Race Recap: A MidSummer’s Night Run 15k

Last night, I ran my first-ever 15k night race, the MidSummer’s Night Run. And it was a lot of fun. Despite the 1:48 effort (which I understand, but am not all that happy about), the course was stunning, the swag was stellar and the post-race beer tent was delicious.

All summer, I had been focusing on the Beaches Jazz Tune-Up 10k, and that result I was really happy with. Then, I don’t know. I got cocky or something. I’m also freaking out about the possibility of a serious running injury. Both my running pals Kendal and Meghan have battled big injuries this summer, so now that my left calf tends to get really tight after 5k, my reaction is to freak out and slow down. (Both Kendal and her husband Pierre have been very helpful with stretch suggestions and specialist recommends, so I’m confident I’ll be able to get this sorted out by the time my Scotiabank half rolls around).

15k would be my longest distance since the HM in May. That was dumb. I also ran a tough 8k on Thursday with Dani (if you’re reading this, Dani, you are a much better runner than you give yourself credit for). On Friday, I went to a blistering yoga class. Then on Saturday, I spent the entire race day at BookCamp.

If you add all that up, it’s not the smartest pre-race plan.

I was hoping for 1:35, planning for 1:45. The water stations were 3k apart, so my plan was to reach them in 20 minutes, then walk for a minute, then book the last 3k for a time right around 1:45 (If this plan was executed perfectly, my time would be 1:42ish). This plan worked splendidly for the first 3 water stations. I hit the 3k marker at 20 on the nose (they lied — the first water station was at 3.5k) and crossed the 5k mark at 33:15. Pierre was just past the 5k marker and it as the first time I’ve ever had a cheering squad mid-route. It was a great pick-me-up, so thanks Pierre!

Then, just before the 6k mark, my calf began to feel really tight. This is a relatively new phenomenon, the first time it happened was on the 5k PubRuns in High Park, but has made an appearance on every run that 1) involves hills and/or is longer than 5k. On the plus side, my hip felt fine. I pushed myself to the water station and did some (very) quick stretching in hopes to combat it. I came out of that water station at 41:00, which was still on pace. But it wasn’t loosening up, so I slowed down. I found the 1:45 pace fairy around 8k (running and carrying a large sign is impressive. Kudos to all the bunnies and fairies out there) and stuck with them until the 9k water station, did some more stretching and had a quick water break, and passed the 10k marker at 1:09, making the second 5k split 36:00.

10k-12k was the roughest part of the race. I was sore and starving (pre-race food: 2 pb&j sandwiches, a handful of crackers, 4 coffees, 3 apples and 3 ShotBloks. That was it for the day. Another lesson learned!), and rapidly running out of energy. It became painfully obvious I should have added more long runs to the summer training plan.

Once I passed the final water station, I felt the end coming. Only 3k left! That’s nothing! I concentrated on simply getting one foot in front of the other without pain. That worked. When I came around the corner for the final 500 metres, I booked it and passed dozens of people. (Why don’t more people sprint to the finish? It’s right there!) 1:48:23, making the final 5k split 39:00. Ouch.

This result makes me worried for the October HM. But I have 2 months to amp it up. A sub 2:10 HM is within my reach, but I’m going to need to work for it.

First ever 15k race done.

Several lessons learned.

Eat properly.

Rest properly.

Train properly.

Stop being a baby.

Master the racing mind game.

I can definitely do these things next time.

Passport to Prana: Kula & The Yoga Sanctuary

I’ve been doing yoga, off and on, for about five years now. When we moved to Toronto, I became a dedicated student of Emma O’Neill for about two years, attending her Sunday morning class at The Yoga Sanctuary religiously. Emma is great and I highly recommend her, but once I started running, I found that I couldn’t do both long runs and an intense yoga class every weekend. So the yoga had to go. Since then, I’ve been bouncing around, trying to find the right mix of yoga and running, and trying to find classes that fit my hectic work schedule.

I haven’t found that yet. So I got a Passport to Prana.

For those not familiar with Passport to Prana, it’s an annual pass that let’s you try different yoga studios in the city. It’s available in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria, Vancouver, and Winnipeg (in addition to Toronto, of course!) and it’s A STEAL at $30. That’s right: $30 gives you access to what feels like a billion (it’s actually about 70) studios in Toronto, Oakville, Burlington and the surrounding areas. Even if you only go to three classes, it’s totally, completely worth it.

So I decided to try to chronicle my Toronto-yoga journey here. I have 52 weeks and plan to use the pass once a week, trying out as many studios and different kinds of yoga as I can.

Kula in the Annex

Class: Wednesday, 8:30pm Hot Hour
Teacher: Leah
Score: Nailing a headstand (with the teacher’s help and wall-support)

This class is a bit of a cheat. I’ve been to Kula before (it’s the home studio of my pal JK) and I love it. The temperature is right, and the teachers offer the right mix of challenges, playfulness and therapy. It can occasionally get too hokey for my tastes (a class I took near Valentine’s Day was love-themed), but overall, it’s my favorite studio I’ve been to so far. It’s just too far from my house to go to regularly. Boo.

Leah was a sub, and she was a new teacher. Her theme for the class was based on a card she got at a fairy reading — something about being playful and seeing things from a new angle. It worked better than some of the other themes I encountered. Leah’s transitions were rocky, but the class was exactly what I needed in the middle of CBC Books Giller madness.

The Yoga Sanctuary: Danforth

Class: Monday, 7:15pm, Yin
Teacher: Sue
Score: Almost falling asleep in savasana

Another cheat. Shhh, don’t tell the yoga studios! Sue’s yin class is the class I go to whenever I need to stretch and don’t want to do other yoga. I’ve been to a handful of yin classes at Moksha, but this one is hands-down my favourite. Sue is very cheerful and explanatory, which I enjoy, but she is repetitive. For example, she explains her theory behind how deer pose got its name in every class. Once a month is all I need here. But the studio is lovely and has the added bonus of being uphill and near a grocery store, so I can grab dinner supplies right after and then soar down Broadview on my way hom. (Okay, I get that this isn’t exactly fair crieria in my judging of yoga classes, but I’m new at this. Give me a break.) This class attracts a lot of newbies, which is great (welcome to yoga!) but it also means that if you look like you know what you are doing, you won’t get a lot of attention. And I like attention. I’m insecure like that.

That’s it. No more cheating. My next class needs to be a studio I’ve never been to before, with a teacher I’ve neve rhad before. I’m scared. And excited.

I just hope by the end of this I’ll be able to do a headstand.

I’ll also take real pictures next time.