Tag: running

Fitness Swellness: Hamilton Road 2 Hope Marathon 2017 race report

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“It’s in the trying.”

This good ol’ Coach Taylor nugget kept me going in the Hamilton Marathon on Sunday (“But you gotta try. That’s what character is. It’s in the trying.”), and it’s not the first time it’s come to mind during a race.

But first, the back story on how I came to race the Hamilton Marathon on Sunday one month after the Chicago Marathon:

I’d considered adding this race to my schedule before I went to run the Chicago Marathon. While I’m by no means disappointed with how Chicago went, I wasn’t thrilled with my time and would love a marathon PB.

But I only confirmed I’d be running Hamilton a week and a half before the race. So I didn’t train as much or as intensely as I would’ve had I planned on it all along. I took the entire week off after Chicago (which I’d likely have done anyhow); week two, I ran two short slow runs in anticipation of helping to pace at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, in which I paced 12k. Week 3 I was really busy with work so I did a 10k run and a 16k. And the week before the race, I ran a 5k tempo on the treadmill, and attended a Spin class on the Friday night. I knew the Spinning wasn’t ideal but I needed to burn off some stress and I took it easy in class.

I think the limited number of runs and then that Spin class is what made Hamilton Marathon pan out as it did for me. On the day before the race, I was doing errands and could tell my legs were sore from the Spin class.

And then you throw in the weather conditions on race day:

On Sunday, I was pretty nervous  about the forecast. It showed 90 percent light rain and through my race the temp was to feel like about 11C I think. I stepped outside and it felt warmer than I realized and it was basically very light drizzle and I felt very relieved about the rain. So I opted to wear shorts rather than capris and left my water-resistant rain jacket in the car.

The race starts at ArcelorMittal Dofasco Park and there’s an arena where you can stay warm and use the washrooms, so that’s always a nice bonus to a race. I arrived at 7 a.m. and sat inside, just trying to not get too anxious about the race, and then I quickly realized there was five minutes to go til the race started. I started looking at everyone’s bibs and saw it was mostly half-marathoners and it dawned on me that they didn’t start at the same time. Right then there was an announcement over the loudspeaker for all marathoners to head to the start and so I dashed outside.

It was pouring rain. I wanted to cry. I already felt miserable and the race hadn’t started yet. Then It was a bit of a scrum at the start since there wasn’t a fence for a very defined starting chute.

It rained pretty consistently for the first 12k or so, and so I kept on the garbage bag I’d put on but ditched it when it cleared briefly even though I knew it’d rain again. I just had to accept I’d be soaked.

Then there’s the race course:

So, here’s what I learned about the Hamilton Marathon: how the race is promoted (very flat and downhill) is not entirely true. I’d say there are four main sections of the race. The first section are country roads, where there are a number of rolling hills. Every time I approached one, I thought “what happened to FLAT?!?” The views here are pretty when you’re running along the escarpment, but otherwise not that stimulating when it’s just the country roads and the occasional house. This is the first 22k or so (I’d have to fact check this, I was pretty weary running to remember much!)

Then you reach the Red Hill Expressway. Which you hear all about being fantastic because it’s downhill. So I was expecting several kilometers of downhill. Nope. Just the ramp to get onto the Parkway is a noticeable downhill (although I know other runners who find the whole expressway downhill; to me it felt flat with the slightest decline in some areas).I did gain some speed here on the downhill ramp and my Google Play Music playlist seemed to know just the right song for the moment: move, get out the way, by Ludacris.

The third section is where you enter some hard packed trail that winds for a bit and cross over two bridges. It was windy and rain pelted me as I crossed the  pedestrian bridge over the QEW and all I could think was, “is this worth it??”

The last section is in Confederation Park. This is the best part of the route as the views of the lake and of some homes along Beach Blvd. are lovely heritage homes and there are some people here cheering.

Hamilton Marathon 2017 medal

How my mental game fell apart:

So, as I mentioned my legs already felt tired from Spin. And as I got going, I think by 6k my legs were already feeling sore and tight. So I knew it was going to be one long and ugly race.

I started debating at about 10k if I should quit and just DNF and call my friend to pick me up. I had this debate until about 30. At the 30k point, being closer to the finish, a DNF didn’t seem like a smart choice and with my legs begging to not be running my thoughts instead focused on whether walking the remainder of the race was a good idea. I figured I wouldn’t finish last even if I walked the last 10-12k. I took walk breaks and the main reason I would start running again is because I couldn’t bear the thought of how much longer I’d be in the rain and wind if I walked the rest of the race.

Because that wind and rain was no joke. On the country roads there was a strong headwind; I’ve read the wind was 48km/hr. Gah! Running in wet gear and soaked shoes is not pleasant.

I did a whole lot of rationalizing during this race, especially toward the end. “There’s 12k left, so that’s basically like two 5k runs, oh and a little extra! 5k is nothing!” “Six k to go. 3k you can do in your sleep, so just two of those, easy peasy for you!” When I saw an exit with my friend’s street name on it, I thought, “I’ll just follow it and that’ll take me ‘home’!” But then I realized that was probably just as far or further than actually finishing the race. And so, I kept going. I was on pace to BQ about half of the race. But I knew I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that pace, my legs were heavy. So I switched to aiming to PB since that was within reach, but it wasn’t in reach for long. My legs just couldn’t go any faster and I watched my time grow longer and longer, and. soon doing better than my Chicago time from four weeks ago wasn’t even within reach anymore as I basically threw in the towel and took walk breaks to relieve some of the misery I felt.

There is little cheer support along the route, although a few small groups of friendly faces with encouragement in Confederation Park. It gave me a boost to have some of my sister’s running group recognize me and cheer. And then to hear my name on the speaker when I ran by the Mizuno tent. And although I was too weary to form a proper thought or even properly recognize people, it was great to see a few other runners I know cheering. Thank you for braving this awful weather to cheer, everyone!

There’s little entertainment along the route, too. I recall two drum bands, which were great, but that was it. Another interesting thing about this race? There are several intersections where there is no police officer directing traffic and the drivers regulate themselves to make their turn or drive through. People in Hamilton seem much more patient and tolerant of this than Toronto folks; in races in Toronto, I know I’ve run by many irate drivers enraged about the delay on their drive to their destination.

Hamilton Marathon 2017

Drained and feeling defeated, I finally crossed the finish line with a chip time of 4:10:20. Which makes it my second slowest marathon of the eleven I’ve run. I believe my slowest was my second marathon, the Scotiabank Waterfront Toronto Marathon in 2012 when the weather was very warm.

It was a very tough go. But it’s in trying, right, and I am proud to have run eleven marathons. It truly still boggles my mind that I’ve become a runner at all so despite feeling disappointed, I am ultimately proud of this achievement. The last time I ran two marathons a month apart, I managed to PB in the latter one, but I’d trained consistently in the four week span. I won’t do two marathons a month apart again if I haven’t maintained training. Please stop me if I forget this fact!

Oh, and I have very few photos from the race to include in this post  because I just felt so consumed by misery to take photos, and also because of the rain. Raindrops on the iPhone screen make it hard to use the touchscreen; plus I was afraid to fiddle with my phone in case i accidentally paused or messed up my NRC app that was tracking my run.

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Thank you to Ben at iRun for his race bib, all of the volunteers at the race, the spectators (your signs and cheers and cowbells lifted my mood on a cruddy day), and to my friend Yuki, who was my race support team (she picked up my bib, let me stay at her house, cooked me this yummy dinner of carbs, and sherpa-ed me to and from the race!).

As for what’s next? That’s it for marathons for 2017 for me. I won’t rule out a half or a shorter distance race. I’m thinking another full in the spring is likely, but for now I’m going to enjoy some downtime and put the hours and energy that marathon training called for and pour it into other interests, like dance class and cooking.

 

 

Leave a Comment November 10, 2017

Fitness Swellness: 5 tips for the travelling runner — Reebok Canada x Health & Swellness collab on ElleCanada.com

Reebok_Elle Canada_Sean Pollock

Running. Travel. Food. Those are definitely big passions of mine. So I was especially thrilled to partner this season with Reebok Canada on an article that you’ll find at Elle Canada focused on tips and tricks for running while you travel—two of my top reasons for living (did I mention I also enjoy exaggeration?). (And as for food, well, when it comes to running and especially the travel/running combo, food is naturally part of the picture, too—one must fuel and reward, after all!).

I’ve been running in the Reebok Floatride for a few weeks, and I virtually forget what’s on my feet because they’re so lightweight. Dubbed “cushion without compromise,” the Floatride makes my runs feel effortless thanks to the cushioning and responsiveness of the sole, and a knit upper that’s very breathable and gently hugs each foot as I train.

Check out my article at Elle Canada for travel and running tips (think packing and find-a-route ideas) and see you out running, ‘k? Whether that’s here in Toronto, or somewhere around the world because, yes, I am more often than not in training for a race. And in the meantime, you can discover more (or tag your own Floatride runs) on social media with the hashtag #feelthefloatride.

Photo: Sean Pollock

(sponsored)

 

Leave a Comment October 31, 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

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