Playing catch up

I was slated to run 41K this week as follows:

Mon: Rest
Tue: 10K, 4×400 intervals @ 4:43
Wed: 6K recovery
Thu: Softball
Fri: 7K w/ 4K @ 5:11-5:20
Sat: Rest
Sun: 18K

I was still far too tired and sore from the City Chase to run on Tuesday, so I took another rest day. Having taken Tuesday off, I knew it would be difficult to fulfil my 41K week, but I seem to be all caught up. I’ve run the past 4 days straight and plan to complete my 18K tomorrow. Running 5 days in a row is not ideal and I knew I would have to slow it down a bit to prevent burn-out. It’s been a hot week and I ran Wednesday, Thursday & Friday in the middle of the day, which certainly made it easier to slow down. As such, I decided to skip the interval and tempo runs for this week and will pick them up next week.

Here’s how it went:

Wed: 5.5K at 6:05 pace
Thu: 5.5K at 5:18 pace (thanks to Patricia for kicking my ass) + TWO softball games
Fri: 7.5K @ 5:56 pace
Sat: 4K @ 5:58 pace
Sun: 18K
=40.5K

This will be my highest weekly mileage ever, so I’ll be pretty happy if I survive tomorrow. :)

Blister Sisters Tear Up Toronto (Race Report)

The Mitsubishi City Chase took Toronto by storm on June 21, 2008 and proved to be a race like no other. It was by far the most grueling, physically AND mentally challenging event I have ever participated in, but also the most fun.

The event kicked off at Metro Hall at 10:00AM sharp and 5 minutes before take off, we still had no idea what we were doing. It wasn’t until the countdown struck 0:00:00 that the City Guru informed us that we could find our Official Clue Sheets at one of two locations: the base of the CN Tower or the entrance to Union Station. The catch was, each location did not have enough sheets for everyone. It was pure chaos as 500 teams of two barreled through the streets of Toronto trying to get our hands on one of the vital red sheets. Remarkably, we did, and we didn’t even have to pull anyone’s hair.

We took one look at the two-sided list of clues and for just a moment felt like we might have been in over our heads. For two people relatively unfamiliar with the city, it was going to be anything but easy. We took a deep breath, poured over the clues, took out the GPS and street maps, called our husbands for guidance and took off for our first destination.

The clue read ”Grid Iron – Find this ChasePoint at a football field at U of T, just off Tower Road is where you want to be. You’ll go through the ringer with the Varsity Blues, serious players who don’t like to lose.” We ran to the nearest subway stop and hopped on the TTC to Queen’s Park, then ran until we finally spotted the yellow shirts of Chase Volunteers. We were going to play football at the University of Toronto!

We piled on the gear and headed on to the field where we carried the football through a slalom of pylons, plowed through five line-backers (getting tackled by each of them!), completed a pass and finally kicked a field goal. ChasePoint #1: Accomplished!

There was another clue at the University: “Wheeling Around – For the physically challenged this is wheely fun, located at U of T Field House on Court #1.” We asked a couple of students were graciously pointed us in the direction of the Athletic Centre where we played some wheelchair basketball!

It was harder than we expected to wheel our chairs around the court, carrying and passing a basketball all the while. We had to make two consecutive baskets to finish the task (it took about 5 attempts to do so). ChasePoint #2: Accomplished!

A quick call to hubby who helped us find the address for another clue: Mind Over Matter – “At Kaplan on Bloor you can give your muscles a rest, as this ChasePoint is more of an intellectual test.” We ran another KM or so from U of T to Kaplan Education Centre, which proved to be the most difficult task and the only one we failed. We each had to complete 10 logic questions from the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and we had to achieve a combined score of 70%. At the best of times, these questions would have been tough, so it was nearly impossible sitting in that quiet, hot room dripping sweat all over the test paper. We gave it a shot, but didn’t pass, and we certainly weren’t the only ones leaving Kaplan without a ChasePoint.

Next we ran a couple KM’s along Bloor to Yonge and took Yonge to Dundas where we found the Bell World Store. The clue: “Quick Learning Curve – At The Bell World Store just north of Y&D Sq., the staff have further details that they’re waiting to share.” From there we signed out a BlackBerry and had 30 minutes to complete five tasks:

1. Take a photo of 10 non-participants standing in order from tallest to shortest
2. Take a 15 second video of yourself performing Life is a Highway in front of at least 5 spectators
3. Take a before and after photo of yourself trading shirts with a non-participant
4. Take a 15 second video of yourself playing leap frog with a non-participant
5. Take a photo of a non-participant doing a handstand

It was definitely interesting convincing citizens of the City of Toronto to participate in these ridiculous tasks, but we met some wonderful people who were happy to oblige. Our favourite was a German tourist who didn’t speak English (thankfully my partner speaks German and convinced him to put on my sweaty shirt!)

ChasePoint #3: Accomplished!

Next clue: “Pole Position – At Aradia Fitness watch the pros on the pole, then tighten your cheeks and mimic their role.” We ran down Yonge to Queen Street West where we decided to take a street car several KM’s west to the pole dancing studio! Sporting our red boas we had to learn a pole dancing routine and complete it correctly in three attempts. ChasePoint #4: Accomplished!

We had discovered that another challenge was further west on Bloor. This clue read “Slumber Party Gone Wrong – Test LANCER to 24680 for further instructions.” We received instructions on the cell to head toward the Gladstone Hotel. By pure fluke, we noticed another challenge going on at Trinity Belwoods Park along the way: Spike Ball! We found two guys willing to play a volley-ball like game with us, which turned out to be much harder than it looked. ChasePoint #5: Accomplished!

We continued on our way to the Hotel, which was a longer run than expected. We got there just in time to line up for an HOUR AND A HALF. We lost a lot of time at this challenge, but decided to wait since we had traveled so far to get there. Everyone was getting sore, stiff and tired from standing around for so long and it was a relief when we were finally able to participate… with the Pillow Fight League! We had to complete five challenges, each of which for one minute straight:

1. Burpees while holding pillows
2. One partner curled up in a ball on the floor being pounded with a pillow by the other
3. One partner doing push-ups with the other held his or her legs
4. One partner doing sit-ups while the other pushed him or her back down with a pillow
5. Pillow-fighting one another

It was crazy in there – tiring but fun, and worth the wait. ChasePoint #6: Accomplished!

By this time, we had less than an hour and a half to get back to the finish line to finish the race. All participants who finished within 6 hours would qualify as “finishers”, even without the 10 ChasePoints. We knew we would not have time to accomplish 3 more, so we decided to do one more for fun and planned to head to the finish. We wanted to do something by the waterfront and found a clue that read: “Up a creek – Navigate very carefully at Rees Street Slip, one bad move and you’ll go in for a dip.” We found Rees Street on the map, hopped back on the Queen street car to John, then ran all the way from Queen down to the water. We found the Chase Volunteers on one of the docks and learned that we would be kayaking in Lake Ontario…without paddles.

The challenge was fun and refreshing, just what we needed after 5 hours of running all over the city. It was definitely one of our favourites. ChasePoint #7: Accomplished!

As we headed back toward Metro Hall, I remembered that another Chaser had mentioned a challenge at the Steam Whistle brewery by the CN Tower, which we happened to pass. The clue read: “A Block From The Bottom – At Roundhouse Park your hands must be steady and calm, this is a game you played with Dad and Mom.” It was giant Jenga!

Each block had a number written on it indicating a points value, and we had to accumulate 30 points without knocking over the tower. ChasePoint #8: Accomplished!

The run back to the finish line was tough. We were both completely and utterly exhausted, and it was all uphill. We finally arrived, only to discover that there was one more task we could accomplish to receive a 9th ChasePoint. My partner had to walk through a minefield of plastic balls blindfolded without touching them, with only my instructions to guide her.

There was a ton of noise and it was nearly impossible for her to hear me, but she made her way through and we were off to the finish line! ChasePoint #9: Accomplished!

We came in with 9 ChasePoints just under 5 hours and 30 minutes. The announcer called out that the Blister Sisters were finishing strong and it was a great moment. We looked at our Garmin to discover that we had run 21.5 KM in the process – longer than a half marathon! No wonder we were so tired. We are so proud of how well we did with the mental and physical challenge of completing such an event. I have never done anything like it before and can’t wait to do it again!

UPDATE: A map showing our route from the Garmin! View details @ My MotionBased

(Click to view larger image.)

Official Results: 106th place with a time of 5:28:41.

Urban playground

This Saturday is the Mitsubishi Toronto City Chase. My partner and I got together last night and the “Blister Sisters” are geared up and raring to go. Hydration knapsack – check! Street map – check! Public transit map – check! Portable GPS – check! Cell phone (and family on standby with Google access) – check! Camera – check!

We have no idea what to expect, except that it’s Part Scavenger Hunt, Part Obstacle Course.

The City Chase is a unique urban adventure that requires participants to exhibit teamwork, resourcefulness, determination and the ability to make decisions on the fly as they search for ChasePoints scattered in unknown locations throughout the city. ChasePoints are designed to test teams with a variety of physical, mental, and otherwise adventurous challenges.

To conquer this 4-6 hour urban event, 2-person teams will run, walk and use public transit to navigate their way throughout the city, while calling family and friends for help, accessing the Internet, and even employing assistance of total strangers.

I have a feeling this will be a race like no other; our very own Amazing Race.

Gonna Fly Now

Let me preface this by saying that I am a giant loser. Don’t hold it against me. ;)

Several weeks ago I downloaded Gonna Fly Now (aka Theme From Rocky) for my Ipod. I figured it would be one of those songs that could make me run strong and fast, no matter how tired I was. Run after run, I hoped that the song would come on during my standard “shuffle” but it never did. Sure, I could have set it as my “Power Song” but I had a feeling it would come on at just the right time sooner or later.

Well last night, it finally did! I was running up a killer (loooong) hill toward the end of a hard 11K run. It washed over me like a wave of adrenaline and I burned it up that hill! I felt so empowered and had goosebumps all over. I probably had a big goofy grin on my face, and felt like pumping my fists in the air at the top of the hill. Amazing what a good song can do. (Mark – stop laughing at me as you read this!)

I’m not a fan of music during races because A) the Ipod usually annoys me, B) the less I have to carry, the better, and C) I prefer to be immersed in the atmosphere of the race, especially when it’s a big city event. But it has me thinking, a song like this could probably do wonders toward the end of 42.2 kilometres.

For now, I think I’ll save it as my new Power Song so I can get a little dose of Rocky whenever I need it.