Tag: marathon

Fitness Swellness: Chicago Marathon 2017 race report

 

Chicago Marathon 2017 post race party

“Do you really want to run another marathon in a month? NO. So keep up this damn pace, Karen.”

 On Sunday, I ran the Chicago Marathon. It was my tenth marathon and this was what I asked myself a few times around the middle of the race. I’d been toying with idea running another marathon in early November if Chicago didn’t go well.

The last time I ran a marathon was two years ago in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2015. It is the longest break I’ve taken between marathons. Prior to that, since starting racing that distance, I’d done two a year (and one year I ran three).

Because of this longer than usual break between fulls, I wasn’t quite sure how my race would go. This time I changed my training a bit. I ran more frequently: typically five times a week versus my usual three times a week (mostly it was the addition of two runs either at a recovery pace or easy pace). I also did a few random workouts other than running, such as hip hop dance class, yoga and Spinning.

I was pretty diligent with my five runs a week, and got all my hill training done but faltered a bit once it came time to focus on speed training. Speed training is my least favourite, plus I had a few road trips that distracted me. And then about three weeks before race day, I caught a cold, which put me out of commission for more than a week. So I missed my 23k long run, and all of the other training that would’ve happened in that 10 days. All of which made me fret about not being prepared for the race.

 Chicago Marathon 2017 starting chute

I’ve run Chicago once before and it remains my marathon PB. And even though I’d run it before, I recall very little of the race, other than there being so many great spectators, and that the route is flat.

I ate more carbs than usual for the week prior to the race. And worried about the weather forecast, checking it once a day starting two weeks prior and working up to checking it multiple times a day.

Having registered so many months before, I don’t recall entering an estimated finish time or a past marathon time, but somehow I ended up in corral D (aka a 3:40 marathon), so either I was ambitious or they based it on my 2014 Chicago Marathon time.

And so Sunday race day finally arrives:

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Race day morning, we didn’t budget enough time to get into the race area, check a bag, and use the portapotty so ended up having to race to our corral, which we got into right before they closed it off at 7:20 a.m. There was time for a quick photo, though, and that beautiful glow to the buildings behind us is due to the beautiful sunrise glow.

I had printed a pace band for 3:45 in kilometres, and also put on the Nike pace band in miles for the same time. I would have many technical difficulties that day, though. My Apple Watch did not have the NRC app because I’d had to reset it a couple of weeks prior and I had issues redownloading the app, so I had prepared to use the app on my phone; however,  I did use the stopwatch on it so that I could check my time at each mile marker and compare to my pace tattoo. Also, I usually listen to Google Play Music when I run, and I had issues getting a phone signal for the first few k.

My music app did work when I tried it again a few kilometres into the race but it just stopped playing music around the halfway point. The NRC app on my phone also stopped alerting me of my distance and pace. Also, I must accidentally hit something on my stopwatch on my Apple Watch as it started timing laps and I didn’t know how to get out of that mode. So from about the halfway point to the finish, I had no clue what pace I was doing. So many technical difficulties! On top of that, I could feel a blister starting on my left big and second toe (and I rarely get blisters) and on my right foot, I felt like I could feel the plate inside the sole (that makes the shoe similar to a track spike — I blogged about the shoes on iRun). It made me wonder if I hadn’t tried out the Zoom Fly shoes enough before doing this race. I’d only had them a few weeks and missed some runs due to that cold…

 Chicago Marathon 2017 selfie

The first 27k or so went really well, though! My pace was quick and I was anywhere from two to three minutes ahead of the 3:45 goal time. I wasn’t sure if I could maintain that pace but I figured I had to try.

“This is your race to lose, so just don’t, you got this,” I told myself, when I could tell my strength (both physically and mentally) started to falter.

After about 27k, as it got later into the morning, it got very hot and sunny. My legs were feeling tired and I grabbed Gatorade at each station (I had been relying on the Gatorade I had with me — I used a fuel belt), while also splashing myself with water to cool down. I watched those few minutes I’d banked slip away from me. And then I could tell I wasn’t even going to PB, but I had no idea by how much time I was losing given my technical difficulties with my phone and my watch.

On the bright side, I never experienced that feeling of not wanting to go on (in past races, I’ve often felt like it was just crawling by). I focused on just trucking on through and watched as each mile marker announced I was closer and closer to the finish. In that way, the race went by nice and quickly for me.

The race attracts runners from more than 100 countries. And the sidelines are packed full pretty much the entire race. I watched runners stop to hug members of their family. And was boosted by the exuberant spectators with the cheers: the group of women cheering, “You got it, you got it, you got it, let’s go!” The signs with creative messages like “Run like millennials do from commitment!” and “Run like you forgot to turn off the frijoles!” and more than a few making fun of Trump.

Chicago Marathon 2017 medal

 

As for the route, I’m not super familiar with Chicago and I know the race goes through more than two dozen neighbourhoods, but I don’t feel the route is that scenic. To me, it all melds together as non-descript streets, other than one leafy residential area (I believe it was Lincoln Park) and of course, the skyscrapers of the downtown portions. It’s the spectators and that made certain parts of the route stand out. The huge Mexican contingent cheering and running was amazing, and there were people handing out paletas to runners. There were also at least two spots where people handed out beer, and one station with Jello shots. The cheerers, they make this one great race. And the post-race party afterwards was just fun, with live music and there was a free beer you picked up in the finish chute area, plus another free Goose Island beer (there was a ticket attached to the bib) at the post-race party. Everyone hung around in the sunshine and celebrated their accomplishment. I loved watching runners and family find each other and there were big hugs and joy all around.

Chicago Marathon Goose Island beer

So how’d I do???

I finished at 3:55:07, and given the hot conditions, I’m happy enough with that. I know a few runners who had bad races, and a few with great races. It’s my second fastest marathon, and I placed 9,407 out of 44,472 runners, and 2,637 out of 21.476 women, and 414 out of 3,543 in my category.

Chicago Marathon 2017 at Cloud Gate

After the race, and on Monday, there were loads of runners wearing their medals and/or race t-shirt, and we would congratulate each other, there was a beautiful friendly vibe that I somehow forgot about from the race in 2014.

And now what? Well, I have to decide if I will run another marathon this fall… (gulp).

 

Leave a Comment October 13, 2017

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

Travel Swellness: The Hip Guide to Las Vegas

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I’ve been to Vegas five times now. Which is possibly the most I’ve ever visited one destination other than my hometown of Montreal and New York City. And I’d had enough of walking the Las Vegas Strip after my first visit. So what a surprising treat to stay in Downtown Las Vegas (aka old Las Vegas) my last visit there in November to run the Rock n Roll Half-Marathon for the second time.

My story, which I think of as the Hipster’s Guide to Vegas (well, as hipster as Sin City can be) is live now on AmongMen and Huffington Post Canada. Here are some photos I snapped and you can get full deets over in the article. If you’re a first-time visitor to Vegas, then I’d say stay on the main Strip. But if you’re looking for something different than your usual visit here, I highly recommend Downtown Las Vegas (even if it means the occasional trek to the Strip if you’re seeing Britney or to eat at Giada’s).

We stayed at the Downtown Grand where, as you can see, the rooms are modern and there’s a very nice bar in the lobby.

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My favourite spot at this hotel, though, was the quiet rooftop pool. It was unexpectedly warm enough for the pool to be open (the last time I ran the half in Vegas, pools were closed for the season).

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One of my favourite meals was at Park on Fremont. Not so much for the food (too many fried dishes on our table quickly felt overwhelmingly greasy in my belly) but for the cocktails (yes, I drank before running a half, oops) and quaint back patio. Inside the restaurant, the vibe was more edgy and urban.

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Another beautiful patio is on the Strip at the Bellagio, at Lago, which is worth the visit for the #fromwhereistand photo opp alone.

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If you’re considering going to Vegas for the Rock n Roll Marathon, I hear the marathon route is dark and lonely (which is a big reason I chose to run the half). And the two years I’ve run it this race, it gets cold and terribly windy at night so plan your race outfit accordingly. It’s not always hot in Vegas.

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This trip, I finally got a chance to check out the Downtown Container Park, which is just really pleasant and charming (but hard to get a great photo of that captures its relaxed vibe). But I”m also a big fan of shopping at The LINQ, for people watching and and cute souvenirs at fun shops rather than clothes shopping. Next time, I”d love to go bowling at the Brooklyn Bowl that’s at The LINQ.

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One of my favourite parts of this trip by far was walking around downtown Vegas one morning by myself and checking out some of the fantastic murals, and finally going with to check out the stunning Red Rock Canyon.

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And while there are plenty of over the top buffets, which are top notch, one day I walked over to Grass Roots Juice Bar and grabbed a really big acai bowl. Delicious and very filling. And exactly what I was craving for breakfast. Endless mimosas and dozens of breakfast options at a buffet are best reserved for a Vegas visit that doesn’t include running 21.1k after all.

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I rounded out the trip with my foodie favourites of doughnuts (well, a homemade poptart, this time) and an affordable bowl of ramen, too, before catching my flight home to Toronto. Find out where to go for those nibbles in my Hip Guide to Las Vegas.

 

 

Leave a Comment January 8, 2016

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