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.

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

 

Enbridge CN Tower Climb for United Way

EnbridgeClimb

This was my 8th year participating in the Enbridge CN Tower Climb for United Way. Every year I create a team and climb on the Corporate Challenge Day Sunday. I encourage my friends and coworkers to join and I enjoy seeing and hearing about everyone’s experience, especially the first time climbers. Due to the¬†Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon being on the same day as the Sunday Corporate climb, I changed our team¬†climb date to Thursday. I had a team of five, and three were first time climbers.

Registration: There is no fee to register for the climb, however you had to raise a minimum of $100 for the United Way Committee. The deadline to raise the minimum was two weeks before the climb (as per email communications from United Way), but they allow you to raise funds up until the climb date.

Expo: N/A

Registration Kit: Being a part of a team, the team captain had to pick up the wristbands and chip card for the rest of the team. The CN Tower is still open to the public during the climb, therefore the wristband allows the climbers access to enter the CN Tower.

Parking: There is paid underground parking at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre or along the city streets. Public transportation would be the easiest so you don’t have to deal with looking and paying for parking. I took the subway to Union Station and walked to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Pre-Climb: Sign in and registration was at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. There was a free coat and bag check for your belongings. The CN Tower Climb is a hands free¬†climb, therefore no purses, water bottles or electronic devices (phones, iPod’s, etc.) are allowed in the stairwell. Before the climb, there was an area for a warm-up as well as water and KIND¬†snack¬†bars were being handed out. There were tents for the various Financial Institutions and Corporations to meet up and hang out before and after the climb. Since Enbridge was a major sponsor, they had their own coat check and booth too. There was a massage area where climbers can get a massage pre or post climb. The centre area of the Convention hall was a table where you can check your time and¬†pick up your finisher t-shirt and volunteers will write your climb time on it.

CN Tower Climb: The climb started at 7:00 pm and there was a lineup of anxious climbers. Climbers leave the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and walk through the back corridor to the CN Tower. Once you arrive at the base of the Tower, there is a lineup for security check. Security guards will search all climbers and ensure there are no bags or electronic devices and that all climbers have a wristband. After the first security check, you enter into the Tower and head to the second¬†security check point. The second checkpoint has three machines known as a “Puffer Machine”. A puffer machine is a security device that seeks to detect explosives and illegal drugs at airports and other sensitive facilities; as per Wiki.

Once all the security check stations were completed, volunteers directed you to the stairwell where there was a table to scan your chip card before the climb. The CN Tower Climb consists¬†of 1,776 steps or 145 floors. The stairwell is just big enough for two people, therefore slower climbers stick to the right and faster climbers pass on the left. There are Paramedics at every few floors to keep an eye on the climbers. I’ve seen the Medics give out juice boxes to those requiring sugar. During one year of my climb, I witnessed a Medic take a climber to a small doorway on the right side of the wall (they had one every few floors) and from there, you can choose to quit climbing and take the elevator back down. So the question is Yes, you can quit and take the elevator back down if you can no longer continue climbing. Although I think the Medics try to help climbers as much as possible by letting them rest and providing sugar if needed before they take you to the escape route.

Once you get to the top, climbers than scan their chip card again to stop their time. A good thing to know is that once you scan your chip card, there are about 4-5 more floors you have to climb to actually get to the Observation Deck area of the CN Tower. Climbers can go outside and stand on the Observation Deck and take in the view of the city. I have always climbed on a Sunday, so this was my first time climbing in the evening. The view of the city is breathtaking from the CN Tower at night. I wish I had a camera or phone to capture it. That’s the only bad part of the climb – the hands free.

Water/Aid Stations: There are no water stations along the climb but there are Paramedics every few floors. Water is provided before and as soon as you get to the top.

Volunteers: This event is always fully staffed with volunteers. There are lots of volunteers from when you first enter the Metro Toronto Convention Centre guiding you where to go, there were volunteers at the registration, bag check, along the corridor to the CN Tower cheering everyone on, at the base of the Tower and at the top of the Tower both cheering and providing water. There was also a big group of volunteers at the t-shirt pick up area handing out shirts and writing the times on them.

Spectators: Security issues and overcrowding in stairwells prevent spectators from spectating during the climb, but there are lots of seats at the cafe and general store area of the CN Tower to wait for the climbers.

Post-Climb: Once you get to the top of the Tower, you can go outside to the Observation Deck and hang out a bit or wait inside. There is a always a lineup to get back down via the elevators. Climbers make their way back to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre where you can check your time and receive a t-shirt with your finishing time on the back.

The CN Tower Climb has come a long way since when I first started climbing back in 2007. There were no chip cards and climbers were given a paper card that you had to get the time stamped at the beginning of the climb and then stamped again at the end of the climb. Holding onto the card during the climb makes for a sweaty card after. This card would then be given to the volunteer who would then manually calculate your climb time and record it on your t-shirt. I love the new process with the chip card and just having to scan it at the beginning and end. This also helps because your results are published right away from Chip Time Results, so you can view it on the screen after you scan your card. The time is then written down by a volunteer and you would hand in the card to another volunteer who would record it on the back of your finisher t-shirt. The only  recommendation I would make is instead of holding onto a chip card the whole climb, perhaps have the chip on the wristband as well or even have a similar process to road races and have a chip that can be attached to your shoe and a timing mat to record your start and finish time when you step over it.

*I think there may have been one year that the timing chip was a separate wristband,¬†but I can’t be positive. If it was, I’m not sure why the process was switched from it. I vaguely remember scanning my wrist at the end of the climb.*

Would I Climb¬†It Again: Yes! I love the CN Tower Climb and enjoy it every ¬†year. I enjoy getting a team of both colleagues and friends to participate. I just wish that the date would change and that it would not always be on the same weekend as the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. It’s kinda hard to run a marathon after climbing 1,776 flights of stairs. I managed to do both this year only because I did the half marathon instead.

BRAG: I did the climb with a dislocated shoulder and had my sling on!! It wasn’t my fastest climb time (PB 19:12), but I think it’s still a pretty good time and within my goal of 30 minutes! ūüôā

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Training For My First Marathon: 6 Week Countdown

GetStronger

With the prospect of completing my first marathon looming around the corner; ¬†I decided to write a weekly recap of my training and my road to STWM. Not for others to follow, but for myself. So that I can look back and see how far I’ve gotten, how much I’ve grown and how strong I’ve become, both as a runner and person.

Six weeks to go¬†and I am getting excited and nervous. I’ve had so many positive encouragement and feedback ever since I wrote about my¬†confessions¬†of running my first marathon. From family to friends and¬†other runners that¬†I don’t know or will ever have the pleasure of knowing or meeting other than on social media. I just wanted to say THANK YOU! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and thank you for following me along on this new quest of mine.

With a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication, I cannot wait to finally be able to change my title to MARATHONER.

Weekly Training Recap: Monday, September 1st РSunday, September 7th, 2014. 

MoIMG_20140902_154217nday, September 1st

Thankfully it was a long weekend because I did not have time to do a long run on the weekend. I spent my Labour Day running the Culham Trail of Mississauga. It included hills, trails, gravel and some road. It was nice to explore new trails and push myself to achieve those extra kilometers in my training. I knew that if I did not run more than 30km, I would be behind in my training. This run was a difficult one. Especially since it was a sunny and humid day and running for a few hours in the heat was not how I would normally spend my holiday day off. I guess priorities change as my focus and goals change.

Tuesday, September 2nd

REST DAY (31km was the longest I’ve ever ran, so I figured I needed a rest day to recover)

Wednesday, September 3rd

Cross training and obstacle training day.IMG_20140903_214151

Not only am I training for my first marathon; but I am also training for the Spartan Race World Championship in Killington, Vermont on Saturday, September 20th! It will be my first time participating in a U.S. Spartan Race and it will be alongside some of the Elites from all over the world. I can’t wait!! More to come on the World Championship in a separate blog.

 I do my obstacle training at Alpha Obstacle Training in Toronto.

Thursday, September 4th

IMG_20140905_070502I¬†run with the¬†Night Terrors¬†Run Crew (NTRC) on Thursdays for a #doubledigitsthursday long run. A few of us did a pre run before the official run with the rest of the crew.¬†It was a special run as it was the Night Terrors Run Crew LA’s 1 year anniversary. We had a surprise route that mapped out¬†the shape of the word LA. It was pretty neat. After the run, I ran a little over 2km back to the subway station to go home. Running a half marathon and then some on a weeknight feels amazing. I can already tell I’m becoming a stronger runner. Training for a half marathon before¬†seemed really hard; now I am doing them on weeknights!

Friday, September 5th

REST DAY

Saturday, September 6th

IMG_20140906_162337Alpha Obstacle Training organizes an in house race once a month and Saturday was the Alpha OCR Series #7. I ran the¬†race with my OCR team P4ID. It was a lot of fun and a good OCR fix since the Spartan Race Eastern Canada season ended in July. It’s not hilly compared to a Spartan Race, but it was a good challenge and my ideal way¬†to spend a Saturday morning; climbing monkey bars, flipping over cargo nets, climbing ropes and walls, flipping tires and lots more fun obstacles.

Sunday, September 7th

I try to get one long run in on the weekend and it’s usually on Saturday with my Tribe Fitness; but when I have a race, I run on Sunday with NTRC. Our goal for Sunday was 36km. We ended up beasting 38km and it was my longest run ever!¬†Since training for STWM, every week has been my longest run ever. We ran through trails, road and along the Lakeshore. It was an awesome route and a hot day. By the end of the run, I was feeling the humidity. We picked up the pace the last 2km because at that point, I just wanted the run to be over with. I was hot, tired and hungry. Surprisingly when the run was over, other than feeling hungry, tired and a little sore; my legs felt okay. I was not in pain like during the early days of my long runs and training. With every run, I get stronger. Both physically and mentally.

This week capped of my highest mileage week EVER for me! 105km in 6 days and I feel fantastic!! I won one of my Nike Running challenges of 100km in a month. I have been running over 100km every month since January 2014; but never would I imagine I would run over 100km in a week! This was definitely a milestone week for me. I don’t know if I can run over 100km in a week regularly, or even again; but I do know that I am becoming a stronger runner and that I am ready to crush my first full marathon! ūüôā

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This was one of our picture¬†points and our view on Sunday’s long run. Toronto! My city! What a beautiful view. ūüôā

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