Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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The Year of Training Differently

On January 2nd of this year I flew to Boston with my husband for the American Economic Association conference. It was my 7th time in Boston and the very first time I’ve been there with no marathon to run. Thus began my year of training differently.

I’ve run the Boston Marathon in 1998, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2013 & 2014  but after four years of declining performance, I’m moving on.

Boston Marathon 2007

Boston Marathon 2007

I started my fifth decade with a 3:10:09 run in Detroit, an Ontario 50-54 age-group best which held for 6 years. Then a Canadian 30K record at the Around the Bay Road Races. My run at Boston in 2007 at the age of 51 was a peak experience as a competitive masters runner. From the threat of the first-time cancellation of the Boston Marathon, due to a very nasty nor’easter, I placed 3rd in the 50-59 age-category. But from there the decline in my marathon performance has been dramatic. With my 6th decade on the horizon and a marathon time almost 1 hour slower (as shown on the table below) than 10 years prior, it was time to take stock.

There is more to the decline than relative performance loss due to age. In 2014, I ranked 193rd in my age-group and since 2007 the age-group has been split, 50-54, 55-59. I did take three years off from serious training, but I think there is more to this decline than time off or the aging process. I give credence to one theory that a runner has only so many marathons in their legs. Why that could be, I’m not sure but I’ve been doing some research and there are theories that resonate – including changes at the cellular level in high-mileage runners. From my mid-fifties my body no longer responded positively to long-distance training stress. This article on the aging athletes and “The Law of Aggregate Miles”  may be close to the mark.

The silver lining is that in Toronto we have an excellent masters track club, the UTTC Masters Track Club whose coaches Paul Osland and Mike Sherar are turning marathon runners into track runners. I’ve been a member for a few years but have been see-sawing between track and marathon training. Going forward, I’m committed to a focus on track training.

While training for marathons I was aware that aerobic conditioning slows the aging process somewhat while more intense training, over threshold is said to delay the aging process twice as much as aerobic training. So, a focus on intensity and the better conditioning value of faster running is not unwelcome and makes a lot of sense for the masters athlete.

My track-only campaign got off to a rocky start last fall with an ankle sprain from which the by-product was plantar faciitis. This was my first injury since 1987. The plantar faciitis lingered through the fall, winter and spring. But, I was able to run some decent track times on 12-15 miles a week. This was a huge surprise to a one-time 80-100 mile a week marathon runner. But mixed into those 12-15 miles were mini-speed workouts with a 10 minute warm-up and cool-down on the bike.

Ontario Masters Championships, Brampton 2015

Developing that track kick at 1500 meters. Photos courtesy Doug Smith

Finally, I feel on solid ground and have been able to build my mileage to 33 miles with the beginnings of an increased volume of quality running. One reason why I ran so many miles as a marathon runner was I felt that I had more speed than endurance. Others I’m sure, were able to run faster marathons with less mileage. Now, that I’ve set aside leg deadening mileage, I’m hoping for some good results on the track.

I give myself a mental boost by harkening back to my adolescent years where I was once entered in a track meet as a high jumper and jumped close to a national level performance with no coaching and the antiquated scissor kick. Yes, I do have some fast twitch fibers.

While athletic opportunities for women of my age-cohort were limited through our formative and university years, I cannot complain about the opportunities for me as a Masters athlete. UTTC Masters forms the biggest group within the Canadian team now competing at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Lyon, France. Twenty-five of our team members are taking part, including our world-class coaches and world-class masters trackster, Annie Bunting. Annie has won her age-group at the Fifth Avenue Mile. The club gets to work out on the amazing new University of Toronto, Varsity Track snd has twice-weekly times reserved for us on the indoor track at the Athletic Centre as well.

annie5thavenue2011

Annie Bunting wins her age-group with her trademark balletic form.

The vision for the Masters Track team came from Carl Georgevski, Head Coach of the U of T Varsity Team who says, “Starting the Masters group has been one of the best desisions I have made. I simply love this group of highly motivated and passionate indiduals around me and my team.” The original U of T Masters was coached by former elite steeplechaser Zeba Crook, now professor at Carleton University.

But first stop on the track training agenda is some strength training, AKA cross-country season. The Ontario Masters Track and Field Association has a great series which begins on September 27th with the Taylor Creek Park 5K. And speaking of that, if you have ever thought about joining a team, X-C season is the most fun time to join. Whatever your abilities or experience, you will love being a part of this hard-core running experience. Ultimately, camraderie is the biggest part of being on the UTTC cross-country team. Perhaps you too might want to train a bit differently this fall and will join me on the track or trails very soon!

Learn more about UTTC Masters. 

YEAR MARATHON TIME AGE AGE GRADED SCORE EQUIVALENT OPEN TIME
2005 Detroit 3:10:09 50 84.58% 2:40:06
2006 Mississauga 3:12:53 50 84.22% 2:40:48
2006 Chicago 3:13:53 51 84.04% 2:41:08
2007 Boston 3:17:54 51 82.96% 2:43:13
2008 Boston 3:22:14 52 82.27% 2:44:36
2010 Sacramento (CIM) 3:42:27 55 77.49% 2:54:45
2011 New York 3:50:21 56 75.70% 2:58:53
2012 Toronto 3:55:41 56 76.67% 2:56:38
2013 Boston 3:58:38 57 74.73% 3:01:13
2014 Boston 4:05:40 58 73.65% 3:03:53

My all-time PB of 3:07:02 was run at age 47 at the Ottawa Marathon


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Douglas J. (Shaggy) Smith, masters running impresario

How does he do it? This is a question I ask myself regularly on the heels of Ontario Masters Athletics (OMA) events for which Doug assumes duties as registrar, volunteer coordinator, webmaster, meet director, photographer and a few other tasks that only those, who have done this work, would know of. And did I mention helping us retrieve lost passwords for our membership login page? I returned to racing in 1996 at an indoor Masters Meet. Doug’s involvement predates this and he has been an ever-present “force” since.

In order to find out a little more about the always-in-motion Doug, I asked him the same questions from my previous post, taken from the article New Years Lessons and Resolutions from Canadian Runners . I also added some questions of my own.

Doug Smith in the Steeplechase, Canadian Outdoor Track Championships

Doug Smith in the Steeplechase, Canadian Outdoor Track Championships

DOUG’S ANSWERS to New Years Lessons and Resolutions from Canadian Runners

What did you learn in 2013 that you want to apply to your training in 2014?
Lack of consistent mileage was a problem I’ll try to work on in 2014.

What was a great moment that you will remember about 2013?
Running at the back of the pack in the Steeplechase at the World Championships in Brazil. So happy to be competing after cracking my tibia in the Steeple three months earlier.

What goals do you have for 2014?
Nothing special….just to keep going.Two resolutions: one running resolution and a non-running one? I never have resolutions. I always try to improve myself – in running, training, and in administration of our events.

MY QUESTIONS FOR DOUG

1980 Toronto Marathon, Doug's first

1980 Toronto Marathon, Doug’s first

When did you start running?
I ran around the block when I was a little kid, with my Dad timing me, after I saw Abebe Bikila win the Olympic Marathon in ’60. I ran in High School, but just in Phys. Ed. class. There was no track team.

Who got you started?
I started in earnest in ’78, right in the Jim Fixx running boom. We had moved into the house and I was ready to get into it. My wife got me a running log for my birthday and I’ve kept one ever since.

What was your first race?
After running in the neighbourhood for a year and a half, I decided to try the Eaton’s 10K in 1980. I ran 49:00. Then, in September, I paid the $5 entry fee and ran the Toronto Marathon with very little mileage or any idea what I was doing. The last 10K was gruesome and I finished in 4:14

Doug Smith & Paul Osland, Presiden of Canadian Masters Athletics (3rd term)

Doug Smith & Paul Osland, President of Canadian Masters Athletics (3rd term)

Who got you involved with the OMA?
I showed up for a race in Sunnybrook Park in ’88. It happened to be cancelled. I noticed these guys warming up for a Metro Fitness race and I went in that one. They told me there was a Masters cross-country race the next weekend. That was the first time I heard of the Masters.

I went to the OMA Outdoors in’91 in Oshawa. I was looking for a ride home, so I went to the AGM to look for one. They were looking for another Board member, and someone said “What about this guy?”. . . I couldn’t think of a good excuse. Two years later I was President.

How did you get into photography?
I joined the Photography Club in High School. I became the President (I see a trend here!). One of the priests set up a darkroom and I shot all the team photos and developed and printed them, I also worked for the Yearbook. I set up a darkroom when we got the house and then digital came along.

What running accomplishment are you most proud of?
Hmmm . . . I ran the CMA Championships Steeplechase in Montreal in 1990 when they announced it was a M35 Canadian Record. That kind of took me by surprise. I’ve run 23 marathons and well over 500 races and I only dropped out of two – one with a foot injury, and one when I pulled a hamstring in the World’s cross-country meet in Finland.

At my first track meet ever – the OMA Indoor Championships in 1989, I ran 4:36 in the 1500m, then 2:22 in the 800m, then rested a bit on the lunch break and then ran 18:15 in the 5000m. I never ran faster in the 800 and 1500.

What made you decide to compete in the steeplechase?
I guess I saw my first Steeple at the masters meet in ’89 and thought that it looked like fun. I wondered if being taller would be a bit of an advantage. I tried it for the first time at the Ontario Championships the next year.

It became my favourite event. You have to pace yourself so carefully – to save enough energy to get over all the barriers, as well as working harder than any other event in the last laps! I hurdled the barriers until I was about 44, then I started stepping on them. Then, when I was about 56, I started vaulting them. At 60, they were lower, and I started stepping on them again.

Five non-running biographical facts you would like to share.

  • I worked for 30 years as a tech at Bell and retired in 2004.
  • I’ve been married (to the same woman) for 42 years.
  • I’ve been President of the Ontario Masters for 20 years.
  • I played a small part in founding the University of Toronto Masters Track Club 5 years ago.


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New Years Lessons and Resolutions

Alan Brookes of the Canada Running Series retweeted the article New Years Lessons and Resolutions from Canadian Runners with the question, How about YOU? This blog post is my reply to the questions asked in that article.

Oh, where oh where would we older folks run track without OMA

Oh, where oh where would we older folks run track without the OMA

What did you learn in 2013 that you want to apply to your training in 2014

The importance of maintaining good leg turnover. I’ve known this intellectually for most of my 30+ years of running but training with the UTTC Masters track team with coach Paul Osland, an Olympian,  has provided the tools to make this a part of my training routine. Even though I have been running fewer miles since the Ontario cross-country championships last November, I’ve been able to maintain my cruising pace, which has quickened thanks to regular track workouts.

Paul-Italy-4X400-relay-733x1024

Super-fast coach Paul

What was a great moment that you will remember about 2013?

That is a difficult choice. But I’m going to say being chosen Ontario Masters Athlete of the month for February by Ontario Masters Athletics (OMA). This gives me the chance to highlight the fantastic support masters runners and track athletes get in Ontario.  I was recognized for having broken the Canadian indoor 5K record twice at this rarely-raced distance.
Doug Smith checks out Doug Smith trophy at U of T Athletic Center

Doug Smith checks out Doug Smith trophy at U of T Athletic Center

The remarkable thing to me is the dedication of long-time volunteers like Doug Smith (President of the OMA) who create the opportunity to race and break records. Doug Smith who with his self-deprecating sense of humour, does an amazing job of making everyone feel welcome whether to the OMA or to UTTC Masters on top of just about everything else including meet organizing, race photos and website maintenance. There are many dedicated volunteers who helps as timers, registrars, lap-timers, record-keepers, cheerleaders and more, including Stafford who emailed me a nice certificate to commemorate the 5K record. Paul Osland our high-functioning Olympian coach, is in his third term as President of the CMA, following in Doug’s footsteps as an extraordinary volunteer. On behalf of all masters runners in Ontario. Thank you all!
The University of Toronto Track Club (UTTC) has recently fully embraced the Masters concept and the UTTC Masters have been warmly welcomed to the main club. A huge benefit is sharing the indoor track and outdoor track at Varsity Stadium.
What goals do you have for 2014?

In order of priority:

  1. Help UTTC Masters team win the Breslin Cup.
  2. Increase my age-graded score for the outdoor 1500 at the Ontario Masters Provincial Track and Field Championships
  3. Increase my age-graded score for 5k on the road.
  4. Run faster than last year at the Boston Marathon.

Two resolutions: one running resolution and a non-running one?

Get back to regular weight work. When I was in top form I was able to legpress 250 lbs. and squat 135 lbs. I can probably only do about 60-65% of that now. Remain ever-grateful for the good heath that allows me to keep training so I can get slower gracefully.

Keep mentally fit. One aspect of this is to keep up to date with all things digital. This is made easier with my great in-house tutor, son Steven, a recent U of T, comp-sci grad. He knows how much time I spend at home and at work on the computer so to celebrate his first job as a software developer, he surprised me with a Christmas gift of a Yoga Pro 2 laptop. He told me this will increase my productivity. Weighing in at 3.1 pounds with a 13.1″ by 8.6″ high resolution screen, perhaps this highly-portable laptop means I should set my sights higher than my two posts a month. I’m not about to make promises I can’t keep but we shall see!

Lean, mean blogging machine


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Three tips to find time to run

November was a busy one. And we are just coming upon what is sometimes referred to as the “season of busy” which can make it hard to get our runs in.

Slow cooker

Tip # One
Buy a slow cooker

For much of my adult life I have been meaning to try out slow-cooking. Driven by one of the busier months of my life, I finally got around to ordering one. To determine which one to buy I consulted this popular blog on slow-cooking. And of coures, to save time, I ordered the slow-cooker on-line. I would estimate that I saved 2-3 hours this past week thanks to my slow-cooker.

Tip # Two
Run to and/or from work

Being a daily runner, I know I WILL run so using my running time to get to work saves me at least 45 minutes. In my case it is also so much easier to hit the road knowing that running is much faster than the cross-town transit options and a $3.00 saving each way.

Tip # Three
Do chores, shopping and window shopping on the run

This really works well for small and /or lightweight items. Swiss army knives are a great gift for many people that can be easily picked up while on a run. Gift certificates to Mountain Equipment Coop are another. I do a lot of on-line ordering but sometimes you really do want to see an item, hence window shopping while running makes perfect sense. The new practise of looking at items in a store and then ordering (often at better prices) is called “showrooming”.

Trips to the bank and post-office are also good candidates for doing-while-running. Especially if you can time your visits to be at low-traffic hours. Get thee to the post office early! Running with a hip-pack or back-pack is not that bad. It certainly beats missing a run. I’ve got my eye on some hip packs including this Patagonia Hip Pack

Hip pack

I’m an admitted time-management book junkie. Hence I got a chuckle out of something a former workmate had this on posted on her bulletin board:
“Your lack of planning is not my emergency.”

 

 


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Exactly three years ago . . .

I neglected to celebrate my third blog-o-versary earlier this month. It all started when I took a blogging course at OCAD with a great instructor Greg Smith. I went on to complete the OCAD Digital Media Certificate which has helped me on-the-job with website content management  and communications.  Hundreds of blog posts later, here I am, albeit struggling to get in a minimum of two posts a month. I feel that if I don’t keep that up, I’ll stop entirely. Which begs the question, why not stop . . . hmmm, the topic of my next post? Actually my problem is not lack of content but too many ideas and too much to say, which makes it hard to get started.

Anyhow, the following is post from August 31, 2010 and it was interesting (to me at least) to see that I was then contemplating joining the UTTC Masters. It took me awhile to finally sign up but ta da, I’ve been a card-carrying member for over 1 1/2 years and loving it.

First Stop Sacramento  (August 31, 2010)

For someone who is used to running high-mileage in marathon training.  Running 50 miles a week hardly takes a thought.  I run about an hour a day with a 2 hour plus run on the weekend – this is the default.   However, with 15 weeks until my pre-Boston, marathon outing in Sacramento, the moment has come to either train seriously, forget about it or suffer in the final miles of the race.

2007, Sacramento 30K

So, I’m formulating my plan and the mileage build will go like this 57 miles this week, 61 miles next week and 57 miles the following week (including a rare day off for travel).  I like to do 2-3 solid weeks of building miles and then take an easier week.  Fortunately, this easy week will coincide with a trip to Germany.  My long run will increase from 12-15 miles to 17, 18 and up to 22 miles.

In addition to the increased mileage I have to start speedwork.  I’ve committed to hitting the track with a group.  For the past two years I’ve been taking evening courses, this year I will go to track school.  I’m excited about running on the new Varsity stadium track.  The very scene of my first marathon finish.  The coach, Paul Osland is a former Olympian who is now whipping a group of motivated masters into tip top shape.  I’m apprehensive about the return to the intensity of speed work.  My fast running for the past two years has gone something like this . . . run fast when I feel like it for 30 – 120 seconds.  Take as much rest as I need.

From what I can tell, the plan for Thursday is to run 150 meters at a very fast pace, 18 times and the do it again for a total of 36 fast repeats.  Then we are to bound up stairs, 2 steps at a time, 5 times and then repeat.  I’ve never done circuit training, of which we are to do 4 laps.  Hmm . . .

This could be painful.  Given that most of these runners will be peaking in the early fall, and my timing of a December marathon is unusual, I hope to get some sort of just-starting-out dispensation. I’m reminded of how once, when in top form I remarked to another runner as we readied ourselves for a grueling session à la Zeba Crook that his workouts were effective because they helped us to increase our pain threshold.  The runner turned to me and said, “but that is not what I signed up for”. No doubt . . . I’ll soon have a tale to tell.

Gulp . . .


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Running slower but getting faster

While on my run this morning, I ran into a former club-mate who told me that a record I had held while a member of the Longboat Roadrunners was nearly broken the other day. The record was for a track mile. I didn’t remember having set a record for this event. So I checked the Longboat website.

I sometimes check the Longboat website to see what times I once ran as my memory of that is getting fuzzy. So I looked at the records and saw that a road mile I once ran in Buffalo, NY was credited as being a track mile.  This race took place 12 years ago.That mile, as I remember, was run on a road and park paths and had a hairpin turnaround point.  I like to think that a track mile would have been faster, tangents and all and with the important advantage of being able to gauge one’s pace per each 400 meter.

Like many keen masters athletes, I am somewhat fixated on measuring my performance on the World Masters Association (WMA) Age-Graded tables. Having recently run a 1500 meter track race, I wondered how my metric mile compared to that road mile. Here is the result for my run at the Ontario Masters Track and Field Championships earlier this month. My time was a very respectable 85.87%.

W55 1500 Meter Run Sat 1:30pm
=================================================================================
Name Age Team Finals Age-Grading
=================================================================================
1 Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi W57 UTTC 5:53.60 4:30.72 85.87%

My mile time scores a 82.19% which is equivalent to a 5:06 miles.  At age 30 or so, I ran a 5:04 but in the 1500. My first race ever was a marathon and I’ve always had that as my main focus. Translating my current 1500 meter score to an open time gives me a 4:53 for the mile and an open time of 4:30.72 for the metric mile.  Hey, I broke 5 minutes for the mile. I’m getting slower but actually I am getting faster. This is how we aging runners cheer ourselves up!!

This is what I looked like when I was hypothetically breaking 5 minutes in the mile.

OMA Outdoors - Lynn 1500

Photo courtesy of Doug Smith

But my own personal reverie aside, I will contact my friend and tell her that whoever it was that nearly broke my record, actually has the record as my time is ineligible.  And congrats to her! I have a feeling that she did not look in quite as much pain as I was here.

Ps. And thanks to my coach Paul Osland, Olympian in the 800 meters. Now UTTC Masters coach and a driving force behind My Remote Coach. Check it out!


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At the track, proud to be 47th

Some stats about my first track race of the outdoor season at the  York University track team Twilight meet

  • 48     Number of entrants in the Women’s 800 Meter race on June 25th
  • 47     My finishing place (2:57.72)
  • 46     Number of years between the date-of-birth of the youngest and oldest entrant (that would be me)
  • 42     Number of years between my age and the age of my neighbour’s daughter who ran 2:31.25 in Heat 3
  • 5       Number of years between the oldest entrant and the next oldest entrant
  • 4       Number of heats run for the race
  • 3       Number of seconds faster I want to run at the Ontario Masters Track Championships on July 6th & 7th
  • 2       Number of masters teammates who joined me in running the Women’s 800 meter race
  • 1       Number of seconds by which Kailee Sawyer broke the meet record in 2:06.96
  • 0       Number of other entrants in my age-category
2 - The number of UTTC Masters teammates who joined me in the 800 meter race.

Well done Rita and Gwen and thanks for the camaraderie!

Women 800 Meter Open/Senior
===================================================================
 Series Rec:: * 2:07.09  6/21/2005   Megan Brown, Newmarket Huskies            
    Name                    Year Team                    Finals  H#
===================================================================
  1 Sawyer, Kailee            97 Laurel Creek TFC       2:06.96*  1 
  2 Stafford, Gabriela        95 U of Toronto TC        2:09.29   1 
  3 Walmsly, Honor            93 U of Toronto TC        2:10.47   1 
  4 Nock, Paige               95 Durham Dragons A       2:13.46   1 
  5 Lucki, Alexandra          96 Etobicoke TFC          2:14.31   1 
  6 Serafini, Rosa            89 U of Toronto TC        2:14.63   1 
  7 Rouse, Savannah           98 U of Toronto TC        2:15.06   2 
  8 Raftis, Kylee             99 Central Toronto        2:15.29   2 
  9 McCuaig, Sarah            90 McGill Olymp           2:15.72   1 
 10 Martynova, Svetlana       90 U of Toronto TC        2:16.18   1 
 11 Lampard, Katherine        95 Central Toronto        2:16.76   1 
 12 Ambrose, Taya             97 Laurel Creek TFC       2:17.59   2 
 13 Hennessy, Kelly           94 U of Toronto TC        2:19.14   1 
 14 Smith, Stephanie          90 York University        2:19.14   2 
 15 Adamson, Jessica          94 U of Toronto TC        2:19.65   2 
 16 Thompson, Miranda         99 Central Toronto        2:20.25   2 
 17 Stewart, Kate             98 Newmarker Huskie       2:20.55   3 
 18 Freeman, Jenna            93 South Simcoe Duf       2:20.77   2 
 19 Macdonald, Alannah        94 Niagara Olympic        2:20.80   2 
 20 Nardi, Danielle           96 U of Toronto TC        2:20.98   2 
 21 Fedorov, Yulia            96 Newmarker Huskie       2:21.52   3 
 22 Emilio, Sarah             93 U of Toronto TC        2:21.94   2 
 23 Moreau, Julia             97 Laurel Creek TFC       2:22.59   2 
 24 Horner, Kelsey            97 York University        2:23.04   2 
 25 Nagy, Sarah               73 Newmarker Huskie       2:23.30   2 
 26 Thompson, Aija            93 U of Toronto TC        2:24.04   3 
 27 Papaioannou, Stephanie    97 U of Toronto TC        2:26.36   3 
 28 Rothenbroker, Meghan      95 Newmarker Huskie       2:26.61   3 
 29 Burrows, Arden            97 U of Toronto TC        2:26.84   3 
 30 Gobbo, Victoria           97 310 Running            2:27.70   3 
 31 Charbonneau, Natasha      98 South Simcoe Duf       2:29.80   3 
 32 Carley, Hannah            97 Newmarker Huskie       2:30.10   4 
 33 Thomson, Kennedy          98 Runners Edge TC        2:30.38   3 
 34 Park, Laura               97 Newmarker Huskie       2:30.57   4 
 35 Earl, Celeste             98 U of Toronto TC        2:31.25   3 
 36 Chenskikh, Darya          94 York University        2:32.38   4 
 37 Tramble, Lindsay          98 Etobicoke TFC          2:32.48   3 
 38 Mccormick, Audrey         98 South Simcoe Duf       2:35.30   4 
 39 Armstrong, Jasmine        98 South Simcoe Duf       2:35.63   3 
 40 O'Hagan, Heather          61 Newmarker Huskie       2:36.44   4 
 41 Mayer, Katarina           98 Etobicoke TFC          2:39.50   4 
 42 Waller, Georgia           00 York University        2:39.89   4 
 43 Bailey-Mason, Gwyneth     66 U of Toronto TC        2:44.08   4 
 44 Botelho, Rita             60 U of Toronto TC        2:51.59   4 
 45 Abell, Sarah              01 U of Toronto TC        2:52.63   4 
 46 Rout, Jennifer            64 Newmarker Huskie       2:56.55   4 
 47 Deutscher Kobayashi, Lynn 55 U of Toronto TC        2:57.72   4 
 48 Reynoso, Aura             66 Newmarker Huskie       3:05.23   4