Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rock and Roll Half-Marathon - Las Vegas edition

I keep meaning to post a race report, but I keep putting it off. Mostly because my computer is in its death throws, and isn't being very co-operative. Looks like I know what I'm buying myself for Christmas! 
Anyway background info - I won a trip to Vegas and race entry (initial post here).

At the expo I picked up some things, mostly because they were way cheaper than they are in Canada. We were lucky that we went early on Saturday (though I'd recommend going on Friday, since apparently a lot less people went through then)m because apparently they ran out of shirts later in the day!  It was crowded but mostly manageable. my skirt from Running Skirts didn't arrive in time, but I still visited their booth to see what they had. I did miss seeing SUAR though, which kind of sucked.
So on Sunday, to start, we made our way through to Mandalay Bay - we were staying  at The Excalibur, which was nothing to write home about, but really convenient after the race. We took the tram to Mandalay  Bay and got to the bag check, which went rather smoothly, then off to the first bathroom break. Line-ups abound, but everything was pretty smooth. That being said, we asked a volunteer how to get to the start and…he didn’t know where it was, so that was a little disconcerting. So, Plan B it was, which was follow the crowd! I did see people coming in to check their bag while we were going out...and with the crowds heading out, I'm not entirely convinced they got their bag checked in time. I guess they would have gone out with a later corral.

We got outside and saw lots of Port-a-pottys, and kept following the crowd until we reached the corrals, and ended up walking a bit to find ours, and we hopped in. The corrals weren’t really separated by anything, other than a guy with a sign that said “Corral X”, so the idea of corrals was a bit of a joke, since you could pretty much move wherever you wanted once you got in. Then it was a bit of waiting game. There weren’t any port-a-pottys near the corrals, really, which was a bit of an oversight, since it could potentially take a while to hit the course. I definitely wondered if running into the McDonalds near by would be faster than trying to get out of the corral and getting in line for a port-a-potty.
And…we are off! If, by off you mean a 15 minute wait to get to the start. In my inexperience of running larger races (read: I haven't done any), I thought that, eventually, at some point, we’d be around people running around our pace, and the crowd would clear out a little. Yeah, not so much in that respect, as we the entire race was spent dodging people. I ended up running with my mom the entire time, which ended up being a Good Idea, since at the end it was a little bit of a nightmare (more on that later). It was kind of neat to see all the people dressed up, and to run The Strip at night.
A little way in, the half and the full marathon meet up. For the marathon - there is this out and back into "the boonies" that is done, and I think I heard last year it was in the second half of the marathon - this year it was at the beginning. Where the marathoners were supposed to be was in about half a lane, that they had marked with traffic basically it was ignored, except when a race marshal came through on the bike telling people where they should be. Still, I felt for the marathoners, since the ones coming through were a bit faster than what the half-marathoners would be at that point (I think I was seeing 3:40-3:45 signs, and mom and I were around 2:15 for the half), so that must have been aggravating. As well, along the course where there were port-a-potties, they were only along the side where the marathoners were (which, makes sense since otherwise they'd be on the median). Still, hard to keep people out of that lane when they are looking for a place to do their business. We were going too fast, so we didn't see Kate Gosselin running (she was behind us somewhere, I think), so that was good, I think.
First water stop we reached, the first table was basically empty, but there were some volunteers handing out drink…though it was kind of surprise what you would get, since they didn’t really tell you. I left it a bit late because of the crowds, and ended up missing the sport drink and getting water. And back to dodging people! The ground was a little wet around the water stops, and the combination of water/sport drink and cups was a bit slippery, so we usually walked through them, which seemed to work well. It appeared that the next water stop only had water...which would have been nice to know when I got my cup at one of the first tables...
Running the strip was actually really neat - there were a number of people out, and it was neat to see all the casinos lit up. Once you got to the far end though, it got a little creepy - no more casinos, and a lot less spectators. There were some large flood lights which helped for lighting, but it was still a little creepy. We run past the light show on Fremont street, and start heading back to Mandalay Bay. Sadly that was the only time I saw Fremont street during my time in Vegas, but it looked neat from where I was running past it. I think due to us running the race as a 'fun' race, and the face that a lot of concentration had to be put onto not running into anyone, we ended up eating our Gu's a little late. I don't think it really hurt us (again, since we weren't going for time), but it was sort of a surprise when I saw the mile marker and realized I hadn't eaten anything yet.
Coming back was sort of interesting, since we could still see people heading the other way - I think we were between mile 8 and 9, when we saw people hitting mile 4 heading out! I wonder how long it took for them to hit the start line...we also picked up a bunch of Gu's at the feed station, at least they hadn't run out. Somewhere on the way back there were people handing out free beer, which was tempting.
The bands were ok - I think they took breaks, because otherwise they'd be playing for 6 -7 hours straight from the start of the marathon to the cut off time (or there abouts). There weren't any that I loved, but it was nice to have music in stretches on the course, even if it is just a little while.
Now the end...that was a bit of a nightmare (as mentioned previously). First, you pick up your medal, but I don't think they had many spots for you to do this...and I heard they ran out at the end (that's just a rumour though)! So it was a 'little' crowded there, no draping it over you, or at least not for me - I was handed it...then they had photo spots available (sadly without the showgirls/Elvis who were available last year) so that slowed things down a bit too. Then the food tables...they didn't divide and conquer (read: put people into different 'check-out' rows where you could get your mylar blanket and food), they everyone trying to get stuff from two rows (one on either side of the walk they had us going down). Suffice it to say, it was really crowded, and difficult to pick things up and move in any sort of timely fashion. Also, the bananas were green. I got a little pinned against one of the food tables, which was annoying, but again, when you don't have that many places to pick stuff up, it was bound to happen. I got a bit chilled despite all the people around. At this point I was like "This is crazy!", but since I've never done a large race before I didn't really know if it was kind of normal (though my mom was also saying "this is crazy!" and she's done Chicago, Boston, Marine Corps). I mean, I was expecting crowds, but nothing near that sort of disorganization.
Anyway, finally we made it into Mandalay Bay and to Bag check. When we got there, it wasn't too busy, so we got our bags and went pee. The line was a bit slow now, since people were using stalls to change. I went pee in the bathroom and then changed my shirt in the hall, so I wouldn't be one of Those People. It was a little deceiving at this point, since it didn't look too crazy. Mom and I had some cytomax (the race drink. A little sweet for my taste), and a powerbar type thing and sat for a little while. Then we tried to make it out of Mandalay Bay...I should have taken it as a sign when I saw someone leaning over a garbage can that things were not going to get any better...
Talk about crowded! There was no real signage, and everyone was trying to make it to the shuttles/taxis...I think you have to get those at the front of the casino. It was a nightmare. Thousands of people in this giant hoard barely moving. I'm thankful neither my mom or I was hurt, or needed medical attention. We basically just held hands so not to lose each other and kept slowly walking forward. And we were lucky that there were no fires, as we'd be doomed. There was a brief internal debate whether or not I really wanted to walk to the hotel, or take the tram between Mandalay Bay, Luxor and the Excalibur, but walking won out. Despite being exhausted I'm glad we walked back. The crowd thinned out, and was moving decently - I guess everyone really was waiting for the shuttles/cabs/tram. Apparently things got even worse after we left - back check was crazy and the crowds were worse...which I didn't think was even possible.

If you are thinking of doing this race, I would strongly suggest doing it for 'fun' and not for a time goal - I found it too congested to have a decent time. If you are going for time, I would suggest perhaps giving a time (so you get put into a corral) that would be your "perfect day" goal...or maybe faster. If they expand as they want to, to 50,000 to 60,000 runners, and if the conditions I ran in were any indication (and we were dodging and having to slow down, and speed up all the time to get around people), it would be a hard race to PB in, unless you are much closer to the front.

I've read a couple of articles on line recently about people getting sick at the race, possibly from the water. For what it's worth, I drank the water and was fine. And without knowing the average percentage of people that have GI issues during/after a race I can't really say if the number of people affected by something during the race is more or less in this one (for example the Corning half marathon is capped at 1500. If 1% of the runners are sick after, that's like 15 people, as opposed to Vegas which would be more than 400. Just food for thought)  Anyway, as much as I don't want to suggest it, if you are worried, or have a more sensitive stomach, you may want to consider carrying your own. And honestly, given the craziness at the water stops, it may be a good idea anyway, regardless if you have an iron stomach or not.

I don't want to say don't run this race ever, but for me, unless I won entry, airfare, and accommodations again, I wouldn't run it unless it had at least a couple of consecutive years of things running really, really smoothly, and very few complaints.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vegas, Baby!

So, I'm heading to Vegas, which came as a surprise to me. It wasn't exactly something I had planned out - I just found out on Monday that I'm heading to Vegas and running a half. So...I guess I'd better start putting in a few long runs so I can at least finish the race with some pride. Apparently Kate Gosselin is running the full, and my first thought was "Well, at least I'm not running the full, otherwise I'd have to train enough to beat her".

The longer and less interesting story (but fills in the blanks of how I could possibly be heading to Vegas and not know it) is that the store that puts on a local race series has an awards night. Every race they put on, depending on how you place in your age group you get points. At the end of the year, the points are tallied and you can win prizes - cheques for the top 3, and I think a gift certificate for 4th, and a shirt or something for 5th, I think. Anyway, through some complicated system where how many races you run, and how much you fundraise you get some tickets in a draw to win a trip to Vegas and race entry into the Rock and Roll Marathon or Half marathon there. At the beginning of the night, I complained that I never win anything, and I ended up winning a draw prize of a shirt, so that was pretty awesome in my books. So, my name was drawn and I think the Paul made mention that at the beginning of the night that I had said that I never won, so I can't say that anymore. I'm pretty sure my mom and the other lady at our table shrieked a little when my name was called. I was pretty much in shock. I probably looked like a zombie. I'd say a deer caught in headlights, but I was moving, so that doesn't work.

I'm bringing my mom with me (racking up the bonus points before Christmas!). I figure there are a bunch of people I would like to go to Vegas with, but since I actually have to make some sort of attempt at running I want someone who actually will keep me from doing anything too stupid the night before/day of. There are some running friends that would probably be good to go with, but I had already told mom I'd bring her. It will be fun mother-daughter time! We don't have much time there, but I'm sure we'll get a bunch in.

Should be a blast. And I promise you won't read a new article about me tripping Kate.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Inaugural Wineglass half-marathon race report

Last Sunday, I ran the Inaugural Wineglass half-marathon in Corning, New York. My dad, my sister and I were all running the half, and my mother was running the full. I finished with a PB of 1:48:48 or so.

This is me crossing the finish line. Notice the emergency poncho on my wrist and my T. Rex arms.

We picked up our race packets, which had a wineglass, and sparkling wine in them, and went to the expo. The expo was small, but nice. When we went it wasn't too busy which was nice. I kind of wish they had more selection, but I can't complain overall. They did have a variety of different things, just not what I was looking for.

The weather come race day wasn't that great - I think it was somewhere between 5-8 C, which is pretty darn cold, and rainy. There was some wind as well, but at least that wasn't too bad. I ended up wearing shorts and a long sleeve top, and I'm not convinced that was the best choice. The people in the half were really lucky. Our start was near a school, which they opened up for us to wait in, rather than having us wait outside, which was fantastic. We ran into a group of people from Ottawa, and a couple of friends of my dad's so that was pretty cool. My sister and I embarked on a potty search (at this point we couldn't get to the toilets in the school and we had to go outside to the port-a-potties), where we found some with a line and walked around to the other side of the school, where we found more. Unfortunately, because it was early, and because it was cloudy, you really couldn't see well in the potties. Anyway, we did our business (on the way to one set, we saw a guy that apparently just gave up looking and peed against the school. Classy), and went to find dad, to get to the start. We wandered around the school, found the now open area of the school where the bathrooms were, ran into my dad's friend, who pointed us in the direction of our dad, and then found dad. He hurried us outside to find the baggage check (we were momentarily stopped by the national anthem), and threw our bags on the truck and made our way to the start line. The start was delayed about 10 minutes; I found out later it was because the marathoners weren't all lined up. Apparently they were dropped off about a mile from the start and had to walk! At the start, I began with an emergency poncho on, which I kept on for about a mile or so and then took off and tied around my wrist, as I had the mistaken impression that I would actually use it again if necessary (I didn't). I think the issue was that it was too wide, so every time there was a breeze it turned into a sail, so I didn't really want to put it on again. I should have grabbed a garbage bag from the lady at the front desk of the hotel. Oh well. Anyway. Running. It was wet and cold. The water stops were really well run - no issues finding the gatorade or water! One stop had Coke! And apparently somewhere there was a guy handing out 'sunshine in a cup' aka beer. I didn't see him though. Which is too bad because an alcohol insulation layer would have been nice.

The first 15 km of the race went really well. I felt relatively good and was hitting my revised pace (I didn't think I was going to run between a 1:45 and 1:46 half marathon in the conditions, so I was aiming for between 1:47 and 1:50). I didn't feel too cold and my feet weren't soaked. I probably added on a bit of distance avoiding puddles, but it resulted in my feet not being soaked so I'll take it. There were a lot of people out too, for the weather. I was surprised to see people out in their lawnchairs with umbrellas, or pulled off the highway to watch. So that was totally awesome. I think I saw more people out in the rain and cold, than I see in the local half marathon races when the weather is nice! I accidentally missed the first water station I was going to eat at (read: scarf a Gu), so I ended up doing that a little late, but I don't think it hurt me too badly.

From 15 km-17 km I could I started to get a little cold, I think because my shirt was soaked, and just clinging to me, so the cold, wet never went away. I think that constant cold began to slow me down. Every kilometer I had to remind myself to start relaxing my shoulders because they were creeping up, and to swing my arms, because I was running with 'T. Rex arms" (as my sister puts it). My T Rex impersonation was not helping me run, unfortunately. At kilometer 17, I felt, what I thought, was a blister forming on my left foot. I had run in my shoes, and socks because and I didn't have an issue, but I think the wet took its toll on me and my feet (luckily though, nowhere else. I lubed up pretty well with BodyGlide, but you never know when it's rainy what is going to happen). I ended up slowing a little over the last 4 km, partly because my ankle was aching, and partly because I think my body was just getting tired. At about 1 km to go I chatted a bit with another runner, who had stopped (cramp in his calf) and had just started up running again, and how we would remember this race forever, and how we would make people think it was more hard by telling them we ran the course backwards (the race is a net downhill), in the cold and rain.

It was a really nice finish in downtown Corning, and there were lots of people on the streets cheering, which was nice. I finished the race with a PB of 1:48:48, got my medal and met up with my sister (who finished ahead of me and also PB'd with 1:46:51) and grabbed some chocolate milk. Soon after my Dad finished at 1:49:47, and we went to get our bags, and get some food. The food at the finish was fantastic. There was hot chicken soup which I mainlined about 3 bowls of, pizza, cookies, and the regular fair of bananas, apples, bagel, and yogurt. There were also some Gu's that we could pick up and some bottles of Powerade which we also took some of. We then treked back to the hotel to shower and warm up before seeing my mom finish.
My medal and my race number
 So we arrive at the hotel and I take off my shoes and socks, and I see, what I thought was a developing blister during the race, was actually a blister that had broken, and I was bleeding. Actually, when I took off my shoe, it looked like I had a gash across the back of my foot, just because of the way the blood had dried. As my sister and dad took their showers, I cleaned up my foot a little, and tried to get the blood out of my shoe.  Then heat, glorious heat in the shower. My ankle hurt like a motherfucker, with all the sweat/salt running over it, and I notice I had some chaffing on the top of my other foot, but other than that, there wasn't any, so I was pleased about that. Dry clothes, and back out to the race.

We saw my mom finish and then went to find her after she got her medal. And looked...and looked...went to the bag area, and looked...still no mom. Went into the food area...still no mom. Went back to the finish...still no mom. Split up and looked around, I picked up her bag and stood there, probably looking like an idiot, but it was getting muddy around the bag area, and I figured I'd see her coming. Finally we find her...she was in the medical tent! She was cold after the race, and was directed in there, got a couple of blankets and was near a heat lamp (if only I knew that after I finished...). We went back through for more food, and went to check out the results, mom won a shirt for finishing 3rd in her age group and...I wasn't there. No record of me finishing the race, nothing. So that was a little...stressful. I talked to the race director and the timing people, who took my name, bib, and approximate finishing time (I didn't have my Garmin on, and didn't have the exact time I thought I finished at). I figured that would be the end of it.

We had a lovely dinner that night at The Gaffer Grille and Tap Room - the place was pretty busy. While we were on the search for restaurants, we noticed that a lot of them were closed on Sunday, and despite there being a lot of people in town for the race...they were still closed. So the places that were open were really busy.

We got back from dinner and checked the online results and...still no Lauren :( I checked Facebook, and it looked like some other people had the same problem, and the race director said that they would fix it. I think it was an issue for quite a number of people; between the full marathon and the half marathon there were over 500 people that were listed as DNF. Some of those were people that did not start, and some that actually didn't finish, and some people, like me, that did finish and had a defective chip. Fast-forward three days, and I get an email from the race director saying that they have tentative results, and to see if you are there. I'm still not there. I e-mail back and they say that they are following up. On Saturday, there are new results and...I have a finishing time! My Garmin clocked me at 1:48:46 (gun time), and they have me at 1:48:48 (gun time), but I'm not going to fight over 2 seconds. I was just happy they were able to accommodate me. My time didn't have me place overall, or even in my age group, but it was a personal best for me, and it was really frustrating and disappointing to not have an official result that said that much, when I finished the race.

It is a really well organized race overall. The water stations were well organized, the food was great and again, with the timing thing, they worked hard to fix it for me. There were more people out than I had expected to cheer us on, so that was pretty awesome. I had heard some people in the half found some kittens (that I think someone had abandoned), on the race route, and picked them up and handed them off to some of the people watching the race, which is so awesome! The medal is really nice - the half one is a purple-y colour and oval shaped. I think it's pretty nice.

There are a few things I would like changed though. At the start, it wasn't immediately clear where the bag check was, I think because a lot of us were huddled inside. If we were all outside, it would have been fine, but unfortunately, because we weren't we had no clue where it was. We were lucky our dad knew where it was (it was a big U-haul truck or something), so we could get to it immediately. We likely would have found it on our own, but it was a lot less stressful to know that someone knew where it was. When picking up the bags, they were on the ground, outside under a tent thing (those ez-up tents). They had moved the food into a nearby parkade, so I'm not sure why they couldn't moved the bags in there as well. The ground was wet, so they got a little damp inside (especially the marathon ones, I expect), and the area got muddy after a while. The other thing that would have been nice was a scanner thing to ensure that the chips were working. I had attached mine to my shoe as instructed, so I'm not sure why it wouldn't have worked, unless the weather affected it or something, or if it was defective from the start.

Still, overall I thought it was a great race, and hopefully, if I run it again, the weather is a little nicer.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I've decided running clothes/shoes are too expensive, and I should be sponsored. Of course the problem with this is that I'm not very fast. But! I figure that since I'm not fast, in races - I'm in the pack, so more people are actually around me and can be like "Man, I really need to catch that girl in awesome top/shoes/skirt/shorts. I wonder who makes them?" Ok. People don't actually think that during races (I don't think they do, anyway), but still, more people around me, unlike the leaders who are way out in front, who the pack never sees. So, they should sponsor me because more runners will see me. Of course, the other problem is that I don't tend to wear a lot from one brand, and I'd be fired from being...a sponsoree. But still, I'm all for free stuff, and running stuff gets expensive.

Also, I feel it is necessary to link to this open letter to non-runners by Lesley @ Racing it off, because...word.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On being a 'runner'

Think of this as the obligatory "I consider myself a runner because..." post.

When I am actually running (i.e. when I'm not taking a 10 year hiatus from running), I've never not considered myself a runner. It's not because I enter races (even though I do), and not because I can run longer distances (which I do), not because I place overall, or even in my age group (because I don't). It's not because I train a ridiculous amount to not place in my age group (which I think is true, but that could be my lazy side speaking), or the speedwork, and drills I do.

It's because, despite the bitching I do about speedwork, running in heat and humidity, running when it's -25 with the windchill, and runs over 20 k, and despite the complaining I do about waking up at stupid o'clock for long runs, and the fact that I can't go out as late, or as often because of running, there is nothing I'd rather do. Even though I bitch and complain and don't place in my age group when I race, I still love to do it. Because sometimes I have one of those perfect runs where the weather is fantastic, and I feel fantastic, and the run is over before I know it, and it's awesomet. Because even though I don't place in my age group, I am getting PBs/PRs, which is just as good (although does not get me free socks). Because I've met some fantastic people are just starting to run, and some that have been running for ages. Because when it comes down to it, I enjoy it.

And that's why I'm a runner

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Race Strategy?

First off, training is going well, though on occasion still humbling. I had a tempo run on Tuesday that I ran with another girl (doing a tempo run) and a guy doing an 'easy 5k' which...yeah, kind of humbling. Still, the run did go well, if tiring. I'm not really looking forward to my run on Friday though - I have a 15k run with the last 10k at goal pace :( I keep having to tell myself it will be good long term. Another thing I'm not looking forward to? 30k on Sunday.

I have a race coming up in a couple of weeks - only a 5k which is kind of exciting. I'm not fabulous at 5k races so we'll see how it goes. I'm thinking I may just run this race balls out (that the technical term for it) and see what happens - I've never run a race where I'm completely spent at the end - mostly I try to pace for even splits or so, but sometimes when I'm done, I think I could have done better. So I may be employing the strategy of elementary school runners, which is basically to run as fast as possible (ok maybe not as fast as possible, but faster than I have been doing lately in races) as long as possible and hope that I make it to the end. It's only a 5k so what's the worst that can happen? There's no way I won't finish, it's short enough that I don't think that will be an issue barring some sort of injury, so I figure it's as good a strategy as any (if you can call it that).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Upcoming race.

I'm about a month out from the half marathon I'm doing this fall (wineglass half marathon), which is kind of exciting, as I only have a handful of long runs left until the taper. Yay for not having to be up at 6 am to start at 7 am for long runs on Sunday! Personally I think I'm more excited about being able to sleep in a little on Sundays again. To be fair, I'll probably only sleep in until 7:30 or 8:00 but still! I may actually get to have a life on Saturday nights! My family (minus my brother) is going to the race (3 of us doing the half, and 1 doing the full), so that will be neat. I'm hoping to run it with my sister, but we'll see. She primarily does triathlons now, and is super fit, but hasn't done any really long runs (as in >16 km) so I'm not sure how it will go for her. I'm hoping to be between 1h 50 min and 1h 45 min, which I think is doable. Well, the below 1h 50min is pretty doable, since my last one close to that, but we'll see how close we are to the low end to my goal.

One of the things I do have to get better over the next year, is to complete all my runs during the week. I tend to skip at least one of them, and I'm probably not helping myself by doing that. I guess it's something to work toward. I figure if I want to get faster, I do have to commit the time, even if it does eliminate some of my downtime. One of the things I do want to start up again is yoga - I did a lot of hot yoga in the winter, but got out of the habit when the weather got warmer. I suspect because who really wants to do hot yoga when it's already hot and humid outside? Anyway, the extra stretching during the week will help, I think, since I'm crap about stretching after training runs.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated

It turns out, I'm more lazy about blogging than I am about running, and I can be pretty lazy about running.

So since May...I've had a couple of races - an 8 km one which was hot, and hard, and a 5 km one the other night that and hard. Although I was smarter at the 5 km one. I didn't really race it, I went fast, but I didn't push myself and while yes, I probably could have been faster, I probably would have been more dead at the end, so overall, and probably more disappointed in my time (since with the heat, I probably wouldn't have been as fast as I would have liked anyway). The 8km race was terrible. I started a bit too fast, but I never got a rhythm going so it just ended up awful.

I had a 20km training run today that...went. Never thought I'd say 7:30 am isn't early enough, but I think next week, barring a break in this heat wave, I'm going to have to start earlier, to have a few more minutes in less hot temperatures. It always amuses me when people say how nice it must be for running, now that summer/good weather is here, since in my mind I'm like "uh, not so much", since it is usually hotter than I would like for running. Oh well. Still, overall things are going well.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Forest City Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran my second half marathon - it was one of the local ones. I ran it with my dad (well, most of it - at about 15km he told me to go on if I felt ok, so I ended up going...) Unfortunately, the weather gods weren't exactly on our side. The beginning was a little cold - I ended up asking the volunteers in the food tent at the end for a garbage bag (well, two one for me and one for my dad) so we could use them until the start of the race to stay warm. Thanks guys for the bags!

The course was pretty hilly so it was hard to put together a really steady pace, but overall, I think the race went well. I finished at 1:51:47 - which was about 9 minutes (yes, minutes) faster than my first, so I'm pretty stoked about that. I saw a lot of familiar faces out there either watching the race or volunteering, which was pretty awesome, especially considering the weather. My mom was volunteering at the finish line, and gave me my medal (again, pretty awesome!). The rain held off until I was done, which was a bit of a relief - when it started to sprinkle a couple of times, I could tell I would be freezing if the rain and wind started in earnest. There was a 10km race that started at 10 am (after I had finished) which would have been brutal to run in - it was pouring by then, and the wind was chilly!

I was surprised to see a lot of people wearing the race shirts during all the races. I am kind of hoping they had on something underneath, because with that rain, it could have been...painful afterwards, not to mention cold. And heavy.

Ok, and now for a rant -
I should mention that the race shirt for this one, was a cotton shirt (black with purple writing), which I haven't received as a race shirt for about 10 years (at least). I'm not entirely sure why cotton was chosen, but I was disappointed, not just because it was cotton, but it didn't really feature the race logo prominently and the shirt wasn't in what I would have considered the race colours (white, green and purple). Even if it was green and purple on black, I could have at least understood. I understand that you can't please everyone, but I can't imagine loads of runners would have wanted a cotton shirt. I know I don't tend to wear my race shirts much, but at least the technical ones, I'll wear running on occasion (especially the long sleeve ones), but cotton? I've only used those ones when I have painting, or gardening or something. And for other things, I'm all for cotton. Just not for a race shirt. I feel badly for the people that didn't register early, because for a registration fee of $65 (or $75!), no expo, a cotton shirt, and a couple of food tickets for after? Of course, at least they knew it was cotton. For those that registered early, I'm not sure if it was even listed. I dunno, I was hoping it was going to be....prettier, I guess at the very least.

Perhaps the race should have rotating I don't know what you call them. Like one year have socks - technical socks, obviously. Everyone uses socks, have the race and year along the top. Hats - they had hats one year as an age group prize, and they were pretty awesome. They were nice technical ones, that, had I won one, I would have worn either on runs, or when I was out for walks in the summer, or gardening. Shirts - technical ones. Obviously. Over the past few races, I've noticed a lot of people seem to like to wear the shirts on race day (during the race, even). Myself, I'd rather know I'm not going to have chaffing issues from anything, so I don't like to wear anything new on race day, but to each their own. Now, if you are one of those people, I can't imagine wearing that shirt running, period.

Friday, April 22, 2011

5 km race

So race day today! It was a 5km downtown for a local women's shelter. Huge turnout for a local race - almost 600 finishers. Which made the start a little...interesting. We have a corner shortly after the start, and after that I ended up having to first edge my way to the outside to run wide for a while until I got past the wall of runners I was behind. I wasn't super pleased with that, since I started near the front so I could avoid being boxed in. But after that stretch, the race went fairly well.

The weather was ok. I mean, a month ago I thought it would be warmer, considering it was the end of April, but it was around 2 C, and around -2 C with the windchill. And you could feel the wind in some areas! So that wasn't awesome for the time but...I did run a PB/PR/whatever we are calling it now of 23:47, which is 2 minutes and 51 seconds faster than I ran this course last year. So that is pretty awesome, I think. Turns out training does help, who knew? So I'm pretty stoked about that, even if the weather wasn't great. I do like running in cooler weather, but for the end of April this is a bit ridiculous. I also want to point out some of the potholes that tried to eat me. Ok, not really, but if you didn't know they were there, you could get tripped up by them, I'm sure.

One of the things I do have to work on a little is getting better and keeping a steady pace. My attention sometimes wanders during a race, and I slow down a little, but I'm pretty good at catching myself when it does happen.

Anyway, overall, a pretty good race, I feel. I'm hoping I can bring the time down a little at the next 5 km race, but we'll see! The next one I'm running is in the middle of the summer, so the humidity will be in play.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another week and another run

The running is going well. I had a 25km run today which was...long, particularly after having such a short run last week, but honestly? It felt really good. It wasn't too hot, and it was partly cloudy so the sun wasn't beating down on me for the entire run. So yay there. My legs were starting to feel it over the last 5 km but overall it was a nice run. It's always nice when the weather is good and the body is feeling good for the run.

Anyway, I'm hoping it continues to get warm, and I can finally bring out the spring clothes and put away the tights and long sleeved tops.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Something, a year ago, I never thought I'd say: "It's a short run today, only 10 km"

When I started running (again) last year, I never thought I'd be running as far as I am now. Then, I thought the longest I'd be going might be 15km for a training run and that would be it. Then I had this stupid great idea of running a half marathon, and ever since then I think my idea of 'short run' has been kinda skewed. That being said, it was totally awesome to only have to run for about an hour. Despite the semi-recent snowfall, and the fact that it was still -10 or something when I had my run this morning, it was sunny and not windy, so the run felt really nice.

Anyway, overall the running is going well. I am (hopefully) getting faster, so my race times will come down this year, which will be awesome. I have dreams of being fast, but then I realize all the work I'd have to put in, and I don't really have the time, or more accurately, I don't want to put in all the time to get really fast. Maybe if I win the lottery. I should, however, get in all my runs each week, and stop cheating - I usually miss at least one of them per week, and I shouldn't because it's not like they are long or anything. I'm just laaaaaaaaaaaaaazy. Hopefully when the weather gets better (seriously, it's the end of March and it's still below 0C? Not amused, here), I'll feel more like running. Well, until it gets stupid hot and humid, and then I'll have the same problem of getting out.

In unrelated news, I'm almost...half done my afghan. My ridiculously expensive afghan (made with shepard bulky weight by Lorna's Laces ). It will be soft and warm, and I love it though.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Race day! And how to ruin a perfectly good race by losing things

So today is the first day of the race series that one of the stores in town puts on. The weather was...ok. The race I was in was a 10k - and at the start is was drizzling a little, which wasn't fun for those of us that wear glasses, but temperature-wise it wasn't bad. The footing was suspect in a few places thanks to potholes, and slush, but overall the race went ok. I felt pretty good about my time at the end (51 minutes and change, the reason I don't know the exact time is coming up later), though I wish I was faster, but I felt good during the race, so that was good. And I placed in my age group and won some socks so that was pretty sweet.

However, upon my return home I found out that I lost my Garmin Forerunner 405, somehow. I got changed there, since sweaty bras are cold bras when it's below 0 C outside, so I know I took it off. I remember thinking that my bag was pretty full, so it'll likely eat the battery (since more than likely it will turn the light on and press buttons), but who cares, since I'm just coming home anyway and can charge it. So I was pretty confident it was in my bag when I left the race. So now, rather than being happy about the race, having a decent time, and placing in my age group, I stressed out about losing my Garmin. I called the store that puts it on, and the place where it was held so now it's just a waiting game (for it the turn up, or for me to break down and buy a new one, whichever comes first). And I feel stupid, because it wasn't cheap, so I should have made sure I had it before we left, but I was so sure it was in my bag that I never even thought too double check. I dunno. Mostly I think it's the money down the drain if it isn't found (and returned), that bothers me. I suppose on the plus side, it's completely useless if you don't have the charger for it, so I'm hoping someone will turn it in.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm ready for spring

So, I figure I ought to write something, if for no other reason to let people know I'm still alive. The running is going ok. I'm finding it a lot harder to get the long runs in (well the full distance of the long run), when it's winter than when it was spring/summer. Mostly because I get tired of running in minus a million degrees Celsius week in and week out. But I have to start buckling down soon, so I'm trying to mentally get myself ready for running 20k (in a few weeks it's 25k) in cold weather. I'm hoping it will be a bit warmer when I have to do that. I have to give props to the people that are training for Around the Bay and Boston right now, because I'm not loving it. I like cool weather - Fall and Spring are good for me, but winter? After a while I find it grueling, I don't know if it's just the cold, or the combination of the cold, the footing, and the lack of sunlight that makes the long runs feel long.

Anyway, I hope everyone else is having good runs!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What do you do when you run into jerks on your run?

I help out at a Learn to Run clinic at one of the running stores in my city. I enjoy seeing people improve and people that say 'hey, this is something I want to do for me', and admire that they want to come out and get into better shape. I think it takes a significant amount of guts to come out and try to get into shape, particularly if someone has not been terribly active before.

After our last run, a bunch of us were talking, and we talked about jerks that we come across when on a group run with the Learn to Run groups. Not people in the group, but when we are out and there are people saying stupid things, or to imitate us running (I guess that's what they are doing anyway). And it bothers me because the people I'm running with are working really hard, and worked really hard to get where they are, and to have people belittle that is beyond frustrating. Most of the time it's something that people can shrug off, but one of the girls that also helps with the group was saying that when she was running with someone in the summer some jerk said "pick it up fatty" when they went by, and she had no clue what to say. She did talk to the woman she was running with, but I think that's one of those things that would be difficult to just ignore and shrug off, and it's hard to respond to in the moment. And while I can say that she's probably doing more for her health than this jerk, and that she is doing really well, and working hard, and she's accomplished a lot, I think if you're starting out, it's hard to believe that. I think it's easy, after you've been running for a while, to forget how hard it is when you start, and how you need that support group, and it's easier to shrug off jerk-y comments, when you're comfortable and confident with your abilities, but, it's a lot harder when you're just starting and your run is just a little faster than what some people walk.

So my question is - if you've ever run into a jerk when runnning, what do you do? What did you do when you were first starting - did it bother you? Did you shrug it off?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New year, new goals

So, if you've heard any rumours, I'm not dead. Since my last post, not much new has really happened.. Christmas came and went, and I ran a couple times with my dad. I'm back on track with running which is good - being in a group again helps, and I'm running with the Learn to Run group (I'm a group leader person), which is nice. I find it motivating to be running with people that are learning. And hey, if people that are just starting to run can get out in this weather (lake effect snow, frigid temperatures, regular snow, wind), than I should be able to, too. Plus it's so catching their enthusiasm to be running - which is really helpful for me since I was in a bit of a funk.

I bought a pair of Vibrams (the bikila variation) - the store I had to get them from just had a shipment come in on Christmas eve, so I picked up a pair, I think on the 27th. I haven't actually gone running in them, or even gone outside in them. There's actually someone in my running group (not the L2R group, a different group) that has a pair he's been running in, in the winter, but I haven't yet. I'm planning on pulling them out when it gets a bit warmer, and start walking in them, and then maybe do some of my short runs in them. At this point, all I've done is wear them around my apartment.

The new long distance running group I'm in seems to be working for me. It's run by a person in one of the local running groups, and she seems to be a good coach for me. Lots of information and drills which are new for me, but in the long run (no pun intended), will probably be good for me. And she's helping me fix my stride a bit, which will be good long term as well. And I like that I have a personalized schedule. The only thing I don't like is that they don't meet to do long runs together, what with everyone doing different distances, I guess. But for me, that's one of the most useful things about running in a group, because long runs are easier when you have someone to run with. At least, I think so. But! never fear, my dad has agreed to run with me, at least for now. I run to my parents place, and then we do a run together. So far it seems to be working. And it's nice to be running with someone. So today I did 15k (13.5 of those with my dad) in one of the parks here - the paths are groomed and they are actually in better condition than some of the sidewalks so the footing was pretty good. And there were lots of people out running which was nice to see. It felt ok. The times weren't very steady, and some of that was me, but also was a bit dependent on the footing, wind, and when we took our water breaks (since I didn't stop the garmin). All in all, though, despite the temperature - 9 C (16 F) and the windchill of -17 (1.4 F) the run went pretty well. Yes it was long, and in parts windy and bitterly cold, but overall it felt good, and that's all you can hope for in the winter, I think.

So the goals for this year are basically one goal - to knock some time off my times from last year. The first race of this season is coming up at the end of February, and I don't think I'll be much faster in that race - not due to distance (it's a 10k), but because of the footing. While everything is plowed (or rather, most places are plowed) winter seems to slow me down because even with yaktracks and everything else, I do slip a little if it's not clear road. So we'll see how it goes. But I'm hoping to get my 10k time under 50 minutes (ideally between 45-47 minutes, but we'll see), and my 5k time under 25 minutes (I want around 22 minutes, but again, we'll see what happens). And for my 1/2 marathon time to be around 1hour and 50 minutes. I have a couple (possibly 3) this year, so hopefully through the year I'll get faster. Here's hoping to a good year, and an injury free year!