I’m a Member of #TeamAwesome ! #RunOttawa2018

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Good afternoon!

I’m excited to finally announce that I will be a member of Team Awesome next year for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend! I will be running the half marathon on the Sunday morning. It’s been tough to keep my lips sealed about this for weeks!

This race is one of my favorites in the city and I am so happy I will be sharing my journey with all of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me either here or on my twitter page (https://twitter.com/AOuzas05). The team will be made up of 40 wonderful runners who will be racing the various distances and challenges that race weekend offers (2k, 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, Lumberjack challenge and Voyageur challenge). To find out more about us, check out this link: http://www.runottawa.ca/torw/social/teamawesome

As some of you know, I will be running the Big Sur Marathon next year as well, which falls at the end of April. My goal for race weekend will be to (hopefully) carry my fitness through from marathon training and finally crack 2 hours at the half marathon. My current best is 2:03 right now but I suspect I would have been even closer if I raced a fall half marathon. Also, I will be adding more hill training (i.e., I will actually do some…) since Big Sur is notoriously hilly. I believe this will also help me for the half marathon because all courses at race weekend are pretty flat.

I also recently ran a marathon alone on a Tuesday morning a few weeks ago. I am still recovering from this and will hopefully be able to start training soon. In the meantime, I will be cross training! Keep your eyes peeled for a post about my marathon; I promise it’s coming soon!

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I have run both the half marathon and the full marathon at race weekend, so if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

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STWM DNF: Better luck next time

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Hey everyone! I’ve been putting off writing this for about a week so I could process what happened at my race. Long story short, I dropped out of the marathon somewhere in between kms 26 and 27. Before I get into the full recap, I’ll tell you about the whole weekend.

If I hadn’t mentioned it before, my boyfriend was also going to be running his first half marathon at the same race. We left Friday morning to drive out to Toronto so we could stay at his sister’s place and visit for the weekend (she also was running the half!). Her husband was going to run the 5k so it was a running weekend for everyone. We got to Toronto with no problems and had a relaxing Friday night consisting of eating pizza and binge watching American Vandal. We went to bed early and I managed to get a pretty decent sleep, which is unusual for me on a race weekend.

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The next morning, we all got up and got ready to go to the expo. I had no problem picking up my bib (less people do the marathon). Alex had to wait in a huge line to pick up his bib. For some reason, they had the pickup divided by race and gender. I guess it was supposed to help the t-shirt pickup go faster. The volunteers were working as quick as they could, but this set up was not very efficient. Surely the marathon people could have helped the half people out to help kill the line. All in all, it didn’t take that long, it was just strange.

I didn’t really need anything so I walked through keeping my eyes peeled for any really good sales. I didn’t look very hard but I didn’t find anything I needed. They had lots of booths to look through. They also had a really cool area dedicated to Ed Whitlock, complete with his running kit!

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We finished up at the Expo and headed to Little Italy to have some lunch. It was warm enough to sit on a patio. I ordered some pasta with plain tomato sauce, since this is normally what I would have for lunch the day before a race. We headed back to their condo and played board games all afternoon. We had my usual dinner of chicken and potatoes and watched the Leafs play the Sens. After the game ended, we all headed to bed since we had an early morning ahead of us.

I didn’t sleep terribly that night, but I was awake at 5am. It was a little early but I stayed in bed and just tried to relax. I woke up feeling ok, not too nervous to race. Since we had to make it to the start of the 5k, we had to leave before 7am. I had some coffee before we left and made my oatmeal so I could eat it in the car. I was worried that if I ate it too early, I would be hungry by the time the race started at 9am. Just as an aside, I wish that this marathon started at 7am instead of 9am to help avoid running through midday sun (and lunch time!). I took this picture on our way to the race.

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We made our way to the half/full marathon start. If you aren’t familiar with STWM, they races start at the same time and follow the same course until the half marathoners make the turn to head up to the finish line. I guess this is why they have the marathon start late. We parked and hung out in the car for a bit. We decided to try and get to the washroom before the race start. It felt nice and cool when we walked over but this wasn’t going to last.

At 8am, we attempted to find the porta potties. This was a nightmare. I guess because of how the area is laid out, they couldn’t put in long lines of them. I only saw clusters of 5 or 6. And the lines for them were very unorganized and confusing. The end of one line and the start of another were in the same place. I think this could have been organized better, even if they had just put some fences or something to indicate where people should line up. Luckily, we had gone early enough to use the washroom and make it to the start; it took us 25 minutes to get through the lines.

After that, we headed to the start line which meant splitting up from Alex and his sister. They were going to run much faster than me so they were in different corrals. I tried to stay calm and get mentally prepared for the race. Closer to the start line, I saw a long line of porta potties. Maybe someone could have directed people to those ones when the lines were building up.

I tried to get my watch ready for the race. For anyone with a GPS watch, you know it sometimes takes a little while for the watch to find the satellites. There were tall buildings by the start which made it worse. My watch never found me before I crossed the start line. This was strike 1 in a series of bad things to happen. I didn’t panic though because I figured it would find me eventually and it would be fine. Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t trust my pace. Next thing I knew, I was crossing the start line and we were off!

This is where things already weren’t so great. I tried to run what felt easy and tried to stay a bit behind the 2:15 half marathon pace bunny. My GPS was way off and I couldn’t figure out how fast I was running. I run in miles but the course had km markers. I was probable close to my goal pace but I definitely went slightly faster than I should have. No big deal, I tried to slow down. From km 1 to km 4 I also had slight stomach cramping; strike 2. This has happened before during my long runs and I knew it would go away. It was only a little uncomfortable, not seriously painful. Again, I tried not to freak out and kept trucking along. I decided to use the lap button on my watch when I passed every 5k so I’d at least have a general idea of where I was and how fast I was going. I normally take fluids every mile so I was trying to keep a general idea of when this was happening. I crossed the first 5k in 32:06, which was a little fast but still ok.

Despite it being a warm day, the first 8km were pretty cool because there were in the shade. However, I felt the sun affecting me as soon as we stepped out into it. I was feeling a little weak so I had my first chew here. I usually take them somewhere in between 8-10km so this was normal for me. I figured I may be a little hungrier than normal because of my early breakfast. I walked to eat my snack and I started dumping water on my head at the water station. Luckily, it wasn’t a humid day so the water actually made a big difference since it could evaporate. I made it to the 10k mark at 1:04:43, putting my second 5k split at 32:37. I was still doing ok at this point and was running consistently.

This part of the course was nice because it is out and back. I could see all of the faster runners on the other side of the road and it was distracting me from the long race ahead of me. I tried to look out for people I knew running the race. I didn’t see any of them, but I did see some funny costumes.

I still wasn’t feel great but I keep trying to run consistently and keep cool. I would dump water on my head at the water stations and then try and hold onto another cup for as long as I could so I could dump it again before the next station. It was a little annoying running with the cup but I managed. The cloud cover was starting to burn off at this point and it was affecting everyone. The temperature in the morning was 14 but it was heating up to 21 in the afternoon and it was well on its way there.

I made it to the 15km mark at 1:39 and had a 5k split of 34 minutes. I was still on track and doing ok. I opted to eat my second snack on one of the only hills on the course so I could walk up it. In my head I was thinking about if I should take the half marathon turn off when the course splits. I decided to see how I was feeling when I got there, but I was still doing well enough to think I could do the full marathon.

Nothing too interesting happened in the next few kms. I saw lots of the half marathoners trying to make the final push to the finish line. I was jealous that they would be done soon and I had hardly gotten started. My legs were starting to feel a bit sore but I ignored it. Eventually I made it to the splitting point of the race. This was a huge mental game. They had banners over the left side of the road that said “Half marathon” and then ones over the right that said “Marathon”. It was going to be a lonely race from here on out.

Another thing I should mention is that the part of the race right before the split was all in the shade of road above the one we were running on. I felt ok and still really thought I could finish the race at this point, and I think this was a large reason why. Had it been in the sun, I would have most likely made the turn and just finished the half marathon instead.

I crossed the halfway point of the marathon course in 2:22 at 11:25 am. I was still on track to PR but this is where things started to really go south. Both of my hips started to lock up and it was making my legs feel really sore. I had never had this happen in training so I was very surprised by it. I figured that if anything would bother me, it would be my knee since I had problems with it last year. After crossing the timing mat, I pulled off the course so I could stretch my legs out in hopes of them loosening up. They didn’t. Strike 3.

I still didn’t panic at this point because I could still do a run/walk routine. I tried to maintain this and the 4:40 pacer bunny ran past me. Still no big deal, I let them go by and was out there to run my own race. I was having a hard time maintaining running for more than a few minutes and this is where I started to wonder if I was in trouble.

I passed the water station at 23km and tried to cool down with a water over my head again. I made it a few minutes past this station and my stomach started to gurgle. And not the “oh I think I need to burp gurgle”. Strike 4. I didn’t want to turn around and try to get back to the washrooms behind me since this stretch was out and back. I figured I could walk until the next porta potty and be ok. I found one at the turn around point but there was no toilet paper left. So the only option was to try and make it to the one I had already passed.

Thankfully, I did make it to the next one without any incident. Unfortunately, my stomach was starting to seriously cramp up like it has in previous races. I decided to text Alex to alert him that they may need to pick me up.

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The “keep going!” text was so hard to read. There was nothing I wanted more than to keep going and finally conquer the marathon. I remember feeling frustrated and then so sad that it probably wasn’t going to happen. At this point, I tried run walking some more but couldn’t sustain running for more than 2-3 minutes. I knew something wasn’t right. I had never felt this bad in training. I crossed the 25km mark in 2:56. It had taken me 34 minutes to cover 3.9km.

At this point, I was done. The rest of the course was going to provide little shade, it was sunny, my legs hurt way more than normal, and my stomach was hurting. My options were to gut it out for what probably would have been another 3 hours, or cut my losses and save my legs. I opted to drop out at this point. It clearly was not my day to conquer the marathon and I wanted to give myself the option of trying again. Otherwise, my legs would be trashed and that would be it for the season.

I had no idea where I was so I asked some very helpful volunteers where I should walk so I would be in a good place to be picked up. I walked over and was like “Hello, I would like to stop now. Where should I go?” which they thought was pretty funny. They congratulated me for making it that far and I walked myself off the course. In the midst of trying to call Alex, I also accidentally called my dad. I talked to him for a few minutes about my race and then found an easy pickup point. I sat soaking wet in a Staples parking lot; that wasn’t exactly how I had pictured my race ending.

By the time they had come to pick me up, I had already come to terms with my DNF. I knew it was the smartest choice for me and I may have even prevented injury. I still don’t know what happened to my hips, but I’m wondering if my shoes were too worn out. What happened during my race was an unfortunate combination of race ending factors. Had only one or two of those things happened, I probably would have finished. I am also not sure why my stomach was so angry either. I tried to do things as close to normal as possible and don’t really know what else I could have done. Maybe not getting a long enough sleep meant poor digestion? I really don’t know.

We went out for lunch to celebrate our races after they picked me up. Alex ran 2:06 in his first half marathon and I’m very proud of him. He had hip problems during training and didn’t get out as often as he would have liked. After a big plate of food and a cup of coffee, I was feeling almost back to normal. We headed back to shower and relax for a bit and then packed up to head home. I only had one brief moment of feeling disappointed and upset.

It’s too easy to think of this race as a “failure”. I don’t believe I failed. I think I made the smartest choice I could with how I was feeling. Yes, it does stink that months of hard work and training culminated into a bad race. But this happens even to the most elite runners. When they struggle in a marathon, they don’t gut it out to the point of injury. They back off and try and salvage their running season. That is what I tried to do. I know in my heart that I could have finished, but it would have been the most unpleasant experience. I don’t feel like I have failed myself at all.

So where does this leave me? Ideally, I would have liked to race a marathon before the end of the year since I should still be maintaining most of the fitness I gained. The only one that would have been reasonable would be the one in Hamilton this weekend. But it’s on the day of my graduation and I would not have enough time to get back for it. So my new plan is to rest up for a bit longer and start running again. If I feel recovered and well enough, I will try and cover 26.2 miles on my own. I have also been sick the last week so the runs I have gone on have felt (probably) harder than they should have. My legs felt fine the days following the race. After my first recovery run, my butt felt really sore. That was funny to me because it hadn’t been sore at all after the race.

All in all, I wish my race could have gone better but I made the right choice. I am in a position to try again and I came home healthy. We went on a nice recovery walk one night; here’s proof that I’m still smiling.

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TL;DR: Watch didn’t show pace properly, stomach cramped up, hips locked up, race too hot and needed emergency porta potty break. Dropped out at 27km and went for lunch instead. Will re-attempt a marathon in next month. Also, my butt is sore.

Marathon Goals Revised

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Bad news! My streak of having ridiculously hot races will continue this weekend. I’m bummed.

I picked the Toronto Waterfront Marathon because it is at the end of October. I was hoping for an average fall day. The average high and low in Toronto for this time of year are 13 and 8 Celsius. Mother Nature has other plans and it’s looking like a high of 23, low of 12 and humid and sunny. Ugh.


Unfortunately, this race also doesn’t have an early start time. I will be starting around 9am which means I will be running straight through the hottest part of the day. This means revising my time goals.

As much as I’d like to think I can still shoot for my A goal of under 4:30, I don’t think it will be smart. I usually don’t do well in the heat and actually had to shorten a 20 mile training run because of it. My new plan will just be to run whatever speed feels comfortable based on the conditions.

I’ll make the best of it but it’s hard to not feel a little disappointed. As I mentioned in my last post, this has by far been my best training leading up to a marathon. It’ll be tough knowing that I could probably go faster if the conditions were more favorable.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some clouds and a cool breeze coming off the water. I’ll try and make the best of the experience and just hope I finish healthy. Good luck to everyone running!

Thesis Complete, a New PR and Marathon Goals!

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Good news! I’ve completely finished my degree! I do still have a paper we need to submit for publication, but that will be down the line. Thesis is finally done! That being said, I should be writing more often now as I have more free time. I am still trying to lock down a job, but had an interview last week which I think went well. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend, complete with two turkey dinners! One with my friends, and one with my family. I wasn’t sure if I would feel up to racing the free 5k on Saturday morning after a Friday night turkey dinner, but I set my alarm and decided to see how I felt when I got up. The weather looked decent and I felt ok (I tried not to completely stuff my face) so I got ready and went to the 5k. I was pretty sure I was in PR shape based on how I did at the Army run, so I was planning to race it.

I arrived around 20 minutes before the start, so I grabbed my sticker (that’s what they give instead of bibs), went to the washroom, and warmed up a little bit. It was pretty decent racing weather: overcast, not too windy and kind of cool. I lined up near the front since this run is notorious for people starting too close up and I didn’t want to be dodging around too much. To my dismay, they said we would be running the course in reverse. Traditionally, I’ve found the reverse route more difficult because the hill you climb is steeper this way (or it seems like it anyways). I wasn’t sure how it would play out for going for a PR.

I’ll save you the play by play along the course (it’s a big square and you run it twice). I finished the first half in 13 minutes and I knew if I could hold the pace, I would be well under my record. It was tough but I managed to do it! Either my watch went crazy, or the course was longer because of the reverse route, but it measured in a 3.16 miles. So my time was 26:01, but my Garmin thinks my 5k record is 25:35. I beat my previous time of 26:25 by a lot either way so I’m happy! As per usual, Ian Hunter took some excellent pictures of everyone.

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This was right after the start. It actually looks like I’m running for once!

I am not photogenic while racing. I tried to smile and it looks like I’m smirking… haha. The smirk happened on the first lap.

Second lap pictures turned out a lot better. I actually look like I’m enjoying myself!

As I mentioned, this course is not flat. This graph isn’t the greatest, but you can tell where the hills were based on my pace. I slowed going up, but sped up going down for both laps. I even was running under an 8 minute mile going down the hill. It was a good day for me!

Pace

This was pretty encouraging. I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. My previous 5k time came off of doing speed work. This time, it was simply from running higher mileage for marathon training. In the future, I think I’d like to specifically train for a 5k and see how fast I can go!

Now to transition, my marathon is in two weeks! I can finally write about my goals for the race. I’ve had some solid training and should come in at around 430 miles ran since July when I toe the start line. I was more consistent with my runs, and put extra focus on making sure to make my longs runs. I was supposed to do two 20 milers, but only managed one. The first one was on a hot day and I tapped out at 17 miles because I was feeling dizzy. But! My second one was last week and everything finally clicked. I did the full 20 miles at a 10:39 pace/ mile. This is “fast” for me.

I also felt like I could keep going, and the pace was not at all too fast. I was comfortable and could have sped up. Now I finally feel ready to race and I’m pretty confident I will actually be able to run the whole thing. I only walked on my last 20 miler to send a text message about when I would be home haha.

So here are my goals for the race now that I have a better idea of what’s possible.

A Goal: Sub 4:30. I am pretty sure if everything clicks, I can go under 4:30. I am hesitant to shoot for faster than that since the marathon is a beast. You never know what could happen

B Goal: Sub 4:45. I think this is also very likely since that would mean holding the pace of my 20 mile run without speeding up at all. Barring disaster, it should be possible!

C Goal: Sub 5:00. At the very least, I would like to have a time that starts with a 4. I have put way more training in than my previous marathons and want it to pay off!

D Goal: Just finish (hopefully under 5:15, my current PR!). I think even if I’m having a terrible day, this should be possible.

So there it is! My goals are officially written out. I hope I can meet them! The only thing I am worried about with this race is how I will eat breakfast at the right time. We will have to head out early to get there. I think I may just eat in the car on the way there so it’s closer to how I was eating in training. Other than that, I’m actually not feeling nervous! I’m excited!

I’ll leave you with some pictures of the nice run I took yesterday on the trails near my parents’ house. It was a warm and humid fall day and I just enjoyed being out!

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I thought this speed limit sign was funny.

Lastly, congratulations to anyone who raced this weekend!

Army Run Recap!

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Hey! I’m a little late on this but I’ve been pretty busy trying to wrap up the rest of my thesis. (Side note: I successfully defended it a few weeks ago and only have some editing left to do!).

Let’s get into it. The Army Run added a 10k race this year since it was the 10th anniversary of the run. Although I am in marathon training, I opted for the shorter race distance. I’ve found in previous years that this race falls too early in September and is usually hot. It also has a 9:30 start for the half marathon time, so if it was a hot day, it would not be PR conditions. Boy, did this gamble pay off. We had a two week heat wave in Ottawa which spanned over this weekend. I would have been disappointed if I had signed up for the half. I’m pretty sure I am in PR condition, but would not have been able to go for it on that day.

I also thought the 10k would be a cool idea for a fitness check since I had done one close to the start of my training cycle. I finished in 59:14 on a hot day and a difficult course. In any case, I wanted to see how marathon training affects my 10k time.

I was in a lull of thesis work so I headed to the race kit pickup when it first opened on the Friday at 11 am. I believe in previous years it normally starts earlier. When I got there, it was absolute pandemonium. Everyone who works downtown must have taken their lunches early specifically to go to the pickup. I didn’t mind because I wasn’t in a rush. It took me about 15 minutes to get my bib, and then another 20 minutes to get the chip activated. Although it seems slows, given the amount of people that were there, the volunteers were working very quickly and efficiently.

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The shirt pickup was in a tent outside of City Hall and was much less crowded. I heard a very rude lady get mad at one of the volunteers. She wanted her shirts even though she hadn’t picked up her bibs. I was so disappointed; the running community is normally so supportive and nice. This lady was crazy. I talked to the volunteer after to thank her for doing a good job.

I also watched some of the live performance on the stage. He was good! It was pretty relaxing sitting in the chairs on such a nice day.

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I did walk through the expo, but I didn’t really need anything so I headed home after this.

On the Saturday, I didn’t really do too much. I actually can’t remember what I did that day, so it must have been pretty relaxing. I had my usual pre-race meal of chicken and potatoes and tried to head to bed early.

Since I am in training, I wanted to run more than 6.2 miles for the day since that’s not really far enough. So I decided to do a 20 minute shake out run and then I would try to do another 20 minutes after the race if  I was feeling ok. I woke up on race morning to a really humid, warm morning. There was some cloud cover so it wasn’t scorching hot yet. My warm up run went well and I was already soaked with sweat despite going slow. I got changed into my race clothes and headed out.

I didn’t really have a goal for this race. Because the forecast was showing brutal, hot, and humid weather, I knew it would be a tough day for running. We hadn’t really had weather like that for awhile, so I was not used to running in it. I knew I was in PR shape, but didn’t want to push too hard, too fast. So I set out with the goal of running the first half easy (no time goal, just whatever pace felt comfortable), and then would try and finish strong.

I have a few complaints about the Army Run this year. The first is that although they made us choose corrals when we signed up, I could not for the life of me find anything saying what the predicted finishing times were for each one. This caused a lot of confusion for people trying to make sure they were starting in the right spot. This is important because some people may sign up for faster corrals, hoping to be in that shape, and then realize come race day that they should actually start further back. I’ll get into my other complaint after.

So I signed up for the second fastest corral, which I have no idea what time I thought I would finish in. I heard one lady saying that it was the 45 minute and under section to a man asking her. I told the man that it couldn’t have been right because I would not have picked that corral! I wish I could run that fast!

I went to go line up and found the first two corrals almost completely empty. I found a spot near the back of the second one and just stayed there because I felt like I was too close to the front and didn’t want to be in the way. This is my second complaint: even though I was so close to the front, there were still people walking in front of me! Army Run, please enforce the corrals a bit more! This was dangerous. They could have been trampled. This was also exasperated by people doing the Vimy Challenge. As soon as they finished the 5k, they hopped into the front of the corral because they were worried about being late. Ugh.

I think a solution to this problem (and the first one I mentioned) would be to put the corral times on the flags. I think this would scare some sense into walkers who decided to line up with people running 40 minute 10ks.

Now to the race. As I said, I ran the first half pretty easily. I would have liked to go a bit faster than I did, but the first 2-3 kms were spent dodging people walking. The course route didn’t help with this either since it only widened later.

The route was decent, a few hairpin turns but pretty flat. They set up lots of misting stations and the water stations were well stocked. I made sure to go through all of the mist!

I hit the halfway point in around 29 minutes. I felt pretty good. We lucked out that the start was early. The sun was still low enough that the buildings shaded us for the first 6 km. I felt better than I thought I would, so I decided to go for it. This worked pretty well until km 7 where we ran back into direct sunlight. This took a toll but I tried to hold on and finish strong.

I could tell I was running a strong race because I was passing people throughout the second half. I didn’t make a sprint for the finish because I knew it was getting hot and didn’t want to be the girl passed out at the finish line. I finished in 56:46 and am super happy with this time. I know I am capable of faster given that I started very slow, and it was a hot day. I also slowed down through the misting stations too. Here are my splits.

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Here I am at the finish!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get many race pictures because I was always behind a tall person! I am ok with this because I’m sure they wouldn’t have been glamour shots haha.

I ran my 1.5 cool down miles, showered, ate, and then headed back to the finish to wait for my dad. He did the half. I showed up with ice water, an ice pack, freezies and a wet towel because it was really getting hot. He still did well despite the heat but he knows he can go faster!

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That picture was before I started.

All in all, I had a good time at the Army Run. I have run it for six years straight and it’s always fun. I was disappointed with the corrals, but everything else was great. I am also encouraged by my 10k time with my marathon coming up. I’ll do a post soon about my goals for it, but this is the highest mileage training cycle so it should be a good one!

Cya!

Marathon Training!

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Hello hello!

Thought I would drop in for some updates. I have started training for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon which is in October. So far so good!

I accidentally missed the start of training but it was ok since I was building base anyways. I did the 15k farm run at the experimental farms as I usually do. It was a little slower than I had hoped, but still decent. I finished in about 1:31 and got a pretty cute cow medal.

2017-07-12 20.27.06So after this race, my training really started. I averaged about 20-25 miles per week for the first few weeks. Now that we are into August, the mileage has been picking up. I’m pretty proud to say that even though I’ve had busy weekends (family stuff, a birthday party weekend etc.) I haven’t missed a single run so far. I’ve ran 80 miles so far this month.

I also did the free 5 k on the first Saturday of August. It was a promising run! I finished in just under 27 minutes, which I haven’t done since last year. It wasn’t a PR but it was only 30 seconds slower. Not bad considering I was doing speed training when I got my PR. (Also love these little races because Ian Hunter, a run Ottawa member, always gets great pictures of everyone!).

Farm run Aug 2017Last week in my training plan, it called for a half marathon race. Given that it is summer time, I didn’t bother trying to find an actual race. So I set out Friday morning to do a solo race along one of my normal routes. I expected to come somewhere in between 2:10-2:15. Despite a sore tummy (I wasn’t smart and had a beer the night before) and tired legs (I played flag football the night before), I finished in 2:12. I’m happy with this time because I did it on tired legs on a super humid day. I never felt out of breath; my legs were definitely what slowed me down. So this is encouraging because on rested legs, I should be able to go much farther. Here are my splits (in km from Strava).

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I was very consistent and also only walked to eat (km 11) and because my leg was really itchy (km 19). I’m hoping this means I can come under 5 hours in my marathon.

As far as goals for the race go, I’m not sure yet. Marathons are just so much harder than the other, shorter races to be able to predict how you’ll do. Because they are longer, there is more time for something unexpected to happen. However, at the very least, I should do better than my previous marathons (5:45, 5:15). I have been way more consistent and my mileage is higher. Training through the summer is making that a lot easier. I’ve also been lucky that it’s been a cooler summer so I haven’t had to deal with extreme heat. The long run distances are starting to creep up and I have a 17 miler this weekend! I’m looking forward to it.

Also, other big news! I entered the first timers draw for the Big Sur Marathon (mostly as a pipe dream) and I actually got in. So looks like I’m going to California next year! I don’t have everything planned but I did get my hotel book in Carmel for the race and I’m officially signed up. It’s going to be an expensive trip but I’m treating myself for finishing my Master’s!

Hopefully I’ll check in again soon. Have a good week!

Where I am at

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Hey! Is this thing still on?

My blog took the back burner while I’ve been finishing up my master’s. Good news is, most of my writing is done now so I actually feel like blogging again!

So when I last left you, I was training for Ottawa race weekend for the half marathon. Training went ok but as is tradition, the race was stinking hot. So about 40 minutes in, I decided it was safer and smarter to slow down and just enjoy the race. I had fun and didn’t PR, but I think I set a personal record for how many high fives I gave in one race! I finished in 2:21, which is not bad but not what I was hoping for.

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I am planning on doing a fall marathon this year. I’m glad I decided against doing the marathon at race weekend (I was worried it would be hot again!). Also I think it was the smart choice because I was injured so I gave myself some recovery time instead of jumping straight into marathon training.

I also did another race a few weeks later. This was a MEC race out in Carp. Of course, it was another hot day. I wasn’t expecting anything crazy because there is a pretty big hill on the course so I just ran my best. But damn, if that course was flat, I would have had a huge PR. The heat and the hill got to me but I still finished 10k in under an hour!

This was encouraging after a sub par half marathon. The training was there, the weather was not on my side. It was Father’s day also, so it was nice to get out there with my dad!

Since then, I’ve been building up my base mileage again. I’ve also gone on a few bikes rides. I need to try and do more cross training to avoid the muscle imbalance I was dealing with last year. The weather hasn’t been great here in Ottawa (for summer weather), but in terms of running – it’s been nice. Although it’s been raining a lot, the temperature has been cooler than normal. Not good for summer vacations, but pretty decent for running!

I ran through downtown Ottawa on Canada Day. It was crazy, but it was fun to explore the crowds! We ended up doing about 5 miles but it felt short because we were having so much fun.

I ran 10 miles today which felt good. My shins wouldn’t warm up at the start but eventually, I got going. It was pretty cool out until the end of my run. But definitely nothing to complain about since it could be a lot hotter in July!

I am considering doing the farm race I’ve done a few times. I’m holding out a bit longer to get an idea of what the weather will look like. Last year, I signed up and then it was 34 degrees Celsisus, and was one of the hottest days of the whole summer. I’m hoping this isn’t the case this year. I need at least one decent weather race!

Lastly, my boyfriend and I adopted a kitten a few months ago. She is very cute and playful. Her name is Noelle and we adopted her from the Humane Society. They are doing a fundraising run for them in September! http://www.runottawa.ca/races-and-events/run-ottawa-races/run-for-the-animals

That’s all I’ve got for now. I will have more updates soon!

Half Marathon Training

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Happy Friday!

As mentioned before, my plan for this year is to do a half in the spring and hopefully crack the 2 hour mark. I spent January and February building my base up. It didn’t go as well as planned in February because I got a cold that knocked me out for about a week. However, I did 64 miles in January and 58 miles in February with cycling mixed in there too (141 minutes in January and 236 in February). It doesn’t seem like much but my mileage in December was a whopping 9 miles so I’ll take it.

I also did a 10k race in February to do a fitness check on my speed going into training. I obviously lost speed by not running much over the last few months but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I finished in 58:30.

We lucked out in February and had about a week of beautiful weather. I ran in shorts!

Please note that there are people sledding on a hill behind me.

Anyways, now I am right into my training. I am using a modified version of the Hanson’s method for marathon training. I know I am not training for a marathon, so I’ve adjusted the workouts accordingly. I like how they have a well structured program with tempo and interval workouts. It also means I will be running 4-5 days a week. I am supplementing one of the recovery runs with a cycling/cross training day. I also jumped straight into the week where the interval and tempo days start. It’s an 18 week plan and I don’t need that much for a half.

Last week was the first week of training. Unlike in February, the weather has been quite brutal for the last two weeks. The temperature has dropped again and there’s been a lot of windy days. I still managed pretty decent interval and tempo runs.

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I should also mention that these runs were done at the tail end of my cold so I was very surprised I was able to keep up!

I did a short run last Saturday. It was probably one of the coldest days I’ve ever ran on. At least the sun was out.

I don’t have my sunglasses on because they froze.

Then I did an 8 mile long run last Sunday which also felt pretty decent. My knee has been holding up. Sometimes it gets stiff when I’ve been sitting for a while but honestly I can’t remember if it was always like that.

So the first week of training went pretty well. This week hasn’t been so successful. First, my schedule got thrown out the window because of freezing rain on Monday night. I knew it wouldn’t be smart to run Tuesday morning after it was so icy. I went to the hockey game on Monday night and it was pretty funny to see everyone scraping their cars off in the parking lot.

I cycled on Tuesday instead. That went really well but I’m afraid I overdid it. I did my interval run the next morning and just could not get moving. On top of that, my stomach was not feeling 100% and I was getting side stitches. I still finished the run but it was not as fun as last week.

I took a rest day yesterday because my legs still felt dead. Today was my tempo run. The same problem happened where I ended up with side stitches and my legs were dead. The weather also changed while I was out and went from running in the sun to running head first into a blizzard. That made things a little more difficult.

I’m trying to stay positive and not get discouraged by two mediocre runs. I feel I still put as much effort in this week as I did last week, I was just more tired. My school life was pretty busy and I had a lot of work to do which meant staying late some nights. I’m hoping my long run this weekend goes better and that my stomach will cooperate.

I promise I will check back in soon! Have a good weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEC Race Below Zero

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Hey! Is this thing still on?

I’ve had a crazy month or so and I haven’t posted! I’ve been tweeting about running though, so you can catch up on my twitter. You may remember that I was planning on doing a winter race. I did it last year and lucked out with really warm weather!

Let’s take a step back here and talk about the race. MEC always does a great job of organizing cheap, and fun races. This time, it was a 5k or 10k race out by the Rideau-Carleton raceway. It’s kind of out of the way, but the start and finish was on the race track!

We had kind of a crazy race morning. My dad was also doing the race and we had to go pick him up. Since my parents’ house is so far away from the race, we stayed there the night before and had a 30 minute drive to the start. There was also a bit of a snow storm the night before which made things slow. We still got to the race with plenty of time before the start.

The weather wasn’t as nice as last year. It was -11 with some wind and it was cloudy. It even snowed a bit. However, the weather was so warm last year that we weren’t allowed to run on the track because they thought we would damage it. This year, we would finish on the track! This also made it easy for my faithful cheering squad/ driver (Alex) watch from inside.

I wasn’t sure what to expect because I was still building up my base and had done no speed work. I decided to shoot for under an hour and just see where that took me. Here I am along the course!

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It was an out and back course with two loops. It was fairly flat but there were some small inclines. Also there was a slippery section around where we made the transition back onto the race track.

For the first half of the race, I felt pretty good. My hands were a bit cold but other than that, I felt good. I kept playing leap frog with this very tall girl and her friend. It was kind of helpful though because she was blocking the wind for me! Most of the time I was kind of annoyed by it though. Not because we were trading places but because she was so tall that she kept blocking me from being in the pictures that the camera man was taking.

After the first lap was done, I was still feeling pretty good. I tried to increase my pace a bit because I really wanted to try to come in under 58 minutes. Unfortunately, this was just as pipe dream for my fitness level.

Halfway through the second lap, I just had no kick left. Not having any speed work before the race and limited runs in generally definitely killed me. I just tried to grit through and get the race done. I did manage to pick it up once I got back on the race track and I did my best impression of a race horse. I did just that and finished in 58:22. I think this is technically a PR, but it was only by a few seconds. I’ll take it!

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I got a really cool finish picture too! And after that happened, my friend who happened to be at the race accidentally took my picture. He was getting a picture of the course and he happened to take it right as I was walking inside.

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Here are my splits.

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I had a decent race considering my light training. I wanted to use this race as a gauge of my fitness and I was happy with the results. Now I have a baseline for where I’m at and can only get faster from here. My goal is to finally crack 2 hours in a half marathon. I think as long as I can stay healthy (as in my knee issue that I was having) I can definitely do it.

I will be better about posting again soon!

 

Building Base and Other Updates

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Good afternoon everyone!

I’m having myself a productive day and wanted to write a blog while I was at it. If you recall from my last couple of posts, I am currently building base before training for any more races. I’ve worked up to 19 miles this week. It’s not where I’d like to be but it’s a start and it beats being injured. I’m also still doing at least one bike ride a week along with some strength training. It feels good to get back into the swing of things.

We’ve had some crazy weather here the past couple of weeks. It went from freezing cold (which was just enough to freeze the canal over) to about a week and a half of above freezing temperatures. Here’s me when the canal was open. 2017-01-15-15-31-43

Here I am four days later with no gloves or coat on.

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I really don’t mind running in the cold but it’s been such a treat to not have to layer up so much. The warm weather also helped to clear off the paths and sidewalks which helps a lot. Lots of puddles to dodge, but it’s better than running over uneven ice. I know there are some people who absolutely love winter and are bummed out by the warm weather, but I’m sure it’ll cool down again soon enough!  In the mean time, I will not be wearing full pants while I run.

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I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but I’ve signed up for my big races for the year. I wanted to get in before the prices went up because, after all, I am still a student. I signed up for Ottawa race weekend (the half marathon), the Army run (10 k – new this year) and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon (marathon). I’m completely changing my racing strategy for the year based on weather and my injury.

I figured I could not get enough training in to run the race weekend marathon at full capacity. I also do not want a repeat of last year where the weather was smoking hot. I figure with a late fall marathon, I will have a better chance with cool temperatures. This will mean training long through the summer but I’m ok with getting up really early as long as the sun is up. It’s harder to do that in the winter. Also, with my master’s degree starting to wrap up, I didn’t want to over commit myself and regret it.

I don’t think I will run Around the Bay this year. I am bummed by this but it makes sense. Unless my training is perfect from here on out, I will barely be able to cover the distance. And school is hella busy so it’s all good.

I decided to try to 10 k at the Army Run because I never do well at the half marathon anyways, and it always seems to be hot too. At least I won’t have to run for as long if it does end up being toasty again.

I’ve heard good things about the waterfront marathon, and it’s always been a marathon that I would sit down and watch the coverage for. Now this year, I’ll be in it! Funny story – this may end up falling on the same day as my graduation…. I’ll deal with that as it happens.

That’s all for running news. In other news, I got a new bed. I’m super excited about it and it looks really nice! And it’s really comfy!

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Lastly, my friend got a really cute dog and I’m really jealous. I got to play with him on the weekend. His name is Rocky, aka Mr. Fluffy.

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That’s all for now!

If you don’t follow me on twitter, you can @Aouzas05!