Tag: gvrat

Fitness Swellness: GVRAT Back Across Tennessee race recap

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108 days into the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, I made it BACK ACROSS TENNESSEE!

That’s a total distance of 2,043.36 kilometres. If you recall, at the beginning of May I wasn’t sure how difficult it’d be to complete the Race Across Tennessee (RAT) distance in the four months for the race, so to have completed double the distance with just under two weeks to spare, I’m shocked, and proud.

It’s 107 days if you’re looking at “chip time” as I only registered for the race on May 2nd, but the race goes by gun time. This race most definitely tapped into my competitiveness. Once I finished RAT, I knew I could complete 1,000 miles. Especially since for the BAT race, I was including walking miles.

I completed 1,000 miles in 91 days, ahead of the “end of July” goal I’d set for myself. And on August 5th, I thought “It’d be a nice even date to complete the BAT distance by August 15th.” For no other reason than it being the halfway mark of August. Out came my calculator and it called for doing just over 30 kilometres a day for 10 days straight. And even I knew that was unrealistic; my schedule is a lot busier now and I was struggling on the days I managed to log 21k. It included often sacrificing sleep to get at least 6k done in the early morning, and then walking at least 3k late at night (sometimes as late as 1 a.m.).

But I’d become a bit nervous about those late night walks and runs. I realized I was going through some dark and pretty deserted areas, which wasn’t the safest idea, then to add to it, there have been a slew of harassment incidents in the area so as I closed in on the last 200 or so kilometres of the race, I didn’t think it was wise to do the late walks and so I lost some precious time chipping away at the distance.

I realized on Friday, August 14th, that I had that day and the entire weekend I could devote to logging distance for BAT. And with 120 kilometres left, if I did 40k each day, I’d be done by Sunday, August 16th (just one day more than the goal I’d chosen as an ideal end date). So, I went for it. I already knew I had to run 21.1k on the weekend for the Lululemon Virtual SeaWheeze Half Marathon, so it meant “only” walking another 21k that same day as well, so that covered off one day. For my final 35k on Sunday, I took a very long (and rather boring) 12k walk across the city with my dog, visited the beach, stopped for pizza and then made the 12k walk back across the city and finished off the BAT race with a 3k run at night.

I walked much more of the BAT than I expected to. I think the RAT’s very intense 1,021.68k, for which I decided to only count running miles, was really hard on my body. My pace is terrible and I now even walk slowly, just out of pure exhaustion.

My BAT by the numbers

  • 766.86 walking
  • 267.3 running
  • zero 0 days (meaning I logged distance every single day)
  • a negative split of 10 days (I completed RAT in 59 days and BAT in 49 days)

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Billie Jean and her GVRAT and BAT journey?

She completed 76 percent (or 1,554k) of the 2,043.36 RAT + BAT with me:

  • 1,071.3k running
  • 483.32 walking

And I’d have registered her as a dog completing the race but I knew the city’s heat and humidity would make it dangerous for her to complete every run with me, so I didn’t commit to making it race official for her, but to me she completed the race and I’m so proud of her.

And in the final standings, when I checked on Monday to confirm I’d officially completed the BAT, I finished 276th out of 11,063 women in this global virtual race, and in 622nd place (out of 19,612 participants).

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So many firsts for me with this race, including my very first buckle! Now just need a belt to sport this huge, gaudy piece of bling on, haha!

This race has helped so many of us around the world cope in this crazy time. It became a huge thing to fixate on, distracting me from the stresses of  living through quarantine, which would’ve otherwise swallowed me whole. And the Facebook group for the GVRAT was a joy to be a part of (other than people asking every single day what the actual distance of the race is… people, get your act together, it’s clearly stated in the race FAQ). From the gorgeous photos from around the world, to so many shots of snakes (I’m so glad that’s not something I encounter on my runs!), along with Lazarus Lake’s often hilarious posts, plus all of the personal stories; there have been pregnancy announcements, breakups, deaths, pets, so many injuries, and with it, just the whole gamut of human emotions; the camaraderie that developed as we all pushed through living under lockdown and making it through this continuing pandemic–I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed being part of a Facebook group more. We are all in this together: the pandemic, this crazy race, interpreting “Laz miles”, all of it.

Thank you to Lazarus Lake and the entire GVRAT team for putting up with so many of the same questions and continually working on improving the virtual race experience for all of us and creating this crazy race that none of us will ever forget.

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Leave a Comment August 18, 2020

Fitness Swellness: 1,000 Miles Back Across Tennessee race recap

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This Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee been one full of revelations for most of the 19,500+ participants worldwide. I see it in all of the posts to the Facebook group: so many of us wondered if we could ever finish this 1,1021.68k race in four months…and so many of us have surprised ourselves with what we have been (and/or continue to be) capable of.

Last night, I passed the 1,000 mile mark of my race back across Tennessee. Which means from July 1 to July 30th, I completed 561.9 kilometres, for a GVRAT total of 1,613.8k, bringing me just a couple of kilometres past the first milestone for the BAT portion of the race.

When I finished the Race Across Tennessee on June 28th (58 days into the race for me—here’s my race recap), I knew I’d continue with the BAT portion of the race; after all, I’d thought I’d have this race to focus on all summer, not just May and June. And although my initial plan was to just take it a lot easier and aim for August 31st to complete 1,000 miles…on July 2nd, I was already texting my friend Aylin (who’s also running the race) the math I’d done to see how many kilometres I’d have to do daily to complete the entire BAT (that is, an entire 1,021.68k again) by the deadline of August 31st. “Well, that escalate quickly,” I messaged her, when I caught myself already planning on doing the entire BAT.

Forced to focus on active recovery

After I finished the RAT, I took three days off of running, and walked. As I mentioned in my race recap, for the BAT, I planned to include walking miles in the race. This has always been allowed in the race, and encouraged by Laz, but I was stubborn and a stickler for making it a running race for myself, and so I only counted running miles for the first 1,021.68k.

And that kind of wrecked my legs. Not that I got injured, but my exhaustion was obvious whenever I walked with friends (slow pace, ginger steps and wincing as we hiked uphill or took any stairs). So I decided to include the purposeful walking miles that are permitted as per the race rules, but I planned to do short runs as well, and I resumed that three days after completing the RAT.

It was a good 16 days after I completed the RAT that I realized how intensely sore and tired I continued to be. I’ve run 14 marathons and never ever have my legs been that ache-y so long after a race, and so for the next eight days, I only walked. Which was a nice break from running EXCEPT WALKING TAKES SO LONG. My walking pace is generally leisurely, and it’s been incredibly humid and hot in Toronto, so I slow down even more then. I’m honestly not clear on how people have only been walking this race (Are you speed walkers by sport? If not, this is hours and hours out of your day!). If I’m walking and not distracted and intent on getting to my destination efficiently, I probably walk the average, which is about 5k/hour. In the heat and generally no time limit and tired legs, I’m probably  more at a 4k per hour pace walking. Which means I’ve spent hours daily walking in the month of July.

The eight days focused on active recovery were much needed, though, and my legs felt much better (although still tired) once I started running again on July 20th. And I wanted to get back to including some runs (to have fewer long walks to slog through) and because in typical obsessive fashion, it irked me that I was on track with my training schedule, but that it had me completing the 1,000 miles by August 4th.

My goal to complete the 1,000 miles in July

But August 4th? Wouldn’t a nice and neat time to complete 1,000 miles be to complete it for July 31st, I asked myself. And so on July 16th, I upped my daily mileage, and on days off (usually weekend days) I walked as much as I could so that I could bank some kilometres since some weekdays can be extremely hectic, with limited time to run or walk. It took awhile for the projected finish in the standings to reflect by July 31st goal (at which point I found myself disappointed with it, the computer should know me and my obsessiveness better than this after more than two months!). And thanks to loads of walking, I finished one day earlier than my goal! Huzzah!

This BAT portion of the race has had me walking quite late at night and for most of the walks, I did a few usual loops within a four kilometre radius from home, and these walks (compared to walks with a specific destination in mind) were draining mentally on many days. I was grateful to not have to run on the most sticky humid days, but at the same time I’ve found the walking around downtown usually pretty dull. I did receive a new iPhone though, and on some walks have started listening to podcasts again (which helps pass the time, but I typically don’t listen to anything when I walk at night for safety concerns).

I’ve been keeping track of how much walking vs running I’ve done to get to this point of the race, along with how much mileage Billie Jean has done; I ended up doing much more walking than running, but I’m fine with that. My legs were completely spent from GVRAT, and I feel quite fortunate I didn’t injure myself. The general rule of thumb for ramping up your distance safely is to not increase your weekly distance by more than 10 percent. Had I followed that guideline, based on my last week of running in April, I’d have logged 240 kilometres in May (instead I logged 450k) and 325 in June (except I logged about 600k, to complete the RAT race and then a few additional distance since I started the BAT right after) so I ramped up extremely quickly and took no rest days, which I know is everything you shouldn’t do.

Another nice thing about including walking for the BAT means that it’s opened up more options, including walking with friends (most of my friends aren’t runners) and it’s been good for Billie Jean since I can’t run much with her in the harsh summer conditions as I want her to be safe from the hot concrete and heat stroke, but it’s less exertion for us to be walking (plus we take water breaks and always stop for her to cool off in Lake Ontario).

So how did my 1,000 miles play out over most of the month of June?

From June 1-June 30, during which I reached and surpassing the 1,000 mile mark:

  • I walked 465 kilometres.
  • I ran 118 kilometres.
  • Billie Jean, my little superstar pup, she completed 411 of those kilometres with me.
  • It took me 91 days (gun time) to complete 1,000 miles (90 chip time since I started the race on its second day, May 2).
  • I’m in position 886 in the race. 886!!! I can’t believe it.

With all of August plus today (the last day of July) in the GVRAT race window of four months, I have 430 kilometres left to make it back to the starting line where I kicked things off on May 2. I currently stand in position 886 (and if the gender ranking is correct—there was a long explanation from Laz about the constantly changing rankings, including why you can appear to pass people who ran RAT faster than you, and this is due to the fact that not everyone has chosen to continue BAT, if I understood his post…)—I’ve moved up to 406th woman).

I’m beyond thrilled to be in the top 900 in this race so far, and my position is fueling my obsession with doing more miles daily, and I have already calculated how many kilometres I must complete daily to finish by August 31st…but let’s be real, I’m going to up that distance so I can finish earlier! I’m also registered to do the Lululemon Seawheeze Virtual Half-Marathon mid-August so that will be part of my total mileage for this race.

Hope your summer of virtual racing is going swimmingly! I’d love to hear how your running season is going!

 

Leave a Comment July 31, 2020

Fitness Swellness: Reaching Volt Level on Nike Run Club app

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I never knew attending the media launch of NikePlus in Toronto in the spring of 2007 would turn me into a runner who just last month logged 15,000 kilometres on the NRC app to reach Volt Level.

I couldn’t have predicted it. I hated running in gym class in school. I remember walking with a stitch in my side as I walked the perimetre of the schoolyard and hating my life at that moment.

I got to learn a little bit about running just before the NikePlus system launched here; my sister had gotten into running, and at the time I just didn’t understand the sport at all. I didn’t know a marathon was by definition 42.2k (I thought any run was a marathon and would call a 10k race a marathon, hahaha), and when I went to cheer her at her races, I didn’t understand how she’d been running for several hours, nor how we were able to predict where to find her along the route.

But I went to the NikePlus launch in 2007 and given I’d just started covering health for Flare magazine, I soon after registered for a Learn to Run clinic at the Running Room so I could put this system to use (back then the system involved putting the little sensor into the sole of your shoe, remember?!).

From there, I went onto the 5k clinic, 10k clinic and half-marathon. I stuck to the half distance for a little while since my time was quite slow, and I found myself struggling. Then I discovered I had a Graves Disease (that is, an overactive thyroid autoimmune disorder), which was why I would get so tired running (I’ll never forget my endocrinologist’s look of shock when I asked about running halfs and his direct order to not run long distances since it causes your muscles to tire quickly meant that I had to take a break for longer distances for a bit). A difficult breakup caused me to take another break, and then finally with my thyroid issues sorted out, and a halfhearted desire to get my life back on track, I joined a clinic again with a friend. It helped pull me out of depression, and I went on to register for marathon clinic, and I ran my first marathon in 2012, and finished with a time I was thrilled about for my first marathon.

Over the following eight years til now, I ran several other marathons (including Chicago for my third time in this race which I ran with a horrible cold) and halfs (my most recent and most memorable being the Dead Sea Half-Marathon), and a few 30ks (namely Around the Bay, which I last ran in 2014). Which brings us to 2020…

I’ve never been a runner who does a high volume, but with the pandemic, and no races in the calendar thanks to the pandemic, I decided to make simply logging distance a goal, so for April, I aimed to run 200k. Done and done.

And then at the end of April, when I needed another goal to keep me going, I came across the Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee 1000k and realized that if I registered, I would reach Volt Level and cross the GVRAT finish line at the same time. And if I could run 200k, certainly I could do 250k for the next four months, right?

I quickly realized my finish lines for Volt and GVRAT would not coincide since the virtual race is based on Lazarus Lake miles (and because the actual distance across Tennessee is actually 1021.68k) but no biggie, they’d just be a day or two apart. I registered for GVRAT…and within a week became intent on finishing the race as quickly as my body would allow without getting injured. Full breakdown of my GVRAT obsession in this post here!

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And less than two months into this virtual race, on a very hot and humid Sunday morning, June 28th, I reached Volt Level on NRC! 15,000 kilometres run. Given the number of runs not counted on NRC for a variety of reasons, I know IRL I reached this distance a little while go but I try not to focus on that missing data (but anyone who tracks their runs and for whom it’s a big motivating factor knows how it can make the run not seem like it even happened, hahaha). It took 13 years, and an intense 1021.68k race during a pandemic to get me to reach this level now (without GVRAT, I would’ve reached Volt sometime later this year).

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In terms of the NRC app, I have to say reaching Volt status was a little underwhelming in terms of the app. I expected something celebatory on the app. But the only difference is the screen now is the signature Volt yellow. It doesn’t even appear under the Achievements tab. But that’s OK, I have my own run celebration in store for this (hello, burger picnic with my running pal who’s also doing the GVRAT!). Oh, and I’ll happily be returning to using the NRC app on my Apple Watch rather than my phone (I had to switch for a few months as I didn’t have an iPhone to sync with my watch).

Although I find much of the personal motivation from the numbers (my pace, the kilometres I’ve completed, etc., etc.), the sport is about so much more than just the numbers, though. Running has brought so much to my life and changed me as a person. I’ve made good friends though the sport, had the opportunity to run in some incredible places around the world (Istanbul! The Dead Sea! Philly! Vancouver! To name just few.), and it’s pulled me out of low times in my lif, which I wrote about for Flare in 2012. The lessons in strength and resilience it’s taught me are immeasurable. On the days I dread having to run (because, believe it or not, I don’t consider myself someone who loves running, it’s very obvious to me when I talk to runners who are truly passionate about the actual act of running), I remind myself of all of the things running does do to enrich my life in incredible ways to get me to slog through sweaty, endless runs.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you to Nike Canada for all of the support and gear and running opportunities through these 13 years, and the gear and events from other brands as well such as Apple, Reebok, Saucony, New Balance, Gatorade, Saucony and iRun magazine. (My apologies for brands I’ve overlooked, I think I’m still weary from my 1000k race!).

15,000k complete, and so many kilometres to go. There is no finish line.

Leave a Comment July 13, 2020

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