10k Melissa’s Road Race Report

When I first arrived in Calgary back in the summer and started looking into running races I was told that one of the most desired races to participate in was the Melissa’s Road Race.  It is held at the end of September, this year being on Saturday, Sept 28th.  I was told it sells out within 2 hours so you need to be right on top of it when registration opens.  So intrigued of its popularity I put it on my Races To Do list for next year.

To make a long story a little shorter, three weeks ago I was given the opportunity to buy a Melissa’s 10k bib off my sister’s friend.  Now I was already registered for a 10k race the Sunday before but I figured what the heck, I can make this a practice run.  One of the great things about this race is that it allows for Bib ownership changes which is great. The only other race I know that does this is Around the Bay.  Personally I think more races should accommodate this.

One interesting fact about Melissa’s race it is that it is truly a running race and offers two events, the 10k and 22k event.  Due to tight road closure restrictions within Banff, the event is not able to accommodate any walker participants.  Mike noticed how strict they were with this when they started opening the road before the last stragglers even made it to the 1km mark.

Given that I wasn’t planning to do this race, I had not trained at all for what was to come. As you will note I had to climb a mountain – eek. It brought back fond memories of the Huntsville Half that I didn’t end up running due to injury and being grateful I was spared such an experience. In the end I think Huntsville Half is still more gruelling.  Regardless I was going to enjoy this race and let the cards fall where they may.

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Race Day

The race started at 10.30 am and given I had no idea what to expect and that parking would be at a premium we left at 7.45 am and arrived just after 9 am.  To our luck we found a great parking spot that was had a 3 hour free parking window.  The instructions to the start line were a little vague so we (the family) just followed the crowd of runners hoping they would get us to the starting area.

The race couldn’t have been in a better back drop as you stood in the venue field with mountains surrounding you with snow already on their tops but the trees and overall vegetation was still alive with lots of rich colours.

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I had picked up my bib on Friday but you were to pick up your race shirt on the day off, so off I went.  Despite the 4000 participants, most of them in line to pick up their bib, I easily picked up my race shirt.  It was a little disappointing for it was a white cotton long sleeved shirt, not even a v-neck, with the Melissa’s Road Race log on the front.  A shirt that wouldn’t get any use.  This is the second race that I have done that has given out cotton shirts 😦    I then made sure I got my beer ticket to make Mike happy post race.

I usually shy away from participating in any organized race warm-up and instead would do my own thing involving running a couple of kilometers and doing some light stretching but there was really no easy way to accomplish this so I got my groove on with London. Thank god there is no video or photos documenting this. It did the trick though in terms of being warmed up and reinforcing I am not that coordinated in the dance department.

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Then it was time to make our way over to the Start Corral.  To my pleasant surprise they had race bunnies for both the 10k and 22k event and people seemed to be lining up based on their desired pace and end time.  Given that this was going to be a practice run I debated – do I run with the 60 minute pace bunny, or the 1:10 or do I go in between? In the end I thought let’s start with the 60 minute pace bunny and then I can always drop back.   I set the goal of finishing in 1:05 but would be secretly thrilled with 1:02.

So off we went with me pretty much glued to the 60 minute pace bunny. I told myself to pretend that this pace bunny was my personal running partner and she was going to make sure I got up and over the mountain that was coming.  The first km we were on pace but slowed down a bit on the second kilometer because of the scheduled walk.  At first I was thinking oh man I should have set my goals a little higher, so far this was very doable but then I had to eat my words or at least choke on them a bit as we started to ascend up the mountain.

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I called on my hill running legs and managed with effort to get up the mountain wondering when we would come to the top, for then there would be a sweet slide down the other side.  The crest finally arrived and I flew down the hill like a bat out of hell making up time that I lost on the climb but then was rudely confronted with another uphill climb that I was not prepared for mentally.   I had to bid my personal running assistant farewell as I walked up this second hill.  At this point the road was divided into two – runners on the left and walkers on the right.  An equal representation of each on both sides.  I vowed though next year to be on that left side running up this second peak.

At some point near the top I took up running again and eventually another descent was before me and once I again I was determined to let my legs fly like there was no tomorrow and prayed that I wouldn’t trip.  It was an exhilarating feeling flying down the hill and knew that I was in for a world of hurt the next day with my quads. Surprisingly though as I write this two days later there are no memories of what I did on Saturday within my legs.

After this descent I could make out the 60 minute pace bunny ahead, a little too far to catch up but at least she was in my sights.  At this point we were only at 6k and I was hoping the descent would have been a  lot longer but no such luck. At least the worst was behind me. My strategy from that point on was simply to stop looking at the Garmin and to try to find a good groove.  By the 8km mark I was starting to fatigue and at 8.5 km I finally gave myself permission to do one last walk with the agreement to give it my all in the end.  A lady passed by immediately after I stopped and she said that I am so close and to keep on going.  For some reason that is all the motivation I needed and started not only running again but found a higher gear within me.

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At the 9 km mark I told myself not to take it up another notch just yet and tried to hold the pace.  I waited until I saw 9.5k on my watch and I ran like my life depended on it. I am not sure why I did this, maybe I wanted to test how much I really had left in the tank or maybe it knowing that pace bunny was just ahead and that just maybe I could get 60 minutes, not the 1:02 I would have been thrilled about.

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Well I ended up doing much better than 1:00 and finished in 57:40 – 142/976.  I will take it!!!!

Post-Race

Once I caught my breath I realized that once again there were no medals being handed out, again this is the second race I have done without any medals as well as cotton shirts. Hmm.  I then went to get some post-race food and the desired beer for my other half. There were no line ups but within 5 minutes the line-ups that formed were insane.  It certainly pays to be slightly below the average running time in an event.  The post race food was pretty standard – yogurt, granola bars, oranges, bananas, and plain donuts. Nothing to brag about but enough to refuel you immediately and please your kids.

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They had a band playing at the venue and eventually they started to give out draw prizes.  It was quite chilly out with the wind so we thought it was best if we take-off and instead wander the Banff downtown area,  Mike needed his fudge fix and London was anxious to spend her allowance in one of the many candy stores.

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Another edition of kids say the darnest things

I still help London have a shower these days for she is not the best in ensuring she gets all the shampoo or conditioner out of her hair and if she is left to her own devices I think she would stand there for an hour without hesitation.  Plus since she is only 6 years of age and before I know it she will be demanding her own independence I am trying to relish any time I am asked to be a mom.

So back to the shower…. I poured some body wash into her hands and she started to slowly wash her wrist and forearm and I thought we would be there forever at that rate.  So I told her to focus on her arm pits, her vagina and bum. She then promptly said “and my leg pits too“.  I said “sure, leg pits too” and had a good laugh.

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To London, arm pits and leg pits have equal importance and at her age where she doesn’t produce any body odour anyways, who am I to argue that she should dismiss her leg pits, lol.  Plenty of time to fine tune body washing.

What dirty socks can teach you

By SimpleCrafter

By SimpleCrafter

This morning London taught me a very important lesson.

Back in the late spring I started insisting that she put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket.  Given how busy life was at the time for me, I gave her very little direction and it became habit that almost every morning she would put her PJ’s in the laundry basket and at the end of the day her school clothes.  Needless to say I was doing a lot of laundry but at the time it worked.

Since being in the new house I feel that I am doing even more laundry than before and asked London to use the same PJ’s for at least three days before putting them in the laundry and with respect to her school clothes, if it isn’t dirty, put them away for another use.   I gave her no other directions and just assumed she would know what to do.

So this morning I went to get a jacket from her closet and noticed the dress she had on yesterday afternoon was put in the laundry basket. I essentially berated the girl when I questioned why it was in the laundry basket when it was only worn briefly the day before and was far from dirty.  Then because we had a late start to the morning I helped her get dressed.  She asked what she should do with the underwear she had on from the night before, as she had an evening shower and had only worn it over-night.  She was now visibly confused about what should go in the laundry basket and what shouldn’t.  Doh!  Poor girl, how should she know the full ins and outs of what goes in if I never broke it down in great detail.  I wrongly assumed that she would learn through osmosis or mind reading or something else unrealistic.

I apologized for not giving her all the rules so to speak about laundry and told her the following:

  • Underwear and socks from the previous day always go in the laundry.  You start fresh each morning – she already knew that you get a fresh pair each day but I totally think I threw her off this morning and it is always better to clarify or over communicate then under communicate
  • School clothes go in the laundry if they are dirty – obvious signs of dirt or doing something that makes sense to wash the clothes (i.e. farm field trip/sports activity/etc)
  • Pajamas every 3-4 days unless they are dirty
  • Towels – use them more or less for the week
  • If she is ever not sure just ask!

I just assumed she would know what to do but that was so unrealistic given that I gave her such a broad request to keep her room tidy which included putting her clothes away and using the laundry basket.  It was an important lesson not only in parenting but also as a former manager (and hopefully another one some time in the future), especially working with a diverse workforce that may not necessarily be familiar or accustomed to local norms/customs/practices.

It all comes down to communication, not just one way directives but two-way communication that involves a feedback loop.  This laundry situation is such a simple little thing but for me it was an eureka moment that as a parent I just assume that London will just know what to do, especially since she is so precocious with other things.

I believe all of us need to ask ourselves when someone doesn’t meet our expectations, whether they even had a realistic chance of meeting them to begin with, especially if we fail to communicate what we are expecting a person to do or give them the appropriate resources as the case may be to even attempt to be successful.

Now off to do some laundry…

Rock the House 10k Race Report

Picture is from the Rock the House web-site.

Picture is from the Rock the House web-site.

First off I didn’t get my goal time of 55 minutes, instead it was 57:08. There were certainly some learning lessons to be had with this race and some things that I just had to accept and literally run with.

Here are some lessons learned…

1)  Don’t have coffee on race morning.  Usually I don’t but the race didn’t start until 10.15 am and I thought there would be plenty of time to deal with the direutic affects. Well let’s just say I ended up going to the bathroom before we left, as soon as we got to the venue which was only 15 minutes away and then had to line up for the porta potties at the last minute. I literally made it to the start line with one minute to spare.

2)  Don’t do a stair workout two days before a race.  The last time I did stairs, I wasn’t sore the next day and so I thought that would be the case this time round.   Well… let’s just say my calves were screaming at me yesterday morning. However, I don’t think they impacted my performance other than my shins were a little tighter than normal for the first 3 km.

3) Don’t weigh yourself the morning of a race when you are not pleased with your weight to begin with.  I don’t know why but I stepped on the scale yesterday morning and to my shock/horror and disappointment I managed to gain 3 pounds overnight. I know this isn’t real weight gain but nevertheless boy did it play on my psyche thinking that the extra weight on top of what I am already trying to lose is literally going to weigh me down on the course.

Having said all that my lungs were tight from the moment I got up and I knew from the first morning breath it was going to be a ? on whether I could even pull an hour.  Unfortunately a bad head cold has gone through the house and somehow I am the only one that has managed to avoid getting “it”.  Usually I am the first one and get hit hard and it always goes to the chest for me given my asthma. I wasn’t sure if I was now getting this cold that I so carefully avoided up to this point.  So far I am still in fighting mode and would like to keep it that way until it gives up and moves on.

Putting time goals aside this was an awesome 10k course.  For the 10k event, you had to do 2 loops of 5k. I am not a big fan of doing anything twice –  running wise but I didn’t mind this course at all.  Maybe it had to do with the amazing entertainment en route – bands/singers/performers.  I could be wrong but I think they had someone set up every kilometer or less.  Plus the course had some great downhill portions that allowed you to make up some time with only one doable hill and I can’t forget mentioning the volunteers.   They were amazing in how they provided everyone with endless support and encouragement.  I am also grateful to have my family at the finish line cheering me in!

The only negative thing about the event was the start corral. Rock the House was sporting a 5k and 10k event with a mix of 1400+ runners/walkers/strollers/jogging strollers and a unicycle so I am told and everyone was mixed up in the staring corral. I was no more than 15 feet from the front and it took me almost 800 meters to get myself around people that really should not have been at the very front of the corral.  My only recommendation would be to either encourage better placement by time expectations, stagger the 5k and 10k slightly, or mini-wave starts.

I also have been very spoiled in getting medals with other events and to my disappointment only the kids doing the 1k got a medal. Their medal was en par with medals I have acquired in the past and I would have loved to snag one. I know it is silly to complain about this but for me it is a great physical memory of each event.

Overall, it was a great family event with bouncy castles/face painting/balloons and lots of freebies – McDonald’s food of course given this event is to fund-raise for the Ronald McDonald house but the healthy stuff, Cobbs bread, Marble ice cream, and lots of other little things.

Kids say the Darnest Things

While I was doing London’s hair in the bathroom she asked “Do we have meat inside of us?”
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I said, “well our muscles are technically meat”.
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She then asked “where do our ribs come from?”
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Now here I am thinking she is wondering how do our ribs come to be inside us and so I answer “they grow inside us.”
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Apparently I didn’t answer the right question as she immediately interrupted and asked about the ribs we eat.  So then I become confused for she is asking about our ribs and eating ribs in the same conversation. So not so delicately I ask her “do you think they (the ribs we eat) come from humans? How?”
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She then cocked her head, stuck our her tongue to one side, closed her eyes to represent being dead.  I couldn’t keep my laughter in and said “NO, the ribs we eat certainly don’t come from humans.  They come from cows and pigs.”
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Of course her reply, “oh okay” as if her inquiry was nothing more than being confused with pigs/cows and chickens. LOL.
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At first I wasn’t sure why she would ever think we would eat parts of dead humans, trust me when I say we don’t practice cannibalism. However, I have to admit that I have joked with her for many years now that I would like to nibble on her leg for desert, as it is full of lean muscle, which she would recoil in horror, but I would always let her know that I am teasing.
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In thinking through this further though we are probably like most families and don’t talk about where stuff really comes from, for all London sees is meat being nicely packaged from the supermarket and generic terms like ‘we are having chicken for dinner’ or ‘steak’ or ‘meatballs’ but for all she knows ‘meat’ could come from some crazy factory that recycles human parts – ooh gross.
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Here is to greater education on the meat side of life!

10k Race around the Corner

My  memory is failing me as to when my Achilles heel injury happened but I am thinking around April.  It pretty much sidelined me until I got to Calgary at the end of July. It ended up being the longest stretch of inconsistent running since I took up running several years ago and thankfully I had my share fare of other things to focus on during that time.  Despite lots of physio/chiro and rest though the issue hasn’t completely gone away and although it doesn’t hurt anymore when I run, there are a few times during the day doing regular stuff that I am reminded that I still have something going on.  For this reason I have been so hesitant in my running and have barely been logging 20 km a week.

My typical week involves one speed work-out, one stair insanity night (5 sets of 167 stairs) and a long very easy run on Saturdays. I am certainly not where I was pre-injury and not where I wanted to be at this point but it is a start.

This coming Sunday I am doing a 10k race with some friends from my clinic.  Despite where I am at I am thinking it is possible to shoot for a 55 minute finish time.  This translates into a 5:30/km pace.  On Saturday we ran 7 km as part of our taper and I ran the middle 4 km at 5:35 so I think it is doable.

Last night I had us doing a warm-up, 8 x 200 meter sprints, then cool-down.  My results are as follows:

Warm-up:  2.34 km

200 meter sprints: 56.61, 51.15, 52.50, 52.87, 53.12, 54.73, 52.70, 53.83

Cool-down: 3.63 km (very easy pace)

I thought I put in a great work out and still on track for a 55 minute 10k but then I went to the online McMillan Calculator and when I put in the 55 minute target race time and looked at what I should be doing 200 meter sprints at it said – 44.8 seconds. There is no way I could gone that fast for these 200 m intervals and for a second I wondered if I was off base in what I think I can do this Sunday based on this.  This calculator either is wrong or I am using it incorrectly for I feel pretty confident that this is a realistic goal. So here is to blocking any doubts and getting that 55 minute time!