Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Calgary Marathon

So...I ran the Calgary marathon this past Sunday. Many of you might think that was pretty stupid...didn't this girl just have a race the past two weekends and now she's doing number 3? You might remember a blog posting from me a couple of weeks ago where I listed the races I had planned for the season but with no mention of the marathon! I wasn't entirely sure I was going to do it and wanted to wait and see how I felt after the Sun Mountain 50km before deciding to run the marathon or not. I felt pretty good after Sun Mtn and the few runs I had the week after were good so I figured what the hell! Calgary had a new route this year and I just really wanted to run it! I kept telling myself it's a training run to make sure I didn't do anything stupid like try to kill myself during the bloody thing!

Race morning arrived painfully early with my 5am wake up call and I woke up thinking (as I do on most race mornings), why the hell did I sign up for this? I'm just not a morning person and it takes me a while to wake up and get stoked for a race! It was a cold morning and when Andrew dropped me off at the Stampede grounds where the race was starting this year, I was not happy to get out of the warm truck into the 3ish degrees it was outside. I had a ton of clothes on and I was going to wait until the last possible minute to remove them and go to the bag drop.

Lately i've noticed this thing where i'll use the bathroom about a half hour before the race, think i'm good to go, but then about 10 mins later i'm busting to pee again. It's not a big deal at the start of a trail race as I can duck into the trees anywhere to pee! At a road race it's a little more difficult. The portapotty line was ridiculous...the line ups inside the building where the bag drop off was held was also ridiculous. Finally I just took off across the parking lot to find a few sparse trees/bushes to duck into. I'm sure I flashed some people but it was about 7 mins till race start at this point and the last thing I was worried about was showing someone my ass!

After peeing I booted it over to the crazy busy start and quickly meandered my way up towards the front. Finally I settled in a spot I liked and look at the guy next to me and it's my friend Garrath! I was pumped to see him as I hadn't run into anyone I knew so far. He was going for a 3:10 and considering that's around my PB, I knew I wouldn't be running with him for long. When the gun went off we settled into a decent pace that was just right for a change - not too fast - a nice change from what I often end up doing at the beginning of the marathon.

Pretty much right off the bat I could tell my legs were still feeling heavy and slow from the 50km just a week ago...I looked at my watch and my pace reflected was all over the place jumping from 4:30 min/km to 4:40. I immediately concluded there was no way in hell i would be keeping this pace up for the whole thing. Considering I had signed up for this just as a training run and to have fun, I  had to keep telling myself to chill and not care about the pace I was could I expect to be running fast on tired legs from the past 2 weekends of racing and zero taper. Sheesh. I told Garrath to go on if he wanted to get his 3:10 as I was starting to slow down already...we ran together for maybe 4 or 5km i think before he trotted off ahead.

I settled into an ok pace and it was really just a mental game I was playing with myself...honestly, it would have made a lot more sense to just run without the watch and then I wouldn't have worried about what pace I was doing. I would look at my watch, be shocked at how slow I was running and then get pissed off. Argh! So frustrating to keep doing this!

I think around 11km or so was when the "big climb" of the race was a fairly significant hill actually that went on for quite a while. Surprisingly my climbing legs felt fabulous and I totally just cruised up the hill and passed a load of people...this was one of my favorite moments of the race. I kept thanking myself for being a mountain runner :). I went through a pretty significant low between say 17km and 27km where all I kept thinking why the hell am I doing this....what a stupid idea. Why don't you drop right now? Then I would think, you've never DNF'd'ore not going to start now. I kept fighting with myself like this for these 10 km, it was ridiculous! "You've got nothing to prove, you're tired, just drop"..."but i'm way over in Marda Loop so far from where the race ends, it's cold, if i drop i'm going to have to see if I can borrow a phone from a volunteer to call Andrew to come pick me up". Like I said...ridiculous.

At 27km my friend Matt from work was standing on the side of the road cheering on people...I was pumped to see him and he said I looked good and ran with me for a little bit for a chat. I said I felt like crap and had no idea how this was going to go! From this point on I was just getting myself from km marker to km marker and was starting to get happier as the amount of kms I had left to run decreased.

With about 11km I think to go we came to a significant downhill...running all the way down 14th street to memorial. My legs loved this and had some fun running down for a while. I started feeling better and started passing some people including a couple of girls. A few times throughout the race so far a couple of spectators and yelled out good job, you're in the top 10 females so i was stoked each time a girl would appear and I would try to reel her in. I wasn't sure where in the top 10 I was but knew I wanted to remain there!

With 10km to go I got a boost of energy...realized that at my slowest I could finish these 10 km in 50 mins...piece of cake. This made me so happy and i noticed i started feeling better and could tell my legs were feeling pretty peppy and I was increasing my speed. I was shocked that I was managing 4:30 min/km when I couldn't do this easily in the beginning of the race. I knew I would be finishing my last 10km a lot faster than 50 mins. I kept calculating my predicted marathon time and thought maybe i'd be able to get under 3:17 at this point. Running down Memorial Dr for the last part of the race was such easy running. I've run that route a thousand times....nice and flat...a great way to end a marathon. My legs were feeling great and I was running quick.

With about 5km to go I had caught up to a girl that had passed me earlier and she started chatting to me and asked if I minded her running with me. I didnt care at this point...just wanted to end this race as quick as possible! She was friendly and chatting away with my grunting out my responses and thinking...I can not chat right now, are you kidding me? Then she asked me something that made me laugh out loud..."Are you Ellie Greenwood?". I was like god no, are you kidding? She was like oh, you look like her and if you were her then that means i'm running pretty fast to keep up with her. I was like yeah, I don't look anything like Ellie but thanks for the compliment! I also thought to myself, you're nuts...our marathon time is going to be like a half hour slower than Ellie's!!

Eventually I pushed on from her as I couldn't handle the chattiness anymore and needed some quiet. I had made the mistake of not bringing music for this race as they had stated headphones were banned from the race. Of course I get to the start and everyone and their dog has music on. Doh! Anyhow, I digress. I moved on and managed to catch 2 more women on my way to the finish. I was continuing to pick up the pace and my watch was showing 4:24 min/km. I was excited at how I was running now and the last couple of kms ticked off really quick. There was lots of cheering and people calling out "Go Deb" (since my race bib had my name on it). It was great.

Finally I was heading down the home stretch with the finish line ahead of finished at Stampede Park where the rodeo is held so it was really cool to run down the track with everyone watching up in the stands.  Andrew's parents were visiting as well as his friend and they were all there cheering me as I ran by. I could see the clock ticking and was pumped to see it still said 3:15 and knew I didn't want it to get to 3:16 before I crossed! I took off and managed I think 3:15:45 and was super happy. To have played a mental game with myself all day, stick it out, finish strong, negative split, and finished 7th female overall...was awesome. It wasn't a PB but I hadn't expected was only 6 mins off my PB and I was thrilled. I'm confident that when I decide to stick to marathon training and focus on a certain goal race, I will be able to smash my PB and get closer to that 3 hour marathon!

And now after that brief interlude, we are back to the trails for the rest of the summer! Next up - Fast Trax 50 mile in 2.5 weeks!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sun Mountain 50km

My summer of racing has started with a bang and I'm having a great time so far! Very excited to see how everything will go for me this year! Sun Mountain 50km last weekend was a blast for sure. In a nutshell this is how the first part of my weekend played out...drove to Vernon in about 6 hours on Friday for a quick visit with my brother and fam...ran an easy 9ish km in Kal Park in Vernon on Friday night with Steve to loosen up...ordered in awesome Thai food for supper...Steve and I leave Vernon Saturday morning around 10am for the 4ish hour drive to Winthrop, WA and what seems like in no time we pull into a town looking nothing like what I expected!

Winthrop - old school Western style
 We started wandering around to check out the town and pass this dog tied up outfront of a bookstore. Both of us are staring at this dog and say at the same time, that kind of looks like Roxy (Gary Robbins' dog). She's ignoring us and I say "Roxy!" and she looks up. We turn around and look in the bookstore and lo and behold - Gary Robbins is in there making friends :) Gary and his girlfriend Linda were also running the race...him the 50km like me and Linda the 50mile like Steve! After a brief catch up and meeting a few other runners including Amy Sproston we parted ways, picked up our race bib and headed back to our hotel to chill. We headed out later again for supper and found this restaurant that served some great pizza. I was pretty happy with my pre-race meal!

After getting all our gear ready for the morning it was time for bed...Steve's race started at 7am so we were going to leave around 6ish to drive off to the Sun Mountain trails. Unfortunately there was some rowdy's next door out on the balcony. I thought for sure it was a bunch of teenagers but when Steve checked it out, turns out it was in fact a bunch of old folk! Who knew old people could be so rowdy? We did take comfort in the fact that because they were old, this hopefully meant they would be calling it a night at an earlier hour :) We had the air conditioner going and some ear plugs to help drown the noise and luckily we weren't kept awake too long!

Fast forward to before the 50 mile race start...for some reason I had the racing stomach nerves and I didn't have to race for another 3 hours! It was fun to hang out at the start line with everyone and not getting ready to race yet myself!

Another great photo of me as per usual!  With Steve and Amy (Photo by Matt Hagen)

Steve (yellow) and 50 mile crew getting a pre-race briefing
After they left, I went back to the truck to chill - I had the back set up with a thermarest and sleeping bag to curl up in and read/snooze until 10am rolled around for the 50km! It actually went by fairly quickly and before I knew it, 9am came round and everyone else started pulling up into the parking lot. My race nerves started all over again and I must have had to pee 3 times in that hour before the race, it was ridiculous!

On how the race played out...I'm not going to write a giant race report about it. It was only my 3rd 50km..I still don't know what i'm doing out there...but it definitely makes for an interesting day each time I tackle one of these races. I went through many highs on Sunday where I was having a great day and stoked to be out there.

Photo by Matt Hagen

Of course I went through a couple of lows too...mostly just in the end when there was only a handful of miles to go but we had to do this beast of a climb at the end that went up 1000ft and just kept going and going. I was not a happy camper at this point. What was cool was that I heard someone yell out at me and it was Steve seeing me on  another part of the course...he was finishing up his race and probably had 2 miles left to go from there. I was stoked to see him after all day out there so it was a little boost to get my ass moving and power hike to the top so i could enjoy a nice fun downhill from there.

Steve - looking strong! (Photo by Matt Hagen)
 The last little part seemed to take forever and I was sure I was going to get caught by another female in the end. I was just tired and wanted it to be over already! I wasn't sure if I was the lead female but the last time I passed any woman was at around the 15km mark and I hadn't seen any others since so I was hoping! Finally I started to see some colour through the trees where the finish was set up and then heard some cheering for other runners finishing up. I was so pumped that I was finally there!

I ended up finishing as I had hoped, 1st female overall in around 4:41. Turns out I was also 6th place overall in the race so it was cool to break into the top 10. Steve killed it also and placed 3rd overall in just over 7 hours for the 50 mile and his first race of the year. He's got some great early season training in so far as he gets ready for UTMB at the end of August!

That's it for now, happy running!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm back!

Well hello's been a while hey?...almost 1 year since I blogged last! Wow, how time flies. I'm determined to not let a whole year go by again without posting. I've got a big ass race season planned and I want to write about it! My 2011 season was quite good and yet not a word outta me...sheesh. I even ran my first 50 miler (finished 1st female) and lived to tell about it :)

I guess  my 2012 race season officially began back on St.Paddy's Day when I ran the St.Paddy's Day 10km. I find 10kms so hard and they never get any tough to get the legs moving quick when i'm used to the longer stuff! Anyhow, I managed to come 10th female overall and roughly equalled my PB of 41:20ish. I was super pleased with that...a nice early season race to get me pumped for a nice long Spring/Summer/Fall of racing ahead!

This past weekend I raced the Rocky Mountain Soap Women's half marathon in Canmore. It was a fabulously hilly and tough course but i loved it!! It totally suits me and definitely something I excel at when it comes to running up hills! I wasn't sure how this was going to feel during a speedy half marathon and my main goal was to not go out too fast...the first 3 or 4km have you leaving the Canmore Nordic Centre and running down down down. I didn't want to trash my quads so tried to hold back. I was running with a few other other women off the start and it quickly became myself and another girl named Somer that took the lead. We switched back and forth a couple of times in the beginning till around 5km or so when I decided we were running slower than I would like and decided to pick it up a bit. I figured she would go with me but she didn't and I slowly continued to increase the gap for the rest of the race. Something about running in the lead though...running scared...ugh, hate that feeling! I'm always expecting someone to come out of nowhere and blow by me. That's what I was feeling the whole race even though I couldn't see anyone back there.

It was pretty much an out and back course so at the halfway point i figured i'd do a little timing to see how long it was till I saw the 2nd place was about 1:30 which i figured meant i was around 3 mins ahead. Not too bad. I was hurting a little at this point but on the way back I was meeting everyone that was behind me and I was getting cheers from was great and was really motivating. I tried to say good job to everyone as much as I could but yeah I was feeling a little rough. I took my second gel at around 16km and it was a huge pick me up. I was ready to roll for the last 5 km and was pumped to get this race overwith and hopefully win! When I got to the 18km point my quads were so beat and I knew I had a lot of uphill left to go as I remembered how fast I ran down this in the beginning. I pushed on and the remaining kms surprisingly went by pretty quick. I finished up at the Nordic Centre in 1:31:06, only 1 min off my half PB on a flat course, and super pumped with my first victory of the season! Hopefully that's a sign of good things to come :)

Up next is the Sun Mountain 50km this weekend in Washington. I'm pretty stoked, should be fun! My brother is running the 50 mile and yeah I really don't think i'm there yet! A 50km is enough for me right now! After that I'm doing the Fast Trax 50 mile in Edmonton in mid June - not much in the way of elevation in that race but I figured it'll be a good training run building up time on my feet. Following that will be Rundles Revenge 50km in Canmore that I ran last year and placed 2nd female in.

In July i'm taking part in a relay in the Sinister 7 (146km) - not sure which leg I'll be running yet but i'm flipping pumped for this race! I may do the whole thing solo next year so we'll see how the relay goes! My other race in July is the Powderface 42 which I haven't raced since 2009 when I placed 3rd female. I like that course, it's pretty dang tough and another good training race.

These races are all leading me to my big one for the summer...the Canadian Death Race baby, in Grand Cache! After following my brother on twitter last year while he raced it and killed it, finishing in 4th, I knew that it was going to be my goal race for 2012. 125km will be my longest race ever so i've got lots of running to do! A month after Death Race, I've signed up to do the Lost Souls Ultra 100km in Lethbridge in early September. I've always wanted to do this race and it's usually sold out by the time I get around to looking into it.

So yeah that's it...kind of sounds like a lot of races once you write them all down. I'm excited. It's gonna be great!

Stay tuned for more blogging...I promise! :)