Tag Archives: Race

Fitness Friday: 2017 Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Race

Just before starting out for the race!
Just before starting out for the race!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I hope you’re wearing some green and having a lovely day. 🙂

So, my favourite race of the year is always the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K! I’m a wee bit obsessed with all things Irish and green, and I can think of no better way to start my St. Patrick’s Day festivities than with a 5K race in cool weather, surrounded by a sea of green runners!

Coming up towards the finish line!
Coming up towards the finish line!

As I’ve been whining about (for an eternity now), I’ve gained ten pounds in the last two years or so and it’s not really going anywhere. Last year really SUCKED for races for me – I barely stayed under 27 minutes in the 2016 version of this race, and then the rest of the year was spent languishing around 27:30 race after 5k race (which I was personally pretty really ashamed about). So towards the end of last year, I started to make significant strides and changes to my workout program – I was lifting weights on the regular and I was determined to actually train properly for a 5K.  I had set out a plan to do long runs, mixed with tempo and sprint runs and, for the most part, I had stuck to it. That being said, I hadn’t done everything I thought I possibly could do before this race, so I was nervous right up until the night before the race.

Near the end! Rogers Centre (/the Skydome) behind me!
Near the end! Rogers Centre (/the Skydome) behind me!

And then, the night before the race, I suddenly looked at the predicted temperature in the morning and my nervousness evaporated: the morning temperature was expected to be around -12C with a windchill of -20C. My inner monologue was basically “fuck it, it’s too cold. Don’t expect anything out of this race.” Toronto’s winter this year has been warmer than normal and I haven’t had the opportunity to train my lungs for a cold weather run, never mind a race, in temperatures that were around -10. So I figured to hell with the nerves as there’d be no way in hell I’d be able to bust out a decent time.

I. Was. So. Very. VERY. WRONG!

The end is in sight!
The end is in sight!

The morning of the race was cool and brisk, but the wind speed was low. The temperature, while around -12C, didn’t have a windchill much colder than -15! David and I stayed inside the doors of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre until just before the race so that I could keep warm (lifesaver!). For once in my life, my stomach wasn’t churning before the race and I felt relatively at peace (although for about 30 seconds I thought I’d forgotten my earphones… that would’ve been game over for sure).

So when the air horn sounded, I started the race at a really comfortable pace. So comfortable in fact that I forgot to turn my Garmin on for a few seconds! Reality set in within the first twenty seconds and I was like… “well my lungs aren’t dying, I feel good… but there’s a lot of people in my way.” So I started to weave in and out of the pack to get around the slower runners until I caught up to the people that were moving more my own pace. And honestly? I felt GOOD. I felt in control on my body and I felt strong. I wasn’t gasping for air and I wasn’t super dehydrated (which is normally how I start races – with a dry ass mouth because I’m so nervous).

2017 Achilles St. Patrick's Day Race - Garmin Results
2017 Achilles St. Patrick’s Day Race – Garmin Results

Realistically, I didn’t know how fast I was moving because my Garmin really struggles to determine speed when there’s so many tall buildings around. If you look at the map above, you can see how erratic the trajectory line gets on what’s supposed to be the straight line down Wellington Street – so it really overestimates your speed since it thinks you’re doing hella crazy maneuvers. I had an idea that I was moving at a decent clip because I was mostly passing other people and not being passed all that often. Sadly, when we hit the 2.5k mark where the loopback occurs (at Yonge Street), the water I was looking forward to was nowhere to be found. Ughhhh! Next year I need to remember to bring my own water!

However, it was a good thing there was no ability to stop and drink because I kept pushing on… and nailed the finish line with a race time of 26:06! Four seconds faster than my previous personal best (PB) and an enormous 60-90 minutes faster than my average 5K race pace from 2016. I was ECSTATIC! I was so damn happy I almost started full on crying when I saw my chip time come up on Sportstats.ca – there were tears welling up in my eyes! All of the work I had put in, despite feeling like it hadn’t been enough, had DEFINITELY paid off and I couldn’t be any happier! This race only further convinced me that I do far better in subzero temperatures – I am definitely built  for – and thrive in – the cold!

Race Results

  • Finish Time: 26:06
  • Pace: 5:13 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 323/1313
  • Age group placement (Female 30-39 years): 38/262
  • Gender placement (F): 108/742

By the way, if you’re ever interested in the other races I’ve run, you can always visit my Race Results page for a breakdown by year and by race. Enjoy!

Fitness Friday: Improving My 5K Race Time

Although my fitness posts may have fallen a little bit off the radar in 2016, I still managed to stay really consistent with my exercise. In 2016, I ran two half marathons and four other races ranging from 5 kilometers to 5 miles. And while I did okay with these races (except for that terrible Iceland half marathon – that was just BAD), I never really improved upon my race pace. It’s been a dream of mine for a while to get better and faster at my races, but when it comes down to it, I’m more than willing to put the hours in to running on a regular schedule, but I generally don’t want to put the effort in that is required to get faster. (Because let’s face it – getting faster usually involves doing something like sprints and those are pretty nauseating.) I can usually do it for a handful of weeks, then I fall completely off the rails.

Almost there!
Almost there!

Anyway, where’s this going? One of my favourite races is coming up in the middle of March – the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K race. I put out my personal best time on this race back in 2015 and I’d really like to beat that. Ideally, I’d like to get under 25 minutes, but for now I’ll settle with under 26:10 which was my previous PR. Considering I barely squeaked in one race under the 27 minute mark in 2016, I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’ve only got three two months to do it (shit, I literally thought I had three months, but nope)! This may seem like short notice, but I like it for a number of reasons:

  1. It gives me a concrete deadline. The race is March 12th – which means I need to get my butt in gear immediately.
  2. I’m better at accomplishing things with a relatively short timeline and under high stress. This is because I have zero opportunity to push it off till “later”.
  3. I frigging love St. Patrick’s Day and want to do well in a race I already have immense fun doing.

So, where to start? I have always used the Hal Higdon training programs for running. This time I’m going to be following the 5K Intermediate Plan which is intended to make you faster. Having done Hal’s programs in the past, I know that I usually need more time than what’s allotted (just in case something happens like injury or laziness). This 5K program is an 8 week one, which is great because (as of typing this) I have 9.5 weeks until the race.

Although I won’t be able to complete all of the runs on a weekly basis in the race chart found in Hal Higdon’s plan, my goal is to complete the difficult ones (like tempo runs, long runs and the horrific sprint/recovery/sprint runs). I’m opting for this because I do not want to give up weightlifting and I still play soccer every week which is a lot of exercise to shoulder on top of everything else in my life.

I’m excited to get this going because the timeline is really contained. I’ll try to do an update here and there on how I’m doing and I’ll definitely be posting a race recap after the 5K to see just how well this training schedule worked out. Wish me luck!

Fitness Friday: 2016 Pride and Remembrance Run

201607_prideandremembrancerun1

Two weekends ago I took part in the Pride and Remembrance Run 5K race in Toronto. It’s one of my absolute favourite races to run, not only because I literally live around the corner from the start zone, but also because it’s a community event for me in the gaybourhood that has a lot of “feel good” moments surrounding it. I’m running/racing with my community, my friends always sign up for it so we get to hang out at the start (and afterwards) together, and the energy of the event is so welcoming and inviting.

Somewhere in the middle of the race
Somewhere in the middle of the race

You may also remember that the Pride Run is also my racing anniversary as this is the run that got me into racing in the first place. I first took part back in 2013, and since this is 2016, this is the fourth time I’ve done this run. Truth be told, it’s not my favourite course I’ve ever done (it’s a double loop and back to the start) and it’s always wayyyy too hot during this run, but I do it because I love my community and this race holds good memories for me. They also offered free photos this year (pictured above) which is really, really nice. I wish more races included that in their signup fee!

Coming up near the finish line
Coming up near the finish line

As with the Rat Race, I did far worse that I was hoping to do. But you know what? It was a few seconds faster than my race from two weeks ago, so that’s okay, at least it’s not a downward trend.

Nearly there...
Nearly there…

I huffed and puffed my way to the finish line, not even spotting my husband who managed to get close enough to me to get some up close shots! End result? Not my best, but still not my worst!

2016 Pride and Remembrance Run - course map
2016 Pride and Remembrance Run – course map

Race Results

  • Finish Time: 27:28
  • Pace: 5:29 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 576/1463
  • Age group placement (Female 30-39 years): 58/223
  • Gender placement (F): 164/695

Fitness Friday: 2016 Rat Race

Rat Race Team - "The Grumpy Cats"
Rat Race Team – “The Grumpy Cats”

Happy Fitness Friday! Since this is my third time doing this run, I’ll keep my recap fairly brief. The Scotiabank Rat Race for United Way is a charity 5k fun run (raise a minimum of $100 and you can race) that everyone can participate in. Since Scotiabank is the main sponsor and they’re also my employer, I usually put together a team of people to race in the event. This year I recycled the team name “The Grumpy Cats” and had a fair number of people joining me!

Queuing up for the start of the Rat Race
Queuing up for the start of the Rat Race

I’m keeping this post short mostly because I’m fairly disappointed in myself. Here’s a little context for that disappointment:

  • Last year my fastest and personal best time was 26:10 for a 5K.
  • On the other end, my slowest time was 26:32.
  • I had done training runs up to this race that were not difficult (easy to breathe, felt relaxed, etc.) that clocked in at 27 minutes EASILY.
  • Even my 5K race in March of this year was under 27 minutes.
Coming up to the finish line
Coming up to the finish line

So how did I finish this race? With a really disappointing 27:38. I was so, SO sad. I *know* it’s only about 60-90 seconds slower than last year, but that’s a LOT of time in a 5k. (For example, if I’d shaved 60 seconds off my personal best, I’d be ECSTATIC!) So I’m doing what I can to reformat how I’m exercising and training in the hopes that I can get back to where I was. The Pride 5K race is coming up next weekend and I’m really, really worried I’ll be clocking in over 28 minutes. Ugh.

2016 Rat Race Course Map
2016 Rat Race Course Map

I feel like I’ve been whinging about slow race times for a while now which isn’t a good thing. There’s only so much whining you can do before you have to change how you approach things. So that’s where I’m at right now – thank you for listening. 🙂

Race Results

  • Finish Time: 27:38
  • Pace: 5:32 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 519/1441
  • Age group placement (Female 30-39 years): Not available
  • Gender placement (F): 126/714

Fitness Friday: Reykjavik Spring Half Marathon

I was in Iceland for just over a week last month, and in true Chelle-style, I decided to find a race while we were there!

Reykjavik Spring Half Marathon
Starting out!

The only one happening while we were there was the Reykjavik Spring and Autumn Marathon. Thankfully, almost every marathon event has a half marathon tacked on to it as well. Good thing for me since there was no way I wanted to run a full! I was pretty excited to run this one because I had pictures of gorgeous vistas while running and I knew I would love the temperature since it would be somewhere in the range of 0-10C.

Somewhere near the start of the race
Somewhere near the start of the race

Sadly, I was so exhausted the morning of the race that I was very close to saying “forget it, I’m not doing it”. Our rented apartment in downtown Reykjavik was on a decently busy street (Laugavegur) and I hadn’t managed to fall asleep until after 4 am. The race was at 10, so I was up at 8 am to have breakfast and sort myself out. I felt absolutely wrecked. I was near tears I was feeling so awful. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that if I finished this, I could scratch off yet another country on my running list AND the fact that I had told sooo many people that I was doing this that I would’ve felt like such a chump to go back to Canada and told people I had bummed out of it. Never EVER underestimate the power of telling people your plans. Doesn’t matter if it’s fitness related, or something else – telling people you’re going to do something gives you a lot of mental power. I am absolutely convinced that is one of the only reasons I even got my butt out of bed that morning to run this damn half marathon.

And somewhere near the end!
And somewhere near the end!

We took the local bus out to the race start zone (David came with me), and I was nauseous the whole way there. I was even worried that I’d get 10k into the race and then just be like “nope, I’m done”. So suffice to say… I had no idea how this was going to go.

So how did it go? Well, not great. The weather was misty and rainy and there was a lot more uphill than I was expecting. It was so foggy/misty that there honestly wasn’t a ton to look at either. It was an awkward temperature that I didn’t really have the right clothes for it (that purple Lululemon thing you see was far too heavy and not rain repellent – and yet, had I not worn it, I would’ve frozen my butt off). I was slow and tired, but I just kept telling myself “just finish it. Just run at a pace where you don’t want to die, and just finish it”. One of my mantras in my head no matter what I’m doing is “just keep pushing” and it really helped me after the 18th and 19th kilometers.

Coming up to the finish line!
Coming up to the finish line!

I clocked in with a chip time that was easily my worst half marathon timing to date: 2 hours, 19 minutes and 49 seconds. Given my slow pace and exhaustion, I actually thought I’d be closer to 2.5 hours, so I’m happy I managed this in under 2:20! In hindsight, I’m really, REALLY happy I did this race, but my god… that morning was really rough.

Finisher
Finisher

We came back to the airbnb we’d rented, I took a decent photos of myself with my medal and then I promptly got back into bed and slept for another four hours. What a bizarre experience… get four hours of sleep, get up, run a half marathon, then go home and go right back to bed. Like a bad dream or something!

I have to say though… a huge thank you to the organizers of this race. It was a very small group for both the half and full (under 300 people total), but it was well organized and the water stations were well-manned and easy to access. When I asked one of the organizers about how to get the local bus back to central Reykjavik, he actually found someone who drove us instead. I usually prefer far larger groups for races since there’s more of an “epic” feeling to them, but the size of this race allotted us the comfort of a safe drive home in a warm vehicle with good company. I really can’t thank them enough!

Close up shot of the medal
Close up shot of the medal
Reykjavik Spring Half Marathon Course
Reykjavik Spring Half Marathon Course

And there’s the course above as tracked by my Garmin. It was a loopback course, so we covered the same ground twice. Thanks so much to Pétur Helgason and Torfi Leifsson for some of the photos in this post.

So there we have it! Five countries (Canada, USA, Austria, Czech Republic and now Iceland) on my completed race list, and hopefully many more to come.

Race Summary

  • Finish Time: 2:19:49
  • Pace: 6:37 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 199/221
  • Gender placement (F): 71/85
  • Category placement:  Not available