Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hamilton Road2Hope Half-Marathon

(So I really suck as a blogger because I decided not to bring my phone to the race, so I don't have many pics for you lovely readers.  All three of you.)

The night before:

After seeing the forecast for Sunday morning dip further into the negative (with windchill) it became obvious that a long-sleeve would be necessary.   After a  last-minute visit to Marshalls, I found a cute long-sleeve top and it was settled.  Bubblegum pink shirt with black LULU pacesetter skirt, and black PRO compression socks.  DONE.

Pre-race ink job by my kid

With the time-change on our side, I turned in at a decent time to ensure I'd get a good sleep. Of course, with my luck, I woke up early on my own at 4:01 am, and then knew full-well that there was no chance of falling back asleep until my scheduled alarm at 4:45.  So...I checked the Weather Network, had a little FB time, a little Twitter time, and then I figured I might as well get going.

Race Day:

Race-morning breakfast was my usual:  coffee with toasted bagel and cream cheese.   Packed a banana for pre-race.

I picked up Emma at 6, headed to Patty's, and then waited being picked up by Nicole and Sam (yes, crazy carpooling, but it worked!).    We drove to the finish line (I know. Confused yet?) and hopped on a shuttle bus to the start line.  I was dreading a massive wait/headache with the parking and shuttle situation, but that system totally worked.  Very well run and organized.   AND, we got shuttled up to a rec centre.  A HEATED building to hang out in for an hour.  So awesome.

We all hit the washrooms and then spent the next hour nervously walking around, looking for friends, stretching, going to the washrooms again. More nervous walking around.  I met a couple of fellow DMers and some other friends I hadn't seen in a while.  I never knew running would become so social for me!  This from the girl who ran for five years entirely alone, including my one and only marathon just last year.

Look at how clean and fresh we all are.  And warm.  That's about to change.

Shortly after it was time to line up and we were off.  The goal:  Stick With Patty and Emma.  We weaved our way through the mess at the start, and managed a 5:20 for the first kilometer.  Yay, we are on track!

Kilometres 1 - 5

1    5:20
2    5:17
3    5:11
4    5:10
5    5:17

And then....the descent.

Can I just mention before I go any further that the weather -- albeit was chilly at 0 degrees and -5 with the windschill -- was spectacular.  Brilliant sunshine. But windy.  And my feet felt like blocks of ice for the first 4k.  But I digress.

We began the run down the Red Hill Expressway (which was pretty cool! Awesome view down the valley and the Toronto skyline across the lake was so clear.  Had I had my phone I could have shown you.  But...as you will see by our splits, I probably wouldn't have whipped my phone out to take a pic going at those paces).

Kilometers 6 -9

6     4:48
7     4:44 *wheeeeee!*
8     4:58
9     5:07

Who let the crazies out on daypasses?
At 9km I took my first, and what ended up being my only, gel.  And got served my first lesson on running whilst gelling.  It is no easy feat.  Fortunately I'd followed Emma's lead and had stuffed my gel into my glove to warm up for the last km, so it was more viscous than semi-blob-like.  Those are technical terms, by the way.  But running and taking a gel is an art, and something I clearly need to work on in the future.  I didn't know whether to chew or swallow.  And I'm running like the wind.   And into it as well.  And then I tried to take a swig of water in between gel 'bites'.  And not choke or aspirate.  Fun times.

Yes, I bought this pic in high-res.  So I'm
not completely pilfering.

Kilometers 10 - 17

After seeing our DM friend Maggie at 9-ish km, the next 4km went by pretty quickly and easily.  I was surprised how easy 5:20 pace felt at that point.  OK, truth be told, it wasn't entirely easy, we had that headwind still.  And two hills, and that crazy brick-surface along the Red Hill Creek Trail that seemed to stump/slow most people down.  We barrelled up one hill, and then came down the other side of thet hill and then suddenly, it was HELLO QUADS!  I had forgotten about them, but they instantly reminded me they were still there and not too happy with me as we came down the other side of the trail hill.  Note to self: take an ibuprofen before bed tonight.

10   5:18
11    5:15
12    5:19
13    5:24
14    5:03 (Did it take that long for the gel to kick in?)
15    5:20
16    5:24
17    5:26

The Beach strip portion of the route was quite pretty with the crashing waves of Lake Ontario (Do you get the sense it was windy?) and sunshine.  But because it was an out and back (turn around near 17 km) it was a bit of a downer, knowing how close we were to the finish but had another 7 km to go.

Kilometers 18 - 21

Around 18k, I was looking at my garmin and did some mathing (which normally is not a good idea while running, especially while running a race) and realized our pace was not going to bring in a 1:49.  I looked at Emma and Patty a couple of times who were just behind me, and they told me to GO.  I felt strong and fast and enjoyed picking runners off, until I felt a wee bit woozy and realized I should take it down a notch or I might pass out.  That would not be good. 

18    5:15
19    5:14
20    5:10

Kilometer 21+

This is where I started to come apart.  I love finishing a race strong and blasting out the last 300 metres, but I did not have it in me today.  My last 200 meters were at a 5:23 equivalent pace, and I was not feeling the love as I came into the finishing corral.


But...I knew my final time was somewhere in 1:50:xx.   I fluctuated between wanting to just lay down and wanting to cry with happiness.  I do remember hearing the announcer call out my name and I think I may have forced some sort of attempt at a smile at the photog near the finish line.

Official Chip Time:   1:50:42
Official Gun Time:   1:51:37
Age group place:   50/148
Gender place:  229/1003

I never ever ever would have thought I could pull off a time like that.  I had just beat my last half-marathon time by SEVENTEEN MINUTES.    My last half was at the Mississauga in 2012 and I finished in 2:07.

I was in such disbelief about what I'd just done, that it really didn't sink in right away.  Without a doubt, I could not have done it without the training and friendship  from Emma and Patty, and the support and encourage from rest of my DailyMile friends. Having them beside me gave me a huge boost.  There were times during the race I know I would have just stopped to walk, or would have slowed down, had they not been beside me.  You girls are awesome.  I have been so inspired by the training and dedication of Sam, Nicole, Marina, Sarah, Maggie, Phil, Alan, Kim and many others on DM since I joined late last year, and it's completely changed how I run.  OK, enough with the sappy-face.


So I've just cleared the finish line and zombie-walk over to the people handing out medals, water and jackets.  I seem to recall staggering around, drinking a bit of water, and observing that my lips felt really weird, or were my lips feeling normal and did the rest of me feel weird?  I was pretty zapped.

Then I turned around and spotted Patty and Emma.  High fives all-around for PBs for all three of us.  Seriously, how awesome are we?

Instead of the usual foil blankets they hand out post-race, we got these white zip-up hooded jackets that were quickly likened to HAZMAT suits, and the Breaking Bad jokes followed shortly thereafter.

We find Sam and Nicole who finished ahead of us (congrats on your PB Nicole!) and discuss the runner who'd collapsed near the finish line.  I was clearly not paying attention to my surroundings as I didn't see him at the time, but they'd all seen parametics performing CPR on him.  (*Fortunuately, we later learned that day that he was alive and in hospital.  My thoughts go out to him and his family and I wish him well.*)

We met up with fellow Dailymiler Kim and her husband Adrian (who ran an awesome 1:29 half! PR too!), and posed for a post-race pic.

Hellz yes we wear skirts in sub-zero windchills.  And look damn good doing it.

Who forgot to turn her watch off at the finish?

After finding (searching for? Is this a trend with them?) Sam's car, Sam drove us back to our respective meeting spots and we all went our merry ways, likely in search of hot showers, food, and possibly some celebratory beverages.

The Recovery

I'm pretty sure this photo series sums up how I spent my evening:

The Next Day (insert dramatic music *duh...duh...DUHH*)

Oh legs, you funny funny tricksters.   I woke up and gingerly got up out of bed, and was surprised how no expletives came streaming out of my mouth.  The legs were a bit sore, but Hey!  It turns out I'm Wonderwoman and am impervious to lactic acid build up and muscle fatigue.   Yay me!

Ha.  Then lunch rolled around.  A good friend took me out for lunch, and when I went to get up, realized I needed some assistance.  Legs, what is going on?

Off to get a few shopping errands done.  And then:

Sorry kids, no teriyaki chicken for us tonight.  
Any type of reliance on my quads was just not going to happen.   And thus the new acronym was coined:  OMQ!  Oh My Quads.   I'm totally trademarking that one, by the way.

Clearly, I've been hit by  DOMS.  Here's hoping tomorrow's a better day and I won't need my kids to help me down the stairs.

So what's next, toots?

A. I've got to let this hamstring heal.  While it didn't give me much trouble during the race, the tightness and discomfort is still there.   I don't plan to stop running entirely, but let my weekly mileage drop for a few weeks and just enjoy running how/when I want, and not according to a plan.  There will be plenty of time for that soon enough.

B.  More hot yoga.   I can't ever have too much hot yoga.

C.  Strength training.  Core, arms, quads, hamstrings.  The whole enchilada.

D.  In December at some point, start building back my mileage in preparation for Spring Race Season 2014.   I have my first Around the Bay 30k in the books for March 30th, and my second full marathon in Mississauga on May 5th.

Due to time/travel commitments, I unfortunately won't be able to meet up with my DM girls at all as we train for these upcoming races over the winter, but I can't wait to see how the next six months of planning and preparing together goes.   I am so excited for Emma, training for her first full marathon, and I just feel bad for those unsuspecting people at Mississauga.  They have no idea what's coming their way.


  1. Oh good, I'm not the only one who went all mushy DAILY MILE I LOVE YOU GUYS! Seriously, you rock, amazing PB, so glad we met, we're awesome, LOOK OUT MISSISSAUGA!

  2. You did awesome and this is a great write up! OMQ indeed! That's Red Hill Parkway laughing and laughing... Mississauga will be awesome!

  3. Congratulations, nicely run! That's a huge PB too...well done. Love the race pics, especially the one of the three of you! Great job.

  4. congrats on the PB

  5. Nice write up Amy! Sounds like our DOMS struck around the same time yesterday afternoon. Good times. We'll miss you this winter! Congrats again!

  6. Congrats Amy! That's a fabulous PB! And you look so damn cute when you run to boot!

  7. Nice medal! Congratulations on your PB!