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Milton, Ontario, Canada

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!!!

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