Canada Army Run 2014

Wow!  What can I say about the Canada Army Run?

FANTASTIC!

Firstly, this event is HUGE!  They say it’s the fastest growing half marathon, and after being a part of it, I truly believe it.  There are 13,000 5K runners and 12,000 half marathon runners.  Both races took place on Sept 21, 2014.  In it’s inaugural year (2008), the event started out with 7,000 participants.

The Army Run benefits two charities.  One called Soldier On and the other the Military Families Fund.

As per the website; “Canada Army Run, is about Canadians and the Canadian Armed Forces – Air Force, Army, and Navy – joining together in the spirit of camaraderie and community. It’s a chance for the troops to extend the military esprit de corps to Canadians and to thank them for their support. And, it’s an opportunity for Canadians to say thanks to the men and women who serve them in so many ways at home and abroad.”

I couldn’t say it any better than that.  It was indeed all those things and more.

THE EXPO

The Race Expo is unlike most other running Expos.  Yes, there are vendors selling running shoes, protein bars and various clothing items, however it was so much more.  Home base was at Ottawa City Hall.  This is where we went to pick up our race bib.  Once we were given our bib, we entered outside of City Hall where there was a stage for entertainment, the sports expo tent, Baggage check (for race day) and Pasta tent/Recovery tent, which was to be used for the pasta party that evening.  As well, all around this area were various military vehicles on display for people to get inside, climb on top of or people could speak with various military officers for more information. The vehicles were a big hit with the kids.

Army Run Fotor_Collage_Fotor FINAL

RACE DAY 

The half marathon (mass) start began at 9:30 am.  We arrived in the area with lots of time to make a bathroom break and casually walk towards our corral areas.  I was well positioned back in one of the later corrals, so I couldn’t see everything that was going on, however, I did manage to see on the big screen the start for the injured, ill or disabled participants of the half.  The crowd gave a lot of support as they started off on their race.

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The day was calling for rain, however, at the start, we were lucky for it to be dry.  Soon after a few waves, my own corral was off.  I started off a little fast, however, I soon found myself into a comfortable pace.  I was a little worried about this race, as my performance at the Biggest Loser Half just a few weeks prior was quite miserable in terms of time.  I knew that Ottawa would be a bit of a challenge as there are many gradual hills all along the course, however, on this day, I seemed to be feeling pretty strong.

Ottawa is such an amazing city to run in.  The views are fabulous; running through Parliament Hill, 24 Sussex, Rideau Hall, Canadian War Museum and other local landmarks; however, the city’s most fabulous, energy boosting sight is it’s spectators.  I don’t think I ran more than a kilometre before I saw a spectator or cheering section, rooting for us.  It was a fantastic show of support and I can’t say I’ve experienced any better spectator support in all the races I’ve run.  Ottawa certainly sets the bar high.

I was able to reach the 10K mark, and then the rain started.  I didn’t mind it so much at this point as it was also a very humid day.  The rain was quite refreshing.  At least I thought so.  It did however stop for a while which was nice.

Shortly after I high-fived the Governor General  and Commander-in-Chief of Canada (Oh Yes I did!) at Rideau Hall, the rain started again.

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After I ran passed Rideau Hall, I got myself into a great running pace.  Even though the rain was coming down, I was feeling great.  In fact, I was feeling kinda warrior-like, fighting through the rain with each step. This was somewhere around the 9th mile.  I really thought I was going to finish around 2:35 which I would have been very happy with, considering my lack of training.  However, things took a turn for the worse at mile 11.

I started having a very intense pain and cramping on my left back ankle.  Achilles?  Not really sure, however, each time I ran, the cramping got more and more intense.  So much so, that my foot almost felt like cement with every step I took.  I had to stop and stretch out my calf muscles.  I did this at least 3 times from mile 11 to 12 and had to do some walking.  After I passed mile 12, I started to run again, and was able to keep a slow pace without any cramping.  The stopping set me back, however, I finished strong at the end at 2:39 chip time and it was still so much better than the BL half.

Deb Race Finish_Fotor_Collage_Fotor

Would I recommend this race to people?  Absolutely!  It is by far, my most favourite Canadian race.  I hope to be back next year.

 

The Biggest Loser Half Marathon Buffalo

I’m not sure why, but it seems like forever since I ran The Biggest Loser half marathon in Buffalo, however, it was only last Sunday.

Given that it was a long weekend, many Canadians venture out to Buffalo for weekend shopping trips.  While we were no different, we didn’t want to be stuck in a car line up at the border, especially since we were running the following day, so we left very early to avoid the busy border times.  We arrived in Niagara Falls, New York just in time for an early breakfast at Denny’s. By the time we finished, it was nearing 10 am, so we ventured out to a few stores in the area and bought some items we required for the hotel room.  You know, essentials like water, and a few snacks.

Getting to the hotel and expo, which were next door to each other, was a fairly easy drive. We opted for the parking garage across the street from the Hyatt Buffalo as the parking was much cheaper than the hotel’s rate.  The Biggest Loser’s race organizers negotiated a decent rate for the host hotel, so we booked it back in the spring.  It was nice to be able to stay close to the expo.

We arrived at the opening of the expo.  The expo itself wasn’t a huge affair.  Basically, the packet pick up and expo booths were in a large ballroom.  Participants were ushered to the first table to pick up their bibs, and then they were sent over to another group of tables to pick up the race shirt and bag.  I saw Pam Geil from The Biggest Loser Season 14 getting to work and handing out shirts to participants.  She looked like she was having a ball and seemed to fit right into working the crowds.

BL Race Kit

 

I don’t know how others felt about the race shirt being a regular cotton tee.  I actually didn’t mind that is was as most of my race shirts never get worn after a race.  This was a nice change as I would wear this shirt around the house.

There were a few vendors at the expo, and I managed to pick up a shirt and skirt at fairly good prices.

We were done at the expo just after 12 pm, so we walked over to the hotel to see if they could check us in.  Luckily for us, they did.

We lounged around our room for a bit, before heading out to do some local shopping for the afternoon.  We also had to find dinner, which turned out to be The Cheesecake Factory.  Probably not the best choice the evening before a race, but we were careful as to what we ordered.

We were back in the hotel by 730 pm, and I think I was asleep by 9 pm.  Given the long day we had on the road, I was pretty tired, so there wasn’t any issues falling asleep.

Race Day…….

We were up at 5 am.  The first thing I did was grab the bottle of water and drank close to a litre within a half hour.  I wanted to be well hydrated as the weather on Sunday was going to be a hot mess of humidity.  We also bought a couple of bagels and bananas for a quick breakfast bite before the race.

We left our hotel room at 715 am and walked to the start which was a slow 15 minute walk.  I was told there was a trolley shuttle that would take us there, however, there was a lot of construction in the area, and we weren’t sure if it was running on it’s usual route. Since it was also Sunday, we weren’t sure what time it started, so we opted to walk.  The walk was fine, and gave us a chance to warm up our legs.  By the time we got to the start area, we were ready for a port-o-potty break before making our way to the start.

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We didn’t have to wait too long before the race began.  I didn’t bring my phone with me to snap pics, but Kari did so I’m able to show you a few.  As you can see, the day was pretty grey which was nice since the humidity was at about 80%.  While the weather forecast called for rain, we didn’t have any.  For once in my life, I wished we did.

Course1_Fotor

The course was flat on many parts, however, there were areas where it had some gradual elevations.  The most difficult hilly area was around the Delaware Park Golf Course which seemed to touch on the Buffalo Zoo, as I could have sworn I saw a couple of real live Buffalo behind some bars as I was making myself around the area.

Course Pics_Fotor

 

Drink stations were around every 2 mile marker.  After the first stop, I decided to stop at every station and grab 4 small dixie cups.  2 were for drinking and 2 were for pouring over my head.  The humidity was that bad for me, so throwing water on my head gave me a bit of a refreshing lift.  Enough to get me two more miles until the next station.

Despite my recent troubles with my back, I was able to push through.  I took it easy and ran this race like a long slow run.  Even if my back was 100%, I probably would have done the same with the weather conditions.  Once I was through the finish gate, I easily spotted Kari.  He had already gotten our checked bag so I was able to change into a dry shirt (mine was soaked).  We walked around the venue / finish area for a while before making our way back to the hotel.  Dan Evans of TBL Season 5 was performing with his band (which was pretty good I might add), and many of the vendors from the expo were able to sell for a second day which was good in case someone missed something at the expo.

The Band_Fotor

DebandKariFinish_Fotor

 

On our way to the hotel, we stopped at Tim Hortons for a frozen hot chocolate.  We relaxed for a few hours before heading out for a celebratory dinner.  It was fun to get away and do a race outside of my own area.  I’d definitely take another road trip in the future.

DebwithMedal_Fotor

Midsummer Night’s Run Race Recap

To run or not to run?  That was the question of the day yesterday.

Despite my hesitations, the answer was a definite “YES”.

My expectations going into this race were low. The goal was to finish. The one month I had to prepare for this race was not enough time to improve anything but the cardio I lost this summer. As well, the week leading into the race I was suffering from some pains due to last weekend’s long run. I know I’ve been pushing my mileage, perhaps a little too much to make up for lost time this summer. I have two half marathons coming up in September, and I really want to do well. Alas, I know from last night’s race, I am far behind my running goals. In fact, due to my injury this summer, I am behind where I was last year, when I wasn’t even working hard.

Mother Nature decided to give us a break from the rain yesterday as it had been raining prior to the start time.  We weren’t really sure what we were going to get. Due to limited parking, we arrived early to find a spot, and then sat in the car for about 20 minutes before making our way to the start area. It was raining at this time, so it was for the best. When we did leave the car, the rain decided to stop, and it remained clear until we arrived home last night. Lucky for us, eh?

The Midsummer Night’s Run is a flat course. It’s a great race to do for those who are ramping up for a half or full marathon in the fall as you can test your training efforts. There is a 15K or 30K race, as well as a 5K family run. The proceeds from the event go to Sick Kids hospital.

I have only run this race once back in 2012. For each race you run, you build up the mileage and receive a pin at packet pick up. Because I did the 15K in 2012 and 15K in 2014, I have a 30K mileage pin. My spouse has done it a few more times, so he is up to 75K on his pin collection.

Once we left the car, we opted to do our pre race pee. There was one long line up for the port-o-potties.
2014 MSNR Washroom pic

Lucky for me, I had my hardcore girl, race survival instincts on. Prior to leaving the car, I packed some tissue for those ‘just in case’ moments. That’s right….port-o-potties lacked TP! I was prepared! 😉

By the time we finished at the P-O-P’s we had about 5 minutes to corral ourselves. We found an adequate place to put ourselves in the midst of the runners, based on the pace bunny signs we saw. I knew Kari would zoom ahead and I’d probably fall back a bit, but it was a fair area to stand.

2014 MSNR Go Time

The race started with a horn to signal the start. The race didn’t put up it’s usual start gate as it was pretty windy outside. I would assume, the wind would have blown it over, as the start gates are usually a ballon (blow up) type material.

Kari took off, as expected, and I began trudging along the road.  I realized I ran my first two miles under 11 minutes, so I knew I was going too fast.  I slowed it down after the third mile, to just under 11:30 however, I was not getting into a running zone.  Somewhere, shortly after the 5K marker, the pain in my left glute area was intensifying, and I knew I was in for an uncomfortable race.  This pain has been an ongoing ailment of mine, and prior to breaking my arm, I had been keeping it in check, however, I suppose with the extra training over the month, it decided to come back full force.  Lucky me!

I dropped my speed for the next few kilometres, and hit the 10K mark at 1:12.  No records here boys and girls!

In the last 5K of the race, it really was just a matter of survival.  The more I ran, the more pain I had.  I broke my intervals between the 11K-13K and started to speed walk.  I seemed to have felt a little better after that, and then I began running again, and finished the race.  I finished just under a 12 minute mile average.  Yeah, not my best effort. (in 2012, I finished this race about 7 minutes faster)

On the upside, Kari did fantastic, with a time of 1:27 and change, beating his 2012 time by over 10 minutes!  WTG!

I learned a few things after reviewing my Garmin upload.  Firstly, going out too fast killed my recovery zones during my intervals.  Although I did not feel winded -In fact, I felt really good in that respect- my Garmin says otherwise.  My heart rate, did not really go down to my regular levels on my walk intervals and my average heart rate overall was way too high than all my recent training runs.  I can only surmise it’s because I went out too fast.  Secondly, I have got to work on my leg strengthening. Bring on the Glute/Hips/Hamstring exercises!  I’m not sure how I am going to fair in the next half marathon which takes place over the Labour Day weekend.  I was hoping to improve over my Niagara time from last year (2:25) but with this time, based on the McMillan race predictor, my half time would be 2:41.  Which basically means, I will have fallen back to pre 2012 times. *Sigh*  Lesson learned here – Don’t fall and break your arm during running season!  hee hee!

Happy Running.

Around The Bay Road Race

I’ll be posting soon on my theme of ‘Nutrition’ this upcoming week, but first I wanted to get out todays blog about Around The Bay Road Race.

Older than the Boston Marathon, ATB is the oldest road race in North America.  This year was the 120th anniversary.  I’ve run it twice before and like many, it always humbles me.  It’s a 30K race, so it’s not quite as long as a full marathon, but it has its share of challenges.  Hills. Many, many hills!

We drove to Hamilton yesterday morning, which is about an hour drive from Toronto to pick up our race kits.  The process is fairly easy as the expo is held at First Ontario Centre (formally known as Copp’s Coleseum).  We entered the expo and proceeded to the shirt and bib pick up area.  We were quickly done with that, and then spent some time browsing the many vendors.  We even saw Austin Powers!  How bout that!

ATB EXPO

ATB EXPO

As you can see from the picture above, the race ends in the stadium. This is a nice treat to be able to finish inside the stadium, and pick up our well deserved medal and take home treats.

This morning was the race. The picture below shows that it truly is Around The Bay.

ATB Road Race Map

ATB Road Race Map

We left our home in Toronto around 730am, and had a flawless drive to Hamilton. After parking, we made our pit stop at the stadium for one last call at the washrooms. Before long, we left the stadium to corral ourselves with the masses. When we had left, the temperature was about -1 degrees, and it was terrible cloudy. I was not feeling the love on this race day. Surprisingly, the run gods seemed to take pity on us, and as we were corralled, the sun came out and stayed for the rest of the day.

I had no plans for this race in terms of a PR. In fact, my goal was to just finish. It’s been a brutal winter and although my running has been on a treadmill, it’s no replacement for cement. I truly paid for it during this race.

I went out at an easy pace. The run was mediocre for me at best. Then, around the 17K mark it turned wonderfully craptastic. Oh yeah, truly craptastic. I started getting a nagging pull at the bottom are of my calf. I haven’t felt it since 2012 during a half marathon race. I got lucky in that particular race as it was near the end, and I was able to finish running, with small discomfort. Today though, I had another 13K to go, and the pain was broadening throughout my calf. I stopped several times to try to stretch it out, however, nothing seemed to work. I had to speed walk a lot, as the pain seemed to settle when I had less speed. Every time I ran, the cramping got worse and worse.

Then came the hills. The last 10K is all about the rolling hills. With a cramping calf with a mind of its own, I considered quitting, but I continued on. I’ve never bonked on a race course before, and I was determined to finish.

Here are some of the pictures I took in the last 10K.

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This guy trained…

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Along the run, is the resting place of my grandparents. As per tradition, this is where I also have my ATB anxiety attack. Next time I do this race, I will sure to bring a paper bag! Not as bad as last time, but still not fun.

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Once everyone gets past the final set of hills, there is a cemetery that runners run by. True to tradition, the Grim Reaper is always waiting.

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I made it past the Reaper, and had one last stretch of road to make it towards the stadium. What a welcome site. I entered in the stadium and finished.

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It was a difficult race. I won’t lie. It’s always been my nemesis in terms of race events, but this year, was bad. Upon arriving home, I noticed a wonderful blood blister on my foot as well. Hee Haw! I use moleskin on a particular area on my foot that is prone to blisters. I’ve never had an issue since using the moleskin, but this year, low and behold, the moleskin was no match for the blister.

Onward and upwards, I always say. It’s the beginning of race season, so I can only do better from here.

 

 

Would You Run Cedar Point?

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I am considering The Biggest Loser Half marathon race in Buffalo this year.  While the half marathons are in various cities as stand-alone race events, the race organizers have also teamed up with the Six Flags amusement parks to offer 5K and 10K races.  Seems like teaming up with a theme park is becoming a growing trend.

As I was cruising the internet yesterday, I came across the Cedar Point Half Marathon. This half marathon is being held on June 29th, 2014.

The entry fees are relatively affordable, and what’s great about it is all participants of the half marathon can enjoy the theme parks on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday as part of the registration.  How cool is that?

Course Map – Half Marathon

Half Marathon Participants receive:

  • Scenic running route through the theme park
  • Finisher medal
  • Free entry to the park on Friday after 5pm, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday
  • BibChip timing and instant online results
  • Commemorative long-sleeve tech T-shirt
  • Reduced-rate parking

Unfortunately, Cedar Point is a little far for me to travel this year as it’s about a 7 hour trip by car but I’ll be keeping my eyes on this race event for the future.  It will be interesting to see how other non-Disney theme parks incorporate running events and to see if these events will grow with popularity.

What do you think about other non-Disney theme park events?  

Race Planning

The plague has hit our household this past week.  We’ve gone all winter without being sick.   Earlier this week, Kari came down with a chest cold, which has moved over to me as well.  He’s got it much worse than I, however, the heaviness in my chest and the frequent coughing has certainly put a damper on any running I could be doing.  I did manage to walk on my treadmill today while watching a Star Wars documentary for an hour.  Got 5 miles in, but walking is all I could do.  I know that running with a chest cold is never a good thing.  So I’m taking it easy, and hoping this will pass soon.  Kari is on the sofa watching The Avengers.  He’s got some lemon/garlic drink going on.  Which reminds me, tomorrow when I get up early, I’m definitely going to open up some windows.  Kinda smells like a garlic festival in here.  And who knew?  Toronto has one of those too!

So here I sit at my computer kinda wondering what I should be doing right now.  I know, race plan! We’ve been talking about which races to partake in for the upcoming Spring-to-Fall season.  We don’t have any destination trips planned for 2014 as we’ve already completed our two Disney events this past January.  We certainly will be doing some local events in the city of Toronto or nearby.  There is a handful in the later part of the Fall such as Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, Road To Hope and Niagara Falls.  One really has to pick and choose between them as they all fall within a week or two of each other.  During the summer however, most races are shorter due to the heat and humidity.  In August there is a 15k called the Midsummer Night’s Run which we have done in previous years.  It’s a great race for those that are gearing up for a Fall marathon.  They also offer a 30K, which I’ve never done.  Partly because it’s August and August in Toronto can be very humid.  I’m not sure I want to risk signing up for a race, in which I may pass out.  Truth be told, I hate the humidity.  Even last year, there were some days a 5K training run made me ill.  One just had to step outside, and they were sweating buckets.

ME!  Bucket Sweater!

ME! Bucket Sweater!

Since we don’t have any destination races planned, a race did catch my eye the other day under The Biggest Loser Race Series.  There will be a half marathon in Buffalo on August 31st.  This definitely got me interested as it’s early enough before the Fall races hit my own area, and also it’s relatively close to home so that we could drive and have a shopping/race weekend in Buffalo.  What else could a girl ask for?  Oh, I know…it’s CHEAP!  Two registrations and two nights accommodation is cheaper than the 2015 Goofy registration.  Hmm…more spending money to go towards shopping! 🙂 Now, I’m not aware of The Biggest Loser Race Series.  Aside from the name, I assume it’s just like any other race series.  I did notice in the registration details they give the most generous finish times I’ve ever seen.  I would assume, this is because it’s also called a Walk series, so walkers need the extra time.  I can’t find any additional information in terms capacity, so I have no idea how big a typical BL race is in terms of number of runner/walkers.  I expect it won’t be too large.  Perhaps no larger than a few thousand participants. Seems like a good deal to me.  Definitely going to think about this race in the next couple of days and decide if we have one more run-cation for the 2014 year.

Do you plan any weekend run-cations that are a short distance from home?

Clank, Clank, Clank goes the medals

imageI’ve been thinking about something for a while now, as I’ve been seeing a growing trend amongst many running events.

Extra Bling!!

Did your eyes get all wide eyed at the thought at more medal madness to add to your collection?

As far as I know, Disney brought us the multiple medal first. Earning a treasured Goofy medal for completing the Goofy Challenge (half and full marathons in the same weekend). Disney also incorporated the Coast to Coast challenge which is running two Disney half/full events (one in California, the other Florida) in the same calendar year. 2013 was a big year for Run Disney fans as Disney dangled more shiny new hardware for the taking for the 2014 races..  First they introduced the Dopey Challenge, which enthusiastic runners everywhere (myself included) signed up promptly. For the gals, Disney didn’t disappoint, as they brought in a very special Coast to Coast ‘Pink’ edition for running both Tinker Bell and Princess half marathons and introduced the Glass Slipper Challenge.

Of course, that’s Disney. There’s a little something extra special in those coveted medals. Would’nt you agree?

So now, I see a trend. Rock n’ Roll series does it. Space Coast is doing it. Even my local Santa 5K race joined in the extra medal fun. Some of these extra medals are earned by running two events in the same weekend series or seasonal series. Rock ‘n’ Roll gives you an extra medal if you run 2 or more of their events in a calendar year.  Run 5 at Rock ‘n’ and your a ‘Rock Star’.  I always wanted to be a rock star!  Space Coast gives you up to 5 years to earn that extra special bling.  Run 3 races in 5 years, and you’ve reached the Milky Way.  Run 5 races, and well, you’ve gone Intergalactic.  Whatever that means!

LA/SF Challenge, Boston to Big Sur Challenge, they jumped in too.

And although they don’t seem to be giving extra medals, there are commemorative items for running the Five and Dime, or Hat Trick at the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon series in Boston.

I’m no stranger to liking the bling.  There was a time when getting a medal signified a mile stone or a notch up my running pole of success.  I still remember the first half marathon I participated in and that medal signifies to me, how far I had come as a runner; as well as how far I had to go to be a competent runner.  Years have passed and I’ve collected my share of medals, most of which sit in a Walt Disney Bag hanging over a shelf by my computer. They aren’t for show-and-tell.  I really don’t have the space to exhibit many of them.  These bags of medals do however make a quick grab as they sure do make a really good weapon. (if ever I needed one)  Think Bam-Bam with a clankity-clank.

Perhaps it’s the next step for those that have done a half or a full marathon and aren’t inclined to make a leap to ultra running.  Perhaps these endurance challenges, tackling back-to-back races in the same race weekend is the next logical step.  The extra bling is not perhaps the incentive, but it’s the challenge itself.  Perhaps if I lived more local to a race such as Space Coast, it would be incentive to register year after year to the same race.  They do have some pretty cool looking medals.

What do you think? Aside from a Disney event, are you lured by extra medals in other running events?  Would you take on an extra event to achieve an extra piece of hardware?