Sunday, May 14, 2017

Seaton Soaker 50K!

I did it guys!! My first Ultramarathon and a trail race to boot! I have been training since January for the Seaton Soaker 50K and I ran it on Saturday in 7:32!

I ran it with my friends Steph and Kevin, and Kevin was a speedy demon and finished in 4:42 and was first in his age group (whaaaaaaat). Steph and I knew it would take us a tad bit longer so we set a goal of under 8 hours (the cut off was 8 hours!), and we knew even that would be a challenge! I am not speedy on trails!

The day before the race was my birthday so Steph, Kevin, and I headed over to my mom's where her and my stepdad fed us a hearty pasta and cupcake meal and helped us prep for the race. We stayed over, since the race was in Pickering where they live, and I actually slept really well, which is unusual for me before a race! At 6am we were up and my stepdad helped us all get organized and out the door on time. The race started at my old high school and it was fun being back there to check in! I got my bib (number 29) and was ready to go.

check in selfie!

team purple ready to roll!


The forecast was calling for rain all Saturday, but beyond a sprinkle or two, it ended up being nearly perfect race conditions! It was about 8 degrees in the morning, warming to 13 in the afternoon. The sun came out around 11am and thankfully a breeze came with it not long after so it was quite comfortable. I wore capris and a long sleeve shirt that I cut the arms off of. Women's running shirts tend to have really short sleeves and my running pack chafes me under my left arm- my homemade half-sleeve shirt was perfect!! I also wore some new rainbow socks on my arms for warmth at the beginning- I think I ditched them a couple hours in.

I had my hydration pack for water, and brought stroopwafels (a dutch syrup cookie) and gels with me. I had some peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars in my drop bag, but the aid stations were loaded with chips, candy, brownies, potatoes, pb sandwiches, guacamole...you name it. No one went hungry!

Team Purple coming in!


Steph and I planned to run the whole thing together, but wearing almost the same outfit was purely by accident. It was pretty fun having the aid stations yell "Team Purple! You're Back!". The course was an out and back times two (so each leg was about 12.5K). There are two big hills to conquer, but otherwise the course isn't too bad elevation-wise. Our plan was to only walk the hills and we stuck to that pretty well and walked very little outside of them.

Happy Casey


We set out at 8am and tried to keep a slow pace...we had a lot of ground to cover. Luckily (?) there was a big beaver damn to cross at 2K in, which was extremely muddy and a slow line formed to cross it. After that the crowd really thinned out and we were on our own a lot. One guy we were running with later was covered in mud and said "the beaver dam was too slow, so I just plowed through the mud and I fell....IT WAS AWESOME". I think that just about sums up the fun of trail running! Everyone on the course was so amazing. Soon the lead group was heading back and everyone would be telling each other "good work" or "keep it up!" as we passed. It was just great that someone who finished in 4 hours were just as humble as the people running 8 hours!




We made it to the 12.5K turnaround in about 1:51. Our goal was sub 8, which means each leg needed to be 2:00 hours or under, so this was perfect- we weren't going too fast! Our run back felt pretty great. I developed a pain in my right big toe that lasted about 35km, and I'm pretty sure I had something in my shoe for 40km, but what are you gonna do? I just ignored it. On the way back there is a detour in the course that has you crossing a river! There is a rope to hold onto and some firefighters on hand in case you run into any trouble. It was super cold, but really fun! I had done a lot of running in the rain and snow, so trust me when I say running in wet shoes really isn't a big deal. the right socks really help. At least my feet don't mind. I finished the race with no blisters and all my toenails. It took about a km to feel my feet again after the river...very weird to run like that! It was like running on tow ice blocks for feet.




We got back to the start (or rather, the halfway mark for us) at 3:30 hours! That gave us an hour buffer to finish in under 8 hours! A volunteer was immediately on hand to help us refill water and get some food in us and then we were off again! It was much quieter the 2nd half as all the 25K runners were done- the 50K only had about 81 runners and about 5 dropped out after the first half, leaving us with 76 on course! We made a wrong turn somehow, but thankfully a person running behind us saw us and corrected us. Then we were across the beaver dam again (much faster with no line up!) and back on our way. We knew we were somewhere near the back of the pack at this point, if not in last. We ended up running a large chunk of the last two legs of the race with a man named Ron, who was clearly a staple of the race as everyone knew him. He was speedwalking the whole thing and was basically the same speed as us running!

Somewhere around 30-31K I tripped and broke my fall with my face. I actually nearly-tripped about 10 times on the course (so many roots), but this was the only one that truly got me. I thought I might have a bloody nose, but I seemed fine. My right calf got pulled, but loosened up a bit quickly so I was alright to keep going! Luckily I didn't seem to have any bruising or further injury from the fall- just a tiny cut on my hand.

We didn't see any photographers after I fell so I made sure to keep my "warrior paint" on until I could get a good photo
We hit the turnaround at 5:30hrs, which gave us 2:30 hours to get back to the start. Thus far we had completed each leg under 2 hours so this was looking good for finishing on time! It was kind of fun hitting some new milestones- like when my watch clicked over 6 hours and it was the longest time I had ever run, or when we hit over 42.2km and knew it was now the farthest we had ever run.

We got back to the last aid station near the river crossing and they told us the firefighters and rope had gone!!!! We got to the river and had to cross unaided, which just seemed super dangerous, and we were kind of upset because we were still within the time limit so to lose the course support seemed unwarranted. There were still about 7 of us on the course. Plus, we ended up crossing at the wrong spot, which was much deeper (over the knee). But we made it across and waited for a woman (also doing her first ultra!) who we knew was just behind us. We wanted to make sure she got across safely.

Then we were off again! I had about 50 tiny river rocks in my shoe, but there was simply no way to get my shoes off now! We kept trucking along the course and finally- finally!- broke out of the wood and onto the fields near the finish. Our parents and Kevin were waiting at the top of the hill (who the hell put a hill there??) and Steph and I both got so emotional while we walked up it. Then it was just a lap around the finish line and we were done!!! 7:32!!! We waited around and watched the last 3 runners come in after us before the cutoff (two others finished over 8 hours, but I couldn't wait that long) and eating some of the post-race food (Thankfully Kevin saved us some of the delicious samosas). I ended up coming in 10th place in females age 1-39 (out of 10 people....HAHAHAHA...I love that statistic). The race gave out really cool buffs instead of medals, but Steph and I really wanted medals to commemorate this race so we made each other a medal, keeping them a complete surprise until after the race. I LOVE MINE SO MUCH!

coming up the final hill!

Post race!

My Medal!!! <3

The medal I made Steph...100% different inspirations

My buff! It has the course map on it!

My mom brought me some comfy slip-on shoes and very nicely untied and removed my mud-caked, wet shoes and helped me into the clean ones. Felt so heavenly!! Then somehow I managed to climb into their car and showered at their house after. Cam came over and he offered to carry me to his car (hahaha), but he also brought me roses! Such a sweetie. He loaded all my stuff in the car and drove me home and gave me a massage and put me to bed. I slept until midnight, and then woke up and ate half a pizza that Cam left out for me, and then went back to bed! I burned 5300 calories during the race and I look forward to eating them back!

Today I am super sore, but overall just super happy with the success of my race! Next year the race is ON my birthday, so we shall see if I attempt it again!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Around the Bay 30K!

Look at me and all my little race reports! I've been hitting the pavement hard this year!! My first "big race" (besides that 5K that I am super proud of) was Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, which took place last weekend. I ran it with my friend Stephanie, and since we are in the middle of some tough 50K training, we decided to set ourselves the reasonable goal of 6:30/km, which would have us finish in ~3:15. The course is hilly and we weren't tapering to rest our legs so we thought this would be a reasonable, but somewhat challenging pace for us to maintain over 30 kilometers.

Oh and did I mention I came down with a bad cold on Thursday? I was mostly better by Sunday, but not 100%



Now, as I mentioned, the race was in Hamilton, so I ended up getting a ride in on the Saturday with some RunTOBeer people and meeting Steph and her boyfriend Kevin at the race expo (where I bought a new sports bra and some light up laces! I'm so cool). We picked up our race bibs and then drove to Steph and Kevin's home in Waterloo! They moved around Christmastime and I hadn't seen their new place yet so it was a good excuse to visit. I slept over there and we all drove into Hamilton Sunday morning for the race.

The weather was originally cold and freezing rain and we were not looking forward to it!! Then a couple days before the race it upgraded to slightly above freezing and normal rain. That I could handle! The actual race day ended up being around 5 degrees, no rain (yay!!) but windy (boo!!). Could have been worse!

all bundled up and ready to run!

It was very well organized and we all got to wait in the arena and stay warm until our start. Steph and I walked over to the corrals about 15 minutes before the gun- there were a couple "fast" corrals that lined up earlier (where Kevin was- he killed this race!), but mostly everyone was in the back corral and so you didn't need to line up early or anything. We almost struck disaster when Steph's hydration pack sprung a leak right at the start but thankfully by some miracle I had a giant freezer baggie in my pack and we were able to put the water bladder in it and keep her back dry!

And then we were off! The first 10K or so is through a more industrial area and isn't exactly scenic. We basically just trudged along at our 6:30 pace and I warmed up and took off my coat and put it in my backpack- without stopping!- around km 6 or so. The other fun part is that the race has 10K and 15K relays so at the end of the 10K a lot of people left and a lot of new people on fresh legs joined us!

I actually might buy the race photos, but Ill wait for a sale :)

Km 10-20 were probably our best. I find I do my best running in this area- I really get into the zone but I'm not tired yet. It was also kind of fun because we got to run on the highway! It was windy and a little hilly on the bridges, but overall an interesting experience.

Km 20-30 I got a little tired. It starts to get REALLY hilly as we run through some residential areas, but the crowd support is great. Around km 22 I mentioned I was craving oranges and then suddenly we passed a bunch of orange peels- meaning I had missed out on oranges!! But then we saw a table saying "free water and fruit!" and they had bananas and grapes and I grabbed some and it was glorious! Thank you kind strangers!!



Around 25K there is a big hill nicknamed "Heartbreak Hill", but I don't recall it being too heartbreaking? Maybe it's because we weren't pushing the pace, or maybe because I've actually accomplished a lot of hill training this past month, but it wasn't that terrible! In fact, Steph and I probably only walked a tiny portion of the hills on the last 10K! Just past the hill there is a Grim Reaper who likes to shout demotivational things at the runners- he is a fixture of the race and good bit of humour to cheer us up with only a few km left! I was getting pretty tired and the last 3km really stretched on, but then finally we were in the home stretch, running through the arena to finish indoors! I loved the finish- everyone is in the stands cheering and it feels much more momentous then a usual finish randomly on a road somewhere.

We ended up finishing in 3:17, with an average pace of 6:31 (we ran slightly more than 30K since we didn't take all turns perfectly). Right on target and we were both super happy! I had never run an entire race with a friend before and it was a lot of fun!



After the race I collected my medal and free food. There was an afterparty at a local brewery, but I was pretty tired and really wanted to go home to my shower, so I hopped on the GO Bus and met Cam back in the city. We ended up going for dinner at his Aunt's, but I crashed pretty hard and we didn't stay too late. I was in bed for a good night's sleep at 9pm!

All in all, a very good race. Well organized, lots of fun crowd support, and a nice PR to boot (I've never done a 30K race so now I have a time to beat!).


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

50K Training

So I think I mentioned on my 5K post (too lazy to actually look), that I am training for a 50K trail race! This is all some harebrained idea of my friend Steph, who has run 3 marathons (which are 42.2km, FYI) and decided she hadn't been punished enough. And I am very easily influenced so here I am! Or maybe it was my idea. Frankly, we are dangerous together.

My race is on May 13th, just one day after my 31st birthday and it is in Pickering, ON where I grew up so there is a warm bed, shower, and maybe some birthday cake not far from the finish! The race is called the Seaton Soaker and it takes place on the Seaton Trail and there are two river crossings during the race. Have I mentioned that I had never run on trails? Did I also mention I hate wet shoes?

I kept up my running somewhat all fall/winter of 2016, but training really started in January and has been going fairly well. I am following a plan that is a long run on Saturdays, followed by a short run on tired legs on Sunday, a mid-week run to work on either speed or hills, and then two more mid-week runs whose purpose is to make sure I don't attempt to have any sort of life during training. I can't run and do other things. I get Mondays and Friday's for life.


Anywho- part of trail running means getting new gear! Yay shopping! I bought a hydration pack, which is a little running backpack that holds snacks and water, and there is a tube to deliver the water directly into my mouth! The future is now! If only the snacks had a tube as well. I also bought trail shoes! Which are like regular running shoes, but waterproof and have different grip designed to grip the mud and roots better. But they don't grip ice better- I learned that on my first trail run and the bruise is still healing (I wish this was an exaggeration).

They are no longer this clean. Oh also, got them on sale for $50!


And I have run on a few trails now! One VERY COLD day, my friends Steph and Kevin met me in Pickering and we ran about 17km along the actual race route. It took us 3 hours due to ice and beavers, and I fell twice, but it was actually....fun? And then the other day I ran to High Park in Toronto and found a bunch of trails there and did 28km, and it was also pretty fun?? I think this experience has made me realize that trail running is the bees knees!!! I need to find more!

High park trail

Seaton Trail

Steph, Kevin, and I

log hazard
Beautiful views!
So I am up to 28km in my long runs, and this weekend I am running Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton! And the weather is calling for freezing rain! Why on earth do I do this to myself! But as Steph said, we need to run 30K this weekend anyway, so we might as well pay $90 to get a medal at the end and free water on route. After this our long runs will climb up to 38km...which is just 4K shy of a full marathon. IN TRAINING!



Honestly, our goal for our 50K race is really just to have fun and finish. We are planning to take our time. It is actually really well reviewed as a fun race and Steph has run the shorter distances of it in previous years so she knows what she is in for at least. I will hopefully be able to crawl out of the woods at the end.

But hey- at least now I have an excuse for all my snacks and naps??


Sunday, March 12, 2017

My First 5K! Achilles St. Patrick's Day 5K!

This may come as a surprise- especially as I am currently training for a 50K race- but I have never run a timed 5K before. I ran a couple 5K distances with Terry Fox, and I have no idea of my time on them, but my first real race was a 10K and I've just always developed from there! I really enjoy plodding along at a comfortable pace so longer distances are more my "speed".

But I have always had it in my mind that I would like to run a 5K just to see what time I could run it in- because clearly I could really try and run as fast as I can if I am only going 5K. In longer races that tactic would be brutal! My really unrealistic goal was sub 25 minutes, only because:
a) it sounds good
b) in my 10K last May I ran the first half somewhere just south of 26 minutes (according to my watch)

I should note here that I dont think I have ever in my running career, run a sub-5 minute kilometre. And to run a sub-25 minutes 5K race means five sub-5 minute kilometres in a row...

However, I'm about half way through my 50K training, so my legs are very warmed up and ready to roll, and I found out last week about a 5K literally in my backyard for this weekend! It is the annual Achilles St Patick's Day 5K. Achilles is a great charity that helps runners with mental and physical disabilities, and my running group was going and had a coupon code, and as I said, it started and finished within a 5 minutes walk from my condo! And- this was a rest week in my 50K plan so my legs would actually have a chance of holding up since I wasn't running as much this week!



The only downside is that I woke up today and it was -21C outside, which is -6F for my American friends. Super chilly!!! I wore 2 warm long-sleeved shirts, my warmest pants and running socks, my RunTOBeer singlet, and a neckwarmer, hat, and gloves! I did a 1.5km warm up run (I can often take 5-8km just to warm up my legs on a long run), and then a lot of dynamic stretching at the start.



At 10:30 we were off!

It was a bit slow-going at the start. This race always has a walk/run and walk portion and a lot of walkers were up near the front and there wasn't a lot of room to weave. I also made a point of not looking at my watch once during the race- the main reason being because I was going to run as hard as I could so what good would it do to look down and realize I won't hit my goal? But also because we were running downtown and the buildings mess up my GPS anyway!

The first half wasn't too bad- but I was huffing and puffing right from the get go, which is never a good sign. Keep in mind that I usually run around 6:30/km, so this was a sprint for me! The turn-around came so fast (yay 5Ks!) and then suddenly I was on the home stretch! I started to feel a little sick around km 3-4...my stomach did not like the speed I was running, though my legs were fine. It was all a mental game so I just tried to put it out of my mind and focus on the finish. Weirdly enough, km may have been my fastest one. 

We rounded down around the Skydome and I swear they had moved the finish line farther away! I put my head down and just focused on trying to get every last bit of strength out of my legs! Finally I looked up and the clock at the finish said 24:55 and I was like "RUN AS HARD AS YOU CAN CASEY" and I just dug really deep to try and sprint to the finish.

I crossed the finish line at 25:05, but my actual chip time (aka, when my computer chip in my bib cross the start and finish line mats- I didn't start right at 00:00) was 24:35!!!!!!!!!!! I did it!!!



I had to sit down for awhile, because I thought I might throw up (from the run, not from excitement at being so speedy). but then I was able to get my medal, and my free chili and beer and relax inside in the warmth! The race started and finished at Steamwhistle Brewery so everyone got a free beer and food, and I was glad I was able to stomach everything because it was delicious. 


not pictured- the roll I devoured

Then it was a short jog home to a hot shower and a warm bed for a nap (hey, we lost an hour's sleep last night...I was tired).

And now I guess I am back to 50K training, which I will blog about sometime....maybe :)




Friday, October 21, 2016

Life and Stuff

Hello it is me! The MIA blogger!

I thought I would give an update into my life the past few weeks.

Wedding stuff has been going great and not-so-great.

Great stuff first!

1) I got my "real" ring
When Cam proposed he used a fake ring, and then he and I went together to the jeweler to design my forever ring. I ended up modelling the real ring to look very similar to the one he had picked to propose with- it basically has a different setting for the main stone, which is traditional at first glance, but very modern from the side angles. I love it!! It finally got it a couple weeks ago.


2) I BOUGHT MY DRESSSSSSS!!!!!!!

Ahhhh I am so excited! I went to about 4 stores, and still had the first dress I ever tried on in my mind, but then I stepped into a dress at the last store and immediately knew it was the one. I wouldn't say it was a huge, crying spectacle like what you see on TV (at least on my part, haha, not naming names on others who were there :P), but it was very beautiful, comfortable, in budget, and there was nothing I didn't love about it so I said yes to that dress! Clearly I am not going to show it here, so here is a dress that didn't win, from The Brides Project. The store is actually a charity that gets donations of wedding gowns from brides and from stores and sells them for a minimum 50% off and the proceeds go to cancer charities! I didn't end up buying from there, but maybe I will end up donating my dress or time there. It really is a great idea and I recommend people try it out.


The Bad:
Cam and I have been having a tough time with venue hunting. I thought we had finally found one that seemed in our budget and I loved everything about it, and then I found out that they had a minimum spend on Saturdays that put it way out of our budget. Work has been pretty stressful lately (we are in a huge crunch time), and the stress of venue hunting has NOT been helping!! Thankfully Cam is actually pretty into wedding planning so he has been so supportive and optimistic. But ya, I cried over that venue. I need to get my head back on straight.



However in good news we go to see another venue next week that we both have a really good feeling about so fingers crossed!!!

Now moving on from wedding stuff...

I ran a marathon last weekend! Naw, just kidding. I actually paced my friend Steph in the last 11.5km of her 3rd marathon. I dressed up like Pikachu and was waiting for her at km 30.



She did so so well! She trained so hard for this race, but race day ended up being unseasonably warm and humid and basically her body couldn't take it and she didn't hit her goal time (which she totally could have on a better day!), but she DID finish. Honestly, running a marathon is super hard in and of itself on a good day, but running a whole marathon when everything is going wrong and your body is rebelling against you?? That takes way more guts and deserves way more admiration in my opinion. She never gave up!! I am so glad I was there to help (in whatever way a girl dressed as Pikachu yelling motivational phrases at you for 11.5km can help).


I also was part of the RunTOBeer cheer squad at km 5.5 and it was a lot of fun! I made a sign that said "My Fartleks are powered by Beer" (fartleks being a type of run training). However it rained the whole time we were there so my sign got kind of ruined. Even if you have no inclination to run, cheering at races is a good time! The runners love it too!

I still don't have my next big goal race booked. I have a 10K in December though! But I think I would like to give the marathon another shot some time. Steph has also been dropping hints about a 50K trail race next spring, and I must say that I am intrigued... I actually have been taking it pretty easy on the running since my half in July. I did a couple 20 km runs with Steph, but my knees definitely disagreed with that and I was pretty spent by the end. I need to start getting back into it! And weight training because I have a wedding dress to fit into now!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Engagement Photos!

We have not yet booked a venue for the wedding, so we do not yet have a date, and therefore we have not yet hired a wedding photographer, but Cam and I both wanted to get our engagement photos done on the Toronto Islands before winter hit. Thankfully my cousin is a professional photographer, and he offered to come out and do the engagement photos for us before we ran out of time!

The islands are actually a very special place for Cam and I- we love to visit there whenever we can. Cam actually planned to propose there a couple weeks before our trip to Nova Scotia, but I cancelled on him to go to RunTOBeer with my friends. Oops :)

I was hoping the fall colours would be out, but it looks like the leaves are either late or not happening this year. Oh well, at least everything was still green and pretty! We had a great day on the islands with my cousin, Steve, from Mint to Be Photography. Steve was so great in helping us laugh and look less awkward (Cam and I are the epitome of awkward when a camera is out) and we had so much fun. It was so cold and windy, but the photos turned out absolutely amazing and it was all worth it!! I wanted to share a sneak peek at the few I have gotten back from him with you guys!








The last one is one of my favourites!! The sun was setting when we were on the beach and it was a beautiful sunset so we just lucked out (no photoshop!). However it was also SO COLD and windy and my hair was unruly and it took forever to get this shot- but I love it!!

I know Steve is my cousin, and I am undoubtedly biased, but he really did an amazing job. He is so funny and personable, in addition to being a great photographer, and I would recommend Steve and Jennie at Mint to Be to anyone for their special event!
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