Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 16

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! Only two weeks remain in my training plan and it’s starting to feel really real! The next two weeks are going to feel like an eternity as I obsess over things outside of my control (weather) and things within my control (not getting caught up in taper madness and staying healthy)! I am starting to get anxious about race day and can’t want to get to the starting line!

Inhale…..exhale. Relax.

[ week 16 / 2 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day.

Tuesday – W16D02 – Steady Run – 10 kilometers/47:37/4:46 pace. Got my early morning run in! I was working from him in the morning, so I was able to start a tad later. This meant I could run the Beltline trail which would usually be much darker if I ran earlier in the morning.

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W16D03 – Workout. What a workout! After the intervals were done, my legs started shaking and I had to stop for a moment to collect myself before I ran the cool-down segment. I tried to remember the last time Coach had us do a workout without stopping between intervals and couldn’t. Even though the workout called for jogging between intervals, the legs kept moving for 5km and I was wiped when it was over.

Workout: 4 x (2:00, 1:00 jog | 1:00, 30s jog | 30s, 30s jog)

Strava Run

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Thursday – W16D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/40:51/5:06 pace. Surprisingly, my legs were a little tired from yesterday’s workout, but didn’t feel as heavy as I expected. Took it nice and easy on today’s run to keep the legs moving, but not overdo it! It was pretty chilly, wet, and windy on today’s run and it started to give me flashbacks of my marathon last May!

Strava Run

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Friday – I only missed 2-3 days of training in the previous 15 weeks due to injury. Something I’m really proud of because it’s often difficult to stay healthy during a tough training cycle; especially at my age!

I’m sad to say I missed today’s run, but thankfully not due to an injury. I came home from work absolutely wiped out. I went back and forth a dozen times trying to decide if I should drag my butt out the door to run. If I did run, it would need to be after dinner as I didn’t have time between getting home from work and picking up my son from after-care (the window I opportunity for most of my runs). At dinner, I had a glass of wine and that sealed the deal. I was even more tired than I was when I got home! Not going to dwell on it!

Saturday – W16D06 – Easy Run w/ Fartleks – 10 kilometers/46:37/4:40 pace. The plan for today was to keep it nice and easy for 6 kilometers. After missing yesterday’s workout, I decided to mix things up a bit by tacking on 4 additional kilometers and adding in some fartleks.  I have some speed work in tomorrow’s long run, but it felt good to get the legs moving a bit after missing a run.

Strava Run

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Sunday – W16D07 – Long Run – 25 kilometres/1:57:30/4:42 pace. Last long run of this training plan! Dom, Daniel, and I were joined by Anna as well as our running family from Kleinburg today! It was really awesome running with these awesome people for a bit before Dom, Daniel, and I sped up for our speed work portion of our long runs. We ran the first 8km easy, the next 10km at MP, and the final 7km easy.

Afterwards we have brunch and chatted about Boston, of course, training, and life in general. It was great to see everyone again!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 62.5

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 15

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It’s Marathon Monday! I wrote a quick blurb on my Instagram page about what this day means to me. Good luck to everyone racing in Boston today!

15 weeks down and three to go. This past week was by far my biggest week since I started running! I am feeling so good right now and can not wait to race! Let’s look back at what happened this past week.

[ week 15 / 3 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day.

Tuesday – W15D02 – Steady Run – 13.5 kilometers/1:02:03/4:36 pace. The runs this week are a little longer, which means I really need to plan them out. There’s usually a small window between getting coming home from work, walking my dogs, and picking up my son from aftercare for my runs. With a 14km run scheduled today, I was fortunate enough not to have any late meetings. I also forgot to unpause my Garmin for 500m, so I ended up with 13.5km! I also ran a tad quicker than I should have!

Strava Run

Wednesday – W15D03 – Workout. I did this workout last week and forgot the last part of it. Even without that last part, it’s a tough workout! I did my workout in the cemetery today. It’s so peaceful running through there; there’s just a number of tight turns you need to navigate when your workouts stretch over 800 meters! After running yesterday’s steady run a little quicker than I should have, I was not sure I would have the legs for today’s workout. Thankfully, I was wrong and I felt great!

Workout: 2 x (1000m, 2:00 rest | 800m, 2:00 rest | 400m, 1:00 rest | 200m, 4:00 rest), 4 x 100m, 100m jog

Strava Run

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Thursday – W15D04 – Recovery Run – 12.0 kilometers/59:53/4:59 pace. Slowing down for recovery runs is one thing, but when it’s a 12 kilometer recovery run and you have things to do that don’t involve running, it can be very easy to speed up! Thankfully I kept it nice and light today! I didn’t notice any issues with my legs feeling heavy after two days of hard running; that’s a good sign, right?

Strava Run

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Friday – W15D05 – Workout. Today’s workout consisted of a light warm-up, 7 kilometers at marathon pace, and a light cool-down. I took the bookends fairly light, but did go a little quicker in the marathon pace section. I ended up running between marathon pace and half marathon pace. I still have a lot to learn about pacing!

Strava Run

Saturday – W15D06 – Easy Run – 8 kilometers/40:08/5:00 pace. Easy run today and I kept the pace nice and light. I caught some flak for posting such a serious photo on Instagram today, but I’ll chalk it up to being in the zone and ready to go! Feeling really solid after a big week and I still have a long run tomorrow!

Strava Run

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Sunday – W15D07 – Long Run – 32.4 kilometres/2:30:04/4:38 pace. WOW! What a run! Dom and I ran together for our last long ass run of this marathon training plan. Since Coach Colin called for segments of the run to be done at marathon pace and faster than marathon pace, we decided to take the run down to the Martin Goodman Trail. The plan for today’s run was to complete the first 10km at easy pace, the next 10km at marathon pace, the third 10km at easy pace, and the final 2km at faster than marathon pace. I felt great the entire time and when it came time to the last 2 kilometers, I still had enough energy to drop a 4:17/km and 4:25/km pace! In the past, I dreaded these long runs, but today, I embraced it!

Dom also had an amazing run which really has me hopeful for what we can do in three weeks!

I closed the week out with the highest kilometers I ever ran in my life. This week was such a confidence booster! I can’t wait for race day!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 86.8

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

I’m off to track a bunch of amazing people run the 2017 Boston Marathon!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 14

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! With just four weeks of training to go, it’s really starting to sink in that I am going to put all of this training to the test! Next Monday is the Boston Marathon and I can’t wait to track everyone I know who will be participating. It will also be perfect timing as I’ll be coming off my final long run of this training plan and will need a good shot of inspiration for the final weeks of training.

[ week 14 / 4 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day. Feeling really good lately!

Tuesday – W14D02 – Steady Run – 12 kilometers/56:43/4:43 pace. Another early morning run for me. I’m going to the Leafs game tonight, so I won’t have time to run after work. I know, poor me! While it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever be converted to an early morning runner, I do enjoy these quieter runs with less traffic.

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W14D03 – Workout. Today’s workout called for long hills (500 meters), but because I had to run first thing in the morning and I didn’t want to run 3 kilometers to the closest hill, I cheated and ran up the hill down the street from me. The hills is not as long as it should be for this workout (only about 300 meters), but it will have to do. I get enough hill work running through Bloor West every Sunday! Sorry Coach!

Workout: 8 x Long (short) Hills, 4 x 400 meters | 1:00 rest, 4 x 200 meters | 200 meter jog

Strava Run

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Thursday – W14D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/43:23/5:20 pace. My glutes are really sore from yesterday’s workout! Thankfully today was a recovery run which I took nice and slow. Going to my second Leafs game of the week. For those who know me well, I will never convert from being a die-hard Rangers fan, but I do enjoy Leafs games; especially when they are trying to clinch a playoff spot!

Strava Run

Friday – W14D05 – Workout. The winds today were absolutely brutal. Coach had us doing a 12km Progression Run with a cool-down at the end (I usually add 2 kilometers as my cool-down). I battled the winds most of the run and I was flat out exhausted by the time my pace started to drop to 4:10/km. Instead of 12 kilometers, I barely hung on for 11 and then added another kilometer for my cool-down. Not the way I wanted this to play out, but it felt as if I was running with a parachute on my back the entire time!

Strava Run

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Saturday – W14D06 – Easy Run – 10 kilometers/47:01/4:42 pace. I was only supposed to run 8 kilometers today, but I added another two because I missed a couple of kilometers yesterday. My legs felt really heavy from both workouts, but I still kept the run a bit quicker than an easy run.

Earlier in the day, my wife, son and I headed over to the Green Living Show at the Metro Toronto convention Centre. I went to meet the Buddha Brands Company team and hang out for a bit to give them a hand. I’m a Buddha Brands Company Brand Ambassador and have been a huge fan of their coconut water and coconut chips. It was a lot of fun talking to people about these awesome products. While I was hanging out with the team, my wife and son were picking up products to do our part for a greener, healthier lifestyle!

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Strava Run

Sunday – W14D07 – Long Run – 27.0 kilometres/2:17:04/5:05 pace. My legs were fried from five days of running and two hard workouts. I started off feeling sluggish, but over time found my legs and dropped a few decent splits. The route was pretty hilly and a few times I actually felt myself speeding up which felt great!

It was also really great running with the High Park Rogue Runners. They’re one of the greatest bunch of people I ever met and I learned a lot running with them! I picked up a singlet in the morning which I will be proudly wearing at the Mississauga Marathon!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 78.3

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 13

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! After a super exciting week 12, this week will be pretty tame in comparison. It’s a recovery week and the lowest kilometers run since the end of Feb/beginning of March when I ran the Chilly Half Marathon. 13 weeks in the books, which means there are now 5 weeks until race day!

[ week 13 / 5 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day. My right ankle is pretty sore from yesterday’s race and there is a wicked blister on my left baby toe. I popped the blister and it’s more annoying than the ankle, which is a good sign because the blister will heal pretty soon.

Tuesday – W13D02 – Steady Run – 6 kilometers/30:21/5:03 pace. Legs feel really good today. The ankle is barely bothering me, but the blister is still a little annoying.

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W13D03 – Workout. This workout was pretty easy which I expected coming off a big race. Legs still felt really good and the blister on my toe is almost gone! The ankle is also feeling really good. The steady run was supposed to be 10km, but I was running out of time and needed to get back to pick up my son from aftercare. He also has keyboard lessons on Wednesdays so I don’t have a lot of time to squeeze in a run!

Workout: 4 x 200m | 200m jog, 9km Steady

Strava Run

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Thursday – W13D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/43:23/5:20 pace. Ran this one at the crack of dawn because I had a work event to attend to later in the evening. At 3 degrees, it was the chilliest day of the week. Later it was actually supposed to snow, so I’m actually glad I moved my run to the morning! Out of the way and the whole day ahead of me!

Strava Run

Friday – W13D05 – Workout. Cold, raining, and really windy. I contemplated skipping this workout, but once I reminded myself why I was training so hard, I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. The run was very wet and a little cold thanks to the heavy winds, but I got the run done! You can choose the races you want to race, but you can’t choose the weather that day. My first BQ was in awful weather, so days like this only make me stronger!

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Strava Run

Saturday – W13D06 – Rest Day – No running today which means this is really going to be a light week of running!

Sunday – W13D07 – Long Run – 20.0 kilometres/1:37:18/4:52 pace. Super easy long run today. Feels strange to only run 20 kilometers on a long run, but like I said, this is a recovery week. Need to let the muscles recover after a hard race. I would see other runners cranking out 30+km runs and think, “maybe I should be doing that;” then I realize, my coach knows what he’s doing and after smashing my first two races this year, I am confident this plan is the best I ever followed!

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Strava Run

Total kilometers this week – 55.8

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Race Report: 2017 Around The Bay 30K

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Race #2 of 2017 is in the books and this may have been my best race ever! I know I said that when I finished the Chilly Half Marathon exactly three weeks prior, but the Around the Bay 30K is a really technical course (at least the back half is!) and can be difficult to tame. Just a warning, there won’t be many photos in this race report of me running because after seeing my race photos on Marathon Photos, I could not justify spending the money to purchase them. They’re awful!

Training

Similar to the Chilly Half, this race falls within my 18-week marathon training plan. This means I treated the race as a long run (albeit a speedy long run) and I did not taper; in fact, I ran five days straight leading up to this race. My plan for the race was to run at marathon pace (MP). As of now, my planned MP for my Spring goal race is 4:25-4:30/km, but that may be adjusted now that I am feeling stronger than I did last year where I followed the same pace strategy and was very successful. I finished the 2016 Around the Bay in a time of 2:14:21. Men who finish between 2:00 and 2:15 earn a silver medal, which I did! I went into the race hopeful to improve my time, but would be equally happy if I was within reach of last year’s finishing time as that would mean I would be in really good shape for my Spring goal race.

Pre-Race

For the second race in a row, I didn’t visit the expo. My wife, son, and I had dentist appointments around Noon and I would not be able to make it out to Hamilton in time to pick-up my bib. Thankfully, Stu from High Park Rogue Runners offered to pick-up a number of bibs for the crew. This meant I only had to travel as far as Bloor and Keele to get my bib instead of Hamilton. Thanks Stu!!

The weather forecast leading up to race day was calling for rain with temps close to zero. I didn’t stress out too much about the weather and was pretty happy when I woke up and it wasn’t raining. It also wasn’t very cold so my long sleeve with singlet over top and shorts would be perfect.

I picked up my buddy Domenic at 7:30am and we headed out to Hamilton. The race was scheduled to start at 9:30am. About halfway into the drive, I started to have troubles with my car. I now know the issue was the water pump and I could have blown the engine! Thankfully, that didn’t happen! Luckily we left early, so we had plenty of time to push the car if we needed to. Kidding, I would have just left the car on the side of the road and run to Hamilton!

We arrived around 8:15am and spent the good part of 25 minutes or so trying to find a spot where we wouldn’t get ripped off (lots closer to the start were charging $20 to park, but we found a lot two blocks away charging $10). Once we parked, we headed into FirstOntario Centre to meet-up with the rest of the High Park Rogue Runners. The coolest part of the race is it ends inside the FirstOntario Centre and runners who arrive early not only avoid having to stand outside, they can get a glimpse of the finish line which ends inside the arena.

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High Park Rogue Runners! Photo Courtesy of Ricardo Medford

The Race

Again, my goal was to hold a 4:25-4:30/km pace. My buddy Daniel and I discussed running together prior to the race and we confirmed that would be the plan when Dom and I met up with him and the crew. We hung out a bit, then headed out to the start line. We didn’t even make it outside of the arena when I lost Daniel! I searched for him for a bit, headed over to my corral, searched a bit more, then decided I may as well settle in and get prepared to start. I did spot Meghan, Sam, and Stu from the crew so I moved up in my corral to run with them.

First 5km splits: 4:23, 4:19, 4:16, 4:19, 4:22

The first few kilometers of the race are pretty quick. You feel as if you’ve been shot out of a canon and it can be difficult to hold back if you’re in the red (first) or blue (second) corrals. After about 500 meters, the race makes a left turn from York Blvd onto James Street N. In the previous two years, runners head up James Street N then made a right turn onto Burlington Street E. From there it’s a straight, relatively flat run for the next 8 kilometers. This year, before making the right turn onto Burlington Street E, runners head North a few hundred meters, then turn right onto Guise Street W and wrap around Eastwood Park before making a left onto Burlington Street E. This was my third year in a row running this course and I immediately noticed the change. At one point, I turned to Sam and asked if he remembered making as many turns last year.

Someone I was running next to me pretty casually turned and said, “Hi, RunTheSix.” It turned out to be a runner I know from Instagram (hongsolooo)! I really enjoy bumping into (not literally!) people I know from the running community at races because it takes your mind off the task at hand for a bit.

The first three kilometers of the course are relatively scenic as you run through a residential area with a good number of people cheering, then you quickly hit the industrial area of Hamilton and it starts to get a little drab.

My splits at this point were a little quick, but I was barely paying attention.

Second 5km splits: 4:21, 4:23, 4:33, 4:32, 4:19

Somewhere around the 7km mark, Burlington St E turns into Nikola Tesla Blvd, but I assure you, there is nothing electrifying about this part of the race. See what I did there? The race does open up a bit as people spread out across the boulevard. At this point, Sam and I started to ease into our desired paces and we were on the heels of the 2:15 pace bunny. At one point Sam said if I tried to pass the bunny, I’d be on my own! I was in no rush and we were only 1/3 of the way into the race.

At the 8km mark, there is a 10 meter climb, something I don’t recall from previous races. I checked the elevation map on Strava and it definitely was not there in previous races. Nothing to get too worried about, but I did notice it!

The winds were also picking up a bit at this point and I distinctly remember hearing the bibs pinned to runners flapping around in the wind.

I passed the 10km mark at 45:23. A few seconds over my goal time, but in a really good spot!

Third 5km splits: 4:22, 4:14, 4:18, 4:16, 4:17

Just past the 10km mark of the race, runners exit Nikola Tesla Blvd and make a jug handle turn onto Woodward Avenue. At this point of the race, you pass the first relay runners waiting on the side of the road. There are 2-person (15km each) and 3-person relays (10km each) and they are great supporters of runners who run past while they wait for their relay partners.

After 400 meters or so, runners turn right, go under the QEW and make a quick left onto Beach Blvd. The next 6 kilometers is one of the longest stretches of the race, but one of the quietest. There are a few residents hanging out in front of their homes, but the weather usually doesn’t get a lot of people outside on this stretch!

I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I started to pull away from Sam and started to push the pace. I honestly didn’t even think about it at the time; it just sort of happened. By the halfway point, I was at 1:06:01; almost 3 minutes ahead of my goal time. I had another 5 kilometers to go before the rolling hills of N Shore Blvd started to chew up runners who went out way too fast. Plenty of time to settle back into race pace!

Around this point in the race, perhaps sooner, I spotted my friend Jarek Zlamal, someone I ran with often in the past. For the remainder of the race, we ran side by side. We paced each other and kept each other honest!

It was also around this point in the race when someone pulled up next and said he recognized me from this blog. I’ve had people recognize me from Instagram, but to have someone tell me they read my blog was really awesome! We briefly spoke about the blog and our goals for this race (Marwan really wanted to run a sub-2:15 to earn a silver medal), then kept on pushing along. We ran pretty much side by side for the remainder of the race!

Fourth 5km splits: 4:14, 4:20, 4:29, 4:17, 4:13

So much for settling into marathon race pace! Just past the 17km mark, runners make a left turn onto N Shore Blvd. This is the infamous part of the race where runners get a taste of the real features of the course; the rolling hills! The elevation changes are very subtle at first, then they come on fairly strong around the 19-20km mark. The first time I ran this race, I ended up walking up the hills a few times. Last year, I ran through the hills but had a good walk or two once I exited this part of the course because I was gassed. This year, I didn’t speed through the hills; instead, I ran with the same effort up and let gravity take me down.

Around the 18-19km mark, I started spotting friendly faces on the side of the course, including Coach Colin and some of the High Park Rogue Runners. I tried my best to smile, but all I wanted to do was get past these hills and on to the biggest feature of the course, “The Hill” at Valley Inn Rd.

I hit the 20km mark at 1:28:02; 4 minutes ahead of my goal time.

Fifth 5km splits: 4:27, 4:32, 4:20, 4:24, 4:24

At this point of the race, you feel like you’ve been climbing forever. The elevation changes from 70+ meters to 107 meters over the course of the next five kilometers. Play it smart, and you’ll have enough energy for the final hill and very subtle downhill home, but don’t play it smart and you’ll be questioning your life choices for the remainder of the race.

At the 24km mark, North Shore Blvd W makes a right turn then a quick left onto Plains Road W. The second to the last climb happens when runners make a subtle left onto Spring Gardens Rd.

Final 5km splits: 4:19, 4:33, 4:25, 4:30, 4:16

At the 26km mark of the race, runners plunge 26 meters down Spring Gardens Rd and at the 27km mark of the race, runners face their final challenge before heading back to FirstOntario Centre. “The Hill” as runners affectionately refer to it, is a steady 28-meter climb that feels like it will never end. It’s not a massive hill by any means, but after running 26 kilometers, 4-5 of which were just through rolling hills, this climb feels like you’re ascending Mount Everest!

I really wanted to experience this hill because it was removed the previous two years due to construction and I was tired of people saying, “yeah, but you didn’t run Around the Bay with The Hill!”

I approached the hill like any runner should. Head up, body straight, and a steady effrot. I didn’t panic and when I finally ascended the hill, I expected the worse, so the 4:33/km pace I clocked at the 27km mark was a huge victory! No question I was gassed, so when I made the final turn, a left onto York Blvd, I did everything in my power to just run. Last year when the rolling hills of North Shore Blvd W ate me up, I walked along the medium of York Blvd for a bit before regaining some energy. This year would be entirely different.

I was starting to get really gassed at the 28km mark, but this is a very popular part of the course for spectators and race crews. Everyone from Tribe Fitness, Parkdale Road Runners, RunToBeer, and others can be seen cheering on their crewmates and other runners who need all the support they can get for that final 2-kilometer push to the finish line! At this point in the race, I wasn’t able to completely fill my lungs with air and was forced to take shorter breaths which bothered me at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly. Any thought of stopping was pushed to the back of my mind.

FirstOntario Centre is clearly visible at this point of the race. Once I saw it, I knew I was almost home.

With just over 1 kilometer to go, I spotted the RunTOBeer crew and a few hundred meters later spotted the Tribe Fitness crew. I got my power-up high-five from my friend Allison (I’m losing count of the number of times Allison gave me a high-five towards the end of a race!) and the final turn taking runners inside FirstOntario Centre was now visible less than a kilometer away.

As I was huffing and puffing in the final kilometer, someone I was running next to said something to the effect of, “Hey, you’re Greenwald, right?” I don’t think my brain was able to process anything other than “RUN!” at that point, but he did mention he was following me on Strava. Thankfully he reminded me later in the comments of my Strava run. It was great to meet you on the course, David!

Somehow I dropped a 4:16 pace in that final kilometer, made a right turn into the service entrance of the arena and heard the most amazing sounds you ever want to hear towards the end of a race; especially this one. People were cheering inside the arena and someone on a PA system was calling out the names of runners entering closing in on the finish line.

A few meters later and I could finally see the finish line and the clock above. I crossed the line at 2:12:30 (2:12:16 chip). I beat last years time by about 2 minutes and earned back to back silver medals!

Marwan and Jarek came in right behind me, easily earning their own silver medals. Congrats guys!

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The Final Push. Photo Courtesy of Tribe Fitness

The Results

I lost track of the number of races I’ve done since I started racing in 2014, but I believe it’s just North of 20. In just about ever race with the exception of two I can clearly remember (Chilly Half Marathon 2016 and 2017) and possibly one 10K, I typically end up walking towards the end. In some cases it’s only for a few seconds, other times I simply stop moving and need to recover at an aid station. It’s partly my inexperience with racing and perhaps partly my respiratory or cardiovascular systems trying to keep up with my fast legs.

I didn’t stop at any point in this race and for that I am incredibly proud!

In the two previous years I completed the Around the Bay 30K race, I questioned how the hell I was going to have enough energy to run another 12 kilometers to finish a marathon. After this race, I got really excited about what I can accomplish with less than 6 weeks to go before the big race!

I love this race and will want to do it every year! If I do make it to Boston 2018, I may not want to do the 30K next year, but would be interested in doing the relay! The volunteers, course marshals, and everyone else who bring this great race to life are amazing. The Around the Bay Road Race started in 1894 and is the oldest long distance road race in North America. It’s no wonder why it’s also one of the most popular!

Last year was full of PRs, a BQ, and a ton of confidence building. This year looks to be a lot of the same with even more success. This race has me very hopeful for what I can accomplish!

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Post Race

After the race, I went down to towards the finish line to cheer on the runners. I saw a lot of people I knew and it was great to see them finish!

Dom and I met up with our friends from Kleinburg after the race. Unfortunately it took forever for our food to come and we were all getting pretty groggy, but it was great to spend the time with friends we haven’t hung out with in a while!

On the way home, my car started acting up again, but thankfully we made it home!

Up Next

In less than six weeks, I’ll be racing in the Mississauga Marathon. Everything I’m working for now will be put to the test. My goal is simple: BQ with enough time to earn a spot in the 2018 Boston Marathon. I can not wait to toe the line!

Thanks for reading!

QOTD: Did you participate in this race? If so, how did you like it?

 

 

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 12

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! I’m am on cloud nine right now after yesterday’s incredible race! It was a HUGE confidence booster and I can’t wait to get started on the race report. In the meantime, there’s still a week of training that happened, so let’s get to it! Last week I was in a leadership development program at work that ran all day so most of my runs were after dinner. Not ideal, but I got it done!

[ week 12 / 8 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day.

Tuesday – W12D02 – Steady Run – 8 kilometers/37:23/4:40 pace. It’s been really windy the past few weeks and today was no better. It’s pretty difficult to maintain your pace when every now and then a gust of wind pushes you back! Better it happen during a training run than a race!

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W12D03 – Workout. I totally botched today’s workout. I struggle with pacing and while this training plan has helped because I have been doing most of my runs by feel, when I need to hold a certain pace, that’s when things get wonky for me. Perhaps it was the fact I was feeling rushed, partly the fact I just ate and would much rather be relaxing after a long day, or I just plain suck at pacing, but I ended up doing the marathon pace (MP) portion of the workout at HMP. I also ran 6.4km instead of the 8km the plan called for. I doubt this will have any long term effects.

Workout: 4 x 100m | 100m jog, 8km @ MP

Strava Run

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Thursday – W12D04 – Recovery Run – 6.0 kilometers/30:50/5:08 pace. Nice and easy today! In three days I’ll be racing and since I’m not tapering for the race (it’s a training run for me!), I need to make sure I take my recovery runs nice and slow!

Strava Run

Friday – W12D05 – Steady Run.Fridays are usually workout days, but Coach Colin has me doing a steady run today to conserve some fuel in the tank. I’ve been using the workout and steady runs the week to break in my Saucony Kinvara 8s. The Kinvara has been my go-to race shoe the past 3 years and I’m really excited to see how this newest version performs. They also match my red hat really well; to me, this may be more important than PRs. LOL!

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Strava Run

Saturday – W12D06 – Easy Run – 6.0 kilometres/31:04/5:11 pace. In the past, I NEVER ran the day before a race. I know many people who do shakeout runs the day before, but I never did it because I felt as if I was wasting energy. In fact, I usually take the two days off before a race to rest. When coach had me run me run the Friday before the Chilly Half Marathon earlier in the month, I was a bit nervous about it. This time, I was REALLY nervous about running the day before a race; even if my plan was to hold MP and not go too hard. As I’ve been saying all along, sometimes you just have to trust the process!

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Sunday – W12D07 – Around The Bay 30K Road Race – 30.0 kilometres/2:12:17/4:22 pace. In a few days, I hope to post my race report which will explain the euphoria I have been feeling from the moment I crossed the finish line. I planned on running the Around The Bay 30K road race at MP (4:25-4:30/KM). I wanted to run with my buddy Daniel to see how long he can hold that pace. It was also a good test of my fitness, but considering I smashed my half marathon three weeks prior and still feeling really strong, I wasn’t as concerned about holding the pace. I lost Daniel before the race even started and while I tried really hard to hold the pace, my legs really wanted to go. I ended up finishing with a 2 minute PB and had one of my best races EVER! Look for the race report later in the week!

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Strava Run

Total kilometers this week – 67.1

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 11

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! I had a huge week and finally hit 80 kilometers! I should have hit it a few weeks ago, but I missed a few runs after sustaining a calf injury. I’m so happy with the way this week panned out. Let’s see what happened!

[ week 11 / 7 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day. Legs felt great after yesterday’s long run “race.” Very encouraging!

Tuesday – W11D02 – Steady Run – 10 kilometers/53:42/5:22 pace. It’s been a while since I hit the Beltline trail and I was excited about strapping on my Saucony Peregrine Ice again! We really got lucky this Winter; at the beginning of the season, everyone was predicting a harsh, cold Winter with a lot of snow. So far it’s been anything but!

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W11D03 – Workout. I haven’t done much hill work this training plan. The first time my plan called for hill work, I was in Punta Cana and run up and down a ramp leading to the front of the resort because it was the closest thing to a hill in the area. The second time I missed the workout because of a calf injury. This time, I was not going to miss the workout. The only issue I have is the best hill in my area is 3 kilometers away; add another 600 meters to get to the bottom of the hill and you’ve already done a big warm-up!

I didn’t have much time, so I had to improvise by removing a hill repeat from the first and second round of hills. Still, the workout was a killer! It’s been really windy in Toronto this week, so that added to the challenge!

Workout: 4 x long hills (500 metres), 4 x 400m | 1:00 rest, 2 x long hills

Strava Run

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Thursday – W11D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/40:49/5:06 pace. I’ve been nailing my recovery runs in this training plan, but today’s run felt a bit off. My heart rate was a bit higher than I would have liked and I’m not sure if it was due to the nasty headwinds or something else. Still felt pretty good! The temps were on the plus side for a change, so I decided to protest all this wind by wearing shorts!

Strava Run

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Friday – W11D05 – Workout. I’m really starting to enjoy progression runs and I think today’s run was my best yet! The progression is much smoother than my previous attempts which I am really happy about! It’s still pretty difficult to maintain the specific paces I need along the way, but it’s starting to get a little easier!

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Strava Run

Saturday – W11D06 – Easy Run – 8.0 kilometres/40:23/5:03 pace. Ran this a little faster than I would have liked, but still kept the pace over 5:00 so I can’t really complain. Always remember, easy runs are supposed to feel easy!

When I came back from my run, my wife surprised me by making coconut balls from the Buddha Brands Company website! They were absolutely amazing!

Strava Run

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Sunday – W11D07 – Long Run – 30.0 kilometres/2:29:31/4:57 pace. Hammered out a really great long run with my buddies Dom and Daniel. It’s been a few weeks since we ran 30 kilometers, so it was great to get the mileage in today. The weather was nearly perfect, a little cool at the start with some icy patches, but it ended up getting warmer as the day went on. At one point, we stopped to take a photo at a mural and my buddy Daniel noticed a nail piercing his Saucony Kinvara 7s! Fortunately, it didn’t hit his foot!

I finished the week off with 82.5 kilometers; the most kilometers I ever run in a single week! Next Sunday is Around the Bay, my last test before my goal race in May! Wish me luck!!!

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Total kilometers this week – 82.5

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 10

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Good Evening and Happy Monday! My training plan just hit double digits and there are two months to go before the big day! After a really great week and an awesome race, it was time to get back to my regularly scheduled plan.

[ week 10 / 8 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day. Legs felt a little heavy after yesterday’s half marathon. Happy to have the day off to recover!

Tuesday – W10D02 – Steady Run – 8 kilometers/38:58/4:52 pace. Another early morning steady run! Legs still felt a little heavy from my race and still slightly sore. Aside from that, I’m feeling really good!

Strava Run

Wednesday – W10D03 – Workout. I had to swap my Wednesday and Friday workouts because I didn’t I didn’t want to do 1600m repeats in the cemetery. Instead of repeats, I ran a 10K progression with a 2K cool-down. Progression runs are fairly tough, but what’s tougher is trying to maintain the right paces based on feel. Based on the graph below, I think I did really well! This run was slightly more difficult to do thanks to the 35km+ winds in Toronto!

My legs were finally feeling really loose and just in time for this important run!

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Workout: 10K Progression Run + 2K Cool-down

Bonus: When I got back from my run, I noticed a few boxes on my front porch from Buddha Brands Co.! I’m super excited to be a brand ambassador for this awesome company! I plan on writing a blog post about their awesome products, but in the meantime, you can learn more by clicking here.

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Strava Run

Thursday – W10D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/40:54/5:01 pace. It’s been a while since I ran on the Beltline and with the snow long gone, I figured the path was in decent shape for a run. I took it easy to give my legs a rest for tomorrow’s big workout!

Strava Run

Friday – W10D05 – Workout. Had to get my workout done after dinner which meant hitting the track at night. Whatever was going on with the weather the past few days was at it’s worst tonight as it was very windy at the track! It was also very cold! There are a few areas of the track not protected by buildings that allow the wind to slap you right in the face. Even trying to run the opposite way didn’t provide any relief!

The workout was a hard one and I could not wait to get it done with. As I was finishing, a runner obviously crazier than me showed up on the track with no hat (I was wearing a toque that’s how cold it was!) and shorts! Runners really are a crazy but, but some are downright certifiable!

Workout: 4 x 1600m | 3:00 rest

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Strava Run

Saturday – Rest day today and I gladly accepted it. I was wiped from yesterday’s workout in the wind! My family visited the ROM to see the Blue Whale exhibit. As members of the ROM, we were able to sit through a lecture where Burton Lim, Assistant Curator of Mammalogy in the Department of Natural History shared how the museum recovered one of 9 blue whales who tragically died in the St. Lawrence river in 2014 after being trapped in the ice. The story was really sad and seeing the skeleton of the whale up close was even sadder, but the exhibit was absolutely amazing!

Clearly not running related, but if you have a chance to get to the ROM, please check out this exhibit!

Sunday – W10D07 – Long Run with an added bonus! I had a 24km long run scheduled, but also agreed to be a race ambassador for the Achille’s 18th Annual St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk event. The race would be the last 5km of my long run with the first 19km starting from my home. The forecast was calling for -19 celsius and it sure felt that cold when I first started my run. I’ve mentioned the Achille’s Canada foundation a few times on my blog and on my Instagram page. They’re a non-profit organization that provides people with various disabilities an opportunity to receive the physical, psychological, and communal benefits of running. The club offers training and support by able-bodied members to its Achilles athletes of all ability levels. I was really excited to be a race ambassador; however, I was also so busy with work, my training plan, and my family, I wasn’t as effective as I could have been.

I finished my long run at the Steam Whistle Brewery, the start and finish line of the race and met my friends inside. It was nice to warm up prior to the race, but I knew my legs would not want any part of the race after relaxing for nearly one hour. The good news is I checked with my coach and he advised me not to race. I could run relaxed, but don’t gun it. Knowing that I planned on taking it easy which is mostly what happened.

At the start of the race, I saw a few friendly faces from Nuun, Saucony, BlackToe Running, and RunToBeer; amongst a number of my other friends! A few minutes prior to the race, we headed outside. I left my running jacket at the Nuun tent and braved the cold for what would be a fun 5K race.

Strava Run

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My friend Jen was also taking it easy, so I decided I would run with her and keep the pace nice and casual. As long as I didn’t dip under 4:30/km, I’d be good!

The race started and we were having fun dodging other runners. Aside from the Achille’s Runners who were running with guides, the race attracts a number of beginner runners because of the short distance. The race opens up a bit after about a kilometer. It was around the 2km mark that Jen decided she was going to push her pace a bit. It was then that I decided I would play the role of a pacer. The pace picked up a bit and before we knew it, we were heading towards the finish line. I may have yelled at her a few times to relax her breathing and stay light on her feet, but in the end, she finished with a PB of 22:39, so I’m not apologizing!

After the race, we were treated to warm chilly and a free pint of Steamwhistle beer! Later in the evening, I heard Jen and I were on TV along with another running friend Michelle. There was a point when a cameraman was taking a video of us at the finish line, but I didn’t think anything of it!

The event was really cool and very well organized and has really great sponsor participation. Perhaps if there’s a time I’m not training for a marathon, I’d love to race it because the course is also really scenic! According to our GPS watches, we ran 6 kilometers, but that’s only because the signal bounces all over the place downtown.

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Total kilometers this week – 64.6

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!

Race Report: 2017 Chilly Half Marathon

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It’s been a while since I wrote a race report and I’m really excited about this one! The 2016 Chilly Half Marathon was the scene of my last half marathon PR of 1:30:44. That PR has held up ever since and I was really excited to see how well I would do this year considering the work I’ve been putting in to my Spring marathon training plan. My goal was to break 1:30, but I would have also been really happy if I was within the low-1:30 range as that is where my fitness was last year. Even if I maintained the same fitness level this year, I would be in good shape to BQ in May considering I age up for Boston 2018!

Training

The 2017 Chilly Half Marathon fell exactly on the midway point of my 18-week training plan. Coach Colin asked me what races I was registering for leading up to my Spring goal race in May and the Chilly Half Marathon was an obvious choice. The course is relatively flat and really fast. Considering all of my training has been through the rolling hills of High Park/Bloor West area of Toronto, this race would be a great fitness test for me! Also, anyone who trains for a half marathon likely wouldn’t run 30+ kilometers on their long run, so I was in pretty good shape and feeling really strong heading into the race.

Pre-Race

For the first time ever, I didn’t visit a race expo to pick-up my race packet. I didn’t have time to drive out to Burlington, so when my buddy Daniel offered to pick up a few race packets for the High Park Rogue Runners, I jumped at the chance. The expo was located in the basement of a Mercedes dealership in Burlington and I remember walking through the booths in record time because it wasn’t very big. The drive out to Burlington one-way would take longer!

Instead, I spent Saturday hanging out with my family. It was really cold, so we were pretty lazy most of the day, but did end up driving out to IKEA in the afternoon! I had St. Louis wings for dinner; not the usual pasta dinner I have before races! I didn’t put too much thought into it and figured if you don’t carb load leading up to a race, the night before is not the time to start! Thankfully, I did have enough carbs leading up to the weekend, so I was not at all concerned.

The Race

The race started at 10:00am. Thankfully the late start meant I didn’t have to get up super early to walk my dogs and drive out to Burlington! I picked-up my friends Dom, Anna, and Daniel at 8am and we headed out to Burlington. I decided to wear shorts with compression socks, a long sleeve thermal type shirt with a short sleeve RunTOBeer shirt over it. I also wore my trademark backwards red cap (a FASTcap from Ciele) and my Saucony Kinvara 6 race shoes! We discussed what to wear before the race and we were on the fence about the shorts. I decided to stick to the plan while Dom and Daniel wore tights.

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We arrived at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre just before 9:00am, giving us just over an hour before the start of the race. What I really love about the Chilly Half Marathon is the number of friendly faces who meet at the Performing Arts Centre before and after the race! Nearly every running crew in the GTA and beyond convene at this location which gives runners an opportunity to chat with friends and meet runners they may have only known through social media! Socializing with friends prior to the race really helps me take the edge off.

Of the hundreds of people I saw, only 2-3 other people were wearing shorts! I was on the receiving end of a number of strange looks and I was starting to question my sanity!

We headed over to the start line about 10 minutes prior to the start of the race and my first observation was not only was it really cold, there was a nice breeze to remind runners why the race was called the Chilly Half Marathon!

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First 5km splits: 4:28, 4:18, 4:17, 4:17, 4:14

The first few kilometers of the race are really bumpy and I’m not talking about the road! I took a few elbows to the chest and clipped a few feet in the process. The course doesn’t really open up until you hit Lakeshore Road. You hit the first of two u-turns around the 3km mark and this is also a great opportunity to see the elites heading West! Once you make the turn, you get to see anyone who started in the corrals behind you. I love seeing friends on the course because it lets you take your mind off the race for a few seconds. To me, this means a few seconds of not worrying if I’m running too hard or not hard enough.

My splits at this point were right where I wanted them. I would have liked to have another 4:25 or so in the second kilometre, but truth be told, I was more focused on keeping the 1:30 pace bunny within my sights than what worrying about my pace!

Second 5km splits: 4:11, 4:13, 4:10, 4:13, 4:15

The second 5km splits were a little faster than the previous splits, but I was not concerned! I didn’t stop at any aid stations during the first 5km, but I did take a sip of Nuun at the 2nd or 3rd aid station and wasn’t at all surprised when I got hit in the nose with a block of ice when I tipped the cup back to take a sip!

At this point, I was starting to reel in the 1:30 pace bunny! It was also around this time the pace bunny lost his bunny ears, making it a little tougher to spot him in front of me! Someone running next to me stopped to grab the bunny ears and attempted to sprint to the pace group (huge mistake), but he sort of ran out of steam and dropped back.

I hit the 10km mark around 42:36, placing me in perfect position to finish close to my targeted finish time!

Third 5km splits: 4:15, 4:13, 4:25, 4:12, 4:12

Around the 11-12km mark of the race, I found myself a few meters behind the 1:30 pace bunny. I was feeling really strong even with the slight discomfort in my left glute. I never had issues with my glutes in the past (training or racing), so I was a little concerned, but my legs felt really strong so I brushed it off.

Right around the 12.5km mark, things got really interesting. I started to feel something hitting my right leg. I looked down and noticed my shoelace was untied! This has never happened to me during a race and I can’t even recall it ever happening during training!

I tried to run through it and had no intention of stopping, but my right shoe started to get loose and I was afraid it would fall off. I decided I had to pull over to tie my shoe. It didn’t take long and I popped up to see I didn’t lose too much distance from the 1:30 pace group. I made the second u-turn on the course and headed back towards the finish line.

Even with the small blip of 4:25 when I tied my shoe, my splits were really good and I was feeling great at this point of the race. By the 15km, I caught up to the 1:30 pace bunny and locked in to the pace group for a bit.

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16km to 21.1km splits: 4:11, 4:18, 4:14, 4:12, 4:10, 3:58, 3:47

Around the 16 or 17km of the race, the 1:30 pace bunny recommended runners who felt strong to push ahead. At this point of the race, I knew I was within range of finishing close to 1:30 and according to the pace bunny, he was a few seconds faster than his scheduled time. I was feeling pretty strong and I was doing a relatively good job with my breathing (something that usually becomes an issue in the late stages of a race!), so I decided to separate myself from the pace group. It wasn’t long before I looked back and noticed there was a considerable distance between me and the pace group. Up to this point, my legs were doing all the racing, but now it was time for my mind to join the fray. I didn’t panic. Instead, I started repeating to myself how amazing it would be to break the 1:30 mark! With that one thought in my mind, I pushed on!

Around the 17km mark, I saw two of the most amazing people on the course. Sherab and Ray are well known to the running community and they are pretty much the best supporters ever. Sherab and Ray came out to cheer on the runners and I saw them on the course a few times and we shouted out at each other, but at the 17km mark, Sherab decided she was going to run ahead of me to snap a photo! I blame them for the 4:18 split at the 17km mark! Totally kidding! Maybe.

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What happened afterwards is something I can’t explain. In almost ever race I ran in the past, I typically try to sprint only the last kilometer, unless I’m injured or didn’t leave enough in the tank which often happens!

Knowing I was in great shape to break 1:30, I dug in deep and ran my ass off. I felt myself getting faster and faster as each kilometer passed and I kept my thoughts positive the entire way. At this point, nothing was going to slow me down.

Here are my splits at the end of the race: 4:14 (18km), 4:12 (19km), 4:10 (20km), 3:58 (21km), 3:47 (.1km) and below is my reaction when I crossed the finish line. Not only did I break 1:30 with my chip time (1:29:33), I came in at 1:29:58 on the clock! It’s only thing to know you had a few seconds in the bank because you didn’t start up front, but actually seeing the 1:29 as I crossed the finish line stopped me in my tracks as soon as I crossed the finish line. I fought back the tears, OK a few slipped out, caught my breath, and just looked back at the clock amazed at what I just accomplished.

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The Results

Aside from the mishap with my shoelace, I ran the best race of my life. I felt amazing the entire race, my breathing never labored, and not once did I panic about going too fast. This race left me so hopeful about my Spring marathon and what I can accomplish. I truthfully don’t know if I would have felt this good had it not been for the work I put in thanks to Coach Colin and his training plan.

The Chilly Half Marathon is easily one of my absolute favorite races. I’m obviously stating this because of the success I had there, but race director Kelly Arnott really cares about the runners and the Burlington community. Whether she is welcoming runners in the Burlington Performing Arts Centre or making sure everyone gets to the start line on time, Kelly is always communicating with people to ensure everyone has a great experience and from end to end, this is one amazing experience. The course is perfect with enough subtle elevation changes to keep things interesting and the crowd support is great! Like any race, there will be pockets where there aren’t many supporters, but in these areas, you can take in the scenic neighborhood or wave at friends passing on the other side of the street!

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Post Race

I hung out in the finish corral for a bit waiting for Daniel and Dom to finish. It had warmed up a bit, but it was still really cold, so we hurried back to the Performing Arts Centre to warm up.

Daniel had to get back to Toronto, so we hung out a bit to chat with our friends and then headed back. I ate two granola bars, a banana and drank a bottle of water and a muscle milk on the way home!

To celebrate my accomplishment, I put together a few IKEA drawers for my wife’s wardrobe.

Up Next

In less than three weeks, I’ll be participating in the Around The Bay 30K race. This will be my third time participating in this race and I’ll be running it at marathon pace. This is the same approach from last year when I finished under 2:15 and earned the silver medal! I can’t wait to do it again!

 

 

Mississauga Marathon Training: Week 9

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Good Morning and Happy Monday! I just hit the halfway point of my marathon training and am still on a runner’s high from yesterday’s incredible race! If there was ever a concern about my fitness leading up to the race, that’s all gone! Before we get to it, though, there is a week of running I need to recap first!

[ week 9 / 9 weeks until the Mississauga Marathon ]

Monday – Recovery Day

Tuesday – W09D02 – Steady Run – 8 kilometers/37:47/4:43 pace. It’s my birthday! I got today’s run in early because I was going out for dinner after work and I wouldn’t be able to squeeze it in. Tried not to take this run too quick. Can’t always be fast, fast, fast!

Strava Run

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Wednesday – W09D03 – Workout. Going to be a long day at work with little time to run after, so I got up early again to do my workout. I figured I could head over to the track at North Toronto Collegiate Institute because it would be too early for anyone to use the school track. When I got to the school, the gate to the track was closed and on it, there was a sign indicating the track was open from 6pm to 9pm or so on weekdays. I never noticed the sign before because the gate was always open when I hit the track. I ended up running on one of the side streets in the neighborhood! As someone pointed out on today’s IG post, it’s good to do workouts on the road sometimes since that’s where most of our races are!

Workout: 6 x 400m | 1:00 rest, 4 x 200m, 200m jog

Strava Run

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Thursday – W09D04 – Recovery Run – 8.0 kilometers/43:17/5:25 pace. My third-day running before dawn! Interestingly enough, I woke up before my alarm clock this morning. I think my body was getting used to running first thing in the morning! While I would much rather prefer running after work, I don’t think I’ll ever complain about running first thing in the morning again. Sometimes you have to be flexible about when you run!

Kind of interesting; today’s recovery run was a nearly identical pace time and pace from last week’s recovery run!

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Friday – W09D05 – Easy Run – 6 kilometers/29:50/4:57 pace. With my first race of 2017 two days away, my coach had me run an easy run instead of a workout. Interestingly enough, in the past, I didn’t run Friday and Saturday before a race because I wanted to conserve energy. I only ran 6km, but it was nice to do something different. Let’s see how it plays out on Sunday!

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Saturday – Rest day. Big race tomorrow, so no running today!

Sunday – Race Day! What a great way to close out week 9 and the halfway point of my 18-week marathon training plan! Last year I had a lot of success in my Spring races and I was hoping to have the same success a year later. I ran the Chilly Half Marathon last year and got a 5 minute PB finishing at 1:30:44. I remember that race like it was yesterday. I felt amazing the entire way and didn’t stop once! Everything was going right for me that day!

This year, my plan was simple. Try to maintain the same pace I did last year and if I felt good, try to PB! Deep down I really wanted to break 1:30 and the truth is my training plan this time around is 100x better than the plan I was following last year! Coach Colin is making us put in the work; so will the results pay off?

I won’t get into too many details because I’ll be posting a race report later in the week, but here’s a high-level recap of what went down:

  • I beat my previous PB with a time of 1:29:33! Holy crap am I happy!
  • It was the coldest race I ever ran, but I still wore shorts!
  • My shoelace somehow got untied at the 12km mark and I had to stop to tie it! This has never happened to me in a race!

So that explains the runners high I am still feeling today. I am on cloud 9 right now because I am in better shape than I was last year! My confidence is through the roof and I can not wait for my Spring marathon to come!

Strava Run

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Total kilometers this week – 49.7

This was the least amount of weekly kilometers run in my plan so far, but I know that won’t last with some really big weeks coming up!

Hope you have a great week and thanks for reading!