Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2016!!!

Okay folks, this post will not do justice to what really happened but I'll try my best! It was just such a freaking awesome run!

On Friday night Matt and I stayed at the alt hotel near the airport since we were leaving  super early in the morning and we wanted to get as much rest as possible. Our flights went very smoothly and before I knew it, we were in Chicago!!!!

We are creatures of habit. Matt and I love to return to a place where we've already navigated and knew what to expect. We actually made comments about how smoothly and quickly things were going for us such as the cab ride, bib pick up, etc.

Mr. Matt!

Pizza at the expo...mmm.

I actually Met Run Selfie Repeat and Katie's Fit Script in the washroom at the expo!!!

Ready to run!!!!

Last year when we ran Chicago  I had just battled a major sinus infection. Well guess what?! The same freaking thing happened this year!!! :( Before we flew out on Saturday I had started antibiotics a day prior and other meds for the remainder of the earlier days that week. Oh boy. In reality I was feeling very good on Saturday so I figured I could finish the race, but I had these worries fluttering about in my head because of all the things I googled and heard about running a race on antibiotics. Never the less, Matt and I had both trained very hard and dedicated using Project PB and I certainly wanted to see him have a great run!

We did our pre-race ritual - Carb up on pizza and chill at the hotel.

Flat Heather was laid out and then we hit the sack for our early o'clock wake up call (4:30!!!!!!).

Matt and I walked about a mile to the start with tons of other runners up Michigan Avenue. (We love that the hotel is so super close to the start). Again, I had no expectations because of the meds I was on and my sinus issues so I was not nervous for the first time ever in the history of my 14 marathons!

Everything was going well until we got to Gate 1-our gate. There was a massive line to get scanned and patted down by security and the lady was a little rough and ACCIDENTLY banged me on the forehead with her metal detector thingy. :( That was all it took. I started to cry and Matt was like "What's wrong?!?!?!" I said, "I trained so hard and now I'm going to suck" wah wah....super tear fest which is not ideal when you're heading to the starting corral. The head bump didn't make me cry but I definitely think it opened up the flood gates and let my disappointment flow about my super drastic taper from the virus/infection.

Check out that bump above my brow! And glossy eyes from crying, lol I'm such a baby.
 Matt and I said goodbye and good lucks and got separated into corrals. He told me to run smart and listen to my body and that was the plan.
I told myself to pull up my big girl pants and get sh*t together!!! You trained hard and now you need to go run your A$$ off!!!!! * But of course my plan was to run safe and not do anything that felt bad for my body.
So that's what I did.

For the first 4+ miles I seriously had NO IDEA how fast I was going! My garmin was telling me I was running 5:36<-----YEAH RIGHT!!!!! LOL. It was also saying that I was going at 6 ish minute miles. I knew that wasn't correct because of effort and the fact that I was just behind the 3:25 Nike Pacers, (around where Greg said I should be but also taking into account my recent bug). Also, last year I recall the tall buildings and tunnels seriously screwing with the gps signal so I didn't freak-however, I did run this first section a bit too fast after seeing my splits...oops.

I just couldn't believe how fresh and strong my legs felt! I was passing people like nuts! I kept slowing it down after each mile, but then I wondered if my Garmin was just still acting wonky since my miles were mostly around 7:3X ish.
The entire race was seriously not a piece of cake by any means. I ran mile for mile and just kept thinking of all the gruelling training runs I did and long runs of upwards of 22 miles IN THE HEAT! Matt and I made a joke about Greg sitting at the computer on race day wearing a "Coach" hat and every now and again I'd giggle to myself about that. 

I hit the half mark in 1:40.....yikes! This has never happened before. I definitely predicted a major marathon bonk during the last ten km. 

But it didn't really happen. 

I took Gatorade, usually 2 sometimes 3! at every station on Jennie's advice because of the antibiotics. I fuelled every 5 miles with Gu that were stored so perfectly in this Rack Pack Bra!!! I chatted at the start line with two girls who recognized me from Instagram :0 about how awesome the bra was since all three of us were wearing it!!!!!

Sure I slowed between a few checkpoints, but once it was because I slammed right into a man who stopped at a water station flat out. I felt bad that he was probably exhausted and cramping but dude, you need to respect runner etiquette and pull over, if you can, lol (especially in a marathon). Also I slowed because I was worried about conserving energy and heck I also slowed a bit because MARATHONS ARE FREAKING HARD! There's always that point where I'm ready to call it quits, but that didn't really happen. I had banked so many tough miles and I was darn ready to cash them in!!!! 
This was the last 400m!!!! 
 Are we there yet?! LOL. I just kept pushing with no clue what my time was because of the gps freaking out.
 As I approached the finish I saw 3:28:XX and I knew I was golden. The elusive sub 3:30 was no longer a dream. I knew I took a couple of minutes to cross the start but I had no idea it was 5 whole minutes!!!!!!
I was seriously in shock when my Long Run BFF Jennie texted me to tell me my time and to congratulate me! She also informed me that Matt had got in under 3!!!!

Some random stranger offered to take my picture when they saw me struggling to take a selfie, lol.

Squinty eyed smiles from everyone!!! I love how the Nike pacers let Matt cross the finish holding the sign!!! Yes, we kept it and brought it home. :), I can't even imagine.
 We were both elated!

So celebrations were in order!

When you're on antibiotics and you insist on having a celebratory opt for non-alcoholic, lol!

My biggest source of motivation during those last tough 4 miles!!!! Love me some Giordanos!!!!!

Michigan Ave. Bridge Selfie!

The garmin stats....Yes, my garmin freaked out for the first 4 miles and somehow, I still clock an exrta 1/2 mile?!?!?

Out of 40 000 runners, I'll take these stats!
I have to say a HUGE thanks to everyone who cheered, tracked, wished luck and congratulated us. We are so appreciative! Super thanks to GREG!!!!!!!!! Seriously get Project PB to hook you up! ;)

Thanks for reading this super long recap and if you made it to the end, you get a  medal! ;) jk

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Friday, 7 October 2016

Marathon On The Horizon

My mind is like a whirlwind as I scan the image of my suitcase wide open on the guest bed containing everything I will need this weekend as my husband and I head to the Windy City. Did I pack a throw-away? What about my glide? I definitely must pick up gels before our flight on Saturday!

This is our second year running the famous Chicago Marathon and we're both itching to get back there. However to say that I left last year's marathon with a sense of it being unfinished would be quite accurate, even though I came home with a finisher's medal. I have an on-course port-a-john stop and a week of antibiotics prior to race day to thank for this feeling.

Running the Chicago Marathon was not something that I can truly say was always a bucket list item of mine. In fact, I questioned whether or not I'd find a connection to the city that I imagined was bleak, cold with tall buildings and of course, windy. The complete opposite was actuality and my assumptions were left in the dust. If it wasn't the scenic Chicago River that travels through the city, it's fascinating architecture or the food that brought us back, it would have definitely have been the flat 26.2 mile foot tour we embarked upon with approximately 40 000 other runners!

But am I ready? 

After reaching what I would call a plateau in our running, my husband and I decided to take our training into a different direction and hire a coach. Previewing the hard copy of the workouts left us wide-eyed to say the least and with a sense of strength and satisfaction when we could boast about how we conquered it or strategize when it didn't go so well.

With a few tune-up races under our belts it became clear that our training was working and all the hard work was paying off.

Enter the taper. If you have tapered you can probably predict what sorts of questions I am having about my fitness, about that missed run or two due to that head cold that popped out of nowhere (one of the perks of teaching elementary school), and of course whether or not I had the strength (both physical and mental) to do this!

Recently I was invited to do a talk to the half marathon clinic at the Running Room and my focus was on Race Prep-physical and mental. Now I find myself having to take my own advice, and that is not always as easy as it seems.

Pre-Race jitters can get the best of any seasoned runner. My plan is to have a tool kit I can draw upon to overcome any sort of race anxiety I experience over the next few days.

Other than the obvious things to check off of my "things to pack" list I will also practice some mental conditioning. There are a few things that really help me get my cramped, dehydrated and fatigued body to the finish of any 26.2 mile race.

1. Faith in my training. I keep a hard copy log of every single run over the past 18 weeks that helps me solidify trust in my training as I preview it on race eve. Knowing the homework is done, helps me feel better prepared for the big test and push me through the final miles!

2. Have a mantra to say when things get tough. Amazingly this has helped me in past races more than I ever imagined! I like to tell myself that I AM strong and that I CAN do this. Others have faith in me and I need to have faith in myself.

3. Visualization. I create a mental movie of running under the arch, red digital clock and all. When I can see it I believe I can do it. I also enjoy thinking about that post-race celebratory meal!

4. Soaking it all up. Race day can bring you a plethora of surprises. Always be prepared for the unexpected. I like to enjoy the experience no matter how my race is going because I've poured my heart and soul into hundreds of training miles. Let's face it, no one wants to work that hard only to take away the negative aspects of your run. High five the spectators, thank the volunteers and take it all in!

Thanks for stopping by my space in the blogosphere and have a beautiful day!

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The 2016 Rum Runner's Relay!!

Well yesterday was a fantastic day all around, especially for a Team Relay!

Last year I was so bummed out around this time because of the nasty cold I caught that then turned into a crazy sinus infection and I had to pull out of the Rum Runners Relay. :( Well this year, I've been so cautious around the kids at school and hand washing to the max in fear of  a repeat! ;)
Flat Heather and Matt!
"What's everyone running from Mommy?" <3

It was still dark when Lola and I headed off to Prospect Road to cheer Matt. Thank goodness Andrew was the chauffeur for Matt to the start. I loved that extra half hour of snooze time. ;)

 Lola got very excited when I told her Matt was coming! lol

He was zooming!

Family cheer squad!
 "Oh hey guys!"

I'm pretty sure if the organizers knew Matt was 'flying' we'd get a penalty, lol.
 He managed a 6:03 pace/mile for the 8.4ish miles he raced-a 3 minute PR on that leg! :0

After Matthew's leg, we headed home and I geared up for Leg 3 (my leg). Greg had put a 3mi warm up into my plan for the day so I was super lucky that the start of leg 3 was exactly that distance from my house! Of course I ran there and it worked out perfectly! It was chilly so I wore a long sleeve over my racing shirt. I got there in time to register and chat with friends.

 At the "GO!" we were off!

I cruised through the first mile waaaaay to fast (6:51) in hopes of sticking with one of Jennie's Halifast friends. She runs slightly faster than me so I thought if I could just stay close, I'd have a pretty solid pace throughout. This relay doesn't allow music so it was real interesting to just hear foot patter and heavy breathing, lol.

This leg is basically a net downhill with only one climb by a lake that I remember. We were diverted about 4.5 miles or so in onto a section of the rails to trails that had giant puddle holes so there was lots of weaving and dodging going on. This was a very tricky section for me.
Tom was en route with his bike and got some cool action shots!

I enjoyed all the cheers from other runners who were travelling the route in cars to the finish/start of the next leg. It was very motivating! Matt and Lola made a great cheer squad as well. :)

Once we exited the trail I was at 6ish miles and I knew there was less than a mile to go! Then at 6.4 miles my belly got super pissed and my body was trying super hard to release the lactic acid....uh oh! I was fighting puke and trying to maintain pace for the last section. It was tough and Tom caught me in all my finishing classy glory, LOL.

People were actually yelling "keep going!" to me because they thought I was I just couldn't go with my gagging!

Craig and Marg also ran the same leg as me and everyone was cruising! 

Family photo op! 

This happened on my leg!!!! 

6.8 miles for the leg 7:01 pace! 1 min 50 seconds faster than two years ago on the same leg!

I headed home for a shower and then travelled with Jennie to do her leg. She was running leg 9 and by then it was late afternoon. 

 Courteney and I did some cheering and snapped some photos to get her motivated!

When I grow up I want to run like Jennie!
I wish I got more photos of my team running. :( They all did spectacular though!

Finally I recovered from a busy busy day of running and cheering with Erin!
Movie and Munchies...mmm!

This relay is super fun and very well organized!!!!  Congratulations to all the runners and teams, especially Upright and Mile-ing!!!!

Thanks so much for listening to the running rambles of GGR!Have a wonderful day!

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Maritime Race Weekend 2016!

Every September my body receives quite a shock to the system with the (what feels) abrupt return to school and teaching 20 little busy bodies each day, peak mileage in marathon training and of course my favourite racing season of the year, Fall.

I basically go from sleeping until being woken by my body clock and not my iPhone alarm, running whenever I feel like it, napping, Netflix binging, eating all day long and gardening to full out full time working and training. For me it's definitely an adjustment but somehow I manage to survive, lol.

This past weekend was the awesome event Maritime Race Weekend that I really look forward to each year. I've run it each year since it's start back in 2012 and have had nothing  but great things to say about it.

This year I decided to take my training in a different direction with Project PB. Greg designed a plan for me to help me hit my goal of a sub 3:30 marathon in Chicago and I have to admit when I first read it I vomited in my mouth a little. Some of the workouts really scared the heck out of me! Matt and I get psyched up for our Thursday workouts, since they are usually the ones that make me die a little inside. The term VO2 Max sometimes makes me wake up in the night with cold sweats. ;) (I kid I kid). But in all seriousness, it's really pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a new level of training and strength. I'm sure at Chicago I won't be pulling off any 30 min PR's or anything but I do at least have more confidence in my ability to hit my goal in the marathon. We will see! Anyway back to this weekend's Run Fest! <--- Okay, am I the only one who thinks this would make a great name for a race event???

Basically the point of the long ramblings above are to say that I was heading into MRW with a goal to run all guts out Friday night for the Sunset 5k. My previous 5k PR was 21:27. This would be tough for me to break since I train for long distance and usually suck at the shorter races. But I was determined, tired from the first full week back to school, but determined. ;) 

So I wanted to look 'Pirate-y' but didn't really have anything Jack Sparrow-esque. Lynda came to the rescue since she went to Disney when Pirates of the Caribbean was released and let me borrow the neat head thing-a-ma-bob. There was also a fake telescope and knife (that was actually bendy). I contemplated running with the fake props but they actually announced at the start that there were to be no fake weapons so that decision was easily made. :) 

The girls all took part in the traditional pre-race photo shoot and of course none of us really remembered to bring shades...even with the words SUN SET in the title, duhh lol. I think I was more focused on remembering my eye patch!

Jennie, Marg, Sam and I.

I was also super excited because my Newfoundland friends and my aunt came to Nova Scotia to take part in the event!
Janice and I literally kept running into each other all weekend- From race kit pick up to finish line shenanigans!
I was so freaking nervous for this race and I had a bubble of water in my belly during the warm up Jennie and I did that I could actually HEAR when I weird is that?! We ran 4.8ish km as a warm up and took advantage of the on-course port-a-john where there was not a single other person waiting to use it unlike the race start area, yikes!

Matt and Lola came to cheer and I gave Lola some snuggles before we headed out. <3

At the sound of the canon we were off and the tight start reminded me to start close to the front even if I had no business being there. I took off with the crowd and was running close to the speed I'd do a stride and I was like "Whoa Nelly! Slow the heck down!" Race adrenaline really can get the better of you, and then you have to battle the good ol' "Fly and die" phenomenon that the undisciplined runner is prone to, not that I have ever done that, LOL (cough cough).

I needed to hit sub 7 min miles to PR and actually not just by a couple seconds, by like ten or so...gulp. I absolutely hate checking my watch on the run, but I did it seventeen billion times during the 5k distance I'm sure. There is even photograph proof!

At the turnaround I could hear "Go Heather" from several friends, but couldn't actually see them since the sun was blazing bright into my face. I was giving everyone I heard a thumbs up though. Jennie was rockin' second place and I thought if I can just keep her in my sight (far ahead but in sight) then I can definitely push myself to reach my goal. At 4k I was sucking air for sure and fighting vomit. My belly was churning since I was really pushing pace. And oh look, a photographer, lol.
dying inside!
Matt and Lola were waiting for me at about the last 400m and I couldn't even wave I was concentrating so hard on not puking!

The red digits were counting up to 21 minutes at 20:44, 20:45, etc. when I was approaching and I sped up to hit 20:57! My first ever sub 21 min 5k!!!! I couldn't even get excited because I basically fell over the fencing and barfed on the ground right in front of the spectators. Oops.
Congrats to all the shiny new PR's!
 Just love the loot!

Mandatory Garmin Selfie!

And Hello first place age group! 26th overall and 6th female.

After fuelling on some Habaneros tacos the girls and I headed home to rest up for the Sunrise portion of the weekend where I was a pace bunny for the half marathon!

Hey Sunny Bunnies! ;)

A huge crew, huge found me at the start! I guess 1:50 is a pretty popular time. ;)

I told you I had a big crew! Thanks for the shot Maurice!

Pacing is super fun and also a bit nerving! I was so worried about going too slow, too fast, etc. Thank goodness for Hughie and his praise during the run. He was using km and I was using miles so it was super helpful to hear the conversion and of course his reassurance that I was doing a good job. Please give him a huge congrats for scoring a shiny new PR!!!
With the excitement on my face I can only imagine this was just before the Skittle Station? LOL
We got so excited each time we saw a photographer and I was sure to warn everyone to smile when I spotted them, lol.
On another note I hope you are taking in all the beautiful scenery around the runners here! This route is gorgeous!

There were runners with me for a good chunk of the race. They conquered the rolling hills of Cow Bay and rocked the pace. The group dwindled down with about 7-8k to go. I told Hughie I wanted him to sprint ahead of me as we approached the finish but he insisted on finishing together. It was so awesome!

Post race Jennie and I did a warm down of about 6k to make up some distance for the day since I was switching long run day. Then I found Aunt Brenda in the crowd!!!! She rocked her 10k!
Huge thanks to Michelle and the MRW crew for having us pacing and for hosting such an incredible East Coast Event! Thanks to Durwin and White Rabbit Pacing for having me! And obviously a mega congrats to all the racers!!!!

I hope you all had a blunderin' awesome weekend! Arrrgh! ;)

It's been so long since we chatted, share anything with me!!!!
Next up is the Rum Runner's Relay next weekend! I'll be doing Leg 3!

Happy running,
Heather :)