Sunday, October 28, 2012

Race Report: Toronto Women's Runs 5k, Take 3!

This Saturday I ran in my fourth Toronto Women's Runs event, which was my third 5k with them. (I ran a half marathon with them in May of this year.)

As usual, this was a very well done event. It's in Sunnybrook Park, which is easy to access via public transit and which is a lovely location to run in. The volunteers, including the firefighters working the water station, are friendly and energetic. The swag- this time a Mizuno headband and medal, plus a water bottle, small make up bag and other treats in our kit- is great. And after the race they have bagged snacks ready to go- a Clif bar, banana, chips, chocolate bar, etc.

Swag and sparkle. My favourite things. :-)

The route itself was the same route I have run twice before. It's an out and back in the park. It is mostly on a mixed use, paved path. There are two spots through parking lots that are always a bit hard hitting, the o e at the 1k and 4k mark being worse than the one at about the 2.5k point. My only goal for this race, going in with no focused training or preparation, was to run through the 1k/4k lot in both directions, which I did.

Time wise, I was secretly hoping to beat my current PB - 32:12, set at the Winterman 5k in February. But the weather was against me- rain, rain and more rain. The rain forced the path to narrow in several spots due to puddles, which caused bottlenecks, and generally hit me mentally, having never done a race the rain before. We arrived about 30 minutes before the start, so I was cold and wet even before I hit the starting line.

Waiting for the race to start!
In the end, I walked more than I planned to, and was not super happy with my performance because I know I could have pushed harder. I finished about mid way in the pack, which is better than my usual. I am guessing that's because of the lower turnout caused by the weather, more than by my speed which was not as fast as it could have been.

Overall it was a fun event, and I always enjoy heading back to the same race as a way to measure my progress. As usual, I would recommend this event to anyone- from newbies to elites and in rain or shine, Toronto Women's Runs puts on a solid race that everyone can enjoy.

Only one picture from after the race because
we were so wet! No hanging around this time!

This race made it very clear that I can't put off getting a rainy day running jacket any longer.  The jacket I wore in this race, that I was hoping would get me through rainy day training, was no good on race day or the last rainy day training run.  What do you wear on rainy days?  I'm considering the Running Room classic running jacket that everyone has.  Any other suggestions?

Want to practically guarantee no rain for your next race? Pick your own race date and location (even inside!) with my virtual run, which is a fundraiser for Team in Training! Register here and stay tuned for sponsor spotlight posts coming soon!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tink in Training Virtual Run - A Team in Training Fundraiser!

As part of my fundraising for Team in Training, I am hosting a virtual run!  This virtual run will be held in November 2012, with both 5k and 10k event options.  Read all about it below, grab your friends, and fly away with us in the Tink in Training Virtual Run!

How to Participate

A virtual run is a race where you complete the distance you choose at your own location, on a day of your choosing, and you time yourself.  You run, jog or walk either a 5k or 10k distance on your own or with friends, outside or on a treadmill.  You can also choose to complete both events (but please complete them separately - that is, the first 5k of your 10k does not also count for a 5k entry).

You can complete your run at anytime from now until November 30, 2012.

How to Sign Up

Please register by November 23, 2012.  Registration fees are as follows:
  • 5k event - $15 CDN
  • 10k event - $25 CDN
  • Both events - $40 CDN
(Note - prices are in Canadian dollars but this event is open to anyone!  From my understanding, Paypal will automatically take care of any necessary conversions.)

All proceeds will go to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada through my fundraising for Team in Training.

To sign up, use the Paypal "Donate" button below to send me your registration fee(s).  Since there are different events with different price points, the "amount" field will be blank.  Please fill in the appropriate amount.  Please ensure your e-mail address mailing address are correct so I can reach you if you win a prize!

Participant Goodies

There are two race bibs for the events.  The race bib has room for your name or the name of the person you are honouring with your run.  Click on the images below to enlarge and print!

5k badge!

10k badge!

You can use this participant badge to share about this event on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.:

You will receive entries into the draw for finisher prizes as follows:
  • One (1) entry for completing the 5k 
  • Two (2) entries for completing the 10k
  • One (1) additional entry if you complete both events 
  • One (1) additional entry if you send in a picture of you with your bib to runningjennie(at)gmail(dot)com OR write a blog post about your run and email me the link (note - limited to one bonus entry only, even if you do both or do both events)
UPDATE (Nov 11/12): I will be ordering enough "bling" for everyone who registers! Details are available here.

All participants will also receive a personalized finisher certificate and a virtual medal/finisher badge, which will be released following the event.

Finisher Prizes

The following amazing companies have generously donated finisher prizes, which will be distributed by random draw amongst the virtual run participants!  There will be one winner per prize unless otherwise noted.  The drawing for the finisher prizes will be done on December 1, 2012, with the prize list to be posted here and the prizes to be sent out shortly afterwards.  Stay tuned for detailed posts about each of these companies.

UPDATE (Nov 12/12): Please note the Knucklelights prize previously included in this list is no longer available, and will be replaced with a prize or prize pack of similar value (to be determined).

Three (3) Bondi Bands
NEW: (three (3) winners will receive one (1))
One (1) cotton tote with box of carrot cake Larabars

Twelve (12) rolls of KT Tape Pro
(twelve (12) winners, one (1) roll each)

One (1) $20 Tough Chik gift card

One (1) Endorphin Warrior training bracelet

One (1) original SPIbelt (one pocket)
One (1) custom shirt
(U.S. participants only)
One (1) Bia Sport tech t-shirt
Personal training (one month of virtual training
or one week (3 sessions) in-person if in Ottawa)

Please note the following "fine print":
  1. You must be 18 years or older to participate.
  2. You must provide a valid e-mail address and mailing address when registering in order to be eligible to win a prize.
  3. Finisher prizes will be awarded randomly to the finishers in the events.
  4. If you are selected for a prize, you will be asked to provide proof of your completion time for your event(s) (e.g. a picture of your Garmin or treadmill, a screenshot from your smartphone app, etc.).  The virtual run organizer will determine sufficient proof at her discretion.
  5. Only one (1) prize per participant, per event (to a maximum of two (2) prizes per participant), (unless there are fewer participants than prizes).
  6. Prizes will be awarded in the order listed above.  If you win the MyRaceRagz coupon and live outside of the U.S., you will receive the next prize on the list.
  7. Additional prizes may be added to the list prior to the final drawing.
  8. Prizes will be replaced only if necessary, and with a prize of a greater or equivalent value at the discretion of the virtual run organizer.

    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    Ten Running Questions

    These ten running questions, which I believe originated at Another Mother Runner, have been floating around the blogosphere for a while now.  I've had a draft saved with the ten questions but am only now getting around to answering them.  Feel free to answer them yourself in the comments or on your own blog!

    Best run ever?  The one that comes to mind right now, that was a training run as opposed to a race, was a short, Garmin-less run in a thunderstorm this past May, on the day I joined Team Tough Chik.  A runner up is any run on that first warm day that you can finally wear a t-shirt after training in the snow all winter, whether it's on a vacation somewhere warm or during a spring heat wave.

    Three words that describe your running?  Honest - I try my hardest and give my all and I'm not the fastest but that's okay.  Fun - see "quirky habit while running" below.  Painful - yes, sometimes it hurts; see "honest".

    Your go-to running outfit? For racing, obviously my go to is my Team Sparkle skirt!  I will wear my sparkle skirts with anything in any weather.  For training, I loved my Lululemon running skirt and a tank top during the summer (and wore the outfit for one race as well).  Now that it is cooler, I am wearing tights (either capris or full length) and a t-shirt, plus my Running Skirts arm warmers.

    Running skirts + winter tights = winning outfit!
    Quirky habit while running?  I sing.  Out loud.  Especially when "Call Me, Maybe" comes on.  I have no shame.  I felt bad for the old guy running behind me this morning because I think he didn't want to pass me.  I'm not sure if it was out of embarrassment for me or fear for himself, but he eventually did pass me.  I kept singing.  Why, hello there, fellow runner!  Why yes, I am singing loudly and poorly!  The more important question though is - why aren't you?

    Morning, midday, evening?  These days mostly in the evening.  I am not a morning person - even though sometimes I try, and I know I really should get in some morning long runs with the start time of the Tinker Bell Half.  I can't run in the mid-day generally because of work.  I run after work most days. On the weekends I will run in the mid-afternoon.

    I won’t run outside when it’s pouring down rain.  I am now more willing to head out when it's raining even if it will maybe start pouring while I'm out there.  But if it is pouring hard before I even start I won't get off the couch.

    Running in this city means not wussing out in the cold!

    Worst injury—and how you got over it.  I think I have to say the shin splint that I haven't finished shaking.  It's almost all better - through ice, foam rolling, sticking, resting, Tiger Balm, some crazy other Tiger Balm-esque magic liquid, chiropractor, acupuncture, and a little bit of KT Tape!  I had to cut my third planned half marathon down to a 10k this year after a summer of nagging pain, but I am finally on the mend.

    I felt most like a badass mother runner when I crossed the line of my second half marathon, exactly one year after I crossed the line of my first 5k race, without my sister dragging me to the finish and only five minutes slower without her help.

    With more friends at another TO Women's Run event, this
    time my second half marathon!
    A close runner up for my most badass mother runner moment was finishing the Starbucks Run for Women 10k after being sick out on the course.

    (Taken before I knew what my future held.)

    Next race is the Toronto Women's Runs 5k next weekend.  I'm looking forward to this event for a few reasons - running with friends, a lovely course, a well done event, and a "late" start (9:30).  I have done three other TO Women's Runs events before (two 5k races and my second half this past spring) and always enjoy them.

    With friends at my first TO Women's Run.

    Potential running goal for 2013?  Getting my RunDisney Coast to Coast Medal by running the Princess Half five weeks after the Tinker Bell Half?  If we can figure out the logistics of travelling so soon after the Tink Half, and how to pay for it, and I can figure out how to do it running wise without hurting myself, I just might do it.  Have you ever run two half marathons (or full marathons) close together?  Do you have any tips?

    I'd love to earn the 5th anniversary medal!

    Your turn!  What are your answers to these ten running questions?

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    TNT/Tinkerbell Update!

    (Last published October 2nd?  Oops.)

    Training is going well for the Tinkerbell Half.  Today I have a 10k LSD on my training plan - it's actually supposed to be tomorrow, but I have plans tomorrow that will prevent me from getting it in and today is so beautiful I cannot not get out and run in it!

    Our Team in Training training plan calls for four runs a week - a LSD run, a tempo run, hills, and an easy/steady run.  I've modified it a bit and I am doing an LSD run, tempo or hills, and one or two easy/steady runs every week.  This is the first time I'm actually doing hill training and I can honestly say that it is really helping.

    The weather here is lovely, perfect running weather.  I have always loved fall time and I love it even more now that I am a runner.  I don't have to get up early or run later in the day to avoid warm weather and I am not uncomfortably hot while I am out there.  It is starting to rain more though and I really need a solid water resistant running jacket - any suggestions?

    I went for a long run last weekend in the rain and got soaked.  I really didn't want to go out in the rain and in the past I probably would have put it off to another day.  But TNT motivates me to get out there.  Even though I'm not meeting people to run, I have all the people that LLSC helps in my mind and I think that if they can go to the hospital, go through treatments, watch their friends/family go through treatments, etc., that I can at least get out there and run.  I said at the beginning that this isn't just about me anymore, but I don't think I could have imagined how much it wouldn't be about me at all.

    For fundraising, I have officially sent in the paperwork to recommit to Team in Training.  This means that if I do not hit my minimum target (just over $3,000.00), then I have to pay out of my own pocket.  This is a scary thought but is motivating.  I understand from TNT's perspective that they have costs to cover and need to make sure that they are raising sufficient funds to cover those costs AND be able to do the work that they do.  I have committed to the "without flight" option, meaning that I have to book and pay for my own flight to California and every dollar I raise over my minimum will go straight to the LLSC.

    My next big fundraising event will be a virtual run, with finishing prizes provided by various amazing and generous companies.  I am waiting for the prizes that are being shipped to me to arrive and then I will post all the details about how you can enter.  I am hoping to have a lot of participants.  I am still playing around with the idea of medals or some sort of token of appreciation for everyone who enters, but I am being put off by the cost of purchasing and shipping them, as I want as much money as possible to go to LLSC.  I am hoping people will be motivated to enter even without medals.

    On a related note, if you are looking to join a virtual run with an amazing "medal", check out Cori's virtual Half Goofy challenge!  All proceeds raised go to LLSC.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Montreal RNR 10k Race Report

    Just over a week ago, I completed my fourth 10k race and - spoiler alert! - I got a shiny new PR!

    I had a couple different goals for this race. My "A time" goal for this race was to finish under 1:10. My non-time related goal was to not fall apart at the end. I am very proud to say I met both of these goals.

    Post-race - sparkle = speed!
    Generally speaking, the event was pretty great. The expo was well organized with lots of available parking. The t-shirt, blinding green colour aside, is a well-fitted, comfy Brooks tech tee that I have already run in. The post-race area had lots of snacks that they conveniently handed to you in one bag. There were bands along the course to entertain you, and just enough water stops to keep you hydrated. The on course photographer was awesome - all the photos of me are money shots, as if they either (a) only took good pictures or (b) only indexed the good pictures. Either way, that's a win.

    The one big issue with the event was the starting time. The race was supposed to start at 8:40 a.m. We arrived at the starting area at about 8:25 a.m. - plenty of time to use the bathroom and relax, or so I thought. While we were in line for the bathrooms, we heard some announcements and a countdown - both only in French, and both very garbled. And it looked like the race started!

    Ready to go and too busy taking pictures
    and going to the bathroom to START?
    People around the park did not seem too concerned or panicked. I really needed to use the bathroom so I stayed in line. It became clear that the race actually had started, although when The American went for information the person he asked spoke very little English and couldn't confirm. I stayed in the bathroom line still, figuring I had missed the start already and might as well go to the bathroom. Once I had finished up, I went to the start line for a very uneventful start to my race.

    The very uneventful starting line.
    Thanks to the strange start, I spent the first couple kilometres having an internal battle with myself just to keep running. Having missed the fanfare of the start, I had no start line adrenaline and no motivation to run. Combine that with the fact that I was surrounded by walkers, including strollers and people in jeans and carrying bags, that I had to dodge around. I felt so awkward and unmotivated trying to run for a PB surrounded by people out to walk the whole 10k. I told myself just to pick people off and keep going. I had so many road kills in this race that I couldn't keep track if I tried.

    I tried to find information online about what happened afterwards. There were no announcements or e-mails sent that the start time had changed. I finally found out from someone on Twitter that they had made a last minute decision to start the race early because everything was ready to go. In my opinion, this was a really poor choice as it left a lot of people confused, scrambling and running in the last corral when the belonged in a faster one.

    Performance wise, I didn't think to set any intervals on my Garmin prior to starting because of the messy start. As I crossed the starting line I thought "well, I'll just walk when I need to". I used this approach for the Princess Half and it went well. In this race, I ran about 1km at a time, sometimes a little more and sometimes a little less. I think I ran 2km straight at the end because I was so determined not to fall apart and to bust through the 1:10 mark. My playlist was built with a strong finish in mind and it worked perfectly. The first half was faster than the second though - I'd like to even my splits out in the future, or go for a negative split if possible. Other than that, my performance in this race is a blur of "ohmygoodness I'm so happy I reached my goals!" The post-race pictures of me are ridiculous because I was just so happy.

    Got my bling!
    Overall, I was pleased with this event and very pleased with my performance. After the horror stories I had heard about other RNR events, I was worried about how things might go. Other than the start time issue, I was happy and would recommend this event.

    We had stayed with a friend who lives close to the finish area so we walked home. On our way back, we realized we had parked smack in the middle of the half marathon route (which was also the first half of the marathon). Since we were stuck in Montreal anyway, we went on an adventure:

    We refueled at Chez Cora.  This is seriously all I could think about after the race until it was in front of me:

    Then we went to the Biodome, which was sadly not as awesome as I'd imagined although we did have fun:

    We actually ran past the Olympic tower during the 10k and it's in the official photos. It was at about the 5k mark I didn't notice it at the time. I had gone up it in the past so we didn't on this trip.

    Official stats:

    Gun time: not available
    Chip time: 1:09.29.3 (almost a full minute better than my old PB!)
    Category place: 583/770
    Gender place: 3029/4233
    Overall place: 4962/6478 (there were just over 2,000 more women than men in this event!)