Training Recap April 23-29

It has been a couple weeks! Last week I did not run, since after a marathon, I get 1-full week off of everything, so no recap about that. This week I did start running again, so I CAN tell you about that.

Monday: I did weights and core.

Tuesday: I ran for 20′ easy, whoohoo! I also did core.

Wednesday: OFF, I spectated at our group WO.

Thursday: I ran for 30′ easy, I also did strength.

Friday: I ran for 35′ easy, and did core.

Saturday: OFF.

Sunday: I ran 45′ easy, did strength and core.

Total Weekly Mileage: 23.6 km

Next week I get to run even more AND do a WO, I feel like it’s been a while! This is my last week running in Victoria, before I head to Vancouver for the weekend and then fly back /move to Toronto.

Boston 2018: Day 3 and 4

In my last post, My First Marathon Monday: Boston 2018 Race Recap I left off at the finish line of the 122nd Boston Marathon. I found my family at the side of the finish, they had been watching from the grandstands, getting soaked by the rain. We hugged, and then I slowly shuffled into the John Hancock tent. There I received my medal and a heat shield. A volunteer handed me by gear check bag and I set up at a table near the back of the tent. I grabbed some hot water to help get warm and began peeling off my soaking wet gear. They had heaters and a volunteer had made a make-shift change tent so we could get into dry clothing.

It was still pouring rain as I left to go find my cheer-squad. There were people walking in every direction trying to find each other and get out of the rain, it was total chaos. Eventually, I found everyone and we began trying to navigate our way back to the Airbnb. The best option was the train, the streets were still a mess and an Uber would have taken way too long to find us. It was only a few stops to go, and then I had a long hot shower while my mom went to pick up pizzas from Regina Pizza. We had spotted this place a few days prior and it always had a long line so we figured it was probably pretty good! After a few slices I moved I went to lay down under a pile of blankets, how good it felt to be warm.

After a while we decided to go down the street to the Ginger Room, a neighbourhood pub with a massive beer-list and food. I had a pineapple and coconut beer with lactose, sounds odd, but it had a nutty flavour and was surprisingly very delicious. There were a few other marathoners there in medals and jackets, and I ended up running into a few people I knew.

On Tuesday, I woke up feeling pretty good, and of course quite sore, those Newton hills! We had to pack up the Airbnb and then I wanted to check out how busy the medal engraving, and jacket embroidery were before heading over to Tracksmith for my commemorative poster. Unsurprisingly, the medal engraving line snaked around the block, and I decided not to wait in it, my priority was the jacket embroidery which had a much smaller line, so we joined it. I was able to go get my poster from Tracksmith while my mom stayed in line.

By then we were all getting pretty hungry and decided to go to Shake Shack. I only tried Shake Shack for the first time in November, when Sky and I ran the Rock’n’Roll Vegas and we really enjoyed it. I went for a cheeseburger and a Shackmeister beer (brewed by Brooklyn Brewing). We didn’t have a whole lot of time left in Boston and wanted to make the most of it, so we stopped for one last coffee at George Howell and then walked back to the Airbnb. My family had an earlier flight so they went to the airport, Sky and I walked to the famous Mike’s Pastry and shared a cannoli. Very good, but I could NOT have eaten a whole one.

We grabbed a Lift to the airport, and parted ways. Once I arrived at my gate, it was a sea of red jackets waiting to board the plane. One of which sat beside me and wanted to  talk about the marathon. From then on out, several other marathoners and other people wanted to chat about the previous day and what we had endured. It was like being a member of a club without ever trying to. I supposed I underestimated the jacket effect. I don’t think you can wear it and go unseen, and I’m not just talking about the colour. It signifies hard-work, dedication and resilience in the wearer, definitely things to be proud of!

My First Marathon Monday: Boston 2018 Race Recap

My marathon Monday started at 5am. I was lucky enough to get an uninterrupted sleep which I was surprised about. I had coffee and oatmeal with banana, got dressed for what would end up being the worst weather in 30 years for this event, and took an Uber downtown. It was already raining hard and windy, so much so that when I began to open the door of the car, it blew wide open. By 6am, I was in the tent drinking hot water to make sure I stayed warm. As part of the John Hancock Boston Marathon Invitational Program, we were treated to a tent and refreshments before and after the race, coach buses to the start, where we moved into a school to hang out until the race began. An hour later we were directed to the buses and got another taste of what the weather had in store. After 20 minutes inside the bus, once the police and bomb dogs had done their check we were cleared to go, and headed towards Hopkinton with police escorts on motorcycles.

I spent the ride into Hopkinton staring out the window, getting into the headspace to run. My enthusiastic seat partner from Pennsylvania kept trying to engage in small-talk, which I kept polite but minimal. Sometimes running is selfish, and I am okay with that, especially so in the final days and hours before an event. I have no problem doing exactly what I need to do to set myself up for success and not be concerned with anything else. Upon arriving, we were shown into a school gym equipped with bleachers and mats to sit on. There was also coffee, water, Gatorade, Cliff bars, Cliff bloks, and Finagel Bagels. Most importantly there was heat, shelter from the rain and actual washrooms. We all felt very lucky to be inside for these final hours before the start.

We arrived to the school just around 8:30am, and the blue bib start time wasn’t until 10:50am. Fortunately, I had Women’s Running magazine to read, and a second breakfast to eat: a plain bagel at 8:50 am and a banana at 9:50am. I also drank a small coffee and 1.5 bottles of water. I read the magazine cover to cover except for the parts about coming back to running after child-birth which there was a focus on, but not of interest to me!

Aside from that, I mostly watched the antics of other runners in the gym, some highlights were watching a man eat a loaf of bread directly from the bag, several people duct-taping their shoes, everyone wearing garbage bags, myself included, and someone putting rubber gloves on-top of his gloves. I have to hand it to the running community, people get pretty creative with their outfits when the weather is poor. In this case, I am sure it contributed to them having a safer race than those who did not adapt their gear. Nearly 1,300 runners received medical treatment on the course, and nearly 1,000 more did at the finish. When even the elites are wearing jackets, you know it’s a poor weather day!

Before long, they were calling for the blue bibs to move into the corrals. I made one final washroom stop and moved towards the door, staying inside as long as I could. My outfit was: Saucony Kinvara 9’s, Stance socks, Adidas Supernova Storm Jacket, Lululemon: Fast & Free crops, Run on bra, Meant to Move Tee, and Ciele Gocap Century Hopkinton hat. I also wore a disposable jacket from the Van 1st Half, a garbage bag and gloves from the BMO half.

We began our rainy walk to the start, the area surrounding the school and athlete’s village looked like a runner’s war-zone, clothing, shoes, garbage bags, and water bottles everywhere. This continued all down the sides of the road up and into the corrals. Once I reached corral 2, there was 8 minutes to start. I took my first gel and a drink of water and waited. After a few words from Bill Rogers, the gun went off, and the rain began to pour. What a sick joke I thought as I hit start on my Garmin, and smiled my way over the first timing mat.

My priority starting this race was to stay in control and not start too fast in order to save my legs for later. My other priority was to stay warm, I was in no rush to shed my garbage bag, disposable jacket and gloves. I imagine the beginning of any major race to be exciting, but I am not sure any of them can compete with this. People are cheering for you on the sides of the street in Hopkinton before you even start, this of course continues as your start, there are people on both sides of the road and they are genuinely excited for you. It makes you feel super special!

Another thing of note is that, you start on narrow country roads, so you are confined to stay with the “peloton”. This was okay for me since I wanted to start conservatively.  I knew that with the wind and hills, I could not let my mental state be dictated by splits and I was prepared for this. I figured that things would mostly even out with the downhills and flats, and that if I stayed on pace for those parts I would be in good shape. My first 5km were: 5:03, 5:04, 4:56, 4:59, 4:41 (downhill). My 5km split time was 24:49, average pace 4:58/km. The back of my legs felt stiff and cramped from the cold, something I had not previously experienced, I was concerned it would turn into full on legs cramps, again something I have never experienced. I decided to focus on getting to Boston, and everything went away. I did not feel cold, I did not lose focus, I had to get to Boston one way or another.

The next 5km were: 4:47, 5:03, 4:50, 4:50, 4:48. My 10km split was 49:14. My average pace for the first 10km was 4:55/km. For reference, the pace I was meant to hold was 4:50. Around km 8 there was a very cute golden retriever sitting on the right side of the road watching the race and holding  2 flags in his mouth. You can see more footage of Spencer the dog here.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 9.03.30 AM

10km took us to Framingham and boasted people on both sides on the street cheering. The whole atmosphere was party, and I swear I could smell beer and food for most of the first 10km ranging from pizza to Indian food. I was timing my gels for every 30 minutes, which worked perfectly with the water stations.

Km’s 11-15 were: 4:55, 4:58, 5:00, 4:57, 4:59, this brought us to Natick. My 15km split was 1:14:07, an overall average pace of 4:56. Another thing I noticed was that my Garmin wasn’t matching up with the km markers anymore, very annoying! For me, the thing about Boston was that I always felt like I was looking forward to something, or more so running toward something. Every section of the race has a focus. The first 10km I was cautious because I didn’t want to destroy my legs on the downhill, and I had heard several times that this is a strategy course where you need to save your strength for the end. The following 10km brings you to Wellesley College, also the half-way point. I knew it was coming soon and how amazing it was supposed to be, so once the initial 10km passed that was my next checkpoint.

Km’s 16-20 were: 4:59, 4:57, 5:03, 4:54, 4:50. My 20km split was 1:39, 4:57 overall average pace/km. Since the Wellesley scream tunnel is something most any runner knows about Boston, I was curious to see how loud it really would be, especially given the weather. It definitely lived up to its’ expectations, so many girls, so many signs, such loud screaming. I decided to put out my hand and high-five as many of them as I could. One overzealous cheerer even fell over the barrier and another girl was trying to pull her back over by her legs! The scream tunnel gave me a massive energy boost, thank you Wellesley girls! My 21km split was 1:44:22, an overall average pace of 4:58.

The scream tunnel was such a rush that I didn’t fully register this meant we were already half-way done! I started to feel my legs around this point, but tried my best to push those thoughts aside. Km’s 22-25 were: 4:55, 5:00, 5:02, 5:04, my 25km split time was: 2:03:58, average pace: 4:58. After Wellesley, I knew the next major landmark would be the notorious Newton Hills, what I had been bracing myself for the entire race.

Km’s 26-30 were: 4:42, 5:23, 5:02, 5:20, 5:03, you can clearly see this was the Newton Hill portion of the race, by the large fluctuation in pace! My approach was to focus my view on the top of the hill rather than my watch and just get there as best I could while keeping the effort continuous and not increasing it. As with almost all of the course, both sides of the street were lined with spectators, there were tents, people were drinking, having BBQ’s. I even spotted a bouncy castle on the right-hand side of one of the Newton hills. Even though the hydration and fuel stations were plentiful, people were handing out water, oranges, bananas you name it. So much hospitality from the spectators on one of the gnarliest Boston Marathon’s in history.

Km’s 31-35 were: 4:49, 5:12, 5:11, 5:40, 4:46, this included the famous Heartbreak hill, and no it’s not THAT bad, but it is long and it is deep into the race so any incline would feel tough. The feeling of completing Heartbreak Hill is wonderful however. You know that the worst is over and there are only 7 more km to go! I had been told this final portion was flat and fast so I was looking forward to that. There were a few more short inclines though, and by that point any incline felt like a mountain.

Km’s 36-40 were: 5:15, 5:07, 5:09, 4:52, 5:08. Finally, it was the moment I had been waiting for. Only 2km to go. I was still wearing my disposable jacket, and wanted to at least get a good finish line picture, so I discarded it on a barrier, and took off into the downpour. At this point you know where you need to go and are just holding your breath for that right on Hereford, left on Boylston. The streets were lined with people, the roads coated in slippery garbage bags, making footing uncertain, I was determined not to fall going up Hereford! Turning onto Boylston might be one of the best feelings I have ever experienced, there are so many people! The finish line is massive and spectacular, and I knew my family was waiting on the stands on the right-hand side. Km 41 and 42 were: 5:19 and 5:11. I kept my eyes locked on that finish line while my ears were filled with a roar from the crowd, I heard my name and waved. And just like that, I became a Boston Marathoner in 3:32:09.

Boston 2018: Day 2 & 3

Saturday started out as a beautiful day, and then it got cold. We were thinking of maybe seeing a Sox game, but decided it was a bit too cold. I didn’t do too much because I didn’t want to overcook my legs. I got to have coffee and second breakfast at George Howell, which was great. I also stopped by a Nuun ambassador meet up briefly. Aside from that, I quickly checked out Heartbreak Running Co. After lunch, I headed back to the condo to relax and wait for my friend Sky to arrive. We hung out for a while before dinner. I spent an hour in the jacuzzi which was wonderful, and then went to dinner with my family down the street in Little Italy. I struggled to fall asleep but eventually slept pretty well.

Sunday I woke up bright and early, had breakfast and then my dad and I Uber’d down to the expo briefly. I got to test out the Normatech which was a great thing to do the day before the race, my legs felt so fresh and light after! Following that we grabbed an Uber to Tracksmith to try the newly launched Linden and True coffee, a joint effort between Ben and Sarah True and Des and Ryan Linden. It all worked out perfectly because I had a brunch to attend on Newbury shortly after with the Saucony crew.

We had brunch at the Met Back Bay, and there were 4 of us running and 3 spectators. All us runners were experiencing Boston for the first time, so that was pretty exciting! I had pancakes because well CARBS and I felt they were a safe GI choice. I went right back to the condo after brunch around 1:30pm and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. I put my legs up, drank herbal tea, Nuun and water and prepared to work hard the next day.

After a pre-race chat with my coach, and laying out a massive pile of clothing and gear for the following day, there was really nothing else to do to prepare. Sky came over and we hung out for a bit before dinner. Dinner was downtown at Post 390 and was put on by John Hancock. We had some chips and guac followed by pasta and roast chicken, it was all very good. I had a couple of waters and was surprised by how many people were drinking. Shortly after dinner, a few special guests arrived, Joan Benoit-Samuelson and Bill Rogers! Joan came over and introduced herself and I asked her if she had advice for a Boston first-timer. She was super nice and very helpful.

I took an Uber home and went to bed, my wake-up time was 5am and I needed all the sleep I could get.

Boston 2018: Day 1

Woke up super early this morning, sleep has been a challenge, I keep waking up insanely early (3:30am today). Not sure if I went back to bed, but at 5:40am I gave up and began getting ready for the day. Our flight was at 9am, so we were leaving by 7:15am since we were flying out of Billy Bishop and not Pearson (woohoo!). The flight was quick and uneventful, I just wanted to arrive and head to the expo right away in pursuit of a certain donut themed shoe. The plan was for the Uber to drop my mom and I off at the expo, while my dad and brother continued on to the condo.

We arrived at the expo by 11:10am and it was already mayhem. The Saucony booth was right near the main entrance, so we found it immediately, and noticed the crowd of people and POLICE! The system was, grab a number, wait in line to be called and then hope your size is available once it’s your turn. We got #148 and #149 and joined the line.

We debated running to the washroom, but decided against it as the line was moving pretty quick and if your number was called and you weren’t there, you had to start all over again. Once we were called, a friendly “runner” (shoe runner that is, and potentially a runner-runner too) greeted us and asked what size we were after. “8.5? Oh yeah we’ve been out of that size for a while. 9 too. I can do mens’ 7 and 7.5”. I knew this would likely be the case, and expected to go for mens’. They fit great so it all worked out, but this is seriously the most insane Boston edition shoe release ever! What an epic marketing campaign this was! They also had donuts and iced-coffee available. Here’s what I ended up with:

The long-awaited Saucony x Dunkin Donuts Kinvara 9’s

Cute lifestyle Tee. And, it came with this sweet trucker hat!

Following that, we headed for the Cliff bar booth to sample new flavours. I ended up grabbing a box because I like to have something on hand for a quick snack and they have  protein in them as well as other macronutrients. It also came with the hat shown below!

We noticed a Lululemon truck around the corner and made a beeline for it, the plan was not to spend too much time at the expo because I wanted to go to Tracksmith ASAP and also have lunch. Lululemon had a few Boston pieces on offer and I went for this one:

Then I went upstairs to grab my bib and my mom went to scope out the Adidas gear. The bib pick-up process was very simple and the volunteers were super happy and genuine. The contents of the package are shown below, can you guess what my favourite part is?

Once I made it to the Adidas section, it began to be very overwhelming, so many people, so much stuff everywhere. It was time to go. I found my mom, we picked up a few pieces and joined the massive lineup at the cash.

Celebration jacket (mandatory purchase!)

BAA fleece (super cosy), it has the BAA logo on the arm.

Marathon t-shirt

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There were also these freebee’s, a poster with the name’s of every runner this year and a card holder.

We grabbed an Uber to Newbury st for Tracksmith. They are giving out runner packs this year which is pretty freaking amazing. I love Tracksmith and Ciele and they collaborated on a hat in the pack. The theme is bananas, which as well all know are a staple in every runners’ diet as well as every finish line. Pretty cute idea if you ask me!

We found my dad and brother on Newbury shortly after and scouted out somewhere for lunch. We decided on burgers at B.Good, they use good ingredients and my mom and I just got beef burgers on whole wheat and lemonades. Definitely hit the spot.

The final stop on the sportswear tour was Nike. I had been eyeing their Boston collection, but it never made it on the Nike site, so I eagerly awaited arriving here to see the goods! Love the colour of the green they used!

Run united singlet

3/4 zip

I retired to the condo by 3pm to preserve my legs. It wasn’t much walking (I took 3 Ubers), and I plan to keep it that way.

Up next: dinner for my brother’s birthday at Alden and Harlow near Harvard!

Training Recap April 2-8, 2018

One. Week. To. Go. I know that isn’t much time but it still doesn’t feel real yet, even though I don’t think or talk about much else right now. I’m guessing that when we arrive on Friday morning and feel the energy of the city, that will change and the realization of the upcoming 42.2km will set in. Here’s how the week went:

Monday: OFF. Went for a walk with a friend and that is it!

Tuesday: Group WO, 20′ easy, 2×3’@5km, 4×90”@5km, 10’@MP, 20′ easy. This was fast and fun.

Wednesday: 45′ easy, ran in the rain for the first time in what felt like a very long time, which is lucky! It wasn’t so bad once I was out, but I dreaded it leading up to it. I also did core.

Thursday: 30′ easy, I ran in the morning because I had a massage before work. Typically, they suggest for me to take the day off running after a massage so I got it done before, easy since it was so short. I also did core.

Friday: 40′ easy in Toronto! Got up just after 4am PST to catch my early flight to Toronto and once that was all taken care of did an easy run in the beach with my Dad.

Saturday: WO for 1, 10′ easy, 12’@MP, 3×3’@10km, 12’@MP, 30′ easy. This felt great! Fun how marathon pace feels like a stroll in the park after 10km pace. It was also did my last practice with fuel before the race and everything went well!

Sunday: 70′ easy, this run felt very easy and my legs are feeling fresh. There was a wicked wind but aside from that it was perfect. I also did core.

Total Weekly Mileage: 60.3km

I’ll be spending this week in Toronto to relax and continue tapering before race day! I am not sure what I will fill my time with aside from the haircut I have planned and getting my #boston nails done.

Shoe Review: Saucony Breakthru 4

I have worn many models of Saucony shoes over the years, The Ride, The Hurricane, The Fastwitch, The Triumph, The Freedom and of course the Kinvara. I had never tried the Breakthru previous to receiving a pair a couple of weeks ago. Initially, it was the aesthetic of the shoe that caught my attention, the pair I saw on IG were a striking red colour and they looked similar to my go to shoe, The Kinvara. Naturally, this piqued my interest.

In spite of having a go to shoe, I like to rotate my shoes depending on what type of run I am doing ie. long-run vs. speed work vs. track etc. Some days you just want a bit more cushion, especially for a long run, and I was typically using The Triumph for this purpose. The Triumph and The Breakthru both have an 8mm offset, whereas The Kinvara is only a 4mm offset. For reference: the offset is the difference between the heel stack height of the shoe and the forefoot stack height of the shoe. There are different theories on why offset is important (or not), but basically it is said to change your gait. A higher offset might encourage you to land on your heel, whereas a lower offset might encourage you to land on your mid-foot or forefoot, running in a way that is more bio-mechanically efficient.

My point is: The Triumph and The Breakthru are fair to compare as they are both neutral shoes with the same offset and are both suitable for road and track surfaces. The most shocking difference I felt when wearing The Breakthru was how light it felt (and is!). Some shoes with an 8mm drop feel clunky and bulky, not The Breakthru! They only weigh 7.4 oz, almost 2 oz lighter than the Triumph, and under 1 oz heavier than The Kinvara. At only 7.4 oz, you would be hard-pressed to find another similar shoe so light.

Running in The Breakthru 4 feels like a shoe you already know. Like a relative of The Kinvara. It is comfortable, light and still feels natural. You feel connected to the surface beneath you, which isn’t always the case in shoes with an 8mm offset. The Breakthru 4 also feels much more responsive than other running shoes with the same offset. Needless to say, I was impressed with The Breakthru and happy to be introduced to it. They will definitely be a staple in my shoe rotation, and I recommend you try them too!

Training Recap March 26-April 1, 2018

This week marked the beginning of the taper for Boston. I had two days off running instead of the regular Monday off. My mileage will continue to decrease over the next two weeks. This Friday I am flying to Toronto to hang out for a week before heading to Boston the following Friday. I am looking forward to enjoying my taper and not working, but what will I do with all that free time!?

Monday: OFF. I did strength training.

Tuesday: 50′ easy, ran an out and back to the bog with my running buddy.

Wednesday: Group WO, ran 5km easy to the WO location and then, 3 sets of: 2x 3’@tempo, 1′ fast, then 5km home. I also did core.

Thursday: 45′ easy, did an out and back to the bog the other way with my running buddy. I also did core.

Friday: OFF. Nothing at all!

Saturday: Group WO, 20′ easy, 2×2′ tempo, 4x1km (4:04, 3:57, 4:02, 3:59), 20′ easy. Going into this and even during the 1km repeats I felt slow, but I was not! I was targeting 5km pace, but those are all faster than my actual 5km pace. I would love to race a 5km right now to see how it would be! I also did core.

Sunday: “Long run”, 80′ minutes for a mix of trails and road, I had 4 bunnies join me for this Easter run. I also did core.

Total Weekly Mileage: 60.8 km