Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Round Two!

Sunday I participated in my second ever XC race!  And this time I was equipped with spikes thanks to Marianne!  Yay!  The Don Farquharson Memorial Harriers XC race was at Sunnybrook park and was approx 4km.  I considered this race a bit harder than the Taylor Creek run...that one uphill was evil! ;)  I again was silly enough to race in between my 12-hr night shifts!  And again, I managed to push my body with no sleep and tired legs.  I rode my bike to the race site which involved one pretty steep hill.  I have ridden up that hill before on a bike with gears which is no problem.  But on a single speed commuter bike it was a whole different story.  I wasn't sure if I was going to make it up that hill when I was trying to figure out a route to get to the park.  I decided to ride it anyway and it was a toughy!  I suffered going up that hill.  I pretty much destroyed my legs going up that thing and I was winded and sweating...haha!  After I checked in I decided to do a warm up run and that lasted no more than 100m.  My post marathon and post night shift legs were done!  Their response: "ahem....what do you think you are doing! I want to go back and sleep!".  I honestly did about a 100m jog and then walked back.  I decided to save whatever I had for the race.  The gun went off and we were off.  I think I started a bit too fast because I felt myself die early in the race.  But the spikes made a huge difference.  I had a grip going up the hills!  Awesome!  There was one long downhill that I once again got crushed on!  Got passed lots but passed some back on the flats and some uphills.  The one steep uphill was muddy but the spikes did their job.  My lungs on the other hand were on FIRE!  They were burning and hurting!  And probably about half way into the run I got a good side stitch and I wasn't able to push the last part as much as I wanted to.  Oh....and this time I didn't follow my team mate's line.  It wasn't because I didn't want to...it was because I couldn't!  Oy!  I had my a$$ handed to me! Haha!  I ended with a near asthma attack as I was coughing away trying to get my breath back.  I did have fun out there and clocked in at 20:58, good enough for a 3rd place medal in my age group.  LoL!  UTTC as a group came in 2nd!  Good job guys!  Nice work! I didn't contribute to that but am proud to be part of the team!  Next challenge is the Sunnybrook 8km XC race in two weeks!  I hope to get out on the course and practice a bit and try to become a better XC runner.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chi Town 26.2

October 9, 2011
Chicago Marathon
Chicago, Illinois

Chicago...the race I really wanted to do well at did not really pan out.  I arrived Friday morning with Marianne and Saila in Chi Town and we headed to the expo for registration and some shopping.  This expo was probably one of the biggest expos I have ever been at including all Ironmans!  It was huge!  Which meant lots of walking but that was ok.  I got some swag and then we played tourist for the rest of the day even trying out some famous Chicago deep dish pizza and Garrett's popcorn!  Saturday I ran about 6km in the morning with 3x1km at race pace and I felt ok.  We spent the rest of the day shopping along the Magnificent Mile and site seeing.  Had some pasta for dinner and went to bed early for our early wake up call.

Race day Sunday.  Got up, had some oatmeal, a banana, and a boost and got ready for the race.  We were really close to the start/finish area so that was really handy.  Walked over to the race site and got into the corral with about 45min left before the start.  I was not seeded so I was in the Open corral and went to the 4:00 hr section as that was my goal - sub 4hr.  This was for sure the biggest race I have ever been in.  There were over 50,000 people who started this run. Wow!  Insane!  The gun went off at 7:30am but it took me about 7min to cross the start line.  And I consider that pretty good! Lol!

My goal was to hold around a 5:40 min/km pace right from the beginning to about the half way mark.  If I felt good I would then try to bring that down, if not, maintain pace and reassess at 30km and if I still could not bring it down then just try to maintain the 5:40.  5:40 was what I needed to come in just under 4hrs and I REALLY wanted this!  I was prepared to hurt for this.  At the start I was really careful to try not to go out too hard as can happen with adrenaline and all the energy surrounding you.  However,  with all the tall buildings in the downtown core and running under some bridges I noticed that my Garmin was not reading my pace correctly.  It was jumping all over the place and I quickly realized I could not rely on my avg pace reading anymore.  Darn!  That was ok as I was quickly doing math to figure out the mile pacing.  Next time I will know what mile and km pacing I want.  I figured I needed to maintain around a 9min/mile and that was what I tried to do.  I was so focused on maintaining pace that the first half of the run just flew by.  This was also aided by the enormous amount of spectators!!! It was absolutely incredible.  The whole 42km were lined with spectators and in some places it went about 5ft deep!  We were never alone.  And it was also sooo loud with music and performers along the way.  It was so loud I could not even hear myself breathe.  At the same time though with the huge number of runners it made running in some places tricky.  The corners were tight and at times there was a bottleneck effect.  The aid stations were a bit crazy but they were so long that I waited until there was some clearing before I got fluids.

I was so focused on the pace that I did not notice or look around the different neighbourhoods we were passing.  I was careful to take both gatorade and water at the aid stations as it was a HOT day!  I believe the temp was about 30C!  Yikes!  And I was soaking wet!  I took a total of four gels throughout and I also took a couple of salt pills because I was caked in salt.  At about 22km I also took a redbull shot hoping it would give me some wings! ;)  As the temperature was rising I was really starting to feel the heat and I was grabbing sponges and running through water to try to cool down.  Just before the 30km mark the heat started really getting to me but I did not focus on that at all.  I was maintaining a good pace right until about 34km where I guess my wheels fell off.  I had stayed in front of the 4hr pacer until then and then I got passed.  I tried to stay with them but I just could not.  I tried to fight and was focusing on trying to push but it wasn't happening.  I made some more calculations and realized that I was not going to come in under 4hrs.  Maybe once I realized that I let my pace go even more but I tired to bring it back as I wanted to get as close to 4hrs as possible.  Yup...not so much!  With 2miles to go we entered the inspirational mile and I tried to pick it up again there.  I even had volunteers telling me I looked great!  But when I looked down at my watch the pace just wasn't there.  I had little left in me.

Crossed the line in 4:09:12.  And to be honest, I was very disappointed.  I really thought I was capable of a sub 4.  I consider myself to be realistic with my time goals and I thought sub 4 was possible.  Maybe it was too rich for me or maybe it just wasn't my day.  My garmin read a 5:48 min/km pace but it also read 43km, it looks like I ran a 5:55 pace with an avg HR of 164bpm.  Stats: I was 10,649 out of 35,628 finishers.  I was the 2839 women to cross the line out of 15,453 and I was 541 in my age group out of 2845.  On the bright side this was a PB for me! Yay!  My first marathon was a 4:16.  At the finish we were given free beer and here is me enjoying one:

Afterwards, we went to Niketown to get our medals engraved and look at the finisher's gear and we had the best welcoming party ever.  We had to enter through a specific door since we were finishers and the employees were lined up on either side and cheered us in as we walked inside.  It was a first for me and it was amazing!  That was a lot of fun!  I do have to say that this was a very well organized race.  All the aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were great!  And we also got free medal engraving and photos courtesy of Nike!  How cool is that!

Right now I am considering a November marathon!  Do not know if this is insane or not.  Hmmm???  I do have the run training in me right now....maybe try again at a sub 4!?!?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Muddy, rainy, dirty!

And cold!!!  This was all part of my first cross country running experience!  This past Sunday I participated in the Taylor Creek 5km XC race as part of the Ontario Masters Athletics (OMA) series.  Unfortunately, I was working nights on both Saturday and Sunday which meant I was racing in between my 12-hr night shifts!  Not ideal!  Especially with the shifts that I had....no sleep break for me! Boo!  It was quite busy!  But I always surprise myself as to how much I can push my body!

Sunday morning I rode my bike home from work in the pouring rain and I started to worry about the race.  I do not own spikes and even though the course is suitable for flats I wasn't sure if this was still the case in the rain.  So I sent out an email in the morning wondering if I did in fact need spikes or if this would be a good excuse to bail on the run and stay home and sleep.  I was honestly thinking of bailing!  I tried to sleep for a couple of hours but it wasn't the greatest.  I woke up at about 11am and went anyway without spikes and hoped for the best.  It was very rainy and cold and quite suitable to stay in bed! Ha!  Got to the race site and saw the Nachos which was nice and other members of the UTTC.  We were warned that the course was quite muddy and to be careful out there.  I drank a Redbull shot about 15min before the race in an attempt to wake my body up.

I was given advise from a few people when they found out this was my first XC run and all of them told me to not go out too hard.  So I did exactly that.  I went out at a comfortable pace, not easy but not balls to the wall either.  Got to the first downhill and almost wiped out.  I quickly learned this was a whole other world of running.  There is a whole different skill set to this and I had no idea what I was doing! Lol!  I got passed big time on the downhill as I was taking it cautiously.  Then the mud run began.  Every corner I was losing my footing, I was slipping and sliding, almost lost my shoe at one point and even turned my ankle and almost fell as I quickly gained my balance.  All I could think about was next weekend and Chicago and not wanting to do anything silly out there.  So I held back and made sure I did not injure myself trying to go faster.  It wasn't worth it for me.  Next time I'll be more aggressive but not that day.  So I stayed behind my teammate Duncan and followed his line!  Thanks Duncan!!!  When he ran right through the middle of the muddles, so did I.  If he took a corner wider I tried to do the same.  That was a huge help to run behind him.  And let me mention he is many years my senior and is an absolutely incredible runner!!!!  I truly admire him and my other teammates who are all incredible runners!  I hope to learn lots from them the more I train with the club.

I completed the 5km in 25:42 as I kicked it up in high gear at the end as someone else was chasing me down. The Nachos were yelling at me letting me know I was being chased and egged me on to go faster.  She did not catch me but apparently she was really hoofing it and I was afraid to look back to see how close she was.  I was hoping to run this in under 25min so I was just short.  The team I was on (W30) came in 2nd and UTTC as a whole also came in 2nd.  Not incredibly pleased with my time but again this was not road running and I found it to be technical.  I did have fun out there even in the rain and cold.  I am looking forward to getting a pair of spikes and trying this again and try to go even harder.