Friday, 25 October 2019

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2019!

Hey guys!

I am thrilled to write this recap and it isn't even about a fastest run time at all!

It is about a girl who planned the last several months around training for the Chicago Marathon that she has run every year since 2015 only to come up to race week with bronchitis and BAM, Chicago is a no go.

I don't like to dwell on negatives but that was my reality. I would get winded just going up my stairs, I had no voice and no appetite. Oh, and did I mention my breathing completely sucked?! I had to take time off work so I knew running a marathon in less than 7 days was not likely.

Soooo, as a last minute trip Matt and I booked Toronto the following weekend and decided we would run there! I would run a shorter distance or cheer if I was still not in physical shape to run.

I missed 8 days of running when I got sick so my tapered legs and body were REALLY fresh, borderline losing fitness. I managed three super short runs in the week leading up to Toronto and they did not feel easy at all so I was a bit discouraged but was planning on making the most out of the Toronto trip and have fun!

I had never been beyond the airport in Toronto so I was really looking forward to seeing the city. Fun Fact: I have Gatorade, chips and candy in my bag, lol.

Our trip was very short. We flew up on Saturday morning but it was much less travel time than the flights we'd typically take to Chicago so it felt like a breeze.

Upon arrival we searched for food! Siri helped us find Blaze Pizza - a traditional stop for us in Chicago so we were pumped to at least enjoy that!

Like really pumped...

We made a brief visit to the expo and headed back to the hotel.

I laid out all the gear and then enjoyed much rest and relaxation on the bed watching TV. My kind of day.

Fun Fact: Once I was all dressed for the race I didn't like the black socks with the mint shoes so I made a last minute fashion detail change!
Toronto really is pretty!

An evening stroll in search of breakfast food and more pizza. :)

It was pretty crisp and chilly on race morning. Our hotel lobby was super packed with runners! We literally just had to walk out of our hotel and we were on the street of the start!

Matt and I headed to our corral bundled in our throwaways. We saw Richard and then I ran into Julia. She was aiming for a sub 1:40 so I told her jokingly that if she saw me on course to yell at me to slow down! Lol. Fun fact: she did her goal!

At the start it was so crowded and the atmosphere was buzzing! "Stop the Rock," was playing as we hit the streets and it was really motivating even though I hadn't heard this song in forever.

Immediately after starting my head was yelling, "What are you doing?! What were you thinking running the full today?! You were just sick! With bronchitis!" Yikes, that's not exactly how I approach all marathons but the sickness and all the downtime really let some negative thoughts enter my mind.

Christy and Janet entered my mind:
Christy: "We are fortunate to be able to run today. What a great day to run!" She's such a positive friend and I'm really happy to have her to draw on especially when I need a good talking to.

Janet: "You're ready! Our training cycles build on each other. Look how rested you'll be!" Janet was running her fastest marathon to date at the same time I was running Toronto. She was in PEI and I have been blessed to know her as a running friend.

My legs were feeling GREAT! My breathing wasn't horrible either, just a sporadic cough here and there. I am going to enjoy this day and finish this run. Don't worry about time! "BEEP: 4:23 first KM!!!!!!!! What'?!?!!?!? Immediately after that it went from 6:05 down to 3:50 something so I knew the buildings and my old GPS were not getting along. I was having those GPS glitches I had heard about but forgotten

So then I just tried to settle but each km was faster than Lee prescribed. It was just impossible to settle in! The course was flat and filled with people not to mention the weather was spectacular! I ended up ditching my gloves at 2k.

I loved this marathon. At 6k there were drummers and I really hoped I'd hear them again late in the race. There were many spectators at the early parts. They all looked so happy to be out cheering the runners on this gorgeous day!

The course is super cool! We headed around downtown and along Lake Shore Blvd. which is gorgeous!!!

At 10k I got to see all the crazy fast elites coming back ... they were approximately at 14-15k by then and their legs looked surreal! Shortly after I saw Gavin from the Road Hammers and I yelled out to him! I think he thought I was nuts but I was just so happy to see a familiar face. :D It was his debut marathon and he completely crushed it with a sub 2:30!

Matt and Richard were running together I saw after that! They looked like it was easy!!!! They both had a similar goal so I was glad they got to run together.

I kept telling myself to settle and stay smooth but I was like a kid bouncing off the walls during an indoor recess at school after just eating candy. Yes, I'd pay for these speedy splits later. ;)

By 17 or so K I spotted a white singlet and super long brown ponytail....uh oh, it's Julia! HEATHER SLOW THE HECK DOWN!!! Yes I dialed it back lol. I ran behind her from 17-nearly 20k where we divided up between the half and full marathoners. This separation came under a bridge/overpass with two separate red arches. The half marathon arch was bumping with loud music and the majority of runners going there. I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider following them and just calling it a day but I wouldn't let the negative self doubt win. #nottoday ...that's for you Sarah. ;)

And as I expected the division from the half runners was a lonely road for a bit. The race immediately got quiet and I realized that settling in would be much easier now...but I feared that it would be a little too easy.

I hit the half at 1:41 and laughed because I knew I wouldn't be doing a 3:22 today!

I really had to pee. Like really bad. On Lee's suggestion I hydrated very well...especially since I was sick and dehydrated. I took gels and salt tabs every 6k and it was really a great mental trick to just run to the next 6k when I began to get tired. I may have fueled a little too well because I tried to hold it but I remembered back to Chicago where I held it for 26k and then got a bladder infection. Yeah, that was not cool. So, I promised myself a port a pottie break when I saw the next aid station.

Before my bathroom break I saw Matt and Richard again looking super fresh. I love seeing people along the way! I also so Rob shortly after that!

Okay here it is...25.5 km I stop and walk across the grass to the bathroom for a much needed pee break. TMI? Then when I was done I stopped and drank two cups of nuun and hit the road again. I didn't lose an astronomical amount of time there but I would have scurried a little harder if I knew I'd be seconds off of a sub 3:30 finish LOL! Bathroom stop km - 6:04.

Okay, so from 30-35k the race got real tough for me. :( I hit some sort of wall where I highly doubted being able to finish, I was getting warm and my quads HATED me! I could not get back into my rhythm. Just keep moving forward. That's always my motto late in a marathon.
I am wondering what I'm looking at here????
The race became all about the math at this point. I knew I'd finish but calculating remaining distance, possible times, etc. was a mental distraction that I really needed now. Why was I getting so warm???

I felt better from 35-38k! The wave of despair had passed and now it was just pain to the finish! That I could do, lol.

If I may caption the below photo:

Okay, I got this! Less than 7k to....7k is like nothing! I can do this. Normal people would actually say 7k is pretty far, especially with these screeching quads. Maybe 7k is pretty far?! 7k, so like that's from my house to the dentist and back? Late marathon thoughts continue aaaaaaannd, "BEEP" Oh look, only 6k to go! LOL. 

Sy had warned me of an incline at 39k where many were walking. I refused to walk there so I just headed up it at turtle pace trudging through peanut butter. Yes, I slowed like crazy but I didn't care. I just high fived and smiled. I complimented a few runners and yelled at a couple of others who were stopping to come with me! They weren't that interested, lol.

I thought of my father in law because he said when you see the CN Tower don't be fooled! You still have a ways to go. I have deciphered that the  CN Tower is the Citgo Sign of Toronto.
There was a sign saying "500m to go!" and I was like, "OK SPRINT!" Except I couldn't lol. I just kept running and I looked up and saw so many spectators up on the ramp/street/bridge??? above and it was totally cool!!!!! I saw the finish and wouldn't you know, I could not hold back the puke! LOL. I don't ever remember puking in a marathon before but this was not good. I literally walked across the second chip mat because I was gagging so hard, lol.

Ahh, the finish! So glorious, so exhilarating, so classy? (check me out gagging and ready to puke on the far left).
I was just pumped to finish this marathon and a 3:30 is pretty fantastic in my books!!!!

This medal is so beautiful!

One of us managed a PB that day...but it wasn't me, lol. 
3:30 for me and a 2:56 for Matt!

I HIGHLY recommend this race! We will very likely head back next year. :D I can't believe this was my first time running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Flat, fast and beautiful!

Thanks so much to all my friends who supported me during the transition from doing Chicago, not doing Chicago, doing Toronto...LOL. You guys rock! And thanks to all the readers who read this crazy long post!

Happy running,
Heather :)

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Rum Runner's Relay 2019!

Hey everyone!

Last Saturday I got to participate in the super fun Rum Runner's Relay again! This year I ran once again with the BLT Runners on the Female team called "Tomatoes Will Ketchup." 

I was very excited for this run relay atmosphere. And even though I wasn't planning on racing my guts out there was a healthy sort of pressure to run well for the team, but still have fun! Last year I ran the first leg and this year I was excited to cheer at the finish of Leg 1 instead. It's a great one to do but it can be pretty dark and lonely.

Our team posing with our leg #! Missing from the pic is Lindsay.
There was some last minute leg shuffling due to injuries and I ended up with Leg 4. I'd never run this one but I have driven it many times cheering others. I remembered it as pretty flat and beautiful, but longish. Well, it wasn't that flat after all, lol.

Our team was also responsible for one of the water stops along my leg so Jillian made these amazing cartoons of the runners doing that leg!!!! I LOVE them!!

Craig and I along with Wil and Nicole were running this leg for the four BLT teams entered. Wil and I planned to stay close together if possible.

I had no idea what was in store for me after cheering on other teammates for previous legs. Everyone was running well and the weather was gorgeous, in fact maybe a little too warm for me. I like to be cool on the run. Matt was on a different team but did Leg 3 this year. He zoomed as I told him he would. That is one of my favourite legs for sure!

I warmed up with 2.5km and chatted with fellow Road Hammer teammate Whitney. She is super fit fast so I knew I'd be behind her but my goal was to try and keep her in my sights for as long as possible. This leg had a ton of fast speedy folks on it! It was inspiring.

At the "GO!" we were off and I was pumped. My goal for this leg was to keep the pace between 4:30-4:40. The first km was 4:06...I'm going to blame this on the big downhill and trying to get around all the runners since we had to keep single file because the roads are not closed to traffic.

That first km always feels so deceivingly easy. ;)

I had driven the route two days previous after school since the start line is right outside my school. I noticed three large hills for sure with some winding turns. Well, let me tell you that I noticed a few more inclines traveling the route on foot, lol.

 My Summer of avoiding hills had caught up with me on this run. But that was okay. I was happy my knee wasn't bothering me and just tried to work hard for each km.

Garmin obviously had a bit of a hissy fit around 20 minutes in but you get the idea.
I was so thankful to see the team at the 8.75km water stop! I usually race with music but the relay doesn't allow it for safety reasons so other than the cheers from cars driving by you basically just hear your feet and breathing,lol.

I grabbed a water from Rachael and it was so refreshing! I wished I had taken two since I was pretty warm. The water station was positioned at the top of an incline so I was relieved to have a super downhill after I passed them. ;)

Every car that drove by and offered support, THANK YOU! It was really very motivating, especially during the times I wanted to stop because I was getting exhausted!

By 12km my legs were pretty much toast. That's when I started running 4:51s, minus that final km where I passed a couple people clocking a 4:23, lol. I know, that was ALL I had left even for the final sprint.

This is a very beautiful leg! Definitely my favourite so far with scenery, but don't be fooled into thinking it's isn't!

I was thrilled to see the finishing pylons earlier than 17.1km. My leg ended up only being 16.8 since the measurements are approximate. The original measurements took place in 1985 by car odometer. :)

16.8km 1:18:36 4:40 pace/km
I can't say I was unhappy with my run. I actually put forth a good solid effort and I don't feel that I got 'lazy' as I do sometimes when I'm just tired of working hard, lol. You all know what I mean! All kidding aside it was tough but I did it! 

Hello ice bath! LOL. Actually the water was cold but not freezing. Either way it felt great.

Marg, Sarah, Meaghan and I at Queensland Beach.

After my run I got very stomach sick which was so weird! I felt like I had just done a long run in the hot sun but it wasn't that hot really. I traveled with Tom and Marg for a good chunk of the relay and Tom fed me to help me feel better. As it turns out he makes a pretty good PB and J sandwich! :)

I also replenished my salt with copious amounts of complaints here. AND!!!!!!!!!!!! At the end of Leg 8 Sarah, Stacey and I hit up the annual Ice Cream spot. We have also made Rum Runners Bread a thing. Seriously pick some up next year!

By the time we got to Mahone Bay we got to see some of the Scarecrows that everyone designed. This was my favourite.

I love seeing all my running friends during this event. It's cool because instead of everyone running together you get to run and cheer for 110.4km. What a great day!

Also, I was very eager to chow down late that day when we finally reached Lunenberg!

Everyone ran well and we had a great time! Our team finished 18/70 with an average run of 4:42/km!

Thanks to the organizers, volunteers and my team!!!!!!! Hope to see you all next year at the Rum Runner's Relay!

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Friday, 27 September 2019

Maritime Race Weekend 10k!

Well it was another start to the school year and another Maritime Race Weekend. Even though I believed that I would not take part this year and hadn't registered with a week to go I STILL ended up running the event. This was due to the Fiddler's Half Marathon being canceled because of Hurricane Dorian. So when Coach Lee said the 10k at MRW would be a good fit at race pace or the half at marathon pace, I chose the shorter...which was still not easy! ;)

Race morning prep involved the Pirate tattoos, run happy bows and fast braids. 

I was feeling pretty heavy and sluggish from adjusting to being back to school. It's pretty great to have eight weeks of summer vacation with the freedom to eat, sleep, run and pee whenever you want! LOL. Then boom! The school year begins and you are at the beckon call of 23 six year olds who can ever so skillfully blurt out Ms. Callaghan, Ms. Callaghan! MS. CALLAGHAN! While at the same time say a "bathroom word," accidently mark on someone else's paper and spill their water bottle all within 3 second time frame. Yeah, that takes mad skills and somehow in the first grade tornado I still come out standing upright at the end of each day...smeared makeup and messy hair, but I'm standing! HA!

So basically running a 10k with only one week of grade one endurance training in the middle of marathon training is not always the best idea, but it's still great fun and a very good test of fitness and kick in the butt just before the fall marathon. ;)

I headed over to Eastern Passage pretty early on race morning because parking and bathrooms are tricky over there. I did a 3k warm up as Coach prescribed and then met up with Dave, Doran, Christy, Joanna and Heidi.

Matt was running the 5k so it was cool to see them all at their turn around and head back to the finish.

I also got to see David from Newfoundland! He's super fast and every time I meet a fellow Newfoundlander it makes me feel all homey. :)

We were supposed to head out around a 4:35 pace per km from the plan Lee gave me but of course we're keeners and decided that 4:21 for the first two km was a better idea, LOL! OOPS! Don't worry, the hill at km 3 definitely helped us keep the reigns on. I went extra cautiously up that crazy hill because my knee had not been happy with inclines so I quickly watched my crew slip ahead. I wasn't too concerned or defeated because I knew I had a major race in 4 weeks and I was working hard so that was the main goal.
Look how happy we all are with only 1km in or so! :) Fun fact: Jonathan in the front is my dentist!
At the top of the big hill was a waterstop so I took in some and worked hard to catch up with Christy and Joanna. It took a 4:14km to do it but I did, lol. They were fresh and fit and I knew I couldn't keep up what they were laying down. 

Cruising down the hill at nearly 4k you see all the other runners who are heading up the hill and I LOVE that! Thanks to everyone who cheered us!

The race completely flattens out after that one hill. The scenery was absolutely stunning and we could not have asked for better race weather. Running along the ocean gives you a big breath of salty air that really smells like home to me. It was a great day and I was super happy to be working hard with friends. Christy was so awesome to get me a water when mine completely dropped, lol!

At 6k I slowly watched Christy's pink hat get 5+ steps ahead. I tried to hold onto the 4:30 pace that Lee suggested I do but they were hitting the kms faster and I just could not. But that was okay. 

I kept grinding towards the finish and before I knew it after cruising around a ton of 5k walkers to get through I was at 9k. Then suddenly my belly was churning. Uh oh. That was an all too familiar feeling and I knew I'd either have to pray it went away, stop and throw up or drastically slow down. Clearly I just kept pushing and hoped it would disappear but it did not. And then red gatorade was gushing out of my mouth and all down my leg. I was throwing up on the run with only 300-400m to go. :( The women walking next to me definitely got splashed so I'm so sorry!

Courteney got some great photos of me doing the post-puke death march to the finish.
That's my koala clip sticking out of my shirt in case you were wondering. Oddly enough you don't even notice it when you're wearing it but it sure looks strange!
I finished in 45:11 but I'm totally pleased, especially since someone pointed out to me that the course was long. :)

Post race pics with PBs for Joanna and Christy!

Avery and I. :)
 Finish lines make me smile.

It was a rough race for me at the end but isn't she a beauty?!
I was not too thrilled to have an extra 19km to do post-race but I did it. Alone. Without my ipod. LOL.

 And then Lola and I spent the rest of the Saturday in our favourite way. <3

I do love this event and the routes! There is always a great pump you up start, great on course support and spectators AND totally awesome bling! You do need to add it to your race roster for next year! Huge congratulations to all the runners!!!!!!!

Thanks for checking out my MRW blurb and I hope to see you on the roads!!

Happy Running,
Heather :)