Clinging on. For dear life.
That was the theme for this short but intensive race. Quite honestly, it would have made more sense had I participated in the Canadian 5K Road Race Championship which was held half an hour before this particular B&O Yorkville Run. However...
I had no prior 5K running experience.
This is ironic but true. Over the five years of running, never had I once officially raced in any 5K runs. Ever. I mean over the course of my marathon training, 5K is absolutely achievable but just simply overlooked. That all changed when I made my debut on the crisp early September Sunday morning. My mentally going into this race was pretty much "all hands on deck" and taking the suggestion from my brother to simply "run for your life" ?
Preparation wise, I took this opportunity as a serious track workout style kind of run, except - well, as fast as I've ever been on a risk-it-all ordeal. Days leading up to this race day, I still did my due diligence to taper, carb up, and get my mind in-tune for this race.
Prior to start, I warmed up at the outdoor 300 metre track where all the vendors are positioned in the inner field. That was when the Canadian 5K Road Race commenced, giving the remainder of the participants a good 20 to 30 minutes of preparation time. I gradually made my way to the start line, which was nearby the Four Seasons. Knowing that I might get myself into a total log jam of people, I deliberately tucked myself at the edge of the front of the line.
My plan for the route? Just gun it and bolt down.
And that was exactly what I did when the horns were sounded off. I was bursting out of the floodgates for the first three kilometres heading southbound on Bay Street. Going downhill at 3:05/km pace for the 1st k, 3:11/km and 3:13/km right after, I think I'm going to wreck this!
Made a right turn to Dundas St West and then turned right to Parliament St heading northbound. But there's a catch - uphill ????
The remainder mileage was short but unforgiving. I knew I was giving my heart a hard time, especially with the 190s range HR. It was really obvious too as I was pretty much closing my eyes and grimacing my way through to the finish line. I started off at the first member of the pack too. Now I finally experienced what it's like to be the forerunner of a race and gradually having the lead slip away. Definitely going to remember this example and remind myself of "this is what complacency feels like if you don't do enough ground work for anything in life". Harsh but got to swallow the bitter truth pill sometimes.
FINISH LINE & SWAGS:
End up finishing with an official chip time of 18:26 minutes. I actually surprised myself quite a bit, thinking that I would really get a marginal sub 20 minutes time. The possibilities of improving my time can only get better from here on if I stay committed to doing speed work, whether on the tracks or designated tempo / race pace time within a scheduled outdoor run. With a premium admission fee (which actually goes towards local charitable causes), the swags and medals were just as fancy. The B&O H5 wireless headphones excited me the most especially since I got a thing for premium audio experiences and Bang & Olufsen is definitely one of them - so much so that I rather sacrifice my other headphones for profuse sweat abuse and leave these ones as an in-home inner space serenity. The medal is just as notable. Mainly because it's engraved with the word "CHAMPION". Well not really for me, but rather it stands out as a power bank for your electronics which I have never seen before.
I think for next year, I will forego with the Championship 5K now that I have attained their qualifying time of 19:00 minutes or faster.
Looks like I'm also featured on the Bloor-Yorkville BIA newsletter recap too! Fun times - M.W.
The Shakespeare run finally returned in 2018 after years long hiatus from what used to be called "A Midsummer Night's Run". This time around, this run is hosted by the Toronto Beaches Runners Club and renamed this run as "Shakespeare Runs The Night". This race offers a choice of 15K or 30K. I opted for the 30K as a dress rehearsal run for my main fall races.
The route of this run is essentially a loop around from the Ashbridge's Bay Park to the Tommy Thompson Park for the 15K whereas the 30K is two loops of that. I recall that it was quite a hot, humid night only to be made even more humid as it rained for majority of the day until the rain subsided midway through my run. This was also my very first evening running race as most running races commence in the morning hours between 7:30 am to 10:00 am range. It was especially neat as I sported on my USB rechargeable LED headlamps, the Nathan Halo Fire (review of the headlamps here). Organizational logistics was exceptional, with plentiful of sponsors as well as volunteers to coordinate with the route guidance and photographers for the action shots.
The start time for the race was set for 6:00 pm for the 30K with a hard cut-off time of 9:45 pm completion time. As I recall, it was already pitch dark by 8:30 pm that day as I was cleansing myself from the sweat and muck accumulated from the run.
RACE DAY NOTES
Majority of the daytime rainstorm dwindled down just as the race started. It did however rain again briefly as I was entering the Tommy Thompson Park in the first loop. Soon after it stoped, I got humid... quick! There was a brief glimpse of a double rainbow across Lake Ontario as it got rather steamy, with water vapours rising up from the lake and the ground. Also in the Tommy Thompson Park segment, be mindful of narrow passage way when crossing the bridge.
A key signature to this race was also the mass amount of participants dressing up as their favourite Shakespeare characters! Although I did not partake with the butterfly wings setup or the tutu dresses, I still thoroughly enjoyed observing other people's sheer creativity in making this a fun and engaging experience!
I will definitely consider signing up for this type of race again as a fall race prep again! Thank you to the organizers for such a well run event!
This race happened exactly 4-5 weeks after my last race which was the Sporting Life 10K back in May. It was a nice kickoff for the summer season as the temperature was mild in the early morning hours before really becoming a scorcher later on mid-day.
I managed to mix up between some leisure road runs and some trail runs leading up to this race. I once again had the goal of hitting sub 40 minutes, especially since I managed to pull off a 37 minute ish run from the Sporting Life (with the sharp downhill advantage). Looking back at my training log, I took 3 days off leading to the race so I most definitely went into this race with some seriously fresh legs.
This race is heavily reminiscent of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon route which happens in October. The start line was westward from the Nathan Phillips Square but instead of heading northbound, the route heads southward and turning into Bremner Blvd (where Rogers Centre or Skydome is) before gradually transitioning off to Lakeshore Blvd. Special note to be cautious of the limited amount of space available to maneuver especially when going though the Front Street and into the overpass. Your speed may be affected by the mass amount of runners trying to squeeze through one another and could get chaotic real quick.
You continue to cruise down the Lakeshore Blvd and turn around near the Budapest Park and head over the opposite direction of the Lakeshore to head down to the finish line. Depending on the running pace and time of the day, the heat really began to pick up and boy was I ever glad to run by those mist spray stations! This 2018 edition was considered to be forgivable especially since after hearing of the major heat that people had to endure the year prior. As much as I absolutely loved the black Lululemon Metal Vent Tee shirt, the black colour quite literally captured all of the heat and may not necessarily be a good fit. But I'm a monochrome person so I didn't really mind, plus I wore my sponsored singlet so it was all good!
FINISH LINE & AMENITIES
I recall a row of vendors such as photo booths, Saje holistic sprays, pretzels, and baggage pickup following right after picking up the finisher's medal. And then once you make that left turn into the bandshell theatre area, there's even more vendors and a stage where they hosts yoga sessions throughout the hour. It was simply lively there and people genuinely excited to finish. All this before 1pm into the day. And that's a warm fuzzy feeling with the runner's high gravitating you for the remainder of the day!
Would definitely look forward to run this race again!
It's been a while since I revisited my own personal portfolio and keeping tabs on my training schedule this past summer and into fall race season... sorry! If you are ever wondering what I am up to, I am fairly active on Strava logging in my runs or other cardio related cross-training.
WHAT I'VE BEEN UP TO
Ever since my last post, I participated in quite a few races which I will eventually elaborate more in detail on separate individual posts and will be hyperlinked in the following lists:
I also joined my local Lululemon chapter for their group runs Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings on a weekly basis from April to October. You can find them numerous ways on social media and Strava here:
In terms of weekly running mileage, I managed to hold myself accountable for up to weekly 65km per week give or take. What worked for me this year was having the mindset that it is okay to be unstructured despite work commitments and hanging out with my social circle from time to time. For example, I will make an honest attempt to at least squeeze in a long run of more than 21km and juggling between some tempo runs and easy runs. This is important to me especially knowing that some days you have it in you to do the extra, while some days when you're planning for a hard workout and you're just mentally shut down for the day after long hours at work.
Summer's been hot and humid most of the time. I vividly remember doing long runs with a hydration waist belt or in some cases having to divert the planned route to parkettes where there are those kiddy splash pads to temporarily cool down - only to be dying in the heat again with my singlets and shorts all dried up from the heat.
The best part of all races (after putting an honest attempt to train) is the runner's high the remainder of the day after crossing the finish line. Although I am proud of the six races and the PBs acquired since June, there are select races that really stood out more so than others. The first one is the Bang & Olufsen Yorkville Run 5K and the second one is the Chicago Marathon.
Did you know? Up until this past September's race, I have never officially ran a 5K race before. Of course, I fell into typical stereotypes of that it is "simply" just a 5K. What actually transpired was the realization that I actually need more track workouts and manage my short spurts of speed and pace changes. I see myself that if I can make it work, then hopefully that converts to incremental seconds to minutes shed off for future marathon times.
Chicago was my first ever travel-race. I recall being ecstatic being selected through lottery around this time last year. I also had just as much jitters thinking of the travel planning and coordinating the finer details since this was a solo excursion and I rarely travel out of province / country anyways. But now that I ran the race and have time to reflect upon it, I guess it all worked out just fine! I was pretty fortunate to come across our weekly run leader in Chicago so I didn't feel all too foreign. The course was as flat as it can be as described by fellow runners and bloggers on the internet. Race day conditions was as stormy and windy as it can be - true to the Windy City claim. More on that later, but the grand prize overall is my first ever BQ attainment. As much of a reserved person that I am, my raw emotions were on full display upon moment of reckoning that Boston is truly within reach.
That's it for now, but my running journey doesn't end here as I resume regular running back in the uptown!
See you on my run - Mike
Race Season Begins!
It's quite literally been a fast and furious few weeks into the spring season with all the spring races happening. It has also been transition time for me to adjust the running training schedule earlier so I can avoid training in the summer heat. Fast and furious, mainly because of the key races such as setting a new benchmark for the marathon time in Pittsburgh and also a new PR for 10K for the (plentiful of downhills) Sporting Life 10K. I'm proud to say that I'm still basking on that extended runner's high even it's been a few weeks time. But like all things, can't dwell on past achievements and have to plan actionable training plans to keep pushing the PR envelope even further!
May 6: Pittsburgh Marathon
This full marathon at Pittsburgh is my first out of country run outside of Ontario. I was equally as excited as I was with the travelling and the unknown jitters. However, I felt pretty confident going in with the winter training finally coming to fruition with a few side race PRs from Burlington and Hamilton sedimenting that state of mind.
During taper week, I actually did not really minimize my weekly mileage but rather running at a significantly reduced pace - at least just so I mentally don't feel that I forgot how to run lol. I was increasingly carbing up at the second half of the week to reduce the over bingeing the very last minute. In terms of travelling, left Toronto at around 6:30 pm and headed straight for Pittsburgh with the intention of going straight to their convention centre for baggage and bib pickup. That was a relatively manageable 7 hour drive with a pitstop by Grove City as I made it down by around 1:30 pm... quite honestly not too bad in my opinion. That very day, I had a late lunch (not by choice) followed by yet another carb rich dinner a couple hours later so that there are enough time for digestion and be deep sleeping by 10 pm before race day. By the time I'm back to the hotel, I had roughly an hour to pack the next day's baggage prep and bib belt essentials.
Pre-Race Rituals: Hotel Kuerig coffee pod, banana, Starbucks muffin that I got one the night before / anti-chaffing balm applications / Google Mapping the designated parking area again before leaving
I find it nerve-wrecking especially if you have to blindly drive off to a set designated parking that's not your home turf with the addition of public roads gradually being closed off bit by bit as time winds down. Once the parking was done and over with, the first line of business was to do baggage check and then finding my set start line corral. Also in the meantime, it was just as important looking for nearby porta-potty and do my constant cycle from using the stall to lining up again to keep the bowels and the bladders at bay.
0 - 10 Miles
New: I started at the first corral for this marathon. Unlike previous runs, I made a deliberate choice to space out at the very far end so I can manoeuvre around passerby without all too much additional effort. It was also quite new to me to get accustomed to mile markers as I'm so used to seeing kilometres over miles. Throughout the very first kilometre (based from my GPS watch), it was busy hunting for that sweet spot pace where it can dictate the overall tone of the entire duration of the run. Once the pace was attained, I started to push that benchmark pace a bit more and test if it is sustainable enough without any extra discomfort early into the run. The elevation for this part was manageable but the humidity that very day made things uncomfortable (although I can't complain about the overcast skies prior to the rain showers...) I recall that after the initial bit of bridge crossings, that's where that gummy worms pickup from some random stranger really came in handy and euphoric. Essentially those sugar bombs carried me through into the next sequence of the run.
10 - 20 Miles
Still chugging along until the upcoming bridge crossing and leading into miles 12 - 13. From there at around near half-marathon distance, a very un-welcoming 43 metres of elevation awaited to be grind through. Essentially, the surface of those roads are highway exit on ramps which gradually merges into a residential road. You know how I mentioned about those gummy worms? They REALLY came in handy as I chewed down on them some more to extract as much sugar as I can to push on through ?. However after that initial uphill, it was not completely done and over with where the next sequence was nothing but small rolling hills around various sub-divisions within Pittsburgh. Although speed made everything seem like a blur, I managed to observe my surroundings and be able to pickup on generic impressions of the city overall and the community that keeps the place operational. Select areas remind me of Hamilton, Ontario when I did the Around The Bay and also the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon.
20 Miles - Finish
This last segment was mostly downhills as the course makes a returning route back into the downtown core of Pittsburgh. I recall the overall pace then was at around roughly 4:10 min/km and the time advantage really had me thinking that qualifying for BQ was no longer just a pipe dream but rather something that I can actually attain with even more serious training from where I'm at now. At around mile 24, I literally tried picking up the pace and flirted with the idea of actually gunning for that elusive qualifying 3:05:00 finishing time. However by the time the mile was done and onto mile 25, it was mathematically no longer feasible. I was not discouraged... very content as a matter of fact. So I consciously slightly dialled back the pace so that I can still finish at a respectable time frame. To my absolute surprise, the final time was at 3:08:48 based on my watch. I can't get any more ecstatic than that!
Takeaways: YES - the qualifying times can be attainable, but the million dollar question is - "how badly do you want it and exactly what will you do to attain it?" In addition to those self-questioning statements, I need to hold myself accountable with an actual timeline to what I plan to do in order to measure progress and self-evaluations. After all, momma didn't raise no quitter!
May 13: Sporting Life 10K 2018
June 2018: Toronto Lululemon 10K
I have been running with my local Lululemon chapter in preparation for the upcoming 10K in June. You see, I love running in groups even more so than just running solo during my own training. I feel even more empowered when I know that I can help somebody make a positive difference, albeit a new PB, feeling good about themselves, moral boost, etc.
Returning to the trails! Now that the Endurance Challenge in Blue Mountains for July is no longer happening, I can finally turn my attention to do trail running at other locations within Southern Ontario and tap into my inner adventure bug. But, I have been even more wary of nature's hazards such as blazing sun damage and disease carrying insects such as ticks and mosquitoes. Aside from that, let's keep adventuring on!
Cheers and until next time - M.W.