Sheryl Jesin


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Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon Race Recap

Back in October, I participated in my second half marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.

Why has it taken me three months to write this race recap? I don’t have a good excuse. It has been a combination of procrastination, and wanting to write the “perfect” race recap. I’m letting perfection go, and here it is. Better late than never.

Pre Race Thoughts

My training leading up to the race felt strong. I found it a lot easier to train for this race than my first half marathon that I ran in May 2012. Each long run for my May race was really hard. It wiped me out for the rest of the day. I was sore for days after. This time, the long runs were no big deal. I knew how to properly prepare for them. I knew how to tackle them, and I knew how to recover.

I was feeling fairly confident in the weeks leading up to the race. But then the week before, as I checked the weather forecast, my confidence started to wane. They were predicting rain, and a lot of it for race day. I had run in the rain before, but never a long run. I started to psych myself out. I didn’t know what to wear. I was worried about being freezing cold and wet and soggy and chafed all over. I even thought about dropping out of the race. Then I remembered all of my friends and family who had generously sponsored me and helped me raise funds for La Leche League. There was no way I was going to drop out! Here’s a post explaining how I tackled the rain.

The Race

Morning of the race it was 10 degrees Celcius and pouring rain. I was not pleased! I sucked it up and headed down to the start line. It was quite well organized with properly marked starting corrals, and lots of available porta-potties. I wore a Lululemon Pacesetter run skirt and a Lululemon Swiftly v-neck short sleeve T-shirt. I covered myself in a makeshift raincoat made out of a garbage bag and brought along a throwaway umbrella. I wanted to stay as dry as possible before the race. In spite of my wish for dryness, my shoes and socks got soaked. But, my clothes and hair stayed dry before the race started, and this was quite nice. I saw lots of soaked runners at the start line, and they looked pretty cold and miserable.

When the race started at 8:30 am, the pouring rain had slowed down to a very light drizzle. This made me very happy. My feet stayed wet for the whole race (it was hard to avoid puddles) but my clothes never got wet.

The race started at University and Dundas. The route took us through many nice areas in Toronto. I ran past the hospital where I gave birth to both of my kids. I ran past the dorms I lived in at the University of Toronto when I did my undergrad. I ran past the corner of King and Bay, past a tall office tower in which I worked before I had kids. It felt awesome knowing that I am currently in the best shape of my life, better than I was as a student in my 20s, and better than I was before I had two kids.

My splits for the race were as follows:

Mile 1 – 11:39

Mile 2 – 11:07

Mile 3 – 10:26

Mile 4 – 10:50

Mile 5 – 10:50

Mile 6 – 10:59

Mile 7 – 11:06

Mile 8 – 11:07

Mile 9 – 10:58

Mile 10 – 10:54

Mile 11 – 10:52

Mile 12 – 10:43

Mile 13 – 10:11

Chip time – 13.1 miles – 2:26:25

Overall, I am quite pleased with my time. I kept my pace steady during most of the race and I love that my last mile was my fastest. During the race, I was trying to psych myself up and kept repeating positive thoughts to myself, such as: “I trained perfectly for this race. I am wearing the ideal outfit for these conditions. I love running. This is a great day to run! No one said this would be easy. It is a challenge and that is why I love it.” Perhaps these thoughts sound cheesy to you. They are a bit cheesy, but thinking positive thoughts helped me make it through the race. I believe that distance running is 90% mental, and 10% physical. You obviously have to put in the time training your body, but you also have to really use your mind to make it through a race, and you need to use your mind to push your body through the pain.

OK, back to the race. I didn’t want to start out too fast. I felt great through the first 6 miles. At around mile 6, my legs got a bit tired and my muscles started to ache a bit. Once I got to mile 10, I knew I only had 3 miles left (5k). My legs were hurting at this point, but I sped up a bit, knowing I was near the end. The crowd was quite large during the last mile, and it felt great to hear all the cheering. The last 500m or so were slightly up hill. That was not fun. But I pushed myself right until the finish line. I really wanted to finish under 2:30.

I crossed the finish line and felt amazing! I also felt freezing and was quite thankful for the mylar blankets they were giving out. The area after the finish line was quite crowded. It probably took a good 15 minutes to walk through the area where I collected my medal and some food before I could get to the post run party, which was held in Mel Lastman Square at City Hall. The area where they designated for us to walk was far too narrow for the amount of people. This was probably my only complaint about the logistics of the race. My parents and brother were there to greet me at the party and snap a few pics. My husband and kids stayed home because of the inclement weather. I missed them, but it was nice to have some time to recover and enjoy the party, rather than chasing around two little ones.

Happy!

Happy!

Post run thoughts

My second half marathon was a phenomenal experience. I was amazed how much easier it felt than my first half marathon, and I know that with more training and more miles under my belt, I can easily improve my time. I know that there is a 2:15 half marathon in my future, and maybe even a 2:00. I also know that there is definitely a marathon in my future, but probably not until my kids are a bit older.

Since my half, I have kept up my running. I try to run 2-3 times a week (which is not easy in the middle of winter!). I haven’t kept up my distances – I think the farthest I’ve gone has been 7km. I’m OK with that – it has been good for my body to recover from the distances and I’ve enjoyed some cross training, including spinning, cross country skiing and some weight training.

I’m planning on taking a break from racing for the next little while. I will stay active and run – not because I’m training for something, but because I truly love running. I love what it does for my body, mind and soul. While races are a lot of fun, every day that I run is a good day.


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Runmute

Today I experienced my first commuting run, or as I like to call it, a runmute. What does this mean, you ask? I commuted somewhere via running. I had to be downtown this morning for a few hours, so I took the subway there, and ran home. The distance was only 5k, but it was all uphill, which made it a challenge.

To accomplish this, I wore my running capris, t-shirt and jacket, and running shoes downtown to my appointment. It was chilly in the morning so I wore my winter coat and brought a backpack with that contained some snacks, water, my wallet and my phone.

I know I talk a lot about Lululemon, but one reason I love their gear so much is that it is functional, but also fashionable. So it all easily translated from appointment to running, looking and feeling appropriate for both.

When I was done my appointment, I stuffed my winter coat into my backpack and off I went!

It was such an amazingly gorgeous day today that I had to stop 1k into my run to take my (light weight) running jacket off. Yes, I ran in capris and a t shirt at the end of November. What a treat!!

I remember when I used to work downtown, I had a colleague who ran to work, and I thought he was crazy! Now I think back to those days and wish that I had joined him. It must have felt amazing to start a day of work after a refreshing run (rather than a smelly subway ride).

I plan on continuing my rumute, even as we move into winter. Just add another layer or two, and I am set!

Have you ever runmuted? Or commuted on a bike?

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Things I’m loving right now

A few weeks ago I purchased a Brisk Run Headband from Lululemon. I wanted something to keep my ears warm while running as the cooler weather approached.

I am really surprised how much I love this product! It keeps my ears toasty, but still allows excess heat to escape from my head as I run. It looks stylish and also keeps flyaway hairs away from my face. I love the Rulu fabric it is made from – it is super soft and stretchy. It molds to my head so nicely and never feels tight but also doesn’t move at all while I run.

I’ve started wearing it outside of running because I just love it so much. It is a great fall transition piece and a wonderful hat alternative – an added bonus is that you don’t get hat head from it.

I purchased it in a really pretty royal blue, which I’ve discovered looks great with almost every color. It was $26 well spent.

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A busy fall day

I know that winter and cold, dark days are on the way. So, when today presented itself as sunny, mild and lovely, I decided to spend the day outside with the boys.

We began with a run. I ran 4 glorious miles while pushing 75 lbs of kids and 30 lbs of stroller. It’s been a while since I’ve pushed both boys in the Chariot, and wow – it is a workout!!!

We then made our way over to the Brick Works farmers market. We had a bit of time to buy some delicious produce, and then spent some time playing outside. They have an amazing outdoor kids area, with little huts made out of branches, hills to run up and down, and even a campfire where they were cooking some yummy food. We had some chickpea rotis that were great.

Our last stop of the day was the park. The boys ran around for a couple of hours, and enjoyed the sunshine.

It was such a fun day. I hope to keep spending time outside, even during winter.

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Marathon week

Just three short weeks ago, I completed my second half marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.  I had tons of fun,  and shaved a cool 10 minutes off my first half, finishing in 2 hrs and 25 minutes.  I am extremely proud of my time, especially since the conditions were tough that day – wet and windy – and even the pros felt their times suffered as a result of the weather.

I’ve been meaning to write my race recap, but I’ve been having a hard time gathering my thoughts.  So, I am going to spend this week writing about my half marathon experience.   Here is my planned schedule:

Monday – Race nutrition

Tuesday – How to run a race in the rain

Wednesday – Mind over matter – how to tame the mental demons

Thursday – Race Recap – My experiences during the race

Friday – Final thoughts, lessons learned, what’s in my running future

I can’t think about running today without my thoughts going to the cancelled New York Marathon and the recovery efforts in New York, New Jersey, and the surrounding states after Hurricane Sandy.  I can’t even imagine what the survivors of the hurricane have been experiencing over the last week.  So many people lost everything – they are cold and hungry, and it’s hard to fathom that things like are even possible in the United States.  My heart goes out to everyone who was been touched by the hurricane.

My thoughts also go to all those who trained for months and who were really looking forward to the New York Marathon.  So many runners raised money for important charities and spent countless hours pounding the pavement over the hot summer, taking time to improve their physical and mental health through running.

There was so much animosity this week towards the marathon and towards the runners when Mayor Bloomberg first announced that the marathon would continue.  I can understand that to those who lost their houses, their belongings, their electricity and their heat, that the marathon seemed like nothing more than a frivolous parade of fit people drinking Gatorade.  I believe Mayor Bloomberg made the right decision to cancel the marathon.  The timing just wasn’t right this year.  New York City needs to recover from Sandy right now.

I do feel, however, that the marathon became a bit of a scapegoat for everyone’s anger.  People were mad that the marathon had generators, food, and water.  They thought these resources would be better allocated to victims of the hurricane.  While this is all true, I can’t help but think that there were many other things in New York that could have been reallocated.   Should people have been allowed to eat in a restaurant in the days after Sandy?  Perhaps their meals could have been given to a hurricane victim.  Was it OK for shoppers on Fifth Avenue to buy clothes after the storm?  Perhaps money they spent on yet another pair of jeans or a designer purse could have been donated to the Red Cross.  Should businesses have been allowed to use generators to keep going after Sandy cut off their power?  Maybe their generators should have been plugged in to houses on Staten Island.   My list can go on and on.

It was a beautiful day in New York City today, and many runners headed off to Staten Island and volunteered their time to help people rebuild.  Lots of money from the marathon was donated to relief efforts, and the generators, the water and the food was given to hurricane victims.  So, some good has come out of the whole marathon debacle.  I choose to focus on that.


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Race Recap – Orillia Duathlon

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you are right. – Henry Ford

I participated in my first multisport event this past weekend – the Subaru Series Orillia Sprint Duathlon. My brother and one of his friends were participating in the event, and they convinced me to join them.

I have been cycling casually for about a month or so, with my rides averaging at 8-10km in length. Cycling has been a method of cross training and injury prevention for me as I am training for my second half-marathon, the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. When my brother asked me to do the duathlon with him, I honestly wasn’t sure if I could do it. The duathlon consisted of a 2km run, followed by a 33km bike ride, ending with a 7km run. I knew that I could run a total of 9km easily, but the 33km bike ride scared me.

One week before the race, I decided to test myself on the bike. I rode 22km on a hilly route on a very hot and sunny day and I had no problem. I followed the ride with a quick 5min run, just to see how I felt running after a long ride. My legs were a bit wobbly at first, but the long ride gave me confidence that I could tackle the 33km ride at the duathlon.

So I prepared my body the week before the race by tapering. I only ran once and cycled once. I kept a strict gluten free and dairy free diet to avoid any GI problems during the race. I went to bed early. I drank tons of water. Although I hadn’t specifically trained for the event, I wanted to be as prepared as possible.

I was REALLY nervous the day before the race. I drove the run route and the bike route – they both seemed SO long and SO hilly! I contemplated backing out. My brother convinced me not to.

The morning of the race I woke up at 5am. Had my usual pre-race breakfast of Vegan Overnight Oats. Drove to the race (just a 20 min drive from our cottage) with my brother. When we got there, I felt very out of place! I was using my husband’s old mountain bike, and the vast majority of the athletes there (including my brother) had fancy schmancy road or triathlon bikes. There were a lot of VERY fit people there…in particular there were a lot of men!

The duathlon started and ended in Couchiching Park. The transition area is in a beautiful grassy area near the beach. The Orillia Triathlon was happening at the same time. One plus to this race is that in addition to portapotties, there were actual bathrooms, and the lineups were not crazy!

We found parking easily, and picked up our timing chips. We then were body marked. This all happened very quickly – no lineups. My brother helped me set up my bike and gear in transition.

My plan for my gear and nutrition/hydration was as follows:

1st run – hat, sunglasses, Amphipod Hydration belt (without bottles, just to hold my iPhone).

Bike – helmet, sunglasses, Camelbak, 2 Vega Sport Gels

2nd run – hat, sunglasses, hydration belt with two bottles filled with Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator, one Vega Gel.

It was time to start the first run. There were 78 people signed up for the duathlon. Compared to my last two races which had thousands of people, this felt so tiny.

The first run was 2km. It was fine! It was an out and back and there was even an aid station that we passed twice. I took some water, even though I didn’t really need it.

My time for the first run was 13:09. I could have gone faster, but was worried about the bike ride and wanted my legs to feel fresh.

After the first run, we entered the transition area to start the bike. My T1 time was REALLY slow – 3:18. I need to work on this! All I did was take off my hat, put on my helmet, take off my hydration belt, move my phone into my Camelbak, put on the Camelbak. There was no need for this to take over 3 minutes.

Then it was time for the bike ride, which took me 1 hour and 49 mins. The ride took us out of Orillia, across Hwy 11, and then through some lovely country roads. There were a lot of hills, and little shade. I passed a total of 2 people during the bike ride, and many many people passed me.

I spent most of the ride alone. 1 hour and 49 minutes alone, without any music (it was prohibited during the race, for safety reasons that I can understand). I didn’t feel like I was in a race. I felt like I was going for a very long bike ride by myself. The first half or so went by pretty quickly. The second half felt long. My legs were tired, and there were a lot of hills. Then I reminded myself that this wasn’t supposed to be easy. If I wanted to have a relaxing morning, then I shouldn’t have signed up for the race. I signed up for the race because I wanted to challenge myself.

I was pretty happy once it was time to get off the bike. I was proud of myself for completing 33km, my longest ride ever!

When I got off the bike, my legs felt like wooden blocks. I tried to run my bike into transition but they just couldn’t move quickly. My parents, Jake, and my sons came to watch the end of the race and they saw me in between the bike and the run. It was fun to see then. However, it was also a bit disheartening because when I was finishing the bike, many people (including my brother and his friend) had finished the whole race.

Nevertheless, I racked my bike, took off my helmet and CamelBak, put on my hydration belt and began my run. My second transition time was just over two minutes.

The second run was 7km, an out an back, with 3 aid stations that you pass 2 times each. There were some very minor uphills, some shade and a lot of hot sun. I drank a cup of water at each aid station and also dumped a cup each time on my head to cool down.

I was tired by the second run but still ran most of the way, with some walking during the aid stations. The 7k took me 50:41. I was hot, tired and thrilled when I crossed the finish line.

The whole race took me 2 hrs and 58 minutes. I came in 76th out of 78 participants. I note the numbers even though they are unimportant to me. I am proud of myself for completing the race. I am proud of myself for going way out of my comfort zone and completing something that was both challenging and frightening.

Have I been bitten by the multisport bug? Definitely yes. I want to become a competent swimmer and participate in a triathlon next summer. Perhaps a half ironman is in my not so distant future…

Muskoka 70.3 2013…

anyone want to join me????

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My second Bikram Yoga Class

No, I won’t be writing a post about each yoga class that I attend.  However, I felt the need to write this one, because my second Bikram Yoga class kicked my ass!  For some reason it felt much hotter, much longer and much harder than my first class.  Maybe it was because I was getting further into the poses?  Maybe I hadn’t drank enough water the day before?  Maybe I was tired because I woke up at 5:45 am (ON A SATURDAY!!) so that I could eat two hours before the 8 am class?  Maybe it was because my body was detoxing?  (Whatever that means…that is what the owner of the studio told me…I’m not sure if I believe in the whole detox your body through sweaty yoga…plus I already eat healthy and workout often…is there really a lot to detox??)  Whatever it was, I survived my second class. Just had to lie down a few times during the standing poses because I felt a bit dizzy and nauseous.  I’m not giving up though…I will be going back again Wednesday morning!

There are some benefits of the extreme heat in the class – today when I went for my run it felt positively breezy and balmy even though it was quite a hot day.  I think I will withstand the heat of the summer better this year because of my body acclimatizing to the heat from the class.

Another benefit – at the end of the class, our teacher told us to thank ourselves for coming out early on a Saturday morning.  She told us to take the feelings we get from yoga and use them in the rest of the day – the concentration, the self-control, the determination, the gratitude!  I’m definitely trying to do this.  Especially the self-control.  It’s so easy to blow up at our kids and our spouse over little things.  It takes a lot of self-control to remain calm in stressful situations, and I know it is something I have to work on.  I tried to exercise my self control yesterday when the kids were driving me batty, doing things that all kids do (making a mess, dawdling when we needed to get out of the house, running away when I tried to get them in their pajamas, etc).   It is HARD not to get annoyed and frustrated with these behaviours.  However, if I can do yoga in a 40 degree room for 90 minutes, I know I can face any situation that the kids throw at me.

So, in spite of a hard yoga class yesterday, I am still so glad that I went.  I can see why people get addicted to these classes, as their benefits stretch far beyond the yoga studio walls.  Can’t wait until my next class!


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Impressions of my first Bikram Yoga Class

I’ve been meaning to get back into yoga for quite some time now.  I keep reading how yoga complements running and how important it is to stretch out your muscles and build up core strength in order to avoid common running injuries.

I’ve dabbled in yoga in the past.  I adored it during both of my pregnancies – it was a wonderful way to relax and stretch out my sore pregnant body.   It was a great way to practice breathing and meditating – both of which were useful during my labours.

Last week I noticed that a local Bikram Yoga studio was offering one of those Groupon-type deals – $30 for one month of unlimited yoga.  I had to give it a try.  I figured even if I only went two times in the month, it was worth it.  So I bought the coupon, and yesterday I went to my first class.

What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 yoga postures done in a certain sequence, practiced in a room heated to 40 degrees Celcius.  Each class is 90 minutes.

Benefits of Bikram Yoga

There are many benefits to practicing yoga in a heated room.  The heat allows your body  to stretch more easily and this can increase flexibility.  You will sweat a lot, which helps to flush out toxins from your body.  You will get a cardiovascular workout without putting stress on your joints.  You will challenge your mind and your body.  You will increase your concentration.

Preparation before your first class

I was nervous before my first class and I did not know what to expect.  I did some reading online and learned that it is essential to come to the class well hydrated.  I drank a lot of water the day before the class and about a litre of water in the morning before the class.  I also brought half a litre of water with me and filled it with ice cubes so that it would stay cool during the class.  You also need to bring a mat and a large towel to go on top of the mat to catch all the dripping sweat.  I ate a small breakfast about two hours before the class – my staple before workout breakfast – vegan overnight oats.

The class

As mentioned above, the class is 90 minutes and is held in a room heated to 40 degrees Celcius.  As soon as I walked into the room, the wall of heat hit me.  40 degrees feels hot. It feels like the hottest summer day with no breeze, the kind of day where you sit in the shade and don’t move, and you are still sweating.  I set up my mat and towel quietly and waited for the class to start.  Silence was observed as soon as you walk into the room – no one was chit chatting.  Everyone was on their mat stretching a bit or lying down in shivasana.

I was quite surprised that the class was full on a Wednesday morning at 9:30 am.  I honestly thought there would be 3 or 4 people there and there were probably over 25.  I expected everyone to be super fit, but there were people there in all shapes and sizes.  Men, women, young, and old!  Most women were wearing tanktops and shorts, or a sports bra and shorts.  I wore my Lululemon Groove Shorts and a Moving Comfort Juno Sports Bra.   I had a Lululemon Swiftly Tank on also but I took that off as soon as I got into the room and realized how hot it was and how soon it would be covered in sweat.

The teacher walked into the room and welcomed everyone, including all the new students to the class.  He said that he would not be doing the poses, but he would be describing them to us, and that the new students could watch the experienced students if we needed to see a pose.

He led us through the series of 26 poses.  Each pose is done twice.  The first half of the poses are standing poses and the second half are lying down poses.  The teacher spoke A LOT.  It almost felt like yoga boot camp!  He kept telling us to bend further, go lower, try harder.

The stretching felt so good.  I loved being in the heated room.  I loved dripping in sweat.  I was sweating in places I’ve never sweat before – I was surprised when I saw sweat on my shins.  My heart was racing when I held the poses and I was shocked at what a great cardiovascular workout it was.

Apparently it is very common for beginners to feel dizzy or nauseous during the class.  However, at no point did I feel dizzy, nauseous or sick.  I credit this to being well hydrated, and also to being in good shape from running.  I was surprised how quickly the 90 minutes passed.

After the class

I felt amazing after the class.  I felt calm, relaxed, and invigorated.  This feeling lasted throughout the day.  I felt a tinge of a dehydration headache coming on after the class, and I made the headache go away by drinking a lot.  I drank coconut water right after the class, followed by water mixed with Vega Electrolyte hydrator.  Then I drank water throughout the day.  I have had a sore back for the past few weeks, which I believe is from carrying Benjamin.  He is 30 pounds now and it’s a workout just getting him in and out of his carseat.  The poses from the class stretched out my back and made it feel so much better.

I loved the mental challenge of the class.  When you are in a room that is 40 degrees, your body is telling you to get out of there and find somewhere cooler to go.  It takes extreme mental concentration to not only stay in the room, but to complete all of the yoga poses.  I loved the intensity of the class and I was impressed by how hard the other students were working on the poses and concentrating.  I was proud of myself for doing the class and really challenging my body and mind.  I also loved that there were no distractions during the class – no clock, no iPhone, no music – just 90 minutes to test your mental and physical strength, 90 minutes of sweating, 90 minutes of intense concentration.  When was the last time that I didn’t look at my iPhone or another screen for 90 minutes (other than when I am sleeping of course)?

I can’t wait to go back!  My goal is to go twice a week for the next 30 days.

Have you tried Bikram Yoga or another version of hot yoga?  What did you think about it?


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Race Recap – Half Marathon – The GoodLife Toronto Marathon

I did it! I finished my first half-marathon on Sunday in 2 hours and 36 minutes. This of course is a personal best for me (by default, since it is my first half) and I am proud of myself. It was long, hot and sunny and painful at times, especially near the end. I still can’t believe that I did it!

Race Preparation

As I learned during my prep for my 10k two weeks ago, a gluten free, dairy free and soy free diet works really well for me. I’ve been diligent about the diet for about 3 weeks now with no slip-ups and my stomach has been feeling great. As a bonus, my eczema is also almost completely gone! The week before the race was my taper so I only ran twice, two miles each time. I felt blah, tired and lazy all week – I really missed running! The day before the race I headed down to the Direct Energy Centre with my mom and Benjamin to pick up my race kit and visit the expo. The expo was fun – lots vendors, lots of samples of various protein drinks and bars. I stayed away from most of them but enjoyed the Gidi Yoyo chocolate and Sha Sha buckwheat snacks. We didn’t stay long at the expo as I wanted to rest my legs. I tried to eat a lot of carbs the day before, and drink a lot of water. I attempted to go to bed early, but of course it was very difficult to sleep.

The half-marathon began at 8:30 am. I woke at 5:40 am so I would have time to eat my pre-race breakfast, vegan overnight oats, and drink some Vega Electrolyte Hydrator. This breakfast works really well for me. My stomach felt good, and I felt full, but not stuffed after breakfast. I left the house just after 7 and I drove up to the start at Mel Lastman Square by myself (there was no way we were going to get the kids up and ready to go by 7am!). I got there quickly and parked on a side street. I ate one Vega Sport Endurance Gel about 30 mins before the race. Luckily I arrived in time to make a quick portopotty stop – the lines were long but went quickly. It was a lot warmer out that I expected. It was probably about 12 degrees at the start and quickly went up to 18 degrees. This doesn’t seem so hot, but the sun was blazing down and there was little shade. I had on my throwaway jacket, but discarded it before the race even started. I wore my Lululemon Swiftly Short Sleeve T, and my Lululemon Inspire Crops. I also had on a Nike running hat and sunglasses. And of course my trusty Mizuno Wave Elixirs. I was SOO thankful to have both my hat and sunglasses. Really needed them both!

Race Time

I lined up in my corral just before 8:30. The corrals weren’t organized very well. I situated myself somewhat near the back and before I knew it, it was time to start. I knew I had to start out slowly or there was no way I was going to finish. Here are my splits:

Mile 1 – 10:57

Mile 2 – 11:15

Mile 3 – 12:46

Mile 4 – 12:07

Mile 5 – 11:18

Mile 6 – 11:43

Mile 7 – 10:48

Mile 8 – 11:34

Mile 9 – 11:35

Mile 10 – 12:30

Mile 11 – 11:31

Mile 12 – 8:52

Mile 13 – 7:59

Mile 14 – 11:27

A few things to note about my splits. I’m happy that I was able to keep most of my miles faster than 12min/mile. I attribute the ones higher than 12 to either hills, or water stops where I walked a bit. I’m not sorry that I slowed down on hills or walked while drinking as it was important to get fluids in because I was HOT. As I mentioned before, it was really hot and sunny. It was the kind of day where it was cool and beautiful in the shade, and hot in the sun. 95% of the race was not shaded, and I really felt the sun beating down on me. After training through the winter, I wasn’t really prepared for the heat. Should I have worn shorts? It was warm enough, but I really like the support that the Inspire Crops give me. They hold my tummy and thighs in and prevent jiggling, and they are really lightweight. So I think they were a good choice. I was also glad that I applied sunscreen before I left the house in the morning.

I was so thrilled to see my parents around mile 5, Jake, my brother in law and my kids at mile 6 and at the finish line, and my brother at mile 7. Knowing that I would see them helped me push through and, they also snapped some great pics.

I was feeling good with no aches or pains until about mile 5. At mile 5, my left ankle started to hurt. This pain went away around mile 7. Mile 7 was beautiful, down Rosedale Valley Drive. Finally there was some shade and it was cool and breezy. Miles 8-10 were brutal. They were down Bayview and River Street. There was no shade. It was hot. There were no spectators. The scenery was ugly. My stomach started to rumble and I started to feel sick. Earlier that morning, I had received an inspirational tweet from my cousin who was also running the half marathon. She is an accomplished cyclist who races (and wins!) a lot, and she wrote:

It’s all in your head. Just tell your brain to push through and you will kick butt.

Her words helped me push through miles 8-10. I wasn’t going to give up because of a tummy ache, and some hot weather. I told my body that I had to keep going and I wasn’t going to stop. I willed that stomach ache away. By mile 11 we were in the downtown core and there was a breeze, some shade and I was feeling good again. I pushed pushed pushed through those final miles.

Another thing to note – according to my GPS, I ran 14 miles and crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 36 mins, but a half marathon measures in at 13.1 miles. I really tried not to weave this time but I still inadvertently added 0.9 miles to my race. Oh well! I am thrilled that I ran mile 12 in 8:52 and mile 13 in 7:59. I really gave it my all in those last two miles, as I tried to make it in before 2 hours and 30 minutes. However, once I got to 13 miles I unexpectedly still had one mile to go. That last mile was BRUTAL. I couldn’t wait to see that finish line. My legs felt like they were going to break off and when I finally saw the finish I was absolutely thrilled.

This was taken right near the finish line. Why do I look so happy? I’m in a lot of pain

As for race nutrition and hydration – I ate a Vega Sport Endurance Gel at mile 5 and mile 10. I drank a full cup of water at every aid station (and also poured one down my shirt or on my head!). I had my Amphipod Hydration Belt on and I filled one bottle with water, and 2 with Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator. They gave out Gatorade along the way, but there was no way I was drinking that nasty stuff! I drank my electrolyte drink intermittently throughout the race. This worked for me, as I had practiced drinking and eating on my long runs. It is so important to practice race fuelling and hydration to figure out what works best for you!

I could barely walk when I was done the race. My legs felt like lead blocks. They were so stiff and it was hard to lift them. I got my medal, picked up a banana and called Jake. I was not impressed with the post-race party. It was in a parking lot, there was a fence around it and there was a lot of confusion because the 5k was starting at noon. So there were a lot of runners milling about aimlessly and I couldn’t even find water. Jake and the boys weren’t allowed in the party (or were they? I’m not sure. There was someone guarding a small entrance into the fenced in area and they didn’t allow them in). I was exhausted and didn’t feel like hanging around and couldn’t wait to get home.

I earned that finisher’s medal!

However, the only thing harder than running a half-marathon, is taking care of small kids after running a half-marathon. It’s not like I could go home and have a nap or sit on the couch for the rest of the day. The kitchen counter needed to be wiped, the kids needed to be fed and diapers needed to be changed. That is life as a mom and of course I’m so grateful for my wonderful kids, but next time after a half I will employ the help of babysitters or perhaps grandparents.

If you had asked me immediately after the race if I would do another one, I would have said NO WAY. I’m already changing my mind. I’m slowly forgetting the pain of the last 3 miles and already plotting my next few races.

Final Thoughts

A half marathon is hard. Perhaps this is obvious. (Perhaps if you run 100 mile ultramarathons, a half marathon is easy…I guess it is all relative.) A half marathon requires dedicated training, knowledge of your body and fuel requirements. You feel like crap after a half marathon. My whole body ached Sunday and I had a splitting headache. I forgot about my ankle pain because that was nothing in comparison to the pain in my hip flexors. I could barely roll over in bed Sunday night. I felt better Monday, and feel almost back to normal today. I really didn’t expect it to hurt so much.

My mom asked me after the race – what is the point of running a half marathon? I think she just didn’t like to see me in pain, which is understandable. The point is I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something hard. And why not do it? I run because I can. I’m thankful that I have the health and the ability and the time to run. I saw this quote yesterday, and it sums up the way I feel about running:

Don’t ask me why I run. Ask yourself why you don’t.

I love that Dylan watches me race. He brought in my medals and a cow bell from the race to school for show and tell. I’ve already decided that I’m going to do the Oasis Zoo Run in September. It is a 10k through the Toronto Zoo. There is a 1k race for kids and Dylan wants to do it. I’m so thrilled!

I’m already plotting my next half marathon. I know I can go faster! I have been bit by the long distance running bug. The pain of a race is fleeting, but the memories of pushing my body and my mind will last forever. Perhaps there is even a full marathon in my future…