Race Recap: Run Barbados

Last week I had the joy of traveling to Barbados with Tribe and Canada Running Series for the Run Barbados race series which consists of 5 races including a 1 miler, 5km, 10km, half marathon, full marathon, and 5km walk. Over the three days, Dec 1-3, of the events I participated in the 1 miler, 5km, and half marathon races.

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Here’s a little recap of my experiences over the race weekend.

1 Mile

The 1 mile race took place at 7pm, it was 30 degrees, and pitch black out. The course was pretty straight forward (yes, I know it as only 1 mile so what would I expect but still). We pretty much just ran around the Garrison Historic Area in St.Michael which was one of the main areas of the islands 50th anniversary party two nights before.

The atmosphere was fun as they lead car was blasting Bob Marley and creating the perfect island vibe. The weather was host and just standing at the start line had me soaking before we even started. The course had very little light as the sun had set and the street lights were few and far between. It was almost unbelievable how dark it was. This also left it to be somewhat unsafe as the road contained many potholes and was very uneven.

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The finish line was the same for all five racers. Finish line food and hydration included in the race experience was minimal, including water, Powerade, coconut water, as well as meals and drinks, including beer for sale. Runners and walkers of all levels and ages participated and everyone received a very nice finisher medal.

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5km

The 5km run began at 4pm on Saturday. The temperature was still hot, around 30 degrees. I spent the day hydrating (with water) while lying on the beach. Throughout the duration of our trip I used an entire bottle of sunscreen. It was so important for me to stay hydrated and sun burn free. Matt Loiselle (2009 Canadian Half Marathon champion) who was racing as staying at our hotel spent the entire day inside his hotel room keeping his body cool. It must’ve worked as he placed 3rd in the 10km.

The 5km started near the finish line and was an out and back, fairly straight with one little loop and the furthest point. We ran through Bridgetown, the downtown/tourist area in St.Michael, and it was very cool exploring this new area of the island during the race. The course at 4 water stations. At each station I took a cup to drink and cup to dunk on my head to try and manage the heat. While my goal was to go slow and have fun, I felt great on the second half deciding to pick up the intensity and pace. I ended up seconds away from my time at the Holly Jolly 5km (a down hill 5km the happens before the Santa Claus parade) so I was happy. The awards happened after every runner from the 5km and 10km had finished and this made for a late night. We went back to the hotel, grabbed dinner, and 8 hours later the next race was on!

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Half Marathon

The half marathon start time was 5am, which meant we were up way before the sun leaving for the start of the race at 3:50. As I knew our hotel wouldn’t be open from breakfast I snuck some food out the night before and had a croissant and jam, along with a banana, and Powerade for breakfast. Not ideal, but I made due with what I had and felt fine while racing. Similar to the 1 mile and 5km the race start line was a spary painted line on the good. In pitch black we took off and began on our out and back course. The full marathon did 2 of these loops. The course was pretty straight forward, had a couple hills, and some interesting sights as we ran along side the water, but also a residential area, and industrial area. Not all of the roads were closed which made for an interesting experience dodging buses and cars out on the road.

As we started before sun rise vision was a challenge again with limited street lighting, but as if a switch had been hit, roosters started crowing, and at 6am, the sun came up and the daylight was on…along with the heat. There was plenty of water/Powerade on course as well as marshals riding bikes offering gels.

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Similar to the 5km I went in with the goal to complete the race and manage the heat. I set a challenge to stay under a 5:50min/km and did a great job at it, spending most time around 5:45. I felt great when I hit the half way point and tried to stick around 5:40 for the second half. This was way easier then I anticipated and raced the final three km at 5:30, a pace faster then my 5km only 8 hours prior. While I didn’t PB (remember that wasn’t my goal) it felt awesome to have my pacing so on point.

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At the finish line coconut water, powerade, and popsicles available. Food and beer was available for purchase. The medals were great and recovering on the beach was truly amazing.

Challenge Medals

The race series also include a “challenge” option for those doing multiple races as I had. I wasn’t aware of the challenge until after I had registered for all there, but with my minimal training I don’t believe I would’ve run any other distances. The challenges included:
Gold Challenge – Run the Fun Mile, 10K and Marathon and receive a special commemorative gold medal.
Silver Challenge – Run the Fun Mile, 10K and 1/2 Marathon or the Fun Mile, 5K and Marathon and receive a special commemorative silver medal.
Bronze Challenge – Run the Fun Mile, 5K and 1/2 Marathon and receive a special commemorative bronze medal.
I received the bronze challenge medal.

While it certainly wasn’t my plan to make this series a regular in my schedule, we had a blast and I will be back next year. I love the island and the races were so much fun. Next time I would be sure to bring more of my own breakfast foods, or buy some there, in order to be more prepared prior to the race.

If you’re looking for a hot race, check it out, and join me in 2017!

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Race Recap: Famous Canadian Beer Run

On Sunday September 18th I had the pleasure of being part of the Brew Crew at the first official Famous Canadian Beer Run.

img_4302Hundreds of beer and running enthusiasts ran around Ontario Place for a 5K run-meets-craft beer and food festival. This was the first race of its kind in Toronto, pairing participants’ passion for running and love of a post-run cold one.

Being part of the “Brew Crew” didn’t require me to “pace” or anything serious – it was in fact the opposite or “serious”, my goal was to dress up and help runners have a blast and well at a themed run like this it was very easy to do.

img_4346This run route was awesome. The route ventured around and through Ontario Place, where we checked out the scenic lake and city skyline views while touring the east and west islands. We definitely went to places in Ontario I had never been, and some I haven’t seen for many years. In addition, we were also treated to a preview of the art installations which were set up as part of the in/future art experience taking place simultaneously.

Post-run participants kicked back, danced, and waited in line at the Craft Beer and Food Festival. As part of the race entry we were given free beer tickets for samples of the finest craft brews from Ontario brewers, as well as  gourmet food from the city’s top food trucks. These were also available for purchase (cash only). Live entertainment also took place at the Heritage Square post-race party.

The $50 run entry was a great value which included

  • Entry into post-run Craft Beer & Food Festival
  • 4 beer/beverage chips (good for two 8 oz. beers, or four 4 oz. beer samples)
  • Commemorative beer stein
  • Run t-shirt
  • Customized race bib
  • Race kit filled with samples

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The run did have a few logistical problems resulting from lack of volunteers and being a first time experience. The lines everywhere were very long. Registration had to be checked when entering Ontario Place as there were two types of tickets – the run – the festival – so they had to confirm everyone had paid. Once you were in the park we lined up again and this time it was to get our race kits. Had the bib numbers been emailed prior, or even a link to check them ourselves online, we would’ve saved time. More volunteers could’ve helped more things along here as well. As a result of these two lines the start of the race was delayed and all subsequent waves were pushed back. The wave starts were pretty relaxed and even with these lines people were in great spirits.

Now the other problem…the 5km run route was only 4.3km long. Obviously not great, but this was a run, not a race, and it wasn’t timed at all, BUT integrity is important and I think this is a big mistake, but one that can easily be fixed for next year.

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The run was promoted really well, had a great route, and a wonderful atmosphere and energy. Even with these two hiccups, the runners had great attitudes and very few people were getting upset. I’m sure if the run happens again they will be on top of these two mishaps and so I would highly suggest anyone who likes beer gets in on this event. Bring your friends, dress up, and have an awesome afternoon.

Race Recap: Montreal Demi-Espirit

4.5 months in the making, my goal race, the Montreal Demi-Espirit 70.3, was here on Saturday. It’s a flat course that offers “your best chance you’ll ever get to personal best” and for me, it did!

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I first decided to do this race and my sister and her crew had decided to race it because it is a “bucket list” race. Company on these long distances races is great and once I heard about the unique course I was in.

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The race takes place in the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympic Park. Summer in the rowing basin, riding around the Formula One Canadian Grand-Prix track, and running back around the rowing basin. It was amazing for spectators as people were everywhere along the entire course, and as an athlete you were able to see your supporters multiple times on route.

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The Swim

The swim is an out and back in the Olympic rowing basin. This swim is unique in that while it’s open water, it’s a protected current-free basin is similar to a 2 km long, 100-meter wide and 3-meter deep swimming pool.  The water has a sandy bottom which I was able to view the entire time and “is considered superior for swimming.”

Because of these conditions I felt very confident on course. There was lots of space in the water and not once was I near another person where we might have touched. Certainly the number of women were less, but we also had a great deal of space. I stuck to my usual plan of a steady effort and during the final few hundred meters set my sights on a few swimmers that I wanted to pass and I did giving myself a third place age group finish for the swim.

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The Bike

The 90 km bike portion of the race consisted of completing 21 laps around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, which is the site of the Formula One Canadian Grand-Prix. The 4.3 km loops were very smooth and were filled with a combination of winding turns, hair-pin turns, and straight aways. There was one bottle drop/aid station which had it’s own lane and an opportunity to not only grab a bottle while continuing to ride, but also pulling over for a stop.

2016-09-10 | 2016 Triathlon Esprit de Montréal (Samedi)

The Pro-timing chip on your ankle counts your laps, but I also used my Garmin to make sure I was on track. The lap count is shown on a giant screen near the exit lane, and your name and bib number appear on the monitor on lap 5, 10, 15, 19, 20, 21. The race are continuously shares that when you see your name with the number 21, you must exit the course, however I saw at least 5 people who misunderstood and did an extra lap.

My bike experience was one that is most easily described as terrifying. As one of the first few women out of the swim I entered the bike loop, with tired legs, at a measly 25km/hrs pace. I entered into a bike race in progress with many men holding what I could only assume was 40+km/hr paces. I felt like Disney’s Simba during the stampede scene of the Lion King. Men was racing past me on both sides. There was no organization as to where slower riders should be and when I assumed it was to stick the left and pass on the right (which it was) speedy men would cut through almost no spaces nearly taking both of us out to pace. This was my race situation for almost the first 40 minutes until more women entered the course and I can only assume some of the faster men started exiting.

21 loops certainly offered an interesting option as I was able to see my family and receive their coaching and cheers almost every 8 minutes, I will be honest that while 21 laps seemed fun before riding, it was very mentally challenging and required a lot of focus for almost 80% of the time. Although that being said, this mainly flat course was one of my fastest rides, in which I was able to hold my Olympic distance pace during double the distance.

2016-09-10 | 2016 Triathlon Esprit de Montréal (Samedi)

The Run

The 21.1 km run starts at the back of the Transition Area where you will run directly onto the Voie Maritime for a short 2km out on the trails. I entered this area at the exact time the duathlon was starting here. They let me get a few feet ahead before they started and it was certainly motivating to run so closely with others.

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Once back on the basin wall, you  circle the Olympic Rowing Basin and complete 4.5 laps. The race almost everywhere including the website states 4 laps, but it’s actually 4.5. I didn’t realize this until I was on course and for over two hours watched racers run across this floating bridge, trying to figure out what they were doing and whether that was my race or another distance.

While heading out on what I (and my family) thought was my final lap I asked a staff what the deal was after a large group ahead of me went across. It was here on course that I learned about the extra half lap. This definitely sucked as I had mentally thought I was nearing the finish, and then having to explain to my family too, while running, that I still had a half lap left. I hadn’t started my Garmin on time, so knew that wasn’t reliable. So when it was finally my turn to cross the bridge – I was jumping for joy.

The course was well fueled with 3 aid stations per loop. They had water, ice, coke, pretzels, and an electrolyte drink. They were well organized and the volunteers did a great job.

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One thing to be aware of is that almost all on race communication on race day is in French. Pretty much the only thing I spoke while on course was the phrase “English please”. This was challenging on the bike, where I felt very unsafe and was unsure of what was happening when people didn’t appear to be following the “rules”. Race communication prior to race day was bilingual.

That begin said, I enjoyed this flat and fast race quite a bit. It gave me personal bests and an awesome spectator experience from my family and friends. I would definitely suggest others give it a try.