Thursday, December 17, 2009

Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Hubs and I are meeting some running friends for a little Christmas cheer this Saturday morning.  We are going for a little trail run and then brunch at a running friends house.  We are supposed to bring a running gift for a "mystery gift" exchange.  Here's the criteria
-something a runner would enjoy

I need some creative ideas,  and you guys are amoung the most creative people I know,  so please, HELP!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Race Plans: What's Up Next?

First off,  thanks for all your nice comments about CIM.  I am still riding on a high from that race.  It will take a special marathon to beat that experience!

I am beginning to put in place my race plans for the remainder of 2009/spring 2010.  I definately want to be more selective about the races I complete, but here is what I have planned so far:


1. January 24th - Robbie Burns 8K/5 mile road race (Burlington, Ontario)

I ran this last year in 44 odd minutes, so I know I can do better.  It  is a really fun little race, cheap registration fee with a full breakfast served after - a good pick-me-up for the dead of Canadian winter.  Plus you get an instakilt with registration...

LOL...  I am not sure I will be using that..  Maybe on race day or possibly Halloween?

2. March 7th - Chilly Half Marathon  (Hamilton, Ontario)
I run this half marathon every year as a tune-up for the spring running season.  This year it has a new route along Lake Ontario.  Should be fun.   Who else is running this?  Maybe a blogger meet-up?

Possible Registration

1. December 27th, 2009 - Run For the Ranch Marathon (Springfield, Missouri)
I know I just ran CIM,  but this marathon would allow me to meet my goal of 5 marathons in 5 different states for 2009 (It will be my 9th marathon of the year).  It is a 5K loop,  and I would visit my sister in Nashville afterwards to celebrate the New Year.  I think it will be a game time decision,  if the weather is crappy,  I won't run it.  

2. March 28th - Around the Bay (Hamilton, Ontario)
Depending on the other races I choose,  I may or may not run this one.  It is a great course,  and a really fun event, with great history.  The race itself is older than the Boston Marathon,  a fact that is widely advertised on the race shirts.  Last year I sat this one out sick! :(

3.  Feb 14th -  Myrtle Beach Marathon (Myrtle Beach,  SC)
The timing of this marathon is good - we have a long weekend for family day as well.  

4. LA Marathon!!!!!!

Last night I was at a Christmas party (full of running friends),  and a plan was formulated to possibly run LA!!! Yes copius amounts of wine and beer allowed us to come to this decision! It is at the tail end of my March break, and I was thinking of visiting my Dad again in San Ramon, and then doing the coastal drive (that I've always wanted to do) down to LA and finish with the marathon.  The elevation change is similar to CIM,  rolling hills, which I loved. Its a brand-new route,  running from Dogers Stadium to the beach. Here is a promo video of the new course:

I am trying really hard not to race too many races,  but there are so many good options out there!!  If you know anything about Myrtle Beach or LA,  I would appreciate your feedback.

Hope you are all having a great weekend! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Race Report: California International Marathon (with pics)

I arrived home yesterday from California, and I had a blast!  Here is a quick recap on my time in the San Franscisco area,  and ofcourse the highlight of the visit, the California International Marathon.

This race was really special since my sister was also running it.  As many of you know,  my Dad also lives near San Franscisco in the town of San Ramon, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to get a visit and run a marathon that I had heard so many of the Cal runners rave about last year,  and maybe get a chance to meet a few of these ladies as well!

Friday I had plans to meet Jolynn but awoke after travel, with a headache and a really bad case of pre-race nerves, so unfortunately I did not get to meet her! :(  Hopefully I will get to meet her when I return possibly in March.  I spent most of the day Friday low key catching up with family and trying to rehydrate after feeling very dehydrated after the 5 hour plus flight on Thursday.

Saturday morning came and we made the 1 hour trip to Sacramento.  We got there had lunch,  and then hit up the expo!  It was a small expo and rather unremarkable,  but well organized none the less.

We had a quiet afternoon and evening,  and went to bed early to ready ourselves for our 4 am wakeup call.  When the morning came,  I felt really calm.  Usually I dread the start of a marathon,  but today I felt calm.  I just went over the messages I had gotten from friends and family prior to the marathon in my head.  One good friend in particular told me "Stay strong out there, we are with you with, you can do this".  It really stuck with me and became my mantra whenever I struggled throughout the race.

This race is a point-to-point course (which I loved),  so we stayed on the warm buses until 10 minutes prior. I said goodbye to my sis (who lined up at the front - she ran a 2:53 marathon),  and went to stand in line at the bag check,  which was poorly located close to the start line.  This created a mob-like jam in front on the trucks that would transport our gear back to the finish,  and people began to push each other towards the bag check.  People also began tossing their bags towards the trucks in spite of being told not to.  It was kinda hilarious,  like a bad comedy skit.  I manuvered my way through the crowd (benefit of being short), and dropped my bag and got the heck out of there!  Nicole said they lost her bag,  CIM work on this organization please!

The race started out and I felt a little crampy but since I started slow, I told myself not to worry,  it would be OK (which it was, but I had lingering mild cramps throughout the race including a calf cramp - maybe dehydration?)  Aron had warned me the course was rolling hills and she is right.  The course is really quite challenging,  and one must do proper hill training to run a good race.  I found myself LOVING the rolling course,  it was never boring,  and everytime you ran up (which was endless),  it was usually followed by a downhill. 

As you ran past each mile marker, there were gentlemen in top hats that would yell out your total time and splits and pace.  I love this!!!  What a great idea!  At first my splits were in the 10's but after I got onto to pace,  they were either high 8's or low nines,  and I loved hearing "you are on pace to run a 3:58 or 4:00 hour marathon"  It helped motivate me to stay on track and I vowed to hear them say that until mile 20 at least!!

I ran my first half in 1:58 (gun time),  and felt a little tired,  but I just kept telling myself I can do this,  and before I knew it I was at mile 20.  My mile 20 split was 3:08 (gun time),  and I was told, "you are on pace to run a marathon in under 4 hours).  I decided I needed to go for it.

Ahhhhh the last six miles,  I ran my best,  only taking my very brief water breaks at the water stations,  but past mile 23 I could hear people yell "yah 4 hours!".  I knew the 4 hour pace bunny was on my tail.  I could hear the mob like "clump clump clump" of the feet behind me,  and honestly,  I tried to hold them off as long as I could. 

When the 4 hour pace bunnies (there were 2) passed me at mile 24,  I was a little relieved,  it was easier to chase then to have them breathing down my back.  I did my best to keep them in my sights,  but man those last two miles are tough.  I really felt like I was outside my body watching down..  I really and truly gave it all I had,  and crossed the finish line at 4:03:20,  with a chip time of 4:02:01.

 I missed seeing my dad, sister and brother in law at the finish -it was so crowded!!  I am so proud of how I ran this race.  I never gave up,  and I know I have a sub 4 hour in me.  After this race,  I know I can eventually chip away and get my 4 hours and maybe a BQ with alot of training and hardwork.  That is what I love about running.  The constant challenge!!

The next day I met up with AronTara,  Danica and Nicole for breakfast in Walnut Creek.  It was so fun meeting these people, and hearing about their marathon experiences.  Everyone ran awesome races!  Aron BQ'ed, Nicole had a PR, and Danica and Tara are now marathon maniacs.  Congrats also to roadbunner who got a great PR race day. 

After breakfast I went to Napa to sample wine, and had an awesome day.  Sigh.... Napa is so beautiful. (sorry I only had my blackberry so excuse the crappy pictures!)

I flew home Tuesday and when I got home Hubs surprised me with this min chocolate cake:

It was so yummy!! What a sweetie!

All in all I LOVED this marathon,  and I just may have to come back and run it again!  The state of California is now done (8 states total down!)

So what's next?! I have a few plans I am mulling over,  which I will post about in a few days.   I am considering another marathon in 3 weeks also.... :)

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

CIM marathon: race result

It was a cold (even for this Canadian) and windy day at CIM,  but perfect weather for running a marathon.  I had a great race,  and a almost 7 minute PR, final time 4:02:01...  dang!  If I had known I was that close to 4:01 something, I would have sprinted to the finish.   All in all although I wanted a sub 4 (and wasn't passed by the 4 hour bunny until mile 24),  I am very happy about my result. 

Congrats to all the marathoners today,  in particular Aron,  who I am sure most of you, ran an amazing race and qualified for Boston. 

Full race report to come, soon.  Tomorrow I am off to Napa Valley to sample some wine to celebrate!  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

5 mile race report/CIM here I come!

**sigh** Its been awhile since I have posted, time seems to be scarce lately, but I wanted to update you before I leave for California on Thursday to run CIM this weekend (I'm super, super excited!!).  

Training Update
I previously posted about my need for Speed,  and fully intended to keep you all updated weekly on my training.  Overall it went well,  I did all of my speedwork,  long runs and tempos.  I also did my hot yoga twice weekly, and my weekly swim.  I let the weekly bike go due to time restraints,  but I will pick it up after CIM is done.

I have great running friends to thank for keeping me on track and motivated for CIM.  They ran my long runs and did speed work with me every week even though they are not running any marathons until the spring.  We also are participating in Angela's Whittle My Middle challenge,  and I have noticed a significant improvement in my core strength.

Race Update
I decided to run a 5 miler this past weekend to test my progress (and for Alissa's Turkey Trot Race).  The race advertised to be a downhill course,  but there was no downhill in site,  but it was a relatively flat course with a few small rolling hills.  Anyway,  although it was VERY windy,  I managed to pull out a 3 minute one second PR,  with a finish of 39:38 (4:58 km/min pace) .  As a added bonus I was fourth (out of 16) in my age group,  so I was really happy with the result.  I feel ready as I can be for CIM.  I will try my best to relax and hopefully to marathon day will unfold with a PR for me.  I feel as ready as I can be at this point!

I am also participating in Amanda's Bootie Buster Challenge and maganged to rack up 35 points last week. This week I will have less since I am in taper mode.

So I am off to California to see my dad.  My sis and BIL are also running.  I am meeting up with Jolyne on Friday,  and also hope to meet Aron, and a few other bloggers. 

P.S - Although I missed this past Friday, Marlene is also hosting Cans for Comments every Friday.. Marlene will donate canned foods to a food bank for your comments..  what a great cause.

Hope to catch up with you all soon,  I'll update you about CIM soon after I finish!  My bib number is 1081.. although I don't know if you can track live or not.

Have a great hump day, and thanks for reading despite my irregular updates!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Training Update and a Little Inspiration

Happy Tuesday everyone...  tomorrow is hump day and today is my much needed rest day!

Last week I posted my 5 week countdown to CIM plan,  and its been going well.  Here is a little summary:

What I planned
-4 x 800 m (7-8 miles)
-6 mile tempo
-1 recovery run (4-6 miles)
-long run 30K 
-one swim, one bike, and 2 hot yoga workouts

What I actually did
- 4 x 800 @4 minute 19 second per K (~7 miles)
-4 mile tempo
-long 30K run
-two hot yoga classes
-one swim class

I skipped my bike and recovery run,  as I was getting over the last part of my cold,  and my tri swim class was intense.  By the time Sat rolled around and I planned a bike and recovery run,  I knew I would benefit more from a rest.   On Sun am,  I ran a VERY hilly (300 meters of elevation climb) run with some friends so it turned out to be a good idea to take a rest today.  Today (Tuesday)  is my rest day this week and I am enjoying every minute of it!

This week I will up my mileage before taper,  but I feel great,  I am really trying to listen to my body rather than just piling on the miles and wearing myself down.   I think I can thank the return of hot yoga to my schedule for awaking my awareness of my body. I absolutely love my hot class.  I am so happy to be back doing it twice a week.  I've really noticed a difference in how I feel and the weight seems to coming off better. Today I weighed myself and I am now down 10lbs from a few months ago.

Speaking of yoga,  hubs sent me a link with a video of a climber's trek to Mount Everest Base Camp (altitude 5360 metres (17600 ft),  a bucket list item that he wants to complete in his life... (hubs has read every high altitude climbing book out there). The thought of it both scares and thrills me at the same time. 

The music that accompanies the video is beautiful.  I first heard this song  at a yoga studio and I immediately bought the CD at a yoga show.  I listen to it whenever I need to be empowered or need to feel calmness.  Its appararently a Tibetian (sp?) chant for world peace.  The positive karma you feel when watching this video and listening to the music is wonderful.  Enjoy!

Do you have a bucket list?  Are there items on your bucket list that scare you, but you know you must do them sometime in your lifetime?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Update and the Need for Speed

Hello everyone! I haven't felt much like blogging lately,  but I have been commenting sporadically on your blogs.  Some great marathon/race finishes lately.. keep up the great work!  I'll try to keep this blog more updated and visit your blogs soon.

I was to run Hamilton marathon this weekend,  the same marathon Marlene's hubby Mark ran,  and that I ran last year. I have had a cold lingering since Steamtown,  but I still managed a decent half marathon the week after at Toronto International Marthon (1:55:30),  not a personal best,  but it felt really good and it was a great day.

(Rats..  head was down!!)

That left two weeks until Hamilton,  and I felt great,  but unfortunately my cold got worse.  I stayed home from work Thursday and Friday,  but felt much better Fri evening,  so I decided to try.   Shortly after I started running, I knew that it was not a good idea.   I felt overall tired and weak,  so I stopped at an aid station to have Hubs pick me up.  I love this course,  and I knew if I was healthy I stood a good chance a good PR, but alas,  it was not meant to be. 

So now,  I am focused (and super excited) about CIM!!! For those of you wondering why CIM (being I am living in Ontario, Canada),  my dad lives in San Ramone California,  and to top it off my sister Melissa and BIL Richard are also running the race.  Added bonus is meeting some really great California bloggers

Which brings me to to

4 weeks Need for Speed or maybe I need Speed!! Countdown to CIM!

I am working on a speed plan,  here is my rough idea. 

Week one (November 2-8)
-4 x 800 m (7-8 miles)
-6 mile tempo
-1 recovery run (4-6 miles)
-long run 30K (yes, I flip constantly between kilometers and miles, some distances I like in miles, some in kilometers! .. weird I know)
-one swim, one bike, and 2 hot yoga workouts

Week two (November 9-15)
-1 x400m,  4 x 800,  1 x1000 (8-9 miles)
-8 mile tempo
-1 recovery run (4-6 miles) w/10 strides
-long run 22 miles
-one swim, one bike, and 2 hot yoga workouts

Week three (November 16-22)
- ladder workout (400-800-1000-1600-1000-800-400) (10 miles)
-1 recovery run w/ 10 strides (5 miles)
-1 steady run (9 miles)
-10 mile race (possibly) or 24K long run
-one swim, one bike, 2 hot yoga workouts

Week four (November 23 -29th)
-3 x 1600 m (8 miles)
-1 recovery run w/10 strides
-1 steady run
-10 mile run with 4 miles at race pace
-one swim, 2 yoga workouts

Week 5 (November 30th - Dec 6th)
-3 x 800 m (6 miles)
-recovery run with /10 strides
-one hot yoga before I leave for SF!!
-CIM (December 6th)

Anyway,  that is the plan,  but I would love/greatly appreciate any feedback. Thanks for reading

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Thanks everyone for your nice messages about my Steamtown race result.  It definately turned out to be more than a training run.

I am working on my Steamtown Report,  but unfortunately got a little cold post marathon sniffles that leaves me napping on the couch after work.  I hope it doesn't hold on, I want to do some speedwork in preparation for the Hamilton Road to Hope marathon November 1st!! I am also thinking of running a half marathon this weekend in Toronto.  I have some goals for that race,  Hamilton, and then CIM the next month.

Tonight I am meeting a friend for Hot Yoga, which is my favourite post race recovery activity,  which brings me to the topic of this post

What is your post-race recovery routine?

 Here is what works for me
-Epsom Salt baths (eucalyptus)
-Extra Sleep
-Herbal tea
-Potato chips (seriously)
-Hot Yoga

So what do you do?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Canadian Thankgiving and Steamtown Marathon Quick Report

First of all Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadians blogger friends.  Hope you are relaxing and enjoying the holiday!  I am cooking a turkey dinner today for my mom and sister (she came home from Nashville to visit!).  Great for active recovery!

Despite a recent post about losing my mojo,  I surprised myself with a small PB yesterday at Steamtown.  I finally felt like I had some kick in my legs and ran my first ever NEGATIVE split marathon.
Time - 4:08:54 (a 26 second PB).  Given that this was a training run,  and I was doubting even a 4:30 finish,  I am very pleased with this result.

Full report to come. Major congratulations to all the marathon runners out there this weekend,  there were a ton of great results,  and I look forward to reading your reports.

Now you'll have to excuse me,  I have a turkey to stuff and get in the oven and an apple crisp to bake.  Have a great Monday!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Full Steam Ahead!

I am officially registered for Steamtown Marathon this weekend! 

***insert happy grin***

I decided to opt for this marathon over Hardford since its on the Sunday, and Hardford is Saturday and I can't register online anymore, and it would be rushed to get there with no entry guarantee.  This last minute marathon will replace my planned 22 miler this weekend (whats 4 more miles..).  

I don't have a race plan yet,  but I will be conservative since this is not my "A" race, so I will likely start out slow and see how it goes.  Weather looks good - partly cloudy low 34F, high 57F so that should help.
This week we have been eating so well.  Its harvest time in Ontario,  and I made a wonderful homemade tomato soup and homemade sphaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes and basil.  While at the farmers market look what I picked up for $2.50!!

One brussel sprout tree!! I never knew how brussel sprouts grew..   Either way,  I rarely make brussel sprouts,  anyone have any good suggestions for preparing them.  Hubs doesn't like them very much,  so I am determined to make a tasty dish that he will like.

Good luck to all the racers this weekend!  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

When one door closes...

another one opens..

I felt this way this morning anyway,  but certainly not the last few days.  I decided for a variety of reasons (which I'd rather not disclose on this blog),  that I couldn't go to run St. George today.  Instead I enjoyed a great 29K run with friends this morning.   I felt the best I have since Muskoka, so it was a good call on my part,  but it sucked to let my registration fee/Utah trip go.  Sigh..  next year. I hope I am able to get in through the lottery.  My plane ticket was credited,  so all is good! :)

I am running Hamilton Road to Hope marathon November 1st,  then CIM on Dec 7th, so this week called for a 29K ish run,  and next week will be a 35K/22 mile trek.   It is also Canadian Thankgiving next weekend so I have the Monday off work, as does Hubs.

Do you see where I am going with this?  (door opening!)

I have a long run scheduled,  and a long weekend.  (Inside voice: Why not run a full marathon instead?!!) 

I want a driveable-to marathon,  so after a quick bit of research on marathon guide these are the contenders.

1) Steamtown Marathon -  this course is similar in nature to the Hamilton course,  and the CIM course.  Some rolling hills,  but overall a significant downhill.  Practice makes perfect (I hope),  but the only con is that I have run PA state twice (2 Philly marathons).

2)  Hartford -  I would love to travel here,  nice flat course.  It would knock Connecticut off of my 50-state list. Cons being well there is no more online registration (just the expo),  and I am not sure it will be the best prep for Hamilton.  Laura also recommended this marathon to me.

I may not choose to run a marathon next weekend.  I am trying (its hard when you are a running addict...)  to choose my events wisely and not just enter everything.  If I feel good and recover well (so far so good), I will register.  Also I am watching the weather,  so no hot, humid marathons that are going to zap me!

I am going to cut this post short.  I am craving a nice Salmon dinner with a great glass of red wine,  and Hubs and I are going out to eat!! Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend and I will catch up with your blogs soon.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


My mojo (my running mojo that is) has left the building!  I still feel sore and worn out from Muskoka 70.3,  and realized this while running the Scotiabank Waterfront halfmarathon this weekend.  Even though I took it "easy",  it was truefully not an easy race for me.  I was sore and sick after,  I seem to have some lingering blisters that are really affecting my running gait,  making everything sore and achy.  Anyway I guess I'll just keeping plugging away to get out of this running slump! 

After Scotia marathon I met up with some friends and watched our friends finish (including Marlene rocking her redemption,  and Hubs ran his 28th marathon!!).  One really cool feature of the Scotia Marathon is special celebrity guest runners called "running legends".  One of them I have mentioned on my blog before,  Ed Whitlock.  Ed Whitlock ran the 2004 Scotia marathon at age 74 in 2:54:49.   Today he is 78, and ran the half marathon in 1:37:33!!   Incredible!  I also got to witness what I would have previously declared IMPOSSIBLE.  Fauja Singh is 98 years old and finished the 5K event in 35 minutes.   I felt a wave of emotion when I saw him approach the finish line.  What an inspiration!!

98 and running a 35 minute 5K.  Even more inspirational I read that he didn't start running until he was 81.  Incredible!!


So while my running mojo has left the building, thankfully there are other sports I love to keep me active and motivated.  Today I went to newly formed staff weight training club after school.  I generally dislike lifting weights and want to spend as little time at the gym as possible, so it was good to just do a simple 45 minute circuit after school.  The club meets Mon and Thurs,  so this should be enough in terms of weight training for me and it felt good to get a strength training workout in.  Today was arms and I did the following
-15 pushups
-50 situps
-incline press (15 reps of all of the exercises below)
-chest press
-seated row
-upright row
-tricep curls

I just did one set today since I didn't want to be super sore tomorrow (I probably will be anyway),  but it is a good start anyway.  Thursday is legs!!

I also went to an Epicure party tonight,  and sampled some delicious dips.  I bought mini pizza pans,  which I am super excited about.. mmm homemade pizza. 

After the Epicure party,  I went to my second triathlon swim class.  The class is coached by Paul Johnson and so far its pretty good.  Alot of sprinting and speedwork. I hope we also get some stroke improvement tips.  We also do alot of drills with flippers,  so I went out and bought a pair.

Tonight we didn't end up using the flippers, but did a few challenging drills.  One was an 8 x 50 meters sprint with 15 seconds rest. After each set our "rest" began after we jumped out of the water onto the pool deck,  an extra upper body workout!    Anyway I am really liking the class so far,  although it is definately a good workout!!

Sorry if this post is full of typos, I'm tired and need sleep!
Hope you all had a great Monday.  Thanks for reading!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fall Five Miler Race Report

I participated in Running Laur's Fall Five Miler Race on Wednesday this week.

I went for a trail run with friends Wednesday evening on the Seaton Trail which located along the West Duffins Creek in Pickering, Ontario. The trail is very pretty and has some very challenging terrain and is the perfect run location for a fall-themed run.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera,  and I didn't wear  a watch,  so I don't have much to report, but it was a really nice run and this event helped get me out and doing it!  One of my running friends said our distance was 8.9K which is over 5 miles.  Thanks Running Laur for organizing this (you rock!). I **love** fall running!!

And it has finally felt like fall running lately!!  Although it was a humid mess earlier this week,  it has cooled off just in time for marathon season. 

I have decided to go it alone (sans Hubs) to St. George as well,  I think it will be an adventure and I am super-excited! In order to better prepare,  I made a last minute decision to run the half tomorrow at the Scotiabank Watefront Marathon.  No big PR plans,  just a forced faster -closer to marathon paced run.  I am still recovering from my half iron a few back so I can't afford to overdo it. Hubs is doing the full as a "training run" Crazy nut! 

Congrats to all of the racers this weekend.  A few triathletes were born!!  And ofcourse good luck to all of the Scotiabank runners especially Marlene who is seeking her redemption this weekend also at Scotia!

Hope you all have a great rest of your weekend!! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Moving Forward

Thanks everyone for your kind words about my Ironman 70.3.  I find it amazing that some of you said you were inspired by me,  when so many of you inspire me daily!!  I definately will complete another half iron,  and I have an Ironman in my sights/thoughts,  but first I need to work on becoming a faster triathlete.  I plan on running a few marathons this fall,  but to keep up the cycling and swimming.  I wish I could keep doing triathlons throughout the winter!

In the meantime,  I have St.George Utah marathon on Oct 3rd.  At least I thought I did...  Hubs is having trouble getting the time off work so I may have to go alone,  or not go at all.  I keep wavering between the two.  In one respect I really want to run the marathon.  The course looks beautiful,  and I have already paid my registration fee.  Would you travel by yourself to a marathon?

On the other hand training for the Muskoka 70.3 had me running less than I normally would for a marathon.  I did run a few 30+ K runs,  but haven't focused on speed to any large degree.  This week I have been tired so I stuck to easy workouts (1 swim, 1 bike and 2 runs).  I don't mind just completing the marathon,  but I was sorta hoping to PR it or at least enjoy it with Hubs. 

I do have some other news. I am running the Hamilton Road 2 Hope marathon on November 1st,  and then I am even more excited to announce that I am running the CIM marathon December 6th.  My sister and brother in law are also running it,  and we are going to stay at my Dad's in San Ramone.  I hope I can meet some of my favourite west coast bloggers.  I can't wait to run a marathon with my sister (although she will be much faster than me)!!

Here are a couple of more pictures from Muskoka 70.3;

Swim to Bike Transition




Finish line (My wave started 33 minutes after gun time)

Congratulations to all racers this weekend,  I look forward to reading your race reports.  Hope you all have a great Monday,  thanks for reading!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Race Report: IronMan Muskoka 70.3

I did it!!  I am an Ironman (woman 70.3).  It was of one the most awesome days EVER !!  I was certain nothing could top crossing the finish line of my first marathon- until yesterday... The race had a bit of everything, tears,  a bike crash (seriously), laughter, joy, and triumph.  Most importantly I found some inner strength I never knew I had. 

My Journey to 70.3 (preface to the race)
Having been a runner for five years,  I always kinda of balked at the idea of branching out from running,  feeling instead a need to focus of becoming a better, faster, runner. I signed up for this race a bit on a whim.  I was inspired by some triathletes in Parry Sound called the Nachos,  and thought maybe a triathlon would be a nice diversion from just running.  I was pretty sure when I decided to complete my first triathlon that it would just be a fun little race to complement my running,  but it turned out I absolutely LOVED my first triathlon and immediately signed up for the Muskoka 70.3 after being suckered in by one of their inspirational promo videos. So began my journey to become an Ironman 70.3....

Since I signed up for the race with less than 10 weeks to train,  I began to seriously doubt my descision.  My longest cycle was 16K (10 miles) at that point. I also found out that the course I had chosen was determined by the Ironman folks to be the toughest bike and run course of all of 70.3 series,  and that the bike course was actually 94k (58 miles) as opposed to usual 90K (56 miles)... ***gulp***.   However with the support of many great friends, and alot of training crammed into a little over two months,  I somehow made it to the start line.  Here is how the day unfolded....

Race weekend  - Pre race
Unlike many marathons I have completed,  Ironman Muskoka was an entire weekend event, culminating with the race Sunday morning. I woke up in a panicky haze Friday morning.  I had taken the day off work to make it up to Huntsville for the athletes banquet so I was able to sleep in,  but I could not seem to organize myself to pack.  Thank goodness for Hubs,  who made a packing list and helped me organize everything into the car, before he headed out to work.   I was a tearful, emotional mess.  In fact I think I teared up everytime I got one of many e-mails or facebook well wishes.  The support really meant the world,  thank-you SO MUCH! I knew I had done everything I could to prepare,  but I was still unsure how the day would unfold.

We made it up to Huntsville and went straight for the expo.  I have never attended such a supremely well organized event -registration and kit pick up was flawless.  We hit up the expo where I purchased some awesome swag - a bike jersey and a few other items (went a tad overboard - but hey its my first 70.3). 

After registering we attended the athletes banquet.  The spread was awesome; pasta, rollls, salad, chicken, veggies, softdrinks,cookies, tea and coffee.  The best part was being with friends and talking through some of our worries.  We were all a little frazzled from a big day so we left before all of the speeches.  I stayed at my friends cottage which is located on a beautiful lake about 30 minutes from the race - and it was really nice to escape the tension of the day.   

Saturday morning after a great sleep and breakfast we headed back to Deerhurst to check in our bikes and scope out the course.  It was so exciting and intimidating at the same time.  So many beautiful people, and expensive bikes and gear.  I felt like I was out of place amoungst so many obviously extremely fit athletic people -and I never thought I would feel that way.  Humbling and inspiring at the same time.

Returning to the cottage we went for a 1K practice swim,  packed our transition gear, made a great dinner,  and stayed mellow.  It felt like the weekend was being dragged out...  I just wanted to get on with the race!!!

Sunday morning - Race morning
I actually slept really well Sat. night and woke up ready to go. From there we were kept busy - setting up gearing, helping each other into our wetsuits,  checking and double checking that everything was set and ready to go.  Suddenly transition area was being closed and the race would be starting.  Hubs snapped a few pictures of us setting up from a distance (only athletes were allowed in transition area)

Wetsuit on, ready to go....

Once transition area closed,  we were hearded down to the swim start area about a kilometer away- barefoot!!  Ouch. 
The race started at 8 am,  I was in the seventh wave, with white caps that started at 8:33.  I hated starting so late...  more Sun - we were allowed a brief warm up.

And then we were off!!
The Swim - 2K - 46:56 - 2:21 per 100 meters
I tried to just use the swim as a warm up.  Actually the swim felt wonderful.  The water was cool and refreshing and I just relaxed and swam.  The swim was a point-to-point route which I really like.

Swim exit
T1 - 5:56
There were volunteers that helped you out of the water which was a good thing - I always feel a little dizzy standing up from the swim.  After exiting I quickly pulled my wetsuit to waist-length and was stripped by a wetsuit stripper volunteer.  Let me say that wetsuit strippers RULE!!! You simply lie on the ground and stick your legs up in the air - and they peel your wetsuit off in an instant and hand in back to you!!  No clumsy tripping over your wetsuit.
It was a good 700 meters up a steep hill from the water to the bike transition,  but it was made easier but the many spectators lining the path and cheering us on.  Hubs was there shouting out congratulations and words of encouragement.

I tried to be purposeful and not rushed in transition and double-checked that I did not forget anything.  The bike course is long and I did not want to be stuck out on the course to save a few seconds.  I was actually surprised at my transition time - it felt longer than the nearly six minutes posted.   All in all - swim and bike transition were a great sucess!!
Heading out to the bike mounting area

The Bike - 94K (58 miles)-  3:56 (23.9 kph)

I felt a little weak heading out to the bike - the hills start right away,  but within the first 10K after eating and drinking I felt fine and was having an awesome bike.  My goal was to bike the course and focus on nutrition and not overdoing it for the run.  I also wanted to love the hills.

For the first part of the bike I was being passed constantly by mostly strong females in the heat behind me or males that struggle with swim but are strong cyclists.  But as time went on, I began to notice I was catching and passing a fair number of females,  which was fun.  I tried not to get sucked in though,  I knew this race was about discipline and racing the bike would cost me in spades later. 
I saw Hubs just after half way and he video taped me passing by (I will post later),  and all and all felt great.

Just past a 65K the course I was starting to tire but still felt great!  I noticed a cylist dismount on the steep hill up ahead, and pull off right,  so I veared left avoid her and move around. Well at the last second she decided to pull out in front of me,  and I crashed right into her.  Her bike and her landed on top of me.

I had been in such a good spot mentally up until that point,  but when my bike went crashing down I screamed out in pain.  I had hit my hip hard to the ground,  and my right calf was spasming. 

I saw all that I worked for to finish the race halt - and I thought I was done -  I began to sob.  

Although the woman was apologizing profusely to me - I was really spacey -  she got up from on top me and helped me get out of my clips.  There was a police patrole car and they stopped to see if I needed to be pulled from the course.  They tried to help me up and I felt nausea -  I think going from upright on the bike to flat out on the ground,  and my calf was spasming.  My elbow was throbbing as well.  It took me a few tries,  but eventually I was able to stand.

I thought of everyone who was out to cheer me on, all the people who had help me train  and all of the effort and time I had put into this - I knew I owed it to them and myself to finish or at least try.  If I was unable - so be it, but I wanted to try.
Here is a partial picture of my hip today. (I saved you from my right butt cheek which is almost entirely black today).  My calf, elbow, and basically whole right side is bruised today.

Anyway I started back out,  and I was shaky at first,  but then I felt really proud of myself - I really had a good reason to quit -  but I kept going,  and although I was hurting a little,  I was able to manage the pain - it is wonderful what Aleve and adrenalin can do!!

The bike was hard - but beautiful - I had moments of emotion when I pulled back to Deerhurst for the run -  I knew that I would finish this race - even if it meant walking the half marathon.

T2 - 2:35
Second transition went well -  I forgot to take off my bike gloves, but threw them at Hubs who was cheering me on -  I so wanted to tell him about my crash,  but I knew he would just worry, so I smiled - I was despite everything - having fun.

The Run -21.1K -2:25:42 (6:55 per kilometer)

I started the run not knowing how much I could run.  It was a really hilly course - actually the hilliest half marathon I have ever ran -and it was full Sun. I had stretched out my calf in the last part of the bike using my pedals on the downhill,  so I was pleasantly surprised that I could still run.  My gait was akward,  but I was able to move. 

As it turned out the biggest issue on the run was nausea - I felt sick when I ran for long periods so I resorted to run-walk,  and power walking (as everyone was doing) up the steep inclines.  My friend Michelle gave me a great mantra for the run- run when you can,  walk when you have to.  For the most part I ran the flats, and downhills, walked uphills, water stations or when I felt nautious.

Although my run time was really slow - even my very first half marathon was faster than this I actually was faring quite well and passed alot of people in the second half relative to the first where I was passed by a few people.

Anyway there was one final huge 2K incline followed by a 1 K decline to the Deerhurst.  As I was climbing the last part of the hill,  the spectators began to appear.  Clapping,  congratulating me!   I saw Hubs at the top of the hill and began jumping up and down with excitement.  I had this!

It was such a wonderful feeling and I tried to take it all in,  and ofcourse as usual,  cried my way to the finish line.  At the final turn I saw some fellow Nacho friends and mentors (who had finished over 2 hours earlier), and they were cheering me in, and exchanged high fives.

As I approached the finish line they held up the tape - at first I was like ... um there is some mistake here,  but they do this for all Ironman finishers -  what a great feeling to finally cross the line and break the tape!!

At the finish line I recieved a mega swag - finish line tape, finishers hat, shirt - and the medal!!

IronMan Swag
My new favourite medal!
Overall time
7:17:16 - 56 out of 72 in age group.  I am really amazed that I did that well considering everything,  and I know there is huge room for improvement.   All in all my first Ironman 70.3  was a huge sucess.
I am beyond sore today and had trouble walking - I will give my calf a few days to assess the damage - but I am one hampy camper!!  Thanks for all of your support - and as usual thanks for reading!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Only those who attempt the absurd ......

achieve the impossible....

I found this jacket in my favourite triathlon store and I had to have it.  It's my pre-reward for Ironman Muskoka 70.3  and my motto during the race.

Final pre-race thoughts?

1. Stay calm.  I am a bundle of nervous emotional energy.  I just feel very excited and priveledged to do this!  Hubs is very patient when I move from self-doubt to tears to excited energy (well I'm not that bad,  but close)

2. I am setting no goals except to finish this one.  I want to enjoy the event. It will be enough just to finish. I think it will take over 7 hours for me to complete this, but if it takes more, so be it.

3.  Embrace the hills.  The bike and run course are hilly.  So I ***love*** hills.  Repeat.  I ***love*** hills.

4.  Thanks for all the support.  When I got into this triathlon beezznuss I had no idea how much time, energy, and money it would take to train for this race.  Thanks to all of my friends (both virtual and not) who gave me support,  words of encouragement.  Ofcourse special thanks to Hubs who always supports everything I do 100%. 

I promise to catch up on blogs soon. This week was also the first week back to work (school), so it was a busy one.

So its off I go.  I am staying at a friends cottage who lives near the event,  and our group is all doing the event,  so it should be good to calm these crazy nerves of mine.
Thanks for reading and good luck to all those other racers this weekend!! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My last day of summer holidays

My last post left you with a description of a half wonderful 90K (56 miles) Sunday ride,  ruined by a strong headwind and cold sleet rain the entire 45K return.  I also planned to ride another 94K (58 miles), on a much hillier route,  the same course I will be riding in 12 days!!

So when my alarm went off at 6 am Tuesday morning I was less than enthusiastic to get up.  My quads were still sore from my Sunday ride.  I also knew (riding the course a few weeks back),  what a tough, long ride I was in for.  I also had to drive up to the race location (2 and half hours away) to get the ride in.  To top it off, this was my last day of summer holidays.  Our school had our first PD day today,  so Tuesday was it.

I considered cancelling on my ride partner,  but thankfully she was ready to go,  and had no intentions of not wanting to do it. 

So we drove up there,  and it was nearly 10:30 when we arrived and I was already starving (my homemade flax bread and almond butter breaky would not cut it),  so we went to Tim Hortons for a bagel and cream cheese, which really helped.

We unloaded our bikes, and after some issues with tire pressure (OK - it took us awhile to figure out how to inflate our tires,  Hubs tends to take care of these things,  but we were determined females, so we figured it out!)  It was after 11:30 when we finally got started.

As we started out,  my quad were really sore.  I kept quiet about it,  since I didn't want to bail on my riding partner.  The course is one loop (all 94K), so you really shouldn't ride it alone, especially since some parts are on a highway.    I just kind of ignored the pain and tried to focus on what a beautiful day it was.

And it really was a beautiful day.  I found myself really enjoying the sites,  and as my legs warmed up,  the quad soreness disappeared and I felt huge surges of energy.   I began to enjoy tackling the hills (well most of them - there are some doozies on this course),  and the stunning scenery.  It really is a beautiful course.  I saw a deer at one point on the course,  and the lakes sparkled like diamonds as the mid-afternoon Sun hit the water. 

All throughout the ride I sipped water from my Camelpak,  and took gels every 40 minutes or so.  I also took a Clif Bar at the halfway point (on the advice of a Ironman expert),  and although it was tough to choke down,  it really gave me a TON of energy for the second half.  I will definately do this again race day.

All in all, I felt great about the ride.   When we finished we jumped in the lake (the same lake we will do our swim in) and it felt amazing on our quads.   I knew I was officially on the taper!!  Oddly I felt kinda of sad about this.  Having only starting biking two months ago,  I am really enjoying these long training cycles.  It took me awhile to get used to balancing all my workouts (I really missed running 5 times a week at first),  but now I feel like it was the best thing ever I could have done for myself this summer.  I really love the variety,  and I feel like my stamina has really improved! I know I am not 100% as prepared as I could be for this race,  but I now know I can do this,  and I am super excited about race day.

After our dip we refueled and drove back home.   It was after 8pm when I finally got home,  just enough time to prepare for work in the morning and get to bed.

It was a great day,  the perfect way to spend my last day of summer vacation!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Logs, Rocks, and Steel

Hello everyone,  Happy Monday/Last day of August!!

Its also less than two weeks until Muskoka 70.3,  my FIRST half iron.....


I am excited, but nervous as well. What better way to quelsh some nerves than to oh, sign up for a race?!!

Its a fun race, an adventure race. Labour day weekend we are going to a friend's cottage with running friends, and participating in teams of two in an event called Logs, Rocks and Steel.

We are doing the short course, which entails
-a 4Km paddle (Hubs swears he knows how to steer a canoe)
-a 15Km trail bike
-5Km singletrack trail run

My teammate is Hubs, and our team name is "The Marathon Maniacs". Groan. I know, not very original, but look, we already have our shirts!!!

It should be fun,  my first ever adventure "race".  I say race,  but we are just doing it for fun. I don't want any twisted ankles or bruises before my half iron the following weekend.
I also went for a half wonderful long 90K bike yesterday. I say half wonderful, because on the way out I felt strong, terrific, and averaged about a 31.5kph pace! Then one the turn around, we met the wind I hadn't realized was at my back during the way out. Ofcourse it was drizzling rain and I struggled the entire 25 miles or 45K back. I never mind wind that much while running, but wow, it can really change the outcome on the bike, we averaged about 22kph on the way back, and by the end of the bike I was screaming to myself (and sometimes outloud) "Get me the fffity f%** off of this bike!!" :)  I was also freezing, it took the entire day and a 45 minute shower to warm up!  But I'm better now. Tomorrow I am riding the Muskoka 94K route for the last time before the race, and it will also be my last long ride. I hope there is no wind!

Hope you are having a good Monday, thanks for reading!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Muskoka 70.3 training update

One of the reasons I have been so absent lately was because I went on vacation to visit my sister in Nashville.  Holidays coupled with dual workout days, leaves little time for blogging. I have been trying to visit and comment sporadically on your blogs.
Also congratulations to Mel on her recent triathlon completion!!!! She signed up for another one right away. Awesome, and just posted some great pictures of her tearing up the course.

I had an opportunity to ride most of the Muskoka 70.3 bike course with some friends that are also racing the Ironman.  The race takes place about 2.5 hours from where I live, and my friend has a cottage nearby,  so I was fortunate to be able to go up and ride the route. The bike course route is actually 94Km (~58 miles) instead of the usual 90Km (~56 miles). This is because the course is basically shaped liked a lollipop,  and goes around a huge lake called the Lake of Bays. The course map can be found here if you are curious.
I snatched a video from the Ironman website. In the video 11-time Ironman Lisa Bentley previews the Muskoka course:

Don't those Ironman videos give you the chills? I need to give props to Lisa, who is a real role model for Canadian female triathletes. A few years ago, my sister Melissa was given full paid trip to compete in Ironman Canada (Ontario to BC) from Lisa's winnings (my sister had won her age group at a triathlon in Peterborough, Ontario). She is very supportive to budding triathletes!

On another note, did you see that elevation chart? The course is super hilly! I really felt it on my practice ride, I certainly had moments of doubt - can I do this??!! I know I can, but let me tell you - it won't be fast or easy!

I know people who have completed several full and half Ironmans that say its the hardess 70.3 course (its actually longer than 70.3 since the bike is 4km longer, I think the swim is 1.9K instead of 2K). But although its hard, its super beautiful, so I am going to try to focus on that during the bike and run. I am going to ride it again on Tuesday with a friend, we are driving up early Tuesday morning so I think that will help with my mental and physical preparation.

While in Nashville, I had a chance to ride an equally challenging and wonderfully scenic route on the Natchez Trace Parkway. What is the Natchez Trace?

What Is The Natchez Trace Parkway?

The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway commemorates an ancient trail used by animals and people that connected southern portions of the Mississippi River, through Alabama, to salt licks in today's central Tennessee. Today, visitors can experience this National Scenic Byway and All-American Road through driving, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping.

So basically the road is for recreational use only - no transports, and has a relatively low speed limit. Heaven for a cyclist!!! We rode 91Km of the Natchez Trace and it was challenging but AWESOME. The road goes through the Alpalachian Mountains through Tenessee, cuts through part of Alabama, and ends in Mississipi (which is apparently flat but the part near Nashville was not). 

Here is most of our route from Map our Ride. We rode 25 miles out, 25 back.

The Natchez Trace starts in Nashville at a cute little tourist area, where there is a hotel famous for smoked ham called the Loveless Cafe and Motel.  Cute.  Hubs and I went in and shared a meal (although not ham, we had smoked turkey- we don't eat red meat or pork) and it was HUGE!!  More than we could finish between the two of us.   They really cater to cyclists and had even a bike shop right there called Trace Bicycles,  and other cute art and crafts type shops.

It hard to tell,  but this is an area that is about 100 meters up in the air called Birds Hollow.  Hubs didn't want to pause long to take my picture.  You kinda of had a feeling of flying through here- cool and scary at the same time,  my bike computer hit over 60km/h (36 mph) at several points of the trip!

We saw flocks of wild turkeys and even a snake that was large enough to eat a rat!! (sorry no pics, we gave the snake a wide berth!)

Lots of climbling....
and lots
of climbing!!
Entrance and exit to the Trace..
The route has washrooms,  bed and breakfast hotels, and campsites along the route. I was thinking I would like to ride the entire route - all 444 miles maybe in the spring. Anyone interested in joining? I think it would be an awesome experience!

If you haven't yet, go visit Tall Mom and enter her Pearls of Wisdom Giveaway!
Happy Friday Thanks for reading!!