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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Monday, March 28, 2016

Catch up. Weeks 12 and 13

When we left off, our hero (ahem, me) had developed an ITB/Knee pain problem and was hoping that a combination of Physical Therapy, strength training and adapting workout schedules would help solve the problem. The past two weeks have seen improvement and regression. Sigh.

As you can see, I went ahead on week 12 and took my time to rest the knee more, switching a run for a  45 minute trainer ride on the Monday. Tuesday, I played it smart and  ran a super easy 5k on the treadmill during my lunch hour. The knee felt stiff, but not bad, actually. Still being smart, I did a pre-PT ride on Wednesday and was happy with the way things felt.

Upon hitting PT, my therapist attacked my problem leg and I seriously almost had to ask her to give me a moment the (good) pain was so intense. I joked that I never knew she could hurt me so good. HAHA. I took Thursday off to allow my legs to recover, meanwhile I had been adding in clamshells, leg lifts, butt bridges etc all week to increase strength. By Friday, I decided that I needed to run to at least test my knee before a planned long and hilly run the next day. The run was okay, but that day I headed to the pharmacy to grab a knee brace (ended up being too small) and adhesive spray for my KT tape. I taped up my knee and met up with Jamie Saturday for a challenging, but lovely 27k run around Milton.

Jamie has this way of getting people to agree to climb all of the biggest hills around. I do admit that the view from the top of the escarpment was worth it though! A combo of KT tape, Aleve and a slower pace made the run bearable and I knew I'd be okay to run Around The Bay on April 3rd, but racing it was still in the air. That good feeling was tempted right away when I heard from Sam that she had sprained her ankle on her long run. Man! What is with us training for marathons together!?!?!

Week 13 started well.

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

I turned 39 on Monday and so I took off at 4:36am and run the year. My knee held up really well (with tape, but no Aleve) until about 12k and then it "seized" a bit. I was able to run through and finish. The pain is so weird. It comes and its horrible, but then it just ... goes  away as I run. I have no idea how to temper it.

Tuesday I rested in order to ... rest my knee. I also went back to PT and she used shockwave on me this time. CRAZY! But oh so good! She was telling me that I'd be better pretty much right away and she wasn't wrong! I ran on Wednesday (a treadmill 8k, with 4 at 5:11/km) and had ZERO pain! Again, playing things smart, I decided to hit the bike for a short, if intense ride on  Thursday.

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

It was all systems go for the now traditional Good Friday Road Races. Per usual, Alasdair was running the 1k but this year Fergus joined in the fun. I like that they stagger the kids races by age, so Alasdair took off with his hockey friend and a few minutes later, Fergus and I were off as well. Both kids put in great efforts with Alasdair coming in 7th (his friend came in 3rd!). Alasdair and I will be running his first 5k race sometime this summer for sure.

Top is Fergus, Bottom is Alasdair. I may not keep up on our 5k!
My friend Kelly came to run the 5k and blasted to a 4th overall victory and 1st in our age group (30-39) with a blistering time of 21:03, netting her a personal best for the distance and a massive truffle filled, chocolate egg as a prize. I forgot to change my 910xt from the display above and ended up running by feel for an average pace of 4:55/km. I'm very happy with the effort, especially considering I managed to call Swiss Chalet with my new blue tooth headphones in the 2nd KM and ended up walking to hang up my phone. I bettered my placement from last year and was 6th overall for F30-39. Net time for 5.11km was 25:07. My knee didn't bother me at all.

On Saturday Ivanka, Sam and I met up to run a double out and back to ensure that neither Sam's ankle, nor my knee would cause us further problems. We ran a very easy flat route in Burlington and kept the pace reasonable. I didn't tape but I did take an Aleve pre run. Not taping was a mistake. My knee was bothersome pretty much throughout the run, even if the weather and company was spectacular. I struggled through the last 8k especially. Sigh. I've got to figure out how to get back into PT this week and I must ensure my knee is taped VERY well for the race on Sunday. But you know what? You can't beat these  morning views.

My knee was horribly painful for the rest of the day and night. Waking up on Sunday didn't offer any relief either. Still, I jumped on my bike for a 45 minute recovery spin. When I got off, the knee pain was gone and hasn't yet returned. Hmm, who knew? This week will likely spell more rides of similar effort and intensity before heading into my fifth consecutive 30k race at Around the Bay. If nothing else, I'm looking forward to crossing  my favourite finish line on Sunday.  I'll be back to set up the goals once they are solidified. Until then, please do some anti-wind dances for us for Sunday, okay? The weather is looking BRUTAL.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Road To BQ: Week 11

Suffice to say, with week 10 ending on the high of the Chilly Half Marathon, I was eager and excited to tackle week 11 with renewed vigour.

The week started with Sam and I discussing if we should look at changing the harder workouts in the Pfitz-Douglas plan I had adapted from their Advanced Marathoning book. Suffice to say, after more than a bit of discussion, we agreed that we'd both do what works best for us, but that a few ending KM at race pace wouldn't go astray and decided to test the theory on Saturday's long run.

The rest of the week went really well in terms of workouts and pace. I nailed my 6x100s workout and ran my final split at 3:33/km pace - or 100m in 20 seconds. I know that my form was awesome and I could feel the difference ensuring perfect form made in the pick ups.

Wednesday was supposed to be 18k with 11k at half marathon pace, but as Sam and I had agreed to run at least 3k at marathon pace in the Saturday long run AND due to the fact that my legs were absolutely SHOT from the previous efforts, I ended up just running an easy 13k before work. The weather was amazing for March 9th and I was over dressed.

Wednesday was my work "Christmas" party and I decided to stay down town in order to ensure I got a really good nights rest. I left the party around 10pm, hopped into a cab and immediately sent him in search of McDonalds. I hadn't had much to eat at the party and sometimes you just need a Big Mac.

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

After an awesome 8 hours of sleep at the Strathcona Hotel, I woke up and decided to finish off my 18k run, with the final 5k on the Martin Goodman Trail. I had mapped out a route in Strava but basically just ran out until my watch said 2.5k and turned around and ran back. What a lovely way to run on a dedicated path in the city. It was nice to wave to the other runners who were out and also to see the city slowly come to life. Too bad it was a foggy (but warm!) day; I didn't get to enjoy all of my normal Toronto views

This run felt fine. I had felt a twinge in my right glute on the Wednesday morning run, but it was totally gone by this time, so I was happy to write it off as a one time random thing.

Saturday was long run day. Sam, Ivanka and I met near the lift bridge in Burlington to run the Around the Bay route, plus 2k for a total of 20 miles. We started at the 14k point of the Bay Race course which is awesome because it front loads the run with all of the hills which hit normally from about 19-24k. Right away, the run was a gong show. I forgot one of my gels on my front hall table. Luckily, Sam had a French candy thing from Zindine which was absolutely fine at 24k, but not something I'd go back too (just a taste thing). Ivanka and I were both running with the new Spi Belt Bottles and we kept losing them. Turns out, we were both weighted down too much to keep them still. Then, my ass was frozen. Like bad. Turns out one of the bottles had broken and spilled water all the way down my ass. Awesome. Finally, my left knee basically gave out around 12k or so. I had to stop every so often to stretch it out a bit and take Ivanka's emergency Advil to get through the run.

With about 4k left to go, I noticed a good spot for Sam's regularly scheduled Insta post and we laughed our way through yet another fun video capture

A photo posted by Sam J (@sammykaye71) on

As soon as I straighten up, I knew I was in trouble. Right away, I told the girls that I'd start to walk a bit before running to give my knee some time to get used to the movement again. I started a light jog and fell into a good running pace again by the time they caught me, but soon after my knee buckled. IT Band Pain is real, yo! Sam yelled at me to walk the rest of the way, but I didn't listen. I did end my run right at 31k though when I made it back to the parking lot. I came home and took an Aleve, had a shower, rolled and taped up the knee as best as I could.

Yesterday I was still in some pain, but doing little jogs or lateral movement while playing catch with my son, didn't hurt, so I think (I hope) rest, a massage and more rolling TLC will do the trick. Oh and focused strength training as well. I guess. 7 days away from birthday 39 and my body is telling me that I need to focus on the TLC part of running too.

Needless to day, there was none of the planned 60 minute recovery bike yesterday, but I hope this is a mere bump in the road and recovery will come quickly.

Totals on the week:

I'll take it. Wish me well for week 12!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Chilly Half Marathon Race Report!


This past Sunday was the 20th running of the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, Ontario. I had signed up right away after the race last year when the call was out for $50 registrations... or had I? 

So, it turns out, I HAD attempted to register, but my payment never went through. I ended up paying full price for the race. Good thing it was a good one! 

The plan was to go out with the 1:50 pace bunny and hold with them until the turn around 13.5k. From then, the thought was to pick it up if I was feeling good, or to stick with them until the end and then finish strong. This assumed a number of things: The pace bunny would be bang on pace (5:12/km), the weather would be good (no ice or snow or headwind), and that I'd actually, finally have a good race for the first time in over two and a half years.

Not too much to ask.

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

I knew a few things going in: 1) Sam, Emma, Ivanka and I would start together, 2) I'd run with music, 3) I'd run this one for me and no one else (sorry Sam, Emma, and Ivanka). I was nervous going into this, my 19th half marathon and 49th (!!!) race. I wanted so, so, so badly to have a good race. One where I didn't shit the bed (literally or figuratively) as Sam says. I needed a race where my mind didn't break down on me either. To be honest, I knew in my heart of hearts that I could hold the damn pace - I'd been doing a lot of random 1 miles at this pace over my treadmill runs, but I didn't know if my mind could take it. Thus the music. Music is a huge mental help for me, something I needed to go back and remember. It was sad to not run and joke with Sam during the good parts as usual, but I'm confident she understood.

Race day dawned a bit colder than predicted. CRAP!!! Do I change my planned outfit? Will my sweet-ass PUMA Clash by Rhianna Tights hold up to the -1c? Maybe I should grab a heavier top? In the end, I stuck with what I had planned to wear, mainly because everything else was in the laundry and I wanted to wear those sweet, sweet tights, dammit. I ate my now typical pre-long run breakfast of plain oatmeal, made with water, topped with brown sugar and chased with a small apple juice. I tempted fate and had a small coffee. With the 10am start time, I figured I was good to go on the coffee. I grabbed a banana and some powerade to have while waiting. 

I met up with Sam and Ivanka right on cue at 8am and by 8:25 we were sitting in the theatre at the Performing Arts Centre waiting for the race to begin. Emma and her husband got there about 20 minutes later and we all checked bags, ate bananas, cued playlists and got race ready. 3 trips to the bathroom and two shoe removals for me (to warm up my feet!) and we were ready to hit the corrals.

Right away, we found the 1:50 pace bunnies. There were two! Both continuous! WooHoo! Then, they started talking about running at 5:16/km pace (wrong) and being told to race for gun time (wrong). Whatever, this race was for me - they'd be a good target and help to keep the pace in check for the first few KM. The gun went off and so did the bunnies and the five of us (Emma's husband started with us; poor guy was battling the end of a cold and it wasn't his day). The bunnies started quicker than 5:16 and even 5:12, but no worry. They were going for gun pace afterall and had about 45-60s to make up. I stayed right with them. Sam stayed right with me. Emma, Ivanka and Steve were all lost. 

I sang a few lyrics to Sam when good songs came through my playlist in the first 3k. I couldn't really hear her much, but it didn't matter. I was still taking the advice that Robin had provided before Ottawa last year and was conserving energy for running, not high-fiving and talking. After the turn, Sam said to me, "These guys [pace bunnies] are running too fast! We have to let them go." I agreed of course and tried to reel in the pace, but it was just one of those days where the pace came easy. 

5:08-5:10-5:08-5:08-5:05-5:08-5:06-5:07-5:07-5:12. 10k Total: 51:19 I'm not sure I've ever paced my own racing so well.

Smarter this time about what I needed to get through the race in terms of nutrition, I had decided to carry Powerade in my handheld. I also stopped at water stations and grabbed water quickly. I didn't take the time to walk through them in the first half and they had no effect on my overall pace. I coupled this with half a gel at 6k and the other half at 9k. Sam had been bugging me lately about nutrition and I figured that I would use this race to experiment a bit if nothing else. I continued to take water at each station and had a final and full GU gel at 14k. I felt great the entire time; my stomach did not complain once.

After 10k, the race gets interesting if you've run it before and know what to expect. You begin to anticipate the elites and faster runners coming at you as the course is an out and back. There isn't much spectator support running out east, but what I did notice this year was that the course, while basically flat, has enough small, small rollers to keep things interesting. Sometime before the turn, I realized that I had lost Sam at a water station. I figured she'd catch me eventually. I figured that if something bad had happened, she either 1) didn't tell me as she could see how in the zone I was, or 2) would have told me so I knew not to expect her. Sure enough, so caught me back up and told me promptly, "You're running way too fast! I've got a 4:40 here!" I reminded her that she would show a faster split as she was just running hard to catch me. That made sense to both of us (phew) and we continued on. I was so in the zone.

The turn around came and none too soon; I needed to get there for my mental game. It had been super strong thus far with nothing threatening it, but making the turn at 13.5k means that you can count down the rest of the race and force yourself to stay on pace dammit-its-only-eight-k-more. Sam's husband was at the turnaround and she dropped off her water bottle to him and I said "Hi." We saw Emma shortly after the turn (yay, looking good) and could still see the 1:50 guys ahead of us. They must have settled in to about a 5:05/km pace based on the gap. 

Right around here, we also came up to a kind of unofficial pace group. There was a clear leader (a tall blonde in a pink coat) and a clear group running with her. She was telling the group that they were perfectly on pace and that the plan was to hold on for these next 8k. Seeing her face and hearing her voice made me realize that it was Michelle. I asked her what the pace they were holding at was, "5:12-5:16" Perfect. We had enough time banked to hang with them. "Sam, let's stay with this group. This is Michelle. She's a track Super-Star."

Michelle, though smiling, was puzzled - "How do you... how do I...?" "Instagram" I managed to breath out. And then I left Sam and Michelle to chat about ages and BQs and I just followed. Ah, the beauty of a pacer running the speed they say and you just hanging on.

We had picked up a slight headwind after the turn, but it died down quickly (or I got used to it). I was happy to have my vest after hating my life with the tailwind on the way out (where I was super hot). My mental ability threatened starting at 16k, but I held firm. I WAS doing this today. I WAS not failing. I WOULDN'T let myself down. And so I ran. I took the final water station with a bit of a walk, but nothing lost - the KMs were still coming well within target, if not so even. 

5:07-5:08-5:15-5:08-5:13-5:12-5:11-5:08-5:07, Total 11-19k: 46:29

As we came up to the 20th kilometre, Sam began to separate from the pace group. She veered over to the north side of the road as I did. I was behind her, but clearly saw what she was doing. She was making sure she didn't lose me when I made my way over to hit the 20k route marker (Every half. Always). Cheerleader by OMI was blasting in my ears and Sam was in full on cheerleader mode. "Let's go, Let's go!! C'mon!!!" Oh God, Sam my legs are lead, but I'm going as fast as I can. I'm not going to stop. I AM going to do this. We are going sub 1:50. We have time. 

20 was my slowest kilometre of the bunch at 5:21. There was nothing here to slow me down... no hill or even slight rise, so I don't know why I slowed so much. I kept chasing Sam though. As always, I was chasing Sam to the end. 

Let's go!!! RUN!!! Let's GOOOOOO!!! Jackman Styles!!!! 

KM 21: 5:09

And I'm thinking 800m, 2x around the track.You got it, you got it. Saw Hi to Mari for me Sam. (Mari was at Brant and Lakeshore). 

I'm pushing and Sam goes (as she does, damn finish kick). I see Mari and give her my only high-five of this race because I'm hitting all God-damned goals today and I'm feeling amazing. I hit Brant and see the crowd. And I run straight down the middle, watching Sam finish 5 seconds ahead of me and I wave my arms up and down, "Make some noise crowd! Celebrate me!!!" I even pulled a Usain Bolt move (I was in PUMA after all). And I cross the finish line and Sam tackles me and I know, this is what I needed. These people, these friends, this work. This is why I race. And this, this is the road to BQ. I know it.

Gun: 1:50:32
Chip: 1:49:20 
Place: 749/2233
Gender: 213/1159
F35-39: 32/156

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Update! Weeks 8 & 9 and Chilly Goals!

Hello... is this thing on? Sorry, I've been MIA, which usually happens when work gets crazy. And its been two weeks of full  on crazy, but we had our first big presentation yesterday and whew, it went well. So now I have a few down days before I get right back into revisions for the next round (advertising - all glamour!)

I've never seen an episode
So, how did the weeks go? Pretty okay. I missed some distance, but not the long runs, which are key. I actually fit all of my runs in last week including a 23k Tuesday run (spread over two runs!)

That's right, you even seen one trainer session in each week.

Week 8 I managed to run 6x100m run on the Monday and  noped the nope out of any other work for the week. The week did end well with a 30k run along the Around the Bay route with Sam (for 18k) and Emma (for the entire run), and then tacked on 2k to hit my first 20 miler of  the  training plan. It was a tough run (what with the elevation changes and distance), but I'm super  happy to have put the distance behind me, even if I was a bit delirious by the end.

A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

Emma waited for me to jog out to the pier and take photos finish my run so that  we could  get a post-run selfie together and bask in our awesomeness. I was shocked when I loaded the splits and  saw just how amazingly consistent they were for the last half of the run (all in the 5:30s/km - go us!).

Week 9 was planned as a huge week: 69km with a 23k run on Tuesday and 26k with 19k at pace on Saturday. Thankfully, Sam became the voice of reason, asking why we'd run race pace the week before an actual race that  we were all planning on ... racing? Whew! With that settled, I tacked the week of long work and long runs and hit all of  my distance and a bike ride! The long runs and long work hours meant far too many of these:
A photo posted by Nicole (@macnic05) on

Its never a good thing to work a 7 minute walk from a Bulk Barn.

With the weekend long run clear to run easy, Sam decided that she'd plan a hell run, her favourite route which meant all of the Around the Bay Northshore Hills and then more hills followed by other hills after that. And one super sweet downhill. I wasn't feeling the run from the second I woke up, but I did my best to keep up with the girls and they were awesome about waiting for me to crest the hills and in the end, I felt great for having put the mileage in.

It will make me stronger
A photo posted by Sam J (@sammykaye71) on

Everyweek, Sam #doesitfortheinsta

So, two good weeks, building base, if not speed. I was on the treadmill a few times in those weeks, so that does mean I was running some speed within those, but no tempo or anything. That is something that will come back next week. For this week, the goal is the nail the Chilly Half Marathon.

This will be my fifth running of the race. I PB'd my first race here and have always enjoyed  the run despite varied conditions. I've decided to go out with the 1:50 pacer and the goal is to come in at 1:49xx. This is faster than I need to run to qualify for the Boston Marathon and if I manage to nail it, it will be a huge mental boost. Besides, Emma is looking to PB at sub 1:51:19 (and I was part  of that!) and I want to do my best to help her get there. I know she can do it and I know I can too. Sunday will tell! See you on the flip side with the race report!