And so after Muskoka 70.3 I took the time to rest and let the legs get into a new groove. I still ran a few times a week, but the volume did not exceed 38km and 7.5h of training in total per week, including a bike ride here and there, one swim and a strength training workout. Most runs with the exception of a hard 15k (race pace less 20sec/km) a week before the race, were all "easy pace", although I managed to stay under 6min/km each time, and more or less in Z2, by some mystery of physiology. However, halfway during the month, I started having these weird pains in my knees. Shooting pain from all angles, but they would not last more than 2-3 minutes at a time. After I finished running, my knees would get really hot and pulse for almost an hour. A few days before the race I finally went to see my massage therapist who told me that my knees were ok, but my hips, IT bands and hamstrings were all extremely tight, and that they were pulling on the knee tendons from all sides. I just had to stretch more often and keep applying ice. So what did I do? I freaked out, of course.
I cancelled all remaining workouts for the week and put my feet up in the hope of giving them as much rest as I could. The one thing that I could not fathom, was to DNF on a race "for fun". On Friday, when the time came to drive to the cottage that we rented for the weekend, I was totally unprepared. I had not even packed. I rushed home from work and managed to get our bags ready in a record time (by my standards anyway) and one hour later we were on our way, direction Wellington, PEC.
Once arrived at destination, we settled in, then I left the boys watch TV and I headed over to another one of the cottages on the property, where Nicole and 25 of her girlfriends were #retreat-ing in style, a yearly tradition from what I've heard. I had a drink and tried to keep my mind occupied until time came to call it a night. Riri 1- Irrational Fear 0. Thank you, pear cider.
The next morning we went on a little adventure in Sandbanks Provincial Park, the site of long sandy beaches and a very still and peaceful Lake Ontario, both desert at this time of the year. We all walked on the beach and enjoyed these moments of pure bliss, which filled our minds with much happier memories than 10 years ago when we last visited the place (my then 18 months old son broke his elbow 30 minutes after arriving at the campground).
|The beach looks like a best kept secret|
|Not much changed in 10 years|
|I think I like it here|
|The Beach Boys|
|The Crystal Palace, Picton|
|A lovely barn that is|
|Look at that big ass medal!!|
|The T-shirt parade|
|A plaque for the regulars ;-)|
I went to bed at 10:30pm, worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep well. But to my surprise, it was quite the uneventful night. Woke up at 6am, had a shower, ate a banana, then Nicole came to pick us up at 7am so we can drive back to Picton where the buses were going to take us to the start of the half marathon. Did I mention that it was pouring outside? I knew it was going to be a rainy day, so I decided to wear my grey Muskoka finisher tshirt and my running skirt, with the tri short underneath. We can change our colors, but we're still triathletes at heart. ;-) And to finish the metaphor of my outfit, I opted for my compression rainbow socks, because you know, after the rain, the rainbow... get it? ;-) A bit of voodoo magic, hoping for the sun to come out eventually.
In Picton we stopped at Tim Hortons for breakfast. Our race start was going to be at 10am, which was a bit tricky food wise. I had a bagel with cream cheese and an orange juice. I was on the fence about buying something sweet but I wasn't really feeling like eating more junk. So when Nicole offered an apple, I happily accepted it.
It was cold and damp outside, but by this time the rain had stopped. I was however glad that I had chosen to wear a throw away sweater since it was very chilly and my Raynaud's was acting up already. Nicole came to the rescue once more and gave me a pair of gloves!! Isn't she an angel, this girl?! Once I put them on, I felt a million times better. Can't you tell? Here we are playing with the spirits and exorcising the race demons with one silly pose at a time.
|It just felt like the right thing to do|
|I did something naughty|
|Turning a corner|
|And on your right, Lake Ontario.|
|This feels just magical|
We changed into dry clothes, then we all ate our post race food, including beer from a local brewery. Since we had to go back to the cottage for the check out, we didn't spend too much time with the other runners, but I would have liked to be there when James got his plaque for having run all 10 editions of the event. I bet he must be a local celebrity by now. And so we got back to the cottage, cleaned up and packed, then by 3pm started our drive back to Toronto. Thankfully we had no traffic and 3h later we were pulling into our driveway.
In the end, I can only say great things about this race. It's a small event, given the number of participants, but a big deal for the locals. The organization, swag, food, volunteers, water stations were all just perfect. Plus, this is an official Boston qualifier race for those who do the full, in a beautiful setting and 95% flat. You cannot ask for more from a race. Definitely on my shortlist for future marathons and favorite races to do over and over again.
It was a lot of fun to run this race with hubbs and great friends around! Thank you and congrats to all!