Monday, 19 October 2009

The pregnant lady's still got *some* zip - Toronto Marathon 5K race report

I should have realized that the course, being out and back on a route that goes towards Lake Ontario in the first half would be UPHILL on the way back. When I figured this out, I knew a negative split was never going to happen so I gunned it on the way down and just tried to not slow too much on the 2nd half. 

My time was 29:06.6, not spectacular by any standards but all I wanted was to finish this race under 30 minutes, so I am happy. Also, I still finished WAY up in the pack. 

Field Placement: 486 / 2557 (19%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 29 / 237 (12.2%) 
Gender Placement: 188 / 1622 (11.6%) 

When I went to get the medal engraved, they didn't have the official times posted yet, so I had them put '19W3D' on it, as a pregnancy memento. 

Monday, 28 September 2009

Give some love for the pregnant lady - STWM race report

For the first time in my entire life, I slept like the dead the night before a big race. I guess it "helped" that on Thursday night I got 3 hours of sleep (thank you DH for coming home at 12:30 am), then on Friday I was up from 4:15 am to 11:30 pm and Saturday up at 6 again, no nap on Friday or Saturday. 

Race morning dawned gray and cloudy and I brought my sexy garbage bag "dress" in the car and put it on when it began to rain. Fortunately, it was just a quick shower and done by the time my parents dropped me off at the race start. 

I have to admit that I commited a running Cardinal Sin - I wore a brand new top that I bought at the expo on Friday at the race! My original plan was to wear my Awesome Shirt but when that didn't ship in time, I had to dream up something else. This is so shallow but I didn't want to wear the same shirt as I did in Ottawa. I saw these tanks from Robena [ ] with a matching long sleeved shrug. The tank has a large pocket in the back like a biking jersey to store the shrug, perfect for a morning that would start off cool and warm up. 

I was surprisingly not nervous at the start, considering I was shaking like a leaf in Ottawa. I had a little talk with Cheeto while standing there: 

"Mommy is going to take you for a LONG ride today, please behave yourself for the next few hours." 

I looked back at my race registration and saw that I had signed up exactly 4 days before I found out I was pregnant, so I was assigned to a faster corral than I was planning to run but did not change corrals at the expo. Not wanting to be a d-bag, I ran the first km a bit faster than I had planned, just so I didn't get killed. 

The first half went very smoothly. I think the real adventure began when the course split from the HM and took us into the desolate industrial part of Toronto known as the Port Lands, scene of the Poop Fiasco a month ago. I had taken 2 extra strength Tylenol when I got up and they wore off around this time. My sciatica did not flare up, but my hips! oh my hips! they wanted to detach from my body and go on vacation somewhere warm and sunny. So I popped 2 more Tylenol (still well under the maximum limit of 4000 mg) and the pain became tolerable. 

One of the course changes was the elimination of the Leslie Spit, where I ran the Poopy 30K. It's windy and even more lonely than the Port Lands, plus the terrain is as unpredictable as you can get. The new course goes through The Beaches, where there are lots of restaurants with patios and a Starbucks every 100 m, so there were lots of cheering crowds. There was this one particular group of about 5 people in this area giving high fives...when I went by them, I yelled, "GIVE SOME LOVE FOR THE PREGNANT LADY!!!" which garnered even louder cheers. Went by a church that had the BEST signs out front, "Is there a patron saint of blisters?" "Even atheists pray at mile 24." Wish I could have snapped pictures of those signs! 

Once I passed the halfway mark, I broke down the race by counting down the kilometres until I would see mom, dad and Greg, who were planning to be at kms 30-35 (right across the street from each other, out and back). That cheered me up a lot. 


...and going... 

I brought 5 gels, with the strategy of taking one at kms 7, 14, 21, 28, 35..but It Happened around km 38 - I hit the wall, HARD. I guess Cheeto was causing me to burn more calories and the water stations with Gatorade were not coming soon enough. I tried to think about making it through the next 10 minutes since I was doing a 10/1 run walk ratio, but I was walking. A lot. Time for a change in plans, fast. At this point I was still on pace to finish in 5:00 or maybe even a bit faster..the strategy turned to SURVIVE and FINISH. There was no question of DNF, not with my hip/glutes feeling decent and 4K left to go, I just had to make it to the finish line somehow. 

Made the final turn and it's 500 metres to the finish and still I cannot make myself run. I finally did with about 150m to go because I will NOT walk across a finish line...base goal achieved! Finish upright and smiling. And smile I did. FINISHING A MARATHON IS THE GREATEST FEELING IN THE WHOLE WORLD. 


For everyone who encouraged me and believed in me and cheered me on in person and in spirit, this is for you. 

For everyone who told me, "you can't run a marathon, you're pregnant!" and for those who think pregnancy is a time to be parked on the couch watching TV and eating junk food..well...I showed you, didn't I? emoticon 


Saturday, 11 July 2009

Future runner/kb-er making an appearance in 9 months or so!

I just got the confirmation today, haven't seen my GP yet so no due date. 

The BIG catch: 

I am registered to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on 9/27...I intend to continue with training. 

And if you have me as a friend on Facebook, I would appreciate that you not mention it there...I'm not ready to have my real life acquaintances know quite yet. 

If I don't sound THAT excited, it's because I'm still in a semi state of shock. 

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

This is why I don't run 5Ks very often

The pain, oh, THE PAIN! 

I only thought I was going to die the last 10K or so of the marathon. I thought I was going to die EVERY LAST SECOND of the 5K I ran on Saturday. Beautiful cool night, low humidity - a huge contrast to last year when it was 28 C at 9 pm with humidity so high you needed to chew every breath. 

The worst thing about this race is that there is no chip time, it's a big enough race to warrant paying for an extra mat at the start line! So Beth and I lined up in the 2nd or 3rd row and prayed we wouldn't get stampeded. 

It was so dark that I couldn't see my pace on my Garmin and I didn't want to waste time fiddling with the backlight so I just ran like hell! 

It was the closest I've ever come to puking at the finish line. I coughed so hard that I could taste blood! I was so wiped I spent most of yesterday napping and being a vegetable. If someone had told me 2 years ago that a 5K would kick my ass more than a marathon, I would be so dumbfounded that I wouldn't even be able to laugh. 

Last year's official gun time: 28:11 (old PR - watch time 27:44) 
This year's official gun time: 25:43 
Field Placement: 193 / 700 (27.6%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 7 / 71 (9.9%) - HIGHEST PLACEMENT EVER! 
Gender Placement: 60 / 430 (14%) 

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Ottawa Marathon race report

I was up and at 'em at 4 am. I grabbed all my gear that I had laid out the night before and headed to the sitting area of the hotel room to get ready. This is my everlasting dilemma: do I engage in the task of taping up my feet before or after coffee? It requires concentration to do it right and I am not awake before coffee, but I also need lots of time as it often needs to be done more than once. My parents showed up at our hotel room slightly earlier than the 6:15 we had agreed upon...I finished taping my feet around 5:45 and was still not done eating my bagel/PB/banana! 

Headed off to the start with Greg and my parents. It was already 15 C, so my throw-away shirt made it back home instead of on the sidelines as the race started. Thank you Ottawa city council for having plenty of bushes around city hall so I didn't have to line up for the porta potty. emoticon 
The marathon was the smallest race of the weekend (4200 participants), so the corrals were a lot less crowded than what I'm used to. 

This whole time, I'm numb...when the starting horn went off, and the crowd started walking forward, that was when the moment of truth finally hit me. 


First 10K was rather uneventful. The route took us past the Parliament buildings and over the river to Gatineau, Quebec. Around 2K a lady let me know that my skirt was once again, tucked up into my hydration belt. NOT AGAIN! The route had small rolling hills, but nothing major. 

At 10K, I saw Greg and my parents for the first time. 
At this point, I felt a small blister twinge in my left foot and decided to stop to fix it because the other choice would be to keep going and have that twinge become a MAJOR blister, potential DNF. Sure enough, there was a small wrinkle in the tape that I smoothed out. Around 12K the twinges were continuing so I stopped again, applied lip balm for lube, and my foot stopped complaining. 

Interesting things/people I saw during the race: 
- guy in a ratty old bathrobe at the start (good idea for a throw-away!) 
- a very young boy playing his quarter sized violin for course entertainment 
- group of elementary school children (obviously just starting with band instruments), playing Mary Had A Little Lamb with their teacher conducting 
- guy dressed in a gorilla suit (spectator, not runner) 
- volunteers scooping up cups with a hockey stick (how very Canadian!) 
- a sign that read, "athletic support up ahead" and a bra and a jockstrap glued to a board. You were supposed to grope the "athletic support" of your choice. 

Kms 15-20 was in a beautiful tree lined neighbourhood filled with stately old mansions. I ran in the shade as much as I could, figured I'd enjoy the coolness while it lasted. The support in the residential area was incredible...many families nursing coffee in their driveways, lots of young children to high 5, people with hoses to run through, people banging on pots and pans. 

At the half, we headed back towards downtown Ottawa, just as the elites were nearing the finish, so both sides of the road were thick with spectators. The cheering was incredible and I drew on that energy to refresh me and carry me through the 2nd half. I saw Greg and my mom again, as well as my SIL. 

The next segment of the race took us down one side of Rideau Canal. This part of the route coincided with the half route, so we were getting passed by the elite half-ers, who shouted encouragement as they went by. 

The Dirty Thirties 

Kms 30-38 were BRUTAL. A couple of long hills (but not steep, thankfully), semi-rural area (no shade) and ZERO crowd support as we headed beyond The Wall. Up to this point, I had been following the 4:45 pace bunny, but his 6:20/km pace was a bit too much for me to handle at this point, so I took more frequent walk breaks. 

The final stretch took us back up the other side of the Canal towards downtown and met up with the back of the pack half-ers. There was a guy and a girl talking, probably not realizing there were marathoners in their midst, talking about those "stupid and crazy marathoners". If I had had any energy left, I would have snarked at them. 

The last 10 or 12K, I was thinking a lot about my support team. I heard a flute/keyboard duo playing Bist du bei Mir by Bach - the song I walked down the aisle to! So it reminded me of Greg, but as for marathon motivation, not so much, as the lyrics translate to, "For you are with me, to my death and to my rest." 

A guitarist playing Running Down A Dream - that's for Nancy and all my Spark friends. 

I saw my SIL for the 2nd time at the 41 km mark, she was jumping up and down and screaming my name. At 40 kms, I was thinking, "only 14 minutes of running, DO NOT WALK!" but couldn't manage it. But I did think of something I said to a client, I told her I wanted to complete this marathon more than anything I had ever wanted before. I heard Beth, just like during the later stages of my 35 km training run, "PATTY YOU CAN DO THIS!" I also remembered why I wanted to do this...because I wanted to conquer running's ultimate challenge, the marathon! 

The last kilometer. The crowds were HUGE, and my parents and Greg were about 100 m from the finish. I crossed the line in 4:47:15, official chip time. I cried when the medal was put around my neck. 

Forever, no matter what happens in the future, I AM A MARATHONER! 


Field Placement: 2803 / 3579 (78.3%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 160 / 224 (71.4%) 
Gender Placement: 894 / 1344 (66.5%) 

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Through The Wall - 35 km training run

Started at 7:30 am on the first leg - 10 km by myself. There's a lift bridge along the route that is very busy this time of year. You don't want to get caught when there's a boat coming through because it takes about 10 minutes to lift and lower back into place. As I was coming up to the bridge, it was just lowering the last few inches into place. Heading back to the car, I was feeling pretty good when another runner stopped me - the back of my skirt was tucked up into my fuel belt! 

Head back to my car to meet Beth and have sport beans and water and lose my long sleeve top. It's unseasonably warm today (18 C at 7 am and currently 25 C at 4:45 pm) and it was humid. We start running and I feel the familiar blister tingle in my foot. CRAP. Fortunately we were running in the direction of my house anyways so decided to stop off at home and re-tape my feet. I didn't have my house key (locked in the car), thankfully my hubby was home but he didn't expect doorbell ringers so I rang twice and even bellowed from the driveway towards the bedroom window (in case he was still sleeping) for him to open the damn door! 

Our original plan was to continue running east through Burlington (lots of stores/bathrooms) but we decided stopping at red lights and running on the concrete sidewalk was not a lot of fun so we headed back to the beach...but there's another boat crossing the bridge so the course got altered ONCE AGAIN to run on North Shore Blvd., which is a series of rolling hills. There's a park where we stopped to fill our water bottles (once each way) and to wash the stinging sunscreen from my eyes...and finally I could let myself think, "this is the final leg!" By this time I was a bit dizzy and I said out loud what I believe every marathoner and wanna-be marathoner feels during the longest training run, "WHAT have I gotten myself in to?!" We walked up a lot of the hills but my Garmin showed the 34 km split and I said NO MORE WALK BREAKS! and found the gas to run the final kilometer. 

Then I dragged my sweaty butt to my usual post-run restaurant for some Vietnamese bun (vermicelli), because I needed food more than a shower at that point, and then home where my legs got a wonderful shot of cold water in the shower. 

All things considered, my feet are not that bad, one small new blister on my arch, and one on my 2nd smallest toe. I'm going to experiment with new socks. 

Obviously, I had a nap when I came home, or else I would not have been able to write this! 

Sunday, 29 March 2009

I suck at writing race reports - 115th Around the Bay Road Race


Oh Mme. Fingersandtoes will hate me for posting this pic where she has bad hair.emoticon 

Stepped out the door at 8:25 and it was pouring rain. During the drive, DH was saying stuff like, "ugggh, I hate to walk in the rain." (yeah and I have to run 30 km in it!) The place where I had planned to park was impossible to get to with the road closures and time was running tight so DH had to drop me off while he found parking and didn't manage to see me off at the starting line. 

Despite having gone to the bathroom 4 times between finishing my coffee and the start, I spent the first 10k thinking about peeing. I CANNOT deal with wasting 3-5 minutes of precious time waiting in line for the porta-potty! So I found a big tree, my running partner shielded me from the crowd and we were on our way again in under a minute. LESSON LEARNED: wear running skirt at the marathon and make like Paula Radcliffe! Much easier bathroom access! 

Kilometres 10-20 saw the rain let up. Main thing was keeping the pace SLOW. We'd find ourselves running 6:10/km and faster when our target pace was 6:30. Wind started to really pick up. 

The final third. Full of rolling hills, culminating in a 450 metre STEEP hill. I am strong on hills so my running partner was a bit behind me at this point. My goal was to maintain at least a 7:00/km pace on this stretch. As I hit the incline, I yell, "it's the moment of truth, let's go people!" and she yells, "GO PATTY!" from behind me. 

After The Hill, there's 4 kms (downhill) to the finish. Pass the cemetery and the Grim Reaper, who's actually smiling. At this point my legs are completely numb and moving on auto pilot but I will NOT let myself stop for a walk break with so little left to go in the race. I just missed my Reach goal of 3:15 with an official chip time of 3:16:20 and under due to my unexpected pit stop, but I am very happy with my performance. 

Here's me crossing the finish line. I love that look. I love the feeling of accomplishment.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

I reached all my goals!

Official chip time: 2:05:29. 

Start time was 10am, so I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to prepare. Temp was -7 C with a windchill of -14 and sunny. Normally in this kind of weather I'd wear wind pants over tights, but I would never do that in a race. 

My running partner and I ran most of the race together, we both had the same goal, sub-2:10. Pretty much even splits throughout. 

I revamped my music playlist for this race. No 'angry' negative songs, not too many slow songs. Every song was carefully chosen for motivational lyrics and I was determined not to let my mind wander halfway through as I have always done in past races. 

I really focused on the song lyrics and mouthed the words...except for 3 seconds when I sang along, "I'M ON THE HIGHWAY TO HELL!" heheh 

What really worked was being familiar with the course - I could gage in my mind exactly how much farther to go (the Garmin helped as well), and I knew the course was flat as a board. When I passed 20K at just under 2 hours, I knew I had a PR in the books but decided to really turn on the afterburners for the end. It's really sad to see people who appear uninjured walking to the finish! 

And I even surpassed my super-secret goal: to beat my running partner in a race! 

If you want to relive my race in super fast Garmin time, here's the link: