Tag Archives: Running

Fitness Friday: Panic Sets In (Half Marathon Training)

(old photo from several years ago - conveniently recycled for this post!)
(old photo from several years ago – conveniently recycled for this post!)

This will undoubtedly be an uninteresting post to many, but sometimes you have to face reality and just… put it out there.

So what’s the issue? Basically… I’ve got a half marathon in Sydney, Australia scheduled for September 17th and the longest run I’ve done in the last thirty days is 7 kilometers (this past Monday). By now I should be doing 60-80k per month and have solid lungs and muscles in place in which to complete a half marathon. But, with the condo purchase and move, and my never ending  various sicknesses (in case you missed my update video: I’ve had two colds, an eye infection and horrifically debilitating food poisoning in the last three-four weeks), my last long run was only 11k and it was on July 22nd. To say I’m panicked about this upcoming race would be an understatement.

I went back to training this past week and set about an insane plan: I’m alternating 7-8k runs with weight training and then adding in progressively longer long runs as time goes on (I’m doing 12k tonight, then 14k AND a 15k next week alongside weight training and some shorter runs, etc.). The sad thing was that given my immediate start on Monday of this past week, it meant I only had 2.5 weeks to train for a half marathon which is a rather daunting task.

Of course, I do have a solid level of fitness that has helped keep my muscles from atrophying too much during the last month where I’ve done NOTHING, but it’s still really frightening to realize you are not only sorely under trained for something, but that you’ve got very little time in which to make up an entire MONTH of training. Half the issue is that although the race isn’t until September 17th – which would lead you to believe I’ve got more time that I’ve indicated – the reality is that we leave for Bali on September 7th and there’s NO WAY I can run in Indonesia because the night time temperature is 27 degrees!

I’m mostly putting this out there so that I don’t give up. I WANT to run a half marathon in Sydney – I love that feeling of being in a different country and doing something strenuous because I get this intense feeling of catharsis caused by such a long run. But man am I nervous. I also feel like something ALWAYS happens when I train for a race – like why can’t things ever go smoothly??

So that’s where I’m at. Fingers crossed I can still walk after this half and enjoy the rest of my vacation!

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: Toronto 10 Miler 5K

Standing in front of the Start/Finish Toronto 10 Miler
Standing in front of the Start/Finish Toronto 10 Miler

I often try to coerce my friends into running races with me. It’s just so much more fun to wait at the starting point of a race with a friend. You’re both nervous, you’re both excited and it’s definitely a bonding experience for me. And yet, I’m not usually all that successful in getting people to go to races with me!

Myself and Zoe before the race
Myself and Zoe before the race

So imagine my surprise when Zoe of Writing Whimsy not only planned to come out to Toronto for IMATS, but *also* agreed to run a 5K with me the next day. I’d suggested it as a joke – I didn’t actually think she’d take me up on it! But we managed to hype it up to each other and somehow we found ourselves signed up for the Toronto 10 Miler 5K race!

Such a beautiful day at Cherry Beach
Such a beautiful day at Cherry Beach

These were the absolute best race conditions I have ever experienced. The race was around 9 am and the temperature was cool but not cold. There was no wind and the skies were clear. The race started and finished at Cherry Beach in Toronto and it was just gorgeous down there. The sun was rising and reflecting beautifully off the lake. And there were only about 200 people signed up for the 5K making it a relatively small group.

Photo finish!
Photo finish!

It was a 5K so I don’t have a ton to say about the race since it really only lasts about thirty minutes or so. It was easily the flattest course I have ever run (I’ll definitely be back next year!). There were a few bumps in the pavement, but absolutely NO HILLS which was such a blessing.

I’m in the midst of training distances for the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon so I haven’t been focusing on speed runs. And, as I’ve been lamenting THIS ENTIRE YEAR,  I’m still an infuriating ten pounds heavier than I was last year, so it’s not like I was expecting to be spontaneously fast.

I did push it for this run though! My first kilometer came in under a 5 minute per k pace but, as per usual, I couldn’t keep that up and my pace slowed over the next few kilometers. I ended up completing the race with a 26:32 finish time, which will make this the third race this year where I finished between 26:29 and 26:32 which is just crazy! I felt good at the end though. I was spent, but I didn’t feel like I was going to fall over and I didn’t get that awful lightheadedness I’ve experienced with some races before. The only thing I did differently this race was carry water with me. I stopped at one water station to drink, but at the other I just ran on through and drank from my tiny bottle at random intervals.

Zoe finishing the 5K!
Zoe finishing the 5K!

Zoe came in a little bit after me and I was able to capture her finishing with my phone! What a champ, she wanted under 35 minutes and she easily cleared that with a 31 minute finish! I was so insanely proud of her since this was her first race. And I’m fairly confident that she’s been bitten by the racing bug because she’s already talking about doing 7 and 8k races. 😀

This is my last 5K race for the year, and I definitely came nowhere near achieving a 5K in under 25 minutes like I had planned to do at the start of the year. I’m sad I wasn’t able to get there, but I am happy that I at least stayed consistent. I had a pretty awesome 26:10 personal best time during the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day race back in March and after that I stayed solid around the 26:30 mark. It’s not an improvement, but it’s not a horrific decline either! Yay for being stagnant? Haha! 😉

Race Summary

  • Finish Time: 26:32
  • Pace: 5:18 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 41/208
  • Gender placement (F): 18/146
  • Category placement (F30-39): 7/40

Fitness Friday: 2015 Pride and Remembrance Run

My third Pride run! Let's do this Toronto!

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The Pride and Remembrance Run marks my racing anniversary. It it was exactly two years ago that two very good friends of mine invited me to do the Pride Run with them. Ever since then I’ve been become an avid race-goer and couldn’t be happier!

These shots were taken fairly close to the finish line.
These shots were taken fairly close to the finish line.

This was my third Pride Run and it’s one that I don’t necessarily always look forward to. The course is seemingly (impossibly) ALWAYS uphill. There’s a sharp decline where the water station is, but somehow the rest of the damn race always feels like you’re on an incline. 😐

Course map – details via my Garmin
Course map – details via my Garmin

It starts in the heart of the Gay Village in Toronto, heads out to Queen’s Park, laps it twice and then heads back in to where the Start Zone. While I may not love the course itself, the finishing section is always hugely uplifting and everyone always seems to be in great spirits. The finish line is one of the best I’ve ever encountered – the crowd is always loud, always excited and always full of energy. I love, love, LOVE finishing the Pride Run to so much excitement. It’s an enormous mental boost.

I felt great right out of the gate, and my first few kilometers were fairly speedy. I hit a nasty wall around the 3k mark and slowed down a good thirty seconds per kilometer. Not pretty. I also, once again, walked through the water stations. Ugh. I really, really need to stop doing that, it’s murdering my speed. But all I can think during the race is how much I want to drink that water!

Finished!
Finished!

Thankfully, as soon as I hit the 4k marker, I put on the burners and kept telling myself “It’s only 800 more meters. It’s only 700 more meters. It’s only 600 more meters.” I misjudged my timing a bit… when I hit 25 minutes in, I could SEE the finish line and I convinced myself I was only 60 seconds away. I kept up my pace, but I ended up being 90 seconds from the finish line… which clocked me in a 26 minutes and 29 seconds. A whole SECOND faster than my Rat Race a week and a half ago. DAMN! I had been really hoping to hit just over the 26 minute mark. Alas no. I’m okay with my time. I’m not elated, but I’m okay with it. I’m still twenty seconds slower than my best, but I was also twenty seconds faster than last year on this same course, so at least I’m improving!

And that’s it for my races until the fall because it gets too damn hot in Toronto during the summer! I’m planning on doing a 10k in New York City in September, and I’ve already registered for the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon (October), but I’m still off my goal of being sub 25 minutes for a 5k so I’ll need to find something else towards the end of the year to race!

Race Summary

  • Finish Time: 26:29
  • Pace: 5:17 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 638/1322
  • Age group placement (Female, 25-34): 73/247
  • Gender placement (F): unknown