Tag: Boston qualifier

Fitness Swellness: Race report on the 2015 Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon


Am I racing too often? Am I just that out of shape? Could my thyroid be acting up again and making my muscles tire out? Do I just not want to PB badly enough? Is it the little sleep I’ve been getting?

These are just some of the questions flooding my brain ever since crossing the finish line in the Rock n Roll Strip at Night Las Vegas Half-Marathon on Sunday.

The weeks leading up to the race weren’t the greatest in terms of training. But I wasn’t stressed since I’d already completed my goal race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (so this half in Vegas was just an extra race I added on thanks to a work opportunity). In addition, one week after Scotia, I raced the Adidas #RunMore10k (another disappointing race), which left my legs sore for days. In that time, I also traveled to Jamaica and Southern California, which threw off my training schedule and diet while also making life generally hectic. On the plus side, these two trips did temporarily get me back on a healthier sleeping schedule.

But then came the night to pack for Las Vegas (three days before the race). I attended a gala for work and stayed much longer than I intended, and I got home, napped two hours and then got up to tidy up and pack and then I realized it was 7 a.m. and time to get ready to go to the airport. Complete sleeping fail.

In Vegas, the days before the race were fairly busy, and the day of the race I had to up at 5:30 a.m. to meet for an early yoga class (whoever had made this itinerary obviously doesn’t race or they’d know we need our sleep).

With the race starting at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15, we had a late brunch at Lago at the Bellagio and I was a bit perplexed as to what to eat (I’m more used to morning races where I know what to eat for breakfast). I opted for a macaroni carbonara starter and then a veggie frittata, both of which I didn’t finish as I was afraid of eating too much beforehand making me feel sluggish.

At 3 p.m. we were dropped off near the race start and made our way toward the lot where Kid Rock was performing on the main stage. A large line was forming, and I never found out what the delay was but for a long while no one was being allowed into the lot. Once we finally made it into the lot, we quickly checked our bags, used the portapotties and then realized we were at the very tail end of the corrals: we were in corral 47 and I was supposed to start in corral 7! So we started moving through the crowd slowly. I realized I was running out of time, though, so I started rushing and weaving my way through the crowd. I managed to get to corral 8 and settled in there rather than push through to corral 7.


My goal for the race was to PB if I could (I was thinking 1:50, which would call for a consistent 5:12 pace), and my B goal was to match my current PB of 1:52 (which I ran in the Nike Women’s San Francisco Half-Marathon last year). I figured in my recent marathons, I’d managed to reach the halfway point in 1:52, so going a bit faster for a 21.1k distance in which I don’t need to conserve any energy for another 21.1k should be fairly easy.

The weather didn’t play its part in helping me PB, though. First off, it was insanely windy, I believe there were wind warnings of gusts of 25 miles per hour. The temperature was low, too, but I was fine with the temp during the race since I warm up very quickly and sweat a ton. It rained lightly for part of the race, which I think upset some runners (“We’re in the desert!” I heard many runners complain), but it was quite light so I wasn’t upset.

I started at a slower pace (the route was slightly uphill) at about a 5:18 pace, but eventually was running several kilometres on pace or faster than 5:12…and then about halfway, I started to lose focus and just felt weary. I don’t even recall my legs feeling like they were exhausted, but it was more a sense of my heart not being into it, and I progressively became less enchanted with racing as my pace with each kilometre got slower and slower. I was also frustrated because this is a large race and I’d say a lot of the runners in it seem to be in it more for fun, dressed in costumes and whatnot. And while I’m all for people doing a race for fun, I do have issues with  runners disregarding the corrals they should have been in. The entire race I had to work my way around runners slower than me who had no business being in corrals 1 to 8.

When I reached the section where the marathoners break off from the half-marathoners, I’d never felt more appreciative to be running the half rather than the full. I shouted (in my head) a little whoop of joy. Making my way back down the Strip towards the Mirage where the finish line was, it seemed to take an eternity until I could make out the finish line. But finally, I crossed the finish line and knew immediately from the time on my Nike+ that it was a very slow race for me, nowhere near 1:52.


After making my through the extremely long finish chute and gathering a ton of food in my arms (her, race organizers, give us a bag to collect these goodies!), having my photo taken, changing out of my wet singlet and wrapping myself in a heat sheet, I stood shivering and listless. It was a long walk back to the Mirage, and I was frozen and cranky and didn’t want to walk alone. And so I just stood there, too cold to get out my phone to text my fellow runners. And somehow, iRun managing editor Anna Lee stumbled upon me. I was so relieved to see her and have company for the cold walk (and I was also cursing myself for bringing only a thin Nike Drifit long sleeve rather than a thermal winter top). We trudged together as quickly as our tired, cold bodies could take us back to the Mirage where our car would bring us back to our hotel.


Once inside the Mirage, I checked my time: 1:58:49 (which is just a handful of seconds faster than my Rock n Roll Las Vegas half in 2012). I can’t say I’m happy about this, but I take some comfort in the rest of the stats: I finished 147th in my division of 2576, 907 out of 14260 women, and 2843 out of 23070 runners. And there’s also this crazy good medal I earned (the slots flip!) and the insanely good nail art by Tips Nail Bar I got for the race.


It does leave me pondering what to do with training come 2016; whether I should train for halfs to improve my speed or stick to the marathon distance so that I can continue to try to qualify for Boston.

And call me crazy but I still have one more race to go this year. On Sunday, December 6, I race the Cayman Islands Half-Marathon. With the warm temperature in Grand Cayman and my current level of exhaustion and general weariness when it comes to running, I’m hoping I can manage to enjoy this race and treat it as a fun race (and not pressure myself so much that I can’t help but try to race it as fast as possible and I feel inevitably disappoint myself again). I think there’s a level of disenchantment I’m experiencing with running and I’m going to guess it’s tied to doing too many races and the plateaus and setbacks I’ve been experiencing all year long (compared to 2014’s PB after PB).

For now, I will focus on the two weeks of training I have to complete, another 21.1k to race, and then I’ll use the latter half of December to figure out my running plans for the new year.

Leave a Comment November 19, 2015

Fitness Swellness: #KeepSweating to the finish line – My Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Race Report


So after several perspiration-filled months, my Gatorade Summer of Sweat #KeepSweating challenge all came down to Sunday, October 18th at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Is it possible to be both happy and disappointed at the same time with my marathon? Because that’s how I feel after having had a week to take it all in.  

First things first: I did not meet my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I would’ve had to run a 3:45 marathon in order to meet the qualifying standard.

For weeks leading up to the race, I was quite sure I would not qualify. I know that’s not the right attitude going into a race, but this, my ninth marathon, is the least I’ve ever trained for one. I ended up having a heavy summer of travel for work, you may recall. To train on these trips would’ve called for getting up at 5 a.m. and running alone in the dark in a city I’m unfamiliar with, which I didn’t think was wise.


I also came down with a bad cough about a week prior to the race. Also, as you know, I joined the Pace & Mind team to train for this race, but my work schedule didn’t allow for me to make it out to run with the team, so I trained mostly alone (which can be tough) but I did run with a couple of team members outside of the official training runs. Add to all of this the fact that for many weeks, I was going through a bout of insomnia, sometimes only falling asleep at 8 a.m. Every day I was groggy and worn out. In the end, I completed only a handful of speed workouts and missed at least two long runs (which I try to never miss out on).

So on that Sunday, with Gatorade in my fuel belt, I had three goals in mind. My ultimate goal was, of course, to qualify for Boston. My secondary goal was to run a sub 4-hour (the goal  Coach Rejean set for me; he was aware of the sleep issues and hectic schedule and my cough knocking me out of commission for more than a week). My last goal was to at least not have it be my slowest marathon (which, it turns out, was this very same Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and I ran a 4:20 on that hot day three years ago; it was the second marathon I’d ever run).

I’m a realist by nature, and I truly expected to finish in about 4:15, which would make it my second slowest race.

I started the race feeling much stronger than I expected to. And there were a lot of good things about race day. The weather was ideal for me. Many people found it too cold, but I loved that it was chilly, and wore shorts and my team singlet along with arm warmers that I eventually took off. Plus, the race is mostly flat. I made it to 22k feeling great, my pace was pretty much on track for me to meet my first goal.

Then at 22k, I fell apart mentally quite quickly. I stopped several times to hydrate, and I remember thinking  that all I wanted to do was sit on the sidewalk and enjoy the sensation of this cold Gatorade going down my throat, helping me refuel and replenish what I had sweat out. At the same time, I was annoyed with myself because I knew I wasn’t even tired. The weather was ideal, my legs didn’t feel spent, and I had a flat course. “Pull yourself together,” I told myself. My running friend, Shawna, was meeting me at the 32k marker to run the last 12.2k with me, so I just kept saying in my head, “Just make it to Shawna, just do that, just make it to 32k.” Even though I knew the toughest 10k would follow.


The 32k mark finally came. Shawna refilled my bottle with Gatorade and we were off. I was able to pick up the pace thanks to having her alongside me, and I even felt strong. She did all of the chatting, encouraging me along, and got the people watching the race to cheer for me, announcing to them it was my ninth marathon, or telling them my name, and it was fantastic to get those cheers. Shawna was just so proud of me and kept telling me how strong I was running and pointing out how many other runners I was passing. At 36k, my friend Serena was on the corner in the cold cheering and that lifted my spirits big time. At about 39k was the most awesome cheer station filled with runners from Parkdale Road Runners (pretty much the best cheer squad ever, they do it up with confetti and loud cheering and it’s pretty much the best thing ever during a race, well, other than crossing the finish line!). Shout out to PDRR!

At this point, I was tired but not as exhausted as I have been after other races. I knew that my sub-4 goal was slipping away from me, but I was doing what I could. At 40k, my friend and Pace & Mind teammate Brandon, who I thought I’d see only after the race, caught up alongside me. He had paced another teammate in the half-marathon, gone home to change, then tracked my times and found me on the route, and ran the last two kilometres with me. I felt pretty special with my own little entourage pacing me, Shawna on one side and Brandon on the other.

Finally (finally!) we were approaching the finish with 500 metres to go. Here every 100 metres is counted down and I swear each 100 metres until the next sign has never felt so long (I remember thinking “This course has been measured wrong!”). Both Shawna and Brandon broke off of the chute at this point, running alongside where the crowds were, and I dug deep to push it to the finish.

Looking at the clock, I knew I hadn’t reached my sub-4 goal, and I was super disappointed with myself for falling apart mentally from 22k to 32k, but I was happy knowing I’d run 4:01 (when I’d anticipated a much, much slower race). Most of all I was thrilled to have completed my ninth marathon (I can tell you I’d never would’ve guessed I’d run even one ever) and even more filled with joy about having such awesome friends.

In  the end, this Gatorade Summer of Sweat to #KeepSweating journey has taught me a few lessons. To try to not be so hard on myself (I can’t say I will succeed at that, that’s just me by nature…but I can try). That there are other things that can be so rewarding when it comes to running other than reaching that time goal. That being said, based on how strong I felt for most of this race, I believe now that I’m physically capable of reaching that BQ time, I just need to get my mental game in check and do the interval work. I truly feel had I not been traveling and suffering from insomnia, I could’ve BQ’d.

And, of course, this journey reminded me of the importance of hydration before, during and after. Thank you, Gatorade, for this incredible Summer of Sweat and the opportunity to push myself to win from within.




1 Comment October 26, 2015

Fitness Swellness: My Gatorade Summer of Sweat Goal


Say hello to one of Gatorade’s newest ambassadors! That’s me! Hiiiii!

I’ve been absolutely dying to share this news! I’m beyond thrilled to be one of four athletes (wait, am I an athlete? I think of myself more as just a girl who runs…) across Canada who’s set a Gatorade Summer Sweat Goal and has the sports drink’s support to make it happen!

My goal: to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Although 2014 was a fantastic race year for me, so far 2015 has been a little disappointing. But I’ve been set up with a new coach: I am now training with Pace & Mind (lead by none other than Rejean Chiasson). It will be intense, and I expect it to be hard (I am not fond of speed work…) but I know it’s what I have to do in order to BQ (that’s short for qualifying for Boston, in case you’re confused). I was less than two minutes from qualifying in Chicago last year so I am more determined than ever.

Gatorade is of course also hooking me up with all of the Gatorade I need to hydrate for my training. I train with Gatorade and it has helped me get to where I am in my running “career.” A cold Gatorade during and after a long, hot run? “This is the best thing I’ve ever had,” is usually what I’m thinking as I gulp it down. True story.

I’ve tried other sports drinks but I trust Gatorade because it is backed by 50 years of scientific research. In Canada, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute has been partnered with the University of Guelph for more than a decade exploring nutrition and hydration in hockey through research including athlete testing. And they’ve just launched a Canadain site, www.GSSIweb.org/en-ca, where there’s loads of great resources such as videos of experts discussing fueling for sport and research articles on sports science interviews.

Follow me in my journey as I work towards my Gatorade Summer Sweat Goal here on the blog, on my Instagram, and Twitter! The hashtag is #keepsweating.

Bring on the sweat. I’m ready.



Leave a Comment August 13, 2015

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