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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

Time for another edition of one of my favorite posts to write. Featuring the food I ate yesterday!

 Whole Grain Cheerios with banana and milk. Un-photographed coffee

 Snack. MMMM.

 Lunch. Curried Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup. AMAZING.

Train Snack!

Dinner made by my husband! I know, amazing for a Tuesday! Roast chicken, Rice a Roni (which I LOVE) and Caesar salad!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Niagara Falls Half Marathon Race Report

Well, I had a feeling I had it coming. After so many good, good races where things fell into place and personal best's came with ease, after a fantastic marathon debut, I finally ran a race which fell apart.

Welcome to my Niagara Falls Half Marathon Race Report. I promise it gets less melancholy from here!

Pre Race

On Saturday morning, I woke up not feeling the best. I braved my way through the start of the day and did the normal things (Fergus' class, deli shopping, lunch eating) and then the rock hit my stomach and the chills hit my body. My mum had come over to hang out while my dad watched Alasdair's hockey practice and I pretty much was the worst company ever, dozing on the couch and having her entertain Fergus.

Ken got home and I went up to bed for a nap! I slept for 1.5 hours and then got up, made dinner and forced myself to eat. Once the kids went to bed, I forced down some crackers (carb loading), laid out all of the stuff I'd need for the morning and went to bed. UGG.

I woke up and felt... okay. I assessed that I was fine. I took a shower (first time I've ever done so before a race), got dressed and headed down to get something to eat. Except the thought of a heavy, whole wheat toasted bread and peanut butter made me want to yak. Oh well. I forced it down. I thought about a coffee, but didn't make any. I should have. 

At the last minute, I added a plastic running room bag to my backpack, least I vomit before or after the race in Bridgett's car.

Yep, I was ready to race!

Bridgett picked me up and we were on the way with me trying to be all cool and encouraging and not puke while she chatted away sipping her coffee (BAH! I should have made one). I kept yawning and doing my best to stay positive for her. I drank some powerade and that helped a bit.

We parked and got the shuttle with no problem. We went to the washroom at the start and settled into a tent to wait. The tents were a nice touch and kept us warm and out of the wind, but we had to stand as the grass was horrible and wet. And cold. 

I met up with some of my running room peeps and chatted and then we went to the start, sung O Canada and waited for the gun.

I felt tired, but hyped up and was ready to go for the 1:55 per the race plan I had outlined.

I decided to put my nightmares from the night before out of my head. You know those ones, where you pull a Paula Radcliff, but its not just pee? Or when you end up trying to outrun the sweeper van? 

Nope, I didn't think of those at all. I just put my head down and hit start on my watch.

Or did I?

1-7k. Slowly. Slower. S L O W.

The first 200 meters or so were not bad at all. Bridgett let me lead and weave around the start to get on pace. We were doing great right off the bat in terms of pace and getting around people. 

I looked at my watch and we had gone 0 meters for 0:00. 


Quickly, I hit start on my watch. I kept watching and watching and ensuring the pace was on time and spent the next 4 minutes figuring out what the heck I would do to keep time and pace with my stupid watch off by so much. While I have my watch on autolap, I took a chance an hit lap at the 1k marker. The Garmin is smarter then it looks because it autolapped on the KM markers from that point onward. While I couldn't count on the time it was showing, I could count on the per KM pace it was displaying. I cursed myself for not having a separate digital watch with a simple timer. The next five kms flew by. And I mean that literally  We were at 5:10 paces much of the time and I kept Bridgett close and tried to keep her slow. We didn't talk because both of us were focused on the race, but to be honest I felt the effort right away with trying to keep the pace slower. My feet were so cold, they were lead until after 3k. They were just frozen and that sucked. By 4k in, I started to feel that rock in my stomach. If only I had made a coffee! Maybe I would have gone poo. 


But not literally.

I was having both a physical and mental effort to keep with Bridgett and to keep her slow. I started thinking about walking. I didn't want to let Bridgett down, but I could see that she was doing her best to stay with me instead of run a race that felt comfortable for her. Finally, I pushed a bit, grabber her arm and slashed my hand across my neck, saying "I'm done. Go on. You're awesome." She booted away and I walked for the first time, admitting that the day was done for me.

4:33 (830m)-5:15-5:18-5:24-5:19-5:27-5:36. Total:36:51 Pace band: 38:09 (Let's assume I'm on pace here)

8-14k. This. SUCKS.

As soon as Bridgett sprinted away from me with her graceful gazelle strides, I felt some of the pressure lift. I have no idea why I had said I'd run for my own PB with someone who was doing their first marathon. I guess there's a sucka born every day. Or maybe its the eau de mushroom farm which frequents Milton on our long runs. Either way, I was not prepared to stay with Bridgett and get that PB. 

My stomach was still a rock. Every time I saw a port-a-potty, I thought about nipping in to try to go poo, but I knew that I wouldn't be able too and I didn't want to bleed time trying to crap. Instead, I decided to bleed time by walking. Sometimes, 10:1s and once a 6:1, but always the 1. I didn't sink so low as to allow myself to walk more than a minute. Even if some of my running paces felt like molasses. The 1:55 pacer passed me and I gave a fleeting thought to trying to stick with her. Then my stomach-rock contracted, threatened a turtle head and I declined to give chase. At least I was still in front of the 2:00 pacer. 

Stomach-rock: For now. Hee-hee.

5:34-5:58(Gu, risking ass-plosions)-5:29-6:42-5:58-6:04-6:12. Total: 1:18:48, Pace Band: 1:16:18 (and don't forget, my watch is off. The fun never ends on this race! Neither does the attempt at mental math.)

15k-21.1k. Well. I'm finishing the mother in style.

The race course is excellent for a PB attempt. Straight, flat, drinks every mile. A little sparse in terms of spectators, but you can always look out at the Niagara River and see downtown Niagara falls coming toward you. I was making it through on these thoughts, the countdown to the end and the mental math when the mile markers came up (which were labeled for the marathon). I knew that if I got to 16k at around 1:28, I'd have a chance at a 2hr half with 5k to go. My 16k time was 1:30:59. Plus whatever I missed at the start. 

Stomach-Rock: Mwa-ha-ha, ha!

From that point on, I started to look for my friend Jenn, her son Jackson (who is Fergus' BFF) and her mum Lee-Ann (they all came to cheer at Milton and I play ball with Jenn). I had no idea where they'd be except for "not at the end." So that kept me going. I noticed that I was with the same group of people and soon, the 2hr continuous pacer passed me. I'm not going to lie. This was likely the worst part of any race ever. I feel like I can run a 2hr half in style. I had run a 4:05 god-damned marathon and I couldn't even cobble together a 2hr half after a very quick start. Then the 2 hour 10:1 pacer passed me and slowed to his walk, walking backwards looking or people to pick up. How desperately I wanted to join him. But I couldn't. I couldn't get there.

Stomach-Rock: Never underestimate the power of constipation!

I rounded a curve heading into the main streets of Niagara Falls (Canada) and finally, I saw Jenn. We had texted all Saturday and in the morning (I told her what I was wearing) and she asked, "You okay?" I sobbed out, "Its bad. So bad. Not a good day." "Its okay," she said with sympathetic tears welling up in her eyes, "You're doing awesome." I high fived Jackson and ran along again.

Jenn's awesome herself. 

I never walked again.

In fact, at this point, I told my stomach-rock to shut it, told myself to "Harden the Fuck Up" and I started to run a little faster. I saw the 20k marker and hit it (not as hard as I wanted to because I didn't want to knock it over). I started to book it, determined to pass as many people as I possibly could. I was especially pleased when I passed... anyone. HA!

That's right, yellow shirt. I'm passing. See ya!

Niagara sets up corrals to bring you home. These were lined with people. People spectating a major race.

They were silent. Like, a pin could drop, you know? So I did what any desperate runner trying to salvage something good about a non shitty race would do: 

I started waving my arms up and down, screaming, "C'mon Niagara! Let's get loud! C'mon!" If I had the Hulk Hogan, "Let's hear you." gesture down I'd have done that as well. Seriously people. If you're at the end of a race, you should be cheering your freaking ass off for everyone. Guess what? They need you.

As I crossed the line, I heard the announcer say, "Nicole wants noise!" 

That's right, Mr. Announcer. But mostly, I just wanted to be finished.

And Alaho Akbar, I was!
I told you, yellow shirt. I told you!

5:57-6:14-6:13-6:20-6:38-6:08-5:21-0:0:49. Total: 2:02:28, pace band : 1:55:00

Gun: 2:03:42
Chip: 2:03:29
F35-39: 67/224
Females: 375/1281
Place 832/2018

Bridgett? Oh, Gazelle long-legs finished her first half in 1:53:19 and 25/224 in our category. She was also my biggest cheerleader at the end. She didn't even get her water until I crossed the line.

The ride home, the aftermath and future plans

I did my best not to crap my pants in Bridgett's car. I tried to focus on her amazing day instead of my horrid, horrid one. I planted the marathon seed in her head.

After she dropped me off I finally was able to get rid of stomach-rock, but I felt poorly (and starved) for the next few days.

Well, I know that there has to be the blow-up races. Those that you take and learn from and go out for redemption from. While I'll run Hamilton next weekend, it won't be for redemption. Instead, I'll be pacing (for real) another half marathon newbie to a 2:15 finish (which stomach-rock and I can finish with ease, thank-you-very-much). 

My 1:55? It'll keep.

Until Chilly.


I'm coming for you 1:55.

Watch out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Niagara Falls Half Marathon Goals

Well, the time is here! On Sunday I will run my second "A" half marathon of the year. I had originally signed up to run Niagara as a fun run with my friend Julie who has been recovering from surgery most of the year, but wanted to go for a PB at around 1:56ish. Then Julie tripped while running and broke her foot! :-(  Needless to say, she is not running this weekend (but her cast is off and she's on the mend). Around the same time, I convinced my neighbour Bridgett to sign up to run her first half marathon. I figured I'd run with her instead. Then, my first "A" half marathon happened and I fell apart and I decided to make this race my goal race. Bridgett? Something tells me she will cross the line before me.


A+: Sub 1:55:00
A: 1:55:00
B: Sub 1:57:10 (my current PB)
C: Sub 2hrs
D: Not to crap my pants, literally

So, I actually have a plan which I've thought out to utilize Bridgett's ability to increase her pace as we get closer and closer to the end of a run. First, take a look at the elevation map of this race:
Pretty freaking sweet, eh?

So, the plan. I'm going to start at a 1:55 pace (5:27/km) and keep Bridgett there as well (this is why she's running with me, so that she doesn't go out too fast and die at the end). Around 11-12km, if we're feeling good I'm going to slowly begin to decrease the pace, but smartly. The plan is to never run faster then 5:20/km at this time. At 16-17km the downhill starts and that is when I'm going to let it fly. I fully expect Bridgett to leave my here. She is seriously fast and if she is able to shut off her brain, she should smoke her first half marathon. 20-21k is a flat, but hopefully it'll be full of spectators (including my friend Jenn and her mum!), and my goal is to bust out and run as fast as I can, crossing the line with my A+ goal firmly in hand.

Bib# is 1663.

See you on the other side of the finish line.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spectating Report - Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon!

This past weekend I had the honour and pleasure of being a spectator at the 18km point of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I made signs:

And hit the road around 0620 to get the Go Train down to Toronto to be sure to get to my viewing point with lots of time to spare before the elites came through
Spoiler Alert: I'm a crappy photographer!

I purposely decided against standing at a designated cheering section as I really wanted to be able to give the runners some encouragement during what can be a lonely and trying part of both the half and full marathon race.

First, I had to get to my spot and I did so by walking along the course backwards from about 20k back to just after the 18k water station. This meant walking through the end of the 5k walk and I began my cheering right away, holding up my amazing sign, telling people that they were awesome, proclaiming my love for Toronto. I hit my spot and cheered on the last community walker groups before I began to make preparations for the next two hours. While I was putting away my rain poncho and putting my camera around my neck, one of the volunteers from the water station came over and gave me a water. See? Toronto really is "Toronto the Good."

There was probably about 20-30 minutes of downtime and one of the teenagers who was working as a cup sweeper asked me if the race was over. I had to laugh and explain to him that it wasn't even close to over! I told him the next people we'd see could (and had) compete in the Olympics and were amazing and then there would be a few hours of "regular" people after that as well.

Finally, the official race motorcycle came by and I started looking for the leaders. I caught a few photos and managed to get one of Reid Coolseat pacing very well indeed.

This is when I began cheering in earnest and didn't let up for over two hours.

First it was: "I run as fast as you do! In my dreams!" Then some serious cheers for the leading ladies (though no photos as they were all tucked in behind the pacers).

Then there was this guy, who got, "I can't even see you run by!"

Then lots of others who got the in my dreams cheers or (if female in sports bras), "My abs look just like yours do! In my dreams!" I spotted a hometown hero, who set a record for the fastest marathon by an 81 year old (3:30:28)
Ed Whitlock

And there were other runners. Lots and lots of them. And they got me yelling their names or bib numbers and telling them any of the following:

"Looking good, Bill! Running strong."
"Making it look easy, Sarah!"
"14770! You're just floating along. AMAZING!"
"Mike! Running and drinking! AMAZING!"
"Barb! That's my mum's name. You're looking great!"
"Daily Miler's? Are you on the Mile?"
"Have I told you lately that you're amazing? (flip the sign over) Well, you are! AMAZING!"
"You're right on time there, Carl." (when a watch was checked)
"No better way to spend a Sunday! Race a few miles! Or 26!"
"This is your victory lap. Your victory lap of all of your training! Enjoy it."
"You only have today to run this race! You're doing it! Amazing!"
"If this was easy, everyone would do it!"
"I promise there is a downhill soon" (I was at the base of the uphill)
"Are you running the half? The half? Only three k left! AMAZING!"
"It's the 4 hour pacer! AMAZING! Thank you pacer!"
"This is a great looking group! Seriously, look at you all! AMAZING!"

And the runners kept running by and I kept cheering, spotting many people that I know and taking photos when I could. I didn't high five many people but if I saw someone wanting a high five, I gave them one. Toward the end of my time spectating I had to put on gloves, I was shivering in the damp and I had to sit down on the barrier, but it didn't matter. I was having the time of my life. I honestly think spectating a major race is a bucket list item all runners should have. You know what those people are going through and you know how to cheer them on. And there is no greater reward then seeing the smiles and hearing the thank yous along the way.

So thank you to everyone who passed a crazy, short lady in red on Sunday and allowed me to spend a few hours in a race, getting more enjoyment then I ever thought possible, not running.

The pacer in yellow is my running room coach, Chris. He's pacing the 3:40 marathon group as his first gig. This was his 24th or 25th marathon.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Seven Years

People ask me all of the time, "How are you able to run so much with a full time job and two young kids?"

The answer is very simple

This guy!

My husband is simply the most wonderful, the most supportive husband and father I could ask for. While we do sometimes have disagreements about how much I should be running in a week (or at a time), he usually just says, "Okay, that's fine." when I tell him that I have a run planned or that I need to get a 3 hour plus 32km run in.

He also never complains about the money I spend on shoes or races or other running gear. He totally knows how much I love this sport (which I took up seriously in 2011 at age 33) and how being able to run helps my  (bad) moods and stress levels. If I haven't had a chance to run during the work day, I'll often mention how, "I'd like to get about 6k in tonight." and he mostly pushes me out the door, taking care of washing the dishes and entertaining our boys

We've done quite a bit in our seven years of marriage, but continuing to grow our supportive partnership has been our most important task.

Happy Anniversary, Ken!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Photo Friday!

Here are two shots of my awesome 22k run last Sunday! The photo's don't do justice to the beauty of the Niagara Escarpment these days, but trust me the trees are brilliant. So was the run!
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Well, I kinda missed the theme here as my snacks are not spooky and my treats are not healthy, but this meal is brought to you by Thanksgiving Monday (October 8), so I'm not really in the wrong here.
Bacon was on sale this week and I took full advantage (My husband can't eat pork, so we normally have Turkey Bacon).

Lunch included wontons, samosa's and homemade chicken noodle soup

After lunch treat that I "baked" with the kids that morning.
Missing photos include a cheese and cracker snack platter (cheddar, brie and applewood smoked!) and two beers and wine!

Thanksgiving dinner. We had the whole family (my folks, my sister, husband and kids - Brayden, 14 and Brenna, 11). Mum cooked the whole dinner. Turkey with sage and onion stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, carrots and broccoli with gravy.

Pumpkin pie with whipped cream (homemade by mum as well). I don't like fruit pies (mushy fruit- YUCK), but don't mind pumpkin pie or chocolate pie.

I hope you enjoyed a very happy Thanksgiving! I was in bed at 9pm after all of that rich food!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Olympic Running!

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited with a select group of colleagues to participate in a very unique run.

I got to run with two multiple Olympic medal winners from Canada.

Simon Whitfield was scheduled to show up for an easy 10k run with the select group after a speaking engagement with some VIPs and our organization the night before. Simon won the Gold Olympic medal in the Men's triathlon in Sydney (2000) and the Silver in Beijing (2008). He was the 2012 opening ceremony flag bearer for Canada in London and was one of our hopes for a gold medal at these games, but he crashed at the beginning of the bike part of the race and could not recover.

Before Simon spoke at the evening corporate event, he came in with his medals (including his Gold from the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games; he's lost his bronze medal from the 1999 Winnipeg Pan Am Games) to meet with our department, speak a little and pose for photos:

Simon insisted that I hold the gold medal

He was so down to earth and very funny (and let's not lie here - he is very easy to look at). He spoke lovingly about his wife and daughters and in response to a question, said his best relaxation includes tooling around on his bike with his daughter(s) in the bike trailer behind him. He praised his wife's commitment to his pursuit of Olympic excellence showing the understanding of how difficult it was for the family to have him away and training so much in the past number of years. In terms of his past, when asked, Simon said his best sport as a kid was, "Endurance. I wasn't very good at shooting the puck, but I could play every shift. I wasn't the best person to kick a soccer ball, but I could play forward and defense." He first realized that he could make a career out of triathlon in his late teens and dropped out of university to join a club from France.  Simon praised his parents here stating that the only thing they wanted from their kids was 100% commitment to what they were doing. When he told his father he was leaving uni and heading to France, all his dad had to say was, "You better work hard. Every day."

The next morning, when we arrived to the scheduled group run with 24 others, we were told of another special guest: Adam van Koeverden, the Canadian Olympic sprint kayaker was also joining us! (Gold, Athens 2004 - K1-500, Silver, Beijing, 2008 - K1-500, Silver, London 2012 - K1-1000, Bronze, Athens 2004 - K1-1000). 

The story goes that after Simon's speaking event, he called up his buddy Adam to go for a drink (Adam lives in Toronto). While they were catching up, Adam lamented his fitness level and stated that he needed to get "back into a routine." This is when Simon asked him to come along with us at 8am the next day. And he did!

The run was a nice one from the financial district through to Cherry beach; out 5k and back again. I had run that part of the path during Midsummer so I didn't have a problem with the route, but MAN, this group was FAST! At one point, the smaller trailing group got stuck at the lights at Jarvis and Lakeshore and when we started up again to catch Simon and the lead group, we were running in the mid-4:XX per km. I kept my head and my speed in check and got to run a bit with Adam (didn't talk much, but shook his hand at the halfway point) and then spent a lot of time chatting with Simon's agent who was a fantastic guy! 

The group waited for us laggers at the turn around, but it was clear that there were a few of us that couldn't keep a pace of about 5:10/km and so we lagged again. No worries, at the end of a brilliant morning run, I was able to catch both Olympians for a photo opp:

Adam, Me and Simon. They are only 5'11" and 5'10". I AM that short!

It was such a great opportunity to run with these guys and I'm grateful that I got the opportunity. Not only do I have a great story to tell people, the run itself made me realize that a quick and enjoyable run before work is totally doable on Tuesday mornings when I have no childcare responsibilities. I think this realization will come to serve me well in the future and for that, I doubly thank Adam and Simon for the continual inspiration, even in areas they wouldn't have anticipated.

And, let's be honest - they're both very easy on the eyes, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September Recap

September was an odd month for me. I was gearing up for a race in the middle of the month that I was very excited about as it was in my home town, but it was one of the most challenging races ever, and the wheels fell off and I kinda hated running a little bit. I spent the last two weeks of September trying to figure out what that meant and keeping the mileage low. As a result, I ended up with my lowest mileage month this year, but once I got out of my funk (but sucking it up and running), I'm back on track and feeling much better about running in general. I'm getting faster and I need to start to think a bit harder about what I really want to do in 2013.

# of runs: 14

Longest run: 21.3k. Milton Half Marathon!

Races: Milton Half Marathon!

Total KM: 140.9k – This is my lowest month of the year. My next lowest month was May at 162k. I've done a lot of running this year!

Total time spent running: 13h31m37s

Average pace per KM: 0:05:46

I've had to come to terms that I didn't hit my goal at Milton and have adjusted my plan to go after my half marathon PB at the Niagara Falls Half Marathon on October 21st. I won't have the opportunity to pre-run the course, so I'll be blind, but I'm very sure that I can handle it. As I mentioned, I struggled with my mojo in the later weeks of September and I really think that stressful workdays were a contributing factor. I had not put enough stock in my ability to hit the gym at lunch for quick treadmill runs and tempo work and those long days of working through lunch then coming home and working after the kids were in bed took their toll. I'm actually at the point where I'm looking forward to no race training schedule for November and December, but at the same time, I'm looking forward to getting back to marathon training starting in January. My two year quest toward running at Boston starts on January 1, 2013 and I need to get my head space right for the work it will entail.

I hope everyone enjoyed a good month. As October is marathon time in my part of the world, I expect lots of people enjoyed lots of training and peek months as they enter the taper at the beginning of October. I can't wait to read how well my blogger friends do this fall as they accomplish the goals that months of training have set them up for.