Sunday, 5 October 2014

Ironman Motivation Letters

The night before the hubs and I left for Mont Tremblant, one of my best friends came over with her hubs to send me good wishes and give me a little gift.  They were coming to the race to cheer me on as well, but they would be coming a couple of days later.

The gift had some fun things like Pepto Bismol (for after the race), some Advil and glow sticks (for during the race), some candy, water, nail polish (to attempt to make my ugly fingers look pretty) and there were notes attached to all of them.

But she also had six separate envelopes all labeled for the separate days leading up to and after the race that I was to open on each individual day.  There was a seventh envelope for me to open when/if I was feeling stressed or needed a pick-me-up, but I can't find the picture I took of that one -- boo!

So before I begin writing my race day re-caps and my experiences at Mont Tremblant, I wanted to start with this photo gallery:

Each of one of these had an impact on me and I kept those quotes with me all day and thought back to each of them on race day.  I couldn't wait to open them every morning! Obviously the last one made me laugh out loud.  Take that, Chuck!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Stay Tuned

I've been told that I need to write a detailed race report when this is all over.  Yes, I've been training (like a madwoman) for this race.  Yes, I've obviously failed in writing about my training.  Honestly, if you read other bloggers that are training for an Ironman, then it's the same wash, rinse, repeat on my end.  But for all seven of you that (still??) follow me, then you probably already know about my training because you follow me on Daily Mile -- or you train with me anyway ;-)

So, once the race is done and I have consumed this:

Courtesy of my swim buddy

....and many others like it, then I will sit down and do my best at articulating what I hope to be a write up of a day where I rose to my potential, raced like I trained for the finish I want, and where I did my best to be amazing and not fuck it up.

I'm looking forward to a fun day and spending time with friends who mean the world to me and a husband who supports me no matter what I do.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Erie Marathon Race Report

I think it's pretty clear by now that I'm an inconsistent blogger.   My late race report this time around, though, isn't entirely my fault.  I'm totally throwing somebody else under the bus here because I've been waiting for her to upload photos so that I can steal them from her instead of from the official photographer Emoji

To be fair to her, she is a little busy training for her first Ironman in Florida which is coming up in just over three weeks.  She might be a touch preoccupied and stressing out just a teensy bit and I know that loading pictures so that I can steal a couple for my blog isn't exactly high on her list of priorities.  I forgive her.  But I'm digressing.

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, this hasn't been my most ideal marathon training session.  I've been dealing with lack of motivation and then injuries so marathon performance was going to be based on how I felt race day.  

Saturday morning we made our way down to Erie.  We went straight down to pick up our race kits and were immediately charmed with where we were going to be running.  It was a beautiful drive into Presque Isle Conservation Area.  (Found out while we were there that the Americans pronounce Isle like aisle not eel -- the French way).  

After making a couple of stops for lunch and "snacks," we went to check into our hotel.    We got ready for dinner and then had what is becoming a pre-race ritual "snack."

Laura, Sabrina, me and a Prosecco traveller.
Soon after we were off to dinner to meet the gang.  

WTF Crew
Dinner was delicious and we all left soon after so that we could rest up for race day.

I'm not the greatest sleeper at the best of times, and the two days leading up to the marathon were awful.  I woke up on the Sunday feeling pretty rough.  I was exhausted, which didn't help my frame of mind because I was still undecided about how I was going to run this race.  We were required to get into the campgrounds early because there is only one way into and out of the park and it was part of the race route so we were there at 5:30 and the marathon didn't begin until 7:00.  I also felt bad that the hubs and Laura came that early with me because they were doing the half and their race didn't start until 7:30.  That's an awful lot of waiting around.

Seeing that we had so much time on our hands, I curled up in the car and tried to get some more sleep.  It was at this point that I decided I wasn't going to try and BQ.  I honestly wasn't sure whether I even had it in me, but the possibility was always in the back of my mind.

Around 6:30 I went to join the bathroom line up which, of course, was very long.  I was cutting it a little too close for my liking to get to the start line so I ended up doing a brisk warm up to the start line once I was done.  I met up with Janine who had offered way back in May to pace me for this race.   She still agreed to stick by me, even though I warned her I might not be able to hang on to her pace.

After both the Canadian and American national anthems were played (huge Canadian contingent here), we were off.   I surprisingly felt really, really good.  I'm not sure where my energy came from (maybe that little nap in the car?), but I had absolutely no cardio issues on this run.  I'd been concerned about this because this whole training session my cardio has felt off.   Janine and I had decided that we would run a 5:45 pace for the first half and then try and pick it up for the back half if we were still feeling good.  

Just a couple of stolen photos with one while we were still running together.

Feeling really good at this point.

I lost Janine around the 16K mark when I needed to remove the Boston Strong wrist band that I actually wore around my ankle because it's too big for my wrist.  My right ankle/calf had started to bother me and I thought it was because of the band so I removed it and tucked it into my fuel belt.  Turns out that wasn't the case because that pain never really left me for the remainder of the race.  I lost at least a minute or two there because I couldn't quite get my laces to feel right after that and I kept trying to re-do them.  I had told Janine to go on without me and if I could catch up with her I would.  If not, I told her to keep running and have a strong race.  So I carried on, on my own, for what turned out to be the remainder of the run.  

This race is a complete double loop of the park so you would be passing the finish line area.  There were tons of spectators there and our own group of well-wishers so it was great to see everyone there.  The volunteers at this race are fabulous and many of the water stops were themed.  One of them was the Hallowe'en gang and they were completely decked out.  I passed them four times.  I don't know how??

Other than losing the minute or so earlier, I was on track at the half-way point to at least make an attempt for my 2015 BQ time (I move up an age group next year).  Soon after the half way point, maybe around the 26K mark, I started to feel my legs falling off the rails.  Part of this route is on concrete which I don't do well on.  I discovered this in 2008 when doing the NYC Marathon.    One of the other reasons, of course, for my falling apart is the lack of tempo and speed work this summer.  My body wasn't used to running that kind of pace for that duration so all I can say is that I was beyond happy that I held on for at least 26K.

The back half of the run was pretty quiet and lonely but the route is beautiful running along Lake Erie.  I was pleased to count only 4 people that were able to pass me on the second half of the run and I definitely passed more than 30.

The remainder of the run was focused on staying positive and continuing to run as strong a race as I could.  The legs were pretty cranky, but I reminded myself how happy I am when I run and that it would all be over soon enough and then I would have a nice long rest before I had to train again for anything of significance.   With 3K left to go, I told myself that I wasn't allowed to have anymore walk breaks.  Somehow, I managed to pick up the pace again and finish it off.

Not what I was aiming for, but I have absolutely no disappointment whatsoever with my finish time of 4:14:47.

I gave it everything I had and my legs felt like crap when I was done.  The first thing I did when I got back to the hotel room was ice my legs, my feet and did lots of stretching.   I'm not sure if it was because of that (or perhaps all the wine at dinner), but I have never had a faster recovery after a marathon as I did after this race.  I had only a little trouble with stairs.  I didn't need to do the two feet on one stair when going down and I didn't need to hang onto every imaginable surface to sit on a toilet.!

I am happy to report that everybody who did this race had a fantastic time.  Lots of PB's were accomplished and everyone wants to come back next year.  It is so well-organized and they love how many Canadians come down.  They also have a high percentage of people who qualify for Boston every year.  From their website:

"....we had the 2nd highest percentage (31%) of finishers qualifying to run the Boston Marathon in our 2013 race."

I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking to qualify.

The hubs (after his PB) and me.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Five Days to Erie Marathon

I can't believe it's only five days away.  I think I can safely say that this is the least confident I've been going into a marathon.  This hamstring injury has taken hold and it isn't letting go.  I think it loves me just a little too much because it's hanging on for dear life.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm going to drop down to the half.  I think they're all hoping I will because they're worried about me doing some serious damage.  I've considered that option, but to be honest, I don't want to at this point.  (I sound like a petulant child)  I've done all the training, put in all the long runs, and while they haven't been stellar, I got through them.  I've been smart (in my opinion only, of course) because I didn't do any speed or tempo work in efforts to prevent further aggravating the injury.  The hamstring doesn't feel worse, but it doesn't exactly feel great either.  Once this marathon is over, I am part of a Tough Mudder team two weeks later.  I know, not exactly the wisest decision I've ever made, but we are all doing this for fun and there are no time aspirations -- thank goodness!  I will probably do no running after the marathon in order to rest up for the Mudder.  Then there's a little relay trail run a week after that.  I have given this last race some serious thought and that is one that I will consider dropping out of if I feel that it will do more harm to my hamstring.

So while I understand why my friends think I should consider doing the half this weekend and I really do appreciate their concern, I will have a very long rest and recovery after the Tough Mudder and the Run for the Toad -- if I do that one at all.  There will be lots and lots of swimming, elliptical and biking in the interim (after some rest, I swear) before training for this happens in January.  

I'm not sure I will be able to run my way to a BQ on Sunday, but I'm not doing it for that anymore.   My lack of ability to run hard this summer has taken a toll on me, mentally, and it's made me feel less than adequate as an athlete.  I know what my accomplishments have been in the past two years and I won't let this injury diminish what I've been able to achieve.  This weekend is about the community of friends (some might say more like family) I have built in the many years since I became a runner.

I am the only one who places expectations on my results.  Quite simply, I love to run.  This weekend will be a success regardless of the result because I will be surrounded by an amazing group of individuals that I am proud to call my friends.

So, Erie, I hope you're ready for a bunch of Crazy Canucks coming your way!

How delightful that the weather is going to be "delightful."

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Let's Do It Again

Because I think this is the healthier version of a mid-life crisis, this is what I will be doing to celebrate the year I turn 50.

Until then, I have a marathon in less than two weeks, a Tough Mudder and then a relay trail run.  I will be taking a much-needed rest after this and will get back to serious Ironman training in January.  I will get in the pool sooner than that.  It's been a while and my swim is my weakness.  Any good swimmers out there?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Midsummer Night's 30K Run -- The Mind Rules the Body

This day started off with my second day of being at the CanFit Pro conference.  I started early on Friday morning and went until 3:00 Sunday.  I purposely registered myself for mostly lectures so that I would be ready to run 30K on Saturday night.  I couldn't help myself, but I did register for a TRX session on Friday night.  My arms were sore for days.

So Saturday morning on the train I sat like this the whole way:

I got to meet Brendan Brazier, the creator of the Vega Line.  Really great speaker and I loved both of his sessions that I took, but he was a little awkward in person.  He was offering one of his books for free but they were limited so I made sure I got back to the Expo quick.  Snagged the book and a photo op.

He's really tall and skinny, but, yes, I know I'm short.
Getting prepared for this race while being at a fitness conference all weekend was a bit of a challenge, given that I'd be there from early morning. I needed to make sure I had enough proper hydration and nutrition so  I made extra food for dinner Friday night so that I could put it in a container to take with me for lunch.  I also made plain quinoa as a pre-race fuel because I knew I would be hungry for something solid to eat before the race.

I hightailed it out of my last session of the day and got changed into my run gear.   It was going to be a hot night for a run.  I just can't catch a break with this weather!  I'm really, really hoping Erie will be cooler.  I was meeting my group at the ferry dock for 3:15.  I walked over from the convention centre and was met with lines and lines of people waiting to either buy tickets for the ferry or waiting to get on the ferry.  Luckily we had our tickets included with our race kit.

It was a bit of a gong show meeting up with everyone and getting on the ferry, but once there we made our way over to the Franklin fountain to try to meet up with SamEmma, Nicole and other Daily Milers who were running this race.  There was no one that I recognized there so we headed over to the race site and found a shaded area to hang out till it was time to run.

On one of our many pit stops to the loo, I got to meet Marlene.  Super sweet and super fast lady!

After returning from one of my port-a-potty trips I find out that more than half the group went to get hotdogs because they were hungry.  Ugh!  Some were smart (??) and only ate half a hotdog.   A couple, like my husband, ate a whole one and paid for it during the run.  Hello, Mr. Firefighter?  Can I borrow the fire station toilet?  Just ignore the noises, please.  Yeah, nice one, honey!  We're not allowed on Centre Island anymore.

So, after a hideously long line up to check our bags, I went to another long line up -- the one to start the race.  Why, oh why, did I sign up for the 30K?  Everybody else was doing the 15.  Damn  me and doing an early marathon!

I did get a chance to see Sam and Emma while I was waiting for the race to start and chatted with them for a bit before the gun went off.  I wished them both a great race and lined up.   Since the race this year was on the island because of construction issues in Toronto, it was a pretty narrow start on the path.  Pace Fairies were all pretty close to each other and it took a while before there was any semblance of control.

I've been injured lately (there, I've finally admitted it) so I decided that this was going to be a run to get it done.  I knew I needed to keep my hamstring/glute/hip flexor relatively happy if I had any chance of finishing up this whole training session.  I placed myself between the 3:15 and 3:30 pacers because I wasn't sure how this was going to go.  The first few kilometres were too fast.  I was running sub 6:00s and I knew that it would probably come back to bite me in the ass if I kept up that pace.  So I did a lot of running by feel, but also needed to look down at my Garmin every once in a while to make sure I wasn't going too fast.  I had to keep forcing myself to slow down.  I knew I felt okay, but I could begin to feel the hamstring pulling and I didn't want to aggravate it.

The worst part of this race was having to battle all the bikes, quad bikes, walkers (not those in the race) and generally oblivious people that there was a race going on.   I think the race director should have made up a bunch of signs and placed them around the islands letting people know that there would be a race in progress.  I actually saw a runner collide with a cyclist in front of me.  Luckily they were both okay, but they were both shaken up over the collision.

So the leg was pretty good for about 10K and then I could feel it starting to get really tight.  I knew this would be a bit of a battle and would be a mind over matter situation.  And it was conveniently the theme of their race shirts so I had lots of reminders.   Speaking of, it was 90 degrees out there.  Who wears long sleeve shirts to race in that kind of weather?

Anyway, I'm making a short story very long.  I didn't actually mind the boardwalk area, unlike many others.  It just felt like a long stretch and their 28K marker along the boardwalk was actually at 27.5 so that played with my head for the last kilometre which seemed like a freaking marathon away.  This was when my race mantra of "the mind rules the body" went into overdrive.

I wasn't thrilled with the grassy areas, especially when the last kilometre was all grass.  Thank goodness that it wasn't completely pitch black when I was coming into the finish because the neon shirts the volunteers were wearing helped me sight to the end.

I think this is the only race I've ever done where my Garmin was bang on with the distance.  As soon as I hit the mat, my Garmin registered 30K.  I'll give the race directors an A+ for that, but I know a couple people took some short detours because of all the loops.  I'm glad I didn't.  I don't think my leg wanted to do more than what was required of it.  I was grateful for the cheering of the hubs with 200m to go and my friends cheering me on at the finish.

(The only decent photo and my results):


But all I wanted to do when I got my aluminum water bottle (they're getting smaller and smaller every year) and medal (still awesome) at the finish line was throw up.  I'm not sure why but it was pretty overwhelming.  I managed to keep it down and walked over to where the gang were sitting in the beer tent.  No one saved me any, the bastards!  I'm not sure I would have been able to keep it down anyway.

This is where I found Kenny and I finally got my Boston band that I won in his giveaway.  Yay!!  Thank you so much, I love it!

Skinny wrists means it goes on the ankle
After I managed to get changed we all wanted to head home.  That's when we found out the delay for the ferry back to Toronto was 1.5 to 2 hours.  No way.  I was getting wave after wave of nausea and I knew I wouldn't make it.  We heard about the water taxi and that it was $10 per person so we all decided we were willing to pay the price.  Twenty minutes later we were on a boat back to the mainland.  Best money spent.  Oddly, the boat ride back settled my stomach.  No idea why, but once again I'm grateful.

So, will I do this race next year if it's on the island?  Not likely.  Getting on and off the island was inconvenient, especially since we're a 45 minute drive away.  Dodging bikes, walkers, children and dogs was bordering on dangerous, and the route became tedious for those doing the 30K when you had to cover the same area three times.  I love this race, especially when you get sweet medals and shirts like this:

But I may reconsider if they bring it back to its original location.  Will I do the 30K again?  Again, not likely because I don't plan on doing another early marathon.  I like the 15K distance, especially when it's a late afternoon/early evening race start.

Plus, I may be doing a very different kind of race the same weekend as this next year, but I haven't decided just quite yet.  I'll need to make a decision very, very soon because it WILL sell out.

Please stay tuned........

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Mind is Ready

But the body is not.

After a couple of months of being unenthused about training for my next marathon, I'm beginning to get that excited feeling of training again.  Unfortunately, my body isn't exactly on the same page as my mind.  I've been struggling with some nagging pains -- I won't say injuries -- in my left hamstring, hip flexor and my left arm.  The arm has since resolved itself with some rest.

I was ready to start pushing those running paces again, but I decided it would be wise to lay off on any speed and tempo runs for a couple of weeks.   Things were beginning to feel a little better, so I went for a semi-speed session last week after my self-imposed rest just to try out the legs.  Well, I was one hurting unit after that attempt.   So without further procrastination, I made an appointment to see my ART guy, aka Dr. Pain.  After two visits, the hamstring is much better.  The hip flexor is going to take some work, but he hasn't said I can't run.

He even encouraged trail running.  Good thing because we went up to Paris for the Run for the Toad training run this past weekend.   I expected some hard climbs, but there was a continuous stream of non-stop hills right from the start. Tough day but amazing fun.  It was a really well-organized event and a great course with some awesome views.  I was signed up to do the two loops of 12.5K but the downhills were beginning to aggravate the hip flexor so I only did part of the second loop and called it a day at 16.5.  16.5K of tough trail running is equivalent to the 30K road running I was supposed to do for the weekend, right?

The gang that came out for the Run for the Toad practice run:

Worst hill.  Felt like I was climbing a wall.

So after a couple of ART visits and some very intimate time with my foam roller and little blue ball being massaged into my hip flexor, I will go for a tempo run tomorrow and hope that there's no residual pain.

I am eager to train hard again and I only have six-and-a-half weeks before my marathon.  I've had to think hard about my goals for September's marathon and this setback may dictate what I do.  I've been pondering dropping down to the half marathon, but I haven't made a firm decision yet.  I have some long runs coming up and the Midsummer Night's 30K mid-August.   How I decide to run the Erie Marathon may be a race-day decision.

All I know is that I'm happy to have the fire in my belly again.  While I'd like to say that it doesn't matter to me if I decide I can't go for my BQ in September, the reality is that that isn't entirely true.  It would be the icing on the cake and a validation that I only seek for myself.  But in the end, what does really matter to me is the fact that I have the ability to run and that the exhilaration of running has returned.  All it took was a little irritation in my body to remind me how very lucky I am that I get to run.