Tag Archives: race day

“Holy freaking hell, I did it!!!!!!!”

Yesterday’s half marathon effort was a personal best in so many ways. Oh my goodness the pride and joy I am still feeling today; seriously, the endorphins are in major overdrive.

Getting ready to race.

Getting ready to race.

Despite spending the last 15 weeks training for a half marathon, I wasn’t planning on running a half marathon. I was still pretty jaded from my last half effort, and had promised my body we’d concentrate more on conquering the 10k than the half… for awhile at least. But then the UBC run study happened. A study that, despite being targeted for “beginner” runners, had a killer training program that, not to gloat or anything, I was killing! How could I not see if the solid training would translate over to a solid race? So, two weeks ago I managed to secure a bib for the Vancouver First Half half marathon.

Days leading up to the half I kept going back and forth on music; do I run with it or don’t I? I had never raced without music, but for the last 15 weeks, I haven’t run with music. Could I survive the push without Eminem telling me to lose myself, or Green Day hitting me with Saint Jimmie, or Lady Gaga assuring me I was born this way?

Could I?

I sure hoped so, because race morning it simply came down to the annoyance of ear buds, the possibility of them falling out, or being uncomfortably jammed in my ears, or my arms getting tangled in the cords. It had been more than 15 weeks of not dealing with that, more than 15 weeks of happy, solid running. I couldn’t risk the music, no matter how many times it’s gotten me through a run, messing with that.

Solid decision.

Standing in the washroom line, for like the umpteenth time, I ran into two of my favourite run study chicks, who happened to be aiming for the same finish time as me. “Hey! We should totally run together?” Yes, yes we should.

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Pre-race pee stops are aplenty.

I have been running for several years now, and as many of you know, I’ve had a few favourites over the years. But never have I ever run a race with any of them. It’s always been all about me. I generally shoot out the start gates and hope to keep going that way right to the end. But you know the thing about “me” when the “me” starts breaking down, as it inevitably does when you’re exerting yourself so far beyond your state of comfort, if there’s no one else around to help you keep that push going, nine times out of 10, if you’re not Ms. Champion Marathoner, or even just made up of the same mental fortitude fabric, slowly that nasty little devil on your shoulder takes over and slows your pace. At least, for me, that’s how it’s generally been. No matter how hard I’ve trained, when the hurt comes, I haven’t been able to dig deep enough to fully battle through it.

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Three pacers are better than one.

But yesterday? Yesterday was different. I had two incredible runners next to me. Each of us taking turns to pace the others. Pushing each other forward when our legs slowed, or voicing reminders to ease up through the start. Checking in every couple kilometres, making sure we were feeling good, or at least not dying. And talking – talking about the sights, the beautiful sights, the endless rays of “god-lighting” greeting us every which way we turned; the fog still hovering across the pathways, and lifting from the Pacific Ocean with the rising sun; the two white swans hanging at the side of the Seawall as we passed, their heads arced together in a perfect heart; and hey, look at that heron over there chilling with the pigeons; and the signs: “How about those nipples?” “Suck it up Princess!” “You paid to do this;” and the people, the cheers, the encouragement. Before we knew it, we were 10 km done, then 15, then just a few more to go.

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One day my running smiles won’t look so pained.

It did not feel like any other half marathon I have done. It was fun. It was social. I was pushing myself. I was maintaining a fantastic pace. And for three quarters, it did not feel like work.

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Smiles AND thumbs up!

But then, at about 1 hour and 17 minutes in, I took my last 2 shot blocks and my stomach revolted. It was two too many. Instantly I felt the nausea. My stomach had a stitch full across the abdomen. I got burpy. The dark cherry was desperately trying to escape back up my esophagus; some of it did. I’ve been here before. Not with shot bloks, but with gels. Previously, my pace slowed, my gumption faltered, my hopes for a fantastic finish dashed.

But this wasn’t previously. I kept going. I wanted to stop. I wanted to slow. But my girls were still there and our plan, if we were all still together in the end, was to run across that finish line, feet charging together, hands clasped in the air together. I had to keep pushing.

Early on in the run we made a plan, that if we were still feeling great, with about 4 km remaining, we were to push the pace up to lactate for the remaining. Unfortunately, I was not feeling great. My girls, however, were. They pushed. I did not. But I also did not back off my half marathon pace. I maintained. THAT was huge.

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Mama’s coming Papsy!

This race, as beautiful and mostly flat as it was, was somewhat evil. There was a hill, about I don’t know 800 metres in the final stretch. That hill, pure, nasty, evil. Pretty much, I cursed it from bottom to top. But as soon as I crested it, I knew I was there, I could hear the people, see the crowds, I was just about done, my eyes started darting from side to side looking for my Rings, as soon as I spotted them, suddenly the nausea was nothing. My pace shot up, as did the smile on my face. And then, I saw the clock.

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EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

HOLY FREAKING HELL, I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!

PERSONAL BEST BABY!!!

OFFICIAL PERSONAL BEST!!!

SIGNIFICANT PERSONAL BEST!!!

NO TRAINS TO TARNISH THIS PERSONAL BEST!!!

1:55:31!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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My own personal pace bunnies.

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And another of my favourite run study chicks who also PB’d. Yep, we rock 🙂

Vancouver First Half half marathon, I love you ❤

Ready or not…

Ready or not, here I come NWM!

Yep, you guys called it, I will be trying to race on Sunday. My plan is to go out and see how I feel and if I feel great off the hop, I’ll keep going and trying to go as long as my legs and lungs will push me. At this point, there is nothing, no injury, no pain, no nigglyness, nothing holding me back. Whether that holds true for Sunday, only time will tell.

All I know is that if I don’t try, I’ll end up kicking myself in the end. I’ve got to try. It may not be my best run, it may not be my best race, but then again, it might be. When I ran Toronto, I was in a similar situation coming off injury and I totally rocked that run; my best run. (Mind you, I think I was back up to decent mileage by that time, but whatever, I still had inury to contend with.) What can I say, when it comes to me and my running alter ego, I’m competitive as hell!

And if it does go sour on me, I’ll slow my pace, I’ll walk it out if I have to, I’ll change my plan.

Plan B: Enjoy the beautiful San Francisco scenery all around me. And if that fails, Plan C: Picture them firemen at the finish… topless 😀

TONIGHT’S AJ:

  • 5:15 p.m. BG before: 5.6 (1/2 small box of raisins)
  • Temp. basal: -100 per cent (1 hour)
  • Time: 30 minutes –> hard!
  • 6:15 p.m. BG after: 5.4
  • Temp. basal: +50 per cent (1/2 hour)

I pretty much had the lane to myself at the pool tonight, aside from another girl  swimming laps in the shallow end, which was awesome. So, I decided because I was in a crunch for time, I’d stick to the deep end and go hard for a good 30 minutes. And I did go hard, oh man did I ever. I got proof: Foot cramps and leg cramps a plenty! Yay!

Well folks, it’s back to packing I go – I hate packing and procrastinate for as long as possible – so this is where I sign off. See you next week – post Tiffany 😀

Boulevard of broken dreams

Dear Marathon,
You and me, we are so over. And let me be clear on this, it was you, not me that ruined this relationship. Yes, yes, I know I was the one who sought you out, who longed for your elusive, bad boy ways, but I’ve done you twice now, and both times you kind of sucked ass. I mean seriously, did you really think we were going to last when you repeatedly punched me in the gut for 20 straight kilometres, and joyously cackled when my legs seized up at 30 kms, and laughed at my blister-clad feet, and taunted me with every shaky step I took. Really? Yeah, no. And don’t you try to come crawling back to me with your gold trinkets, because it won’t work, I’m done, I’m moving on … with your half cousin! Who’s laughing now jerk face?
Sincerely, Princess

RUN FOR WATER MARATHON:
6:30 a.m. BG before: 8.4 (1 Sharkies)
Temp. basal: -50 per cent (5.5 hours)
Distance: 42.2 km
Average pace: 6:35 min/km
Time: 4:44:24 (chip time)
@45 min: 1 fig newton + 1 DEX. @90 min: 1/2 a racecake. @2:15: 2 DEX (after that, food kind of fell off the map)

12:00 p.m. BG after: 4.8

The upside of this marathon is I shaved 10 minutes and 17 seconds off my Portland time making it another personal best just two weeks after garnering that amazing half PB in Toronto. The downside, I wanted to do better. I started out great, like really great, I was keeping a consistent 6:00 minute per kilometre pace and was on par for a 4:15 finishing time for about 23 km of the race, despite the feeling of blisters forming on my left foot at about 17 km in and the tossing and turning of my belly, which started at about 10 km in and continued right up until about 32 km.


6 km: Running like a kid!


13 km: Still smiling!


20.5 km: Little Miss Speedy Gonzalez caught up and surged ahead like nothing, finishing nearly 20 minutes ahead of me!

The second half of the race, I completely fell apart, 100 per cent. My stomach got worse, the thought of food had me gagging, my legs seized up, I was over-heating, I ran out of water, a couple of the water stations had also run low on water, I was fatigued like I’d never been fatigued before, and with about 9 km to go, I found it increasingly harder to muster up the energy to dig deeper. My pace slowed, my walk breaks lengthened, and I started questioning why the hell I was putting myself through such torture?


24 km: Starting to feel the boulevard of broken dreams

And yet despite me falling apart, and despite my goal of a 4:15 finish crashing and burning, and despite my vow never to return, this marathon had to have been one of the most special races I have ever completed. And I owe it all to the people.

Going into this race, I was skeptical. I didn’t think a small-town event could compare to the likes of Portland or Toronto, not even close. Well, it’s time for a retraction. The smaller race atmosphere had me running next to two guys I had never met and would never have talked to at a big race. But for almost the entire run, we ran together, paced each other, encouraged each other.


Thanks 5451!

And while there weren’t thousands of spectators lining the streets, there were way more than I thought there would be, and not just people cheering on their respective runners, but also people who lived at the houses and farms we ran by: an old guy who lined up water bottles and coke cans on his fence and who himself was perched on his front porch waving and smiling; kids scribbling encouraging messages on the pavement with coloured chalk; hockey fanatics blaring a “score” horn and a recording of fans cheering every time one of us runners passed by. And the most special of all were my cheerleaders!

Mario had mapped out a route for him and his Lapierre to meet me at various spots along the course, which was awesome, and kept me in such high spirits as it gave me something to look forward to.


Lapierre in the country.

At 30 km, when my mind started failing me, I saw this woman bouncing all over the place and across the street from her, I saw this guy buried in the high grass with just his head and shoulders showing and I was like what the hell, I couldn’t figure it out. As I got closer, I realized it was Mario, but why was his back to me, why was his camera directed at the crazy lady across the street? And then I figured it out. MOM!


Look at that sign!!!

At 34 km, my brother and sisters and nephews joined the cheering squad, and my goodness they were so super loud, I could hear them from practically a kilometre back – it was a boost I so desperately needed!


A princess-perfect pit crew!


I had no idea my sister was running after me until I saw the video after 😀

They are the reason I finished this race. They are the reason I kept to my motto: Run like a kid. Finish with a smile. How could I not smile with those cheers? And with my birthday just six days a way (Happy almost birthday to me!) I can honestly say, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect present!

Finishing with a smile!

Thanks guys! Love you to pieces!

Good Life. Good Time.

Ahh Onterrible, we had such hopes for you, high hopes, you teased us with a sunny forecast, balmy weather even, you told me to leave the sweaters at home, to pack my bags full of spring skirts and no-sleeved shirts, and so I did. And then, practically the second we landed down in your land, you turned on us with a crack of thunder and five full days of rain, and not warm rain, oh no, you were filling our boots full of bitter, cold, nasty, miserable rain. And so, dear Onterrible, you shall continue to be … TERRIBLE!!! (Side note: when we landed in Vancouver yesterday afternoon, the sun was hot and blinding, and the Onterrible layers were fast shedding!)


Mario should NOT still be wearing his wool hat in May!

Despite the rain, there were still some pretty great moments to be had visiting with Mario’s family, and with fellow diabetic, runner and blogger Canadian D-gal (more on that tomorrow) and retail therapy – three dresses, a cardigan, girly girl arm warmers and a red polka dot headband perfect for the Tiffany’s Race in the fall! But this blog post, my friends, is all about the race, the race in which I brought home, count them, not one but TWO personal bests!

GOODLIFE FITNESS TORONTO HALF:

  • 7:30 a.m. BG before: 15.8 (Yikes!)
  • Temp. basal: -50 per cent
  • Distance: 21.1 km
  • Average pace: 5:37 min/km
  • Chip time: 2:02:20
  • Garmin time: 2:00:24
  • @45 minutes: GU. @90 minutes: GU
  • BG after: 11.1

I had every intention in the world to start out slow, I really, really did. I had planned for at least the first two or three kilometres to run a six minute to a six and a half minute pace, but the second my feet crossed the touch pad and my timing chip was activated I was in full on racing mode. And when I saw my Garmin clocking me at 5:15, 5:00, even a 4:45 at times, I tried to slow myself down, I really did, but my feet were not listening to my head. So, marathon training be damned, I went with it, and for about 95 per cent of the race, I felt awesome.

Along the course, I discovered a few things about myself:

1. I hate the rain. As Mario drove us to Toronto early Sunday morning, I was freaking out. The rain was beating down on the windshield, so hard, and I was having horrid flashbacks of the Portland Marathon where I was soaked inside and out. I kept silently repeating please let it stop, please let it stop. And it did, sort of. It was still cold as hell, the Globe and Mail dude even reported light snow flurries in with the drizzling rain, (of which I don’t recall ever seeing) but the torrential downpour had stopped, it was just a drizzle for the most part, and a drizzle I could handle.

2. I’m competitive as hell. When I couldn’t slow my legs down, and was feeling great at that speed, I decided to go for it. And the second I made that decision, I did not want anyone passing me. If someone tried passing me who I’d already passed, I pushed hard. And every time I came out of a walk break, I pushed even harder to get back to where I was before walking it out. If a walk break came on a downhill sprint, I ran through it and kept on running … that’s what you’re supposed to do on a long, slow, “training” run right 😉

3. Thank God I don’t load up on hydration the morning of the race. Some people may fault me for this, but given that I’ve got a teeny tiny bladder, so small that even the thought of a glass of water or the sight of one rain drop, could have me running to the loo, I’m thinking it’s a good tactic to take, especially after seeing that chick at not even 4 km in, running behind the dumpster, with her shorts already down to her knees before taking cover!

4. I don’t like pace bunnies. They seriously mess with my head. See, I see the one where I think I should be in line with and if she’s faster than me, it pisses me off (see point No. 2 above) and if I’m faster than her, I’m thinking I’m going too fast and am gonna burn out at some point. Where’s a fox when you need one?

5. Energy gels will be the death of me. I don’t know when it happened or how it happened, but at some point my body has decided it does NOT like the gels. It doesn’t like the Gu, it doesn’t like the Hammer, it doesn’t like the eLoad. I took my first gel at 45 minutes in with no adverse affects, but come the second gel, my stomach was revolting. It was churning and curdling, twisting and turning. I still had 3 or 4 km to go and if you’ve ever run with an upset stomach, you know it’s tough as hell. For about 2 km I thought I was dying. But the cheers of the crowds near the finish, and the words of both Mark Cavendish and Eminem telling me to push through the pain, somehow gave me that boost I needed and powered me right to the end.

Like I said, for 95 per cent of this run, I felt awesome. I couldn’t believe I was running this pace and feeling like it was nothing. At 10 km in, my Garmin read 56:01, beating out my previous personal best of 57:47. So when the pukey feeling hit, and I was forced to slow myself down, I was pissed, because before that, I was on par to cross the finish line with a sub 2:00:00 time!!! As it was, my Garmin gave me a 2:00:24 time, which in itself is pretty awesome for me, but alas, the chip time, technically the “official” time, clocked me in at 2:02:20. And as disappointed as I was at first, it was still a personal best, beating out my previous 2:06:00 time by nearly four minutes!!!

Now, how I’ll fair in my second marathon in a little over week’s time (eek!) well, we’ll see…


Compression socks = post-race recovery!