Friday, October 31, 2008

It's official

I've lost my mind! I am running another marathon this weekend, the Hamilton Road to Hope Marathon, in a quest to become a Marathon Maniac.

Hmmm.... Road to Hope Marathon. What do I hope happens in this marathon?
I hope to finish! Seriously. I will totally go with feel and try not push myself. Its going to be tough, and I promise if I feel any injury or that I'm hurting myself, I'll take it easy. Its kinda of liberating to enter a race without a huge push or goal. Hubs and I might run together.
Good luck to Marlene this weekend as she kills the half marathon.

Happy Halloween and Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Marathon Maniac?!?

Well my quads are still feeling slightly sore from Niagara, but here I am plotting my next adventure. I have already signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon on November23rd, and I can't wait to run it.

Having four weeks between now and then, it would be ideal to have another long run this weekend and then the usual three week taper. Hubs is running the Hamilton Marathon this weekend, and it is his third in a row. He belongs to the same Marathon Maniac club that Laura does.

Sooooo... since I would likely be running a 30+K (20 mile) run this weekend anyway, maybe I could run Hamilton as well and qualify for the Maniac club. Of course this idea does have the following

1) I don't want to burn out for Philly. It is my main goal race for the fall running season, so I want to still be fresh and hungry for the race!
2) I don't want to get injured
3) My friends B-day is this weekend which could mean a late night Saturday.

1) I would have a long training run and complete my 10th marathon. I think it would be great prep for Philly.
2) I am curious to see how my body reacts to back to back marathons
3) I would become a Maniac!

So I need your help. What should I do? I am going to run tomorrow night to test the "post race" waters. If I do run Hamilton, I will likely aim for a slower race (4:30 ish), but then again you never know, so I should be prepared to stay out as long as needed. The body is capable of great things sometimes.

In the meantime, I have been making sure that I fully nourish my body with what it needs after a marathon for a proper recovery.
(And I don't really like beer either!)

Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Race Report: Niagara Falls International Marathon

I was attracted to the Niagara Falls International Marathon for a few reasons. 1) Its the only marathon that begins in one country and finishes in another. 2) It is a fabulously flat course (real PR material), and 3) It ends at the base of the Bridal Veil Falls. This race was really terrific for these highlights and others as I'll describe in this race report. Put it on your list people, its a good marathon to run.

When Hubs a I arrived in Niagara Falls Saturday afternoon, we went straight to the expo. The expo was small, but very well run. Before you could pick up your race kit you had to clear customs, and were told to bring your passport on the bus ride to the start line. We were a little disappointed that the pasta dinner was sold out, but I figured I could meet Laura in the morning since there was about an hour wait after we were bussed to Buffalo. The race kit was good and included a complimentary wine sampling coupons for a Niagara-on-the-Lake winery, a huge bag of pasta, and a complimentary art book from the museum that would host us before the race started. The shirt was one of the nicer shirts I have gotten. Hubs and I snapped a few pictures by the Falls, had a quiet dinner and were laying low by 9:00. I actually slept pretty well before the race.

The days leading up to the Niagara Falls Marathon had me worried about the weather. During the week before, it snowed, and they were calling for rain and huge wind gusts. It was also cold and wet when we arrived. When Sunday morning came, the weather gods blessed us with a nice sunny day with a high of about 12oC. The wind would be a tailwind and at our backs for most of the race (or so we were told!). In our race kits we were given a rain coat which I wore for warmth over my race clothes, and wrapped around my waist just in case it did rain at some point during the race. A very thoughtful detail.

When I boarded the bus to the start line Sunday morning, I got to meet Laura, and we hit it off right away, chatting the whole way to the start line. We had a few tense moments at the boarder when some of the clueless runners forgot their identification and the bus driver informed us we may be turned back (thankfully we weren't). Hubs snapped a photo of Laura and I on the bus.

When we arrived at the Museum (a beautiful white building with fabulous art -Picasso, Monet, etc), we were greeted by jazz music, and flushing toilets!! (Yippee, runners have such class, LOL!) We could only eat in some rooms, so Laura, Hubs and I went to the eating room and relaxed for a little while waiting for the race to begin. I was impressed on how many people approached Laura with her Maniacs singlet, there are alot of Maniacs out there! LOL! I am tempted to become one (I save the details for another post).

Outside of the Museum

Waiting inside the Museum

When the race started, I promised myself that I wouldn't go out to fast, so when the race started, I tried to stay calm when so many people shot forward. In fact we had a short out and back loop before the race headed to the boarder, and I noticed I was definitely towards the back of the pack. I kept telling myself "run your own race".

I loved how I could settle into my pace so quickly. The air was crisp and clear, and it was sunny and bright. I found myself letting out a happy sigh. I was relieved that we were finally off and that the weather was co-operating. I thought about how I love running, that this is what its all about, and this is the reward.

We toured through some beautiful old homes in Buffalo for the first few miles, before we headed towards the border. Hubs brought his camera, and documented most of the route.

Notice the "Canada, No exit" sign. Thats right all you Americans, once you enter, there's no escaping! The border crossing was awesome, and it was so much fun to run across the border, even though it was so windy on the bridge!

Here is a picture Hubs snapped, he was still on the bridge and I was off the bridge heading to Fort Erie. He yelled out so I looked up.

It was windy heading over to Fort Erie were we had a small loop before we headed due North towards the Falls. This section was windy, and a small group of runners and myself took turns drafting each other from the wind. I felt relaxed and kept wanting to pick it up but stayed calm

I passed 10K (6 miles) at 56:00 minutes, and felt relaxed and strong. I could see the 4:00 pace group ahead, but had no plans to pass them. I told myself that would happen if I felt strong after the first half of the race.

We ran through a few ghost towns, and along some large beautiful homes along the Niagara River. The first half flew by. Around the 11 mile mark I passed Laura, and we gave each other some support, and then the 4:00 group (only briefly since they were run-walking and I was steady running). I felt terrific. I reached the halfway point at 2:00:30, and I was inspired by the fact that I still felt so strong. My pace was a steady 5:40km/min the whole first half.

Kilometers 22-30 went well, I had parts where I struggled, but nothing that made me want to stop or slow down. I told myself I could take a walk after 32K if I wanted. There were very few spectators along the course, but the aid stations volunteers were terrific! They wore costumes and cheered so loudly that you could hear them from half a kilometer away!! WOW! I reached 30K at 2 hours, 51 minutes. I started to think just maybe I could hold on for four hours. I still felt relatively strong, and my pace had slowed only slightly 5:41 km/min. I did start to notice a some pain from emerging blisters but nothing to make me want to stop.

I kept going on, and reached 32K at 3:03. I felt emotion grip me, I knew it was possible to maybe make 4:00 hours. I remember *Aron's* sign. 10miles in your head, 10 miles with your legs, and 6 miles (10K) with your heart. Did I have the heart?!! 57minutes for 10K should be a piece of cake, but after 32K, was it possible?

I felt myself thrust my hips forward. I still felt strong cardiovascular wise, but my blisters were starting to hurt and my hips were tightening. As I ran by an aid station I asked them in desperation, did they have Advil?!? No they didn't! Unfortunately I forgot mine (now I know Lily you wouldn't approve, but I would only have taken one). I was a little mad at myself for forgetting to put it in my skirt pocket. I told myself I was tough, and didn't need it.

I took my first walk break (rather suddenly) at 32.5Km. It was then that I realized how stiff and sore I was. In retrospect, I wish I had never walked. I think it made it worse. Next time no promised walk breaks until I am finished! I began run/walking, not wanting to let my chance of a PR slip away.

Laura gave me the boost I needed when she ran by me at 36.5K. She told me I was going to kill my PR! I wanted so desperately to pick it up and run with her, but it did help me get going and I pushed as much as I could to to get to the finish line. She looked strong and effortless in her race!

It was weird to be not tired, my feet felt raw with each step, and my hips were so tight. The wind was out in full force, but I was determined to keep going. I was going to win the mental game today.

Eventually the gentle flowing river turned into angry rapids and then the mist of the Falls emerged. I was so thankful to see that mist!! The last few kilometers were downhill, and I pushed hard to get in under 4:16, and I did it. I felt so proud that I pushed through, and had such a strong race. It turns out those last 10K(6 miles) took me 1 hour, 12 minutes. I need to work on those last miles, but it gives me hope that I can improve in Philly.

Stats for my 9th marathon:
Time: 4:15:20
Gender Place: 121/307
Age Place: 20/38

I love running marathons! Between Laura and Hubs I am inspired to become a Marathon Maniac. More details on that to follow. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Marathon of Firsts

The Niagara Falls Marathon presented a number of firsts for me including:

1) First time crossing an International Border by Foot - That was awesome!!
2) First time meeting Laura, who by the way is just as awesome in person as she is on her blog.
3) First time running a 2:51 30K and 3:03 32K. My marathon PB for 30K was 2:53 and change. My only offical 30K race was Around the Bay and was 2:55 and change.
4) The first time I have run (without walking) 32K. My first walk break was around 32K after which they were plentiful!
5) My first time finishing before the 4:00 hour pace bunny......


OK, now I am playing with you, but being honest at the same time. The 4:00 pace bunny finished around 4:2-, he tanked during the race.

I did get my PB (barely). My official time is four hours, fifteen minutes and twenty seconds. And I am pleased. I had some really bad blisters and quad pain that really slowed my last 10K. I am a little dissapointed that the last 10K took my 1 hour, 12 minutes, but overall very pleased that I still held on for a PB. This marathon was a great course, and the weather was great! Best of all, I know I can improve on this time in Philly in a few weeks.

Overall, I feel extremely grateful. I have a lot of support. My husband (love ya), family, running friends, and ofcourse my running blogger friends. I was truly touched by the support you offered for this and other races (that didn't go as planned). I carried thoughts about each and every one of you to the finish line, and it really helped me get through. Thanks for that!

I will post a detailed race report later, but for now, thanks again, and thanks for reading. I hope everyone else's races went well today.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slow (to start) and Steady (to finish) Wins the Race

Well maybe not win, but maybe have at PR!!

This post is for Nike Mom's Photo Friday (just a few hours early).
With the wind at my back. I will be strong, upright, and smiling as I run towards this wonder of the world!

Thanks for all of your well wishes in the previous post. Also good luck to anyone who is racing this weekend, especially Mel who is finally able to participate in a race after a long injury, and M.J.C who is running her first marathon!
I am hoping to meet up with Laura, she is running Niagara as well.
OK I have to edit (for the 10th time to add in Vava! His first 10K race!! in Niagara -good luck, and *aron* with her half)

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wonky Weather and Race Goals

This is going to be a short post because its been a long day and I'm exhausted.

Checking the forecast for this weekend (Niagara Marathon) is a little unnerving. One day its sunny, the next its raining. Currently they are calling for a high of 13, with part cloud/Sun/light rain. Perfect! Only one scary tidbit, 45km/hr wind, let's hope its at my back.

Today we have rain/snow sleet in Whitby! Yuck! Regardless of the weather, I am going to try my best. I have trained for this, I can do it. At least its not going to be warm and humid!

In terms of goals, I have just one: get a PR. I know I can, I just have to go out slow. I want to enjoy the race and the scenery, I have never crossed a border by foot before.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Race Report: Toronto Marathon (Spectator Perspective)

Today I was a spectator for the Toronto Marathon, and it was fun, although I wish I could have been out there today. It was a gorgeous day for a race, with a high of only 13oC(55F), sunny and no real wind. Hubs was running the full marathon.

The Toronto Marathon is always 3 weeks after the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon (Scotia), and although it has been around longer, it is the smaller of the two. There are few reasons (some fact, some speculation on my part) for this:

1) Scotia is a flatter course, Toronto has only huge hill called "Hog's Hollow"

2) Scotia has more entertainment. There wasn't even music at the start/finish lines at Toronto. Definately something the organizers need to improve for next time.

3) There is a not huge money pot for the winners- hence few elites (read: few blazing Kenyans).

I usually run the half in Toronto and Hubs runs the full, but this year, having Niagara next weekend, I decided not to run the half (which killed me - Toronto is one of my favourite half courses). I have always thought that Scotia is the better of the two for a full marathon, but after today, I think next year I will run Toronto as my full and Scotia will be a half. Here are some reasons why:

1) The temperature is always cooler for Toronto. This year Scotia was 23C (73F)and humid, Toronto was 13C (55F)and perfect.

2) The course is more scenic. Running down Young street is exciting with Toronto cityscape in the background. There is a waterfront portion that is much nicer than than running under the Gardiner (a raised highway for American readers) or the Leslie Spit.

3) There is no stampede of half marathoners at the beginning. They start an hour earlier, so you can find your pace right away without weaving. Toronto also starts North of downtown so your Garmin can actually get a satellite signal right away and hence, keep your pace in check.

I planned on cheering Hubs on at three points during the race (8K, 19K and 34K). I didn't make the 8K point quick enough as the traffic from road closures was crazy. I should have taken the subway. I got to the 19K point when the 3:00 marathoners were running by and found a point where there were no spectators and started clapping, and shouting cliches madly. "2K to halfway, Looking strong bib #---, 19K straight ahead, Awesome Pace" Hubs was planning for around a 4:30ish marathon, so I knew I would be a while, but it was fun. Cheering is work though, and my hands are sore (LOL). Make sure you thank those spectators, even if you can only muster a nod. It was interesting studying people's gaits as they ran by. For some, it seemed like a physical impossibility that they were last fast for seemingly strange gaits, but it was obviously working for them.

Anyway when Hubs ran by I almost missed him. I would be a terrible race photographer, fumbling and getting all excited instead of taking the picture. I managed to snap his picture at 34K. He was looking strong for late in the race.

Hubs finished his 19th marathon in 4:26-- . Not a PR, but he is not looking to kill any of them. He is planning on running Niagara next weekend and Hamilton marathon the following. Crazy Maniac, like someone else I know. He is looking at requesting his Marathon Maniac bib. He is well qualified, running 5 marathons in 5 weeks in the spring, and 3 marathons in 3 weeks in the fall (actually 5 but not 5 in a row).

I found the marathon to be inspirational for next week. One important reoccurring lesson for me: don't go out too fast!! Repeat, don't go out too fast!!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Story of Bill and the Shoe Tree

Sorry I have been MIA this week. It was a busy week, with parent-teacher interviews at work, and a number of other outside of work commitments which has rendered me three days without a run, and a little anxious about it. I am tapering now, but that doesn't mean not running at all. Oh well, I plan on running today and tomorrow.

Last night I went to Casino Rama with a good friend of mine to see Bill Cosby, which has left my sides a little sore from yesterday. The man still is hilarious at seventy one years of age! And yes he did the dentist routine.

While we were driving up to the show, my friend mentioned the shoe tree that she passes every time she goes up to the casino.

I had never heard or seen the shoe tree before and asked if we could stop and take a picture. It is on a relatively quiet highway in the middle of nowhere, so I wasn't expecting much, but I was surprised when we can across it.

I tried to research how the shoe tree came to be, but found nothing, so if anyone knows the history of the shoe tree, or about any other shoe tree, I'd be interested to know more about it. It was an impressive site.

As far as the casino, it was my second time ever in a casino. I put five dollars in a quater slot machine, and won $10, and cashed out right away. LOL. Hey, it buys me lunch!

Wishing everyone well at their races this weekend (Marlene, Nitmos, Roadbunner, Julianne, Christy, Tiger and anyone else I missed!)

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On The Taper

Tonight I went out for a 6K recovery run, and began to have a little bit of tapering anxiousness. Reading all of these race reports makes me want to just get out there and race! It didn't help that it was a nice cool evening, and I just felt like taking off. I have a 10K tempo on tap tomorrow though, so I held off.
Training Plan
Tues- 6K recovery
Wednesday -10K tempo
Thursday - rest
Friday - rest
Saturday- 12K race pace
Sunday - 6K recovery

Also, I would like to introduce Christy from Run Like a Girl. Christy is training for her first full marathon (Disney 2008), and I also know her in real life from Bootcamp class and she is a super person and runner! Drop by her site and wish her a warm welcome!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Great Fall Run

This weekend, Hubs and I ventured up to Northern Ontario to visit his family. We went out yesterday for a 21K(13 mile) run, and I brought the camera along to take some pictures of the beautiful fall scenery. It was very warm this weeken, around 24oC (~75F), an absolutely perfect day for a leisurely taper run!

These deer are wild but come to this property because the owner leaves them apples.

It was a really hilly route with a net elevation gain of 400 ft, but well worth the effort. This lake marked a turn around point. Hubs and I stopped for a gel and took some pictures. The pictures really don't do it justice.

Gliding downhill at this point, the skyline was aglow with fiery reds, oranges and yellows.

When we returned from the run, we had a turkey dinner, complete with red wine, of course! LOL. It was so good! Why can't every weekend be a long weekend?

Well we are home now, and as I reminisced about my fabulous weekend, we had a glorious sunset behind our house. I took this picture from the deck off off our kitchen.

Congratulations to everyone who ran this weekend. I hope to catch up on everyone's blogs soon. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I have been tagged

I been tagged by M.J.C. I will share 6 random things about me and then tag some of you back!

6 random things that you may not know about me:

1) I don't eat beef or pork and haven't for almost 8 years now. I try to eat less chicken, but I don't know if I'll ever be completely vegan, and if it were up to Hubs we would be. I still have carnivorous instincts!! LOL

2) Unlike most runners, I am not a morning person. Basically, unless I'm getting up to meet a group of runners or have a race, my run's will occur later in the day.

3) I love red wine, martini's (I have three different sets of martini glasses) and chocolate!

4) Now I am not an overly outgoing personality, but invite me to a dance and watch out, I may just take over. I would totally end up on Marcy's blog! Think Romi and Michele's High School reunion. There doesn't even need to be alcohol involved, although that does enhance the experience. LOL.

5) I love to travel, and spend alot of time planning where I can travel based on what else, marathon running. It is my eventual goal to complete a marathon in every state and province.

6) I confess, I love reality TV as well. Survivor, ANTM, Biggest Loser are all weekly must's.

7) I think I was supposed to stop at 6, but I also love my job. I teach high school science, and its the best job in the world. Today I took my grade 9 students to the Ontario Science Center and it was so much fun!

OK - I'm tagging
2nd chances
Kim Possible

Good luck to all of those running this weekend, especially first time marathoners, Meg and Marcy. You will do amazing!! Thanks for reading!

TIaRT Thursday: Favourite Race Signs

This Thursday's Take and Run Thursday theme is "favourite race signs". I found this post difficult to write, only because there are so many types of signs that evoke many different emotions from laughter to tears, which I guess is indicative of the spectrum of emotions often experienced during a marathon.

1) Signs that Pump me up!
Any signs that encourage me to fight through the pain are welcomed during a marathon. Cliches such as "The Pain is temporary, pride is forever", "You trained for this day, Go for Gold, Go __ Go!, I think it is terrific that people are willing to stand on the sidelines and cheer on the runners. Unlike Nitmos, I don't feel the urge to grab the sign and bonk it on their heads. LOL.

2) Signs that make me Laugh
I remember during the Philadelphia marathon there were six guys wearing pink tutu's that held a sign that said "We lost a bet, Go Peter Go!!". I suspect they bet Peter he would not finish the marathon. Anyway it was hilarious and made me laugh.

3) Signs that bring Tears
There is one simple sign that I remember seeing clearly during my very first marathon. As I was approaching the finish line, I saw a little girl with her father holding a sign that read "Go Mommy Go! You are my Hero!". The girl was holding it patiently and looking excitedly for her mom. I am not a mom (yet), but the expression on the girls face made me burst into tears (which BTW, I usually cry at least once during a marathon, but this sign, and the emotion on the little girls face, and fact that I was about to complete my first marathon, easily brought on the tears!)

4) Signs that let me know its almost done
I love signs that say "It's all downhill from here", or "500 meters to go". They provide me with a surge of energy and let me know that the finish line is near.

I think this post will make me take special attention to remember the signs I see when I am running Niagara, and to thank the people who stand on the side of the road bearing signs such as "Runner's Rule!". Thanks to them and thanks to you for reading!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

After a slew of Mediocre Races

I am ready..

Ready for what, you ask......

Ready to Beat this:

No more excuses, no more whimping out. I am Ready. Bring on Niagara.

*Clears throat* End chest beating.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Welcome to the Fall!

Yesterday I procrastinated until 3:00 to go out for my 32K (20 miler) run. I headed out slightly stiff and sore from the 10K run I had the previous day, but I knew I had to do it. As I headed out to Heber Down conservation area, it started to rain, and I scolded myself for not getting up and running earlier, but I trudged along.

It continued raining for about 30 minutes, but then suddenly, as if by devine intervention, the clouds parted and I was greeted with sunshine and glorious, cool yet bright sunshiney weather. I ran into the conservation area which was bursting with fall colour. It was breathtaking, water glistened on the leaves reflecting colour, pine needles looked like glass, and the air was fresh and clean. My mood was elevated and I glided along.
Here is a bridge I run over:

I ended up having a great long run with a great pace, making me feel energized and ready to for my next marathon. Just the motivation I needed!

I LOVE fall running!

Training Plan for this week

Monday -Rest
Tuesday - 6K (recovery pace), hot yoga
Wednesday -8K track intervals (I have yet to decide what)
Thursday - Hot Yoga
Friday - 10K tempo
Saturday- rest
Sunday -22K race pace

Next Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving. Hubs and I are thinking of joining the Nacho triathlon team for a two hour Thanksgiving bike ride followed by a potluck. Should be fun.

Have a great week everyone! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Swallowed Fly

Get Well Soon

I was shocked to find out Canada's Top Marathoner, Danny Kassap suffered a heart attack in last weeks Berlin Marathon when he collapsed during the race. Danny won the 2004 Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes, 15 seconds in his debut marathon, and is well known in the Toronto running community. Get well soon Danny, you are an inspiration to many.

More information at this link.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

TIaRT: Lessons Learned

This week's theme at Runner's Lounge, Take it and Run Thursday is life lessons learned from running.

It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly the life lesson's I have learned from running as there are many, but here are a few that are predominant in my mind :

1) Life is short do not waste it. For me, every marathon I run always includes some thoughts and reflections about life. It helps to refocus what is important in life: experiences with friends and family. This is why I am always looking forward to my next race or event, its all about the experiences.

2) Flexibility is important. Physically (and don't my calves know it tonight) and metaphorically. Sometimes your runs are missed, or training is altered out of our control when life or injuries get in the way, so our training plan must be flexible. Being a "Type A" personality, I have realized that flexibility is key to staying sane in such a fast paced world.

3) Stay positive even when its tough. Sometimes it can be tough to be tough when you train hard and run a crappy race. I have learned the importance of seeing the positive even when a race or a training run doesn't go as planned. In fact, its my belief that we can often learn so much more when things don't go as planned. Be thankful that you can run, and that you can improve. Similarily in life, its important to stay positive. Every day we are here is a blessing. Truly.

OK, enough with the deep stuff. Running has also made me learn the following lighter life lessons

4) Plan long routes in new construction areas. Porta-potties are guaranteed.

5) Body Glide is a wonderful thing, really and truly.

6) There is nothing as good as a Starbucks hot chocolate and an ice-bath after a long run.

7) Runners are awesome and interesting people. Yes, I mean you.

Have a great Friday all! Thanks for reading!