Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011

Total Distance: 274.7 KM/170.7 mi

Highest Weekly Mileage: 82.1 KM/51.0 mi (Week 2)

# Runs: 24

# [Run] Doubles: 2

Cycling Mileage: 91 KM/56.5 mi

# Strength/Core Workouts: 11 (booyeah!)

# [Complete] Rest days: 1

Races: Toronto City Chase

Favourite Run: Barefoot Bootcamp

Most Hardcore Run: 1K Time Trial

Book of the Month: Haven't been reading much, but I have 2 summer reads lined up; Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich and The Athlete's Guide to Recovery by Sage Rountree

Song of the Month: Blaze of Glory by Lady Gaga

Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: $1 any-size soft drinks at McPigs (I can't help it, I love my fountain diet coke!)

Obsession of the Month: grilled veggie & chickpea salads

Indulgence of the Month: my new wheels

Drink of the Month: good old water

Current Wish-List: an unlimited budget to accessorize my new wheels

Current Need: for my toe to heal so I can run tomorrow!

Triumph of the Month: first place [female division] finish at Toronto City Chase!

Current Bane of my Existence: toe woe!

Current Blessings: really awesome friends

Current Excitement: 4 day weekend including our annual Canada Day BBQ tomorrow (20+ friends and family coming over to help us break in the new deck), girls' night, a day at the cottage and 2 races if my toe cooperates!

Current Goal: to run a 5K tomorrow!

How did your month shape up?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Toe Woe

On Sunday I lost yet another toe nail, which is really nothing new around here - only this time, it was clearly pre-mature. Whereas normally the nail bed is simply dry skin underneath, this one was a raw, painful and disgusting. I'll spare you from any additional detail.

After hobbling around on Sunday and Monday, I knew that lacing up was going to be a challenge. I decided to give it a try Tuesday morning, after bandaging up and cutting open the toe box on an old pair of shoes. Desperate times call for desperate measures! 

Unfortunately, it didn't work. While there wasn't any pressure directly on the top of my toe, the pressure every time I stepped down was still painful and I caught myself adjusting my gait to compensate, which is never a good thing. I hobbled for twenty minutes before calling it quits.

As the day went on [now 48 hours after losing the nail], my toe became more and more painful and began to look infected. I stopped by the doctor's office, where I got a prescription for oral and topical antibiotics.

I've also been soaking in epsom, as per RunningLaur's suggestion.

Don't look too close - you've been warned!
Why yes, that's a mixing bowl - who wants cookies?

I have TWO races this weekend, so I'm doing whatever I can to let this heal (i.e. no running!) until then.

In the mean time, I can cycle without any discomfort using my MacGyver'd shoes so at least I can keep my legs moving. I put in a long [for me] ride yesterday evening, and another short ride this morning.

Fingers crossed that I can run by Friday pretty please!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Toronto City Chase (Long Version)

Since L lives so close to race HQ at Yonge & Dundas Square and it didn't kick off til 10am, we were able to sleep in after our late night strategy and junk food session. Of course, I was wide awake well-before the alarm.

I logged into the event Facebook page first to see if there were any clues. City Chase often has something up their sleeves. Sure enough...

I frantically started spamming friends with messages/texts/calls to secure the point. L was up before long to see what was going on and soon enough, we had all the requirements. Thanks to those who were able to help us out on this one! We noticed that the clue asked us to check in "upon completion" so we threw on some clothes, hopped on bikes and headed to the specified location immediately on the off-chance that they were set-up before 10am. No such luck, but at least we tried!

Back at the house we scarfed down some food and finished getting ready. We were buzzing with energy and excitement and knew it was going to be one crazy day.

Shortly after 9 we were loaded up with our water packs/belts, cell phones, clipboard with maps/notes, pens, etc. and walked over to the starting area.

We chatted with a volunteer as well as a couple of girls who were looking for advice, but also clearly thought we were taking this too seriously. It was fun to look around and check out the other teams - some who appeared to be out for a good time and others looking more focused.

Eventually they started some opening announcements along with a couple of guest speakers, and revealed the winner of the logo contest (unfortunately, not us). As the clock ticked past 10am, they finally told us how we would find our clue sheets. You think they would just hand them out? That would be way too easy!

There were bunches of balloons around the square, and some of these balloons contained scraps of paper with pertinent information. We happened to be standing next to some balloons so I dove in with the rest of the crazy people and got completely tackled/tramped. I managed to snag one of the tiny pieces of paper from the ground and got out of there in one piece - barely.

The paper listed GPS coordinates, which L texted out to our crew immediately as we took off for the Facebook clue location at ING Direct. We were shocked to learn that we were the first ones there, and got out in under a minute.

Chase Point # 1 secured!

A massive crowd of Chasers had swarmed in after us, apparently assuming that we were picking up a clue sheet. We squeezed our way through and hit the street running.

We had some difficulty finding the correct location based on the GPS coordinates, but luckily we spotted a crowd of Chasers at Nathan Phillips Square and were able to pick up a clue sheet there. What a relief to have it in our hands! This can be the most stressful part of the day.

In the past, we've stopped to review the clues and maps to plan out a route before choosing a direction. This time we wanted to get moving FAST and had planned out a few possible scenarios ahead of time.

One clue jumped out at me and I recognized the location from a previous Chase, so we had the address included in our notes. We decided it was a good place to start because (a) they were handing out "VIP Passing Lane Cards" to the first 25 teams to complete it (used to skip the line at another Chase Point), and (b) it was one of two locations where we could collect our bonus point for our fundraising. [this information was included on the clue sheets]

clipboard was the best $1.25 we ever spent

We sprinted to the nearest subway station, pausing briefly to send out some texts to our team before we would lose signal underground. We hoped that they would figure out some clues for us while we travelled. We poured over the clue sheet ourselves in the meantime, figuring out as many as we could and plotting out our first few Chase Points.

Out of the subway, we had a short run to our destination.

Unchained Melody: Oh, my love, my darling; I've hungered for your touch... Come to The "naturally occurring aluminum silicate" Room and act like Patrick and Demi.

We were the first team to arrive! Volunteers instructed us to use modelling clay to replicate a small structure and we immediately got busy rolling.
photo from City Chase Canada - not us
We were out of there pretty quickly, having earned a Passing Lane Card as well as our point for charity.

Chase Points # 2 and # 3 secured!

We had figured out the location of our next stop while on the subway, de-coding the address using a number/letter correlation grid.

Fermentation: 8, 5, 1, 4 - 20, 15 - B, zero, A - 4, 1, 14, 6, 15, 18, 20, 8 - 1, 22, 5

It was a wine/beer/cider-making store just down the street where we listened to a brief info session before answering a quiz (required 5/7 correct). L listened and completed the quiz while I continued reviewing clues and trying to keep up with texts pouring in from our support crew. L was done in just a couple of minutes with enough checkmarks to get us on our way.

Chase Point # 4 secured!

With some help from our crew, we determined another address in the area and ran there next.

Doggy Style: Find: (the # in the police dog unit) minus (the # of dogs in The Incredible Journey) times (the # of years 1 human year equals in dog years) plus (the # of Dalmations). Take this number to the Danforth and ruff it up! 

A table was set up outside where one of us had to sample two bites of food while blind-folded, and identify which one was dog food. L gobbled both down, got it right and we were out of there fast. We received another Passing Lane Card at this location too, although it wasn't indicated on the clue sheet so they must have made a last minute change. Bonus!

Chase Point # 5 secured!

We knew we were making great time so far, weren't hitting any lines and had the very valuable Passing Lane Cards in our possession to use later.

We had to start tackling the mandatory Chase Points. One side of the clue sheet stated that we must complete at least 4 out of 6 specified in a list.

Our crew has been scrambling to figure out where they were. L was able to map them out in a logical order, taking us back towards the downtown area. We were able to hop a subway to the first one, and another team graciously pointed us in the right direction as we tried to get our bearings. We promised to pay it forward!

1, 2, 3... PULL!: At the patron saint of Ireland's Catholic School, get harnessed up and act like a mule.

We found a school parking lot where there were various Mistubishi cars set up with harnesses, and immediately recognized the challenge from last year. We had to buddy up with another team and maneuver the car [in neutral] around some pylons. One person was pulling with a harness from the front, one in the driver's seat to steer and two pushing from behind. We also received an unexpected helpful push from someone else, who we later learned was on the overall winning team! Our group worked well together and finished the challenge in no time.

another City Chase photo - not our team
Chase Point # 6 secured! [1st of 4 mandatory points]

From here we had a bit of distance to cover and weren't on the subway line. We hoofed it on foot towards our next stop, hoping we would catch a streetcar passing by. No such luck!

We happened to catch sight of another Chase Point at a park along the way and took advantage. (We were constantly on the look out for the red volunteer shirts and white Chaser shirts.) It wasn't on the mandatory list, but we could still use the point.

Slingshot: (the "G" in ROYGBIV) + (the suffix for dog-, red-, hard-, ply-) Park

There was a bit of a wait so we decided to turn in one of our Passing Lane Cards to skip the line. For a second I felt bad for the teams waiting (I have certainly been in that position as well), but it's all part of the competition!

Once again we recognized the challenge from last year, and immediately assumed the same roles we had taken previously. I strapped on a helmet with a bucket on top, and L grabbed a sling shot and hacky sacks. I had to catch one in my bucket from 20, 30 and 40 feet back. It's certainly harder than it looks, but we managed after only a few attempts.

last year's photo
Chase Point # 7 secured!

We continued on foot along the route we had been taking and there still weren't any streetcars in sight. It was a long way to go and L was suffering with the distance, but hanging in there like a trooper.

We eventually made it to our destination to find a massive line. It could have easily been a 20-30 minute wait. Luckily we were able to use another Passing Lane Card to jump the line.

Chilly Choices: I scream, you scream! Scoop yourself to Ed's at 920 an taste the difference.

There were 5 dishes of ice cream and we were asked to taste test while blindfolded and correctly identify the flavours. For each one we got wrong, we would have to eat a cricket. Without a second thought (or consulting L), I announced that we'd skip the ice cream and go straight for 5 crickets. We needed to get out of there as fast as possible!

The volunteers looked at us like we were nuts, but handed us the tub of bugs. I panicked when I saw the LIVE crickets, but L dove in and ate them like a champ without a second's hesitation. She ended up "only" having to eat 3 because they were running low. Blech!!!

Chase Point # 8 secured! [2nd of 4 mandatory points]

We ran out of there to continue on foot to our next stop. Along the way I realized that we still had the Passing Lane Card; the volunteer must have forgotten to take it and we were clearly too focused on the task at hand to notice. We certainly weren't turning back, so we tucked it away feeling slightly guilty.

After running for what felt like forever, we made it to our next stop.

SALTO: Bring out your best Nadia Comaneci at the Catholic School of the Apostle of the Gentiles.

We arrived at the school and found a volunteer standing outside. All we had to do was make a silly face. We think that the task was originally supposed to be something more challenging inside (gymnastics?) but it worked out great for us because we were out of there quickly.

Chase Point # 9 secured! [3rd of 4 mandatory points]

At this point we only had one to go, but we had a pretty long way to travel back into downtown. We had better luck with the streetcar this time, and rode it all the way back to the main subway station. We knew exactly where we were going this time (or so we thought) so we had a chance to chat with a couple of other teams. We got off at the main downtown station.

We unfortunately misread one of the clues and thought there should have been a Chase Point at the Air Canada Centre, which is massive. We tried several doors and ran all around the outside of the huge building before we found a way inside, only to find that there was nothing there. We easily wasted a 5-10 minutes, but luckily we knew of another location and we hadn't gone too far out of the way.

We went back to the same station we had just come from, and grabbed a streetcar which would let us off directly in front of our final stop on the water front. The driver had obviously been seeing plenty of other teams, and kindly showed us exactly where to go.

There's no "I" in Team: This is a real cooperation test, working together you'll be at your best. Don't forget to bring a guest to 283A Queens Quay West.

not our photo

There was no line up, and we were immediately able to join forces with another team to maneuver these "skis" around a short pylon course. We had a hard time getting started, but quickly got the hang of it and found a rhythm.

Next we each had to take turns on the stilts (fortunately we were able to help hold each other up) for a short distance. Somehow we motored through it and even passed teams who had started before us. We were in turbo mode!

Chase Point # 10 secured! [4th of 4 mandatory points]

On our way back to the street, we remembered that we still had the Passing Lane Card that hadn't been collected, so we handed it off to another team who were very grateful. Pay it forward!

We used transit (streetcar followed by subway) to head to the finish line. It felt like it took forever for the subway to show up (it was actually about 3 minutes) and then it was moving soooo slowly within the tunnel. We were convinced that something was wrong and we were going to end up stuck in there. We were losing valuable time and stressing big time, putting on quite a show for other subway riders.

We considered getting off at the next stop and hoofing it, but made a last minute decision to stay on. Miraculously, the train started moving at normal speed again. Phew! Two stops later, we piled off and ran through the station like absolute maniacs. We knew the top winners had finished, but we were still hoping to have made top ten. Every second counted.

We finally made it back to Yonge & Dundas Square and ran straight through the finish line.

It took a moment for the officials to verify our Points, as we anxiously waited to find out our result. When they told us that we were 7th overall and the FIRST FEMALE TEAM we started screaming like crazy. You could say we were excited! It had all been worth it.

QOTP Chasers
2h 40m
7/650 teams
1st place all-female division

We hung out for a while before staggering back to L's for a shower and change of clothes. Our heads were spinning and we could not believe we had done it. We owe a great big thank you to our support crew - we could not have done it without you guys! There is probably just about as much pressure and stress on the crew as we had in the race.

We headed back to the finish line a little while later, just in time to see the last minute teams pouring in before the 4pm cut-off.

Line-up to finish at the cut-off -
We had finished more than 3 hours earlier!

Eventually they gave away some draw prizes and awards to the top finishers. We won a $50 Running Room gift card each along with out our awesome license plates.

The first place team moves on to the national championships, which is a whole different experience. Personally, I think they should send the top female team as well... not biased or anything. :) We will keep trying, no matter how far fetched it may seem. Last year we placed 184th so you just never know what can happen with a little luck and a lot of determination.

Monday, June 27, 2011

City Chase: Short Version

7/650 teams overall
1st all-female team

still beaming

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week 3

This week had its share of ups and downs. Some good runs and some not-so-good runs, and one really exciting day on Saturday, which I'll tell you more about tomorrow. :)

Monday - rest/xtrain

I didn't have my new bike yet, so I just did my strength/core routine and went to bed very early. I was exhausted and the alarm was set for 4:15 Tuesday morning.

Tuesday - 12K with 6 x 800

Track Tuesday
3:11, 3:12, 3:12, 3:12, 3:10, 3:12

14.5KM (9.0mi) - 1:18:58 - 5:27/KM (8:46/mi)

Wednesday - 10K recovery

I had to miss the usual Wednesday night group run to pick up my new bike, so another morning run was in order. My legs were completely heavy and dead for the first couple of miles, but eventually settled into a (slow) groove. I felt good by the end and it was nice to get it done early.

10.0KM (6.2mi) - 59:10 -

Thursday - 20K (2 runs) - 6K tempo and 7K MRP

I set out in the morning for the first part of my workout: 6K tempo. Felt okay during the warm-up but as soon as I picked it up for the tempo portion, I knew it was not going to happen. My legs would not move! I resolved that could do some tempo intervals instead (3 x 2000 with 500m breaks), but I couldn't even do that! I know it's early in the season and these aren't going to come easily, but it was downright impossible. I probably could have pushed a little harder and forced it, but I knew I had to lead my pace group in a 7K MRP run that night and couldn't afford to be toast. I threw in the towel and finished off the run at an easy pace, trying not to beat myself up over it. Can't win 'em all.

8.0K (5.0mi) - 43:59 - 5:29/KM (8:50/mi)

Things went much better with the group run after work, even though it was extremely gross and muggy. During our warm-up I was pretty sure my legs were going to be dead again, but they actually showed up this time and I had a pretty great run!

The goal was 7K at 5:00/KM or faster: 5:00, 4:57, 4:54, 4:55, 4:55, 4:55, 4:52 (avg 4:55/KM = 7:54/mi)
We were slightly fast (wrist-slap for the pace group leader [me]) but close enough. I honestly thought a 5:00 pace would kill me last night, so I was relieved that it felt okay.

I rode my bike there and back too!

12.0KM (7.5mi) - 1:04:16 - 5:21/KM (8:37/mi)

Friday - 8K easy

Juliana and I met in the morning for another round of Barefoot Bootcamp. We ran several barefoot laps, running through sprinklers on the field along the way, and did various exercises in between (situps, squats, lunges, jacks, etc.)

7.6KM (4.7mi) - 46:06 - 6:03/KM (9:45/mi)

After work I took my new bike out for a 15K spin. Fun!

Saturday - Toronto City Chase!

Race report tomorrow.

Sunday - 30K long

I was absolutely pooped this morning and knew the long run was not going to be pretty. I had hoped to run 30K but was pretty sure it wasn't going to happen. I still set out solo as planned to add on a few extra before meeting the group and I was moving sloooowly. It was nice to have company for the rest, although myself and a few others dropped back from the usual pace. When we were back at the store shy of my originally planned distance, you couldn't have paid me to keep going. I was done. That's enough for today!

28.3KM (17.6mi) - 2:42:30 - 5:44/KM (9:14/mi)

Week 3 Total Mileage: 80.4KM (49.9mi)
+ ~10K at City Chase
Total time: 7:34:59
Average pace: 5:39/KM (9:06/mi)

Xtrain: Strength (legs, core, pushups) x 3
Cycle: ~20K

Friday, June 24, 2011

Flashback Friday FUN: City Chase!

This Saturday I will be participating in my 5th Toronto City Chase. You can read all about my previous adventures here, here, here and here. My team-mate L has completed City Chase in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. These events are such a good time and clearly we keep going back for more!

After completing the Toronto event together last year [along with 2 of our friends], L and I agreed that we were going to take it a little bit lot more seriously next time - competing as opposed to just participating. That's not to say there is anything wrong with participating; I have had an absolute blast every single time, and it sure makes for a fun race report when everything is documented on camera.

With the race upon us, we have been doing whatever we can to prepare for a successful day. Of course, there is only so much preparation to be done for an event like this; the general idea stays the same, but we have no idea what could be thrown at us. We'll get our hands on a clue sheet one way or another, then figure out clues using our knowledge of the city and various resources (internet, phone-a-friend, etc. are allowed and encouraged!) and spend the day running and/or taking public transit all over the city to complete 10 tasks within before the 6 hour deadline. They don't call it the Urban Adventure Series for nothing, and I have had some crazy experiences.

We've been pouring over previous clue sheets, re-familiarizing ourselves with city parks and other locations that are used frequently, marking up maps, lining up our support teams at home who will be ready to Google for us at a moment's notice and of course getting pumped up!

A truly successful City Chase comes down to luck in a lot of cases. You never know where you're going to hit line-ups, or a long wait for a Subway or Streetcar ride. Some lucky teams might catch a ride to their next destination if they spot a certain specially marked car (other forms of private transport are prohibited!) and there is also an opportunity to earn "Passing Lane" cards, allowing a team to bypass the line at a Chase Point of their choice.

We've raised over $50 [thanks to L] for the featured charity, Right to Play, which will earn us a bonus Chase Point to be collected during the race.

We've also entered a contest which could potentially earn us a free Chase Point; we were asked to display the City Chase logo in a creative and original way. Here's what we came up with:

big thanks to Red for some help on this!

last night's project :)

Whether or not luck is on our side tomorrow, we're going to work our butts off and see what we can do. But don't worry, we'll still have fun in the process.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Three Things Thursday

Better late than never...

1. This time last year I was making my way (after several flight/airport delays) to Seattle where Tall Mom and her family graciously hosted me for a few days. I had the honour of running the Seattle R'n'R Marathon with Tall Mom (as well as Amanda for the first few miles, but she was too fast for us that day!) and got to know a ton of other awesome bloggers in the process. It was an amazing weekend and I wish I could be part of the fun all over again!

I hope everyone has an awesome time this weekend and best wishes especially to Kerrie and Zoe who are running their first marathon! Go get it, girls!

2. I went on a mini shopping spree today to pick up just a few essentials to go along with my new toy. Wow, I can see how this sport could easily get very expensive but I didn't get carried away! Just the basics to keep me safe and comfortable.

AND I successfully cycled to and from the Running Room for our group run! It gave me a great excuse to show off the new bike too. :) I got caught in the rain on the way home and it was just starting to get dark; I think I need to get myself some lights!?

3. I'm in the middle of a TOP SECRET PROJECT which involves a lot of running shoes. Find out what this is all about tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday Wheels

After my bike incident last week, I was planning to bring it in to our local bike shop to get fixed.

And then I started looking at all the pretty bikes online...

And then we went to see them in person and I test-rode a bunch...

And then I fell in love with one. They only had it in black at the store [boring], so I ordered the green and white.

Specialized Vita

After waiting impatiently for five days, I picked it up tonight!

I took it for a short spin and it feels amazing! What a difference to ride a bike that actually fits and works properly. :)

Let me assure you that my stance on triathlons/duathlons and my fear of riding downhill have not changed yet, but I'm looking forward to some recreational riding on a real set of wheels.

I think I still need to get a bell... but first I need a new helmet! Flower power is just not going to cut it anymore.

Tomorrow is clinic so I am looking forward to commuting to the store (hopefully without incident!), and going out for a bit of a longer ride on Friday. Time to get used to seeing the world from two wheels!

*bring bring!*