Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Scoping out good running routes from above - Thanks for the runs Jen

Dear Jen,
There are very few people who truly understand what it's like to be a mother, a teacher, and an athlete.  Jen Alsop did, and we had many conversations expressing our feelings about the pressures we felt.  We laughed and joked around about parenting our young daughters as mom-athletes.  For a year or so while she ran with the Cambridge Harriers, I had a kindred spirit who understood how hard it was to try and "do it all".  Thank you for those runs around Victoria park where we laughed about our rebellious reluctance to be "super moms".  The runs ment a lot and you gave me reassurance that doing my best is enough.  We have lost touch over the years, but I have thought about you once in a while as my life gets busy and I feel absolutely overwhelmed.  I have wondered how you were doing, and hoped that you were still running (even if it's not with the awesome Cambridge Harriers).  I was so sorry to hear about your death, and my thoughts and prayers are with your two sweet children, and your family.   Scope out some good running routes in Heaven, and someday we'll run again,
 Lisa

If you knew Jen, there's a gofundme page set up for her children.  It can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/26myxc44

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Cambridge Mill Race 8k - Female course record while showing off my race face

      What an amazing day!  I ran the Cambridge Mill Race 8k Road race this past Sunday May 1, and I'm still enjoying the wonderful post-race feeling of achieving a challenging goal.  I went into the race, with the goal of finishing in under 34 minutes - that would give me the female course record.  I have been running on the course for my last few workouts and wondering if that time was doable. For my last workout before the race, I ran with fellow Cambridge Harrier Doug.  My workout was warm-up, then race-pace 3x 3min repeats, with 3 min rest, cool down.  It went really well -for me, I almost killed Doug - sorry Doug :) I went into the race feeling pretty good about the planned pace that I wanted to run.  My goal was to hold 4:10-4:15km on the hilly route - that would get me through the line in under 34 minutes.

     The course is challenging.  It's very hilly in the second half of the race.  Living within a few kilometers of the start line, I have home course advantage here.  I run on these streets several times a week, so there was a nice familiarity to the race.  This course started with a gradual downhill for 700m followed immediately by a steep "drop-off-the-earth" road section of about 50m. I blasted that kilometer clocking 3:49.  I was still in a large pack, but I noticed the top women were with me.  Kilometers 2 and 3 were on a long, flat stretch of road.  It was a challenge to be patient here, and not push too hard - the 2nd and 3rd place women were close, and normally I would like to get some distance on them, but I knew that the course was really hilly in the last half, so I maintained a comfortably-hard pace.

     At 4k, the hills started. Gradual climbs from 4-5k, then some steep climbs and seemingly constant climbing.  I was running with Harriers Pedro and Jason, and working hard to hold a pace close to my goal.  Between 5-6k, I was wondering if I would break the record. It felt like I had slowed down so much.  But since this race was organized by my running group, most of the marshalls (especially those in the last 3k) were my running friends.  I felt so supported and so lucky to have all the cheering as I passed (thank you so much Sharon, Warren, Doug, Nelson, Megan, Anita, Paula, Colin,  Darcy, Jen, Joyce....and Greg!).  I pulled ahead of Jason and Pedro in the last 2k.  I really pushed, and was giving it all I had.

     The last kilometer was tough.  There was a steep downhill section, a steep uphill climb, followed by a 700m gradual hill to the finish line.  My legs were done, and I was pushing so hard to get to the end.  I approached the finish area, and I could see friends and family were there to see me finish the race.  As soon as I got close enough that I could read the clock, it was clear to me that I would be breaking the record.  I crossed the line feeling like I was going as fast as I possibly could go.  I was so happy that I had broken the record - my Dad ran over and was the first one to give me a hug at the finish - followed by my Mom and my girls, then more of my running club buddies.  I finished in 33:28.  I was 10th overall, first female and I was the new course record holder.  It was a wonderful feeling - getting over that line.
Almost there!  About to cross the line and claim the women's course record.  It hurts so much - but I'm really happy-I swear :)  Photo credit - George Aitkin

At the awards ceremony with my first place female overall prize. Photo credit - Anita Cressman
     Within minutes of my finish, Race Director and one of my running buddies - Steve Mota informed me that my race number had been pre-drawn, and I had won one of the major draw prizes from the race's title sponsor - Champagne Brunch for four at the Cambridge Mill Restaurant.  Yay!  That was exciting, the day was getting better and better.  At the awards ceremony, I accepted my first place female award, and a gift certificate for running shoes from Runner's Choice in Waterloo.  Thank you very much Cambridge Mill, and Runner's Choice.  I appreciate the prizes, and your generosity.

     Thanks to Race Directors Steve and Kelly Mota, and all the Harrier's volunteers.  The race was well organized, and I really appreciate the opportunity to race on my home course.  Thanks to my personal sponsors - CLIF bar for their delicious CLIF bars, CLIF   shots, CLIF shot bloks, CLIF builders bars, and CLIF Organic trail mix bars that I use in my training and on race day.  Thank you Coronation Chiropractic and Massage, and Sharon Rutledge Naturopath.  Thanks to my coach Derrick Spafford for helping me to prepare for the race.  Huge thanks to Greg for his unending support of my running, and for cheering and popping out all over the course. This was a very exciting start to my 2016 (snowshoe-less) racing season!

Results from the race can be found here.