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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Fall 2014 Plan

Well! I figure as I sit here after the first official training week for the Fall that I should likely share my fall plans with all of you. Of course, as I learned this week, I can not be 100% in anything I've not yet signed up for as my oldest son has made the Rep Hockey Novice team and thus hockey and tournaments now take precedence over everything (kinda).

So, the fall plan has been written. Here are the first few weeks
The red box is when we are away for the week. I don't force myself to stick to the plan during this time.

If you click, it will go larger. As you can see, there is an equal number of bikes and runs during the week!

I KNOW! That's because I had to write my entire fall plan around The Epic Tour Halton (September 7) where I will be riding the 80k distance with my co-worker who talked me into it. Of course, I have this sweet mum bike to get me through and I've gotten speeds up to 22.2km/h thus far. Don't be too jealous! 

But what else am I doing? There is quite a bit of running on that plan as well. In order, here is the plan:

A return to pacing and the awesome 30k at A MidSummer Night's Run (August 16) (I'll pace the 3hr group, join me!)
This may happen again

Next after that, I'm hoping to run the 10k at MEC Race 4 (September 6). This comes the day before the Gran Fondo, so we'll see what happens. This 10k is also the basis of all of the early speedwork for the summer. Like during the summer of 2011, I plan to return to the track in order to gain the grounding in order to toe the line at this race hoping for a finishing time around 48 minutes. Sam's keen on the same goal, so we're using the same basic running plan.

After my Gran Fondo is in the bag, the plan ups the ante with four run days and one bike day a week. I also begin to add some goal half marathon pace into the long runs. There won't be much time to test out my newfound speed over distance though, because like Sam, I plan to take my first stab at going sub-1:45 in the half at the Oakville Half Marathon (September 21), after all, I had a great time running with Sam and Richard during the last 5k in 2013. This race conflicts with my son's first tournament. The tournament was supposed to be on September 12-14, however they had to change to September 19-21 and will be in Essex. I signed up for the race and the next day, the tournament got changed! My husband and I have chatted though and he's fine with me doing the race as I can't get a refund on my bib. 

Skirt power with Sam at the end of Oakville last year
After Oakville, Sam, Emma, Bridgett and I will reunite for another 25k trail race, Run for the Toad (October 4). I'm hoping we can produce more awesome tampon commercial worthy photos

Finally, finally, there will be the now traditional, Road2Hope half marathon on November 2nd. Unless a hockey tournament conflicts. My backup in that case is the weekend before at the Niagara Falls half marathon. I've also put my hand up to pace Niagara, so we'll see what happens.

As you can see, I have a VERY full plan on the go. Of course, in my first week of training I've been able to get every workout in and have hit 83 combined bike/run kilometers for the week. This meant I was in bed at 2115 on Saturday night. Turns out massive amounts of physical activity and a party lifestyle don't really go hand in hand. But I'm okay with that. I think the biking will really help me keep my Plantar Fasciitis in check, plus everyone keeps telling me it will help with my running. 

And who knows? I may just become a multi-sport athlete before you know it!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bread & Honey 5k Race Report

I know! Three weekends, three races! What the hay? To be honest though, running in the Bread & Honey races is something I will likely do as long as I'm running. I grew up at the edge of Streetsville and took dance lessons there for 16 years. My dance troupe would march in the Bread & Honey Festival Saturday Parade every year (and Hazel has always been the mayor) and in high school, the first Friday in June was always reserved for the carney rides and snacks.

This year, I wasn't sure what I'd do with this race. I convinced my friend Kerry to run it as her first post baby race (her baby is now 13 months old), so I had options. Go out fast and try to PB/AG place or pace with Kerry.

The morning of the race, I decided that I'd run fast, then faster, then kick it up for the final 2k. I figured I could pull out a marathon paced run (5:00-5:10/km) which would leave me enough steam to go sub 5 for the final two KM. So I ate my breakfast and went to the bathroom and that plan pretty much went out the window.

I was having some stomach upset and not the kind you really want to race hard with. Still, I held on hope that I'd recover in time and Kerry picked me up and off we went. After parking, we made our way inside the school to use the washroom and ... yah... racing wasn't happening today.

I took this photo last year too! Had to re-do!

I quickly asked Kerry what her goal was (sub 30). I offered to pace her and she accepted. So we got into the corral, heard Hazel welcome us and then we were off.

Right away, I knew we were too far back. The race starts with a nice little downhill, then flattens, then goes down again. I knew if we could bank time here, the next few KM could be easy including the one early uphill at the Britannia Street underpass. We hit 1k at 5:35.

The route
"Lots of time, Kerry! Doing good?" Kerry was fine so I told her to take it easy on the uphill, we were fine. I was feeling great myself. So much nicer than last year when I was DYING already due to the humidity and effort. We are running along and I try to determine if I should slow Kerry down. She's running around 5:30/km, which is sub-30... by a lot.

"Feeling good?" I ask
"Yep! Great!" Kerry responds
"Uh. Okay, you just run and I'll make sure you don't slow down too much then."

And basically my work was done for the next 3k. I yelled at spectators ("Hey! Take a picture of me! I'm looking good out here!"). I answered questions those around us had ("The water is after the turn.") and I kept Kerry around the 5:30/km pace. Might as well not cheat her out of a great race.

When we got to the water, I told Kerry that we had time. Make a decision on water and stick with it. She decided to go in for a cup, and I did as well (might as well). We got out of there quickly and it was time to head back to Britannia and make the left turn to 4k, "While all of those 15k suckers turn right. HAHAHA!"

After the turn, I told Kerry to take it easy on the uphill if needed and that there was a photographer here! We saw her and tried to pose together but heard her say, "If you're on the sidewalk I CAN NOT SHOOT YOU!!!" Too late. I got missed but Kerry got some sweet #runnerd photos! Thata girl!

At 4k, Kerry started to tell me that she was going to puke! HA! I didn't tell her that this feeling meant she was running the 5k perfectly. Instead I told her to think of her elbow, "How does it feel? Fells pretty good? All nice. Very bendy!" I just kept talking and she'd say, "....puke..." and I'd talk and talk..."twice around the track... 600m left. Once around the track... look THERE IS THE FINISH... go Kerry! RUN! GOOOOO"

And I scream at her for the last 250m and let her finish ahead of course.

When I see our time, I'm very happy

Double pony-tail swing!

Turn out our little "sub 30" 5k turned into 27:53 for Kerry, 27:54 for me.

Splits: 5:35-5:34-5:30-5:31-5:34 (pretty nice pacing if I do say so myself!).

Time: 28:25
Chip: 27:54
Place: 242/710
Females: 81/421
F35-39: 12/56

Looking at my age group, I likely would have placed if I was able to hold the shit show together on this day. But all's well that ends well, and I doubt placing would have made me any happier than running with a friend and allowing her to re-discover her love of running. Kerry's already making fall plans. And looking for running skirts!

Next up? Fall plans. I've got a whole bunch of them!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon Race Report (Pace Bunny)

On Sunday, June 1st, 2014,  I had the pleasure and honour of being the 2:05:00 continuous pace bunny at the third annual Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon. I got really lucky when Patty asked if I'd be interested in pacing this event and then lucky again when she switched times with me after I was assigned to the 2:15:00 run/walk time (she's a pro at this time having paced it four times now). We made a bit of a day out of race kit pickup and our fellow pacer (2:10:00), Amy, my friend Bridgett and my son Fergus went to Niagara to pick up the sweet, sweet race kit with the mandatory Lululemon outlet stop in.

Race day started early as it always does and we were at Patty's house and on the road by 6am, arriving on site by 6:50am. This race is SUPER well organized with great and clean portapotties and really easy parking mere meters from the start line. Before long, Patty, Amy and I said our goodbyes and got into the corrals all three in a row. Shania Twain was playing so I did a little line dance least the women around me thought they'd be following a shy pacer. They delayed the start by 5 minutes to let people just coming in to park start on time, Kathrine Switzer spoke, we sang O Canada and then... we were off! All 3,100 ladies charging toward Clifton Hill.

KM 1-7: S L O W D O W N macnic!

From the start line on Upper Portage Road, we headed along the Niagara Parkway toward the Falls. Patty had warned me that there was an immediate downhill (as she's run this race every year), but I promptly forgot and got caught up with race excitement and went too fast. Whoops. I was targeting about 5:50-5:55/km as my plan was to slow/walk through water stations and I hit this first KM in 5:37! No worries, I began to talk and joke with the ladies in my group. I let them know that my plan was to slow through the water stations and tried to make conversation but no one was having it. "So, is this anyone's first half?"


"...well, this is my 13th half! Yep! Lucky number 13! WooHoo!" Someone did tell me that they'd be running with me to the bitter end. I told them that if they were with me in the finish chute, they'd be finishing ahead of me, "Once, I screamed at a girl so hard, I peed my pants." You could tell by the intake of breath that these ladies knew my dedication right then and there. 

We settled in and before long we were passing, "The bigger, prettier and Canadian falls! To the right, ladies!" Wow, did that mist feel good. We went through water here and as we headed to the Rainbow Falls, we started to see the leaders come back. 
See Jennifer in the purple? Remember her.
This is where the true magic of the race started. Everyone was cheering their heads off for everyone else. As the leaders past us and the 1:45 pace bunny past us, those girls in the sparkle skirts headed over to the right and pretty much high-fived all other sparkle skirts they saw ("Its like a convention of sequins here, people!"). Of course I screamed my head off for all other pacers including my Running Room friend, Erica (2:00:00, 10/1s), Amy and Patty! What a great time!!!

5:37-5:53-5:48-5:50-5:53-5:59-5:56, time: 40:56, pace band: 41:28

KM 8-14: Steady Eddy

I was able to settle into my pace finally in this stretch. It was a STINKING hot day (considering the late/non-spring) and I was glad that I declined to wear any kind of compression socks at all with my sweet PUMA tank and HIND skirt. I tried to keep it chatty and light and used my favorite line that the 1:55:00 pace bunny, Andrew said at the 2013 Chilly Half, telling the girls, "Now is the time to settle in. Ease yourself through the run and let the kilometers come." That was my plan for sure. It was difficult to keep the chatter up for two reasons: 1) I didn't have a chatty group, 2) I was thirsty! 

While I wouldn't have wanted to carry my own water I wouldn't have minded a few more water stations. What this race did well though was having signs a few meters before aid stations letting us know that water was coming. "Get your fluids and nutrition in, ladies! Remember, I will slow or walk through the stations, but we have time." Seeing that a water station  was coming and that we were around 9k, I took my one and only GU. Then I spotted more photographers and Boom! Here's what I do best!

ZOMG! PHOTOG! #runnerd
(see Jennifer?)
So we continued along and then, we were again passing the leaders! WooHoo! I knew that meant that we were about 15 minutes or so from the turn around. While I had settled into pace, there was a slight headwind which made holding the sign a challenge and I was eager to get the wind to our backs  on the way home. More high-fives, more "Go Amy! Go Patty!" Go random chick, but I like your socks!!!" Then we came across "Muscle Beach" where there were a group of (mainly) men who were body builders and posing! HA! No one in my group stopped, but we did see some ladies stopped for the photo opp on the way past after the turn.

Hey Jen (do you mind if I call you Jen?).
 Oh nothing, we're just racing
5:54-5:55-5:58-5:55-5:57-5:56-5:56, split: 41:30, total: 1:22:26, pace band: 1:22:56

KM 15-21.1: Stay Behind Us, Bitch

Making the turn, I announce to my group that we are perfectly ahead. We've got time and we just have to keep on keeping on. The expected headwind does NOT materialize and my internal mercury is rising. I start to look at all volunteers and spectators drinking water like I'm T. E. Lawrence and its a particularly hot day in Syria. The route has some shade though and I concentrate on staying in the shade whenever I can and knowing that we are getting another water break as we pass by the one that was around 9k. This comes around 19k because I remember shouting to the ladies, "18 minutes! You can do ANYTHING for 18 minutes! That's it! Let's go!!! Except right now, I'm going for some water. HA!"

By this point, I know I'm ahead of time, so I take a little more time at the station. I drink two cups and I dump one down the front of my top. Then I'm crossing over the bridge and some spectators call out to me. "There's no one with me, right?" "Not a soul," they say! Oh well! I slow a touch more and hope for the best. Before long, a man who had been with our group is with me and we start talking. 

"No problem," he says, "you're a bit fast."
"Yep, I wanted to have time for the water stations."

We chat a bit and he's running the race because he leads a running room clinic and they are running this race. He assumes I also lead at the running room but I tell him that having two young children hold me back from that commitment... for now.

Then we are getting super close to the end. "1 mile to go!" shouts a volunteer! Girls start to catch me and I start to tell them, "Pass me and you'll go sub-2:05! Just stay in front of me and you've got it! Sub-2:05!" This brings one of my two favorite parts of the race, when a lady passing me deadpans right back, "Just stay behind us, Bitch!"
Well played, random girl, well played!
I'm keeping it SLOW as I really want to finish as close to time as possible and this affords me all kinds of opportunity to scream at girls as they get past me. Finally I'm in the chute and the real work begins. I glance left and here are some ladies, "Let's GO! GO GO GO!!!" They'd pass and on to the next ones, "RUN! You've GOT this! Sub 2:05!!! GO! GO!" Then, my favorite part of the entire race happens. Finally I can't see anyone any longer so I full on turn around.

And see Jennifer.

I start running backwards, waving my arms, waving my sign, risking peeing my pants and I'm screaming, "C'mon Jennifer! C'MON! GET PASSED ME! LET'S GO!!! YOU'VE GOT IT! C'MON JENNIFER!!!!" 

I can hear and see the crowd pick up on this and Jennifer is pushing as hard as she can. As soon as she passes me, I turn and jog across the finish. My work here was done.

5:51-5:59-5:56-5:58-5:59-6:15-6:12-0:19 (last 0.06k), split: 42:29, time: 2:04:55, pace band: 2:05:00

Gun: 2:05:13
Chip: 2:04:54
Place: 342/1995
F35-39: 82/372

As soon as I crossed the line Kathrine Switzer grabbed me to congratulate me and to commend me on my amazing pacing and final encouragement! I was kinda out of it and wished that I had had the wherewithal to ask for a photo! I then retreated to the back of the finish chute with my glorious bottle of water and cold, wet face cloth to wait for Amy and Patty. Five and ten minutes later they were across the line and we were celebrating an amazing day for all of us!

My final thoughts are that this race is AMAZING! Right now, it only costs $68 to sign up for the 2015 edition and look at that race kit!!! Beyond that, the course is very, very fast! It is completely flat with only some slight downhills and the only complaint I have (and its minor) is that there could be more water on course. But that's minor because you can always bring your own. I'd do this race again in a second and I'd be honoured to pace it again! 

Oh and Jennifer? She finished 2:04:37.