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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Memories in the Martimes

Ever stumble upon a race and think, “I have to make this race happen!”  I can’t quite remember how I came to hear about The Maritime Race Weekend, but likely I stumbled upon it on social media.  I connected with the race director (Michelle) and followed the race’s social media pages.  Michelle does an amazing job with all the posts.  She also does an exceptional job working with her sponsors and volunteers to get people engaged and excited about the race.  Go follow the race now, seriously. 🙂

Okay, so once I decided I wanted to run this race, I had to see what my husband thought.  He was all in for a family trip down east!  He has family in Canso and loved the thought of getting to see them while we were there.

Awesome!  Plans were in play.

We’re Off

Packed into a rented Malibu, we left very early on Saturday (4am) and drove straight through.  Overall the drive down was great.  Aside from the car being crazy full with all our stuff and of course the big bodies (we are a family of five, wife, hubby, 2 boys, 22/20 and our daughter 18).  My eldest son is passionate about outdoor adventure and practically begged us to camp on the Cabot Trail.  So in addition to all our stuff, we included 5 sleeping bags, 5 pillows and 2 tents!!  I should have taken pictures as we left, but I trust most of you can get a visual. 🙂

First Stop, Canso N.S

We arrived in Canso around 10pm, after some hellos and hugs we were all in bed by 10:30pm!  We spent the next few days visiting our Canso family, exploring, dipping in the Atlantic Ocean and hanging out together.  We headed out Tuesday to the Cabot Trail.  It started out very foggy and we were not quite sure what kind of camping conditions we’d get by the end of the day.  We booked our backcountry camping site and took a chance.  It was approximately an hour hike, mostly down, to get to our site BUT what a view!

cabot trail camping

We were instructed to hang any food items up and away from our tents as there were black bears, moose and coyotes.  Needless to say, I slept extremely light!  We did not bring much with us so using my Ottawa Marathon bag seemed perfect to hoist our food up!

Birthday Baby

The next morning we woke up and my daughter was 18!!  Happy Birthday Rebekah!!! We planned to celebrate with dinner in Halifax that evening.  We still needed to climb back up this incredible trail that took a little longer and somehow was a little less enjoyable. 🙂  I questioned if I could actually run an unsupported ultra from this experience.  Side note, I’m always thinking about future goals. 😉

We made it to Halifax  found a neat restaurant that apparently had just opened.  Turned out that it was so new it didn’t have a dessert menu yet. 🙁  So much for cake to celebrate!  Fortunately, Bec was meeting up with a childhood friend for the night and they decided to go for dessert together.  We would continue to celebrate when we returned home.

The End of Camping

We decided the camping had gone well, so we ended up camping 2 more nights.  We headed to Peggy’s Cove, as it was a must on our list.

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Lonely Rock, Fox Island, then Peggy’s Cove

The 3rd camping night we ended up getting rained out.  So much rain, by 3am the boys had stuff floating around in their tent.  From inside our tent there was a gentle mist covering us.  We all hopped in the car and headed to Tim Hortons.  By 4am we were back at the tents, hoping to sleep a bit.  That didn’t happen.  I called ahead to the hotel we had booked in Dartmouth for the race.  Did I mention I was running? They were so accommodating, they told us to come anytime as they would have a room ready for us!

As mentioned above, Bec had a friend living near by and we are friends with her parents. Graciously they allowed us to go to their place and throw some stuff in the dryer and get reorganized.  We decided we were done camping and threw out some gear!  This of course gave us more space in the vehicle.

Tartan Twosome Races

The hotel had a pool, sauna and hot tub that we were all looking forward to enjoying.  We decided to order in and relax.  I had hoped to get a nap in before the race, as I had not slept at all the night before.  Not a chance.  Friday night was the Sunset 5K Race.  The weather forecast for the weekend looked very gloomy with lots of rain.  Fortunately, the rain held off until we were back at the hotel.  The next race was at sunrise!  Start-time was 8am and I was doing the half marathon.  The rain stopped about an hour before the race start, but when we started there was a lot of fog.  startOriginally, when I signed up for this race I somehow got the impression that it was a flat race.  Mistaken, I know!  Everyone I talked to when I first arrived just chuckled as there apparently is not a lot of flat areas in Dartmouth.  I was a little nervous mainly as I did not know what to expect.  I was also excited as this was a good test/training run for the MEC Race that I have coming up in Ottawa.

I decided at the last minute to run without carrying my own water. The first time ever that I would rely on water stations.  I understood that there would be water stations every 3km or so, so I took a chance.  I was so glad I did!  I loved running “free”.  There were more than enough stations throughout the course and I didn’t mind grabbing water for a quick break.  Coincidentally, located often at the top of a hill!  Oh and there were some decent hills, character building ones in fact.

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along the route, it’s impossible to really capture hills (I find)

What made this race so enjoyable was the energy of the runners, volunteers and community as a whole.  The pirate theme was fun and there were some really great costumes to admire.  Somehow I missed the pirate parade and the fireworks had to be cancelled Friday night due to the weather, so it would have only been better had I experienced these things.

medals

AND the medals!!!  BEST Bling EVER!

My husband probably enjoyed this race location more than any other race.  Fisherman’s Cove is a pretty awesome place if you love the small fishing town feel.

I plan to race it again next year and highly recommend if you are looking for a race to travel to with family or friends, then do this one!  Plan on dressing up for the Friday night run in your best pirate get up, you’ll love it!

My plan for the next 3-4 weeks is to do more hill training in preparation for the Ottawa MEC Race.  We finally have a little taste of fall, my favourite running season, so I’m excited to kick it up a notch.

What about you, have you travelled for your races?  Do you have a recommendation for me?  What did you love about it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticking With It

In the middle of another week of summer weather! Actually, we’re talking mid 30’s°C or higher all week!  I really do not mind summer weather but fall is by far my favourite season.  As I’m preparing to head out to the Maritimes for my upcoming Tartan Twosome Race, things are seriously getting busy!

This stage in marathon training requires some consistency and the long runs are very necessary.  This is when some sacrifices often need to be made, the long run needs to happen.  Last week I managed to get my long run in on Saturday (instead of the usual Sunday morning with my running group).  I really enjoyed this run.  I put a shout out on my facebook page looking for runners to join me on part of my route, hoping to have some company for at least part of it.  Two friends responded, so we planned a route to accommodate the pick up/drop off of each runner.  I started off with 3km to meet the first runner, we ran 5km together and picked up the 2nd runner, together the three of us ran 10km.  We then dropped off the first runner and continued for another 7km or so where we split and I finished the last 7km on my own.  It was perfect!  I loved starting and finishing on my own, but really appreciated having a mix of company to get through the hours of running.

I absolutely love the running community.  I really enjoy hearing about the lives of my fellow runners.  We obviously have running as our common thread, but when we are in the company of others over a longer period of time, we get to hear about other aspects of each other’s lives.  I have always believed that I am who I am today because of where I have come from. My past has shaped me, not defined me, but played a large role in who I am today.  I think the same is true of others.  We all have a story, we are all experiencing life differently.  I love hearing how others have overcome their past or have achieved different success in their lives.  One of the runners I ran with on Saturday just completed her first Ironman and I got to hear a little about her experience while we ran.  She had a goal and she worked insanely hard for years to achieve it.  She didn’t give up.  You should check out her blog and the recap of her experience, it will be worth the read!

This week I will need to get my long run in on Friday.  Getting my long run in a day early this past weekend worked out beautifully. It allowed me to have Sunday off, run Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, take Thursday off and be out for a very early, long run on Friday.

Do you have a running community?  Do you run with a run group?  What about online, are you connected with other runners online?

Falling Forward

Last post I revealed that I’m a numbers girl.  Maybe because I’m a visual learner and numbers help me see how I’m progressing and how I can improve.   I like tracking my runs and have recently started tracking my calories (ratio of fats, carbs and protein).  It’s at this stage in my marathon training where my nutrition counts the most.  Not just for fuelling my body for proper energy but also eating the right foods to help with recovery.

I usually run by “feel”, however I get excited when my coach lays out a training schedule that includes specific pace targets (numbers), doing ladders (progressing from slow to fast and back down to slow, repeats), etc.  I haven’t done any speed work this summer as we have been avoiding injury focusing on getting healthy.   Another thing with numbers, does anyone else round up their runs?  I mean, heaven forbid stopping at 10.23km, at that point I must continue to make it an even 11km!  I usually just add a bit to round it off to a nice even number.  Yesterdays run I was at 13.32km and had to round it up to a 14km run. 🙂

I like having a schedule and working with a plan.  I set goals and then work backwards to make a schedule that allows me to complete my goal.  I can be flexible with where I run, who I run with, most times at what pace I will run at, etc.  However, I need to know what the overall month looks like so I can work it into my life.  I usually have my races/goals figured out well in advance.  This is the first time I can remember still working out fall races.  I’m in a transition of moving towards more trail running.  After running the Niagara 50K, the focus was on getting healthy.  I had been dealing with nagging lower leg issues and my coach believed trail running would be beneficial to my overall running (I think he was setting me up, personally). 😉

Turns out I’m pretty good at it.  I love being out on the trails and it has helped me tremendously!  I’m not about to win any races anytime soon, but I’m pain-free and having fun.  Just this past weekend I ran the I2P Run which celebrates trail running and supports Impossible to Possible.  Last year I ran the 23K as a great introduction to the race.  This year my coach suggested I run the 15K to experience the more technical trails of the race.  Next year I will do either the 50K or 100K!  Just putting that out there.

I am finally ready to add some more intentional focus on training.  We’ve been in a “let’s stay healthy and build up slowly” mode for almost 2 months.  Clearly it worked!

I’ve been going back and forth on whether I can/should run back to back marathons in the fall.  It was a Spring goal I had that was replaced with running the Ultra instead (3 weeks after my Spring marathon).  I’m still undecided but am leaning towards doing my marathon and following it with the MEC half marathon (a challenge on it’s own), with the option of doing the marathon if I decide I’m able to.

Fall Race Schedule:

Tartan Twosome Maritime Race Weekend (Sept. 11/12)
5K/21.1K

Check out the BLING!  I’m so excited for this race.

Sunrise Run

Sunrise Run

Sunset Run

Sunset Run

Tartan Twosome (bonus for doing the Friday and Saturday Runs)

Tartan Twosome (bonus for doing the Friday and Saturday Runs)

Girl’s Run Ottawa (Sept. 27)
5K

Run Ottawa has organized the first-ever Girls Run Ottawa, a new race for all women in the National Capital Region.  The goal is to bring together women of all ages to build a social circle based around physical activity and having fun.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (Oct. 18)
Marathon

This will be my third time running this marathon.  The details are still being worked out but I may be running this one in costume!

MEC Ottawa Race (Oct. 31)
21.1K OR Marathon

MEC Ottawa presents THE 2015 must do bucket list race in the Ottawa/Gatineau region.  Lots of people are talking about this race. It promises to be challenging and incredibly beautiful.

Cookie Run (Nov. 7)
10K

This run is a major fundraiser for Girl Guides’ travel initiatives and the last major event hosted by Run Ottawa for the year.

Resolution Run (Dec. 31)
10K

I can’t remember when I started this tradition but it is a great way to finish off the year.  Also, this year’s vest and hat combination is awesome.

The Army Run (Sept. 20) is still up for debate but regardless I will volunteer at the event.  I decided this year that I wanted to support more local runs.  I became a member of Run Ottawa and I’m looking at more events with MEC Ottawa.

Speaking of MEC, there are sales going on right now and I just ran with this awesome tank (happens to be on sale!) and it just might be my new favourite!

Of all the races, I think the MEC race is the one that I’m more nervous excited about.  I like that!  It means that I’m continuing to challenge myself and doing things that scare me just a little.  I love that MEC has training groups to help encourage people just starting out with trail running.

Knowing I have the MEC race coming up and that it is a hilly route has motivated me to not skip my hill workouts!

hills

What are your fall goals/races?  How do you continue to challenge yourself?