I Done Good

Yes, this is another 2016 year in review post. But it was a pretty good year for me!

Highlights:

  • I ran in 5 new cities (Stockholm, Oslo, Bergen, Tampa, Seattle)
  • The Burly Trail Runners were born (and we got shirts!)
  • I ran in my first relay race (Morrain Adventure Relay) with some Burlies and had SO MUCH FUN
  • I learned summer running isn’t so bad when you hide away in the trails with some friends.
  • I explored new sections of (and around) The Bruce
  • I ran my longest distance at my first trail race and won it!
  • I consistently proved to myself I’m stronger than I think

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE BURLY TRAIL RUNNERS! #burlytrailrunners #trailrunning #smokeyhollowtrail

A video posted by Burly Trail Runners (@burlytrailrunners) on Dec 31, 2016 at 9:27am PST

 

The year didn’t start well for me with a chest infection and winter all arriving together I had some tough runs physically that started a domino of mental struggles that lasted until May/June. I held on and I pushed through and I spent the summer building myself back up.

It was around August when I really started feeling great again, it was then I realized I was not only back to where I was with my running, but stronger. I did a ton more trail running this year than last so all those hills have really helped me gain strength and paid off on the road too as a nabbed a Half marathon PR at the Oakville Half despite limited speed work.

And as mentioned I ran my longest distance yet (45.5km) in November at the Fat Ass Badass 6 Hour run and got Top Female Badass at the race for being first place female. One of my proudest moments of the year as it really caps off how far I’ve come since the start and I was so happy to have some Burlies there to share it with.

Outside of running I got to watch my oldest friend get married, welcomed some new members into my family – a sister-in-law and a puppy nephew. Travelled around Scandinavia with my best friend. And mostly just had a lot of fun! On the trails, in the pool, on my bike, on my SUP, with the Burlies, with other friends, it was a good year for me!

Totals:

  • 2,058.14 km of running
  • 2,278.40 km + of running, swimming, SUP & biking
  • Hundreds of hours of fun!

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Winter Training Plans

So I signed up for an obstacle race.

Had never really considered one before, mostly because of the mud bit. I mean I’ll go play in the mud I don’t mind that. But, I don’t want any in my eyes. So therefore I don’t consider it. Also I’m going to pass on monkey bars.

So, why now?

Because it’s a winter one!! No mud all snow HOW FUN!!!

Some of the obstacles are actually just sliding down a hill on a tube/carpet. YEAH I’LL DO THAT!

I’ll just conveniently forget that I’ll likely have to do some kind of monkey bar-style obstacle.

The course:

12 obstacles over 5km should be a lot of fun! I signed up for the timed event because why not.

This all actually ties in nicely as I’ve decided to commit to rock climbing this winter. Climbing is something I’ve done sporadically over the past 5 years or so as I’m forever loosing climbing partners. But now, after once again loosing another climbing partner (they keep moving away!), I’ve decided to put on my big girl pants and just go solo. Which means a lot of bouldering in my future, something I’ve never actually done before tonight. I always stuck to top roping.

So bouldering is a lot harder than top rope. I’ve never once felt the need to use chalk while top roping. Within minutes of bouldering tonight I was thinking how helpful chalk would be, my grip was the first thing to weaken tonight, I was expecting it to be my forearms since aside from 2 weeks ago I haven’t been climbing in a year. But it was my hands this time. Doesn’t help that with so little climbing and gym time in the last couple years the calluses I’d built are all but gone. So now I have new ones being born all across my hands.

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The chalk bag I just ordered (link). HE’S SO CUTE

I have a few passes left on my clip card then I think I’ll buy a 3 month membership to get me through the winter. The gym I go to also has yoga so I’ll have a studio again. I left my old studio last spring since I wasn’t going much and wasn’t a fan of the new owners. I’ve never been to the yoga at the climbing gym but I do know a couple of the instructors so that’s good.

So, that will nicely take care of my cross training for the winter and get me will prepped for my 50k I’ll be training for. Still haven’t settled on what 50k yet, I’ll get that finalized in January probably. It’s not big deal at the moment. I know I’ll do one and don’t need to hyper target my training plan for a specific date since I’m already trained for the distance. I’ve taken the past couple weeks since my 6h pretty easy but am starting to slowly ramp back up now.

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.

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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

Gear:

  • 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

Consumed:

  • ~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!

Ultra Training while on Business Trips

Did I mentioned I signed up for a 6 hour race? Yeah. So October has been dedicated to training for that. I had a pretty solid base built up from over the summer since I did a majority of my running on trails. My week-day milage was good so I’ve been focused on maintaining that and building my long-runs.

However, I knew I would have a bit of a challenge with maintaining that weekly milage through October as I would be away on 2 trips for work, and not just any trips, conferences. Anyone who has ever been to a conference will tell you these are not ideal conditions to be training in. From the early morning to late nights and the food being served to the steady stream of free alcohol, your body is not getting treated well. I was at these conferences for work, not as an attendee. An attendee trying to maintain their training and good diet has a lot more flexibility, they have the ability to skip the evening activities and have plenty of more options to get in their training. As a sponsor working the event, you have obligations to attend all the networking opportunities. This means you’re up early to join breakfast, lunch is always a rushed affair as expo-times are during lunch so you’re shoving food down in a hurry to get back to your booth so one of your co-workers can hurry off and get their food. The same thing occurs again at dinner for evening expo receptions. Which also run late, but your day is not done there as after parties take place. You’re not necessarily obligated to go to these but well they’re generally a lot of fun and a good opportunity to relax a bit with some new friends and well, free booze!

These translate to late nights which lead right back in to your early morning to head over to breakfast. In a nutshell, working a conference means you are on the clock 24 hours a day.

How did I get my training in? Well, 2 conferences and 2 very different experiences.

The first was in Tampa Florida, I was able to get a 6k run in our first evening there since we did not go to any after parties. And then that was it from there. The next day there was zero free time on our schedule for me to split off and get a run in, and the incredibly late night meant I was exhausted for the rest of the conference. I did have an opportunity on Thursday but with long hours, little sleep, and hot florida temperatures, I had zero motivation to head out on a run at 4pm.

After party in an aquarium though!

To add insult to injury, after returning home from Tampa around midnight Friday night I had to be up very early to work a MEC even Saturday morning. So Saturday’s run was missed as well as I was far too exhausted to get out. Sunday I did get out but my body was still feeling worn down so I only managed 20 of my planned 32k, better than nothing!

I had a week at home to get back on track and then I was off again to Seattle for another conference. Arriving in Seattle Tuesday afternoon I opted for a nap instead of a run, I’d been up since 4:30 am to catch my flight and had an evening of networking to get through. With the early morning and the Eastern time to Western time I was spent and went to bed early. BUT that meant I was up early Wednesday and was able to head out for a 5.5k run through the city before breakfast.

This conference had a lot more flexibility for me as our hotel was beside the conference centre and we had a break in the afternoon between expo hours and being in much cooler and nicer Seattle meant I was more than happy to head out for a run at 4pm so I was able to get in 2 runs that day.

Thursday I was up early again but not as early, and I knew I’d have time in the late afternoon so I didn’t bother dragging myself out for another morning run. But as I said I had time again at 4pm to get in a run.

Fridays are typically my rest days but I did consider going out for a morning run if I was up. I did wake up in time but morning Jessica isn’t a very agreeable person and so I stayed in bed a little longer and didn’t get a run in.

Conferences = so much super healthy food. Grilled donut with ice cream and sugar

It’s definitely a challenge to get in proper training while at a conference, you need to be incredibly flexible and know that you’re not going to be able to hit you usual milage without sacrificing something major. For me at the first conference, I opted to just enjoy my time at the event and not stress about squeezing something in. If my hotel had been closer, the weather cooler, or if I’d felt like running on a treadmill, I probably could have squeeze in another run but I felt getting in a 5k wasn’t going to do much for me at that point and to just try to rest when I could. You’re on your feet all day for these things already. For the second conference things just worked out a lot better for me and I was able to get some more runs in. Essentially the opposite of what held me back in Tampa worked out here with a close hotel, nice temperatures and a time change that worked well for training, less well for conference things.

Canada > Tampa, fall running with the MEC crew!

In any case, I did what I could and don’t have any guilt over the lower milage these weeks made. I’ve had a couple solid long runs and will be doing my last tomorrow before the 6 hour event in 2 weeks. I’m feeling good ready to see what I can pull off in 6 hours!

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.

Race Week: Oakville Half Marathon

Let’s recap this a little bit, I haven’t had the most successful race weeks in the past. There was the last one, Around the Bay where I knew I was screwed and had no business running the 30k. And there was the infamous race week prior to that for my first Marathon. Emotional wreck would put that lightly.

Comparable to that, this race week is going pretty well. I am of course loaded with doubts and feeling like this was a bad idea, is it even a taper without? But I’m also feeling okay, I’m not emotional about this and I know I can do it. My doubts are more on how well.

So now I present to you some of my doubts and the reasons I need to keep reminding myself they’re crap.

Some Irrational Doubts

1. I didn’t do enough speed work. Kind of true, but then again I never do, and actually I did do a lot of speed work, I just didn’t do any tempos, like actually none, not even attempts at tempos. This is what’s getting me, I didn’t attempt race pace at all. I want to, but it never panned out. The weather, my laziness, other speed work coming up, many factors. Bottom line it didn’t happen. But as I said, they never do.

2. My pace has gone to shit. So this is something I decided to investigate last night. I was under the impression the last time I did a half marathon my regular ol pace was faster than it is now. So I went back into my Garmin records and had a look. ‘Oh right, I was even shittier then.’ So with some fresh eyes and appropriate look, we dig down. Truth is I’m running pretty consistently in the low 6’s right now. This is not my fastest. When was my fastest? Fall. FALL JESSICA WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE. I’m running low 6’s in the worst heat I’ve ever been faced with. So, time to stop fretting. In my speed work I’m hitting new records every time, my speed is there, waiting for the nice weather to come out and play, just like every fall.

Ran a little over 250km last month (couple untracked), pretty good!

3. I am not as well trained as I was before. This relates to the previous 2 as well. All my doubts relate somehow back to my speed. This is only natural, I have proved I can run a half marathon distance on minimal training. That’s not what I’m after with this race. I’m after a PB. So I’m focusing on how hard it is to maintain that pace I need to get that. But let’s look back to last May, my last half marathon. I was averaging about 45k a week. I was doing speed work but no proper successful tempos. My average pace was 30s slower than it is now and training was in the Spring before heat and after cold when everything should have been prime. And let’s get back to the 45k a week average. Do you know the last time I had a week under 45k this cycle? July. I have been consistently averaging 60km weeks for the past month and a half. I didn’t even average that during marathon training. The marathon, the marathon I ran last year I felt confident that if I had been running the half I would have gotten or come very close to a sub 2:00. I am running the most I have ever run ever, I’ve tackled some of my greatest training accomplishments to date during this cycle. And I’ve done it well, I’ve never had a cycle as well as this one. I don’t feel burnt out, I don’t feel tired. So, let’s all laugh really hard at doubt number 3 for being complete bologna.

Some legitimate concerns:

1. My knee is acting up. This is a very real concern and one I need to work hard on this week. Generally this happens before every race, my knee knows what’s coming and decides to make an appearance. I’ve gotten pretty good at rehabbing it by now so I’m just hoping it behaves until then.

Icing the knee

2. My calf/Achilles is also acting up. This is also a very real concern, and slightly more concerning than the knee because road makes this hurt more. If I’m on the trails I’m good but it starts making itself known on the road. Again, I’ll be working on it this week and think I can probably get through the race, I’m more concerned about after the race what it will feel like then. It’s after my last road long run it started bothering me more.

3. I haven’t been training on the road enough. I had plans to do more of my long runs on the road but it was so dang hot I couldn’t bring myself to pound some pavement for 2+ hours. As a result, I only did 2 long runs on the road. The concern here is more that I’ve been gentle to my muscles and they’re going to be in a lot of pain after doing 21.1k on road and at pace.

Hiding away in the trails

The good:

1. So far (*cross all fingers*) the weather is looking near perfect for Sunday. I think the thing that will play the biggest role in whether or not this is a PB is the weather. I don’t do well in the heat at all so if forecasts change and we’re slammed with hot sunny humidity this is real bad news for me. BUT if it stays as predicted now (or gets even cooler!) we’re in good hopes.

2. There will be Nuun on course. I only found this out last night and boy am I ECSTATIC. I’ve never been in a race with Nuun on course, it’s always Gatorade. I don’t drink Gatorade, it’s too sweet and I try to limit my sugar intake which is why Nuun is perfect for me. No sugar and it’s a mild not at all sweet taste. Perfect. I mostly only drink Nuun after my run is done unless I’m going on a very hot long run. Reason? I don’t want to become dependant on it because I know I won’t have electrolytes during the race since it’s only ever Gatorade. But not this time! I only wish I’d known sooner so I could have had it with me on some runs I debated brining some but didn’t.

3. I’m in my best shape yet. I mentioned this while dissolving my doubts but it needs to be said again. I fought my way back from a set-back in the spring and I arrive better than ever. I have trained more than I’ve every train before and feel better than I ever have. I’m about as ready for this half as I could be.

August Recap

What a great month!

Ran a little over 250km in total for the month, which is pretty close to what I ran last August while training for a Marathon. I’m actually doing higher milage right now than I did last year, just different long run schedules skewed the totals between this year and last.

So lots of running, lots of running 6-days a week. I’ve adapted really well to it I’m actually really impressed with how well it’s been going. I had a recovery week in there too, which I did not run 6-days for. And it went super well in that I actually felt really recovered (and quickly) after it which I don’t often feel. By Thursday I was ready to run all the miles again but forced myself to cool it remembering I needed to be taking it easy and not do silly things like add another 3k on to the 9 I’d just run to make it 12 (which I super wanted to do).

Steep crazy climbs often found on The Bruce! From Saturday’s MEC run

In August I also went to a free local track series. It was 4 weeks of track works which got progressively tougher which worked really well in to my training. The first week we did 200 and 400m repeats and a bonus 800m. Then it was 400 and 800m with bonus 1200. Then we did 1200m repeats with 2 bonus 1600m. And the final week was a 5k. All of these were on some pretty tired legs and I still put in some solid efforts so I’m pretty happy with that.

The 5k wasn’t actually that great but I did what I could. The route we did had a slight uphill out which my calves haaate and so they were screaming the whole time so I had to stop and stretch them out for a minute. But then the back was downhill and they cleared up.

Still squeezing in some SUP when I can!

I also maybe missed a long run. Last Sunday, I ended up sleeping in way late and then struggled the remainder of the day to get myself to do anything but continue to lay in bed, eventually managed to get myself out in time to squeeze in 12k but definitely not the 22k I had planned and in the main reason I didn’t surpass last year’s August milage. All and all not a too bad! There was another Sunday the long run didn’t happen but that was because it was so hot my run buddy and I decided to push it to Monday night because we’re crazy like that.

Fun times with the Burly Trail Runners on our most recent run to Dundas Peak

So now I’m in my final peak week of training for the Oakville half and I’m honestly so relieved, I just want this half over with at this point as I’m not excited about it all anymore. I want it over with so I can do my long runs on trail again, pretty sure I’ll be doing that 6h run I mentioned in my previous post (Batawa Fat Ass) and as long as I’m home from a work conference in time I think I’ll do the 25k at Vulture Bait in October!

August Mileage:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday  Total
Week 12 8 6 7 8 10 20 59
Aug 1 +SUP track +swim Aug 7
Week 13 8.5 8 9 8 7.5 6 47
 Aug 8 track +swim Aug 14
Week 14 20 8.5 swim 9 11 6 54.5
 Aug 15 track  +SUP Aug 21
Week 15 10 6 11.5 10.5 SUP 11 12 61
 Aug 22 Aug 28
Week 16 6.5 13 10 10 11.5 24 75
 Aug 29  1ks  +stairs Sep 4