Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Clinical Race Review of the Downsview Half

I went to to review the Downsview Half Marathon - a more personal review of the race is forthcoming.

I think the most fair way to approach this is to address the race based on how it was promoted, and therefore my impressions compared to those expectations.

From the race’s website: (My comments in brackets) 

 Race Information 

 Certified Half Marathon 21.1k route (13.1 miles) and 5k (My Garmin – and others – measured the course over the 21.1k. I was told on facebook by the race organizer that the course was accurate, and that sometimes GPS devices can be inaccurate. So I guess there were a number of inaccurate GPS devices out there. I hugged the pylons and didn’t do any bobbing and weaving between people, so I can’t place where else the distance comes from.) 

Flat & fast course (NOT flat. Not super hilly like the Oasis Zoo Run, but the park section, which we ran twice, had plenty of hill action… including the final stretch to the finish line. Ouch.)

Start & finish inside Downsview Park (Yes, yes it did!)

Run throughout the Park past the new lake, the ‘mounds’, hangars, soccer fields and more (We sure saw all those things – twice!)

Run past vintage planes and modern Bombardier jets (Not really. I don’t fault the race organizers for the fact that there was only one airplane on the course, despite the course map delineating 6 spots where planes and jets would be located. Clearly, this one is on Bombardier, but it was still kind of a bummer. The planes were a big draw for me.)

Free parking (Yes! And it was CLOSE!! Wonderful)

Technical race hat, goodie bag, finisher medal (Nice hat, lots of great treats in the goodie bag – side note, are Werther’s Caramelts the new big thing for races? I sure got a lot this season! – and finally, the MEDAL. The medal is GREAT. It is a big part of what drew us to add this race this year as we train for another half in January.)

Remembrance Day ceremony with military personnel, bagpiper & more (Very nice, and very respectful. It was a nice touch.)

Aside from all that:
There were great, supportive volunteers along the course (I was only almost mis-directed one time).
There were a handful of military personnel hanging around the parked military vehicles (including a wee tank) and I got a big kick out of them saying “Good job, ma’am”.
The course didn’t seem too crowded, despite the narrow pathways (although that could be because we were well in the back of the pack!), so the number of runners felt right.
Having a place indoors to wait for the race, stretch and cool down afterwards was a huge plus.

Things I’d like to see improved?
Get Bombardier to pony up the airplanes
A turnaround chip reader
Reword the race description (some rolling hills through parkland, baby)
The road to the military base was muddy (slippery) and full of holes – obviously the organizers can’t go out there and fill the holes themselves, but I hope that the road is in better shape next time
Clear signs (not just volunteers trying to deal with hundreds of runners) showing “1/2 marathon, this way” “5K, second loop, this way” – and maybe clearly colour-code the km signs – they got confusing in the 5k loop.

Overall, I had a good time. The weather happened to be perfect, and so it added to my enjoyment of the race so I was more forgiving than I would have been had it been gross outside. While I had a good time, and enjoyed a PR I’m not sure I’d hurry back next year without some changes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Downsview Half Marathon Result

Race Report to come, but for now, I'll just say it was a great day for a PR! 
It didn't hurt that this was the first long run we've done in a long time that wasn't in the rain.

Hooray for sunshine and unseasonably warm weather!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oh *that* work/life balance

It may come as no surprise that while home from my job working on a cruise ship, my schedule has been relatively open.  Not working has a funny way of keeping your time pretty free.

But it also has a wicked toll on an already tight budget.  I've been doing pretty well with our grocery budget using flyers and coupons, but more than anything, I needed to start bringing in some money.

Getting a job when you know you're leaving town in 5 months can be tough.  I can't in good conscience not tell people that I'm not sticking around, and I couldn't face an office job, temporary or no.  So as a result, I've found work doing product demonstrations, which has been fun and a good second use of my compression socks (hello, at least 6 hours on your feet!)

So, that's where I've been.  Bridal show, in-store demo, some mystery shops... I've missed a couple of conditioning runs (but not many) and I've also completed a 10 mile long run.

The long run was delayed.  We were scheduled to run it on a Saturday, however we woke up to significant rain, so a long postponed trip to the Running Room outlet store in Etobicoke was in order.  We stocked up on warm, water resistant attire, did some Halloween candy shopping, waited for Greg to get his hair cut (he booked a commercial and needed to look "clean cut"), then accepted that we would be running the next day instead.

Cold run.  Wet run.  Long run.  But, ultimately, successful run.  We ended up speeding up for the last few miles to try to outrun my sister's dying iPhone battery.  That's one way to guarantee a negative split!

We were happy to finish the run feeling good, because it was our last long run before our upcoming half marathon this Sunday, November 11.

I had to opt out of my weekend run this past weekend because I'm pretty sure I gave myself a mild concussion after walking into a cement overhang in a parking garage on Sunday on my way into work.  I was tempted to just pack up the car and leave and head to the hospital, but in my mind, I HAD to work - there wasn't really anyone to replace me, and despite Greg being out of town shooting a commercial that will help us get through the next few months comfortably, I NEEDED to bring in some money.

It was a real knock to the noggin, too.  My vision went for a second, I dropped what I was carrying, and the pain was something I don't think I've ever felt before.  It wasn't just hurting me, it was scaring me, and I was on the verge of tears for about an hour.  The only reason I didn't let myself cry was because I was wearing makeup and didn't have extra to do touch-ups.  I just applied ice to my head with one hand, and set up my display with the other.

I was a blathering idiot for the first hour of trying to do my product demonstrations for people, and then less of an idiot but still confused for the rest of the day, with a headache that wouldn't go away.

In retrospect, hospital.  Right away.  I was a dummy.

In the long run, though, everything was much better after a good night's sleep.  All is well.

So that's where I've been.