A month ago I was asked by Burnbrae Farms to represent them and be an ambassador for them at the Mississauga Marathon as they’re a race sponsor. I totally love the eggs from Burnbrae Farms, especially the Hardboiled Snack Packs that I buy at the Metro grocery store across the street from my work for my afternoon snack. (I walk over and buy 5 snack packs every Monday and store them in our work fridge). So I was stoked and I totally said “YES!” and was able to choose a race distance to run. I had my pick of the 5k, 10k, half marathon or the marathon.
In reviewing my training, and my future goals (Ironman 70.3 Muskoka), I decided that the half marathon would be the best fit for me. After Around the Bay I didn’t allow any recovery time and kept my weekend long runs up in the 15-20k range, I added in 2 days a week of spinning classes, and changed my Tuesday morning 10k runs to 3x 1 mile repeats with ½ mile recovery jogs. I even managed to fit in two 1k swims, and a few kettlebell workouts over the 4 week period. (I need to swim much more if this Ironman thing is gonna happen). I trained for a total of 4 weeks, including the 5 Peaks race that I ran the weekend before. I must admit that I barely tapered – I took 4 days off of exercising immediately before the race mostly because life got in the way, not because I was purposely tapering. This race was supposed to just be a long run for my Ironman training.
Race weekend finally arrived. I was planning on heading to the race expo on Saturday afternoon to meet up with Sue Hudson from the Hudson family that owns and operates Burnbrae Farms. I was looking forward to it because I really wanted to thank her for the great opportunity to represent Burnbrae Farms over the past month and in the race. I chose Saturday because I couldn’t go on Friday because I was working during the day, then the evening was Meet the Coach night for the softball team I’m coaching this summer. On Friday afternoon my best running friend and training partner, Juliette, sent me a text to let me know that she was volunteering at the expo and asked if I wanted her to pick up my race kit. I have to admit that race kit pick up is my least favourite part of racing. Taking time away from the family to go to a race is hard enough without having to spend 3 hours of the day prior driving back and forth to a race expo to pick up a bib that in my honest opinion could just as easily be mailed to the participants. Triathlons have figured out how to hand out timing chips on race morning, so why can’t road races? Our Saturday was already busy enough without me having to head to the far corner of Mississauga, fight parking, then run into the community centre to get my bib and chip, then race back home. On Saturday Hubby was at a coaches meeting for Amber’s soccer team that he’s coaching this summer, Sierra had tryouts for the Select Softball team, and I had an afternoon coaches meeting for the house league team I’m coaching. I also needed to try and get into the bike shop to pick up my road bike before it sits yet another week in the shop. Are you dizzy from our busy weekends yet? I was ecstatic that Juliette could get my kit for me as this saved me a few precious hours on Saturday (and probably helped keep some major peace with the Hubby).
The Mississauga Marathon race kit is always fantastic – it always has some hidden weird gems. I did the 10k a few years ago and I got grass seed, 11 years ago when I ran it I got some other equally unique item. This year the unique items were a reuseable Starbucks coffee cup (I already have 2 of these at home that I love, so now I have 3), and a can of Tuna casserole. The shirt is ok and will be nice for early morning training runs so that the blind drivers in the morning can see me.
My Saturday night pre-race fuel was not my typical spaghetti dinner. None of my training buddies were racing and pretty much all of us forgot I was racing (myself included). The men had all gone to another buddy’s house to watch the big fight, so the ladies got together with the children. It was a GORGEOUS night (finally) and none of us felt like cooking so we had a snacky dinner: fresh cut veggies and dip, French bread with brie and cranberry goat cheese, Spinach phylo pastries, and chicken wings. There was also wine and delicious Italian dessert treats filled with crème brulee (I think?). Because the race was just a training run, I may have had a few glasses of wine…
After the ladies night, I left one kid at Juliette’s and walked the other two home. I put the two girls to bed then began getting my race stuff together, looked up the parking details and then realised I was in for an incredibly early morning and I was kind of drunk from the wine. Ooops! I made myself a HUGE bottle of Gatorade and set my alarm for 4:45 am. I decided then and there that this race was gonna be sucktastic.
At 4:45 am my alarm went off. I woke up with a start realising that I might not even be able to go to the race if Hubby was still out at boy’s night. Thankfully sometime in the night hubby had come home. Cool – I can leave to race. I had a coffee, a hardboiled egg and some Love Grown Oats instant Oatmeal and quickly gathered my stuff to leave. I had to make it to a Community Centre on the far side of Mississauga to park and catch a shuttle bus to the start line before the last bus leaves at 6:30 am sharp. I stopped along the way to grab another coffee and a Boston Cream donut (a pre-race superstition that I swear makes me run faster on race day and will one day help me to qualify for Boston). I arrived for the bus at 6:15 am – just in time!
The race was going to start at 7:30 am so I had an hour to kill. I found a comfy spot on the grass and read my book on the Kindle App on my iphone (I totally love that I can read my books anywhere and on any device that I happen to have with me). I ate my donut and relaxed with my coffee and water for 30 min, then headed to the porta pottys for a last minute bio break. The porta-pottys had great inspirational quotes inside of each of them – a very nice touch!
After my bio break I ran off to do a warm up. I ran about 1 mile then did some dynamic stretches to loosen up. The bottom of my right foot was bothering me, not quite the plantar fascia area, it was more on the inside closer to my arch. I blamed my shoes. I was supposed to go buy new ones but just didn’t find myself with any time (or money) to do so. According to the iSmoothRun app I use to track the mileage on my shoes, my shoes have 849km on them. Flip flops might be more supportive. I stretched out the bottoms of my feet, Achilles, and soleus muscles then headed to line up in the start corrals. Everyone was gathered at the back so I pushed myself forward through the crowd to find the 2:00 hr pace bunny. I had this thought in my mind that a sub 2 hr half marathon would be nice pace for me given my hungover and exhausted status.
What on earth am I wearing?
Finally the race starts. I start the iSMoothRun running app to track my pace/distance. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I had accidentally left it set to my 3×1 mile workout, so the first thing I heard was “1 mile warmup… Go!”. Shite. So I “warmed” up for a mile. My legs felt nice and loose so I took off. 1 mile into the race the iSmoothRun app tells me it’s time for my 1 mile speed interval at an 8min/mile pace. I shrugged my shoulders and went for it. “Steady” says the app, so I know I’m holding close to the pace. It felt ok and I think that my wheels will either fall off at 10k or I will have a great race, so I slow a bit. I also get hot and throw my white long sleeve shirt away. I buy these in bulk from WalMart to toss at races. I never have any family come see me off at a race so I need to throw away cheap shirts during a race. It’s either that or freeze at the start line. After a mile the app tells me to back off and “recover” for half a mile, so I backed off a bit. A few minutes later it tells me it’s time for my next 1 mile interval. Screw the race, I’ll do the speed work and see what happens. I speed up and I feel like I’m flying. I see Nicole and Sam stretching. I struggle with choosing whether to run with them and help them with their last LONG training run in their marathon training (they had already run 15k that morning before the race started), or to keep on throwing the hammer down and actually racing this race. I choose to race. I run the mile interval in 7:55. I recover again and then run the last 1 mile interval in 8:08.
Pace per KM 5:24 5:02 5:20 5:00 4:53 5:04 5:11 4:59
Pace per Mile 8:22 8:33 7:53 8:09 8:10
It’s 5 miles into the race and I’m feeling great. I remind myself that this is a race in weather hotter than I’ve experienced since last September so I inhale 3 Honey Stinger chewy things that came from the race kit, and gulp some of the water and Gatorade I brought with me. I see the full marathon 3:45 pace bunny ahead of me and surge to keep pace with him. I want to see if I can even hold a Boston Qualifying pace for a half marathon – the last time I ran this pace I was 26 years old and I finished a half marathon in 1:51:18 – I have never come close to that pace since. The miles tick off as I run. I’m feeling good and slightly ahead of the bunny. The “big” hill at 10k totally sucks after running so much downhill. I run another 3 miles, then take in 3 more Honey Stinger chewy things. Hubby sends me a text to wish me good luck, I struggle to reply that I’m already half way done. I was happy that he remembered to cheer me on and hopeful that he’d realised I had gotten half way through the race in less than in an hour.
Pace per KM 5:04 4:59 5:42 5:17 5:15
Pace per Mile 8:05 8:49 8:29
I’m 13 km into the race (just over 8 miles) and I’m starting to hurt. The busy weekend, the heat and the alcohol the night before is starting to catch up with me, but I still stick with the bunny. It hurts to keep the pace but I do it anyways. I can feel a blister starting on my left big toe. Ouch. Still I run. At about 14.5k the marathon splits off from the half marathon and I have to figure out how to hold the pace without the bunny. Thankfully we’re mostly going downhill. We pass by the corner I stood at in the dark two years ago volunteering at the Ragnar relay and I must at how different it looks during the day (much safer). I keep on going. At 16.5 k the race turns to follow the trail beside the Lake. This is where it gets really hard to hold onto any speed. It’s windy and narrow. You also need to be careful passing other runners. People are starting to suddenly stop and walk in front of me. It’s annoying. You think you’re near the end because the race ends near the Lake but you still have 3 miles of twists, turns and pedestrian bridges to run up and over. At 18k I take in 3 more Honey Stinger chews and some water. I’m done my Gatorade and I’m almost finished my water.
Pace per KM 5:10 5:15 5:12 5:17 5:30
Pace per Mile 8:21 8:24 8:39
At this point I glance at my phone and realise that I can set a new personal best if I can just get my legs to keep on pushing. My mind is also trying to figure out if I can go sub 1:50. Sub 1:50 is one of my bucket list goals so I would be ecstatic if I could do it. I’m trying to calculate the pace I need to go but give up – I’m running as hard as I can and I know there’s no way I can drop the hammer down any further. The path is twisting and turning, people are stopping to stretch and there’s finally some crowd support. I keep on running. At 19k I grab some Gatorade from the last water stop, slow to walk to get my heart rate down so I can sprint the last 2.1 km in. I toss my cup then take off running. Finally I twist and turn and sprint my way to the finish… I’m done!
Pace per KM 4:47 4;48 5:07
Pace per Mile 7:32 8:25
I look down at my phone at the finish line and am heartbroken… 1:54:10 I can’t figure out how I slowed down so much at the end and lost 4 minutes because it felt like I was running as hard as I could. I grab my medal, and some food and try not to poop myself as I wait in the porta potty line up. Once inside the potty I use the last 5% of my phone’s battery to go to Sportstats.ca to look up my official results:
I set a new half marathon PB! 1:50:39 !!
Once I was home from walking up to the shuttle, taking the shuttle to my van, and driving home (ugh!), I was surprised by my two best running friends with a bottle of wine to celebrate!
All in all I’m really happy with how the race went despite the craziness of the weekend. Next up is Ironman 70.3 Muskoka in 8 weeks. I’ve got 6 weeks left to train plus 2 weeks to taper!