Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Midsummer Night's 30K Race

I had signed up for the Midsummer Night's Run in January knowing that this distance would help me prepare for the full marathon in the October. Up until the race, I had never run more than 22 kilometres.

I had registered for this race a few years ago but downgraded to walking the 15K because of injuries. This year I was pumped and excited to tackle the 30 kilometre distance.

My commemorative "Mortal Pin" for the total
distance I've completed
I had started carb loading mid week as I wanted to make sure I had enough fuel to get me through the race. My run buddy came over the night before to pick up her bib and have a few drinks with me. We figured the race was the next evening, so a few glasses of wine would be fine. Plus, it helped with our nerves as we planed our outfits and game plan for the race.

This race was an evening race, so I wasn't quite sure what to do. I decided to try to eat clean throughout the day and not eat anything greasy as it would probably upset my stomach. I was also trying to detox from the wine from the night before.

The race was moved to Toronto Island this  year due to construction on the originally planned course. We set out early to head downtown to park the car and over to catch the ferry to the Island. It's a good thing we got there early as it was PACKED with people who were going over to run the race as well as people who were just heading to the island for the day. 


It was a gorgeous evening for the race. As soon as we docked, we dashed for the closest washrooms and got changed for the race.  After asking a few volunteers, we found the start line and placed ourselves in the pace groups that we were hoping to finish in. I was a ball of nerves. I had never run this distance before and was so afraid that my legs would give out. My stomach was in knots, but it was too late. I decided that I was going to finish no matter what it took out of me.



Our Before shot
I placed myself with in the 3:15 pace group and hoped for the best. I was not sure how long it would take me to finish the 30K, but I was really hoping for a 3 hour finish. When the gun went off, I took off with a good steady pace, but also knowing that I had to really pace myself to last the entire distance. I had also decided to only carry gels and depend on the water stations for water. I caught up with the 3:00 pace group in the first 5 kilometres and stuck with them for a little while, but the group was rather large, so I picked it up a bit and found 2 lovely ladies that were running at a good steady pace and stuck with them for most of the race.


Gorgeous view of the lake
"Toronto Seawall"
The race info had said that we would be running on several different surfaces and to "BE PREPARED!" As you can see from my photo above, we ended up running on a wooden boardwalk along the beautiful waterfront. The view was great but I can't say the same about the wooden planks. Every time another runner stepped on a plank it would bounce. We also ran on pavement, grass and some sand. I guess I can't say I wasn't forewarned. 

The layout of the race was basically a few loops of the island. I actually ran on that wooden boardwalk 3 times. Thank goodness with each loop, there were fewer runners. I kept a steady pace between 5:30 and 6:00 km/hour.  Somehow around the 15 km mark, I lost both my elastics holding my pigtails together. I spent the most part of the next few kilometres asking every female volunteer for and elastic. Finally my "elastic" fairy came to my rescue, a course marshal at the 25km mark tossed me her elastic as I ran by her. She definitely made my race. I would almost consider that a wardrobe malfunction. I have learned that I will always run with extra elastics on my wrists.

Caught checking my pace


After the second loop of the island, I ran up to a split where the race marshals asked if we were at the 22 or 29 kilometre mark. I sadly was only at the 22 mark and knew that I had to do 1 more final loop. ARGH!!!  My Garmin said 2:09, so I knew that if I picked up my feet, I could get my sub 3:00 finish. So, I dug deep for the last few kilometres. Grabbed my last gel, sucked it back and gave it all I had.



My Huge Medal
2:52 Finish
My Splits from my Garmin

5.03 km   - 29:32
10.09 km - 1:00
15 km      - 1:28
20.16km  - 1:58
25.06 km - 2:25
30 km      - 2:52
Gunning for the finish



Have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading... feel free to say hello and leave a comment.

How do you prepare nutritionally for a night race?

Do you carry water for your races?

What do you like to use for fuel during races or long runs?

I love their Race Shirt and the back said
"Mind over Matter"












Friday, 16 August 2013

Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

The Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon is a fairly new race, but very popular as it sold out in a few weeks of registration opening up.  This was the second year for the event which takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



I headed out early Thursday with my kids, cousin and mom in tow to the airport as we were flying standby to Vancouver. I will have to write another post on the adventures of travelling standby another day. We eventually made it to Vancouver after almost 24 hours of being up.

The package pickup/expo was on Friday  and features a "showcase store". Lululemon sets up a store with limited edition SeaWheeze themed clothing. I had hoped to head out to the SeaWheeze expo/showcase bright and early, but since the kids went to bed at 3am PST, there was no was I was going to try to wake them up at 7 to head out. My little guy was also burning hot with a fever.  It turns out he had Roseola. 

Thank goodness for social media as I found out an old friend from high school had also flown in to run the race as well and was able to connect with her. We kept in touch as she was on her way to packet pickup and was able to give me the details of the ridiculous line to get into the Vancouver Convention Centre to pick up her bib and the "showcase store". She told me that the line was around the building and that there was no separate line for the runners. I was rather disappointed to hear this as I had hoped that they would have a special line for runners. I heard that people had started lining up at 4 am to get first dibs on the limited edition clothing and many of these people were not even running the race. I'm sure I will see many of the clothes on eBay. I decided to wait until later in the day to go pick up my packet in hopes that the lines would die down. She told me that it took her 1 hour from start to finish to get her bib. I think this was appalling!! I was not going to drag my kids to wait an hour to pick up my bib. I hope Lululemon will resolve this matter for future races.


I decided to take my kids to the Vancouver Aquarium instead and wait out the lines for package pickup. It was a huge hit with my daughter. I highly recommend visiting the aquarium as it it right inside Stanley Park and is easy to get around and see all the animals and exhibits. I went to pick up my packet after the aquarium and there were no lines, but the showcase store was pretty depleted. They had sold out most items in my size, so I left empty handed.


Instead of bibs, all the runners got an all access wristband to the events that they had planned for us. They had yoga on the beach and an awesome concert the evening after the race.


I woke up bright and early race day to overcast skies and a very sick baby. I felt guilty for leaving him with my mom, but I had decided that I was going to aim for my sub 2:00 half marathon. Thank goodness for moms and baby Advil.

Ready to go, Olympic cauldron behind me

I tried to work my way up to the 2:00 pacers, but was met by walls of people. There were over 10,000 people running the race.  I finally wedged myself right in front of the 2:10 pace group.  In the midst of me rushing out of the hotel and worrying about my sick baby, I had forgotten to grab the pace band that I had made for the race. Luckily, I had my iPhone and was able to pull up the split times that I would need to get my 2:00 hour finish. I quickly memorized the splits and waited to start.



Heading into Stanley Park

I didn't take many pictures during this run as I was aiming for my sub 2:00 finish. I don't think I took my phone out until after 13km. I had been told by one or the staff (Thanks Tara) at my local Lululemon store who had run this race last year to enjoy the view and that the cheering squads were going to be amazing and she was right. I was quite surprised to see all the people out cheering the runners on. There were some awesome drag queens at a top of a pretty steep hill yelling at us to make it to the top. Musical acts, acrobats, a young girls cheer squad, lots of Lululemon staff, BMO Vancouver Marathon people cheering, people on boats in the water yelling from megaphones to motivate us, and even people on paddle boards. I was rather overwhelmed by all the positive energy.

The fuel stations were amazing. There was water, Vega energizer drinks and endurance gels, as well as bananas and oranges. This race had the best fuelling stations I have ever had in all the races I have run.


The nice KM markers on the road
The race course was absolutely stunning. We started by running through parts of downtown Vancouver and eventually onto the Seawall. The weather was perfect as it was not too hot or cold and a bit overcast. A few raindrops fell during the early parts of the race but stopped. I was never able to find the 2:00 pacer, but kept to the times that I had memorized while standing in the start coral. I felt that I was pretty strong and with the new marathon plan I had from my coach, I was going to give it my all.  I finished under my 2:00 goal.




My Splits from my Garmin

5.05 km - 28:40
10.04km -  57:30
15.03 km- 1:25
20.04 km - 1:52
21.25 km - 1:58

My sweet Swag

I must say Lululemon put on a FANTASTIC race weekend. It was not just a race, but a fun filled weekend. I wish I had dragged some girlfriends with me as this would have been the perfect event.  Even though the line up was long at the expo, they handed out Popsicles and goodies to those waiting in line. Lululemon had scheduled yoga on the beach and a huge party afterwards in the park with a concert and more yoga. There were manicures and pedicures and tattoo booths.  The swag was great as you get a pair of Lululemon running shorts and a nice canvas bag that was used for bag check. Vega was sponsor for all the fuelling throughout the race, which was a bonus for me as I love their products. The medal is one of a kind as you can see from my photos. They set up photo booths afterwards for all runners to take photos to put into their "medals".

There were free massages and an awesome brunch after the race.  All finishers were given a Saje runners reward package with their Peppermint Halo and Pain Release oils AND Skullcandy earbuds.


Surprise! It's a locket 
The Medal 


Post Race shot taken by my daughter, rocking
my Lululemon Outfit
I highly recommend this race to everyone. Vancouver is a beautiful city and the SeaWheeze is definitely one of the best races I have ever ran. I was not able to take part in any of the things/events that were set up as my little one was sick, but I hope to go back next year with some friends and rock this race again.

What is your favourite race that you have run?

Have a great weekend.

















Thursday, 1 August 2013

I am a TOUGH MUDDER!!!

Well, this past Friday I packed the family up and we drove down to Rochester to stay with our friends who had convinced me to partake in Tough Mudder. I couldn't believe that July 27 was finally here. We had signed up nearly 8 months ago and it seemed like we had a lifetime to prepare.  When I signed up, I thought that I would be able to strength train and prepare but it just never happened. I figured that I was on maternity leave and would have oodles of time. Duh, what was I thinking.

My other concern was that I am still nursing my son and have not completely weaned him. He just turned 10 months and I cannot believe how fast the time is flying by. I had calculated that I would be away from him for at least 7-8 hours. I decided to try to get him onto a bottle a week before and luckily for me he took the bottle. This also makes me happy because now I can actually do the long runs that are planned in my training plan without fearing that he will starve at home waiting for me to run home and nurse him.

Tough Mudder Buffalo was located in Andover, NY. It was a gorgeous scenic drive to the ATV park where the event was to take place. It is billed the be 'Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet'. With this in mind, I was nervous and anxious to see what was ahead. My 5 friends and I had gone over the course map briefly the night before. All I knew was that there was 11+ miles that we had to cover with 15 muddy obstacles in between.

To start of the event, we had to scale a 6 foot wall just to get into the starting bay which they waited to be filled up with all the participants that were starting in our wave. Once we got all in, we were given a very motivational speech and reminded the its "not a race. It is about camaraderie and helping your fellow team members complete the race and get to the finish line".

It was an overcast day with rain clouds hovering. As soon as the horn went off, we were off.

My team and I taking off, we were so eager and CLEAN!

Obstacle 1 - Blades of Glory
After running for 1.5 miles we came up to our first obstacle.  We had to get over 2 sets of 8 foot walls that are angled towards you. Thank goodness we had the guys to help give the girls a boost. I really should have worked on doing more chin ups 

Obstacle 2- Kiss of Mud
Our first mud obstacle got us down right dirty. We had to crawl commando-style in the mud under barbed wire that was set 8 inches from the ground. This one made me think of my little guy because he will only crawl in this position. Other than getting muddy, I didn't mind this one so much.

Obstacle 3 - Funky Monkey
Just before mile 3 we came up to the monkey bars. But, these are no ordinary monkey bars. You need to do them over pool of muddy water. I loved monkey bars as a kid, but that was many eons ago. I tried to wipe off a much mud off my hands as possible and surprisingly, I made it all the way across.

Obstacle 4 - Walk the Plank
This one was a tough one for me. You are required to jump off a 15 foot platform into dark muddy water. I had never been afraid of heights until I had kids. It took me a few attempts before I actually took the plunge. I had thought that I would touch the bottom of the mud pool, but never did. It seemed like forever before I came up for air.  Even our friend who couldn't swim jumped. Thank goodness, he brought a life vest.  But now my shoes were soaked and we still had 7 more miles of running to do.

Obstacle 5 - Electric Eel
This obstacle came up shortly after mile 5 where once again we had to get onto our bellies and crawl and slide our way through more muddy water with electric shock wires dangling about you similar to the kiss of mud. I tried to go slowly avoid the live wires which carry as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock. However, it was unavoidable. I was shocked on my arms and legs as I was trying to climb out of the mud. OUCH, it was not pleasant.

Obstacle 6 - Mud Mile
Dirty, dirty, dirty. It is exactly as it sounds. We had to climb over 5 mounds of mud to land into waste deep pools of mud. I ripped a pretty large hole in my bottom area of my pants on mud hill #2 and scraped my leg on hill #3 and then decided to skip the last 2 hills. After the mud hills, we continued running for a mile through the muddy woods. It was muddy trail running with lots of up and down hills.


My awesome team mates, Love her goggles.
 I'm wearing pink in the back
Obstacle 7 - Warrior Carry
This was one of the easier ones. Our group of 6 split into 2 teams of 3 and carried 1 person each. It's nice that we had a team so that we could pair up.




Obstacle 8 - Arctic Enema
This was a deep plunge into a FREEZING pool of ice water. Once you are in the water, you have to submerge yourself under a wooden plank before you can jump out on the other side. The water was SO SO SO cold. I could barely get out and felt my legs tingle as I was finally out.


My team and I after climbing out of Arctic Enema
As you can see from my face. I am NOT a happy camper

Obstacle 9 - Hold your Wood
This is pretty much what is sounds like. We had the choice of carrying a large stump of wood or a heavy log on the course for about 1/2 a mile. I paired up with a teammate and picked large heavy log and hoisted it onto our shoulders and marched on. It sounds and looked easy, but I was ready to drop that log when I saw the drop off point. 

Obstacle 10 -  Cage Crawl
This was another water obstacle and not for ones fear confined spaces. I had to flip onto my back and pull myself across 60 feet of cage with only 6 inches of breathing room. It wasn't so bad as the bottom of the mud water was lined with plastic, I just held on as tight as I could to the cage and dragged myself to the end.

Obstacle 11 - Boa Constrictor
This is another one that is not for those who are claustrophobic as you are required to crawl through a plastic tube on your stomach into a more muddy water and then crawl back into another dark tube and crawl your way out to the light. The guy behind me must have been in a rush because I could feel his head bumping into my feet every time I made a move to crawl out.

Obstacle 12 - Mystery Obstacle
This one was unexpected and we had no idea what we were going to face. As we got closer to the obstacle, I could hear banging noises. We were directed to run through 2 freight containers (the ones you see on 18 wheeler trucks) as we were running through them all  we could hear was the loud banging noises and was not sure what it was coming from until we exited the last container and saw our obstacle. We had to jump over a series of 5 plastic barricades while tennis balls machines were being fired at us. It was the tennis balls hitting the side of the container that was making all the noise. I ran as fast as I could to each barricade and hurdled myself over trying not to get hit with the tennis balls.  I lucked out and made it through without getting hit, but a little bit bruised up from banging into the barricades.

Obstacle 13 - Berlin Walls
This one was another team effort obstacle. With the help of our teammates, we had to get over a two 12 foot wooden walls. Thank goodness we had guys on our team. I'm not sure if we would have made it over without the extra boost.

Obstacle 14 - Everest
This obstacle is near the end of the course and it was starting to rain as we approached. Everest looks like a skateboarders half-pipe wall. You have to run up the slippery, muddy wall and try to make it to the top with the help of your team mates and the volunteers at the top to pull you up. I was very undecided about this obstacle as I have to run a half marathon in 2 weeks and did not want to injure my knees, so I decided to walk around. Maybe next time I will try it out. I am so proud that all my teammates made it to the top

Obstacle 15 - Electroshock Therapy
This was the last obstacle before the finish line and is it what it sounds like. You have to run through a muddy, hilly field of live wires, some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock. I opted out of this one as well. I didn't like being shocked in electric eel and this one was going to be bad. 



Our husband and wife teammates are so sweet,
they held hands through it all

As we crossed the finish line, we were rewarded with the Tough Mudder signature orange headband, a finisher shirt, a cold beer and most of all the overwhelming pride of having finished "Probably the Toughest Event of the Planet".

Overall, it was a great day. The rain held off until the very end which made trying to clean all the mud off a little difficult. The course was VERY muddy and quite hilly in parts. I did see a few people get taken off the course in stretchers for various injuries. I saw many people off the the side stretching their legs and dealing with leg cramps. The Tough Mudder event is definitely a hard event. Many of the obstacles are mentally and physically challenging.  I would recommend it to anyone who was looking for something fun and challenging, but please do train for it. My running helped me get through the course quite easily, but a bit more upper body strength training would have helped more. I would suggest wearing clothes that you don't mind throwing out as you will be completely submerged in mud and your clothes may tear or rip on the obstacles. Covering your knees and elbows will help with the crawling obstacles and for my friends that can't swim, a life jacket will come in handy. Some of my team mates had gloves and goggles. Expect to get a few bumps and bruises along the way.

A huge thank you to my friends for sticking with me to the very end. A big thank you to the Ng's for hosting us and for buying all these awesome photos. Way to go team CanAm Mudders. Looking forward to another Tough Mudder.

Team CanAm Mudders
Have you ever completed a Tough Mudder event? Would you?

Have you done any other "muddy" type of obstacle events?

Have a great day !