Monday, June 30, 2014

Fall 2014 - Week 1

Hey hey! Back on a plan, goals ahead, races to run, etc etc. Lots of weird looking selfies and run recaps coming your way (I'm sure everyone is waiting eagerly for those).

As a quick reminder, the goal is a sub 1:50 half at Oakville, or, failing that, at Road 2 Hope. So that's a 5:12/km pace but I want to have a bit of a buffer in there so I'll be aiming for 5:09/5:10.

Monday: 9.5k easy. Normally Monday is a rest day, but I had to start my ragweed allergy shots blah blah blah boring details omitted so I got in an easy run before heading off to the doctor.

Suck it, ragweed.
Tuesday: Rest day.

Breakfast smoothies. We are going through SO much frozen fruit and raw spinach these days. Still need to find a non-revolting protein powder, though.
Wednesday: 8.5k with 2k at tempo. #5amrunclub because I was hoping to avoid the humidity, but somehow it was more humid at 5 than it was later in the day. #fail. I'd planned to do 4k at tempo but this run sucked balls so I called off the tempo after the first 2 (5:09, 5:12, for those playing along at home). Whatever, I do what I want. Flexibility, yo. Or something. Mostly I just hate humidity and it was CRAZY ASS HUMID. I'll take the 2k as a start.

This is where I was going to put a sweaty mid-run selfie, but they came out so badly that I think they might make people go blind, so here's a picture of a bunny instead.
Thursday: 10k easy. It was early, but not too hot, and I took a wrong turn and had to add on some random neighbourhood loops at the end to get the distance. Isn't that just the worst? When you need 700m to get to your goal distance for the day and you have to run around the block and suddenly your block is the LONGEST BLOCK EVER. That last 700m took longer than the whole first 9k, I swear.

Huh, so the slightly above your head selfie angle thing really does work.
Friday: 6k easy. Oh yeah, I am in training now. I was thinking 8 but couldn't get out for this one before the sun was fully up and it was all hot and humid (stupid summer), so I cut it a bit short. I may have mentioned once or twice that I'm not really fond of hot weather running. Trust me, it's going to come up again and again and again over the next two months.

Saturday: 50k bike ride. Actually closer to 60 but my watch went a bit nuts at the beginning of the ride and lost a few km. If your watch doesn't record it, does it really happen?

This picture makes me laugh. I have no idea why I'm staring off into the distance all DEADLY SERIOUS. Photo credit: Irina.
Anyway, Saturday was also my birthday, and what better way to kick off the party than my first ever group bike ride? Holy crap that was FUN. Like, seriously, ridiculously fun. Road bikers are making more and more sense to me. The miles just seemed to fly by - it felt more like riding 20 or 30k, not 50k. Big thanks to Irina and Zindine for organizing, and I hope they'll invite me along on a another ride soon (maybe once I get my road bike).

Kim has mad selfie taking skills, even if we did make the rest of the group wait for 5 minutes while we got this one perfect. With Nicole and SamPhoto via instagram.

Sunday: Planned a 20k trail run, but things went sideways almost immediately when my planned route was blocked off by a bigass locked gate. I regrouped and found another trail entrance but it didn't really get things started on the right note.

I did see deer, so that was kind of cool. Nature!
Then the trail itself was kind of boring (it was the Ray Lowes sidetrail on the Bruce Trail) until it got close to connecting to the regular Bruce Trail, but by that point I was kind of over things, and it was really hot and humid and every step was a step I'd have to run the other direction to get back to my car, and that was increasingly seemingly like a bad thing.

I need to come back and start with this section, way more fun stuff here than the sidetrail.
After consulting google maps and getting bitten by 4,000 mosquitoes, I decided to run back to the car on what looked like a minor local road, which turned out to be pretty pleasant (Old Guelph Road for the locals). It was just me and an occasional cyclist, pretty much, which made for a nice run, and it was fairly nicely shaded from the sun. Plus it was downhill. Until the end, when to get back to York it went uphill, then more uphill, then a little bit MORE uphill. Not ashamed to say I walked part of it. You do what you gotta do in the summer heat, pretty much.

Old Guelph Road. Nice and quiet, but HILLZ. The cyclists I saw climbing up looked like they were working pretty hard.
In total I managed almost 16k, which is fine with me given the temperature and the humidity.

So sweaty! But I found the Bruce Trail head office. So that's neat.
All in all, this week pretty much rocked. I had to shorten and change some things, but I like to ere on the side of being ambitious and then scale back if necessary, so I'm pretty pleased. 50+k on the bike, 50+k on the run, and my legs feel great, so I am happy. gotta be pleased with a 100k week.

The upcoming week figures some big excitement - my husband is home with the kids so I can bike commute at least once to work, which will help log a few more cycling km. Oh, and I might just be doing a few cycling km on my NEW ROAD BIKE which I am getting fitted for and bringing home in a few hours. Happy birthday to me!

Another photo from Irina. Hopefully Big Red won't be too upset when her little speedier sister comes home. She's been a terrific and reliable bike for me over the years (Rocky Mountain Whistler, for those who are into these sorts of things). I'll still use her for bike commuting, and at the rate kid #1 is growing these days Big Red will have a new rider sooner rather than later.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fall 2014 training: It's go time

Rise and shine!
So last week went really well. 75k total, with 50k of that spread over 5 runs, the rest in two bike rides (on the same day - I was traveling back and forth from volunteering at a MEC race), and I feel great. Ready to go. The legs feel good, hips feel fine, and my head is definitely in 'LET'S DO THIS THING!' mode. I had a particularly fantastic 16k partial trail run yesterday that I finished full of energy and all 'WOO! RUNNING! YAY!'. I think that's a sign that's it's time to start reintroducing some hard stuff.

This was a very good day on the Bruce Trail. That golden early morning light is pure magic.
I have a rough plan laid out for the next few months of training, but it should probably be labelled 'flexibility'. Every Sunday night I'm going to sit down, review how the week went, look at the upcoming week for things like nasty weather forecasts, heavy work days, days the kids will be away, and so on, and then I'll modify on the fly to best suit how I'm feeling and what's going on in my life. It's a pretty standard 4 week cycle - 3 weeks progressively harder/longer, 1 week recovery, except the first 'cycle' will be only 2 hard weeks just due to timing and not wanting to push too hard too fast. I'm starting with one tempo run a week as quality, and I'll add either intervals or hills at some point, depending on how I'm feeling. Tentatively I'm also planning to do all my Sunday runs on local trails, both because hello, trails are awesome, but also because trails are a lot easier on my body.

On my early morning trail run yesterday, I came around a corner to this clearing with this pond, and the ducks were quacking and birds were singing and it was one of those 'Wow the world is amazing' moments. Then I noticed there was a GIANT SLUG stuck on my right arm and the tranquility of the moment was ruined by the screaming and the 'OMG GET IT OFF' dance. Trails, always interesting.
This next week includes about 50k of running, including a tempo run for the first time in ages, and what will likely be a 50k group bike ride. The weather forecast looks decent enough (on the warmer side, though, which is only appropriate since it's summer - #5amrunclub is the only way to go, yo).

I'm really looking forward to that bike ride on Saturday - it'll be with a group of Daily Mile friends and should be fun. Especially the whole stopping at a coffee shop for treats halfway through thing. Do all cyclists do that on their long rides? Because AWESOME. I think the group ride should end up about 40k, but since I live only 4k from the meeting point I'll likely bike there rather than futzing about loading the bike into my car, so the ride will end up closer to 50 for me. Plus hopefully I'll get the chance to chat with Irina & Zindine about bikes, because it looks like a new bike is in my near future. And I have no idea where to even start with that process.

Fall 2014, let's do this thing!

Monday, June 16, 2014

In a holding pattern

Still keeping things easy right now. Although my hip has been feeling better, there's occasionally still a bit of twinging going on. Essentially every day I ask my legs, are you cool today? And I pay attention to the answer. Last week was the first since the marathon where all 5 days I wanted to run my legs said Yes, we're cool with that. But no speedwork or hard hills or tempo efforts until everything feels 100%. So while I'm not officially training for the fall yet, my thoughts are turning that way, and I think next week I should be comfortable starting an actual plan. With speed and tempo and all that good stuff. Oh, and I've started registering for races. Watch the sidebar (I have an irrational rule that I won't put a race on the sidebar until I've paid for it, which is why Road 2 Hope isn't up there yet even though I plan to do it).

From here.

I did end up with 70k total last week - 25k on the bike, 45k running. Highest running week since the marathon, with no ill effects, so that's a positive. Last year I kind of abandoned bike cross training because it just wasn't fun, but somehow this year the bike is really appealing. It might just be that I'm a lot more confident sharing the road with cars, which means I can ride more interesting places. Or maybe it's all those pushy triathletes tempting me to become a multi-sport athlete. They seem to have an awfully good time.

Here's some random photos to liven things up.

Back to 5 am run club, which at least comes with the bonus of sunrises.

Seeing the girls off on Patty's birthday run - I was cycling that day, which is why I look like even more of a giant than usual, since the cleats on my shoes make me taller. And the driveway slopes down.

Sweet rocky running on the Bruce trail. Love this stuff.

The mighty Saugeen River in Grey County. The husband and I are getting really into the idea of seeking out new running trails when we travel. Ottawa in August will be fun - we'll definitely be getting in at least one run while we are there.

Very high pedestrian bridge in Hanover, Ontario.

The latest addition to my running playlist:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

On bikes and enemies

As I find myself increasingly 'getting it' with cycling, I've been reading more about bikes and biking and such. And man do I ever want a road bike. Not in the budget at the moment, but someday...

At some point I stumbled across this very amusing video:

(check out some of their other videos, too - the Road Vs. Mountain bike rap battle is hysterical)

Unfortunately there's no How to be a Runner video in their series, because the road bike one got me thinking about who would be on the runner enemy list.

So far I have:
Walkers (especially the ones who line up at the front at races)
Nordic Walkers (why do they always stare like they've never seen a runner before?)
Pelotons (because of the one that almost ran me off the road on Northshore that one time)
Dogs (both the off-leash variety for being terrifying, and the on-leash variety whose owners don't clean up after them)
"You are going to ruin your knees" people (because shut up)

Who is on your enemy list?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Moon in June 5k Race Report 2014

I don't really have that much to say about this race. It was one of those ones where as soon the race started, things just didn't feel right. I found myself running half marathon pace instead of 5k pace for the middle three kilometers, and I didn't have the mental whatever to push it faster. Which is, probably, better anyway, since my injured leg is still bothering me a bit. Maybe this was just my brain's way of making sure I didn't do something stupid.

Chip time: 24:53
Overall place: 140/747
Gender place: 43/466
Age group place: 5/71

Still my third fastest 5k ever, so hey, not bad for a race where I don't think I really gave full effort. I still think I'm capable of running something closer to 24 than 25, but it just wasn't the right night or race. I might take another shot at Canada Day, or I might not. Haven't decided yet.

The race itself is a lot of fun. Great flat course, just big enough to be fun but not so big as to have a lot of hassles with crowds, and the after party at the Sound of Music (Kim Mitchell!) was very enjoyable (once we eventually found it - that was a bit confusing). Definitely a race I recommend, if you can manage the whole night race thing, which is not my favourite. Also I wish they gave out medals, just because I like the bling. My husband and I will probably plan to run it again next year as a date night (yes, running a race is our idea of a fun date. Runners, we're nuts).

A few scenes from the race:

Watching the kid race

Here comes the super speedy first place kids!

Start line selfie

Post race wandering down to the Sound of Music and the pier.

Post race party

Kim Mitchell is somewhere in the really bright white light. NOT playing Patio Lanterns yet (we left before he got to that song because we were hungry).

Skyway. The Burlington Waterfront is really pretty awesome.

Post race poutine, because YES PLEASE.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fall plans 2014

Boy it takes a long time to recover from a marathon. Yeesh. I mean, I was expecting it to take some time, but still. Although the DOMS faded quickly, my legs have felt generally shitty for the last few weeks for a bunch of different reasons - hip bursitis, something weird with my hip flexor, a quad strain, and on and on and on. And my sciatica has been acting up, which is always super fun.

I finally feel like I've turned the corner and I'm at about 98%, although it's possible I'm just delusional from the new DOMS from the Ride for Heart yesterday. In a fit of brilliance I scheduled my follow up with the sports doctor for this morning. "So, how are you feeling?" Well, everything is pretty sore but that's because of the 75k I rode on my bike yesterday, so good luck figuring out if there's anything still wrong with my hips! DUH. He rolled his eyes at me, checked my hips, and said I'm good to go as long as I take it easy for a few weeks, build slowly, and cut back if things hurt. So I'll be keeping things light and easy for next couple of weeks, will probably mix in some cycling, and a 5k race on Saturday but let's not talk about that right now shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Bikes: kind of fun. I may or may not have been looking at road bikes on Kijiji last night. 
Naturally, when doing less running, that gives me more time to think about the next training cycle. Which leads to goal setting and planning. I'm not officially training at this point, as I haven't registered for anything yet, and I want to see how I feel over the next week or so once my legs recover from the ride (my glutes are so not happy today).

In all the free time I had after the marathon, I replaced the backsplash in my kitchen, which I am insanely proud of so here, admire it. Amazing what you can find time to do when you aren't running 80k a week.
The main thing I'd like to achieve right now is a sub 1:50 half. I ran 1:51:19 at Chilly, so a sub 1:50 is definitely within reach.

September 6th: MEC Burlington 15k. This will essentially be a long tempo run; first 10k at half marathon pace, whatever I have left for the last 5k. If I can nail this, I'll be in great shape to go sub 1:50 at...

Sept 21st: Oakville half marathon. First shot at sub 1:50. I ran the 10k here last year, it's close to home, the course is largely flat and has lots of shade (important for a September half - sorry, Milton, your route is WAY too exposed for me). Have I mentioned how much I hate running in the heat? Good thing I've got a summer of training ahead of me!

Hopefully I hit the goal here and the rest of the fall is gravy. But if not...

Oct 4th: 25k Run for the Toad. I plan to take this race seriously - it won't just be a fun run (although I expect it to be pretty damn fun!). Assuming good health, I want to run it aggressively and see how it goes.

Nov 2nd: Road 2 Hope half marathon. There's enough time between races that I should be able to peak for this one and really bring my half PB down. Hopefully the 1:50 will be out of the way, so I can just take advantage of the net downhill and knock a few minutes off whatever I do in Oakville.

I have a few other things planned over the summer (maybe a trail race, the Colleen Lantz memorial run), but these are my four main goal races. I'll be running the Moon in June 5k on Saturday with zero expectations, but I will of course write a race report. 5ks always make for the best, most curse-laden race reports.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ride for Heart 2014

The Ride for Heart is a bit of a family tradition - my mom and brother have done it a few times, and then last year I joined them. I'm not hugely into cycling - running is definitely my first love - but it can be awfully fun to hop on a bike and cover 40, 50k in the time it would take to run just 20. It makes the Daily Mile weekly total much more impressive looking, anyway. Especially when one is recovering from a marathon and only running about 12k a week.

Oh, just a quick 40k on the bike, as one does.
Last year I made a major mistake with this ride. I assumed my body would react to long distance cycling the same way it does to long distance running. I do most of my morning runs fasted - I don't eat beforehand, because my stomach hates food first thing in the morning, and running kills my appetite anyway. I use gels on longer runs for quick hits of energy, but I almost never feel hungry while running, and usually for 2-3 hours after a long run my appetite is minimal.

So going into last year's 75k bike ride, I assumed I should approach it the same way. Long distance run is pretty much the same as a long distance ride, right?

(the faint sound of laughter you hear is probably the triathletes)

An hour into the 75k, I was STARVING. Ready to gnaw my own arm off. The Ride for Heart does have aid stations:

But absolutely everything at the stations is pure carbs. Apples, bananas, and fruit leather. I would have given $100 for a bacon and egg McMuffin, I swear. I wanted protein.

At any rate I survived the ride (with a bit of a headache and a desperate need for REAL FOOD by the end), but clearly my nutrition strategy was WAY WRONG. So this year I had a cheese bagel with cream cheese (CHEESE!) for breakfast, and brought along a few extra snacks to supplement the inevitable aid station fruit (I brought a protein bar and a handful of almonds - didn't end up eating the almonds, but the protein bar was very welcome).

(the above was mostly written for Nicole, who is also a runner cheating experimenting with cycling. Don't be like me, Nicole! Figure out how your body reacts to nutrition on the bike before your 80k granfondo!)

So, the ride itself. After figuring out how to get my bike into my car (not as hard as I was expecting, now that the kids are old enough I'm not working around carseats), I got my stuff organized and prepared to get up stupid early to drive to downtown Toronto and be ready to go for our 6 am start time. Even races don't start at flippin' 6 am. Endurance sports are so stupid.

I thought I had everything, then remembered I still needed my sunglasses, GPS watch, snacks, money for parking, etc. Cycling requires too much damn stuff.
But it was worth it, of course. A few photos I took along the way:

Once I finally figured out how to get the front wheel back on my bike (I don't use the quick release thing that often, OK?), it was time to head to the start.

Waiting at the start line, which is waaaaaaay off in the distance. Nothing but spandex and padded butts as far as you can see. Also, I find it hysterically funny for some reason to listen to the clunk-clunk-clunk of everyone clipping into their pedals.
Aid station
Heading back onto the DVP.

Photo break at the York Mills turn around

Now it's getting serious - the arm warmers are off. No idea what that dude in the background is doing, the sun was in my eyes and I couldn't see shit while I was taking this selfie.

Cyclists coming across the finish. The finish is always a bit of a clusterfuck for some reason, but the rest of the ride is so awesome I forgive them.

Bike traffic jam waiting to get the hell out of the finish area. They do need to figure out a better system for this.
My brother was smart enough to take off his helmet before this picture was taken. I still look like a mushroom. Cycling is SO DORKY.
One the greatest feelings in the world is taking off your cycling shoes. Or possibly that's just me, since I'm pretty sure my shoes are slightly too small. Basically this moment felt so good I had to document it.

I have three favourite parts of this ride:

1) The very beginning, where you are all HOLY SHIT I'M RIDING MY BIKE ON THE GARDINER!!! It's just flat out cool. Plus this year it was a clear day so we could see the CN tower, Skydome, etc (last year it was fogged in completely until later in the morning).

2) The DVP after the York Mills turnaround. The downhills are outrageously fun. There is one nasty climb, but the downhills totally make up for that.

3) The extra 8k or so the 75k riders get to do on the Gardiner, after the 50 and 25k riders have turned into Exhibition Place. You get the road largely to yourself, it's pretty flat, and you can just cruise along.

For anyone planning to do it, there are two problematic points (three if you count the finish). The first is the York Mills turn around aid station, which is always a bit of a disaster in terms of too many bikes in too small a space. But it's not as bad as the Bayview extension portion, which can be super crowded with very slow 25k riders. Especially the short steep climb to get back onto the DVP - the on ramp is really narrow, a lot of people struggle with the uphill, and two people almost stopped dead right in front of me and it was a bit of a hassle. I am - surprisingly - somewhat good at climbing hills on the bike, so having people creeeeeeeeep up the hills in front of me and being unable to pass them is really annoying.

But those are minor issues in what is otherwise a wonderful experience. If I do it again next year, I may just have to sneak in a third loop on the DVP, just to stretch out the experience a little longer...