Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Downhill all the way

On May 8, Mother's Day, it'll be downhill all the way.  That's the next race on my race calendar this year:  The Sporting Life 10K.

The Sporting Life 10K attracts 25,000+ runners for an early morning run down the heart of Toronto. It starts on Yonge Street a few blocks south of Lawrence Avenue.  Close to the Sporting Life store. It's straight down Yonge Street for almost 6 km's before turning west for a flat race to the finish at Coronation Park just south of the CNE.  I'm looking for a personal best this year and with a few weeks of running to go I'me feeling optimistic.  I'd love to finish around 52 minutes and with a good start that's doable.  Just have to keep my mind focused, my legs relaxed and not be distracted by the excitement of the crowd.

Conditions should also be condusive for a great run.  We've finally got winter behind us and even though it may be in the low single digit Celsius temperatures at the 7:30 am start, that's a massive improvement from the -7C at the High Park Spring Run Off a few weeks back.

Oh, one more thing:  I'll be tracking my progress on Facebook and Twitter with MapMyRun but promise not to post the updates every kilometre.  Promise :)

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Killed the Hill

Killed the hill on Saturday in High Park.  Two of them actually.  During the Sping Run Off 8K race. And it was freezing cold!  Minus 5 C at the 10 am start.  Thankfully it was sunny and the trees cut the biting north wind.  I hummed Kate Bush's 'Running up that hill' on both climbs.

After many, many years of not racing in Toronto, I chose the Spring Runn Off 8K to break the drought. It's the first of 4 planned for 2016, the second runs on Mother's Day.  This annual run loops up and down the roads and trails through Toronto's High Park.  It starts the road racing season in Toronto.  I've wanted to run it for quite a few years but injuries kept me from entering.  Even this year I had just barely got over a hamstring injury by race day April 9. 

We started on a slight downhill section of the ring road that circles and runs through High Park. At around 1K as we looped back toward the Finish Line we encounter the first of the 'bumps'. Not a significant hill but a short, steep rise.  Once crested we ran past the eventual Finish Line on our first downhill.  Nice....felt good.

A little over a kilometre later it was payback time:  The first hill!  Still running on fresh legs I felt strong all the way up and even had a little something extra over the top.  I still felt great as we again crossed over the Finish Line area and approached the half way mark.  Then after a quicker pace down a gently slope, it was a mad dash down the second downhill heading toward the east shore of Grenadier Pond. The trail hugged the pond and brushed the Queensway before heading north back toward the finish.  Along the way it flowed up and down over a series of gentle roller coasters.  All a preamble for the final climb...500 metres straight uphill to the Finish!

Race organizers have branded this second and final incline, 'Kill the Hill'.  They have a timing clock and a timing mat at the base so this 'race within the race' is serious business!  I was doing math all the way up striving to beat a mental clock time.  Up, up, up...breathing absolutely maxed out as my legs burned with every stride.  Approaching the crest with the Finish Line in sight just around a right hand turn, a volunteer shouted out, "20 seconds to go".  Truthfully I wanted to slap him but it worked:  I dug deeper, found another gear and drove to the finish!

Dun!  Killed the hill.  Both of them. I finished pretty close to the top half of all finishers and was pleasantly surprised by that even though I was a couple and a half minutes over my target time.  I chalked it up to first race jitters...oh, and a couple of hills!

Thanks Navin for some advice you gave me a couple of years ago:  'Just a little faster, just a little faster".  It worked!

A great BIG Thank You to Sally for getting out of bed on a frigid cold Saturday morning to drive me to the race and taxi me back home. Couldn't have done it without you!

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Perfect weather for a run in the park

This Saturday, April 9 the forecast calls for minus degree temperatures for the Spring Run Off 8K in High Park.  For me, those are perfect conditions for a run in the park!
Yes it's going to be a little challenging staying warm waiting for the race to start.  And yes it means moving quickly after the finish to change into dry gear.  But I much prefer the cooler temperatures for racing.  Especially this early in the year and especially after the week of crazy weather we've endured in Toronto.  

For fun I'm using MapMyRun on my Samsung phone this weekend and will enable live tracking.  So if all goes well with the technology it should push updates...maybe even live tracking...out to my Facebook and Twitter channels.  If I'm slogging you'll get to see every sorry footstep;  If I'm flying like the wind you'll get to see that as well.  In either case, I'm pretty pumped about this first race of 2016!

Until next time...

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