We wanted to try a Mad Trapper event for some time, and when this race popped up in our Facebook feed it was a no brainer. Of course we will run for a sugar bush breakfast!
We hadn’t been to The Ark since the i2P 100k last summer, where we didn’t eat a whole lot (nerves), but we were about to make up for it this time! The Ark was crowded and busy when we arrived, and it was great to mill about with old friends and make some new ones.
Because I am a pace metronome, we figured our best shot at winning the litre of maple syrup awarded to the best predictor was to stick together and use my predicted time. Having said this, my math skills aren’t great so Steve at the last minute adjusted my predicted time by 3 minutes less. He didn’t let me in on this until we were at the start.
The route is across country gravel roads and has some small hills. Easy peasy right? My stomach was playing tricks on me again so I took it easy at the start, and within 3k or so (no watch remember!) Steve was antsy and told me he was sure we were running too slowly, so off he went. I stuck to my plan (you know where this is going…).
I got to the finish and I was 28 seconds faster than my predicted time! Wheeeee! Steve on the other hand was in the I-won’t-even-bother-putting-my-difference-down-because-I’m-so-off-it’s-embarrassing club.
I had the 3rd closest prediction, so not litre for me, but everyone received a 250ml glass jar of maple syrup as part of the entry fee. My oh my that’s some good syrup!
We made a bunch of new friends over breakfast, Mike Caldwell the race director and owner/operator of the Ark spoke about the upcoming races, then asked me to speak about the i2P 100k run and i2P as a whole.
What a fun morning, we will definitely be doing this race again next year!
I was feeling really great after the Gate2Gate run, and had fairly good expectations for Around the Bay, a race that doesn’t always treat me kindly. I take full responsibility for this, because it’s a race that I never race smart… and this year was no exception. I’ll get back to this in a minute.
First the fun stuff! The race expo layout is one I really enjoy because you can’t miss anything – it’s held on the perimeter of the arena. I always miss something when an expo is in a standard hall with a grid layout. One of the highlights of this weekend are the friends we always bump into at the expo, again because with this layout everyone is either walking toward you, or away from you, so you see everyone!
Our pre-race dinner is another highlight of the race weekend, and this year we had a larger group of friends at the restaurant in Burlington than usual! Between Steve’s brother and family, ourselves, and our friends we were well somewhere near 14. The only downside is as always we ate too much and definitely too late!
Race day morning always brings its challenges, and this time I was cursing dinner from the night before. I was really full when I woke up, but stuffed down a couple of hard boiled eggs anyway as I would normally have, because the race doesn’t start until 9:30 and I didn’t want to be hungry at the start.
Cut to 9:15. I was super excited to be in the last-before-the-masses corral! This was my first time to ever seed into a corral! While Steve and I were waiting for the start our friend Patrick (who is definitely a first corral guy) came over to say hi and to start the race with us. We were surprised that he was willing to start so far back, but he was feeling very relaxed and figured he could make up the 3 minutes to get to the front easily enough. I would expect nothing less than this attitude from this guy. He is so awesome, and a phenomenal runner!
And we were off! I went out per my planned pace while chewing on a couple of Tums because of heartburn (hurray!). My stomach wasn’t at all happy for the first 15k, and to be honest, I considered hopping on the relay bus (something I never knew was an option until a friend put that tidbit in my head!). I’m glad I didn’t, because I wouldn’t have been happy to have bailed when all my limbs were intact. I took some porta potty time which I obviously wasn’t happy with, but hoped that the rest of the run would be a little easier. Sadly I couldn’t stomach anything, and was feeling light headed and weak. I knew this race wasn’t going to give me my best time, and I was a bit bummed, but at this point stopped caring about time and turned focus on getting it done.
It’s funny how when you get past the Grim Reaper you know the worst is behind you and the call of the finish line lights a fire again. So I picked it up, and in looking at my watch I realized that I still might be able to PB. I had my last year’s time in my head (2:58:41) and challenged myself to beat it. I finished in 2:58:51 – I forgot how far the finish was once INSIDE the arena! It wasn’t until later that I realized that the time I had in my head was gun time, so in reality I finished over 3 minutes later than last year! I know very well I could have picked that up along the course had I had THAT time in mind. Silly mind games!
Disappointed? I was a little! I really thought I was going to nail it. But I did take away a couple of lessons learned from this race: pre-race nutrition does not include what everyone else wants, but only what I need. No more restaurants before a race, but sushi or some sort of fish and rice, eaten no later than 4PM the day before, a light snack before bed, and my hard boiled eggs for breakfast. THIS I know works for me, not two course and desert! I also need to fuel during the race regardless of how crappy I may be feeling. I resolve to carry some easy to digest nutrition on the course: even though I wouldn’t usually have a Gu Chomp, it’s something that I can let melt melt in my mouth which shouldn’t bother my stomach, and may be just enough fuel to get me moving again. The last lesson is to go in with a plan and a backup plan. If goal A doesn’t happen, then go for goal B – and know what the chip time is that you need to beat ;).
When Steve and I would drive across highway 60 through Algonquin Park, we would talk about how much fun it would be to one day take our bikes and ride it. But those hills! Then around 5 years ago, we started thinking about how amazing it would be to run it. But those hills!!
Last fall our friend Agnes told us she was planning a run from west gate to east gate on highway 60 through Algonquin Park as a one day expedition to raise awareness for our friend/coach Ray Zahab’s foundation, impossible2Possible, which “…encourages youth to reach beyond their perceived limits by using adventure as a medium to Educate, Inspire and Empower our global community to make positive change in the world.”.
On Friday March 20th we drove to Algonquin Park and settled into our rented yurt. We were so excited that the weather was so nice (6C and sunny) and the highway shoulders were clear. Highway 60 is a well-travelled road, so the more room for us the better.
The seven of us hung out at the yurts, had our dinners, and I voiced my three goals for our run:
Make it to 30k. This with Around the Bay the next weekend would make me feel a bit more comfortable about Boston.
Run 42.2. Because if I can run a marathon on those hills I can run Boston, right?
Run the whole thing.
We finished our dinner, then tucked in for an early night. The weather patterns were changing and we were a bit nervous! I was a bit worried about my fitness going into this because of the injuries I was working through and resulting spotty training.
We were up at 6:30AM with the intention of being on the road for 8:00 and driven to the west gate. Wouldn’t you know that it started to snow just before we left? A shot just before marker 0.0.
And we were off. Our plan was to run as a unit, but it became very clear very quickly that it was too cold for the faster runners to wait around at the checkpoints for those running at the agreed pace. The conditions being different we probably could have stuck together, but I’m also guilty because the pace was just slow enough to really bug my injuries, so I needed to step it up a bit. We then decided to meet at the van every few kms, but Augusto was shivering by the time I got there, so that plan wasn’t going to work either! The beauty of running with great people? Everyone agreed to run their own pace and the van would go back and forth to check on everyone.
This would have worked out great, except the weather got continually worse! Running along the shoulders is fine since it’s not cambered at all, but there was a lot of slipback from the snow, so running on the road made it easier. By the time we were 20k in I was worried we were going to have to call it a day – we couldn’t see the cars until they were on top of us, and they obviously couldn’t see us very well either. Steve had to pull out because the slipback was really aggravating his hernia. He shared van duties, which was great.
I met my first goal of 30k. No lie, I was worried at 12k that I didn’t have the energy to get to 30, so oddly enough the snow was a great distraction. I was feeling good at 30, but changed jackets because I was soaked from the blizzard wet snow, and getting cold.
I had been focused on Augusto’s hysterically huge Altra footprints for the longest time, but I couldn’t see them anymore due to the snow. There are some substantial hills right around the 39k mark, and I was hurting some which didn’t help. I was definitely going to make my second goal of 42.2, it was just going to take some time. I stretched for a bit on the guardrail then motored on. I didn’t realize that Steve was in the van at the top of the hill at 41k waiting for me, with a sleeping Augusto in the passenger seat! All this time I thought Augusto was so far ahead of me, in reality he was having a snooze and eating the pringles ;). I was feeling the run for sure, but I was stubborn enough to keep going to 42.2 and told them to go check on the runners at the back. The next time they drove by it was around 45k and I was running and singing to my iPod. I FELT GREAT! Running is so funny sometimes! You think you’re done, but you just keep moving forward, and before you know it, the groove is back!
The next time I saw the van was at the top of the climb at 50k. That one took 25 minutes to get up! Steve informed me that the rest of the runners were behind me, so I figured I could walk the rest if I needed to and not hold anyone up! Steve hopped out of the van to run the rest, and knowing I was almost done and feeling really good, I continued.
And then at 59k I was done! I was beyond happy! Not too long afterwards Jordan and Agnes arrived. Celebration!! Nadia, Sylvie, Steve, Augusto all got great runs in, and everyone was very happy with the day.
Then we went to a coffee shop outside the east gate to get some coffee (we were so cold) and Gladys at the shop took one look at us and asked if we were the runners running across the park that she heard about all day. That was pretty cool!
We then got back to the yurts, started to make dinner, had some warm showers and settled in for dinner, wine and a game of cards against humanity. Great day!!
In closing, we were really happy to have succeeded in our expedition and raising awareness and support for i2P!
Last fall daughter Katie was contemplating running her first half marathon and suggested we enter the NYC Half Marathon lottery. In December we found out that Steve and I were in, and Katie was not! It was held on Steve’s birthday, and we hadn’t gone to New York for a while, AND we really missed Katie, so off we went.
We had a really great weekend. True to form we walked around way too much prior to the race day. Steve and I went to race kit pick up:
Then on Saturday after breakfast, Katie and I visited the American Museum of Natural History:
Because Katie lives on the Upper East Side, and the race starts at the bottom of Central Park, and we were told to expect line ups due to security, we left early and grabbed a cab. And boy were we early! We hung around and tried to stay warm by walking around and taking selfies.
We parted ways and got into our respective corrals. The race starts in Central Park and does a loop, then back down through Manhattan to the Financial District. I have run in Central Park several times and never noticed how hilly it was! I guess I’d never run this route because it was surprising to me. I was able to maintain my pace on the ups and the downs, and then we were heading down 7th Avenue, and it’s downhill from here! This is where there were crowds cheering, and it was really fun. I expected it to be crowded due to the number of participants, but the street is so wide that there was ample room. Running through Times Square was amazing. The crowds here were loud! It was neat to run through Times Square on one of the two days per year it’s closed to traffic! I was still maintaining my pace and very happy that while I felt my knee, it never hurt! When I saw 20km I started to push really hard, then couldn’t figure out why the finish wasn’t coming. Then it dawned on my that a half marathon is 21.1km, not 20.1!! I eased up a bit and steadily made my way to the finish. The wonderful volunteers had our medals, mylar blankets (thank goodness because I was really cold) and nutrition. Steve and I both really loved the race course and the vibe. We would definitely run this again! I was very happy with my time of 1:57:18, considering I was on the other side of a couple of injuries and not really trained!
We met up with Katie who came to the finish to meet us, grabbed a coffee (they didn’t have a washroom, so I changed my top right there), and we took the subway back to her place for showers then breakfast. It wasn’t long after this that Steve and I made our way to the airport for home. It was a quick birthday/race/visit weekend!