued on our way back toward the finish line, but knew we had to run straight past for one final out-and-back. We suddenly had a burst of energy (it was mostly Mel but she rubbed off on me) and we got EXCITED, whooping and hollering at spectators and other runners, laughing and waving our arms around. It was fun to get pumped up so close to the finish. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. Miles 24 and 25 seemed to go on forever as we ran along the Viaduct and still had to face some hills.

Suddenly Steph came out of nowhere with a big smile and her handy camera. She had just PR'd and BQ'd (again!) with a 3:34 and was out on the course to give us some support and run a few extra miles. She snapped this pic before sending us on our way.

We kept on smiling even though we were hurting.

The Mile 25 sign was a welcome sight and we started to pick it up. Along the way I spotted Tall Guy Surfing + Jenny up ahead so we introduced ourselves and chatted briefly.

We finally made the last turn toward Qwest Stadium and found ourselves sprinting down the ramp, around the bend and into the finish. We grabbed hands, raised our arms in the air and cheered our way all the way through that finish line.

Final Chip Time: 4:15:49


It was amazing to run this entire race with my buddy and I am so grateful to Mel for sticking with me every step of the way. It's crazy to think we had just met for the first time two days before. We hit it off immediately and made great running partners (no surprise to either of us). It's amazing how well you can get to know someone over 26.2 miles.

After collecting our medals we found Amanda who had finished just before us (with a new PR despite being sick!) and had our official finishers photos taken.

We slowly made our way to the reunion area after collecting some food and drink.

So happy to be done!

It was time to slip on our pink compression socks and sit down.

Family reunion area "B" quickly filled up with bloggers and we snapped a few post-race pics.

Miscellaneous Race Observations

  • There were bands at least every mile and they were fantastic! I really enjoyed the variety of music and most of them did a great job on engaging the runners.

  • There were also several cheer squads out and we loved cheering along with them, most likely looking like idiots but totally loving it.

  • Spectators were plentiful throughout most sections of the course and made sure to thank them for their cheering and signs. We were often called "Team Pretty in Pink", which we obviously enjoyed!

  • I carried my handheld and refilled countless times during the race, also taking a cup of Cytomax frequently. Both Mel and I found that we were extremely thirsty no matter how much we drank. I wanted to stop several times and just chug an entire bottle of water, but I knew it would slosh around in my stomach.

  • I took Salt Stick caps before the start and around half way.

  • I felt surprisingly good immediately after the race. My legs were hardly bothering me at all and my stomach felt great. Usually I have a hard time eating immediately after a marathon, but this time I was stuffing my face with everything in sight (special thanks to Mel's friends who brought food for us too!). I expected to wake up sore the next day, but I could hardly tell that I had run a marathon. On Monday I headed out for an easy 5K, which felt great after taking only one day off.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Seattle Recap

What a whirlwind of a weekend! Thursday was off to a rocky start when my plane had to turn around and fly back to Toronto due to cabin pressure issues. After sitting on the plane for an hour, then waiting around the airport for two and a half, we finally boarded another plane... only to wait another hour and a half to depart for the 5+ hour flight. I finally arrived in Seattle 5 hours later than planned after about 12 hours of travelling. Unfortunately this derailed some of our plans for the day, but Tall Mom was a wonderful host, picking me up from the airport (during rush hour!), getting me fed and taking me home to crash.

So many thanks to the Tall Mom family for welcoming me into their home and taking such good care of me all weekend. I could not have asked for better hosts.

On Friday we did a little shopping in the morning before lunch, then hit the race expo for some serious shopping and freebies!

(I was extremely excited about $1 Gu!)

After making our way through the crowds, we met up with Amanda and her hubby to Ride the Ducks, which allowed us to see some of the city off our feet. Our duck got stuck in some major traffic congestion, but the driver was a hoot and we had an awesome time.

We had a bit of time to kill before our big bloggy dinner, so we wandered along the water front and paused for a photo op.

Dinner was an enormous success and it was amazing to meet Kerrie, Zoe, Stacie, Sarah, Kasey, Lorian, Steph, Jill and many others! The hours passed quickly as we chatted and laughed while stuffing our faces and chugging water. Thank you so much to our local Seattle organizers, especially Mel for making it happen and Kerrie for the personalized name tags.

We eventually made it back to the Tall Mom residence to hit the sack. Mel and I both went to bed asking one another, 'Are we really running a marathon in the morning?'

To be continued......

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Finished and famous!


Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (# 5): 4:15:49

Trip report and race report to follow!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chaos + City Chase Pro Pics

I won't soon forget the sound of my keyboard rattling on my desk and the feeling of the floor shaking beneath me during yesterday's earthquake, the first I have ever experienced. Soon after we were flooded with severe storm warnings and a reported tornado touch-down not far from here. It has been a crazy 24 hours!

Given the heightened security surrounding the G20 Summit in Toronto, it has been a chaotic morning. Go figure, I'm travelling on perhaps the busiest day the Toronto Airport will see all year.

We allowed plenty of extra time and I am currently waiting in the Maple Leaf Lounge (enjoying free breakfast and internet - score!) for my flight.

As I prepare to depart for Seattle, I'll leave you with these pics from last weekend:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Seattle bound!

First, some sad news. I found out from a friend of mine out east last night that one of her training partners was killed on Sunday evening when she was hit by a motorcycle while out for a run. My heart goes out to the victim and her friends and family. Police were only able to identify her by her name written on her water bottle - please remember to carry I.D.!

On a more positive note, I fly out tomorrow morning for Seattle! Hubs has generously offered me one of his corporate passes to the Maple Leaf Lounge at the Toronto Airport so I will be waiting for my flight in luxury while enjoying a free breakfast.

We have an exciting few days planned with Tall Mom and company, most importantly the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on Saturday - my 5th marathon!

I can't wait to meet some of you at our Bloggy Carbo Load Dinner tomorrow night! Check in with Tall Mom for details!

A few of you have asked about my goals for the race. The truth is, I don't have any except to (hopefully) run with Mel, Amanda and (maybe?) Steph for as long as possible, to remain injury-free and HAVE FUN! Can't wait to see what race day brings!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I neglected to mention that we had an incredibly hot and humid day for the City Chase on Saturday, one of the warmest we've had all year. We were sweating buckets from the get-go, but fortunately we were too busy running like crazy all over the city to let it get to us.

The hot, humid and sunny conditions continued for Sunday's long run (20K) and yesterday's lunch run. I can tell that I've adjusted quite a bit, because it doesn't get to me nearly as much as it did just a few short weeks ago. That being said, bring on Seattle with its cool and damp weather! Speaking of which, I need to get packing! I can hardly believe that I'm flying out in just a couple days and running a marathon this Saturday!

Tall Mom has been tirelessly working on our itinerary and I can't wait to see this beautiful city and of course all of my bloggy buddies! 2 more sleeps!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Toronto City Chase

On Saturday I participated in the Toronto City Chase for the third time.

City Chase Overview:

Experience Laughter, Adventure and Discovery!

The Mitsubishi City Chase Powered by BlackBerry Bold is a unique urban adventure that requires participants to exhibit teamwork, resourcefulness, determination and the ability to make decisions on the fly as they search for ChasePoints scattered in unknown locations throughout the city. ChasePoints are designed to test teams with a variety of physical, intellectual, adventurous and humorous challenges.

To conquer this 4-6 hour urban event, 2-person teams will run, walk and use public transit to navigate their way throughout the city, while calling family and friends for help, accessing the Internet, and even employing assistance of total strangers. The first team to complete the required ChasePoints and cross the finish line WINS.

This year I had a new partner (L) and our friend Lil Meg paired up with another of our friends to come along for the ride. The 4 of us wore awesome matching outfits and stuck together all day. We had a blast!

Group reflection-shot on the way to the start.
L, me, E, Meg

We arrived at the start/finish area at Nathan Phillips Square to find many teams already congregating around the stage about an hour early.

Pretty soon, they started the opening announcements. We immediately took out our paper and pens and jotted notes like maniacs. In previous years, we had to complete a scavenger hunt in order to receive our clue sheets and taking notes has been imperative.

As it turns out, we didn't need to take notes at all and the host was amused by how frantically everyone was scribbling. At 10am on the dot, we were told that the clue sheets were available at the four corners of Nathan Phillips Square. It was a mad rush of red shirts as we all scrambled to get our sheets. Fortunately, nobody lost an eyeball.

We quickly scanned over the two-sided clue sheet (approximately 40 to choose from, 10 to be completed) and got the show on the road. We used our time in transit (and line ups) to map out a logical route through the city (mostly thanks to L).

Chase Point # 1 - Walk Hard: "At Trinity Bellwoods Park we'll see how you fare as you make your way between two trees in the air."

There were about six lengths of cord between trees and one person had to navigate the entire course tight-rope-style while supported from below by their partner. It was a lot more difficult than it looks and we had to take our time. We had waited in line for 40+ minutes (longest we waited for any challenge all day) and if we touched the ground, we'd be sent to the back of the line. Luckily, no slips!

Chase Point # 2 - Target Practice: "Raak de doelen met een paintball geweer, anders wordt de kont van jouw teamgenoot het doelwit! Ga naar de "pit" in Trinity Belwoods Park." (not all clues were in English!)

We made a short run to the other side of the park for the paintball challenge, which had unfortunately been shut down due to safety concerns. They gave us a stamp just for showing up.

Chase Point # 3 - Sweeeet Ride: "With one in the seat and one on their feet and two others helping you move through the street, the staff await your arrival in the parking lot of this west end mall that opened in 1957."

A quick Google search and we were on our way to Dufferin Mall. Once there, we worked in a group of four to maneuver a car (in neutral) around a couple of pylons, then reversed into a parking spot. We had one driver (E), one director (Meg), one puller with harness (L) and one pushing from behind (moi). It was hard, but we nailed it on the first try. Go team!

Chase Point # 4 - Art of Movement: "Expressing yourself through movement and play, jumping and climbing, getting through your day. Parkour is the challenge, the 'Monkey Vault' the way, just understand that movement is play. Head north of Bloor on Dufferin and look for Geary Ave on your right."

We were instructed to tumble our way through a short routine, rolling over the obstacles, bouncing off walls and somersaulting on a padded platform. There was an alternate (supposedly quicker) challenge where we would jump from the railing shown in the back onto a foam mattress, but we were all cautious of injury and went for the obstacle course. It took less than 2 minutes and (most importantly) nobody got hurt!

Chase Point # 5 - Gastronomy: "At 'The Monkey Vault' teams will identify foods from around the world, some are tasty but others will make you hurl."

This one was right outside the 'Monkey Vault' and had just a short line. One teammate(myself) had to identify five foods while blindfolded. For each incorrect guess, the other would have to eat a cricket. L was brave and trusted my taste buds. The mystery bites were: dried cranberry, corn pop, chocolate chip, dried pea, dried apricot. I got them all right ... except dried pea! (I thought it was a soy nut). L had to eat a cricket. (Ewwwwww!) She handled it better than I would have and got that sucker down without too much of a fuss. :)

Chase Point # 6
- Burn it Off: "You'll learn a lesson at the Goodlife on St. Clair, but there's a reward at the end so do not despair."

We hit the Goodlife gym where we were asked to select a chocolate bar, and then informed that we would have to burn that number of calories on either the treadmill or elliptical. I had completed this challenge last year so we knew what to expect. After a quick Google search, we selected one of the lower-cal bars (Twix) and hit the treadmills with 210 calories to burn (as a team). I cranked up the speed and incline and busted butt for about 10 minutes. We were dripping!

self-portrait post-workout in the Goodlife washroom

Chase Point # 7 - Say Cheese: "For Annie Liebowitz this would be a ton of fun, at the Rogers Store near Davisville & Yonge."

We were assigned a Blackberry Smartphone and instructed to complete six of the tasks listed, documenting each with either picture or video on the Smartphone. We successfully:
-convinced a non-participant to swap shirts
-played leapfrog with a non-participant
-serenaded 5 non-participants
-carried a non-participant's bags (random act of kindness)
-photographed 5 non-participants with a Blackberry Smartphone
-photographed something to represent the number 100 (this was the 100th City Chase event)

Chase Point # 8 - Using Your Head: "Near 'Boot Camp' with another team you must cooperate, lack of team-work will quickly seal your fate."

I rocked the bucket helmet (which I later realized was on backwards - oops!) while L had to sink 4 hacky sack baskets from farther and farther away. L had excellent aim (she only nailed me once) and I made some pretty sweet moves myself to catch them, if I do say so myself!

Chase Point # 9 - Boot Camp: "Any G20 security near Balfour Park at Rosehill might be a little nervous, watching you grunt and groan as if training for the Secret Service."

We made our way through a series of physically demanding boot camp style tasks, from high knees to push ups to dragging each other across the grass in a child's sled, and we had to complete the circuit twice. I may be able to run for four hours, but L was breathing down my neck on this one (and I could barely move my arms the next day).

Chase Point # 10 - Serve 'Em Up: "Mix up some drinks, learning from the masters. Opening 11 to 3 at the Yonge & Bloor Jack Astor's."

L had to balance a mixing cup on her forehead and pour an entire glass into it without spilling. She totally did it!

With our 10 challenges completed and 10 stamps to show for it, it was time to make our way back to Nathan Phillips Square for the finish line. We don't have official results yet, but the 4 of us finished with arms in the air under 4:30.

There was an additional Chase Point located at the finish line (Zoolander) so we stopped by to check it out, and somehow I ended up doing this (I am petrified of snakes!):

That kid seems to like it.

Overall we had a fantastic day and I will do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I'll be completing the second Toronto event in August with my sister, and I'm already lined up for both events next summer!

The City Chase is one of my favourite events and one that I highly recommend to everyone looking to push their limits both physically and mentally. Check out the U.S. series here.

Make sure you stop by to read Meg's account of our adventures. Special thanks to my awesome teammates for making it such a great day. And YES, we are all still friends!

ETA: race pics