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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chilly Half Marathon Goals

Well, the bib numbers have been posted (1569) and so its time to post about my goals for the upcoming Chilly Half Marathon on Sunday March 2nd.

Originally, the plan here was to run it fast and finally claim that pure 1:45 for both Sam and I. I've PR'd on the course the past two years and I really enjoy the nature of the course a lot.

The course starts in downtown Burlington on Brant, goes out west on Lakeshore, behind Joseph Brant hospital before turning around to head east along Lakeshore to Burloak. At that point, we turn around again (this is about 12k in) and head back to Brant and across the finish line. Last year I executed an almost perfect negative split race when I felt so good and was able to pick up the pace to catch Sam and Phil by 18k. It makes sense that the plan to go sub 1:45:56 and PR was what propelled me to sign up in the first place for the 2014 edition.

Then, enter The Polar Vortex: Winter of Doom and its sequel, Plantar Fasciitis: The Battle for Dominance. While training actually hasn't been derailed by either (I've stuck to the treadmill to deal with the winter and have only skipped a few pace workouts), I still don't feel like I'm in the shape I was in back in November to be able to give this race a proper go at a PR.

I'm resigned to the fact that I won't three-peat at Chilly. I'm comforted by the fact that the real goal race is the Mississauga Marathon ( a mere 65 days away!). So, I decided to race this half marathon as a true test and to do so with friends.

The decision was made after I was creeping reading Emma's blog and noticed that she was just shy of a 1:50 half marathon PR. If I'm at 1:50 at the half way point of Mississauga, I'll be running the slowest I possibly can and still hit my Boston Qualification time of 3:40. Seems like a good time to test how easy 1:50 held steady, feels. Plus, Sam said she'd also start with us. Of course everyone is all, "Depending on the weather. Depending on my PF."

I'm just going to ignore my still phlegmy lungs (yes, this never went away when my lung infection did in October).

I'm going to ignore this:

And I'm going to hope that the improvement I'm seeing in my foot is really in my foot and not in my head.

And I hope that I can return next week with a tale of easy running and PR glory (for Emma).

A Goal: 1:50 or better

B Goal: Race smart (e.g. don't mess up my foot any more!)

C Goal: Have fun. #alltheracephotorunnerdposes

D Goal (You all know this one): Don't crap my pants!

See y'all after the race.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mississauga Marathon Training Week 13!

A tough week after the glorious last week of hitting the major milestone (HA!) of running over 50 miles (85k) in one week. I was tired and things hurt. But there are reasons for each of those things.

I'm tired because the hormone levels in my thyroid are all out of whack. Yay for hypothyroidism. I'm not that bad and I'm on a small level of daily medicine, but it could take SIX WEEKS for it to kick in! I hope its a hormonal problem and not just a I-work-full-time-and-have-two-young-kids problem. I'm getting at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night, plus napping twice daily (on my 1 hour train commute to work).

The hurt.

Well, I'm pretty sure that Sam gave me her plantars faciitis.

Haha. Just kidding.

But the fact is, that after years, YEARS! With no flare ups, I've been struggling with pain since October. I got new orthotics and some treatment, but my right heel has not resolved well at all. So, I'm back to a twice weekly physio appointment with laser and ultrasound and massage along with a wish and a prayer. This week, baring client meetings, I will also be wearing my old running shoes (with orthotics) everywhere (except outside where I'll still wear my Sorel's (with orthotics) because its freaking freezing. AGAIN.

Anyway, a tough running week and I was 6k short on the overall goal. I'm not going to worry about it.

Monday February 17th: Family Day in Ontario meaning a day off. A glorious day off where I could run in sunshine and not worry about regular demands. Oh, it was freaking -20 with wind chill. I set out for the out and back, clear roads 10k route from my house and just couldn't feel it. I bargained with myself for the whole run and ended up with 6k, 35.23.
Look at that big blue though. 
Tuesday February 18th: I got up at 0430, battled the fresh snow to drive to the gym. The 24 hour gym.Which was freaking CLOSED. re-opening at 0600 as Monday was considered a weekend and they don't really open 24 hours on the weekend, they are really only open 0600 Monday (on non holiday Monday's that is) until 2359 Friday. Bah. Back home, shower and get to work before 8am. Can't run because I have meetings all day and then physio at 1815. Assessment (Yes, you have really tight calves which is leading to the pulling on the faciitis and the pain), laser, ultrasound, ice and rebook for the next few weeks.

Wednesday February 19th: Well, doubles aren't that bad anyway, right? Woke up and got to the (now open) gym. Ran 10k with Olympic Curling. Dirty, dirty curling. "Just tickle it. TICKLE IT!!! Yup. YupYup. YEP. Hurry. Hurry Hard! HURRRRREEEEEEHHHAARRD!!! PUT IT ON THE BUTTON!!!" Whew, I need a cigarette. 8k, 48:47. Then, after work, it was time for Thomas Street Hill. And it was WARM! Like +1c!!! Amazing! Up and down x 6 hills. Whee!!! 10k, 1:01:03

Thomas Street Hill. 25 runners went up and down on this night
Thursday February 20th: My foot is a throbbing mess of horrific pain. Physio in the PM. Got some exercises to do which pretty much amount to, "how much can you pick up with your toes?"

Friday February 21st: Back to the gym for an early morning treadmill run. All systems go and Canada picks up gold and silver in women's ski cross. I'm feeling good. I feel like I'll be able to hit some pace work during the long run on Sunday. 10k, 58:29

Saturday February 22nd: Again on the gym treadmill. This time after Fergus' tumbling class, so he was treated to the in-gym daycare. I ran a ladder because I was feeling so good. 1 mile at 5:50/km, 1 mile at 5:39/km, 2 miles at 5:29/km and back down. Felt easy. I've got the pace work tomorrow. Then we went grocery shopping. Because I cooked an amazing Indian Feast for dinner that night. 10k, 56:30

Homemade Saag Paneer and Aloo Mutter with rice, samosa and butter chicken 
Sunday February 23rd: My first planned run with the marathon group out of the running room! Except I was the only one who showed up! There were a lot of the Around the Bay group there, but they were doing 29k and we had 26k on the plan. We started out and I asked if anyone was around a 6 min/km pace and Chris quickly came to run with me (he can run easily at a much faster pace, but didn't want to have me run alone - thank goodness!). I was streaming the hockey game so we chatted a bit and I gave him updates but it wasn't an overly chatty run (which is odd for both Chris and I!). I allowed him to push the pace quite a bit considering how easy I've been running my long runs, but the wind plus the hills plus my PF telling me that it was NOT completely better made my slower and slower throughout the run. The first 10k, we averaged 5:36/km, the next 10k (hilly bit) was 5:52/km and in the last 6k, I only had one KM under 6 min/km and averaged 6:15/km. This also included a 7 min km walking on a complete ice path in the forest. I should have stopped my watch. At the end of the run I was sore and frustrated as all get out. I know that there is no magic trick to getting the PF better, but running in pain and COLD and WIND. SUCKSSSSS. 26k, 2:32:01

Total KM: 70 (43.5mi), Total Time Running: 6:52:13, Average pace per KM: 0:05:53 (0:09:29/mi)

So this coming Sunday is the Chilly Half Marathon. I had hoped that at the very LEAST I could run this as a test run to see where I was for the big BQ attempt come May. As it stands the weather is going to be crap and I'll likely be high on coffee and advil just to get to the start line. I've asked Emma if she wants to try for a 1:50, which would be a PR for her and the slowest pace I could maintain and still BQ but at this point, we will see. Weather and pain will likely be the deciding factor for both of us.

And I didn't even take the leftover Indian! I let my husband have it.

How was your week? Are you running Chilly this week? Let's all do the Sun-make-it-0-degrees-please dance, mmmkay?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mississauga Marathon Training Week 12

Ah, week 12!

When I first wrote this plan, I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to hit the mileage it demanded. This week, the first peak week would be the real test.

Page one is done!

You see, this week called for 85km, with a 14k Tuesday run and 16k Thursday run and 23k on Saturday. The question was, could I do it while still working and doing the things I need to do with my family (lessons, bedtime stories etc)?

Well, it was a successful week.

Monday February 10: I hit the gym at lunch because I now knew that the "24 hour" gym wouldn't be open until 0530 on Monday morning. I pounded out a very sweaty 10k in lieu of the 12k I was supposed to do. I figured I'd make up the distance some time during the week. 10k, 57:42

Tuesday February 11: Back to the gym before 5am! The plan called for 4x10 minute tempo, but I couldn't hack it. I ended up running 2x10 minute tempo, 2x5 minute tempo and 2x5 minute race pace. Tempo is 4:46/km with race pace at 5:06/km. A tough but character building run and I'm glad that the Olympics are on TV! 14k, 1:16:17

Wednesday February 12: The first day of hills meant that I didn't need to wake up early because I was hitting the hills with the marathon group at 6:30pm! I had a doctor's appointment in the late afternoon and ended up at the hill just before 6pm, so I started on my own. I ran up the longer hill first to gain some distance and then I ran 5 hills. This is my first time running hills in a year! I didn't push myself because by this time of the week, I knew I'd be running the Around the Bay hills for the long run with SamEmma and Patty on Saturday. 10k, 57:31 (that time is with hills! I'm always amazed by how quickly I can run on clear ground now).

Thursday February 13: The plan had 16k. do I break it up and run half before work and half at lunch? 10k first and 6k? Nope. I decided to get it done all in one shot and hit the treadmill for the full 16k. Again, thank goodness for the Olympics.

Friday February 14: I woke up to a balmy -9c and decided to hit the streets for this 10k. I ran an out an back on a main, but not-busy-at-5am road and then looped around my street a bit to make up the distance. It felt good to get outside again. 10k, 57:20

Saturday February 15: 6:30am out and back on the Around the Bay hills? Bring it on! As mentioned, I joined Sam, Emma and Patty for this run and they changed their original plan to run more of the new ATB route so that I didn't have to drive to Hamilton to meet them. This meant that we went along the rolling hills of the course and up Valley Inn, only to turn around and do it all again. This is a tough run, which I've done before with Ali and (mainly) Colin last January. When we got back to our cars, we were at 22k. We could have stopped, but we are all stubborn and me more so then ever as I wanted to get the full 85k in for the week. So we ran randomly out for 1.5k and then back to the cars. What a shit last 3k. Oh well, got it done. 25k, 2:30:13

Total KM: 85 (52.8mi), Total time running: 8:12:27, Average pace per KM: 0:05:48 (0:09:20/mi)

WooHoo! I did it! Now, I just need to do it twice more! This week, I ramp back down to 90% of maximum mileage, then next week is the Chilly Half Marathon. This will not be a race effort, but I've yet to decide what I'm going to do with this run. I'm doing well so far, so I need to ensure that I keep it up and stay focused.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mississauga Marathon Training Weeks 10 & 11

Well, well. Last week was a busy week and although I had every intention of getting around to a recap, I was unable to do so.

That means you get a double recap this week. Lucky you!

Week 10 was the second week in a row where I had 76k on the plan. I was a bit tired and my planter fasciitis was hurting a bit. I took charge and decided that I'd make a better effort to roll and ice. I also wanted to get back to basic core work. I took care of the foot, but not the abs. This week. I swear!

Monday January 27: I was supposed to do 10k, but I got out of bed, put on my clothes and when I got outside it was snowing and blowing. Oh well, no sense in turning back, might as well try to get at least 5k in. I hit the road because there is no way I'd have any chance on the un-plowed sidewalks and trudged through a slow 6k. 37:37

Tuesday January 28: I was supposed to do 14k with intervals, but I just couldn't get to sleep on Monday night. Even though I went to bed at 9:30pm, I was still awake at 11pm. It made my alarm at 4:30am VERY early. Ugg. No way to not run and no way to fit it into the work day, so I hit the gym anyway and did 10k easy. 58:10

Wednesday January 29: I don't know if you can believe it, the guy I announced almost four years ago, heads to kindergarten in September! I had to register him and that started at 9am in town. I was able to go the the gym at the late hour of 6:30am and attempted my 5x1000m intervals at 4:26/km This was a very difficult run, with lots of jumping off during the hard parts and I cut it short after 3 intervals and then did 4x1000m at race pace (5:02/km). I finished off the 14k in a reasonable time. 1:17:12

With Princes Anna from ... Frozen? (we haven't seen it)
Thursday January 30: Running Room clinic night! Because my plan calls for more running than the standard Running Room plan, and because I missed 4k on Monday, I hit the streets in the early am for a nice, but slippery 6k in 36:25. Then, after a day of work and no real dinner, I joined the group for 8k in 44:31. The difference in these runs were night and day. The first was cold with difficult footing and alone. The second had good company, easier, clear footing and it was warm (at -5c).

Friday January 31: Another early morning 10k in sloppy, sloppy conditions because of the mild temperature of -3c! I ended up running on the roads in the early morning and saw my paces improve by as much as 30 seconds a kilometre as a result. 10k, 1:02:36

Saturday February 1: Sam agreed to come out to Milton to start a run at 6am on a Saturday morning and keep me company. God bless her. While tempo was supposed to be part of the plan, I couldn't keep it up. Sam listened to my breathing and counseled me that I may want to get that looked at. It sounded like asthma to her (I've had this difficulty breathing in the cold since my lung infection in the fall). As a result, I've taken my puffer before every run since and have had an easier time with my breathing. Anyway, Sam and I had a great chat if not great conditions to run in (we stuck to the road the whole time) and we got 22k in, even as Sam said, the time was depressing considering what we were throwing down in the summer; 2:11:02
We are still happy to be DONE though
Total KM: 76.02 (47.23mi) Total Time: 7:37:33 Average Pace per KM: 0:05:53 (0:09:41/mi)

Week 11. CUTBACK WEEK!!! WooHoo! Only 60k on the plan this week. The winter finally broke me this week though. I did plan at least one run outdoors with the running room, but as you'll see, Old Man Winter had other ideas.

Monday February 3: Rest. I just took the day off even though the plan was 10k.

Tuesday February 4: WooHoo! Less intervals. 3x1000m which I did on the mile at 4:26/km pace. I so wanted to stop after 10k, but knowing that I had already missed my Monday run, I pushed through to finish the 14k per the plan: 1:19:19

Wednesday February 5: The plan was to run 10k with the Running Room free run as Thursday my husband had to use my car as his was to be in the shop. Although I knew that there was snow expected, I didn't quite realize that the snow would come down all day long. We got an email in the afternoon from Chris saying that they were calling off the run due to conditions. I knew I HAD to get a run in though, so I headed to the gym and pounded on the 10k on the treadmill in my new shoes which were $40 off! 58:14

Thursday February 6: The plan called for 8k. But um, I decided that my low VW Jetta wagon would be able to back through the plowbank and well, it didn't. Let me tell you, Ken was super happy with the pre 5:30am wake up of: "My car is, um, stuck." He dug me out and I still went to the gym and ran 6k. The Olympic coverage made it all okay. 34:46

Friday February 7: I had to run another 10k because of missing some mileage the day before. No worries, treadmill and Olympics and a pre-5am gym call and I got it done. I even ran two miles at 5:15/km just because. 56:18

Saturday February 8: What a day. 8am: Alasdair hockey practice, 9am: Fergus tumbling class, 10:30: Fergus birthday party, 2pm: Alasdair birthday party. Ken has to work 10-3 and my folks were off to visit my sister. No problem. I get up at 4:30am all week long to run, I'll just do it on a Saturday. Because I was SO OVER winter and the sidewalks still were a mess and because I had 6x6mins of tempo on the plan, I decided to go to the gym and run on the treadmill. When I got to the gym at 5:27am. It was closed. Even though there is a huge sign saying "OPEN 24 HOURS!" Not on Saturday. Nope. On Saturday it opens at 7am. Bah. Because I'm over winter, I go back home and climb back into bed. I take Fergus to his birthday party. As I arrive, I realize that that parking lot of the party place is very empty. I check the email invite. The party is on Sunday! When I get back home, my folks let me know that they don't plan to leave until 4pm. AWESOME. I go into replan mode and my folks don't mind watching the kids while I book it to the gym and pound out a very sweaty 20k (complete with 6x6min tempo at 4:46/km pace) in 1:49:30. Thank God for parents.

Total KM: 60 (37.28mi) Total Time: 5:38:07 Average Pace per KM: 0:05:38 (0:09:04/mi)

Well, that's the last two weeks. This week, week 12 is my first 100% week. Maximum mileage. 85k. While I'm still over the cold and crappy footing, I will be outdoors this week because hill training starts on Wednesday and I plan on running on Saturday in Burlington with the girls. For the other runs? I see no sense in turning away from the treadmill. It has served me well this winter.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

January Recap

Well, January has come and gone and while the news reports have said that we actually had less than our average snowfall for the month, this winter sure feels likes its the worst. one. ever!!!

Snow! Ice! Polar Vortex!

It just never ends! Except, it did end for me for a week, when we headed to Florida and then hopped on the Disney Fantasy for a Caribbean cruise with my best friend and her family. The weather was amazing

The month of running was challenging, to say the least due to the weather. While I didn't hit all of the mileage that I had planned, I still did very well and am beginning to feel that I'll get the work in one way or another to do my very best to toe the marathon starting line in May with every intention of chasing that BQ time down.

# of runs: 23! I ran doubles three times this month, meaning I ran in the AM and PM. Sometimes there is just no other way to get the run in.

Races: Two! (kinda!). I did the Disney Castaway Cay 5k, but it was an un-timed event (But we did get cute medals)

I also ran my third Robbie Burns 8k Race and managed to hit a nice 5 second PB without trying!

Best run of the month: I got to run with Patty, Sam, Emma, Phil and Elaine on January 4th which was lovely
But to be honest, I was most proud of sticking out 20k on the treadmill for a long run
I know! I can't believe it either!

I ran 20k three times total and now the long run distances start ramping up. I've already had some interval training and I was super pleased to nail my first 14k, with 5x1000m intervals, even though I flaked on it the following week. I know I've got to suffer through these runs though because they are what will get me to the line, confident that I'll be able to hold my BQ pace for 42.2km.

Total KM Run: 223.9 (139.1mi)

Time spent running: 21h43m03s

Average pace per KM: 0:05:49 (0:09:22/mi) Look to see that decrease as I drop my paces for tempo runs and the weather (hopefully) clears so that I can gain back some speed on the road. Currently, some of my easy runs have been done at over 6 min/km (10 min/mi) just due to the tricky footing.

I hope you enjoy your February! Here's to less snow, less polar vortex and more sunshine!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Robbie Burns Race Report

This is the third year I've started my race season with the now 35th annual Robbie Burns 8k road race. I had big plans for this race when I signed up. I wanted to go sub 40min (reasonable considering the condition I was in last fall) and I wanted a real shot at improving my AG placing (all dependent on who shows up that day. In 2013, I placed 13th).

The morning of the race dawned cold, but sunny. It was -24c with the wind chill (-11F), but at least it was sunny. I had gotten custom made shirts printed in the summer with our family crest and motto on them (Touch Not the Cat Bot a Glove - don't ask me, I just married into the clan) and anticipating the cold weather of this race, I had ordered a larger size so that I could put it over clothing. This came in handy.

I met Patty at her workplace. She had picked up my bib as she lives in Burlington and we were able to use the washroom without line up or fuss. Time to jog the 500m or so over to the start line through the slog of ice and snow on the sidewalk. Good thing we'd be running on the road.

At the start, I met up with some friends and chatted. I stayed with Patty because we had the same sub 40 goal, but I already had the feeling that it wasn't going to happen for me that day. I had run a 20k easy run the day before on the treadmill and this was the last 8k in a 76k week.

The gun went off and we were away. Patty sprinted ahead, weaving and edging around the slower people who are always lined up wrong and I just followed her. Once we got out on to Brant, I knew I didn't have the sub 40 in me so I just let Patty go.

The rest of the race was pretty much spent watching people pass me. Once, I saw my time hover around 5:20/km, I decided to do my best to keep it there. Once you hit Guelph Line, you get a nice downhill heading into the lake which is fun because you can speed up a bit. There was some slushy snow on the road and myself and other people were running tight to the cones where there was clearer road, but it was never that crowded. I saw a lady running in Yaktrax which was overkill, but I guess you never know.

Like in every other year that I've run this race, I was over dressed. I ended up pulling off the buff and hood about 2k into the race. I could feel the sweat inside my sleeves, but couldn't do anything about that.

Around 5k, I started to look for Emma who was going to be waiting with her camera! It was then that I noticed that Patty was only slightly in front of me. I realized that I was not the only not having the day that had been planned. I didn't try to catch Patty, instead I just kept running steady. When I noticed Emma, I screamed as much to Patty who pulled some photo moves. The funny thing is, Emma didn't notice Patty at all! She still ended up with photos of her though. And of me:

Photo credit: Emma
Then it was only three KM to the finish and I put some jump into my step to get even with Patty. The conversation went like this:

Nic: Shitty day.
Patty: Yup
N: You'll still out kick me to the end. I have no kick.
P: Maybe. I hate the wind at the end.
N: At least you'll beat Greg (Patty's husband)
P: Yup

There are some photographers here and I oblige, of course

And so on we ran. It sucks to pass Brant as that is where you turn to the finish of the Chilly Half Marathon. This race, you turn up Locust which is truly an uphill to the end. We see finishers warming down (Black Lungs and Longboaters) "Showoffs," Patty says and I look at my watch. 800m to go.

Hey wait.

I may get a PB here!

I tell Patty as much and begin to run a bit harder. I know that I just have to push as hard as I can I will pull out a few seconds. So I do even though my legs feel horrible and I finish with a 5 second PB: 42:21 and a 10th AG placing!

 Not bad for a day of not racing.

Splits: 5:09-5:21-5:20-5:13-5:10-5:21-5:23-5:12

Gun: 42:43
Chip: 42:21 - 5 second PB
Place: 300/741
AG, F35-39: 10/43
Females: 77/366

Not a bad start to racing in horrible weather. Patty crossed right after me and we ran into Zindine right away and waited for Greg and Irina. Once everyone finished we headed inside for the amazing feast that this race always has and then I had to say goodbye to everyone so that I could make it home in time for Alasdair's hockey game.

Next up? Chilly Half Marathon.