I waited to do a big blog post about the fall season. I was doing a blogpost after every race but things got so hectic during the fall season that I decided less is more. So it’s the end of the 2015 season and it’s definitely bittersweet. I’m very excited with the progress that I’ve made this year – 25sec off in 5k, 12 secs off 10k, 5minutes in 15k, and 2 minutes off my half-marathon. Pb’s around the board are a great accomplishment. I also know that I want to keep pushing to be better and knowing that I just need to be patient and that it will take time to build there is hard. Soon enough I will be refocusing and looking towards 2016 to choose what/where/when I want to do next.
Lets recap fall racing:
Toronto Island Longboat 10km – Sept.13
After some very hard months of training all summer I was looking forward to fall racing season. I raced Longboat last year and loved it – it has a special place for me since it was my very first road race ever with the Durham Dragons back in grade 10. It brings me back to my roots and there’s something very relaxing about racing here. From my training, I was looking to go 36:30ish for this race. Unfortunely, a cold took me out for the weeks leading up to this race – training was still on point but I was fatigued and run down. I woke up race day planning to run as hard as I could on the day. My previous pb was 37:15 from this race last year so I had to make a go at it. The cold affected me more mentally than physically, from the minute I started my race warm-up I knew I was off.
I started the race and went out on my goal pace of 3:37s – very quickly I knew I couldn’t hold that. There was a heavy headwind to boot which helped the slowing process. From the start of the race there were no girls challenging me for the lead so I knew that if I stayed strong I could come away with another win this season so I redirected my goals from time oriented to placing. This race I couldn’t pace off of anyone, I was in no man’s land the entire time which was difficult especially because I wasn’t ‘ON’ mentally. Every km I gave myself a little pep talk and tried to pick my pace back up which worked. I finished in 37:05 a new personal best of 12 seconds – not exactly the result I was looking for but a PB of any size should be celebrated and even bigger I WON! I couldn’t let myself hold a pity party and have just won a race.
I was happy to see how Josh did when I crossed the line – 4th overall for him was a great result with the competition (olympian Reid Coolsaet won!). I was very excited to see Mike at the line too – he just came from another race in toronto that day where he crushed his 5k pb running sub 18minutes! Overall, I was happy with progress and had more fuel for the fire for the rest of the season. Post race Josh, Mike and I did some extra mileage a 10km run easy and got to see Reid Coolsaet fly by doing a workout post-race to get ready for Berlin Marathon. Nothing like a guy of that magnitude to really humble you. Post-race we had veggie burgers, snacks and a good chat with Reid asking him about his training and talking other languages that only runners can understand. Last year I got to talk to Lanni and this year Josh was talking to Reid! What a great race atmosphere to be among the best.
Here are my splits: 332, 337, 343, 345, 348, 347, 344, 344, 341, 339 (You can see that rough patch in the middle)
Eaton Downtown Dash 5k
Now this 5k… grr this 5k. All summer I was doing the fastest speed work I’ve ever done. The way my race and life schedule was set up I couldn’t find a 5k at the right time. I knew I had speed in my legs and really wanted to see what I could split through 5k in. Seeing that I split through 18:26 at Longboat 10k a pb only made sense. Finally, I found a weekend that I could run a 5k at. Problem was we had switched my training to my half-marathon focus so that pure speed just wasn’t there. Also, I was having a really bad bout with my mental game still. I didn’t feel confident, something was just off. So when race day came, I wasn’t 100% race ready. I went for it anyway. Josh and I had another solo race planned, the other GRE teammates had races elsewhere or the weekend off of racing. Again, Mike saves the day and comes out to support us to help give us that extra bit of motivation which clearly I needed. We got to the race site and there were 50-60km/hr gusts of wind…great thing for a 5k right? I tried to stay optimistic.
We did our typical race warm-up and toed the line. The gun went off and we were off – after I just about trampled someone who decided it was a great idea to try to start in front of me. I did not feel good at any point during this race. Every km I was fighting with myself trying to push harder. Again, I was in no man’s land with no females in sight and knew that I would likely win the race so I was fighting with myself trying to stop myself from saying it was good enough. I knew my time wasn’t going to be great. Still, in the end I ran 18:20 my second fastest 5k ever and took the win which is amazing. Here are my splits: 330, 334, 345, 341, 336. Nothing magical but it was a good effort especially in the wind that day. Josh and I celebrated winning together for the 4th time!
Now you are probably catching on that mentally I was out of it. Hence why I waited to write this post, I knew I would be writing a whoa is me which is rediculous because I just won two races! I waited until my mindset turned around. I also didn’t want to write the post because I was trying to move past that mindset and refocus and I knew revisiting some of the negative aspects of the races was not a good idea.
Now onto the surprise half-marathon!
When Josh and I planned out our race season we had originally scheduled to run Toronto 10miler at halfpace. In the week leading up to it our teammate Heather texted me and said the race director asked her if I would race this weekend. At first I said no, we had another race planned already. That day I went out and killed my workout 6xmile at 601, 602, 559, 555, 554, 543. I came back and knew I was ready to race a half that weekend. Coach Josh and I planned it as a working through it kinda race – I would run 105-110km that week in preparation for scotia 3 weeks later. We planned it to be less than 100% effort. SURPRISE half-marathon!
Race day came and I was surprisingly calm. We got there and met up with heather who was also racing the half. A short warmup had some added excitement when I saw my Dragons’ coach Dale who was volunteering. I said a quick hi and headed back to finish my warmup. Dale has always believed in me from day one and provided me with the foundation for my running and I owe him everything for where I am now with my running. It was definitely relaxing to have the Dragons there cheering for me. Before the race I met Krysten at the Polar booth and when I came to the realization that she was darwinianfail I was totally mindblown!
We did our drills and strides and headed to the elite section. One of my favorite memories of the season was the prerace introductions that RunAjax did for us! They announced who I was and my previous performances- it was so cool! Definitely helped raise my confidence prerace. I had some good competition for a small race – loudimilla a former Russian olympian and fellow Skechers Performance athlete/Pan Am medalist Sasha Gollish were racing as well!
I wanted to focus on racing within myself so I didn’t go with them at the start. The gun went off and my goal was to manage my first km and not go out too hard like I always do. I did a great job of it this race! I went through the first few km feeling okay – definitely feeling the 100k week- it was work to hit my paces. Did I mention the hills? No? Oh well I better! This was BY FAR the HILLIEST road race I’ve ever done. The first 2k even had hills! …along with every other few km! I fueled with a few honey stinger chews along the way and was fighting myself mentally to keep on pace through the hills and winding trails. I knew loudimilla was the only one in front of me. I was hoping to find a male to race/pace with but again it was the season of ‘no man’s land’ and I had to grind it out solo. Just before I hit the turnaround Sasha went by me and I thought about going with her but at this point I reminded myself that this wasn’t supposed to be a 100% effort. Also before the turn around, I saw Josh on his way back and saw that he had no competition and felt bad that he was stuck racing and chasing a pb solo. Still filled with hills, I started to feel my hamstring tighten and my calf on the same side knotted. I briefly entertained the thought of dropping out but realized how mad i’d be afterwards. I found a second wind and made a move for the last few km. There was a gigantic hill at 3k to go and I could see Sasha climbing it. I closed the gap slightly and tried to focus on that. I went to pick it up more but there was nothing in my legs. Josh ran down to about 500m to go to yell at me to help me kick it in. I pushed to the finish and came across the line 3rd female in 1:21:45! I was so excited to pb by 1 minute! That’s a big pb and with no taper! With Scotia looming in the near future this race definitely gave me a confidence boost (much needed).
I found the team after I finished. Josh won and was close to a pb which is huge on no taper, solo, and on a much harder course. Heather came in 4th female and won her age group with about a 2min pb! Proud teammates! After the race Josh and I met Sasha for the first time chatting about Skechers, education and running in general.
The next few weeks were a blurr. A few hard training sessions including a 10km tempo at race pace that went really well had me confident in a big new pb. I started my taper and tried to distract myself as the race grew closer.
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon
I went to the race expo on my birthday! Oct.16th I turned 24 – over my running career I’ve done many races on my birthday (mostly xc) and this year worked out to be no different. I knew I’d be celebrating my birthday post-race. Not sure if it was good or bad luck! I headed down with my friend Sara and we met up with Mike at the expo. After a fun drive around the full parking lot, we jumped on the GO train to avoid hectic traffic. The expo was one of the biggest I’ve been to – I was so excited to stop at the Skechers booth to chat with our rep Nick! After a while, I realized my runner language was lost on
my friend Sara and told her we could head out. I grabbed the kits for Josh and I and grabbed all the snacks possible before leaving. A quick stop at Freshii for food and Sara and I headed home. Birthday celebrations continued once Josh arrived with an amazing new running watch Forerunner 225. The day before the race was all about distraction after our prerace shakeout.
We got to Toronto and found Mike and Josh’s brother James after parking. Together we walked over to the race site. I was quite thrown off before the race, after already being cold I learned that we had to drop off our checked baggage by 8am – 45minutes before the race start! This meant changing into our race flats that second and warming up in minimum clothing. I was not pleased! I was freezing the whole warm-up. Before I knew it, it was time to head over to the race start.
As elites, Josh and I were supposed to have a separate entrance into the corral but we couldn’t figure out where it was so we had to squeeze through the corral. I found Mike and just stayed with him since we planned to race together.
The race went out hard. I probably went out too hard like always but since I had already pb’d this year I took this race as an opportunity to just go for it and see if I could run a huge pb. I went out at 3:42’s (Coach wanted me to go out at 3:47’s oops). I have never felt so good as I did in the first half of this race. I felt so amazing, no sign of my effort, so I just let my legs go. After I hit the turn around I remembered why I shouldn’t go out so hard – I died. I slowed down and tried to hold on for dear life. I hit the 15k marker in 1:00 flat and I knew my pb was possible, I just had to hold on. I came across the line in 1:20:41 another 1min pb! I was hoping for sub 120 but 2mins in 1 year is huge! I have never finished a race with absolutely nothing left in my legs before like this. I crossed the line and crawled along with help from Mike picking me up. I was aiming for top 10 female and finished as 6th female overall and 1st in my age-group! Outside of time goals that is amazing to say I placed 6th out of 5500 females. Mike had a huge pb, Josh ran sub 110 almost sub 109! Success all around.
Post race we grabbed food and beers at BierMrket and toured around Toronto. Limped around is more like it! The day after Josh and I took the day off work to relax. Successful season.
Now onto much needed downtime and planning next year. This year wouldn’t have been possible without Skechers Performance giving me everything I needed and more, GRE teammates supporting and motivating me every step of the way and most of all to Josh – coach, fixer of aches and pains, motivator, and partner in crime. To be able to say where I’m at now compared to a few short years ago struggling with running in university is huge.