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ENDURrun Marathon Race Report

There is nothing I love more than spontaneous trips, so I am excited to be packed up and headed to Quebec this weekend to run the Impossible 2 Possible event in Gatineau with some of my fellow 5 Peaks ambassadors and friends! (Especially since everyone I know is headed to Vancouver to make me jealous!)

Travelling aside, let’s talk MARATHON. (Warning, another long post. Which is ok. This was a long race.)

This was my second marathon ever. I had NO CLUE how predict my times because I have been steadily gaining speed over the season, but you truly have no idea how that will hold up in a marathon until you run it. I had only found out I was racing for the women’s team 7 weeks out and was only in half marathon racing shape at that point. My coach and I put together an aggressive build and I followed it as closely as I could. Seriously. I threw myself into it and didn’t focus on much else.

The day before the race, I went to Stage 6 of the Endurrun to cheer on Kailey who was racing the 10 KM time trial for our team. I then went home and drank Gatorade and ate pancakes and maple syrup while propped up on pillows (because sitting would be too much energy) while watching Netflix. Carb loading heaven.

The next morning, I arrived with an hour to spare before the marathon and chatted with my four other team mates who were racing it as well. Lots of well wishes and high fives.

high five

I was not nervous for this race. For the first time in a long time, I arrived at the start line knowing I couldn’t have done anything differently. At 7:30, we were off!

I settled in beside Holger, a bad ass German runner on our team who was doing the whole 160 km week and had promised to pace me.
holger

He was on 120 KM and I was on fresh legs and we were going for the same time. Go figure. We didn’t talk much, but he occasionally told me a story or instructed me to adjust my pace. He has run quite a few marathons, so it was awesome to have a veteran baby sit me in my second one to help show me the ins and outs of proper pacing.

holger and i

The first half was uneventful. We were holding the average pace around 4:40 – 4:45 min/km (approx. 7 min/mile for my American friends) and I began feeling my IT band at around km 22. It quickly faded when I saw my blog buddy Ange who surprised me on the side line, cheering and holding this sign:

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She inspired me to pick up the pace and Holger told me to slow down or I would wear myself out. He said that by half way, I should be in pain (check) and by the last quarter, I should want to stop. (check).

Why yes, I do dump water on myself at aid stations.

Why yes, I do dump water on myself at aid stations.

We hit a water station at 33 km and I stopped to wash down a gel. I was taking one every 30 minutes per my coach’s directions for 60 g of carbs an hour. Holger ran right through and there was no chance of catching him. I got going and my pace dropped to 5 min/km. I never hit “the wall” (thankfully, I am informed it doesn’t exist if you fuel properly), but I just became majorly fatigued because the last 7 km were hilly and windy! When I hit the last aid station at km 39, Ange was waiting with this sign.

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At this point, I had some gut issues (because I don’t normally slam 6 gels in 3 hours) but my coach told me to put some Gatorade in my mouth and let it sit there for the rest of the race. I had also taken to making grunting/child labour noises when people were talking to me (I THOUGHT I was saying words) and drooling Gatorade. Ange paced me for about 200 metres (the lovely hot mess that I was) and I burrowed deep into the pain cave for the last 3 km.

My IT band was stabbing and I was just tired. I was racing the marathon in such a way that if it was 43 km, I would blow up. My coach was biking alongside me and talking me through the pace. He wasn’t pushing me, but saying things like “OK, you are at 4:40. That’s ok, just try and keep that pace going up the hill”.

“STOP LOOKING AT YOUR WATCH!”

coach

As I hit the last 500 metres, my team mate Brendan took over and cycled me into the finish line, telling me stories to keep my mind off the final run.

brendan

And suddenly, I was done.


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Angela kept her promise and had Nutella waiting for me at the finish line. (Which is just in time for my next marathon training build!)

I finished with a time of 3:21:36 which was 13 minutes faster than my first marathon and I am pleased with the time because this was a challenging course. It is good enough for second female to cross the finish line and to quality for Boston. Not only that, but our girls team set the course record for fastest female team which was our goal!  I love this team.

Spending some time discussing the week of racing with my team after the marathon.

Spending some time discussing the week of racing with some members of my team after the marathon. You can read our team recap here. 

I am so fortunate to have the support and love from my family as well, which means I get adorable notes like this waiting for me:

note

I also had amazing battle wound blood blisters. I knew it would happen because I felt my socks scrunching at 5 KM because I put them on improperly. Holger asked if I wanted to stop and fix them and I asked him if he was joking?! Instead, I wound up with these beauties:

Sorry. You probably didn't need to see that.

Sorry. You probably didn’t need to see that.

What I wore: CEP Compression Socks, Under Armour racing shorts, Health and Performance Singlet, Zeal Rival frames, Saucony Triumph

What I ate:
Before: Nuun Energy lemon lime (HELLLOO caffeine), banana
During: 6 GU gels.
After: The biggest plate of vegetables ever and Genuine Health chocolate peanut butter protein shake.

I have taken this past week off training completely to recover and the funny thing is, I felt better this week post-marathon than I did in my peak weeks of training. I was able to see my friends, I only showered ONCE a day, I was bouncing down stairs two at a time and I showed up to most things in a skirt instead of spandex. This is what normal people feel like!
Because I actively reject normal, I am starting my marathon build for Toronto Scotiabank Marathon on Monday morning and introducing a new feature that will share my training. I have instigated a few changes in training to do even better at my next one, including the highest mileage week I have ever run! All the marathons, all the time. Back to spandex!

Quickly before I head out, New Balance Canada is hosting an instagram contest, so head over to their account and high five their mascot to win a back pack. (Because summer is almost over and you should probably win something to deal with the depression of it all.)

What marathon are you training for?
If you win the backpack, would you pick blue or red?
Nutella is my training vice. What is yours?

jess-triathlon

Triathlons: Tips from the Nuun Team

Sometimes I find it easy to get stuck in a rut of sorts. I know how to run inside out so there is something so safe and cuddly about filling my weeks with intervals and long slow distance runs that I forget what it’s like to be scared and out of my element.

Enter my summer challenge to try a new sport every month, which is quickly turning into 2 or three! In June alone, I took up golfing, beach volleyball and the triathlon.

I wanted to share a bit about my first triathlon as an absolute newbie to the sport and what I learned.

The race: I did Guelph Lake Triathlon in the Sprint Distance. I signed up with Ange, who did the duathlon.

Photo cred to Ange

Photo cred to Ange

I was scared for this race, I am not going to lie. I did not have sufficient training time for the swim and as I lined up at the shore of Guelph Lake with all of the jacked triathletes and looked out at the open water, I thought “What did I get myself into?!”

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Trying to put my triathlon laces into my shoes in the transition area. NEWBIE!

The Swim: I was in the second wave and it was less scary than I thought. What I was not expecting was to panic a bit after getting kicked in the head about 250 m into the swim, especially as I normally remain quite calm in racing situations. As a result, I swam with my head above the water for most of the time and ended up with a nice, sore neck the following day.

T1: The transition went fairly smoothly. I had raced the day before so my legs didn’t feel fresh as I ran back to the area to slip on my cycling shoes and clip on my helmet for the ride portion. I found my hands were too wet to put on my cycling gloves so I just left them.
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The Ride: Honestly, this was one of the most fun portions of the course for me. I had put in a ton of training time on the bike and even though my legs were hurting from my trail race, I was able to pass quite a few people and had a decent speed, considering I certainly do not have a tri bike! This was probably the most fun, memorable portion for me.

T2: This was my fastest transition. I kicked off my cycling shoes, pulled on my running shoes, grabbed a swig of my nuun water and headed out on the 5 KM run.

legs

The Run: I found my legs were fine. They did not have that familiar dead feeling that occurs after a long ride, but it could have been that the bike was only 20 KM and helped flush out some of the fatigue from my race on Saturday. I kept a decent pace and kept watching for Angela because I was expecting her to join me at any moment. All of a sudden, I heard her beside me saying something like “We’ve got this”.
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Ok, guys. I am not a sentimental person, but this was probably one of the most meaningful moments for me in race history. We had signed up together, trained together and even though she was doing a completely different race, we got to finish the race together. I won’t post a picture, because that is stealing, but you can see my race photos here.

One thing I did before I took on the triathlon was ask for help from my Nuun team. I am so fortunate to belong to a community of such accomplished athletes and there sure are a lot of triathletes in the mix.

Here is a list of some of their top advice for first time triathletes:

Race Prep:

If you don’t use socks, put lots of baby powder in your run shoes to help avoid blisters. – Holly
 The Run:

Since it’s your first one, it’ll be a PR no matter how you finish. Take the time to enjoy it! And don’t go out too fast on the run or you’ll be sorry in about 1/2 mile. – Lani

Capture

Leave something for the run, don’t use all your energy up on the bike. – Kevin
 The Swim:

Open water swims can be scary on the first one. Just relax and focus on your breathing when your face is in the water. Clear your mind and if you start to panic, get to the side and flip over on your back and take a couple deep breaths and remind yourself over and over “just another pool swim!”  – Amanda

swim

I think the hardest part is getting my head in the water to swim with the adrenaline of the start so just focus on getting your face in the water even if you have to breathe every stroke. Oh and if you have a chance warm up in the water before the start you will get used to the temp and be more calm when the gun goes off. – Charlene
If you are afraid of getting kicked in the face, swim using a catch up – one hand always out guarding your face. Don’t be afraid to doggy paddle if you panic or get caught in a crowd. – Kevin
 The Transitions:

My biggest tip is to know your plan when you get to transition. What will you do 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Follow that plan or else you’ll lose time really quick. – Megan

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When you set up transition, either count the racks or find a landmark, so you know where your spot is when you come in. Make sure you know which way you will come in and out of transition for both T1 and T2. – Kevin
 The Bike:

Put your sunglasses and bib number belt in your helmet then hang helmet from bike handlebars (helps them not get knocked around/stepped on and you don’t forget to put them on in transition- I find it faster/easier to just wear bib number belt on bike even though not always required). Remember helmet on before unracking the bike! – Holly

I found the advice absolutely invaluable, especially for the swim and transitions as those were both new to me. If you are a triathlete and have additional advice for me for my future races, leave them in the comments!

What I ate:

Dinner (Nike Run Event): Hotdog, baked potato, corn, cookie. (Can you say carb loading?)

Breakfast: Sprouted toast with peanut butter and nutella. Banana. Coffee. Nuun lemonade.

What I wore:

Saucony tri suit
New Balance 1400s
Cycling Shoes

jess-triathlon

My next race is Creemore Vertical Challenge! What is yours?

Training with Race Shoes (1)

Training with Racing Shoes

Hey friends, How was the weekend? I had a fabulous race and took in a couple trail runs with friends. Oh, and of course spent some time with mum.

Last week, I received a fabulous question from a reader that I thought deserved it’s own post:

Elite runners have race shoes and training shoes but how do they break in race shoes? Are they used as training shoes for a bit and then switch to race only shoes? How else would they know if they liked them or not?

It can be tricky to get the shoe thing right. I have written a lot about when to switch them up  but racing shoes are a completely different thing.  First of all, when you are training, it is important to cycle through pairs in order to stay injury-free. If you have any biomechanical short fallings, if you continue to train in the same pair of shoes, over time it will become imprinted in the shoe which will enhance the error and increase the chance of injury, so it is important to keep switching it up.

I train with a more padded shoe than I race in with lots of arch support. This helps to counter the long miles and high level speed work that I put my body through week after week. My current shoes are Asics Gel Cumulus 15. 

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My racing shoe, however, is zero drop and extremely light. I don’t train regularly in this shoe because the zero drop enhances my achilles issues so the arch support and raised heel is an advantage to me. For short and fast races though, the lighter, the better. I am currently racing in Saucony Kinvara 3′s.

vega in shoe

A lighter race shoe is an advantage as it is significantly lighter and therefore, you will do less work. The longer the distance, the greater the profile should be. There should more elevation under your heel and less thickness under your midfoot.

Racing shoes usually achieve much of their weight reduction by putting less material under your foot. To prepare for that difference, you will need to let your legs gradually get used to that difference which will initially put more stretch and strain on your calves. Start by wearing your racing shoes for your short/easy workouts and then eventually use them for your quality workouts.

For me, I cycle my racing shoes into my speedwork training during the week so I know that I am comfortable running fast in them. I don’t often wear them for races longer than a half marathon, but I will occasionally put in a long run with them as well. I do not train often with them, but I make sure that I spend some time with them to make sure that by race day, they are broken in and ready to perform.

endurrace

What about you? How often do you train in the shoes you race in?

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chasing the footprints of those better than me.

Happy Monday, one and all! I hope your weekend was as relaxing as mine. I spent as much time as possible outside, soaking up that amazing sun!

On Friday, I hinted that I went shopping for a something that I had been waiting for over a year for.

phone

phoneWhich means I am now on instagram! It is a whole, new world of filters, friends and selfies. I kid. Self portraits are one of my least favourite things in the world. So on the off chance that I need to perform them, I will try to do them as creatively as possible.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

The very first picture I put up on Instagram was this lovely piece:

Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 11.42.11 PMNow. I promise that I will be more creative in the future than putting my mud caked, sweaty runners online for the entire world to see, but I truly felt as if it were myself or the shoe. So really, you all won. And I was so excited about the fact that I went on a long run on the most beautiful day in 2013.

I thought I would take this opportunity to use this seamless leeway to tell you another running story. A good one that is at the foundation of why I run. It is wrapped up in a single person who is fuelled by foreign beers and anger.

My father has a long time employee, we will call him George, that keeps to himself except to utter a few sarcastic tones and is generally not thrilled with people as a rule. However, if you want him to talk, ask him about running.

George has a way of deflating your best stories with a single word. I remember in high school when I was winning cross country races, I would go to him and tell him I ran 5 KM in less than 19 minutes. Without missing a beat, he would throw back at me: Run an ultra-marathon and let me know if you are good then.

And so I did. 

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t just as easy as just strapping on shoes and running. You had to join a club first. George invited me out to a trail running group that met every Tuesday night and introduced me to his friends, and then told me to run with another group.

Typical.

So I did. I found the most advanced group, who were winning ultra marathons around the region and I kept up, even if it meant returning to my car with blood and mud on my legs and either the taste of blood or vomit in my throat. (I am such a lady).

And I kept running until I fell in love with it.

George still talks to me when he sees me. Rushing over quickly to tell me about the latest race and checking in to make sure I am still running. He is over 60 and runs at least an ultra marathon a month in racing season. Beyond his crusty exterior, I found he has become fond of me, and what’s more – proud. He has invited me to his house to celebrate race victory parties, to train with him before a long race and has even let me sub in for him on a 30 km race for free.

Despite trying other sports, in a very strange and inexplicable way, running is like coming home every spring. Long winter months of fitness instruction and the odd foray into the icy weather to gingerly scamper over snow banks make me forget the pure joy of just running hard and fast until your breathing syncs with your foot  falls and your brain becomes quiet and it is just you and the road and maybe some birds for miles and miles and miles.

Sometimes I break my quiet runs to chase those who are better than me, to remind myself how far I have to go. But no matter how far he finishes behind me, I always can count on George to tell me that I would have been that much better if I would have ran straighter, had newer running shoes, or had been on the trails one more day a week.

And I love it. Because it was his dissatisfaction with my 5 KM that made me think I could do 50 KM. And why I am in the midst of planning to make it 50 miles. Sometimes overt pride from people suggests that your accomplishment is the best you can do, and I love that there is someone who always will have something I could have done better.

No matter how old I am or whether George is always in my life, I will always have his crusty voice telling me what I am doing wrong and how I could be doing it better which keeps me running. Running after perfection. Running after the finish line. And mostly, running for the sheer beauty of running.

Who inspires you in the things you are passionate about?