Sunday, April 24, 2016

Marathon Training: Week 15

Total kilometres run: 623.5

Total kilometres this week: 38

Week 15's runs:
Tuesday: 10km (6:14 min/km avg pace)
Thursday: 10km (5:47 min/km avg pace)
Saturday: 8km (6:45 min/km avg pace)
Sunday: 10km (6:34 min/km avg pace)

*cue epic music*

This is it!! Less than a week to go until my first marathon!! I am equal parts nervous and excited. I'm not foolish enough to believe that this marathon will be a cakewalk- it is a tough distance for even seasoned runners, and I am running it for the first time AND I am under-trained thanks to my stupid IT Band. 

But the knee has been feeling good and my spirits are high and I am just plain excited to run this race and see what happens! 

I am also totally lost on pacing. I haven't really decided how conservative to be in the first half. It would suck to realize I could have finished in a faster time. But it would also suck to hit "the wall" at km 22 and realize I still have 20.2 more to go!!

Anywho, some people have been asking about the race because they want to come see me run (yay!). HERE is the race map. And the marathon starts at 7:30, though I am in the last corral (they have starggared starts that let the faster people go first) so it is possible I might not start until 8:00am or even later! I have no idea how many people are in this race.

Also, I am of the understanding there will be a way to track my progress live and if I get the details at the race expo on Friday I will share them!! 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nest Thermostat, Philips Hue Lights, and a Peacock!

I got some new upgrades to the condo recently and I wanted to share! The first is my new peacock pillow, which I picked up from H&M home recently. I haven't gotten a new throw pillow in ages, but I just can't resist a peacock, especially one in my favourite colours of turquoise and purple! I couldn't find this particular pillow cover online, but I found it in the Eaton Centre location. I really liked the collections in their Home department there- super cute stuff!

And if you look at the above picture you will notice something else new- a new thermostat! I won a Nest Generation 3 Thermostat and some Philips Hue light bulbs from Jennifer at Rambling Renovators. I couldn't believe it when she said I had won her giveaway for these items!! They came a couple of weeks ago so Cam and I have been playing with them ever since.

The install of the thermostat was fairly straightforward. I removed the old one, taking care to take a photo of the current wire set up. Then I went to the Nest website and entered in what wires I had and it told me how to wire the new one!

However, I did run into an issue where the thermostat would not power on! I called tech support and we worked through a bunch of things and eventually it seems we found the problem. The thermostat was trying to pull it's energy source from the A/C wire...but my building turns off A/C in the winter (as do all condos as far as I know). When I pulled the A/C wire out everything worked great! So I am going to have to figure this one out, but for now it works and when the building turns on the A/C I will just plug it back in. I'm sure somewhere there is a solution to this, but I haven't put any effort into finding one. :)

I REALLY love this thermostat. It learns as it goes and now it automatically turns the heat up or down exactly when Cam and I would like it to. And I can adjust it from my phone so if I am too hot at night I don't need to get up! And it knows when I am home vs away so it conserves energy when I am gone.

Here is the kicker- my old thermostat never worked on "auto". If I turned it to "auto" it just stayed off! I thought it was an issue with the actual HVAC system and that I would eventually need to get a technician in. But with the new thermostat, "auto" works 100% fine! So even though I don't pay for hydro here, it is still great news for my building's hydro bill and the environment in general to go from having the system ON 24/7, to this:

I also received in the giveaway a Philips Hue light starter kit! These are actually some pretty cool light bulbs that connect to your wifi so you can control the lights from your phone. AND you can change the lights to any colour imaginable. The kit came with 3 and I decided to put them in the track lighting in the kitchen (which meant I took down one of my lights, since originally I had 4). I actually really prefer these lights to the LEDs I had in before because the LEDs took a long time to get bright, which annoyed me.

You can also set the lights on a timer, which is nice if you live in a home and want to program your lights to come on while you are on vacation. And you can connect the lights to your Nest system. Not so interesting with just the thermostat, but if you had a Nest Protect you can have the lights turn on when motion is detected or turn red if smoke/carbon monoxide is detected. Plus the lights can connect to other systems- for example you can connect them to your universal remote and the lights will dim if you want to put a movie on. How futuristic is that?

Plus there are other things like having the lights come on when you get home. Which is cool, but it is currently light out when I get home and with a 40 foot window in my living room, there is not much use for that right now! Also, Kirsten at Storefront Life told me they have these light bulbs in the bedroom and therefore they can turn off the lights without getting out of bed!

As I said as well, you can change the colours of the bulbs to anything you want- and dim them! For some reason Cam has decided the blue is the colour we need in the kitchen/livingroom so that is what we have been rocking lately. The Hue system comes with a bunch of colour recipes too- like ones designed to help you relax or concentrate...or to remind you of being under the sea. Whatever floats your boat.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Marathon Training: Week 14

Total kilometers run: 585.5km

This Week: 42.4km

Week 14's runs:
Tuesday: 6.4km (6:46 min/km avg pace)
Thursday: 10km (6:42 min/km avg pace)
Saturday: 10km (6:08 min/km avg pace)
Sunday: 16km (6:32 min/km avg pace)

Taper time!! I am two weeks away from the big race so now my mileage starts lowering so I can rest my legs and start storing up energy. I am super excited and also super nervous for my race! My training was pretty low-mileage to begin with and obviously my IT Band issues set me back a bit. I mean, I only got in one 30K run... But for some reason I am also feeling confident? Maybe not for finishing in some stellar time, but for finishing!

I was also excited to see the sun FINALLY come around this week! Temperatures are up and my running shorts are back on. I even put on sunscreen. I actually really hope race day is not as warm as this weekend was, because I certainly haven't trained in this type of weather. My ultimate wish is 10 degrees, partly cloudy, and no wind. Right now the forecast is 14 and sunny, but 2 weeks is a long way away to take a forecast seriously, so who knows!

Oh, I also tried another gel this week- GU Lemon Sublime. It was alright, didn't really taste much like anything, but I was drinking lemon-lime gatorade too so it probably just blended with that. I don't mind ones that don't taste strongly though- they go down easy!

Yay spring!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Marathon Training: Week 13

Total kilometers run: 539.1km

This Week: 57.8km

Week 13's runs:
Tuesday: 13km easy (6:31 min/km avg pace)
Thursday: 6.5km easy (6:30 min/km avg pace)
Saturday: 12.6km easy (6:21 min/km avg pace)
Sunday: 25.7km easy (6:35 min/km avg pace)

Ah, lucky week 13! It actually went fairly smoothly, though I was worried it wouldn't. I did 13km on Tuesday and then saw my Physio on Thursday and she did shockwave treatment on my knee. Shockwave is basically a nice way of saying she took a jackhammer of electric shocks to my knee. It hurt SO much! She still encouraged me to run Thursday, but my legs were tired and I skipped the 1.5km of sprints I was supposed to do at the end of my run. I'm kind of avoiding speed work while I heal anyway.

Saturday my legs were still tired, but I did a fairly quick 12.6km run. I was supposed to go 12.9, but I had plans and needed to rush home! Saturday night my knee was really starting to bug me, especially while doing my daily exercises (which now include 1 legged squats). I was worried about Sunday's run, but I actually woke up feeling great and the whole run went smooth as butter with no pain! Right after I got back I got a massage at the local spa and took a nap. It was a great day overall! It was my last "long run" of training! Now I am tapering (AKA- reducing mileage) until race day so my legs are well rested!

Also on Sunday I was planning on running up by the Don Valley River, but it was temporarily blocked off for a movie shoot (or something like that), so I ended up running out to the Leslie Spit and I had SUCH an enjoyable run out there! I ran all the way to the lighthouse!

Finally, I tried some new on-the-run snacks and wanted to share!

Vega Gel in Raspberry: This one was okay. Wasn't the biggest fan of the flavour. The orange one was better.

Clif Shot Bloks in Fruit Punch: I found these harder to chew than the Gu chomps I tried a few weeks ago. Plus they were pretty sweet and I had a bit of sharp jaw pain from that when I bit into them. But the flavour was good!

Gu Gel in Jet Blackberry: Pretty good! Much better consistency than the Vegas (though maybe the Vega gels had slightly frozen on me?). I also like that it has sodium and caffeine. Might be a good option in the 2nd half when I'm depleted. 

Honey Stinger Gel in Mango Orange: Really liked this one! It wasn't too sweet at all, and I am I would prefer that on race day. This one will definitely be in my pack. I also like how Honey Stinger has pretty normal, easy to understand ingredients. +1 if you like putting real food in your belly.

Honey Stinger Waffle in Caramel: same issue I had with the last Honey Stinger Waffle- it froze on me! However, these things are still ridiculously delicious. I think I will pack one or two for race day to get a change from the gels. It will hopefully be above freezing by then!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

10 Things I Will Miss About Winter Running

When I signed up for a marathon on May 1st, I knew that would mean training in the winter (though to be honest, I never expected winter to last THIS LONG). However, I had actually never run in the winter. It was not a well thought out plan. But over these past blistery, cold months I have run over 500km through snow, wind, ice, cold... you name it! I think I only ended up on the treadmill twice and that was due to freezing rain. I'm tough, but I'm not stupid enough to run in freezing rain.

Now that I'm hopefully seeing the end of winter running, I must admit there are a lot of things I am going to miss about it!

1. Pockets
Most of my runs were done with a long sleeved shirt, warm leggings, and a vest with zippered pockets. Oh how I will miss those pockets!! My running belt (a Flip Belt), is awesome, but running with pockets was such joy. So easy to grab my phone or stash my gloves if I didn't need them. When training with gels and chews I could just shove them in and remove with ease! I will miss pockets dearly.

2. Not Having to Get Up at the Crack of Dawn
In the summer it gets HOT and HUMID in Toronto, which means getting up at ungodly hours on the weekend to try and fit in a run before the heat hit (often unsuccessfully). In the winter I could sleep in until noon if I wanted!

Sunsets > Sunrises

3. No Sunscreen
While I do wear a light sunscreen on my face year round, I really didn't need to worry about sun protection on my long runs (except while in Cuba). Putting on a layer of sunscreen takes so much time with all the exposed skin in summer, and then you sweat it off (and into your eyes!) anyway. In the winter I can just dress and go.

Just try and find me, UV rays
4. No One on the Trail
I like to run along the Martin Goodman Trail, which is a paved path that follows the waterfront and rivers in Toronto, In the summer it is teeming with families and walkers who have no clue about how lanes work. It is so nice to not have to dodge people on my runs (fun fact- the marathon will actually end on this trail and it won't be closed to the public, so I might actually be dodging on marathon day if the weather is nice). It was kind of fun to run on cold dark nights and only see a couple people. Made me feel super hardcore.

5. Less Sweating, Less Chafing
With long distance running comes clothing and skin rubbing together to chafe you to death. However, in the winter I sweat less, and therefore chafe less! I have noticed a huge difference since my half marathon training last summer. My skin is so much happier. But I did pick up some BodyGlide to prevent chafing on race day!

( one needs a picture of this.)

6. Less Water
Another side effect of less sweating is less water needed on my runs. In the summer I always carry water and often refill at water fountains along my route. In the winter I seem to only need water on my long run and it lasts me the whole run. I have also had less issues with dehydration...a couple of times last summer I got ill after some runs and I always blamed dehydration.

My trusty waterbottle
7. Beating Back the Winter Blues
I have never felt as good as I have this past winter (and knock on wood, never been so healthy!). Getting all that fresh air obviously has been doing me lots of good. I have been happy and enjoying myself this whole training time. My energy has been up too (except for after my Sunday long run, when I am usually dead to the world). Lastly, I have never slept better!

8. It Doesn't Interfere with my Social Life
Summers are busy. So many vacations, pool parties, long walks, and patio beers to be drunk. It is hard to turn down plans with friends on beautiful sunny evenings and weekends! But the winter? My social calendar slows to a crawl. We all just kind of hole up in our homes and text/email each other to complain about the cold. It is great because nothing has really got in the way of my training. I have never been tempted to skip a run to see a friend. In the summer nice days might be fleeting, but in the winter all days are cold and dark so no one minds when I book dinner dates to align with my running schedule!

Got Sweet Jesus Ice Cream last week with my friend. It's still cold out. There was a line. Canadians are weird.

9. The Clothes!
I love my winter running clothing. I only allow myself one drawer for exercise clothes and it is stuffed. So much fun to have an excuse to buy new running outfits!! Basically everything I own is from Old Navy, especially their go-warm collection. So comfortable. And I needed surprisingly less layers than I thought. I wore my wind breaker only on the coldest days as I would sweat like crazy in it! Generally I wore a Buff, a headband over my ears, a long sleeved shirt, a vest, gloves, leggings, and wool socks. On the coldest days I'd throw on my wind breaker, a 2nd pair of pants, and my balaclava over all that. But honestly I only needed all that on 2-3 days! Yay for unseasonably warm winters!

For my half marathon last fall I finished in leggings and a Tshirt (I had arm covers that I ditched a few km in). And it was only slightly above freezing that day! You definitely don't need a parka to run outside.

These pants aren't from the go-warm collection, but I love them and wore them every week of training
10. Food

All the pie. All the cookies, All the breads. In my mouth. Winter is the time for fattening, delicious foods, and running is the time for carb loading. It is a match made in heaven.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Marathon Training Week 12: Goals and Race Plan!

Total kilometers run: 481.3km

This Week: 47.1km

Week 12's runs:
Tuesday: 8.2km easy (7:02 min/km avg pace)
Thursday: 10.2km easy (7:13 min/km avg pace)
Saturday: 10.4km easy (6.42 min/km avg pace)
Sunday: 18.3km easy (6:51 min/km avg pace)

I am happy to report that the knee seems to be on the mend!!!! I had a little pain on my run on Tuesday, but I saw my physio on Thursday and she did some fantastic work on my knee and quads and gave my IT band a break. That seems to be just what it wanted because it felt so great after and I had no issues with any of my runs the rest of the week. I didn't even PLAN to do 18K on Sunday! My plan was to go out and turn around when the knee started to act up and then switch to the bike, but the knee never acted up! I was almost at full mileage this week!!

As you may have also noticed, I am running slow as molasses right now too. I'd rather be slow than aggravate my knee, so I am foregoing any speedwork. Plus my physio recommended taking smaller strides to lessen the impact of each step, and that slowed me down too. But yay pain free runs!

Shot from Sunday's run
So, let's talk game plan for the big race (less than a month away!). My original pie in the sky goal was 4 hours (based on my 1:55 half last fall). But I have completely thrown that out now because I actually want to finish. I think I am going to have the following goals:
A Goal: 4:30
B Goal: Sub 5 hours
C Goal: Finish
Overall Goal: Enjoy my first marathon and not die!

I think they are all obtainable! A 4:30 finish would mean a pace of about 6:23/km. I am certainly not running that right NOW with my knee and all, but I think with a lot of rest that pace might actually be achievable. I ran my half marathon with a 5:27 pace!! I always do much faster in races than I do in training, but a marathon is a whole new beast. I need to respect the distance and not cause myself further injury.

I have been studying the race map and elevation chart and reading some other people's reports of the race online to get a good plan going for race day as well. It is one thing to pick a goal pace, but quite another to stick to it over hills and turns and winds and whatever else May 1st will bring!

The race starts off in North York and generally follows Yonge St until midtown when we go west for a bit and then east to the river, then cut through downtown for awhile, with the last 10K as an out and back along the waterfront. I am happy the last 10K is in that spot because that will be the hardest part of the race mentally (and physically) and I know that road like the back of my hand, since I run it nearly 4 times a week! In fact, I am pretty familiar with the entire 2nd half of the race. The first half I don't know at all so Cam and I are planning on doing a drive along it.

I can tell from the elevation chart that it is somewhat hilly in the first half, but only one BIG hill about 5km in. Otherwise it looks like (and other reviews have said), mostly downhill for the first half and then flat! A very fast course!

So my general plan is this:
Km 1-5: allow myself to get a little swept up in the excitement and maybe go a bit too fast. Hey- it's my first marathon!
Km 5-20: Hit that hill and get a nice reality check. Then try and stay steady and easy and hope I bank a few minutes from the downhills.
Km: 20-42.2: Hold on for dear life

I am getting super excited for May 1st to come!
Pin It button on image hover