First Time Pace Bunny – Toronto Waterfront 10k

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The inaugural Toronto #Waterfront10 was so much fun! The energy was live and it was great to see all my fellow Toronto runners.

I was honoured to be a pace bunny for this race for the 70 min continuous group. I have paced friends in races before but never an official bunny. I did feel pressure knowing I had a group of runners relying on me to complete the 10k in 70 mins. I’m so proud of everyone that ran the race. It was HOT that day! I had a runner who ran with me all the way and it was his first time running 10k continuously. It felt great to have so many runners come up to you after the race to thank you for pacing them. I love seeing people accomplish something,¬†whether it was their first 10k or if they beat their previous, it feels amazing to have been a part of their journey to success. Official time for this pace bunny was 1:09:50! ūüėÄ

Here’s my race recap.

Race Registration:

Registration was pretty reasonable for this race and there were early bird specials as well. As with other 10k’s, it was fair betwen the $40 – $60 (depending when you register) price range.

Race Expo:

The race kit pick up was at the St. Lawrence market in Toronto. The fun thing about the race expo was that there was free yoga offered by Tribe Fitness. Two 45 minute yoga sessions were offered on both kit pick-up days. It was a good way to stretch out before the race. We were even given free Powerbars after the yoga too! There was also a Canadian flag that we had the chance to sign to write our wishes to our Canadian marathoners heading to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics: Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Krista DuChene. IMG_20160623_202658

Race Kit:

We were¬†given a bib with timing chip and a race specific¬†short sleeve t-shirt. Along with some magazines, there was an Oasis juicebox along with some Neutrogena women’s sunscreen and wrinkle cream (which I need!) lol :p

Transportation:

The good thing about early morning Saturday races in Toronto is that the subway is running! Sunday races are always a must-drive or carpool situation. I was able to drive my car to the subway station and take the subway down for the race. I probably looked weird carrying my pacer sign on the subway. ūüôā There were quite a few people commuting by subway as well and the stop was right at the start line of the race so that was great.

Pre-Race:

It was well organized with visible signs for on site race kit pick-up, bag check and your coloured corrals. The line up for the porta potty was super long! I was waiting in line to use it before heading to my corral and this made me late for my team pacer photo. ūüė• I’m sad I missed the photo but I had to go and I needed to be in my spot in the corral so that runners were able to see my sign.

Race Course:

The course went south on University and then along the Lakeshore. It was a nice scenic course and reminded me of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. It was fun to see the runners coming back to the finish and giving high fives along the way.IMG_20160625_230711

Water/Aid Stations:

There were water/Gatorade stations at around 3k, 5k and 9k. It was good to have the three stations (5k and 9k were the same stations out and back). It was super hot and there were two areas with cooling fans as well. Those were definitely needed. Tribe Fitness also hosted a cheer station that sprayed water guns as well so it was fun to get soaked in the heat.

Volunteers:

There were a lot of volunteers at the water stations along the course, at the beginning and at the party site. They were all very friendly and was cheering everyone on.

Spectators:

There were a lot of spectators and Toronto run crews out for this inaugural 10k race. The energy was great and it was really nice to run and see familiar faces cheering you on. Tribe Fitness and Pace and Mind hosted two cheer stations along the route filled with music and Tribe even had a kiddie pool and spectators shooting water at you from their water guns. Since this was a race in the summer, the water gun cheer station was an amazing idea! I loved it and it felt so refreshing on a hot day. 20160625_090100

Post-Race:

The post race party was so fun! There were three photographers after you finish the race to take professional finisher photos for you. There were bananas, muffins from Panera Bread (cinnamon and cheese), cookies and Oasis juices and protein shakes. One unique and fun thing about this post race party is that it was also a Carnival “Rio Send-Off” for Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Krista DuChene as they head to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics. There were Brazilian drummers and samba dancers. The carnival concluded with the three Rio-qualified athletes being presented with a Canadian flag that we had the chance to sign during the packet pick-up. The athletes were also available post-race for photos and autographs at the Canadian Olympic Foundation booth.

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Would I Run It Again:

Absolutely! I would love to pace the #Waterfront10 again if I was presented with the opportunity next year. It was a fun race and a great day. I’m proud of all the runners in my 70 min group and everyone that finished.¬†There will be other races that I would like to challenge myself in, ie. longer distances etc. but I always love to help others to achieve their own personal goals. I’m just happy to see how far others have come because I know that I too was once like them. Thank you to the Toronto running community and the social media community for inspiring and motivating me to become a better runner. Now it’s my turn to give back and do the same. Congratulations to everyone that ran #Waterfront10 and see you next year! ‚̧

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Join Me at the New Toronto #Waterfront10 Race

Toronto Waterfront 10k ‚ÄĒ Toronto, Canada

I am excited to announce I will be a pacer for this new 10k race happening in Toronto on Saturday, June 25th, 2016!

I have ran and paced with my friends before, but I have never been an official “pacer/pace bunny”. I’m super thrilled to be given the opportunity and also a little bit nervous because now I will have other runners who I don’t know following me in my pace group and depending on me to take them across the finish line in 65 minutes. I can’t screw up or disappoint them. The pressure is real here. :/ I know it’s just a 10k race and I normally finish in average of 55 minutes but it’s something else when you have runners, some probably new runners, depending on you.

So if you’re in Toronto on June 25th, sign up for¬†the #Waterfront10¬†and join me and my pace team¬†at this exciting new race. I¬†promise this will be fun and we will take you across the finish line with a smile and maybe a few laughs too. ūüėČ

Race

Thanks to Canada Running Series I was fortunate to attend the Race Movie Premiere last night. This movie is AMAZING! If you’ve never heard of Jesse Owens, you need to google him and watch this movie.

“Race” is a biopic about Jesse Owen’s fight to become an Olympic legend at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. It’s about courage, determination, racism and friendships.¬†This movie will inspire you and also give you a history lesson. I learned quite a bit throughout this movie; it’s sad to see how life was back then for minorities. I’m glad times have changed and Jesse has received all the recognition he deserved, even if it was later on in his life.

Race actors Stephan James and Jason Sudeikis were also in attendance for the Toronto premiere. Sorry for the dark quality. The light was off and the flash pictures were blurry.

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Fun fact about me: I was a track athlete and hurdler¬†since I was 10 years old. At 13, my Coach/PE Teacher signed me up in the 3,000 meter event for Track and Field. I was not a long distance runner and I hated running more than 400 meters or 1 lap around the track. I was furious and upset he had signed me up without my consent. His reasoning was: he knew I could do it. So I ended up running the 3,000 meter anyway. I probably came close to dead last, I can’t really remember. All I remember was crossing the finish line and collapsing into my friend/teammate’s arms. He knew I didn’t want to run the race so I am so thankful he was there to catch me fall. He brought me to a shade and fed me water. I think I was dehydrated and had sun stroke. I don’t remember much or how long I was lying on the grass in the shade. All I know was I did not run any long distances after that. Well… up until I started running again in 2012. But thinking back, I miss those track days. ūüôā

 

Picture above: Jesse Owen’s famous record breaking long jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Medal Collection

That’s a wrap 2015! ūüĎäūüí• I finished 2015 with a total of 25 races [12 road, 3 trail, 10 obstacle course races], some multiple lap races and 1¬†CN Tower Stair Climb.

Looking back, 2015 was a memorable year. I became a ‘Marathoner’ in one of my favourite cities and I had a wonderful, amazing time on¬†my RACEcation in Europe. I planned my Europe trip around my Paris Marathon and was able to run two Spartan Races in two different countries. The stars aligned for me during my trip. I could not have asked for a better vacation and RACEcation.

Some notable accomplishments:

  • I completed my first marathon [Paris Marathon]
  • I completed my first trail race [Sulphur Springs 25k]
  • I completed my first winter obstacle race [Polar Rush 5k]
  • I ran both races of the Harry Rosen Spring Run-Off 8k and 5k
  • I completed two laps of the Spartan Super in Toronto [I did multiple laps of short distances and sprint but it was my first double long distance lap 12k x2]
  • First RACEcation in Europe [Paris – Paris Marathon, Munich – Spartan Sprint, Rome – Spartan Super]

Hopefully, through my active lifestyle, I have inspired at least one person to start running or to start living a healthy and active lifestyle. My medals are not for bragging rights, but to show that IT IS POSSIBLE. Thank you all for sharing in my journey to live the best version of myself. I look forward to new races and new adventures in 2016! ūüôā

2015 – Thank you for the wonderful memories!¬†‚̧ L.N


See my Race Calendar for a list of my 2015 races and results.

2015 Total Kilometers & #2015bestnine

My total kilometers for 2015 was 1,053!

I didn’t run as many kilometers as in 2014, but it’s still pretty good considering I didn’t run much at all from July to December. I had a hamstring injury which prevented me from running my last Spartan Race of 2016 at the Spartan Ultra Beast in Ottawa. I wasn’t too upset; I was probably not meant to run the race anyway. Hearing from some friends after the race; it sounded pretty tough and I’m kinda glad I didn’t run it as I was not ready for it.

I am not going to be setting a distance goal for 2016. I find that whenever I set a distance goal, I never meet it. I would get injured during my training and have to sit out a few months. Injury is a big sign of over training so I definitely do not want to over train anymore. I would rather just run for the love of running and to support and motivate others.

Here’s a look back on my 2015 with the Instagram #2015bestnineūüĆü. I did not create this nor do I know where people are getting it from but I have been seeing it everywhere on Instagram. Luckily, I have an awesome sister who sent me my bestnine collage and all I have to do is post it! Isn’t she the best!?! ‚̧

Looking back, 2015 was a memorable year. I became a ‘Marathoner’ in one of my favourite cities and I had a wonderful, amazing time on¬†my RACEcation in Europe. I planned my Europe trip around my Paris Marathon and was able to get in two races in two different countries. I completed a marathon and I ran in two Spartan Races. The stars aligned for me during my trip. I could not have asked for a better vacation and RACEcation.

2015 – It was a slice. You will always be remembered. ‚̧ L.N

 

#TrainWithGrains

GFO

This year Canada Running Series is teaming up with the Grain Farmers of Ontario¬†to bring you the best pre and post-run recipes to fuel your marathon training for #STWM! Each week features a new and unique recipe from one of the CRS Community Leader Ambassadors. This week features yours truly! ūüôā

Clink on the recipe link below to check out my refreshing Barley, Farro and Couscous Salad which is perfect for refueling after a long run.

RECIPE!   RECIPE!   RECIPE!

Do you have a recipe you’d like to share? Share a photo to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #TrainWithGrains for your chance to win a “Good in Every Grain” Prize Pack valued at $50!

Happy Training and Healthy Eating! ‚̧

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. ūüôā

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. ūüė¶ 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.

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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. ‚̧

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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.

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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.

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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 Рprobably 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.

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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.

 

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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. ūüôā

 

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 ‚ÄúDiscount Code‚ÄĚ 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) ūüė¶

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) ūüôā

SR

Building Community Through Running

Maraboli

Three years ago, Canada Running Series¬†introduced a new ambassador program called the Digital Champions. Their goal was to build an online community of support for runners as they trained for the¬†Toronto Yonge Street 10k¬†and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I am honoured to have been a part of the Digital Champions team. I have witnessed the growth of the running community in Toronto – from Running Room groups to the vast running crews we now have. I used to run by myself around my neighborhood; now I can always find someone to run with. It’s more motivating when you have someone to run with, especially when it’s cold out or when you need to get a long training run in. The Toronto running community is such an inspiring community of runners both online and off and you can always find someone or¬†some crew¬†running on any day of the week.

Through running, I¬†have met so many wonderful runners, who have become some of my closest friends. They have become my run buddies, my role model and my inspiration. I have¬†also grown to be a better runner. I have learned everything from which gels and chews to take to what kind of stretches I should be doing and clothes I should be wearing. Gone are the days of wearing regular Nike’s (not even the running ones) and cotton everything. Much is learned through my personal trial and error; but a lot is learned from my fellow runners.

The running community also challenges me. I am continuously learning and setting new challenges and goals for myself. Seeing, hearing and reading about everyone’s training for their various goal races inspires me to keep training to excel in mine. It motivates me to try new races and new distances. Perhaps a triathlon or an ultramarathon one day…? ūüôā

I am excited and honoured to announce that I am now a Canada Running Series Community Leader! Alongside 11 other ultra inspiring runners and friends of mine, we will be year-round ambassadors of Canada Running Series. We will be out in the community all year long, sharing the CRS mission of “building community through running” and hoping to continue to¬†inspire other runners. Catch us at the CRS races in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver; and connect with us anytime online via social media.

Check out all the Canada Running Series Community Leaders here and a more detailed bio of everyone here.

The running community has inspired me so much and I hope¬†that be living the best version of myself, that I can pay it forward and inspire others to live the best versions of themselves. ‚̧ xo. LN

InspirePeople InspireOthers