Calgary Police Half Race Report

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I ran my first half marathon in an entire year today! Last year I ran the same race, at approx 22 weeks pregnant, and it took me 2.5 hrs. I’m just over 7 months postpartum now, and have really been starting to feel strong. Like I posted a few days ago, I had struggled with whether to race this race or not. I had left the option open to not race it because of the dicey weather around this time of year, and then it took a bit of a shift in mindset to decide to race it. I was encouraged by everyone I asked to race it (THANKS for all the encouragement friends!!) When I thought about it, I realized that it was silly to not race it, that I was probably just psyching myself out, and that I should get over that and go for it.

Once I decided to race it, I had to figure out what my time goal should be. I haven’t actually raced a race since last New Years as I spent most of last year pregnant with Olivia. Postpartum running is a strange time of massive improvement, and change in your body. A couple weeks ago I had had a very good cruise interval training run where I had run my tempo’s at approx a 5:00/km pace. I based that pace on an approximate half time of 1:55. I decided that this was a good goal at least to start with. I’m pretty good at feeling out a pace once I get rolling in a race, so I knew that my body would tell me once I was rolling.

I woke up nice and early this morning thanks to Olivia. She usually wakes to nurse sometime between 5 and 6am, and then goes back to sleep. This morning when she woke up at 5am, I just stayed up. I ate my breakfast, had some coffee and waited for my bowels to start working. Once I was dressed and ready to go, I was out of the house around 6:30 am. The race didn’t start until 8am, so I had plenty of time to use the bathrooms, and be nervous. I said a quick hello to my running partner Lori when she arrived (she ran the 5k race), and then made my way to the start line. This is a smallish race and didn’t have any pacers, starting corrals, or anything. I just picked a place in the front 1/3 of the crowd and went with it. My plan going in was to not run any of the first few km’s faster than a 5:15 pace. As you can see from my splits, that didn’t happen. I was trying to reign it in but I felt good and decided to just roll with it, especially since I knew I had some hills on the course that would slow me down. It was in general a fairly uneventful race, I felt fairly good, strong. My glutes did start to fatique by approximately the halfway point but I knew I was fine to just keep powering through at my pace. The km’s ticked by fairly quickly.

Just before the 15km mark, there is a fairly large hill that goes up and out of weaslehead park. I ran up the first half of this hill and then walked up the rest of it. I could have easily run up the whole hill but I decided that I would use up more energy running it, than making up the time once I was back on the flat again. You can see the pace on that km below as being 6:14. I don’t think I would have been able to run up faster than a 5:45 pace, and it would have trashed my legs to do so. Anyone have any comments on this? Is it better to walk the steep hills or run them? I think I like trail races where everyone walks the big hills ūüėČ

My plan was to pick it up after the 16km mark when I was down to just 5k left. I did pick it up as much as I could. There was an overpass that took us over Glenmore during one of those first km’s. Then I had 3 good km’s where I was able to get my pace down a bit. Then for the last km I had no kick left in me. I guess that’s a good sign that I didn’t leave much left to race it in. At the 1 mile left sign I knew that if I could run an 8 min mile I could get in at a 1:53 even, but alas, I did not have that kick.

All in all, I’m super thrilled with this race. I’m still improving and getting my fitness back post baby, and know that I have lots more improvement to come in the next months. After I had Maiya, my first half marathon back was at 6 months postpartum, I finished that race in 1:56, which at the time was a PR. I feel like this was a tougher course, and like I’m further ahead than I was after having Maiya. I don’t think I’ll be beating my half PR this year, but I can see my numbers going in that direction, which is just awesome!

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Splits: 5:10 / 5:15 / 5:13 / 5:21 / 5:27 / 5:14 / 5:16 / 5:19 / 5:30 / 5:20 / 5:28 / 5:21 / 5:21 / 5:23 / 6:14 / 5:20 / 5:18 / 5:14 / 5:05 / 5:08 / 5:16

Official Results:

Overall: 429/1289 (33%)

Time: 1:53:31.30

Pace 5:22 / km

Category 30-39F Place: 39/194 (20%)

Gen Place: 93/590 (16%)

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And the answer is…

Race it!

So now that I’ve declared that I’m going to go ahead and race this damn race, what are my goals.

1. Bare minimum goal… Have a great day, enjoy being in a race atmosphere, smile.

2. Stretch goal… Run a sub 2:00 race.

3. Reach goal… go sub 1:55.

I really don’t know if these are good goals given my current fitness. ¬†This is my first postpartum race since Olivia was born, and my fitness has been changing quickly. ¬†At the very least, I should be able to get some hard numbers on where I am currently so that I know where to start with goals for the Calgary Half in May.

And now the big question is… what to wear!?!

To race or not to race, that is the question…

Here’s the thing, I’ve got a Half Marathon on Sunday – the Calgary Police Half. ¬†Originally, I was planning to just run this as a hard long run, with the first few km’s easy and then speeding up to a faster pace, closer to my actual half marathon pace. ¬†I am also racing the Calgary Half at the end of May, and have always considered that to be my goal race. ¬†The Police half is a harder course, and also can have some pretty terrible weather some years. ¬†This is a photo from the start of the race 2 years ago. ¬†Lori had trained super hard for this race and was¬†disappointed¬†when her plans were foiled by the weather.Image

Well now that the day is drawing near, and the forecast is good, I’m rethinking that strategy. ¬†I’m curious about how fast I am right now, can I break 2 hours? ¬†I am pretty sure I could, but how much faster am I right now? ¬†I don’t want to risk my performance in the Calgary Half in the process though. ¬†Typically when I race hard, I need some good recovery, I’m very sore for days afterwards. ¬†I know I have quite a bit of time between the races, but racing this half will probably mean that I won’t get any quality workouts in during the week afterwards…

What would you do?  Do you RACE every race, or are there races that are just fun to run comfortably hard?

Just cruising along….

My workout today was 4×1 mile cruise intervals. When I say I’m doing cruise intervals, I’m often asked what they are. So I thought I’d blog about it.

Cruise intervals are one of my favorite speed training workouts, and IMO one of the most effective for longer distances like Half Marathons. They are in general a fast tempo pace interval anywhere from 1 km to 1 mile in length. They are slightly slower than your normal interval pace but faster than a tempo pace. The difference between them and normal intervals is that there is not much rest between intervals, and ideally the rest is done in an active state (jogging, not walking). Today I rested approx 30 seconds by jogging at a 6.0 mph speed. I won’t lie to you, this is a tough workout, you move fairly quickly for the intervals and then don’t get much of a break between them.

Here is how they are defined on http://www.mcmillanrunning.com (a great place to go and calculate how fast you should be running your various training runs):
The Cruise Interval workout was popularized by the running coach, Jack Daniels. They, like the other Stamina workouts, are meant to increase your lactate threshold pace. Cruise Intervals are like shorter and slightly more intense tempo intervals. They last three to eight minutes and the pace is between 0:25:00 and 0:45:00 race pace. Like tempo intervals, they are followed by short recovery jogs (30 seconds to 2 minutes). You’ll probably find that it’s easy to run too fast on these. The tendency is to treat them like regular long intervals. However, keep it under control and work on a smooth, fast rhythm. Control in training is key to improvement.

The more you push that lactic threshold out, the longer you’ll be able to maintain that fast pace without getting that jello leg feeling (from lactic acid buildup). Here is a link to today’s run.

I also got some new running accessories last night when my MIL got home from the US. New running headbands! I already had quite a few from bicbands and had ordered some sweaty bands this time. They are both great brands IMO and practically indistinguishable. Here is my collection so far! (I want more and more ūüôā ).

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A great week in running

This has a been a great week for me running wise. I ran 50 km’s total. This is a good number for me. I often peak for half marathons around 50 k and although I am running the Police Half in Calgary in 2 weeks, this is not my goal race and this is not my peak mileage. I also am often bordering on injury during those final weeks of training. This time around I’m feeling fairly strong at 50 km’s. Sure I have a few aches and pains but nothing that I’d classify as an injury.

My runs this week consisted of a 5 km tempo (8 km total) on Tuesday. My tempo pace was between 5:10 and 5:20 per km. This was my first tempo outside and I’ll admit I was a bit nervous going into it. I’ve been doing my tempos on the treadmill and I find it easier to hit those difficult paces on the treadmill where if I don’t keep up I’ll go flying off the back of it. I’m also still experimenting with paces and how fast my training runs should be. My abilities have been increasing quickly since I gave birth to our second daughter and my paces seem like a moving target right now.

Wednesday night Lori and I did our regular 8 km easy recovery run. My stomach was not happy. I generally have issues with my stomach (TMI – bowels) when I’m increasing fitness and especially during evening runs.

Thursday I ran on the treadmill during my girls nap time. I decided to make this a hill workout because the half I’m doing in two weeks is pretty hilly. I could use some practice in hills right now. This was a great run. I pushed myself hard and felt good.

I ran my long run on Saturday. Lori had planned on running 13 km’s. I mapped out a route down to the park where we were meeting that was approx 9 kms. We then planned to run around the reservoir. This would give me a total of 22 kms. My plan actually had 23 kms on it but as soon as I started running I knew I didn’t have as much pep in my legs and that 22 would be great. I have 6 weeks left or so until my goal race (The Calgary Half) so I’m not worried about the exact distances over 21k at this point. In general the long run went well. My legs were tired and my left hip was talking to me but otherwise it was a good run and the time running with Lori passed quickly as we chatted. My stomach also felt good. I had taken Imodium before this run because I did not want I have the same issues with this run. It did the trick I’m happy to say.

Today was a short recovery run on the treadmill. It was very snowy in Fish Creek, so indoors was very much preferable today.

We also had some nice family time today. We went to Aggie Days at the stampede grounds. There were all sorts of farm animals there and Maiya and her friend Alexander had a great time looking at them!

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Tim also snapped this pic of me reading a story to the girls. Olivia is just thrilled to be sitting and reading with her big sis. She almost always has a huge grin on her face anytime she’s hanging with Maiya.

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Gadgets and Numbers!

Someone asked me this week when I got my first Garmin, I had to think back… I ran my very first Half Marathon 11 years ago this coming fall. ¬†It was the Okanogan Half. I had run a bit before that point, at least one 10k race in Banff, and I had done the 5k portion of a sprint Tri. ¬†I was really a rookie runner though. ¬†There were 5 of us that decided that training for a Half sounded like a fun goal. ¬†We picked a training plan, and decided that a goal of 2 hours sounded good. ¬†I didn’t have a clue at that point, I didn’t know that you should pick your goals based on your fitness or abilities. ¬†It sounds so stupid, it’s almost funny now. ¬†My now husband Tim and I trained together, we did almost every run of the training schedule (5 days a week) together, and then we raced it together. ¬†We did come in under 2 hours, right around 1:58 I think. ¬†I was hooked! (well on him, and on running but this blog is about running….)

So back to the Garmin, I didn’t have one then, in fact the first Forerunner was released the following spring. ¬†We measured our Long runs ahead of time with a bike, and had landmarks picked out where we knew there were even km markers. ¬†It’s such a strange thing to think back to. ¬†Running without technology.

I tried to think back, and I’m pretty sure I bought my first Garmin Forerunner in 2003 when it was first released. ¬†I was working in the IT (information technology) department of a big Engineering firm, and was used to being around gadgets. ¬†My boss, who was a runner, came into work with this amazing new device – a GPS to track running…. well I was sold! ¬†It was sure a clunker of a thing, took AGES to find it’s¬†satellites¬† lost them if you ran near trees or buildings, but it was still pretty awesome!

I think that I could have downloaded the data from this Garmin onto my computer, but I don’t think I bothered. ¬†I didn’t keep any sort of running log, I just followed my training schedule to get to my races, and didn’t worry much. ¬†Fast forward to today, and I’m obsessive about charting, and recording every single km I run. ¬†(Perhaps to a fault… )

Well I lost that GPS in a fit of moving related insanity (true story… but I’ll share it on another date and time – hint, it involves¬†throwing¬†it out and dumpster diving). ¬†My next Garmin was the Forerunner 305. ¬†This is when I started downloading and storing the data from my runs and I think I have most of the km’s I ran with this garmin saved in my logs on my computer. ¬†This GPS was stolen when our house was broken into. ¬†I went out and bought the newest and supposedly greatest model, the 405. ¬†I still have this GPS, and though it has a lot of little things that I don’t like, it has served me well and is still ticking.

Some stats from my computer (I LOOOVE that I can look back at runs from 5 years + ago and see how far and fast I was moving).

According to Garmin Connect (which doesn’t have complete data until 2009 or 2010) I’ve run:

Year Distance (mi) Distance (km) Avg Speed
2013 232.38 371.808 5.9
2012 601.25 962 5.4
2011 956.11 1529.776 5.9
2010 520.49 832.784 5.4
2009 396.33 634.128 5.2
2008 69.9 111.84 5.2
  2776.46 4442.336  

These stats also don’t include my inside km’s. ¬†I’m now tracking everything via Dailymile, and according to those stats I’ve actually run 573 km’s this year. My goal for the year is to run 2013 km’s in 2013… I’m a little behind in my mileage so far, but I also have been ramping back up following having our second daughter Olivia back in September. ¬†

Sorry for the geeked out number’s post, but I love that I can look back and see these stats, and know how I’m progressing!

 

The Making of a Wolf…

When I asked Maiya a few weeks ago what she wanted for a birthday cake she said, ‘A Big Bad Wolf’ cake. Ummm ok (thinking, how the hell am I going to pull this off!?!). As we got closer to the date, each time I asked her she was adamant, she wanted a ‘Big Bad Wolf’ cake. When I was growing up my mom often made us some cool birthday cakes (Raggedy Ann, etc), and I always wanted to have my kids birthdays be a day when they could pick, what they wanted to eat, do, and what they wanted for their cake and party (you know, within reason). So I started googling (thinking, google knows all, someone has done this and will show me the way – sidebar – how the heck did parents do ANYTHING before google!?). Well the cake I found that I thought I could reproduce in some form is this one:

Wolf Cake

I started by making a paper template using my round cake pan, a cupcake paper, and the image above. This is what I came up with:

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Baking the cake. I called my mom and she gave me a cake recipe that she had used called Grandma’s Chocolate Cake from an old Companies Coming cookbook. (I’ll post the recipe below for anyone who wants it). I baked it into one round cake and the rest of the batter into cupcakes. I knew I wanted cupcakes for the wolf’s nose, and thought cupcakes would be easy to shape the rest of the head with. It worked out well because I also decided to make piggy cupcakes, so I had plenty of leftover cupcakes for some piggies.

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The birthday girl even got in on the baking (read licking) action…

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And Olivia just hung out and was a happy girl while mommy worked!

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After the cake was baked, I let it cool completely, and then started to shape it into a wolf. You can see below the picture of the final shape that I came up with, along with the template laid overtop to show that it looks approximately like what I was going for.

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At this point I crumb coated it with icing. This is a thin layer of icing that helps to make it easier to ice later as it glues all the crumbs down, and helps give you a nice surface to work on. It also should help to seal the cake so that it does not dry out overnight. Here is the cake as I left it the night before the party.

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The next morning (the day of the party) I woke up and made up my icing (I’ll post that recipe below also…). I colored it grey with some black food coloring, and then took a few spoonfuls out that I added more black food coloring to, to make a black icing for the nose, eyes, and ears. I started by putting the nose, eyes and ears on, just freehand with a knife. I’m sure this isn’t how the professionals do it, but I’m no expert cake maker! ūüôā

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At this point I started to fill in with ‘hair’. Thanks to the great advice of some of my mommy running friends, I had gone out and purchased a grass piping tip (tip # 233). I used this tip to pipe the hair of the wolf. It was a lot of work, and my arms were very cramped up by the end, but it did a great job of making hair like texture. In the photo below, the center of the wolf’s face looks like a lighter color. This was where I had to refill my piping bag, it actually didn’t turn out like this, but looked different until the icing set.

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In addition to the wolf, I also made some little piggies to go with him. They were pretty easy to put together, and I just followed these instructions that I found on another blog. The only thing I had to do was to die the marshmallows. I looked at the grocery store, but there weren’t any colored large marshmallows. To die the marshmallows I just put some water in a cup, added some red food coloring, and submerged the marshmallows, weighing them down with another cup. I then let them dry overnight. The color was a bit blotchy from being crammed into the cup, and I would work harder to make it even if I was coloring a darker color, or if I had a more discerning audience than my 3 year old ūüôā

Here are the cupcakes ready to assemble:

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And here is my little gaggle (flock, herd… what is a group of pigs called?) of piggies.

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And my girl with her cake!

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Here are the recipes:

Cake:

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 egg beaten

3 squares unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups sifted cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a pot and cook over medium heat until the chocolate melts. Cool

Cream the shortening and 1 cup of sugar. Add vanilla and eggs.

Stir the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Alternatively add the dry ingredients and milk to the creamed sugar shortening mixture.

Blend in the chocolate mixture.

Bake at 350 for approx 25-35 minutes.

Icing:

1 cup butter/shortening mix (I used approx 2/3 butter 1/3 shortening). Butter is yummier but shortening is apparently easier to pipe.

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups icing sugar

2 tbsp milk

food coloring

Cream the butter and shortening together. I whipped them for quite a while to make sure they were well blended and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Slowly add the icing sugar. Add the milk, 1 tbsp at a time until the icing is the desired consistency. Color as required.