Seasonally Friendly

Dan

There is something particularly enjoyable about running on a cold crisp morning. Even better is that by November all the tourists have completed their goal races and gone into running hibernation. Leaving only the more hardy year rounders. My favorite trait of these men and women of winter is that they are invariably friendly, happy to see other runners and at the very least exchange a wry smile as they pass you ascending a hill as they cruise down. This is in contrast to the ‘tourist’, this single race Grinch with his crisp running gear and mandatory iPod, treats every trail as his own, this generally leads to a lot less trail pleasantries. It can make a long bustling training run pretty lonely when these are the people you are passing.

The first weekend in November brought with it the perfect running weather sunny but cold. Heather was going to get the chance to enjoy it on the Sunday when she ran the Road 2 Hope. However I hadn’t signed up for the race so decided to take myself out for a nice long training run, taking in a few new off-shoots to our usual route. Needless to say I got lost but that is just part of the fun. As I was returning my geographic location to one more likely to deliver me home, I started to notice just how friendly everyone had been this morning. Even the non-runners seemed to be going out of their way to give smiles and waves. As I cut through the Don Valley Brickworks it was a veritable sea of cheer. Buoyed by all the good vibes I got a little extra spring in my step and turned on the taps for the last 8 or so kms.  Wow what a friendly bunch of people this morning, unless there was another reason for the smiles, maybe they were smirks and maybe the mornings I heard were stifled laughs …..

Trying to grow my own ultra stache!

The car of guys that drove by just as I turned for home confirmed which it was as they shouted nice stache.

Whilst Movemeber is a great cause it is also a cruel itchy mistress.

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Fat Ass Trail Race Report

Heather

This weekend we ran our last race of the season, the Fat Ass Trail Race in Batawa.  I was immediately drawn to this race because of its name and also because I love to shop at the store that the race director owns.  The race offers distances of 7.5km, 10km, 17.5km, and 25km.  First prize goes to whoever can predict their time! Also prizes for dirtiest, most lost, and last.

Fat Ass bib

Now I know this was a lot to ask of my body after the marathon so I opted for the 7.5km and planned to run easy and just enjoy…yeah right.

After a tiny bit of start line confusion Dan was off as he had predicted his finishing time of 42 mins.  Me, I predicted 1:13:29??? I have no idea why I did this, clearly I thought I’d still be dead from the previous weeks race.

Start line chaos.

Originally I was going to run this with Big Sister, but then Big Sister’s Hubby signed up so I was off the hook.  I tried to start out with them, but then the klaxon sounded and that was it, in my head I was going slow, but I was passing people, oh well.  The course leads down the road where you loop around and head back to the ski hill, where the fun begins!  Since I was a mountain goat in a former life I picked off lots people running up the ski run, mainly because they were not. Then the course flattens for a bit only to plunge down the backside of the ski hill, I passed a few more people.  I have to admit that the down was a little daunting as the trail was covered with leaves, but after all my other falls this summer, I’ve lost that “fear of falling” and that just makes you go.  Once at the bottom we flattened out again and that’s when I saw the back of a figure I know, yup I was catching Dan.   Of course I assumed that something was wrong with him because I was enjoying my nice easy run. When I finally caught up to him it turned out he was struggling, you see we spent the previous night at Big Sister’s house with two cats, Dan is allergic, in that annoying wheezing way.  It doesn’t help that the one cat seems to sense when he’s not wanted and kept leaping on Dan and trying to get into our room to smother Dan in his sleep.  I told Dan I would try to pace him to his 42 mins, we weren’t doing too bad.  The weather was un-expectantly warm so I was happy to see an aid station around 4km.  The course was far more technical than we expected with lots of low hanging branches (not so good for Dan) so we didn’t gain as much speed on the flats as I thought we would, and although it was flat there were lot’s of fallen trees to hurdle.  (Big Sister’s Hubby misjudged one and ended with a pretty knee gash, but at least he remained up right!)  The end has you climb back up the backside of the ski hill and then you get to run down the front to the finish.  By the time we hit the hill Dan’s wheezing was winning and he had to walk, being the nice wife that I am waited for him at the top chatting to Alex, who had come to cheer us on.  I should note that a few people got by us at this point, including a woman who later thanked me for pacing her for most of the race, she won her age group, we happened to be in the same age group.  Anyway…Dan and I ran down the hill and crossed the finish line hand in hand in 44:53.

Next to come down the hill was (a surprise) Big Sister’s Hubby, in 52:30, not bad for a smoker who did little to no training, however what I loved seeing was the excitement in his eyes when he realized he was nearly done and gave that last kick.  I think he might be re-thinking his attitude toward running.  He lost Big Sister on the first up hill, she told him to go, so he did, what a brave man.

Here comes Big Sister's Hubby!

Big Sister followed shortly after in 1:00:25 a whopping 25 minutes faster than she predicted.  I loved listening to Big Sister’s race replay as we enjoyed our chili and cookies.  First I have to explain two things that my big sister doesn’t like; running up hill and getting dirty. So after dispatching Hubby on the up hill (assuming she’d find him blown up somewhere along the course because he didn’t train) she hit the flat at the top, quite literally, as in big wipe out.  The runners near her helped her up but her hip smarted, she started running again mainly to show everyone around her that she was ok, but really, her hip was sore and her leg and hands were dirty.  She decided to drop out.  Except she never “found the opportunity”, what Big Sister didn’t realize about trail racing is that there isn’t a race marshal every 10 feet to help you, by the time she reached the aid station she was parched (Hubby had the water bottle), she stopped for two waters and asked how much further.  She was told 3.5km, oh well she figured best just keep going!  And she did, up the second big hill and down again across the finish.

Here comes Big Sister!

I was so proud of her for finishing, and when I heard all of that I proudly welcomed her to the world of trail racing.  Her hip is bruised and hand grazed but otherwise she is pumped with her result, so much so that she just might go and train on those crazy hills.

Big Sister's Hubby getting warmed up.

Dan getting warmed up, nice buff.

One side of the hill.

Follow the sign up.

The man with the Klaxon, Andre.

We had one spectator, but he did a great job, he even went up the hill!

View from the top.

Eventually things flatten out.

The very welcomed aid station, with it's awesome volunteers.

Dan hanging in there.

Dan wheezing his way up.

Awesome post race food.

Awesome shirt.

The other awesome shirt.

P.S. sorry for the blurry photos, I need to stop to take photos apparently.

Road 2 Hope Race Report

Heather

This is the only marathon I ran this year, I’ve only ran one marathon prior to this about a year ago.  A year ago my aim was to finish and I did in 4:21.  With a good chunk of my races this year being used as training runs for the DeathRace I decided to challenge myself and finish this 42.2km run in under 4 hours.

Like all my training plans they look so good on paper and I bet they would be awesome if I actually stuck to them, but I’m very good at making excuses not to do the hard work.  I rarely miss a run, however I rarely do the actual workout I planned.  For example I did no speed work going into this marathon, admittedly I’ve never really done speed work for anything, instead I would figure out what distance I would have covered running around the track and would just run that.  I did actually do some tempo runs, but not at the speeds I should have been.  So the week before Road 2 Hope I started to get nervous and regret telling anybody about my time goal because quite frankly I didn’t really deserve to reach it.  However I’m also really stubborn and never back down from a challenge so I was still going to give it a go.

Nice day for a run.

Race day was ideal, sunny around 10 degrees Celsius, it was a tad windy but tolerable, so I wasn’t going to be able to use weather as an excuse not to perform.  The race start is nice as it is at a high school and we got to wait inside and use flushing toilets.  Race time was delayed by about 10 minutes but that worked out in my favor as I actually seeded myself correctly, hanging out behind the 3:50 pace bunny (more on him later).  It was announced there would be a lady wearing a monkey suit and we should be nice to her, I have no idea why (Dan informed me later that she was the race directors wife, don’t worry I wasn’t mean to her) and that there was a guy dribbling a basketball for the whole of the marathon (because just running a marathon isn’t challenging enough), finally the anthem was sung and we were off…fast!  I panicked a little for the first km because I was going way too fast, yet the 4 hr pace bunny was nipping at my heels, what the heck?  Stay calm, things will settle and the did.

The first half of the marathon takes you through these lovely quiet country roads (re: no spectators) blah, whatever, it was sunny and the houses were nice to look at, the manure odor was gross.  Just after 8km a man asked if we had just run in a circle, I pointed out that it was more of a rectangle but yes, we were only a few blocks (are they called blocks in the country?) north of where we had started. He asked if I was from here, I said no.  He stayed beside me so I asked where he was from and he told me he lived 10 minutes down the road…hmm.  He was also widely overdressed for the warm weather, hopefully he wasn’t suffering heat stroke, he started to complain to me about the pacing ability of the 3:50 bunny, what are you supposed to say to that?  I just smiled and nodded, eventually we caught up to said pace bunny…hmm, I was running pretty consistent splits, I shouldn’t be catching anybody.

Bunny and his crew pulled ahead and I was left with my own thoughts, except they kept being interrupted by this strange almost rhythmic noise and that’s when I realised I was being reeled in by the basketball dribbler. Sigh, it’s bad enough that I’m constantly beat by costumed runners but seriously a dribbler?  Turns out the dribbler was a 17 year old named Colin who was trying to change people’s perceptions of teenagers.  He’s concerned that adults think kids his age just want to drink and smoke, so he decided to raise money for a good cause and dribble a basketball for 42.2km.  Now I’m feeling downright miserable, I never smoked but I was probably sipping some drinks when I was 17, I certainly was not thinking about saving the world and/or running a marathon (while dribbling).

I left the dribbler behind at he next water station because I think he was embarrassed to be seen running with a slow 30 something year old, or it may have been because the station was staffed by his high school and all his friends were there.  Frightening things started to happen then, I started to pass people, um we are only 15km into this thing people what’s going on?  I deduced that because I usually start further back I don’t pass these people until much later on. Passed a girl in a shirt that said she was the best, I felt good passing her and that pretty much kept me entertained (she kept trying to catch me) until the 18km mark where the country road suddenly got a bike lane??  What the hey??? (or should I say hay?).

The wind had really picked up now and it was irritating me so from 18-21km I pretty much decided I hated this race and somehow I caught up to the 3:50 bunny (how?)  Just as I was depressing myself with how much further I had to go I heard my name, I looked up to see Dan and my Dad cheering at a corner that actually had spectators.  Dan’s words to me, “you’re way ahead of your pace”.  He said it in a kind tone but I felt there was an underlying warning there.  I looked closer at my garmin and established that I didn’t care that I was ahead of pace, my heart rate was right where it should be (as it had been for the whole race) and I was running pretty even splits.  Dan told me later he simply said it to cover his own butt incase I blew up later down the road then blamed him for not mentioning something.  (In fairness, he is a very wise husband).

At 23km the course heads south and down a parkway.  It was kind of neat to run on a highway, but I was mostly happy to have the downhill.  I like running down and I just went with it, on my way I chatted to a few people who had fallen behind the 3:50 pace bunny, they were very annoyed.  One guy called Istevan was having quite the rant when I asked him what pace he should have been running to finish in 3:50, his response “I don’t know that is the pace bunnies job, but this guy just speeds up and slows down and now my legs are thrashed, he’s going to fast”.  Hmm…I have to admit that I’ve never run with a pace bunny, I will use them as gauges, something to keep behind me or within eyesight, but at the end of the day pace bunnies are people too.  They have good and bad running days, and ultimately I think it’s the runners responsibility to know their pace and run their own race, pace bunnies are not a guarantee, you still have to do the work.

We exited the parkway at the 29km mark where once again Dan and my Dad were there with a cheer, I needed it, I was getting a little over heated and well, I was starting to realise that running at faster than normal pace for so long was hard.  Meh, I got myself this far best to just keep going.

By 33km I was tiring, my heart rate was elevating and it was getting tougher to keep my pace, also my heart rate monitor had started chaffing me (which is new) so I decided to take it off, thankfully while I was doing this and faffing around with safely stowing my monitor I completely missed a runner being loaded into an ambulance, I merely caught the aftermath of the bike medics, solar blankets and flashing lights fading into the distance.  The last 10km of a marathon can suck exactly for this reason, people not only start to mentally break but some physically break.  I started to think about all the cheesy “pain is temporary” quotes to keep me moving I was hot and tired and thirsty,  but I was in the final 10km.  I kept myself busy tying to figure out how long it would take Reid Coolsaet (I “heart” Reid) to run it.

The final turn around at 36km ejected us onto a paved path along the water, I tried to take in how lovely it was but I was seriously fighting to keep moving, stuff was starting to hurt “ok 5km to go, pull yourself together and move”  It’s hard to be happy about passing people when they looked as crappy as the ones I was passing.  I actually kept closing my eyes for a bit, until of course I almost fell over, I wondered if I’d actually  be able to myself up if I had.  That scared me enough to focus on where I was going…is that the 3:50 bunny ahead? I quick glance at my watch, could I make it in 3:50?  Only one way to find out.  Now I have to admit, I like crossing the finish “looking good”, smiling, arms up, waving.  So I think I shocked my Dad when he saw me looking, well, beat.  I barely waved and I don’t think I managed a smile.  When I reached Mom and Little Sister cheering I managed a weak hand flail, but that was it, my Mom could tell I was in pain.  I didn’t even notice Dan or Little Sister’s Fiancé.

My attempt at waving.

The worse part of the course was about to be revealed to me, the last 200m required of a full 180 turn and an incline, volunteers stood by smiling “just around the corner and up the hill”, sure no problem, “you look great”, what are you looking at?  And finally I was across the line, I think I put my arms up, I know I smiled when my name was announced only because the announcer thought I had “a great running name”.  Water handed to me, I feel wobbly, medal around my neck, where is my family? I’m so wobbly. Strong hand on each arm, Dan and Dad, I’m safe.

I just wanted it to be over.

I’ve never pushed myself that hard before, so I wasn’t prepared for how my body would react (severe muscle twitching, didn’t actually hurt but was very uncomfortable).  The post race food was adequate but a mad shout out to the cabbage and dill soup.  On our walk back to the car we saw Colin the dribbler, I gave him a big cheer.  The world will be a better place with kids like him.

In other news, Big Sister successfully made her half marathon return after battling injury.

Another for my hoarding.

And as for me, did I make 3:50?

Nope, officially 3:51:15, chip time 3:50:47, totally satisfied, and that poor 3:50 pace bunny, he crossed the line alone just ahead of me and collapsed, clearly it wasn’t his day.

Hanging out at high school again.

Big Sister ready for a her running return!

Me, very excited at where I was starting from.

Big Sister and I looking fierce (?)

I like to be prepared.

Little Sister provided some encouragement to Big Sister and I along the course.