Monday, 18 November 2013

Richmond HM race report

This story starts with a forgotten Garmin. We had just started our 1000 km trek to Richmond (literally just went around the block) when I realized I forgot it. Turned around, got it and shoved it in the front pocket of my suitcase. 

The forecast on race day called for the showers overnight to be clearing by the morning. During my stumble to the hotel lobby in search of coffee, it was still raining. 

My husband's 8K started at 7 am, so the plan was to leave at 6:15 and find some breakfast beforehand. As we tried to leave the hotel, we had a hell of a time getting out..WHAT? the race goes right by the hotel? So breakfast-acquiring time turned into try-to-navigate-the-road-closu
res time. Then OH SHIT I FORGOT MY GARMIN! There was no way we were going to try to make our way through the road closures again, so it was apparent that I would have to race Garmin-less. We got to the race start and miraculously found a parking spot a very short walk from the start line. At this point it was pouring rain. I was thankful for my space blanket, which kept my body mostly dry as I headed off to find Mitzi, who was at a hotel a few blocks away. Thankfully there was a Starbucks, and I bought coffee cake and finished it about 30 min before race start. Usually I finish breakfast at least an hour before a race and have lots of time to digest beforehand. The hotel was filled with runners and I couldn't help noticing that in general the women were dressed far nicer than at Canadian races, lots of colourful skirts and cute socks. 

Upon hearing that I forgot my Garmin, Mitzi was nice enough to let me wear hers and even change the settings to metric so I wouldn't have a nervous breakdown from seeing my empty wrist and having to pace in miles. I went to the side to drop off my space blanket and a last minute bush stop at the exact moment they called for our corral to move up. OMG! where was Mitzi? fortunately she is super tall so I was able to spot her in the crowd. 

The race plan was to run 5:40/k and then gun it on the downhill for a finish just under 2 hours. 

The first 10K of the race was uneventful. Light rain on and off. I was wearing my dollar store socks for arm sleeves and was a bit warm, but not warm enough to want to toss them. Ran past the hotel and I wished for the millionth time that I had the superpower to mentally summon the Garmin from my suitcase. 

10K split - 56:05. 

The course had occasional mild rolling hills that were not bad at all, but probably due to eating the breakfast cake later than usual, I was feeling mildly nauseous. Took a 10 second walk break and a couple kms later took another walk break, after which I told Mitzi that I didn't care about sub 2, I just wanted to run an easy pace, not feel like crap, and enjoy myself. 

Then something strange and miraculous happened. After I gave myself permission to slow down, the nausea subsided and sub 2 pace suddenly felt manageable. 

The grand finale: 

(stolen from Richmond Marathon FB page) 

Have you ever seen a finish quite like this? For the locals reading this, it would be the equivalent of running down Chedoke. 500 m of nearly uncontrolled ass over teakettle running and then trying to screech to a halt at the bottom. 
Flying down the final hill. Weeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! 

Mitzi and I at the finish. HM #15 complete. See I wasn't lying when I said she's really tall. Or maybe I'm a midget. 

Official chip time: 1:59:03 
Pace: 5:39/kilometer 
Field Placement: 2441/7740 (31.5%) 
Age group: 35 – 39 
Group Placement: 190/744 (25.5%) 
Gender Placement: 1116/5024 (22.2%) 

But the real purpose of this trip was to meet up with my fellow supermoms, an amazing group of women that I've known for 3+ years. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Road2Hope HM race report

So doing 3 half marathons in 6 weeks (4 total in fall 2013) seemed like a good idea at the time.. 

After all, I was only racing 2 of them! Except that those 2 were 2 weeks apart. 

Fresh off my Scotia non-PR, I got caught up with a lot of people returning to their gym routines, threw down 2 quality strength workouts and 1 week post Scotia, my legs were still not recovered. 

Ran the bare minimum in the week leading up to R2H, getting a bit tired of the old weather forecast stress, compound that with dropping race day temps that led to frantic group messages flying around FB: 

"skirt or crops?" "long sleeve or short?" "I need to find throwaways, AGGGH!" 

The skirt brigade once again carpooled to the race, Sam scored a really sweet parking spot steps from the finish line and caught the bus up the start. One of my gloves fell out of my pocket during the bus ride and when I panicked, Emma had picked it up for me. I also left my sunglasses on a bench in Nathan Phillips Square after Scotia and Emma picked those up for me too. Clearly I have my shit together. 

I'm not sure if it was the change in start venue or if there were more participants since the last time I ran R2H in 2011, but the community centre was absolutely packed. I was trying to find my friend Brandon - he described himself as a tall skinny white guy, super easy to find at a race ;) - in the mob. Krista Duchene walked by us camped out in the hallway and I was too starstruck to ask for a picture. Went into the gymnasium, where the runners sitting, lounging, stretching on the floor instantly reminded me of the hospital scene in Gone With The Wind: 


After shedding our super sexy throwaway gear and clambouring up the muddy slope to the driveway, the race started. I loved how the pacer signs had balloons on them, they were so easy to spot! Emma, Amy and I started right behind the 1:50 pacer. Surprisingly, the crowd thinned out very quickly, aggressive weaving wasn't really necessary. 

5:13, 5:15, 5:09, 5:12, 5:16 

I had a custom pace band from tazrunning, a site recommended by my friend Jessica. The plan was to run the Red Hill VERY aggressively, and maintain around a 5:18/km pace the rest of the way. So we were a bit fast... 

4:56, 4:46, 4:58, 5:08, 5:20 

We turned on the firepower heading down the ramp onto the Red Hill. We were aiming for anything faster than 4:55/km. Hit an unofficial 10K PR (51:11). Then inexplicably, the really slow 2K. It felt fast still, but I think the combo of the headwind and the highway flattening out at the bottom caused the slowdown. At this point, we were still ahead of the 1:50 pacer, who was supposed to be running even splits. 

5:16, 5:19, 5:26, 5:05, 5:28, 5:30 

Coming off the Red Hill was the part I'd been dreading the most: the trail. I don't mind the weird bricks they have lining the road during long runs, but the angle of the hill plus the bricks makes it a real momentum killer during races. The only silver lining was that the bottleneck that I was worried about didn't materialize, despite the narrow path. Don't remember why those 2 splits were so of them I took an 8 second walk break and then probably the wind got annoying, we lost the 1:50 pacer. There was a girl who wanted to latch on to us and have a conversation, but I guess she thought we were bitches, since none of us were exactly running at a conversational pace. Saw a guy with a very large hole in the butt area of his tights, that was a bit of a distraction. 

5:19, 5:21, 5:20, 5:09, 4:59 

Home stretch, coming into super familiar beach path territory. Most of this section I was chasing Emma and Amy but Amy, having WAY fresher legs than Emma and I, made a break and was a few metres ahead. At one point, she looked back and Emma and I screamed, "GOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" At this point, I knew sub 1:50 was out of reach, but damned if I was going to let stupid mental games deprive me of a PR. With 1K to go, I was thankful that it wasn't an uphill like at Scotia and again I remembered my track workouts and dug in. I didn't even notice the collapsed runner being resuscitated just steps from the finish. 

Official chip time: 1:51:10 
Field Placement: 631 / 1750 (36.1%) 
Age group: 35 – 39 
Group Placement: 53 / 148 (35.8%) 
Gender Placement: 242 / 1005 (24.1%) 

So...I will rethink my race plans next year, as I am certain that I could have achieved sub 1:50 had I not raced Scotia 2 weeks prior. I am not too upset over not having punched my card to magical Corral C at ATB, as I know I'll have Amy and Emma to keep me company with the masses in the open corral. 

Burlington Skirt Brigade + Nicole, post race. 

One more race in 2013 - Richmond HM on November 16th! It will be a relief to run easy after these 2 races. 

And a footnote - I usually am not hungry after long races (weird, I know) but I was staaaaaaaaaaarving yesterday. 

This burger is called the Slum Cat Millionaire - Grilled eggplant, tomato, red onion & curry mayo. And a side of POUTINE. And a Caesar. It disappeared in less than 15 minutes.