Early Bird

As planned, I was up and at ‘em in the middle of the night at 3:30 this morning. Hubs joined me, even though he didn’t have to since he has the day off. (And you thought I was crazy!) At least he gets to take a nap while I’m forced to lean back in my chair and put my feet up plough through the work on my desk.

Juliana decided to join me and it was great to have company in the dark morning hours (hubs ran with us for the first little while as well). Imagine, 3 crazies running through the park at 4:30 in the morning! (and I thought Goofy started early!) It felt like we had the world to ourselves and while we ran right through the sunrise, it still came as a surprise when suddenly our surroundings were lit up with daylight.

We were treated to a pleasant chill in the air (about 16C/61F) and felt great throughout the run, picking it up for the final stretch. Definitely a good start to my day!

21K/13mi (step-back week) – 2:05:20… all before 6:30AM.

So 21K is doable before work… I should be all set when it shows up in my MWML run schedule a few weeks from now.

Have a great weekend!

Three Things Thursday

1. For years I have made comments to those of you who run in the morning regularly, claiming that I would love to do it but I “just can’t get out of bed.” As it turns out, I’ve proven not only that I can, but that I will! Just like those MWML runs can become routine, so can the early wake-up calls. Interestingly, 5AM felt like sleeping in this morning for a 5K recovery run with hubs; a few 100 metre strides thrown in felt great on the legs.

2. We’re taking off for a big family long-weekend camping trip tomorrow so I’ll be getting my long run done before work. We’ll see how I feel about those early mornings when the alarm goes off at 3:30AM…

3. Muskoka Sprint Tri photos are in!

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Routine

When I had my first look at the training plan hubs was kind enough to create for me, the mid-week medium-long (MWML) runs jumped out as the most intimidating. My first thought was, ‘You want me to run HOW far? On WEDNESDAY?’

I should mention that hubs has created multiple training plans for me in the past and I have yet to follow through with one. I’ve always slacked off, done my own thing and/or stuck with the schedule provided by the clinic/group I train with (less aggressive). This year, I decided that I wanted to take my training to the next level; higher mileage, longer/more tempo runs and yes, MWML runs! Hubs patiently and painstakingly created yet another schedule for me (probably thinking I wonder if she’ll actually follow this one…), loosely based on one of the Pfitz plans. I requested some tweaks here and there, incorporated my planned races and added a few others that hubs suggested for pacing and tune-up purposes.

So here we are in week 4 and I’ve been following the plan to a T (much to hubs’ surprise and delight!). My tempo runs (and cruise intervals) have been going great and I’ve successfully completed four MWML runs of 16K (10mi). Suddenly, they aren’t so intimidating anymore. This just feels like routine… 4:30AM wake-ups and all!

This morning I was out the door by 5. The cool, crisp air from yesterday was nowhere to be found, but it didn’t feel too bad out there. The first few clicks felt slow and sluggish as I gradually woke up and shook out some lingering fatigue from yesterday’s workout. I enjoyed the quiet, peaceful streets, alone with my thoughts on anything and everything… or sometimes nothing at all! Before I knew it, I was back on my door step.

16.0K – 9.94mi – 1:33:31

Next week I increase to 18K and soon enough I’ll find myself running half marathon distance on Wednesdays. There’s nowhere to go but forward and I know I’ll get there, one run at a time.

Cruisin’ Tuesday

First, a quick recap of Sunday’s long run: After the 5K race on Saturday, followed by a long drive home and a late night, I was somewhat nervous about how 25K/15.5mi was going to feel bright and early Sunday morning. Even as I headed out the door, all I could think was ‘This is the last thing I want to be doing right now.’ Fortunately I had some awesome people waiting for me, and they made me feel better immediately. I set out with three others from my pace group and the conversation flowed as the miles ticked by. The air was cooler and less humid than it has been; along with a nice breeze, it felt just about perfect. One of our runners had left cold water and some candy for us around 16K, which gave us a nice boost to finish strong. I found myself expecting to wear out, but surpriginly felt great all the way to the end.

25.5K/15.8mi in 2:26:29 – 5:45/KM = 9:15/mi

After a night of tossing and turning, the alarm came early this morning. I decided to shake things up with Cruise Intervals this week instead of the usual Tempo Tuesday.

If Sunday felt cool, today was downright frigid at 16C (61F) with no humidity. How refreshing to feel a chill in the air for a change!

The workout: 5 x 2000m at 5:00/KM (8:03/mi) or faster with 45-second recoveries

3K warm-up in 18:39

Set 1 – 4:55, 4:58

45-second recovery jog

Set 2 – 4:59, 4:52

45-second recovery jog

Set 3 – 4:59, 5:00

45-second recovery jog

Set 4 – 5:00, 4:56

45-second recovery jog

Set 5 – 4:59, 4:47

Average interval pace – 4:56/KM (7:56/mi)

I felt good throughout and feel confident that I’ll be able to tackle a continuous 10K tempo run in a couple of weeks. If only the cool mornings would stick around!

Have a great Tuesday!

Muskoka Sprint Triathlon Relay – Race Report

I spent Saturday in Huntsville (2 hours north of here) to participate in the Muskoka Sprint Triathlon as a relay team (go Cheetah Chasers!) with my friend Erin.

With the race starting at 4PM, we had plenty of time in the afternoon to scope things out, get set up and for Erin to go for a warm-up swim and ride. The temperature felt pretty comfortable with low humidity and overcast skies; definitely decent conditions for racing, though Erin was not-so-secretly wishing it were warmer. Unfortunately (for me) it heated up a lot as the day went on and the sun came out right on time. *grumble*

I ran into Mel a couple of times while we lingered around. It was great to see her again, chat for a bit and exchange good lucks.

We met up with some of Erin’s friends for lunch and quickly found time getting away from us. Before we knew it, we had an hour til the start and we still had to be body-marked (my first time – pretty neat!), pick up our timing chip and get changed. It was definitely more hectic than we had intended, but things went pretty smoothly and we made it to the swim start (about a 1K walk down the road since it was a point-to-point) with time to spare.

We found Erin’s friends again and sat on the grass for a bit listening to announcements and chatting about the race. Before long, the girls wriggled into their wetsuits and made their way into the water. I stood by watching the multitude of colourful swim caps bobbing in the water.

Just after the first wave started, Erin came running out of the water toward me. She looked frantic and asked, “Can you get to transition and back in 9 minutes?” I was off and running as she yelled from behind that she had forgotten her goggles. Crap! I sprinted the kilometre of so down the road and into transition, tossed everything all over the place while rifling through her bag for the goggles, then headed back to the start as fast as my legs would carry me. I was gasping and wheezing, running in a full out sprint against traffic (since most waves had started, everyone was making their way to watch the swim exit). I made it back to Erin with about 30 seconds to spare. The announcer made a big fuss over it as Erin ran back into the water to swim her way over to the starting line.

Definitely not the ideal way to start a race and I was really worried about how tired and stressed out Erin would be starting her swim in such a panic. I made my way back along the river slowly, trying to cool down and catch my breath. It certainly wasn’t the warm-up I had in mind, but I was relieved to have made it in time.

I grabbed some water and used the washroom back at the main area before watching for athletes making their way out of the water. I got to see Mel as she ran toward transition – she was looking great!

Pretty soon I spotted Erin coming out of the water, wetsuit already halfway off. I could tell that she was a little run down from the swim, but she still looked good and I tried to give her some support as she ran by. I knew she was going to make up some serious time on the bike, and that’s what I told her.

750m swim – 23:00 – 8/12
Once she was in transition, I bolted to the bike start so I could see her pedal off. I made sure to check my watch so I would know where to expect her back for my run.

T1 – 1:26

Once the majority of the athletes had picked up their bikes, I was able to head into transition and get ready. There wasn’t much to do except position myself at our rack and fire up the Garmin. I also scoped out the other relay runners waiting for their teammates. Interestingly, Survivorman Les Stroud was competing on the bike as part of a team – we totally beat them!

Preparing for a 5K race so late in the day and not knowing exactly when I was going to start definitely complicated my usual routine, especially when it came to eating and drinking throughout the day. I ate a relatively light lunch and tried to make sure I was drinking water continuously, especially since it had warmed up so much.

I saw Mel again as she ran out of transition and wished her good luck on the run. She asked me not to kick her ass too hard, but at that point she was kicking enough ass for both of us!

Erin rocked on the bike and returned right on schedule. I was so excited to see her coming!

20K bike – 43:21 – 4/12

I was able to remove the timing chip from Erin’s ankle and strap it on mine as she racked her bike. We had planned this out and it went quickly and smoothly. I was out of there in no time.

T2 – 0:35

Now it was time for me to run! I didn’t have any expectations, especially since we were told repeatedly by the announcers that this was “the most challenging run course” in the Suburu Triathlon Series. Based on the tough course, the time of day and my little 2K sprint, I knew a PR wasn’t in the card. I planned to run hard, have fun and do the best I could.

It was a two loop course with two 180-degree turn-arounds in each loop.

And the hills! There were a few good ones on the route and of course we hard to run them twice! This meant we got to run down as well, so I tried to make up time on the downhills as much as possible.

Luckily the course wasn’t too crowded and I was able to find my pace easily. Starting the run as a relay participant meant that I was on much fresher legs than the majority of the runners out there, and I was passing people all over the place.

I was all decked out in my cheetah skirt, pink CEP socks and a hot pink tank top and got a ton of comments from spectators and other runners. Once guy looked at me as I was passing him and said, “That’s a great outfit, but I can’t let my kids see you passing me!” (I still passed him!) It was a lot of fun and helped keep my mind off how tired I was as those hills just kept coming.

I got to see Erin and the gang around 3K. They were cheering and ringing cowbells, which was a great boost. I also got to see Mel a few times on the out-and-backs. She looked strong, although she told me after that she was not feeling well at all.

Finally, the finish line was just around the corner and I was able to give it one final push, with my last kilometre being the fastest (4:40).

As I crossed the finish line, the announcer once again recounted the incident with the goggles and everyone cheered.

5K run – 24:27 – 2/12*

* The fastest relay runner posted a time of 15:02 (!!!) and I figured he had only run one loop of the course. Sure enough, his team’s results were quickly changed to DQ. So technically I finished 1/11, although they did not update the results to reflect that.

Cheetah Chasers overall time – 1:32:47 – 3/12

That’s right, we placed third overall in the relay! They didn’t hand out finishers medals, but I still ended up with some more bling for the collection!

It was such a fun experience and something I would love to do again. Of course, the question of the day was: “So, when are you going to complete a full triathlon?” My answer: Not yet!