Tag Archives: Harry’s Spring Run-Off

2011 Running Season Is Off And Running

2 Apr

From left: Dave, Penny, me, Kim

It’s official! My 2011 racing season is underway! I kicked it off today with Harry’s Spring Run-Off – an 8km run in the hills of High Park. It’s a gorgeous run, really. You’d be hard-pressed to beat it for scenicness (yes, that is a word – doesn’t matter that I just made it up thirty seconds ago), but oh dear Lord, it’s hard. Especially if you’ve just emerged from a winter lean of runs, and it’s been mere days since you recovered from a bad cold.

What made this race different to most others that I have taken part in is that I ran with some fellow members of my running club, Kim and Penny, along with Penny’s boyfriend David, who is not technically a member of the club but is part of the furniture enough for us to regard him as such.

We all started together, but we separated fairly early in the race. Although I really enjoyed the fact that my running friends were there with me, I felt a need to run the actual race by myself. Running with someone else, I would have felt obligated to match their pace. Having just recovered from a cold, and in view of the fact that I need to do some work to regain form and speed, I wanted to run my own race, following a pacing strategy that would make sense to me.

I ran fairly easy for the first three kilometres, aided by a long downhill stretch. The downhill was followed fairly quickly by an uphill, which was not long as the downhill had been, but the gradient was steeper. After getting to the top of the hill, I was utterly spent – and I still had 5km to go.

Cripes, how was I going to do this?

Sheer grit and determination, same way I’ve completed many other races I’ve struggled in. I took it fairly easy for the next kilometre, and then I reached the magical halfway mark, which is a psychological wonder in any race. From this point forward, every step I took meant that the distance remaining was that much shorter than the distance elapsed. For the next 3km, the hills were rolling (up and down) but manageable.


1km to go…

The first half of the last kilometre started well enough, but then, with a mere 500 metres left, there was another hill to tackle. A nasty, NASTY one. You know the long downhill stretch I mentioned at the beginning of the race? It was the same hill. Only instead of going down, I had to go up. After having run for 7.5km. It was not pretty.

I made it up the hill (Determination? Stupidity? Act of God?), and as I reached the top I was about to stop and take a breather when I saw the finish line around the corner, maybe fifty metres away. Those fifty metres felt like about fifty miles, and when I crossed the finish line, I was never more grateful to be able to stop running.

I received my medal with gratitude, went to the food station and inhaled a banana, and went to a predetermined meeting spot to meet up with the others.

We finished the race with varying times, and happily made our way out of the park with our medals hanging around our necks – our badges of honour that proved to the world that we had earned the right to have aching legs and look like crap.

Was this race my best one? Not by a long shot. With a time of almost 57 minutes, my average pace was slower than it had been in over a year.

But I FINISHED, damnit! It was a hard race and I finished it!

And that, my friends, is good enough for me.


2011: Aiming for 1:59:59

30 Dec

Today is the first anniversary of my pinched nerves.  I am almost tempted to go out and buy a cake with one candle, in recognition of the day I went to the chiropractor and left with a bundle of pinched nerves in my neck and going down my left arm, that put me out of action for three months.  I would not want to celebrate the incident itself, but the fact that I got through it and am now in the process of planning out my 2011 running season.  Or maybe I just want cake and I cannot come up with a better excuse.

Either way, I am oddly superstitious about this day.  I feel that if I can get through today without incident, I will be fine.  I just have to avoid walking under ladders and avoid the cracks in the sidewalk.  I am planning a treadmill run at the gym later on, on the assumption that I am not tempting fate.

Be that as it may, my running has taken a little bit of a dive over the last few weeks.  I had a bout of bronchitis that sidelined me for three weeks, and getting back into it has been surprisingly difficult.  It’s not that I’m in bad physical shape.  It’s that I came back from my illness setting ridiculous paces at the start of my runs that I can only sustain for 5km or so.  I’ve always been perfectly happy to start slow and build up to my target pace.  Why the sudden need to be a speed demon?  It’s not like I’m winning the Olympic Marathon anytime soon.

My poor pacing has the effect of making me feel a bit despondant about my running.  I fade at the fifth or sixth kilometre, and one of two things happens.  Either I finish my planned distance a lot more slowly than intended.  Or I simply cut the run short.  Neither scenario goes well with my psyche.  Both make me feel like I have a big red L on my forehead.

It is time now for me to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start running again properly.  That means proper planning, proper pacing, proper nutrition, and not being too lazy to take five minutes to stretch at the end of each run.

I have just gone online to order the 2011 Runners World calendar.  This calendar is amazing.  It has gorgeous photographs of “Rave Runs” – beautiful trails and paths that people run on.  It has race listings, running tips, inspirational quotes, and space to plan.  Simply having this thing on my wall on 2010 has been a great motivator for me.

Now I am planning my racing calendar for the year.  I am going to start out this coming Saturday, New Years Day, with the Running Room Resolution Run.  This is really more of a fun run than a race.  It is not chip timed, and I don’t even think the course is officially certified for the distance.  But that’s OK.  What better way could there be for a struggling runner to start off the new year?

My next racing event will be Harry’s Spring Run-Off on April 2nd.  It is only 8km, but the location – High Park – has so many big hills that it will feel like 10km.  I am doing this race specifically to have hills to train for.  I need the discipline, and when I am registered for races, I am actually pretty good at sticking to the right kinds of training programs for them.  Here is a promo video for the race.

Usually I would do the Sporting Life 10K down Yonge Street on the first Sunday in May, but since I am getting married the day before this year’s event, I should probably give it a miss for 2011.  So my next run will be the Toronto Women’s Half-Marathon in Sunnybrook Park.  I am really looking forward to this, not only because a fellow member of my running club is running it with me, but because the water station manned by shirtless firefighters.  Not to mention the chocolate station.

After that, I will do either the Acura Ten-Miler (which I hated in 2010, and feel the need to conquer) or the Midsummer Nights Run 15km (follows the same course as the Ten-Miler, so it will be just as much of a victory).

In late September I will do one of my favourite runs ever – the 10km Oasis Zoo Run.  I had a blast at this event a couple of months ago, and it has earned a permanent place in my annual racing calendar.  I cannot find a promo video for it, but here’s a montage of pictures I found of the 2009 event.

Then, on October 16th, I will run in what is by far the most important event in my race calendar.  It is the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon, and this is my reason for running.  This is my Run for Autism, the race I do for my son George who has autism, and his little brother James, who is experiencing the challenges of being sibling to a child with autism.  This event is loaded with emotional meaning for me.  Every step I take is for my boys, these beautiful people without whom my life would be empty.  Here is a nice video showing some highlights of the 2010 event.

I have a lofty goal for this year: to break two hours for the half-marathon.  That means shaving 22 minutes off my best time.  I’m going to have to train my ass off.  Literally.  With the amount of training I will have to do, I have no doubt that part of my ass will indeed come off.  Which is a good thing.

Anyway. I am excited about the new year.  Just planning it out is helping me break out of this funk I am in.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone all the best for 2011.  Aim high and whatever you want to achieve, go for it.