Friday, May 31, 2013

Sulphur Springs 25K Trail Race

Ancaster ON
BIB # 756
Official Time 3:22:49
Pace 8:07
Place 259/288
Gender Place 103/124
Category Place 42/49
Holy cow! How have I never done a trail race before? I had so much fun out at Dundas Valley Conservation Area on Saturday. I felt like I was running cross country in elementary school all over again. Except a lot farther. And with grown ups.  
I got to the park at 6:30am and waited and waited and waited for Marina and her friend Robyn to arrive. Ok, it was like 10 minutes, not the half hour that I make it sound like. I can be a little impatient. The girls finally got there, we went and got our race kits and hit the washrooms. Small races = zero line up for the bathrooms. I'm already loving this trail race thing! There were a number of distances being raced this day, 10K, 25K, 50K, 50 miles & 100 miles(Yowza!) but they didn't all start at the same time which was nice. Luckily we had the opportunity to find Robin who was out there to help pace her friend doing the 100 miler! As you can tell by Robin's jacket it was freezing out! We got a few quick pictures taken and then it was time to start.
Robyn, Marina, Me, George & Robin

I honestly had no idea what I was about to get myself into.
Freezing our butts off waiting for the race to start.
The race started off with a huge downhill, both steep and long. It was fun to run down but there were so many people you couldn't really get enough momentum to use it to your advantage. About halfway down everyone started to yell "runner" and shifted over to the left. 100 Mile Runner coming up? What? This better not mean that we have to run back up this thing! That'll be crazy! Best to put it out of my mind! We lost Robyn fairly quickly at the start but were able to recollect her when Marina had to stop to take her inhaler. We lost and found Robyn a lot during the race.
The first portion of this run was a 5K spur off of the main 20K loop so we broke free from the 10K & 50K runners fairly quickly which meant there was now more room to move which was nice because there were massive piles of horse crap everywhere that we had to dodge and weave. There was nothing in the participants guide about horse shit let me tell you! Good thing that I wore old shoes. We ran at a reasonable pace and spent the entire time talking and laughing. At the turn around portion of the spur the course marshal told us that we were having far too much fun. Sorry!! Time passed by quickly and all of a sudden we were back at THE hill. Crap! We did have to go back up it. We decided to walk up the hill but then about halfway up we saw Robin with her camera. "Don't take our picture while we're walking!!" I yelled to her. So Marina & I started to run, but only until we passed Robin then we got back to walking again. LOL A guy with his dog was at the top of the hill and told us only 100 more metres to go. Thanks buddy! We came to the finish area and made our way out onto the 20K loop.
Look at us RUNNING up this monster hill. Now look away quickly so we can resume walking!
Coming into timing area. The ultra runners got splits after every 20K.
The 20K loop is a blur to be perfectly honest. Not for any reason other than I have a horrible sense of direction and it all looked the same to me. We chatted with so many people out there and had a little back and forth going on with another girl who we would pass, then she would pass us and so on. I told Marina that no matter what we did out there, we had to beat her. We were only out there to have fun but you've got to get a little competition in somewhere! Every now and then we would come across a man who was taking pictures to prove to his wife that he wasn't out at the bar. This guy takes the prize as having the worlds biggest calves. Every time that he would get ahead of us it's all we could look at. They were mesmerizing! We chatted with an elderly man who was doing the 100 miler. He was all knees and elbows and heart. He came across us as I was talking about being so tired that I wanted to walk in my marathon a few weeks ago. He told us that he wasn't eavesdropping, but if we got caught walking out here we'd be disqualified. We laughed with him for a few minutes over that and then he was off. I hope that he did well.
For the first half of the race we mostly saw the same faces but then we came across a guy who had clearly hurt his ankle and stopped and walked with him for awhile. There were A LOT of hills on this course, way more than I had bargained for and I can only imagine how they were making his ankle feel while trying to make his way to the aid station. Marina offered for him to lean on her but he declined. I then offered for Marina to piggy back him but again he declined. There's no helping some people. LOL We stayed with him for about a km until he finally convinced us that he would be fine and to get running. He didn't want to ruin our race. It was probably another 2K until we finally got to the aid station where we told them about him (well I did, Marina had forgotten about him at this point LOL) and the hills seemed to be one on top of another now. Poor guy, I hope that this wasn't his goal race! He had on a 50K bib so it more than likely was. How disappointing. At this point Marina's tummy was starting to give her trouble so we stopped at the porta potty at the aid station and then took our time taking off our sweaters and refilling our water bottles. I'd say a good 10 minutes was lost here as were all of the familiar faces. The only bibs we were really seeing now were 50K & up. Back of the pack for us but that was alright. I was still having such a fun time.
God I crack myself up!
We spent a lot of time walking now because not only was Marina's belly hurting but also her ribs. This girl was not in good shape! Marina suggested that I go on ahead but I told her no. I was out here for the experience and the laughs!! We trundled on and every now and then we'd start to laugh at the splits that were coming up on my Garmin. "6K to go!" I said at one point. "It should only take us another hour at this rate". At this moment a man passed us and said "Your Garmin is only going to register around 23K because of the hills so you've got less than that to go". He was right. When all was said and done my Garmin read 23.84K. This information put a little spring into everyone's step! Finally the hills seemed to calm down a little bit and we were able to spend more time running than walking. This was also due in part to my yelling "No more walking!" to the girls whenever I'd see them slow down. I think that Robyn silently hated meeting me on this day. We eventually made our way to the last aid station where the ladies there told us only 1km to go! Yippee. What they didn't mention was that 1km included one last trip up the massive hill. The only thing that could have made this final km worse was for it to be covered in the piles of horse crap that all of the other hills on the course were full of. Poor horseys being ridden up those steep hills! We got to the top of the hill and turned on the jets. Turning the corner Marina started to speed up a little so I asked "Are you trying to beat me?!?!". I threw my head back and shared one final laugh. Marina didn't beat me. We both finished at the exact same second. Now how's that for a run with a friend?!
Race you to the finish!
I had such an amazing time at this race, I will definitely do another trail race. How it'll fit in with my training schedule I don't know but the participants were so much friendlier and the scenery of the course was so much nicer than road racing, how could I say no?! My friend Rob's wife is an ultra runner. After hearing that I was at Sulphur Springs he says that he hopes to see me on the ultra circuit in the future. Let's not get too crazy here!!!
Marina Me, Robin, Becky and the third Robin of the day!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Looking Ahead

I am now 9 days post marathon so obviously I have been thinking furiously about what my race plans are for the fall. I hummed and hawed over whether I wanted to do another marathon or if I should just stick to halfs. If I did the marathon I'd have to run it alone which I am not too crazy about. Those last 10k were tough and I really needed the push of a friend to help me stick with them. Had Patty not have been with me I may have ended up sitting on a park bench and calling Derek to come and pick me up. I could always go with a pacer but that's a lot of distance to cover with small talk. Nicole suggested we run together but her goal of 3:40 makes my legs hurt just thinking about, and she's not doing a full any longer any way. Looks like sticking to halfs it is! So my goal is to run 3 halfs and hope that at least one of them I can run sub 1:50. I'm going to train with goal paces for a 1:45 finish and see what happens. Nicole is also going for a 1:45 half and her plan looks pretty interesting so I may be stealing hers.

Upcoming races are as follows. I am only actually registered for a few because I am a woman and reserve the right to change my mind!

May 25 Sulphur Springs 25K trail race. This is my first ever trail run (other than Bronte creek trails) let alone trail race. I'm running it with my friend Marina so I'm planning on it being super fun! Oh, the Altra trail shoes that I won on Ali's blog arrived last week so hopefully I can include some trail runs into my routine this summer. I will not be wearing these new shoes for S.S though. My old NB's will be getting the call up for this race and then more than likely retired.

June 8 Moon in June 5K. According to McMillan if I want to run a 1:45 half then I should be able to run a 22:41 5K. My PB is 23:something (remember I'm not anal like some people LOL) from the same race last year. Let's see what happens....

July 1 Canada Day 5K. This is a maybe. I told a girl at work that I would run it with her. And by run it with her I mean drive there, run, wait for her at the finish line and drive home. She has yet to commit though so we'll see. I do however have the perfect outfit so I may go just so I can wear it.

August 17 Midsummer Night's Run 15K. That's right. 15K. I will not be running 1 meter farther than 15K at this Godforsaken race. LOL The 30K race for me last year is what nightmares are made from. :oP

Sept 21 or 22 Mighty Niagara Half is super appealing to me because it is a Saturday which means I don't have to take a day off of work for it. Really I wanted to run the Springbank Half in London (where Kyle will be attending university) on September 8 but it is the same day as the Ovarian Cancer walk that I have already committed to doing again this year with my stepmother who is a survivor. If I don't do the Mighty Niagara I will do the Oakville Half again this year. I enjoyed it last year other than the sleeping in and extra distance bits. Those I could have done without.

October 20 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half. I will be looking for redemption from my fail there last year. I'm hoping to be able to run this with Nicole and be able to walk away with a smile on my face and not in near tears like last year. The part I love about this race is being able to see the elites go by on Lakeshore. Obviously in the other direction.

November 3 Road 2 Hope Half. If I can't get my sub 1:50 at either of the other races I should be able to do it hear. It's a bit of a cheat because it's a downhill course but desperate times could call for desperate measures.

December 26 Boxing Day 10 miler. Surely I'll be able to convince someone to run this with me again this year. The snowman medal is enough to make me come back. Hopefully the wind decides to not make an appearance this time.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mississauga Marathon

Mississauga ON
BIB # 370
Chip Time 4:10:25
Official Time 4:11:55
Pace 5:57
Place 454/851
Gender Place 152/352
Category Place 55/132
I've officially entered a new status as a runner.......marathoner. How exciting! Too bad no one gives a crap but me and my running friends but that's ok. It's still something I can brag about even if the person that I am telling is internally rolling their eyes. And I'm gonna stick a 42.2 decal on my car too! Take that non-runners!
On Friday I headed over to the expo and picked up my & Patty's race kits. I also ran into Sarah which was a nice surprise. I haven't seen her since ATB in March. I didn't really pick up a whole lot at the expo because I wasn't all that into it. I did however sign up for the Midsummer Night's Run 15K in August. I've sworn that I won't do the 30K there again and I'm happy to stick with that choice. I still get all of the goodies without having to expire on the nighttime race course. Win!
Sunday I awoke to my two alarms, a text from Patty and a bunch of Facebook messages asking if I was awake. I sure hope someone has a race fail soon and takes over being the butt of the race day jokes! LOL My inability to properly set my race day alarm and poor prerace fueling choices are becoming legendary. Maybe I need to channel my inner Usain Bolt so that I can become a legendary runner in a different way. Yeah, I'm pretty much stuck with my nacho fame. Oh well.
Emma, Patty & Amy came and picked me up shortly before 6am and we headed out to Square One where we hooked up with a group of Daily Milers.
Robin, Nicole, Laurie, Patty, Amy, Me, Richard, Emma, Alan, Roxanne & Henry. The others are Laurie's friends.
Phil was supposed to run with us but we were unable to find him amongst the mass of marathon & half marathon runners. I guess he must have gotten there late? His loss for missing out on our titillating race conversation. "Oh I like that girls skirt". "Ew, look at that girls butt in those striped crops." "Holy crap, buddy must be hot in all those clothes." Yes, we pretty much critiqued every one's outfit so be warned next time you decide to wear man shorts to a race, ladies. Of course we received lots of compliments on our outfits. As Hal Higdon says "Color coordination is the key. It doesn't matter how fast you run. More important is how good you look doing it." The best lesson that Patty has taught me! LOL
We headed out into the corral and placed ourselves a little behind the 4:15 pace bunny. This was a run/walk bunny so not someone that we would be able to use but figured we should start around him any way. The announcer did the usual spiel and had a moment of silence for Boston as well. Shortly after this the gun went off and so did we. We were able to stick to our paces really well in the first stretch, having to dodge people but not really all that many. We chatted like usual and the time flew by quickly. The first 10K were pretty uneventful other than us passing the 4:15 pacer. Just gotta keep that guy behind us!
SPLITS 5:48 5:55 5:50 5:37 5:39 5:46 5:37 5:44 5:33 5:41
Around the 10K mark we were running close to the 2:00 half pace bunny. I'd love to know how she did because at the rate she was going she was not going to bring those people in on time unless her goal was to negative split which probably isn't what a pace bunny is supposed to do? The worst was hearing her say 'We're halfway there'. Really? I'm a quarter of the way there. Not fair! Thankfully the split came up soon after this and we didn't have to listen to the cheerful half marathoners who only had another 6k to go. Right at the split we saw Paul out cheering on his running peeps. Originally he was supposed to have been a pacer at the race but had to drop out due to injury. We gave a wave and made the turn. I was a little worried about making the split because I've always heard that the full course can get a little lonely and there are times when you won't see another runner. Thankfully this never happened to us. There were always people around which was nice. Once again this 10K was uneventful other than it started to get pretty hot and I was beginning to get a headache. I had to loosen the strap on my hat and try to keep myself hydrated or else things could get ugly.
SPLITS 6:01 5:47 5:51 5:49 5:50 5:53 5:58 5:54 6:00 5:54
The following 10K started to get interesting. We were still feeling good but the sun was really beginning to beat down. There was an out and back portion along Southdown Rd and Lakeshore and we amused ourselves with trying to find people that we knew in the group that was on the back half as we were on the out portion. Guess who we saw? Phil! "Hey" he yelled. "What are you doing?!?!" I yelled back. He was pretty far ahead of us so there was no way that we would be able to catch him. Oh well, his loss. Again. He was missing out hearing about Patty's SIL's wedding and my troubles with National Home Services. BTW, DO NOT switch water heater companies to them. The worst! We made our way out to the turn around and then headed back into a park section which was new to us as it wasn't on the map that Nicole gave us when we did our training run out here. I had been watching a corner cutter for the last little while and when I pointed him out to Patty cutting yet another corner she yelled out to him "Hey, douche bag!". We then made jokes about how he should take the bus to the finish line and pour some water on himself to make it look like sweat. Around 27K Patty had to take a bathroom stop so I walk/jogged along a little bit waiting for her. To be honest I was starting to get tired so the break was welcomed. She quickly caught back up and we made our way back to Southdown Rd where the sun was insane! I was so hot and starting to feel lethargic and my head was feeling like it was pulsating. "We're not acclimated to this heat". Patty said. No doubt, with this horrible spring we've had. Boo Mother Nature! Around 29K we saw Paul again which was a nice surprise.
Paul took this picture and posted it to FB where I immediately stole it.
"Just get me to 30K" I said. "I need to get out of the 20s". "That's where the fun begins" Patty said to me. How right she was......
SPLITS 5:46 5:50 5:58 5:54 6:05 5:52 5:55 6:27 6:07 5:53
Just past 30K is where the rollers began. I didn't realize that I had signed up for Around The Bay again! EEK! The ones in the residential area were the worst for me and I actually had to walk up one. "Just go ahead, I'll catch up" I said to Patty. I was tired and hot and mentally starting to break down. Just as I caught up to her another hill came. As we got to the top of it a man on a bike road by and said to us "Good job girls. You've got a lot more hills ahead of you". DUDE! Really? Is that what you think that I need to hear right now? Get lost! We made our way out onto Lakeshore and began tackling those hills. I was so tired at this point I couldn't even keep up my end of the conversation but with the help of a water station walk break and gel I got through it. By this point I had taken 5 gels (I had one at the start) and my belly was not feeling good. I try to take as few gels as possible because they are pretty hard on my stomach but I really needed the energy to get through this. By the time that we got to Jack Darling park I was done. "It's taking everything in me not to walk right now" I said to Patty. "Do you think I don't know that?!?!" she yelled back to me. All around me people were walking so I stopped and walked about 10 steps. "Don't start walking now! You have to keep running!" Patty said to me. I stopped and walked about 5 steps again and that was it. I realized that she was right. If I began walking I may as well pack it in so I gathered up my wherewithal and ran. I had one last moment to let myself wonder just what the hell I was doing out here and then that was it. I started my countdown. 5 more miles. 7 more km. 6 more km. We grabbed water from a water station and I dumped two cups down my back which made me feel a lot better. When we got to JC Saddington park there were people walking everywhere. "We are going to march over these Death Marchers!" Patty said to me. Ok! With my head down so that I couldn't see them (monkey see monkey do) I marched right past those people who were walking. Shortly after this we saw a photographer. I have no idea where the hell we pulled out smiles from but we were faking it like champs!
Weeee look at us having a great time! I'll probably buy this picture. Maybe one day I won't remember how much this part sucked.
I was now in familiar territory and still had my inner countdown going. "4K! Easy! Even Greg can run 4K!" Patty said to me. 2 miles. 2k. 1 MORE MILE! We gutted it out and made our way to Lakefront Promenade Park where Patty started to suffer from a calf cramp. I asked her if she wanted to stop and rub it out but she said no. Tough as nails! "I'll be able to turn it up for the chute but I've got nothing left to give this last km" I said to Patty as we came out of the forest into the park. "It's ok." she said "we're gonna beat our time no matter what". Up ahead I saw a familiar back. "PHIL!" I yelled. "Come on" Patty said to Phil "Let's finish together!". Phil said that he had gotten a bad stomach cramp but he was going to gut it out with us. The three of us made our way down the home stretch and crossed the finish line! Big sweaty hugs all around! Yay us!
SPLITS 6:09 5:56 6:02 5:51 6:28 5:53 6:05 5:58 6:15 6:11 6:05 5:55
Get. Me. To. The. Finish!
Yeah we just ran 4 hours. No big deal. What do you mean we have to walk 2k to the shuttle buses?
So there you have it. I'm offically a marathoner. Will I run another one? Yes. Do I like it more than the half? No. The half is the distance that I love so I'm up in the air as to when I will run another. I'll either focus on bettering my half time in the fall or gut it out and do Scotia by myself. 42.2km is a long way to run on your own though.....