Wednesday, 12 June 2013

YMCA International Bridge Race

What a cool idea.  Race across the Blue Water bridge.  They started this way back when I lived in Sarnia.  Since then, it's become twin bridges, still collectively know as "The Bridge".  When I first heard about it 5 years ago, I immediately determined to enter.  

Prep at the starting line

It's a small-town event; about 500 entrants.  No web site, just the info page on the Running Room site.  Still, it has everything you need.  a shirt (technical), a medal, food afterwards, water stations, chip timing.  They charter a half dozen school buses to take everyone from the finish to the starting line across the border.  This year US customs had us all disembark the bus and checked ID.  There were 3 water stations, not the 5 shown on the map. Three is plenty enough water for 10 km.  

I worked the overnight shift Friday, slept less than an hour, and set off for Sarnia on Saturday morning.  Courtesy of Monster drink.  Meghan had nothing to do, so she tagged along.  We stopped along the way in Oil Springs to take some pictures that I'll be posting on WikiMedia.  Dinner was home-made at grandma's by my brother, who just happened to be in town. I have to get to bed, so I can't go out with him.  Lots of rice for dinner.  We watched Arial America touring Michigan, then I crashed at 9 pm while they watched the ball game. or maybe it was the hockey game.  I was tired and didn't notice.  


Alarm time was 5 am.  I slept really well, and was feeling great.  I had all my gear laid out.  Looking outside, the sky was mostly clear.  The forecast all week was for rain, so I brought my long tights and jacket.  It's too warm for those, so I went to the shorts and brand new Yonge Street 10 k shirt. A bowl of granola, then a stop at Tim Horton's for a bagel.  We parked near the beach, and I suited up.  My race belt had slipped the clasp off again, and I spent 5 minutes looking for it in the minivan before finding it still clipped on the belt, but only on the one end.  I fixed that and was ready.  I need to patch that so it doesn't happen again.  It's essential race gear, since it holds the bib.  No bib, no race.  

Looking back

My camera had the operating system freeze up the last time I ran it, so I wanted to get a ton of pictures.  Next time I can do it just for the run.  I brought my HD video camera, and  carried it in my hand.  The pictures are screen captures from the movie.  

The rain stayed away.  There wasn't much sun, but it was really warm for so early in the morning.  They had plenty of supplies for us at the finish. 

Meghan had 2 hours to kill waiting for me to come back, so she chatted with the organizers setting up, and was put to work helping them.  We stayed for the awards.  They had a team with grandparent, parents, and children all together.  This is a great sport. Everyone takes part.

Meghan hands out medals

I pushed to about where I felt uncomfortable, finishing in 53 minutes.  Not much faster than the 59 minutes I paced Jen to on Yonge Street last month.  About the same speed I was 5 years ago.  

Dinner time!  They closed our local KFC back around Christmas time, so that's what we had for lunch.  I like something greasy after a workout.  

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Day Will Be Epic!

A guest post by Jennifer

The Marathon will change your life. You run 42.2 km and you feel like you can do anything cuz nothing can be harder than that. After running the Toronto Yonge Street 10km a couple weeks ago I felt fulfilled. I had set a goal and made it with flying colours. That was the first time that I had finished a 10k in under an hour (59:38 to be exact) and I still felt ready to go. So I decided it was time to try something harder and originally I was going to sign up for the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon but when I got on the website and saw the size difference between its medal and the one for the full I ended up signing up for the longer distance. This meant I was running 42.2km on a whim with not near the even minimal amount of training.

My Harley Quinn hair is still good

 Epic! should be spelled with your hands in the air. They need a font for that.  The hands in the air font.  Comes with optional game-show-announcer voice.  

The day would be Epic! But it started with a cat -- my cat Paddington, climbing on my head.  Down Paddington.  I shoved the not-quite-a-kitten-anymore to the bottom of the bed.  Pad pad pad she came back.  She thinks now I want to play.  My dog, Willow, popped her head up and came along this time. Two critters on my head.  At 3:00 in the morning.  Down Paddington. Down Willow.  Willow nuzzled Paddington and began giving her a bath.  The licking would go on for half an hour.  Paddington liked baths and Willow liked giving them.

Alarm time was 4, and I thought about sending them out of the room to play, as if having them venture through the house waking everyone else was an improvement. Would I get back to sleep anyway?  No, I waited out the hour.  Up at 4, I showered and dressed, and the house was still quiet.  Where's my supporters?  I'm not doing this alone.  Upstairs, I exclaimed, "Rise and shine Mulan!  Pack the bags Crickie!  What do you mean the troops already left?"  There we go, supporters are up.

We headed out into the cold dark night at 4:30 am.  Got to the Tim Hortons where two weeks ago at 5 am we impressed the night shift crew with our Epic! Harley Quinn and Joker costumes.  Today they haven't even cooked the bagels yet.  Back on the highway for another half hour.  Cambridge.  I hear they have the highest concentration of Tim Hortons in the world. Dad tells me useless stuff like that. They have the bagels!  Now I remember that I hate bagels, or at least bagel with peanut butter which is what Dad said to have before the race.  I barely manage to choke it down over the next half hour.

If you’re gonna do something dumb do it dumb right so here is my bit of advice to other last minute runners for the marathon.

1) Have a full six hours of music so that you never hear the same track twice and you have choices of all your favourite songs to pick from when you really need to push up that hill. My new fav running song is ‘Bring it all Back’ by S Club 7
2) DO NOT run up the hills. Save your energy instead of wasting it on hills cuz you’re gonna need everything you got for the second half. In fact I would recommend that you walk whenever you see someone else walking just so that you remember to not push too hard in the first half. The first half is fun times and you definitely just need to relax and enjoy it. This is why so many people now like doing half marathons; All the fun without the blisters.
3) After the finish line feel free to cry knowing that you won’t be able to muster tears
4) Wear nothing cotton on race day, this includes underwear and bra. Cotton gets soaked in sweat and it chafes, true story. Use Vaseline or body glide anywhere that will have friction and sunscreen everywhere else.

And you should wear your medal at least until you can walk down stairs like a normal person. Walking down stairs backwards works for the day after running a marathon.

I've run down Yonge Street before.  Just two weeks ago Dad and I ran the Yonge Street 10 k with me dressed as Harley Quinn and him as the Joker.  It was Epic!   I managed the entire distance at a steady run, finishing under an hour and feeling strong.  I wanted to keep going.  I felt like I could run forever.  Let's go again, I thought.  Dad told me of some upcoming races in Waterloo, London, Mississauga, Toronto, and the GoodLife stood out because it too was down Yonge Street.  I like running down Yonge Street.  The medals shown on the website were square with rounded corners, not the great big circle that Dad has from when he ran it in 2010.  The half-marathon medal was big, but you could see that the marathon was so much bigger!  If I can do 21, I can do 42, right? Dad told me to do the half.  The prices were close to the same.  I went for it! Full marathon. The medals dangle.  Paddington likes things that dangle.

Race weekend began on Friday with the trip to the expo to collect my bib.  So much to look at.  Need more shoes!  Need a water belt!  I felt like such a noob.  They can have whole conversations about electrolytes.  It's what plants crave! that's all I know.

Then Saturday was rest and prep day.  Um no, it really really wasn’t.  It's free comic book day!  It's Epic! I loaded myself again into the Harley Quinn outfit.  It turned out there were four Harley Quinns, including Epic! Star Wars Harley with her light-saber. I spent the day standing in line at various stores around London.  My friends and I also went to the library where they held the costume contest.  It was Epic! and we were all Harleys and Jokers and little kids wondering why Dad was so weird dressing up for Halloween in the spring.

We arrived at the race site an hour early.  It's cold out, so after the mandatory trip to the porta-pottie, we huddled in the car for a while.  It's good to have a squire to carry things.  Dad was squire and took my long pants and coat 5 minutes before the start. I was left in my cotton-candy short shorts.  I waited at the back of the bunch looking for the 5-hour rabbit, which never showed up.  

Start time, hurray!  We are off.  The 5:30 rabbit is too fast, so I don't follow her.  About 10 minutes into the race, we have looped back past the start, and there's Dad and Meghan waving.  Hi dad.  Hi Meghan. I will see them twice more before the finish.  It's cold until we went under the 401 coming out into the open and the deep valley.  It's sunny here and will be sunny and warm for the rest of the day.  

If marathons had a course for newbies, the GoodLife Toronto Marathon would be it since it is all downhill. The first half as I said was fun. 

I had a conversation with a guy whom I will call Green Shirt Guy, because he was wearing a green shirt.  His shirt was Epic! and said, "trample the weak, leap over the dead."  So we're talking about racing and such, and I tell him everything, which maybe he doesn't believe until we get to the 13 km banner, and he looks at me and says, "so this is the furthest you have ever run?".  Yep.  "and this is the first time you've ever eaten an energy gel?"  Yep.  I’m not be prepared, but I'm ready!  

At the 13 km marker I settled in with ‘The Pink Lady’, as I called her in my head, whom I found was good to run with cuz although slow like me, unlike me she had a plan. We were heading off from Yonge Street into a subdivision, and I noticed pink lady slowing to a walk.  My 5 hour rabbit was supposed to pace the walk breaks that I'm supposed to be taking.  No rabbit = no breaks. I slowed down to walk with her.  Pink lady looked at me and took off her headphones.  Oh great, now I have to take mine off.  She is doing a 10 plus 1 run - walk plan, and has a watch.  I ended up near her for most the rest of the race.    We talked some, and listened sometimes to headphones.  She was a bit concerned when I told her this was my first marathon, and that I hadn’t trained much at all, and that I had never ran more than 12 km so when I met her it was already the farthest I had ever gone, and also that I had never eaten a gel packet. Although I must say that I tried six different flavours on race day and liked all of them even the double latte flavor. We ended up running together on and off for a good half of the marathon and we happily finished in 5 hours 45 minutes.

Epic struggle

Coming up to Ontario Place, you can see the finish line. There's still 15 km to go The half-marathon runners go directly there to be done.  I can see why that distance is popular.  Dad is there, and Meghan.  I tell him that I'm fine, except my aching ankles.  and my hip replacement. My hip has been aching for an hour.  I need a new one.  

Dad and Meghan were there cheering throughout the course and they have pointed out to me that my good pacing looked like I was out of breath and that my speed walking looked like a stagger.  So what, I felt strong most of the race. I never got out of breath to the point that I couldn’t talk, I didn’t throw up though I wanted to, and I didn’t use any of the porta-pottys, so I count it as a good race. Those last 4 km when I gave it my all were great cuz I still had enough energy to pass other runners. I’m fairly sure I annoyed the other runners though and that the spectators were concerned about my craziness cuz by this point I was singing out loud to my music. ‘Jellyhead’ and ‘I’m sexy and I know it’ were the last couple I sang as ran the last kilometer. It should be noted that I can’t sing on key even on a good day.

After the race I staggered around the finish area until the final runners crossed the line and eventually Meghan and Dad had to coax me toward the car cuz I was not thinking straight. We stopped for burgers and beer on the way home. I finished the beer but didn’t have much appetite which surprised me. The post run beer was almost as good as the post run banana. It was very saddening when I got to the finish and they had run out of bananas. The best banana you will ever eat is the one at the finish of a long run. That banana is everything. The GoodLife seemed to have a lot of shortages. They ran out of water at several water stations. They ran out of 5 km medals (Meghan’s will be sent to her in the mail) and they ran out of bananas. When the water stations ran out of cups they were pouring it into our hand to drink from there which seemed really unsanitary to me but I was desperate and didn’t think about it.

Running the marathon I finally managed the goal that I had originally for the 10k. I felt not just fulfilled but accomplished and look I got an Epic medal.

Epic medal