Ragnar Trail: Cottage Country

Having done Moraine Adventure Relay the past couple years, I am a huge fan of relay style events. I love being part of the team and cheering teammates through their legs. With relay races it’s less about running and more about your team. When it comes down to it, very little of your time is spent running, most of it you’re supporting your teammates or just hanging out and bonding over the shared experiences of the day.

When Ragnar announced their trail event for Barrie I like many others took interest. I liked the idea of it being held all in one location instead of point-to-point like Moraine, very key with a race that takes over 24 hours to complete (Moraine is 10-13 hours). But with saving to buy a condo this fall, I knew I needed to be very frugal with any races I took part in this year. I had already turned down another event that same weekend for that very reason. And with a race already planned for September, I let the idea of Ragnar go.

That is until about a month before the event I was presented with the opportunity to join the Get Out There Magazine team. Naturally I jumped up and down at the chance and was thrilled to join this team of women (and our token male). It was a team pulled together through various friends and acquaintances, on our team of 8 I knew only one other woman and even her not very well. I really like that about our team, the most people anyone knew before this were 2 others so we’d all get to spend the weekend getting to know each other.


We got together a couple weeks prior to the event to discuss some logistics and our plans for the day. We then kept in contact in a Facebook chat and planned everything out through a Google Sheet. So race morning we were ready!

The race officially began at 9am with our team schedule to start at 10am. Ragnar assigned each team a start time based on average pace times we’d submitted at registration. They had small groups heading out all day long with the fastest teams starting in the evening.

Since we were starting at 10am we wanted to be there early to get our campsite set-up before the race. I carpooled out to Barrie with 2 other ladies, and of course we got stuck in traffic. We’d aimed to be there around 7:30 but got there just after 8. We unloaded our stuff, brought it up to our campsite, then headed over to registration to watch the instructional safety video. Once checked in we headed back to camp and started getting the tents set-up.

Once that was done we headed down to the transition zone to take our team photo and get ready for our start. I was to be our kick off runner and get it all started, I was pretty excited! It was a chilly morning but would be perfect for the run.

Ragnar is set-up with 3 loops, Green (easy), Yellow (medium), and Red (hard), each runner would get to run each loop once for a total of 24km. As the first runner my order was Green, Red, Yellow. So 10am I head out on the green loop with all the other 10am start teams.

The green loop was my favourite, I was able to run every single hill and it was full of flowy single track mountain bike trails, so much fun to run. I ended up running the entire loop with 2 other ladies. We were a silent group focused on the trails and pushing each other to keep going. It wasn’t until the last km when we finally spoke and I learned 1 woman was up here from Tennessee, they’d brought 3 teams with them (whoa!), naturally, Tennessee, trail runners, Barkley is discussed. I learn the other woman is from Toronto and we discuss the upcoming screen of Gary Robbin’s film, Where Dreams Go to Die, which we both got tickets to.

Finishing my lap I hand our bib off to team captain Diana and she heads out on the Yellow loop. The team was all there to cheer me in/Diana off and after we all head back to camp. They’d been busy finishing off the campsite decorations while I was running so everything was all set-up and awesome!

Ragnar had ‘one mile to go’ signs on each of the loops which we started using to warn the team we’d be coming through soon so the next person could get ready.


At 1pm there was free yoga being hosted and we all thought, why not? Well I’ll tell you why not, for someone who only sporadically practices yoga, and does no other strength training, a 1 hour flow class will tire your legs out! By the time my second lap came around at 6:30 (you know red, the hardest one) my legs were feeling the yoga! Suffice it to say my second lap went pretty terribly. It was lots of rolling steep climbs and descents my legs had not interest in running.

The red loop had this plank walk element to it, there was a plank and about a foot and a half drop to the ground. As we knew some of our team members would be running this loop in the dark we warned them of this part so they wouldn’t just step off and crash on their face. So apparently we warned them too well of this drop and they were all expecting they would have to dive off into the abyss. So they laughed at our apparent exageration and we justified it since no one fell on their face!

After I was done my second loop I put on some warm dry clothes then headed to get some dinner which was provided by Ragnar to all participants as part of the entry. Was I ever impressed! A massive spread of chicken parm, pasta, warm veggies, grains, fresh fruit and amazing cookies. They had big pieces of bread too so I made a chicken parm sandwich and made the rest of the team jealous since they failed on the geniusness.

Most of the day and night was spent at camp chatting with teammates. A pleasant surprise was learning many of them were swimmers, and I found out me and Mauro (our token male) knew a lot of the same people. Small world this running community.

At some point I decided I’d try to get some rest. Figuring it would be a restless sleep I didn’t bother setting an alarm. Lindsay was in my tent and she was running right before me so I assumed I’d wake up when she started moving around and all would be good.

Well that didn’t happen.

I ended up getting woken up 30 minutes before I had to run. Alex who ran right before Lindsay was getting her ankle wrapped (she’d twisted it on her leg :() so she was late getting back to camp to warn me. Mauro had tried calling me, my phone was right by my head but I was so dead to the world asleep I didn’t notice. So 30 minutes to go before run time, I throw around all my stuff getting dressed and then trying to locate my water bottle which my headlamp is in. Stumble out of camp run to the bathroom and I’m set to go with a couple minutes to spare before Lindsay comes through.

With a slap to the butt I’m off on my last loop, this one yellow. Being 3:30am I have zero idea what the loop was like. There were some hills, there was some boardwalk. There was an open area which was FREEZING. I took my time as I’m not good with unfamiliar trails in the dark. Nor am I very use to night running without a whole crew of headlamps to help light up the place. When I do solo trail runs in the winter they’re normally early evening so there’s still a slight glow of sun lingering and close to city lights so it’s never completely dark. The first bit of the run was kind of isolating but then I started coming across people and as you get deeper into the trails you start seeing headlamps all over the place of other runner which is kind of really spectacular to see. I would have loved to see a drone shot of the event at night.

The last 1km of each loop was identical as all 3 joined together. I really enjoyed that aspect as you got familiar with the trail it helped you bring in a good final kick. It also had a perfect gentle downhill finish you could really fly down. The end of my second lap was solid for that. For my third less so since it was dark I was less sure of my footing and wasn’t able to kick it up as much as I had hoped.

Done all my laps I ran back over to camp (had to run it was COLD and I was in only a thin sweaty long sleeve). Put on dry clothes and bundled up. My phone was ready to die so I headed back down to the transition area where they had a charging area. While I was there, Patty (the only other one I knew before this event) came down to get her phone charged up before her last loop (she was after Diana). I chatted with her while our phones charged and then sat by the fire for a bit to get warm. By this point the post-run chill had set in. As the sun was rising I cheered Diana in and Patty off and then headed back to camp. The rest of the crew was getting up by this point and we spent the rest of the morning chatting and tearing the campsite down.

When Lindsay was close to being done we all headed down to cheer her in and so we could all run across the finish line together.

We then got out medals, took our team photo, and did the last shot Diana needed for her review for the magazine.


Afterwards we got the cars packed up said our goodbyes to an amazing weekend and headed home.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t really know what to expect going into Ragnar, and I was really blown away by everything. I suppose since they do so many of these all across North America they really have it down pact. But I was still really impressed by how smooth everything was. It was more about the experience and being with your team then running a race and I really enjoy that.

Also they kept the fire going all night and the s’more supplies so I ate about 5000 graham crackers for breakfast and have zero regrets about it.

Huge shout out and thanks to Diana, Alex & Get Out There Magazine for this experience!!

Check out Diana’s video review below from Get Out There Magazine, she does a much better job of summarizing the events than I do!


Sulphur Springs Trail Race – Volunteer, Crew, Pace

Even before last year’s Sulphur Springs Trail race I knew I would not be able to participate in this year’s race. My friend had already claimed me for the weekend as I was to be a Bridesmaid in her wedding. I knew with a wedding on the Friday night, a race on Saturday would be out of the question but I would happily volunteer in the afternoon and help support whichever Burlies would end up racing.

Then in the fall when the 200 miler was announced one of the Burlies decided to take on the crazy challenge and I told him I would help in any way I could.

Earlier this year as plans settled out with my friend’s wedding knowing I’d need to head out to Cambridge Thursday evening I decided I’d take Thursday off work and help out at the race. I would then be in Cambridge/Waterloo until Saturday when I would head straight back over to the race until it was over.

4 days, 2 very big, very different events.

The 4 days kicked off Thursday morning as I made my way to Ancaster for 8:30, the Burly Trail Runners had been granted space by our friend and Sulphur Springs co-race director Tim to set up a tent for the weekend for David, our 200-miler, and any other Burly to drop their stuff. We set up the tent and hung our banner then I headed over to the registration tent to check-in for my volunteer duties. Pretty easy gig to start off I was helping with registration with the other volunteers, with only 28 registered it was a pretty lax time.

I’m tying the flag to the tent, oblivious of the photo op occuring

The 200-miler breakfast was also under the tent so we got to listen to their instruction and then enjoy the food afterwards.

So most of the morning was spent chatting with the other volunteers (mostly all Burlies – go us!) and the 200 milers who were all looking very calm and ready to go. About 15 minutes before the start I headed out onto the trail for my marshall spot about 2km into the race. It was then I discovered the coat I had on while plenty warm for the weather, was not a waterproof as I thought, and the rain was coming down pretty steady, and I had no umbrella. I was out there for close to 15 minutes after the race started before the first runner came through and within a few minutes they’d all gone by and I headed further down the trail to where I knew there was a covered bench. I’d wait here until I saw the first runners headed back and then go back to my post. When David passed by I told him I might be back up at the tent when he finished his first loop (the 200 milers would be doing 16, 20km loops). The 200 milers hadn’t gotten too spread out yet by that point (about 11km in) so I was back at home base well before he came through.

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Waiting under shelter during marshall duties

I stayed by the tent ready to help with anything he needed coming through, still early in the race he was gone in a flash but he asked to have his extra bottle filled up for his next lap. After he was gone I went and finally changed into some dry clothes and an actual waterproof jacket. Knowing we had about 3 hours before he would come through again I hung out with the other Burlies there and started assisting with kit stuffing and pick-up for the other races. We got about a 5 minute warning before David was heading up to the finish thanks to Dan who was filming the 200-milers and keeping an eye on the hill.

He was through the tent quickly again, this time grabbing his lights incase he needed them at the end of the next lap. He also mentioned he was behind on food already and took some to go. Jenn was also there with me and we wished him well as we’d both need to leave and wouldn’t be there for his next laps. We were a bit worried as no one was stationed to be there to crew him that night but found out another Burly (Steve H) there to crew another 200-miler would keep an eye out and help him with anything. We got his bottle ready for him for the next lap then I headed on my way to Cambridge.

For the next 48+ hours I was able to follow along with his progress through Facebook. Vince texted me in the evening wanting to help in anyway he could, I suggested he bring him some soup which he did and then ended up staying there while he slept and got him ready to head out on his next lap with a group of other runners.

I got back to the race around 12:30pm Saturday and was happy to be able to see Jenn come through between lap 3 and 4 of her 50 miler as well as Steve F. between lap 3 and 4, Patty between lap 2 and 3 of her 100km, also saw Grace come through a lap on her 100km, not sure what lap she was on actually, might have been 3. Also saw many other people I knew in various stages of their race.  David came through with Liz during all this and we got him set-up for his next lap with Michelle. At this point we know he’s behind schedule and know we need to start pushing him.

Hanging around the Burly tent chatting with everyone in between cheering

Soon after Shaun, Cody and Bogdan came through the finish of their 50km, the 3 of them had run the whole thing together. Steve F. also came through I almost missed him and cheered from the back of the tent. I had some warning before Jenn came up for her 50mile finish so I was able to get the flag out and wave it for her, she killed it!

It’s then a waiting game for David to come through again. During this time Gemma took a look at his schedule and the time left. He’d have to stay under 4 hours per loop in order to have 1 hour of play time to come in on time. Not a lot to work with so we immediately know he’s not getting the nap that was originally planned between laps 12 and 13.

Patty comes through finishing her 3rd lap while we’re waiting. Steve F. is still hanging around from his 50miler ready to hang with Patty through her next lap. Just before 7 David comes up, about the same time Scott, his overnight pacer, shows up with fresh food. We don’t waist too much time getting him ready but his quads are bothering him so he does head over to a friend for a quick massage before I head out with him on his next lap.

Having never paced before I was nervous for this. He’d told me a few days previously I’d need to stay ahead of him. Michelle also told me to run ahead when we’re close to one of the aid stations to get food ready for him. So with that in mind  got ahead of him and we made our way down the hill. He was not happy with the downhill but once at the bottom he started to jog. I then spent the loop trying to stay a head of him but not too much. I’m not very chatty so I was worried about this, but hoped he realized going into it. I updated him on the other Burlies and would shout out anything else I could think of every so often. He was directing me on parts of the trail which I found funny, but having gone through it 12 times already he knew which sides of the trial was better for the mud.

Not from my lap, I was conserving my phone battery so I didn’t take any photos. Dan took this one earlier on in the race.

I ran ahead to the first aid station and asked them to get food ready. They mentioned they also had tortellini now after confirming it was nut/soy free I ran back and asked if he wanted that. He did so I ran back got that for him, he ate that there and then took soup for the road. He was making great time on this first half. I ran ahead once again as we were heading back to the first aid station, he said he wanted tortellini and had enough of the soup. Unfortunately they only had sauced ready which had nuts in it so one of the volunteers scooped up just the noodles from the soup and I gave that to him instead. His quads were still bothering him and the lady who’d massaged him before the loop suggested child’s pose. One of the volunteers had a yoga mat for him and he got down into child’s pose. It didn’t look much like child pose by that point so I asked if he wanted me to push on his back. He did and asked me to count to 10 and then do it again. Got him up and then carried on. We were heading into the tougher part of the course but were making great time. We started the lap after 7 and had cleared the first 10k by 8:59. I was determined to get him through the second half in under 2 hours. He sent me ahead again before the next aid station, he wanted to do child’s pose again, no one had a yoga mat but we got a box set-up instead. I also checked what food they had, they didn’t have anything warm, the best they had were some pirogies but they didn’t have the package anymore so I didn’t want to offer them to him unsure if they were nut/soy free. After child’s pose he picked at some fruit and carried on. I was hoping I could push him through the stick of the lollipop since he’d slowed a bit with the rollers through G. Donald & Reforestation but with all the mud it was down to a hike for most of it. We did pass a ton of runners through here including Steve and Patty once again (who we’d passed near the start), which I think helped him a bit, even though it was dark by this point and we couldn’t tell who was who half the time, he tended to pick it up a bit whenever we came across others.

He was really strong on uphills right to the end so we came through the 3 sisters pretty well but they tired him out a bit and we hiked a lot of the top portion but I did get him to eat some of the food he had on him. He then told me he wanted to start running again once the terrain flattened out and then run the downhill. I knew by the pace he was doing on the other downhills they must have been bothering him so I was surprised by this but ready to run down with him. Getting out of the stick we meet Scott at the aid station. I had texted him earlier while running ahead to that aid station to see if he could bring down a yoga mat but the reception is spotty there so he didn’t get it until later. He tossed off some encouragement to David and then headed back up the hill ahead of us to get ready for his turn.

Though he had slowed a bit in the second half his pace was still good and I was able to get him through the lap before 11. He wanted another massage before heading out again but we couldn’t find her so Gemma did what she could while he ate. Scott asked for any advice I had. I told him about the aid station with tortellini, pushing down very lightly for child’s pose, that he was strong on the uphills but slower on the downhills and to run all the flats.

Once they were off I headed back to my car and took off in search of food. I’d completely forgotten to eat before my loop with him so at this point I’m a bit out of it from lack of sleep (only got about 5 hours after the wedding) and lack of food all day. Ended up at McDonalds, I ordered an extra burger and fries incase David wanted them later. I then headed back to the race parking lot and napped in my car, nearly missing his next lap – cozier than I thought in there! The burger came in handy as he requested one to Scott when they were only a few k away, without much time Gemma sent out a desperate message on FB after not hearing from me and when I woke up I came running over saying I had one.


Saw Greg was also at the tent, he was waiting for Patty to finish. David came up and we quickly got him ready for his next lap. While that happened Greg had disappeared so I chatted with Tim while waiting for him. He finally re-appeared, Patty must have texted him she was close as he’d run down to meet her. He’d come up to the finish ahead of her to get a photo. I hung around for a few minutes after her finish and then I headed back to my car for another nap.

Up around 6am I got changed, getting ready to head out for his final lap. I was out of clean clothes by this point and the only light-weight stuff I had was still wet from my lap with him early. Long sleeve hooded shirt would have to do.

We had a whole crew of Burlies ready to come out with him for his last loop and more that joined him along the way. I was holding back tears pretty much the whole lap thinking about how awesome the Burlies are and about how David was going to finish this crazy thing and under time. Like the night before, David was really strong on the first half, at one point running so strong the rest of us were kind of like whoa okay, we are RUNNING. His mind was sharp the whole way too, even though there were parts he wasn’t talking much, he still managed to give Matthew the finger when Matthew said he was tired from his 25k the day before, great moment. He had a bunch of fruit at the Martin Rd aid station and we gave him a straight pack of sugar which helped a lot it seemed as we actually got some full sentences out of him soon after, so we kept feeding those to him.


Still strong on the uphills he got through the 3 sisters quickly – after a mild panic with some unleashed dogs. The hardest part was getting him down the lollipop as the downhills were really bothering him by this point and the poles weren’t being of any use. Down and out of the lollipop for the last time we reward him with more sugar.

Finally back onto the road and that’s an emotional moment as he makes his way toward the hill for the last time. At the bottom of the hill we get him in front of us so he can lead us all up. We see Dan 1/3 up with his camera recording the climb he’s on a lookout and comes down to meet us to get some closer shots. About halfway up the hill you can see the cheer section and they start going crazy once they see us coming around the bend. Someone has the Burly flag out waving him home. Right near the top he hands off the poles ready to run through the finish.


An incredibly emotional journey we all let our the tears we’d been holding back all morning. I was so proud to have been there to witness this amazing accomplishment and to help and cheer on all the other Burlies. And I’m so proud of my entire crew in everything that went on this weekend and the amount of love and support that came out of that tent. I shared this on the Burly Facebook page after the race.

Just want to say how proud I am of everyone who was at Sulphur this weekend, whether you raced, paced, crewed, volunteered or all of the above. The amount of support coming out of that tent was amazing. I witnessed so many people 100% there for others, even those they never even met before. You should all be so proud of what was accomplished this weekend. Now let’s take a nap!

Seaton Soaker 50k

Well it’s been over a week now since I ran Seaton Soaker 50k. I’ve been putting this off, I kind of just want to move on from the race. It started off really well and I had a great first half of the race. And then it fell a part, and I let it happen, and it just got worse and worse and worse. My second lap took over 45 minutes longer than my first lap.

If that’s not a disastrous second half I don’t know what is.

The irony of this post is all my photos I’m super happy and exited. All the photos shown in this recap are from the first half of the race. There were no photographers out my second lap, I doubt I would have been able to even fake it for the camera by that point even if there were. So while I had a really awesome first half and everything was going great I was feeling optimistic and positive. I had a plan for the second lap that I could only walk the hills that I walked in the first half and I was going to stick to that.

I can’t even pin point what went wrong I left for my second lap in good spirits. I knew I had a 1km section of road ahead of me but was fine with that. The sun had come out which I wasn’t happy about but I was still thinking it’d be fine once I got onto the trail. But the trail wasn’t very shady for the first few kilometres and I started to worry I’d get a sun burn.

My legs were a bit tired but nothing hurt. I just wanted to be done. Onwards I went.

Got to the first aid station filled up my water, off again. Feeling even lower. Just focused on getting to the next one. The next one was about halfway through the out and I asked if they happened to have any sunscreen. One of the volunteers found some in his car and another helped me put it on the back of my shoulders (this aid station in general was amazing such amazing people all of them, there was also a Burly at this station). I also ate some fruit and finally felt ready to run again. Of course there’s a big hill soon after this. I came across a friend at this point he was coming down the hill on his way back, he asked how I was I said I was feeling better and he gave some encouraging words.

By the time the trail had levelled out again any of the positive vibes I’d gained at the aid station had fizzled away. I focused on just getting to the next aid station which was the turn around telling myself I’d feel better then because then it was really almost over.

I’m at the back of the pack so runners are really spread out so there wasn’t much activity at the turn around point. I was relieved to be there had some fruit and chips and headed back.

But things didn’t get any better and my mood dropped fast. I thought I’d feel better and I don’t so I’m starting to feel really upset and sad. I think I spent about half that trip back on the brink of tears. I wanted cookies and ice cream to drown my sorrows. Back at the mid-way aid station they had brownies, those would do. I ate a couple and some fruit then took off walking up the road hill (which I’d run most of on the first lap) eating brownies.

I know at this point there’s about 7.5k left hoping this would motivate me, it doesn’t. I continue on the run some walk some trot of sadness I’d been doing for most of the second half. I just wanted to be done and I have no reason for why. Something in me just gave up and didn’t want to do it anymore.

At the last aid station I can see the water crossing crew walking by all packed up with their gear. This just brings me more sadness as this is taking me so long even the crews are leaving. So I make the water crossing with no rope to hold on to upset and annoyed and feeling very very alone. I have less than 3k to go at this point but I’m still struggling with getting myself to run continuously. I’m at the point where I can accurately figure out how much longer this will be, telling myself times I can make if I just get running continuously. But it doesn’t help, I’m already too upset with myself for how much longer this took than it should of and how I had no excuse. I didn’t think there was any chance this would take over 7 hours yet here I was, well over that.

Eventually I cross the finish line and have 2 friends there waiting for me to cheer me in. I was just so relieved that its over. They don’t even know what I was feeling but both say exactly what I needed to hear to help some of the disappointment wash away.

It wasn’t all bad, like I said the first half was great, and it really was. I had a great time and had fun seeing all the other runners out, seeing friends along the course, meeting and chatting with a lady from instagram I’ve been following for years, I felt great and happy. I don’t know how it all fell a part so badly, nothing hurt, physically I was fine – or fine enough, but I just couldn’t get past my head. At least I didn’t give up, at least I finished.

It’s been over a week, I’ve started to move on from the disappointment and started to focus more on what I accomplished and on the positives of the race and my experience. The awesome free photos I got help!

I am relieve to say though that my next race is a 25k (Chase the Cayote in September), maybe I’ll seek a 50k redemption but for now I’m really happy to get back to a mid-distance race and focus more on getting some speed back and feeling really comfortable with 20-25k runs. I’m done with running over 30k for awhile!

Gear: Burly Singlet, Asics capris & hat, Wrightsocks, New Balance Minimus 10v4, Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta

Fuel: Nuun Plus x2, 1 Honey Stinger Waffle & oranges, watermelon, chips, veggie straws, brownies from aid stations.

6h BadAss Fat Ass Trail Race Report

On Sunday November 13 I participated in my first proper trail race, the 6 hour BadAss run part of the Fat Ass Trail Race in Batawa, ON. This is a 6.5km course you run as many times as you can in 6 hours.

(I’m sorry this report is long I tried to trim it but failed, I like details okay!)

I first heard about the race from a Twitter friend ()when I was tweeting about wanting to find a 25k trail race to run in prep for a 50k next Spring. It wasn’t one I had heard of as it’s a small race located in a small town. I was instantly intrigued as it was the only local(ish) trail race that had a date that worked well for me. Also, since it was still a ways out in terms of training, the 6hour was looking mighty tempting.

I put out the word on the Burly Facebook group about this race to see if anyone was interested, quickly had a few people commit so I knew I’d run this, it was just a matter of picking between 25k and 6 hours. 25k seemed like a smarter choice but 6hours was real tempting. What finally pushed my decision was when the race organizers announced the first 30 to sign up for the 6hour would get a free hat. I needed the hat.


Flash forward to Saturday, myself and the 4 other Burlies who were registered to run carpooled out for the 2 hour drive to Quite West. Our first stop was Tri & Run Sports in Trenton where we picked up our race kits. Myself and two other Burlies would be running the 6hour run the next day. Our kit was a black BadAss scarf, a Fat Ass soup mug, a GU gel, travel Dove body wash, a piece of halloween chocolate and of course, the BadAss hat!

The two other Burlies who would be participating in the distance races had registered with the no-swag option (only 20 bucks!), otherwise they would have received the same soup mug we got.

Done at Tri & Run (after lingering to look at everything, and pet their dog!) we decided to make a stop at the ski hill before heading to our AirBnB. Two reasons, so we could check out the hill, and so we’d know our route the next morning.

We got to the ski hill and after consulting the Strava of runner from last year were relived to learn we would NOT be running up the actual ski portion of the hill. That thing was STEEP. We found the trail path up to the side of the ski runs which looked much less like we would die. Relief.

We then drove over to the AirBnB, checked the place out (bedrooms and bathrooms galour!), got our stuff inside and chatted for a bit before heading back to Trenton to get dinner. We had a reservation at Tomasos where we would be meeting up with Erin from Twitter along with his wife, and 2 neighbours one of whom would also be running the race the next day.

Tomasos is an Italian restaurant which worked perfectly for me as it meant I got to have my now traditional pre-race chicken parm. I then decided I also need apple crisp for dessert, yum.

After dinner we headed back to our AirBnB and got ready for the next morning before heading to bed.

I was a little worried heading into this race as I didn’t feel as rested as I should have on Saturday morning. I think it was lingering result of maybe pushing it a bit too hard up some hills on my run the Sunday before. I headed to the pool Saturday to see if I could shake that out, after 500m I felt like I needed to stop and headed into the hot tub to try to relax and stretch out the stiffness. It did the trick and I felt fine afterwards!

So Sunday I woke up just before 6 after a decent sleep, got ready, had my two slices of toast with peanut butter which I’d been eating through this cycle and then had a banana just before leaving.

We got to the ski hill just before 7 and headed inside to stay warm and listen to the pre-race announcements on how the day would go.

A few minutes before race start we headed outside to the ‘start line’ which was a tent where the aid station was set up. The morning actually felt surprisingly nice, temperature was only at 4C I believe but it didn’t feel cold at all. I had my thin wind breaker on but decided I didn’t even need to bother starting with it which I was glad to do since it meant 1 less thing to worry about after a lap or two. I did decide to keep my gloves on though but those are easier to take off than a jacket under a pack.

At 7:30 we were off making our way across the base of the ski hill, almost immediately I noticed no other women were in front of me and only a few men. Well this is different, I’ll be getting passed a lot now. We quickly made it to the base of the hill, I started walking immediately, I had zero plans to run this hill (or any hill) at all. A few of the men made an attempt to run up some of it but soon everyone was hiking up the hill. We rounded the bend in the hill, yeah it kept going. Aand continued to go up a little bit as we rounded the next bend onto the single track.

And we’re off!

Finally at the top, things got interesting. We had a pretty late fall here so the trees have only just lost their leaves (and some are still hanging on) this meant a lot of fresh leaves on the trail. A lot of fresh leaves on some technical trail. They were doing a fabulous job of covering all the rocks on the trail. Oh boy this isn’t going to be fun later. This section was a slow gentle downhill until we got to the major downhill. A treacherous path made all the more treacherous by knee deep leaves. Stumbling our way down that I was so shocked I didn’t completely eat it on the root ‘steps’. We’re then into an opened gravel/grass trail before heading back into the woods. Much less rocks through this section, yay! There was a slight incline through here but nothing much, I would later take that incline as a walk opportunity but didn’t really notice it the first go. We were then back out in the grass/gravel. sliiight incline I’m pretty sure I didn’t notice at all the first time or two (definitely did by lap 5 though!) then we round a bend and head down (yay!). Can see the aid station from this point, once down the little hill we round another bend and head straight towards it. I ignored this aid station until lap 5 when I decided I’d try some Coke and see what happens (nothing did so I kept at it!) but the volunteers were amazing and quickly learned who we all were, fun!

Past the aid station we head back into the woods, hill here, I walked this one from the start, then it immediately goes back down. On either lap 2 or 3 I almost had an epic fall. The down had some roots and my foot got caught on one and then my other food got caught on that foot. Panic. Race. Falling. Downhill. Luckily a foot got free and caught me before I face planted and rolled downhill. And even more luckily it was a safe catch and not one that resulted in more pain than a fall would have caused.

Top of the second hill

Down the hill out of the forest we hit some ATV trail which were dry but made from some careful footing as the ridges were deep. Ran along here for a little ways then hit some flat rocks which signalled that my favourite stretch was coming up (NOT). After rounding a bend you hit a long, straight gravel stretch of boring.  Single row of small evergreens on each side line the trail. There was also these little tiny rolling waves for part of it I knew right form the start they would be damn annoying later (and also had me thinking they would be run to bike through). On and on and on it went and I can see the end of this stretch pretty much the whole time, NOT GETTING ANY CLOSER.

Finally out, round a bend and then we’re going up a little hill which I ran up the first loop and decided that was stupid and I was never running up it again. At this point we see the same aid station again and they direct us to a trail on the right instead of going straight which would be back the way we came from. This little trail leads back into the forest, yay! and back to more hidden rocks and roots, boo!

Coming through the start of a new loop

Here we hit one hill, then a section of very large roots that are VERY easy to trip over. Then it’s time to climb back up the other side of the ski hill. Oh boy. First time up this was actually the worst of them all. Everything hurt trying to hike it, even my back. And there was rocks under the leaves my feet would slip on. It’s long, its steep, it gets steeper, it flattens out and then nope it’s steep again. At the top there’s the chair lifts, run by them and then start heading down the hill. Woo downhill! Decent downhill here, a little steep and its got some small loose stones but I don’t feel like I might face-plant like on the other side. Once we’re down the hill we cross in front of the ski hill by the start line aid station and do it all again!

Something to be said for the small loops. It didn’t get boring, it was actually really nice. While the first lap felt terrifying through the rocky sections, after a couple laps you know where everything is and don’t really even think about it anymore. Oh yup stick to this side of the trail there’s no rocks and less leaves. Stick to the far left on that treacherous downhill you avoid most of the trouble there. Oh there’s the fallen over tree hole. Nope I’m good for water, thanks though! There’s a root here that’s what caught my foot that time. This is the straight flat part this still sucks, just keep running. Hill here remember we’re walking this from now on. Hi bearded man, nope still good on water-did you say chips? Up this hill okay now careful watch out for the roots. Okay up the ski hill, lets try the left side, yes the left side is way easier to get up. Yay top! Downhill and another lap done!

I was also really happy when I determined on my 3rd lap I would be into my 4th lap before the distance races started. This meant when they reached me they’d already be spread out. I did not enjoy the 4th lap though. Well I did the first 1/3 because I chatted with another runner a bit through here (found out he’s race buddies with a woman from the Monday MEC runs, guess this is a small community!). But once past the aid station for the first time I started to feel tired. And then all the passers. Also stressful because I knew no BadAss woman had gotten in front of me yet by this point and was pretty sure none had been ahead of me at the start (though I would doubt this through the whole race). So every time I hear someone behind me I worried it was another BadAss runner. So I was real happy to start lap 5 and have that be done with. Of course lap 5 was my worst lap time-wise as the fatigue set in good through here. This is when the desperate ‘sure I’ll have some coke’ came in. The chips I brought for this race weren’t very salty so my nutrition was a bit off as I was craving salt more than usual, luckily I had Nuun on me. I had to keep reminding myself to eat too. I think because I wanted salt I didn’t really care to eat my sweet waffle cookies.

Another from the start of the race

Lap 6 and 7 were better as adrenaline started to kick in, being pretty sure I was in first kept me going and got me from walking too much. I think I probably should have walked a bit more in the first couple of laps. Minus the ski hills the rest of the course was a lot flatter than I’m use to training on and generally in training I only walked when there was a hill or I was eating (even then I tried to plan eating for the uphill walks). So less hills meant I ran the majority of the loops taking less walk breaks than normal, which is why in later laps I took the opportunity to walk even the smallest of inclines.

At the second pass of the aid station on lap 6, I’m not entirely sure how much is left of the course, 2k? (It’s less) and we’re closing in on 5 hours which means I’m telling myself I’m going to have the haul ass to get in lap 7 in time. My goal for the race was 7-8 laps so I’m of course laughing at myself during this moment because I must have been crazy to think 8 was an achievable goal (not really, would have depended on the course but, race brain). I cross by the start again with I think 57 minutes to go. I’d remembered checking my watch partway up the skill hill and having 4:11 at lap 6. This meant I’d done it in about 55 minutes (did it in 53 per race results). This had me stressed, so of course lap 7 went pretty well. Freaking out that I’d miss the 6 hour cut off, freaking out another woman would come up and pass me, take first place AND I’d miss the cut off. Freaking out because I’m a terrible judge on distance and didn’t make mental marks on anything throughout the course. How much is left from here, 5k? OMG I ONLY HAVE 30 MINUTES TO RUN 5K!? Wait no, that can’t be right… And then also excitement of, this is the last time I climb my way down this, THIS IS THE LAST TIME I HAVE TO RUN THIS STRAIGHT FLAT PART, KEEP RUNNING! This is the last time I’ll see bearded man, awww! Last hill climb! Last hill climb!

Another from the top of the second ski climb

I’ve done it! I’ve done it! I’ve run over a marathon! I just have to run down and then I get to turn to the finish! And I’m under time!

I was a bit choked up coming down the hill for the last time – closest I’ve ever come to crying during a race. But all the Burlies are done their races by this time so they’re there cheering for me so I cross the finish with a jump! I’m all happy I just finished my longest run ever and have friends there cheering for me and then the RD comes over and hands me my plaque!

I had done it! Top Female BadAss!

I don’t think I’ll ever cherish a race item more. This one means a lot to me. First real trail race, first time over the marathon distance, first time winning overall. The thought of that plaque kept me going through the end. Leading up to the race Burly mates kept saying I’d take it and I was convinced they were dead wrong, I was convinced they were dead wrong even while in first throughout the race. I thought there was no way there had to be someone in front I’d missed and there would definitely be someone behind me who was much better as pacing themselves and would come up and pass me. I’m shocked and amazed I won it. I don’t care how small the race was, it’s still something I achieved. The second place woman came in 5 minutes behind me, she could have easily taken it if I hadn’t kept pushing in the last couple laps. While running the race I didn’t feel like I deserved a top overall at this point in my running career, but I was going to fight for it. You can’t spend an entire race holding first and then not fight to hold on to it until the end no matter what you feel. So I guess I did deserve it!

Now the race is done and I can confirm the trail marathon does hurt far less than a road marathon. I’m still stiff and feeling like I went up and down a ski hill 14 times but I can walk around and go up and down stairs almost as well as a normal person. I was both sad and relieved during the race that I wouldn’t have a chance of hitting 8 laps for 52km. I’m really proud of what I accomplished. My first trail race on unfamiliar trails I knew ahead of time 8 laps would be a stretch goal and after running the course once I knew there’d be no chance, not with those 2 giant climbs, hadn’t done quite enough hill hiking for that.

I’m looking forward to my winter training cycle and researching 50ks I can run in the Feb-April time frame, looking at USA races right now. There’s A LOT, it’ll probably take me awhile to pick one but that’s fine, plenty of time. I’m going to do some recovery this week and next then just maintain what I’ve built/do whatever I feel like for a little bit.

Final Standings:

  • 7×6.5km – 45.5kms in 05:52:15
  • 1/14 women, 7/27 overall
  • Laps:
    • Lap 1: 00:45:53
    • Lap 2: 00:48:32
    • Lap 3: 00:48:16
    • Lap 4: 00:50:56
    • Lap 5: 00:55:10
    • Lap 6: 00:53:04
    • Lap 7: 00:50:24


  • Shoes: Merrell All Out Crush
  • Clothing: UA Heat Gear long sleeve, Burly Sugoi singlet, Old Navy capris, WrightSock Double Layer Coolmesh II, Chaos Tubular Headwear, Lululemon run gloves (for 2 laps)
  • Pack: Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest


  • ~750ml Nuun Lemon Lime
  • ~1.75L of water
  • 2.5 Honey Stinger Gingersnap Waffles
  • 2 Apple Cinnamon Carbo Boom Gels
  • 1/2 snack bag of kettle chips + few BBQ flavour
  • 2 red Jube Jubes
  • 4 Dixie cups of coke

Thanks to the race directors for putting on such a great race! And special shout-out to the aid-station volunteers I’m sorry I over-packed my pack and didn’t interact with you all more! And big thanks for the post-race massage!

Oakville Half Marathon Race Report

Race weekend started the day before on Saturday at kit pick-up. Kit pick up was in the same park where we’d be starting and ending the race the next day. It was my first look of the area, I work in Oakville but I tend to stick North of the highway and in the trail system so I’d never been down by the lake. I don’t know why, it’s quite pretty!

It’s a lovely park and was a beautiful day, the kits we all set-up outside in the field. There wasn’t any lines when I went so I quickly got my bib by telling them my bib number which had been emailed to us the day before. Then got my shirt, the women’s is a nice navy and I like the leaves, logo is kind of huge. The men received the same shirt in burgundy. There was a few venders there but nothing fancy, it is a small race but does well to put in elements of the big-ticket races. I got a free headband from Tatika and chatted with the Nuun (which would be on course!) rep for a couple minutes who I know from working the MEC races.

The race kit in all included the shirt, reusable bag (love when races do this!), usual fliers for other races, Oasis juice box, some other fruit energy drink, snack size Cliff Breaker bar which I ate immediately, those wipes and icey ointment you always get. And some sport tape, hey this one is cool!

Race morning started at 5:30am for me. I got up, put on the outfit I’d laid out the night before and then quickly changed my mind and put on the capris I’d been debating. The weather was calling for a crisp 11 degrees at race start but would quickly climb over the course of the race to about 16. Shorts would have been fine probably but I don’t typically wear shorts for long runs and felt like I’d rather be dressed a little warmer and I knew I’d be totally fine with the capris once temperatures were at their peak and then I could skip the body glide.

Breakfast was 2 slices of toast with light spread of peanut butter and then I was off to the race! Fortunately my parents took me so I was able to relax a bit on the way over, I had a bottle of water I was sipping and a Honey Stinger Waffle I had planned to eat at some point since breakfast was so early, but race nerves had me not wanting it on route.

We headed over to Bronte Go which was the official parking location for the race. We got there at about 6:30 and got in line for the shuttle. There was a big crowd that all showed up at this point so the first bus filled up and we got on the second which came right after. The bus dropped us off at the corner of Lakeshore and Third Line which I was not expecting so we walked over to the park from there.

Then it was just waiting around for the start, I made my bathroom visits with no problem, they had a good amount there so I never waited for one. I did see a line had formed closer to race start so I’m not sure how long they had to wait. This is why I get to races early!

At some point I did feel ready to eat the waffle and did eat it and about 10 minutes to race start I had my first gel.

Into the coral, I decided to place myself behind the 2:05 pacer, I had no idea what to expect of myself for this race but my hope was to come in under 2:05 so I wanted him ahead of me for that. In the coral I ended up beside Katie, one of the runners in the MEC group so that was really great to chat with someone for a minute while we waited for the gun. Race started and I lost track of Katie but was ready to run my race.

I started really well, I was focused on making sure I wasn’t going too fast and keeping a steady pace. I didn’t really have any kind of strategy for this race, I’d decided I was just going to see how it all went. I kept the 2:05 pacers in my sights, it was a run/walk pacer so I passed on their walk and then they got ahead but I’d closed the gap already and was feeling pretty good about that. I knew my pace felt good and if I kept this up I’d quickly loose the 2:05 pacer since I was keeping up with their run pace.

And I quickly did loose them, I passed them again on their second walk break and never saw them again!

I ran this without any water on me so knew I needed to plan my gels ahead of time. With aid stations ever 3k I’d decided my best strategy was to take one at 6k and one at 15k. So just before 6k at aid station 2 I took a gel and had some water.

The course ran along Lakeshore for 6km, right through downtown, and then we turned up heading away from the lake. I’d never run the area before but knew ahead of time there would be some elevation gain here as it is all around Lake Ontario. There was a family out spectating here and the guy said ‘just 100m until the top of the hill!’ I just kind of laughed. It’s not a hill, you’ll feel it but it’s not enough to do much damage to your pace. At around 8k we turn left and start making our way back. Toughest part of the race is done and I’m feeling good. Hit another aid station here and I have my first cup of Nuun. Man was I excited about the Nuun being on course. They were handing out Lemon-Lime flavour as is standard at races.

In the last mile of the race. Photo by Katie’s husband.

We make a left turn and head down and then shortly make a right to continue on. This is all through residential streets and is really a lovely route. Very shaded so it helped keep the nice cool temperatures we were graced with feeling even fresher. Just before 10k we make a left and start heading back down to Lakeshore. This was so nice. While the up wasn’t really much to notice, the down was great, I was able to pick up some speed here and bank some time which came in handy later on.

This spits us out back downtown, we’re running the same spot we ran already. I do wonder how this was managed as I suspect the lead back would have run in to the back pack here. But when I went through the back pack had already cleared out. I gather the usual route does not have this doubled up section but there were some route changes due to construction. We pass another aid station and I have some water and Nuun again. I’m not drinking very much but I am doing real well in throwing water all over me.

Right after the aid station at around 12.5km we make a right, mini little hill and then a left as we head onto Rebecca. This would be the part where if anyone isn’t feeling their best is going to get slammed. All roads we ran on were opened but given that they were residential, weren’t very busy, and downtown just happened to be pretty quite as well. Rebecca was a lot busier, and it’s close to 9am now so the sun is up diminishing a lot of shade from the first half of the course. Fortunately I was able to keep myself focused. I hadn’t studied the map much but figured we’d be on this stretch for about 5k. Sight lines were poor in this section so it worked out fine that it was a long stretch since you couldn’t tell by looking.

Along here I found Katie again, I came up behind her so at some point she’d passed me but I’m not sure when. I said hi and we chatted for a minute. We were coming up on the next aid station so I took out my gel. This is the first station I stopped at, by this point I knew I needed some more water so I slowed down and took a proper drink and then continued on. I got ahead of Katie here but knew she was just behind me. We continued on this road for awhile before hitting the last aid station just before 18k. More Nuun and water here, again I slowed so I could get some last bit of energy in me. By this point I knew I was on pace for a 2:02 finish but took that extra second to fuel up properly so I could stay on track.

Then we’re making a left turn and making our way back to Lakeshore through a small detour, yay! Katie catches up beside me through here. We’re both getting ready for our final push to the finish. We stay close together as we run by the lake. She shouts off some words of encouragement to me as we’re about to turn on to Old Lakeshore. I’ve got my last bit of energy I’m ready to burn off, she’s just behind me and we end up seeing her husband about 1.5km away from the finish. He joins up with her and I continue to try to pick it up.

The last stretch, I’m gaining on some people through here, as Old Lakeshore hits up with Lakeshore I pass a guy I remember being passed by at the halfway point. I can see the turn into the finish shoot and start heading in to a final sprint. As I turn into the park I see the clock ticking passed 2:02, I throw more into that stretch then I knew I had in me, I don’t know how far behind the gun time my start time was so I’m full out sprinting ugly face and all across the finish to try to nab a sub 2:02.

Official Chip Time: 2:01:58.6

What an amazing race! I’m so proud of how well I ran this. I stayed steady and strong the whole run. My splits were the most even I’ve ever done, for the 19km there’s exactly 2 outliers. 1 was for the ‘uphill,’ I was slightly slower here, the other was for the downhill which I did slightly faster. Every other kilometre was solidly in the 5:40’s. Never ever been this consistent. And the last 2k show my final kick so they were faster.

Post race, got my medal, got my photo. Nuun was the first table we hit. Wohoo! My Nuun rep friend was there with his contgrats. I took a couple of cups. I met up with Katie and her husband here, she’d come in just behind me and we exchanged contrags. My parents found me here as well.

Then went to the next tables. Those stupid gross bread round things of course. I don’t know why I grabed that. Blueberry scones, yes please! Banana, bottle of water and Cliff had samples out.

I then did a bit of stretching, my hip had tightened up around half way, that worried me as it was the same hip that was so bad during my full last year. But I didn’t end up feeling it for the rest of the race. Now that I was done though I could feel it tightening up again.

All stretched out made my way over to the SportStats tent to check my time. I was dying to know if I’d squeezed in under 2:02. Bib scanned, huge grin, I see the 2:01:58. I had done it, my mega sprint was worth it.

After that made our way over to third line where the buses were waiting to take us back to Bronte Go.

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The Oakville Half Marathon

I’d signed up for this because I’d heard so many good things about it and knew it was the same group that does the Mississauga Half which is my favourite. I was not disappointed. It’s a small race, the half marathon had under 550 participants, there was also a 5k and 10k option which started at 7am for the 5k and 7:30am for the 10k, the half was 7:45 so we were actually able to see the 5k come in which was cool. Its size and the route make this feel like a small town race, it essentially is. But they definitely put the quality you’d expect from a larger race in to it. Aid stations were will run, there were loads of volunteers and there was cops at all intersections keeping traffic in line for us to cross. It really is a scaled down version of the Mississauga Marathon.

It is a small race so there’s not a ton of crowd support but there were people out with their signs and due to the loop course they were able to move around to various locations and were all amazing. Also since there were so many volunteers they were spread out along the course cheering as well.

I think my only real wish is that there was split maps set-up, but I know this is more expensive and I’m mostly interested because I ran such a solid race I’d like to compare my rankings throughout the course haha.

Also if the official photos were a little more reasonable that’d be great! $50 for 13 photos, I’ll be passing on that.

I would definitely recommend this race, the course is great, aid stations were stocked up with Nuun, water and cliff chews and it was pretty well organized.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon: How to Have the Time of Your Life When Running A Marathon

It has been over a week since I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as my first ever marathon. It has taken me this long because how do you even start to put down thoughts to something so epic?

Crossing that finishes line was quiet possibly happiest moment of my life. I had a big stupid grin on my face that lasted for days.

The run however, went the complete opposite of how I’d planned. In my mind I broke the race in to 14k thirds. The first third I was going to keep it cool with a steady-easy pace, the second third either hold that or pick it up slightly. The last third, just do everything I could to hold on to my pace. The first third went really well. I kept my pace under control and was enjoying the massive crowds STWM brings both on the course and on the sidelines. This portion was all done with the Half Marathon group as we traveled out to the Lakeshore and then back.

I was still feeling just fine at the beginning of the second third, I had kind of forgotten about my thirds strategy and was just keeping on with how I was doing. But not long later at around 16k everything came crashing around me. My body started to tire bringing my mind with it. I couldn’t push passed it so I ended up pulling my ipod out to turn on some music. A massively upbeat song comes on and I carry on. Tired, but okay.

This is actually near the end but I have no photos from the first half of the race

As we approach Bay Street on Lakeshore they start dividing the crowd. The half to the left, marathon to the right. Knowing that alot of people were almost done and I wasn’t even at halfway yet didn’t bother me, but seeing the few people running the marathon did worry me. I’d explicitly picked this race for the number of runners and it was looking like I’d be running with very few for the rest of it. But once we passed Bay and things opened up I saw it was false alarm and though significantly less, there were still plenty of runners on course. I’m hurting quite a bit by this point but knowing the halfway point is approaching and that I’d be seeing my parents soon helped a lot. And at 20k I see my parents standing waiting for me, arms out stretched to give me high fives which was a huge boost and I also begin to see the halfway arch ahead of me.

When things really start to test me is when we get to the Don Valley section. Something about seeing all the runners come back from it and the bit of a ‘hill’ involved going to it and coming back just hit me hard. I was miserable that entire trip up and back. It was in here I first started to succumb to the pain I was in as in and took a walk break,  probably around 25k. Everything was tired and my hip was incredibly tight.

But happy Jessica returned once I was out of there. There was a photographer and I smiled and waved and all was good mentally.


This is it now, the last out and back section. To get me through I counted down how many kilometres it would be until the turn around, I’d looked ahead of time and knew it was around the 33km mark. This stretch towards the Beaches was a bit quiet but being out and back there were plenty of people around as many were making their return to the finish as well. And even here there were still spectators scattered about, more about these amazing people later.

There were also still some cheer sites along here, some so loud I couldn’t even hear my music anymore. Not a problem with me! Loved the amount of noise they amazing people were making. These sections helped keep that smile on my face even through all the pain I was in.

In to the Beaches section brought tones of spectators and cheers and finally that final turn around well positioned as it meant only a straight back 8.5k to go. Also a man giving out pieces of banana, awesome man if I was more with it I probably would have hugged him.


I’m in terrible pain this whole time, taking walk breaks frequently and doing everything I can to try to keep going. My nutrition was good, I didn’t feel drained in that way but I started occasionally grabbing Gatorade (yes a complete no-no as I never drink it but I was desperate for something to help!) to see if that would help. But by this point I’m not finding sugar of any use. And I find Gatorade a poor sports drink because it is so sweet. Nuun probably would have helped me a lot more at this point. My muscles just don’t want to move me forward but I persist.

Going in to this race I’d wondered if the CN Tower would become a Beacon of torture. But I actually found it pretty comforting on the way back because I knew I got to turn before it. It was like, look where that is, it’s not as far as I have to go. Also seriously well placed turn with having 8k left to go. After 33km you know you’ve got this thing done.

Obviously the pain and tiredness I’m feeling is only escalating but my mind is happy. I’m having a lot of fun even though I just can’t wait for it to be over and I’m thinking a lot about how I didn’t know it was going to be this hard and hurt this much, especially so early. I did not expect the pain to start setting in at 16k. I didn’t expect it until the mid-late 20s so I’ve pushed through much more than I thought I’d have to.

I kind of love this picture because I’m unaware of the camera and I just looked focused. Not exhausted or with my head in an unflattering angle like most are.

Coming back into the city at 39k we face our last ‘hill’ a road overpass we’d already come over once just after the Don Valley. Something on a normal day you wouldn’t even think about, it’s not even a bad one. But let me tell you, and excuse the language but at 39k you don’t care, that felt like one big giant fuck you. I even took out my headphones to tell a girl walking (yes of course I walked it, I made it 1/3 up and only because I forced myself to run until the 39k sign) beside me that. At least we got to go down it though. But trying to get my legs to run again took a great deal of work.

I love this one so much because it so accurately depicts my thoughts. Who the HELL thought a camera at 40k was a good idea? I’m in terrible shape right now and just want this to be over. But fine, I’ll smile with what little I have left. ps behind me is the last little hill we’d just gone over, it is a BIT worse the other side but still, nothing.

I’m listening to one last song and then we’re back into the downtown and I take my headphones out to enjoy the last 1km. The spectator crowds have filled right up and people are cheering all over the place. As I head to make my way onto Bay Street. Run Dem Crew/Parkdale Roadrunners is there welcoming one of their own home and they’re going crazy and since I’m right behind them I get a piece of their insanity too. They formed a tunnel for us to run through and it was one of the highlights of the race for me. Cheers on both sides of me and high fives all around. Then I turn the corner and see the distance countdown. 500m to go. It’s uphill and it’s a struggle but I’m doing the best I can at a sprint. And then my friend are there on the sidelines going absolutely crazy.

Welcome back full smiles!

I’m rounding the last little bend before I see the finish arches and Taylor Swift starts playing. Could this moment be any better? No it cannot. My name is called and I cross that finish line happier than I’ve ever been.

Best. Moment. Ever.

Immediately upon finishing I can barely walk my hip is such a mess. But I’m still so amazingly happy. And I felt that high for days. And over a week later I’m still so happy and emotional reflecting back on this experience

The Event

The race was everything. Going in to this you hear everyone talking about how great it’s, best race ever. Participating in it you see why.

Starting right with the expo, super well organized and a ton of vendors. And I mean actual vendors selling things, not just booths and booths of other races. Though they were there, they took up an insignificant amount of the booths.

Race kit was okay, nothing significant but the shirt is Asics, mesh and the women’s has a bit of a v-neck so should be more comfortable but truthfully I haven’t even tried it on yet.

Race morning was smooth I got there early enough that I had no issues getting a Porta Potty though the line did pile up quite a bit. I saw after they did have another row set up on the street by the corrals but many probably didn’t know about them. But, more Porta potties could definitely have been added (and a replacement of toilet paper at the end I went in to a couple that were out). I dropped a bag so my parents wouldn’t have to carry it around the bag drop was also well done, split up by distance and then by bib number with large labeled signage so you knew which booth was yours.

I got in to my corral around 8:30 as you needed to be in before the 8:45 start. The time flew by even though my corral didn’t head off until 9:00 with the constant heading up after each wave it felt quick.

Now the big event, why everyone loves this race so much. The spectators and volunteers. These people were phenomenal and I cannot thank them enough. They were the most encouraging people I’ve ever experience on a race. Calling you out by name and looking directly at you as they give you their little pep talk. I was fully grateful for each and everyone of them and know I probably would have laid down to cry at some point if they were not there. To give up hours of your Sunday to cheer on a bunch of strangers who lost their mind, and to do it with such passion. You’re all heroes.

I’m so glad I picked the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as my first marathon. The amount of runners, the spectators and volunteers really help keep you going when you’re slammed hard in the face with just how much a marathon will take. You know it’s going to be hard, but you really don’t know what to expect, so do yourself a favour when you finally take that plunge for a full and go for the big one. And if you’ve already run a full go for this one too because the experience is insane and you should live it.

I would absolutely consider running in this event again, though probably just the half next time. I liked that I didn’t study the course map too well going in to my first full so I’d like to repeat that ignorance and not know what’s coming for me when I decide to do another full.

My one thing was with 2 water stations. One of them in the first half was a bit spread out for me. I’d wanted to take a gel at 7k but then had to wait until 9k to take it. Not huge and if I’d paid attention to the map better I could have planned for this, but 6-8k is a common area for people to take a gel I believe so seemed odd, they were giving them out a 9k though so maybe I’m wrong? Anyways all others were well placed. I didn’t have any water with me (and I usually do) and never found any too far expect that one and only because of my gel not because I wanted water. And then I found it weird they had the last water station within the last kilometer. Seemed a bit unnecessary and should have been placed a bit farther from the finish. At that point there’s so much adrenaline no one cares about water (though for some reason I stopped anyways), and we’re about to be handed a full bottle anyways.

Other than that, perfection.

My finish time was much slower than I expected it to be, but I didn’t even care, I was having too much fun enjoying the whole experience and crows to be concerned that I’d missed every single one of my time goals. And now, I am official, a marathoner. That is an identity I can take with me for life.


Beamsville Bench 5k

I don’t like 5ks, I don’t like 5k training runs, I don’t like 5k races.

So obviously I signed up for a 5k race.

In July.

With a 10:30am start time.

Clearly this was going to go well.

The Beamsville Bench 5k is part of the Niagara Running Series, and the only reason I signed up. However after doing 3 10k races this season I had a new appreciation for 5ks. I am a distance runner and this has been confirmed by the fact that I do not do as well in 10ks as I should be, based on my half times. I just don’t like the whole laboured breathing aspect of the 5 and 10k. I realise the irony in this as a swimmer but let’s move on. Having done all these 10ks, the 5k was sounding more appealing, the torture of laboured breathing would be over much shorter. So I was feeling a bit better about facing this 5k. In the days before I was mentally preparing myself for torture, telling myself just to completely suffer the entire time. I was keen to find out what my 5k time could be if I just went for it. A few weeks previously I’d run a 27:34 5k during a training run. I wanted to beat this.

I was worried about the heat, and the website describe this as a ‘tough course’ but provided no map or elevation graph so I didn’t know what to expect.

The race took place at a winery and like the rest of the series kit pick up took place right before the race. So at 9am me and a couple friends I dragged along to join me headed out for the short drive in to Beamsville. We parked within the vineyard in a very organised system, they had marshals directing cars on exactly where to park in order to maximise parking. It took some time but was worth it as it was very easy to get out. After we were parked we made the short walk over to the start and I got my kit. Nothing eventful, aside from a different coloured shirt (burgundy this time) it was identical to the one from the Peach Bud.

With time to kill we wandered around the little shop from the winery and looked out at the view of the vineyard it over looked.


With 15 minutes to race time I left my friends and headed over to the start line for a warm up jog.

The start line was on a steady steep hill. A hill we were going to have to go up. Twice. Due to the double loop course. The sun was already blazing hot. I was in trouble.

Despite this I tried to keep my optimism, less than 30 minutes of suffering. That was all I had to do. The race started and I was actually doing well with this. I ended up running my fastest mile ever according to my garmin. But then things went downhill… as I went uphill. Leading up to the hill was a stretch of direct sunlight. I’ve mentioned before I’m sensitive to the sun, I had a hat and sunglasses on but they only do me so well. So I’m feeling bad from the sun, and then I get to the uphill. I’m trying really hard to get myself to keep running, even if it’s slow. But I had to stop and walk or I would have been sick. I walk the uphill then start running again as I cross the start line where the cheer section is. I pass my smiling waving friends and I try to smile back but I’m miserable and feel awful.


I end up walking a lot of the second lap, I’m pulling out as many positive thoughts as I can but it’s not doing me much good. There’s a downhill shaded section of the course that feels amazing, and just after there’s the water station. But after that it’s all sun until the hill for the last km. I’m prepping myself to just power through 5-6 minutes and I’ll be done.A man who lives on the street has set up a sprinkler to spray us and has water out. This man is the greatest man. But the hilly course and the sun are doing quite the number on me, I’m less than 500m from the end and I’m walking. I feel better about this though because everyone around me is walking too.  Misery loves company so this gives me just enough strength to finally power up and finish as strong as a possibly could in that moment. Crossing the finish line after just a minute of running I was seriously ready to be sick or pass out. I wasn’t sure which so I just headed for shade immediately and then went in to the building and headed for the bathroom to splash some water on my face. Not even caring about my friends, figuring I’d find them later.


The Beamsville Bench 5k is awful. There’s only a very small section of flat (where the sun is shining bright) the rest is all rolling hills plus the climb up to the finish. The late start time at the end of July just makes this even worse. It is the perfect setting if you want to torture yourself to the point of near puking and/or passing out.

The redeeming quality? The post race festivities. What’s a race at a winery without a free glass of wine? Bonus, my friends who came with me also got a free glass of wine and did not have to pay the $5 admission for this wine and – wait for it – food truck fest! The age group winners also received a bottle of wine (I so did not win my age group, I came 6) There was also free food for the runners, the standard Niagara running series food, pizza from Boston Pizza, some granola bars and a banana. We sat in some shade in the grass while I ate and we waited for the food truck fest to open.


About quarter to 12 they announced the fest opened. We were given our free souvenir plastic wine glass, our fest bracelet and then got in line for our wine (I got red). We then explored the food truck offerings. They had quite a few trucks there, I can’t remember exactly how many but probably around 10. As I had already eaten I only had 1 truck in my sights. Ice cream. While I was feeling much better and pretty well recovered from the race, I was definitely feeling ice cream. It was create your own ice cream sandwich and it alone was worth the horrible 30 minutes and 47 seconds it took my to run (and walk) 5k. This is actually technically a PR for me as it is my fastest timed 5k as it’s been nearly a year since I did one and my last was part of a 13k event (and I also felt awful during that one). But 3 minutes off what I had completed and where I was expecting the race to go.


We all got our desired food and then sat under a large tent they’d set up with chairs for people to sit and escape the sun. They also had water cooler out for everyone to get some water which was possibly the nicest touch for the whole event. When do you ever go to an event that has free water for people?

Other good things? They had timers at all the km markers on the route with the race time, it was nice having that without have to check your watch. And the course was actually really great, if it wasn’t so hot I would have enjoyed it as I do love my hilly road runs.

The Peach Bud has a start mat for chip time so i was sad to see they did not have one for this race so results are based on gun time which is unfortunate because people were every slow to get moving so it took some time to get to start line even though I was pretty close to the front.

I would not recommend this race, unless you super love torturous 5ks. The late start time in late July heat just make this race too awful to consider. If it had a more appropriate start time I’d reconsider, but 10:30 is just ridiculous and I do not understand why they didn’t start it early. Anything later than 9 for a summer race is not worth it. Skip the race and just save your money for the wine and food truck admission and awesome food there.

But hey, least I got some extra points for my series championship total and had a great time hanging with some friends at the festival after.