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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Midsummer Night's Run - 30k, 3 hour pacer race report

On Saturday, August 17, 2013 I had the privilege of being the 3 hour continuous pacer for the 30k race at the annual Midsummer Night's Run. Normally, this race takes place on the streets of Toronto and out to the eastern Beaches and the Leslie Street spit. However this year, due to construction, the race was moved to the Toronto Islands. I was very excited to run this race for this reason and of course because it would be my first time as a pacer. I was worried about the actual course as it would also be my first time running a loop course, but that didn't end up being a problem. I actually didn't mind the loop part of the course at all. The terrain? That's a different story.


Emma was kind enough to volunteer to drive Sam and myself down to Toronto. Both girls were running the 15k race (go read their race recaps. Hysterical!) but were fine to wait around for me to be finished. We met at Bronte Go station and quickly got downtown and found parking. Thank goodness my old work is literally across the street from the ferry terminal because I knew where we were going. We got on the ferry, chatted with some other runners ("Oh. Well. Pacing a 3hr, 30k is respectable. I... guess..." and "I'm not running Scotia this year. Last year it was my worst marathon ever! I mean, I think I ran it in about four hours.") before landing on the Island and making our way to the DailyMile meet up spot. We were right on time: 4pm. Unfortunately, I think we were some of the only people who heeded the race director's advice to get to the ferries early because only Heather and Roxane met up with us. Heather found the ferry okay; a better alternative to canoeing over as one of her running buddies suggested (I wonder if she regretted that decision later!). I fussed with my tutu and headband and then we lined up again for a final bathroom break, and bag check. With 20 minutes to race time, I was ready!

I lined up with the other 3hr pacer, who was doing 10/1s, answered some questions and .... we were off!

1-10km. I've gotta take this shtict on tour!

Normally, I refer back to the course maps when I write my race reports to pick out key moments. Let's just say that I still can't make heads nor tails of this map, so this recap may be a bit different. Witness:

So anyway, we started out and... hit a water station. Which was odd, but hey! Whatever! Then we ran for about 1-2k and looped back on ourselves. Hmmm. This route is weird. And I'm running too fast. 

Crap. KM 1 - 5:41. Slow it down, macnic. You're not racing.

In order to collect myself and to slow down, I began to talk. I introduced myself to those running with me, told the group this was my 17th or 18th race (um, I just counted. It was my 29th race. Hah) and that I was hoping for a +/-10s race based on my results from last year (failing to mention, that I was NOT the pacer last year). Then, I told them my strategy of slowing/walking through stations as I had no water on me and encouraged them to do the same and catch me back up as needed. 

Then the one-liners started. 

As the shirtless leaders flew past us on the out and back: I encouraged all of my boyfriends to go shirtless today

As the sports-bra clad lead ladies raced by: Of course I had to lend my abs to help those lead ladies. I'm nice like that.

Clothing optional beach: For after the beer tent.

We'd run by island-goers who were confused or gob-smacked by the group of runners and I'd yell at them: I know! WORST. PARADE. EVER!!!

Anyway, my group was eating it up and I was having fun as well. I felt like Jerry Lewis at a Paris concert hall. My paces settled down and I had a nice group with me.

Then we hit the boardwalk. 

Well, if you ran this or the 15k race you know about it. If you're going to run the Longboat 10k, have fun! Its a rickety old wooden boardwalk (with a lovely and breezy view) and it was hard to stay consistent on it. Then I noticed the 26k sign and realized we'd be back again later in the race (at least once). Oh well, off the boardwalk, through some pavement, directed onto a grass field (at which point, I thought "Holy crap they weren't lying about this varied terrain claim.") and on to a water station where I too my first gel around 10k (I guess).

5:41-5:58-6:00-5:59-6:02-5:57-5:57-6:03-6:06 (must be the GU)-6:01 First 10k: 59:44. Pretty damn close to where I wanted to be that's for sure!

KM 11-20k. Oh Good. Let's run that again!

So around this time I realized that the kilometer markers were completely out of whack with my Garmin. I was about 200m off the markers. No problem, I thought to myself, I'll just keep to my watch and ensure I keep the KMs consistent. The same thing happened last year so they should sort out eventually.

I spent a lot of time doing this: 

I really didn't want to mess anyone's race up. I also spent a lot of time watching other runners, waving at my friends (Sam, Emma, KennyMarlene, Heather) and all of the other pacers: You've got a good lookin' group there 2:45! We looped through the start again where that early water table started to make sense and I chatted away with the members of my group. There was a couple who were running together with the man obviously pacing the woman. I'm not sure he realizes how good he made me feel when he kept telling his partner, "Just ease in here. Stay with her. She's running a perfect pace." There were a set of friends with the one girl pacing the other which was lovely. There was Erika who was using this race as a test of consistent pacing to test her goals for her upcoming marathon in October (on her son's second birthday!). We had a good group.

And all of a sudden, it was getting bigger.

Take that Jerry Lewis.

OH. Its the run/walk pacer! Where the heck did you come from? I thought you were ahead of me!

Nope, the plan all along was to tuck in behind you.

Hm. CRAP. Watch the pace! You're not running with him, Nicole!!!

So, its hot at this point and I start to take water and dump it down my back which felt amazing. Because I'm running slowly through the water stations, I'm squeezing cups and drinking on the run which is working okay. Except for the time when I ended up with a shot of water to the eye. Or when I swallowed my gum (no worries, I got it back up!). This part is a bit busy what with people and quad bikes and kids and the beach and didn't we see those volunteers before? They L-O-V-E my costume (Like. OMG! It matches your shoes!!!). Wait. This is the fricking boardwalk. Arrrggg!

Of course, I'm all, woo-hoo! Look at that view, group! Feel that lovely breeze (which is like a hurricane wind trying to turn my pacer sign into a fricken sail!). Watch the footing and let's keep on. (Oh look at that 26k sign. We get to do this. AGAIN!!!!). Over the grass, past the fountain and back around toward the start for the final 10k.

5:59-5:50-6:05-5:55-6:01-5:53-5:51-6:00-5:58-6:03 (GU). Total for the 10k: 59:35 (uh, negative split?! Time bank?!), total for the 20k: 1:59:20. Not too unreasonable.

21-30k. That beeping watch blows. WHERE is the 29k sign?!?

So, we loop around and I've still got my 5 or 6 people with me. Things are going well. I realize that I haven't been very chatty lately so I mention how much I'm looking forward to the boardwalk section again. My group generally agree that that part is stupid. (Stupid is a key word in both Emma's and Sam's recaps. Please go read them. So funny). So, we're ready for the stupid boardwalk again. In the meantime, we hit the half marathon point which makes everyone a little lighter because hey! 9k to go! and I start to hear people coming up behind me mentioning that "Its the three hour pacer! Okay! no more than 54 minutes left."  Which seems hella long to me, but whatever this is what I signed up for. A slow, even race. To lead people via the power of the sparkle tutu and the silly one-liners. To... what the eff is up with that person's crazy, random watch updates!?!. My God that beeping is soooo annoying. God. What pace are we at anyway?

Laps almost full. Clear history or your race will self-destruct bringing these innocent people with you.


Now, I almost ALWAYS clear my watch before any big race. Well, not for this race. Oh no! I mean its not as if I had been having freaking nightmares about a watch malfunction. Nope. 

Okay, I've done this before. I can adjust my watch, run at a 6min km and hold the pacer sigh. Pshaw! Should I knit you a sweater at the same time? I mean, make it a challenge, eh? Okay, so its this? No. Oh, maybe if I hit lap. Nope. CRAP! I just lapped not at a kilometer (I always run races on auto lap). Bah. Think, Revoy, think!!! 

Finally I remember how to delete things, delete everything but one month and carry on. I figure the markers are so messed up anyway, it doesn't really matter and my watch will still autolap every KM showing my pace. I hit autolap on the next KM sign I see to set it straight that way at least (or so I think).

Then, we're back on the boardwalk (Under the boardwalk/ We'll be having some fun! Under the boardwalk/ We'll be falling in love!). Ugg. Fricken sign-sail. People offer to hold the sign for me, but I very honestly say that I'm determined to hold it the whole race after this long. Its a pride thing. My group gets it. They're good eggs. We see a lady fall and get up in front of us, but she carries on and is okay. After the boardwalk, I tell the grass director volunteer that I hope to never see him again unless its in the beer tent and he totally gets where I'm coming from.

Okay people! I say, Grass, path, fountain. FINISH! Let's do this!

My man-woman couple are already ahead of me and I pass by the girls running together. The newer runner is walking but they claim they will catch us later. I know how she's feeling and begin to wonder how people ever pace marathons. I mean, I'm running fine, but my legs hurt and I'm tired. And hot. I can't imagine another 12k of consistency like this. Watching the watch is really mentally draining.

By 27k its just Erika and myself. I tell Erika that there are 18 minutes left. No problem! She's birthed a child! Our conversation goes like this:

Me: You can do it! You have a lovely, wonderful baby!
Erika: Well, he was only 7lbs!
Me: But you gave birth to him!
Erika: Not really, they took him out.
Me: Ya. Me too. Two C-sections.
Erika: But I did go through labour...
Me (FINALLY!!!!): That's right! You did that, what's less than 18 minutes?!?!
Erkia: I love you, Nicole. ... Don't tell my husband that.

And before we know it, we are at the 28k sign, so I hit lap again. Hmm. And there is Erika's husband taking her belt and I think how AMAZING she must feel to get rid of that. What a nice guy he is!!! I tell him that she loves me right now though! HA!

So I start to look for the 29k sign. I'm not sure exactly how this gig will end up by this point because of the watch malfunction so I try to stick with my 6min KM pace and Erika begins to pull away with her final kick. 

Good, no one is with me, I'll just kick it at 29k. I mean, I have enough legs and excitement to pull out close to a 5min kilometer. 

Where is that 29k marker?


Then, I'm running through a field with the general public and volunteers in yellow shirts making a kind of path. Hmm. Cross country. My watch clicks over to 30k (WHERE is the 29k marker!?!?!) and I'm so close to 3hours. I'm running hard at this point but not as hard as I could have. I keep it up though and see the end. I hear Emma, Sam and Patty (who came to watch) cheering and as I go by them I say, "UGGGG!!!" because I'm so pissed I missed the time perfectly. But the finish line brings out the best of course and I execute my plan, twice to ensure the photogs get to capture the moment:

I can't help but always be happy when I finish a race!

5:59-6:08 (watch PANIC!) -5:59-6:09-6:03-6:06-6:11-6:07 (what I hit at 28k, so 780m) -6:03-6:01-5:30 (last 540m per Garmin). 1:01:22. When I look at my Garmin, it says 30.25, 3:01:14.

 My chip time was 3:01:09. If there had been a 29k sign, my chip time would have been 3:00:XX. Oh well. I still think I did fine. All of my group (stalked them) got in under 3:01. My work here was done. But not before I show you my new favorite toy: The animated Gif:


Will I pace again? Um. Yeah. At the Milton Half Marathon on September 15, I will be the two hour continuous pacer. I'm hoping I can get my +/-10s there. 

Will I run this race again? You bet! I love it for the challenge the nighttime 30k brings. Would I run it again on the island? Hmmm. Maybe. It took us over an hour in line to get a ferry back across the lake and I didn't get home until just before midnight. Compare that to last year when I was home by 10:30. I think the organizers did their best, but they couldn't control the ferry the way they did the school bus shuttles.

Until next time, I'll leave you with the race quote of the year: 

Run not with your feet, but with your heart.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 12, 2013

8 weeks in: The Bad, the Ugly and finally the Good

Week seven was an amazing week for me. I ran a record 71 kilometers.

Remember, I'm not in training for a full - just a 30k easy pacer race and then some fall half marathons. That 15k run on Tuesday was tempo with 5k easy at the end and I consistently nailed the pace (5:55-5:53-5:55-5:55-5:56 - my pacer pace is 6:00/km, but I will likely target around 5:55ish due to water stations). The 26k was with Sam with tempo as well which was tough but amazing to complete. I rode that 71k high into week eight, that's for sure!

Well, I've had lots of good, heck, great runs in the past and very few poor ones. Nothing quite as bad as last year's Niagara Fall's Half Marathon has happened to me in a very long time.

Until week 8.

Monday was fine with an easy 10k at 4:45am. Tuesday I took off because I had to be ready for a big meeting at work and needed to take the first train in.

Why yes, I do believe I will put a fancy work clothes photo in the middle of this post. You're welcome.
On Tuesday after my lunch of salad (but before my big meeting), my stomach started to bother me. I quickly chewed down some cherry pepto (seriously, they don't taste that bad!) and got through the meeting fine with kudos from my boss, the president and the CEO who took us for a glass of wine. So I didn't run.

Wednesday, I woke up at 4:30 and ran 10k. I had missed interval training on Tuesday so I decided to run at least 4k of tempo but my stomach wasn't having it. I managed to finish the run, but my stomach just hurt. No, I did not have to go poo. I did not have my period. I AM NOT PREGNANT. My stomach just feels like a rock of gas. Its hard to explain. That was the bad.

Anyway, I spent the morning chugging sports drink and chewing pepto and I felt a lot better. So, I decided to stick to the plan which was to run my 28k long run on Thursday morning before work. Marlene does it all the time and I knew I could do it as well.

I packed up all of my gear the night before and headed to bed.

Judge on the "Blurred Lines" download if you must.
I got up at 4:00am (yep the clock sees 4 twice in one day) and ate a banana and half a clif bar. I was feeling a bit odd, but I decided that it was adrenalin due to the excitement of the pre-work run and the fact that I had told the world (you know, Facebook, DailyMile and Instagram) what I was going to do. I could feel people sending me positive running vibes.

Everything was great! I took some time to get used to the hydration pack and discovered that a V-neck shirt was the wrong way to go (is that neck chaff or are you trying to get pregnant?), but I was clicking along a bit slower than normal. It was super humid out and I kept thinking that the pack had started to leak, but that was just my sweat making the fabric wet (quick, look at my fancy work photo to take that image out of your mind).

For some reason, about 6k in, I decided that I'd run a figure 8, passing by my house in the process, instead of the loop route I had planned.

The mind must know.

At 9k, my stomach just got hard. And hurt. And UGLY.

Like Coyote Ugly.

Yes, If my stomach was an arm of a one night stand, I'd have chewed it off.

I digress....

I had moments of good where I thought, hey! I can go on! And then my stomach was churn and I'd walk and I knew it wasn't going to happen for me that morning. I hurt so bad that I ended up running (around 7min/km) just to get home.

Where I didn't need to use the bathroom or pee on a stick or call the Camp Gyno

It was just an UGLY run.
Srsly. 12.7k and look at how sweaty I am!
But all is not lost! More pepto, more sports drink, loads of salt on my baked potato at dinner and some plain chips and I woke up on Friday feeling good. I had planned to meet up with Richard for a Toronto lakefront run and was worried that my stomach would keep being an asshole but it didn't! Richard and I ran together for about 10k along the lake and it was just enjoyable (though hot) in every way! We are planning to get more of these in for sure!

On Friday afternoon, we headed to the suburbs of Ottawa because it was our nephew's first birthday and we wanted to be there to celebrate. We got into our hotel room around 8:30 and crashed. Saturday we swam and hot-tubbed (twice) at the hotel and spent some time at the party and with Ken's sister, her husband and our nephew. I set the alarm to wake up on Sunday for a short 10k run from the hotel. My brother-in-law (who is a runner, but laid up with a stress fracture right now) had told me that I'd likely hit the Trans Canada Trail if I just ran straight and sure enough I did.

Before I knew it, I was 7k in and hadn't turned around yet. I came to this road and it seemed like a sign to get back to my family:

I did, but overshot my exit of the route. I found another runner to show me the way and before I knew it, I was back at the hotel, 16k completed.

Funny about this run - I had done it with only water. No food before, no gels, no sports drink and just 8oz of water which I conserved. It was only 13c when I started and the trail is shaded which helped but I bet I could have run up to 20k that day. Funny how it all comes together.

The awesome thing was that I hit my target and got this run done at almost perfect pacer pace

Obvs I'll be writing a goal post about this Saturday next
So, week eight ended with the Good.

68 days until the goal race.

Expect to see a lot more good from here on out.

Friday, August 2, 2013

July Recap

I guess I should write more! It looks like I've had a very busy month, because just one post down is my June recap! Whoops!

July was a most excellent month!



Big mileage!

What's not to love?

# of runs: 23! Whoop-Whoop! I missed to due two vacation, but it was worth it!
# of runs started before 5am: 14 - it would have been more, but I allowed myself to sleep in while on vacation!

We went to Our Ponderosa, Cottage & RV Resort and had an amazing time!
It is in Ipperwash Beach, 2.5km from Lake Huron and we took major advantage of the water both in the lake and at the resort pools! I went with my Best Friend's family and it was wonderful to relax and enjoy the week together.

And really, good wine tastes good, regardless of the vessel

Races: One! My PB 5k race on Canada Day!

Highlight run of the month: the Run + Lunch I hosted at my place on July 6th! Sam came early and we got our first 12k with tempo completed and then about 8 other running friends joined for 10k. then we came home and stuffed our faces with amazing food. I want to host another one, but August isn't looking good. It may have to be later in the year.

Total KM run: 222.95. I'm glad to get over 200k again. I really want to hit 2,400km in total for the year and I need to stick with this over achievement while I'm still in training mode. I don't want to try to run 250k in December!

Time spent running: 21h24m55s

Average pace per KM: 0:05:46. I'm pretty sure this is right where I should be between tempo runs and easy runs. I'm feeling good.

July was just a great month and it FLEW by! I can't believe that it is August already! This month will see me become a "pace fairy!" I really can't wait!

I hope you had a great July as well!