Race Report: The Eggnog Jog

Checking out the hills at the Eggnog Jog.

The Eggnog Jog may sound like a friendly race but it is on an unforgiving course.  After a quick downhill first mile, you spend the next 5-6 kilometres climbing hills until the roads flatten and you can finally cruise along a downward slope into the finish.  It’s the kind of route that leaves you thinking “never again.”

I’ve raced this  course 4 or 5 times and each time I do, I finish thinking “never again”.  Yesterday was no different.  In fact, yesterday, I realized how much the race is like delivering a baby.  Even though I always complain about how much the course hurt, the memories of that pain somehow subside, I end up registering again and the cycle repeats itself.

There are many reasons that I like the Eggnog Jog.  As much as I hate to admit it, I do like hills; I would far rather push myself up and down a hill than do speedwork running around an oval.  Also, being an early December race, unpredictable weather can also be challenging; this race tends to fall on one of the first really cold days that winter bring and, as expected, Sunday was cold.  We started to feel the chilling effects of the Alberta clipper and, in Georgetown, we also had the first snow of the season, which just happened to arrive about 20 minutes into the race, resulting in some slippery road surfaces.  Lastly, with local triathlons, duathlons, and marathons finished for 2017, this race can draw some strong competition.  Sure enough, the competition arrived.

Meet Lynn Bourque, another masters runner who is also my age.   We met years ago as competitors but have become friends, dubbing ourselves Betty and Veronica.  This fall, we both raced the Oakville 10K together, finishing 0.9 seconds apart.  At the Hamilton Road2Hope Half-marathon, we started in a downpour so we decided to work together; within the first kilometre, I watched Lynn pull ahead of me and it wasn’t long before she was out of sight.  I was excited to see her in Georgetown, but I was also nervous about potentially jostling with her for position over a few kilometres of hills.

I took the start of the race conservatively as I knew the hills were waiting near the 3K mark to test me for the next 5-6 kilometres.  During the fast downhill start, I watched many women, including Lynn, push ahead of me.  As much as I wanted to keep up, and I knew that I could for a while, I knew that the smarter thing to do was hold back so that I had more to push myself up the hills when I needed to.    By 5K, I had caught up to all of the women who had passed me at the start, and I spent the last half of the race trying to stay ahead of one.  I turned my pace up a few notches when we finally hit the flats, and it became a game of catch and release until the last two kilometres, when she pulled ahead enough to gain 27 seconds by the finish.  I was quite happy to learn later that she was 20-24, less than of half my age!

50-54 Age Group Winners!

In the end, I crossed the finish line in 50:53, which gave me an average pace of 4:43 per kilometre (remember, it is a 10.8K course), a 7th place finish on the female side and a first place 40+ finish for women.  Even though my time was about 90 seconds slower than it was two years ago, I am really happy with my result as this fall has been about running, racing and having fun.  If I can do that and still run relatively well, I’m doing something right.  This makes it easy to finish 2017 with some big hairy goals for 2018 – but I’m not ready to verbalize those just yet.

 

Becoming Better Than You Were Before

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During the past week, I have had time to reflect on my past year – the good and the bad – and think about running goals for the spring of 2016.  I am not setting a resolution as I have never been a big fan of them.  But chasing a dream, setting a goal to achieve it, and becoming better for it: I am all about that.

But, like many others, I go through periods when sticking with those goals is tough.  Family life can take over; work might get busy; I might be side-lined with illness or some type of ache/pain.  So I have a couple of tricks to help myself stay motivated and work towards becoming better.

a.  Make a Commitment to Others:  For almost a year, I needed two of my training partners – Kelly-Lynne and Monica – to lyoga picure me to the Yoga Studio.  Don’t get me wrong; I like yoga, but I don’t love it.  I do it because it is good for me.  Between the three of us, the texts would fly during the week to figure out who could go to Friday night’s class and who couldn’t, who had to work late and who didn’t.   Nine times out of ten, if neither of them could make it, I would find something else to do.  But the more I went with one or both of the girls, the more comfortable I became to the point where I now make the effort to go to yoga on my own.  And, by the way, my fitness goal for the winter is to strengthen my core so I will definitely be frequenting more often.

b.  Put Your Goal in Writing:  This works for me and the more people who see it, the better off I am.  Write your goal down and post it in a spot where you will see it again and again: on the fridge door, on the bathroom mirror, at the top of your desk at work.   The more you see your goal, the more likely it will become a part of you.

c. Register for a Race:  If you are a runner and want to run a 10K in the spring, find one now and register for it.  By doing that, you have made a formal commitment to yourself and you have put it in writing.  My husband talked about running at The Eggnog Jog when I race many, many times until I finally asked him, “Do you want me to register you for it?”  Once I did, the talk stopped and the training started.  Registering gave him the little bit of motivation that he needed to start running again.

Eggnog Jog 2015 -Dave
Dave finishing the Eggnog Jog.  photo credit: Sue Sitki Photography

 

d. Involve Your Family:  I cannot stress how important this is – especially if you have young children.  When my boys were little, planning the week on Sunday nights also meant writing out the days that I would run and the type of workout that I planned.   Then, when I got home from work, they already knew whether or not I was going for a run.  That reduced the meltdowns at home and it led to my sons’ encouragement and support in my own fitness goals.

e. Join a Club or a Group:  This ties in with making a commitment to a training partner.   The advantage of running or working out with a club or a group is that it will always be there and ready for you – even if your friends can’t – and you are likely to make some new friends with the same goals as you.  I love training with Lions Valley AthleticsLVA uniform circle Even though I am the slow one in the group, I am always  supported and encouraged by the others in the group, and I have made some great friends.  This is a few of us at a training run back in August.  And, in case you are wondering, I made some great friends – including my yoga buddies above – through my former club, Toronto Olympic Club, and through Lions Valley Athletics.

2016As I mentioned above, my goal for 2016 is to build a stronger core.  Rather than focussing on it once or twice a week, I am changing my game plan: 20 in 16.  In other words, I am going to do 20 minute core workouts over 16 days in the month.  I have started a Facebook group – 20 for 16 – which people can join, set their own goal (e.g. 20 minutes of cardio, abs, strengthening, walking….), and we can all support each other on FB or Instagram.   You can check out more details on Cynsspace .  If you want in, leave a comment below.

Being better than you used to be: that is what resolutions are really about.

 

 

 

 

Race Report: Eggnog Jog 10.8K

Eggnog Jog 2015- with Dave
Pre-race at the Eggnog Jog, photo credit: Sue Sitki Photography

The Eggnog Jog is a popular race which runs out of the Terra Cotta Conservation Area, just north west of Toronto.  It is 10.8K, is unusual distance but the country roads in the area make  a 10K route difficult unless it is an out and back course. Regardless, the race draws over 600 participants; every year, it sells out so my husband and I registered early for it. This was my first race after the Chicago Marathon and the mid-December date gave me enough time to recover and work on regaining my speed.

Since the beginning of November, I spent my Saturday mornings focusing on speed work.  Knowing that the course has a challenging elevation, I incorporated hill training, mile repeats, and shorter intervals in those workouts as I could do them in daylight.  On the other running days of the week, I tempoed, did a long run (with my longest run at 17K) and just ran for the love of it.  I headed back to the yoga studio on Friday nights (and, by the way, yoga on Friday followed by speedwork on Saturday  makes for tired abs on Sunday morning).  Everything felt right.  I was ready and, hopefully, going to race a sub-50 minute race.

Dave likes this race because of the later start (10:30 a.m.).  I like it for the challenge.  The elevation drops about 100 metres over the first 2K and then climbs over 120 metres for the next 5-6K; the finish is a fast 400 metre downhill.

One of the biggest challenges that morning was deciding what to wear.  I had my LVA singlet, Saucony Sayonaras, and Sweaty band – but did I need one layer or two; tights, capris or a running skirt?  It poured in the morning and temperatures were hovering over 0 degrees at the start, so I opted for a t-shirt with my Running Skirt long sleeve and my tights.  I was worried about being over-dressed but, as it turned out, my gear was perfect for the day.

Despite the training I had done, when I started the race, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had 3 goals: to run as fast as I could, watch my pacing and try not to let any women pass me.  I took the first 2K conservatively as I knew that I had to start an evil climb right after.   In those first kilometres, I heard a woman talking to a man – something about keeping up – and picked up my pace enough to open a bit of a gap.  From that point on, I didn’t hear her again.

Once I got to 3K, I started to play cat and mouse with a few men.  They would run ahead of me, I would pass them, they would work to pass me again….It became a vicious cycle.  At 7K, another male runner caught up to us and, then, another at 8K.  I tried to stay with them but they were both stronger than I was – and finished less than a minute of me.  Once I got to 9K, I turned on what power I had left and gave myself another boost at 10K.

Eggnog Jog 2015
Racing the last 400m of the Eggnog Jog.  photo credit: Sue Sitki Photography

 

As I made the last turn towards the 400 metre finish, I focussed on stretching out my legs, which was tough to do when my quads were still burning from the rolling hills.   I saw the clock read 48:something and gave it everything I had to finish in 49:12.  About 20 seconds later, another woman ran in and called me a “powerhouse.”  Never in my entire life have I been called a powerhouse; it felt great.

 

I had no idea where I was in the final standings.  I felt that I was close to the top but, as I didn’t see any women ahead of me, I didn’t know if I was chasing 2 or 3 or more.  I was thrilled when I found out that I finished Third Overall.  It was a great way to end the season.Eggnog Jog 2015 - awards

 

This course was tough and I promised my husband that I would do my cooldown by running back out so that I could cheer him in.  I tried to convince a few other runners who finished ahead of me to jog with me and they looked at me as though I had horns coming out or my head.  So off I went on my own; the things we do for love.   I found Dave around the 9K mark and ran with him until we neared the finish line, when I let him close his race alone.

Both Dave and I got what we wanted out of the Eggnog Jog.  Dave wanted a goal race, a chance to push himself to run the 10.8K distance regardless of the time it took.  Me, I wanted a goal of running a sub-50 and I got that.  Best of all, though, was the chance we had to race together.