Medal Mania

DAN

Hello my name is Dan and I am a medal hoarder, it has been 74 days since my last medal and by crieky that is just too damn long. This is a situation that could easily be resolved however.  Our plan run 2 races in eight days, but hey why pussyfoot around let’s make it 3 races in eight days. First up the Rock n Roll marathon in Washington DC, followed by a midweek 5k race to celebrate the opening of our brand new Running Room and to cap it off we would be returning to the Around the Bay race in Hamilton.

The DC race was a blast and Heather’s full race report will either have already been posted or will be shortly.  However a few highs and lows from the race. The highs were the amazing sights, the off the chart spectators (Torontonians take note you can actually enjoy the races in your city even if you are not running in them), my ongoing nutrition and hydration experiment yielded some good results only requiring 400ml of water and one gel, and finally we executed our plan to run this at a training pace and just enjoy. The lows well anyone on Facebook will have seen the graphic picture of my awesome chafing just to clarify that was my leg not my ass and to those of you who thought it was something else I am flattered 😉 This was all as result of forgetting my running undies. Also in the low column I have to include my 7 min pee stop at km 2, which only really became a low when I missed setting a PB by 2 mins, and yes I know it was a training run but come on it would’ve been nice.  And a non race honorary high has to be the excellent craft beers we spent the two days after the race sampling.  So there we go medal number 1 check.

Medal #1

Medal #1

Medal number 2 came as I mentioned from the grand opening of our local Running Room and their 5k Spring in your step race. Now this was a “semi sorta” race, the roads wouldn’t be closed and their would be a ribbon cutting ceremony before the race. The ribbon cutting may not have been so bad had it not been freezing cold and I wasn’t wearing short shorts (who does? I do) and a tee-shirt. On the plus side as the only idiot in shorts it did make John Stanton, the founder of the Running Room, come and chat to me and commend my spirit (think he meant idiocy). When the race finally got under way we burst out of the start line running hard for at least 50m before we were stopped by a traffic light, this stop start continued for the first kilometer, it was actually cool as I was able to catch the front runners for a second at least. The race then proceeded to do laps around Queens Park before heading back to the store/finish line for pizza and cake. It was a really well organized little race and shockingly even with the lights I set a new 5km PB at 22:24.

Medal #2

Medal #2

Final race of the week was Around the Bay, you know the drill 30k oldest road race in North America, blah blah. This was the race I really intended to race. As seems to be the way with this race, at least in my experience, it was the perfect day for a race – sunny and cool. My plan had been to take off around 10 mins from last year and try to get this done under 2:45.  Out of the gate I was going too fast but it felt good so I decided to run on feeling and not worry about planned pace.  I had a great run didn’t need to take on any calories or water which was great validation to my nutrition plan (or lack of nutrition plan), as always the volunteers and Hamilton residents/spectators were fantastic. So in the end I managed to take nearly 21 mins off last years time and set a 30k PB.   Then it was off for post race beer and pizza with Melissa and Steve.

Timing chip #3

Timing chip #3

So there we have it three medals in eight days, in hindsight the 7 min bathroom break did prevent me from making it three PB’s in a week, but that would have been a weak PB.

Busy week.

Busy week.

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Around the Bay 30km Race Report

2013 Edition – It’s just running.

Dan loves this race, he says it’s his favourite early season race.  I always finish saying never again, but then I do.  In 2011 we ran slow encumbered by our too big packs (or at least Dan did I don’t know what my excuse was), in 2012 Dan wanted to go fast and I just wanted to run without pain, Dan ended up sticking with me because I apparently “sped off”, but at least I was pain free.  So that brings us to 2013, Dan once again wanted to go fast and I’m trying something new this year in that, I don’t race every run I enter, especially the ones meant to be a training run.

Dan and I parted ways before the start as he got himself into a fast corral and was allowed to start closer to the front, I had to walk around the back like majority of runners but I was ok with this, I was going to take it easy.  I had no time goal, I just wanted to run consistently, push a little (not coast along comfortably) but not care about my time.  I was presented with my first challenge of not caring about my time while I tried to get a little closer to the start, you see I’m an eavesdropper, I can’t help it I have excellent hearing.  So the first place I stopped and thought “I’ll start here” I over heard the ladies behind me talking about how they were going to take their time and were hoping for a four and a half hour finish(!).  I don’t like to judge, but I hope they were walking, which spurred me on to move up just a little more and then just to be sure a little more, I stopped when I reached someone wearing last years Boston Marathon jacket.

I can almost see the start line from here.

I can almost see the start line from here.

When we finally did get going it only took 5 minutes to cross the start line and then of course we had to sort ourselves out, but I refused to get sucked in and race ahead of the people who really should learn to seed themselves better, I took my time and just ran along passing when convenient.  The first kilometer would be my second slowest of the whole run. Let me tell you about my slowest, it was just after I passed the 8km marker.  I had found myself pacing off a girl in a great pink top and moving so effortlessly it made me want to cry, there was also a guy in green hat that seemed to be moving comfortably so I kept my eye on him for good measure.  I had just settled in and was ticking along when I heard a strange noise, sort of like warning bells.  And son of gun would you look at what happened next.

A freight train.

A freight train.

Yup a train.  Here’s the interesting/scary part, my initial reaction was laughter, I mean it’s just running, right?  My second reaction was one of horror as I watched people in front of me and even beside me try to sprint to beat the train, people were ducking under the barriers!!  The police officer standing by was screaming, the trains horn was on constant blast, and all I could think was that poor train driver doesn’t need this in his day, people it’s just running.  As I approached the barrier but stayed a safe distance back (you never know what could come flying off a fast moving train),  I was astounded by the people who were pushing past me and even going under the barrier to stand between it and the train.  I mean seriously, none of us were going to win, none of us were even in contention for the fast times medals, it’s not like this race is some sort of qualifier, relax, it’s your life/safety versus a few minutes off your time.  Once again my eavesdropping kicked in and found it so entertaining to listen to people’s frustration.  Some people wondered why the train wasn’t stopped – because the whole world doesn’t stop for 11000 people to run a road race on a Sunday morning in Hamilton, sorry.  Didn’t the RD consult the train schedule? – um, I wouldn’t know where to find a freight train schedule and again what was the RD going to do about it?  Ask the world to stop so 11000 self absorbed people could run around Hamilton on a Sunday morning? Sorry no.  And then there were the people bouncing and running on the spot, really?  Just take the recovery, there is still 21 and bit kilometers to go, IT’S JUST RUNNING!!!  For anyone interested this what a 5 minute train stop looks like;

Guess where train part was.

Guess where train part was.

Anyway once that “horrible inconsiderate train” finished, people took off like the race gun went off.  I stayed cool and just carried on looking for pink top girl (thank goodness I decided to stalk someone where a pretty top) and sure enough I found green hat guy too, so I just followed them as we re passed all the people we had passed in the first few kilometers.  I have to admit I kind of liked getting stuck by the train, first I like resting, second there was only a small pack of fast runners in front of me.  As we rounded a corner to where a big group of people were cheering I felt like I was in the lead (sort of), the crowd erupting in cheers (they probably wondered where the heck we all were) and the next aid station we passed was sort of tidied up and was ready for the next wave of runners.  This is where I lost pink top girl.  I guess she wasn’t running as effortlessly as she looked. So it was just me and green hat guy as we glided by the eclectic homes of Beach Blvd (no bacon station this year 😦  maybe with the gap in the runners they thought it was over and went inside…).

We finally passed the 15km relay exchange (half way!) and over the scary grated bridge, I’d still like to see a barefoot/vibram runner get over that, there is never any around when I cross. Then it was onto the rolling hills of North Shore Blvd.  I love this section, lots of supporters and lots of rolling hills, I lost green hat guy, he apparently does not like hills.  One of my least favourite parts of this race is when you go by the 20km relay exchange, especially if you are a slower runner, because at this point you’ve got some cocky jacked up guy who is annoyed that the first legs of his relay have done so poorly that they speed off at a sprint, it’s tough because it’s a narrower section of road and well, I’m jealous of their fresh legs.  But this year took the cake when some jerk almost knocked over an amputee runner (who was running the whole 30km), I mean seriously, IT’S JUST RUNNING.  But then I noticed something odd in the distance…

A beautiful butterfly to draft off of.

A beautiful butterfly to draft off of.

I immediately wondered if it was the guy who ran dressed as the helicopter last year and made it my mission to sneak up on him and ask.  It was.

Finally we passed the high fiving dwarf and made our descent down Spring Gardens Rd and up the “dreaded” Valley Inn Rd hill (which I don’t really think is that bad but I do have a preference for hills).  Onto York Blvd and the home stretch, high fived the Grimm Reaper and then ran into the days best cheering squad.

Melissa, Steve and Jake (he is the one trying to chase all the runners)

Melissa, Steve and Jake (he is the one trying to chase all the runners)

It’s always so wonderful to have people come and support you, Melissa was a little shocked that I stopped to hug them, but again I like the rest and it’s only running, they took time out of their weekend to come and cheer for us, the least I could do was stop and say hello.  Alright I was kind of getting excited to get finished and get my medal, so I decided to push the pace for the last 2km, it was at his point that I overheard someone saying to the their buddy, “push we can still make 2:45”, huh?  I hadn’t looked at my watch since the train incident, hmm it would be close but why not go for it.  So I did, and realised I really need to do some speed training, or something, running fast hurts.  I blew down the coliseum ramp and elbowed out some guy to cross in 2:50:12, doh, that is nowhere near 2:45.  Ah well, it’s just running.  But wait!  The train! My guess was a 5 minute stop….and the chip time says…2:45:26 (good for a 7 minute PB).  But hey, it’s just running.

Another for the hoard.

Another for the hoard.

DC Marathon Race Report

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

Last Saturday Dan and I ran the Rock n Roll DC Marathon.  We decided to use the race as a supported training run and weekend city break.  Having never been to Washington DC I thought it would be a great way to tour the city.

We went from the airport straight to packet pickup, the expo was chaotic, but I was impressed by how quickly we managed to get our bibs and gear check tags, we also got the chance to figure out the metro system to get back to our hotel.  I was a little nervous about the race as I really don’t like big marathons, there was 30000 people registered, this included the half-marathoners, the course layout had us all run to together for 12 miles before the marathoners would split off.  Unsurprisingly I didn’t sleep well the night before despite this being a training run (and to be fair every time I say I’m going to use a race as a training run I always end up racing it), so I had my typical pre-race grumpiness going on during our walk to the start line.  Once there we were met by hoards of people which did not help my mood.  Bag check was disorganized and took way too long, once we found our start coral we queued for the 6 porta potties provided (for 1000 people) so we ended up not using the bathroom before we started (to be honest I didn’t really need to go, it’s a psychological thing to use it before you start a four hour run).  There were a lot of distressed people freaking out about missing their start times, I was happy that we weren’t concerned with our finishing time.  By the time we advanced to the official start, it was getting light and I was starting to get excited.

The start line.

The start line.

Off we went on our tour of DC.

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

There was a lot to see, so I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of everything.  About 30 seconds after we passed the monument Dan told me we would have to stop at the next bathroom because he really did need to pee.  So 2km we stopped, for 7 minutes to wait for the bathroom.  Luckily it was right by a pretty good band that turned pop songs into punk songs.

Picture of the band while I waited for Dan.

Picture of the band while I waited for Dan.

Next we almost entered Virginia via the bridge that leads to Arlington National Cemetery but we just went around the round about.  This race prides itself on being run within the DC limits.

Bridge to Arlington

Bridge to Arlington

There was also the Lincoln Memorial from the back.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Then we approached the “big” hill at mile 6, I like hills and was disappointed at how not big it was.

I don't know if it has a special name like the one in Boston, but there were a lot of people cursing it.

I don’t know if it has a special name like the one in Boston, but there were a lot of people cursing it.

After the climb we ran through some very cute neighbourhoods, very English looking at times.  We both commented on how well received and supported this race was, there were spectators all along the course.  I especially enjoyed going by the fraternity houses and guessing who hadn’t gone to bed yet.  They were troopers, offering beers and good cheer.  Then suddenly we were headed back to the centre.

Capitol Hill (we actually ran by this numerous times.)

Capitol Hill (we actually ran by this numerous times.)

Then we split from the 25000 half marathoners and carried on our way.  This building reminded me of the one from Back to the Future movie.

The scene with the clock and the car...it's been awhile since I've seen it.

The scene with the clock and the car…it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it.

Then I spotted something familiar.

The Canadian Flag

The Canadian Flag

Out of all the beautiful buildings in Washington, our embassy seems to be in the least inspiring.

Nice sentiment, ugly building.

Nice sentiment, ugly building.

After running a weird loop de loop, we ended up  by the water.

Lovely river running.

Lovely river running.

Then things got a bit ghetto, like for real.  Houses were boarded up, no one was around, and I’m pretty sure if something happened to you nobody would every find your body.

One of the numerous sketchy yards we passed.

One of the numerous sketchy yards we passed.

It didn’t help that we both had some rough patches along this stretch, but eventually things picked up.

Some energetic cheerleaders.

Some energetic cheerleaders.

The road finally turned towards the finish, of course it was uphill and around a bend, I saw a bunch of advertising flags and thought that was the finish but no we had turn a sharp corner and then we were done.

The medal.

The medal.

I was annoyed because all the half marathoners drank the free chocolate milk, I really like chocolate milk.  There was beer left though.

Free "ultra" beer.

Free “ultra” beer.

It wasn’t milk, I didn’t finish mine and Dan wouldn’t finish mine which mean this beer is gross.

All in all our race went well, I didn’t race and we came in at 4:19:48, just over Dan’s marathon PB (if only he hadn’t needed to pee!).  I would recommend the half course to everyone the marathon course was a bit meh.  It was obvious that the race directors put more effort into putting on an amazing half marathon over the full.  We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and checking out some of the sights that we missed.

We saw someone returning from a run while standing there, we have decided it was the President.

We saw someone returning from a run while standing there, we have decided it was the President.

Reflecting Pool

Reflecting Pool

Winter, you almost broke me.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, that is mainly because I haven’t had anything positive to write about.  Mother Nature has been kicking my butt all winter long.  You start to question your sanity when you are running for 2 hours in -20C with a freezing wind that is always in your face no matter what direction you run in.   I was beginning to question why I bother since I was no longer enjoying myself, but then yesterday happened.

It was warm (at least above 0C), sunny and snow free.  Dan and I “free-styled”, no planned route just run and see where we end up.

Crossing the bridge, still some snow on the hill in the park.

Crossing the bridge, still some snow on the hill in the park.

Dan took me across the bridge where we usually access the Don Trail, I’d never been across the bridge, I rarely run east of the Don Valley Parkway (unless it’s on the Taylor Creek Trail).  My one attempt of running east of the Don Valley ended with me getting a little lost, being chased by a junkie (who was faster than he looked) and finally having to stop another runner to help me get away from said junkie and back to my side of the “tracks”.

This pub has my maiden name! and really good food and beer....

This pub has my maiden name! and really good food and beer….

The old Don Jail

The old Don Jail

So I put my brave face on and went for it, and I was rewarded with a fabulous 30km run that was inspiring and rejuvenating.  I feel like I’m ready to get serious about my running again.

Kew Beach, eventually there was a boardwalk but we did some sand running too.

Kew Beach, eventually there was a boardwalk but we did some sand running too.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

While I may have been slacking with my running I have been getting stronger.  I started boxing twice a week for 90 minutes, I sweat like I’ve never sweat, I hurt in places I didn’t know I could hurt, it turns out I do have abdominal muscles and if anything I can attempt to box the Mogollon Monster should we meet.

I’ve also been going to yoga once a week, I’m terrible at it.  My instructor is very supportive and tries to remain positive, but I can see it in her face when I have to ask for help in the modified positions because she is at loss as to what to do with me.  I don’t hold it against her, I mean it must be hard as a teacher to watch a student never improve, and really who can’t do the modified positions?  Me.  But I always feel good when I leave and I’m even trying to incorporate a little at home so maybe someday I will finally be able to bend.

I have been planning my running season for this year too, this is what it looks like so far;

DC Marathon, March 16 (weekend break plus long run!)

Around the Bay, March 24 (I don’t know why I keep doing this one)

Pick your Poison 25km, April 27 (Never done before, always nice to try something new)

Bear Mountain 50km, May 5 (Yes, the Bear Mountain that made me cry, but I’m only doing the 50km, Dan is going to redeem himself on the 50 miles)

Sulphur Spring 100 miles, May 25 (I think I need to run 100 miles before I go back to Arizona, here’s hoping!)

Niagara Ultra 50km, June 22 (I love this race)

Limberlost 56km, July 13 (Love this one too)

Dirty Girls 12 hours, August 10 (Good night running practice, hoping to get 50 miles)

Mogollon Monster, September 28 (Redemption)

I’ve tried to stop myself from racing too much something I’ve been known to do, and I’m also going to be treating a lot of these races as training runs (I’ve said that before and then I run all out, but I really mean it this time!).

Oh yeah, also Dan and I are going to try fastpacking this year.  We picked up our new tent this weekend and took for a test drive in the living room.  Going to be awesome!

Working on my corpse pose in the tent

Working on my corpse pose in the tent

I don't know where Dan will be sleeping, that is my sleeping bag taking up most of the space.

I don’t know where Dan will be sleeping, that is my sleeping bag taking up most of the space.

This tent is so light and yet really functional, unlike the person trying to put it up.

This tent is so light and yet really functional, unlike the person trying to put it up.