Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. With yesterday's MWMLR of ten miles and this morning's 5-miler (we have an out-of-town guest this evening so I have to skip the usual group run), I've run a total of 339.2 KM (210.8 mi) for September. It's not a record (though it is my second highest month), which I knew it wouldn't be with a recovery week and the beginning of taper. Highlights of the month were our 5-year anniversary, a fantastic 23-miler and of course, a sub-1:45 half marathon.

You know what this means? Tomorrow is October! Marathon month! (and Birthday month...)

2. Unfortunately there has been some backlash toward runners and marathons in the City of Toronto since Sunday's race. One mayoral candidate seems to think it would be a brilliant idea to move the race(s) to city parks (?!?!). It's aggravating and saddening that the people of Toronto will not embrace its races like most big cities do.

Yumke wrote an excellent post on the topic if you're interested in reading more.

3. On a more positive note, 79-year-old local man Ed Whitlock, famous for his daily runs in a cemetery, ran an incredible single-age world record of 1:34:27 at the Waterfront Races. (Story Here) If I'm still able to put one foot in front of the other at that age, I'll consider myself fortunate!

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Race Report: Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Preamble: For some background and race goals, start here.


We headed to the race nice and early, as per usual, with our friends P & U. P would be running the full with hubs and U was there to hold our bags for support. We had plenty of time to wander around, scope things out and use the washroom once or twice over and over again.

It was a perfect morning to run; calm, clear and cool at about 10C/50F. The weather gods must have been on our side because Friday had been 30C/86F+ and Saturday was extremely windy. The previous two years had been warm and muggy for this race, so I was determined to take advantage of these awesome racing conditions.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I knew I had an ambitious goal and I wanted to succeed sooo badly. I just wanted to get started already.


With about 20 minutes to go, I exchanged good-byes and good-lucks with P and hubs and we headed to our respective corrals. (for once I was lining up ahead of them, hehe) Last year the starting area was an absolute zoo, but they changed the location to a wider road, which made things much more manageable. I didn't find it crowded at all and people had no problem slipping into the corrals up to the last minute.

I popped a salt capsule, paced a little, shoot my legs around, checked my Garmin obsessively; chatted briefly with someone about having a crappy sleep (he caught me yawning).

Finally, mercifully, the gun went off and I shuffled my way to the timing mats.



I knew immediately that I wouldn't have a good signal on the Garmin thanks to the skyscrapers of downtown. I saw everything from a 3:00 pace to an 8:00 pace during that first kilometre. You can see where Garmin *thinks* I ran:

I expected this and knew what I had to do. It was time to dial in to my pace based on "feel", to remember all of those tempo runs I completed at this pace. Target was 4:58/KM which made it easy to calculate how I was doing based on my overall time at each kilometre marker (I just used 5:00 in my head). I focused on tuning in to my body, concentrating on each breath and each step. I CAN do this. I just had to get this first part out of the way.


We were now running along Lakeshore and I had a better signal, so I was able to keep an eye on my Garmin for current pace. I kept an eye on overall time at each marker and knew I was right on track. I had finally found my groove and was feeling a little more confident. I had settled in with a "comfortably hard" pace and felt consistent from one kilometre to the next. I had a pleasant surprise when Sarah called out my name - I didn't expect to see her out on the course cheering and it was a great boost! I took a gel right around 7K.

It was also during this time that I got to see the elite runners headed back toward the finish after the turn-around. What a sight! (They went on to break all kinds of records.)

10K split: 49:36


It felt good to pass the half-way point. I started thinking of the second half as "just a 10K tempo run". I was working hard, but feeling good. I used some little tricks to break the remainder of the race into chunks, and took it one piece at a time. There was a fantastic cheering section at the turn-around (near 12K). I loved it! And now we were running back toward the finish. Before long I got to see Sarah again and this time I zipped over for a high-five. She asked how I was doing and I said "Good!" I wasn't lying! I took my second gel around 14K.


I was looking forward to 16 becase then it was just "5K to go". I was definitely getting tired, but it was manageable. I held onto that pace for dear life, taking it one KM at a time. The markers actually seemed to be coming quickly! I had to tackle one decent uphill, which in reality is not bad at all but felt like a doozie at that point. I was counting down! At 18K I remember distinctly that I finally believed I was going to do it. I felt decent and I knew I could handle the next 3K. "A" goal, here we come! Marky Mark called out to me from about 19K, told me I was looking strong and snapped this pic (thanks Mark!).

At this point, I said to myself (softly, but out loud): "2K to go. 10 minutes, that's it." [Side note: This is how I know I had a great race. I have run countless half marathons where the last 2K feels like an eternity. This time, it didn't seem that long at all.]


The 20K marker fell right on the corner where we turned left to begin the slight incline toward the finish. I checked my time, but the display was set to hours:minutes and not seconds, so I wasn't sure how close it was going to be. There were signs posted for 500m to go, 400m to go, etc. and suddenly it seemed really, really far. There was one final turn and the finish line was right there. All I know is that my Garmin showed "1:44" and I was gunning it with all I had.

My Garmin had gone berzerk and seems to think I took a few detours on this home stretch. I have never seen maps this crazy! It would have been nice to know my final split, but Garmin clocked a 3:43, which is clearly not accurate. Let's just say it was fast. ;)

Crossed the mats, hit stop, looked down: 1:44:48

Chip time - 1:44:48
Pace - 4:58/KM (7:58/mi)
W25-29 - 32/887
Women - 156/4441
Overall - 870/7894


(Can you tell that I love this top? I've now raced in it 6 times this year!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hubs runs a marathon!

Before I get to my race, I wanted to share a quick report on hubs' run yesterday.

Some of you may recall that he had a disappointing DNF due to injury at this first marathon attempt last November. He went on to run his first marathon with me and our good friends P & U as part of the Goofy Challenge in January.

Unfortunately he was then sidelined for several weeks with another injury. Thankfully he bounced back quickly and his training has gone really well this summer.

The original plan was to seek redemption at the Road2Hope Marathon this November, but he decided to add the Toronto Waterfront Marathon as a training run. He managed to convince P to join him (this girl doesn't know how to say no), so they ran together yesterday.

The plan was to cruise at long run pace for about a 3:45 finish.

waiting to start

After finishing my run, I met up with U and we grabbed a spot about 600 metres from the finish. We cheered our heads off for everyone as we waited for hubs and P. (I love spectating/ cheering!)

When we saw them coming, I started jumping and screaming like crazy. I was so excited!!

 here they come! (yes, they matched on purpose)

Hubs looked like he had been out for a stroll in the park and the first thing out of his mouth when he saw me was "How did you do??" I think he was more concerned about my race than his own. (Awww.)


Chip time: 3:36:57
1st Half: 1:51:01
2nd Half: 1:45:56

As it turns out, they had gotten a little "bored" with their long run pace and picked it up for the second half. They ran the last 7.2K at a 4:54/KM (7:54/mi) pace!

This is a one hour and 12 minute PR for hubs, and he makes it look easy.


Sunday, September 26, 2010


I did it!


(Race report to follow!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flashback Friday: Toronto Waterfront Marathon Edition + Race Goals

This Sunday is the 21st annual Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and mine and hubs' 4th consecutive year racing. Back in 2007, the half marathon was our very first race.

I went on to run my first and second marathons at the Waterfront (yep, I wore the same shirt; it has since been retired).

Something lures us back to this race years after year. Of course it will always hold a special place in our racing hearts for being our first race, but it also has that "big city race" appeal, drawing 20,000+ runners and dozens of international elites. It's a great feeling to be a part of something like this and I'd hate to miss out on the opportunity, especially since it's so close to home.

[ I do hold a little bit of resentment toward the Waterfront Race this year for strong-arming (in my opinion) the original Toronto Marathon out of its long-standing place in October (it will be moved to spring next year, on the same day as the Mississauga Marathon, unfortunately). But I won't get into marathon politics in the City of Toronto!]

This weekend, hubs will be running the full marathon with our friend P as a training run for his goal race in November (aiming for about a 3:45), while I tackle the half.

This will be my (lucky?) 13th half marathon... and hopefully my fastest! I've been hesitant to post my goals because to be honest, I'm intimidated! But here they are:

A: 1:45:00 (this has been a pipe dream goal for a long time. While I do believe it is attainable, it won't be easy. It's not supposed to be easy!

B: PR sub-1:47:41

C: not acceptable

Here goes nothing!

Three Things Thursday

1. I will be passing the Complete Book of Women's Running along to Shut Up and Run! (Chosen by a highly technical selection process known as Don't forget the stipulations:

- The bookmark that came with it stays with it always;
- You must sign the book with your name, blog address, life/running mantra and most inspiring race;
- You must then choose someone else to send it to along with these same stipulations.

Thanks to Morgan for starting us off.

2. Did anyone catch the season premiere of The Biggest Loser the other night? Several hopeful contestants participated in a one-mile race to earn their place on the ranch. It was excrutiating to see how much they struggled, many barely making it to the finish line. Let's not take our health and our abilities for granted.

3. Tonight is clinic night and the group will be continuing speed work. I, however, will be sticking to an easy run - resting these legs for Sunday! More on that tomorrow...

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When 15K feels short

My MWML-run is a fall-back to 15K/9.3mi this week as part of my unofficial taper for the half this weekend. It's amazing how my perception has changed - a couple months ago, this distance felt pretty long for mid-week; now, it's a piece of cake and my new "normal". That being said, it will be nice to take a break from long-ish distances during the week after the marathon.

Anyway, it was a restless night as thunderstorms kept me awake, tossing and turning until the alarm went off at 4AM. The thunder, lightening and torrential rain were so intense during the night that I wondered if running would be an option this morning. And to be honest, sleeping in was pretty appealing at that time. Fortunately I was meeting Juliana and since the storm had passed, I had no excuse.

We splish-splashed through puddles, dodging frogs and snails on the path. It was a great run, mostly at recovery pace, but I am definitely feeling the lack of sleep now that I'm at the office. Zzzz....

15.0KM/9.3mi - 1:28:41 - 5:55/KM (9:31/mi)

With tomorrow being the official first day of Autumn, there's no question that the days are shorter. I'm noticing that it is now pitch black from the beginning of my run til the end. I was enjoying watching the sunrise during those last few miles, but pretty soon I will be seeing it on the way to work. It's sad to see daylight waning, but this is by far my favourite season. Fall brings Thanksgiving, Birthdays (mine and hubs') and RACE SEASON! (Although, having already completed 16 races this year, I'm not sure if this actually qualifies as "Race Season" for me. :P) Here's what's coming up:

September 26: Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon
October 17: Goodlife Toronto Marathon
October 31: Tom Taylor Trail Ten Miler (Yes I will be running in costume!)

What's on your Fall Race Schedule?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PT and Track Tuesday

Last night I had my first appointment with "Dr. Pain" (my new PT, aka Ron); they don't call him that for nothing! After a brief chat while he put heating pads on my legs to warm up the muscles, he said "You know this probably isn't going to be pleasant, right?" That's always a good way to start! ;) He worked on my piriformis, hips, hamstrings and IT bands for a full hour and my legs felt like jello by the time I was out of there. There were some painful excrutiating moments, but for the most part it was a 'hurts so good' kind of pain, because I could tell he was releasing tight muscles. By the time he was done, all I felt was blissful relief.

Ron is an experienced athlete and trainer; he works with Canadian Olympic hopefuls for the 2012 Games and he is also on staff to treat the international elites at this weekend's Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I know he has a lot to offer in terms of not only PT, but training advice/coaching. Combined with my live-in coach (aka hubs) and ongoing group training, I am in good hands!


This morning, with loose and fresh legs, it was time to hit the track. I moved my speed work to Tuesday this week so I'll have more recovery time before the half this weekend.

The plan: 3 x 1600 @ 5K pace (400m recovery jogs)

The results:

7:08 (1:46, 1:49, 1:47, 1:46)

7:10 (1:47, 1:50, 1:45, 1:48)

7:13 (1:45, 1:50, 1:50, 1:48)

My splits aren't quite as consistent as I would like, but I was right on target overall and it was a great workout. Easy runs from here on out this week!

Monday, September 20, 2010

23 confidence-building miles

Yesterday was THE perfect morning for a long run; only 9C/48F to start, 15C/59F by the end and sunny with a light breeze.

The scheduled group run was 29KM, with a shortcut near the end for those tapering for an earlier marathon. Myself and a few others were looking for a longer distance, so we met ahead of time for an additional 8. This afforded the option to wear gloves and an extra layer for the first part and then ditch them at the car before joining the group, which worked perfectly on this chilly morning.

This would be our longest training run and a distance like this (23 miles) is always daunting. I tried to keep my night-before and morning-of routine similar to race day so it would be a good practice round.

All I can say is that if everything goes as well as it did yesterday, I am going to have an amazing race.

5:42/KM = 9:10/mi

Before this run I was having some doubts about my fitness level being as strong as I would like, and even questioned whether I was in any better shape than I was before Mississauga. After this run, those doubts have been erased.

And that wraps up my peak training period, including 200 KM (124 mi) of running in the last two weeks. (I can hardly believe these numbers!)

I'm doing a mini taper this week for a half marathon coming up on the weekend, and then the countdown to marathon day will be on!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fluff

10 x 800 last night!!! No easy feat. I was bonking after the 7th, but managed to hang on and finish up the last three with some coercion from my buddies. Average was slightly slower overall than 8x800 last week, but you know me... I have my excuses reasons ready to go:

  • first day of TOTM (sorry guys) - feeling uggggh
  • this is a huge training week... it's normal to feel tired
  • didn't eat enough; finished running at 8:40 and no dinner!
  • we don't run on a track, but in a residential area (see below)... sharp turns, cars, uneven roads and an uphill home stretch!
  • it was dark for the majority of our run - makes it difficult to run fast on roads with traffic and other obstacles (potholes, etc.)
  • WINDY!

All that being said, I feel pretty good about it. 10 x 800 is no joke!


3:46 - starting on the slow side
3:40 - feeling okay so far
3:44 - ooof, my stomach hurts
3:39 - how many more???
3:39 - okay, half way there!
3:41 - are you sure this isn't number 8?
3:32 - this is when I really wanted to quit
3:40 - just hold on...
3:36 - ... for dear life
3:44 - no kick for the finish this time

Average - 3:40/800

Overall: 16.8KM(10.4mi) - 1:30:49 - 5:23/KM(8:40/mi)


As of this week (after Tuesday's run, to be precise), I have officially surpassed my total mileage for the entire year of 2009: 1422 miles/2288 KM.

After last night's run, my current mileage for 2010 is: 1444.6 miles/2924.9 KM. Insane! Running 4 marathons this year might have something to do with that. Speaking of which...


Today marks one month until the Goodlife Toronto Marathon - my 6th! Training recap/thoughts and race goals coming soon.

To mark the occasion, a couple of photos from my first marathon back in September 2008 (Race Report). I will never forget that day.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. Juliana and I met yesterday morning for a run; 12K right around my recovery pace. It was just what I needed to shake out the legs after Tuesday's kick-ass workout, and I always appreciate the early morning company. Tonight: speed work! It's clinic night and I'm not sure what intervals the group will be doing yet... either more 800's or some ladder combination. Sometimes it's fun to be surprised!

2. Fall is here! Okay, not quite, but we are having some beautiful fall-like weather and I'm loving it. The forecast shows highs of 20C/68F or lower for the next two weeks. Bring on the jackets, gloves, long sleeves and fresh air!

3. Months and months and months ago, the wonderful Morgan of Caution: Redhead Running sent me her copy of The Complete Book of Women's Running to give it a read.

There were a few stipulations attached:

- The bookmark that came with it stays with it always;
- I must sign the book with my name, blog address, life/running mantra and most inspiring race;
- I must then choose someone else to send it to along with the same stipulations.

I'm soooo sorry this has taken me so long, but I'm finally ready to pass this baby along! Let me know if you're interested in the comments and I'll select the next reader however I see fit!

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Terrific Tuesday!

Over the weekend, hubs was helping me fine-tune my schedule for this week and ever since, I had been dreading anticipating today's run. It was a doozie - 23K (14.3mi) with 8K (5mi) tempo-ish (hubs suggested 10s/KM slower than actual tempo pace). I knew it was going to be a tough one and had a list of reasons in my head why it was not going to go well:

  • longest MWMLR to-date
  • longest run before work ever
  • needed to start running at 4AM
  • first time incorporating tempo miles in a longer run

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about! What a great run!

Surprisingly, I felt pretty well-rested when the alarm went off at 3:30 (again). Hubs offered to join me for 10K, even though he didn't have to be up that early. It was nice to have company, especially in the pitch black "morning", and we were off and running just after 4.

We took the 10K on the easy side and I made a pit stop at the car to ditch the long sleeve (it was a gloriously cold morning!), swap my handheld for a smaller one and grab my iPod as hubs made his way home. It was time to get down to business!

Target pace for 8K tempo(ish): 5:10/KM



Average tempo pace: 5:05/KM (8:11/mi)

I could not believe how good I felt and how easily the kilometres were ticking by. For the majority, it truly felt like a run-all-day pace. What a great feeling when everything just clicks. (Dear Running Gods: If this could happen on race day, I would greatly appreciate it. kthanksbye.)

I still had a few miles to go after the tempo portion, so I slowed it down a few notches to wrap things up. What a feel-good, confidence-boosting run!

23.0KM (14.3mi) - 2:07:40 - 5:33/KM (8:56/mi)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Anniversary Weekend + Big Running Week

Thanks so much for all of your comments and good wishes on Friday. We had a fantastic anniversary weekend. It's a good thing we ran 21K before leaving because it was thoroughly indulgent!

We only stayed one night this time, but we are definitely planning to go back to enjoy more of what the resort had to offer.

Sunday morning it was back to life as usual with a long run! After five consecutive weeks of 30K/18.6mi++ runs, I was due for a fall back. I was still able to tag along with my pace group since our route would take us right past my house and I could stop early there. It was another great morning to run - cool, overcast, slight breeze and just a light sprinkle of rain as we set out.

We had our most interesting animal encounter to-date on this run when we spotted two wild (or escaped?) pigs wandering along the road. There was a pink one and a black one and they were huge! At first we couldn't believe our eyes, and then we just couldn't stop laughing.

Our next excitement came when the road we were running along ended abruptly. We knew it would pick up again, but first we had to rough it on a seemingly endless mucky trail through the woods. We didn't complain too much, since we knew at that very moment that one of our team mates was wrapping up her first 100-miler through the Haliburton Forest. How's that for some perspective?

We eventually made it back to civilization and pretty soon it was time for me to turn off toward my house. I felt great throughout the run, which surprised me as I added up my weekly mileage in my head.

27.0KM = 16.7mi - 2:37:12 - 5:49/KM = 9:22/mi

Having completed my last long run/race on Monday, I ended up running almost 106KM/66mi this week! With just 34 days to go until the Toronto Marathon, I have some big runs on deck this week!

How was your weekend?

What are you up to this week?

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 10th

First - last night's speed work was a success! 8 x 800 at an average of 3:35 (slowest 3:42, fastest 3:26). It felt great to really get the legs moving.

Today is our 5-year wedding anniversary! We have the day off and started our morning with a long-ish run together. My legs were tired less than 12 hours after speed work, but hubs stuck with me and slogged along at my pace. It was a nice way to start our day.

21.0KM/13.0mi - 2:05:36 - 5:59/KM = 9:38/mi

If anyone had told us 5 years ago that this is what we would be doing on our anniversary, we would have told you that you're crazy! It's been quite the adventure so far and we're looking forward to the next 5... and 50!

And now we're off to the Algonquin Couples Resort for an evening of wining, dining and hot-tubbing! I'll leave you with some photos from the last few years.







Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. Thanks for all your comments and feedback on Monday's race. Some of you seemed a bit confused by the lengthy "warm-up" so I should clarify that it wasn't so much a warm-up as an extension to the race. As you know, I'm elbow-deep in marathon training so I knew it would be a good way to incorporate my long run and test out some marathon-pace miles on tired legs. Mission: accomplished.

2. With my long run/race on Monday this week, I did some shuffling of the schedule. After taking Tuesday off, I met Juliana for a 10K recovery run early Wednesday morning. Tonight I'll be running with my clinic and we have speed work on deck. I'm aiming for 8x800; after missing the last two weeks due to illness and exhaustion, I'm hoping it goes well!

3. Hubs and I are taking tomorrow off work because it's a special day for us and we have some big plans. Stay tuned for details tomorrow! (Got to love a 3 day work week!)

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Oakville Half Marathon(+) Race Report

On Monday morning we woke up to a perfect day for running: overcast with a chance of showers and around 13C/55F. It was an early start to the day as we hit the road by 4:30AM. We arrived in Oakville and made a quick stop to use the port-o-potties at the race site before finding parking just down the road. Event organizers seemed to be starting to work on final preparations as we set out for our extended "warm-up." We decided to stick to an out-and-back along the tail end of the race course so I would have a good idea of what to expect in those final miles. (Hubs had run this race previously, while I hadn't.) It was dark and eerily quiet as we made our way along the streets, checking out the kilometre markers and aid station tables as we went. We kept the pace nice and slow, saving our legs for the main event up next.

The sky slowly started to lighted up and we enjoyed the most spectacular red sunset over Lake Ontario; I wished I had my camera!

"Warm Up":

We stopped by the washrooms at the start/finish area before heading back to the car for a wardrobe change. It ended up taking me a lot longer than I anticipated to get changed and organized, and we soon found ourselves scrambling to get back to the start on time. I managed to squeeze in one more quick pit stop before we lined up.

We stood together until the gun went off, and then went on our separate ways. I hoped to run as close to goal marathon pace as possible. The first several kilometres ticked by pretty easily. I was slightly fast on a few splits, but reeled it in when I needed to. I was feeling decent and mentally breaking the race into thirds.

I was carrying my handheld and didn't need to slow down through the water stations. My plan was to take short walks with Gu at 7K and 14K.

The majority of the route was pretty boring, so I was grateful for the handful of people who had come out to cheer (including one guy dressed as a Ninja Turtle!). I started getting really bored around the half way point. I was glad to have music, but I found myself staring at my Garmin constantly.

Shortly before my second planned walk/Gu, my legs suddenly felt extremely heavy and tired. I tried to ignore it, but I wanted to walk so badly! I let myself stop and took a quick break around 13K. I didn't feel any better once I got going again and found myself counting down to 14K when I took another walk break and swallowed my Gu. I was really not feeling it at this point and decided that I would walk through the water stations for the remainder of the race. There were two (15K and 18K) and I managed to keep running in between, though my pace had slowed.

I watched my average pace gradually slip out of the imaginary buffer zone I had in mind, but I just couldn't pull it together. I found myself justifying it by adding the earlier mileage in my head, and constantly thinking 'Well, I've actually run 31K so far this morning - I should be tired.' That may be true, but in hindsight I realize that I had more of a mental breakdown during this section than anything else. Physically, I know I could have held on because I was able to pick it back up for the final 3K after the last aid station with my last kilometre being the fastest.

Finally, the finish was around the corner. I spotted hubs (who had finished long before me in 1:38!) and crossed those mats as fast as my legs would carry me. I was so happy to be finished!

Garmin Stats:
21.3KM = 13.2mi
5:32/KM = 8:54/mi

Official Stats:
21.1KM = 13.1mi
5:34/KM = 8:58/mi
Overall: 274/534
Women: 72/241
F25-29: 10/20

Looking back, I'm slightly disappointed and frustrated that I didn't have the mental strength to push through this one. That being said, I still ran 35K/22mi including a respectable half marathon. If this half marathon pace turns out to be my marathon pace in October, I'd be quite happy with that.

Overall Stats:
35.3KM = 21.94mi
5:45/KM = 9:15/mi

After the race we walked down to the beach and I went straight into freeeeeezing cold Lake Ontario, running shoes and all. My legs were numb immediately and it felt great. We should have had the camera for that too!