Thursday, May 20, 2010

Race Report! With Picture!

Woke up at 5:30 am. As I was leaving the bedroom, I managed to step on the single loudest floorboard on the path to the bathroom. Woke up C, who was out of bed in an instant terribly disappointed to find that it was not time to get up yet. He started crying. Good start. Continued on to the bathroom and fell into G's door like a university student on her way home from a pub crawl. At least I didn't wake him up.

We were out the door at 6:15am. Based on the predicted weather, I decided to wear a t-shirt and bicycle shorts eventhough it was freezing out. I wore one of T's sweaters that he deemed trashable to stay warm. Google said it would take us a half hour to get to the start line, but we made every single light and got there in 15 minutes. So, they boys dropped me off and I had an hour to kill. In the freezing cold. By myself.

I spent the time running around a bit to stay warm and visiting the porta-potties. I didn't really have to go after the first time, but what else was there to do? Oh, well, I guess I pinned my bib on. That took all of 2 minutes.

Finally, it was time to get in place. I chose the starting area for a 2 hour finish. At 7:30am, the gun went off and scared the heck out of me. We started walking (there were a lot of people there) and then stopped. How anti-climatic. Then we started walking again, and I managed to cross the start line about 4 or 5 minutes later.

About a couple of kilometers in, I had to pee. Well, I thought I had to pee, and that's all that really counts. Rather annoying, as I'd just spent the last hour going pee. My pace was feeling really good, though, and I didn't want to stop. Especially if, after I stopped, I found that I didn't really have to pee all that much and it was just nerves. I refuse to stop at porta-potties along the race route after a debacle with my 30K Around The Bay race years ago (a story for another day). There were some forest-y type areas where some were going for a 'Bush Run', but if I'm going to potentially bare my a$$ to hundreds of runners, it'd better be for a very pressing reason. S'all I'm sayin'. So I kept going.

The route was nice, actually - there are a lot of really fancy houses in Mississauga! I kept thinking that I was much further than I actually was. [Inner Monologue: "Well, the 15K marker must be coming up soon." I see the 12 K marker. "Hot damn! 12K?? Crap. REALLY?? Did someone switch signs? I feel like I've run 15K. Obviously, they're wrong." I see the 13K marker. "Damn, 13K??" And so on...]

I picked up the pace after 10K, and picked it up even more after 15K. (Possibly why I was getting so tired.) I even managed to save some energy for the last kilometer. I was breathing rather loudly, but I shot past a bunch of people. Unfortunately, as you got closer and closer to the finish line, the route got narrower and narrower. REALLY, bad planning on the part of marathon planners. I saved a little sumthin'-sumthin' for a final sprint to the finish, but couldn't really do it, because it got so crowded that I was going to crash into people if I sped up too much. Disappointing and annoying.

I had spent the last kilometer scanning the crowds for the boys, because they didn't see me at last year's 10K race. Miraculously, I found them and I actually shouted out loud for joy. (Usually, it's the spectators who do that, but apparently I march to my own drummer.)

Gun Time 1:59:44.6
Chip Time 1:55:39.5
Gender Place 602/2822
Age Category Place 83/433

Things I Could Have Improved:
  • Run or drive the route the week before, so I know exactly how much distance is left.
  • Could have run faster, but wanted to make sure I didn't kak out (see point #1)
  • Get up earlier to drink glass of water - 2 hours wasn't long enough
  • Lost killer instinct at the end - I usually 'pick people off' in order to spur me on to finish faster - I started to do that, but in the end just wanted to finish.
  • Have boys hold sign or wear brighter clothes, so it's easier to find them
  • Speed more at end (this wasn't my fault, though, I had the ability but not the venue)

Things I Did Well:
  • Didn't start out too fast
  • Managed to increase pace as race went on (Slight Negative Split)
  • Saved energy for final burst at end
  • Didn't stop for walk breaks at all (I am used to walking when I drink water, this time I ran)
  • Found the boys and waved at them (v. important)
  • Finished not only under 2 hrs, but under the predicted pace of my pace band: 1Hr 58min)

Increased my long runs! No longer stuck at the 12K mark
Added hill workouts! Haven't done that for years.
Ran a Half Marathon! Instead of saying I don't have time/I'm too tired/I have small kids.

Finished the Race.

And started a whole new one.

To be continued...

(Yup, totally got suckered into buying a race photo. I'm a sentimental gal at heart.)

Monday, May 10, 2010


Half Marathon is this Sunday, and I'm actually quite nervous about it. I think the problem is that it's my only "project" on the go these days. I need projects. Lots of projects. Things to keep my mind busy so that I don't obsess about every minor detail. That's what I'm doing now.

Thing is, when I only have one project on the go, then I'd damn well better do it spectacularly. Doncha think? So my project these days? Run better. Run further. Stop whining and making excuses about not having time, not having energy, not having whatever.

I tried doing a slight negative split on my last run (ie. run the second half of the run slightly faster than the first half), and what happened? Well, I finished the run in exactly the same time as I finished it last week. When I didn't do the slight negative split. WOW. This getting better thing is really going well.

I was really hoping that I would finish this Half in under two hours, and now it looks like unless I have a cracking good day, I'm going to go OVER two hours. Not good. Not good, at all.

I know that nobody cares about this but me. But I have to obsess about something, and after all this work on running lately, I'd kind of like to do a decent run. Otherwise why am I (or rather, my husband) paying to run a race? For the privilege of running with a bunch of smelly people who spray sweat on me as they gallop past?

I was also really excited about the boys coming to watch me complete a Half, but there's nowhere to park anywhere near the finish, so T is going to have to lug two little people over hell's half acre for the fun of standing around listening to whining while hoping to catch me cross the finish line. It won't be fun for him at all, and I feel guilty. And C told me that he would now rather go to swimming class than come watch the race. So he's going to be extra fun.

Complain, whine, obsess. I am nervous. This is what I do when I'm nervous. Ain't I fun to be around??

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Long Run

So, this weekend, I think I may have actually hit 20K for my long run. It's hard to tell for sure because my Gmaps Pedometer will only record driving routes, and if you don't follow the rules of the road (cause you're a PERSON, not a CAR), it won't let you go certain places. But with a little guess-timation, I'm going to say 20K.

This is exciting because:
A) It means that if I can keep up (or add to) this distance without injury, then I can certainly complete my race in May.
B) I haven't done this kind of distance since before my first child was born over 5 years ago.

I'd forgotten how much I love distance running. Long runs get a bad rap, I think. They're really just about getting out the door and putting one foot in front of the other. You don't have to go fast. You don't have to get all fancy and put in hills. You just have to go the distance. And the next week, go a little bit farther.

And then, there's the Sweet Spot.

The Sweet Spot, for me, is when I hit my stride and feel that I can just run forever. As long as I don't stop or have to speed up, that is. Stopping is death to the Sweet Spot. That's why I stick to the Lakeshore, where there are few lights and early morning runs when you can ignore the lights that are there. Speeding up is possible, but I'd better be fairly close to the end of the run or I'll putter out.

I don't usually hit the Sweet Spot till about 15K into a run, so let's just say that I haven't felt that feeling in a long time. (FYI: Before the 15K point, all I want to do is whine and moan and complain and shout "when is this agony going to end??").

But I'd forgotten how great it feels to go just a little bit further each week. See new sights. Forge new paths. It's such a feeling of accomplishment. Of empowerment. And I know that even if my day goes to hell, I've done something good. That, for me, is worth all the agony in the world. It feels that good.

So, if you happen to be up at an ungodly early hour next Saturday morning, think of me plugging away... And go back to sleep! Why the eff are you up??!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This is what I call 'jumping the gun'.

At some point during one of my long runs, I decided that a half marathon in September was too abstract a goal. (Btw, the problem with long runs? Too much time to think. Danger!) So, today I officially registered for a half marathon in May. This May. 2010.

Breathe, Alyssa, breathe.

The reality is, a person could train for a whole marathon by September if a person had a lot of free hours. I don't. But, I've been slowly increasing my long run and I should be able to get there by May. I won't be fast. In fact, I will probably be annoyingly slow, but the goal is to do it. Get out there and run. Not only run a race, but run a DISTANCE that I have not done since before C was born. Over five years ago.

Breathe, Alyssa, breathe.

If nothing else, it will give me a frame of reference for the half marathon in September. An annoyingly slow time to beat. Who can't beat an annoyingly slow time, right? Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Oh, and just for the record, I am not entirely pleased that when I registered, I had the choice of listing my occupation as "Unemployed" or "Other". Being a stay-at-home-mom is TOTALLY a job. And a hard one at that. So there. (Imagine me displaying a long, elegant - albeit aging and raw - finger in their general direction.) Perhaps I should run this one for all you SAHMs out there?

44 days and counting.

Breathe, Alyssa, breathe.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Julie & Julia

Just finished watching Julie & Julia on the movie channel. I missed seeing it in the theatres because the other half refused to go see it (and truth be told, we don't get out to see movies very much, so it has to be one we're both DYING to see). I only got to see it tonight because it's some Ultimate Fight Night, and I had the tv all to myself.

As I expected, the movie was kind of average. What makes it worth seeing, though, is a fantastic performance by the inimitable Meryl Streep. She's one of my acting gurus, and though I don't know a lot about Julia Child, I know enough about Meryl to know that the character was well studied. And no doubt a perfect impersonation. I heard somewhere that for every character she portrays, she has a secret - something that she knows about her character that she chooses not to share with anyone else. And the fact that Meryl Streep is so attuned to details that she would go that far in layering her characters shows that she is a genius. To me, at least.

What kept me watching the movie, though, despite the lack of nap and the excessive wine consumption was that I found it actually quite..inspiring. It made me think about what I am doing with my life, and whether or not I'm "accomplishing" anything. Whether I am being diligent enough in setting goals for myself. Both Julie and Julia found that, despite the stress, they were much happier when they found something they loved and followed through with the pursuit of it.

And that's a lot of what I hope to accomplish this year. If I'm going to say that I am an actor, then I should be an actor, not just someone who acts occasionally. Audition. Take classes. Hopefully actually appear on stage at some point, if people will have me. And if I'm going to say I'm a runner, then I should be a runner, not just someone who runs. Set goals. Add distance. Run races.

Go beyond the status quo. Do better. Stop lazing about and eating bonbons. (And I do. Laze about. Eat bonbons. That's fun too. But it shouldn't be all I do.)

I have my work cut out for me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I wish I was Dancing with the Stars

I guess you should know that I love Dancing With the Stars. (No, I mean it. I really love it. LOVE. IT.)

When I first heard about the show, I thought it sounded kind of lame. A bunch of has-beens or never-weres who learn to ballroom dance so that they can claim one more sad moment in the spotlight? Meh. I'll pass.

But, then the other half started rehearsing a show, and I was left with a lot of nights on my own with nothing on TV. NOTHING. ON. TV. (Why not read, you say? What?! And ruin my perfect record of doing nothing every single night?? For shame.) So I watched it.

It was awesome.


No. Really. It was. It is.

(BTW, I love talking in capitals like Owen Meany. It's a problem.)

There's something really inspiring, and almost - magical - about watching people who are or who have been in the spotlight for whatever reason, get thrown into an arena where they know little or nothing, and see how they fare. The show, for me, is more about the personalities and how they adapt to a strange new situation. It's fascinating. And once you get hooked into their story, you are hooked. I mean, I love shows like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, but they are just good singers and dancers doing what they already do well. It's a whole other ballgame.

I love that although sometimes it may seem like the odds are in someone's favour, it doesn't mean that they succeed. Take the Olympic figure skater Evan, for example. Yes, he has good lines and knows how to use the space, but he was like a robot - no personality and no connections with his partner or the audience. And Shannon Doherty who, being an actor, should be able the work the charm but is so terrified of live performance that she breaks out in hives. And macho footballers like Chad who should be frighteningly awkward, but always manage to be one of the best out there. And poor Kate who everyone loves to hate, but she's just a mom trying her best (I love the drama surrounding that story. Is she out for another fifteen minutes? Is she trying to be sexy again after eight kids? Is she trying to make her ex jealous??)

It's such good fun, that I'm always surprised when I hear that people don't watch it, and don't want to. Of course, my idols growing up were Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. I spent hours wondering what it would be like to live inside one of the old musicals. The closest I'll ever get is being on that show. But you have to be a star first.


They should totally let nobodies like me on. I'm gonna start a petition.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Up In The Air

I was eager to see this movie because it had gotten so much buzz at the Oscars. Also, director Jason Reitman's other movies Thank You For Smoking and Juno remain amongst my favourite films. The verdict? Hmm. Still up in the air.

I really enjoyed it, though. I went into it not knowing what it was really about (other than somehow involving air travel), and was pleasantly surprised to see that it falls into my preferred category of Non-Romantic Comedy, or "NonRomCom" - those quirky, indie films that could be mistakenly sold to the general public as Romantic Comedy (RomCom), but generally don't end happily and the humour is usually more sophisticated and ironic than the slapstick and mistaken identity humour of the RomComs. I'm so BORED by RomComs these days - they're so formulaic that I basically don't have to see the movie at all to predict the entire thing, and they usually put the funniest (if you can call them that) moments in the trailer.

One of the main reasons I wanted to see this movie was because two (2!) of the actresses were nominated for Best Supporting roles, and one of them was an actress my age. I've been in a sort of casting limbo these days - too old to play half the women roles out there, and too young to play the other half. I wanted to know what, exactly, Hollywood thought was appropriate for a woman in her early-late-thirties (ahem).

Vera Farmiga has done a lot of work, but is a virtual unknown to me. The character she played was multi-layered, dignified It gives me hope. Not sure if I would have given her an Oscar, but then, she didn't win, did she? (I suspect I would have given the win to Maggie Gyllenhaal, but I haven't had a chance to see Crazy Heart yet. ) Anna Kendrick comported herself admirably in a cast of seasoned professionals, but I don't personally think she should have gotten an Oscar nod. That seems to be a theme with Oscar nods for me this time around. Was it a slow year, or something?

George Clooney - aka McSwooney - was, well, he was George. He was charming, debonair and fairly irresistible. He was the same person that we all fell in love with in The Facts of Life. He didn't do anything to stretch his artistic talents, but he's created an empire based on his McSwooney-ness and he delivered another ration to his adoring fans. Jason Bateman, is the one to watch, though. I always thought he was just a sitcom guy. But after seeing impressive performances in Juno and Extract, he has a solid place in my personal It Guy list.

What left me feeling a bit underwhelmed was the main message of that film: basically that you can't go through life without settling down and making solid, personal connections or you will be left with nothing. Hey man, you're preaching to the choir. (But then, this film might read differently to your still single 40-something brother who thinks marriage is for the birds and spend every night in the clubs cougaring the young ladies.) Interesting, however, was the other message that cold Corporate America is sinking to all-time lows and must be stopped - or at least kept in check. That still has me mulling today.

Definitely worth a rental. You can decide for yourselves if it's worth all the hoopla.