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 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 6K 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 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 :)

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