Archive for October, 2013

The Sask50 Ultra… Or Not…

Last October I joined two other ladies and ran my first Sask50 Ultra relay. It was different from other races I’d done and I was looking forward to running it again this year.

A couple of months ago, my friends Morgan and Glenda and I decided to enter a team in the Ultra this year. They quickly claimed the shorter legs and stuck me with the 18 km leg. There is also a solo event, but none of us are quite brave enough to tackle that! Back in July when Glenda told her husband she was going to run a 50K with me he said “well… that’s… ambitious…” He was much more enthusiastic when he realized it was a relay. ­čÖé

After the Mogathon, I really felt like I needed to scale back my running a bit. I had trained hard for that race, and though the runs were usually shorter, they were definitely intense. With speedwork three times a week, one long run and one easy run, I needed to just relax and run for fun again. I started to resent the longer runs required of me to train for the Ultra, and settled on a much smaller training load than usual. I rode my horse, went to Zumba classes, and ran only twice a week. One was a long run, but it felt more like an obligation than a desire to run.

Then rumors began circulating that the Ultra may be cancelled. Registration numbers were considerably lower than usual, to the point where the race was actually going to lose money if a lot more┬ápeople didn’t register – soon.┬áMorgan and Glenda were both sick, too sick to train. Between the three of us we just weren’t feeling it. Of course we would still run (slowly) if the race went ahead, but we were honestly okay with it if it didn’t.

It didn’t. I feel really bad for the organizing committee who spent so many hours planning (and money – non-refundable deposits, money spent on an online entry host, medals likely already ordered, etc.), as well as the runners who trained so hard for this. I can’t imagine the kind of training that would go into preparing for a 50K race, and the people who choose to run this event solo amaze me.

This morning would have been race day. Instead, I took my kids to swimming lessons. We went for lunch with some ladies I went to college with (ten years since we graduated!), and on the drive home the cold that had been hanging around in the background for a week hit full force. By the time I got home there was such pressure in my head that I got dizzy when I got out of the truck. We were supposed to leave for a 40th anniversary party minutes later, but I got the kids changed into their party clothes and sent them off with my husband. I’ve spent the last four hours on my couch napping, watching old DVDs of Friends and feeling sorry for myself.

In the end, I’m glad the Ultra was cancelled. Of our team of three, none of us were properly prepared for this race, and with the way I feel right now I’m not sure that I would have made it through 18 km this morning.┬á I’m already planning how I can alter my summer running a bit next year so that I don’t feel quite so burnt out by the fall and run the Ultra with joy in 2014!

Next up: Day Of The Dead on November 1 – my favourite running event of the year!


The Mogathon Race Report

I did it. ­čśë

I had been looking forward to a fast fall 10K, but after the drastically short Heartbeat Run 5K course I changed my plans to try for an official 5K PB before the snow flies.

The Mogathon has been around for a number of years now in Saskatoon, but I’ve always had scheduling conflicts that have prevented me from running it in the past. I was excited to finally get a chance in 2013!

The swag bag every Mogathon runner gets is famous. I was absolutely floored by the stuff we got: a tech t-shirt, a buff, a wristband, a gift card for a free frozen yogurt from Pure, flip flops, a gel sample, other samples and coupons, plus a reusable shopping bag to hold it all! All this coupled with chip timing, the many race-day events and attractions and a post-race catered BBQ made the somewhat higher than typical race entry fee well worth it.

A whole lot of swag!

A whole lot of swag!

My Mom usually watches the kids for me when I race, but she and my Dad had lake plans the weekend of the Mogathon, so my mother-in-law and all three kids came along with me. No one likes to wake up early, but four and five year olds are pretty difficult to get up and get going earlier than they’d like. After some persuasion and a few dramatic collapses on the floor, we were off.

I had been worried about the parking situation, in that there is none. Anything close to the Friendship Park start/finish point is metered or timed pay parking. I didn’t want my MIL to be worried about feeding a meter and watching three kids at the same time while I was running, so I opted for the “park across the river for free and walk” option. Luckily the kids had woken up and were excited by the time we got there, so the 10 minute walk wasn’t a problem at all.

Checking out the river on our walk across the bridge.

Checking out the river on our walk across the bridge.

This race features a staggered start, with the 30K, half marathon, 10K and 5K all starting at different times. This made the start area less congested and bathroom lines short. I found my race buddy Morgan and we went to warm up while the kids and Grandma checked out the numerous family friendly activities – a big bouncy castle, Warren the Balloon Guy, face painting, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles! (Wow, if ever there were a race you should take your kids to, this is definitely it!)

After a few minutes of wardrobe indecision (no one is surprised at this right?), I settled on shorts and a tank top. I had been planning on short sleeves and capris, but it was warming up and the sun was out, and I hate being over-dressed when I run.

Morgan had texted me the night before the race to discuss our usual pre-race things. A friend of hers was involved with the race, and apparently there had been some road closures since the route was planned and they suspected that the course may now be about 200m short. Gah! Not again! There was NO WAY I was missing my big PB goal due to a short course again, this time I vowed to keep running if the course was short.

We lined up at the starting line where I saw a friend from our twin club, Gill. The start line instructions were given by two local radio DJ’s, and then we were off.

Saskatoon has quite a varied terrain. Races can easily be flat or hilly, depending on where the course loops. Most (if not all) races focus on our scenic riverbank, and certain sections of it can be quite hilly. This was a challenging course with several big climbs and a couple of bridges. The water stations were lively, and some volunteers were even in costume! (In the post-race email survey you could vote for your favourite water station.) There were also two people dressed as gorillas handing out bananas. I’m not sure why I would eat a banana partway through a 5K, but it was amusing nonetheless.

After the last big hill climb we got to coast down the Broadway Bridge and loop around into Friendship Park. At this point the race committee had planned a split finish line. To avoid congestion, they were directing half the runners left and half right, to two separate finish lines. I found this really confusing as there was a lot of “orange shirt go right,” “who, me?” sort of exchanges and people not really sure where to go. Again, there had been a staggered start, so it was mostly 5K runners finishing at this point. With only 230 5K runners, I think the split finish line was really unnecessary and was actually confusing to a lot of runners and spectators. People there to watch someone finish didn’t know where to go!

I ran across the timing mat and glanced at my watch. 4.8 km. There were volunteers handing medals out to finishers, but standing off to the side instead of approaching runners as they finished. I ran to the sideline, grabbed a medal from a woman whose arms were laden with them, and took off in a dead sprint to finish my 5K. When I told my husband this story later he said “was everyone looking at you like you were crazy? Or a thief?” Likely, but I was the crazy person running away from them as fast as I could, so I didn’t see their expressions! I sprinted down the (closed) street and under the Broadway Bridge. Just on the other side of the bridge my watch beeped for 5K and I stopped it. I dry heaved a couple times (haha, true story!), then looked at my watch. 24:57.

I was thrilled. I have no idea what my actual race time was, but I know it took me some time to get that medal before my mad dash for 5K. I was afraid though, that if I came strolling back from the wrong direction they’d think I was trying to steal an extra medal or something, so I wanted to get one when I came to the finish line the first time. Even with that delay and the hills on the course (it’s very flat where we live, so I struggle with hills), I had achieved the goal I hadn’t reached two years ago. This goal has been nagging at me for two years, and I am thrilled to finally achieve it. Now I can slow down and go back to longer distances.

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According to the online race results I finished with a 24:06 chip time, 21st out of 230 runners. There are no age group or gender results listed.

I found my fan club (one was mad because he’d turned away for a minute and missed my finish) and had a bottle of water. My cousin, who had walked there from her place, found us and we tried the BBQ. There was also beer gardens, but it was pretty sparsely occupied. I can’t imagine too many runners wanting a drink after a big run, and it was still only about 11:00 in the morning… I’m sure the licensing and tent rentals for the beer gardens cost a lot, and was something that could easily be eliminated in future years. I think the organizers have visions of this becoming something of a family event and festival, but the time of day runs are held aren’t exactly conducive to beer drinking.

Overall, this was a great event, and one I will try to run again next year. Racing during harvest time is tricky, but this was a really good one to make an effort for. The tough course, nice shirt, medal (for a 5K – rare!), kids’ activities and food made it a great day. The drawbacks for me were the parking (even just moving this to a Sunday when meter parking is free in Saskatoon would help), and the confusing finish. I also hope that the money spent on having a beer gardens that likely didn’t pay for itself will be donated to the event’s chosen charity instead in the future.

Next up, the Sask50 Ultra. Well, not really. More on that soon!

The Terry Fox Run

On Thursday morning my kids’ school hosted their annual Terry Fox Run. The morning was overcast, windy and cold, so we bundled up and headed into town.

The School and Community Council put on a pancake breakfast first for all community members with all proceeds going to the Terry Fox Run. There was a break for about an hour between breakfast and the run, so I delivered the boys to preschool and my daughter went back to kindergarten for a bit. A friend who is on maternity leave had come with her baby for breakfast, so it was nice to chat with her for a while before the run began.

The preschool had planned a route of about 600m for their run, but knowing my kids wouldn’t be satisfied with that I declined to take other kids along with me. I felt kind of bad for not helping out with the rest of the preschool, but with three adults for twelve kids I thought they could manage fine without me. My four year old twin boys and I joined the group at the front of the school waiting to run and off we went.

I was right about the distance. We came to the preschool turn-around point and the boys didn’t even slow down, they just kept running with the older kids. We continued on out of town along a sand road. We had been told to turn around at the stop sign, and this was an unused road so I let one of the boys run ahead of us with some bigger kids.

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When I found him waiting for me at the stop sign I was a little taken aback. I was unfamiliar with this road, and as it turned out, the stop sign was where the sand road joined the very busy highway. Had I realized this I definitely wouldn’t have let my four year old continue on alone! Luckily he had done as he was told and was waiting for me at the stop sign, I was just a little concerned that this meant he was basically standing at the edge of the highway!

I lifted each boy up to touch the stop sign and then we turned around to go back. We saw my daughter (kindergarten) then, and she ran fast to the turn around and back to catch up with us again. She decided we were too slow so she ran on to the school alone. At this point it had started to rain and the wind was picking up. None of the kids seemed to notice or care, but the teachers I saw out with them were starting to look a little chilly!

We stopped at the gym for a cup of Gatorade then went back to preschool for the last ten minutes of class. My boys felt like such big kids to have run the full 3 km with “the big kids!” It was so fun to get out and run/walk a community event like this. I thought it was a little disappointing to see only one other parent out running with the kids. I know the weather wasn’t great, but I strongly believe in modeling physical activity for my kids to encourage them to be active in their lives too. I hope that more community members will come out to support the kids next year!

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Next up: the Mogathon and my last chance to get a sub-25 minute 5K this season!