Friday, October 19, 2012

Photo Phriday

Last Saturday was a perfect day for running... A crisp snap in the air, and that wonderful fall smell of leaves, the lake and moist earth.

My sister and I had a 6.5 mile run scheduled, but as we set out, we set our sights a little higher than that.  Since we'd already run a 10K a few weeks prior, we figured we could add some more distance in an effort to build up to a half marathon we want to do in November.

And so we set off, aiming for at least 6.5 miles, but "hopefully 8".

These Canadian geese seem not to notice that fall is here and winter is fast approaching.
Shouldn't they be in a V formation, somewhere over Virginia?

Even these sunflowers haven't gotten the memo...

The beautiful Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, closed for the season.

The lake knows it's fall...

See that windmill waaaay off in the distance?  We started beyond even that!
We set a reasonable pace, and before we knew it, we'd already gone 4 miles.  So much for turning back for anything shorter than an 8 miles!  Now, that's how you know you're enjoying your run.

We just registered for our next race last night.  Downsview Half Marathon, here we come!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Weekend

Since I've been home from the ship, I haven't been working.  So that leaves me in a frustrating place - I have all the time in the world to do all the fun things I wish I could do when I'm working, and I have exactly zero dollars to do it with.

This time/money budget imbalance led me to find a new way to feed my racing bug this past weekend.  As I mentioned in a previous post, and like other runners, I'm always so amazed by, and grateful to the cheerful volunteers who make a race possible.

And so since I'd self imposed a racing entry fee moratorium until I found actual work, I decided to act as a volunteer for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon Weekend.

Since I knew I wanted to go to the Expo anyway, I picked up a quick 4 hour shift handing out race kits to runners.  I was assigned to the 5K bib area, and I had a great time explaining the race details and handing out bibs and race kits.  It was a wonderful experience to meet all the runners as they came for their kits - flush with excitement, (or sometimes nervousness).  There were a couple of things I had to figure out on the fly (oh, there is a clipboard here with parking information - why didn't I know about this an hour ago...) but overall I felt well prepared by the job after being briefed at length by a co-ordinator.  There were also snacks (Werthers, Powerbars), 6 inch subs from Subway, water and juice.  For my shift I also received and got to keep a Volunteer shirt new dusting rag.

I had walked over with my sister and we got to look around together for about 15 minutes before I had to head to my shift.  Imagine my surprise (and amusement) when she swung by the kit pick-up area to show me all the goodies she had bought.  (Shoes, hydration belt, socks, toe caps)

The Race Expo gets another one!

I went back the next day because I was jealous of her super sweet new Nathan hydration belt (The Race Expo gets another, 'nother one!), so I swung by the Running Free booth and I got one too...  I tried it out on our 8 mile run on Saturday, and it's a dream come true, I tell ya!  More stable than the one I picked up on sale from MEC for the Zoo Run.

Nathan X-Trainer Mutation  Nice big bottle, plus a smaller bottle for gel.

Here come a few Expo photos...

The view walking into the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place.
Welcome to the Expo!
Race kit pick up was at the rear of the room.

This... I can't even explain this.  Giant pasta bowl.
Now get shopping!

While I was at the Expo, I also picked up some gloves and a thermal headband/ear-warmer, because race day promised to be cold and rainy.

And it was.


The majority of the Toronto skyline was obscured behind low hanging clouds.  It was spooky.  I had volunteered as a course marshall for my neighbourhood, and so I made the short walk through Exhibition Place to the Lakeshore where I would be standing between KM 16 and 17, and about 1KM from the start of the 5K after it looped around out of the parking lot behind us.

For a few moments, I thought I was in the wrong place.  There was nothing indicating where we should be, but eventually I spied a couple of people putting on the same vest I had in my knapsack (picked up from the expo) so I joined them under their tree to avoid some of the rain.  We waited there and kept an eye out, since our race day instructions were to go to our spot and that a volunteer co-ordinater would be by to introduce themselves.  But that never happened.

While we were standing there, a very cold looking runner in a tank and shorts asked if he could share my gigantic umbrella, and so we chatted for a bit with a very fast (planned to run the 5K in 16 minutes) young fellow.

Eventually he trotted away to get into his corral and we listened while Olivia Chow (my local MP) spoke to the runners (she was running that morning, too) and while they introduced Fauja Singh.

Wet, wet start to the 5K

And then, they were off!

Minutes later, here they came!  The frontrunners.
As the 5K wound down, the skyline started to emerge.
Once the 5K runners were gone, we thought surely a volunteer worker would come by and introduce themselves.


About 20 minutes later we saw the front runners for the marathon.
Here they come!

And some time later, we saw the rest of the runners start to come.  As time went by the crowds got thicker as the runners got slower, but they all looked strong.
Slower than the front runners, but still WAY faster than me!

Before we knew it, the front runners had hit the turn around, and back they came.
Here they come again.

There's the CN Tower!

Lady Runner!

Pumpkin Runner!

The straggling Canadian Geese.  Always the last to cross the finish line.

It was a long day that started in the rain and got progressively chillier as the day wore on, but the runners made it worth it.  It was so inspiring to see the amazing athletes, and just as inspiring to see the "regular folk" who were slogging through, just trying to get to the finish line.  Doesn't matter which one you are, you're still covering the same distance.

In the end, I was glad I was there to help.  The two other volunteers I was working with were great people.  Very nice.  They were not runners, nor had they ever been to a race, and so there were things that they didn't know.  Which wouldn't have been a problem, if someone had greeted and briefed us on arrival.

We all brought the snacks that were in our marshal kits, but no more, since the volunteer paperwork had indicated that someone would bring sandwiches by for us during our shift.  I had eaten a good breakfast at 6am, and knew that if I had a sandwich coming by 10 or 11, I'd be fine, so I didn't pack one.

I should have.  No sandwiches came.

And we gave away a bunch of our snacks to a very hungry runner who was minutes away from hitting the wall.

Now, I don't care about getting a free anything, be it a sandwich, or a t-shirt.  That's not why I did this.  But if you tell people that they'll be fed.  Well, feed them!  I would have had NO (zero!) problem bringing my own lunch.  Just give me that head's up.

By the time we were done, we were STARVING, and we had no idea if we were actually "done" since no-one came to release us.  We figured we were safe to go when a girl the other volunteers knew walked by after having finished her shift at the 16K water station and having broken it down.  I asked if she had been fed.  Nope.  She was told they ran out of sandwiches.

So, that's something they need to work on for next year.

Someone was supposed to collect our vests when they released us (never came), or we could hand them in to the nearest water station (now closed).  My colleagues took mine, and started walking the course in hopes of finding someone to take them on their way back to their car.  I wished them luck, bid them farewell and waited for my sister to meet me so we could cheer on the last of the walkers.

I sent an email about my experience to the volunteer email address I got my instructions from, so hopefully feedback can be applied to next year's race.

Am I glad I volunteered?  Sure, I had fun.  Would I do it again?  For the Expo, maybe.  For the on-course?  Probably not.

Besides.  I hope I'm running next year.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

8 Miles Today

Yeah we finished up with a cupcake.  Wouldn't you?

Totes MIA

It's been a week.  I am a prodigal blogger, but I've been hunkering down on the job hunt and the "getting real world things done" front.

Lots going on here.

Vet appointment (Scooter's doing GREAT), a job interview (nailed it, more on that in another post) my own doctor's appointment (I'm doing GREAT) volunteering for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon weekend (Expo yesterday, Course Marshalling tomorrow for the race) and then a snippet of work this morning (along with some shopping at the expo).

Jam some conditioning runs and an 8 mile long run in there along with my regularly scheduled flyer scouring and coupon snipping (I'm not an extreme couponer, I'm just on a budget) and you've got my week.  Ok, ok.  There was a significant amount of dog-cuddling peppered in there, too.

So no blogsingtons.

BUT, I'll have a lot to share after I stand out on the race course tomorrow (in the rain, oh boy).  I'm super excited to have a chance to see the 5K runners start in my area, and that also means I'm stationed around MIle 17 of the Marathon course, so I'm also excited to get a chance to see the Marathon runners as they come through.  There is something so thrilling about seeing that first runner kicking away.  It's one of my favourite memories of the runDisney Princess Half Marathon this year - arriving at Mile 3, and seeing the eventual winner of the race just killing it as she ran back towards the finish line.  Absolutely thrilling.

Fingers crossed for an exciting day (but not too exciting - let's all stay upright, runners).

Good luck everyone!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Photo Phriday - Premature Turkification

I was born in the United States (hello, fellow Michiganders!) and spent the first 9 years of my life there before moving to Canada.  As a result, there are certain things which are hardwired into my psyche that no amount of free health care can dislodge.

  1. I measure in inches and feet, not centimetres and decimetres.
  2. I am perpetually mixed up by the difference between temperatures in Celsius vs. temperatures in Fahrenheit.
  3. Black Friday - Canada, get on it!
And finally (and most importantly)...


It just is.

September you have Labor Day.
October you have Halloween
November you have Thanksgiving
December you have Christmas (or your variation on the winter holiday).

It's a progression of holiday awesomeness.  It's a perfect build.  If you jam Thanksgiving in before Halloween, what's there to look forward to in November?  I mean, really.

And so, to my Canadian friends, I wish you a Happy FAKE Thanksgiving this weekend.  I hope you enjoy your seasonally presumptuous turkey.  But mine is right where it belongs (and is today's Photo Phriday subject)

Stay cool, Turkey.  We'll see you next month.  I'll be out, running.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm not competitive, but...

I'm trying to be smart about this next round of training.  I'd love to hire a coach, but since I'm not working, that's not in the budget.  So I'm doing my best.

Today when my sister got home from work, we decided to spend our 30 minute conditioning run doing hill work.  There's a park in our neighbourhood that has what is known as 'the dog bowl'.  It's a sunken area in the middle of the park which is used as an off-leash area - one of Scooter's favourite places.

Now when I say 'sunken', I mean for realzies.  It looks like a little dried out glacier lake, or pit. So it seemed like a good place to go for a quick hill workout.

We warmed up on the way to the park, and then did a quick lap of the park's paved "track" so I could measure it's distance with my Garmin (about a quarter mile).  We plan to run our Magic Miles there when they come up in the training - but it'll have to be during daylight because, WOW.  That is one rough track.

We jogged our way over to the dog bowl, and chose our slope.  We picked the north end and did our first run up.  I thought I was pushing, I really did.  But as I was walking back down,  THEY arrived.  A couple, also doing hill work on the north slope.  And they were FAST.

Without even speaking to each other, we had a traffic pattern set up so we wouldn't be in each other's way as we made our way up and down and up and down that hill.

Suddenly, I realized that I had more pep in my step, and more push in my tush.  It was as though watching them be fast made me faster, too.  I can't say whether it was me just subconsciously trying to keep up, or if I just didn't want to seem like the out of shape blob that I feel like, but either way the result was the same.  I went harder and faster thanks to that couple.

Are you motivated by other runners when you're putting in your miles?