Tag: race report

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: Global Energy Race by Dempster’s 10k race report

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I was excited for the Global Energy Race by Dempster’s on Sunday and planned to race it. I haven’t tried to PB in a 10k race in years so I was curious to see what I could do (although I wasn’t sure if I could beat my current PB of 47:51). I also thought it was a good opportunity to see how I felt for my upcoming Chicago Marathon (in 2014 I PB’d in Chicago and it’s still my fastest marathon).

But as luck would have it, after my speed work on Tuesday night with Nike, I noticed my nose was running. And, sure enough, on Wednesday, I woke up with a full-on cold.

My cold did not let up at all by Sunday, and I was very tired and congested. I’d had zero time to rest as I was on an overnight trip right before the race (I’d gone up to Blue Mountain to check out the first Creemore Springs Oktoberfest at Blue). My legs were still sore from the speed work (it was a very tough night of track work!). And when Olympian Adam van Koeverden (and Global Energy Race ambassador) lead all the runners in a warm up, I couldn’t even bear the thought of lifting my knees high because I was so exhausted so I didn’t warm up with the crowd.

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Add that it was very hot (I think it was 25C but that’s not factoring in humidity) and I knew the race would be rough for me. My plan was to run the race as a tempo, which, dialing back my expectations (given my cold and the sticky humid weather would slow me down) I figured I could finish in 55 minutes if it went well as I could hope for. I also threw caution to the wind and tried out two new pieces of gear that I’d never used before: the Nike Zoom Fly shoes and the Nike Lean Runnign Waistpack. That’s a no-no (to try new things for race day) but I was pretty confident they wouldn’t cause me issues, and I’m keen on testing them out as much as possible to see if I want to use them in Chicago.

Given I had zero energy leading up to the race, I barely looked at the race info and had no idea what the route was, and I hoped it was not two loops (it was not). For the start corral, I went into the middle of the pack given I planned to run comfortably hard and I wasn’t aiming to PB.

But once the race started, I quickly discovered that I was faster than most of the people I was surrounded with. As I worked my way forward, I could see there were not a ton of women ahead of me since I could see the runners when the route looped back, so I felt like I was doing decently even in my congested state. I didn’t push myself to run so fast it hurt or that my heart would explode out of my chest. I recognized I needed to give my body a bit of a break.

So how’d I do? I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 52:50.6. I finished 5th out of 26 women in my age category, 15th out of 114 women, and 50th overall. And I’m pretty stoked with those results given I was down and out with a cold and the weather was awful for racing.

Global Energy Race medal

And how can you not love small races: I feel like if I’d been healthy, I could’ve gotten into the top 10 women. Makes me keen to do this race again next year!

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Another reason I’d be keen to do this race again: there was one of the biggest spreads of food I’ve seen after a race: a taco truck! Brunch foods like French toast (with berries and whipped cream to top it with) along with two different breakfast sandwiches! Hot dogs! Hamburgers! Juices! Coconut water! And let’s not forget the table with a huge range of packaged snacks that you could help yourself to. Snacks for days!

Two ways I think the race could be improved: the race results need to be clearly available on the race sit. They currently are incredibly difficult to find. I googled many times, and finally after many attempts I found them on the site RunSignup.com (although the results have the race as being in Hamilton!). Secondly, there needs to be a better way to manage both the 10k race and the 3k race: for a certain period of time, with the start of the 3k race starting and going in the direction of 10k runners finishing their race, 10k runners had to contend with a big wave of 3k runners and walkers coming in their direction on the very narrow path, and those 10k runner were directed into a skinny little chute on the side where there was grass underfoot to finish their race. As I stood there to cheer my friends in, I saw many 10k runners confused as to where they were going (as it wasn’t very clear that this grassy chute would bring you over the finish line).

The adorable Bimbo mascot (of Grupo Bimbo, the Mexican bakery company) was there dancing up a storm, too, even in the intense heat and humidity. Props to Bimbo!

Bimbo at the Global Energy Race

Thank you, Dempster’s, for the chance to take part in this race that helps to provide food to those in need and aims to encourage active living.

Now, Chicago Marathon is in less than two weeks, and I suppose I’m thankful the cold came now rather than right before that race! Eep!

 

 

 

Leave a Comment September 26, 2017

Fitness Swellness: Shoppers Love You Run for Women 2017 race recap

Run for Women 2017

A few months ago, Shoppers Drug Mart asked if I’d like to run the Shoppers Love You Run for Women 2017

, which took place on June 10th, and given that it’s in support of a cause I think is important — women’s mental health programs — I agreed right away. I had missed running the race last year as I was out of town, but I did run it the year prior and had a lot of fun.

I wasn’t planning on racing it, but to run it for fun. I’d taken a long break after running the Barbados Half-Marathon in December, and was only running about once or twice a week for several months, so my pace has gotten much, much slower. Although I have been training more consistently for the past month or so, it’ll take awhile til I get close to the running shape I have been in before.

So my approach to this Run for Women 10k was very relaxed. I didn’t stress leading up to it. I wasn’t even quite sure where the race start was when I looked it up at 9 p.m. the night before. I also didn’t get my nails done for it. I KNOW. I never race without my nails done!

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My friend and fellow iRun colleague Anna Lee agreed to do the race as well and we met up before the race started. Saturday turned out to be a sunny, hot day, I believe it was about 18 degrees when I stepped out to head to the race. We started the race together and my plan was to run it as a tempo, that is for it to feel comfortably hard. Anna Lee was faster and I knew I had to dial back my pace or I’d be miserable and hurting the entire race (and I had zero desire to feel that way) so she went ahead and I could see her about half a block ahead of me most of the race.

There is little support along the route. Much thanks to the cheerful volunteers smiling and encouraging runners, and thank you to the man standing at Queen’s Park with a neon bristle board sign that read “You are a life-changer.” Because it’s always nice to have a reminder that this is about furthering such an important cause.

As for the route, it was flat and interesting enough as it was through midtown Toronto so stores and buildings for scenery. Because I’d only glanced at the map, I didn’t realize until during the race that the 10k is the 5k route done twice. I spent much of my time behind one runner, who each time I’d catch up to her, she would speed up. In fact, after the race, she found me and thanked me for helping to pace her, haha! That’s another favourite aspect of this race, it’s a pretty friendly, feel-good kind of race. Oh, and the medal is a cute bracelet that reads Love You.

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Because I had zero plans to aim for a PB, I didn’t work my way to the front of the corral for the race start. But I wish I had, because when I looked up the results, the results are based on gun time, not chip time! Doh! Oh well. In any case, I finished in 54:01 gun time (which is about 30 seconds longer than the time I recorded on my Nikeplus, which is 52nd out of 291 runners, and 29th out of 229 women. Which I’m fine with, I actually expected to be slower, and there was the hot temperatures that day, too. How I’ve run the same distance about 7 minutes faster boggles my mind…but it’s helping to inspire me as I have to kickstart my Chicago Marathon training soon and it’s nice to remember that it is possible for me to run a much faster pace. I just have to put in the training.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention the very generous swag bag. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a swag bag like this before. I stuffed it into my backpack for the 4k walk home from the race, and it legit started to hurt by back, it was that heavy! If swag is a motivator, ladies, you need to get in on this race next year. We’re talking full-size hair products and chocolate and more. This photo doesn’t even feature every item from the bag.

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Congrats to everyone who ran the Toronto edition (and all of the other cities, too!) of the Run for Women, and good luck to you in St. John’s running it on June 25th!

Leave a Comment June 13, 2017

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