Race Recap: Nutrience Oakville Half Marathon

I’m finally getting around to writing this! The delay is mostly in part to the fact that I wanted to include race photos, so I had to wait until those went live. As usual, I’ll break up the review into sections for you guys to give an in-depth review.

Race Kit Pick-Up/Expo

I was really upset about this the expo, because I essentially missed the whole thing! The commute from my area in Toronto to Coronation Park (where the expo was) with no traffic is around 45 minutes. On this particular day, it took us two hours. Since we were running errands, we didn’t leave our house until just before two. Combine that with a few road closures and it created a recipe for disaster. We literally got to Coronation Park with minutes to spare so I really didn’t get to partake. That being said, race kit pick-up was a breeze and it looked like they had some really cool venders there (Running Room, Nuun, Honey Stinger…really wish I was able to catch the Honey Stinger booth).

The Race Itself

I feel that this part needs to be broken up into sections as well since there’s so much to say. I’ll start with things I feel went wrong/things I could’ve worked on:

-I had to run to the start line when the race started since we were running late due to road closures

-Since my hydration pack has no pocket on the straps to put gels in, I decided to put two gel packs in my cleavage for easy access…let’s just say that wasn’t the smartest idea

-I had to stop at every bathroom stop due to gastro upsets (something I didn’t account for even though I should’ve)

-Because of said gastro upsets, I had to walk WAY MORE than I’ve ever had to during a run in order to wait for the gastro upsets to subside

-I went into the race being under-trained…I could definitely feel it.

Things I did right during the race:

-I had a playlist on my iPod rather than frantically trying to pick a different song every three minutes

-I listened to my body during the race

-I finished injury-free (the most important of all)

-I had a hydration plan in place which was super beneficial considering it was unseasonably hot out

In terms of the course there’s a few things worth noting. The course was a mixture of residential side streets and some major streets, however it was mostly on side streets. Course marshalls did a good job of guiding people and local cops did a good job of stopping traffic for race participants, (a few would even cheer you on). The cool thing about running on the side streets was that a lot of residents would spectate and cheer you on as you passed their house. One house that I passed had a little girl (supervised by her parents), standing on their driveway with a hose on the mist setting asking people if they wanted to be sprayed. That girl doesn’t know it, but she was my best friend that day. I felt that the course volunteers were a little lack-lustre though, which was kind of disappointing. When most of them cheered, you could tell they were tired or that they didn’t want to be there. There was one girl however who really stood out at one of the Nuun stops (there was a Nuun table at every bathroom stop), who was super encouraging and would even call you by name which was really sweet.

At one point during the race, a man who was also a participant ran alongside me and gave me tips on how to slow my breathing down and even paced me for a kilometer. Again, these little gestures go an extremely long way.

Post-Race

Once the race was done, I went to get stretch at which time Daniel informed me that there were massage therapy students from a nearby college giving out free massages. The best part? Next to no line! They originally quoted me a wait time of 15 minutes, which is still amazing, however, I only had to wait 5. I can’t member the name of the girl who massaged me, but she really helped loosen up my calves which are always crazy tight after running. They also had a few post-race snacks like bananas, bottles of water, and buns from Ozerk Bakery.

Would I run this race again? I think so. The views waterfront/dreamy real estate views were nice, and it’s quite affordable relative to races in the city.

So what’s next? Well, I’m registered for Hamilton Marathon Road 2 Hope (the half distance), which is at the beginning of November. Stay tuned for updates!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 11.10.46 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-02 at 11.11.13 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-02 at 11.11.27 AM

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My favourite photo of them all.

Race Recap: 2XU Toronto Women’s 10k

Last Sunday, I ran the 2XU Toronto Women’s 10k for the second time (I ran the 10k last summer). I should note that this race holds a special place in my heart; it happens to be the first 10k race I’ve ever done. After really grinding it out this past year, I felt that I was definitely ready to conquer a PR and really crush the course. I have to admit, I didn’t take a ton of photos since I was really focusing on staying in a winning mindset, but I really wish I did – Sunnybrook Park is gorgeous! As usual, I’ll break up my review in segments so I can really flesh it out.

Race Kit Pick-Up

I totally had every intent on picking up my race kit ahead of time at Running Room, but I completely dropped the ball. Whoops. This led me to head to Sunnybrook Park (the location of the race) a little bit early so I could get my bib/swag. That being said, I was in and out in a breeze at the race kit station. All I had to do was find a number on a board that corresponded with my name, and then dictate that number to the woman behind the table who gave me my bag. Literally took all of two minutes.

The Race Itself

Talk about good weather! Although it was a little breezy in the beginning, it warmed up once the race started and we got moving. One of the reasons why I love this race is because of the volunteers on the course. This year did not disappoint. Everyone is so encouraging and they all really give you the boost you need when you hit that “I want to give up” wall. They also will give you personalized words of encouragement (which I know is easy to do considering your name is on the bib), but trust me, it goes a long way.

In terms of how I performed, I think I did great. I set a pr, (my best 10k is 1:09:45 and this time around my time was 1:05:33), and felt 10x more confident than I did the previous year. It also helps that I know the course and know what to expect. I thought about signing up for the 5k instead of the 10k, but with the Oakville Half Marathon in a few weeks, I wanted a little more practice than a 5k could give me.

The Expo

I didn’t pay much attention to the expo last year, but it was actually pretty good this year. Notable highlights were a Goodlife Fitness booth, and a 2XU booth! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll be able to see the trinket I bought there. Although this isn’t expo related, your entry gets you a 2XU technical hat which is pretty sweet.

What’s Next?

Next on the docket is the Nutrience Oakville Half Marathon (less than three weeks away!) and I’m feeling pretty nervous! The last time I attempted a half, I tore my meniscus. I’ve gone through physio and have been able to identify some issues that could’ve lead to the injury, so I’m hoping to cross the finish line injury-free! Wish me luck!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Race Recap: Toronto Carnival Run (5k)

This past Saturday, I ran the 5k distance at the Toronto Carnival Run in downtown Toronto. As I do with my other race reviews, I’ll break this down into sections: race kit pick-up, the race itself, expo, and expectations that I had for the race.

 Race Kit Pick-Up

The race kit pick-up was located at a speciality running store not too far from the race location called The Runners Shop. Although I have heard of the store, I haven’t been to it and didn’t quite know its location. I got an email from Race Roster saying that race kit pick-up was on the Thursday/Friday before the race from 10:00am to 8:00pm. Since Daniel and I were planning on going downtown for dinner on the Friday, I figured I would just swing by and meet him after. According to Google Maps, the store was only a short walk from the subway station so I was keeping my eyes peeled for any signage. Eventually, I saw a sign in front of an office building that said, “Toronto Carnival Run Race Kit Pick-Up Here” and then store hours beneath it which stated that the store closed at 6:00. By this point, it was 6:25. Panicked, I called Daniel (I’m not even sure why, it’s not like he could’ve done anything about the situation). Race Roster says that you can only pick up your kit on race day if you’re an out-of-town resident and since I’m not, I was kind of screwed. Since Daniel wasn’t at our meet up destination, I decided to grab a latte at a coffee shop next door and start walking over. Once I left the coffee shop, I saw a couple leaving the office building with what seemed to be race kits. I raced in side, (along with my London Fog), and saw that there was a table set up outside the store with race kits. I explained to the person who was manning the station what happened to me and she said that a couple other people have had the same issue. On the upside, they were handing out coupons for their store, so that was a nice bonus. In this section, the suggestion would be to have better signage that doesn’t confuse racers.

The Race Itself

 So much energy!! Because the race was carnival inspired, (in light of Caribana being around the corner), there was plenty of calypso and soca music to get people amped. Dione Mason got the crowd warmed up before the 10k group took off at 8:00am and she did a great job. The 5k group (me) was 15 minutes after that and 1k kids run was 10 minutes after that.

The race started at Inukshuk Park and ran along the Martin Goodman Trail. The nice part about this leg of the trail, is that it runs alongside Ontario Place so it’s pretty scenic. There were dragon boaters out on the water as well as the set up for the Toronto Triathlon Festival. One day. A girl can dream, right?

The 5k course was an out-and-back and had only 22ft of elevation gain so it was relatively flat.

Toronto Carnival Run 5k Route

Literally right on the water!

The only thing I didn’t like about the course was that since it’s a public trail, there were plenty of run clubs, single runners, and bikers in addition to the racers on the trail. More often than not the trails are public and not blocked off during races so there’s other runners on the course, but this time it was really noticeable. At one point in the trail, there’s a fork and it’s difficult to tell which path you’re supposed to take, especially if you’re following people that you think are part of the race but in fact are not.

Expo

There wasn’t much of an expo at the race. There were a few companies there handing out samples, (Vita Coco and Larabar), as well as Triangle Physiotherapy giving out free massages. The line was forever long for that so I didn’t bother sticking around.

Race Expectations

I was hoping to run a negative split with my overall average pace being 9:40/mi. I was able to hold that negative split until the end of mile two where I slowed down a bit. This was ultimately my downfall. I was hoping for a sub 30:00 time, however I came up short with a chip time of 30:30 and an average pace of 30:50…so close! My 5k pr before this was 32:00, so although I beat my pr, I didn’t hit my goal time.

Toronto Carnival Run 5k Strava

Would I do this race again? Probably! I’m curious to see what the 10k route is like. I’ll have to try it next time!

Toronto Carnival Run Race Photo

Toronto Carnival Run Race Photo 1

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Race Recap: Goodlife Fitness City Chase

This race is amazing! I’ve done it once before two years ago with Daniel and we had every intent on doing it again. It’s definitely one of those races that are a blast to do and incorporate teamwork, athleticism, and strategy. Since the race was on Saturday photos haven’t been released yet, but when they do I’ll post them in a blog post similar to this one.

The Expo/Parking

If you’re from Toronto or have ever been to Toronto, you’ll know how terrible it is to park here. Especially downtown. The start/finish line was in the Distillery District which is in the heart of Downtown Toronto, so parking was not the greatest. There wasn’t any designated race parking, so although there happened to be a Green P down the street, we had to pay to park. The downside to this is that since the race can literally take up the whole afternoon, parking can get kind of costly. The parking lot is also about a five-minute walk from the expo, so it was a bit inconvenient to get our race kit and then head back to the car to drop stuff off (there was no bag check).

City Chase 1

Sunscreening up! I used Goddess Garden Sport Organic Sunscreen…review to follow!

The expo seemed like an average expo to me. Manitoba Harvest, Ocean Spray and Deep Relief were all there giving out free samples, which really came in handy post-race. Picking up our race kit was a bit of a tedious process though: the first step involved giving them the last name used during registration, which resulted in us receiving a number. We then had to take that number to another table, which gave us our bibs, and then make our way to ANOTHER table to get our race shirts. I should note that we missed pre-race kit pickup, so I guess some of this headache could’ve been avoided.

Pre-Race Warm Up

Goodlife Fitness has a ton of classes at their clubs. I used to be a member, so I’ve taken quite a few classes and they’re a ton of fun. Since Goodlife sponsors the race, they brought in some of their instructors to guide us through a pre-race warm up that was not only effective, but actually a lot of fun. I want to say that what we did was Zumba, but I’m not 100% sure.

The Race

The race starts with all the Chasers getting clues as to where the clue sheets are. The clues on the clue sheets are pretty ambiguous, and although some clues are easy to solve, others are very difficult. They had a different element from the last time we did this race which involved three “hard core” Chasepoints which were deemed optional. Daniel and I decided to take on this challenge, but little did we know what we were in for!

City Chase 2

One of the hard core chase points – we had to pull a bus 30ft!

City Chase 3

And then I face planted…

One of these hard core Chasepoints involved kneeling in a tent-like structure with your partner while solving a puzzle. Although this sounds easy, there’s a catch: a man with a paintball gun is at the other end and shoots you every five seconds. I’ve never been paint balling before, but those things hurt a ton!

City Chase 4

You can’t see it, but just beyond where the people are standing is where you solve the puzzle.

It’s also worth noting how much chasers help you while on course. From willing to take pictures of you completing Chasepoints to helping you with clues, this race is truly one that has me feeling all the feels.

Although we took a half-hour longer to complete the race, we managed to complete all three hard core Chasepoints which all had huge line ups, so I can’t complain. It would’ve been nice to have a better time, but I feel like City Chase is one of those races that you can’t expect anything from because things change from year to year. The “course” is never really the same. That’s one of the things that make this race so awesome!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

 

Rugged Maniac Photo Dump

Race photos got released yesterday, so here’s a photo dump of what Daniel and I got tagged in! I was a little disappointed at the fact that there were only cameras at two of the obstacles, but I actually got an email from the founder of Rugged Maniac saying that he was a little disappointed in the quality of the photos. Let me know what you guys think!

Me: Rugged Maniac Race Photo 1

Daniel (they got way better photos of him): Rugged Maniac Race Photo 4Rugged Maniac Race Photo 5Rugged Maniac Race Photo 6Rugged Maniac Race Photo 7

Race Recap: Rugged Maniac Kitchener

Am I crazy for signing up for a 5k ocr while healing from a meniscus injury? Maybe. Did I have a blast though? Heck yeah.

On Sunday, Daniel and I participated in Rugged Maniac Kitchener which was at Chicopee Ski Resort. If you’ve been following my blog for a bit and that name sounds familiar, it’s because Daniel and I went skiing there a few months ago and I blogged it. It was pretty cool to run up and down the same hills I was skiing down just months before. In this recap, I’m going to talk about the location of the race, expo, race, post-race after party and what I would’ve done differently.

The Location

Chicopee Ski Resort is only just over an hour from Toronto. Parking was a little crazy, but it was a huge event that was near sold out. If I’m not mistaken, parking was $20, however you could pay $10 and just be further away from the site. TONS of people just parked on the grass or in random ditches to avoid paying the fee which made me laugh. We ended up getting a prime parking spot, just a few dozen feet from bag check.

Rugged Maniac Start:Finish

The view from our parking spot…we totally lucked out!

Expo/Bag Check

The expo was a breeze, and we were in and out pretty quickly. The only issue I had here was that it seemed that the volunteers looming around the grounds didn’t know where the expo was. It turned out that it was on the opposite end of the base of the mountain, so we couldn’t see any signage. When we approached a volunteer, she had to ask someone who had to ask someone WHO HAD TO ASK SOMEONE ELSE. Grr. It was quickly resolved though, so I got over it fairly quickly.

Once we got our wristbands, race bib and t-shirt, we headed to bag check which consisted of a giant tent that housed everyone’s bags. It wasn’t as chaotic as it sounded; bags were kept on tables so they were almost organized in bunches. That being said, when we went to pick up our two bags at the end of the race, it was FILTHY. You could tell it had come into contact with mud. I guess that’s to be expected at an ocr…I’ll probably just bring a grocery tote next time so that it can be tossed if need be.

The Race

Holy crap this race was tough. The amount of time I put into training was nowhere near what I wanted it to be due to my knee and being in recovery mode. I thought about pulling out of the race, but at my last physio session I asked my physiotherapist what she thought and she gave the green light to race. Daniel’s also recovering from some knee issues, (birds of a feather flock together, eh?), so he was in the same boat as me. Nevertheless, we both had some cardio training in us and gave the race all we had. My knee didn’t hurt at all, (despite dragging it over numerous rocks during muddy army crawls), and Daniel was THE BEST teammate ever. My mom was actually supposed to be part of our team as well, but her leg ulcer, which seemed to be lying dormant for the past while flared up. The obvious choice for her was not to run. When she’s all healed up, she promised me that we’d do an ocr together so stay tuned!

My favourite obstacle was probably The Warped Wall. This consisted of a half pipe-type wall that you had to run up and climb over in order to get to the next obstacle. There was a ladder beside it should you chose not run up the half pipe, however who likes to do things the easy way? Our strategy was to have Daniel run first up the wall since he felt pretty confident that he could make it over. He did, (not that I was surprised), and gave me a thumbs up to run toward him. I was able to grab the top of the wall, but couldn’t swing my legs over to get up and over myself. Daniel managed to grab my right ankle and swing me over – not only did he save the day, but he saved me from sliding down the wall…so he also saved me from embarrassment, haha.

My least favourite obstacle was probably Bang The Gong. This involved jumping up to bang a mini gong which subsequently leads to you falling in approximately five feet of water. For some reason, I thought the water pit would be shallower…needless to say I was in for a surprise when my head was full immersed in the water for a few seconds.

Kitchener Course Map 2017

The course map. The obstacles were densely packed together which I loved!

The sense of camaraderie at Rugged Maniac was insane. Strangers were helping out strangers at every obstacle or giving words of encouragement as they passed you. I remember at one obstacle called Jacob’s Ladder, I got stuck at the top and was scared to swing my left leg over since my right leg couldn’t quite reach the next step on the ladder. Daniel had already gone up and over the obstacle and was at the bottom trying to give me pointers. After yelling down to him that I couldn’t do it, a girl who was about to pass me climbed back down and spotted me. She totally didn’t have to do that, but it was awesome that she did. Because of her, I swung my left leg over and continued on.

The Post Race Party

The post race party was exactly that – a party. After getting hosed off and changed into clean clothes, Daniel and I decided to cash in on the cool stuff going on around us. Daniel doesn’t drink so he gave his drink wristband to me. Score! Once I got drinks, (nothing says lovin’ like double-fisting after an ocr), we headed over to the food trucks and got some food. Daniel got two pulled-pork sandwiches from an unknown vendor while I got a pulled-pork grilled cheese sandwich from a food truck called Fo’ Cheesy. Ssssoooo delicious. During our delicious eats, we watched a pull up competition and a stein hoisting competition. How do these people do all that after what they just ran through?!? Although we didn’t take part in these events, there was also a mechanical bull and beach volleyball complete with amazing music.

Rugged Maniac Medal Photo

Daniel & I all hosed off after the run. I’m in love with the finisher’s medal!

What Would I Have Done Differently?

-Trained properly (though I guess there wasn’t much I could do about this)

-Worn Sunscreen: I figured the mud would protect me, but I totally forgot to account for the post-race party and the fact that we would be lingering around for a while after the race. Since I didn’t pack any sunscreen, we both got pretty burnt.

-Not Wear a Black Long Sleeve Shirt: in my defense, it was dry fit. Daniel also wore a similar shirt…we both reaped the consequences of said action

-Worn My Garmin: I didn’t wear my Garmin because I thought the mud would get caked in the buttons. I felt good about my decision until I saw so many other runners wear GPS watches. I manually entered my run on Strava in sadness.

Race photos don’t get released until Thursday, so I’m planning on doing a post on Friday with just the race photos. Keep your eyes peeled!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

Race Season is Starting…

Seeing as my first race of 2017 is less than a month, (March 24th), I figured I should layout all the races I have planned for the year. I’ve talked about the Mississauga Half that I have planned in May and my team race in two weeks, but that’s it.

March

What: Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5k

Where: Toronto, ON

Swag/Race Features: Scenic route through Toronto’s High Park, technical race shirt, free Irish chili and a pint of Steam Whistle Beer, (I don’t like chili or beer, so the shirt is pretty much the bulk of the swag for me)

*I’m aiming for a pr in this race, (a sub 32:00 minute time), and I’m REALLY hoping I can crack it. I’m feeling at the moment that it’s a little out of my reach, but we’ll see.

April

April’s pretty up in the air since I’ll have exams and the date that I leave for Europe may fall during this month. I’m thinking I may just leave this month empty in preparation for my half.

May

What: Mississauga Half-Marathon

Where: Mississauga, ON

Swag/Race Features: Net downhill, (yay!), technical race shirt and finisher’s medal

*Since this is my first half, just finishing it would be amazing. That being said, 2:20 or lower would be AMAZING.

June

What: Rugged Maniac

Where: Kitchener, ON

Swag/Race Features: Cotton T-Shirt, Finisher’s Medal, and a free beer, (again, not a beer fan, haha).

*This is a mud run that I’m doing with my mom and my boyfriend. My boyfriend and I have both done mud runs together in the past, but this is my mom’s first time running EVER. She’s a beast, so I know she can hack it.

What: Goodlife Fitness City Chase

Where: Toronto, ON

Swag/Race Features: I wrote a post on this race seeing as I did it two years ago. Check it out!

July 

I think I’m going to take July off. Two races in the same month is more than I’ve ever done and I don’t want to over-commit.

August

I think I’m taking this month off too. I might be taking a couple of credits during the summer to graduate early, in which case my final exams would be this month.

September

What: Oakville Half

Where: Oakville, ON

Swag/Race Features: Technical Race Shirt and Finisher’s Medal

*Halves are my focus for 2017; I really want to master them.

October

I’m taking this month off since I’m not sure how I’ll feel after the half.

November

What: Angus Glen 10k

Where: Markham, ON

Swag/Race Features: It doesn’t seem like they’ve posted this yet since it’s so far in advance, but from what I’ve seen from their past races, their swag bag has been on point.

December

This month is a toss-up. My boyfriend and I are supposed to be in Florida for the holidays, so I may do a race down there…who knows!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

 

Throwback Thursday: Goodlife Fitness City Chase

I’m deciding to jump on the Throwback Thursday bandwagon and reminisce about one of my favourite race: the 2015 Goodlife Fitness City Chase!

This race holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first one that Daniel (my boyfriend) and I ever did together. The design of the race is part obstacle course/part scavenger hunt; so it requires not only speed, but strategy as well. The “chase points” were scattered all over the city, which definitely made it challenging to cut down on time and made you rely on transit (and running).

2015 Goodlife Fitness City Chase Toronto

Daniel & I at the start line…clearly one of us is more excited than the other. 

The race itself was organized really well. At each chase point, there were volunteers that described the chase point activity and guided you through the steps to complete it. In order to complete the race, you had to complete 12 chase points, however there was an option to complete all of the chase points to be considered an “Endurance Finisher”. My favourite chase point was one that took place not too far from the start line on the waterfront. There was a slip and slide that went downhill and one partner had to toss a Frisbee to the other partner who was sliding down. One successful catch = a successful chase point.

goodlife-fitness-city-chase1

We also managed to get a nice shot at one of the chase points…thanks volunteers!

goodlife-fitness-city-chase2

Action shot! This chase point consisted of a lap around a marked course in one of these balls!

Daniel and I loved this event so much that we signed up for this year! It’s in June, and I’ll be sure you write a review!

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy