Saturday, December 10, 2016

JFK 50 Miler: My very first DNF.

Saturday, November 19, 2016 .... race day.... not my day.
Lets back up a day.
Friday. I drove the whole way down (8ish hour drive) in one day. I weighed the pros and cons and decided that sleeping in my own bed two nights before the race and saving the cost of a hotel room outweighed the con of driving for so long... next time, I might rethink this. I think sitting in a car would be OK, but not being the driver. I'm not sure if this actually affected anything or not, but it's something to think about for future trips. We did stop for a while for a bit of a walk and then lunch, which was good, but it was still a lot of driving for one day when racing the next.

Pre-race was not the greatest... got into the car slightly later than planned, but still should have had plenty of time to get to the race.... but I didn't know it would be SOOOOO DARK! We missed a couple of turns, so it took slightly longer to get there than it would have if we could actually see. Then parking was fun.... but got a spot, didn't care how far it was.... got to the school, checked my bag, hit the washroom, and then headed to the start.

Walking to the start, suddenly there were people running past us. I was a little confused by this, but then Andrea checked the time and it was 2 minutes to start time! So, we started running as well. Got to the start while the anthem was being sung. Phew, didn't miss the start.... got into the start area.. further back than I realized we were... and then the race started, which was less than ideal, being in  a spot that was not where we should have been, but after we got in front of some others, it was open road and all was well. (for now)

The first section (road with some climbing) was decent, as it should be... it's road and it's early.
When we hit the AT, I was super happy to start running in the trails and felt great, although once the rocky sections started, I soon discovered that my shoe choice was not a great one. I could feel everything through them. I ended up being a little cautious in there, which was frustrating because I normally love running trail. I got back into a relatively OK groove of some sort when I managed to clip my toe and suddenly I was down... directly on another rock. Bruised palm of my left hand, banged up, cut, and bruised knee. I walked a bit and then tried to run again, and it wasn't too bad, but I no longer trusted myself on the rocks and ended up mostly walking any of the very rocky sections and only running when it was more dirt or sparse rocks. I fell around mile 12, so I only had a few miles until I was off the AT and was about to start the C&O Canal towpath.

The knee was quite sore with any real bending, but I figured I would see how it felt on the flat section of the course. The towpath started out not too bad, but I knew I was going slower than I wanted to... I tried to pick it up a little.. just to make it a slightly more respectable pace and I was moving fine... until around mile 21 when my hip started to hurt. I guess I had altered my gait without realizing it and now I was paying the price. I took a bit of a walk break and then tried to make sure I was running normally, continuing to move forward, deciding I would get to 25 and reassess at that point. Once I was around 25, I decided to get to 30. When I went through the aid station right around 30 miles, I was informed that the next one was the Christmas aid station, so I decided that's where my day would end. I could hang out there and eat Christmas cookies while I waited to be picked up. I started running and maybe a half mile down the path, my hip was preventing me from running. I walked for a bit, then tried to run again and couldn't even run for a minute before walking again... so, I figured I'd be walking the next 4 miles or so... but then a runner who I had talked to briefly earlier caught up to me and struck up a conversation. I let him know that I was going to stop at the next aid station, but I started running again at that point, and ran with him until we got there. The distraction of conversation was enough to get me there without having to stop again until the aid station. I thanked him and wished him luck in the remainder of his first 50 and I walked over to an official to let him know that I was dropping.

This was my first ever DNF. I'm disappointed, of course, but when I realized that at the pace I was going, that it would end being at least another 3 hours before I would finish, I knew stopping was the right decision. Running that much further would not have helped anything and I would likely have a nasty injury right now. Instead, I just had a bruised knee, hand, hip and pride. There will be many more races to run... and as I like to say.... future running is more important than running today.
Total mileage for the day... 34.4 miles. 6:22:12.

There were a few positives from JFK.
- It was a beautiful day while I was running and the weather didn't turn nasty until after I stopped.
- I got to watch Andrea finish in 8th place female.
- I have learned some lessons from running over half the course and I know a few things I would do differently next time. And there will be a next time. 
- I had a fun weekend away with a running buddy.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Two Marathons and a 5K

I was going to write a post for each race, but I don't feel like it, so..... here's three weeks of running all in one post.

Fall Colours Marathon - Sunday, October 9th, 2016.
I had no plans to run this one and didn't even have the thought of running it until maybe 3 days before the race. I had a 25ish mile run on the schedule, so it just seemed to make sense to jump into a marathon and have other people to run with and also have aid stations. I decided not to register until the morning of, though, in case I changed my mind or woke up not feeling well, etc.

Let's backtrack and give a little breakdown of the week. I'll do this for the other races in this post as well.

M - 7.5 miles easy pace.
T - 15x 1 min 5K effort w/ 1 min recovery jog. Total including warmup and cool-down: 8.5 miles.
W- 6.4 miles easy pace.
T - Workout with Steve. 3.5 mile tempo at 7:16/mi pace, which was right where I wanted to be, pace wise. It felt really good, smooth, almost easy. Total including warmup and cool-down 8.7 miles.
F - No run. Rest/driving day.
S - I ran from my sister's cottage to the nearest small town and back. 13.5 miles

Sunday - Fall Colours Marathon. 26.2 miles. As I mentioned, this was a last minute decision to run a marathon in Ottawa, while I was in the area for Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving). I decided that I should run it in a finish time of around 3:30 to 3:45. I started out nice and easy, feeling good. I looked down at my watch after a bit and was very surprised to see that the average pace so far was around 7:40/mi. It felt quite comfortable, so I didn't adjust and just kept running. I kept the effort feeling good, not pushing, and I surprised myself by finishing the marathon in a time of 3:24:04. It was a very small race, so I actually finished 2nd female and 4th overall. The course was a double out-and-back with several turns and was moderately hilly (nothing crazy, but not a "flat and fast" type course). My finish time is actually a new PR/PB for me, which I was not planning on, nor expecting, especially since I was going into this as a long run with aid stations, not a race. Needless to say, I was satisfied with the result. :)

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon - Sunday, October 16th, 2016.
This one, I WAS planning on running. :)

The week leading up to this planned marathon was a little different than the week leading up to the above marathon. I needed to recover and be ready to roll again... but I didn't want to slack off TOO much either... I decided no workouts.. just easy runs.

M -  5.6 flat miles around my parents' house. Felt a little stiff at first, but loosened up quickly and felt pretty good.
T - Super slow (ridiculously slow, really) 3.6 miles. Took this as a sign to take Wednesday off.
W - No run.
T - 5.4 miles with Steve and Payton, 8:47 ave pace. Felt normal. Phew. I was a little concerned after Tuesday, but all appeared to be well.
F - No run. I took the train into Toronto, worked, went to the race expo at lunch, worked some more, hung out with coworkers, then walked to my hotel, checked in, then walked again to go out for food.
S - Ran to the race start location just to get an idea for the next morning, then continued on to MEC where I did a bit of shopping. Walked around after that, went for breakfast, did more walking, etc. Turns out, I walked over 20K that day. I really have good marathon prep. :) (and I also apparently flip flop between miles and km)

Sunday - Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I ran to the start area, checked my bag, went to the hotel across the street to use the washroom, then headed toward the start area and did some more warming up inside my corral. I ran into some people that I know, which is always nice, so I had people to chat with before the start.

I was initially planning to run this one fairly hard, but then I randomly ran that other marathon last Sunday and unintentionally ran a PR, so I dialed back for this one and ran it more as a long run than a race. I walked through aid stations if I felt like it (and I did feel like it a lot because I was SO THIRSTY and wanted to actually drink, not just get a sip.. it was warm and humid and humidity seems to do that to me). I decided that taking it easy would end at by 35K and I would pick up the pace and run strong to the finish. Unfortunately, there was no 35km split in my results (I guess the mat/my chip didn't work when I passed over), so I don't know exactly how the 35-40K stretch went, but I do know that from 30km to the finish, I passed 199 runners, and in the last 2.2 km, 62. I don't take any joy in seeing others struggle, so I did offer words of encouragement as I could and as I felt appropriate, but it was definitely a confidence boost to run that last section at a quicker pace and feel strong. My official finish time was 3:35:31.

I don't have any photos from this race, but a guy from KW who introduced himself to me on the course did.... so, here's his tweet (with link to photo).

Fall Classic 5K - Sunday, October 23, 2016.
I registered for this one back in January. I do it every year because it was my first race back in 2006. The other reason I registered in January, was the series discount. :)

M - very short and slow run. I ran a whopping 1.83 miles and it took me 20 minutes.
T - Rest day. No time to run and a rest day made sense.
W - 4 miles easy pace.
T - a little under 7 miles with Steve, easy pace. It was raining, so it got super dark early and we didn't have headlamps, so we had to tread carefully in the trails on the way back.
F - 5 miles easy pace.
S - Not a fun run. I ran with Andrea (that part was good) and I was hoping to run 20-25 miles, but I needed to cut it short. I was feeling overall just not great... one of those days where your body just doesn't particularly want to run. I could deal with that, but then my right hip started tightening up around 7 miles. I stopped for a moment, did some stretching, etc, but it was still there.... it continued to bother me, so just before 9 miles, I decided that I needed to cut the run short and start heading home. After a bit I thought... I wonder if it's actually feeling like this because of running a long run slower than usual. I know I've had some other days where the body just gets angry if it's going at a not so normal pace... so I quickened my pace for a bit and the tightness/pain went away. But... at this point I was just a mile or two from my house and I still didn't feel great, so I was still quitting. I got in 16 miles.

Sunday - Fall Classic 5K.
I had very low expectations today.
When I started my warmup my legs felt like lead. I was running VERY slowly and could not seem to get the legs to go any quicker.. I hopped onto the track (the race started at a high school) and tried to stride the straights... I was getting down to half marathon pace... then closer to 5K pace, so things were feeling a bit better, but still slow since I was only maintaining those paces for 100m or less. I went back out onto the roads, and by the time I was finished my warmup, I was comfortably running a little over 8 min pace. Good... the legs seem to be working again. I ditched my extra clothes in my car, then headed back to the start area. I went inside for a bit, since it was still a little early.. then when I went back out, I was talking with a runner and just about to get into the starting area when the horn blew! Whoops! I thought I still had a few minutes! So... I jumped in, and got through the start, successfully and surprisingly not tripping over anyone or causing anyone else to trip. The race happened and was pretty uneventful, which I guess is a good thing. My km splits were the most even I have ever run in a 5K and I came out of it with a new PB! My finish time was 20:46, which is 30 seconds better than this race last year.

I really needed this today, after yesterday's run.

If you would have asked me before the race what I was expecting to run.... I honestly would have said 23+. I did NOT think my legs had sub-21 in them today, but I guess they did!
Total mileage for the day: 12.1.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Run for the Toad 50K Relay

A few months ago, I received a facebook message asking if I had any interest in being part of a relay team at the Run for the Toad 50K. I knew I had a wedding to attend that day, so I said that I wasn't sure if that would work out. After I checked the invitation, I noticed that the wedding was at 7pm, so there was no reason I could not be at the race in the morning, since it's only approximately a half hour drive from here. I agreed to be part of the team and it was determined that I would run either the 2nd or 3rd leg. As the day got closer, 3rd leg became mine.

Saturday, October 1st, 2016.

Got up, got ready, started driving. I was going to stop on the way and get coffee and a bagel, but decided to just drive straight there. I knew there was coffee at the race and I believed there was also something to eat.

I arrived at the entrance to the park in good time, but unfortunately, arrived around the same time as many others and had to sit in a long line of cars, waiting to get in and park. It took over 20 minutes from when I started my turn signal until I was parked. I had arrived in plenty of time, and Bryan had already picked up our teams' numbers and bags the day before, so all was well, but I did think about those behind me. I imagine they were a little stressed.

I walked over to the big event tent, grabbed a coffee and an apple fritter (breakfast of champions!) and talked to some people. Found the team members, saw Brendan off for the start of the race and then headed out for a short warmup with Bryan, who was running 2nd for the team.

Brendan finished the first leg in 3rd place, which was 1st of the open relay (There's a Team Canada vs Team USA that is separate).

Bryan started leg #2 and I headed back out for more of a warmup with Steve, who was spectating and also working at a booth in expo type area.

I tried to keep moving after my warmup so that I wouldn't get too cold before I was tagged in. It was chilly out, but I didn't want to have too much clothes on in case he suddenly came in and it was time to run. I had a long sleeved shirt with me, which really didn't keep me very warm at all, but I knew it was only going to be for a short time.

Bryan came in, tagged me, and off I went.... faster than 5K pace.... whoops! I noticed this before the first turn and slowed down, I have no idea what I was thinking... I obviously wasn't thinking at all. Brendan ran the first 5K with me (or mostly just ahead of me), which was great. It was good to have someone to follow/chase since the relay is spread out by this point, so all you have around you are 25K and 50K runners who are going much slower. It's just passing passing passing.... He jumped out when we got to 5K and I was on my own... trying not to slow down. My first km after he left concerned me because it was around 5:30! but then the next was 4:30ish, so I guess it was a slow section of the course, or I hit the button at the wrong time or whatever. I wanted the watch to show an average of around 8 min/mile, preferably slightly under, but I knew the watch wouldn't be overly accurate in the trails.

When I hit 9K, Brendan jumped back in. I wasn't expecting this, so it was a pleasant surprise! I finished up my leg and tagged in our final runner. I maintained our position from when Bryan was running, which was what I was hoping to do.

I did a short and very slow cool down when Derek was running and then walked with Brendan to find him on the course, and then headed to the finish area with the rest of the team. Derek crossed the line as the 3rd open relay team.

Here's how we did for our laps:

Brendan: 48:56
Bryan: 55:30
Me: 61:07
Derek: 51:11
Total time: 3:36:44

Friday, September 30, 2016


Here we are.... the last day of September 2016 and I've written zero blog posts all month. There is a reason for this.... I haven't raced. I know I don't have to race to write, but, it certainly makes it easier to think of something to write about! :)

After ENDURrun was over, I didn't really have any concrete race plans for the fall. My initial plan at the beginning of the year was to focus on a spring marathon, then the ENDURrun, and then a fall 50 miler.

With the anemia fun in the spring, I scrapped the marathon, which lead me to wonder if a fall ultra would even be a good idea. I decided to not make any decisions until late August, when I knew how my body had handled (and recovered from) a week of racing.

I took a very easy, low mileage week and then a week of more normal mileage, but no workouts, just easy running. Everything seemed to be going well, so I registered for JFK. From then until now, I've just been training (and working and regular life stuff, of course). There will be some races coming up, so there should be some blog posts coming as well... and they just might be slightly more interesting than this one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 7 - Marathon

The 2016 ENDURrun has come to an end. Sunday, August 14th, was the 7th and final stage: the marathon.

The race started and finished at the same park in Conestogo where it all began one week prior, but the course was not the same. The ENDURrun marathon course is a 21.1 km loop that takes you from Conestogo, through Bloomingdale, Kitchener and Waterloo, back to Conestogo, run twice.

I arrived at the park around 45 or so minutes before race start, stowed my bag under a picnic table, said hello to various runners and volunteers, signed in, got myself ready, and lined up at the start. I spoke with Mark McDonald about potentially running with him, Alexandra, and possibly a couple of other runners, who were looking to finish in around 3:30. My arbitrary A goal was 3:30, but I would be perfectly happy with 3:30-anything. I lined up near them, but when the race started, they seemed to shoot out from the line. I wanted to ease into this race, not crash and burn. I did not want to be pushing this early. I ran the first 4 km fairly easy and slowly got myself into the pace range that I wanted to be in for the bulk of the race. Around 10K into the race, I started passing a few people. From 13K on, I was on my own.

I crossed the half way point in 1:46:00. I was hoping to maintain the pace I was running as I crossed half for the second loop, but at around 24K I could feel painful blisters forming on a few of the toes on my right foot. I think my shoe had gotten wet from throwing water on myself at a couple of the water stops. These blisters were very difficult to ignore and I started playing mental games to get myself to the next water stop (they were placed every 3K) and then I would allow myself a very short break to grab a drink and to get a bit of relief from the blisters.

Around 30K, I felt like I was really slowing down and was thinking that this race was going to go downhill rather quickly, but by 34 or 35K, I no longer noticed the blisters and was back to running around or just under 5 min per km.

The final 3K of this marathon, I was feeling great and ran well under 5 min for each of them. As I ran up the final couple hills up Northfield and was about to turn the corner to the finish, I knew that I was going to be finishing under 3:35. My official time was 3:34:04. My second loop was 2:04 slower than my first, which isn't ideal, but is definitely not too shabby considering the giant puffy blisters I found on my feet when I removed my socks and shoes.

It was great to talk with everyone about their marathon, their week, their journey, to share a bit of pool time, socialize over eating much delicious food, and then to share in everyone's success at the awards ceremony. This year, there were 38 finishers of the Ultimate division of the ENDURrun. A group of 38 people who shared a journey of however many steps it takes to run 160km.

The overall win for the week went to Rob and Angela. Mark Meyers and myself placed second, and Kyle and Hunter placed third. The Rookie awards (fastest time by a first time finisher) went to Patrick Voo and Hunter Kelly.

Full Cumulative Results.

For the sixth year in a row, I have truly enjoyed this week of racing, cheering, socializing, and comradery. It truly is an event like no other.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 6 - 10K TT

Just like Monday, today's stage was a time trial, so the runners started a minute apart from slowest to fastest.

I was scheduled to start at 8:50 this morning, but wanted to get to Lloyd's around 7:30 to ensure I had a ride up to the start (it's a point to point race) and could leave my car at the finish. I was apparently excited and in a bit of a hurry to get there and I didn't realize it until I saw the police car sitting just off the side of the road and glanced down at my speedometer, that I was speeding (whoops!). I drove past the cop, and as expected... he pulled out.. on came the lights, and I pulled over. I got my very first speeding ticket ever. He asked me where I was headed and thought it was funny that I was on my way to a race... seemed appropriate.

So... after the interesting drive to Conestogo, I parked my car, put my bag in the backyard, and made my way into a car to get a ride to the start.

It was nice to watch people starting their race as I did a slight warm-up (it only totalled about a half mile, but I wanted to get the legs moving and a bit loosened up).

When it was my time to start, I headed over, waited until Lloyd counted me down, and I was off. Steve Schmidt was nice enough to come out this morning and ride his bike on the course. It worked out especially well when I no longer wanted to wear my hat. He took it from me and brought it to the finish. Thanks Steve!

I went into this race looking to finish around 45 minutes. My official finish time was 45:12. It was another super humid day today and I was absolutely drenched with sweat when I finished. At least I know I wasn't dehydrated!

This was BEFORE I went in the pool.
There were no changes today in the top three on either side. Now, with 117.8km down, we have one final stage to run tomorrow: the marathon. It's a two loop course, starting at the same park as last Sunday's half marathon, but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow!

Friday, August 12, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 5 - 16 Mile Alpine

Today's stage was what most consider the toughest stage of the ENDURrun: a sixteen mile (25.6km) race at Chicopee Ski Hill. The course consists of a 5.12km loop, each containing 3 long climbs, sections of single track trail, and some straight descents down the ski hill. This loop is run 5 times.

The weather was definitely less than ideal today. It was over 95% humidity and it was hot. Volunteers and spectators alike were kind enough to spray us down with water, hand us ice cubes, and dump water on our heads and backs. If it wasn't for all of these wonderful people, this could have been a pretty disastrous race.

Final stretch to the finish (Photo from H+P Twitter feed)
Times were slower for pretty much everyone this year (I'm not sure if anyone was quicker this year), due to the weather conditions.

My lap splits weren't great today, but ignoring the first lap, they weren't too horrible... I'm not sure what I was thinking on the first lap!
Lap 1: 30:08
Lap 2: 32:45
Lap 3: 33:04
Lap 4: 34:49
Lap 5: 34:56

Man that humidity made it a tough day.

I finished first female ultimate today, but only by 2:27. I have reduced the gap to an even 20:00 behind Angela.  On the men's side, Rob won the stage, and now has a 1:12:26 lead on Mark. Hunter and Kyle both remain in third.