Five-Thirty: Tips on Running Night Races

Night Races - few and far between you think. As you may well know, it's T minus nine sleeps until Rock n' Roll Las Vegas where Hubby and I are doing the half-marathon. With a 5:30pm start (yah baby! Strip at Night!) Seems to be a big dilemma even for know-it-all mother runners. Having done a few night races, been training at night or late afternoons when I can/must, I can offer up these leg & energy saving tips. These are all totally based on my experiences and are not proven to be fool-proof.

The Day Before

  • Likely you'll be flying in or had a later flight in on Friday. This means standing in custom lines, security lines, and dealing with a pressurized cabin. Compression gear is your friend. I've specifically kept a pair of designer maternity jeans with the waistband re-installed to conceal my compression gear. They're a little baggy on the legs but my butt still looks good. I realize I might be on a plane full of runners but do we really need to look like them at all times?
  • Don't neglect your fluids - sure you're going on a holiday to Vegas but do you need that second or third drink on the plane - switch to water with a dabble of orange juice. Why OJ? It'll help it get into your system. If you can manage to get your electrolytes through onto the plane - those are even better! And don't expect those airplane cups to fill you up - grab the biggest bottle of H20 you can when you're past security and down it.
  • I'd also recommend keeping your race waiver with you at all times. Heck, I'd recommend packing your running outfit in carry-one, especially if you're flying with Air Canada (what was I thinking?!)
  • Just off the plane - wash your hands! This is no time to be picking up germs.
  • Hotel - Take 15. No really, lie down. You've done a lot of moving already today, walking, standing. Now you've got a giant expo to snake your way through. Now's the time to remove your compression gear.
  • Expo - Get in, get out. Unless of course you're stopping to see Dimity and Sarah from Another Mother Runner. They're talking at 5pm by the way.
  • Food - Right. You have got to eat. Sensibly. Resist the temptation to grab gummy or salty snacks for the airplane. If at all possible, make a dinner reservation. Eat as light and clean as possible. Restaurant food is jacked up with more calories than you'd use at home and secret ingredients to make it mouth-watering delicious. Salads with grilled chicken and the dressing on the side. Carb-loading? Ask for some bread on the side, dip it in oil & vinegar if you're so inclined. This isn't the time to try something new either. Can you sneak your compression gear under that outfit by the way?
  • Stretch. Don't forget to pack your travel roller to get out all those kinks from the comfortable airplane seats.
  • Ice Bath - Huh?! Yep, I said it. Even a cool tub is better than no tub. DO NOT go for a hot tub. You need all that gunk and tired out of your legs and heat is going to make them even more sluggish. So take advantage of that ice machine and take a fifteen minute plunge before bed.
  • Sex - you can or you can't, I'm not giving any advice here, you are though in the city of sin and your kids are no where to be seen or heard.

Day Of

  • Sleep in, but not too late. Over-sleeping will make you groggy - you're better off with a nap. In fact, I highly encourage napping and waking up around 2:30 or 3pm. This should give you enough time to eat a light meal (your choice - salad, mimic breakfast), get dressed and ready, and head to the start.
  • Routine can trick your brain. Lay your clothes out before you nap. Get up and shower, brush your teeth, read the news. What's your pre-race routine for an am run - why not do it now?
  • Eat lightly and clean (just like yesterday). If you can pack your own healthy snacks (nuts, dried fruit) or get your hand on fresh fruit and veg - do it! Carb loading should be finished by lunch the day before so there's no need to indulge at the breakfast buffet. Think easily digestible foods - no one wants to use a porta-potty if they can help it.
  • Caffeine. Go light in the morning so you can have a productive nap. Then, have one cup with your your pre-race meal. Yummy.
  • Water. Drink, drink, drink, stop. Don't forget to add some electrolytes - but not too many. Too much can cause stomach upset. Dilute them two or three times the recommended concentration. Having minerals in your water even in smaller concentrations helps get the water into your cells better.
  • Don't be a bum. Sure, you want to lounge a bit but don't stay indoors watching chick flicks (crying will sap your energy). Sit in the shade by the pool. You know how you feel after a day in the sun - wiped. Don't do that. Read something challenging, do a crossword or sudoko, play cards. Keeping your brain active will keep you alert. Move a bit from time to time but don't be a super-nerd and insist on taking the stairs to your 21st floor room.
  • Sex - see above.

So, my plans? We are fortunate to have a kitchenette in our hotel suite so we are planning to pack our breakfasts (oatmeal), and some snacks if possible. There is a cafe/coffe-shop type resto in our hotel complex that looks to provide some sensible food like sandwiches and salads. I am going to pack the bulk of my electrolytes in my checked luggage but try to get a few tabs of nuun through on my carry-on. If I have to toss two that's better than the whole tube. We are going to a show the night before the race but got early tickets and hope to be in bed at a normal time. The day of the race we are going to walk to the start/finish to get a sense of it all and make concrete meet-up plans. Then maybe some time doing intelligent things by the pool. Then a nap, a good long nap. Wake-up, eat, run.

A final words on night-races. Races run at night aren't serious, especially ones hosted in Vegas. You're going to be surrounded by Elvis, Soon-to-be newlyweds, Elvis, showgirls, Elvis, first-timers, Elvis. Love it, drink it in, run, then PARTY.

AND... Don't call home right after the race to brag about how fun it was and check on the kids. Leave that for Monday, or Tuesday, or when you get home.


Fight the smart fight

Ever hear the saying - not the hill to die on? Well that's me. I wasn't about to go run hills with my personal best clinic tonight while trying to fend off a cold just over two weeks until Vegas. Are eight hill repeats going to make me minutes faster, not likely. My throat was sore Tuesday night, then again Wednesday morning, but I was hoping the Cold FX along with the casual run with Laurie Wednesday morning would kick me into healthy. Not to be. I managed to get to the pool with Mallory this morning, then went on a bit of a cleaning/tidying spree this evening and now, I'm wiped.

Not working out when you're sick is hard. Not getting in those last few strength and stamina building runs before a big race is defeating. But as I've been saying, I feel ready. And maybe my body is saying, uh, excuse me, you've been doing a lot, slow down now please. So I'm trying to fight the smart fight. Eat my fruits and veggies, get some extra rest (hard when you have good TV saved to watch), and scale back the intensity. I'm hoping I can put in a run and a bike this weekend, and maybe some time with the TRX. Although, I'm thinking this cold of mine is just a nice way of keeping me indoors while the first round of frigid winter weather hits us. By Monday it'll be 15-20 degrees (centigrade) warmer than it will be tomorrow. I think that is much more conducive to running 23km don't you? Besides, isn't the real goal of Vegas to have time away with the hubby?

Speaking of smart fighting and goals I had an experience on the weekend. My mom asked me to pace her for her half-marathon as she was gunning for a sub 2 hour. Not wanting to feel jumpy at the start line and take her out too fast I caught up with her just under 1.5km in. She was running with her office mate Kelly and I met two totally different people. Kelly was chipper, happy, and just glad to be out. My mom was scowling. Uh oh I thought. Kelly had previously  told me her goals were a) to keep up with us b) run around 2:10 or c) just finish whenever, however. My mom's lone goal, finish sub 2. Trotting off at the prescribed pace I quickly saw my mom was not in any shape - mentally - to do a sub two. I suggested we switch to running 5 minutes and walking 30 seconds hoping she could push the pace. At kilometer five my mom had shut down. Kelly went on ahead and had a great race and finished in 2:06!

I tried all the positive stuff I had, tried talking about controversial topics to get her fired up, tried pushing the pace hoping she'd find a new rhythm. It was exhausting. We were running slower than she runs during training and she was huffing and puffing like nobody's business. Then, just before we hit the turn around she saw a good friend, having a decent run, and my mom dropped the F bomb. I just about lost it on her and turned around myself, but I was so afraid she'd walk off the course I stuck with her. I practically screamed at her - since when is Sylvie's race about you? What does it matter if she's having a good day and you're not? You had a shitty week (loss of a dear family member, bad test results, dog has more potential cancerous lumps). Get over it, it's not about her, I yelled. I think she picked it up for about a kilometer but we both knew she was done. I tried refocusing and just making the day about us running together and how cool that was. I tried talking about people who inspired us, who we thought the other person expired. But no matter what, she just could give up the fight and settle in to just running and not racing.

Avg Pace

I was aching, physically because we were running so slow and taking tons of walk breaks, and mentally because it was hard to see my mom in such a bad place and because I felt like a failure - not keeping up my end of the bargain and pulling her through to a sub 2. So after the race I came home and did some calculating for my mom (and me) because I really want her to be happy and succeed. I do want her to re-evaluate her goals though and know that, um, she's aging. She ran her PB half four years ago at a 2:01. Age graded she should expect to be around 2:07. So why not shoot for sub 2:05? That's realistic. Thankfully, mom and I are going to have a do-over. Not a race, just a run. When we can forget our watches at home and just get caught up talking about all the things we never seems to have enough time for.

From the book: Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball

Running with my mom was a great reminder that we each need to focus on our own goals and set realistic ones too. I know I shout out to Another Mother Runner all the time but they have become my online support community. They put out a great podcast  (#5) about goal setting and I highly recommend everyone listen to it - mother or not. (Nearly) every moment of running should be enjoyable, including races, but you have to set yourself up for it.


Fury - This ain't no Sugar and Spice

So you’re reading this trying to get some insight into either a) cycling videos featuring pro women cyclists or b) what all the hype about Sufferfest is. Here’s a short, 9/10 true backstory:

Minster of Scorn: Looking for new video ideas
Me: All women’s footage
@$$whole who regularly comments negatively: Actually, I’m not going to repeat his derogatory posts and just hope that HHNF punched him in the face and balls pretty hard.

Minister of Scorn: calling the new video ‘Scout’
Me (to husband): Scout, what a sissy ass name, *bitch, bitch, rant rant, hiss hiss.
Husband (on FB to the Minister): You should call it Hell Hath No Fury (whatever do you think inspired him?)

Me (to husband): I bought HHNF, you should take Coach M out so she doesn’t hear my profanities.
Husband: obliges

Things you can learn from these three encounters:
  • The Minister is in touch with his people and takes their wishes into consideration. He will however return to you with a beating that keeps you subject to his suffering.
  • You and your spouse will have a much better relationship if you are both subjects of Sufferlandria.

I am clearly not promoting Sufferfest in the picture to the right.

Yes, it's been a busy week but I found time to subject myself to the S&M (scorn and misery) of Sufferfest Studios. If you thought AVDP was hard (ok it was) and you’re looking for comfortable – well even your favourite outfit isn’t going to help make any part of HHNF comfortable. In fact, I’m pretty sure ‘comfortable’ is a curse word in Sufferlandria. In fact, how did you find us Sufferlandrians in the first place, people like you are tied to the stakes in Sufferlandria for taking the easy road.

HHNF Synopsis: The awe-inspiring females in HHNF simultaneously make my heart burst with chamois dancing pride but also with near unbearable beating and pounding because I’m working so freakin hard to do even half of what they’re doing. That and I had serious leg & bike envy during warm-up.

First off, the soundtrack is amazing. I think it is by far my most favourite of all the ‘fests. It received Coach M’s approval when she came back from the park – she got her groove on for the last three minutes of the second 20 minute interval. Then she actually looked at my face, saw the agony, and started crying for me. Got to love my empathetic 18 monther. Husband on the other hand, seemed like he was trying hard to ignore the suffering while secretly thinking, ‘crap, she doing it, now I have to suffer like that too, am I woman enough?’

It was a good thing they were out for the majority of the video. Things I muttered while doing HHNF:
  • I’m going to catch you bitch.
  • Get back here you cow.
  • Ya that’s right, I’m the one attacking now bitch, dare you to keep up (after all, aren’t we doing cocktails and nachos post-race?)

In short: A lot of scorn.

Things you might think are a better alternative while attempting HHNF:
  • Selling your soul.
  • Smashing your bike.*
  • Gouging out your eyes.

Things that might happen to you while attempting HHNF:
  • You’ll resemble a greased pig.**
  • You’ll feel like you’re digging to the core of the Earth where it’s very very hot.

Ah, but that’s what makes you a Sufferlandrian, you’re not afraid of a little Yak S&%T while you bike around like a Wildebeast.

*Actually happened to me: With two minutes left into the first 20 minute set my bike tried to smash itself slipping out of my trainer. 
**Actually happened to me: my hair was as wet as if I’d taken a shower and I could wring out my outfit.

The transfer will be the shortest seven minutes of your (riding) life. The only thing that comes to mind for me which could have been a shorter seven minutes was when I walked down the hall to the delivery room at 7cm dilated, got there and had the urge to push now fully dilated. That was a pretty short seven minutes of my life but no, sorry guys, labour still hurts way more than HHNF. But if you want to see what it’s like then you should do HHNF over and over equal to the amount of time your wife was in labour – or for you single guys, your mom or sister. Maybe then you could say you’ve experience pain like us, but no, actually, you still can’t. And that is why women riders are amazing. Guaranteed on any tour one of those tough women is riding through cramps, bloating, or similar womanly discomforts, couple that with mood swings and you’ve got yourself a stage winner. She keeps attacking so she can get home to some advil and a warm bath.

One noticeable difference between this fest and the others, it’s coachy in a friendly way and lacks the motivational insults some of the other fests throw your way. Perhaps the Minister of Scorn was afraid of a female uprising among Sufferlandians or worse yet, his wife. Perhaps he’s been spending too much time with friendly nationals like Canadians or Kiwis. Whatever the case, I’m here to say: we can take it, so don’t be such a nice guy next time.

As for the Athlete’s Audio at the end.  I could take it or leave it. But to answer ‘Why do I visit Sufferlandria?’ As far as I knew, there wasn’t an exit door and the only way to leave was death by Revolver.




It's Remembrance Day. I've got a long list of to-do's, did my workout already, but am taking this moment to reflect. I can only do those things because there are people, past and present, whose tireless work has secured my freedoms.

This is Bud. That is not his real name - I can't remember what it is. Bud is my Gramma's (my dad's mom) love. Bud is a Veteran. He can't sleep with a clock that ticks and can no longer walk far due to foot complications from wearing army boots for a good long portion of his life. Bud is the happiest most hilarious senior citizen I know - he is happy because he knows what the alternative is. His efforts are not forgotten, not taken fore granted,  and are truly deeply appreciated.

This is the Mills family. I have known Kim and Nathan since grade 7. I can't exactly remember when they started fooling around in Barb's bedroom at parties (grade 8 maybe). But as you can see, they didn't really stop fooling around and have three beautiful children. It takes strength to be on the front lines but often forgotten is the strength to be home, with three children, relying on faith, that your husband will come home. Kim, like me, is a runner. How she has the energy is beyond my brain to qualify - Kim, you are amazing. Kim wrote this post last week and I was crying by the end. I cannot express how much gratitude I have for her family and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. I'm working up the courage to read the rest of her Remembrance Day posts, knowing without a doubt, I will cry. 

Today I am going to count my blessings and list some of the things I am the most fortunate for.

1. My health - I rode the bike like a maniac for 75 minutes this morning. I am lucky.
2. My friends - Last week as I flailed, and they too flailed, we talked and coached each other with pep talks and rallying speeches reminding ourselves and each other that speed bumps are though a nuisance, common and controlling when we're tempted to go to fast.
3. My family - most immediately Stu and Mallory who both bring me to fits of laughter. Secondly, my mom, dad, their partners, my siblings, nieces & nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles who are ever interested in invested in the best things for us. Lastly, my Grandma (my mom's mom).

On Tuesday she lost her sister, my Aunt Gerry - who was always kind and giving to us like the best Aunt. My grandma is the sole remaining sibling of six children. My Grandma and Aunt Gerry grew up with a verbally and physically abusive mother. Was that an excuse to be an addict, beat your own kids, or think the world owes you? No. I am fortunate to have such an amazing role model in my life. My Grandma is a work horse. Let's see, she hauls the garbage to the dump, shovels snow, mows the lawn, grows a vegetable garden, then she might make a quilt, knit some mitts, sew some pjs for the great-grandkids. She takes her massive shepard cross out for a bike or walk everyday. She eats healthy foods, has the occasional beer, and generally, gets on with life. She drives across the province to watch her grandkids in sporting events. Her and Stu share a favorite saying: you can sleep when you're dead.

My Grams, Me, and Aunt Gerry
My grandma and Bud come from a generation whose attitude, drive, and humbleness are long forgotten, except by families like the Mills. If you want to be more like anyone, be more like these people, who build their life around being present, being positive, and believing in the possibilities of a better future.



I'm at that point in training where I just want to stop. I'm thinking, what I am doing running another half? Couldn't we have just gone to Vegas without the excuse of a half marathon? -We could just have said, our teething toddler and a cramped rental condo are sending us South for some retail therapy. But we didn't, or more specifically, I didn't. Yes, this entire gig was my idea and now I want to bail - well on the running part at least. I'm flailing. After a mediocre 18.5km today I am thinking, ugh, three more weeks of chilly winter training. New shoes weren't even enough to perk me up today. New IceBreaker leggings weren't even enough to perk me up today - though they performed outstanding despite my foot dragging.

I can't even must up a decent blog it feels like and I don't want this to be a rant you have to read. So... I need you. I need a pep talk. None of this sissy 'you can do it' crap or 'only a few more weeks'. Dig deep and find me some motivation please. As it is I'm wondering how I am going to pace my mom for a sub 2 hour half this coming Sunday. She's counting on me and I can barely count on myself to find the willpower to run long. Here's hoping for excellent weather conditions (no wind, please, it's so defeating for me) and some spring in my step.

Well, at least one person in the family has been a happy camper lately and pretty ok with being bundled up for chilly walks.