Barrie Canada Day 10K

Another weekend, another race! I decided to join in the fun and enter the 10K at the Barrie Canada Day Race on… Canada Day!

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A late start (9:30) meant we didn’t have to rush out of the house at the crack of dawn, and thankfully it wasn’t going to be another sweltering day. It actually started to rain lightly shortly after we took the photo below (yay fellow racing running friends!) and subsequently poured during our warm-up.

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The 10K was made up of two out-and-back routes, sharing the first half with the 5K runners. We took off from the Spirit Catcher near Centennial Park and ran along the waterfront on a variety of surfaces from pavement to boardwalk and a couple of short detours on grass around construction. The course was a bit confusing at times and not very well marked or marshaled. I was able to follow the flow of traffic for the most part, but I did find out after that some runners detoured off the planned route. The good news is, my Garmin was agreeing exactly with the KM markers. Things that make me happy!🙂

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The pace felt hard right off the bat, as it generally does, but more in control as the first few kilometres ticked by. I was so paranoid of having another crash and burn scenario, so I was constantly doing systems checks and analyzing how I felt. Legs were good, breathing was good, so I just had to keep my head in check!

I felt way more relaxed after making the first turn-around and heading back toward the start/finish area. I knew the guys would be there waiting and it was a huge boost to get some big cheers as I ran by (note 4:44 split below!).

4:57, 5:00, 4:59, 4:56, 4:44

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The second half took us onto the crushed gravel North Shore Trail, which is one of my favourite places to run although I don’t get there enough. It was still raining off and on with some gusty winds at time, but the temperature felt great – especially after my last two sweat-fest races.

I felt very strong with a few KMs to go and knew I had my sub-50:00 in the bag and might even beat my Sporting Life 10K time from May (48:49). I had been leap-frogging with the young lad behind me in the photo above for most of the race, often lingering just behind him or feeling him just behind my shoulder. He finally blew by me at the second turn-around and I wasn’t able to catch up again, but keeping him in my sights ahead helped me hold on for the final stretch. I also knew I was chasing the 3rd place female but she had too much of a lead.

There were a few quick turns and a slippery bridge to cross to the finish line. I felt like I was flying and had a quick final kilometre to squeak in under that SL10K time. Couldn’t have been happier with how this race went!

4:58, 4:57, 4:55, 4:55, 4:40

48:44
4:53/KM
14/75 overall
4/34 females

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MEC Barrie Half Marathon

On June 25th we headed to Oro-Medonte to race the MEC Barrie Half Marathon. I originally hoped to target a 1:45, but re-adjusted after seeing the (hot, hot, hot) forecast. I ended up going to the race with an “A” goal of 1:50, realizing it was probably a stretch. At the very least, I hoped to beat my Chilly Half time of 1:55:23.

It was already warm and sunny by the 8am start on the old rail trail. It was a flat out-and-back route (my favourite!) on a crushed gravel path with a few road crossings that were marshaled, though open to traffic.

There were only 65 people running the half (5K and 10K started later) and we spread out quickly, so it was pretty lonely on the course. Even so, I kept finding myself stuck behind a guy running with a stroller which was slightly annoying only because he was making it look too easy.

I knew I wanted to keep a very controlled effort from the start and just ride it out for a few kilometres to see how it felt. I seemed to be hitting paces on target for ~1:50 but it was taking a bit more effort than I would have liked. That being said, sometimes it takes a while longer to settle in, so I kept plugging along.

KM 1 – 5: 5:17, 5:19, 5:17, 5:15, 5:18

It was getting a lot warmer and harder to keep pace as I got closer to the turn-around. I started wondering if the trail might have had a slight uphill grade on the way out. I was looking out for Mark and Andy coming back in the opposite direction, hoping someone would give me a sign that it was going to be easier on the way back… they did not.

KM 6 – 10: 5:07, 5:24 (gel), 5:23, 5:23, 5:16

It felt good to be running back toward the finish after making the turn, even if it wasn’t getting any easier. It was quite hot by this point and my short 10-step walks through the water stations were getting a bit longer each time as I drank a cup and dumped another over my head. I was hot, tired, slowing and just trying to distract myself by smiling and waving at runners who were still heading for the turn-around.

KM 11 – 15: 5:30, 5:26, 5:33, 5:29 (gel), 5:46

With 5K to go, I joined the flow of 10K runners and tried to find people to chase after. I was still getting progressively slower, but at least it kept me moving forward. Finally there was a noticeable (though slight) downhill for the final 2K. I found some energy to pick it up, even passing a few people. It was a nice surprise to see Andy waiting for me in the final KM, and he jumped in with me to give me a final push toward the finish. With a few hundred metres to go, he pointed out a girl up ahead and told me to catch her. After an audible “do I have to?” moan, I tore off and passed her.

KM 16 – 21: 5:36, 5:48, 6:00, 5:55, 5:16, 4:46

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1:54:14
31/65 overall
12/37 females

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those handsome lads behind me ran 1:34 and 1:29 to finish 9th & 5th overall, super impressive in the heat! all in all, a super day at the races!

Race for Plunkett 10K

Last night I took part in a local event, the Race for Plunkett 10K. I was originally hoping to come close to my Sporting Life time even though this course is not as friendly, since I wouldn’t be racing on post-marathon legs. But then I saw the forecast. We were treated to the hottest evening we’ve had all year – 28C (“feels like” 31) at race time. I had an “A” goal of sub-50:00 in mind, but I could tell during our warm-up that it was going to be pretty brutal for racing. That said, we were there for a good cause with good friends so I was ready to make the most of it and put in a solid effort.

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Luckily we cut our warm-up short because we made it back to the start line with just seconds to spare – for some reason they started the race 7 minutes early?!  Nancy, Greta Rhonda and I quickly hopped in line for the 10K, while friends Andy and Kirk hung back for the 5K which was starting (oddly) a couple minutes behind the 10K on the same course.

KM1 – 4:56

Okay, this doesn’t feel so bad. Sub-50 may not be completely out of reach. A few minor rollers here, slightly annoying when trying to run fast. There goes Andy flying past me, looking spry!

KM 2 – 5:03

I’m getting hot already. I hope they have a water station, I need to dump a cup on my head.

KM 3 – 5:14

Oh good, there’s a water table. Crap, both volunteers handed me gatorade… not going to dump that on my head. Took a warm, sticky sip before tossing it. Hit the first turn-around and on my way back to finish the first of two out-and-backs.

KM 4 – 5:13

Forget 50 minutes, this is impossible and I’m way too tired already. Just try not to tank. Trying to smile and wave at friends and other participants heading in the opposite direction.

KM 5 – 5:11

Those slightly annoying rollers are now extremely annoying. People are going to be watching at the half-way mark… try not to look as awful as I feel.

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KM 6 – 5:18

Really REALLY wishing I had signed up for the 5K instead. I probably wouldn’t have run any faster, but it would have been over by now.

KM 7 – 5:34

OMG I’m dying this sucks why why why. Greta catches and passes me looking strong. Maybe I will try to keep up. Nope, not happening. Finally made the final turn around and chug back toward the finish.

KM 8 – 5:43

F*ck it, I’m walking. 10 steps.

KM 9 – 5:33

It’s going to be over soon. Feeling really grateful that the course was clearly going to be a bit short.

KM 10 – 5:22 pace (700m) 

Why are these these rollers so much bigger this time?? Found a teeny bit of pep for the final stretch and finally heard everyone cheering. Got some awesome support from hubs, my sisters and good friends at the finish line as I tried not to puke or die.

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And, done. Phew!

51:30
16/63 overall
7/30 females

So, how was your race?

So, how was your race?

 
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Sporting Life 10K

On Sunday I ran my 7th Sporting Life 10K, after missing the last two years due to injuries. I was thrilled to get back to the start line of one of my favourite races, and one that is near to my heart. This year was particularly special because Nolan was running the entire 10K for the very first time, after crossing the finish line with his mom every year since his diagnosis 7 years ago. This kid and his family, who I am lucky to call my friends, are the definition of strength.

one of my favourite race pictures of all time - finishing the 10K with Nolan and his mom in 2012

one of my favourite race pictures/moments of all time – finishing the 10K with Nolan and his mom in 2012

I wasn’t expecting much out of my legs one week post-marathon and originally expected to finish somewhere around 55 minutes. After feeling pretty good in the days leading up to the race, I got pumped up while driving to the start with a couple of speedy friends and started to think I might be able to go for something closer to 50 minutes. The near-perfect running conditions would certainly help!

We did a short warm-up and I needed a quick last minute (literally) potty stop, which had me running to the start line with just seconds to spare. I was able to squeeze in near the front with Matt and Andy and knew I would need to be careful not to get swept up with the masses at the front of the pack.

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The legs felt nice and bouncy and I could tell it was going to be a great race. My splits were coming in a lot faster than I anticipated but my breathing was in control and it felt completely manageable, so I decided to let ‘er rip. Having the entire width of Yonge Street to ourselves and tearing downhill through midtown Toronto early on a Sunday morning will never get old. I was quickly reminded why this race is a favourite for its course as well as its cause.

4:53, 4:57, 4:55, 4:53, 4:51

The course flattens out and we also hit a bit of a wind tunnel heading west on Richmond after the turn at 7K. It was time to dig a little deeper to hold the pace, and I surprised myself by picking it up. Every turn was familiar and before long I could see the bridge crossing into Fort York for the finish. Glancing at my watch, I realized that I had a shot at sub-49:00 and kicked it up another notch.

4:51, 4:57, 4:50, 4:50, 4:36

48:49.5
2313/18688 overall
595/10896 females
111/1765 F30-34

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Another great day at the races!

GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon

It has been a long road to find my way back to the marathon distance. After spending most of 2014 and 2015 plagued by injuries and setbacks, unable to get any real traction beneath me, I was finally able to stay healthy and build some training momentum this year (simultaneously losing the 25 lbs I had gradually gained.. again). Many momentous runs left me feeling on top of the world, others chewed me up and spit me out. Along the way, slowly but surely, I found myself again. If there’s something positive to be said for starting over, it’s that you get to re-live the glory of all those milestone runs all over again.

Yay running!

Yay running!

In January, a marathon wasn’t on the table for me. By February, it was a possibility. In March, after Chilly Half, I knew I was going for it. Then in April, Around the Bay gave me the confidence boost I needed to settle on a time goal rather than “to finish.” My first sub-4:00 marathon is one of my fondest running memories and it was time to chase that particular milestone once again.

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Training Stats:
16 weeks
1054 KM
Biggest Week: 89 KM
30+KM long runs: 7 (3 x 30, 2 x 32, 34, 35)
Taper: 10 days – I’ve learned that minimal taper works best for me. I did one of my biggest long runs (34K) two weeks before the race and a 20K mid-week run with long race-pace intervals 11 days out.

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Throughout race week I was buzzing with that pre-marathon nervous/excited energy, while constant weather-checking and wardrobe decisions became a part-time job. I was happy that it was going to be cool and I didn’t mind the rain, but we were going to be dealing with some wind. Truth be told, though, I wasn’t all that worried about it and did a pretty good job of staying positive and focusing on what I could control – like buying my first pair of arm warmers.

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Finding the massive group of my fellow Rogue Runners before the start, many of whom weren’t even racing, set the tone for a great day. I was extremely happy to be one of the runners this year after being on the sidelines supporting and cheering for the last few.

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these are just the runners – we had at least 10 more people out to support us❤

With the nerves coming to a head, it was such a relief to get the show on the road and start running. I tried not to look at my garmin too much (especially since it was going a bit wonky in the city sections) but thankfully I seemed to be hitting my target 5:40/km pace comfortably – phew, it was time to settle in.

1-10K: 5:35, 5:40, 5:32, 5:35, 5:51, 5:58, 5:39, 5:36, 5:27, 5:31

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The first half of this course made it difficult for steady pacing with plenty of downhill and a few inclines. As planned, I took my time up the only significant climb of the course at Hoggs Hollow (5K) and cruised the downhills the best that I could without hitting the brakes too hard.

The headwind would come and go, in particular from the east, but it was never a bother and I enjoyed the gentle push from a tailwind when we had it. I was glad I had settled on the shorts/tank/arm warmers/glove combo and felt completely comfortable in terms of temperature. (Plus my ever-present KT tape a la McConnell method which is a precaution/security blanket at this point.)

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Truth be told, the first half was fairly uneventful which was just fine by me.

11K-half: 5:27, 5:42, 5:41, 5:27, 5:39, 5:30, 5:32, 5:36, 5:24, 5:37, 5:35

Half split: 1:58:45 (5:37/KM)

I hit a bit of a rough patch mentally shortly after the half, starting to over-analyze how I was feeling vs. how I thought I should be feeling and realizing that OMG I still had a long way to go. I was able to push those thoughts aside and focused instead on getting to 27-28K where I would run past the finish area and our awesome support crew would be waiting. Sure enough there was a long stretch where they were all spread out, standing out in the rain just to cheering us on. I was hit with a wave of emotion and got teary eyed at the level of support as well as a moment of “I am doing this!” I got such a great boost from seeing everyone (note 5:25 and 5:23 splits below).

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Half-30K: 5:25, 5:40, 5:29, 5:27, 5:29, 5:25, 5:23, 5:37, 5:33

There were just two “chunks” of race left – out to the turn-around at 35K and then back to the finish. I’m all about breaking it down into sections. Easy peasy, right?? Ha! Pace was holding mostly steady and it was feeling hard but doable. I knew the goal was in reach, but it was going to take some fight. It was fun to look out for speedy friends on their way back and I was so happy to see several including Kenny on his way to a strong finish. Unfortunately I soon recognized some familiar outfits up ahead and realized I was gaining on Nicole and Sam. I was sad that their race wasn’t going according to plan but totally brain farted and couldn’t think of anything to say as I passed – sorry, girls. Nicole shouted, “You’re doing it!” which made me smile big. Thank you!

31-35K: 5:47, 5:33, 5:45, 5:32, 5:33

35K split: 3:16:58 (5:37/KM)

A short loop around the marina and I finally hit the timing mats at 35K, changing direction to head back to the finish. And there it was: the wind. It was easily the strongest wind I have felt in a marathon and I knew it was going to take some real work from here on in. Nothing to do now but buckle down and get it done. I had those awesome cheer sections to look forward to and also knew that Kelly would be running back for me at some point. That was enough to keep me moving.

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this is my “into the wind” face

I stuck to walking strictly 20-30 seconds through every 1-2 water stations through the entire race, which had been working perfectly for me. During this section it was becoming tempting to extend the walks or sneak in extras, but I knew it would only be harder to get started again. I slowed slightly but still on track for my sub-4. My garmin was too far off from course markers to rely on so I was doing quick math (or at least attempting it) at each KM marker to ensure that it wasn’t slipping away. The distraction was good.

Sure enough, Kelly came bounding along just when I needed her most and in that moment, I knew I had it in the bag. I think the first word out of my mouth was an F-bomb, but she filled my ears with words of encouragement and told me about some of the awesome PBs and BQs that my fellow Rogues had achieved. She even tried to run in front of me to block the wind – it was laughable given her size, but much appreciated.🙂

I remember hitting the 41K mark and Kelly telling me that everyone was just up ahead. I was so tired but I had been looking forward to this for so many weeks and lapped it up. The whole team made that moment so special for me and I won’t soon forget it.

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36K-finish: 5:44, 5:59, 5:42, 5:41, 6:04, 5:32, 5:37

3:57:58
5:38/KM
657/1517 overall
174/574 females
30/79 F30-34

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