August Total Mileage

Well August sucked. :( It was not the month for me. I was going into August hoping to challenge myself and run the Spartan Race Ultra Beast. It would be my first 50k and my longest obstacle/trail/any type of race. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to challenge myself. It’s okay though. One valuable lesson I’ve learned for the month of August is that there will always be another race. Take your time to rest properly, take care of your body and spend with family and friends.

I didn’t really post anything all month either. There wasn’t much to post. I had pulled my hamstring during a water skiing session back in July (see last post). Since then, I have been foam rolling, icing, stretching and resting. I went for a massage a few times and my Massage Therapist said I should slow down and really take care of my body if I want to be racing well into old age. Yes, I know I should take care of myself….it’s just so hard when there is a race just about every weekend in the Spring and Summer months.

My total mileage for August was only 44.53 km’s with 5 days of running. This is the first time since December 2014 that I did not run over 100 km per month. It’s a bit depressing but I know that I needed a break. I had been racing for 10 weekends straight. That is a record for me! 10 weekends in a row of collecting medals and even multiple lap races; with my last race being 2 laps of the Spartan Super in Toronto. The Super was about 12 km of hill/mountain climbing and 10+ obstacles. It was the first time I ran 2 laps of a Super. I ran with friends on the second ‘fun’ lap and we took it easy; it was still hard and the weather was hot. At the end of my second lap, I could feel my quads starting to cramp up. I felt great to finish with my friends and know that we just ran 24 km!

The weekend after the Toronto Super, I was up at the cottage and that’s when I pulled my hamstring. I guess injuries are a way of our body telling us we need to slow down. This has happened to me at least once a year since I started running in 2012 and usually at the end of Summer, beginning of Fall. I guess I should have learned the lesson by now huh. Every time I train hard and do a lot of races, I end up getting injured after and end my race season early.

OKAY! I get it now. Something needs to change. So for next year, I will focus on training smarter and injury prevention. That means not racing every weekend and choosing only a few major races to focus my training on. That also means more cross training and yoga for injury prevention. Quality of races over quantity. ;)

I still have 2 more big races for October. Run for the Toad 50k and STWM full marathon. Depending on how my training goes and how my body feels ( I still get a bit of tightness in the hamstring when I run); I will decide closer to the date if I need to downgrade my distance for them. I have no time goal for either races, the goal is to just finish the race without injury.

Fall is my favourite time of the year to run so hopefully I can get more runs in and run at least 100 km this month. Good luck to everyone training for your upcoming Fall races! :)

 

July Total Mileage & 3 Days To Go!

I started the month off pretty strong. I thought I would hit over 200km for July for sure. I had been racing every weekend for 10 weekends straight. I was feeling good and my weekly mileage goals were on target. Another lesson learned: sometimes you may feel great, but underneath the endorphin’s, your body is slowly wearing down. I pulled my right hamstring during a water skiing session at the cottage. Go figure – I don’t get injured during races or training but doing something fun on the side. :( Be good to your body, give it the rest it deserves. Rest days are part of the training process and you will see the benefits and rewards from taking care of yourself. Yep – hindsight is always 20/20. :/

My total mileage was 129.72km’s for the month of July. This is pretty bad considering I should be ramping up my training for the Run for the Toad and STWM in October. Okay, I will recover from my hamstring injury and train smarter so I am ready for my upcoming races.

Speaking of upcoming races… 3 more days until the Spartan Race Ultra Beast!!! OMG!!! The is the first year Spartan Race is having an Ultra Beast distance in Eastern Canada. Ultra Beast is a disgustingly difficult 42k+ course from the Spartan Race series and there are not many of them. The famous original Ultra Beast is the Vermont location. Vermont is in September and it’s held at Killington Resort. If you’ve never been there, google Killington and check it’s elevation stats. ;) Crazy elevation (you’re climbing the hill several times) mixed in with Vermont September weather and you’ve got yourself a crazy challenge. Finishing rates are usually around 20-30% and average completion times vary around the 12+ hour mark. Oh.em.gee.

So of course, I wanted to challenge myself this year and register for the Ottawa Ultra Beast. Last year I ran the Ottawa Super Saturday and the Beast Sunday and it was a great challenge. Having done that already, I decided to go big this year. This will be the biggest challenge ever for me. I may have been more ready for it two week ago, but since I pulled my hamstring over a week ago; I am getting super nervous. I don’t want to back out and still up for the challenge. I even went for a 17k last long trail run on Monday. It wasn’t bad but I have definitely have to adjust my running to smaller strides and can’t race down the mountain/hills like I normally do. Stretch breaks will also be a key part of my game plan for Sunday.

I read the race preview and it’s definitely going to be a tough one on Sunday; maybe even tougher than Vermont. 50k, 70 obstacles, some never seen before and the organizers estimate the completion rate will be 25%. Again..oh.em.gee! I am going to try my hardest, give it everything I’ve got and push myself physically and mentally. If I DNF after all that, then I am okay with it. But I really hope to be in that 25% bracket! Wish me luck! :)

TSEliot

Around The Bay 30k

 

This is a must-do race if you have never ran it before! All the cool kids run it! Hamilton’s Around the Bay Road Race is the oldest on the continent, first run in 1894, three years before the Boston Marathon. I feel like it’s a huge run party since I always see so many familiar faces. It’s a great kick-off race for the 2015 season. One of the great things about this race is that the finish is inside Copps Coliseum (now renamed to First Ontario Centre – but I will always call it Copps).

I had planned to run this race as an easy training run. With my first marathon scheduled two weeks after, I could not risk getting injured. I started off at an easy pace and enjoyed the scenery and crowd along the way. If you’ve ever ran this race before, you would know that there isn’t much to see in Hamilton and the first 20k of the race was pretty boring. Things got a bit more exciting and challenging as we ran through the rolling hills of North Shore Blvd. The finish inside the Copps Coliseum is the best part as people are cheering you on and you can look up and see all the spectators. I had a goal time of finishing before 3 hours and 30 minutes and my official time was 3:16:26! Woo-hoo! Not bad for a long easy pace run. :)

Race Registration:

I had registered for this race back in the Fall. This race always sells out so I like to sign up early. I paid $85.32 CAD after taxes for this race.

*Interesting Fact: this was the first year in several years that the ATB 30k race was not sold out. This is possibly due to an extremely cold Winter we had; or that the famous Valley Inn Hill of the ATB route was closed due to construction.

Race Expo:

One of the best race expos in terms of logistics. The Copps Coliseum is a big stadium. If you’ve ever been to any stadiums before, you would know that it is a big circle. You enter at the main entrance and walk in a big circle to all the vendors before you get to the race kit pick up area. I love this idea because all the vendors are in a circle [not various isles], therefore you don’t miss any of them.

Race Kit:ATB1

We were given a bib with timing chip and a race specific long sleeve shirt. I did this race last year and also received a bonus cap since it was the race’s 120th anniversary. Unfortunately, there was no cap this year. :( I like the idea of your bib and timing chip and shirt instead of a bag filled with race flyers that you eventually throw out anyway.

Parking:

There was no traffic driving into Hamilton and there were plenty of parking lots and parking on the side streets. I ended up parking at a small park about a 15-20 min walk to the starting line. The weather was nice so I didn’t mind walking to the start. It provided a nice warm up run too.

Pre-Race:

I love race venues with buildings or some sort of shelter you can stay in before the race. The Coliseum is a perfect example as lots of people were meeting up with friends or just staying inside to keep warm. You can use real toilets instead of using the porta potties. It’s also a great place because spectators can sit and wait for their family/friends to finish without having to stand around for hours.

Race Course:

The first 20km of the race is a fairly flat scenic route through Hamilton. The last 10k had rolling hills through North Shore Blvd. The change to the course this year was the removal of Valley Inn Hill due to construction.  Instead, we continued on Plains Rd.  and turned on York Blvd. The finish inside Copps Coliseum is the best part of the race. It feels nice to finish in a stadium with your friends, family and other spectators cheering you on.

Water/Aid Stations:

There were water/Gatorade stations approximately every 5km along the course. I wore my CamelBak filled with water for this race so I only had to stop at a few stations along the way to replenish my electrolytes with Gatorade.

Volunteers:

There were a lot of volunteers at the water stations along the course and a few paramedics along the route. They were all very friendly and was cheering everyone on.

Spectators:ATB2

The areas with the biggest spectator viewing is at the start/finish line and whenever the relay runners change over (10km, 15km, 20km). Other than that, the first 20km is actually quite boring with not a lot of spectator support. When you start heading back towards Copps on York Blvd (after you encounter the Grim Reaper), is where the amount of spectators increase. I was so happy to see my Tribe Fitness family cheering me on and telling me to “catch the pace bunny” in front of me. I did catch her and even PASSED her! It was also nice to see other Toronto run crews out supporting the runners as well – Night Terrors Run Crew and Parkdale Road Runners were all in attendance. Parkdale had a HUGE cheer squad and they definitely pushed me to speed up during that last 500 meters or so. So much support – I love the Toronto running community. #crewlove

Post-Race:

As soon as I finished inside the Coliseum, I could see some of my friends sitting in the bleachers. I headed to the finish area where we were given bananas, water, pita bread, etc. and a bag to put it all in. I think every race should give you bags at the end to put all your goodies in; so much easier to carry than carrying everything in your hand. I lined up to take a photo post race and started my way up to the bleachers to meet my friends and the rest of the Tribe. It was nice to finish a race and be inside instead of in the cold and get to sit down. We sat in the bleachers cheering on the rest of the Tribe until everyone finished.

ATB3

Would I Run It Again:

Absolutely! I would love to come back next year and try for a PB. Hopefully I won’t have a marathon to get ready for so that I can really push myself. I don’t even mind training throughout the winter to get ready. We had a really cold winter, but having a race such as Around the Bay and a marathon in the early Spring is a really good motivator to get out and train in the freezing cold. I am not looking forward to running in extreme cold weather alerts or running with frozen eyelashes again; but I know I will have to if I want to PB this race next year.

Run Brag: March was also the highest mileage month I’ve ever ran. I finished with 207.85 km! I’m surprised at how much I ran and pretty impressed that I was able to get those mileage in and still feel great and not injured. I am definitely thankful to be living a life in which I am able to do things that I love. <3

ATB4

June Total Mileage & My Next Challenge

TSEliot

I didn’t quite hit 200 km’s this month :( I know I should be increasing my mileage and endurance since I am training for the Spartan Ultra Beast in August and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. But sometimes, we have to listen to our bodies and take the rest that it is asking for. I have learned this lesson many times in the past when I would push my body and over train to the point of injury. :/

My total mileage for June is 155.59 km. Not 200 km but still happy with my finish this month. I will need to step it up in July if I want to take this next challenge in my life.

So my next challenge…!?!? :D

I have officially registered for my first ultramarathon! Yep, posting this for all to see; so there’s no turning back now. That’s going to be 50 km of trail running at the Run for the Toad in October. This is also two weeks before my STWM marathon! It’s definitely going to be a challenge alright; but my goal for the 50 km race is to take it nice and easy and just finish. I’ve learned that in trail running, the goal is just finishing and not necessarily the time. Well, for me it is anyway. Each trail is different and even if it’s the same route as previous years, other conditions play a huge factor in determining how fast you can run. I did my first trail race in May and have completed two trail races to date and I just love it. I have always loved my obstacle races because it always involves trail running. Now I’m taking it to the next level and giving this ‘ultramarathon’ running a try. I’m a bit nervous but I know I can do it. I just need to keep running and training hard and on race day; I will cross that finish line and become an ‘ultramarathoner’.

I may not be the fastest, I may not be the strongest but I’ll be damned if I’m not trying my hardest. <3

Try

May Total Mileage

GetStronger

I know I have not made a blog post in a while…but sometimes, life get busy :)

Actually, I came back from my amazing European vacation and have been busy with races and catching up with the real world.

I also haven’t trained much since my Paris Marathon. My training was the actual races I run every weekend. lol. Even though I haven’t had many training runs until the last week of May, I still feel great. I did my first trail run (race review to follow) and am slowing increasing my mileage again.

My total mileage for May is 120.29 km. That’s still quite a bit (mainly races), so I am happy with that number. I can’t wait to increase both my mileage and endurance and train for the Spartan Ultra Beast in August and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October!

I’ve got a lot of race reviews to catch you all up on so they’ll be coming soon! Sorry for the delay. My longest race streak so far is seven weeks! :)

Polar Rush

 

I completed my first obstacle course race of 2015 and my first obstacle race in the snow on Saturday, March 21st at the inaugural Polar Rush. Polar rush is a winter obstacle challenge consisting of 5km and 12+ obstacles at Horseshoe Resort in support of the SickKids Foundation.

Even though it is a winter obstacle race, the race happened on the first day of Spring. The weather wasn’t as cold and there were still a lot of snow on the ground. During the race, it started to rain and snowed a bit but it made the race super fun. I kept running to stay warm and my toes didn’t start to feel cold until the end of the race.

Race Registration:

I had been wanting to register for this race since I first read about it in early January. However, it is a bit steep for an inaugural 5k obstacle race. Good thing I held off and ended up getting a free race entry from a friend who could no longer make it. Registration cost was $50+ depending on when you sign up for it. The cost includes a finisher’s medal, a t-shirt and a winter toque.

Race Expo:

There was no race expo for this race. We picked up our race kits a few hours before the actual race at Horseshoe Resort.

Race Kit:

Our kit was a plastic bag full of race flyers, Impact Magazine, Centrum multivitamin sample, a bib, t-shirt and toque for the race. Obstacle course races don’t usually hand out anything at the start of a race other than a timing chip and a bib or headband. You usually get the finisher’s t-shirt at the end, when you actually cross the finish line. You are usually muddy and dirty by the time you finish, and therefore your finisher’s shirt will get dirty; so I didn’t mind getting the finisher’s shirt beforehand.

Parking:

Parking was free at Horeshoe Resort and there were lots of parking available. The parking was on site, so that was a good thing. We left our change of clothes in the car nearby so we can change into. Thank goodness there were no shuttle buses to wait for because you are cold by the end of the race. There were lockers available for a fee but it was easier and more budget friendly to leave things in the car.

Pre-Race:

There was a bonfire at the start/finish area to keep you warm. The weather was a bit chilly at the start but once you got warmed up and moving, it was perfect. My good friend Jesse Bruce from Alpha Obstacle Training led the pre-race warm up for the Elite Heat which started at 10:00 am. I was registered for the Elite Heat, but I saw my friend Johanna and she was running by herself (her friend wanted to catch the 10:00 elite wave), so Cliff and I decided to join her at 10:30 and do a slow fun run.

PR1 PR2

Race Course:

The 5km course was a beautiful trail run through Horseshoe Resort. It was fairly flat with a few inclines and a couple of steep areas where I had to sit on my butt and slide down to avoid falling. The obstacles were fairly easy, the walls weren’t too high and the terrain made for a great challenge as well. My favourite obstacles were the Crazy Carpet (actually magic carpets to slide down the hill) and the Tube Run. My friends and I had so much fun at the Crazy Carpet that we decided to walk back up the mountain [good hill train ;)] with our carpets and slide back down again. The first time we slid down on our tummy, face first, the second time we sat upright. The tubing was also fun as well. I have never gone tubing before so that was my first experience. My friends and I held onto each other’s tubes and slide down together. SO FUN! The two obstacles brought me back to my childhood days, just enjoying the snow. Now I really want to go tubing and get a magic carpet to slide down some hills next winter!

Water/Aid Stations:

There was one water station on the course midway which had water and electrylotes.

PR5

Volunteers:

There was one volunteer at the Spiral of Death, one at the water station, a couple at the Rope Rush (climbing up a hill using a rope – probably the hardest of all the obstacles and it had an easy or hard route), a couple volunteers at the Crazy Carpet and some more at the Tube Run. It was a small race so the amount of volunteers were adequate and nicely spaced out at the obstacles which required instructions and assistance.

Spectators:

There were spectators by the festival area (start/finish) of the race. The finish area was quite small and off to the side so there wasn’t room for many spectators.

Post-Race:

As soon as my friends and I crossed the finish line, we were greeted with medals by our good friend, Becky. It was so good to see her at the end! We received our medals and got our photo taken by the professional photographer. There was hot chocolate and maple taffy at the finish. I have never had maple taffy before, it was quite good. We started in a later heat and it took us about one hour to finish; so by the end we finished the race, we were just in time to catch the Elite awards ceremony. I stayed for a couple of the age category awards, but I got so cold that I had to go to the car and get some warm clothes to change into.

PR4

PR3

Would I Run It Again:

Absolutely! It was so much fun running through the trails at Horseshoe Resort in the winter. The natural terrain and snow made for great cross training. I had a blast with all my friends and fellow Alpha Obstacle Training crew. The weather was perfect, even though it was cold when you finished the race. Our winter weather can be so unpredictable though, so next year’s race could be either freezing cold or mild like this one. The obstacle were easy and so much fun. This is a great obstacle race for beginners, families and groups. I can’t wait to do it again next year and hopefully get some more friends to join me.

 

 PR6

 

Harry’s Spring Run-Off and Spartan Race Discount Code

Discount

 

Love race discounts? Well I’ve got two discount codes for you today! Well.. one should have been posted yesterday, but life gets hectic sometimes. :)

 

1. Canada Running Series Harry’s Spring Run-Off 5k or 8k

Discount code: ‘NGUYEN‘  to register for $40 registration ($10 off the current registration price).

Enter the code in the “Discount Code” box when you sign up at: https://secure.eventsonline.ca/reg/crs/

Until midnight tonight only. Was extended from initial 24 hours due to registration problems. (I know, I should have posted this yesterday, but no time, I swear) :(

Harrys

 

2. Spartan Race Eastern Canada 

Discount code: ‘winter68‘ for 20% off any Eastern Canada Spartan Race

From now until March 24th at 23:59 EST. (You have two weeks for this one) :)

SR