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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Friday, September 20, 2013

How to take a great race photo!

So, I'm kinda known for getting some great race photos. Frequently, I get comments on this blog or on my DailyMile page that my photos are The Best. I'm not going to lie, this makes me happy.

But getting great race photos are not difficult. In fact, you can prepare for them the same way you prepare for a race.

1) Visualize how you want your race photo to look. Do you want to be smiling? Thumbs up? Sprinting? Its all up to you:

Bread & Honey 5, 2009 - second race ever.
Clearly, I had this strategy down!
 2) Notice your surroundings. Seriously. At larger races, there will be photographers on various parts of the course. If you pay attention, you can get some really nice photos taken using the strategy above (you may also get random strangers taking photos of you that you'll never find online because everyone seems to have fancy DLSR's now, but what'evs!):

Oh hey! That looks like a photographer!
Yep, I'm awesome!
Bread & Honey 15k, 2011
3) In addition to above, re-run races because you'll likely find photographers in the same locations, year after year:
First Half Marathon: Mississauga, 2011
9 months (to the day) postpartum from Fergus

First Full Marathon: Mississauga, 2012
Man-shorts look good, eh?

Second Full Marathon: Mississauga 2013
Super, amazing day!
Lady-shorts look better!
4) There will always be a photographer at the finish line. Be prepared.
Midsummer Night's Run 30k, 2013
I was the three hour pacer
I actually PRACTICED this on training runs
5) No matter what, try to be happy! You're doing something you love! You're racing!!!
Around the Bay 30k, 2013
Robbie Burns 8k, 2013
Chilly Half Marathon, 2013
It always helps when you know the race exceeded all expectations, of course
Finish of the Mississauga Marathon, 2013
I didn't care about the sprint
I was all about the capturing the AMAZING feeling I had
My all time fave photo. This is pure joy.
I am not hamming it up for the photographers.
I'm seriously so happy with the time I see.
So next time you're racing, try to remember these tips and you too will be making a beeline for the race photos, looking for those awesome moments captured forever. Who knows, you may even get on next years race brochure (I'm still waiting!).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Milton Half Marathon Race Report

My Town.

My Race.

My Way.

That was the goal for today, the second edition of the  Milton Half Marathon.

Things went well; they could have gone worst, but the most definitely could have gone better. At the end of the day, I'm happy with the way I ran this race and know what I need to work on for the Scotia Half Marathon.

I met up with a lot of wonderful people right at the start, including Roxane, AlanRobin, Phil, and Bela, all of whom were racing. Peter came to watch and cheer for us. We milled around, used the washrooms and lined up. I said Hi to the 1:50 pacer, who I wanted to start with and then the gun went and we were off. I was feeling great!

KM1-7. What is with that right calf!

I started off strong, slightly in front of the 1:50 pacer. I was fine with that. I wanted to run this race alone and just be by myself. I knew there would be effort required from me and I didn't want to waste anything talking or chatting. In the first few KM, I let the 1:40 and 1:45 pacers put some distance between me and let Phil and his friend James edge in front of me too. Like I said, I wanted an insular run. Things were okay, but my right calf was super tight. I had the same feeling in the first 8k of the Mississauga Marathon and the calf finally loosed up with a gel. I remembered that, but I had only brought one gel with me and didn't want to take it so early. I was also running without any fluid at all; the day was cool (about 10c or 50f) and I knew I could rely on the water stations. At the 4k mark, I took a glass of Gatorade and it did NOT sit well with my stomach at all. No worries, just keep on keeping on and then we were making the turn at 7k onto Louis St. Laurent.

5:12-5:09-5:02-5:10-5:03-5:16-5:15, Total: 36:07, Pace band (1:49:00): 36:09

KM8-14. Headwind. Family. Headwind.

I pretty much don't need to write anymore about this split. LOL. We hit Louis St. Laurent and hit the headwind. I knew it was coming because I run this street all the time, but it still took a lot out of me. By this time, I had a group of ladies I was following (Conner's Runner, 2012 ATB shirt, Annoyingly bouncy braid-pony-tail) and we were pacing very well off of each other. Just after 9k, I told them all to stay on the sidewalk once they crossed over Thompson as there was bad gravel on the multi-use path and we all did. I didn't see one person falter despite the less then ideal conditions of the path and we continued on. Into the wind. 

The 10k water station was right where it was supposed to be (and I knew it would be because I drove by it on my way to the race start) and so I dug out my gel and ate it. I realized at this point that my calf had given up its protesting. Likely because my stomach had taken over. My stomach obviously did not get the memo that we used the washroom already this morning. Still, because I was racing at a hard effort, despite the risk of a port-a-potty visit or worst, I downed the gel and headed onward to where my family would be at 12k.

I turned down Farmstead and knew that this was it! The best part of the race. Before long, I saw my cluster of peeps with the signs I had made and was shocked to see my friend Jenn and her son. I grabbed hugs from the boys and headed on the way. Jenn yelled after me: "How are you feeling?" I responded with eloquence I'm known for: "UGG"
My dad made the green sign as a surprise.
This is my 30th race and the first my folks have attended.
Back on down the road and I could feel my adrenaline leaving me in droves. It wasn't a good feeling! I decided to walk through the next water station to shake it off and starting running strong again. Take that headwind! We're done with you. To which Mother-Nature said, "Oh ya?!" and put her hands on her hips and blew and blew. 

5:11-5:11-5:11-5:25 (stop for hugs from the kids!)-5:19-5:27 (walk with water)-5:06, split: 36:50, total: 1:12:57, pace band: 1:12:19

KM15-21.1. Countdown and God Bless all the Pacers, Everywhere!

So I'm away now and realize that, Holy Crap, I'm at 15k! I had been spending so much time just putting in the miles until I saw my peeps and then just running through the stomach UGGS that I didn't realize how much of the race was actually left. This is good! I get up the hill on Laurier and I know the route like the back of my hand. Right around here, John, the 1:50 pacer finally catches me. I knew he would and I didn't mind. Less thinking for me now. Just stay with him and still get a PB. Maybe even pull out a 1:49:xx. I tell him as much and he's all for it. He only has one person with him so I'm sure he's happy to pick me up. I know the DM peeps are going to be at 16.5k when we cross over Thompson and I see them as Phil runs by because he's slightly ahead of me now. They are cheering like crazy. And taking photos!

Hey girls! I feel like crap, but I'm still gonna #runnerd for you!
Okay, past these ladies, on to 17k and only 4k left. I actually say to myself, "You wouldn't even get DRESSED to run 4k. Let's go!" Thank goodness for John the pacer. I just have to stick with him and I'm all good. I walk through the water station because I just have to, but I keep him in my sights and see him glance back every so often, least he's lost me. I catch him up again on the back half of the Tupper loop (in the headwind) and we run on. Then, we're crossing Thompson again and the DM gals have crossed the road:

Despite everything (and my stomach is KILLING me at this point),

So. Over the road and the turn onto Coxe. "Coxe. Childs. Thompson. Underpass. End." John's impressed and I manage to tell him I've run the route the past two weekends. He speeds up just a bit around 19k as the other guy starts to leave him, but once the other guy is well on his way, he slows to catch me again. John. My angel. He's chatting away and encouraging me and I'm kinda listening and kinda not and trying not to fart least the Worst. Thing. Ever. happens and I crap my pants. I see the 20k sign and move over to hit it. I think John likes me. "That's it. 1k left. You've got this."

We turn onto Thompson and I KNOW that the underpass is there. I put all kinds of effort into getting down with speed to help me climb it again. I see Phil in front of me and I know I'm going to catch him on the upside of the hill. I shout out to him and John's excited because he's picked up a few people now. I make the turn onto Main street and see the cheering section including a kid with a 400m sign. Oh my God, that finish might as well be 20k away. I have no kick, but I do have John. John telling me that I've got it. To go for it. To finish strong. So I put everything I have into the last 100m and cross the line with a nice PB.

5:22-5:11-5:21-5:04-5:12-5:09-4:51-1:25 (300m per Garmin, 4:42/km pace), split: 36:10 for 7k, 37:35 for 7.3k, total: 1:50:32, paceband: 1:49:00.

Gun: 1:50:40
Chip: 1:50:30 <---1:24 div="" pb="">
30/116 Females
9/34 F35-39


I cross the line and just kinda stop dead and put my hands on my knees. Someone on the sidelines actually asks me if I'm okay. Instead of truthfully telling them that I'm just trying not to crap my pants, I say I'm fine. I get my medal and a volunteer asks if I want a recovery bar, "Ya think?" I ask and we both laugh. I see Phil, his friend James and we talk about the race. We cheer in Alan and I chat with him for a while too. My stomach is not doing well though. I find John and try to let him know that I only held on because of him and he wishes me luck for the rest of the Fall. Peter finds us to say good job and so does Robin and we find Bela together. I really want to stay to see Roxane finish but my stomach just has other ideas so I pack it in and head it home. I DO see Roxane coming up the final hill to the end after the underpass and honk at her like a crazy person and yell out the window to her. I come home and find this note in my bathroom (which I rush to) and I know that despite not meeting my goal, nothing else matters except for this note:

Another race done and done as well as I could. I'm happy. Next up is the County Half Marathon on October 6th which will be a training run, the last push before the big show on October 20th. I'm excited to see how much I can improve between now and then.

I will leave you with my favorite ever running quote:

Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.
Oprah Winfrey 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Milton Half Marathon Race Goals!

Well, the 2013 edition of the Milton Half Marathon has been a whirlwind for me, for sure! Originally, I approached the organizers about being a pacer in the race. I thought it would be a perfect way to give back and still run in my town, along my training roads. Well, I was too late and they already had lined up all the pacers needed at the times I was willing to commit to (1:55, 2:00).

Fast forward to the middle of August - about a month away from race day, and I get an email from the organizer asking if I was still interested in the 2:00 continuous pacing job!  I jumped at the chance and was very excited to be able to give back. In the meantime, I paced the Midsummer Night's 30k run and started to work on constancy at the 5:41/km pace I would need to guild people to that 2:00 finish.

Then I got the email. The one that told me that I was not the pacer.

So what's a girl to do? I'm not ready yet to commit to going after the fall half goal of 1:45. I have six more weeks to get ready for that both physically and mentally.

But, I feel like I'm close.

I want to have a challenging race because, well... I've done an "easy" race already this summer.

I want to run alone. Just me and my thoughts (and likely my playlist).

So, the goal for the Milton Half Marathon will be

1:49:00 or less!

That will give me a nice PB and tell me how ready I really am for Scotia.

My plan (and this is where the or less part comes in), is to start at a 5:10/km pace and run that until after I pass by my family at 12.5(ish) km. At that point, I'll do my first evaluation and see if I can drop the pace a bit, maybe to 5:08 or 5:07. From there, I'll run until I get to the DailyMile cheering section at 16.5km and then look to drop the pace down a bit more. When I get around the final Tupper loop and head back over Thompson road toward the last 3km and the finish, I will be targeting splits under 5:00, with the hope that the final adrenalin push will be enough to get me up the underpass hill right at the end and turning onto Main Street with legs a'churning.

Or, as Doc Hudson tells McQueen on the last lap of the Piston Cup (yes, that IS Fergus' favorite movie right now):

 Drive her in deep, and hope she sticks

I'm really looking forward to this one! See you on the flip side.

Monday, September 9, 2013

And sometimes it gets so good....

I have often equated running to golf.

I haven't played a lot of golf and I don't play well, but when I do, I usually end up having that one shot that is so spectacular that it ensures I'll be out again when asked

The same goes for running.

Not every run is great:

Some really suck!
But this past week, I was able to kick through three awesome runs which allowed me to build up my confidence and set my mind once again to the goal for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.

The first was a 5am Wednesday treadmill run at my gym. I decided to go old school, or running room style and run 10 minutes warm up, 20 minutes tempo and the rest easy. I struggled just a bit with the 20 minutes of tempo at 4:46/km pace (7:41/mi) but after about 4 minutes at easy pace, and just reaching 4 out of the 5 total miles I wanted to run that day (8km total), I couldn't take the easy any longer so I kicked another half mile at tempo pace. I felt strong and proud!

The next day was supposed to be a rest day with my run on Friday AM, however I had planned an early coffee date with my former colleague instead so I decided to go for a rare evening run. This was really nice as I got to see the route I normally run in complete darkness. I was having a really pleasant run, just easing along but decided to try to kick out the 9th and final KM as fast as possible. I was rewarded with a 4:22 KM (7:03/mi). I felt amazing!

Finally, on Saturday, Sam and I got together for our long run which was supposed to be 20km with 10k at half race pace (for the target half - STWM as mentioned above). We decided to run the Milton Half Marathon route again and did 3km warm up, 10km at half race pace (aiming for 5:04/km or 8:10/mi) at the slowest and the rest easy. It was difficult to continue to keep up the pace and I would likely have split the 10k if I had been on my own, but with Sam there, I persevered and managed to run the 10k in 51:03 total. Not bad at all and a true confidence booster for this coming weekend when I'll run the Milton Half Marathon and for October 20, which is the A-goal race.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I was excited today to get an email from the Pace Panther organizer at the Milton Half Marathon today. I read through the note, which told us about required time of arrival to get our signs and the like and then ran down the list of "Pace Panthers"

My name was beside 2:15.

I immediately emailed the organizer back and told her that she had asked me to pace the continuous 2hr group and that 2:15 was just too slow.

I didn't even think about it.

I've never run a race that slowly and I was not going to be responsible for leading a pack of people wrong.

I know this is the right choice because yesterday I had a hard enough time keeping within 5:41/km pace (the 2hr pace).

I was hopeful that I'd get an email back telling me that there was a typo or mistake and of course I was in for 2hrs or that they'd change the 2hr run-walk pacer to 2:15, but instead I just got a response saying, "Sorry about that. We'll find someone else."

So now, I'm stuck.

I don't want to make this my goal race (my head is not ready); Sam and I have agreed that we're both holding off until Scotia to try together (we are both running other half marathon's before). So I have to take the next few days to re-evaluate and then on September 15th, I will toe the line in my town and run my race.

Whatever that ends up being.

Monday, September 2, 2013

August Recap!

August ended up being an epic month for me. I paced my first race and hit my highest monthly mileage. I had some serious stomach troubles during my runs at the start of the month, but those seem to have cleared up now (thank goodness). I ended the month a bit unsure if I'll be able to hit my goal during the half marathon on October 20th, but I have a good few weeks left of training to build the confidence required.

# of runs: 20! Considering how much distance I got in, I'm very surprised to see how many days I took off.

# of runs started before 5am: 11. I hope I can keep this up through the winter.

Races: 1 Pacing the Midsummer Night's Run, 30k three-hour group

Highlight run of the month: The midsummer run of course!

I had a lot of not-so-good runs as well, including an attempt to run 28k before work which resulted in a huge stomach upset and only 12k run:

I didn't give up on getting some distance in that weekend. Even though we were in Ottawa visiting family, I went out on Sunday morning (with my husband's blessing) for a short 10k run which turned into 10 miles on the Trans-Canada Trail. I did this run with only 8oz of water and was perfectly fine. I could have run another 10k, I'm sure.

I continued to run my long runs with Sam and basically chased her through tempo portions of the long runs per the Daniel's running formula. Thank goodness I have someone crazy enough to join this challenge with me. The weather this month was difficult. At the top of the month, it cooled off and I was loving my perfect running temperatures of about 12c. Then, it got humid. And sticky. And hot. And humid. It was gross. Even in a gym with A/C

Total KM Run: 256.64k

Total Time Spent Running: 24h59m15s

Average Pace per KM: 0:05:51

Not too bad for 11 days off, stomach troubles and HUMIDITY! September brings another pacer race (Milton Half Marathon on September 15th - 2hr continuous) and the build of confidence.

I need to get some swagger back into these bones. I'm hoping the next few weeks brings that in spades.