Sister Act: A Midsummer Night’s Run 15k

Erin’s story:

I ran A Midsummer’s Night’s Run last year as part of my training for the Scotiabank Half-Marathon. While the race itself didn’t go so well (1:48), I enjoyed the route and spirit of the race, so signed up for 2012. Thankfully, many of my running pals were aso into the 15k distance and Shakespeare theme, so we had quite a strong contingent heading out there!

Despite what happened last year, I didn’t do a lot of training for Midsummer this time out. A handful of 10k long runs dotted my DailyMile reports, but that’s it. I feel that I’m much fitter than I was last year and my running base was there, but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after 10k. My plan? To feel strong until 12k, then just hang on.

That’s exactly what happened.

In the back of my mind, I had a 1:30 goal time. I felt that despite my lack of training, 1:30 would be difficult but achievable. I could handle that. On race day, we had perfect running weather. Sunny, but cool. It’s beginning to feel like fall. Jill and I met up with Kate before the start (who is a fitness monster — she followed this 15k race with Tough Mudder on Sunday morning!) and we agreed to stick together. Kate was using the race as a long training run (reason: the aforementioned Tough Mudder) and it was Jill’s first ever 15k race, so she was unsure what to expect (her race experience is below!).

The Midsummer crowd is dense for the first couple kms. Without timed corrals, it’s bound to happen. It’s not the biggest deal, but it does make it tough for three people to stick together and try to find a pace that works for everyone. After about a km, Jill took off. This was cool with us — I knew if Jill felt strong, she’d run under 1:30 without any problems. Kate and I settled in. I was feeling good, running around a 5:45 pace. I knew it wouldn’t last, but I felt It wouldn’t wear me out. Then Kendal caught up with us and hung around for a bit. Kendal was also using this run as a training run. Her race mission? “No slower than 1:25.” Stick with me, Kendal, that’ll definitely happen.

Kilometre 3. I was slowing down. Kendal and Kate inched ahead of me. Then Kendal put on her music and settled into her run. Kate dropped back and made the decision to run with me the whole way. Thank you Kate!!

We passed the 5 mark at 28:38, making good time. Both 1:30 pace bunnies were right in front of us, so we decided as long as we kept them in sight, we were fine. Kilometre 7 is the one that rounds the lighthouse at the end of the spit. The trail changes here from pavement to dirt and last time I ran on dirt, I rolled my ankle. I slowed. Kate stayed with me. We picked it up for kilometres 8 and 9, and even passed both 1:30 bunnies. I fueled up at kilometre 8. I was fading, but not in pain. I concentrated on my breath and not letting Kate get too far ahead of me. She was running maybe two steps in front. When we passed the 10k marker at 59:32, I felt we were in the clear. If I could hang on to a 6:00-ish pace, we’d be fine. Kilometres 11 and 12 started to hurt. Nothing painful, just the I’m-at-the-end-of-the-race-and-using-everything-I-have-left feeling. We were running closer to 6:10 by this point, but I was okay with that.

Then kilometre 14 lasted forever. It felt like the longest click of my running career. The sign was never coming. (I confirmed this with my fellow runners after — it was long!). Then,  it was the final kilometre. We kept pace until we rounded the corner for the last couple hundred metres. “Do you have a sprint in you?” Kate asked. “No, arfhghjkgkd!” I believe was my answer. But we picked it up anyway and crossed the finish looking and feeling strong.

1:30:35. 35 seconds off my goal and 18 minutes faster than last year. Can’t complain about that at all.

Thanks, Kate for running with me. Running a race with a friend changes the entire dynamic of what you are doing. You’re focused on them, making sure they feel good and running strong, but you also don’t want to let them down. The few times I felt weak in this race, I pushed through because Kate was there. I really enjoyed having someone to talk to and someone to measure myself against.

Next year: 1:25. I think I can do it. Especially if I run with a fast friend.

Jill’s story:

A race featuring fairies, princess and mermaids is defiantly my kind of race. Although, Midsummer Night’s did not have that race feel at all. Instead it was super fun, friendly, social, and rather exciting. Maybe that’s why it’s called a run and not a race. Either way this is a run for all Toronto runners. I kid you not there was a mermaid!

When Erin put this run into our summer race schedule, I was really excited. Let’s be honest: fairies are fun! And the chance to run among them would be grand! My only worry was the distance. Up to that point (when we registered) my longest race would have been the Yonge Street 10k. Anything beyond 10k was going into scary territory. But I signed up anyway, as getting a 15k race under my belt was one goal of mine to accomplish before leaving for San Francisco. As my Team In Training runs were stretching out further and further, I was becoming more comfortable with my longer runs. Adding more kilometres each week helped build the confidence I wanted to run a solid 15k for Midsummers. I knew full well in my mind 15k was more then manageable, but once I ran 20k “accidentally” with the marathoners one Saturday morning with TNT, I knew I was ready. This was just the boost I needed.

So finally race day came. I wasn’t too happy having to work the weekend I had a race, but seeing how the event was the canfitpro Conference and Trade Show — 2 days of taking to fit people — would be a good thing. I was complemented for my hippie environmental beliefs and ways of life, but also for my running and race goal times. I had a sub 1:25 in mind, but would settle for a sub 1:30. Erin and I explored the expo that afternoon, sampled more protien bars than any normal person should have, discovered to our newest fitness-must-try, Piloxing — more on this whole experience in a later post I promise — we ate a nice late lunch in the park by the CBC, then biked to Erin’s to rest for the race. I was tired, I needed a power nap!

Finally it was race time. As much as I wanted to run with Erin and Kate, we quickly realized running with 3 people is hard. As Erin mentioned the run did not have designated corrals so the first stretch was a tight squeeze to manoeuvre around. I saw the 1:30 pace bunny and caught up to him right away. I could hear Erin and Kate behind me, so I knew they weren’t far. I was feeling good and ready to run, but kept focused on not doing too hard to fast. For now. The next thing I knew the 1:25 pace bunny was behind me. I was then determined to keep it that way! With no music or no one to talk to I was insanely calm and focused on my breath. I had a song in my head to move to and new scenery to look at. As night time grew upon us I went into attack mode. I was stealthily taking down my opponents in front of me to finish ahead. This was probably more fun than it should have been, but hey whatever gets you going! But then the 13k stretch came and this leg of the race was not fun. My brain wanted it to be over and passing people became harder. I didn’t want to slow down, but most likely I had. The finish was drawing closer and people were in sight. I needed the cheers and claps to help me finish. Sprinting to the end I finished with a time of 1:22:45! Crushed 1:30 and minutes ahead of 1:25. I had a good race and was very happy with the outcome.

21.1k in looking easier and easier. Of course I say this now….


The route:

The 7 week training plan


Do you know what happens when you sign up for races?

You need to train for them.

A Midsummer’s Night Run is 7 weeks away. That’s not that far. Given that I’ve been mentally out of it when it comes to running this month, I’m using the fact it will be July this weekend (How is it July this weekend?!) to re-set my running schedule and get back on track. My schedule is loosely based on Hal Higdon’s 15k Intermediate plan, with one big change: there’s a lot more yoga.

This is my training program. Click for bigger.

(I also need to figure out how to fit in the beginnings of the Urban Warrior training program into this. Any suggestions?)

The basic structure is as follows:

Sunday: yoga
Monday: rest
Tuesday: short run and yoga
Wednesday: longer run
Thursday: speed work
Friday: yoga
Saturday: long run

This is not based on anything scientific. It is based on the yoga classes I like and the desire to run at least four times a week. While I’ve planned for 3x yoga a week, I expect that life will get in the way (it always does) and I can easily scale back to two without missing out on too much training.

The two big questions I have are: will I actually do my speed work? And what will Jill and I do when we head back to NS for a week in the middle of all this?

I guess I’ll find out.

What training programs have you used? How did it work? I need to know!



Mission run a half marathon is on

10k down! What's next?

After running the Toronto Yonge Street 10k I am determined to be a fast runner! Now that running is fun, I also what to strat running farther. This may not be so fun.

I don’t really remember where my sudden need to run races came from. Knowing Erin was running all the time way back when, then dedicated herself to run a marathon, may have helped slightly. Actually it helped a lot. Running a marathon I feel is one of those things on everyone’s bucket list. I would love to say “I ran a marathon!” one day, but highly doubt I can hold my attention for that length of time. What do people think about for this long? How do they push themselves though those awful stretches when anything would be more appealing than running another second? I’m not going to scratch the marathon idea just yet, it’s only May and I’ve already signed up for race number three The Midsummer Night’s Run. I think my sights are set on a half marathon. I would be very happy to run this far in the short amount of time I would call myself a runner.

I’m convincing myself if I can finish 15k in August I can do a half in the fall. Plus I’m still using the “I climbed the CN Tower” bit to convince myself I can do anything. That, and I have to say each race I run gets better and better and more and more fun. Thank goodness Erin is running the 15k too that’s pretty much the whole reason I agreed to it, oh and I’ve been told people dress up like fairies! I want to dress up as a fairy. At this rate by the fall I will love running, only if it involves dressing up. And sleep overs at Erin’s. That is very important.

Runners look and talk like very fit people should. Or at least that’s my impression of them anyway. Races make me feel like I could be one of them. I really want to belong mostly because of Charlie and Graham, and now Jenn too. I live in a house with a super couple — you may remember them from the day I ran in Yorkville wearing nothing but a speedo — who run races and train for the Iron Man competitions and an all star track superstar, no wonder I have this overwhelming urge to be great at running. But thankfully Erin keeps me on track. Her upbeat confidence in me, tells me I can run a 10k sub 50 if I train for it.

And maybe run a half marathon too.

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.