Filed under: Fitness Swellness

Fitness Swellness: 2018 Global Energy Race race recap

GER solo

On Sunday, I ran the Dempster’s Global Energy Race for the second year. (Disclosure: I partnered with them to promo the race; this recap is for my personal running journal hereon the ol’ blog!).

So, how’d my race go? Well, it was a little disappointing; while I know I’m not in shape for a 10k PB (my training focus is endurance since I have the Chicago Marathon coming up next weekend—did I mention I’m anxious about it? And that I learned and gained a few things this training cycle?), I was hoping for a better time than the Ultra Night Run a few weeks ago.

Although the weather was not nearly as hot as last year’s Global Energy Race, while I was happy to see the temperature was 10 Celsius when I got up that morning, by the time the 10k started at 10:30, it had warmed up a ton. I knew that the fact that I was waiting for the race to start wearing my shorts and a tank and that I was perfectly comfortable meant the race would be a hot one. I should’ve run in only a sports bra on top, but at that point, I didn’t have time to go leave it in the car. Oh, and I also wore the wrong cap! I grabbed my stuff together quickly and this new cap, I didn’t realize it’s not a lightweight one for working out, but rather a heavier fashion-type cap. As evidenced here, it’s soaked in sweat! I spent much of the race thinking, “Don’t think about this heavy, running-inappropriate hat on your head in the hot sun!”

GER selfie

Pretty much as soon as I started the race, I could feel that my legs were tired, not fresh and rested. I’d planned to run it as a tempo, and I found my focus drifting off several times and sure enough, I’d glance at my pace, and I’d be a good 30 seconds slower than I intended to be, and I regularly shifted back to that pace on and off throughout the first 8k.

Then at 8k, after shifting places with one guy a few times through the race, I was fed up with being slower than him (because to be frank, he didn’t look like a runner…) and I picked up my pace for the last 2k. And then I sprinted to the finish. Or what I thought was the finish! I slowed after crossing the first blue mats…only to realize there were more mats ahead (I’m usually pretty conscious of making it over all the timing mats before slowing down  why are there so many, does anyone know?  but as I said, my focus was off that morning).

GER with Bimbo

I ran a 50:19, much slower than my fastest 10k from several years ago. Still, I placed 3rd in my age group out of 34 women; 17th out of 156 women; and 66th overall out of 318 participants. That’s alright. I wanted to finish in the top 10 women based on my 2017 GER finish, but ah well. Next year!

GER with ice cream

After the race, there was a ton of food: burgers, hot dogs, french toast, hummus, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, ice cream (which we’ve got very happily in hand in the pic above, first race I’ve been to with ice cream avail!). And a swag bag including a towel, socks, Sanissimo crackers (which I’m addicted to), and a bag of Takis (think spicy corn chips sorta like Doritos but rolled up). And there’s the cute mascot, Bimbo, who was dancing and posed with so many of us runners after the race.

So GER post-race is great. As is of course the grand prize of a trip to Madrid that went to the top male and female 10k finishers (congrats Robert and Melissa!). And the fact that a food donation is made to a local food bank!

I do wish the race would start earlier. 10:30 is a late race start, which would be fine if the weather weren’t warm, but having the 3k start and finish earlier and us 10k runners racing in warmer temps isn’t ideal. Another improvement? Race kit pickup. It was only held on Saturday so I made the trek to the Beaches to get the kits for me and my friends (and got there just as they were about to close up at 4 p.m., and there were a few other people who scrambled in after me  clearly, more race kit pickup hours would be better for some of us!). The alternative was picking it up at the race but it closed at 9 a.m., and our race was only at 10:30.

All and all, a fun race, and I’d recommend this as a fun, small race to add to your race roster. Maybe I’ll see you there next year, I’m determined to finish with a better standing!

 

Leave a Comment September 27, 2018

Fitness Swellness: 5 things I’ve learned training for the 2018 Chicago Marathon

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As I mentioned last week, this training season for Chicago Marathon has been rough. And I’m not feeling like it’ll be a strong race for me. I think I’ve run enough marathons to have a good sense of what I can expect from my body. While I don’t think I’ve gotten strong enough physically, I feel like my brain has been working against me, so I’ve been working on looking at the positive aspects of this upcoming race. Because otherwise, I fall into thinking, “Why bother?” with completing the race if I won’t PB. And that is not the right mindset when running 42.2 kilometres!

So, here’s what this Chicago Marathon and this training season has going for it when it comes to my running goals:

  1. Chicago Marathon is where I do well racing the 42.2k distance. I’ve run it twice before (in 2017 and 2014) and these are my two fastest marathons (and that’s even with the intense heat we had for 2017’s race). I remind myself of this all the time.
  2. I discovered NRC Guided Runs thanks to Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran adding a few to my training sched, and they’ve improved treadmill training by making them less boring. I avoid the treadmill as much as possible as I find it about as dull as Outlander (don’t @ me) but having the coach talk me through each interval in the NRC Guided Speed Runs helps to break up the workout nicely. The one with Kevin Hart and Coach Bennett (remember when he told me I needed psychiatric help for running two races one week apart, haha) had me laughing.
  3. I’m getting better at replacing dreading runs with being grateful. When Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran heard I dread each long run, she reminded me that a lot of people aren’t able to run, and I know how awful I feel when I’ve been told to lay off of running (due to issues like my formerly overactive thyroid, or not being able to wear contact lenses).While those long runs in nearly 40 Celsius weather this summer have been grueling, I am thankful to be injury-free and physically capable of completing runs short and long. “To be honest, I’m jealous,” said a friend who’s taken a break from running about me running Chicago.
  4. I now think “fun” not “fast.” In the NRC Guided Run Run with Mo, Mo Farah instructs you to think not about going fast, but having fun, I now make a deliberate effort to think that when I do speed work. Rather than repeating, “This is freakin’ brutal and my heart feels like it’s going to explode and I can’t possibly run harder or faster,” I think “Let’s have more FUN.” I can’t say it works entirely (it still hurts to push hard through a tough workout and I know I really just need to try my best to hit the pace I’m aiming for), but thinking “fun” helps to shift my focus into a more positive space.
  5. Running gives me quality time with Billie Jean. I’ve been mostly training solo, which can be draining. But with my work schedule and travel, and with me not being a morning person (which is when most run crews run), the flexibility of running solo is often what works best for me. To help me make it through long runs, I usually run 22k alone and then pick up my dog, Billie Jean, for the last portion of my run. She’s run as long as 14k in the past with me, but with the intense summer conditions, I limit her distance to be on the safe side.

A friend who’s completed Ironman gave me a little pep talk the other day, too. She reminded me that even if Chicago 2018 isn’t my best marathon, it’ll help me prepare for future marathons, I can use it as an opportunity to experiment (whether I want to use a pacer or not, for example, in future marathons when trying to BQ) and that even if it’s not my best time, I’ll know what my current marathon time is to gauge my fitness level going forward. And last but not least, she reminded me that I may just surprise myself and it’s possible that every element comes together (nutrition, rest, weather, gear, mental state and crowd support), and I may just BQ.

I may BQ. It could happen. After all, in 2014, I was less than two minutes from BQ-ing and I totally didn’t expect to finish with that time (I’d anticipated finishing about 13 minutes slower!).

Plus, I have an excuse to go get a killer manicure again.

It’s only a crazy dream until you do it, after all. That’s what I learned at the Just Do It HQ Chicago I visited last week. And besides, PB or BQ or not, there is some very rad Chicago Marathon Nike gear this year.

Nike Chicago Marathon 1

Nike Chicago Marathon gea4

Also, while at the Just Do It HQ last week, I got the chance to customize a Chicago Marathon tank, which I will wear proudly after the race (once I’ve earned it!).

Nike Chicago Marathon tank

Leave a Comment September 24, 2018

Fitness Swellness: 3 reasons I’m anxious about the 2018 Chicago Marathon

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I’m about nine weeks into training for the Chicago Marathon and why’s it taken so long to post about this? Well, in part because training takes up a lot of time (leaving little time to blog…) and because I’m pretty nervous about this race.

This time around marathon training snuck up on me. A few months ago I’d talked to Nike Canada (one of the race’s sponsors) to explore whether running this race again would be possible (I ran it last year and in 2014) . Before I knew it, the race was three months away and boom, I met with Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran, and I had a three-month training schedule and had to kick things into high gear immediately.

For my personalized training plan, Brittany chatted with me about how I’ve trained thus far for the 11 marathons I’ve done, and asked me about my goals for this race. My goals (A, B and C) are all to PB.

When Nike sent me a magnet detailing my three months of training, with my goals boldly printed on the top, I started hyperventilating. Seeing it in print, with an intense schedule of training, well, shit just got real. I texted a few friends “Goodbye, see after October 7!” since it appeared I’d be doing nothing but running for the next three months.

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When I had a chance to have a more careful read of the training plan, I realized it wasn’t that much more in terms of frequency than my training last year. Brittany’s training plan has me running mostly five days a week. She’s made some of the recovery runs longer than the ones I added in 2018. She also has my longest run, this week, at a distance of 34k (up from the usual 32k distance I’ve done in the past). In addition, she’s made some of them a little tougher (a few of the long runs, I’m to pick up the pace at the end, for example).

I’m very much a realist when it comes to most things. Perhaps that makes me approach things with less of a lofty, optimistic view, but that’s just how I think I’ve been wired. Is this a Capricorn thing?

In any case, my A-goal is to PB with a time that will guarantee I qualify and get into Boston. My B-goal is to meet the BQ standard. C-goal is to marathon PB (my marathon PB is from Chicago 2014).

And here’s the thing: right now, with three weeks to race day, I don’t feel like I can PB. There, I said it.

3 reasons why a PB feels out of reach to me:

  1. I’m basically going from couch to marathon. Typically, I maintain a certain level of running fitness year round, regardless if I have a goal race. But this winter and spring, I ran very sporadically. Then right when I was going to ramp it up and train consistently for the Lululemon 10k race in Toronto, I caught a cold and flu that knocked me out for three whole weeks. Then, finally well enough to run again having recovered from the flu, my eye doctor ordered me not to wear contact lenses for two whole weeks. I’m too nearsighted to run without lenses and running with my glasses would be very uncomfortable and awkward with my prescription so I took those two weeks off of running. Five weeks of no running meant I was a starting from zero. And I still haven’t gotten my strength and pace up again to what I used to run.
  2. My marathon training schedule is three months-long. I usually train using a four-month training plan. It wouldn’t normally be as much of an issue if I were in good shape to train over three months (…but see point #1 above regarding starting from scratch!).
  3. This summer’s brutal heat and humidity has drained me both physically and mentally. It’s been an incredibly hot and sticky summer. I know it affects everyone’s training, but if you’ve ever seen me exercise, I sweat a lot and am miserable when drenched in sweat. The conditions mean my runs are even slower and difficult than ever and I just spend a lot of the run thinking of how unhappy I am in that moment. What have summer weekends consisted of? First I spend a lot of time dreading the long run I have ahead of me and then the rest of the time I am feeling sorry for myself in a pool of my own sweat as I pound the pavement. I even cancelled plans to play tennis one weekend because I’m done with drowning in a pool of my own sweat all the time.

I know this isn’t the optimistic, I-can-do-it post that’s fun to read. But this is what the reality is for me right now. REAL TALK, that’s all the rage now, isn’t it? 

I swear this isn’t just pre-race jitters…I’ve thought this for weeks now, and runs that I think should feel effortless are still hard work.

On the bright side, I have learned a few things and can recognize the silver linings, too, with regards to training for Chicago 2018, and I’ll post about that in Part II of this blog post.

Are you running Chicago this year or another fall marathon? How’s your training going?

 

Leave a Comment September 18, 2018

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