Sunday, March 30, 2014

Around the Bay 30k Race Report

While I have registered for the ATB a few times in the past, I never ran it.  This year I did not register before it sold out but got a bib before the transfer date so today I ran my first (and most likely last) Around the Bay 30k today, March 30,2014.

It was an uneventful morning, and not a particularly early wake time given the 9:30am start time plus an hour drive.  We picked up Carole and Elaine at 8am and were on the way.  We made it to the race site with plenty of time to look for a parking space and were lucky enough to scoring an amazing space very close to the venue, right behind a charter bus ... whose driver was nice enough to let me use the bathroom so I didn't even have to deal with port-o-let lines!  Bonus!

We slowly made it to the start line, not in much of a hurry as Elaine and Carole are relaxed runners and I was not "racing" today, I was just out for my long training run for Boston.  We finally caught up to the massive group and this is where I saw something that hit me as a bit of a problem.  Way up, hundreds of people in front of me, the only pace bunny sign I could see read 3:30!  OMG - 3:30?????  Then I turned around and realized there were probably only 100 or so folks behind me.  So, 13,000 registered ...  running at my "training pace" of 5:30/km (estimated 2:45 finish) I was not in the most ideal position.  Deep breath, this is not a race, it is training, it is all good.
Carole, me and Elaine at the back of the starting pack!
The gun went off and it took me 10 minutes to get to the start line!  10 minutes!  Ok, not a problem, this is just a training run.  So I ran, I weaved, I passed and passed and passed.  The weather, while it threaten to be cold and windy, was pretty darn nice for March 30!  By kilometre 3, I was taking the sleeves off my wind breaker.  From then out I felt perfectly dressed in my tights and light long sleeved shirt.  I have to say the weather probably couldn't have been better for a late March day!

So here's this race in a nutshell.  20 kilometres of boring, ugly, smelly industrial running.  Then 10 km of beautiful homes and rolling hills with some massive climbs ending around kilometre 27 and then a down hill run to the finish.  

I finished in 2:42:36 - that's a PR by a couple of minutes.  I've only run one other 30km race - Midsummer's Night in 2012 - and that I finished in 2:44:33 but as I said back then in my race report:
 I felt horrible.  I cannot remember feeling so horrible after a race. I stopped at medical and sat down on a chair but quickly stood up.  Sitting was not the right thing to do.  I staggered to the medals and found my way to the plastic bag that had a banana and a bag of candy.  My legs were wobbly and I was searching for a place to lean when I saw Cavin walking toward me.  A huge wave of relief washed over me.  I did not want to be alone in a sea of people.  Shawna,  Calvin's lovely fiancĂ©e took my stuff (I had my hand-held bottle, the steal bottle they hand out at the finish line and my food baggie.  I inhaled my banana thinking it would somehow cure my pains.  I'm not sure how long we stood there but I slowly stretched and regained my balance and composure.  They were off to the beer tent and I made my way back to the finish line to wait for Barry.
Unlike after the Midsummer's Night 30k, today I felt great - like it was just any other training run I've ever done.  So my running has definitely improved in the couple of years!

going so fast I'm a blur

So happy to see Barry in the stands and happy to feel great.

I executed this race pretty well except for starting so far back and having to run through people for the entire 30k.  I nailed my nutrition and adapted my eating schedule according to the water stations.  I felt great the entire run and feel pretty good now.  I'm feeling positive going into Boston in 3 weeks - I'm not sure what my goal is going to be but I would be happy to run between 5:20 and 5:30/km.  I have to keep in mind that I still have Ironman training on the schedule for the next three weeks as well!
Carole, me and Elaine post-race

Will I run ATM30k again - probably not - unless the weather was going to absolutely awesome and I had an early season Marathon (like Boston) to run.   However, it is worth noting, that while this is a HUGE race, it is run pretty well.  The water stations (while not necessary spaced as I like) were well staffed and the volunteers as always were amazing (Please remember to say THANK YOU to the volunteers on the course- I didn't hear nearly enough of that today).  The finish line is very efficient and well run with a good assortment of food and they do a good job of getting you through the finish area without feeling rushed.  A+ to the race director and his team!

And always, a big Thank You to my number one fan for driving us to Hamilton and being photographer and finish line sherpa!  Thanks Barry!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Did I bite off more than I can chew?

Well here it is, officially the end of March is around the corner and the beginning of Spring is here though the weather outside and the forecast would have you thinking it was still deep in February.

Does that look like Spring to you?

I haven't been myself lately and I can list off a million and one excuses why. I pushed too hard at the Ft. Lauderdale Half Marathon and I had to take 2 weeks off to recover, then I had my trip to NYC with my daughter coming up and then I got a head cold right before leaving for NYC ...  in any case, my training schedule was basically non-existent and definitely very little consistency if any!  Not to mention this winter and the Polar Vortex!

And then it sort of hit me - did I bite off too much this year?  Is shifting from end of year Ironman to a mid-season Ironman not giving my body (and mind) enough distance from Ironman training?  Did I really think I could sandwich an Ironman in between the Boston and the NYC Marathons?  How in the heck did I get here anyway??????

But I am here - and I've got entry to and paid for both Boston and NYC - both of which I may never get the opportunity to run again.  Then there is Ironman Lake Placid - my "validation" Ironman.  What's a validation Ironman you ask?  As you know I have done two Ironmans - Ironman Florida 2012 and Ironman Cozumel 2013.  Both of these course are flat and considered "easy".  Well, let's just be clear - there is no such thing an an easy way to propel your body 140.6 miles.  If you take a look at this guy's number crunching you will see that Cozumel is ranked just under Lake Placid, Florida however is a lot further down.
In any case, in my head, I was pretty sure I needed to do a "real" Ironman - like Placid, or Penticton, or Whistler, Or Coeur d'Alene or Mont Tremblant, to quell the thought that I only picked the easy Ironmans.  Now of course people have made comments to this effect but honestly this all stems from my own head.  So last July I signed up for Placid.  Yes, at that time I knew I was running Boston and NYC marathons.  Yes, I think I was crazy.

But here I am, 4 weeks out from Boston Marathon and 17 weeks out from Ironman Lake Placid.  It is what it is and I'm doing both, I've just had to shift my goals a little bit.  I always wanted to run my BQ time at Boston but that is just going to have to wait for another lifetime.  I will have to take it easy in Boston because I will not have weeks to recover.  In fact, I won't have any time to recover because I will be 3 weeks into my official training for Placid.  I will be pushing my biking legs to the max.

And, I've decided to take a lot of pressure off myself for IMLP.  When I got into this crazy sport I promised it was for fun.  Then I sort of got fast.  And then the talk and dreams of qualifying for Kona filled my head. And then it didn't seem fun any more.  And then it seemed that I was going to disappoint those closest to me.

And then my husband - the greatest sherpa, my biggest fan, and most amazing sport photographer, Barry sent me the most beautiful email.  I won't share it in it's entirety but one of the many paragraphs that hit home I will:
Go forward bravely and boldly.
You have become a powerhouse of endurance and you have trained brilliantly, religiously and so incredibly for 3 years now!
You are amazing!!
Fear not, as you battle on.
Fear not.
Rest assured that all will be good, no matter what the outcome.
Good, bad or neutral, life will go on and more races will come.

 So I might have bit off more than I can chew but I'm not going to back down from this challenge.  So I'm back on the training program, focusing on IM training with a little marathon training in the background.  I'm running the Around the Bay 30k next Sunday as my longest training run for Boston.  And then I'm going to run Boston, enjoying every moment of it and not once regretting that I'm not running fast enough.  And as for Lake Placid - I can only train, like I have trained in the past - I will push myself to my limits over and over in training and then on race day, I will push myself over my limits as I have done in the Ironmans before.  And at the end will be the next question - Which Ironman next?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ft. Lauderdale Half Marathon Race Report

Ok, well it's been awhile since I last hit the blog and I guess I owe myself a race report on the Fort Lauderdale half marathon since it's been over 2 weeks. 

This race came about because I had a 20k training run on my Boston marathon training schedule and I was going to be in south Florida anyway so why not. Well. Short answer is if I ran it as a training run then all good, but if I raced it for a major PR having not trained for a half marathon it could be down right stupid. I'll save the suspense... I was down right stupid.

We arrived in South Florida on Friday night. Dropped the kids with the grandparents and headed to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. The weather was perfect and I spent the afternoon drinking beers and getting sun by the cruddy hotel pool. We had a nice dinner out and retired to the cruddy hotel room for a pretty decent sleep. Given the 6am start time and the bus ride to the start line, I was up at 4 am. Had my normal hotel breakfast of coffee and cereal and headed out. 

cold but not nervous like I was the previous year
It was quite "chilly" especially since I was in my little running shorts and tank top. I knew as soon as we got moving I would be perfectly dressed.  This race is run amazingly well as we made it to the start line with ample time. Found a spot next to a generator to stay warm in the exhaust and waited for the start. 

Race was great. I started near the front and was just so happy to start running to get warm. Settled into a nice 4:35/km pace and ran happily. The sun was just coming up as we crossed e bridge over the inter-coastal and hit A1A. It was pretty spectacular.  I ran a consistent race, staying with a good group of people.
the views are down right stunning
There isn't much more to say than this is a beautiful, flat and fast course. Aid stations are well staffed and efficient.  Great support and a fun race to run. The last 5 km my legs were feeling the stress of the run since I was running basically faster than I normally would for this distance. I pushed through and hit the finish line in 1:37:15. A huge PB for me by about 5 minutes. 
Barry's signature shot

I was completely wasted when I finished.  It was like I say at the end of a hard track interval- if you don't feel like puking you didn't go fast enough. I felt like puking.  It is a fabulous finish line but I couldn't find Barry and that is always stressful for me. At the end of a race I have this unnerving need to find him and when I can't I get super irritated and annoyed. 
This was me when Barry found me
Finally we found each other and at this time I was freezing cold. They don't have Mylar blankets at these southern races so I was just ready to get back to the cruddy hotel and get out of my wet running cloths and into something warm. I wanted to go back and see the official results because I thought I might have made the podium. But of course we went back and I was hit with yet another 7 th place (6 th and 7th seem to be my sweet spot). But I ran it as fast as I could and at the time I was happy with the PR and breaking 1:40.

Sadly, racing this race was a mistake as it trashed my legs. Specifically my right hamstring. Exactly what happened last year after racing the Toronto Yonge Street 10k ....  So I've had to pay the price by missing out of running long while in Florida and having to curtail my training for a couple of weeks. 

So I returned to frigid Toronto without running a nice 30k run while in warm Florida. This of course threw me into a seriously depressed tailspin but that's for another post. 

Lesson learned though, if Ironman Lake Placid is my "A" race, my expectations and plan for Boston Marathon have to be tweaked!  While I had grand hopes for running close to 3:30 at Boston, I am now thinking just breaking 4 hours at Boston will be respectable.  I'm back to running now and my hamstring seems to be ok so only the next few weeks of training will tell!

And if you ever want a great destination race - I have now raced both the full (read the report here) and the half and I would do them again!  The expo is amazing for such a small race, the logistics are well run, the course is amazing and the finish-line has more food and freebees than any race I have ever been at!  So next time the Polar Vortex has you down escape to Ft. Lauderdale in mid-February for a destination race!