Run ALL The Races

I have a problem.

A race problem.

I want to sign up for every race under the sun. When I can’t find a local race I have been feverishly scanning for ones in New York State (don’t worry Shawn, haven’t found any yet).

I have been having problems with my rotator cuff in my left shoulder so swimming has been infrequently lately, which puts my triathlon season sort of up in the air. Because of this I have been concentrating more on road races, and have tentatively come up with a race plan. I haven’t signed up for anything yet so things may change.

May 18 – 5000m track race. Weird, right? It’s $3 so why not?!

June 2 – 75km Heart And Stroke Ride for Heart – 75km on my bike!

June 15 – Triathon. Not sure if this is a go, but if it is I will probably be a baby and just do the Try A Tri again this year since my shoulder is being a bitch.

July 28 – another triathlon, sprint distance this time

August 11 – Toronto 10 miler. This would be my first 10 mile race and fit in perfectly for my fall half marathon plans

August 31 (I think) – sprint #2

September – no idea. Maybe nothing!

October 20 – take #2 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.

It looks kinda crazy to me! I’m really looking forward to training for this half, it was my first last year and it is a great course. Also I think I just love training and the long runs.

Who knows, maybe next year I will eat my own words and sign up for a full.

Or not.

What’s next on your race schedule?

Toronto Yonge Street 10K Recap

I suck as a blogger and didn’t take any pictures yesterday.  So sorry, so busy running.

As always, Canada Running Series put on a great race yesterday.  The Toronto Yonge Street 10K was only my second 10K ever but I will definitely be running this again.

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It was chilly but super sunny.  I probably overdressed (Lululmon tights, tech t shirt and arm warmers) but I didn’t notice it too much as I ran.

The plan was to stay under 165bpm HR for the first little bit and then just run (or shuffle, or whatever it is I do).  I managed to stick with it for the first 10 minutes or so before the excitement of racing caught up to me and I just started pushing.  A big difference from this race and the 5K two weeks ago was I didn’t even look at my pace.  My Garmin was set to a screen with total time, HR and calories.  It was a lot less stressful to have to guess my pace based on total time and the kilometre markers – it gave my brain something to think about other than running.

While the race is net downhill there are a few rolling hills which messed with me a little but I kept up the pace pretty good. 

At the 5K mark my total time was 31:17 which is a 3 minute PR from two weeks ago (does this really count as a PR?) and the fastest I have ever run 5K before.  And the PRs kept on coming. I know so many people run SO much faster than me, and that can get me down sometimes, but then I have to remember that this is my journey and no one else’s, so my sub 40min 6k is AWESOME for me.

Around 8K I started to fade a bit but I never gave up mentally this race.  I’d take a quick walk break, or slow down a little to catch my breath, and then it was right back to work.

The last kilometre I put the pedal to the metal and I was so close to puking.  I saw Shawn on the sidelines near the finish and I barely managed a wave.  I crossed the finish line in 1:03:39 which is a 3 min PR for me!

My only real goal going into this race was to have fun, and that I did.  I waved at everyone, high fived people and sang along to my music.  My brain was happy and I was never stressed about my pace, or my time, or how I felt.  As always I feel I could have probably pushed harder but a PR is a PR!

I will definitely run this race again – it was well organized, a beautiful course, great swag (two tech shirts and a great medal!), wonderful volunteers, and a great after party.  Running down Yonge Street was amazing, and seriously rivals running through Times Square – I know, crazy right? But Toronto is my city, and there is nothing I love more than running through its streets.

Being a digital champion and being able to run this race and meet so many people with similar interests was absolutely incredible.  I’m so grateful to have been given this opportunity.

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Feel The Moment

It seems when I have a lot to write about is when I feel like blogging least.

I don’t get the need to post about every mundane detail of my life, because, really, with my schedule I have a lot of free time that is spent cleaning or watching Les Mis (for the 3rd time) or yelling at the dogs to stop wrestling.  I also don’t understand the “I must go do something so I can blog about it” mentality that some people seem to have, either.  I don’t live to blog or blog to live, I just like to write. Sometimes.

Anyway a month ago now (holy time flew by) I ran the NYC Half Marathon.

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I had hoped for a PR, and considering how well my training had been going I thought it was a sure thing.  However I underestimated how hilly Central Park is (Harlem Hill is EVIL) and by 16km my legs just said “Nope” and my brain couldn’t talk them out of it.  My time ended up being exactly 2 minutes slower than my first half marathon, which all things considered isn’t that bad.  I also  ran the first 15-16km straight without any walk  breaks, which I have never, ever done before.  So that in itself was a HUGE accomplishment.

Still, I felt a little disappointed in myself that I couldn’t push harder at the end when things got tough.

This past weekend I ran the 5K at Harry’s Spring Run Off in Toronto. 

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It is the first race in the Canada Running Series in the Toronto area for 2013.  Now, they warn you about the hill at the end (which, quite frankly, was way WORSE than Harlem Hill) but neglected to mention that most of the course was rolling hills  Winking smile .  My legs were shot from earlier in the week and felt dead from the get go, and since I don’t usually push hard in my training my brain panicked again and I had to walk. In a stupid 5K.  I ended up with a PR regardless but I KNOW I could have gone faster if I could just shut my brain up, or shut it down, or just RUN.

My next race is the Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 21 (the second race in the Canada Running Series).  I was invited earlier this year to be a Digital Champion for this race, which has been a really neat experience.  I did get a free race entry but I have also been able to connect with a lot of like minded people in the GTA and help build up some hype for this awesome race!

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My goal for the 10K is to have FUN.  I need to take the pressure off myself with this stupid PR business and to just run my own race.  I also need to practice getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, if that makes any sense.  So I won’t be out there just trotting along, but I want to go into this race with no time expectations beyond not finishing dead last. I’m going to enjoy the moment and run the kilometre that I’m in instead of worrying about the kilometres behind me or the ones to come.

Anyway enough of my rambling for tonight, and I promise to not take such a long break again.  I’m starting a new strength program next week and I’m excited to tell you guys all about it!

Tell me: How do you deal with being uncomfortable during a race?

How Heart Rate Training Has Saved My Running

This time last year I was in a huge funk.  I had just been diagnosed with runner’s knee and was limping around everywhere and had made the crappy decision that I had to pull out of what was to be my first half marathon.

Well what a difference a year makes.

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Since Saturday I have run 55km. FIFTY FIVE KILOMETRES.  I have never run that many kilometres in less than 7 days in my life. Ever.

And I’m still walking. Other than some aching when I walk up stairs, my knees are happy campers, which is a drastic change from March 2012.

The difference this time around has been heart rate training.  Yes this means I have been doing the majority of my runs super slow in order to stay at or below a particular heart rate number.  But in doing so I have built up endurance as well as stayed relatively injury free.

Have I built up any speed? That’s hard to say at this point.  I do know that I can run further and longer than I could before, so by default I’m already faster by eliminating a lot of walking breaks.  As long as my body continues to cooperate with the HR training, I should start getting faster eventually.

Today was my last long run (15.2km) before New York on March 17.  Right now I have no goals other than to finish strong and to maybe finish faster than 2:28:48. A PR would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.  All I know is that I’m going to bring my A game and do my best.

New York, you’d better watch out.

Running & Deadlifts

Hello and happy Friday! I’d say TGIF but I work this weekend, so today is more like my Sunday than a Friday.

Last night at my gym I attended a running clinic put on by Steve from Running Free in Ajax.  He spent some time talking about form, cadence, foot fall, etc.  Then he took us for a bit of a run.  We ended up going 4.5km (no idea how long it took us).  I actually managed to run the entire way which I haven’t done in ages.  Although I was at the back of the pack I’m still pretty proud of myself for keeping a steady pace and not needing to take a walk break at all.  There is hope for me yet!

Steve mentioned that a shorter stride is actually more effective than a crazy long stride.  When you are taking long strides you have more of a tendency to land on your heel instead of your midfoot, where you should be landing.  With a shorter stride, your legs are landing underneath you, so you are more likely to land on your midfoot.  It was interesting to try to shorten my stride and pay more attention to where my foot was landing.  I think I was somewhat successful.

After the run I stayed at the gym to do the workout.  Since I haven’t been making it to the gym a lot in the last 2 months I was going to take it easy on myself, but apparently I am not allowed to do that. 

This is Kyle.  He wanted a picture of him eating a pita on the blog. He is also the one who made me deadlift at 135. Thanks, Kyle.

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The workout was:

10-1 of deadlifts and ring dips
(1o DL, 10 RD, 9DL, 9 RD, etc)

I did the deadlifts at the “advanced” weight of 135lbs, which was the right decision since I did the first 10 unbroken.  I broke the rest up usually by doing half, taking a short break, then doing the rest.  The ring dips I did with a red band.  I’m surprisingly not as sore today as I thought I’d be, especially since I don’t think I’ve deadlifted in over 2 months.

I also hit the gym today – the skill work beforehand was 1 power snatch + 1 hang (full) snatch every 30 seconds for 4 minutes (I used 65lbs).  The workout was slightly crazy:

4 rounds
Bear crawl 2 lengths of gym
10 Thrusters (I used the advanced weight again 65lbs)
10 burpees

That was tough.  It took me 16:59 to finish and my legs and arms were shaking when I was done.  However I managed 8 more burpees to help a fellow CrossFitter finish her last round – burpees seem easier when they’re for someone else!

Tonight I plan on playing around with making custom ribbon for some Blue Jays headbands and dog collars in preparation of the KILLER year my boys are gonna have next year (wishful thinking maybe but with the recent trades my hopes are definitely up) and also some custom ribbon for headbands with my gym’s logo.  Also wine.

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I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Now that the time change has come and gone, a lot more of my runs have to be done in the dark.

Normally I am a morning runner, mostly because I like to have it done with before I start my day, but also because I am not comfortable running alone in the dark.  I like running in the dark, but before this training cycle I’d only ever run with the Running Room at night so I was always surrounded by lots of people.  Not so much right now.

Instead of just NOT running (which would be easiest, but also the laziest option), I have assembled my “Defeat The Dark” running ensemble:

- I have started taking Scout with me.   Since I am going fairly slowly still I can take her for up to an hour and she barely gets winded.  And while she isn’t exactly a tough cookie, she at least looks tough (maybe?) and will bark if she’s worried. Or at bags of leaves. Or spook at shadows.  On second thought maybe taking her isn’t such a good idea.

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I swear she just ran 6km with me. She doesn’t even look tired!

- Wearing my headlamp.  Shawn got it for me last Christmas and I finally have a use for it (other than bringing horses in in the dark).  I can see in front of me better and I’m more noticeable to drivers and other pedestrians.

- Reflective clothing.  My Running Room jacket has reflective stripes on the body as well as the sleeves.  I really need to find reflective bands I can wear on my arms and ankles so I’m even more visible.

- I’m NOT listening to music in the dark.  I almost never, ever run without music, but I’m now making an exception.  This way I can be more aware of what’s going on around me (and determine if Scout did hear something or if the bag of leaves is just that scary).  I still run with my phone just in case.

I’m also sticking to well light areas that I know well, and of course telling someone (ie Shawn) when I’m leaving, where I’m going and when I should be back.

So far this is working out ok, and I’m a little less leery of running at night, although I would still rather run in the morning!

Any other ideas or suggestions for running in the dark? What do you do to keep yourself safe?

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

Third time’s the charm!

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After 2 Did Not Starts due to runner’s knee earlier this year I finally, Finally, FINALLY ran my first half marathon.

Going into Sunday I knew that I was under trained.  I had “missed” (um skipped?) some long runs, oh and some shorter runs, and there may have been a few weeks in there where I didn’t run at all. Also started training for this race without a running base (oops) so I am clearly not the person you should be reading if you want to train for a half marathon properly. 

Sunday started out dark, rainy and cold.  Shawn and I were already soaked by the time we made it to my start corral and met up with my friend Amanda and her husband.  We huddled under a building’s overhang to stay as much out of the rain as we could before the 8:30 start of the race.

I only had one goal for this race (ok, maybe 2) – to finish, and to hopefully finish under 2:30. Oh and a 3rd – to have fun.

The race started right on time, but we didn’t cross the start line until about 8:45. Thankfully by the point the rain had stopped, too.

The first few kilometres flew by – running through my favourite city was kind of mind blowing, and the cheering sections and spectators were pretty amazing. 

At about the 10km mark I lost Amanda – she stopped to walk and I was so much in a zone that I didn’t notice.  This is also where the race started to drag a little – the out and back along Lakeshore was long, and watching everyone faster than me already on their way back was a bit disheartening.  But I kept trudging along.  My legs felt pretty good, and my bad knee was holding up really well.

We turned around at about the 12km mark and started heading back towards the downtown core.  As the 16km marker came into view my left knee (also previously known as my GOOD knee) started to hurt just on the outside of my knee cap.   So that was nice. It hurt off and on for the last 5km, so I took it even easier as I didn’t want to blow some tendon or permanently wreck my knee. 

The last 1.1km was up hill (oh c’mon now, who does that??) but the streets were PACKED with spectators.  I have to give thanks to 2 girls who called out my name and told me to keep going just as I turned north onto Bay Street.  They put a smile on my face and helped me to keep pushing.

The last 300m I must have looked like an absolute idiot, I was grinning like a fool as I crossed the finish line.  I never really, truly knew the meaning of runner’s high until then, and I’m still coasting a little on that feeling 2 days later.

I have to say that the race was really well organized. Start corrals were well marked;  it started on time (very important); the water stations were well stocked with drinks and volunteers – and the volunteers were amazing! After the finish line we were funnelled through the medals area (separate sections for the 5km, half and full marathon medals), then the post race food, and finally back to Nathan Phillips Square where we could meet back up with friends and family.  It made figuring out where to go very easy for a directionless person such as myself.

I can’t imagine having a better time than I did on Sunday – well that’s a lie, if my knee didn’t hurt it would have been even better.  I managed to meet all 3 of my non-goals: I finished, under 2:30 (2:28:48 chip time) and I had fun.

Thanks to the Canada Running Series for making my first half marathon so memorable!

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Training Thursday

Oops…Thursday, not Tuesday again.

Quick recap of the last week:

Friday – Fran PR!

The first time I did Fran I didn't used the prescribed weights. The second time I did, and added 3 minutes to my time. This time I did it with the prescribed weights again and shaved that 3 minutes back off my time, very happy with that time! I'm still using bands for my pull ups, but hopefully I won't have to use them much longer.

Saturday – 10km long run. Could call this a shuffle, even. It was horrible but I got it done. 12km on the plan for tomorrow. Getting up earlier and trying new fueling options to hopefully prevent the shuffle from happening again.

Sunday – 2 hour skills clinic at the gym. We worked for the first half on gymnastics – handstands, kipping, ring dips, muscle ups (um I am no where near muscle ups so did not remotely attempt). The second half was more my style – new back squat PR, snatch drills, 7 minute snatch workout and a 7 minute clean&jerk workout. If only I could just power and Oly lift for the rest of my life, I'd be a happy girl.

Monday and Tuesday – rest days cuz I had other fun things to do (recaps tomorrow).

Wednesday – 4.5km run followed by a short 5min home WOD (3 rounds 10 weighted air squats, 10 weighted sit ups and 10 push ups then 1 min plank).

Thursday – CrossFit. Found out I can push press 85#. I intended to do clean and jerks for the ground to overhead portion of the WOD but apparently the push press was happening. Not too shabby since I don't think I've done 85#, ever, and I did it 18 times (the last 2 were split jerks).

The next week is going to be sporadic, as I work this weekend and then am traveling for a conference next weekend. I've moved my run schedule around to accommodate the travel (yay for hotel treadmills) and will be dropping into a local CrossFit for a couple of workouts as well. I will also be pool lounging when I am not learning. Combining learning and relaxing is my kinda business trip.

If you could do only one form of exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?

 

Training Thursday

I have been a bad half marathon wannabe.

I did not run last week. At all. I had every intention of running, really I did, but as usual life got in the way.

But I'm back on track (mostly) this week.

Monday: CrossFit

Tuesday: CrossFit

Wednesday: 2.5km run: it started out really well, did the first km in 5:43 which is probably the fastest I've ever run a km before. Then it went downhill – my heart rate was really high and I couldn't catch my breath. I think it has a lot to do with under hydrating and not enough sleep. I'm making a conscious effort to drink more water and I'm even tracking it to make sure I get enough.

Today: CrossFit

 

Friday: 4x400m run, and maybe the gym if I feel up to it

Saturday: 10km long run

Sunday: skills clinic at the gym

I'm going to take my time doing the long run and not stress about time, just get the distance covered. I will definitely do the run/walk method – 10min run to 1min walk.

We did a really fun WOD on Tuesday:

21-15-9 deadlifts (95 for women) with 10 box jumps (20″) after each set. As it was explained to me this workout was about intensity instead of load – the faster the better. I did the first set of 21 deadlifts unbroken but I'm still super slow on the box jumps. The second set I did 10 and 5 deadlifts, and then did the 9 unbroken. I finished in 4:26 and my legs were shaking! It's pretty crazy that you can get a great workout in less than 5 minutes.

I'm looking forward to the weekend and having a few days off. Hope everyone has had a good week so far!

What was your favourite workout this week?

 

Subaru Triathlon Series–Niagara Try A Tri

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So yesterday happened. And it was AWESOME!!

17 minute PR, 6 minute PR on the bike leg, and I crossed the finish line grinning like a fool.

But let’s start at the beginning, where all good stories should start.

The Try A Tri started at 1:15pm, which is the latest I have ever had to be at a race start, but meant we didn’t have to be on the road until about 9:30.  I’m a bit obsessive about being early to things, and wanted time to park and figure out registration before having to rack my bike and set up transition.

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We got to Nelles Beach Park just before 11:30, and parking was easy to find and close to the transition area.  As with both of the Subaru Triathlon Series tris I have been to, registration was easy, simple, and so organized.  It took less than 5 minutes to fill out my waiver, get my numbers and my shirt and be on my way.  I staked out a spot on a rack in my age group, set up transition, and then waited for 1:15.

This time it was a lot easier to figure out the run up from the swim/bike out and bike in/run out areas.  The swim was a point-to-point, and started 375m down the beach from the transition area.  At about 10 to 1 Shawn and I started the trek down the beach towards the swim start.

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Swim 10:27

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This was my first time swimming in Lake Ontario, and that fact in and of itself really creeped me out, but I tried not to think about it (or swallow any water, either).  The water temp was cool, but more refreshing than frigid, and it was nice to see that I was in the majority with my lack of wetsuit.
The swim was along the shoreline, and shallow enough that I could touch the bottom at any point.  This was both good and bad, because as I started swimming I kept running into people that would suddenly put the breaks on and stand up, or people that were walking.  The good part was that this time, instead of hanging onto a kayak for a break, I could just get out of the way and stand for a bit.  I know that this is what saved me a lot of time on the swim.

Bike 26:46

Transition went smoothly, and then it was time to bike!  The bike had been my happy place in my first tri, and I expected it to be the same this time. Yeah, no.
It felt like my back brakes were on the entire ride– the whole bike portion was a struggle.  Also the description “flat as a pancake” was most definitely not accurate.
Near the 5km turnaround I started to play the “who can I pass” game.  Not only did it help me mentally, but I think in the end it helped me push harder (and ultimately go faster) as I picked people off on the way back to transition.

Run 19:18

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Run was uphill for the first 1km, on trails in the woods for 500m, then downhill for the last 1km.  This is where I sucked – slower than last time, but my legs were completely trashed from the swim and bike. I got the same weird cramp at the top of my left calf as I did on the bike previously, and basically I have no real excuse for why my run was crap.

I finished in 1:00:26, a freaking 17 minute improvement over my first Try A Tri. 

What I Learned

So let me preface this section by saying that I really didn’t do that much training for this race.  I did not ride my bike any distances since June 16 (only did some bike handling with the tri club) but I credit my improvement to the horrific magic that is the prowler.  I did some open water swims, and some pool swims, but clearly not enough.  It’s ironic that the part I trained most for, the run, is the one I sucked the most on.  But running is all mental for me, and I can talk myself out of running SO easily.  I need to get over that. So:

- I need to take swim lessons and spend way more time in the pool
- I need to practice running off the bike so that I’m used to running on tired legs (or just run more after doing 100000 deadlifts?)
- I need to get OUT OF MY OWN HEAD on the run and just RUN.
- Bike shorts are a must. Non negotiable. I will be buying these ASAP
- New bike before next year’s season starts

All in all, this race was a success.  I got over my fear of open water swimming, I kicked my own ass on the bike, and I actually PR’d by 10 minutes more than I expected.  I can’t believe it took me this long to find triathlons, and I’m looking forward to training over the winter for next season!