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. ‚̧

ATB4

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

 

Happy Anniversary To My Tribe

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My first run coming back from a shoulder injury and without a sling, happened to fall on the Tribe Fitness 1 year anniversary run. I plan to take the rest of the year off to recover and start running and training again in January but for my Tribe, I made an exception. ūüôā

I’ve been running with Tribe for almost a year now. It is the first running group that I joined; other than the paid half marathon clinic program that I did with the Running Room. From¬†my first run with Tribe to 1 year later; I have grown both as a runner and a person. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet some amazing runners and athletes from beginners to elites and of all different backgrounds. I have formed close friendships with some of the Tribe and am grateful they are now my #TribeBrothers and #TribeSisters; my #TribeFamily. I’ve learned a lot from the Tribe members and continually do so. The biggest thing I learned was how to run in polar vortex conditions. This was my first year running throughout the winter and I enjoyed it. I hate to admit it, but I am kinda looking forward to running in the winter again.

I trained for my longest race to date: Around The Bay 30k this past¬†March. I am thankful to have found a group of dedicated runners who were also training for ATB and thus helped pushed me to finish that race. It was hard getting up early on a Saturday in the winter when it was still dark out and taking the subway downtown to the Tribe meet up spot. Some days there were only a handful of us, or the weather would be brutally cold; but we showed up and knocked those kilometer’s out. Every Saturday,¬†I knew there would be a group of runners waiting to do a long run, whether I showed up or not. But I knew that¬†to be a better runner, you just have to run more. I am so thankful I did.¬†To that group of runners that motivated me to get out of bed on Saturday mornings, I sincerely thank you!

Thanks to my Tribe, I have grown¬†to become a better and more dedicated runner. I discovered that I’m a winter warrior and really enjoy winter running, I actually prefer it over humid summers any day. I’ve also grown as a person and discovered a new found passion, [although some of my friends might call it obsession ūüėČ ] with running. This year I also participated in the most road races ever. Good thing I had my Tribe along for all of those races, both running or cheering me on.

I am proud to be a member of Tribe Fitness, but I am more proud of the Tribe’s accomplishment. I’ve witnessed new runners completing their longest distance races ever to runners transitioning to and completing Triathlons and Ironmans. Not only am I proud of my¬†Tribe’s¬†accomplishments, but also motivated and inspired to grow and seek new challenges for myself. Who knows, maybe I will want to be an ultra runner or Traithlete as well. Over the year, I’ve learned that whatever goals or challenges I set for myself,¬†I will always¬†have a fabulous group of athletes there to support me, challenge me, motivate me and encourage me. To my Tribe and of course, our fearless leader Heather, I thank you! You will always have a special place in my heart. ‚̧

TribeClanPlenty of¬†run memories were created this year! Let’s take a¬†trip down memory lane with some of my favourite moments with the Tribe. It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year. There are so many photos, you can check out Tribe Fitness on Facebook for more.

My first run with Tribe

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What polar vortex..!? We even train hills in the winter and the last picture in this group is quite possibly the coldest day of the year in 2014!

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Tribe Ugly Sweater Run

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Around the Bay simulation run and shake out / race kit pick up run

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Jenna and I had a goal for 2014, but due to our injuries, is pushed to 2015. We will crush it!

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Spot the Olympian! ūüėČ

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Warmer weather is among us

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The time we crashed Twitter with our famous ‘Ellen’ selfie

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My birthday run! ‚̧

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The time a running magazine featured our picture from the Mississauga Marathon

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The time we decided to wear our new compression socks during a Saturday long run

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The time we decided to dress all in white and get colour bombs thrown at us

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Tribe Does Trail

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Tribe Scavenger Run

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The time we volunteered as pace monsters for the Ivivva kids 3k Monster Mash Dash

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What better way to celebrate 1 year of sweating for social good, than to have a run party and run around downtown Toronto to various checkpoints answering Tribe related trivia

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Can you see our Tribe shirts?

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Thanks to Vega Toronto and Oakley Canada for supporting Tribe at the RUNiversary and year roundtribeanniversary

Last but not least, check out the amazing statistics Tribe racked up in just 1 year! Thank You Tribe Fitness! We love you and proud to watch you continuously grow.

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You’re Tougher Than You Think

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This run was a tough run for me and it was the most challenging. I pushed myself but I also knew my body and when I’ve exerted my efforts. With every run or workout, I always push myself a little harder. Otherwise, you won’t get the results you want if you don’t consistently put in that extra effort every time.

It was a slow and steady 5k. I barely talked during the run, which for me is unusual especially if I’m running with someone. I wanted to concentrate on my breathing, on avoiding snowbanks and most importantly, on making sure I was able to finish the run standing upright and not feeling like I was going to pass out. During the run, I felt my breathing start to get heavy, my energy diminishing and I felt dehydrated. I barely even drink water for anything less than 10k. My¬†calves were starting to hurt from running through all the unplowed snowed sidewalks. I ran at a slower than normal turtle pace and kept it consistent. I remember thinking and encouraging myself mid run “Finish strong”, “You’re tougher than you think”, “When did I become so tough?” By the end of the run, I felt so exhausted and dehydrated but super proud that I had¬†finished my most challenging 5k run ever.

Some factors that could have contributed to my performance were:

TOWeather1. There was a snowstorm all day and the sidewalks were not shovelled, making it a difficult run in the snow.

2. Because of the snowstorm and wind chill warning, I was dressed the same as during my coldest run ever. I felt 10 lbs heavier during the run.

 

 

 

3. I was still sore from my intense bootcamp workout two days before

15secs pushup, 15secs shoulder press @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs burpees, 400m run.
15secs boxjumps, 15secs squats @ 40lbs x 10 reps.
15secs jumping jacks, 400m run.
15secs wallballs @ 12lbs, 15secs bicep curls @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs burpees, 400m run.
15secs tricep dips, 15 seconds tricep extensions @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs jumping jacks, 400m run.

BloodDonation4. I donated blood in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TribeRun

Coldest Run Ever

InapporpriateClothing

Let me clarify. This run was not just MY coldest run ever – because I’m sure everyone’s definition of COLD varies, depending on your geographic location. But this run was also THE coldest run ever! Okay, I know those of you who live in colder climates will disagree, but this was the coldest day in Toronto thus far.

I love setting goals and challenging myself so I thought “Hey, let’s go for a run in the coldest day of the year.” ūüôā I wore all my baselayers and found some old windbreaker pants from the 1990’s ‘windbreaker tracksuit collection’. I couldn’t find the matching jackets but was thankful that I had saved the pants. I guess it helps to hoard your old clothes; you never know when you might need it or when it will come back in fashion again (if ever). I made sure all my skin was well covered. I thought about wearing my snowboarding goggles as well but since it was nighttime and my goggles were pink, I would not be able to see if I had worn them. I did however, wear my snowboarding mitts over top my running gloves. At this point, I would probably have been issued a ticket from the Fashion Police. Oh well, fashion had to take a back seat for this run and warmth would take the front.¬†photo

After 20 minutes of getting ready and feeling 10 pounds heavier, I finally braved it out the door. It was a very slow run. I wasn’t feeling cold at all, I even started sweating. The snow mixed with the cold actually made my eyelashes freeze. About 10 minutes into my run, it was getting harder to blink and when I did blink, I could feel the icicles on my lashes. Guess I should have worn the goggles. ūüė¶ It was a tough 7km during a wind chill warning.¬†

Recap of what I wore:

Bottom: 
Asics GT-2170
Smartwool socks 
Under Armour 3.0 baselayer pants
Lululemon winter running tights
Legwarmers (I forgot where I got them from)
Adidas trackpants

Top: 
Under Armour 3.0 baselayer top
Nike Hyperwarm hooded sweater
Nike Element winter running jacket

Accessories:
Lululemon brisk run neckscarf 
The Ugly Sweater Run toque
Lululemon brisk run mitts
Burton snowboarding mitts 

Oh and that white object I am holding in the picture is actually a block of ice. I found it towards the end of my run and decided to run home with it. It was good cross training! ūüôā

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What was the coldest/hottest run you’ve ever ran?

Do you prefer running in the cold or heat?