wineglass marathon recap

Also known as the day my music died.

It’s been a little over a week since the Wineglass Marathon and I’m finally writing a recap. As always, it’s long and painful just like a marathon but I hope it is handy for all the Googling marathoners out there who are looking for their next race and landed here. Afterall, it’s other people’s race recaps that influence me to sign up for stuff like this in the first place.

After running last year’s New York City Marathon, I needed to find something totally different. As much as I loved the big city experiences of Chicago and New York, I wanted to go back to something smaller and less overwhelming but yet a bit bigger than PEI. My sister Erin, who lives in upstate New York, mentioned the Wineglass Marathon so I looked into it and it met all of my requirements:

  1. Smallish (3,000 runners in the full).
  2. Early start (8:15 am) and minimal travel to the start (our hotel was 2 minutes from the shuttle bus drop-off).
  3. Great route (flat and point-to-point). I should clarify that there is no wine on course… a lot of people asked me that! 

With all of these factors in place, I decided to sign up despite being slightly injured in the Spring but with physio, training started off better than expected. I set my goals prior to a marathon:

  1. Sign up, show up.
  2. Finish.
  3. Finish sub-four hours.
  4. Get a new personal best! I would need to be under 3:56.

Unfortunately, early into training I stupidly bruised the arch of my foot doing jump squats on and off a curb and my training got slightly derailed. I cut back on my mileage and went back to physio. There were many times I thought about deferring but kept running as much as possible and decided to show up and do my best. By the end of 18 weeks, I got in a few good long runs and things we feeling okay.

Race weekend

The Wineglass Marathon is in New York (state) and the finish is only 45 minutes from my sister’s house so I was excited about being close to family and the beautiful Finger Lake region of New York did not disappoint!

I flew to my sister’s on Friday morning and with my parents also in town, it was fun and stress-free leading up to the event. Erin’s friend Tara, who was running the half, flew in from England on the same day so we all chilled in Binghamton and went to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning before making our way to Corning. We got our race kits and drove to the small town of Bath where the race starts. Although the Corning is bigger, I prefer being as close as possible to the start line and booked a hotel as soon as I registered for the race. This was a smart decision because there were limited accommodations options in Bath. A not so smart decision was thinking I was the only one with the idea of having a carb-happy Italian dinner in the cute town just a few miles outside of Bath. There were about 1,000 runners with the same idea but luckily we found a great tavern and chowed down before checking-in at the Super 8. My sister introduced me to her friend Nick who was also running the full so it was nice to see a familiar face at the starting line.

Race morning arrived (as usual, with little sleep and lots of anxiety). It was cold (about 1 degree Celsius) but I put on my shorts and tank-top, knowing I’d warm-up once I got going. As I mentioned above, I love this start time. I was able to stay in bed until 6:00 am, got up and took my time getting ready – ate a bagel, popped some Advil, drank a coffee and water and layered up. Erin and mom drove me to the shuttle bus at 7:15 am and I reluctantly left them and the warm car. The bus ride (which is a requirement) to the start was less than 10 minutes. There were tons of porta-potties and they opened-up industrial garages for us to congregate in (heat!). Bag check was super-easy too – with about 5 minutes to go, I pulled off all my layers, stuffed them in the bag and lined up right behind the 3:55 pace bunny.

The goal was to stick with the bunny, eat my chews and hydrate early.

About 1 km into the race I felt great and decided to jump to the 3:50 pace group. About 1.5 km into the race by shuffle died. I spent the next 2-3 km totally distracted trying to get the music to work but also felt great and was pumped to see my sister and mom early on. I threw them my arm warmers but kept my gloves on. It warmed up to about 7 degrees at the sun came out about halfway through. I was grateful that David gave me his lucky hat and promised me it’d give me speed!

About 5 km into the race I still felt great, having just climbed the only significant hill in the race and decided to jump ahead to the 3:45 pace group. Without music, it was nice to listen to the conversations and since it was a very rural course, the crowds were pretty quiet most of the time. I stuck with the group for the next 15 km and I was remembering to hydrate, the road was fairly flat and there were lots of nice country views. As we approached the half, I hesitantly moved ahead of the group but not by much. I just needed some me-space and was excited to see my mom and sister again at 22 km.

The rest of the race went by fast – I still felt good but started walking through the water stations. As per usual, things start to hurt but nothing significant. I never saw the 3:45 pace group pass me and although I was walking the water stations, I caught up to the runner’s that passed me. Without music, I spent a lot of time trying to predict my finish… but I honestly had no idea if it was going to fall apart. Finally, when I thought I still have a few kilometers to go, I realized I was at 41 km and the finish was just over the bridge! Not sure how that happened but I kicked into gear and pushed hard for a strong finish. Now, it was no New York or Chicago but running down the final stretch of Main Street and seeing my sister, mom, dad, brother-in-law, Tara and my niece and nephew in the crowd was awesome. I threw out some high-fives and finished!

The medal is the prettiest yet (glass of course). I saw Nick again at the finish:

They had chocolate milk, coffee, bananas, pizza and soup (to name few) and a PB bell plus a place to get an instant print out of your results.

After catching my breath and calling Mike and David, we made our way home.

Guys, I can’t say enough good things about this race. It was near perfect. If you are looking for a great smallish race that’s early in the fall this is it! There are not a lot of turns, it’s very flat with a few small rollers and there is very minimal congestion. The only small negatives would be the road is not fully closed-off to traffic so the pylons are a little obstructive (a poor guy fell over one and broke his nose…) and there is not a ton of crowd support because of the limited cheering locations. My mom and sister (bless them) were cheering for the half and full, which made for a lot of crazy back-and-forths but still managed to see me three times.

I hope this is helpful for anyone thinking about the Wineglass.

***

Oh, but wait, there’s more! I almost forgot to talk about the swag! A long-sleeve tech shirt, a wine glass and some celebratory champagne. That’s the icing on the cake!

And with my new PB, that’s a check off the forty before forty bucket list! Now I need to think about a spring marathon. Let me know if you have any recommendations. 😉

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empire state of mind : NYC marathon 2016

I have been trying to figure out if this will be a positive or negative race recap… so please bear with me.

After running Chicago last year, I was itching to try another marathon – I was on a personal best high and loved the energy of a big city race – the crowds offered so much positive energy that I decided to sign up for the biggest marathon possible: The TCS New York City Marathon assuming I’d probably not get in (my last attempt to get in the lottery was a bust three years in a row about 10 years ago). But oops, I got in and so began training.

The thing about running a marathon (I’ve now done 5) is it’s more about the training than the actual run and my training had always been just running but not thinking about speed and tempos. I decided I wanted to chisel some time off my PB (3:56.20) and thought about finding a coach however, in the end, I went with the more affordable option – I purchased Hal Higdon’s Marathon – The Ultimate Training Guide and enrolled in their 18-week online Advanced Marathon Training Peaks program. It provided daily emails and a well-detailed plan which involved 6 runs a week (from 48 to 95 km / week). This was a lot more running than I’ve ever done but I stuck to it and really noticed an improvement in my speed and strength. In the end, I was confident that I could reach my race goal: sub 3:50

Tip: Always have 5 goals for a marathon because you’ll never know what will happen during 42.2 km! Mine are 1. Show up. 2. Finish 3. Finish Strong 4. Personal Best 5. Goal Time

But about a week or so before the race (during the dreaded taper), I started reading a TON of NYC race recaps and online advice. Despite everything I read:

  • It is a tough course
  • The second half is harder than the first so less than 5% get negative splits
  • It is about the experience and not a race where you’ll likely get your fastest time
  • It starts late in the day (10:15 am  for me) but I’d have to get up at 4:30 to get to the start line on Staten Island
  • It starts on the biggest uphill and there is another long incline at the end (plus there are 5 bridges)
  • Its crowded (+50,000 runners)

I still thought I could hit my goal … SPOILER: Nope.

So here’s how it all went down 

We arrived in New York on Friday evening and went straight to the expo. Although Chicago had a huge expo, this one felt really overwhelming… I am not sure if it was due to a long day of travel, but I was exhausted and only stayed long enough to grab my kit, a souvenir hoodie and my Nuun water bottle. We met up with my parents and took the subway back to Brooklyn for pizza and checked in to our lovely airbnb Brownstone in Park Slope (great neighbourhood!). The next morning, (the day before the marathon), Mike and I went for a 3km shakeout run in Prospect Park (great park, 500 m from our place). After, we left for Manhattan and met my sister and niece for an afternoon tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. On our way home, Mom and I found the Highline and could not resist quick stroll. Mike, David and my dad had tickets for the Islanders vs. Oilers game so mom and I went home and made spaghetti.nyc-marathon_2 nyc-marathon_3 nyc-marathon_4 nyc-marathon_5 nyc-marathon_7The next morning my alarm went off at 4:30 (which actually felt like 5:30 thanks to Daylight Savings) and Mike and I were out the door and on the Subway by 5:00. I signed up for the 6:00 am ferry to Staten Island and after the boat ride, a bathroom stop in the terminal and then the shuttle bus ride, I was at the start village for around 7:30-8:00. Only leaving me +2 hours to kill. The ferry is great – you go right by the Statue of Liberty and feel like a rock star because of the police escort following along. I was really happy I brought extra clothing, a hat, mittens, a towel and a plastic bag to keep me warm because it was about 8 degrees and a little windy. Since I selected the post-race poncho, everything I brought with me was left in one of their Good Will donation bins. I ate my bagel and some chews and waited.

Not going to sugar coat it… The start for me was the hardest. You wait around a long time (from wake-up to run time was 6 hours!) questioning how much to eat and drink and how many times you can wait in line to pee (3 times)… then you move into your corral about 45 mins before the start and are herded like cattle through this bizarre road/field/bridge terminal and can’t really see much. Besides the nervous chatter, there are helicopters flying over and in the far-off distance you can hear Frank Sinatra’s New York playing and then BANG, we were off! The first mile or so was up the bridge and everything I read said take it slow… it’s the biggest hill… which was easy to do when there were so many people. My pace was slow and I kept it that way up to the top and back down.

One of the coolest parts of the race is coming off the Verrazano Bridge – it goes from a ghostly silence to a loud roar – the crowd was insane and I had goosebumps when I saw the signs “Welcome To Brooklyn”. As the course flattened out, I tried to find my pace. It was hard. I kept looking at my watch and I was all over the place. I felt like I was loosing control and my pace was not mine – I was dodging elbows and thick packs of runners and there was so much congestion at the water stations. I quickly realized this was not my race but kept reminding myself NYC is all about the experience so I took a deep breath and tried to have fun.nyc-marathon_8

At about mile 7, I was at the neighbourhood where we were staying and started looking for my family – and there they were! A quick wave and a high 5 from David gave me a huge boost. At this point, I was not cold and happy to be wearing a tank top and shorts. Brooklyn was amazing – there was never a break in the crowds and there were a ton of bands along the way. At one point, the road tightened and a band was playing “Celebrate” – all of the runners had their hands up in the air clapping. Wow.nyc-marathon_9Once I got to the Pulaski Bridge, I was halfway. I felt great but knew my PB was vanishing. I still could not find my pace, it was so crowded and felt like a game of dodge ball. Then we were in Queens and I was excited to reach the Queensboro Bridge and enter Manhattan. The Queensboro Bridge however was probably my lowest point… my pace was slow and I was panicking. loosing hope. sad. lonely. It was a bit of a hill and then a big downhill into what’s the most loudest part of the run – 1st Avenue. On the way down the hill I felt a little pain in my knee but it quickly went away. Phew. As I ran along 1st Avenue, I kept an eye out for my family but knew it’d be hard to find them in the thick crowds. The next thing I knew, it was mile 19 and the bridge to the Bronx was right there! I loved the Bronx – I had read that it’s where you hit the invisible wall but I was so focused on 5th Avenue that I just kept moving. Back in Manhattan and on 5th Avenue, I kept looking ahead – wow, this is almost done and I feel fine. Not amazing but not bad. Oh wait, is this THE hill? Not so bad. Oh wait, mile 24 and I’m heading into the park? Not so bad. Honestly, this marathon was a blur, it did not feel like I ran 42 km. Near the last mile, in Central Park, which was a tunnel of noise and excitement, I saw my family – what a surprise! As I ran the last mile I knew I was not going to get under 4 hours. No!!!!. I tried to weave but there was a wall of runners in the way and my energy was dwindling.nyc-marathon_10In the end I finished in 4:00.18. Although that is my third best marathon time it is the first time I never hit a wall at 34km. As soon as I stopped the pain hit me and I felt sick. It was a long (like it felt longer than that marathon long) walk to the family meet and greet. On the way, I went from hot to cold really fast and my fingers went numb. A very kind volunteer wrapped my poncho around me and helped fasten it up (they’re fleece lined!). He then looked at me and said I should be really proud of myself. That’s when I cried.nyc-marathon_11I finally found my mom and we slowly made our way another 9 blocks to the Natural History Museum where Mike, David and Dad were. A few other marathoners had the same idea and I wandered around like a zombie for a few hours before we caught the subway back to Brooklyn. At the end of the day, I clocked 55,900 steps and happily devoured a veggie burger and two beers.nyc-marathon_12The next day, we went back downtown and visited Ground Zero, The Rockefeller, Time Square and Central Park. It was a lovely day and seeing the park again was great.nyc-marathon_1So why am I a little sad? I missed my goal by 10 minutes and although I know 4:00.18 is nothing to be ashamed about, it was a bummer because I trained so much harder than pervious marathons and feel a bit disappointed in myself. However, despite those feelings, the experience was worth every penny I am now even more determined to find a new race and start all over again. Any recommendations for a less crowded, fast Spring run? I have Ottawa, Fredricton and Sugarloaf on my radar.

I totally recommend the New York City Marathon as a bucket list experience and really, I should stop sulking. I did it, I ran the 5 boroughs!
nyc-marathon_13And  New York, I still LOVE YOU.

Not sure if you’ve seen this but it’s very accurate:

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random thoughts during the marathon taper

Do you ever wonder what an amateur marathon runner is thinking about during the days leading up to the race?

Probably not, but I’ll share with you anyway…

  • Why did I sign up for this?
  • Maybe I should just skip it
  • I’m so excited!!!
  • Should I invest in real arm warmers?
  • No, I’ll just cut out some old nylons
  • No, I should get arm warmers, it’s November
  • Should I wear throw away gloves?
  • Yes
  • No, it’s November wear your good gloves
  • I hope I see my family on the course
  • Shorts, leggings, short leggings, short short leggings?
  • Tank top, long sleeve, t-shirt?
  • Should I put my name on my shirt?
  • Hat, no hat, visor, sunglasses?
  • I just want to start running
  • Next year I am doing an October marathon
  • I am never doing this again
  • Maybe I should stick to half marathons?
  • I want to run in a smaller race next year
  • I want to run London
  • I want to get a PB
  • It’s New York, it will be hard to PB
  • I can totally PB
  • Should I run with my phone?
  • Blistex, don’t forget the Blistex
  • Spring ahead fall back!
  • Central Park is not really that big is it?
  • New York is flat, right?
  • Bridges, whatever. I live in hilly Halifax
  • I hate hills
  • The biggest hill is in the first two miles
  • I may never love New York again
  • I am running in the F$#King NYC MARATHON!
  • I hope I finish
  • What if I win?
  • What would Kara do?
  • I just want one nice race photo
  • Who are these people who take good race photos?
  • Avoid wide turns, remember Chicago? you ran 42.9km!
  • Remember to start my watch
  • Remember to stop my watch
  • Carb-load starts now
  • DRINK WATER
  • Should I raise my arms at the finish?
  • I can’t wait to finish
  • Where is the closest veggie burger to the finish?
  • Run so hard it hurts to run for the rest of the year
  • Should I stock up on Halloween candy and save it for after the marathon?
  • Wine or beer to celebrate?
  • Remind myself to remind Mike to have a chocolate milk for me
  • I am most excited about the poncho
  • I hope I see a famous person
  • Maybe I will make it on TV
  • Who even has cable?
  • There’s a reason they call it the BIG CITY
  • Mile markers, ugh. KMs are so much better
  • Why do I always pick American races?
  • 50,000 people, that’s a lot
  • Believe in the teff
  • Believe in the taper
  • How do others run so fast?
  • It’s going to be an AWESOME RUN
  • I hate wind, it better not be windy
  • I hope it’s warmish – like 12-15
  • Not too hot, not too cold
  • Sneakers – which pair? The ones I trained all summer in – they make me feel fast
  • OR the ones that are newer – I haven’t bonded with them as much
  • WHICH ONES???
  • Pack both
  • The new ones right?
  • Embrace the bridges, take it the view
  • I should of made a playlist
  • My relay playlists are pretty good, thanks team
  • Where will I be when Chariots of Fire plays?
  • Remember to remove my earbuds near the finish
  • PACE YOURSELF
  • 24200… all my favourite numbers… that’s a good sign
  • I want people to track me so I will feel the motivation
  • I don’t want people to track me in case it all falls apart
  • People must hate marathoners – they never shut up, ever
  • My friends and family will be more excited when this is over than me
  • I should run a spring marathon?
  • Pack the peanut butter
  • Eat in the morning. Drink in the morning
  • Why does it start so late?
  • HYDRATE ON COURSE
  • I hope I don’t get cramps
  • I hate everyone who can eat those gels
  • Waiting around at the start will suck
  • Bring a magazine for the long wait
  • Remember all the good training runs
  • It’s totally a phantom pain
  • The biggest hill is in the first mile
  • Visualize the finish
  • Smile

If you want to see how the hot mess plays out on November 6, download the app and track me 24200… please. Actually, don’t. No, do.TCSNYCM16 CourseMap v3_web

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golden girls

Saturday was the Rum Runners Relay – which is my favourite sporting event of the year.

Robyn put together a great team of 10 strong and speedy girls and in the end… after 10 legs… from Halifax to Lunenburg… the Fundy Dippers won top ALL FEMALE TEAM!img_6464

* * *

But lets rewinds…

> The Fundy Dippers (not Diapers) came about almost a year ago after the 2015 Rum Runners Relay – we had a great mixed team but it was decided to try for an all-female team and see where we’d place.IMG_3577> Team-wear: After a strong showing on the roadways of the Cabot Trail, we decided to go with a long sleeve tee.RumRunners Tee_5 reference.eps> If you can’t run with music, make a team playlist. We blast each runner’s song from the support cars during their leg.screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-9-11-26-am> And what’s a race without signage! Any excuse for cutting, pasting and glitter glue.photo-2016-09-12-9-24-29-pm* * *

We had great day with great performances, tenfold. Here are a few random pics from the day!

> Robyn tackled leg 1, which started at 6:30 am. img_6447 img_6446 img_6449> Cheering / dancing for Erica on leg 2 – who’s a super mama – nursing a 3 month old 5 minutes before her start! 14485025_10101852197204477_8590867637579038469_n 14449761_10101852197174537_4164652168537448840_n img_6452 img_645014469492_10101852164365287_5933439043454846240_n> I missed most of Steph’s leg 3 because I was prepping for leg 4 (i.e. standing in line at a porta potty) but she did awesome! (sorry)

> Not going to lie, I was a little intimidated by the runners at my start14424924_10154513079138582_7918706439114028639_o> My leg ended at Queensland Beach… yes, I went in knee deepimg_6455> Andrea (“I’m not a runner” but finished with a 4:45 average pace) killed leg 514449064_10101852162793437_3170715317584808517_n> Oh holy hill at the start of leg 6. Elissa had no problemimg_6456 img_6457> Kristin finished the very hilly leg 7img_6461> Amy breezed though leg 814481914_10154513104838582_4205791758828086084_o> Amélie crushed leg 9 (injured) 14380071_10154513110358582_1666279205527321213_o> And Sabrina brought us home, smiling!14445021_10154513115803582_3704117670599872582_o

After leg 10, we drove back to Halifax for a celebratory dinner – proud of our accompaniments regardless of our standing because we didn’t know who the other all-female teams were and how they did.

Then the next day, there was this:img_6482And now we’re all like this:giphy

Cheers! img_6483

So that’s that. My goal was five race this summer and they are all done (Bluenose Half Marathon, Cabot Trail Relay, Natal Day 6 Miler, Not Since Moses 10km and the Rum Runners Relay) – now it’s fall – and the only good thing about fall is fall running when the temperatures are perfect. Lets hope for 6 more weeks of wonderful marathon training weather!

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our tenacious team

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when your team doesn’t get in to the Cabot Trail Relay Race lottery, fake it.

Introducing #team71CTRR16_Team71 TeeLast weekend was the 29th annual Cabot Trail Relay Race. A relay run around the Cabot Trail in beautiful Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. “70” teams. 17 legs. 185 miles. ~24 hrs.

It was supposed to be our team’s third year – and with the CTRR being a live and learn kind of event we were excited to put our veteran experience to use.  However, when we found out we didn’t make it in, we were bummed. Luckily we all found other teams to join and here’s a peak at the weekend.

But first, how to prepare for the CTRR

  1. Training: Run a few races (like the Hypothermic half and Bluenose) and run hills because there are no shortage of hills on the Cabot Trail.
    CTRR16_train1 CTRR16_train2 CTRR16_train3
  2. Uniforms: If you are not really a team, it’s best to look like a team so other will know you are not a team but still are. If that makes sense. I designed team shirts which we had printed by Fresh Prints.
    CTRR16_T-Shirts
    And Robyn & Steph made team buffs (see peacock green below)
    CTRR16_ameliedrum
  3. Signage: Who doesn’t love an opportunity for a good craft & wine night? Plus, roadside signage support is crucial for running events.
    CTRR16_poster
  4. Music: Because you are not allowed to run with music during the CTRR, for the second year, we made a mix of all our Power Songs – which can be heard from the support car as you run by.
    CTRR16_MusicOur team also rented drums and entertained runners with their pop-up drum sessions on the road.
    CTRR16_drum

Back to the weekend…

Amelié and I caught a ride up with Kristin and her family Friday night and because Kristin and I were not running until the early hours of Sunday morning. We spent Saturday in Baddeck – hiking then relaxing on the patio of the B&B.CTRR16_driveCTRR16_hikeCTRR16_k&mThe others set off and conquered the Saturday legs and on Sunday morning, the alarm went off at 2:00 am, and we drove an hour up to Margaree. My leg (14) was 19.81 km at 3:45 am and I must say it was lovely. Although it was dark, I could hear the Atlantic Ocean and spring peepers and then the sun came up as we ran inland. Despite feeling a little pukey, I managed to finish with a 5:03 min/km average pace (1:39:53) but only placed 35 out 0f 70 (sad face emoji) Note: The pace at the CTRR feels a lot faster than an average race and if you don’t keep under a 6:00 minute/km pace, the finish line moves on to the next leg and your time is +5 minutes of the last runner across the mat. Our fellow Miramichi Lucky Charms teammate Hughie ran leg 15, followed by Kristin who ran leg 16 and then we rushed back to Baddeck to cheer in the finishers in at the end of leg 17.CTRR16_kristinCTRR16_finish4

Team 71 – not all present and accounted for. L-R: Duncan, Joe, Erica, Robyn, Mike, Steph, Grahme, Marcel and Jenna (and Liam). Missing: Jon, Josh, Amelié, Kristin, Greg and Me.CTRR16_team CTRR16_LegDescriptionsHappy trails!

More on this year’s CTRR : CTV Atlantic News – ‘It’s just completely different’: Cabot Trail Relay Race wraps up in Baddeck

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psst. I checked three things off my 100 Days Of Summer list including # 20, 62 and 74