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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week Seven: Festive Special

Well, it turned out that week seven ended up being a bit of a reduced week. I didn't realize how busy I was at the tail end of the week and as a result, I was not able to hit all of my workouts. I spent a good amount of time celebrating the year with friends though, so that is always a plus!

On Friday night, some of the mum's I've met through my older son's hockey teams got together for dinner and drinks. The company was awesome of course, as was the food, but the restaurant took over 2 hours to bring out our mains! Unfortunately, quite a few ladies didn't make the trip down the road to the bar for last call. But I did!

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

Saturday evening, we had our team hockey Christmas party. It ended up being at our house and it was so much fun! At one point, almost all of the kids (and parents) were pulling out their "Whip-Nae-Nae"

A video posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

As a result of two big nights (aka not a lot of sleep), I didn't get in any swimming this week! And I also didn't do any strength training, not even a single push-up! I'm finished work on the 23rd though and don't go back until January 4th, so I hope to fit in a lot more during the office closure period. Here's how this week shook out:

Monday: Off
Tuesday: 8 minute test on Trainer Road. My FTP went from 160 to 193. I'm ready to work! 21.9km total in 1hr
Wednesday: Off - my calves were sore in the AM and no time in the PM/at lunch
Thursday: 9k in the AM, running and 45 minutes with Goddard (17.3km) in the PM as I wasn't sure if I'd fit it in on Friday before my dinner with the ladies.
Friday: I got home early after driving downtown to work (and paying way too much to park for six hours), so I asked Zindine for an easy TR workout. He came through with Carter. Except I picked the +1 version and made the 45 minutes a lot harder on myself! I rode 45 minutes for 17.6km
Saturday: I fit in a 7k run, mid-morning between hockey and shopping and cleaning up a bit before the party
Sunday: More hockey for both boys and a mission to get my nails done resulted in a "long run" of only 9k. But my nails look good!

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

Totals for the week:
Run: 25.1km
Cycling: 56.8km

Total: 81.9km, 4h51m25s.

Despite the fact that its Christmas this week, I think my mileage will see increases for my last off season week! If my calves cooperate - they are so tight. I need to ensure I get on fixing that before more problems (PF!) arise!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday's to everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week Six of Off Season!

Sailing right along in this off season thing! I've made a firm decision this week in regards to swimming and took a foot off in terms of cycling, but I still managed to fit in what I wanted.

In terms of swimming, I had originally planned to get to the 9pm lane swim on Thursday nights. After four weeks of thinking that this would happen and not, I decided that the stress and guilt of planning for this swim time wasn't worth it. I will likely NEVER make it to a 9pm anything on a week night. Let's face it, in order to get a good 7 hours sleep, I will need to be in bed most nights by 930pm at the latest. That swim time just doesn't fit with my lifestyle. And I'm not even training for a triathlon. Letting that go and realizing that I may only make a swim time once a week if I'm lucky really gave me some extra energy to go and attack things again. In the end, I swam on both Saturday and Sunday as my sons both had hockey schedules which cooperated with the lane swim times. The thing is, when I swim, I really enjoy it.

In terms of cycling, this was the final week of my sweet spot base building plan and I decided to skip the final 90 minute spin. I just wasn't feeling it and I wanted to take some extra time back for myself (and sleep, let's be honest). In the end, this was the right decision as I was able to attack my long run on Saturday and due to running with some speedier friends, the back half of the run was rather quick!

Here is how week six shook out:

Monday: TR Black - a consistent effort for an hour. Not all out, but no lovely 60% breaks either

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Slept in. Ran 7k at the gym at lunch with 5x2 mins fast, 2 mins slow (Coach Phaedra special), this felt great! In the evening, I was supposed to repeat TR Black, but instead I used my home selector weights to fit in my strength training.

Thursday: 8k early AM run before meeting friends/colleagues for breakfast prior to work. My stomach was slouchy like I had drank too much so I kept it easy.
Seriously, this weather is awesome!
Friday: After work, I hit the trainer for the second Black session of the week. This time, I was prepared and it felt better. Then, I met up with a whole bunch of my running friends for dinner and left with a sweet pair of #runnerd socks (no photo, sorry)

Once I retake the FTP test, something tells me I won't be so off target

Saturday: Long run day! While I was supposed to meet up with Sam, Ivanka, and Amy at my place at 7, only Ivanka showed as the others were not feeling well. We left right at 7am and ran about 5k to Kelly's place (fellow hockey mum), where she joined in. Around 10k, Henro joined us and the foursome was complete. Once we met up with Henro, our pace dropped to about 5:30/km, but it felt good and we kept up the conversation. I love running with people it makes the time fly. Ivanka and I ran 20k total with Kelly putting in her longest run ever at 15k and Henro continued past my house and home to his own place for 14k. Great day (no photos! - that was Sam's job!).

After I got home and showered, I noted that Alasdair's hockey practice and lane swim time were at the same time, same place! With no time to spare, I made the decision to go swimming. This worked out well and I swam for 1,000m - feeling good the entire time.

Lying swim cap

Sunday: The day started slow when I turned off my alarm and decided not to run. HAHA. I knew I wanted to get back to lunch lane swim, so I ate a bigger than normal breakfast and then headed out to church and to get groceries with Fergus while my husband took Alasdair to hockey. After everyone was home, it was time to swim. I planned to be in the pool for an hour and I did. I managed to swim 50m at a time (HUGE!) and ended up with 1,200m.

I got home in time to dry off and eat before changing again into running gear. I ended up getting my run in, taking the long way to Fergus' 2:30pm hockey game. YAY for fitting everything in!!! And we put up our Christmas tree!

Total distance for the week: 84.96k, lower than "usual" this off season, but I skipped about 45k on the bike (two rides) and that was the right thing for me.

Total time: 7h16m59s - YAY for fitting it all in!

This week should be interesting. I need to decide if I'm going to take another easy bike week or re-take my FTP test (which is highly anticipated among my pushy triathlete friends). Seeing as longer mid-week runs will start in two weeks, I should likely up my run distance as well in individual runs. Finally, I would love to get back in the pool twice. Oh, and strength training. Ya. I guess I shouldn't forget about that.

Have a great week!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Off Season, Weeks 4 & 5: One step forward, Two steps back...

So, weeks four and five have come along in the off season! I had a bit of a lag last week, but such is life. Week four was pretty special! I got back into the pool with a coach and I got in a great run with the girls!

Monday: TR Tunnabora. This started with Isolated Leg Drills which I hate, but I did this in the living room as my husband was away and I brought the trainer up to watch TV while I rode.

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: 30 minutes strength training in the afternoon, TR Geiger in PM. I really pushed myself in this one.

Thursday: Treadmill lunch run with 1.5 miles at BQ pace just for some leg speed. I didn't want to do this, but got it in! Total was 5 miles.

Friday: TR Warlow. 1.5 hours of workout before heading to book club to undo it all with wine and appetizers.

Saturday: 18.5k with Sam and Ivanka in Burlington. Great times! So great to run with people again! Then 40 minutes easy spinning with TR Recess.

Sunday: Irina came out to Milton and coached me through lane swim. What a difference in my speed by the end! I need to find more time to swim. Then I rounded out the week with a 6.61k run.

Total: 122.62km and 8h10m29s of training. Whew!

Week five started out just as strong! But life and the BLAHS just got in the way!

Monday: Once again, my husband was away, so the trainer came up to the living room and I rode while my boys and I watched Nightmare Before Christmas for the first time. Cute movie and a perfect length for a 1 hour trainer ride.

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: Alasdair had a 6am hockey practice, but my dad was picking him up to bring him back to my folks and feed him breakfast/get him to school. So after I dropped him off, I went for a quick 5k run. At lunch, I hit the gym for more Strength trainer, but I really didn't want to do anything. I used the machines for this session and was there for 35 minutes total. That night, I switched up my trainer ride and rode the 90 minute Palisade ride. Whew!

Thursday: I finally got out for an early morning run! 8k easy and steady which was simple after the hard bike the night before!

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

Friday: I had the day off because we were hosting our annual Christmas party on Saturday and I wanted to do the majority of running around. The problem is, I couldn't bring myself to get out for my planned long run. I did my running around and missed lane swim. So, I hopped on the bike for the 1 hour Tallac workout in TR. At least I did something.

Saturday: Sigh. My alarm, which I had thought I set correctly, didn't go off. No long run. I did manage a 6k run after my party running around was completed.

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

Sunday: HAHAHA. I was a bit of a zombie on only 5.5 hours sleep but I did ride 40 minutes recovery on the bike.

Total: 111.11km, and 6k34m36s of training. Whew. Not quite the 111.13 that Sam did though.

This week, I am REALLY hoping to hit the pool twice! The long run needs to be at least 20k and I'm in the final week of my Trainer Road plan! Let's hope the piles of left over food and wine at my house don't derail me throughout the week! After that, its time to build up a bit harder before distance training begins!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

More Off-Season, More sleep

Off-season continues to truck along in these parts. As mentioned last week, one of the things I've been trying to keep on top of in this off-season is my quality sleep. Let's face it, I'm a busy person. I commute 2.5 hours a day and I'm frequently attending my son's sporting events at the hockey rink. Fitting in quality workouts mean that I need to get up early at times. Even on the weekend. 0430 alarms are not new for me.

One of the best features of my Fitbit Flex is that I can set it to track my sleep. Once my sleep is activated, the Flex will also track my sleep, restlessness and awake time (when Fergus comes into my room at 3am and has me take him back to his room). I set my goal of 7 hours of sleep this off season. I've been trying to follow this religiously and thus far, I'm doing well (don't look at Saturday night, I stayed up too late reading and we had to be up early for a hockey game).

Quality sleep allows for good workouts and a repaired body. You can Google the studies yourself, but you know its true. The goal in off-season is to set up good habits which will see me through the spring season strong and healthy. Sleep will go a long way towards hitting these goals.

Last week went really, really well! I'm still in love with the trainer and have rediscovered my love for the pool!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: TR - Ericsson, 60 minutes - Single Leg Drills and Spin-Ups at 5am YAY!

Wednesday: 8k run, early AM

Thursday: 30 minutes free-weights at lunch, TR - Carson, 60 minutes PM - hill drills! Finally got my big ring on!

Friday: Early AM 15k long run. My son was in a hockey tournament Friday, Saturday, Sunday. They came in third.

Saturday: TR- Eclispe. 90 minutes of riding with 60 of that in the sweet spot. This was tough.

Sunday-Funday: Ignoring all my advice about better sleep yielding more energy and better results:

40 minutes free ride on the trainer
35 minutes of swimming
7k running

So, last week was a win! I hit my goal of increasing my run distance and getting back into the pool. I also didn't skip my weight training (but I wanted to!). Not a bad week, not at all:

7 hours, 36 minutes of activity
1.2k of swimming
30k of running
89.5k of cycling

This is without a doubt, the best off season I've had.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Off Season, Week Two

Well, off season, week two has come and gone and I'm quite happy with the way it all went down.

My huge focus this week was eating better and getting quality calories in. While I think I did a good job, my scale had me UP in weight this morning. Frustrated doesn't even begin to explain how I feel. I feel like I made good choices all week. I logged everything on My Fitness Pal. I was at or under my calorie goal the entire week. Sigh. Back to the drawing board I guess.

Thank you for breakfast, Google!
In terms of workouts, I met my arbitrary goal of increasing my run mileages this week and I managed to get my strength workout in at the gym as well. Man, do I dislike lifting weights. I know its good for me though. I really will need that core and upper body strength to push through the final stages of the marathon (if I run one again in the spring - jury is still out). 

2016 Around the Bay race is on the schedule for sure
I hit all of the bike trainer rides this week and even added a fourth, 30 minute recovery ride on Sunday. To say that I am enjoying the trainer would be understating it. I love that I can get up on it and get a workout done at any time (even at 5am like this morning). I love that Trainer Road does all the work for me. It has built the program and workouts, I just need to select the next one on the list and start to spin. 

Next investment? Aero bars. 
In other exciting news, my husband even got HIS road bike up on the trainer for a quick spin to test it out. I'm really hoping we can both improve and include date rides in our summer plans moving forward. We'll likely need to modify our roof rack in that case. 

Our truck on the right. We only have one bike attachment currently
(and two road bikes, one real mountain bike, one mum bike and two kid bikes).
All in all, it was a great week depsite the number on the scale going in the wrong direction.

Monday: 1hr TrainerRoad Goddard, PM. Introduction to Isolated Leg Drills. They suck
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 30 minutes lifting weights, upper body and abs at lunch, 1hr Trainer Road Monitor, PM
Thursday: 7.25k run in the AM
Friday: 1.5hrs TrainerRoad Antelope, PM
Saturday: 12.11k run in the late AM. Glorious day!
Sunday: 7k recovery run in the late AM on another beauty day and then 30 minute free ride on TrainerRoad, early PM

Total: 113.17k, 6hr58minutes.

Let's see if I can actually make it to the pool this week as well!

I'm really happy with this big change in routine this off season. Part of that is because I'm really watching my sleep as well. More on that in another post. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

And now for something completely different

Ahh, the off season. Realistically, this is my 5th off season since I starting running distance races in 2011. Every off season sees me with the same basic goals: Get in more strength training, Lose weight.

2015 will be no different of course. Based on being pretty lazy during the summer, I'm at my highest weight since my post partum season in 2011, so dropping the weight is a major priority. So much so, that I'm currently on a 56 day streak on MyFitnessPal, tracking my food (and booze) intake. I don't track my water (but I drink it) and I never track my cup of morning coffee (I use some cream, but no sugar). I'll friend anyone within reason as I'm an open book about stuff like this (I started at 142lbs), so find me as macnic.

But what of the difference for this particular off season? Well, it started with this:

That, my friends, is a Fluid Force bike trainer and last week, I started a six week base building program on Trainer Road. Trainer Road is the program that so many of my triathlete friends use, that I had to give it a try.  Emma was kind to give me a code to get my first month free, as well as continually encourage and help me figure out the static bike thing. Irina and her husband, Zindine have also given me loads of pointers and tips. I'm a lucky gal. I fully feel that sticking to this program will make me a stronger runner at the end of the six weeks.

I can now post fancy graphs that mean nothing to non-trainer people!
My first week is completed and I'm happy with how it went. Of course running is still in the mix and swimming will also be added. I still have to figure out how I'll make the weight training part of the mix, but these things have a way of working themselves out.

Monday: 1hr bike trainer - FTP test to set up my program
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: 1hr bike trainer, first workout of the plan
Thursday: 7k run in the AM, I felt great!
Friday: 1.5 hrs on the bike trainer before work. I'm particularly proud of that one
Saturday: 12k Group run with Zindine, Sam, Hockey mum Kelly and Irina on her mum-bike
Sunday: 6k glorious run in the early AM with the first frost.

Total: 101km on the week. Not a bad start to off season! And I lost a tiny bit of weight. I really hope to be under 140lbs by next week. I just have to stay away from the Halloween candy!

So, biking, friends and salad. Its what the off season is about for me this time around.

Photo by Irina

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Niagara Falls Half Marathon Race Report

Hello? Is this thing on?

I know, I haven't posted all summer. To be honest, the summer didn't work out as planned. I didn't bike, swim or run as much as I had hoped. I gained too much weight. I basically stopped caring so much about meeting any goals.

As such, by the time the Niagara Falls Half Marathon rolled around, I had one goal: PB the course.

Despite ONE long run of 20k (in JUNE!) and a few long runs of 18k, I was sure that this goal would be reached. The course is a beauty, straight, flat and I know it having run the race twice before.

Then, we woke up to heavy wind with gusts up to 50kph.

Sad Trombone

I picked up Sam and quickly headed down the highway enroute to meet Emma, her husband and Ivanka, all of whom were running the half. When I say I quickly headed down the highway, I'm not lying. Coming down the Skyway bridge, I notice an OPP car pull onto the road and began chanting, "not me, not me, not me..." It didn't help. So, if nothing else, I got my very first speeding ticket on the way to the race.

Sad Trombone

The best part of the day happened when we got to the Cowne Plaza and met up with Emma, Ivanka and Steve in Emma and Steve's hotel room (private bathrooms!). They ended up with a room with a bit of a view (kinda).

Okay, enough crapping and viewing, time to get on the bus and to the start line. One of the few things I don't like about this race is that because it starts at the 21.1k mark of the full marathon, they bus you to the start and you get there super early. then you sit around on the damp grass and second guess your outfit before pulling on a long sleeved shirt under your tank. Oh well. Time to line up and go.

The four of us started together (Steve set out at a faster pace). I ran with music on from the beginning because my goal was to run 5:27/km until the last 3k and then PB the course. I knew that all three gals were in better shape than that and would end up ahead of me. Plus, I just wanted a nice, introspective run. Nothing was really riding on this one, you know?

So, I turn on my music and Sweet Caroline comes on. Perfect. We take off and I've got the crowds around us "Ba-ba-baing" with me. HAHA. Then It Takes Two is the next song. I rap the first bit because.... who doesn't rap the first bit of that song? Ladies Love Cool James, yo!

Before long, I'm telling the gals to go on ahead, I'm on pace and don't want to get caught up with them. I pause at a water station, even though I had a cool new hand-held thing 

Things are going really, really well. Through 7k I held the pace or a bit faster: 5:27-5:12-5:11-5:28-5:18-5:33-5:27. SCREW you headwind! You're not getting the best of me today!

Then, things started to go down the toilet. I started to feel BLAH. I took a gel. Nope. I felt... not good. In the end, I stopped to use a portapotty in the 12th KM and from then on decided to have a good time with the run as there was no way I was getting a course PB in the relentless headwind that day. And so I did. I just had a good time. I enjoyed my diverse playlist. I sang along. I looked out over the Niagara River and enjoyed the view. I started doing 9s/1s run/walks because the wind was just relentless. It made it so much easier mentally to do that.

Of course, you know that means I hammed it up for all of the photographers! As the race used marathon photos, I decided not to pay for the photos (crazy high prices), so I'll just give you one:

In the end, I crossed the line in 2:02:31. Poop, headwind, great friends, great playlist. Its what its all about. It never hurts to see one of the wonders of the world either.

So, that's a wrap on an easy summer and half marathon 18. In the off season, I've taken on a new challenge, but I'll be back (promise). To discuss that.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Catch Up & Fall Plans

Hello! Back at it.

I know we haven't caught up in a while, but to be honest, I took all of June off. I did what I pleased. It ended up being 105km of running and 167km of cycling (and 1k of swimming. HA!).

I've struggled a bit with motivation for the fall and couldn't plan anything until I understood what my rep hockey playing son's early season tournament would be.

Dressing room shot after winning the 2015 Novice AE Championship
Now that we know the first tournament will take place in early September, I decided to return to Niagara and use it as a goal half marathon race this time around (I've raced it as my goal race in 2012 and as a pacer in 2014). I decided on this race because it is the one that both Emma and Sam wanted to do.

The goal, will be to PB at sub 1:45.

My training plan is a repeat of 2013 when I was in the best shape of my life;the Jack Daniels training method. This time, I will not be able to run with Sam as she will be training for different things before the half in October. Thus, I will have no one to help me push through those long runs with quality in the middle of them.

Rather than being depressed about this (I'm lying, I've had more than a few moments), I've decided to see the lack of training partners as a positive light. I need help with my mental game and no one can do this for me except for me. Running the hard paces as demanded by Daniels alone should help me get my game together. I also need to remember that I CAN do these workouts; I've done them before.

I've decided not to return to the marathon until I can race a sub 1:45 and race a sub 2:35 at Around the Bay. As my primary running goal remains qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon, I expect that the motivation will be strong to make both of these times in 2015/16. Let's just hope my health stays as is and I do not get injured.

My fall plan starts next week. I have penciled in 4 runs, with two quality sessions and at least one 20k bike. I may also swim one night and hope to get to a weight lifting class once a week as well (workload permitting - I take these during lunch).

Finally, I hope to get back to more regular blogging, so stay with me through the summer of "The Other Jack Daniels" plan 2.0 and I hope to provide some kind of entertainment, insight or perhaps just entertaining photos.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ottawa Marathon Race Report!

Regular readers of this blog will know that image and quote. I usually post it before each marathon strategy guide. This year, things have been busy and I haven't been posting as much, but I pulled out this image and Ted Corbitt quote on Instagram and Facebook and reminded myself that no matter what, there would be no quit on Sunday.

Turns out, it was a good thing to remind myself.


Head over to Sam's brutally honest race report and you can see how we spent the pre-race. While she suffered from the heart burn on Friday night, I suffered from a horrible stomach ache which I attributed to the mass quantities of food I'd been stuffing in my face the past few days in the attempt to carb-load pre-race. Anyway, the alarm went at 5:15 Saturday morning and before I knew it, we were on the road to Pearson with Derek, Sam's husband dropping me at the door at T1 (and depriving me of a monorail trip!). Texting with Sam, we discovered that our flights would now leave Toronto and arrive at the same time in Ottawa and in fact I met her at her gate as there were no delays on my end (Air Canada FTW; pretty sure this is the first time anyone has every said THAT). We made our way to our hotel and over to the expo which was really overwhelming. It was just PACKED. We looked around a bit for deals, but to be honest, after scoring our free bags of chips and samples of peanut butter, we just wanted out of there.

 Over to Rideau Centre for a food court lunch (pizza would be smart! Carbs!), and a dollar store adventure for warm stuff as it was minus a bazillion and Kenny found us sitting on a bench, sipping power-aid waiting for a very enjoyable bus tour of the Marathon route. There was nervous excitement from everyone and assurances of at least one PB! (Sam's is 4:10 after all. Pffftt). The bus tour was excellent and really made me ever more confident in my ability for the next day. The route, simply put, is amazing.

Next, it was back to the hotel where we settled in for a bit before walking next store to pick up our pre-ordered Italian dinner. I had what I always have before a marathon: Pasta with a cream sauce and veggies, chicken and chocolate cake. Yes. Cake. It worked really well in 2013!

Off to bed, up at 330 to pee and up at 5am to throw on my shoes and coat and go across the street to Tim Horton's, which had a huge line up of runners and one very pleasant person working as fast as she could. Back to the room, quick breakfast, no poop.

This wasn't good.

Its time to go though and off we went to the start line.

The Race: KM 1-21.1. There goes every goal.

Coach Phaedra had emailed me on Wednesday or Thursday and asked me about my goals. I laid them out: A) BQ with a chance (3:38); B) 3:45, Sam BQ's but we both get a guaranteed entry to Chicago; C) Sub 3:51:31 which would me a PB for me (I was sure this one was in the bag). The bus tour had made me even more positive about the chances of hitting that BQ or at the very least the 3:45. As luck would have it, we entered the corrals right with the 3:40 pacer.

I've never been with so many people. I looked around and had a real fear that Sam and I would actually lose each other in this race because of the sheer amount of people. It was insane! We finally got on the move and over the line and I hit my watch right at the mat. Time to go.

I'm not sure who followed who, but at one point, I remember seeing Sam get through some holes and just following along. Things felt great despite starting on an incline and it was time to settle in. And settle in we did. I realized quickly that we were perfectly situated for our task ahead. We could see the 3:35 pace group ahead and had some good distance on the 3:40 group. I was planning on gels every 6k which would have been every other water station and my mental goal was to take the race those 6k at a time. Around 5k, I started looking for some friends in the masses of spectators (I have a load of fellow Wishes for Olivia fundraiser friends in Ottawa), but by 8k, I knew I had either missed them or they hadn't been able to make it out. By 9k things were NOT feeling good. I had taken my gel on schedule and it went down fine, but the fact that I hadn't been able to go to the washroom that morning came up in full force.

"Sam. I have to stop at the portopotty." And just like that, the A goal was gone.

I got in and out without losing any gels, phone, iPod shuffle or getting paper stuck to my shoe or anything and hit the course again. I began running and couldn't see Sam at all. I did see the 3:45 pace group which was excellent and I decided I'd hang with them. But my mind went like this:

- Did she leave me?
-She left me?!!!
-I guess I'll put on my music
-She wouldn't have left me!!!!
-Even if she didn't leave me, how will I ever find he...

And then I saw her standing on the side of the road. Okay. Let's go. Robin had sent us a message pre-race and told us to conserve every last bit of energy. No talking. No high-fiving. Just running. Okay! No problem. We continued along just ahead of the 3:45 pace group and I was secure in making that goal. Things were good! Sam and I didn't talk about it but I knew that she felt it too. This day was going to end with some taste of victory, followed in quick succession by the taste of beer. The water stations were amazing (even though the cups were plastic) and the weather was absolutely perfect. Let me say that again. The weather was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. PERFECT.

Around 14k or so, I feel that familiar gurgle. NO. NONONO. My face crumples. Like a petulant child, I whine to Sam, "I have to go to the bathroom. AGAIN!!!" I have never, not ONCE been to the bathroom during a full or half marathon. NOT ONCE. Now? Now I'm going twice!!! In and out this time and there goes all the goals. They are simply gone. We can't catch even a 3:51:30 now. Not with this shitty stomach of mine.

Sam however sees the bright side. "I don't care! I'm going Sub-4. Let's have a great day and a good run." YES! Let's do that! I RIP the pace band from my arm and Sam laughs like a loon. Around 18k or so, we are in the thick of an industrial wasteland of government buildings and the air is as thick as butter. I am taking shallow breaths and just can't breathe so I ask Sam for a quick walk and we do. Then we hit a sponge station and relish in the delight of wet sponges. Man, that feels awesome. We are coming up on the half mark and pass a young man chatting on his cell phone (!). There is a bit of a hill to get the the half mats (where the sign says, Halfway Home), and we run up it, hit the mat and I immediately walk. HAHA (I know this because it's on video!). We hit the mat at 1:57:43. The four hours is ours.

4:58-5:03-5:02-5:08-5:03-5:14-4:58-5:20-5:03-6:21-5:19-5:19-5:10-5:45-7:11-5:14-5:14-5:50-6:13-5:15 -5:27

The Survival: KM 22-43.2. I'm not leaving you. WILSON.

Halfway home and the switch turns for me. I start feeling AMAZING! WOOHOO! J'aime Quebec!!! Seriously, I start trying to cheer in bastardized French. At one point, I notice volunteers sweeping up cups with hockey sticks and note, "C'est trop Canadien. L'hockey!!!" I even start thinking that we may negative split this sucker.

Turns out, right around the time I'm not making my OAC French teacher proud and dreaming of negative split glory, Sam begins to suffer. "My stomach feels horrible." Okay, okay. I tell her. Shit. What do we do? "Okay, maybe pop into the next portopotty. Take your time! Take some deep breaths and pretend you're in labour." While she does hit the next portopotty, I'm not sure that she took my advice too heart. I stopped right there though and updated the faithful on Facebook (as you do).

From then on it was about holding on. We walked through every water station. We enjoyed the views. Everyone was dressed really well, so I couldn't distract Sam with any horrific outfits either. Still, while I felt like a million bucks, Sam did not. At 32k, she asked for a walk break. It was her time for tears.

"You should just leave me. I'm ruining your race."
"HAHA. Oh ya. After you stuck out Chilly and Around the Bay with me, I'm just ready to say, Well, Fuck you! See ya at the hotel." I think she smiled a bit at that.

"I feel so horrible. I have terrible stomach pains and feel like I'm going to throw up."
With the wisdom of a seasoned pro, I insisted that was the way, "Just throw up then! Easy!" Sam takes a glace at her half eaten gel and decides to choke it back in the hopes that it will cause her to throw up. Nope.

"Look," I say, "Its a beautiful day and I don't mind a lovely 10k walk..." Sam looks at me horrified.

"We are NOT walking this in! That will take even longer!!!"

I decide, "Okay. Let's do 10 and 1s. Yes?" She nods. "Let's go." I look at my watch and we're off. I know what my job is now. Its to run slightly ahead. Its to watch the watch and raise  my hand every 10 minutes and to make sure that Sam doesn't stop drinking sips of water at each station. I notice that a very handsome man has caught us during our little walk break. He's wearing an IronMan visor. I note to Sam how lucky we are to run with him now as he's so hot. He kinda smiles. I stage whisper, "And I think he's an IronMan!"

"'Ave," hot 70.3-dude says in his hot Franco accent, "I only like de 'ave."

"Yeah," Sam deadpans, "Me too."

I keep up the chatter. I remind Sam of that time we rode 100k with Emma and how they groaned when I asked if they were ready to run a half marathon after 90k. When Sam tried to engage with me, I wouldn't let her. I have no problem talking non-stop for 10k. I watched the watch and counted down the 10 minutes, raised my hand and then counted down the 1 minute and we're off. After a few of these, Sam needs a longer break. No problem, but I'm keeping you to some semblance of order. We won't be walking all helter-skelter. After a two minute walk break, I propose 5/1s to Sam and she agrees that this strategy makes more sense. I try to get a sense of how hard I should be with her, "Do you want soft love or hard love?" HAHAHA. Sam doesn't answer. I take that as a vote to treat her gently. With water (and more sponges!) coming every 3k now, we end up hitting a walk through a station every second break, but I always make her run at least 3 minutes after so it all works out. I really have to watch myself and ensure I don't get too far ahead. Just as I'm thinking that, I look back and can't find Sam.

I start to slow and still can't see her. I turn full around and am about to stop when I see her. I'm not sure if I ran back or waited for her to catch me, but I was angry. "You don't do that! You TELL me when you need a break. I'm with you to the end. We are finishing this together and then we're going to drink a million beers and pass out in our hotel room." From then on, I was right by her side.

The last 10k is a blur of watch watching. My watch was ahead by 1km exactly and I tried to make some jokes about that as well (as both Robin and Patty were running at Sulphur that weekend). At some point, someone gives me two sponges so I hold one in my strap for later as I know that is the last sponge station (IronMan styles, I tell Sam). She used it too! We are close to downtown now and it is absolutely INSANE. Someone jumps in and its, Barb someone I've only heard about and whom I watched PB during the 10k the night before. HA. She offers us some food and then runs us in. She's speaking with Sam and then with me and I'm telling her it was shitty for me... then shitty for Sam and that's just the way it goes. Then, with about 3.5k left, I see my friends! YAYA! They are on both sides of the road but getting to the right is easier so I jump over and get a high five. How amazing is that!

We get past the 39k marker (or 40k on my watch!) and there is less than 3k to go. I note the time. Holy shit. We may just get Sam her PB after all. "There are less than 3k to go. We have 17 minutes to get you home. LET'S. FUCKING. GO!" And we take off again. Its mayhem. Barb is with us, Sam is with us. I look back when the five minutes are up and Sam needs the break. I take it. Screw the PB. Again, time to run. Five minutes are coming, "Sam, do you want it or not? About 1200m to go?" Sam wants to run through (Dammit, I'm not having the best day either!), so we run through. Before I know it, Barb is gone and the finish is in sight. I look down and grab Sam's arm. I drag her to the right to get a good photo (you can see us on the video taking a diagonal line, haha) and we finish this, the Ottawa Marathon.

5:53-5:36-5:11-5:41-5:35-7:10-5:59-6:05-6:06-6:50-5:39-6:56-6:11-6:27-6:07-6:43-6:18-6:58-6:06-6:06- 6:56-5:41-5:36 (last 200m)

 This race ended up as it was supposed to. As everyone knows, you can plan for everything but race day will dawn the way it will dawn. Sam and I came to Ottawa to run a marathon and we did just that. The way our bodies both reacted couldn't have been helped. We can only learn from it and grow stronger. While Sam has always been a friend and great training partner, there is something special about sharing a weekend and a race like this with someone. One day, when we are 70 (well, she'll be 75), we'll laugh when remembering this race.

Remember that dude on the phone for like, 10k?
Remember hot-'ave-IronMan?
Remember the dude who said, "Shit Happens?"
Remember how we walked 3k out of the way after the race to meet Maggie and Sarah for beers (yes, that freaking happened, we took a bus to the Rideau Centre)
Remember how every Starbucks closed at like 430pm?
Remember how impressed that tour guide was? That guy who took our photo the next day?

I still have that medal hanging up, its one of my favorites.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mississauga Half Marathon Race Report!

When I decided to race the Marathon at Ottawa this year, I knew that meant that I wouldn't be able to race at Mississauga. I was sad because this would have been my fifth year in a row. It was my first half marathon in 2011; my first full marathon in 2012; and I had also run the marathon in 2013 and 2014. Then, I started thinking about it and figured I could still run the half and "just" run 10k before it for my last 32k long run before the taper for Ottawa. I convinced Sam that the plan was a good idea and so we signed up. Then, Coach Phaedra wrote a 36k final long run into the plan.


We ran a 15k "warm up."

Sam picked me up at 0510 and we drove to the start line at Square One and started our run at 0537. Right away, I knew that the final carb load meal of Burrito Boyz was likely not the best idea. The food was a perfect solution when Sam and I headed out to cheer on Phaedra and Emma the night before in the 10k race, but that morning, I wasn't so impressed. We stopped 1k in at the start line port-o-potties and made use of them and then continued around in a big loop to get the first part of the run in with little problem. I was... gassy and had to stop a few times and take a gamble to pass wind, but it all worked out. HAHA. We finished the run in great time and went back to Sam's car to change out tops before hitting the port-o-potties again. Let's just say the 15k loosened up anything that was left and I apologize for the next person who had to go into that one. We got into the corrals with 10 minutes to spare and managed to get a pre-race photo with Patty who was pacing the full marathon!

The Race: 1-10k (16-25k)

The race started as it always does... with a bit of a stall and a huge amount of people pushing around each other. Right away, I felt good. I was worried that the break between the two runs would have me feeling like a tin man, but I felt great. I had taken a GU right before the gun and I wonder if that could have been why. Anyway, Sam always seems to follow me as I find the holes and we did, finally settling in around the 2k mark. Around this time we were with two men, in their late 40s, early 50s and a group of people younger than us (so it seemed). Someone's watch kept beeping. It was seriously annoying as the watch was going off every 5-10 seconds. At one point one of the men accused me of the beeping watch and I was like, "Hell no! I barely know how to turn this thing on!!!" We chatted with these guys a bit and of course let them know that we were already over 17k in on the day and accepted the general, "Girlz be Krazy" looks and comments from the crowd. Things were light and easy.

Before we knew it, we were making the turn into UofT and I told Sam that things just seemed to be going by so fast. The splits weren't coming as good as they should and I was a gassy delight, but I felt good. A few days prior, I had lost a lot of hope on being able to string together a good marathon and Robin had sent me a great email, reminding me that there will be moments when things are hard. When my legs feel heavy and when basically everything just sucks. And she reminded me that all I had to do was to push through that because the suck won't last forever. Every time I started to feel poorly, I thought of that and pushed through and of course, Robin was right. I moved on and felt good again. I took a GU around 7 or 8k and we were walking through the water stations even though we each had a handheld. It was the first hot day so that was smart.

I'm clearly having a good run.
When we got out of UofT, my next milestone was getting to my friend Deirdre. She stands at Dundas and Mississauga Road and would again, for this, my fifth year of running and high fiving her. What a boost seeing Dee always is! After that, it was time for the one and only hill on this course. It seemed that we were running along For-Ev-Err getting to this hill and once it came, I pulled the chute. "Sam, let's walk." "Yep," said Sam, "Just a training run." No worries at all. Gave me a chance to fart a bit more and we did run up the very top where the people were cheering. HAHA.

5:19-5:16-5:15-5:03-5:13-5:29-5:09-5:50-5:09-5:19. Total time: 53:03. We had no pace bands for this race. The goal was to run it around race pace (5:08-5:10, but that didn't quite workout)

The work: 11-21.1k (26-36.35k)

After the hill, we hit the nice homes of Mississauga Road and settled in again. The water stations were every 4k this year and we went through all of them. I took my gels on schedule and went through 3 in total. We continued to tell ANYONE around us that we had pre-run 15k before the race. Yes, yes, we ARE badass. I continued to be gassy. I had some burps that would make a grown man proud. I held on to my mental game, repeating the advice that Robin had given to me and feeling slightly threatened by the fact that Phaedra said she'd be out biking the course. LOL.

Before we knew it, it was time to split from the full marathon. I told Sam that I was so, so happy not to be making the turn onto Indian Road. She agreed. The day was hot and it was already long. Did you know that we ran 15k before the race? Its true. We did. I had forgotten a lot of the kilometers between about 14-17k of the half route and they are actually all a blur for me. I remember that I walked through a station and refilled my handheld with two cups of water. I was feeling good about my water and gel intake if not the best from my pre-race dinner. HAHA. Before we knew it, we were about to cross Lakeshore and head into the park system and we saw Phaedra. WHAT a boost! I ran right over to her to give her a high-five, "Burrito Boyz. NOT a good idea!!!" "Nooooo!!!!" said Phaedra, but it was all smiles and laughs and good times. 5k left in this race, in this day!

Stolen from PK
Its into the park system and Sam and I are doing the count down. We are both not out of it enough so as NOT to grab the free gel at the gel station. HA. We run for a bit with a trio of ladies and chat with them about mutual admiration of outfits (Well, I started with a different top, because we ran 15k before the race). They passed us and ran along. Sam declared: "The novelty of this day has worn right off" and while I agreed, there were still race photographers to pimp to.

Finally, the 20k sign was coming up and I was making a detour to it (despite the confusion of the high school volunteers at that spot). I hit the sign and Sam did what Sam does and started to up the pace, "I just want to be done. 35k... so close." And so we ran in and earlier thoughts of jumping in the air of the finish line vanished as it was spied. Look at the focus on the end.

Dude in the yellow beat us by 0.3 seconds
And so we did what we do. We celebrated each other and a great race. A great training season. Great running friends and finally, the start of the taper.

Race done (did you know we ran 15k before the race?)!

Splits: 6:38-5:10-5:37-5:10-6:34-5:18-6:02-5:35-5:17-6:18-5:17-5:01 (350m). Total time: 1:57:46

Gun: 1:58:57
Chip: 1:57:42
Place: 676/2067
Gender: 214/1090
F30-39: 71/298

This is a 16:08 course record. I think I could do a whole lot better on this course and may have to pick it as a goal race in the near future. Now, its onwards with the taper and to Ottawa. Do I think the BQ will happen? Honestly, no. I think, with my mind in the perfect place, it will be close. Very close. And I may surprise myself. In the end though, I suspect there will be a PB and a big one at that.

But, you never know what will happen on race day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spartan Race Giveaway!

 UPDATE: The winner is: Paul R. Congrats Paul! I can't wait for your race recap and photos!

As you may know, I'm currently training for the Ottawa marathon and while I do so, I'm raising money for Wishes for Olivia.

Well, I'm not the only one who is using athletics to raise money for this cause!

The "Cinder-Hell-Yas" are a team of obstacle racers made up of men and women who want to honour Olivia and do something for fun and fitness at the same time. The team is captined by Olivia's mother, Jennifer White.

And this team of racers is looking to expand their races and have added Spartan Race Canada to the list of courses to conquer in 2015! The team is eying the Spartan Super distance and are training hard to get them ready for race day.

Born in Vermont, USA Spartan Race was created to bring the excitement of obstacle racing to spectators and athletes alike. That means you. With 130 events in 15 countries and 6 continents in 2014, Spartan Race is available to most everyone in the world.

Spartan Race is a true adventure that anyone can do, and everyone should try. With course lengths of 3+miles (Sprint), 8+miles, (Super) and 12+miles (Beast) each course is filled with mud, water, and signature obstacles designed to help you discover your inner Spartan. Athletes of all fitness levels will enjoy participating in a Spartan Race and the feeling of accomplishment that comes at the finish line.

Not sure you are ready to run a Spartan Race? It’s ok the race has everything you need to get you ready: guided workouts-of-the-day, nutrition tips to help you eat better, and free workouts held in cities wherever Spartan Races are organized. Spartan Race is not only the world’s best obstacle race (period), but can be a complete lifestyle overhaul.
So even if you’ve tried a trail race, mud run, obstacle race, or adventure race it’s time to try a Spartan Race. Unlike other obstacle races we offer something for everyone. 

The Spartan Race contacted me and provided me with a FREE race entry for an Eastern Canadian race (Check out the race sites here)! All you have to do is reply and tell me what distance you would conquer.  Contest is open to anyone and closes on Saturday May 9th 2015 at 1700. Draw will take place on May 10th.

If you can't wait to see if you've won, or if you have a team put together to tackle the challenge, you can sign up now with 15% off using the code AROO15.

Good luck! AROO!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ottawa Marathon Training week 10!

I know!  I missed week 9,  but really the things that happened in week 9 can be summed up as such:

1) FINALLY had a GREAT tempo run

2) Raced Around the Bay

Week 10 started with a renewed energy after Around the Bay, even though that race didn't go exactly to plan. I feel like things are coming together and even though I have a number of tough weeks coming up, I'm eager and willing to take them on.

Monday: Rest day. I didn't really need it as my legs felt fine, but I wasn't one to argue with Coach Phaedra

Tuesday: 6k easy running. This run was fantastic for a number of reasons: I had new shoes and I got to wear the Man Shots.

Wednesday: I took Wednesday off. I set my alarm wrong and there was no time once I got home to fit the run in.

Thursday: 13k moderate pace. Except, I decided to just run this as it was, nice and easy. The weather was awesome in the early morning and I was able to run in crops even though I started before 5am. The pace was slightly off, but still respectable. 13k, average pace 5:36/km

Friday: Alasdair and I ran the Good Friday Road Races again. He ran the 1k in about 5 minutes and I ran the 5k in 25:27. The run felt good despite the Northshore Hills and the headwind and once again, I was so proud to see my son running.

Saturday: I met up with Sam at 7am and we ran a double out and back from Port Nelson Park in Burlington. We ran 33k in 3hr2min39 sec. Sam is a true trooper as she had a horrible, hacking death cold, but still got the run done in good time and great pace despite it all. In fact, I had to hold her pace back in the last 2k as she kept speeding up. And really, any run that starts with the beauty sunrise is worth it.

Sunday: Phaedra has put in a recovery run or spin on Sunday's. I'm not one to normally run a recovery run, but it is nice to get things moving. While the kids were up too early (0630), it allowed me to get a load of stuff done (including going to 9am mass with the kids) and so I got on the road around 1pm and ran a very nice and easy 4.4k with the big snowflakes falling the entire time. I got home and threw down some military pushups and ab work afterwards. I need to get back to doing these on the regular. Then, I ate an amazing Easter dinner with my family. A perfect holiday Sunday!

In all, I ran 61.56KM (38.25mi) in 5:37:37. That's an average pace of 5:29/km (8:50/mi).

Also, I was able to get over the halfway point in my fundraising for Make-A-Wish Canada in support of Wishes for Olivia. Please consider clicking the link and donating even $5 or $10 which will truly make a difference in the life of a deserving child.

In all, a great week! I looking forward to the hard training ahead. I'm fully comitted to getting to the start line of the Ottawa Marathon with a sure shot of hitting my BQ goal and these next weeks will ensure I'm able to do so.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Race Report: Around the Bay 30k!

This past Sunday was the 121st running of Around the Bay and like the past three years, I was eager and ready to take part! I didn't have to go to the expo as the bestest running partners ever, Sam and Emma went down on Friday and got my kit for me. I was eager to see the shirt colour, until I got the text from Sam showing me the comparison between these and the 2013 version:

2015 and 2013
To be fair, the 2015 shirt is MUCH nicer fabric and fit, so I don't mind. Saturday passed by uneventfully and I settled into fish tacos and oven fries for dinner. Normally I would have pasta and chicken. This change of meal ended up being a mistake as we'll soon find out. I've given up potato chips for Lent (SO. CLOSE. TO. THE. END.) so I ate some rice crackers as a snack instead.

Sunday morning 6am came and I was up, dressed and on my way to pick up Sam and Patty after a quick stop at Tim Horton's for my now traditional pre-race meal of a plain bagel, butter and cheddar, with a small coffee and half a Powerade. A banana before the race completed my pre-race fuel. One last hurrah and it was time to head to the C corral with Patty and Sam.

Back row: Kimberley, Sam, Peter, Me. Front row: Emma, Patty and Zindine. Photo from Irina
Getting outdoors in our throwaways let us know that yet again, the weather predicted for this race was wrong. It was far warmer than the predicted -14. I didn't worry about my vest - then.

KM 1-10: Best race ever!

The gun went off and the crowd surged forward. Sam and I surged as well. The plan was to run 3-4k warm up around 5:25/km and then drop to marathon pace for the rest of the run (5:08/km), or if feeling poorly, attempt a long run with an average pace at 5:15-5:20/km (good thing there were two options).


We started off strong and fast. WooHoo! I smell someone smoking and yell, "I love the smell of smoke on race day!" Sam tells me a funny story about her husband. There are lots of people cheering us along and before long we're downtown. Downtown Hamilton at its finest with all the runners running their runs. Including Sam and I. Running. Sweating. Running. Too fast.

Sam: Oh my God, I'm so hot.

Me: Yep (tosses Dollar Store ear warmer). We should slow down... got a sub-5 here.

Sam: What? Jeeze

30 seconds later

Me: Good thing we slowed that down... by 1 second. HAHAHAHA


And thus is the feelings when you start a race strong and everything is just feeling so, so, so good. Which the below photo lies about as we don't look awesome, but we were feeling great. Check out the splits.

I know this is the first 10k because I haven't dropped my gloves yet.
5:06-5:05-5:05-5:13-5:11-5:05-5:19-5:09 (GU)-5:08-5:06, split: 51:26

KM 11-20: Things begin to fall apart

The first 10k features three inclines up and down highway underpasses. As you can see above, these didn't make much a difference to Sam and I. Oh no. Things were A-Okay! We were chugging along, taking in water and Gatorade at the stations and enjoying our own from our hand-held supply. After the third water stop, we head on to Beach Blvd. amongst the crowd of runners and its all familiar territory. My back starts to feel a bit tight at this point and I try to not think about it. It was all too much like the Mississauga Marathon all over again and I tried not to freak out because it resolved the last time. So we kept running along, the entire time with me trying to figure out if I should take another gel even though I had taken one around 9k and trying not to think about my back. I know that there is water before the lift bridge at 15k and I figure I'll do a huge drink of Gatorade at that point. Then I smell marijuana. Sam smells puke, but details. There'll be time enough for that. Funny thing is, I smelt this as we ran by Wallenberg Castle. Where the old lady in the fur coat always sits and cheers on runners. You go old lady!

So we get to the lift bridge and Sam mentions something about Zantac. I tell her my back is tight. We momentarily forget about it all when we see Paul waiting to run the second half of the two person relay. Then we really forget about it when we navigate the lift bridge. In case you're wondering, yes, the footing still sucks. It takes major brain power to get over the bridge. By 16k, I tell Sam that I need to stop and stretch out my back. Its horrible. I stand up again and start to run and Sam's refilling her handheld from her Penis Bottle. "Stretch more!" she demands and I do and she refills and we're off.

At 18k, there is another water station. We both take a gel before this station. It takes me four goes to get the damn thing down. UGH. Funny thing is, I was starting to feel cloudy. I simply needed the carbs. The meal the night before was not sufficient for my needs on this day, that's for sure. So I take the GU and then at the station, I drink a huge cup of water and a huge cup of Gatorade (Yellow. Gross. My theory is that they don't sell the powder of yellow the same way they do the other flavours so they give them to the races. No one likes yellow).

The hills begin and a man charges past Sam and I, "WooHoo! Hill One!!! Here we go!!!" I look at Sam and declare, "This is going to suck." "Yep," says Sam. Next thing I know, I'm puking in my mouth. Oh good God. At least my back isn't hurting. I stop Sam and ask her to pull over to the side so I can try to puke properly, but I can't. Oh well... time to climb the hills.

5:11-5:07-5:08-5:08-5:32-5:33-5:09-5:57-5:16-5:35, split: 53:57, Total time: 1:45:23 (aside, we can totally get that 1:45 half marathon!)

KM 21-30: We totally have th... SRSLY HEADWIND!!!

And the race slowly falls apart. We tackle the hills as best as we can. We run them all because the first ones are easy and Sam basically threatened me with death if I didn't run the one up to La Salle Park. "My sister stands at the top of that hill and WE WILL BE RUNNING  past her." So on and on and up and up we ran and Sam's sister was no where to be found. Oh well, the threat got us up that hill. Then we coasted down the other side before climbing again. Sam was ahead of me, but I kept running. She actually kinda stopped and looked back at one point, surprised to see me so close to her. I guess I wasn't death breathing like the old man we played leapfrog with in the first 15k of the race. I felt like so much shit. I think Sam did as well. There was an unofficial water station on the final mini residential climb up to Plains Road and we stopped to walk through it.... and kept walking. Sam was taking a gel and I totally SHOULD have, but didn't. Before we knew it we were on Plains!

WooHoo! Hills were over!!! No turn on to Springbank. no Valley Inn! No. More. Hills. Things were looking up! Then a car drove by and honked at us (must be my great crops). Sam freaks out. Then there are a bunch of people yelling at us and waving and Sam's waving and someone is asking how we are and Sam's lying and saying, "Great!" and I'm giving cut eye and being truthful. "This is SHIT."

Photo credit: Sam's Sister
At 23k, I tell Sam I need to walk. I 100% look at my watch and count down the one minute. "Let's go." and off we go again. I feel so badly about ruining Sam's race AGAIN with my antics, but she is truly the best and just keeps running along with no complaints. "Four miles left, Nicole. Let's go." The wind is starting to kick up, but our paces seem okay. We hit the water station at 25k, walk through it and get going.

I start to do mental math. I think that we should make a sub 2:40. I'm not too far put off by that. I had predicted a 2:37-2:38 and right now after everything a sub 2:40 sound great! Hey, my back feels fine. I'm not going to puke any more. And we're running pretty quickly. And then the wind hits up. And then it REALLY starts to blow strongly. Sam and I laugh. Really?!? Really!!! I guess it was Mother Nature's way of getting us back for the lack of Valley Inn hill (I'd rather take the hill).

I KNOW there is another water station at 28k, but it seems So. Long. Away. and I start to give up hope. I don't even look at my watch when I gasp out, "Sammy. Sammy. I need to walk." (I never call her Sammy unless we're racing).
"What?" says Sam, "No! No!!!"
"Wait is that the water station?"
"Okay, I'll get there."

And we do and we drink and we are head down, down hill to the end. At this point a man on a bike is behind us with a lady. And he's encouraging her like its his JOB. "You got this. 5 minutes left. One 5 minute kilometer. You can do it. What's five minutes. Look at the finish. Its right there. Five minutes. You got this." And he was my personal cheerleader too.

I hit the 29k sign and run the longest kilometer ever. I wasn't so out of it that I forgot the photographers though (I've joked that I could complement Kenny's Race Strategy with a photo strategy guide).

And finally, we make the turn into First Canadian Place and to the finish. This expression got me a, "you GO 923!!"

And we cross the line, no hands held, but together with Sam crossing the line 0.6 seconds in front of me.

5:36-5:39-6:03-5:29-5:27-5:30-5:21-5:41-5:09-4:31 (4:51 pace), split, 54:46, Total time: 2:40:07

Gun Time: 2:41:09
Chip Time: 2:40:07 (2 minute, 2 second PB!)
Place: 1741/7277
Gender: 472/3426
F35-39: 78/525

Final thoughts

I learned a good lesson about pre-race fueling on this one.  This is the first time I haven't eaten pasta the night before a hard, long race and it showed in my early "bonking". This caused me to shot gun Gu, water and Gatorade which lead to the puking. Good times! First time I've puked on a run since I was pregnant. Which I'm NOT right now. Not at all. I also think that I need to up my GU intake on course. Coach Phaedra and I have already discussed this.

I learned that I still need to tough it up mentally. The last 12k of the marathon are going to be hard and I need to find the gear to push though any negative thoughts. I think I may need music in this part. I don't think it will matter much; Sam and I won't be talking a whole lot.

Sam is the best racing partner ever. No ego on her at all. She is just there for the run and sticks with me no matter what. I'm not sure I would be as kind. I'm so lucky to have found her. I can't say enough kind words about her. Rewards will come in the form of chocolate and donuts.<3 p="">