Tag: marathon training

Fitness Swellness: Chicago Marathon 2018 race recap

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It all started with a sneeze. Then I was quickly completely congested. This all happened during the short flight to Chicago on Friday.

“It’s just the plane’s recycled air,” I told myself. I often get sniffly on planes or whenever there’s excessive air conditioning. I brushed it off, even though I continued to sniffle once I got of the plane and through the evening. I refused to acknowledge or even mention to anyone I was getting a cold. If I didn’t acknowledge it, it’d just not become a full-on cold, right? Is that not how it works?

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Saturday morning, bright and early, I met with the Nike team (Nike Canada hosted me to run the marathon), and I knew this was most certainly a cold, and I admitted to Melissa from Best Health  (for which I most recently wrote about healthy things to do in Portland) that I was coming down with something. I took it extra easy during the 5k shakeout run. And since this cold was now a real thing that I could no longer pretend was not happening, I posted it on my IG Stories, and I got a few recos (thank you!) and got some zinc lozenges and cough drops.

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I was so disappointed. Here I was on an incredible Chicago Marathon weekend with Nike and I felt like crap on the inside. I didn’t let it damper my spirits for the race and activities, though. I customized Nike slides to wear post-race, and decorated a Just Do It tote bag. I got a motto drawn onto my arm: I am stronger than I think. Even better were the panels I got to attend with Nike, including hearing Elyse Kopecki (co-author of Run Fast, Eat Slow and its sequel Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow, which I got signed — can’t wait to cook from it!), and Joan Benoit Samuelson, Amy Cragg and Jordan Hasey. So inspiring to hear these women at the top of their field share a bit about their journey and they were so encouraging, too. Plus, I got to ask Elyse about carb loading, more on that in another post.

Chicago is a city I love, and I’d planned on maybe going to one museum Saturday afternoon, but with how awful I felt I just went to my room at the Chicago Athletic Association after the brunch and panel with Nike and relaxed for several hours. Around 6 p.m. I knew I needed to fuel, so I grabbed some roasted eggplant rigatoni at the Little Beet Table. Which I hear was delicious, however I couldn’t taste a thing since I was completely congested.

RACE DAY

Sunday morning, I got up at 5 a.m. and forced myself to eat a bagel with peanut butter (I always have a hard time eating a breakfast before a morning run). And, as though my body knew it needed to perform for me that day, I was thankfully not congested. I did have a very disheartening thought, though, as I got dressed that morning. All along, I’ve been saying I don’t know if I’ll PB but I know I’ll finish the race. I’ve never suffered anything during a race that I’ve felt I couldn’t continue the race so I felt confident I’d cross that finish line. But at dawn on Sunday, I realized I’ve never run a marathon with a cold. And that it was possible I’d just be too exhausted or even just too lightheaded (I am prone to fainting) to finish, and that freaked me out. “Nope, you’ve got this. You may have to go slower, but you can finish this race,” I told myself.

With Nike, we walked across the street and made our way to the Balbo Hospitality Tent. Bag check, portapotty visit and then since I’d been assigned corral D (which sent me into a panicked tizzy on Saturday night, once I saw what the expected finish time was for corral D), headed out to get into the wave 1 start. I ended up deciding to start at the back of corral D since that’s a faster corral than what I can run.

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My goal for the race initially was to try to BQ. Then the BQ standards changed and got tougher. So I decided to try to PB. My marathon PB is 3:46, just under 3:47. So I had planned to run with the 3:45 Nike pacers. But those pacers were in a corral behind mine. So I decided I’ll just try to run even splits for a 3:45 finish; this is often my plan, however, I always go a little faster in the first half or so since I’m feeling good. But this time I told myself to rein it in.

So I did, I naturally ran a little too fast for maybe the first 8k or so but I kept telling myself to dial it back to the pace I needed to finish 3:45. And it worked, mostly. I felt like I was running pretty comfortably, and i was somewhat tired thanks to the cold but I was thanking my lucky stars that I was not completely congested.

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I was so focused on how I was feeling and my pace that I actually forgot about the weather conditions. It drizzled a bit and then became heavier on and off throughout the whole race. But I was just so happy that the actual temperature was relatively cool that I didn’t even notice when it’d stop or start raining. Keep in mind that I think my brain was a bit foggy thanks to battling a cold.

Chicago is a pretty phenomenal race thanks to how well it’s organized and the crowd support. While I love the flat route, I will admit I don’t find the views for most of the race that stunning (especially considering  how beautiful the city is!), but the so-so views are made up for with the incredible crowd support. This year, I don’t know if I’m imagining this, I think there were fewer people out cheering than in 2014 and 2017. I’m going to guess it was the wet weather. This just made me super appreciative of the people out there in the rain with their signs and claps and happy faces. I always try to smile and if I can muster out a thank you because having people there cheering provides such a huge boost. “Pain is temporary. Instagram is forever. Do it for the ‘gram!” read one sign that made me giggle.

Sometime into the second half of the race, a girl running the race tapped me on the shoulder when I slowed to grab a Gatorade and said “Good job!” And it lifted my spirits. I tried to return the cheer when I came across her at the next water station, but she was distracted getting her own water. But she ran up to me later and started chatting a bit. I think she said her name was Natalie (I think…I have the worst memory!), lives in L.A. but is from Chicago. Thank you, girl, our brief exchange lifted me out of the repetitiveness of the tough task at hand for just a moment! I had hoped we could run the rest of the race nearby one another but at this point (probably around the 25k to 30k mark) I was tiring and slowing down and I watched her disappear into the runners ahead of me.

At the halfway point, I was about 2 minutes behind a 3:45 finish, and I was fine with that. After 25k is when it all went downhill. I was feeling increasingly tired and then realized how far I’d fallen behind that target, at which point, I knew I couldn’t PB and so I just viewed the rest of the race as a long run in one of my favourite cities and did my best to enjoy everything going on around me.

When I was starting to feel down in the dumps, I thought how I’m running a goddamn marathon, and not everyone can do that. I looked at my great marathon manicure. I said aloud, “I am stronger than I think,” as I glanced at the motto on my arm. And I told myself that I may not be PBing but I’m doing this race with a cold and I’m in a freakin’ Nike Chicago Just Do It ad on Michigan Avenue and that this is my 12th marathon. 12! that’s more than I ever dreamed of ever doing when it comes to running. I never even thought I’d be a runner! And that’s a big accomplishment and just enjoy the damn thing, Karen!

And it worked. I’ve had races where I just think, “I really just need to stop running, like, now,” or thinking “why on earth do I run marathons?!” (like at Hamilton last year, my worst marathon ever) but I kept the dreary, negative thoughts out of mind. As I ran down Michigan Ave., I realized I’d be passing by my Nike billboard. It was at the corner before you turn off of Michigan and I looked for it, but it was too crowded with people cheering. but I knew it was there, and I felt proud of myself as I ran those last 500 metres across the finish line. Here I am clapping for myself as I approach the finish line, and you can see I’m weary but pretty happy and not all “Get me off my damn feet already!”

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I finished in 4:10:27. I don’t know all of my marathon times offhand but I’m going to guess that that is my second slowest marathon of the 12th I’ve now completed. That’s 17,233 out of 45,000 or so runners, 5, 514th of the women who raced, and 919th in my age group.

POST RACE

I was incredibly tight right after crossing the finish line and it took forever for me to get to the hospitality tent. I was walking so gingerly that twice volunteers went to help me as I struggled to lift my leg to get on a sidewalk (yes, a sidewalk, I struggled lifting my leg those mere six inches!). Changing out of my rain-soaked clothes was pretty funny (getting on a pair of leggings immediately after a marathon is quite a task!). I got a small bite to eat, drank my Goose Island Brewery beer and was delighted when Sir Mo came to share a few words at our tent. After he spoke, I gathered my things and made my way to my Nike billboard to get a post-race photo.

I asked a family cheering at the race if they’d take my pic with the ad. They did and offered to take more when they saw me studying the pic. I accepted since my eyes were closed in the first photo. “That’s me!” I shared. They were so surprised and happy for me, that they gave me extra congrats, and even took a pic of me with their own camera.

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From there, I slowly walked back to the Chicago Athletic Association to shower before going to Au Cheval for a burger, and in my room was an incredible gift from Nike: Nike React Element 87s, an Apple Watch and the best part, a personalized bottle of Veuve Cliquot, congratulating me on the marathon, with a spot to jot in my marathon time. I’m copying fellow marathoner that day Brooke from Shape magazine and only opening it when I BQ. Champagne only lasts about 3-5 years so I’ve got a deadline to qualify! Can’t let that champagne go to waste!

After Au Cheval, I met with the Nike crew for rooftop drinks and bites at Cindy’s at the hotel, and then we headed out to the 3RUN2 post-marathon dance party, where I found the energy to dance the night away. So what if I had a flight in the morning, it was time to celebrate!

Thank you to Nike for an unforgettable weekend. Thank you to Nike Run Coach Brittany Moran for the training program and for answering all my questions over these last three months. Thank you to everyone who’s shared congrats and cheers along the way. Running has long had its ups and downs for me, and this summer had me seriously questioning whether marathoning is something I should continue, particularly during those summer training days I was drenched in sweat. But this experience and the notion that I’ve maybe helped someone think that they should try running themselves or that they should try training for a marathon or to run Chicago (do it!), it’s renewed my passion for the sport.

It’ll probably always be a love/hate relationship with running for me, but right now. it’s all love.

 

 

Leave a Comment October 11, 2018

Fitness Swellness: Reebok Fast Flexweave

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Marathons are usually my go-to race distance, but what’s this runner doing this spring? Focusing on shorter distances, and I need all the help I can get to go fast.

Running full-out is not my preference. Even though the 42.2k of a marathon is grueling, part of the reason I enjoy them more is the fact that you have to go at a  slower pace, one you can complete that distance in. But with 5k or 10k, you have to go faster (OK, you don’t have to, but when you’re competitive with yourself like I am, you do!).

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Cue the Reebok Fast Flexweave. For my training this spring, I’ve been using this new running shoe. I want technology on my side if I’m aiming to be fast. Its specifically designed for agility and speed. Think quick-burst workouts and speed work…AKA my life right now (…what have I gotten myself into?! I kid, speed work is a necessary evil when you’re training for a marathon, too).

The Fast Flexweave features an upper made of Flexweave, which is an open, figure-8 weave that results in the upper being ultra lightweight. This helps my feet feel weightless and makes it all that much easier to lift my feet and keep on moving forward. Also, there are tailored zones within the Flexweave fabric for extra flexibility and breathability; I love this because running with feet that feel like they’re roasting inside your shoes that feel stiff is so uncomfortable and distracting.

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I prefer a fair bit of cushioning in my shoes, and while these are lighter, they do offer a comfortable amount of stability and durability through the midfoot; I think they strike just the right note in terms of delivering the stability and comfort of the type of sole I usually gravitate toward for a longer run, but in a more nimble and lightweight design for the shorter distance I’m focusing on. And that’s also likely thanks to the design incorporating pressure-mapping technology, so that the Fast Flexweave is flexible where you need it to be and stable where you need it. If only finding a partner to be just precisely flexible and stable when needed were as easy!

Stay tuned as to how my training goes, and I have it on good authority that you may be able to win yourself a pair of Reebok Fast Flexweave yourself! (Keep your eye on this post and my Instagram!)

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UPDATE: You can WIN a pair of Reebok Fast Flexweave!

“Aaaand, you get a pair of Fast Flexweave!” I wish I could be Oprah and give all of y’all a pair…but the good news is I do have one pair of women’s Reebok Fast Flexweave (valued at $130) to give away!  

The giveaway is open to Canadian residents. You can enter in four different ways (enter all four ways as each way counts as an entry — and on Instagram you can enter multiple times!):

INSTAGRAM: Follow me on Instagram (@healthandswellness), and LIKE  the photo related to this giveaway , and then tag friends who could use a pair of Reebok Fast Flexweave themselves. One tag per comment, each tag equals one entry.

TWITTER: Follow me on Twitter (@healthswellness) and tweet:

I like to go fast! I’d love to #win a pair of @reebokcanada Fast Flexweave from @healthswellness! http://bit.ly/RbkFastFlex #fastflexweave #reebokcanada #bemorehuman #giveaway

FACEBOOK: “Like” the Health and Swellness Facebook page, and reply on the photo on the page — tell me what season is your favourite for running!

BLOG COMMENT: Comment right here on this post and share with me if you prefer to run on a track, the street or trails.

This giveaway is open until 11:59 p.m. ET, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The winner will be chosen at random on May 16, 2018 and contacted via the method they’ve entered to provide their shoe size, shipping address and contact info.

Photographer: Sean Pollock, @seanpollock

(sponsored)

 

 


50 Comments April 30, 2018

Fitness Swellness: Nike’s new yoga workouts on the NTC app

Nike Brahaus x Sport Chek

Last weekend, Nike partnered with Sport Chek to bring the Brahaus pop-up to Yorkdale Mall in Toronto. I had a chance to learn about the new bras in the collection and learned that while the sport bras are divided into low-, medium- and high-impact categories (with sports slotted into each one — Pilates would be under light impact and running under high impact), your personal preference and the comfort and support you feel should be what ultimately determines the sport bra you wear. For example, if a medium or even light impact bra feels supportive enough for you for running, you can go ahead and rock that one. Besides actual construction and design elements of the sport bras, the level of elasticity of the fabric content also varies.

To more about the new Nike sports bras, check out my post over at iRun; this is the Nike Pro Indy Logo bra I have on here.

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Besides learning about the new bras and the other fun they had planned for the Brahaus, I also sat down with Master Trainer Eva Redpath to talk about my marathon training. To complement my training for Chicago, she recommended I take advantage of the new expanded yoga offering on the NTC app. There are currently nine yoga workouts (Nike consulted with both yogis and three Nike Master Trainers) with more to come and they range from ones that focus on mobility (concentrating on recharging the body), endurance (where the focus is strength and holding poses for a long time, and flows that will build heat and make you sweat) and restorative.

Eva knows I have no problem getting my miles in but that I slack on the restorative part of my training. She recommended two of the yoga workouts for me on my non-run days: Deep Restorative Yoga and Ultimate Strength Yoga (which was created by Traci Copeland, a runner herself). Like the other NTC workouts, you get a preview of each movement, and the app is designed so that you can follow along like you would with a yoga teacher in a class by having them lead you through without a visual.

One of Eva’s aspects of the yoga workouts is the diaphragmatic breathing (there is at least two minutes of breathing at the beginning of each workout), to help you tap into your central nervous system’s fight or flight response and help manage that; she noted that anxiety could happen mid-race and deep breaths can help me get that response under control.

This training season, I’ve upped the frequency of my training, so I’m finding timing pretty limited in my schedule but I hope to incorporate at least one yoga workout a week, so I’m looking forward to trying out these new NTC yoga workouts. Given my limited time in my schedule, I do appreciate the ease of working out at home, with zero commute-to-a-yoga-studio time , and I’ve always found the NTC app to be super well designed and motivating so will soon  namaste with Nike.

How ’bout you? How’s your training going?

Nike Brahaus and Sport Chek Yorkdale

 

 

 

Leave a Comment August 4, 2017

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