Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sulphur Springs 25k race report 2014

I really, really wasn't sure I was going to make it to the start line of this race. The hip injury I got in the last 2k of the marathon has been lingering like a bad smell, leaving me really uncertain about how this would go. Even the day before I was debating with myself whether it was a good or a bad idea to run 25k in the woods, even though the plan was to run it easy and just have fun with the whole thing.

But I woke up feeling good, got my stuff organized, and headed out to meet my carpool to the start line. It was downright chilly out so we were all pretty bundled up as we got ourselves organized and prepared to start the race.
Photo via Kim. Pre race, bundled up and cold. Bridget (whose name I'm pretty sure I'm spelling wrong), Nicole, Sam, Kim, me!
Literally 5 minutes before the start time it felt like the temperature went up 10 degrees and we all started stripping off our outer layers. Fortunately since Kim was running the 10k she wasn't starting yet and was able to play sherpa for our stuff. Thanks, Kim! We would all have regretted the long sleeves about 3 minutes into the race if we'd kept them on.

Before I knew it we were off and running down a very very very very long hill. I tried not to think about how we would be running back up that hill twice (Sam kept claiming three times, but we all know what Sam's sense of direction is like, right? we figured she was probably thinking of one of the other giant hills on the route).

Nicole and I totally dorking out heading down the first hill. Free race photos meant we went full on #runnerd every time we spotted a photographer.

The field of runners quickly spread out and we settled into a good groove - mostly running, then walking the steeper uphills. Trail running is way too much fun, even when crossing what looked like a nice grassy field but was actually a well disguised lake. Soakers for everyone!
Ugh will you look at this hill...

OH SHIT PHOTOGRAPHER! FREAK OUT! That's better! Even if Sam is totally hogging the whole picture. NICE, Sam.
I won't recap the race in typical fashion - trail races are just different, especially when you are running for fun. Your GPS isn't trustworthy so if you don't know the course you don't really know how far along you are anyway, and this day wasn't about speed. It was about having fun.

Nicole: I'm taking a picture, everyone pretend to run for a second! Us: Can we stop yet?
And fun is what we had! Up steep hills, down steep hills, saying 'holy shit look at that' when spotting some gorgeous scenery, admiring the trail run aid stations (well stocked with both candy and toilet paper), saying fuck it lets walk for a minute when confronted with a particularly calf-busting climb.

I'm just going to leave this course elevation profile here. LULZ.
Did I mention there was just a little bit of mud?

I swear none of us are as princess-y as our high pitched screams every time we had to run across a muddy patch would suggest.
My lack of running since the marathon did really hit me at around 15k - clearly the grand total of 26 km I ran in the three weeks after the marathon wasn't ideal conditioning (although I have managed 100+ km on the bike, so it's not like I've been lying around eating bonbons) (I have also been lying around eating bonbons). Fortunately a caffeinated gel gave me a bit of a second wind, and overall the 25k wasn't as much of a struggle to finish as I had feared (helps that the course gives you a nice long downhill before the final epic climb to the finish).

This looks like an editorial in a running magazine. Possibly my favourite race picture ever. Although I will admit that right after we passed this photographer we were all 'well, we got some good pictures...and now we walk'.
It was a total blast, and weirdly my hip flexor thing feels better today than it did before the race, so maybe a 25k romp through the woods was what it needed? Hell if I know, I'm not going to question it right now.

Heading up the final hill to the finish. It's a really big hill. Really, really big.

After Sam & Bridgette TOTALLY DITCHED US, Nicole and I pretended to run up the hill to the finish.
Just one shot of Nicole and I heading for the finish together would have been nice here. Oh well, at least you can see her hand?
We finished in 2:50, which was fantastic. I had no goal going into this, but I think that's a pretty reasonable time given my extreme lack of training in the last couple of weeks.

It was a fabulous way to spend a morning, and I would definitely recommend Sulphur Springs. Just pure fun. It also makes a great choice for trail newbies, I think, because it isn't too technical but has lots of hills and scenery to keep you happy. Plus you get to cross paths with the 50 and 100 mile runners and admire how freaking crazy they are.

This does solidify my desire to do the Run for the Toad 25k this fall, and maybe check out a 5 peaks race over the summer. Trails are just such a great way to remind yourself about how fun running can be, and I want more of them! Plus there are miles and miles of the Bruce Trail near my house to explore. Can't wait.

Muddy shoes and medal. /artsy

Sunday, May 11, 2014

So now what?

So the big one is done (at least until I lose my mind and decide to run an ultra). Marathon. Done. Boom.

Now what do I do, other than annoy people with constant talk of how I ran a marathon? (I RAN A MARATHON! Want to see my medal?)

Short term

Goal 1: Recover. Fully recover. Take it easy until the end of May. Don't go doing anything stupid. Let the body heal up and relax. I did a short easy run this morning - first one since the race - and my quad strain seems to have healed up, but there's something unpleasant going on with my right knee (the one that was nagging me during the marathon). I'll try another easy run on Tuesday, and if it still feels weird I'll make a trip to physio this week to try and get a handle on what's going on there.

Gorgeous morning for a run, even with a wonky knee.
Goal 2: Diet stuff. This is not a food blog and likely never will be, but I do know that I can't eat the same quantities now as I was during peak training weeks. I'm going to keep an eye on my weight for the next little while, not because I care overly much about the specific number, but to make sure I've got my diet in line with my actual current energy needs. Expect a few photos of giant salads on my instagram. Also my husband got me a fancy blender for Mother's Day, so it's smoothie time.

There are a terrifying number of blades in this blender.
Goal 3: Assuming good physical recovery (possibly a major assumption considering how bad my leg felt today!), I'd like to see what sort of 5 and 10k times I might be able to lay down. I've got two races tentatively planned for June, and we'll see what happens:

Moon in June 5k: looking for a new PB at this one. Basically, get as close to 24 as I can. It's a PB friendly course, but it also starts at 9 pm, so it could be great, it could be a total horror show. I did run sub 25 here last year (and finished 3rd for my age group!), so I don't think the 9 pm start will be much of an issue. My husband has been suggesting he pace me, but his PB is 23 flat so I'm worried running with him would lead to my legs blowing up at around km 3.5. We will see.

MEC Burlington race 3 10k: Likely not an ideal course for a PB attempt (hello Northshore hills), but it's only $15 and why not.

I may run the Canada Day 5k again, I haven't decided. If I crap the bed at Moon in June I'll definitely run it, but if I hit a decent time I may not bother with Canada Day. I hate how part of the race is run on sand, and it always seems to be unbearably hot. Despite the fact it's my current 5k PB I can't say I love the race overly much, although I do like the Canada themed medals.

Medium term - the fall

Sub 1:50 half to qualify for an Around the Bay corral. I only have to take 1:19 off my Chilly Half time to hit this, so it feels a little wimpy to make that a main goal. So I guess the secondary goal for this fall is to get as far under 1:50 as I can manage.

The Believe bracelet was for the marathon (and it was helpful, several times during the race when things got tough I touched it to remind myself to believe I could do it). The Achieve bracelet is for my fall races.
The plan to get there involves a lot of hard work through July and August, and then two halfs in the fall. Most likely the Oakville half (where I hope to bag the sub 1:50) and then Road 2 Hope in November (where I will try and take 2-3 minutes off whatever time I get at Oakville). That gives me a nice long stretch in between the two halves so I can recovery properly and race both flat out.

Long term aka so when's the next marathon?

Yeah, so I definitely want to take a run (HA HA HA) at a sub 4 hour marathon. If I can get fast enough at the half distance before my next marathon training cycle, maybe even take aim at 3:50. However, marathon training takes a shitton of time, and I'm not sure when I'll be mentally prepared to tackle that again, or when I'll be comfortable having my family's life revolve around my training again. Maybe next spring, but maybe not. Lots of time to make that decision.

Blog plan

Since I know y'all wait with baited breath for my next 2000+ word post. I'll post race reports for the various things I have going on, and then start doing weekly training updates again at the beginning of July. Or whenever I feel like I have stuff to say (which, let's face it, is likely to be soon. One thing I miss about teaching is the captive audience who had to listen to me Tell Them Things. I do enjoy telling people things).

So, what's on the schedule for everyone else? I could totally be talked into other races for the fall. Like, say, the Run for the Toad, if anyone else wants to do it?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mississauga Marathon 2014: Post race

A random assortment of post race stuff. If you somehow missed the epic race recap it's here.

My poor knees! My legs felt surprisingly good Sunday afternoon/Monday, but my knees, yikes. I was starting to think the 'running will ruin your knees' contingent were right all along. But by Monday afternoon they were significantly better, and they now feel normal again.

Assorted ice packs to give the knees some love.
Monday afternoon was when my quads joined the party with some lovely DOMS. It was definitely a fun couple of days of dreading stairs. Although this, surprisingly, wasn't my worst post-race recovery - that honour goes to the first time I did Around the Bay, didn't train enough for the race, and then couldn't walk for three days. With this one I wasn't moving real fast, but walking felt OK. If the zombie apocalypse had happened Monday morning I could have escaped the shamblers, but fast zombies would have caught me no problem.

Monday I came home from work to find a surprise in my mailbox. Thank you Amy! Slapped that sucker right on the car (after I worked up the energy to tackle the stairs outside the front door. stupid stairs).

Yes, I'm one of Those People. I earned that sticker, damn it.

And my TRX trainer brought my flowers! How sweet is she! Especially considering I haven't been to class in over a month, what with tapering and such. I'll be back, it's almost tank top time and the guns need some love.

So the photo company for the race has a page with infographic type stuff, including some statistics. Nothing too exciting except for this:

You can find this by clicking the 'photo' link on your sportstats results page and then choosing 'more stats'.
Since there was no timing mat with 5k to go I assume they are calculating that based on the last timing mat at 25k. The numbers make sense to me if they are talking about the final 17k - we passed a lot of people in the late stages of the race, and I don't remember being passed more than a couple of times. I'm rather pleased with this; even though we ran a massive positive split (our second half was six minutes slower than our first, yikes), the course past 25k was really tough thanks to that wind. I remember a lot of people really struggling and doing the death march as we got past 30k, and I had to ignore them to avoid getting sucked in. I've been a death marcher at Around the Bay, it's no fun.

Also, one of the three people who 'passed' me in the last 17k? AMY. All our splits through the entire race were identical except somehow she hit the timing mats at the end a tenth of a second before I did. Sneaky, Amy, very sneaky.

Amy up to no good, clearly sneaking across the finish ahead of me. I'M ON TO YOU.

Looking at my finish line pictures tells another story. Note the guy in white:

I managed to nip him at the end and finish ahead of him. And possibly wrecked his finish line photos (hopefully he got a few without me being all ME! YAY ME! in them).
Again Amy and I with the freakishly synced up form.

So what's next. Still resting and recovering. That ache that developed in my right thigh during the last 2k of the race is still there. Getting better, but it's worrying me a bit. Considering heading off to the doctor to rule out a stress fracture if it doesn't resolve in the next couple of days - the symptoms don't really fit (my Dr. Google degree suggests it's more likely a mild muscle strain, along the same lines as what I had in my calf pre-Chilly half), but after what happened to Krista Duchene I kind of don't want to take any chances! I definitely won't be doing any running until my leg feels 100%. I got my bike out and cleaned up tonight, so if biking doesn't aggravate whatever is up with my leg and the weather cooperates, I might try some easy rides over the next few days.

Big Red is ready to roll (obvious bike name is obvious)
I also find myself doing a whole foods/clean eating sort of thing right now. It wasn't a deliberate choice, but after the heavy carb load before the race I am carbed out, man. It's been all salads and protein and good fats since the race, and I'm going to stick with that for a while since it does feel better to eat that way. I'm also supplementing calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin C for recovery purposes.

Big lunch salad.

What's next? I'm signed up to run Sulphur Springs in a few weeks, but that will be a run for fun and not a race per se. And I have the Ride for Heart 75k at the beginning of June, again for fun. After that, not sure. Kind of depends on this leg thing, so I don't want to make any plans until I know what's going on there. Once that's settled it'll be time to start thinking about short term race goals for June, and then the fall and fall goals. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mississauga Marathon 2014 Race Report

Note: This is long, even for me. I wrote this mostly for myself - you only get one first marathon and I wanted something I could re-read in the future to remind myself of all the little details. If you actually read the whole thing, you definitely deserve a prize (not that I'm offering any. You'll have to supply your own).


“The farther I run, the better it feels when I stop.”

Non-runners have occasionally asked me why, why the longer distances? What possesses a person to decide to run for hours on end? I’m only half joking when I give them the above answer.

Sunday May 4th was my longest run ever, and my first marathon. How would it feel to finish that kind of distance? Could I even finish that kind of distance?

Saturday night I got to sleep surprisingly easily, although I did wake up at 2:30 in a panic about missing my alarm. Then I laid in bed wide awake for what felt like about 20 minutes and then my alarm really did go off at 4:30, so obviously I did sleep again somewhere in there. I made myself a big mug of tea, pounded back a large glass of Gatorade, and ate an English muffin with butter. I followed a fairly aggressive carb loading/hydration plan in the three days leading up to the race, so I wasn't too worried about eating a huge amount the morning of the race (plus I knew I would have a nervous stomach and probably have trouble eating much anyway).

Flat Emma ready to go.
After the very important bathroom trips (runners know what I’m talking about) (poop. I'm talking about poop.), I got on the road a tad earlier than I’d originally planned and was off to Mississauga, where I immediately managed to turn the wrong way off the QEW. I am Smart.  Eventually I got turned back around and found my way to the community center parking, got my stuff organized, and hopped on the shuttle to the start line. I chatted with a lovely lady whose name I can’t remember who was running her first half marathon and was gratifyingly impressed by the fact I was running the full. I wish I could remember her name, I’d like to know how she did!

Met up with my brother, who was running the half, and hung around trying not to freeze to death. I started second guessing my clothing choices because the wind was COLD, but I hadn't brought any other options with me so was stuck with the tank top/arm warmer combo. I put my faith in the fact that Amy, who would be my running partner for the race, was also in a tank top, so at least we’d freeze to death together. I do tend to run hot so I figured we’d probably warm up after a few km. Hopefully.

Me and my brother bundled up and trying not to look like we're half frozen. Isn't it supposed to be May right now?
So, that wind. Yeah. I had been hoping this would be like Around the Bay, where the Weather Network was all 'HORRIBLE WIND!!!!!' and then there was pretty much nothing. Unfortunately as soon as I got on the QEW the wind almost immediately pushed my car sideways, so the Weather Network was right on the money for this one. Damn you Weather Network. I figured given the wind direction that we’d at least get some decent tailwind on certain portions of the course, but we were also clearly going to have to deal with a headwind at other points. Short of tracking down a mad scientist with a weather machine, we were just going to have to suck it up.
Daily Mile group pre-race. No mad scientists with weather machines, alas, although there were plenty of skirts. Photo via Patty, the shadow of the photographer is Paul. Thanks, Paul! Go read his blog to see his sweet superman outfit.
I ran this race largely without looking at my watch, which I’m getting increasingly comfortable with. It’s a bit of a cheat since Amy was keeping an eye on the pace, and of course when we passed the timing mats I could calculate roughly how we were doing. But still, this seems to work for me. If I run a km too fast at the beginning I’d kind of rather not know about it. So although I’ll include the splits in this report, I didn't know them at the time (for the most part).

Pre-race Marilyns hidden behind some trees. Not my best photography. I was a little distracted with the whole I'm about to run a marathon thing, OK?
Almost before I knew it it was time to make our way to the start corral. We moved about halfway up towards the start line and suddenly the race started (no Oh Canada? No Hazel? so confused!).

Pre-race selfie in the start corral! Still freezing our butts and arms off! Note how everyone else is wearing sweaters!
The first 5k


We settled into our pace fairly quickly – the very wide streets for the first few kms really help with a smooth start (although we still had to dodge around a few walkers. Every race with the walkers, what the hell). The race starts by heading west on Burnhamthorpe for the first 5k. The wind was a west wind. So, headwind right off the bat. YAY! I didn't think it felt too bad (I commented on that to Amy, and then immediately a massive gust of wind hit us in the face, so really I should just learn to shut the hell up). 

Some of our paces were a touch fast (we were planning something in the 5:50/5:55 range), but there’s some downhill in this section, plus race start excitement. By around 3k I commented to Amy that my feet had thawed out and my hands were starting to get warm. It was also becoming clear that I would need to take off my arm warmers at some point – I run hot and was glad I’d gone with the tank top!



On to Mississauga Road and through the U of T campus. Still feeling good, taking advantage of downhills to pick up a bit of time. No wind on this stretch that I can remember, but possibly it was a tail wind. I did notice around 6k that my right knee was feeling a bit twingy, which was concerning, but I ignored it because what other option did I have? Took a gel at 8k on schedule. This first 10k went by fast! And not just because of our paces, it just seemed to fly by.

I put my music on just after 10k – I’d put together a play list with just over 3 hours of music on it. I wanted to run the first 10k without and then use music to motivate me for the rest of the race.



The one significant hill in the first half of the course was no problem (after Around the Bay, it didn't even seem all that big). You can see by that 6:00 we slowed down for it – Amy and I have the same hill running philosophy I think, which is slow down and just focus on getting up it steadily, don’t try and maintain pace. I think we probably had a tailwind going down Mississauga Road after the hill, looking at those paces!

The short ponytail just doesn't swing as impressively as the longer one used to. Early in the race, feeling fantastic.
I spent quite a while in this section trying to determine if the rank BO I was smelling was coming from me. Frankly I'm still not entirely sure. Given that I only smelled it for a few kilometers it probably came from someone else? Maybe I should apologize to Amy just in case it was me. I swear I put on antiperspirant!

Just before 15k the full and the half marathon routes split. Not going to lie, I got a bit emotional as we approached the corner of Indian Road and most of the runners continued on straight for the half, and only we lucky few made the right turn onto the full route. “I’m not going to cry, it’ll screw up my breathing!” I thought. Amy said she had goosebumps. I asked a volunteer on the corner ‘why are we doing this?’.

Good times.



Just after 15k, shortly after we’d turned away from the half route, with the full force of the west wind smacking us in our faces, my playlist produced Hedley’s ‘Anything’. Even if I’d tried I don’t think I could have scripted that better. I was all HELL YEAH I CAN DO ANYTHING! WE ARE DOING THIS! It was good to have the motivation because the wind really sucked along this stretch.

I took my second gel at 16k. We worked our way west, still against the wind (have I mentioned the wind?), looking forward to the turn onto Southdown (and possibly getting out of the wind). Our pace was definitely slowed a bit by the wind (THERE WAS WIND). At this point we also started taking water from the water stations (roughly at every even numbered km), and walking maybe 5-10 seconds at each one to drink.



Onto Southdown and a TAILWIND! Which was fun. We crossed the 21.1k timing mat at 2:01:23 – this was one of those points where I knew we were running faster than planned, because even while running I can do the math on that one. But I was feeling good, legs good (knee still twingy, but not getting any worse), brain good, so I just let that information slide off my back and back into the universe. Wasn't even worried about it or thinking about the potential consequences or possibilities. During this section my arms were getting sweaty so I took off my arm warmers and looped them around my Spibelt.

Then we turned the corner at 23k and lost the tailwind. It became a decidedly unpleasant cross wind, and I occupied myself trying to spot friends running back the other way – we screamed encouragement at Nicole & Peter, waved to Patty & Robin, and I muttered angrily about how much I hate out and backs while the out portion is taking you away from the finish line. It’s demoralizing! We made the turnaround and were finally heading back towards the finish.

I....don't know what I'm doing here. 


Took a third gel at around 27k, which I really didn't want but figured I should force down. I believe this was also when I started grabbing Gatorade and water at each water station – I didn't always drink the Gatorade, probably about half the time I just swished and spat (reasoning behind that approach). The 28th & 29th km featured the worst headwind of the day. It was ugly. There were moments I wasn't entirely sure we were even still moving forward because of the force of the wind pushing back against us. If Amy and I were smarter we’d have traded off breaking the wind for each other, but I didn't think of it until just now while writing this. D’oh. Me no think good during races. Turning onto Orr road and getting out of the wind was a huge relief (and led to that 5:47 km!).



Km 31 included hills through the residential portion of the race, on Meadow Wood Road. I hated those hills. I’m not sure I can even adequately express how much I hated that kilometer. Oh, and the headwind was back, which made them EXTRA SUPER DUPER FUN (I believe I've mentioned the wind once or twice so far?). This was about when I started really focusing on just getting to the next water station, knowing I could walk for 10-20 seconds at each one and sort of pull myself together. My legs still felt fine (other than the still twingy knee), but my brain was definitely starting the check out process.

And then we turned to run through Jack Darling Park. We hadn't run this in training, which I now regret. Getting down to the lake was great, since it was downhill, but then the wind (yes, shockingly, more wind) was pretty nasty along the lake and there were disgusting bugs. As much as I enjoyed the view of the Toronto skyline in the distance, I could really have done without the bugs. Getting back up to Lakeshore was uphill and I was struggling. It felt so hard. Because we hadn't run this part on our training run, I didn't realize that the path back up to Lakeshore was really pretty short. I felt like the hill was going to go on forever. really, really, REALLY wanted to stop. A girl ahead of us did stop. I though about joining her. And then Amy gasped out ‘I’m not stopping, if I stop now I’ll never start again’ and I said YES. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

I was pretty freaking happy when the turn onto Lakeshore showed up a lot earlier than I was expecting it, and with it a water station and the chance to walk for a few seconds. I knew I should probably take another gel, but I could still taste the last one and I had the sense that my stomach would rebel if I tried to force it down, so I settled for drinking a few mouthfuls of Gatorade and hoping my carb load had been good enough to see me through to the end of the race. We took a pretty long walk break at the water station here, which I think is where that 6:36 came from.



The paces slowed, we were walking longer at each water station, but this part felt, strangely, better. Maybe knowing how close we were getting to the finish. Maybe because the wind seemed to have died off. Maybe knowing the hills were done (I didn't find the Lakeshore hills too bad – not as bad as those awful Meadow Wood hills, anyway). As every km ticked by I would calculate in my head how much longer there was left to run, and the number kept shrinking and I kept thinking I AM GOING TO DO THIS. Amy didn't say anything but I got the sense she was struggling a bit (she can confirm or deny!) so I tried to just keep us moving forward, staying slightly ahead of her so I could pull her along behind me.

There were about a billion photographers in the last 5k, and I don't think I have these in the right order, but I paid for the whole set so I might as well toss them in here. This is well before the finish because I'm still trying to look good for photos.
Shockingly, there was more headwind during the 38th km. Also, I think this is where I got a bug in my eye. Lovely. Nature is just the worst.

Still smiling for the photos. Sort of.
I kind of like how the Mississauga course winds around from 38k on – it was more engaging than just running straight. Spotting the familiar landmarks like the lighthouse, and looking for Amy’s husband and kids who she knew would be waiting for us I think at around 39k. It’s good to have something to distract you when you get close to the end of the race! My knee was still bothering me, but other than that my legs felt great. Tired of course, but still strong. And my brain seemed to be back on board with things, especially since we were down to about 12 minutes of running left.

Amy and I doing our best gum commercial impression. Just two friends out for a jog, chewing some Trident.


The last two km were rough. My right knee was hurting more, plus I started getting pain in my right thigh. Cripes, NOT NOW, stupid leg. Just keep running, I kept telling myself. Don’t think about stopping. 12 minutes to go. 10 minutes to go. 6 minutes to go. YOU CAN DO THIS.

I see you there, photographer. I ain't smiling any more until I see the goddamn finish line.
The crowd support along this section was great, especially as we came around the lake. Lots of people cheering us on, including Pranada in a tutu! We saw Amy’s family again, and her daughter yelled ‘go faster mommy, you are going too slow!’ which made me laugh. Not sure how Amy felt about it! Then I was really focused on scanning the crowds for my husband who was supposed to be meeting me at the finish. I was so focused I have to confess I completely missed seeing Phil and Elaine cheering for us!

Clearly Amy spotted them. I was far too focused on NOT DYING. Thank you Elaine for the pic!
Finally, the 42k sign! 200m left! Spotted my husband and that put a big smile on my face as we ran for the finish line. Well, spotting him and also the whole thing about almost being done. That may have been part of it.

Look how totally in sync we are. Sometimes I think Amy and I share a brain. Thank you Irina for the fantastic picture!
I see the finish! Almost done! OH MY GOD!
Time: 4:08:41 chip/4:10:49 gun
Overall place: 353/723
Gender place: 126/307
Category place: 41/86

There it is. 42.2 DONE.

This is what it feels like to get your first marathon medal:

That is how good it feels to stop running after a marathon.

Thank you Amy for running every step with me. Could not have done it without you. 
A few overall thoughts on the race. I love the Mississauga course, with the exception of the industrial section from about 22k to 28k or so. That part is kind of blah, although it is the one out and back spot on the course where you can spot your friends. The organization of the race is really well done, the baggage check was very efficient, and the shuttle buses back to the parking worked very well (although admittedly post-race they are probably the worst smelling buses in the world – cramming a bunch of sweaty runners onto a city bus, ewwwwww). Lots of great volunteers and I appreciated the aid stations every 2k, and how they consistently had Gatorade first, water second. I would definitely recommend this marathon to anyone considering it.
Outfits: adorable. And big congrats to Patty for her first sub 4 hour marathon! You can't quite tell in this picture how much I felt like I was about to fall right over. It's hilarious how quickly you go from a full out run to hardly even being able to walk.
I prepared well for this race. The carb load did its job, as far as I can tell, in that I never felt anything like a bonk even though I didn't take the 4th gel (I am very glad it wasn't hot out – that could have gotten really ugly). My legs were strong through the whole race; it was my brain that was busy objecting during various parts of the last 10-12k or so. And I have to give a huge thanks to all the great people who came out or stayed to watch us finish! I don’t think I've ever had so many race pictures before, thanks Irina and Phil and Elaine and Jenn and her husband all taking pics. And of course big thanks to Sam for staying after her half to cheer for us, and my husband for tolerating all the hours spent training and then taking care of the post race driving.

So will I run another one? I believe the first thing I said to Amy after our sweaty half falling down drunken sorority sister style hug at the finish was ‘I can’t believe people do this more than once’. But of course now I’m wondering how fast we would have gone if we hadn't had to deal with that headwind; how close we might have gotten to a 4 hour finish…hmmmmmmm….

So yeah, I’d say another marathon is probably in my future.

But before I think about that I'm just going to bask in the glow of this one for a while.

I ran a freakin' marathon!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Mississauga Marathon training: Pre-race

Oh boy, we are just about there. A few random pre-race musings and some race expo stuff below.

Let us have a moment of silence for swingy ponytail race pictures like this:
The ponytail action shot is a Sam specialty. Looks great when you can get it!

There will be no more for a while. Yep, got the hair cut off:
How do other people make selfies look easy? I took like 54 of them and they all look weird.

Sam told me I should be on Instagram, and I'm nothing if not susceptible to peer pressure (like, this whole 'run a marathon' thing). So hey, follow me on instagram! I'll keep the weird looking selfies to a minimum and probably mostly post #seenonmyrun pretty views and such. Expect many sunrises, pictures of the lake, and shots of running shoes and GPS watches.

And these, because they are a thing now. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.
I did a couple of short runs this week, just to keep the legs fresh for Sunday. The 6k I did on Wednesday was crazy. I don't think I've ever felt that strong or good on a run before. Magic of the taper? The hair dye seeped into my brain and made me high? Hell if I know, but I'll take it.

So, that's it. The training is done. Looking back, I think it went really well. The winter certainly had its share of challenges (UNDERSTATEMENT). Even with the constant horrible weather, I did almost every planned run, and the ones I missed were in retrospect sensible choices - aches and pains that were serious enough to make me take a step back for a day or two, get some physiotherapy, and get healed up quickly and back to training as soon as possible.

I made the decision early on that I wasn't going to worry about doing speedwork, but instead just focus on getting in the volume, getting my weekly mileage up, and getting in the training runs without injury. I think I accomplished that, and even without speedwork picked up new half marathon and 30k PBs during training. I'm particularly happy with that half marathon PB, which suggests some good things may be in store if I focus on the half for the fall. But that's getting ahead of myself.

Race Expo

The Mississauga race expo is OK - I assume because it's the same weekend as Goodlife a lot of the better vendors go to that expo instead. I was able to grab some assorted free samples, and the kit was pretty loaded with stuff too, which is always nice. I am a little disappointed the shirt isn't Under Armour like it was last year. Last year's shirt is one of my favourite t shirts. The new one is alright, I'll use it, but it's not as good.

Was a kind of thrilling moment walking up to the marathon table instead of the half marathon table!
Kit and samples.
No one go photoshopping your own version of my bib now, OK?
Race Plan.

Finish. Maybe I could set an aggressive goal for this race, but since this is my first marathon, I'm choosing to be a little cautious (or chicken. I prefer to think I'm being sensible). I want to get through this thing in one piece, basically. I don't know how my body and mind will react to the mysterious land beyond 30k, so as much as I'm feeling strong and fast right now, I'd like to start this thing cautiously and hopefully finish it strong. Amy and I will be starting out aiming for a 4:10 finish, and if we speed up in the back half of the race and finish faster, well, that would be fantastic.

And that's it. I'm excited to get this thing done!