Tag: running

Fitness Swellness: GVRAT Back Across Tennessee race recap

117595634_761690017929039_6907621251400303142_n

108 days into the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, I made it BACK ACROSS TENNESSEE!

That’s a total distance of 2,043.36 kilometres. If you recall, at the beginning of May I wasn’t sure how difficult it’d be to complete the Race Across Tennessee (RAT) distance in the four months for the race, so to have completed double the distance with just under two weeks to spare, I’m shocked, and proud.

It’s 107 days if you’re looking at “chip time” as I only registered for the race on May 2nd, but the race goes by gun time. This race most definitely tapped into my competitiveness. Once I finished RAT, I knew I could complete 1,000 miles. Especially since for the BAT race, I was including walking miles.

I completed 1,000 miles in 91 days, ahead of the “end of July” goal I’d set for myself. And on August 5th, I thought “It’d be a nice even date to complete the BAT distance by August 15th.” For no other reason than it being the halfway mark of August. Out came my calculator and it called for doing just over 30 kilometres a day for 10 days straight. And even I knew that was unrealistic; my schedule is a lot busier now and I was struggling on the days I managed to log 21k. It included often sacrificing sleep to get at least 6k done in the early morning, and then walking at least 3k late at night (sometimes as late as 1 a.m.).

But I’d become a bit nervous about those late night walks and runs. I realized I was going through some dark and pretty deserted areas, which wasn’t the safest idea, then to add to it, there have been a slew of harassment incidents in the area so as I closed in on the last 200 or so kilometres of the race, I didn’t think it was wise to do the late walks and so I lost some precious time chipping away at the distance.

I realized on Friday, August 14th, that I had that day and the entire weekend I could devote to logging distance for BAT. And with 120 kilometres left, if I did 40k each day, I’d be done by Sunday, August 16th (just one day more than the goal I’d chosen as an ideal end date). So, I went for it. I already knew I had to run 21.1k on the weekend for the Lululemon Virtual SeaWheeze Half Marathon, so it meant “only” walking another 21k that same day as well, so that covered off one day. For my final 35k on Sunday, I took a very long (and rather boring) 12k walk across the city with my dog, visited the beach, stopped for pizza and then made the 12k walk back across the city and finished off the BAT race with a 3k run at night.

I walked much more of the BAT than I expected to. I think the RAT’s very intense 1,021.68k, for which I decided to only count running miles, was really hard on my body. My pace is terrible and I now even walk slowly, just out of pure exhaustion.

My BAT by the numbers

  • 766.86 walking
  • 267.3 running
  • zero 0 days (meaning I logged distance every single day)
  • a negative split of 10 days (I completed RAT in 59 days and BAT in 49 days)

Facetune_17-08-2020-21-11-32

Billie Jean and her GVRAT and BAT journey?

She completed 76 percent (or 1,554k) of the 2,043.36 RAT + BAT with me:

  • 1,071.3k running
  • 483.32 walking

And I’d have registered her as a dog completing the race but I knew the city’s heat and humidity would make it dangerous for her to complete every run with me, so I didn’t commit to making it race official for her, but to me she completed the race and I’m so proud of her.

And in the final standings, when I checked on Monday to confirm I’d officially completed the BAT, I finished 276th out of 11,063 women in this global virtual race, and in 622nd place (out of 19,612 participants).

F8699D11-1F9C-438A-BC51-E032772A74C0

So many firsts for me with this race, including my very first buckle! Now just need a belt to sport this huge, gaudy piece of bling on, haha!

This race has helped so many of us around the world cope in this crazy time. It became a huge thing to fixate on, distracting me from the stresses of  living through quarantine, which would’ve otherwise swallowed me whole. And the Facebook group for the GVRAT was a joy to be a part of (other than people asking every single day what the actual distance of the race is… people, get your act together, it’s clearly stated in the race FAQ). From the gorgeous photos from around the world, to so many shots of snakes (I’m so glad that’s not something I encounter on my runs!), along with Lazarus Lake’s often hilarious posts, plus all of the personal stories; there have been pregnancy announcements, breakups, deaths, pets, so many injuries, and with it, just the whole gamut of human emotions; the camaraderie that developed as we all pushed through living under lockdown and making it through this continuing pandemic–I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed being part of a Facebook group more. We are all in this together: the pandemic, this crazy race, interpreting “Laz miles”, all of it.

Thank you to Lazarus Lake and the entire GVRAT team for putting up with so many of the same questions and continually working on improving the virtual race experience for all of us and creating this crazy race that none of us will ever forget.

IMG_0778

 

Leave a Comment August 18, 2020

Fitness Swellness: Lululemon SeaWheeze Virtual Half Marathon 2020 recap

Screenshot_20200816-234143

And for my 19th half-marathon race, I did my first virtual half, the SeaWheeze Virtual Half Marathon!

I was invited by Lululemon to take part and I figured I need to log distance for my Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (which I completed the race distance of 1021.68k in late June, but I added on doing Back Across Tennessee, that is, running back to where I started the race on May 2nd) so I registered to run this virtual 21.1k, which had to be completed anytime from August 15 to 23rd.

I didn’t plan to race it. My legs are very, very tired from the GVRAT, and my pace is slow thanks to the 2,043 kilometres I’m almost done with for that race. Normally you should rest your legs before a race. I’ve had no rest days since about mid-April (I’ve had days of solely walking miles but no zero days as we have been calling them in the Tennessee race). So my plan was to approach SeaWheeze (SW20) as a long, slow run. Since I’ve been focusing on short runs for GVRAT (sometimes multiple times a day, although my BAT portion of the race I’ve replaced much of the distance with walking to give my body a break) I knew I had to incorporate some longer runs leading up to SW20. So I completed approximately one longer run a week in the month leading up to SeaWheeze. The longest distance I ran was 18k and last week, I was simply exhausted (my schedule has been very busy) and I couldn’t muster the energy to run another long run the only time I could find in my schedule, usually at 10 pm so I skipped it. I also skipped that one longer run as I am reluctant to run anything longer than 10k at night out of safety concerns.

As SeaWheeze start date approached, and with no long run completed last week (I did muster the energy to complete a 14k run, though), I decided I wouldn’t run the SeaWheeze distance until the latter end of the 8 days allotted for the virtual race, closer to August 23rd than August 15th.

And then I realized I’d be finishing the GVRAT well  before August 23rd, and there would be no way I’d be motivated to run 21.1k after finishing this monster of a virtual race (Lazarus Lake doesn’t create easy races, does he!). And I promise you that I am planning on some full R&R after I finish my Back Across Tennessee distance!

So coincidentally with this weekend off of work (from Friday to Sunday), I decided to run the 21.1k for SeaWheeze on the first day of the race period, last night, Saturday, August 15th. The weather was hot and humid, 30 Celsius when I started the race at 7:30, which was another factor making me even slower.

IMG_0595

I ran a usual route I do on the west side of the city for 16 kilometres, then picked up Billie Jean for the last 5k. She could complete the whole half marathon distance but with the heat, I didn’t think it was safe for her. Instead, I listened to the Reply All podcast as I took my time logging the distance. The weather cooled as it got later in the evening; my route included stop lights, and at the tail end of the race, I ran along the closed-to-traffic Lake Shore Blvd (closed as part of #activeTO, the program the city has run all summer that closes off traffic on certain streets so as to allow people to enjoy the outdoors biking, running or walking while social distancing) so it sort of felt like a real race since I was running on a barricaded street.

While this portion was closed to traffic like a race, there were no spectators or water stations of course. So I ran with bottle of Gatorade and refilled it with Nuun when I picked up Billie Jean, since any of the water fountains in the city aren’t running due to the pandemic. Although there were no spectators (my friend Aylin said she’d come cheer, I didn’t take her up on the offer), a girl did stop me on Lake Shore Blvd. to talk to me when I was at about the 19k mark; she wanted to talk how cute Billie Jean is (and I’ll gladly talk about my amazing pup anytime!).

For me, a virtual race of this type is much more difficult to get motivated for but it was very freeing to not be stressing myself out about running the distance as quickly as I could. (As an aside, for me, the GVRAT is in a different type of virtual race category as I’ve found it very motivating to try to log distance each day and watch my position improve daily; it has become an obsession). My NRC app (on which I reached Volt Level in June) on my Apple Watch and Strava differed by about half a kilometre (and I don’t think Strava pauses when I’m not moving so my times differ on the two apps—I’m fairly new to using Strava and haven’t fully learned the ins and outs of using it) but my Strava logs my SW time as 2:17:37.

In the end, the race helped me log more than 43 kilometres in my GVRAT race for the day, and I am proud of the fact that I can complete the 21.1k distance without training for a half per se, and on very weary legs.

I’d love to run the actual SeaWheeze in Vancouver IRL some day, I’ve heard it’s a fun one and Vancouver is so pretty. If you’re keen to run this year’s virtual half or 10k this week, you can still register btw! Thank you to Lululemon for the invitation to take part and for the running gear (this cap is so comfortable for running and I like the subtle camo print, and the cut of both the sports bra and Muscle Love Crop Tank Top is very flattering).

Now, excuse me as I get back to completing this Back Across Tennessee race. I reached 1,000 miles before the end of July, and the finish line for BAT is in sight!

Leave a Comment August 16, 2020

Fitness Swellness: Reaching Volt Level on Nike Run Club app

IMG_20200620_113936

I never knew attending the media launch of NikePlus in Toronto in the spring of 2007 would turn me into a runner who just last month logged 15,000 kilometres on the NRC app to reach Volt Level.

I couldn’t have predicted it. I hated running in gym class in school. I remember walking with a stitch in my side as I walked the perimetre of the schoolyard and hating my life at that moment.

I got to learn a little bit about running just before the NikePlus system launched here; my sister had gotten into running, and at the time I just didn’t understand the sport at all. I didn’t know a marathon was by definition 42.2k (I thought any run was a marathon and would call a 10k race a marathon, hahaha), and when I went to cheer her at her races, I didn’t understand how she’d been running for several hours, nor how we were able to predict where to find her along the route.

But I went to the NikePlus launch in 2007 and given I’d just started covering health for Flare magazine, I soon after registered for a Learn to Run clinic at the Running Room so I could put this system to use (back then the system involved putting the little sensor into the sole of your shoe, remember?!).

From there, I went onto the 5k clinic, 10k clinic and half-marathon. I stuck to the half distance for a little while since my time was quite slow, and I found myself struggling. Then I discovered I had a Graves Disease (that is, an overactive thyroid autoimmune disorder), which was why I would get so tired running (I’ll never forget my endocrinologist’s look of shock when I asked about running halfs and his direct order to not run long distances since it causes your muscles to tire quickly meant that I had to take a break for longer distances for a bit). A difficult breakup caused me to take another break, and then finally with my thyroid issues sorted out, and a halfhearted desire to get my life back on track, I joined a clinic again with a friend. It helped pull me out of depression, and I went on to register for marathon clinic, and I ran my first marathon in 2012, and finished with a time I was thrilled about for my first marathon.

Over the following eight years til now, I ran several other marathons (including Chicago for my third time in this race which I ran with a horrible cold) and halfs (my most recent and most memorable being the Dead Sea Half-Marathon), and a few 30ks (namely Around the Bay, which I last ran in 2014). Which brings us to 2020…

I’ve never been a runner who does a high volume, but with the pandemic, and no races in the calendar thanks to the pandemic, I decided to make simply logging distance a goal, so for April, I aimed to run 200k. Done and done.

And then at the end of April, when I needed another goal to keep me going, I came across the Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee 1000k and realized that if I registered, I would reach Volt Level and cross the GVRAT finish line at the same time. And if I could run 200k, certainly I could do 250k for the next four months, right?

I quickly realized my finish lines for Volt and GVRAT would not coincide since the virtual race is based on Lazarus Lake miles (and because the actual distance across Tennessee is actually 1021.68k) but no biggie, they’d just be a day or two apart. I registered for GVRAT…and within a week became intent on finishing the race as quickly as my body would allow without getting injured. Full breakdown of my GVRAT obsession in this post here!

00100trPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200628094044826_COVER (2) (1)

 

And less than two months into this virtual race, on a very hot and humid Sunday morning, June 28th, I reached Volt Level on NRC! 15,000 kilometres run. Given the number of runs not counted on NRC for a variety of reasons, I know IRL I reached this distance a little while go but I try not to focus on that missing data (but anyone who tracks their runs and for whom it’s a big motivating factor knows how it can make the run not seem like it even happened, hahaha). It took 13 years, and an intense 1021.68k race during a pandemic to get me to reach this level now (without GVRAT, I would’ve reached Volt sometime later this year).

Screenshot_20200628-091649

In terms of the NRC app, I have to say reaching Volt status was a little underwhelming in terms of the app. I expected something celebatory on the app. But the only difference is the screen now is the signature Volt yellow. It doesn’t even appear under the Achievements tab. But that’s OK, I have my own run celebration in store for this (hello, burger picnic with my running pal who’s also doing the GVRAT!). Oh, and I’ll happily be returning to using the NRC app on my Apple Watch rather than my phone (I had to switch for a few months as I didn’t have an iPhone to sync with my watch).

Although I find much of the personal motivation from the numbers (my pace, the kilometres I’ve completed, etc., etc.), the sport is about so much more than just the numbers, though. Running has brought so much to my life and changed me as a person. I’ve made good friends though the sport, had the opportunity to run in some incredible places around the world (Istanbul! The Dead Sea! Philly! Vancouver! To name just few.), and it’s pulled me out of low times in my lif, which I wrote about for Flare in 2012. The lessons in strength and resilience it’s taught me are immeasurable. On the days I dread having to run (because, believe it or not, I don’t consider myself someone who loves running, it’s very obvious to me when I talk to runners who are truly passionate about the actual act of running), I remind myself of all of the things running does do to enrich my life in incredible ways to get me to slog through sweaty, endless runs.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you to Nike Canada for all of the support and gear and running opportunities through these 13 years, and the gear and events from other brands as well such as Apple, Reebok, Saucony, New Balance, Gatorade, Saucony and iRun magazine. (My apologies for brands I’ve overlooked, I think I’m still weary from my 1000k race!).

15,000k complete, and so many kilometres to go. There is no finish line.

Leave a Comment July 13, 2020

Previous page


Recent Posts

Categories

Recent Comments