Tag: race

Fitness Swellness: 2018 Ultra Night Run 10k race recap

I Like Beer

You guys, I’ve found the secret morale booster for when you’re having a really tough season of marathon training:

Run a fun run.

By that I mean a short distance race where the focus is more social; there’s usually a theme (in this case, it’s the #liveultra life) or there may be some costumes involved, for example, or rainbow colours (as in the Color Run). I’m not talking about the often larger in scale races (in Toronto, that’d be the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon or the Sporting Life 10k, as two examples). See, those more conventional races draw the elite runners and serious running folk. Fun runs? You’ll get a small group of dedicated runners, but you’ll mostly get a lot of weekend warriors. Not to diminish less frequent runners who are more drawn to a race by the social aspects; I fully support that, too!

In fact, that’s why being an ambassador for this race was the perfect fit for me, if I may say so myself. I am typically quite committed to my training, but I also don’t have my entire life centred around running. My friends and enjoying good times with them is just as important to me as running marathons. I have a fairly relaxed approach when compared to other marathon runners.

Disclosure: while I am a Michelob Ultra Ambassador for this summer’s race, this post isn’t part of my partnership. I’m posting because, well, I like recapping my races. It helps me to track my training and learn from my races…however…

Let’s get real. The main reason for this recap: so I can not-so-humble brag: I finished 1st in my division, and 8th woman out of 332!

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How did I finish so well in this race? The elite runner types don’t do these fun-run type races, so more moderate runners (like me!) can place high in the race standings. There’s no chance I’d ever finish FIRST in my division in a more serious race.

The race vibe:

As for how Saturday night played out, kudos to Michelob for putting on a great and fun-filled event! There were glow  in the dark bracelets, Brooks had lights to attach to your shoes, and mandatory high-quality headlamps (which I’ll now use for camping!) Along the route, there were a few DJs and a live band or two, along with a few fun displays, like a section lit up in red in the shape of the Michelob ribbon.

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And last but not least, there was the Michelob beer garden at the finish, where my friends and I had a cold beer and hot dogs and bananas (a strange post-race fuel combo!) and a  live band playing (the first song I heard them play? Backstreet Boys “Everybody”! That was the best and funniest thing to happen after the race — I LOVE BSB, in case you’re unaware).

How my 10k race played out:

The temperature had dropped overnight so it was, in my opinion, the perfect running temperature, maybe about 14 degrees (I heat up a lot, and quickly, so I opted to run in a sports bra and shorts, however most people were dressed more warmly). The route through Sunnybrook Park was quite dark,  making it seem a bit dangerous (the path was narrow and there were some fairly sharp turns). This was new running experience to me, I’ve only run one other night race before.

I started in the corral practically right at the start line (the closest I’ve ever been to it ever; my gun time and chip time only differ by four seconds) and I planned to run it as a tempo. My legs were tired going into the race; I’m currently training for the Chicago Marathon, so I’d run all week, including 32k on Thursday night, and 6k on Friday morning. These were not rested legs, whatsoever. I wasn’t expecting or trying to PB, but just ran it comfortably hard. I suppose I could’ve run it “easy” and actually as a “fun run,” but as I explained to my friends Aylin and Anna Lee as we waited for the race to start, I don’t function like that. I put pressure on myself in most scenarios… (I’m type A, what can I say.)

Ultra Night Run with Aylin

I could tell from the start that I was one of the few women in the front of the pack, so that was a bit of motivation to keep my pace going strong.  With everyone’s headlights on, it made for a bit of a blinding glare when you had runners coming towards you so I tried to keep my head down but I inevitably found my eyes drawn to the lights.

I hustled at about an intensity of 7 or 8 out of 10 and completed my race in 49:30, which is a far cry from my 10k PB, but a decent time given my marathon training-weary legs and mind. I finished in 52nd place out of 605 runners, 8th out of 332 women, and 1st out of 93 in my division. As for what I’d have done differently? I’d have brought my earphones for some entertainment as I ran (there were some stretches of the route without entertainment and I like as much of a distraction from the sweaty task at hand as I can have!).

Would I run this race again? Most definitely yes. It’s renewed my optimism for my upcoming races and my enjoyment for running in general. Post-race beer garden hangs with friends and goofy things like flashing lights on your shoes are a refreshing departure from my usual stressed out status when it comes to doing a race, and, well, it’s kinda great to finish in the top 10.

Cheers! See you at the next race! And I’ll post soon about my marathon training!)

pre Ultra Night Run

 

 

 

Leave a Comment September 11, 2018

Fitness Swelless: 5 reasons you should light up the night and do the Ultra Night Run

Michelob 4

The best part about running is completing a race—for me, anyhow. It’s a huge sense of accomplishment, after all of that training, to cross the finish line. Throw in some post-race festivities and that’s a winning combination. Which is just one reason why you should also do the Ultra Night Run.

Let’s get into why this is the race you should add to your fall goals:

  1. It’s the first year of the Ultra Night Run so you can forever brag about how you took part in the inaugural one. The race is happening in six cities across Canada including Toronto (where I’ll be taking part on September 8th), Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal. Find out about each city’s race here.
  2. There’s a 5k and a 10k distance. So you’ve got options. Maybe one of those is your preferred race distance, or maybe you’re new to running and want to stick to a 5k distance to get your feet wet.
  3. It’s a night run. These are more rare and hey, you don’t have to get up at 4 or 5 a.m. like you do for most races. The temperature will cool for the evening, and running at night is a different experience. Every runner will get an Energizer LED headlight you must wear for safety (but that’ll add to the fun of racing the course in the dark).
  4. It’s a chip-timed race. OK, now I know this race will definitely be more on the fun side rather than nail-a-PB type of race, but if you’ve got a personally competitive streak like I do, you know how important a race being chipped is!
  5. Did I mention the post-race celebration? After the race, you’ll get an ice-cold Michelob Ultra to toast with the other runners, along with some food and music. Picture a beautiful early fall evening, you’ve all got a runner’s high from the race you just completed and you have a refreshing beer in hand. Maybe getting to that party will push you to run even faster? Sounds like a pretty perfect way to party after a great workout (Bonus: Ultra is only 90 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs!). That’s what #liveultra is all about.

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I’ll be there, headlight on and ready to light up the night. See you at the start line!

To register (all runners must be legal drinking age, btw) or for more info, visit Ultra Night Run. Don’t wait too long to register, though, as the number of participants is capped in each city!

(sponsored)

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2 Comments August 8, 2018

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

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