Why You Should Volunteer At Your Local Running Event(s)

Volunteering – Is It For You?

Is volunteering for you?  Personally, I think volunteering can be for everyone!

Having worked behind the scenes at a number of different events in our city, I know the work involved in making an event successful.  For months and months, sometimes close to a year, there are people working to make the event a success for everyone involved.

Races are no different.  Whether it is a smaller local race or the city’s main race of the year, there is much work to do.  As a runner, I so appreciate the races available to me in my city.  As a way to give back I try to volunteer for a number of them. IMG_0168My kids have even come out to help when they can.  Races depend on their volunteers to help in a variety of roles, from race kit pick ups, water stations, safety/first-aid, bag check, the list goes on.

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Running Adventures with Friends

Depending on where you live, this past week may have brought some snow!  Not everyone is an all season runner, but for myself it’s no longer up for debate.  My goals keep getting bigger and therefore my running season continues to expand.

My training in 2015 started pretty much in January, leading up to some early spring races, one of which was Around the Bay.  It only continued to grow from there!  Before I knew it I was booked with races in May, June, August, September, October and into the first weekend of November.  Not all marathons, but regardless I seemed to be racing most weekends.  I have one race left to go on New Years Eve.

The race I think I was most looking forward to this Fall was the Ottawa MEC Race.  I wasn’t originally going to run it because it was 2 weeks after running the Toronto Marathon.  After having a conversation with Chris Chapman, the race director, I decided I wanted to see how I’d do in what is quickly becoming known as one of Canada’s toughest races. Besides how many races offer poutine at the end! I had seriously considered running the marathon, however, after running Toronto I had a minor lower leg issue surfacing and did not want to risk an injury.

The morning of the race was beautiful.  I woke up excited and nervous.  I had gone up to Gatineau Park a few times for training but really did not know what to expect of the hills for race day.  I happened to run into a friend of mine before the race started.  She was already running with a friend of hers but invited me to join them if I wanted.  So I did, at least I figured starting out it would be nice to be accompanied by others.

The race start line is approximately a km from the finish line.  So it required a light jog or walk down the approximately 1km hill (the race is set up to require a km climb at the finish, brutal)!

By the time we made it to the start line we had about 30sec. to get organized and then we were off!  I believe the first 4 km’s or so were relatively flat with minimal climbs.  Then the hills began!


The views throughout the race were spectacular, but this one was worth stopping for.

Beaver damn

Beaver damn

At the top of the longest stretch of an incline someone yelled out in victory and I think those of us within earshot celebrated with them!  The best part was the 4-6km decline towards the end of the race, followed up of course by the last km climb to the finish line.

Allyson, Kristina and myself managed to keep each other in our sights for most of the race.  During some of the more difficult climbs Allyson came up with a 10sec. run/10 sec. walk chant to get it done!  We used this near the finish line as well.   You can do anything for 10sec., right?!


This was the first time I met Kristina. What an experience to share.  We ended up with a very respectable time considering we were only wanting to complete it!  I loved the company and would seriously consider doing the marathon in the future.

The week after this race I ran the Cookie Run.  I decided early on in 2015 that I was going to participate in more local runs.  This was the 2nd last race of the year for me.  The weather was perfect, the course was fantastic with a 5K loop, that we did twice.

What I love about the running community is the friendships you can make.  Your life can be completely different from one another and yet running can bring you together.

Start line

Start line

That’s how I met Agnes.  We are huge supporters of I2P and through mutual online friends we connected.  There was an event where Ray Zahab (founder of Impossible2Possible and adventure runner) and Christopher McDougall (author of Born to Run and Natural Born Heroes) were speaking in order to raise support and awareness for I2P.  Agnes was coming up to Ottawa for the event so she figured she might as well run the Cookie Run in the morning. 🙂

leannerace 2We made arrangements for coffee the day before to meet in person for the first time and then decided to run together the next morning.  It was a blast!!  We ran very well and talked throughout most of the race.  So fun!

I’m currently enjoying my down time from formal training.  I am continuing to get out for runs and doing back to back longer runs in the trails on the weekends, no pace in mind just a length of time on my feet.

2016 goals are now set and I’m working on the details.  I cannot wait to announce my BIG race goals!  This year will be more about training and much less racing!

How about you?  Do you have your 2016 goals set yet?


Around The Bay Recap

Training in Review

March 23 – 29th

Monday: Yoga/Extended Stretch
Tuesday: 5K easy
Wednesday: 5K easy – TRX Basic Training
Thursday: 5K easy
Friday: – TRX Basic Training
Saturday: Nice long walk
Sunday: 30K Race

It was a different week in training as my coach gave me a taper week.  I wasn’t sure how I’d respond to it, as sometimes pulling back can be hard, but I welcomed the rest.  My eldest son was preparing to leave to Iceland, so there were enough things to occupy me.  Before I knew it we were dropping him off at the airport Friday evening. I still  had not packed myself to head out early the next morning on my own trip to Hamilton, ON for Around The Bay.

Road Trip

around the bay group

Bus Buddies

I was up at 5am Saturday to get ready and on my way to meet the bus and the rest of my traveling companions.  Run Ottawa hosted a bus trip to get Ottawa runners to Around The Bay.  It was a fantastic price and, in my opinion, a fabulous way to travel.  The cost included the bus trip and hotel.  We left Ottawa at 7:30am and were brought directly to the Expo to pick up our race kits.  We were given time at the expo to look around, go for a walk or do a shake out run.  At a predetermined time we were back on the bus and taken into Burlington to the hotel that was secured for us.  Once there, we were on our own for dinner but the hotel had prepared pasta for their menu and there were a number of restaurants across the street.

My little group chose to go to Boston Pizza. We didn’t kill nearly enough time during dinner, so we walked around and hit some of the few places still open.

Finally, it seemed to be a respectable time to head to our rooms and get ready for the morning race.

Rise and Shine

After a relatively decent sleep we were up by around 6:30am.  It was weird for me as the race wasn’t starting until 9:30am.  There was no real rushing around and we were to meet in the hotel lobby to board the bus for 8am, giving us lots of time once we arrived back in Hamilton for the race. IMG_5535

The Race

We all started out together but as most runners know, once we start, we are really running our own races.  So high-fives and a quick, “see you at the finish” and then we are off.

I really did not know what to expect, however I heard it was hilly and of course this year the “heart-break” hill was not a factor due to a rerouting of the course due to construction.  I can’t compare it to other years, this being my first time running Around The Bay.  As a member of Team Awesome for the Ottawa Race Weekend I was easy to spot on the course with my #TORW2015 shirt/headband.  Running past “Ottawa” I had to stop for a quick photo.


Ottawa Road Sign

I settled in to a decent pace quite early and maintained that pace through the rolling hills that came our way.  At around 18K or so I realized I was close to getting a PB for my half distance (21K) and picked it up a little.  Of course, this is when the rolling hills became more frequent, longer and I think steeper.  I somehow pushed through this to the 22K mark.  At this point I gave myself permission to ease up a bit.    Around the 22.5K  point I suddenly felt pain on the top of my left foot.  It was like my third and fourth toes were broken.  Every step caused me pain, so much so that I questioned if I should stop.  Then I had a chat with myself and concluded that if they were broken (or stress fracture), completing my run was not going to change the recovery I would need, so I tried to shut the pain out and kept running.

IMG_5541I enjoyed different parts of this run.  Particularly running the overpasses and on-ramps.  The famous hill at the end may have been omitted due to construction but the Grim Reapers were still around nearing 27K.   People were spread out along the route to cheer us on.  Of special note along the route, there was a sweet little darling standing on the road while runners ran past, holding out a kleenex box for the runners. 🙂  I am not sure if anyone needed a kleenex but it was hard not to run up to her and get one.  I love when I see little ones enjoying being out and excited to high-five runners.  I hope it’s a moment for them to be inspired to maybe one day participate in their own run/event.

Coming into the arena at the end was very cool and a new experience for me.  It was a little steep running down the ramp but coming into the arena as your name is being called out puts an extra ooomph into your step to push and cross that finish line. IMG_5544

I am very happy with my finish and proud of myself for pushing through discomfort.  As I have said in previous posts, this past winter’s training was about building confidence and this race sure did that for me.  My coach actually told me in our pre-race pep talk that this was what his hope was for this race.

Bridget and I after the race (my roomie)

Bridget and I after the race

I walked away with this: “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.  No doubt as I continue training this will be my mantra for a while. 🙂

Have you had to overcome anything during a race?  Pain? Negative Thoughts?