Race Report – Hypothermic Half and Training Update

Late last month Nicola ran a half marathon “race” as part of our marathon training for Ottawa. Since the training is a long haul and sometimes you need a reward in the middle we decided to run the Hypothermic half in Saint John. We wanted a bit of swag, a medal and a night out of town…even though SJ is only an hour away.

We lucked out in a big way as the race day had light winds and was pretty mild for the end of February. Of the two hypothermic half marathons in New Brunswick held every year, SJ always has better weather. Of course you pay for it with the difficulty of the course as SJ is very hilly.

The Race

Now, we were not in any type of a hurry so when everyone else left us in the dust we were content to just run our slow pace and enjoy the day. We, however, were not in the mindset to run all of the hills; call it fatigue, call it rebellion, call it denial…whatever….we were not ready so we ended up walking a lot of the hills.

At the second water station we met a couple of our very good friends, Rod and Jo, shared a few laughs, hugs then we were on our way again. We were both wishing that we could have met them at every station as the burst of energy was awesome.

 

In the end we finished with a very slow time but honestly, based on our training, we were right where we should have been; the run just felt like a lot more work than it should have been. We did manage to arrive a few short minutes after the brunch buffet had started so we didn’t have to wait around to get fed, always a bonus to me.

17097853_1315040268539085_6084009787074641853_o

 

I think the photo of us after the race tell a story, we were both tired, physically but also mentally, which would be a theme for the next month up to now.

 

IMG_0827

 

Training

Our training since the half marathon has been very spotty. Both of us caught the bug going around and I got quite sick for a week, add this to a work schedule which included some weekends and we have postponed a few weekends of running. In addition, our runs during the week have also suffered. I am hopeful that as it gets warmer in combination with the later sunsets that we will get more of our intermediate runs in. Right now we are both sick once again, having caught the “boomerang” bug as it seems like a lot of people are getting sick with the same symptoms twice this winter. So, this weekend, which was supposed to be 30km, has been moved to next weekend. I managed to get 27km in last weekend and Nicola 22km, so we are not far off, it just sometimes feels like we are missing too many long runs.

Which is why I schedule us for a 16 week training plan. First, we are both masters runners, so we need more time to recover, second, the winter is a hard time to train, runs get missed, third, illness can pop in and derail your plans so it’s best to put buffers into your plan. Some may argue that such a long training cycle causes the fatigue to which I would say to each their own. This cycle has been fraught with numerous speed bumps and the longer cycle has allowed us to take breaks when we have needed them. I am not worried as it is the end of March and we will be running 30km, so with almost 2 months before our race we are in good shape.

I do hope that your training has been going along smoothly and if it hasn’t that you aren’t panicking about where you are or where you need to be, stay the course and follow your training and if you must deviate, make smart decisions.

Chris

One Foot in Front of the Other

Running Year In Review – 2016

Well 2016, a lot of people are happy that you are gone. I am relatively pleased with how my running year unfolded.

Numbers

I’m not always a big fan of numbers as I prefer quality over quantity so the fact that I logged ~900 km of running this year makes me happy. Truth be told it’s probably closer to 1000 due to unlogged or dropped runs but again I’m not too concerned….the bottom line for me is that I still ran a lot and was INJURY FREE! That last point is always my biggest accomplishment every year, if I can run consistently without injury, I know that I am doing right by my body.

I ran a total of 9 races last year; my 4th marathon, 3 half marathons, a 16km, 13km, two 5km races and a 4km race. 

Lorneville

In April I ran the 4th annual Lorneville Loop, a tough, hilly, 13km course which gets your blood and legs pumping for the new racing year. 

I wasn’t pumping much however as I had a horrible race, which more or less mirrored my winter of running…I just wasn’t feeling energetic and felt off all winter long. As a result I was about 15 minutes off of my time from the year before. Add in the fact that there was a howling gale and the race didn’t do much for my confidence.

12998468_10153904465555659_5064788366041827628_n

YFC Runway Run

In May we ran the 2nd YFC Airport run to benefit Mental Health in New Brunswick and Canada. The course is run on the runways of the local airport which is flat and fast. Unlike last year when it was cold, this year was warm with no wind. I had a much better race this time around and as always got to run with a lot of my friends for a great cause.

13329530_1156033107852458_6056315004539993418_o

Shipyard Half

In May I ran a new race for me, the Shipyard Half Marathon in Maine. My partner and I were looking for new races and had initially looked at the Bay of Fundy race in June but the course details had not yet been published when we were planning our calendar, so we registered for this race instead. Funnily enough shortly thereafter the course was published for the Fundy race so we registered for that one too! 

This race was held in Kennebunk/Kennebunkport Maine, south of Portland. As Nicola and I both enjoy craft beer we decided to run this race and then sample a few beers from the area as Portland is a hot spot for craft beer.

The race was warm for May in Maine, with little wind, even though we ran by the coast. The views were spectacular and support of the course was also very good. Nicola had a bout of vertigo sadly which knocked some wind out of our sails but overall we would rate this run as excellent and recommend it to anyone looking for a new, close-by destination race.

 

Bay of Fundy

Towards the end of June we ran the half marathon on Campbello Island in New Brunswick. This race begins in Canada and ends in Maine, which makes it somewhat unique. The island and the town really get behind this race which shows in the volunteers with their enthusiasm and knowledge. I wouldn’t say the on-course support as far as cheering was concerned was excellent but overall I thought it was a well-run race. 

And brother, let me tell you, it is hilly!!

This race has been, so far, the hilliest race that I have run over the last 5-6 years. It was, once again, pretty warm for June and there wasn’t much wind. However, the views were amazing and when you finally finished you knew that you had accomplished something. This was one of those courses where you thought to yourself,

“this must be the last hill!!”

When, of course, it wasn’t.

The finish line area and the food were both excellent, the medals were hand made and are different every year, normally in the shape of a sea animal; this past year it was a Starfish. It was a lot of fun running through both border stations without having to show your passport too!

A funny side story to this race..we almost missed it.

Due to the proximity to the USA, our phones had slipped, quietly, onto Eastern time. So when our alarms went off we thought that we had more time that we actually had! Luckily Nicola ran into some friends in the campground who alerted us to our error and we managed to make the start…sadly without much breakfast.

Travel and running should be an adventure, right?

img_0377

Canada Day 10 Miler

About a week later we travelled to Grand Bay to run the Canada Day 10 miler on Canada Day. Maybe it was the fact that we had run a tough race the week before or that the race was pretty bare bones but neither of us really enjoyed the race. There weren’t any people cheering on the streets and other support, i.e.. water stations didn’t seem to be adequate. I can safely say that we won’t run this race again the future.

img_0387

Beer Run 4km

Over the long weekend in August Nicola and I ran the 4km distance at the Fredericton beer run. Though it’s not a serious run for us, we tried to treat it as a speed workout. Nicola, in fine fashion, somehow managed to step on a rock and twist her knee a little. If she hadn’t, she might have finished ahead of me, she can really scoot!

13662022_1109035719189573_6811312127348500676_o

Marathon By The Sea Half

This may have been my best race of the year. Nicola and I were treating it as a training run for our fall marathon and were running a prescribed pace which I had no trouble maintaining. This course is also fairly hilly but I never really struggled. It was a cooler, drizzly day which I’m sure really helped moderate the summer heat. This race had paired earlier in the year with the Bay of Fundy race to offer a challenge medal, which ended up being very nice.

img_0463

Terry Fox Run

In September we met our friend Ahmet and ran the Terry Fox run to benefit his cause. Nicola and I had already run 15km on this day, then turned around and ran 5km with our friend on what was definitely an emotional day.

img_0546

Run For The Cure

This was my first year running the Run for The Cure to support Breast Cancer. It was an easy run/walk around Halifax. I had a lot of fun on this day and could really feel the emotion of the women present.

img_0591

Prince Edward Island Marathon

My last race of the year was my 4th marathon, the PEI marathon. A short few hours drive away on the island of PEI, Nicola and I tackled our latest marathon. The weather was almost ideal and we were in good spirits because we had trained well, hard and smart. We stayed at the Great George hotel which is always a lovely place, however their pillows caused us no end of grief and played a bit of havoc with our sleep. Note: bring your own pillows to away races.

The course was a point to point race which required a 45 minute bus ride to the start line which turned out to be enchanting due to the moon setting on one side of us and the sun rising on the other. We started in Prince Edward Island national park then ran back towards the capital city, Charlottetown.

Things started out well, we felt good and were running with one of our good friends, Rod, who was taking part in the marathon relay. We then ran with Joanna, Rod’s better half for a few more km allowing for the first part of the race seemed to float by! 

At this time the wind picked up a bit and a few of the rolling hills made their appearance, honestly they were a bit inhibiting but compared to the hill work we put in during the summer, they weren’t an issue.

At about the half way mark we turned onto a crushed gravel trail and started a lengthly, 12-14km slow descent towards the city area. My left leg started to give me problems near 21km and only grew increasingly tight on the trail but I managed to maintain our pace.

At about 32km Nicola had a bout of vertigo, she dropped to her knees for a short period then popped back up and we continued. Despite this we were still on pace for a personal best for Nicola.

We finally exited the trail and started on the road towards the downtown core. In front of us were 3-4 large hills then a downhill finish. We ran the first without any problem but walked portions of the others and for portions of the road between the hills. During this time Nicola and I didn’t communicate well, each was walking to give each other a bit of a rest when neither of us was really wanting or needing one!!

At the finish we discovered that we had come in slightly over a PB for Nicola and she was devastated! After a while, and a few pints Nicola was feeling better and we both agreed that we had trained and had run a solid marathon AND that we needed to communicate better, no guessing and no assumptions about each others physical/mental state was to be tolerated from now on.

img_0609

Due to my work schedule I didn’t get to run any other races after the marathon but I am satisfied as to how it all progressed, especially considering how I felt in April.

What’s up for 2017? All will be revealed in a future post but let’s just say that marathon #5 and Canada’s 150th birthday will be involved.

Thanks for Reading

One Foot in Front of the Other

Chris

 

Race Report – Marathon #4

Recently I ran marathon #4 at the Prince Edward Island marathon on the lovely island of PEI. The course was a point-to-point variety with the marathoners starting about a 30-40 minute drive from downtown Charlottetown and running their way back.

We were bused out to the start on a truly beautiful morning; I was running my first marathon with my love Nicola and our good friend Rod was running the first leg of a relay marathon. At one point we had the sun rising on one side of the bus with the hunters moon setting on the other; incredibly beautiful.

race

Near the Start

race2

Brackley Beach

It was a bit chilly at the beginning of the race with temperatures near zero degrees celsius however we are Canadians who also knew that we would warm up quickly upon running.

The first 3-4km of the race were run next to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on one side with an inland water body on the other…it was pancake flat which helped us ease into the race and find our pace. We turned more inland at this point but were still following the inland water body and gawking at a few “shacks” that I’m sure cost more than I could predict. We were still running with Rod at this time which seemed to make the km’s go quickly by. We were also running at one point with a man from Manitoba named Doug who was running his 51st or 52nd marathon; he wasn’t sure actually!

At around 6km Rod finished his leg then we ran with his lovely better half, Joanna. Nicola and Jo promptly scooted out ahead and chatted which was fine because I was enjoying the course and the colours. Sadly after a further 5-6km we bid Jo a goodbye and ran on our own. I must admit that I enjoyed having a relay as part of this race, not only did we get to run with our friends but each exchange point had very excited, energized participants and friends alike cheering them on.

Having left the water vistas earlier we were now running through rolling farmland vistas plus an increase in the wind. Now it wasn’t “a right gale” by any stretch of the imagination but it was gusty and right into our faces; from about 16-17km until 21km we ran in to the wind and I certainly noticed a difference in our running during this time.

My right calf began to bother me during this time as well, it wasn’t near bad enough to slow me down but I was of course concerned about later and my stride.

At this time we turned and ran on a multi-use trail of crushed gravel that wound its way  for 13km through farmland, occasionally an orange pumpkin field and lots of trees. This part of the run is actually a gradual downhill and we were keeping our desired pace until about 32km when Nicola had a bout of vertigo that brought her to her knees within a few steps. The awesome fighter that she is we only stopped for a short period and were back running again. Unfortunately between this and my leg, which had become progressively worse began to plant a bit of doubt in our minds.

img_0606

Trail Section

At 34km we exited the trail on the roads, only 8km left and it was on asphalt!

Nicola began to cry, I was a bit confused. Was she hurt, angry, frustrated? No she was happy to be off of the trail and have only 8 km left. At this point we were at about 3:50:00 or so and even with a slow 8km we would be under Nicola’s time from Vancouver, which was a mark she wanted to break badly.

I wasn’t aware of how badly unfortunately because we really didn’t talk about pushing through pain or difficulty to achieve this PB. As a runner i should have known better and I should have both pushed myself but also pushed Nicola on a bit more because we started having more unplanned walking breaks. Nicola had assumed that we were well under the PB time, which we were initially, but once we started walking, it tightened considerably. I mistakenly assumed that we were walking because of vertigo or my leg or that we were tired but we had both assumed that each was needing the walking breaks when it turned out we were both prepared to push through!

D’oh!!

I love that each of us was concerned about each others condition but if we had communicated our desires and condition better, we could have skipped a number of the walking breaks.

Nicola had also discovered late in our training cycle that her watch didn’t have the battery power to last for the whole race, thus after about 32-34km she had no idea of our time or pace and was relying on me to keep us on point as it were. This is where I tripped up as i didn’t keep informing her of our progress. If i had continued to alert her on how much time we were losing we would probably would have also skipped a few of the walk breaks.

After series of hills we roared our way to finish, with Nicola dragging me, sprinting, to the finish.

Curses! We were over Nicola’s time from Vancouver and she hadn’t realized our time until we were within sight of the clock.

As we crossed the line Nicola was completely upset, confused, crying, mad and all of the other things that competitors would be. It was a shock for her to see that we would not set a new PB after a great training cycle. I was happy to have finished and was very happy that I had maintained my energy level through the marathon for the first time; each of my previous 3 had seen me hit the wall….but I was despondent that my love was so unhappy and disappointed.

I knew her mindset well because I had felt the same way after Chicago and she reminded me of that fact during our discussions afterward.

img_0609

Finisher Medal

We walked to the community centre to get a massage…well I hobbled as my calf and glute on the right side had become a solid mess then met a slew of people for food and beers….mmmm beers.

img_0607

Massage…YAY!

We stayed the night in Charlottetown, had a great meal, then drove back to the beach where we had started the next day and took a nice walk no the sand…beaches are great for recovery in case you didn’t know. We even stopped at Vesey’s seeds and picked up a few things for our garden.

After coming home on Monday we had dinner and talked about the race, what went right and what went wrong. Physically we were both good aside from my leg and her head….these were known quantities. We talked honestly about out lack of communication during the run and vowed to never let it happen again. We also agreed that we were being pretty hard on ourselves seeing that we had both just finished running a marathon…together! This has and will always be our main goal, when you can run together with the person you love, especially over a long distance, and finish, then you are some of the luckiest types of runners!!

For me, my races are over for the year, I was wanting, perhaps, to run one or two shorter distances but my schedule has conflicts. However, in the new year training will start again for the Ottawa marathon at the end of May. We will be running it together with our afore mentioned friends Rod and Jo, and we are extremely excited.

Chris