Monday, April 14, 2014

Toronto Yonge Street 10 km

Toronto Yonge Street 10 km - Almost a Hat Trick!

I hadn't scored a hat trick since playing hockey with the Guelph Gryphons a few years ago so today was my opportunity to do it again, but as a runner. I had my Around the Bay 30 km win followed by my Harry's Spring Run-Off 8 km victory a week later, then today's Toronto Yonge Street 10 km race to seal the deal. Three wins in three weeks would be sweet. Amazing, actually. And mission was accomplished for 9.5/10 km until Rachel Hannah just flew past me, throwing down a big hammer for the big win. How on earth she managed to beat me by 8 seconds in the final 1/2 km is really mind-boggling. She likely made it look like I was standing still! What a fast last km for her! My shout-out obviously goes to her this week!
In our cool down together after, we had a nice chit chat. We are dietitians and really enjoy each others company so our topics ranged from food and racing to jobs and family life. Felt bad for winner Eric Gillis who joined us in our cool-down amidst our big quinoa discussion. We dietitians can be quite nerdy! Anyway, Rachel recently suffered from an IT band injury but stayed in amazing shape by cross training and only doing quality running. Like me a few years ago, she has been consistently training and racing, steadily making her way up. Today was a huge advancement in her running career as far I am concerned; she was more than a minute faster than her time from last year! Rachel ran a great race, right in my back pocket and made a perfect move to break the tape on a course she knows very well. I started the race as a rookie, at a good clip around 3:10/km, which is to be expected with a start that's also downhill . Throughout the race I had a few parts where I thought I was on my own. I kinda let my mind wander and was cruising then would hear, "Go, ladies". Ladies? So, I'd surge a bit and get moving a touch faster. Only for it to happen, again and again!. In the end, only running 32:41 for a 12 second PB on a downhill course after a season devoted to strength and speed was a bit of a downer but I guess this race was more of a fartlek than anything. My "Go, ladies" surges were reflected by inconsistent splits that ranged from 3:10-3:19.
Alas, I am certainly not displeased with the race. Honestly, I don't know when I've ever walked away angry or pouting at any race. Just not my style I suppose. There is always something to be learned, a positive take-away. The glass is always half full. And I always have so much to be thankful for. As my dad would say, "You always win if you can lose with a smile!".
Today's race was the end of my low mileage (120 k/wk) spring/strength season. Coach Rick will start to ramp up the mileage and we'll return to longer interval sessions, lengthier tempo workouts, and more consistent 35 km+ long runs. I have certainly enjoyed the frequency and fun of racing, easier recoveries after racing and training, and a few less workouts here n' there. But to be honest, I'm ready to get back to my marathon thing. I'll always race 10 km's and the such but I am more suited to the mental and physical balance that comes with marathoning. Those "shorter" races are great and certainly necessary but I don't seem to find a rhythm and I recover so easily that I sometimes wonder if I tried hard enough while racing! I think my Canadian Marathon partner Lanni has recently found the same thing. She ran a 32:29 PB at the Stanford Invite last weekend. It is most certainly a respectable time especially given her high mileage training for Boston but the only thing that bothered her after was a sore tricep! She said her legs just wouldn't turn over and her engine was set for the marathon. I don't know all the stats but I don't think many athletes can race at top level over a range of distances. Mo Farah, a multiple Olympic and World Championships Gold Medalist for the 5,000 m and 10,000 m debuted in the London Marathon today in 2:08 for 8th place. Amazing. Truly outstanding. But not the best that day. I think it takes years to master one distance.
Now that spring is here, I look forward to logging more kilometers outside. After that crazy winter, it's just nice to have footing that is free of snow and ice! I have a long, two-week break until Montreal with Easter in between race weekends. Not sure yet what my goal time will be but with winner, Rachel Hannah and 3rd place finisher, Erin Burrett racing,  I'll certainly have to play my A game!

All smiles with Rachel Hannah after eating her dust in that final stretch.

Here's that, "I think I'm on my own, I'll let my mind wander" moment.

And you see that arm behind me. That was one of the,  "Go, ladies" moments.

Other than the end, this is the only time I actually saw Rachel and it was for a very brief moment. If you can't hear your competition's breath or footsteps that are right behind you, they are smooth. Real smooth. Beware.

Great recovery food - Liberte Yogurt.
Little bit of East vs West competition before racing.

Dan Way doing a bit of pacing today since he's racing the Boston Marathon next weekend. Go, Dan!

Team East gets the victory over Team West!

So excited about my involvement with the Kenyan Kids Foundation! Much more to come.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Harry's Spring Run-Off 8 km

Harry's Spring Run-Off 8 k and 5 k to Fight Prostate Cancer

Any event I race that supports cancer research and programs is very special to me. My parents lost their battles to the disease and currently my friend is recovering from her second mastectomy after many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation since her diagnosis last year. This year, $185,000 was raised to fight prostrate cancer. Great job again, Canada Running Series for a great cause at a great race!
Fortunately recovery from the Around the Bay 30 km race was relatively simple and straight forward. I did an easy 20 km run, Monday and Tuesday, and really focused on resting more than usual throughout the week. On Wednesday I completed a 8 x 800 m workout on the road around the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre where I train. Because I can't leave the building while my kids are in childcare, coach Rick and I have made it work the last few years. I can do workouts on the treadmill, around the building, on the outdoor track next door, or on the new indoor track so there are several options. It is not ideal but we complete the job. There is a great rubberized track in Brantford but it's across town with no childcare. We've done some key workouts there but making it a weekly event is just not realistic.
Like last weekend, I was again able to sleep in my own bed and do my normal routine at home the night before racing, which is ideal. Because I'm an early riser, getting up at 5:30 am was no big deal. I ate my toast with honey, drank my coffee (and took one for the road), got dressed and tip-toed out of the house at 6:40 am. I made it to High Park in just over an hour and again found a place to park and stay cozy in my van before warming up with Tarah Korir. It was so great to see her again, especially given my increased involvement with the Kenyan Kids Foundation that she and her husband, Wesley Korir founded. Not only do we share the same passion to help relieve poverty by helping with education, health and well-being but we are also moms that get to train, care for our children, and support our husbands that often get home late after busy work days. Tarah's second baby is only 9 months old and she's already back on the running scene. Impressive. We had a nice chat while warming up and trying to stay warm in the elite tent, before heading to the start line. Winds had decreased from 50 to 35 kph but with no sun, the near 0 C temp seemed really damp and cold. It felt like my coldest race yet this year out of four outdoors. Tarah wasn't sure what to expect; being even colder than me, having just returned from Africa on Wednesday, and racing for the first time this year. I gave the beginning a good go, which was a bit too much for Tarah who decided to take it back a bit. With the hilly course and blustery weather, I pushed hard to get the job done while paying a bit for the first km at 3:09. Finish time was 27:43, which was nowhere near my 26:59 from last year with Kate Van Buskirk on my tail in better spring-like weather. But a win is a win, and my effort was again solid.
I completed an easy 26 km run in lovely weather Sunday morning then enjoyed the rest of the day with Jonathan and the kids at church and home. I'll be sure to follow the same recovery routine as last week since I'll be racing again, a week later. Next up is the Yonge Street 10 km. Should be a good one!
This week's shout-out goes to twins and runners, Melanie Boultbee and April Boultbee. Not only do they provide great care for us before and after racing, they are busy,committed and very friendly women.  April was hobbling around after knee surgery, carrying an IV antibiotic bag on her back due to infection. And Melanie got up at 4:00 am to get her first run in before heading to High Park. Thanks, girls!

Jonathan taking 8 y.o. Micah, 6 y.o. Seth and 3 y.o. Leah for a training run for their Ottawa Race Weekend 5 km. Micah was pretty excited to use my Garmin for pacing purposes, as you can see. We went as a family in 2010 and 2012 and  I look forward to our 2014 return. I'll have some media/expo stuff to do in addition to again running the 10 km and commentating the marathon but with family and so much to do, Jonathan and the kids will stay busy. 
Resting more these days in order to recover from and prepare for racing means more time with this sweet girl. She insisted that we play, "chest".
Action shot at the half-way point. Photo: April Boultbee.

Digging deep. Photo: Canada Running Series.

Always an honour to break the tape. Photo: Canada Running Series.

Top 5 men and women at Harry's Spring Run-Off  8km. Photo: Robert Brouilette.

Post-race recovery. Last weekend I captured the mocha and peanut butter cookie picture. Here's one with my Liberte yogurt and trip to Whole Foods. What a treat!

Love the great variety of foods here. Each time it's something different and I am never disappointed.

Enjoying a lovely Sunday afternoon, watching the boys play some street hockey.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Around the Bay, 2014.

Around the Bay, 2014.

The Around the Bay race in Hamilton is a great event for me, for so many reasons: it has a great history dating back to 1894, there are very few 30 km races that exist, it is very close to home so I can sleep in my own bed and get there in 25 minutes, it is a great training goal to get you through the winter and/or prepare for a spring marathon, and it's the perfect distance between a half and full marathon. Since moving to Brantford, I have now completed it seven times ('03, '05, '09, '10, '12, '13, '14), having missed three years when the kids were just born (Feb '06, Mar '08, Mar '11) and two years when injured ('04, '07). I haven't done any other race as many times as this one. Kinda neat.
A week or so ago after running the New York City Half Marathon, coach Rick and I thought it'd be worth a shot at the Bay/Canadian 30 km record of 1:44:40, set by Lanni last year. Like many attempts at a record or personal best, the conditions would have to be ideal. They were not. 
For most of the week, the forecast predicted a high of 6 C with 5 km/h winds. Sounded good to me. But as it ended up, the temperature was around 0 C, which was totally fine but the winds were 25 km/h. And that was just too much. I gave a solid attempt and was running with a few guys for about 12 km with a 10 km split of 34:59. I am not great at remembering course layouts but did notice that there seemed to be more hills in the beginning with this year's new route. Sure enough I was right. The first 10 km was totally different than other years. After about 12 km I was then solo for the remaining 18 km of the race. I decided I would wait for the 15 km mark before adjusting my game plan. So at that point with a time of 52:43 and the wisdom and experience of knowing the last hilly 10 km wouldn't be any faster, I realistically decided to go with the "solid effort" finish. My last two 10 km splits were 35:49 and 36:25. Not pretty.
Approaching the Bay was very different than any other year because I came at it from lower mileage; I wasn't training for a marathon so only averaged about 125 km/wk for the last 4 months. And with the brutal winter we had, I wasn't able to get in those regular solid medium to long runs outside at a decent pace. I was 10 seconds slower than my 2012 PB and wished I knew because I likely could have found 11 seconds, somewhere! Not a great start for setting personal bests in every distance again this year since I won't do another 30 km race. Oh well, the focus was strength and speed in the shorter stuff and hopefully that will happen. Next race I'll look it up my personal best time before hitting the start line.
So it's back to the 5-21 km distance races for the next several months. I welcome the change of racing a bit more than normal while keeping the mileage low. It will be a bit more fun as the extra racing will replace a few workouts. And I like having a bit more energy without logging the additional km's required for a marathon.With five races in six weeks, recovery will be extremely important.
I've already been back to the gym for an hour in the pool and an easy 20 km at 4:24/km on the treadmill. The cold that I started to get Friday seems to be a bit worse so I'll need to get to bed early this week.
A huge shout out goes to Dan Way for his excellent race yesterday. He played it safe, knowing Boston is his big goal, and looked super strong and fast while he flew past me while we were climbing up the last big hill. 
I'll do one workout on Wednesday in order to recover from the Bay and prepare for the next race, Harry's Spring Run Off 8 km. 
Enjoy the pictures, which tell the rest!
Nothing better than a sweet face greeting you at the door upon your return.
Not sure which I enjoyed better - this mocha with a peanut butter cookie on the way home or a piece of chocolate birthday cake with a glass of milk later.

I've always enjoyed speaking with John Stanton. In 2009 when I was picking up my packet for my first marathon after having the boys, he said many women do well after pregnancy/childbirth. Boy, was he right (; Today he told me about how I've been a great role model to kids and moms. Thanks, John! I hope to keep it up!

Sarah Nagy (3rd), Krista DuChene (1st), Lisa Avery (2). Way to go, ladies.

Chit chat with the radio folks.
Hill-climbing. Again. Photo by Jane Curtis.

Action shot around 19 km . Thanks, Bethany and Road Rebels for the photo and cheering me on!

Regardless of your time, it is really special to break the tape! Photo: Rick Mannen.

My Around the Bay ritual - get there early to find a decent parking spot, stay cozy and rest while people-watching, warm up, shed clothing, and jog to the start.

Around the Bay and Seth's birthday are often the same weekend, which is special. Isn't the look on his face priceless? Our family birthday season is now over - January, February, March, March, March!

I did think about this M&M Nerf chocolate cake while running up the monstrous hill. And it was delicious.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New York City Half Marathon Weekend

New York City Half Marathon. March 16, 2014.
Although I've technically raced twice this year (3,000 m on the track and the 8 mile Re-Fridgee-Eighter, both in February), I feel like New York City Half was my 2014 season opener.
After a long, cold and very snowy winter (which is still lingering), like many I was looking forward to spring racing. I flew from Billy Bishop in Toronto to NYC and had a great weekend. David Monti and his NYRR pro athlete crew were amazing. Like Alan Brookes and his CRS crew, they were attentive to every detail, in a very professional and personal manner. The food, communication, race details, and friendliness was exceptional. I had been told the team was great, by Mary Davies (who just wrote an amazing post on running and pregnancy, here) and many others, and they did not disappoint.
My travel Friday was a bit long but that is to be expected in big cities. So once I finally checked into my room, I headed out for an easy 5 km in Central Park, which was conveniently 500 m from the hotel. Runners galore are in that park as well as horse n' buggy rides for tourists who want to pay $4 USD per minute! Being among some of the world's best made for some entertaining scenes. More than once I saw people stop in their tracks and drop their jaws after spotting people like Olympic medalists, Meb Keflezighi and Mo Farah.
After briefly meeting my roommate, I headed out to get some dinner and take in a bit of the city. I knew I'd have time to check things out Sunday, after the 7:30 am race, so I just wandered. It was really neat to come across so many big NYC sites like Time Square and Broadway. Our hotel was located in the heart of the action, that's for sure.There was a buzz in the air!
Saturday was low key with breakfast, an easy 8 km in Central Park, massage, lunch, rest, technical meeting, and dinner with my friendly roommate, Laken from Total Sports Management . It was nice to get to know her, an athlete and mom herself. She was there to represent Sally Kipyego who later won and broke the course record in her half marathon debut! Sally may be a super fast Olympic and World Silver medalist in the 10,000 m but I was the expert in teaching her about toenail losses! She had to wear flip flops Sunday because of the pain in her big toe! Clip first. Then run.
Sunday was "cool" as forecasted but I knew that wouldn't bother this Canadian! Warm up of a 20 min jog and gentle stretching while staying warm and relaxed with cheery US runner, Lauren W. from the Asics Mammoth club (Andrew and Deena Kastor) went well and shortly after the American Anthem, we were off. It was a very deep field in which I was seeded at about 11th or 12th with my 70:52 from Scotiabank Vancouver 2013. US 5km record holder and fellow Saucony athlete Molly Huddle was also debuting. And Des Linden was there after her 6 week training block with Lanni in Kenya, preparing for Boston. I knew the girls would be fast and well ahead of me but was hoping to tuck nicely into a chase pack. This didn't happen. The rest of us were sprinkled throughout and ran mostly solo. I did have one guy with me for about 5 km or so, which was helpful. The NYC half and full marathon courses aren't easy. Starting with several km of rolling hills in Central Park really threw me off. It seemed to take forever to get out before reaching a flat section. I didn't find the hills that difficult but the start was slow and I simply lost time, early in the race. I'm used to pushing hard in the end, maintaining pace regardless of the hills. So it was no surprise, and an increase in my confidence as my season opener, that I had such a big negative split. The last, long stretch of the race (7 km or so?) felt like I was flying (and it was somewhat downhill, not sure how much). My finish was 72:26, which is technically a PB for a certified, record eligible course. My placing was 12th, good for the last bit of prize money!
Splits were 34:58 and 33:42:
 5K - 17:23 (3:28.6/K)
10K - 34:58 (17:35, 3:31/K)
15K - 51:59 (17:01, 3:24.2/K)
20K - 1:08:40 (16:41, 3:20.2/K)
last 1.1K - 3:46 (3:25.4/K)
My fastest km was 3:12 and slowest 3:36. What a difference.
Upon completion, I tossed on my warm gear and headed out for a cool down to total 32 km for the day.
I went for another massage, which is where I met Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi. We chatted a bit, talking about the ages of our kids, injuries and future plans. What a kind, down to earth man. Here's 2 quotes from his website: "Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best.” - Meb. And "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me!" - Phil 4:13. What a great guy!
In the afternoon we had a wonderful after race dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant. Laken and I sat with some athletes and coaches from Germany and Japan. It was great to get to know them.
After the dinner I set out to take in the city. After 3 hours of walking, I stopped to get souvenirs at the massive M & M store, enjoyed something to eat at a diner across the street and packed my things. I wanted to get in an easy run and breakfast before our 9 am departure so was in bed by 11 pm.
Up next is the Around the Bay 30 km road race. Rachel Hannah is running and that girl is fit so I must stay sharp. I'll be racing more this spring than ever so recovery will be key to stay healthy and injury free.
Enjoy the pictures.

It was such an honour to meet fellow Canadian, Diane Roy who won the first ever wheelchair title at the NYC Half Marathon. Canadians John Mason, Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis also raced.

A little promo picture for our September Harvest Half Marathon with proceeds going to the Kenyan Kids Foundation. Wesley Korir (2012 Boston Marathon Champ) will be running the Ottawa Marathon in May and his wife, Tarah will be returning to Ontario to run some races in April and May. Read about it here.

After race dinner party with Meb and Wesley.

Was great to get to know Team Japan. These guys are huge celebrities at home where running is equivalent to Canada's hockey.

Winners, Sally Kipyego and Geoffrey Mutai with NYRR CEO, Mary Wittenberg.

Taking in the big city.

Lots of Irish gear this weekend.

Rockefeller. Should have packed my skates! Our kids would love this with the lego store nearby.

The Plaza. After confirming it was indeed the hotel from Home Alone - Lost in New York, I snapped a picture as this kind man replied, "Yes, but I'm not the man from the movie and Kevin is much older now.".

Central Park.

Post race treat. Couldn't resist sprinkling my pancakes with some dark chocolate, peanut M & M's. The variety was endless! And while there I got the kids and Jonathan some personalized ones in our Team DuChene favourite colours of green, pink, orange, purple and blue.
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Sunday, March 16 was also Jonathan's birthday. We had his cake last week and the kids and his sister took good care of him while I was away racing. Thanks, Jonathan!

Trip home NYC to Brantford, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm:
taxi to train to air train to airplane to ferry to shuttle to gotrain to van!

Sites seen in NYC:
Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Centre, Radio City Music Hall, Broadway, Plaza Hotel (Home Alone!), Time Square, David Letterman Building, NBS News, CNN, Trump Tower, Central Park and hundreds of yellow taxis.

Krista DuChene,
Marathon Mom

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Tough Get Tougher

I love winter. I really do. But boy oh boy, this has been a tough one.
I haven't been able to take Leah in the Chariot stroller because it's been too cold so I've been getting up at 4:40 am to run 20 km in -30 C temps twice per week. It has been rough. I can take the early mornings, running in the dark, and freezing temps but it's the footing that has been difficult. It takes so long to get in the km's with the snow and ice, and the body can only take so much poor-form running.  Fortunately I've only had one fall, which resulted in a bruise and gashed knee but my left hamstring and right shin and achilles have had enough. The plan was to attempt a 10,000 m on the track in California in the spring if my body could handle it. But we are now adjusting this plan, going back to what has worked in the past. No doubt, the speed and strength work should help me eventually but rushing through it with the hope to run a 31:high to 32:low in April or May is just too risky. When the body is giving you signals in the short term plan, you must remember the long term plan. At least we planned for a lower mileage winter anyway. And I'm so thankful for the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre treadmills, which I'll now be using 4 times per week until the weather improves. I get more pool time and Leah gets more time with her childcare friends. We can always find the positive.
I've listed my planned races for 2014 (right side of blog). Not all are confirmed. Many are the same as other years, which is great as there are a lot of positives with familiarity. The new and perhaps most exciting one is the New York City Half Marathon. Not sure yet what condition I will be in but I do look forward to this new experience and hope that my tough training conditions will work to my advantage! Ultimately I will run the marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July, should I be named to the team. It should then give me enough time to recover before making my attempt at an Olympic Games qualifier sometime in early 2015.
Again, enjoy the pictures that tell the rest. 

Every night before bed I get this stuff out.  
I don't love it but know I must.
And so I do, often in my pyjamas ...the exercises, stretches, rolling, ice/heat, etc. 

I've quite enjoyed writing regular columns for iRun magazine. In this most recent issue I wrote about goals and change, which was published around the time New Year's resolutions fade. I used my core routine as an example. I started in November 2013 with a 5 second plank within a 10 minute routine. In February I was up to a 3:05 plank within a 25 minute routine.

Upon entering the track area at York University, the Petrolia LCCVI Lancer high school memories returned: naps on the floor between races, dry air, butterfly stomach, fun with friends, Melissa V. and Erin B., and great coaching by Murray Jackson. Oh the days when I thought a 3,000 m was a long race! My then St. Pat's (Sarnia) rival and now friend and fellow dietitian from U of Guelph, Nadine Devin, allowed me to push hard in these long distances!

Whizzing by, getting the 20 yr old rust out since my last track race in highschool, when most of my competition were in diapers! It was like riding a bike again.Glad Leslie Sexton was there to lead the way and inform me that she was at least in kindergarten when I last raced on the track! It was fun to warm up with her, Karen, and their London crew.
My time was 9:41 for the 3,000 m. No idea what I ran in highschool so I guess it's a PB!

I knew I saved these containers for a good reason. I used to use them for the kids' small toys. Now they're filled with chia, hemp and flax for my oatmeal. 

Thanks for the great burger recipe, Stacey. We loved them!

Loved the Olympic spirit at home and school. On those many cold, cold, early winter mornings, I told myself that the Sochi 2014 athletes also got out the door to train.
Seth's class did and made several special activities/things - Olympic rings, Canadian flag, gold-wrapped cookie medal, and a torch. 

And Micah's class did some Olympic activities as well - he seems to dream big like his mom! 

As I put things away, I couldn't help but think it'll be for me next time (;

Looking forward to continue working with, including the #HarvestHalf, Sept 12-13, 2014. I'll be the speaker at the pasta dinner.

So glad I completed this 8 miler as a rust-buster. My time of 44:57 certainly wasn't super fast but ok for a cold and very windy day where I ran 10 km of it alone.