Update + Barrie Waterfront Half Marathon Race Report

Tap, tap, tap. It’s been a while…

My training this year has been littered with hiccups, from injuries (heel fat pad syndrome in February, patellar tendonitis in March) to random accidents (stepping on a nail in our home reno zone in May), and I just haven’t felt the desire to write through these challenges. It has been impossible to get any traction beneath me and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling defeated and frustrated.

Thankfully, things have taken a turn for the better recently. I’ve slowly been able to get back to running and added a new fitness component to my life by joining Crossfit Newmarket Central. I’m going 3x per week to supplement 4 days of running, and juggling the schedule week-by-week.

After 3 DNS’ this year (Chilly Half, Sporting Life 10K, Goodlife Toronto Half), I had my eye on the Barrie Waterfront Half Marathon and didn’t want to miss another race. Toward the end of May I was able to put in a 15K and 17K, my only long-ish runs since March 8th. They were both struggle-fests but I knew I could finish the distance and so Barrie Half was on.

And that brings me to Sunday, June 7th – my first distance race in 20 months, and first race of 2015!

(Official photos included herein are courtesy of Cllik Photography. They were just indexed and published yesterday, but downloads were free so we can’t complain.)

We lucked out with fantastic weather – it only got up to about 20C with sun but no humidity, and a cooling breeze most of the way. In our usual race day style, our group arrived obnoxiously early and had plenty of time for multiple bathroom stops and to wander around shaking out the legs.

We had a big group of Newmarket Rogue Runners at the race – excellent company before/after and lots of familiar faces along the double out-and-back course.

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My friend Patti offered to keep me company/pace me through the entire 21.1, which was a relief for my nerves and also guaranteed it would be fun. I knew she could offer just the right amount of support and whip-cracking. We had a loose pace target of 6:00/KM with short walk breaks at water stations (we ended up skipping many), which I thought would be challenging but doable.

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I remembered (from when I ran it in 2013) the first half being fairly hilly and then flattening out on the waterfront trail after that. There were a few significant climbs and I expected to struggle since hills have been kicking my ass on training runs lately. Surprisingly I felt really good tackling each one, which gave me loads of confidence – must be that race day magic!

KM 1 – 5: 6:05, 5:58, 5:57, 5:55, 5:47

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Patti took a pit stop at the first turn-around point so I slowed down and then decided to stop and wait (it was less than a minute). We were about to head uphill and I didn’t want her to have to bust ass to catch up. We were then on our way back toward the start/finish area, tackling all the hills in the opposite direction. The half and 10K runners merged along this stretch, but didn’t cause any crowding issues since we were all fairly spread out by this point.

KM 6 – 10: 5:47, 6:30 (pit stop), 5:58, 5:42, 6:07 (gel)

Around the 10K mark, we veered off the road onto paved paths through the park. It was my turn for a necessary pit stop so I picked up the pace to run to port-o-potties up ahead while Patti took her time through the water station before we re-grouped.

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We were now running along the waterfront trail where we would remain for the duration. It felt good to know we were past half way with just one more out-and-back to complete. I remember feeling strong – the pace was just beyond comfortable, the breeze off the water felt amazing and I was in a good place mentally.

KM 11 – 15: 5:33, 6:13 (pit stop), 5:41, 5:43, 5:47

We hit the gravel portion and I broke it down in my head to 4K out then 4K back to finish. I remembered sloshing along this trail and getting covered in muck during the downpour of 2013. The trail was much easier to run on this year!

We spotted hubs who was on his way to a great finish (1:24:33 for 6th overall and his 2nd fastest half marathon time). Meanwhile, I still had plenty of race left…

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Looking out and cheering for other other friends was a great distraction. I was getting noticeably tired, as expected, but just kept plugging along and chatting (mostly listening) with Patti.

There was a short, steep hill just before the turn-around (evil) but it felt great to know we were turning around to head toward the finish. I was counting down the kilometres in my head by this point. Passing the 17K mark felt like a milestone since I hadn’t run farther in many months. It was just about hanging in there now.

KM 16 – 20: 6:09, 5:49, 5:52, 5:52, 5:47

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I took one last walk break at the final water station around 18K and knew that I was really, truly almost done. Patti was telling me “just 15 more minutes” which was a lie because we weren’t running 5:00/KM, but I didn’t argue. ;) She offered to carry my empty water bottle which felt like unloading 10 lbs.

Before I knew it, we passed that 20K sign and made our way toward the cheering crowds. We had to run a small loop away from the finish first (also evil) but I knew we were so close, and picked up the pace as much as I could.

KM21 – 21.1: 5:14, 0:12* (*my watch measured slightly shy of 21.1)

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It was such a victory to race again and finish this distance. I was well and truly spent and sore everywhere, but finished strong with a negative split and feeling so happy. The Barrie Examiner captured this moment just after the finish perfectly.

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2:02:39

192/330 overall

74/169 females

8/20 category 

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Cramming

As of this morning, I’ve wrapped up week 3 of my new training plan for the upcoming season!

123As you can see, weekly total is holding steady for now. Since I’m focusing on half marathons this spring and don’t plan to increase beyond 75K, I am not in a hurry to build the overall mileage. This gives me a chance to get used to following a plan again (it’s been a long time!) and for my body to adjust to two workouts every week without the strain of added mileage. This number will start building after our upcoming vacation.

This week required some creativity since I have a spa day and girls night out of town tomorrow, and wanted to get all of my planned runs in before that. This involved a light workout on Tuesday morning (30 second sprints), my primary workout on Wednesday (6K tempo – nailed it), a 10-mile long-ish run this morning before work and a couple of double-days to add some miles so I could cut back on the long run.

407201045Cramming is not something I would typically recommend, but I’m able to get away with it now since I am very comfortable at my current mileage. Sure I could have afforded to skip the long run for one week since my first race is not until March, but when I have a plan I like to follow it as closely as possible. I’ve always found that consistency in weekly mileage is one of the biggest factors that brings results.

And now, I am going to enjoy some much-needed R&R this weekend!

Boxing Day 10 Miler

Snowman Logo My fifth and final race of the year was the 94th Annual Boxing Day 10 Miler in Hamilton. I’ve done it a couple times in the past (hard to believe it’s been 4 years!) and have been meaning to get back, so we jumped at the opportunity when we found out that some friends would be participating this year.

UntitledThe run has a fun and festive feel, starts at noon to allow for some time to recover from the turkey-hangover and helps with motivation to keep the mileage up over the holidays. Runners can keep warm and use facilities at the YMCA before and after the race (with hot soup offered after, although our group headed straight to Tim Horton’s instead), receive a cute snowman finisher’s medal as well as a unique race item which changes every year – this year it was a cozy sweatshirt. #winning

shirtThe route started with a good climb on some pretty rough road. It was pretty crowded to start and I was a little worried about tripping or twisting an ankle, looking down to avoid mis-stepping in a large crack or hole, but also trying not to run into anyone or get knocked over. Luckily things spread out pretty quickly on this first hill. By mile 2 we were running around Bayside and along the waterfront trail, and I was happy to be off the city streets.

KM 1 – 3: 5:25, 5:08, 5:24

By this time I was also over-heating and already desperately shedding layers. We had a beautiful, sunny, 5C day and I severely over-dressed, especially for the 12 noon start time. Running along the lake on this gorgeous afternoon made it feel more like spring than the end of December and I was only wishing I had dressed accordingly. I managed to tie my jacket around my waist and rolled the sleeves up on the 1/4-zip underneath to feel much better…. only to realize I needed a quick bathroom stop!

KM 4 – 8: 5:21, 5:17, 5:18, 6:16 (bathroom), 5:48

At the end of the trail around the half way point, we ran a short residential loop which was about a kilometre uphill followed by a kilometre downhill. This hill was no joke and I was a huffing, puffing, sweaty mess by the top. It was nice to have a long downhill to recovery, followed by the flat stretch along the waterfront trail again.

KM 9 – 12: 5:29, 5:25, 5:19, 5:25

I was pretty tired on the way back and had to work at holding the pace. I hadn’t set a time goal for myself and planned to run by effort, but I started trying to do some math in my head with about 5K to go, to figure out what kind of finish time I was working for. I calculated that I would be looking at about a 1:27 if I could hold on. I played leap frog with a few runners along this stretch which offered another good distraction to keep working and ignore the urge to slow down.

KM 13 – 14: 5:29, 5:27

Finally we were off the trail and had less than a mile to run on the streets toward the finish, including a couple of short-ish steep-ish hills. I spotted one of our friends plus hubs and found a little sprint in my legs for the home stretch.

KM 15 – 16: 5:25, 5:01

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2014 Wrap-Up

Happy New Year!

395689174I am happy to report that the December running streak was a success, finishing up on New Year’s Eve with a shorty run with the pups on a freezing morning. My arbitrary ‘streak minimum’ of 3K just felt like enough that day – though I bumped it up to 3.1 for day 31.

A few people pressured encouraged me to keep the streak going into January and beyond, but I was ready for a rest day on January 1st and did not want to go down that road. As much as I enjoyed the challenge of running every day for a month, I believe in rest days for both body and mind, and I happen to enjoy them.

WeeksI planned to take a couple of days off after the streak, which ended up being forced into a longer rest thanks to round 2 of the head cold from hell. I took the 1st off, then joined some friends for a run on the 2nd only to pack it in early feeling like crap. I took 3 days off after that and I’m hoping for a decent run today to kick off official training for the spring season.

I’m so grateful that I was able to bounce back from the injury that had me down and out, then clawing my way back for so much of the year. It felt great to finish up the year on a positive note, logging some solid mileage and building confidence going into 2015.

yearNext up is one final race report for 2014, the Boxing Day 10 Miler, and then a look at what I have planned for this year.

Stay healthy, friends!

Streaking in December

It all started with an impromptu run with a friend on Monday, December 1st. I almost never run on Mondays, so in my mind this meant I should run every day this month. :) Jokes aside, I wanted to finish off this year with a great month of running, exactly the opposite of how it started. My return to running was slow and steady, and I’ve had many weeks of consistent mileage now, giving me confidence that I had a solid enough base to tackle this challenge.

I think, more than anything, I need to prove to myself that the injury is behind me before kicking off the new year. And, let’s be honest, a little extra motivation to move every day and offset some of the inevitable holiday indulgences won’t hurt me.

So far I’ve run through holiday parties, hangovers and head colds; I’ve run morning, noon and night; I’ve run over snowbanks, on the treadmill and around the indoor track; I’ve been running errands and parading through the streets with a bunch of santas and elves.
UntitledYesterday I had my best run yet – 21KM for day 21, my longest run of the entire year and also my fastest post-injury long run. Felt fantastic start to finish and couldn’t have asked for a better day 21.

Image-1Streaking hasn’t been as challenging as I expected. Admittedly, I enjoy taking rest days and I wondered how much I would miss that. Sure, there were times that it would have been nice not to run (on the worst day of my head cold or the morning after my office party) so I just ran my personal minimum on those days: 3K on the treadmill. There’s something oddly comforting and refreshing about knowing that I will run each day. There may not be any guarantee of how far or how fast or when or where, but I will run.

Only one other thing is certain; I will not run on January 1st. ;) Until then, let’s see what the next 10 days will bring!