So what can I say, 2014 was an amazing year. The 2014 season didn’t start out so hot, let’s just say the polar vortex nearly sucked my running career into oblivion… well that’s a bit dramatic… not actually but juggling teacher’s college, running, finding a job post-grad was all a bit much and my mileage suffered greatly. I fought through and as the temp warmed up so did I. When I settled in after moving back home I was ready to take running to the next level and get back to the grind.
Around the Bay 30km: My mileage up to this race was lack-luster, I was lucky to hit 50-60km/week. Between teaching 8 hours and planning lessons for 6 hours at night added to the polar vortex weather, I wasn’t very motivated to hammer on. Regardless, as the day got closer my mileage increased and I was ready to at least put in a tempo effort. The day of I didn’t know what I was in for. Before then, I had never run over 21.1km… (as proved by my garmin watch chiming in *New Record! Longest Run Ever*). I felt nervous going to the line. I was in Corral A based on my 2013 half marathon time so at least I didn’t have to worry about fighting the crowds.
The race went off like any other, I got out slightly too fast (like always!) and just tried to grind it out. I was waiting and waiting for the bonk the entire race thinking I ran no mileage I am going to crash hard… but it never came. It could have been from my fueling at 7k and every 3k after that onwards (starting with gels and switching to honeymaxx at the water stations after that as I was getting sick of picking chews out of my teeth). I got to heartbreak hill and felt surprisingly good, legs were heavy but still responding, luckily. It was all a blurr from there, all I remember is seeing the Death guy and him yelling something rude, passing the 2:15 rabbit, and running downhill into the finishing chute. I was pretty excited crossing the finish line in 2:10 especially with my lack of training. From this race I gained a lot of knowledge about myself as a runner. It was this race that taught me that I’m strong and able to grind a lot more now than ever before in the past. I knew after running this 30km that the longer distances are my forte.
Bread and Honey 15km: Next up was Bread and Honey in early June. Now I finally got back on track with my mileage for about a month and a half before this race. I wanted to run this race more to just get back into racing, I was no where near race shape. It was a great race to get back into things and I had a goal to run 1hour flat and I was close. With a 5th female overall finish, I knew I could turn this season into something.
Durham Quarter Marathon: Finally back feeling good as this race was late July. I was up to decent mileage building towards 100k. I knew I was about to have a great race, as I was warming up I was extremely nervous, the way I always get when I actually race well. I lined up at the front of the line and kept telling myself “Don’t go out too hard, run your own race!” That would have been soo great if I didn’t look down at my watch and see 3:30s and thought “whooopssieee” … so I backed off my pace and let Loudimilla run her pace. I settled into 3rd female position and found my 3:40-3:45 pace, luckily there was a buddy I knew from my days as a dragon who ran with me for a few km’s. As he slowed I knew I needed to push on. As I got closer to the lake I had one girl come up behind me, who I would later meet Becky. The course gets hard at the 6k to go mark near the lake where there is a decent uphill. My mental broke here and I let the girls get a bit too far ahead of me here and shut down. A few km later I finally woke back up and pushed on starting to pick up the pace for the last 2-3km. I went through the finishing chute thinking “damn I’m 4th, just outta the money” until I hear my name announced as 3rd female finisher. Goes to show you, never take yourself out of the race, you never know what will happen.
I got to meet a fellow Skechers athlete Matt Leduc and competitor Mindy Fleming – great power couple! I always enjoy talking to runners after the race – best kind of people there are! After some craziness post race I was awarded 3rd female and got my 2nd ever cheque! Confirming that all my hard work is worth it. Did I mention when I did the DQM in 2012 I ran 43:58 vs my 40:56 finish this year?? Big improvements this year….Oh yeah….I wasn’t lying!!
After the DQM I took a break from racing to focus on training. I gradually built mileage from my 60km/week start in May a conservative 5km/week increase to my very first 100km week ever the first week of August. From there the miles rolled in, with the help of the GRE crew hitting my longest long runs ever. With the help of great workouts from my GRE crew, I could feel my fitness.
Toronto Longboat Island 10km: The late race start for this race threw Josh and I off. With help from my best support my dad getting us there on time, Josh and I hopped on the first ferry across to the island so we could get warmed up. As we were waiting in line, we could help but notice a famous face blended into the crowd, Lanni Marchant!! We couldn’t believe it, but one look at all of her Asics race gear we knew it was her. We couldn’t believe that amongst all these runners, no one recognized Canada’s Fastest Female Marathoner! Sadly, it shows how little recognition there is for our best athletes in Canada. I don’t know if I felt pumped up by her presence or what, but I was ready to go.
I did my classic warmup routine, left 1hour before with a 20min jog, stretching, flats on, and drills all with my beats pumping. I was super nervous I didn’t know why..the 5k started about 10 mins before the 10km so the gun going off for their race didn’t help the nerves.
Finally, I lined up and there in front of me was Lanni, running in the same race as me I was so excited. I decided to go sports bra for this race since it was a scorcher that day… and I loved when one girl who I raced back in my xc uni years gave me the look like “why are you near the front?”…fuel for the fire…all I thought was, wait ’til I pass you! I got out hard, like always going out too hard, but for some reason I decided not to settle, I embraced my turnover and just went with it. At this point I was running with a small group of guys and I could hear a girl on my shoulder behind me breathing heavy. I knew I needed to break her. So I held my what I thought was wayy too fast of a pace and pushed on. Now I hit the 5km mark and I was where I have never been before for a 10k. I knew I was going to do something big, now I was off on my own holding 2nd female position with no one insight (with some help from a guy who gave me great encouragement and paced me on and off for a few km – people are so nice!!).
Now I was feeling the pace but in a whole new way, it wasn’t in a – “i’m in a hell of alotta pain and want to stop” – kind of way but the – “this is awesome I’m doing it, I’m going to pb huge today and I feel like I want to throw up” – kinda pain. The best motivation there was and I just kept repeating in my head “i’m second to Lanni right now, I’m going to get to stand beside her for awards” and I pushed on. Before I knew it I was on the wooden bridge and I knew it wasn’t far now. I got to the pavement and was desperately looking for the finish, I knew I was close but couldn’t remember how far it was. Finally there it was, I put my final kick in and finished 2nd female.
As I glance at the clock i’m thinking I saw 38 minutes and kept saying….more accurately yelling as I do when I get excited…. wow 1 minute pb thats awesome no way! Then it hit me, I just ran 37:17 not 38! and my pb was 39:09 before and it was pretty much a 2 minute pb! MASSSIVEEEE!! Icing on the cake……as I was enjoying my Honeymaxx and snacks at the finish line, Lanni came up to get some and we had a honest conversation about training and how the race went and she was so down to earth which is amazing to see. Another race, another race cheque, I was pumped – chasing the dream of being the top in Ontario or at least in my races.
Toronto 10 Miler: Now training was going well however, just prior to this race I started to have issues with plantar fasciitis. I decided to go into this race just as a tempo and go from there. Now normally during mileage, I love doing out and back loops they are my absolute favourite…. put that into a race… whole different story. The 10miles went basically straight out and straight back after the first few km. It was hell. Now I went out hard and was holding first female for at least 5km. It was here where one girl came up beside me and I tried and tried to break her but it wasn’t happening, instead she broke me and ran off ahead along with my goal pace (sub 1hour) with her. Now I was running completely on my own and could see the turn around point which was not motivating when it was so far away. Now, this race pain was different than normal… I knew something was off… I kept thinking I must be running so slow because I’m watching my foot… but no, something else…finally it clicked…all week at work training people I had been doing unnecessary squats while spotting people/ doing core drills which added up to legs that felt like ass.. well I did as best I can to hold in there both physically and mentally and finished at 1:02 just outside of my 1 hour goal time. I was happy with another top 3 female finish.
Grind time…time to get ready for my peak race- half marathon.
Hitting 120 km/week was a new accomplishment in this build! I was so excited and felt fitter than ever. With the addition of 2 workouts a week I knew this half was going to be a different story.
Niagara International Half Marathon: Fast forward to the race, the GRE crew went down the day before to attend the expo, pick up race kits, and to flush out the legs. As we pulled up to our hotel, we realized we made a huge error letting our whole season ride on one race – conditions! Regardless of time of year, flat or hilly course there is always one key element to running a fast race – good conditions – and with all of us trying to go for big pb’s we were a bit worried.
We got lucky on race day in one way, it was much warmer than what it should have been for that time of year. But big problem…the way was a complete point-to-point race with the wind against us the ENTIRE way. I knew I needed to find someone to draft off of or I’d be in for a hell of a race. I was nervous going into this race because I knew where my fitness was – like no where before – I could feel a sub 1:20 in my legs. Team GRE got our warmup in (despite trying to fight for bathrooms and finally finding a bush..like any experienced and annoyed runner). Either way, we made our way to the start, stripping down last minute, gels tucked into my shorts like always (the same gels that I later learned gave me some pretty good scratches…ouch!).
The gun was up and we’re off. I got off the line, this time more aware of my pace and no this time I did not go out too hard…finally.. I felt the wind and tried to find someone to run with. I bounced back and forth behind different guys to find someone running the right pace 347’s to 350’s. Looked down 350’s bam! perfect I’ll stick with him! I was nice and asked him “hey do you mind if I pace off you?” because there is nothing worse than someone sucking off you for the entire race and stepping on you and hearing them breathe the whole time! He didn’t mind and we decided to work together. I held 345’s for over 10km and felt great. My stride was good, no aches/pains, if anything I remember getting a slight cramp but I got that to go away fast. I held onto my makeshift pacer for 15km and he was awesome giving me encouragement when I slowed and blocking that insane wind for me the entire time without making me take the lead. We passed what we thought was the 2nd place female somewhere in there who went out way too hard which gave me that extra push realizing that I actually felt pretty good. Since me and my pacer were off in no man’s land… people way ahead and people way behind… when I lost him at 15km it was tough.. I just couldn’t hold the pace anymore. I was so sad as soon as I lost him thinking all my hard work is gone as I slowed to 4 min km’s. I toughed it out, now for the first time the whole race fighting the wind on my own. I was so excited crossing the finish in 1:22:33 3 MINUTES OFF MY PB of 1:25:30 and 3rd overall female. I was directed into the VIP tent where I got my award – biggest prize money to date – $250.
Post race, team GRE partied it up! Big build done, now for some R & R. One highlight – eating at the Keg post race (of course no steak for vegetarian me but it was still great!). After a good night and good laughs, we made our way back home, reflecting on our season.
I took less than usual to recover only 5 days of no running then I was back to the grind. With the 2015 season just around the corner. GRIND ON!