Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yonge St.10K Race Report

Not many news in the past weeks, I know, but I've been super busy with work and travel and after the Paris Marathon it took 5 more days until I put foot back down on Canuck soil. Good news is that I recovered super fast - for 3 days after I was quite slow walking and especially going up and down the stairs, but by the end of the week I was feeling really great and went for my first recovery run on Friday. Then on Sunday, BAM! another race for which I had signed up in December, the Toronto Yonge St. 10K.

I've always wanted to run down Yonge St, the equivalent of Champs Elysees in Toronto, so I jumped at this opportunity when I was presented with the super early bird price last year. It's just that I hadn't planned to run a marathon a week earlier, that would have been quite a silly move. Well, there I was though, ready to rock and roll. On Saturday I had to go to the French Consulate to vote in the presidential election anyway, so I took a stroll after the vote down Yonge St to pick up the race kit. That was quickly done then I returned home where I rested my bones and kept making plans about driving to the race the next day.

I ended up driving to the start rather than the arrival because I preferred to rely on public transportation without the pressure of time. I parked in one of the best hidden parking lots that I knew which was a few hundred meters from the start and spent about 30 min in a Starbucks sipping a mocha. It was cold, brrrr, just 4 Celsius. I still had one hour to waste, so I went back to the car, dropped my second pair of pants that I was wearing on top of the running tights, then walked my way to the corrals. I was in the green corral, but waited until 15 min before the start to move into my spot as I was trying to time the emptying of my bladder just right.

Operation portapotty successful, then I moved to the front of my corral as I was expecting to be a tad faster than I had planned at the end of the previous year. My corral started running 6 minutes after the gun time at 9:06am and from then on, it was all schuss. Compared to the previous race, this one went by like a blink of an eye. My Runkeeper was telling me that I was running some incredible 5-and-something pace, so I didn't pay too much attention, I thought it was all GPS bounce, after all, it was clearly ahead of the official km markers. I paced myself after another girl in short shorts a few leg lengths ahead of me and took in the energy of the race as much as I could without stressing about my finish time. I was pretty sure I'd finish under 1h and that was all that mattered. I passed the girl around km 7 when she stopped for a drink and I didn't see her again after, I imagined that I had become her pacer for a change.

I tried to speed up and race my lungs out in the last 2k, but I definitely did not want to go all out. I could see the finish line way ahead and that motivated me to stay strong and do my best time ever, 53:49 for an average pace of 5:15min/km. NO idea where that came from, but I take it. :-) I blame it all on the incline, that, and my shin splints the 4 days that followed. I don't even know what to do with this time, it still sounds surreal. I'll definitely keep it in mind for future downhill races. For now, I pat myself on the back for not snapping a tendon, twisting an ankle or popping out a knee.

And that's about it... After crossing the finish line I drank a few cups of water, had my official picture taken, then walked back to the streetcar that took me to the subway, that took me to my car, that took me back to my home and to my couch. I didn't see the party nor the food. I was in my own la-la land, bathing in another bucket of endorphins. Maybe I should stop racing for a while, I think I am becoming a junkie. Well, one more push, the Mississauga Marathon on May 6, that is now 8 days away, YIKES!!

Runkeeper Link.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Where's Riri?

Almost 35,000 souls took the start at the Paris Marathon. I was one of them. Still happy beyond my ears. Can you see me?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Accidental Marathoner: Paris Marathon Race Report

My work requires me to travel occasionally so it happened that I was asked to go to Europe to attend a series of business meetings on Monday-Wednesday of this week. Since the meetings were in London, UK, I decided to take this opportunity and leave before the weekend so I could stop in Paris, France to visit my mom and my best friend. The marathon I had signed up for was on May 6, therefore I had a 3h long run scheduled for Sunday. Prior to leaving, I had looked for places to run in Paris and finally settled on a route along the Seine and back for about 27km or so. Happy with my plans, I embarked on this journey with a small suitcase whose half contents were dedicated to this run: tights, 2 technical t-shirts, cap, shoes, socks, body glide, anti-chaffing pads, fuel belt, band-aids, energy gels and even an ice pack. The whole paraphernalia, right?

I managed to get upgraded to business class and since I was unable to sleep the whole flight, I started chatting with the flight attendants who were showing interest in my running hobby. As soon as they heard about my plans though, they told me that the Paris Marathon was going to take over the city on Sunday and that I was going to have a problem running along the Seine since the marathon route was also following the Seine. I went whaaaat, no way! And dang!! What to do? I wasn’t going to invent another route because that was making my brain hurt too much, so on the moment I settled with the idea that I might be able to run with the marathoners. After all, I had all my supplies and I was only going to do 27k, no harm in that... Alas once I got to my mom’s place and started reading the forums about the possibility of running without a bib, my hopes vanished. Personally, I have better things to do when I race, but according to the masses, running along the Champs Elysees without paying for this privilege, it’s a big no-no and people get upset, including organizers who may throw you out. Okay, I can understand, but how do I get to run my 3h then? No way I was going to skip it, my marathon training schedule was already tight with only 3 weeks before the race and no run over 2.5h thus far (this year anyway).

Alright, someone suggested that I may find a bib on eBay. Plenty of injured souls were indeed trying to get back some of their investment, so I started sending emails to the sellers, working my way up from the cheapest to the most expensive, hoping for an answer as soon as possible. 3 emails later, I get an answer for a bib available for 40 EUR. That was acceptable and within the hour I met with the seller and was in the possession of a legitimate entry to the Paris Marathon.

And then the battle of the neurons started. The WHAT IF I CAN DO IT was stronger than I SHOULD NOT DO THIS and the opportunity of running in Paris, my second home, was all of a sudden too good to give up. All I needed was some moral support and being convinced that I would regret if I was not going to run it. Many of my friends and family said that I should go for it, so eventually my brain gave in this thought and I went to sleep with a MISSION, to finish my first marathon and make my mom, my husband and kids, my friend, my coach and all those who supported me in this long journey, PROUD.

Woke up at 6:45am, had a good breakfast (2 boiled eggs, bread, cheese, ham and some home baked cheese pie), prepared 2 water bottles and one of pickle juice for my fuel belt. I was going to take a risk with the juice, but it was not going to be the only one that day after all.

My mom came with me to the starting line and after wrestling with a few hundreds of people to get in my purple corral (the bib was for a 3h45 estimated time, obviously not mine), I started waiting for the gun. I, for one, was READY. 8:45am came and the elites went, then the reds, then us purples about 15 minutes later. My heart monitor was undecided whether I had already flatlined or turned into The Flash, so I gave up on it with the hope that I would be able to assess my exertion without it. My coach Dave said that I should stay under 165bpm (my max is around 190) for the first half to keep enough fuel in the tank, so I knew I had to start slow. Not so easy with all the excitement around, but after about 1-2km, my heart monitor decided to cooperate after all, so I began to concentrate on the task at hand. Pace was going to be around 6:20 min/km in order to stay on target and I had no problems keeping it up for the first 10-15km. I also stayed on track with nutrition and fuelling, drinking my water and eating 2-3 GU chomps each 5k. I had my first half banana at km 15, then another one at km 25. Between km 27 and 31 I drank my entire bottle of pickle juice, then had 2 glasses of Powerade at km 35 and a few more GU chomps.

Vitals and speed stayed constant, my happiness and my willingness to finish, propelling me forward and even giving me wings to pick up the pace in the last 5k so I finish under 6:30 min/km, goal that I gave myself after receiving a huge hug from my friend Frederique at km 30. Mom was also there to cheer me on at km 35, but by then I had started the countdown and all I could hear in my head was 5...focus... 4...focus... 3...focus... 2...focus... 1...let it fly... THE END!

It all felt like a very long run in the park, took quite a few pictures and overall enjoyed the experience much more than I thought, thanks to the lack of pain or other annoying problems, I suppose. For the most part I don’t remember what played in my earphones, the Parisians were certainly a very loud bunch and their drums and cheering voices were louder than my music. I do remember, however, “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West playing around km 36 when I realized that I was most likely going to finish, and it made me extra happy.

 After crossing the finish line, we received a yellow t-shirt, a cutesy yellow medal in the shape of a yellow t-shirt ( be “different”?), a blue poncho and some food which I don’t remember eating. I think it was another half a banana and a bottle of Powerade which I saved for later. I couldn’t stomach anything else anyway and I could barely move my legs. The walk out of the runners’ area seemed endless, so many people around, not even funny. Of course, with over 32,000 runners crossing the finish line, it was quite the mayhem, but after 30 more minutes of snail-walking, I made it out of there alive.

After reuniting with my mom and my friend, we then went to a restaurant near the Arche de Triomphe for a celebratory lunch where I had duck meat and mashed potatoes and a pint of beer. Then we hopped in the subway and went home where I gave my legs a cold bath, murdered my glorious blisters, then died on the couch for the rest of the day.

In the end, all I can say is that this has been one of the craziest things I’ve ever done in my life. I went to run a marathon on a whim, what the hell, carpe diem! Jetlagged, without taper and full preparation, I, however, finished strong and that had always been my dream goal. There is nothing else that I could ask for now, I feel content and I think it would be silly to run another full marathon on May 6. Not sure yet what to do about that one, maybe I will change it to a half. But for now, I need to rest these legs because I have a 10k race coming this next Sunday down Yonge Street which I am not going to give up for having signed up for a long time, and I am rather excited about it. Will take it easy for sure, enjoying the Toronto crowds for a change J.

Moral of the story: if you know you’re ready, seize the day!

Official times:
Official place:22123rd
Category place:9536th
Official time:04:50:25
Split at 5 KM:00:31:48
Split at 10 KM:01:04:12
Split at 15 KM:01:36:37
Split at 21,1 KM:02:16:14
Split at 25 KM:02:41:41
Split at 30 KM:03:15:10
Split at 35 KM:03:49:12

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ready, action, swim!

Back with a swimming update. My technique can use some improvements as this is just the second time that I'm seeing myself in action, but I'm definitely feeling much more confident in the water. I focussed on breathing a lot and my bilateral breathing is better than before. I do end up with water in my mouth sometimes, but I no longer panic like before. Things to work on are definitely reaching forward and gliding more and relax my head in the water. I think I'm going to buy myself one of these timers so I work on decreasing the stroke count. It feels like I do a lot of strokes in that 25m pool, but I'm not that tall either... Anyhow, feeling and seeing improvements makes me happy. Below are the two videos that the friendly lifeguard took of me on 2 consecutive lengths.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Food for thought

For the first time since we crossed the Atlantic to live on the North American continent, we made CUPCAKES! We have been no strangers to the fake muffin concept, but taking that extra step in buying fake icing and coloring it with more fake stuff was that one last step to take to cross to the "dark side" as one of my friends said. We are now totally assimilated.

I don't plan on making those very often, but once in a while, they are worthwhile the smiles.

How does this post fit in a health and fitness blog? Well, I counted 185cal for each cupcake, so that equals to either one of the activities below:
  • 15min of running at 6mph
  • 20min of cycling 12-14mph
  • 25min of jogging
  • 30min of moderate swimming
  • 50min of intercourse
Food for thought. I ate 2 so far. Off to do some math :-D

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The fun goes round and round and round

Tomorrow I had scheduled a 2.5h long run, so I was reluctant to add another "workout" to my crowded week and actual rest day, but it was too tempting!! It definitely sounded and looked like a lot of fun, so Easter Holiday oblige, we took the boys and we went to Scooters' Roller Palace in Mississauga for a few hours of "old skool" roller skating on quads. Afterall, rolling shouldn't use that many muscle groups, right? (boy, I was wrong!). See, in my younger years I used to be a "roller-girl", working for a supermarket in France where they had this system in which for each price tag mismatch or other issue discovered by the cashier, they would call the "central terminal" who would then dispatch a "roller-girl" or "roller-boy" to go in the aisles and check on the price or exchange items and bring them back to the cashier. I did that for about 3 years while I was studying in university and I learned to roller skate pretty well down those aisles thanks to spending at least 3h daily on skates and participating to a good number of after hours races (*cough cough* don't tell them, ok?). Ok, so that was.... um... over 15 years ago. Guess what, I never roller skated since. Quite the shame, I know. Anyhow, like riding a bike I guess, roller skating is something you never forget because after just 5 minutes on those quads, I was fully in my element. Great music, lights and a big smooth surface and off I started going in circles to no end. We skated for about 1h10min in total with a lunch break in the middle and finally called it a day when we started feeling blisters under our toes. We measured the rink and the time it took us to go around and we figured that, for doing about 250m in a minute, we ended up skating for about 17.5km today. I will put this under cross-training, mmmkaaay? It was the perfect way to add the well needed fun to this long weekend. I can't wait to go back!! Pictures after the break.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Step Ahead

Last weekend I was invited by Carol and Chris to participate to another "Step Ahead" podcast with the goal of  talking about Around the Bay and a piece of sad news, the passing of Micah True aka Caballo Blanco, legendary ultrarunner whose story was the subject of the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. You can listen to the podcast by following this link. I had a lot of fun recording this podcast with Carol. I am starting to feel more comfortable behind the mic, but I really hope is that I don't sound like a doofus too much. I'll leave it up to you :-).

My MOJO is Back!

This has been a GREAT week. I don't want to jinx it because the Mississauga Marathon is now in less than 30 days and I am watching every single one of my tendons for signs of fatigue, but I cannot help it and give props  to my body for not hating me these days. My coach has now increased my mileage to what are going to be the toughest two weeks before the marathon (2.5h run this Sunday, 3h the next), then I have a 10k race and a week of taper. Nothing can go wrong now or I'm gonna lose IT!!

Here's an example of what I did in the past week:

Sunday - 30min run
Monday - 1h brick (30min bike, 30min run)
Tuesday - speed intervals (35min)
Wednesday - 1.5km swim
Thursday - 1.5h run
Friday - 45min run

Tomorrow REST. Yay!

Worth mentioning before ending this post is that for the first time I swam like a fish in a bowl on Wednesday and I didn't want it to stop. I used a buoy between my legs for most of the workout so I can concentrate on form and force my legs to stop kicking like crazy. I realized that the kicking is what slows me down for making me exhausted after 50m. Almost no kicking and I felt like I could go on for hours! The only part of my body that didn't agree with me was my ring finger on my left hand. Go figure, but it started cramping after 1km. I need to relax my fingers now? That's going to be tough.

I even tried to get footage of this prowess but alas I forgot to put my camera on video mode and all I got was 2 blurry pictures as the young lifeguard who volunteered had no iPhone experience. Oh well, maybe next time. Here's the last photo that was supposed to be "stop recording". I like it even if it's crappy. That smile says it all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Running in the family

In the past month we went from 1 runner in the household to 4. Something clicked and I couldn't be happier about it. It all started with Around the Bay, where hubbs volunteered to replace my injured teammate. We know how great he did by running 15k in about 1h25. He's now started going out on runs by himself or with me, like when we went to a soccer game downtown Toronto and we parked our car 5km away from the stadium. We walked to the game, we came back running together, it was really awesome. His commitment is to continue on his weight loss goal (he's lost 50lb since November!), get faster and of maybe run some more races .

Then my younger son, who's 10, said he wanted to make the running club this year. The school held trials over 2 days and he made it!! Attaboy! Now he challenges me in runs when I go out and since he's running in front of me, I can watch his foot strike and I can tell he's also a natural. Great mid-foot strike, he'll go far, hopefully without injuries. During the weekend, we went and bought him sneakers and we found some great Nike that are rather on the minimalistic side. It didn't seem to matter to my son, he already thinks these are the greatest running shoes ever!

Last but not least, I suggested both my boys to participate in this year's "Marafun" that will take place at the same time as the Mississauga Marathon which I will be running this coming May 6. The rule is that they need to accumulate running 40k over a period of 6 weeks and run 2k during the marathon. My older son, who is 12, created a Runkeeper account and is now tracking his runs as well. We already had a running session last week after they went to their fitness bootcamp, which is almost 3km away from home. Since it was a beautiful day, they agreed to come back by running instead of me going to pick them up as usual. I took my bike and waited for them at each km with water and to check on their vitals :-) They did just fine, no need for assistance. After a week of small and long runs, they met their goal. I think we're going to do this every week, at least until the Marafun, so they can meet their mileage requirement. And who knows, it may stick with both in the long run.

In the end, they all made my week!! I'm a happy runners' wife and mom!