Race recap

RACE RECAP: SHAMROCK MARATHON 2017

One week ago I ran my 15th marathon. Before I get into it, let me set the stage. If you know my story, you know that the marathon has been a journey for me. I ran my first 42.2K in 2008 at the Calgary Marathon and finished in 5:38. I didn't think much of that time, other than I had *actually* finished. As someone who grew up dancing, I would never have pictured myself a marathoner. Over the years, my relationship has running has evolved. I have goals and big dreams and those are what fuel my fire. Along the way, I have chiselled nearly 2 hours off my marathon time and have set my sights on Boston. I'm close, but I do not, for one second, take for granted the hard work that goes into moving the yard stick from my previous PR of 3:44 (November 2016) to the sub -3:35 it will take to get me to Boston. My goal going into the Shamrock Marathon was to move the yard stick closer. On the Friday of the race, my husband and I drove from Ottawa to Virginia Beach. We got to Virginia Beach around 8:00pm and dropped our stuff off at our AirBnB. We were tired but all was good. There were some rumblings that there was a storm that weekend, but mentally I would not entertain that. I couldn't. I knew it would impact my mental game that I have worked so hard on.

On Saturday we went to the expo and picked up my race kit. Fun! Everything was decked out in green and four leaf clovers. I bought some green 2xU calf socks and we left before lunch. My bib would be 350. I texted my Mom and she said "3+5+0=8. Eight is great." It was. I got this. I had packed most of my food for Friday and Saturday, so my fueling plan was going well. With away races, I like to control as much as possible, as I know there will be lots of new elements that I will have to be flexible with. Oatmeal, white rice, water, nuun, repeat.

I had given some thought to my race plan, but wasn't going to stress. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to pace the first half and then run like hell to hold onto my pace in the second half. Thankfully, with 14 marathons behind me, I have some knowledge of what this was going to feel like. I knew it was going to hurt. I knew it was going to be hard, but this is why I love the marathon. If it was easy, everyone would be doing them.

Race morning. 5:20 am. I wake up before my alarm. I hear rain outside, but don't think about it. I focus on my coffee, sipping my water and eating pre-race Picky Bar. I have no problem with the washroom (tmi) and I'm feeing good. I get dressed and watch my pre-race youtube clips. I'm in the zone and grateful for a husband who gets that. I'm quiet, not talking much. Preparing for what's about to go down. George drives me to about 300m from the start. It's 3ºC out. Funny, it was 16ºC yesterday. It's pouring rain. It will stop, it has to stop. I remember going to leave about 20 minutes before the start and George saying to me, "You sure you don't want to wait longer? It's pouring." I responded, "I'm going to be running a marathon in this. I don't see the sense in avoiding it now." It was my attempt to subtly tell Mother Nature I did't care about her today, this was my race. Out I go. I'm wearing a garbage bag, at least.

(0-10K) The race begins. I'm just behind the 3:35 pace bunny and I'm focused on not being swept away. I don't think much at this point other than being cold. I am so cold. I will warm up I tell myself. I try not to think about my feet. I feel like my feet are in two blocks of ice. My legs are feeling nice and fresh though, so I don't dwell. The rain is coming down and I'm regretting tossing that garbage bag. The race is fairly flat, at least. The course is bookended by two military bases. We head out to the first base where so many military members were out cheering. THANK YOU.  

Around 8K I think of Steve. Some of you may have known him, but he was a fellow Run Ottawa member that passed away that week. He was in his 50s. Far too early.  I first met Steve when we volunteered together in the Run Ottawa booth at Ottawa Marathon Race Weekend 2016. He told me all about his Running Room race clinics and I remember so many people coming up to him to say Hi. He clearly had made a positive impact on many. We exchanged funny race stories and he offered tips for the heat we would go on to experience in the Ottawa Marathon that weekend. While I only knew him briefly, he seemed like a great guy and a passionate runner. I think of him for a kilometre of two and know I will think of him again. For now, keep your head. We're running a marathon today.

5:12, 5:01, 5:00, 5:06, 4:55, 5:02, 5:05, 5:12, 5:07, 5:18

(11-21.1K) The rain is still coming down hard. The route makes a couple of turns and all of a sudden I am running right along the ocean into the wind. Physically, I am doing ok, but this wind and rain is starting to get to me. I take a quick side glance at the waves and realize they are huge. I commit to not looking at them again for the rest of the race. They tick me off. We are practically running single file on side walk to stay far away from the break wall and the waves. I am soaking and cold. I was only at the half and the knew the second half would be marching directly into the wind. Buckle up.

5:00, 5:06, 5:11, 5:12, 5:14, 5:16, 5:21, 5:23, 5:26, 5:43, 5:23

(22-32K) I see George just after the half. I wish I could put on a happier face for him. I grab his gloves and carry on. It was around 22K that it hits me that there rain has turned to sleet. That's why my face and legs sting. I'm annoyed. This is not where I had planned to be (mentally or physically) at the halfway mark. I know this is where the race begins and I'm struggling with the FACT that this is not the race I wanted. I know some races don't go your way. I know there are many things beyond your control, but this realization cuts deep. I see many of the half marathoners are on their way back to the finish and I know that my race has only just begun.

I start to bargain hard with myself around 24K. Negotiating with yourself in a race is something to be expected. The doubt demons will ALWAYS come out to play. It's just some days you are better at squashing those conversations than others; I firmly believe your ability to manage these conversations will determine your race outcome. I entertain a DNF for a few minutes and tell myself a hard NO. Shut that right down, girl. I battle between feeling weak and pathetic and telling myself WE ARE NOT QUITTING TODAY. After letting my race goals go, I told myself to JFR. No judgment here, Jayme. Just. Keep. Going.

With the added weight of the water, my shorts start to fall down. I need to get my gels out of the pocket, or I will be pulling these shorts up the rest of the way. At 30K I ask a female volunteer to help me. With a frozen face, I tell her my butt is showing. She says, "That's ok. We all have butt cracks," and kindly helps me get my gels out. We laugh. I think how awesome these volunteers are for standing out there in the rain. THANK YOU. 

5:36, 5:39, 5:52, 5:57, 7:07 (stop @ aid station), 5:41, 5:44, 6:14, 5:40, 6:01

(33-41K) We reach the second base, a naval base. I know we will be turning around to head home to the finish soon. Thank goodness. Get me off this ride. I run up beside a gal who seems to be trucking along pretty well. We run for a bit. She must of heard me either sniffle or laugh (or cry?) to myself because she says, "I've done 10 marathons and this is by far the worst conditions I've ever seen." We both say, "less than 8K (5miles) to go." You got this.

With less than 8K to go, everything in me wants to quit. I have never felt this defeated. Or maybe I have and this is just my most recent encounter with the feeling. I think of my Mom saying EIGHT IS GREAT and tell myself repeatedly to keep going. The wind has blown sand in my mouth. Lovely. By the grace of God, I manage to keep moving. I was on the brink many times in these last few kilometres. That's the thing about marathons, the 42.2K is an opportunity to show yourself what you're made of. I was heartbroken. All I wanted to do was cry, but I knew couldn't. I had to finish and knew that I would manage a sub-4 if I *just* kept moving. Easier said that done.

5:41 5:52 5:49 6:08 5:46 6:27 5:56 6:00 6:52 6:21

(42-42.2K) I feel everything all at once. I want to cry but at the same time I AM SO PROUD. I remind myself how long it took for me to achieve a sub-4 race, and here I was running in at 3:58 on a horrible day. I look for George and see him running along beside me. I love him so much. THANK YOU. I cross the finish and don't have words for what happened out there. I am so happy I finished this marathon. A volunteer hands me my medal and my finisher hat. I will wear this hat for years.

422/1354 Overall

124/607 Female

32/109 30-34

3:58:11

Race recap: Winterman Half Marathon 2017

A few weeks ago I ran my 15th half marathon, on a whim. On the Friday of Winterman, my Mom, who was going to be in town that weekend, texted me to see if I wanted to do the race. I would do the half-marathon and she would do the full (her 50th marathon, I should add). It was admittedly the first time I entered a race last minute. I had unfinished business at this race after being pulled off in 2014 due to a frost bite scare. The forecast was looking great and in the back of my head, I knew I would get a mental boost from running a race. Normally I build a half-marathon into my marathon trying cycles, but given that Shamrock Marathon is in March, there are limited half-marathons in the lead up. Whereas with later spring marathons, take your pick of X, Y, Z, March-April races to use as trainers.Now if we back it up a bit, I wasn’t having a great training week up until my Mom’s text. I was feeling sluggish, and had decided to take a few days off. In fact, I was on the fence if I would even do a long run that week. As much as I love marathon training, that’s one of the downsides of being in (nearly) continuously training-mode. You run the risk of feeling over trained and unmotivated; I’ve accepted that this is a very normal part of the process and don’t beat myself up *too much* for having these thoughts.

The Winterman race is a long standing event that runs annually in February. For the past few years the temperatures have been -20ºC, or colder. In fact, last year the event was cancelled. The event begins at the Canadian War Museum and does an out and back loop along the Sir John A. Parkway. In theory, this is a great training race. The route includes two hills that runners hit four times per loop, and is run almost primarily on the road. There is about a 500m loop on the sidewalk at the War Museum. That said, it has historically been known to be covered in snow, salt and ice. To be expected with a name like Winterman, I suppose.

Race Day. We missed the race registration online, so we sent my Dad over to register us at 6:30AM on the morning of. I really do have the best Dad. I was sitting on the couch drinking coffee when he came back to with our bibs and ankle chips. Ok, so this is really happening. While I wasn’t planning for this to be a PB race, I expected a 1:4x, preferably on the lower side. The day before the race we were in Montreal visiting my sister and brother-in-law and were walking around downtown all day. Seeing that this was not a race I was planning for, I didn’t fuss with my normal pre-race routines. I’ll JFR, was the plan.

I live conveniently close to the start, so Mom and I walked over 28 minutes before the start. It was a beautiful day and I was truly happy I decided to run this race. After running the majority of my long runs on the treadmill, I was desperate to remind these legs that we gearing up to run fast outside. The goal is the Shamrock Marathon, after all.

The race begins. Wow this crowd is moving fast. I quickly realize that the vast majority of the participants were running a 5K or a relay. Just like in a marathon, the course always clears out once the 5-10K'ers are gone. As always, I repeat not to get ahead of myself. I encounter the first of the rolling hills and I am reminded of how many times I’ve run this stretch before. Today I will be running it 8 times (4 loops, out and back). Oh joy. UP AND OVER.

4:58, 4:53, 4:45, 4:54, 4:45

It would be great to be in top 5, I think. Then remind myself that this is a training run, no pressure today. Keep your head. I take a Hammer Gel around 10K. I’ve been using GenUCan lots in my training, but I’ve decided that gels are easier to use on the race course. I used this race as a practice run for my stomach. Thankfully, no issues!

4:49, 4:57, 4:57, 4:46, 5:01

After the second loop, I tell myself we are on the penultimate loop. I smile thinking of my coach saying this to us as we run around the track. I know that this is the point in the race/workout that matters. Over the years this is one area that I’m proud of. I often use the second half of a race or hard work out to prove to myself how badly I want it. That said, this doesn’t make the running part easier, especially with these darn hills. I clear my mind and tell myself we are in the home stretch. I see my mom and a few familiar faces and give a thumbs up. This gives me a boost (it always does).

4:56, 5:00, 5:16, 4:58, 5:01

Alright. Last loop. I’m feeling good and almost giddy thinking that my long run is ONLY 21.1K. This is what marathon training does to you (we are a crazy bunch). I know that next week I have a 36K ahead of me. As I run the final kilometre, I am reminded why I love racing. I love the final push of a race where your mind truly does run the body. As a peel around the corner, I see my Dad and our dog Tucker standing there. While it wasn’t a PB, this was a great run.

4:47, 5:09, 5:10, 5:06, 5:00, 4:42

1:44:35

18/100 overall

3/43 females

1/6 F30-34

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQvcA_jhY9R/?taken-by=thepacinglife

Have you run a last minute race? 

Did you run a race this winter? 

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Race recap: Run for Reach 2016

I planned to use the Run for Reach Half Marathon as a training race for Ottawa Marathon. The annual race is put on by Reach Canada, a national charity that supports people with disabilities. I ran it in 2013, six weeks before the Ottawa Marathon that year, and got my half marathon PB. It’s a fairly flat course and is an out and back loop along the Rideau Canal, a portion of the Ottawa Marathon route. It also happens to be a route I run quite frequently. With the race on Sunday morning, Saturday was a pretty low key day. I completed a 20 minute shakeout run on Saturday morning, then ran some errands (including picking up my race kit at the Bank Street Running Room). G entertained my appetite for Whole Foods for lunch. Salad bar, grilled salmon and ginger GT’s Kombucha FTW. We had a chill evening, as I was going to be up early in order to get to the start before 8:00.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BD_TnajCbfP/?taken-by=thepacinglife

 

The morning of the race I woke up around 5:45 am. I couldn’t sleep any longer. I wasn’t nervous, but there’s something about race mornings that just wake you up. I drank my coffee and sat on my computer for a bit. By 6:45 am I started nibbling on my Picky Bar and sipped on some Nuun. I left the house by 7:20 am and ran to the race start (about 2.5 km).

As I stood at the start line, I really wasn’t nervous. I looked around and overheard many comments about how cold it wast (-9ºC). Interesting, I thought to myself, after running outside for the past three months, this was what I consider to be a beautiful day.

Ultimately, I just wanted to get the show on the road. There were about 115 participants in the half marathon and another 100 or so in the 5 and 10km. The 10km started with the half marathon, which meant I knew the course would thin after they finished.

My race plan was to run a negative split (faster second half of the race). I’ll be honest with you, this has been a unicorn I’ve been chasing for a while. While everyone knows that in theory running a strong negative split  is ideal, it’s a hard task to execute. It means you have to really reign it in those first few kilometres, when you’re feeling fresh and could easily run fast.

Kilometre 1-5 I repeated to myself 4:55-5:00. I hung with a group of guys and let them do the pacing work. The guy who seemed to be leading the pack was running a consistent 5:00. I told myself that this was my warm up. YOU WILL STAY HERE.

By 6km, I told myself that we could start working the pace down. Reminding myself constantly that I am running my OWN RACE and not to get spooked by the people passing me (as I suspected, they were finishing at 10km). I reminded myself that I would be in a STRONG position for the second half of the race. That would be where the fun began. I took a Hammer Espresso Gel between kilometre 8-9 (good practice for Ottawa Marathon, I’m planning to take them in 45 minute intervals).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BEBnU6dCbZ7/?taken-by=thepacinglife

 

I made it to the turnaround (the 10km finish) and let myself push it a bit more. My coach had told me that the half marathon is supposed to hurt, but it doesn’t hurt forever. You should be in control by the second half of the race. I was. The pace felt good.  My legs were responding and I knew I had more left in the tank.

At 15km, the last turnaround of the race, I told myself GO TIME.  The plan was to run a negative split and this was the part of the plan where the race would be won. The last 6km is where you reap the benefits of your controlled race plan. My legs were feeling great. I had a great soundtrack in my ears and the sun was shining.

With 3km left I was doing the math in my head. I knew I was going to PR that day. My coach had told me 1:41 was a challenging but very realistic goal. That would put me over two minutes faster than my PB of 1:43. I can’t emphasize how badly I wanted to PR on Sunday. Reflecting more on the race, there was a big difference between my PB there three years ago and this year. Three years ago, my 1:43:57 felt like a fluke. Although it was GREAT, I legitimately surprised myself back in 2013. Back then, I just started being able to run what I considered to be fast.

Sunday’s PB meant even more to me. It wasn’t a fluke at all. I had no doubt in my mind what I was capable of (even on tired legs). I knew I had put in the work. While the half marathon really was a training race for Ottawa, I’m so freaking happy with Sunday’s result.

time

DOUBT KILLS MORE DREAMS THAN FAIILURE EVER WILL.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BEGUncoCbQf/?taken-by=thepacinglife

 

Has doubt held you back from something lately?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.