Run For The Road

Run For The Toad 2019 Race Review: First Toad, Last Toad #2

Here’s part II of my Run For The Toad race review, which has been split into two parts like the last movie in any Dystopian YA franchise. (Just call me Katniss Everrun.)

You can get caught up on part I here. Let’s get bizzay.

Going Solo

• Second loop was much more empty. Less people on the course. It made it harder not to focus on the tension in my calves from the hills, or focus on the pain in the balls of me feet whenever I jogged down a hill… And there were lots of hills.

• On the other hand, running in the woods alone was much more relaxing.

• I stopped at an aid station and snagged some gummy bears. I was too overwhelmed by choices to know what to eat. Couldn’t even tell you what else was there besides potato chips and pretzels.

• Somewhere during this time I started cursing my love of running. Sometimes out loud into the air. I was going to have to take a break from running. I was insane. Why did I LIKE this?

• I stoped to re-tie my shoes tightly—like tenser bandages to alleviate some of the discomfort in my feet.

Strength In Numbers

They might be fast as h*ck but ultra runners are SO nice. Every single one who passed me had words of encouragement. “It’s tough, you’re doing a great job!” “Nice work!”

• Closing in on the last 6.25km, an ultra runner scared me when he said “great job!” coming up from behind me. I hadn’t heard him, he was SO quiet. I startled and yelled—he apologized…while running. and high-fived me, still while running. Then he took off into the trees, like a speedy forest spirit in compression socks.

 
RunForTheToad2019_UltraRunners
 

• Somewhere in the last 5k I converged on the trail with Michelle, a woman in her late 50s or early 60s. We started to run and walk together, talking about the race, our running history, anything and everything to keep us moving forward.

• Turns out people are the secret ingredient. Maybe everyone else knew this but I’ve avoided running with other people for years until now and it was… awesome. Encouraging. Distracting. I wasn’t feeling any pain or how tired my legs were.

• Even the agony of Skeleton Hill was less painful with someone else there.

• We hit the 12K sign. Only 500m to go.

• Finally. FINALLY, we rounded the bend to see the finish line waiting. Spotted my boyfriend waiting.

• Then the finish line worked its magic. I stopped hurting. I stopped thinking.

• I think I yelled “OH SHIT” and powered across the finish line as much as I could manage with the rest of the energy I had.

POST-RACE & 25KM PIE

• I thanked Michelle for helping me through the end of the race and we high-fived.

• We collected medals and bottles of water, I couldn’t even pay attention to the Halloween candy or other offerings at the finish. My heart was pounding, my head was spinning. I was soaring. I had been nervous about the run, I hadn’t trained as intensely as I usually do… and I had still finished.

 
RunForTheToad2019_FinishersMedal
 

• Boyfriend came over. I either threw myself or collapsed into his arms and started to cry, a half dozen emotions bursting at that moment.

• Proud. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Drained. Invigorated. I was thriving with the intense life that only seems to overcome me on the heels of a race finish.

• While we were snapping finish line pics, someone yelled my name. The Mayors, Rachel and Nick, were on the far side of the finish line. They both gave me HUGE hugs. Pain once again disappeared.

• We talked about the race and I headed back to my car to change.

• Not before I laid on the grass and marvelled at all the things I was feeling in my body and also my feels.

• Went to get food (Shoutouts to Stone Crock in St. Jacob’s) and sat down in the sun at the picnic tables outside. I have never had a better bite of apple pie. Maybe it was the 25K or maybe it was just really good pie.

• I’m going to at least give some of it to the 25K.

Run for the Toad Training Log #1: A Sandbag Scarecrow & Mosquito Bites

Run #1: Run For The Toad, Hitting The Road

• First official day of Run for the Toad training: the road to my first major trail race starts here.

• I'm always looking for omens, and can foolishly get into the mindset that the first run will set the tone for the rest of training. The tone of this run was "sweat and suffering".

• Coming off a run break in Italy, I was hoping for fresh legs but they ended up feeling like lead. Thankfully training schedule called for a slow fiver—”slow” was the only speed I had in the tank.

• What is it about running in the heat that makes you feel like a scarecrow made of sandbags?

• By the time I completed my usual 5k work loop, I noticed what looked like tiny beads of sweat on my arms. Turns out it was hot enough to experience milaria crystallina—a mild heat rash. I think I’m off to a great start.

Run #2: Hill Repeats, A Horror Story

• I headed into a nearby trail to take on some hill repeats, bug spray from my apartment and thank goodness I did. Closer to dusk, the woods were buzzing. Every two seconds there was a mosquito whining in my ear.

• I trotted a little over a kilometre into the woods and came to three forks in the road (a trident)? There was a longer less steep hill, a steeper hill. I chose the steeper hill and got to hustling.

• …Hustling is code for having my butt kicked by a hill. Note to self: research proper technique for running up and down hills. I could feel my body hunching and my form and posture slipping.

• Everything felt… not great. I got a stitch in my side a few times from the humidity. My knees didn't feel quite easy on the path. My calves needed stretching. I barfed in my mouth at least once (at LEAST).

• I accidentally had the GPS on my Fitbit (I’m not a tracking junkie) but may have come up with a rough average of my speed per kilometre out on the trails… Which is only important because I've been toying with the idea of training for time-on-feet instead of distance. I know some people do it for ultras, but I'm wondering if it might help me as I sharpen for the 25k.

• Need to build in some cross-training and lots of stretching to make this work. I have no doubt I can finish this race… But I’d like to finish it in one piece, strong.

• Made it back to the car. Still somehow got some mosquito bites. … Bastards. Running is going to literally eat me alive.

Run #3: Slow And Steady

• Headed out for my first long run with a double espresso from Tim Hortons and a blueberry muffin. It was early, sunny, not too hot—great running conditions.

• Lots of other cars parked at the trailhead (runners & or cyclists also up and about early).

• Ended up walking up a lot of hills and jogging down them. First off, to conserve energy. Also noticing my body hasn’t 100% adapted to tackling hills yet so trying to focus on building the muscles before trying to barrel anywhere.

• Running further and further out into the woods all I can think about is true crime and how hard it would be to find a body out in the forest.

• Which is right around when a cyclist lets out a loud whoop from behind me as he blazes by (thanks buddy) and I nearly pee myself.

• Round out the 14km with a decent amount of energy left in the tank, even if my legs are tired. Only a little bit of aches and pains the next day, which I’m hoping will ease up with training and muscle development.

• At least 14km is over half the distance I’ll be doing in Run For The Toad. Makes the whole thing seem less scary… a little.