Saturday, October 24, 2015

#werunSF (October 18, 2015)

Union Squre

They say three times is the charm. Three times I entered the lottery to run the Nike Women's half marathon in San Francisco and on my third try, as luck would have it, I was IN!

(Now, a little tidbit of information... I was full well expecting another rejection so I entered this year with a ho hum attitude and wasn't even sure I wanted to make the costly trek to San Francisco but when Nike invites you to run, no matter what, you run!!)

The months leading up to the race I trained smart. No one wants an instant replay of my Nike DC race. A lot of cross training, hill work and speed work but nothing that would scare off my calves. Unintentionally, a month before, I would run my hilliest half ever in Columbia, Maryland. No joke... I never once looked at the course elevation of that Iron Girl race because I just assumed it would be flat like when I was in DC.  Boy, was I wrong, but in a good way, it was a perfect lead in for San Francisco. 

I promised myself that if I could run a sub two prior to Nike that I would run the San Fran race for fun and enjoy the event for all it has to offer. Not expecting a 1:58 race time in Maryland because of all the hills, I was overjoyed to have that weight off and Nike SF could now be all about fun!

I flew out on the Friday morning before Sunday's race. The flight was long but I killed time by watching 80's movies... man, I miss that decade! With the three hour time difference I landed on the west coast at lunchtime and off I headed for my hotel. 

I rode the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) for the first time. That was ultra easy! I exited the Powell Street exit, bags in hand and when I looked up, there was my hotel... the Parc 55 Hilton staring right at me. Things were working out perfectly. 

After a quick check in and freshen up, I headed straight away to packet pick up. Literally, two blocks away. After that, I walked over to Niketown and Union Square to check out all the pre race action.

The city was filled with runners. The city was alive! 

Even though I travelled alone, you're never really alone at Nike events. There are so many girls traveling by themselves and everyone is so friendly, I had no trouble making new friends. 

After a pretty busy day, I was starting to fade. I decided to grab some take out pizza and head back to my hotel. Yep! The first night I was in bed by 9pm. 

Naturally, being on Toronto time, I was up at the crack of dawn. I had to force myself to go back to sleep. I think I finally decided to get up and head out just before 8am. It was just getting light out. 

Saturday morning Nike put on a little scavenger hunt. The aim was to collect as many special edition earrings from the list of seven. Two of the locations were pretty close to my hotel and even better, the same building as a Starbucks. I killed three birds with one stone nabbing 2 earrings and my coffee in less than an hour. 

The next hunt was a little more of a struggle. The lines for the earrings was long and getting out of control. I met a girl on my last stop and we decided to stick together for one more earring. We waited in line for an hour and a half chit chatting but after being on our feet for so long we agreed that the earring lines were taking their toll. I was happy with three and decided to head for lunch. 

My trilogy of earrings :)
Racing out of town is always a little stressful. Since I can't cook for myself, I have to find someone who can cook for me. I headed to the Daily Grill where they served me a perfect pasta lunch. It was so good (and agreed with my tummy), I ate there again at dinner. 

In between, I shopped, went sightseeing, grabbed coffee and people watched. I love traveling solo. I had no where to be and no one to appease. It was just a nice afternoon taking it all in. 

The Wharf and Bay Bridge

After dinner I walked off the calories and headed back to my room for 9pm. I got prepped for the early morning (race start was 6:30am) and hopped in bed for 10pm. Lights out.

All ready!

Shockingly, I got a great nights sleep. I usually don't sleep well in hotels but when my alarm went off at 5am I was up and at 'em.  

I had laid out everything the night before so getting race ready was easy as pie!! Double checked everything was in working order and off I went. 

What happened next was pure awesomeness!! It's just before 6am in the heart of Union Square... I had only 5 short blocks to walk but the streets were completely filled. It was as busy as the daytime and you could just see and feel the energy!!

I made it to the start and was to line up in the black corral. There was absolutely no where to warm up. The streets were crammed and there were runners and spectators for blocks and blocks. I shuffled my way into my corral and got ready to run. The two waves in front of mine were small so just several minutes after the gun it was time for us to go. 

If you can picture 25,000 runners at a start line, is pretty spectacular. It's also extremely contested. Making our way out was tough and slow. Trying to go around people was impossible so I just excepted the slower pace until about a half mile into the race when things started to move.

Start line... 25,000 strong!
 Now, you will hear me complain about miles 8 and 10 later on, but first, I'll give my thoughts on the first 5K of this race. I'm not sure about anyone else, but I found it tough. Not crazy tough but it's a continuous and gradual uphill to start so before I could even get my breathing going, I was already winded. I'd also been suffering from a slight cough leading up to the race which didn't help my already angry lungs. 

The first 35-40 minutes we ran in the dark. Footing was rough and some road conditions were not ideal but soon after the sun started to rise and were were flying up and down hills!!

The views were stunning, like no other race I have ran before (and I've been to some beautiful spots). Nike San Fran... you had me at mile 7! The sun was rising and we were headed downhill. From the top, you could see the perfectly lined homes and in the distance, the mountains and the bay. It was magnificent! As I ran, I wished I could make time stand still. I wanted to take in that view and savour it for just a little longer but sadly, races just don't work like that.

Mile 7... I think my fave!!

Mile 8 approached quickly. I went from being on a runners high to and OMG... here comes a giant hill. Up we went and that was a struggle. I had heard everyone talk about the infamous 'mile 10', I assumed they were mistaken and this was the hill they meant. On we went and I'm pretty sure Mile 9 was uneventful before... uh oh... mile 10. From the distance it didn't look so bad. It was long but not as steep as I had thought. That was, until we came around the bend. That was it! The mother of all hills!! For those at home, training on North Shore is wimpy compared to that hill. In fact, I'm not sure where at home you can find hills like San Francisco. This was long. This was gruelling!!

Ain't that the truth!!

Walk and run was my strategy. I ran a good portion and then stopped to walk. I also took out my phone to get a few photos. We ran and ran and finally the top was approaching. Not only could you see the end in sight but off to the left was the Golden Gate Bridge sitting so beautiful and still. The lighting was gorgeous. 

In previous years, runners weren't able to capture the view that we had because of fog. This morning, it was clear and breathtaking. Do I run or do I revel a moment longer in my amazement. I decided to slow it down. You only live once and there will be many more half marathons. There may never be one like this though, I told myself.

The view from Mile 10.
 I stood there a while longer and took a few pictures. I adored a good minute of that bridges beauty, then off I went again. As promised, the last bit of the race is easy breezy!! Nice downhill with cooler air and shaded from the warm rising sun. My lungs were loving it... still not sure about my quads...

Toward the finish, the course flattens. After the speedy downhills that seemed harder than it should have but I could see the finish up ahead and kept it going. After a quick left turn, I entered into the chute and crossed the finish, nice and strong!! 

I was happy. It was all done and I was able to collect my little blue box with the finishers pendent inside.


In a word, that morning was SPECTACULAR!! San Francisco is even prettier than I remembered. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go and run and visit. San Fran is definietly one of my favourite U.S. cities .... I have only great memories of this trip!! 

As for the deets....

FINISH TIME: 2:05:47
OVERALL PLACE: 3240 (of approx. 25,000~Nike never releases actual numbers). 
Category PLACE: 214/1867 (top 12%)

... not too shabby!

Never complete until these guys hand you your little blue box!
All in all, I'm happy with my time. I knew I wasn't going to PB and given all my stops and photo ops, I walk away from this feeling really good!! 

Until we meet again Nike.... thank you!!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Glimpse At My New Tri Life

After running for over a decade and competing in roughly 50 races and events, I decided this year was time for a change. Early on in January I signed up for two triathlons (Kincardine, a small beginner Tri and The Iron Girl Sprint) Kincardine was to take place in July and Iron Girl in mid August so I felt I had tons of time to train and get prepared. 

July came and I was still scrambling to find a nice fitting wet suit. Once I found one, the challenge no longer was the fit but actually getting out to use it. With Ontario's lakes being particularly cold this year, open water opportunities were tough. 

When race day finally arrived in Kincardine I wasn't feeling at all comfortable about giving my wetsuit its first whirl on an out and back in 11 degree water. The option to bail on the Tri and shift to the Duathlon seemed the most logical at that point but left me feeling a little bummed that I didn't set out to do what I came for. 

That was all okay because Iron Girl was a few short weeks away and I planned to be prepared this time. 

I had a lot of time to practice. I set aside my cycling and running, as those are my stronger events and swam at the pool and in the lake every chance I got. 

The morning of Iron Girl I remember driving over the Burlington Skyway bridge thinking, "what a great day for a race". Not a cloud in the sky and it was going to be warm so that swim was going to feel soooo good!!! 


As I walked into the race venue and was going to rack my bike I heard the loud man on the speaker announce that the race was now a Duathlon. What!???! .... Water temperatures were insanely chilly, somewhere around 7 or 8 degrees. Since the association doesn't allow swimming in freezing cold water we had no choice but to run, bike, run. Major bummer!!

That race turned out to be a good day for me but I was still livid. I felt so ready to do that swim, it was the perfect venue, surrounded by supportive women but there I was again, Tri turned du ... it was 2-0. 

Iron Girl finish, happy but not so happy!

After Iron Girl and without wasting a minute of time, I got home and started researching which tri's were in the very near future. There were a couple of options but the one that caught my eye was the Toronto Island Tri-a-tri. The 10K bike and 2.5K run seemed laughable but the 400m swim was still daunting for me so that was going to be my challenge. 

Signing up for that "baby tri" and taking it slow was probably the best decision I have made this year. I did my swim. Unusually calm. I did my bike and then the run. All went so smoothly and left me yearning for more. When I was all finished, I checked the board for the results and I couldn't see my name anywhere. I had a rough idea of my time but wasn't certain. Just when I thought they had either not clocked my chip or I was somewhere near the end the guy from the chip timing company slaps up a new first page and my name was on it. I ran my finger across to check the placing. When it said 1/13 in my age group, I asked the guy... "is this right"?  I pointed to my bib around my waist and then to the sheet of paper. He looked up at me and said, "yep, that would be you"!!

That was just amazing! I had never placed first in my AG before in any of my races. I happily collected my medal and headed home with such a positive feeling. The race, which wasn't difficult but still a challenge was exactly the confidence booster I needed to keep the momentum going. I ended on a high note and just ecstatic about my triathlon debut!

AG 1st Place

That night I decided to sign up for my first "real" triathlon. A full distance Sprint, 750K swim, 30K bike and 7K run taking place at Guelph Lake. 

All manageable distances but this would be the farthest I had swam without stopping... It made me crazy nervous, but I was ready. 

The days leading up to the race were hot, unbearably hot. Heat plus stagnant lake water only equal one thing... E. coli!!  

Three days before the race they closed one of the Guelph Lake beaches for high bacteria levels and with no end in site for the hot weather I just figured this would be another tri turned du. 

I tried to get swim information online but it appeared it would all depend on the water that morning. So, with lack lustre excitement, I packed up the car and headed out for my hour drive to the venue. 

When I arrived there were a few conservation staff members at the entrance gate. I asked them if the swim was on and they immediately said. "yes ". 

OH BOY!!! Time to get my butt in gear (and my mind). I had slept poorly the night before and it was already hot so I knew the day was going to be tough. Parked my car, racked my bike, did all the start race thingy's and put on my wet suit. 

When I got to the beach, I remember looking out at all the bouy's making a perfect rectangle. That seemed really far, like really, really far ... and then, the butterflies kicked in!!

You want me to swim to where???

Normally, I like to do a warm up but all I could do is stand there. I watched as the waves before mine set out for their swim. I was paralyzed. Watching and waiting for my turn. 

Since there were a lot more swimmers at this triathlon than my last one, I placed myself somewhere towards the middle/end, closest to the buoys. 

Here we GO!!
When the gun went off everyone ran in a little and then the chaos began. Swimmers swimming right on top of you, pushing, arms slapping. It was all a little over whelming. I swam for probably 100 meters and then I stopped. I couldn't catch my breath, my wetsuit felt too tight around my neck. I just stayed there. Not moving. My first thought... "Get me out of here, pull me out, I can't do this"... all the while, swimmers still pushing over and around me. 

What seemed like 10 minutes... I know it wasn't but it sure felt like it... I thought to myself, "Kim, get your shit together. You got this". I put my head down and integrated myself back into the swim. 

Once I reached the first corner and turn, I was so relieved. I looked up to the next corner, that looked manageable. Still getting the odd slap in the head and kick in the face I kept on going and going. Around the last corner and way off in the distance I could see the end!!! I could see swimmers ahead finishing and I couldn't wait to run out of the water. When I finally got there I stood up straight, let all the water drain from my suit and began the uphill run to the bike portion. At that moment, I can not even describe how happy I was and how accomplished I felt. My mantra for the day became, "NEVER GIVE UP".

I quickly found my bike, grabbed my helmet and shoes and ran out the chute. The bike course was composed of rolling hills, a couple of good climbs with a few flat bits but nothing too difficult. 

Coming into the finish after 30K

After the bike came the run. The part I had been dreading... It was SO HOT!! Full sun, an uphill start and small hills throughout. I took it slow, enjoyed only the last kilometre out of seven because it was on a down slope and I knew the race would finally be over!

All smiles as I crossed the finish and devoured that moment, the really cool moment of my first "real" triathlon!!! 

Race Results:

TIME: 2.15.31
OVERALL 337/469 ( 71%)
GENDER PLACE 93/164 (57%)


No podium finish at this race but given the Subaru Series and the attraction of some pretty stellar and seasoned athletes, I was a pretty happy girl, I'll take it!!

Fast forward to today and I am a little sad that triathlon season is wrapping up but I will be back at the start of next season raring to go... summer 2016... CAN'T WAIT!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Running the Oakville Half Marathon ... because every good half deserves a blog post right?!

Wavering all summer long from the uninjured list to the injured list is no fun.  It makes me a little apprehensive on spending my hard earned cash on a potential DNS race again.  I take my time now on deciding what I sign up for early and what can wait.  The Oakville Half Marathon could certainly wait!

It's a local event, small, and has a reputation for giving out a pretty crumby shirt.  I wasn't really looking to sign up for a race but I was interested in getting a long run in my schedule and this was the perfect time to do it.  So, literally on the very last day of online registration, in the very few last hours, I pulled out my credit card and signed up.

The next morning I decided to get a head start on what I might wear and decided to check the weather. Rain had been looming for Sunday's big race but two days before, and with most certainty it looked like rain.  I mean, when they say 80% chance you can sometimes get lucky but when it's 100% chance of rain, you're pretty much doomed!!

It was pretty easy for me to put the horrible weather forecast and all that came with race day jitters aside because I had to work both days before.  It's dental show season in my world and with the big dental hygiene show in town I had little time to think about running.

Before the dental show on Saturday morning I rushed over to the race kit pick up.  I don't know how I managed to scoot ahead of everyone in the line but I was in and out in 5 minutes flat!!  This years shirt ... (sorry, to those who like it) is hideous!  Baby pink makes me feel like a newborn and this surely does!  The rest of the race kit was decent.  Skin care, dog food sample and a pretty decent reusable bag.  Hopped in my car and fled to work...

Saturday evening I laid out all of my gear, my gels and charged up the Garmin.  Rain still loomed but now it was down to a 90% chance ... hooray!!!  I planned on getting wet and the good news was it was suppose to be quite mild.  No layering.  Just me in my tank and running skirt ...

Race day wardrobe :)

Sunday morning I woke up early.  I had set my alarm but really didn't need it.  My hubby was racing too - the Niagara Barrelman Triathlon, and since his morning ritual begins at 3am I was in a light sleep from then on.  I showered and freshened up ... why? ... don't ask me.... I was going to be showering for the next two hours in the rain anyhow!!  Off I went, short ride to the race and parking was a breeze!!!

Arrived to crowds and major porta potty lines.  Quickly texting friends to meet up.  Once we found each other we posed for a quick picture and then went to line up.  Too busy chatting I didn't have enough time to secure my phone in a plastic baggy before the race start so I quickly shoved it in my running belt and off we went.

The DM's before the race... Emma, Amy, Patty, Sam, me and Zindine.

The one thing I loved about this half was that I was not racing it.  I had no time goals except to finish.  I couldn't have cared less if I finished at 2.5 hours.  I just wanted to have a nice and smooth run and make it to the end feeling good.  That said, a lot of pressure was "off".  No matter what, I was there to have fun and get a long run in for the week.

The first few km's were uneventful.  My pace was steady around 5:35 and it was humid so I knew keeping that up would be difficult. Around the 3K mark it started to drizzle and I think by the 5K mark we were in a full out rain storm.  As much as I hated running in the rain it was cooling me down and the humidity was lifting.

At 9K it was still pouring and I decided to take a gel.  Since I had to dig through my belt, I thought this was a good time to get my phone in that baggy before it was completely water logged.  I nursed my gel for the next two kilometre's and continued running in the down pour.

12K in and all of a sudden my music comes to a complete stop!!  The only thing I could  think of is that my headphones were angry with the wetness and decided to give up.  Curious, I pulled out my phone to see if it died too but it appeared that when I put it in the baggy it was pocket passwording and since it tried too many failed attempts it locked me out for 3 minutes.  No biggie, I figured I would just stop in 3 minutes and get it up and running again.  WRONG!!! As I entered my password with wet fingers it missed a number and locked me out AGAIN!!! ... this time for 15 minutes.  Sometimes Apple really sucks!!

I had now lost at least two minutes fiddling with that darn thing so I decided no more and ran with no music.  The problem with all of that was that it was such a mental distraction.  I had been tailing and passing the 2 hour pacer (which seemed to be a little ahead) so it was a complete bummer to have lost sight of her.  I knew now that a sub-two half had slipped away.

16K, 17K, 18K .... the countdown was on... my hips were angry and the rain was fierce.  On top of the wet and slippery conditions I was now battling a strong headwind.  Please just let this end, please just let me have my coffee... was all I was thinking...

The last kilometre seemed the longest.  The wind and rain had suddenly stopped but it just seemed to go on and on and on... I passed a couple of people and prayed to see that finish line.  Up ahead I could see the turn in and then the 100 metres to the end!  YAY!!!  DONE!!! ... coffee's coming and my time:  2:02:34.  Category place: 48/99.  Gender place 132/333.  Overall, I was pretty happy with this.  No real goal and I know now that if I hadn't had that phone/music mishap I would have had a sub-two for sure.  Live and learn!!

Smiling at the finish!!

My race medal, plain but cute!

Big smile!! Next up... COFFEE!


Monday, May 5, 2014

worst race time, best race!!! (running the NWM in DC 2014)

Where do I even start?

Gosh, it's been so long since I posted to my blog I almost forgot how to sign in, but my past weekend was such an amazing experience I just had to share ... so here goes...

Last fall, I eagerly awaited news on the results of the random draw to run DC in the Nike Woman's Marathon series.  I knew better than to get my hopes up as this was my third time trying and both previous times I was declined.  The random draw closed its registration and much to my surprise just a few days later I received an email stating my entry had been accepted and I was going to "RUN DC"!!!  Extreme excitement was an understatement!!!

The race date was set for April 27th, 2014.  I quickly booked a flight and confirmed a hotel in Washington, DC.  I had never been there and was very excited to see the city and visit Capital Hill.

As per usual, I took most of December off running.  With Christmas shopping and holiday time and New Year celebrations I cut my mileage almost down to nothing.  January 1st marked a new year and the start of my training, not only for the NWM but for two other races I had signed up for (The Chilly Half Marathon and Around the Bay 30K).  Building up a solid base commenced the first of the year.  The weather here in Canada was particularly brutal this winter with cold temperatures, wind and ice which meant a good portion of my runs were indoor on my home treadmill.  I was enjoying my indoor training so much so,  I had had a couple of "long" runs on the treadmill and even a "double run" day!!  Around mid-January I went for a cold outdoor run and I vaguely remember feeling a weird twinge on my shin which sorta hurt but disappeared as I kept running.  I casually passed it off as an injury from getting hit in the leg with a shovel a couple of days prior.  In the days to come,  I ran but the pain worsened until finally,  I just could not run another step.  Now,  in my days of running I have seen plenty of injuries ranging from sore muscles to blisters to broken toes and stiff hips but never,  never,  had I had pain like this before.  It stopped me dead in my tracks.  I loved to run but even the mere thought of running just made me cringe.  I knew something was wrong in my gut.  I got advice from friends and later that week I booked an appointment at the sports injury clinic to see the doctor.  

I sat in his office and explained my problem.  Quickly he ran his hand up and down my leg and felt the huge lump on the side of my shin.  Moments later,  I was handed a requisition for a bone scan and off I went.  In the days to come I could barely walk.  I couldn't put any weight on my leg and I limped for over a week.  Going down stairs was excruciating.  I spent a lot of time resting, icing, popping Advil and elevating but nothing helped. 

A few days later I had my bone scan appointment.  I had obviously researched shin splints and stress fractures so when I looked over at the screen during my scan I just knew it couldn't be good news.  There,  right in the spot of my lump was a "hot spot" on the scan.  The technician had tried to reassure me by saying, "I have seen worse" but deep down I knew what this meant... I was going to be taking a long, long holiday from running.

Official diagnosis: Posterial Tibia Stress Fracture

The days ahead were sad.

To keep busy,  I swam,  did some pool running,  indoor cycling and stretching.  It was all good but I longed to run.  I was missing what I loved to do everyday...

The days and weeks passed.  I had to miss out on the two winter races I had signed up for.  Worst of all,  the Nike Woman's Half Marathon was nearing and I was dying inside thinking I would have to give this up too.

The race was six weeks away when the doctor gave me the okay to begin running again.  Great, right?  WRONG!!!  I was also given a schedule for "getting back to running after a stress fracture" which involved seven full weeks of easy walk/run sessions as well as, cross training.  After the seven weeks was up,  I would be able to run 10K if all went as planned.  ONLY 10K!!!

So, what did this mean for the NWM and me?  

I began the walk/run sessions and figured that at the very least I could "fast walk" the half marathon and still be able to finish by the cut off time.  I could also collect my finishers shirt and my bling, which if you don't already know,  is a Tiffany necklace and pendant.  

My training,  if you want to call it that,  was going as well as could be expected.  I was running 5K with no walk breaks and inching my way up to 6, 7 and 8K runs.  As much as this made me happy, the thought of completing a 21K run would be next to impossible.  Not only was my leg not ready but my cardio had suffered and the rest of me had too.

I met with my doctor again to discuss a strategy for the run and the plan he came up with was to try to run the first 10K and run/walk the remaining as long as I had no pain.  I was okay with that.  I hated envisioning a three hour finish time but if that was the way it had to be I was accepting of the situation.

The weekend before the race I set out to do a 10K run with no walk breaks.  This would be my longest run since my stress fx diagnosis.  I ran the 10 and felt great!  I decided to push just a little more and ended up back at my house at exactly the 12K mark.  I was thrilled to know I actually had a shot at finishing the race the following weekend.  

The very next day my leg reminded me that I was still injured.  It was throbbing and pulling and twanging ... I knew I wasn't re-injured but it was enough to have me worried and send all kinds of doubt through my mind.

Despite all of that, I packed my things later that week,  headed off to DC and was determined to "have fun".  After all,  it was one race.  All I had to do was FINISH!!

I arrived in DC, settled at my hotel and set out to the expo.  Oh, how Nike knows how to make every runner feel like a million bucks.  From your name on light up screens, beautiful custom race gear to plenty of freebies, the fun was just getting started... I was excited and sad at the same time.  Oh,  how I wished I wasn't injured so I could fully enjoy the experience but that was not the case.

I had an extra day for sight seeing.  I got up early and went to Capital Hill and the National Mall, walked by the homeless shelter and even pinned down where the race start would be.  After that,  I went shopping in Georgetown and back to the expo for one last look around.  The energy was amazing.  Even though I travelled alone, I met and talked to so many people.  Everyone was so pumped about race.  The city was full of runners.  I had never felt such a tremendous vibe surrounding a race... it was incredible!!  I must have walked 25K that day.  Soaking in the city, the gorgeous weather and the beautiful sites.  Probably not the smartest thing to do before a big race but I was enjoying every second.  That evening,  I gave my leg a break.  Ice and rest and was in bed by 9 p.m.


My alarm sounded at 5:20 a.m.  There was no hesitation,  no hitting snooze,  no "five more minutes".  I was up and excited and quickly showered and dressed and headed straight out the door for that six block walk to the race start.  The streets were quiet and unfamiliar.  I was a little nervous but took the most direct route.  As I was walking, I heard a voice shout out, "you runnin'"?  Startled,  I looked around and saw a homeless man sitting on the ground.  I smiled and replied, "yes"... "well, good luck",  he said.  That exchange of words made my day.  I just knew from that moment on that it was going to be good.

Thousands of runners lined up in the corrals.  I wore a green pace band.  The corral I should have been in before I became injured.  I lined up with them anyhow.  I knew I would probably get trampled as they all breezed by me but I didn't care.  Music was blaring,  girls were shouting,  singing and taking "selfies".  The weather was perfect.  My kind of running weather... not too hot,  not too cold.

The gun sounded and we were off!  Our first couple of kilometres were along Pennsylvania Avenue leading up to the Capital Hill building.  When we got there we ran right by it (that was super cool), we passed through a long tunnel and then popped back out on the other side.  The scenery was beautiful.  The monuments, the bridge, the cemetery... I just gazed around taking it all in.  For the first little bit of the run I was concerned about my leg.  I was paying attention to every little feeling but soon after I realized that it was not hurting.  I had compressed it with a sleeve that was so tight I could barely feel anything at all.  Before I knew it, the "mile 6" sign was in front of me and I realized I had almost ran half of the race... and wait... this was where I was supposed to start to walk!!!

Instead of walking I popped a gel.  I stopped quickly for water and did a quick assessment of my leg. All was good so I kept on running.  Mile 9 approached and I realized at that moment that I could actually (maybe) run the entire race!  My body was getting tired and other parts of me were sore but my leg was strong.  I was hoping it was the real deal and not just endorphins running through my body making me not feel pain.  I was praying that my leg would hold up and not just snap from the constant pounding of the run.

With 2 miles left I was getting tired.  My running form was starting to suffer and my metal toughness was dissipating.  All I could think about was being able to say,  I ran the entire race without stopping and that beautiful Tiffany blue box at the end.

Familiar territory was up ahead!  I recognized the last stretch and could see Capital Hill.  The sun was shining beautifully,  the cherry blossoms were vibrant.  I was taking in the smell,  the sun and the last mile of the run.  I was getting stiff.  My body was working hard and it was using muscles that it hadn't had to in so long.  I ran and ran.  I turned a corner and saw the finish.  I continued to run and just then I realized... I FINISHED!!  My goal was to come and "just finish" and I did just that.

My official time 2:08:44

I was in shock.  I completed that entire run (albeit slow) without stopping, without any leg pain!!!
We funnelled through the finisher's area.  Bottled water and goodie bags handed to us and then everyone lined up to receive their "little blue box".  We were greeted by fine, young men in tuxedo's and everyone stopped for a photo op.  The day was grand.  Never to be forgotten.

The "little blue box"

happy, happy

If someone asked me to sum up this race,  I would tell them that this was easily one of the best weekends of my entire life.  It's been a week and I am still beaming on a runner's high!!!  This day will be etched in my memory for a very, very long time.  I am already planning my registration for the Nike race in San Francisco this fall and again in DC in the spring of 2015.  Maybe next time I will actually be able to "race".  For now though,  I can live with the fact that my worst race time was actually my best race!!!

Thank you Nike for such an incredible experience.  I loved every minute of DC!!!

NWM "We Run DC 2014" Finisher!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ATB30K conquered!

For months now,  I have heard constant buzz about the Around the Bay Road Race, oldest race on the continent, even older than Boston.  A scenic 30 kilometre run around the beautiful (okay, that's a stretch) bay in Hamilton, Ontario.  Held annually in March, it was perfect timing since I hate running in the cold and hate running in the heat.

After speaking with the race organizer last year at an expo I was easily swayed into making this my goal race for early 2013.  Nice course, close to home, cool medal and a decent tech shirt that actually fits well and looks good.  Okay, sign me up!!!  Did I mention the 30K part yet???

A little ambitious, I admit.  Here is a girl, that less than a year ago saw a sign at Sporting Life advertising a 10K run and decided to give it a whirl ... now I am going to tackle three times the distance!!!  Yikes!!!

Training began shortly after my last half marathon in November 2012.  I took about a three week break and started back early December giving myself a good, solid 3.5 months.  December started out great but as soon as the New Year's ball dropped launching us into 2013 things changed. I struggled.

For those that know me well, 2013 has not been the easiest year.  I had a bizarre heart issue that put a real damper on my entire month of January training.  Coming into month two of my training and then being told to "take it easy" was definitely not what I wanted to hear.  Multiple tests later and visits to the cardiologist, I was given the "go ahead" to run my heart out again but nothing was going to make up for the lost time. It was surely a set back.

Going into February, I felt better.  I trained for ATB and also did my first race of the year, the Myrtle Beach half marathon.  Five short days after that race, more bad news.  1.  I had to have a toenail removed  2.  I had shingles  SERIOUSLY!!!  I had never had so many things go wrong in such a short time.  I considered backing out but just couldn't.  I had managed to keep my training up and I certainly wasn't going to give up without a fight.

I still had four solid weeks and believe me, I made it count!  Even with all the set backs I managed to quickly get through my planned training schedule.  I missed out on some speed work and a couple of long runs but I made the most of my time.

Days leading up to the race were good.  My mindset had changed and my goal now was to run and finish.  There was no way I was going to race this distance.  I just didn't feel ready for that.

My stragedy for 30K ... I was breaking this run into thirds.  I wanted to keep it even paced in the first 10K, give it my all for the 2nd 10K and then whatever energy I had left in me would hopefully get me through the last 10K and the dreaded hills.

I won't lie,  the anticipation of the ATB 30K race had me stressed to the max.  Just thinking about the race made me feel sick.  "Why did I sign up for this again"?  and "someone shoot me now" were just two of the thoughts that played over and over in my mind the days before.

One week before the longest run of my life I get a huge blister on my foot.  Really!  Just what I needed!!!  Like everything else up until now, I would deal with it and push on...

Attitude adjustment came when I went to pick up my race kit.  Nice shirt, got my bib, chip and the map, I was going to do this and that was all there was to it.  Soon it would all be over and even if I ended up walking the last half, I was determined to finish.

Race day morning came, I was rested, ready and feeling good.  I had created a new playlist just days earlier that I was pumped to listen to.  Surprisingly, I was calm and collected and ready to run.

The starting line was crowded.  Even though I knew several people running this race I could not spot a familiar face.  I did see a couple of runners from my run club but no one I knew personally.  I set myself into position into the corral and started up my Garmin.  Before I could even get comfortable the gun went off and it was go time!!!

Temperatures were cold, favourable for me.  Off to a good start I cruised through the first 8K of the ATB race with not a care in the world.  Until ... what was that up ahead??!! .... you've gotta be kidding me ... yep, it was indeed, a freight train.  The railway bars had lowered and off in the distance I could see the train coming.  I had two choices, make it or not.  I decided to give it everything I had an run like I was being chased by scary monsters I did.  Seconds after I made it to the other side the police were screaming to the runners to "STOP"!!!  I remember thinking how fortunate I was that I had made it across.  Those poor delayed runners after me ended up being held back for a good five minutes... such a bummer :(

Settling in to a nice moderate pace I continued on.  Stopping only at water stations briefly, I was feeling good and on target for a great race!

I was in "the zone" and the day was beautiful.  Sunny, my happy place!  Excitement built as I knew my family was waiting somewhere in the 16-17K point.  I looked for them and couldn't wait to see a familiar face.  As soon as I hit the 17K mark I could see my boys off in the distance.  I hurried, whipped off my jacket and unloaded my head warmer and gloves.  We hugged, high fives and took a couple of pics and off I went again.

Now, to the finish!

I was more than halfway done.  I hadn't stopped, except for the brief hydration and family hello.
A sudden boost of energy came over me and I breezed through the next several kilometre's.  Around the 18K mark the hills started coming and I knew what I was in for.  I gathered my mental self and pushed and pushed ... and pushed!!!  Starting feel my blister and every muscle in my leg aching the run was getting tough!!  Up, down, up, down, those hills were relentless.  Up ahead I could see it.  The big one.  The hill everyone talks about ... I was approaching it quickly, oh no!!!

Up I went, about halfway I could not push anymore.  I had to stop, I had to walk!  All I could think about now was the finish line.  I knew my Dad was waiting there for me and I had to do this.  A minute of walking and I was on my way again.  Oh, was I happy when I hit the top!  Downhill from here baby!!!  26K done and I had four left to go.  I passed the "Grim Reaper" whom everyone talks about... not sure why, at that point I could have seen Brad Pitt and not cared in the least.  If my legs stopped one more time I would never finish this race.

I ran and ran... 27, 28, 29..... okay, one more .... give it all you got!!!   I powered in, probably my fasted split in the entire race.  My Dad was there waiting, taking pictures and screaming at me to "GO"... !!!
Down the ramp and in Copp's Coliseum , I crossed that finish line strong and in one piece!  I did it!!! I finished ATB and in a so much better time than I could have hoped for.

My plan as I said earlier was not to race this distance but just finish.  In my mind I was hoping for a finish time of 3:15, okay, maybe secretly around 3:10.  I ended up finishing in 2:55, a sub 3!!  AMAZING!!!

ATB was definitely going in my "good books".  It was a great day, a great race and I was happier than ever that I finished despite all my training set backs.

What a great feeling!  ATB, I am hooked!  Sign me up for next year :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

first race of 2013... done!

February 16th, 2013 marked the day for my first official road race of this year.  The MB half Marathon. Two days earlier I travelled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to get ready to run.  Two lofty days of shopping, dining and a relaxing pedi and I was all ready to go.

I didn't know too much about the Myrtle Beach marathon races other than they raise money for endangered animals and the course was pretty much as flat as it gets.  Luckily, having the two days in town beforehand gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with the course and attend the race expo.

The night before the race I ate my ritual race dinner and prepped my clothing, shoes, bib and nutrition.  I felt pretty good and hit the pillow pretty early. The alarm went off for 5 a.m. ~~ 6:30 a.m. race start :(
Unfortunately, I think the hustle and bustle of travel hit me that morning.  I woke up with a slight fever and feeling a little squeamish.  Hoping it would pass, I headed out to the shuttle and off to the race start.

By the second mile I knew this wasn't going to be good.  Still feeling sick and cramped I struggled to keep my pace.  At the first water station I decided to drink some water and that was possibly the biggest mistake I made.  The water tasted off, like it was held in the barrels for way too long... I don't take water with me so this was my only source of hydration and it WAS NOT GOOD.

I continued on, counting down each mile.  It seemed like the race went on forever and throughout, I still felt nauseous and weak.  I could not shake the feeling so I just tried to stay focused and run.

I was so happy to see the end coming up.  I desperately tried to do a 2K push but every time I would try to speed up I felt as though I may throw up so I just kept an even pace and prayed for the end.

I crossed the finish line at 1:57:14.  A PR by just seconds, but a PR is a PR, so I'll take it!

All finishers received a cute flip flop medal sporting the tiger mascot.

As a side note, the day after the race I noticed a small welt on the side of my neck.  When I returned home I paid the doctor a visit.  Initially, I was told it was a bug bite but after several more days of pain and increased swelling I went to get a second opinion.  Turns out I have Shingles... something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Two weeks after, I am still in pain and slightly fatigued.  Although, I know I should be resting I have more training to get done.

happy to be done and sitting down with my medal

All in all, I'm so happy that race is over and on to my next.... Around the Bay on March 24th.  I know its a long shot, but I'm really hoping to be fully recovered by then.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

one week 'til race day...

February 16th, 2013 will mark the date for my first race of 2013.  I am running the half (13.1) at the Myrtle Beach Marathon races.

Mother Nature has not been kind to me this training season.  I'm not feeling nearly as strong as I should, but then again, I didn't feel all that great at my last race and I ended up killing it!

I am stoked to get out of these brutal temps and into some warmer, not hot, weather.  Rain in the forecast is looming ... fingers crossed that changes as the week progress'.

Packing, playlist and a few taper runs are on the agenda for this week.  I fly out on Wednesday evening and will have two full days to enjoy Myrtle Beach before the race day.  My trip wraps up on Monday evening and I fly out at the crack of dawn Tuesday morning.... just in time to catch Maroon 5 playing in Toronto!!!

I'm excited about running but at the same time a little concerned with my shaky training.  Oh well, I will give it my all and see what happens.  Stay tuned for results and race pics!