SHOP (2)

Chase the Coyote

I have managed to make it to Wednesday. Not to be dramatic or anything, but this is the first time I have ever attempted to go caffeine-free. I will be honest, I am addicted and the headaches are not fun but I have been getting some SOLID nights of sleep because I am not fuelling with “liquid sleep” to get through busy evenings. If you just tuned in now, you can read this post to see what this no-coffee madness means.

Caffeinated days

Caffeinated days

To get my mind off caffeine deprivation, let’s talk races. Specifically the type of races that I like. Although I love the hype of big races, I am a huge fan of the small, independent races. I like the community feel and the unique prizes. I like the fact that they are often hidden gems in the running community and I often feel like a running hipster, trying to protect them before they go mainstream.

The Endurrun is one of those races. (Don’t run the whole thing yet! I want to in 2016…) I am racing stage 7 this weekend and I love the food, the family feel and the people at the races.

Another race that I have stumbled upon that I really don’t want to tell you about called Chase the Coyote. Probably one of the coolest race concepts I have ever seen, it has layers of fun for your enjoyment.

The race: Held in Orangeville, ON, it is a gorgeous trail race offering two different distances depending on your level of comfort on trails.

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The Sprint: An easy, non-technical 5.7 km course to test out this whole trail running thing or to get your FASTEST trail race ever.

The Challenge: As challenging as the race directors could possibly make it full of cliff sides, roller coaster single track, slopes and stairs and the occasional vista (but you won’t be stopping for it anyways.)

Here is where things get crazy and they start speaking my language. Sign up for the Time Challenge and any male that can complete the 14.4 km loop in under an hour and any female who can do it in less than 70 minutes will receive a special “I Beat the Coyote” prize to be revealed on race day. Also, they introduced some shiny new medals this year and I don’t know about you, but I am excited to have this one join my collection:

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When: Saturday, September 27, 2014

Where: Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Details: Early bird pricing ($40 for Challenge, $35 for sprint) ends on August 31. Next level pricing is $45/$40)

Whether you are there to chase the coyote or to beat the coyote, this race is stark, raving awesome. I am planning on heading up to the course before the race to test it out and I would be happy to have you join me. Email me at lacesandlattes[a]gmail.com if you have any questions.

What is your favourite race and why?
Ever given up caffeine for an extended period of time? How did you cope?!

SHOP (2)

The Week Before The Marathon

Well hello friends. Now THIS was a beautiful weekend! The weather was perfect for racing which is exactly what I did! I was at the Albion Hills Conservation area for the 5 Peaks race. I will do a full recap on Friday along with a shoe review of the new New Balance trail shoe!

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Right now, I am coasting into the last week before my marathon and the goal is to do as little as possible, aside from a few runs to keep fresh and keep my legs spinning at a good cadence. I am racing Stage 7 at the Endurrun for the H+P Girls team. I have worked hard to build my milage, incorporate tempo and interval workouts and take a weekly rest day. Now that I am one week away from the marathon, here is what I am planning on doing.

Golfing: I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am doing light exercise and stretches that keep my limber. I have a golf tournament with work this week and I am planning on riding in the golf cart instead of walking the holes which is what I normally do.

Light running: Emphasis on the light. I tend to over train so I am trying to go for short runs and nothing more. I have done the work, the most important thing I can do at this point is rest. I am running the same amount of days in training, I just am decreasing the distance and focusing on quality over quantity.

Sleep: I am planning on spending the time that I would have spent training in bed sleeping instead. Fingers crossed that it will actually happen.

One session with a tempo pace: It is important to get your legs ready to punch out that high gear. I am planning to do an easier run on Thursday with 1-2 KM at race pace.

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Playing with my food: Until Thursday, I will focusing on eating low carb to optimize fat burning for the race and I will also be cutting out caffeine so I have a super natural jolt the morning of the race. So basically, life will be bleak until Thursday when I start upping carbs. Glycogen stores are something that are built up over time so 3 days out, I will be adding more rice, sweet potatoes and healthy carbs to my diet. I will be focusing on making carbs 80-90% of my intake with the last couple days being low in fibre. The day before the race, it will be simple carbs to make sure my glycogen stores are topped up.

Water: I will be making sure to stay hydrated as I sloth around this week. I want to make sure that I make it to race day with a full tank and feeling well. This is NOT a fast or easy marathon course and I want to do as well as I can.

Skipping strength training. There will be no muscular gains for me this week. Focusing on a full rest for muscles. 

What did you do this weekend?

Have you run a marathon? What are the best and worst things you did one week out?

SHOP (1)

Race Report: Michigan Adventure Race

Three cheers for Friday! It is the last weekend before my marathon (so hard to believe) and to celebrate my taper, I’m doing a race (5 Peaks Albion Hills Enduro distance) and I am looking forward to being reunited with my trail buddies. Other than that, I doing a movie night with friends, a brunch and taking a Jays game. It is so bizarre to have free time to socialize now that my training is easing up a bit. I do not hate it! (For those of you who I told that I would rest instead of socializing, that will be next week. :P)

Ok, I was getting a lot of requests for this recap (warning…it’s a lengthy one!). Last weekend, I travelled to stay with my dear friend, Kim in Michigan for an adventure race.

I LOVE this lady. Looking forward to trekking the Rockies with her next summer!

I LOVE this lady. Looking forward to trekking the Rockies with her next summer!

I love to get down to Grand Rapids area whenever I can because I adore the trails in the area. Switchback Endurance does an amazing race series and you can see some of the races I have done here and here. The last time I was down for a race, we all were out for dinner afterwards and Michelle, my team mate, joined us and said “All I want is an endurance athlete who can keep up with me so I can practice my orienteering.”

She gave me a side glance and I didn’t even hesitate. I signed up that week and began doing a bit of training on the water and mountain bike to prep myself. I have been known to just launch myself into things before and this was no difference. I think I have a bit of overconfidence in my abilities. What do I mean? The first two times I went golfing, I played a tournaments. The first two times I went mountain biking, I was in races. I went from running 7 miles to my first ultramarathon. I just have a bit of an overconfidence in my abilities combined with a risk seeking personality. It is a bit of a lethal combination but it keeps my life full of adventure.

What is an Adventure Race?

Adventure Racing is a combination of two or more endurance disciplines, including orienteering, trail running, mountain biking, paddling and climbing. An expedition event can span ten days or more while sprints can be completed in a matter of hours. There is no suspension of the clock in races, irrespective of length; elapsed competition time runs concurrently to real time and competitors chose if and when to rest.

Basic Gear: (I am keeping this basic because the actual list of gear is extensive!)

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You are given a waterproof passport that has numbers corresponding to check points that are punched with stamps.
Mountain Bike and associated gear
Canoe and associated gear
Orienteering Maps
Compass
Hydration pack
Nutrition

Key Rules:
The cut off time is final. If you are late, you are disqualified.
If you lose your passport, you are disqualified.


instructions

Adventure Racing Lengths
Sprint: 2- 6 hours
12 HR – 6 – 12 HR
24 HR – 18 – 30 hours
Multi Day – 26 – 48+ hr
Expedition – 2 – 11 day

The race I participated in, the Michigan EPIC edition was technically considered a 12 hr, although it was only 8 hrs. We arrived at the race location at 6 am and dropped off our bikes and canoes.

Grainy, dark early morning picture of the transition area

Grainy, dark early morning picture of the transition area

The way an adventure race works is that you do not know where the check points are ahead of time. At the race briefing, they hand out the race maps and check point hints and the teams get to work on strategizing and water proofing the maps.

Kim and her team mate strategizing the course.

Kim and her team mate strategizing the course.

At 8:40, we were off. Well, everyone else was. My team mate and I needed to run a few items back to the vehicle and had a late start. We ran a mile or so to the water and grabbed the canoe for the first portion of the race: the 6 mile paddle. There may have been a canoe accident and Michelle broke her carbon paddle. This was quickly rectified by a helpful racer who offered us his extra paddle.

There were 3 check points on the river and this portion took us about 1.5 hours. I am not a strong water athlete so this was a good challenge for me.

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We transitioned to mountain bikes at around 10:10 and headed to the trails. I am not going to lie, there were some very scary portions of this for me. I am not an avid mountain biker and although I have the physical fitness, I do not have the technical skills that made the steep terrain and sand easy to manoeuvre. Every time we hit gravel or paved road, I would take off like a shot to get the next check point, but it was less comfortable on the trails. Certainly something to work on for the future. I only took one nasty fall after flying down a steep hill and hitting a rock and sand patch which pitched me over the edge. I was able to scramble back up on my bike, but my confidence was shaken a bit.

Throughout the day, we travelled by mountain bike or on foot, gathering check points from 4 of 5 local wild areas. About 2 hours into the ride, Michelle’s back tire went flat and we lost about 30 minutes changing that. We were clear in communicating and reminding each other to eat. There were some super fun areas where I needed to do intense river crossings to get the check points, which looked like this:

Example of a checkpoint. The red thing hanging down was the stamp for the passport.

Example of a checkpoint. The red thing hanging down was the stamp for the passport.

Around 7 hours, I was starting to fade. I missed a check point and needed to scramble back up the hill. I split open my big toe nail and was in a lot of pain. Michelle was getting tired as well, but we managed to keep moral and kept chasing check points hard. We arrived back to the race location with barely a moment to spare and dropped the bikes and shared our stories with fellow racers.

What I learned about adventure racing:

  • The people are incredibly generous and kind. Like most of the endurance community, they would give you the shirt off their backs to help you.
  • It is absolutely necessary to remain calm and collected. Things WILL go wrong but if it is out of your control, you need to let them slide off your back and be kind to your team mate if you are doing a team race.
  • It is important to clearly communicate. After every checkpoint, I went through a check list of items with Michelle to make sure we were on track. It saved us from missing anything.
  • Eat and drink whenever you can. You are burning more calories than you realize and as the day wears on, it is easy to bonk.

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Speaking of food, it is important to chat about nutrition on a race like this. You want a nice mixture of sweet and salty and a number of adventure racing veterans suggested eating every hour.

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I tried my best to keep up with this and this is a run down of the fuel that I used in my race:

Genuine Health – I do most of my sports supplements with Genuine Health. I drank a pre-race ActivFuel to prepare me for the race and had my favourite protein bar in the bag for mid-day. I also finish every endurance race or training session with almond milk and their chocolate protein powder.
Nuun – I train and race with Nuun Hydration. They have no sugar and a nice mixture of electrolytes and sodium. I had two tablets of tropical flavour in my bag mixed with a Nuun Energy tablet for some caffeine.
Skout Organic – Skout is a new-to-me company that was perfect for this race. It is perfect food for adventure racing and exploring. I had the trail bar which is certified organic, gluten free and few ingredients including oats and dates. I also had a package of their organic pumpkin seeds with sea salt. I will be using these in my ultra marathons in the future, including my Transrockies 120 miler next summer.

skout
Snickers – Person after person touted Snickers as a fun snack to have in case you couldn’t eat anything else. I had no problem with my other nuts, fruit and bars so I stuck to that, but I am sure this is an awesome energy surge!
Justins Almond Butter Packs – these guys were perfect little “gel packs”. It was a substantial enough fuel to fill me up but small enough that I could take it while mountain biking on the trail.
Apples – Nothing is better than crunching on a good apple while strategizing your next check point.

I was happy to have a steady source of energy and was happy with the fuel sources I chose.
I was absolutely shocked when we were announced as the female winners! I knew we tried our utmost, but there was a strong field of female adventure racers out and it was an honour to win.

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I think it was a great balance of a fantastic team mate, being in good shape and having beginners luck! I have been asked to crew a couple adventure races coming up this fall so I am excited to learn the ins and outs of this sport.

winners

Have you ever done an adventure race? Which one and how did it go?

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Janji – Run for Another

This week feels crazy short thanks to a Canadian holiday on Monday. I hit the ground running at the office this week and am playing catch up after about 6 days off. An hour into getting back into the office, I was making a presentation to senior management. I still feel as if I am doing a “fake it till you make it” in my new position, but I am seriously loving every second.

Especially because the occasional day at work looks like this:

Jessica

Or this:

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Speaking of finding things that just FIT you, I wanted to talk a little bit about a gem of a company that I stumbled upon and fell in love with.

Janji is a socially conscious running clothing company dedicated to fighting the global food and water crisis. Based in Boston, Janji sells running shirts and shorts designed based on the flags of developing countries.

For me, running is based on so much more than just me, which is why I train with a team. My team mates are not just my running partners, they are my friends, which is why you are just as likely to find me cliff jumping or tearing up a dance floor with them as running alongside them on the trails. Running is about friendship.

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Spending the afternoon at the water with team mates.

Running is also about inspiration and making a difference. When I ran my first ultramarathon in 2010, I dedicated it to my sister and her decade long struggle with anorexia. I think at the time, I thought that if I ran it, then she could beat the disorder. Although the act of running didn’t heal her, I think it healed me in a way because it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I run because even though it doesn’t make a difference, it brings hope.

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I wore a bib attached to my shirt that read “For Jolene: You are STRONGER than you think.”

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Highly emotional photo for me. My other sister and father surprised me at the finish line to support me in my race and my statement for our family.

And Janji gives me a way to actually give back to people just by running. The latest shirt I ordered gave one year of drinking water to a person in Tanzania. Not only is it a quality running shirt with a rocking style, but it is making a difference in the lives of other people, which is at the heart of why I run.

Proceeds fund MSABI’s deep-water well projects throughout Tanzania, that help make drinking water safer and more accessible for Tanzanians. By supporting MSABI’s efforts to build sustainable and durable water wells, we can give the people of Tanzania the clean water they need.

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Want one too? Janji is offering a 20% discount to readers. Just enter the discount code: laces&lattes. Make me jealous and let me know what you order!

I would love for you to join me in my next run with another company that values community and sustainability. I am racing the Albion Hills 5 Peaks race this weekend and I have a discount code to share with you if you are interested in racing it with me.

Who or what do you run for?

SHOP (1)

Goal Setting for August

Hi friends! Happy holiday Monday to my Canadian readers! I got in late last night from Michigan – I spent a sun-soaked day running trails and lounging by the lake before heading home in the evening so I am posting this a little later than normal.

I did my first adventure race this weekend in Ada, Michigan and it was quite the wild ride. I will be posting a full recap on Friday because today I am tackling my goals for the next month and taking a look at how I did in July. 

1. Prepare for my marathon in 7 weeks. A++

Honestly, I feel like I have done little else other than working and a few side projects over the past 4 weeks. I am crossing my fingers that I will do well. I feel strong, trained and fully confident that although it will hurt, I will be able to hold things together. I am 2 weeks out and the taper portion has begun.

2. See my friends and family more. A++

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Family vacation in New York

Making bad anorexia jokes with my sisters. (Disclaimer: My youngest sisters does have severe anorexia and has for over a decade. Although it is a very serious issue, sometimes laughter is as much a part of the process as mourning.

Making bad anorexia jokes with my sisters. (Disclaimer: My youngest sister does have severe anorexia and has for over a decade. Although it is a very serious issue, sometimes laughter is as much a part of the process as mourning.)

You can see a series I did on our family’s journey with the disorder here.

Post adventure race with one of my endurance athlete heroes.

Post adventure race with one of my endurance athlete heroes.

friends

Catching up with some of my best friends from university.

3. Settle into my new volunteering role. A+

I met with the director of the program and I have my first board meeting in September. I am on the PR Board of a local organization that provides housing and addiction services to those in my local community.

4. Take mini-vacations. A++

I was so good at this as well! I just came back from spending a few days in New York and Michigan. Over the past month, I spent some weekends in Toronto, Hamilton and London. It’s been such a solid month of summer awesome.

kayaking

 

5. Take to the lakes and trails to prep for my adventure race. A

No plus on this one. I went into the adventure race feeling a bit unprepared, especially with the mountain bike portion. But my hard month of physical training kicked it and I did well, despite not being as technically prepared as I hoped. I did get to have some practice on the water though.

kayak2

 

I don’t know if I will be able to meet my goal smashing success of July this month, but I will give it my best shot.

In August, I want to:

1. PR (Personal record) and BQ (Boston Qualify) my marathon. 

I am running stage 7 of the Endurrun on the Health and Performance women’s team. I don’t think I have ever trained as hard for a race in my life because I know there is not just me, but an entire team that is counting on my performance.

2. Do some networking for work. 

I have some business meetings and work events this month and I am hoping to settle further into my new position because the fall is the busiest time for me.

3. Rest. 

The next couple weeks are taper time. I am hoping to drink lots of water, eat healthy food and get lots of sleep to be refreshed and ready to rock the race.

4. Get organized!

This summer has been moving a warp speed which means that there are things that have dropped by the wayside for me both on the blog and in my personal living space. I am hoping to attack some projects and get a little bit more organized.

5. Dive into a big project. 

I have joined up with a big, exciting project with a company and team that I think the world of. The next 4 months will be filled with a lot of behind the scenes grunt work, but I am looking forward to tackling it and sharing more soon!

What are your goals for August?

 

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Time Trialling

Hey guys!

I am making this a quick check in because I am currently on vacation with the family in New York. Taking a couple days to ride some roller coasters, get in some quality training sessions and spend some down time before heading to Michigan this weekend for my first adventure race.

The adventure race is 60-80 miles (we find everything out only the morning of the race) and is canoeing, mountain biking and trekking. I am looking forward to doing some bush whacking and learning some solid orienteering skills from my team mate who is a master orienteerer who has been adventure racing for 10 years. And of course, reconnecting with one of my favourite endurance athletes from Michigan.

Kim - my partner in crime and team mate for Transrockies 120 Miler next year!

Kim – my partner in crime and team mate for Transrockies 120 Miler next year!

I will be giving a full race report but for now, I wanted to do a quick recap on my first time trial with my Health and Performance team. It was a fabulous event with some fabulous sponsors including RunWaterloo and New Balance.

I often race longer events and I was a bit nervous about this one, especially because THE DAY I published this post, I woke up with a bit of pain in my Achilles. I freaked out, of course, and I instantly booked an appointment with my coach.

I posted this to my facebook page this week:

laces

I love having a coach because of the incredible gains I have made in my performance and to have someone who can assess injuries and tell me how I am doing or not doing. He examined my Achilles, did some active release and told me to race the time trial.
Heading to start of the time trial, I was nervous because my legs were sore from my weekend of long runs and track events and the elite girls team was stacked.
I did some warm ups and spent some time hanging out with the girls in my wave.
time trail
I am good friends with each of these girls, either having raced varsity with them or met them through training on the team. They are all fast and impossibly fit and it is a pleasure to race with them.
time trial 2
The first two waves went and I wasn’t able to watch as closely as I hoped because I was busy warming up and trying to get the hurt to go from my legs. I knew it was only 2.2 km but I knew it would be full of hurt.
Before I was ready, it was time for the elite wave to go and I lined up, feeling strong but ready to just get it over with.
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I honestly don’t remember much of the race, especially because it was such a short one. I have never done a race this distance before and it was fun to push full speed and be pushed by runners around me.
time trial 3

Not the best race picture, but I was pushing hard.

We did two loops of the park and I finished 2.2 KM in 7:37. You can see my Strava report here.

time trial 4

It was such a blast to race with my team at my first time trial. Here are the official results of the event. So many huge records set and I look forward to coming back next year and challenging my time!

Do you train with a team? If so, what is a unique event that you do?

Adventure racers: Leave advice for me this weekend. I need all the help I can get!

beet juice

Beet Juice and Endurance Athletes

I visited my naturopath the other week to talk nutrition and training. I have never talked about this on the blog before, but I am an endurance athlete with Graves Disease which is an aggressive form of hyperthyroidism. Basically, while everyone else’s thyroid decides to slow down, mine wants to ramp into high gear which causes me to lose weight and muscle mass. I am going to do a full post on what exactly it is and how I manage it this August, but it is the reason I work closely with a naturopath and an endocrinologist to make sure I don’t have a thyroid storm in the middle of a marathon.

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More on that later, for now, my naturopath absolutely floored me when she mentioned that I was doing well with my nutrition. My long time readers know that I have a sister with severe anorexia, so as a result, I am VERY relaxed with my nutrition and probably eat more sugar and fat than the average female runner because my over all goal is balance and positivity towards food of all kinds and well, that whole thyroid thing.

One change that I have made in my nutrition while training is to remove an afternoon coffee which cuts me down to one a day. Hyperthyroidism puts everything into overdrive for me, so inflammation from training will be enhanced. One thing I have added in is beet juice for my long runs and I wanted to talk a bit about that.

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There was a study done by Andy Jones at the University of Exedor which showed that by adding beet juice to training increases the plasma nitrate concentration in the blood, reduces blood pressure, and made exercise feel easier.

Beets are a fabulous source of inorganic nitrate – just make sure you don’t use too much mouthwash before consuming them! The nitrate ends up in your saliva, where bacteria convert it to nitrite. Elsewhere in the body, it is converted to nitric oxide which aids in blood flow, muscle movement and brain transmission.

Here is a graph showing how levels of nitrate in your blood change after increasing amounts of beet juice:

wylie_beet_dose_response_1So the more beet juice you drink, the better the effect. It peaks at about 2-4 hours and tapers off at around 12 hours. As a result of these increases in beet juice, blood pressure dropped and the amount of energy needed to maintain a moderate level of exercise decreased after drinking the beets. Basically, it felt easier to run at the same pace than without the beet juice.

I tried it out myself this past weekend and although I had tired legs after a hard week of marathon training, I was flying for the last 10 KM of my 30 KM run. I am planning on continuing to play with it until my marathon in 3 weeks, but my only caution is to not drink more than 500 mL as beet juice has been proven to be synonymous with portapotty stops.

To make beet juice, take 2 large beets and put them in a blender or juicer. Add water or fruit as desired.

To make beet juice, take 2 large beets and put them in a blender or juicer. Add water or fruit as desired.

If you find it difficult to palate, mix in an apple or pear with water to dilute the mixture and add some sweetness. I will be honest, straight beet juice (which is how I took it down) tasted not unlike alcohol.

How about you? Ever tried beet juice for endurance events? What was the result?

If not, would you try it?

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Track Drills and Beet Juice

Welcome to the first week of August, friends! It was an awesome weekend for me that was a perfect balance of relaxation and hard work! Friday night was kicked off with a nice hard long run, fuelled by beet juice.

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I saw my naturopath last weekend and she suggested that in between my hard cycle and long run, I try a glass of beet juice to load up on nitrate, which helps the blood use oxygen more efficiently. This should work for athletes who have digestive issues as well as making the endurance work seem more effortless. I am going to continue playing with it and keep you posted.

Another thing I switched up this time was instead of chocolate pudding (Ugh), I used Clif shot blocks and instead of chewing them, began letting them dissolve in my mouth after an hour and continued this for the rest of my long run. I am going to experiment with gels next week, but I am thinking this may be the way I chose to go.

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Although this was the tail end of my highest milage week before my marathon, I was able to pull a negative split. Around 15 KM, my legs felt better and I was able to open up and push a bit harder. I always work tempo portions into my long runs and this weekend, I did a 5 KM and a 6 KM at sub marathon goal pace.

I had an awesome sleep in and made a big purchase on Saturday morning (more later), but then I headed to Toronto for Track & Roll. 

track and roll

 

I met up with some of my good runner friends from Toronto, including the Night Terrors run crew. My team was racing as a part of their crew and it was a fabulous day.

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Unfortunately, our fourth team member was delayed and wasn’t able to make it, so I ran two laps of the relay. It was a fun experience and I can’t wait to try it next year!

sprint

 

group

We may have crashed a beer mile in the city afterwards. I chose to be the photographer because I have gut issues with running with pizza and pudding – I can’t imagine beer. My team mates were champs though and it was amazing to do so many events that were just about FUN and running.

As a distance runner, I still keep track a regular part of my training and considering I did so many track events this weekend, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite track warm ups for a competition.

High Knees: Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and quickly place it back on the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can.

A-Skips: This drill is great for sprint mechanics and to prime your system to be explosive. As one leg skips, the other leg will bring the knee up to a 90-degree angle with the foot dorsiflexed. You will bring that bent leg down quickly and drive with the ball of your foot to the ground. Your upper body is straight and your arms move in a running motion.

Strides: In your best running form, run across the field at at a moderate to high effort.

For additional drills, check out this article. 

What did you do this weekend?

What are your favourite warm up drills?