Tag: personal best

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


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.


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?


1 Comment September 18, 2018

Fitness Swellness: Barbados Half-marathon 2016 race recap



Last Sunday, I ran the Barbados Half-marathon for the first time and I still haven’t looked up my official time. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did check that same day and they weren’t posted yet. I guess when I’m not aiming to PB the time isn’t so important for me to know, and I had a general sense of my finish time.

That lackadaisical approach, though, was very much troubling me in the hours before the race kicked off at 5 a.m. on Sunday, December 4th. I slept very little that night, awake til 1 a.m. and afraid to oversleep, I lay awake for much of those wee hours of the “morning” (really, it was nighttime). I’d always planned to do this race as a easy run. It’s in fact the least I’ve “trained” for a race, if you can even call the handful of runs I did training. I added this race to my schedule about a month ago, knowing my body is capable of running 21.1k but not racing it.

But as I lay there sleepless the morning of the race, I found myself feeling a little annoyed with myself. 21.1k is not a short distance, and to run it without a serious desire or passion or goal, it was dawning on me that I was going to have a rough time getting through 21.1k in 29 degree heat and humidity.


My vague plan: run it comfortably, walking as much as I wished,  but trying to have fewer walk breaks than I did in the Cayman Half last December, and in the Bahamas Half in January, and given that, my rough goal time I set for myself given my lack of training and the weather conditions was 2:15.


I got to the start a good 45 minutes ahead of time, and had to switch my bib (I’d accidentally been given a 10k bib), sat around and then used the last 20 minutes to wait in line for the portapotties. The race kicked off at about 5 a.m. (I think it was a few minutes late) without much fanfare, in fact, for about a minute I wasn’t clear if it had officially started. I don’t recall crossing a  mat at the start — so I’m unclear if it’s based on gun time, in which case I would’ve made more of an effort to not have started towards the back of the crowd.


The route features some moderate hills (which I was not expecting), and it ventures alongside some residences, some port land, which is not the most scenic but you are rewarded with plenty of ocean views, and it’s kind of fun to start the race in the dark and have the sky brighten after about an hour (even though you don’ t have a direct view of the sun rise), all of which is what I’m looking for in a Caribbean race. Given the early start time, there is little support along the route other than the volunteers, but the few people that did cheer, I made sure to thank (along with of course the volunteers marshalling the route and handing out hydration). Entertainment-wise, one truck blasting music was in front of the elites, along with a few steel-pan drummers. The road is not entirely closed, so for awhile I found myself trailing a city bus and desperately wishing I could run faster to get ahead of it so as to not be exposed to its exhaust; there was also the occasional car or two passing us runners. The route is an out and back, and the marathoners repeat it to get their full 42.2k distance, which I think must be draining mentally.

Thankfully and surprisingly, I felt good during my run. Despite the heat and humidity, I never felt miserable and needing extra walk breaks. I roughly took a drink of water every 10 minutes or so and would walk for about a minute to do so and regroup. And I could tell early on that it was going to be a pretty decent race for me that day, which is surprising given how rough the Scotiabank Half-marathon felt recently.


I just checked the results and I finished in 2:03:21. This is indeed gun time (which is disappointing, I’m all about chip time) because my NRC app shows 2:02 (and that’s not accurate given it took me awhile to get my sweaty screen to unlock to stop my app), but it is what it is. Faster than my Scotia half  this year, despite being in even less racing form and the harsher weather. So I’m pretty pleased with my time, considering I’d been thinking I’d be done in 2:15. I’m calling this my Caribbean half-marathon PB. With this gun time of 2:03:21, I was 109th out of 344 runners in the half (the results don’t show break down by sex and age group, unfortunately) and I’m very happy with that.

After the race, I skipped going for a dip into the bay because I didn’t want to sit in cold, wet gear for the drive back to my resort, but some runners did, and it’s a beautiful bay to do so (and this was my fave aspect of the Bahamas Half-marathon, having the race finish by the water so you could refresh right away in the ocean).

Barbados is a lovely, low-key island, which I’ll be writing about shortly for VITA Daily, so stay tuned for that, and the Run Barbados race weekend should definitely be one to consider if you’re looking for a destination race where you can enjoy some great beach time and food.

And with that, my 2016 race season comes to an end! I find out in a few days whether I’ve been drawn in the Chicago Marathon lottery for next year. It’s where I have my marathon PB from two years ago, and it’s such a fantastic city, I’m hoping to run it again!

Leave a Comment December 11, 2016

Fitness Swellness: Adidas #RunMore 10K race report


484 runners and I ran back in time last night in the Adidas #RunMore 10k race in Toronto. The race kicked off at 1 a.m. and ended at 1 a.m.! What a cool way to take advantage of turning the clocks back.

I usually use that extra hour to sleep more so I feel pretty darn productive having fit in a race. But a 1 a.m. race poses some interesting concerns: getting enough rest, when to eat, etc. The weather turned out to be unexpected, too. The day was warmer than it has been the past week, and it was of course colder at night but still warmer than I expected it to be, plus as luck would have it, it also rained pretty steadily from about 11 p.m. onward. I stuck to my original planned outfit, though (Adidas Energy Boost on my feet, Adidas leggings, tank, thin water-resistant shell and cap to keep the rain out of my eyes), and didn’t do my usual stressed-out change-my-mind-a-million times thing.

My goal for this race was to try to have fun. Does that sound odd? Maybe some runners can enjoy their races but I become a total basketcase all would up about doing well. PB or die, haha. I know I’m still weary though from the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon two weeks ago, and I’m sore from an intense Nike workout I did on Thursday with Master Trainer Eva Redpath. Plus, I also have two more half-marathons to run in the next five weeks and I can’t afford to injure myself and risk not being able to run those races. So I didn’t plan very carefully for this race: Friday night I went out and drank a lot of wine (oopsie) and Saturday,  I went out and had a big dim sum lunch; both are things I wouldn’t normally do with a race in 24 hours. Last but not least with regards to what how I set a goal for this race? I know I’m not nearly in as good shape as I was for my 10k PB time of 47 minutes. I think I was at about 53 minutes at the 10k mark of the marathon two weeks ago so I decided 54 minutes would be a comfortable, safe time to aim for. If I was feeling strong, I thought I could try to aim for 52 minutes.

start line

With it raining lightly, the race kicked off at 1 a.m., and I started off fast. The first few k I ran at a pace of 5:03, then it slowed to 5:06, then 5:13 and eventually to 5:26, which I wasn’t happy about since that is slower than the pace I have to  maintain for a marathon to qualify for Boston. In the spring, I was easily running 10k in training at a 5:10 pace in warm weather without it even feeling hard, so I’m not as fit and/or really worn down from the marathon. At about 7k, I ran into a huge puddle so my feet got soaked, and at 8k my stomach started bothering me. I’d also taken off my jacket a few k into the race so I was a bit cold (but I knew with it on, I’d be too hot), so I was dealing with feeling chilled as well. A good thing about the race is that it was out and back on a section of the Martin Goodman Trail that I run frequently, so I was really familiar with the route, which is mostly flat, except for one moderate hill.

I ended up finishing in 53:52 so I did a pretty good job of judging what my body is capable of.  That time places me 7th out of 25 women in my category, the 66th woman out of 266 and 154th out of 485 runners.

After the race, there was plenty of food (not only bananas and starchy carbs, but also juices from The Good Press (yum!) and some food trucks, and beer, hello! There was also a DJ and everyone hung out and celebrated; it’s too bad it was rainy and chilly, though, or else the party would’ve really been great. As it was, I was really cold and didn’t even go outside to the food trucks (that’s how cold I felt — it takes a lot for me to turn down some food truck eats!).

All in all, Adidas Canada put on a fun race with a unique concept and I’d definitely run it if it’s held again. Be sure to register early if it is, though, because it sold out quickly this year. Thanks to Adidas for the chance to use today to #runmore.

Next race: Rock n Rock Las Vegas Half-marathon, Nov. 14, 2015.

finish chute



Leave a Comment November 1, 2015

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