Sunday, October 31, 2010

HALLOWEEN HAUNTING 10K - London Honda Series : A New PR on My One Year Anniversary :)

Halloween Haunting 10K

Chip 1:09:45

As I type the next day after the race, I am still on Cloud 9! :)

I want to start this post with my bib because of a little game I play. I always look for little signs and seemingly insignificant details and think of them as good omens. I have done this since I was a kid and it's just a Pollyanna kind of thing I still do. For example, last weekend, I ran 21K @the Niagara Falls International Marathon (Half Marathon). It was also my 21st race to date. I thought this was a good sign, running 21K as my 21st race (on a side note: It was also my 13th race of the year, but I have never been bothered by the #13 so this number just made me smile without feeling dread or an "oh oh!").

So, this past Saturday afternoon, when I pulled my bib out of the race kit bag at home, I looked at this number and showed it to Ben ... "See?" I said. "13 + 8 = 21. I am wearing on my chest tomorrow the number of km I ran last weekend and the number of races I have under my belt. It's a sign, sweetie! Tomorrow is going to be a great run!"

The following Sunday morning, when we arrived at Springbank Park, the 3K fun run was in its finishing stages. I always find it fun to see the number of people milling about, most of them with bibs on, at these events. It is a fun energy and has become a part of what I now consider an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning. :) It was even more fun at this event with the number of runners wearing costumes! Huge kudos to them for being such fun participants - I used my dog as an excuse not to dress up! :)

Ben stayed in the parking lot to "dress" Angus while I took off to pick up my chip because I was anxious to be at the starting line in decent time. We did not dress him specifically as anything. We just went to the dollar store and bought a red bow tie for around his neck and bumblebee wings on his back. $2 tops! Good enough. :)

This is when I learned, from the announcer on the loudspeaker, that our chips would start once we crossed the start line. I was so pleased to hear that because I knew right then that I would get an accurate reading of my time. Although I "felt" that perhaps I could set a new 10K PR today, I truly was downplaying it and not counting on it as I had Angus with me and my body was still tired from last week's HM.

Soon after Ben met me at the start line with Angus the bow-tied bumblebee, the starter gun sounded. It took a good minute for those of us at the back of the pack to get across the starting line. As I started to run in the first leg, I saw and felt the huge difference between last year and this year. Last year, in my first 10K, I watched as swoooosh! the majority of runners ran way ahead of me and virtually disappeared out of sight. With only 5K race experience, it was not something I expected and I felt both left behind and a little demoralized and as I did my best to stick to my pace. This year, because all the 5K runners started at the same time as the 10K runners, there was almost 600 people running together so I definitely did not feel alone! If anything, it was just a touch too crowded for a change (or more than I am used to on that park road). Everything was going great until the 1.5 km point. This is when Angus decided he needed to take a dump! All that time before the race, but he needed to go right then and there ... so off to the side we went while I waited for him to finish to pick it up with one of the baggies I was armed with in my pocket. :( Good-bye PR!

1km 6:35
2km 6:43

Just past the dam, we saw Ben taking pictures and Angus was very excited to see him. I think the dog was a little surprised that we kept running because he was whining as we ran up the hill past the 2K mark and kept looking back to see if Ben was following. :( A little irritating for me as I was trying to concentrate on both my pace and getting up the hill.

What I like about this point in the race course is that, as I am heading toward the hairpin turn past Storybook Gardens, I get to see all the runners pass me on their way to crossing the finish line point to mark the first 5K. I waved to my friend from the dog park, who is a Boston marathoner and a local learn-to-run coach. She was excited to see Angus at my side. I also saw my pace friend from last year's 10K running club, who is a wonderful running inspiration. :) It's great to see all the other runners as well, the serious, super fast place runners followed by the still fast, but costumed runners. After making the hairpin turn, I then can see if there is actually anybody running behind me!

3km 7:09
4km 6:54

Ben was back at the finish line, taking pictures of us again as Angus and I headed to the 5K mark. I watched as the majority of runners in my vicinity went to the left coral to finish their run as I headed right to keep running through. I heard someone call out, "Go dog go!" and it made me smile because I knew he was cheering Angus.

Once I cleared this area to begin my second loop, the route was definitely more empty of runners :) but there were numerous people in front of me setting the pace. I felt good and knew that the next few K would be my optimal time; it was the last few K where I would slow.

5km 6:59
6km 6:49
7km 7:05

Upon reaching a water station, I stopped to give Angus a cup of water and to have a drink myself. It felt like a long stop, but I am sure it was just a matter of seconds. I had to make sure my running partner was hydrated, too!

8km 7:14

By this time, the serious, super fast runners were now heading to overlap me and several other runners. These guys can run a 10K faster than I can run a 5K - so impressive! I was starting to feel just a little bit tired at this point, but knew I was not too far from the finish. I also looked at my Garmin and saw that I had completed 8K in just over 53 minutes so "if" this had been an 8K run, I had set a new PR by four minutes! :) :) I started calculating the math and thinking that I just might be in a position to set a new PR in the 10K for myself ...

9km 7:05

As I ran closer to the finish line, I could feel myself slowing a bit to conserve my energy for the little hill just before the finish line (which can feel like a big hill when your energy is spent!). This is when I saw my friend again, the learn-to-run coach, standing and ready to cheer me on. I smiled as I ran toward her and called out, "I think I might be setting a PR today ..." :) At that point, she started whooping and really cheering me on, telling me to run faster and pacing beside me for a short distance. This is what I really needed, and motivated by her enthusiastic cheering, I gunned it and ran as fast I could toward the finish, overtaking several runners along the way (Ben said later, wow! You were really running fast at the end there!). As I crossed the finish line, I saw the gun time of 1:10 on the race clock, and I knew then that I had done it! :) :) A new 10K PR for me!

10km 1:09:45

Angus was thrilled to see his master at the finish line waiting for him, and Ben was very enthusiastic about my result, knowing that this would make me very happy. After running multiple races solo, it makes such a difference to have someone there at the finish to congratulate you and cheer your success!

After my cool down and orange/banana munching [everything else had been devoured by the time I got to the tables :( ], we headed back to the vehicle to head home for a hot shower. I asked Ben to take a picture of me and my co-runner, hence the new photo as a header. :)

I am feeling great about this and will no doubt have some reflections after the fact later. Suffice it to say, it was a great run to have the weekend after completing my first half marathon in seven years. :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

3.5K Easy with NO Garmin!

Pace - Not.A.Clue! :)

I don't ever recall going for an easy run without my Garmin, without checking my pace, and with the intention of running as far as Starbucks for a "no room" Americano! :) Very enjoyable. Great weather - coolish - 6 degrees C - with a bit of wind. My pace was slow and sluggish-feeling - oh well!

I wore my black running thermal shirt under a s/s tech shirt and it was a little too warm by the end of my run for it so I won't be using it tomorrow. I am undecided if I will try wearing a s/s shirt under another s/s shirt for warmth tomorrow or a l/s tech shirt. It probably depends on how chilly the breeze/wind is tomorrow. I also wore my running pants; I will probably stick with these tomorrow. I am a little more obsessed with this after screwing this up at the NFIM HM.

I am off shortly to pick up my race kit for tomorrow; it takes ~40 minutes to walk to the running store from my place and I have dogs that need to be walked so I am combining the two.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Idea / Challenge re: Garmin

This is an idea I have been giving some thought to .... a Dailymile friend posted the following when I commented on my blah! sluggish 5K run a few days after completing the half marathon. As soon as I read his reply, it resonated with me ...

Don't sweat it. Take it easy. Remember you've been training hard. Lots of people take one or two weeks off. Personally, I don't like doing that myself either. Here's a challenge: Leave the watch at home and just go for a nice run. Don't worry about pace, time or distance.

First, similar to him, I don't want to take two weeks off after the HM. Although I think this is a great idea (back in August, I did take one week off when I had family visiting from South Korea; my running was strong after taking a week's rest from it), I am afraid to take this much time off at this time of year for the fear of not getting back into it! This has happened to me before (2003) and I truly fear it re-occurring. Also, I am predicting another snow-filled winter so my running schedule will definitely become more haphazard. Last winter, I ran up until December 23rd before the snow hit us, and I was not able to run again until one day in January, one day in February and then haphazardly more often starting in March (I checked my connect.garmin site to make sure memory served me correctly, and it did - I love having a history to refer back to!). Knowing that I will likely be forced into a running hiatus at some point, I do not want to start one now when the weather is so wonderful for running. :(

Second, I think his challenge is a very smart one. I never run without wearing my Garmin. Since deciding to run this half marathon back in May, and focusing on getting myself up to a level so that I could conceivably train for a half marathon, I have never run without it ...

So! I have decided that I will run without it tomorrow (planning for an easy 3-4K run). I will wear it during my 10K race on Sunday (the chip will be starting gun-time based), but all next week, during my rest, "non-training" week, I will keep it off. Now here is the interesting thing ... the new training program I am starting in November for a 10K PR has eight (8) weeks worth of road work - designated distances to run on certain days, but with no pace assignments. What I would like to experiment with is switching the pace and time windows "off" on my Garmin for this training. I will wear it to track my progress so I can download it online (I love this too much!), but I won't use it to "check" my progress while running. I will just set it to the mileage window so I can adhere to my designated K for the day, but I will just run for the sake of running and without checking my watch for pace.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

#3 - Continued Reflections from My Half Marathon

i) I don't drink enough water.

I read that runners should concentrate on drinking more water the week before an endurance race and to abstain from alcohol. This makes good sense to me. I do try to drink more water than anything else. When we eat out, I order water, and I have a glass in the kitchen that is always at varying levels of fullness. I do not drink soda pop (liquid candy) at all; however, I do drink coffee, and I know that it is dehydrating, and that I need to drink an additional glass of water for every cup of coffee to make up for it.

However, for future half marathons, I think I will make it my mission the previous week to ensure that I drink water a lot more. I recognize that this is a great habit anyway so rather than waiting for the next race as a justification for doing this, I want to start focusing on it this week (I just finished the glass I had in front of me and went to refill my glass in the kitchen before continuing to type!).

And I have to admit that I enjoyed multiple glasses of red wine during the week before the race ... not all in one evening, but one bottle's worth over the course of a few evenings. I just think that from now on, if a particular race is of significant importance to me (one in which I am setting a goal rather than doing for fun), I should "prove" it to myself by making a greater effort to abstain from dehydrating alcohol until after the event. I will drink wine after to celebrate! :)

ii) I should probably not run hard in a race the week before an endurance race. :)

I have also read about the so-called "rule" - a runner should not run another race for awhile after completing one. The rule states a day off for every K ran. This means a 10K race is okay every two weeks, and a half marathon is okay every 21 days. I ran a hard, hilly 10K in a great time (for me) the week before the half marathon. I knew already then that I should not be running that 10K "hard" and to treat it as an average, training 10K run, but I did not expect the Pinery run to be so hilly, and I am the type of person who is motivated by the adrenaline of being in a race with others.

The fact is, being in both the Pinery Provincial Park 10K Run and the NFIM half marathon was more important to me than not running the 10K in order to "save myself" for the HM. I do not regret the decision I made at all. I am just thinking out loud on my blog that, in the future, if I am going to set a certain PR goal for myself, perhaps I may choose differently ...

I was just reading an interesting discussion between runners on Dailymile under one woman's profile. She was asking her friends if she should participate in a 10K run this weekend (the same 10K I am in this weekend, which is how I found the discussion). She is running her first marathon the following weekend in Hamilton. Most of her friends said "no", don't do it, whereas others told her that if she could run the 10K easy, without getting competitive and running her best, then it was okay. A few other runners quoted the rule I referred to above whereas another runner said, forget the rule! How do you feel? In conclusion, she has decided not to run in the 10K this weekend. This runner has decided that she cannot run the 10K without becoming competitive and running as hard as she can. For me, this discussion was thought provoking, especially given my recent schedule of Sundays - 10K race; 20 K long training run; 10K race; half marathon; 10K race.

6K instead of Scheduled 10K, But Still Felt Good!

6K - 43:36
Pace 7:16 min/km

As I am learning through experience, my "rest" schedule for this week immediately following the half marathon was a little too ambitious! I knew yesterday that today's 10K was probably a little too much. As it turns out, my pace was actually pretty good and much faster than I expected, so this pleased me, but by the time I reached 5 1/2 K, I pretty much knew that 6K was the best that I could do today. I'm definitely okay with it because my pace was good for me and I felt strong. I am changing my schedule for the rest of the week by resting tomorrow instead of running a 6.5K, and I will head out Saturday for a short run before my last 10K of the London Honda Series, the Halloween Haunting, on Sunday.

It was a year ago that I trained for and ran my first 10K so the run this Sunday means more to me than all the other 10K runs I have been in this past summer. I truly appreciate the moments when I can stop and take stock - "this" is where I was at last year at this time and now "this" is where I am at a year later ...

I have a few toes on my left foot that are a little tender. They were bruised by running into the toe of my shoe during the half marathon. The one toe nail is slightly discoloured, a darker shade of skin tone rather than black. I was reading in Runner's World that it is a badge of honour to have a blackened toe nails from endurance races and since the tenderness is not enough to prevent me from running, I'll assign badge of honour status to it! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scheduled 6K actually a Sluggish 5K - LOL!

5K 38:54
Pace 7:46 min/km

Oy! I was so slow getting out the door today - I just about cancelled the run for the day because I am feeling tired, but I knew I would feel worse later for not running. It was a gorgeous sunny and warm day; after all the rain and wind we had last night, it was hard to believe! I took all three dogs with me and headed over to the cemetery for an easy run. I can honestly admit that I just wanted to quit the entire time I ran! When I was finishing my 2nd K, I thought, okay - 1 more K and that's it! Only a 3K today. However, I felt a brief moment of strong running on the 3rd K and decided I would try my best to run 5K. So hey - I'm pleased that I actually motivated myself enough to run today. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. I have a 10K scheduled, but honestly, if I still feel like I did today, I doubt that will happen! :(

Monday, October 25, 2010

#2 - Things I Learned the Hard Way @ the Half Marathon ...


1. I overdressed for the run.

I kept checking the weather because the reports kept changing. When we were driving to Niagara Falls and then for the entire evening before the run, it was a torrential downpour! I kept telling myself that this was a good thing because all that rain would pass through the area before morning and not affect the run. This did turn out to be the case, and the day was *perfect* for running.

However, I wore my track pants, a long-sleeved (l/s) shirt under my short-sleeved (s/s) shirt, in addition to bringing along a sweatshirt, my running jacket, and my shorts (just in case). Hindsight is 20/20, but I was so concerned about being cold and getting chilled to the bone while waiting the 1 1/2 hours for the run to begin that I ignored (?) / forgot (?) what I already knew - that it is best to be slightly cold before starting a run because you will soon warm up. Sure enough, within the first 5K, I started to sweat with my baseball cap and two shirts on. My legs would have been just fine exposed in shorts, too. My error stemmed from looking at what everyone else was wearing, and deciding that I liked what I had on rather than dressing appropriately for the run. :(

2. I drank too much water along the way.

Because my body temperature was rising and I was starting to sweat during the run, I made sure that I drank water at every water station. I also went through the three bottles of water I carried with me on my water belt (I lost the 4th one during a run about a month ago). However, in my effort to make sure that I did not become dehydrated (and because I was too warm with two tech shorts on), I really started feeling "heavy" with water halfway through the race. I didn't need to pee; I just had too much water in me. It was not great running with that feeling and the only thing I could do was hope that the heavy feeling would eventually dissipate.

My sister does not run with water nor does she stop for water during her HMs. However, I have noticed that most women with my body type wear water belts so I am not alone with needing to carry water. I have also heard stories about marathons running out of water (this one did, too - marathoners encountered tables without any water left, as I gathered from the comments made on the NFIM Facebook page), and I have been in races in which the water stations were set up badly (too far apart; too close together). Since I have learned to run with my water belt, I am going to keep running with one, but I wonder if I will need to rely on having water on me the more fit I become, as well as the faster I become.(?)

Unfortunately, #1 error helped create the situation for #2 error.

#3 - I wore a shirt I have never worn before!

How could I make such a newbie mistake!?!?! There I am at the starting line, shaking my head at the number of people who are wearing the cheap & tacky wine coloured jackets that were handed out to all participants the day before with the swag bags, but yet I am not cluing in to the fact that I am making a similar error!

I really like the black s/s Grand Bend tech shirt I received from the Pinery 10K (I am wearing it in my large top-of-the-blog photo). It fits me really well and it is so comfortable to run in ... a smart idea to run in it, right? Especially since I have run in it several times beforehand to make sure it's right for me for running, like a so-called smart, experienced runner ...

But I have decided that this might be too cool to run in (mistake #1) so I put on a white long-sleeved tech t-shirt from another run earlier in the summer under it (mistake #2). Not only do I become too warm during the race, but when I finally decide to take the short shirt off so I can cool down, I realize that the white l/s shirt is not that great fitting and I have to fidget with the sleeves multiple times for the rest of the run! And how silly - the l/s shirt should have been on top for easier removal rather than under my favourite shirt (mistake #3).

To add to my discomfort, I was so concerned about keeping my bib in view that I pricked my fingers while moving the bib from my s/s black shirt to my l/s white shirt! Ben saw the blood on white shirt and expressed concern, but it was from pricking my bloody finger - grrrr! This is why the official pics of me from the NFIM show me wearing the black shirt at the beginning, and wearing the white shirt at the finish with my running hat and black shirt tucked into my water belt.

Before Ben took the pics of me holding my finisher's medal while standing in front of the Falls, I insisted on putting my black shirt back on. Not only was I beginning to feel the chill that sets in after a run like that, but darn it - I wanted to be wearing my favourite black shirt!

Non-Training Week! REST after HALF & Before Final 10K

Monday REST
Tuesday REST
Wednesday 6K
Thursday 10K
Friday 6.5K
Saturday REST


First and foremost, an apology for the lateness of this post. I did not expect to be too tired to post after arriving home Sunday night from Niagara Falls, but I was so wiped! Unfortunately, yesterday was an extremely busy day, first with getting the vehicle to the garage for new tires, then last minute studying and prep work for an exam I had online in a course I am taking (but I got 90% on it !!) and then a commitment to volunteer with the municipal elections last night (my candidate beat the incumbent mayor - whoo hoo !!) so right now I am thinking ... how crazy am I ?!?!

But here I am with hot coffee and sitting at my iMac, finally being able to share the MOST important event of the week! :) I think an anticipated run like this is actually a 3 day event ... the day before, the actual day, and then the following day! I have been doing a lot of reminiscing and analysis since completing my long anticipated race Sunday afternoon, and I will be writing a series of posts ... but until I start sorting my thoughts and sharing all my experiences prior to and following the race, I do want to share my initial thoughts now.

All my prep work and remaining calm and confident worked. As I stood waiting for the gun to go off and the run to begin, I was a very happy, excited runner, but I was not a shaking bundle of nerves. It took a few minutes for all the runners in my vicinity to cross the starting line, but when we did, I felt a very strong emotional tremor ripple through me as I acknowledged what a big moment it was for me. Yes, I got a little verklempt :) but I didn't let it get the best of me. It was just a very important recognition, as I crossed under the blow-up START banner, that this was it! I had done it! My hard work and dedication running in hot, humid weather, running when I did not feel like it, practicing at all the races in Southwestern Ontario this summer, strongly desiring the ability to participate in a half marathon ... it was all culminating in this moment! I felt it all, but did not dwell on it, because I now had 21K to run for the next 2 1/2 hours !!! :) :) :)

It was very busy around me as all the runners started out slowly as we waited for all the people ahead of us to cross the starting line ... their walking increasing to jogging increasing to finding our individual paces. It was very civilized and well mannered, and I was impressed that so many of us were able to do this altogether at the same time. There were a few thread-the-needle runners for the first K, but this was not unexpected, and they were not pushy. They were worse last weekend at my small country run!

My first success - I did not run out way too fast. By this, I mean I didn't run to keep up with all the faster runners in front of me, similar to what I see at all the 5K and 10K runs. My learning from this race? Perhaps I still went out a little too fast. Look at my km splits from the first 4K:

1km 6:56
2km 7:14
3km 7:15
4km 6:59

Clearly the adrenaline was roaring through me and this is the starting pace I run in my shorter, local races, but in hindsight, perhaps I should have run them just a bit slower? I was watching myself/my Garmin and it helped to have the 2:30 pace rabbit in front of me because I knew if I caught up to him, I was in trouble! I had already pre-determined that I would run this race no faster than 6:50 and no slower than 7:10 (I am a 20 second zone kind of gal ... kudos to those runners who can set a specific pace goal and then stick to it! Personally, I need a zone, and don't forget, I am a 10:1 runner). However, in hindsight, maybe I should have started just a tad slower and then built myself up to this pace? You will see later in this post why I am thinking this way ...

One thing I noticed right away - the number of people running with partners. I see this in my 5K and 10K runs, but not as many as I saw here, which makes sense. It would be really nice to have a partner along the way on this distance to make the hours pass by quicker and to encourage each other. Kudos to all running partners out there who do these events together; you were fun to watch.

Another thing I enjoyed seeing was the number of people taking pictures of themselves in front of the mileage markers at the beginning. They were stopping to pose while their partner took a picture and then they would trade spots - they had big smiles and were laughing. I enjoyed watching them and then had to laugh a little at myself because I was so serious about finishing this run in a certain timeframe! Maybe someday I will be this way during a race, but for today, I had a goal in mind and a plan. :)

The course itself was just terrific. It was wonderful to run all along the water. The course map did not lie - this run is literally ALL along the water and ALL flat! It is a terrific course for a half marathon (and I am sure for the marathon, too) and the scenery was terrific. The calm river to the right, the lovely quiet properties on the left, and the colourful autumn trees. It was like this for most of the run until we neared the end. It was truly worth "seeing" for the entire time I was running. It was worth noting that there is a bike path on the left for quite a ways. It would be possible for a family member to cheer a runner on by hopping on a bike and using the trail for part of the run. There was no wind from the water; if anything, the temperature was warmer than expected. Apparently, this is the first time in years there was no wind. I am grateful!

There were water stations every mile and the great thing about them was that they were populated by assigned high school students who came out in their school colours and decorated the water station areas with banners, mascots, whatever they could, to make it festive. Huge credit to all the organizers who encouraged the schools to come out and cheer because it was great. I read on the NFIM Facebook page comments from other runners who enjoyed the cheering schools and a couple of comments from runners who were disappointed that there weren't more cheering people along the way inbetween water stations. I think those disappointed runners must be accustomed to large city marathons because this was the second best cheering crowds I have experienced (Vancouver was the best and can compare to the large city marathons where there are soooo many cheering people along the way). There were also comments from runners who did not drink the water at some station because the kids were calling it "special water." These runners thought the kids had spit in it or something. I think this is really too bad because I only saw great, encouraging kids along the way. I think that this was just a "kid" thing to do to start calling it "special water" rather than it being a prank. There were adult supervisors at all the stations so I don't think the kids could have done any hijinks. Call me Pollyanna, but I didn't get a malicious or negative vibe at all whenever I ran by these students. They were very kind and encouraging to this 42 year old runner. :)

By the way, when I was sharing all this over the phone with my sister Sunday night (that's right, too tired to type this post, but not to tired to talk to Karen!), she asked me incredulously how I could notice so much. All my comments about other runners, who I saw, what I saw, etc. - she told me she didn't notice most of this last weekend at her HM. I just laughed and told her that when you run so much SLOWER like me (her pace 5:02 min/km), you get to notice a lot more because you have the time to look around. :)

I am going to write separate posts on my bad judgment calls regarding clothing and altering my pace pace pattern. I started to write about it here but it's making this verbose post that much longer so I am self-editing.

At about the 10K mark, I could feel myself starting to tire. Look at my km splits at this time:

9km 7:04
10km 7:31
11km 7:16
12km 7:44
13km 7:38

I felt the oh-oh in this zone. My pace should not have slowed this much so early, but I felt like I was entering a "wall zone" just after reaching the "mid hump" section of the race. This is when I started questioning my wisdom regarding my pace - did I aim too high? I also started telling myself at this point that I would likely not make my 2:30ish goal and that I may have to settle for a finishing time under 2:45 instead. I walked for more than one minute because I was changing my bib from my top shirt to my bottom shirt so I could run cooler (see separate post on my error in overdressing).

This is when I decided that I had had enough of the sniper in my head and to change my tone. I started to remind myself that my first and ultimate goal was to do no harm - no getting hurt! I had a little bit of bleeding from the pins pricking my fingers while changing my bib, and I could feel a little pain on the one toe on my right foot from my neighbouring toe's nail rubbing against it (can you believe I forgot to check my toenails before the race? Silly!). In spite of the minor bleeding, I was for most part accomplishing this goal. Positive #1. My second goal was to finish the race, and although the idea of a truck picking me up and driving me to the finish line was a wonderful fantasy starting to drift through my mind at this point, I congratulated myself for running the first half and remaining committed to the second. Positive #2. I also reminded myself about how I got through all my long runs - concentrate on the music and use the lullaby walking song at the "1" minute as a marker to slowly chip away at the rest of the course ...

And this is what did the trick ... I can honestly say that 14K to 18K was a blur because I did not focus on mileage - I remained focused on running to the music and enjoying my one minute walks inbetween. I was really impressed to see that my running, although it felt so sluggish and slow, was actually in the 7:00ish minute zone. It sure didn't feel like it !!!!! but unless my Garmin was lying, I was still maintaining a good pace for me. I recall from my running club how our coach explained this to us - how it was best to run same pace consistently throughout the race, but we needed to get comfortable with how that pace felt at the beginning when it felt "too slow", in the middle when it felt "right" and at the end when it felt "difficult." I didn't experience this much during my practice runs, but the lesson was crystal clear during this race.

14km 7:48
15km 7:35
16km 7:49
17km 7:42
18km 7:34

It was when I passed the 18K marker that I started paying closer attention to where I was. I could see the Skylon Tower clearly and tourist area near the Falls and realized how soon I would be there. I could also see that the previous "calm" river had become a rapidly flowing one. We were heading into a busier area on the Parkway and we were closing in on some buildings. I checked my watch, did some quick math, and realized that if I just kept running steadily, like I was, I could achieve my goal of 2:30ish! Don't blow it now! Keep steady - nice and easy. I can beat 2:40 if I stay the course.

19km 7:45
20km 8:09

See my 2o km pace time? The only time my pace crossed into the 8 minute zone. I was not looking at my watch at this point, but in hindsight, I think I was concentrating so much on keeping a slower steadier pace with the expectation that the crowd's cheers would encourage me to use up whatever little energy I had left at the end. I did not want to walk across the finish line. At this point, I was mentally and physically preparing myself for the finish. I find it so interesting to see this slowest 8:09 pace right at the 20K mark ...

It was soooo great to see the spectators and to hear the cheers. There were several people calling out to me that the finish was not too far away - you are almost there! Unlike most of my other races, I didn't have that great surge of energy to drive me much faster, but my pace was still decent:

21K 7:09

And what can I say about the finish? It was heart thumping to hear everyone and to see the lead up to the finish line. I did my best to just keep steady and finish well. When I saw the huge FINISH line banner, it was so awesome, and it was wonderful to hear my name over the loudspeaker as I closed in on it. I knew Ben was there somewhere and kept my ear peeled for the sound of his voice, but at this point, I needed to concentrate on keeping the pace and crossing that finish line. The first person I was greeted by was a volunteer with a medal - that big colourful medal going around my neck was a great moment! :) :) I felt that same wave of emotion go through me again as I had at the start, that moment when I realized that I had done it - I had run the half marathon!!!!!!!!!! And my Garmin was telling me that my chip time would likely be 2:37ish - I saw 2:40 on the gun clock as I crossed the timing pad, but knew my time was under it, just as I had desired.

Those volunteers at the end were great and it was organized so well to help this exhausted and dazed runner. First the medal, then the bottle of water, followed by the mylar blanket, and then a yellow plastic bag filled with fruit, chips and cookies. There were Cytosport samples at the exit and I hung out here for an extra few minutes, drinking several samples to kill a bit of time to wait for my Benny to show up. Sure enough, within a few minutes, I heard him call "Sweety!!" as two volunteers prevented him from entering the coral. As I walked over to him, he opened his arms and said, "I am so proud of you!" and I grinned and exclaimed, "I did it!" The volunteers let out an "awww!" as Benny grabbed and hugged me tight. I felt like I could cry with happiness, but I was also feeling so dazed after running for so long. Ben suggested that we walk right over to the Falls so he could take a few pictures of me with my medal in front of it, and I told him to lead the way, but to hang on to me as I was a little out of it. I haven't seen the pictures yet, but maybe tonight I will take the time to look at the them.

Wonderful day, wonderful experience, a run well worth all the time and effort and training.

What next?!?! :) :) :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Chip 2:37:53.5

Garmin 2:37:56
Pace 7:27 min/km

Toooooo tired to post but these are the results from my day. Achieved 2:30ish and set a new PR (comparing it to my 1/2 marathon in Vancouver 7 years ago ...)

A very very very happy camper with sore toes, a tight right hamstring, and droopy eyes ... zzzzzzzzz

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Day Before ...

I am just getting ready for the trip and we will be leaving in a few hours ... I walked the dogs rather than going for a short run. I woke up with a migraine and feeling a little nauseated this morning, which started upsetting me until I got to thinking, "who cares?" if I feel crappy today ... as long as I feel rested and great tomorrow! But it is still a little disconcerting to wake up the day before feeling so crappy. The tylenol pills I took have helped the headache and after several hours and several glasses of water, I am feeling better, but as I type, my stomach is in roller coaster mode ....

I have homemade mac and cheese ready to heat up for lunch. My sister told me that she read in one of her running books that it is better to load up on carbs at LUNCH the day before than the much-hyped carb-loading dinner. I am doing both! Although I am giving serious consideration to reducing the gluten in my current diet, I am not making any major changes until after tomorrow. Until then, yummy cheesy pasta for lunch and pasta again tonight at dinner! Niagara Falls has a Ruby Tuesday's, Ben's favourite restaurant whenever we cross the border to shop in Michigan, so we will take advantage of being close to one tonight after picking up my bib at the Health Expo. After dinner, we will retire early to the hotel room in an effort for me to get as much rest as possible.

I did not mention this earlier because it is not "running related," but we had a scare with Ben last week falling into a pit at work and fracturing his ribs. Considering how close he came to seriously injuring himself or worse, we are very very very very lucky. This is the reason why he did not come to the Pinery last weekend for my 10K - he is very sore and finding it difficult to sleep and to move around. He is better and will make the journey to the Niagara Falls, but walking around the Expo will not be do-able for him, and he will not be driving around Niagara Falls along the HM route to try to cheer me on at different points. Instead, I will take the bus by myself to the starting line and Ben will see me off at the bus pick-up before heading back to the hotel to soak in the hot tub for his sore ribs. This will help him kill time for 3+ hours before meeting me at the finish line to cheer me on. :)

By the way, here is PROOF that I am registered - Bib #2519:

I have also given permission to update my run to my Facebook page so my sister and Mom can follow my progress tomorrow. My sister was shocked to receive a phone call from a fellow running friend last weekend, congratulating her on her time and PR. Karen had no idea how her friend knew this information, but then learned that this friend was using a site like this to track her. Incidentally, Karen's timing chip was attached to her bib - I have read about these in Running World (new this year), but will instead be getting a commemorative disposal chip "new this year."

I had a good long chat with Karen again yesterday all about setting the right goals for the run tomorrow and keeping positive. I promised her I would not get all bent out of shape if the weather turns out to be foul or windy. She encountered wind in a section during her HM last weekend and she said it really affected her pace. I suspect that there will be wind along the Niagara River Parkway tomorrow and it's just a matter of luck with the weather if it turns into a head wind or not. Achieving 2:30ish will be great, but it is not the #1 priority.

The weather in Niagara Falls according to

Saturday afternoon - 15 degrees C with a W 20km/h wind
Saturday evening - 13 degrees C with a S 10km/h wind (close to 1 mm rain)
Sunday morning - 11 degrees C with SW 20 km/h

I have my special "Niagara Falls" music ready, too. My little iPod Shuffle has a playlist especially for the event with energizing music for 10 minutes, followed by a 1 minute lullaby to remind me to walk, for a total of 2 hours 40 minutes. If I am hearing Madonna's, "Celebration" as I am crossing the finish line, I will be in good shape! :)

I must go now. I hope to have an update once I arrive home tomorrow night. It depends on how stiff I am! :) :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


#1 - Do no harm; run the race without injury!

#2 - Cross the finish line; complete the race from beginning to end.

#3 - Enjoy the view; relish the autumn scenery along the Niagara River while finishing my run close to the awe-inspiring Horseshoe Falls.

#4 - Keep my running pace @ 6:50 - 7:10 min/km for the race. Walk for 1 minute every 10 minutes. Do not get caught up in the swooooosh! at the beginning of the race; run my own race!

#5 - Find the 2:30 pace rabbit. Use him/her as my motivator to complete the half marathon in 2:30. I just read on the Facebook page for the NFIM that the "pace buddies" do NOT do 10:1 but run straight through so I will need to keep this in perspective if indeed I want to keep him/her in my sight.

#6 - I will be happy with a time in the 2:30 - 2:39 zone. Very happy!

Sluggish 6K ... 2 days 11 hours 39 minutes ...

Pace 7:31 min/km

I am very surprised to see my average pace for this run because, for most of it, it felt sluggish and slow and crappy! :( If it wasn't for all the reading I have done lately on how runs the week before a "big" race are often slow and sluggish due to tapering, I would be feeling a little freaked out by now! Instead, I am feeling good about it, acknowledging that this is natural and not a reflection on how I will do on Sunday.

I should point out that today was another lovely sunny autumn day (it poured last night) and although it was cooler, it was still a great day to be out running. I wished that my running felt energetic to match the day; instead, the sluggishness was similar to a hot and humid day run. :( I truly hope the snow stays away until Christmas so that I can continue running outside as the temperature drops. :)

Kim and Wallace ran with me again (Angus is with Ben out of town on a special hunting trip). There were multiple "poop & scoop" stops today for some reason so I am glad I did not have a pace goal today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10K ... 3 days until the half marathon ...

Pace 7:29 min/km

My dogs, Kim and Wallace, ran with me today. We headed out toward Springbank Park and back for the first time in over a week. After a very sluggish start, I finally warmed up and started running at a decent pace. A non-descript run, but nevertheless, very satisfying (it was hours ago, but as I type, I am still feeling the runner's high :)).

While I was running, I got to thinking about my progress. Today's run was my second 10K this week and I thought about how challenging it has been for me to get to this point. It was good to take some time to truly appreciate how far I have come. At this time last year, I was still struggling to run a 10K without taking walk breaks - my first 10K race was actually the first time I ran a 10K without stopping, and that was due to the adrenaline! Since I started running again this past March after the snow cleared, I have run FOUR 10K races this year, and in a few weeks, I will "end" my race season with my FIFTH 10K. In fact, depending on how I am feeling the week following my half marathon, I may be on track for cracking 1:10 "officially" at the Halloween run. :) Very cool! I felt so unprepared for that 10K in Embro on July 1st ...

However, I still have that mindset that 10K is a long run! Whenever I see 10K on the schedule, I still feel slightly overwhelmed by it. This is another reason why I think I personally need to work on this aspect, by focusing on improving my pace in a 10K before progressing forward toward more half marathons and eventually, a marathon. I also have to be realistic about training during the winter time when it's predicted that the upcoming winter will be a hard, long one. :(

Monday, October 18, 2010

WEEK 12 Half Marathon Training - Oct. 18-24

Monday OFF
Tuesday OFF
Wednesday 10K
Thursday 6K
Friday OFF
Saturday OFF or 3K

Sunday, October 17, 2010


1:12:13 (Garmin) 1:12:43 (Official time)
Pace 7:13 min/km

Wow, what a day! :)

First, I nearly got lost driving up north to Grand Bend and arrived much later than I wanted to, but managed to have enough time to grab my bib, check my bag, and use the porta-potty. :) I hate feeling rushed! :( They started the race 15 minutes later than advertised so I think they did this on purpose, knowing that the race location was unusual and out of the way for the majority of participants (just under 600).

Second, it was the only race where I have experienced runners jostling one another to get ahead. There were several "thread-the-needle" runners and I was surprised to see runners in front of me bump shoulders. Very odd to see at a country casual fun run. :(

Third, holy hills, Batman !%@#$! I knew that I would encounter "hillier" terrain at this race, but did not expect the roller coaster ride hills all the way to the 5K turnaround. This was, by far, the most challenging 10K route I have run. I am very PROUD to say that I ran up every hill (the majority of runners in my running pace zone were walking them). I pumped my arms, I leaned forward, and I focused on closer landmarks to detract from how far away from the top I was ... I couldn't believe how many times I had do that!! :) I was a little concerned with my pace because I knew I had all those hills on the way back to run up again, too.

However, it turns out that I didn't have to worry. I am extremely pleased with my pace. Between the race two weeks ago in Stratford and the race today, I feel very, very good about my upcoming half marathon. I didn't run today with the expectation of a new PR (good thing, too, because of all those damn hills!!), but I was still surprised to see how fast I was running inbetween all those hills. I ran "strong" today and except for slowing down at the water stations (to walk while I drank, my new thing after choking on water while trying to run), I was never sluggish at any time during the run.

So! Even though today was not a PR, I am still feeling very very enthusiastic about my performance today. I received a great black s/s tech shirt as swag and I also received a black l/s Runpiker Series shirt, which is quite nice, too. I did not win any of the great draws :( which include hotel and B&B stays nor did I win any door prizes, but oh well!

Runners got a free egg sandwich and coffee. I ate one and resisted temptation to fast food it on the way home so I could fill up on a protein shake at home. I am currently reading a lot about gluten (my mother and sister have discovered that they are gluten-sensitive), and I am considering a change to my daily diet to reduce the amount of gluten and corn syrup processed foods we use regularly, but no major changes until after the half marathon!

I am going to sleep well tonight !!!!!! :)

SIDE NOTE: My sister killed her last half marathon time today - last year 1:54; this year 1:46. She is elated and should be because that is a huge shaving off her time! It was wonderful to call her cell and talk to her about her race/my race while they were driving home from Toronto. She had a GREAT race day and 1:46 is phenomenal!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

5K Warm-up for Tomorrow's 10K Run

Pace 7:22 min/km

Do I risk sounding like a broken record ... a gorgeous day for running with perfect weather .. gorgeous fall scenery ... great running dogs ... blah blah blah! :) I took the last two days off to fully rest for tomorrow's race. I went for a casual 5K warm-up run today and was surprised by my "faster" pace since I was just taking it easy (didn't look at my Garmin because I just ran how I felt).

Not much to report except that my sister is in Toronto tonight and will be running with 14,000 - yes, FOURTEEN THOUSAND people tomorrow! I am running with several hundred, I think over 300, which is very decent for one of these Runpiker Series runs.

I will write again tomorrow night when I have new to share from Grand Bend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

8K with 3 doggies ...

Pace 7:55 min/km

Sorry to repeat myself, but great weather ... great scenery ... great running partners! I really really really get it now why runners love autumn best for running. After a brutal summer of humidity and high temperatures to run in this summer (I kept saying, if I was learning to run this summer like I was last year at this time, I would have quit running by now!!!), it is so wonderful to have the cooler (but not cold) temperatures while the sun is shining (but not too brightly). The autumn season here is in full swing and gorgeous, and my dogs are so well behaved while running - taking them out individually and training them has made it possible for me to run with all three of them so that the FOUR of us get ~1 hour of exercise together. :)

I returned to the cemetery again because it is the safest place to take them running without other people and cars. The occasional child was walking through on the way to school and several cars do drive through (usually older people visiting plots of loved ones) so it is not without life, but it is better than running on the Thames Valley river trail with all the other runners and cyclists and dog-walkers when I am taking all three out together. I should explain that this cemetery looks like a park and is looked after beautifully by grounds staff who keep it looking like a gorgeous park. Plenty of people use it for walking so when I mention running there, it is not a dark, creepy Buffy the Vampire Slyer-type of cemetery. It literally is like going to the local park.

I also made sure that I did NOT look at my Garmin! I have been focusing on my pace of later, trying to keep it in the right zone, but today I wanted a nice easy run, and felt that I could do this without feeling the pressure of running at a faster pace.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Idea / Goal

So I have been giving a lot of thought to what I should do after my half marathon ... if I do not make a plan NOW, I am hooped. I need a running plan to follow and I do not want to lose all the work I have put into running. We are heading into a Canadian winter sooner or later (snow could start flying by the end of this month) so I need to be prepared as to what I can do versus what I want to do.

I want to keep my half marathon level up, yet there are no half marathon races again until May. This is also unrealistic as I do not have a treadmill and my running will be interrupted by the weather.

I have decided that after completing my half marathon, my next goal will be to crack 1 hour for a 10K and I have 17 weeks to do this. My sister photocopied this PR plan for me from her book, and after spending time looking at it today, I realized how good it is for me. I sat down and figured out my running schedule, using this as a guide and starting it a week after the Halloween Haunting. I am in the last few weeks of it when there is an 8 miler (13K) and an 8K in Waterloo in mid-February. A week later is the first race of London Honda Series - the Really Chilly 10K. In March, there is another 10K, the second race of the London Honda Series, on the Good Friday. I was not able to run these races earlier this year.

Also, when the Forest City Road Races roll around again in the beginning of May, I think I should aim for the 10K. I did the 5K earlier this year and I could be ready for the 10K next year. It is a nice measurement of my progress - 5K then a year later 10K and then I can aim to do the half marathon the following year (2012). I will be on my way training-wise for my first half marathon of the year by April, but not in time for this event. Not really a big deal since the half marathon in London is not as big an event as it is elsewhere and definitely not as scenic as Vancouver or Niagara Falls so I don't feel like I am missing anything.

I am also thinking that if my goal is bring my 10K time down to 60 minutes or less, I may then be well on my way to a 2:00 hour half marathon. If this is the case, then I think I would like to spend 2011 focusing on this (and maybe doing a few half marathons in the later summer and autumn) rather than pushing to do a full marathon next year. This goal I can savour and plan for 2012 instead.

I am faster but not by much with my pace since I started running. Rather than getting faster, I concentrated on running longer. This was the focus this 2010 - running longer so that 10K felt "normal" rather than "long". Last year, I ended my season with my first 10K. This year, I am virtually ending my season with a half marathon. Originally, I thought it would be cool to end next year with a marathon, but I think I would like to concentrate on my pace and get it into a faster zone before tackling a marathon distance incorporating my faster pace. I have NOT changed my mind about running a marathon - I am just changing my mind about what I want to accomplish before running a marathon. :)

These are my thoughts right now, and after giving it some more time to percolate, I will see where I am at after my half marathon in Niagara Falls .....

7K with 3 Dogs ...

Pace 7:24 min/km

So it is truly a fact that I feel the effects of a long run TWO days later. I think it is best if I go for a short easy run the day after a long run, knowing that it will be the following day when I am TOAST and in great need of a rest day!

And this morning, I was dragging and it got later and later ... and later. I was thinking it was "too late" to go for a run, reprimanded myself for my laziness, and forced myself out there. I am very pleased that I did because, similar to Saturday when I did my 20K, it was a perfect weather day and a perfect scenery day and I took all 3 dogs with me who behaved wonderfully. My pace was pretty good for a hilly cemetery where I did my run. It's the kind of day when I think, "I was not going to get out today? That's just crazy and I am soooooo glad I got out today!" :) :)

Another note: on a consistent basis, I start running faster after warming up with 2-3K. I completely understand now why experienced runners warm up by running before a race, particularly shorter races (5K & 8K), so that by the time they start, they are warmed up to where they can run at their peak pace. I do not feel confident in my ability to do this just yet, but maybe next year, I will try doing this at 5K races to see if it works for me.

Less than two weeks until my half marathon !!!!! :) :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

WEEK 11 Half Marathon Training - Oct. 11-17

Monday OFF
Tuesday 7K
Wednesday 8K
Thursday 6K
Friday OFF
Saturday OFF or 3K

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Ran 20K Today !!!!!!! :) :) :)

Pace 7:59 min/km

It was a busy long weekend on this end with my mom and my sister's family (BIL + 3 kids under 5 years old!) here for Thanksgiving. This is why I was sooooo determined to get that 20K under my belt before they arrived Saturday afternoon because I knew my schedule would be upended and my runs affected.

Saturday morning was a *perfect* morning for running. The sun was out but it wasn't hot. It was just the right temperature for running in a tech T and shorts, but walkers and cyclists had jackets on. I wasn't "sweaty" but had a little glow happening, and this after 20K! I am so glad I was out and running because the weather just doesn't get better than this! And the scenery was wonderful, too, with fall leaves turning brilliant shades of orange and yellow and red. I lived in British Columbia for 10 years and only felt "homesick" for Ontario in the fall because the autumn season there is just not like it is here! :)

If I was writing this blog at the 9K mark, I would have written about how good I felt and how I could run forever! My pace was good, I felt great, and I also felt like I was truly a runner.

However, soon after the 10K mark, I could feel the sluggish feeling start and my second split proved to be tougher than my first split, which surprised me. I actually felt like I hit a bit of a wall and actually contemplated shortening my run. Luckily, by the time I reached the point in the path where I could go "this way" to get home quickly or "that way" to continue my run, I felt a mini surge and chose to continue running for another 4.5K ...

The last 2K were slower and I really had to work at it to keep going, but I did it! 20K officially under my belt and this is what I needed to know that, in two week's time, I really am capable of running a half marathon! :)

In spite of not feeling strong the whole time, like I did when I ran my 18K two weeks ago, I was delighted to see my time. The 2:30 zone is not so unrealistic after all! :) I have noticed my trend of long runs is "okay" one week and "great" the following so I am taking it as a "good sign" that this this 20K was "okay" ergo my next run, the half marathon, will be great! :) I am keeping in mind that I woke up @ 4:30 when Ben's alarm went off and I only dozed after this so I had a short night of sleep. One other time when I had a run like this was the last time when my sister visited and I was up late and up early for my 17K run. A lack of sleep really affects me!

I found sleeping a little uncomfortable after this run. In hindsight, I should have slept with a pillow between my legs as my joints where the legs join the hips (hip flexors?) were a little sore and ached when my top leg hung down while sleeping on my side. I am sure this run contributed to my tiredness this weekend, too! For the first time, I experience chafing along my bra line. My sister experiences this often, but I have not been affected by it until my 20K. I may need to get BodyGlide before my half marathon so that this does not happen again during my race.

By the way, my sister looks" like a runner now, as in she has a runner's body. We were discussing it this trip, too. She feels better about herself than ever and attributes he new running times and shape to a great program she has been following for setting a new PR for a half marathon (she has two accomplished already). She has been running since March 2009 so it goes to show that it takes 3 cycles of six months to change your frame (I am referring to a learning I read from Kathrine Switzer's book - it takes 2 weeks to change your cardio, 3 months to change your muscles, and six months to change your "skeletal" frame (ligaments, etc.)). It encourages me to keep going with this, to keep persevering. She looks and feels great, and I hope she kicks ass at her half marathon, the Goodlife Fitness one in Toronto. :) :) :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Enjoyable 6K

Pace 7:22 min/km

Gorgeous cooler morning for running today. I started out slowly and it took awhile to get warmed up and running a faster pace. If anything, I am pleased with my pace because the first few K were much slower than that so it shows how much I improved! Wallace came with me today and he did great; he is a wonderful running partner. :) I enjoyed my music and the autumn colours while daydreaming about my half marathon that is coming up SOONER than later! :)

On a side note, I chose a wall in the house to put up all my running bibs and it makes for an impressive sight! :) The only one I kept out of the group was my half marathon bib from Vancouver. I put it up on the side wall because I would like to get it framed. I will be looking at frames at the Niagara Falls health expo, too, as I intend to frame my bib and medal from this event. I have also started "penning" in confirmed runs and "pencilling" in approximate run dates for 2011. :) :) :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

8K - Sluggish but I'm okay with it!

Pace 7:43 min/km

I was soooooo tired Tuesday a.m. - I literally dragged myself out of bed. I don't think I have ever been so happy to see it raining! It wasn't a drizzle - it was coming down hard so I was very very happy to have an excuse to go back to bed and sleep for another hour. I am beginning to think that it is not the day after a race when I feel its effects, but TWO days later as I felt completely burned out 48 hours after the race, and this isn't the first time.

As expected, my run this morning was more sluggish, but again, experience has taught me that my first run after a race usually is so just getting through it was an achievement. I still felt good the whole time and didn't feel like quitting at any point so I am pleased how 8K is an average run for me.

I am still feeling jazzed about my 10K PR on Sunday! :) It really has boosted my confidence for the half marathon, and the potential of completing it in 2:30.

I have cut back a little more on the mileage for my training runs. I compared the last two weeks of my program to the one in John Stanton's book for completing a half marathon in 2:30. The two were pretty much the same except for a 14K midweek next week which I have now reduced to an 8K. As it is, I think I am pushing it a little with a 20K this weekend, a 10K race the following weekend, and then the half marathon the weekend after that. I will run 6K tomorrow, rest Friday, and then go for my last training long run. Oddly enough, I am looking forward to it! Weird !! :)

WEEK TEN Half Marathon Training - Oct. 4-10

Monday OFF
Tuesday 8K
Wednesday 8K
Thursday 6K
Friday OFF
Saturday LONG RUN 20K
Sunday OFF

Sunday, October 3, 2010

FESTIVAL CITY 10K - Runpiker Series - A NEW P.R !!!!!!!!

A big post for a big day !!!!!! :) :) :)

I am THRILLED beyond words. I set a new PR today AND "un"officially achieved a goal I set out for myself. My previous PR for a 10K was 1:12:22. I set it in my first 10K last October in the Halloween Haunting run. This year, I have been in two 10K races so far - Embro 1:14:08 and Ingersoll 1:14:13. I went to the race today hoping to crack 1:14 and crossing my fingers that I would crack 1:12 and set a new PR. The fact that I cracked 1:10 has had me on a huge runner's high all day !!!!!!! One of my favourite races to date!!!!

But back to the beginning ... Stratford is 45-60 minutes away from London so Ben and I decided to make a day of it by going for brunch with friends who live there after my race, which is an extra treat in itself - I really do love having my man with me at these runs! :) We parked at the famous main festival theatre, right by the water with all the ducks and swans, including a gorgeous black swan, before heading to pre-registration. Best swag bag to date with a great tech T, a little Shopper's Drug Mart bag filled with moisturizer, cookies, a SS water bottle and the usual advertisements. :) Off to the washroom, which is the best park washroom I have been in to date and was shocked by how wonderfully hot the the water was for washing hands. How pleasant for a change! Then I was off to the starting line. I noticed how most runners wore shorts and a long sleeved T for the run. I opted to stay in my track pants rather than change into shorts, and I kept my running jacket on over my tech T, but took my hoodie off because I was only using it to keep warm until the start. It was my first time in pants and my jacket of the season so this felt a little odd. We were then off!

It was a slow start as, surprisingly, the people in front of me were slower, almost walking, but eventually the crowd thinned out and "everyone" (so it seemed!) pulled ahead of me. I noticed my pace was faster than usual (but on target for an adrenaline-fueled start), but I kept myself in check. We ran around and down out of the park, and through the parking lot where we had parked earlier.

This is when I saw a sight that warmed my heart tremendously. I saw my Benny running across the soccer field to get to the sideline in time so he could see me again. I tell you, I really do know how lucky I am to have such a sweet soul in my life!! :) I am no fool! I grinned at him and ran up to give him a kiss and thanked him for making the effort. As I ran past, I could hear some women calling out to him, but could not make out what they said because I was wearing my iPod buds. When I asked him later about the exchange, he told me that a group of older women had laughingly told him that they could ALL use that kind of inspiration and he just grinned at them! :)

About one K into the race, I started having problems with my iPod. In hindsight, I think I pressed the voiceover button too hard and that it got stuck, but all I knew at that moment while I was running, when checking to make sure I had the right music on, the iPod went dead. I kept turning it on and off and trying to get it to work but it wouldn't. I ran for a little while, feeling panicky about not having my music to motivate me for over an hour and also feeling upset that something bad had happened to my new Shuffle! Some self-talk to calm down, a decision not to stop and walk with it, and voila, after giving the little thing a few minutes off, I turned it on again and it worked. Not a pleasant experience but I got through it.

Stratford is a very pretty city to run in, and I enjoyed the "tour" overall. This is one aspect of running that I am enjoying, seeing different towns and cities in Southwestern Ontario.

Once again, I had a runner yo-yo with me for ~1-1/2K. I did feel bad for him - he would run a few metres, and then stop to walk, repeat. He clearly had burned himself out at the beginning of the race because I encountered his burnout in the 4K-ish zone. My beef if how irritating it is to have someone like him set his sights on me as the person he does NOT want to have pass him. He continuously ran by me, and then start walking. Eventually my pace would catch up to his walking pace at which point he would zoom ahead. It was as if he made it his personal goal to keep ahead of me, which is fine, I guess, except I find it quite irritating, when I am trying to keep focused on my race, to have someone zip zip zip back and forth beside me. I told myself to be patient, and just keep at the pace I was running as this yo-yoing was happening before the race's halfway mark; therefore, he would be walking the rest of the race pretty soon. Sure enough, another 1/2K later, I ran past him and didn't see him again. :)

One of my biggest highlights of the race was seeing Ron. Ron is 70+ years old and has been at every Runpiker's run that I have. A very nice man who is a retired schoolteacher. We first noticed him in Woodstock, how steady and consistent his pace was, and how he blew us away by the middle of the race, always finishing multiple people ahead of us. He ran Embro in 1:06, a good 8 minutes faster than me. Well, when I realized it was him ahead of me (he has a distinctive cadence), I was thrilled. I was in the same running zone as Ron! Wouldn't it be cool to finish behind him? I was so proud of myself to think that my running had actually improved this much! I also got to thinking about how much my long runs HAVE helped because I would not be running just under 7:00 min/km on average if it hadn't been for my long runs. When I started to tell myself to slow down, to bring my pace back down to 7:30, I debated internally whether to let myself keep running at the faster pace because I had run 18K last weekend after all! Clearly I should have a little faith and be a little experimental by letting me run at the faster pace that I was clearly comfortable running! I am so pleased that I did! :)

And then a funny thing happened ... I noticed how I was creeping up behind Ron and a group of women who were running just ahead of Ron. I kept checking my Garmin and realized that I was the one keeping steady - it was Ron and the women who were slowing their pace! The closer I got, the more I realized that I was actually going to pass Ron! And I didn't want to do it! :( My goal was to follow him in, not pass! However, this was happening in the 7-8K zone and I had no choice, but to keep pace and pass him. I realized that his pace was off (comparatively to other races), and I had no choice. After smiling hello and passing the group of women on the hill, I was suddenly out there on my own with 2K to go ...

It was initially a bit of an odd feeling. I am accustomed to watching all the runners ahead of me, and now, here I was, successfully passing 12+ people and no one ahead of me to pass. I checked my watch again and suddenly realized that 1:10 was achievable. What a new amazing feeling!!!! I told myself to go for it and to keep my pace up so I could do it - this was my race to win! I kept chanting that to myself as a mantra.

Well, the last hill UP to the finish line was challenging and killed whatever cushion time I had left to make it in under 1:10, and it was great to see Benny again at the finish line cheering me on. He told me later was so impressed to see me just before the 1:10 mark when I had told him I would be crossing the finish line eventually after this time. :) I admit that I was feeling a little verklempt as I neared the finish line when I realized I had done it. :) :) :)

Now here's the thing ... do I count my actual time or the chip time? :) LOL !!!

Garmin 1:09:26
Chip (official race time) 1:10:19

My little beef with these smaller races is how the chip is not accurate except for those runners right at the starting line. Those of us who start further back because we are slower therefore have another 15-20 seconds to get across the start. In large city races, the chip turns "on" the moment the runner crosses the start line and then again at the finish line. However, in these smaller races, the start line is usually a ladder and a thin rope. EVERYBODY has the same start time. I tend to start my Garmin when I cross the start line so I get a more accurate reading (and usually I am within a metre as my Garmin km alerts beep as I pass the km markers along the route). Normally this is not an issue except in this race. I am officially 19 seconds slower than my ultimate 10K goal for the year, but in reality, I came in 30 seconds faster. How funny that I am obsessing over this, eh? LOL!!!

I am now understanding just a little better about why runners can get so fussy. 19 seconds ... "if" only I had started closer to the starting line ... "if" only I had run up that last hill faster ... "if" only I could have run up that one hill without zig zagging around the runners who suddenly stopped to walk in front of me ... "if" only I hadn't stopped to kiss Benny ... LOL !!!! How crazy is all that but I have a better understanding of it now - I don't want to be that kind of runner, but if a runner is within seconds/less than a minute off their goal, I can see how easy it is to become obsessed with all the run moments that slowed the runner down ... :)

So! Next Saturday - 20K. My final long run 2 weeks before Niagara Falls. The following Sunday - 10K @ The Pinery. I will decide during the race whether to run it to try to beat 1:10 or just to say "no biggie - just enjoy it" because less than 10 recovery days later, I am running my half marathon. And 7 days after the big big day, I have my last 10K of the year - a "rematch" of my very first 10K - the Halloween Haunting. I know for sure that I will be running with my dog, Angus. Ben has already mentioned it multiple times because last year, a woman ran with two dogs. Ben has wanted Angus in a race since. And at today's race, a runner ran with her dog, which inspired Ben to talk about it again. :) I would prefer going with Wallace, but it will mean so much more to Ben to see "his boy" running with his Lit'l Sweety ... :)