Ottawa Race Weekend Recap 2016

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend certainly had some extra publicity leading up to the races. Extreme heat was putting some of the races at risk. It’s not like we have not run in hotter conditions, most of the summer training runs are extremely hot, however, this was the first hot weekend of the year, so runners were not prepared for it. The Race Director, along with the Team, needed to be watching the weather very closely.  It was amazing how well the information was getting out to the runners. Through the website, emails, social media and of course the media – there was a lot of news circulating leading up to the start of the races. Also, I believe for the first time in Ottawa, the coloured flag system was put in place. To everyone’s surprise, the weather was actually fairly decent at the 7am start of the marathon. We started with the green flags, indicating good conditions, however somewhere along the route I realized we were now showing red flags, alerting us to watch for course changes.  Weather Update on Run Ottawa Site.

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Only some of Team Awesome Members – new friends!

13233063_10156973704745192_4909925577072335454_n Being involved with Team Awesome, a social media team to help inspire/encourage and connect with runners online, has allowed me to get to know some of the team at Run Ottawa.

Here is a clip that Rogers TV put together of Team Awesome this year.  Team Awesome

There were some tough decisions to be made, and they were not made easily but in the end I believe they made the best decisions for everyone involved. Of course, keeping the safety of the runners at the forefront of any decisions. There were some slight changes to the start times for the 10K and the half marathon races. The marathon course was also cut-off later in the race (for those running over 6+hrs.) when the heat, combined with the hours on the course, could prove to be problematic not only for the runners, but also for the volunteers.

X-Mile Crew 2016

X-Mile Crew after running the last runner in

New this year to race weekend was The X-Mile Crew. I was so excited by the idea of this I decided, last minute, that I wanted to participate. That meant running my own marathon first, and then changing shirts to go back out and run other runners in as part of the crew. I had no idea what to expect of my own run as race day can be unpredictable on it’s own but add to that hotter conditions, it was unclear how the day would go. In the end, it was a tough run. Due to my training for Grand to Grand Ultra, I did not taper as most runners would prior to their races, in fact I completed my first triple long run the weekend prior (3 long runs; 3 days in a row). I also had been dealing with a cold/chest congestion that just wasn’t going away, making breathing a challenge in the heat.

I was doing very well up to the first 16 km’s or so. Then over the next 16+ km’s I watched almost everyone I knew pass me. I knew it was not a race to attempt a personal best, however, I didn’t think it would be my worst time recorded 🙂 At some point in the last 10 km’s or so, I decided the goal was to just complete it and then get back out to help others run it in. I knew how they would be feeling, as I was in fact feeling it as well. Discouraged, tired, and wanting it to be over. Until you see the finish line, then there is a new sense of empowerment and the idea that you did not give up! You did it!

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After the sponge station

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Water misters along the route

IMG_1145I was so proud of Ottawa/Gatineau and how the cities came together to do whatever they could to help the runners out. The residents were out all along the route with hoses, sprinklers, freezies, even strangers holding up bags of ice for you to grab what you needed to cool off. I particularly liked the fire station along the route with the fire hose ready to open it up when given a simple head nod, confirming yes soak me! It was awesome!

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Just before the fire fighters let loose the hose on me 🙂

If all that wasn’t enough, heading back out to run with the runners still out there, making their way in after being on course for well over 5.5+ hours was so rewarding. I met some pretty amazing people, with some remarkable stories. Many first time marathoners who did not quit. I even met a women, 72 years young, who was running her 84th marathon! Many of those in the last few years….amazing!

Being involved with Ottawa Race Weekend, in a variety of capacities, has helped me discover the many wonderful aspects of this race. The team works year round to ensure we have the very best race to offer anyone who would like to experience it, including making it the biggest multi-distance race in Canada! It is also the only running event in North America to be given TWO Gold Label Standards from the International Amateurs Athletics Federation (IAAF). More interesting facts.

If you are a runner can I encourage you to register for one of Ottawa’s races next year. Guarantee you’ll love your experience! If you do not run, volunteering is one of the most amazing, rewarding experiences that allows you to make an impact in a runners life. As a runner, I cannot adequately express how much we appreciate and need the support and encouragements along the way! Volunteers give us the ability to keep going.

If you are on twitter, follow Ottawa Marathon (Race Weekend) to stay informed. Also, please connect with me as well so I can support you along your journey!

Have you run one of the race distances in Ottawa? Are you considering running Ottawa in 2017? I’d love to hear your experiences and your goal race for 2017.

Keep Chasing Dreams

Spring has Sprung!

Washing Away Winter

With spring comes warmer temperatures but also rain!  What I love about spring rain is how it washes away the snow, cleans up the streets and prepares us for summer.  Running is more enjoyable again, instead of enduring some days.  We’ve turned our clocks forward so we are getting more daylight and generally people just seem happier.  We’ve made it through yet another winter.  At least that is how I feel 🙂 Some people love winter, I do not hate it but it is the least favourite of the four seasons for me.IMG_0307

Sick and Tired

I cannot remember the last time I was sick, like at all, but it has been years.  I was hit with what seems to be a cold almost 2 weeks ago now.  Started with a severe headache but seems to be mainly a dry cough and heavy/congested chest.  It makes running a wee bit more challenging.  I was so sick last week and not sleeping well, that I was not able to run at all.  It was a challenge just breathing so running was not wise.  I felt better for my long runs on the weekend so on Saturday I tackled 23K with a friend.  It was good.  The weather was beautiful, the sun was out and overall we did great.  By that evening, I was coughing up a storm and struggling to sleep.  I had decided to skip Sunday’s long run as we need to be wise when we are sick, sometimes the body needs the recovery time more.  I woke up, after a few hours sleep, feeling pretty good so I decided to get out for my run while I could.  Another 23K was completed, and it wasn’t pretty.  The first 10Km’s were pretty good, the in between was becoming a struggle and the last 5km’s were down right challenging.  My legs were tired!

Training and Learning

Sundays run was difficult but was a fantastic training run because I learned a few things:

  • I’m mentally tough – I whine in my head but I get it done.
  • I figured out what genuine tired legs felt like and it’s okay to push on tired legs.
  • Tapping into why you run or why you are training for long distance really helps when it gets tough.
  • It’s great to save music for when you really need to zone out or be motivated by a good beat.
  • I recovered better and faster than I usually do, which means I am getting stronger.

Life is busier than ever and going to get even busier for the next 2 months or so.  Figuring out how to cross-train is going to be even tougher as the weeks progress.

My goals for the next few weeks are to include yoga and strength training into my weekly training.

I’m also working on a few fundraising ideas for April and May.  My coach has just returned from his own amazing epic adventure so we will be kicking up my training even more in the weeks to come.

It’s an adventure 🙂

How do you fit it in?  What kind of cross-training do you include with your running?

Building Up / Testing Out

Let the training begin…..or not

So my official training for Grand to Grand started on January 9th.  A few km’s into my run I started experiencing pain in my left ankle, by 9km’s I was very uncomfortable and needed to walk more than run.  I had no choice but to run/walk back to my car, limping.  What happened, why so much pain?

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The previous week I had been out snowshoeing, and remembered rolling my ankle and thinking how lucky I was to have not been injured, could this be related?  There did not seem to be any other explanation. The Wednesday and Thursday following the snowshoeing I did have some mild discomfort but very minor.  So 6 days later could this be related to that initial ankle roll?IMG_0345

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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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Fall Into Fitness Exchange

Fall into FitGear Exchange-3I was recently invited to participate in a fall fitness exchange with Canadians.   As a Canadian Sweat Pink Ambassador I thought this was a great way to connect with other Canadian Bloggers. Also, I love the idea of connecting with new people and if they love running/fitness as well, bonus!  Besides, who doesn’t like giving and receiving gifts. 😉

A fellow Sweat Pink Sister from Ottawa, Brittany, came up with the exchange idea. Brittany and I recently met as we were making plans to launch an Ontario Sweat Pink Chapter.    You can follow Brittany over at My Momma Journey.

There were some general rules to the exchange.  Share a favourite fitness dvd or book that you love (even if it is gently used), favourite recipe or two, a motivational note and an item of our choice.

Our names were exchanged and we were paired up with our exchange buddies.  I ended up getting Rebecca, who crazy enough also lives in my neighbourhood, like what are the chances of that!!  I was able to do up a gift bag and drop it off at her door!!  What’s also cool, is Rebecca and I are both Team Awesome Members for the Ottawa Race Weekend 2016! If you would like to see what I sent her, check out her blog:  Running.Food.Baby 

My other exchange buddy, who had my name,  lives in Calgary.  Tina and I first met online through Bondiband, as we are both Ambassadors! She connected with me, asked some questions and came up with some pretty meaningful gifts.

Now before I unveil them, I’d like to share a few things.  First, I love hearts, always have.   After being diagnosed with a heart condition that seemed inevitable that one day I would require surgery, I was determined to not let a diagnosis define me.  Nor did I want to go on long-term medication if I could avoid it.  I was not being stupid, nor do I recommend for you to ignore your doctors advice, however, my doctor and I came up with a plan.  I continue to show improvements (which is a small miracle in itself) therefore I remain off medication.

The symbol of the heart is one of hope, strength and of course love.
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I got this tattoo as a symbol of the intense love I have for my family. My husband and I (the larger hearts) are intertwined, the three smaller hearts represent my three children and the small pink heart inside my heart is in memory of my mom.  The heart also represents the hope and strength I have to live and be healthy.

Now for the butterfly.  A few years ago there was a series of events that took place that in of themselves, each one would have been heartbreaking, combine them over a fairly short period and it was almost too much for me to work through.  During this time the butterfly became a symbol of hope.  As I was working through life, the idea that “sometimes the struggle is part of the plan” came to me.  Like the caterpillar there is a time in the cocoon (we won’t go into the gruesome details), and in the perfect moment the butterfly emerges.  A complete transformation has taken place.  It’s like pain with a purpose or a struggle with a plan.  There was a purpose for the caterpillar to enter the cocoon.  Just like I believed there was or could be a greater purpose for what I was going through (as well as my whole family).

So yes, another tattoo 😉 PicMonkey Collage

Of course I did not share this with my buddy, I mean gosh we just met. 🙂  I did however share things like favourite colour, number, workouts and that I do like the butterfly symbol.

Here is what she put together for me:

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Amazing gloves, cute bird paperclips, really cool race bib clips (wore them for my marathon last weekend – amazing!!), a bondiband headband (hearts and butterflies), a buff (more hearts) and a beautiful card…oh and inside the card was this (a magnet – now on my fridge)FullSizeRender (2)

The past two years or so this has been a thought of mine, and yes, I’ve said it out loud.  Live Out Loud!  Be, Do and Say who you are.  Live authentically with intention.  Be free to be who you were created to be, unapologetically.

It was a true blessing to open this gift with all the reminders of what is important to me and also to continue to “live out loud” proudly!

Thank you so much Tina!

Have you ever participated in an exchange similar to this?

Check out the others who participated in this exchange.


Favourite Running Clothes and #STWM Marathon

Getting ready to run my third Toronto Waterfront Marathon was very different than the two previous years.  Perhaps it’s because I still had the Ottawa Mec Race to come, and that is the race that I’m nervous excited about.  It also may have had to do with the fact that I trained differently this time around.  September was a busy month for me and I was travelling and racing more.  I managed to get three 32km training runs in but they were a tad earlier than I would have liked.  I had also started training in Gatineau Park for my long runs, running on rolling hills for 22+ km’s.

After returning from Halifax, mid-September, I kind of lost my drive to run.  I was getting in the minimum but it was a struggle getting out the door some days.

The week leading up to the race I wasn’t feeling very confident in my training, I knew I would complete it but wasn’t satisfied with the last 6 weeks.  I also knew that if I reviewed my training I would be surprised and reassured that I didn’t do all that bad.  However, at this point it would be what would be and I needed to get my head in the game.  So, I refocused, did a head check and made the decision to do my best, regardless of how I felt.

I enjoyed girl time with a friend as we drove up to Toronto the night before the race.  We started discussing racing options for next fall.  Neither of us were convinced we would return to Toronto again the following year.  It’s an amazing race and if it was my home city I’d do it every year but there are so many races/cities that we want to experience.  We settled on a tentative game plan. 🙂

We hit the expo immediately when we arrived and I was able to pick up some Run Happy arm warmers!  (I actually got a different pair as well because they are so soft and I love sleeves!)

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I wanted to have them as a friend of mine, Jean-Paul Bedard, was running the marathon 3x to raise awareness and support for sexual abuse.

photo credit: Edison Yao

photo credit: Edison Yao

He is sponsored by Brooks and had shared a post wearing the sleeves.  I figured it was a fun way to run happy and think of him during my race.  I would highly recommend that you follow Jean-Paul as he will continue to be an outstanding influencer.

You can read about his adventure running 126.2km’s on his recap of the race.

Okay, so the start line.  After going back and forth as to whether we should wear shorts or pants, we settled on pants.  It was a very cold start to the morning but it looked like it might get up to 5°C. 😉

I had been approached by MEC to do an honest review of their brand of clothing.  I had been given a few items to test out during my training runs.  I seriously loved every piece and have since only purchased MEC running clothes as I am that impressed with them.

I wore the MEC Agility Tights. Here’s what I loved about them.  The tights do not skimp on length and I suspect even if you are taller (which I am not) you would be pleased with the length.  They are incredibly comfortable, providing complete freedom of movement without feeling restricted anywhere.  The flexibility, breathability and moisture wicking features allowed me to almost forget I was wearing them.  They have a mesh backing behind the knees that allow for venting.  This feature was helpful in my decision to wear them instead of shorts.  There is a rear zippered pocket and a front smaller pocket that provided extra storage for gels, etc.  On top of this, they are a fantastic price. I purchased the Agility Capris after trying out the tights and I highly recommend them.

MEC tights/t-shirt

I also wore the MEC Vitality Short-Sleeved Tee.  This shirt is fantastic!  I was given the tank to try in the summer and it became my favourite tank to run in.  After testing the tank out I purchased a few more, including the t-shirt.  I love the length of the shirt.  Often I find I’m having to pull down t-shirts when I run and I do not at all with this one.  The shirt is highly breathable and light-weight.  It is made with flat seams to help prevent chaffing, and the colours are fun!  It also features some reflective elements to help you be seen when running in the dark.

Alright, back to the race.  My girlfriend and I started out together but got separated when I ran into Jean-Paul around 10-12km’s in.  I walked and listened to how he was doing at that point.  He would have been approaching 96km’s or so (having already ran 2 loops of the marathon route).  I could tell he was exhausted, you could see it in his eyes. After a quick hug I was back running.  In hindsight, I kinda wish I had stayed with him for the duration.

I felt pretty good until about 25km’s where my right arch was giving me some pain.  By 27km’s my right outside knee and right hip were also giving me grief.  I continued to run with the right side of my leg causing pain for the remainder of the race.  I’m not sure what was going on as I had not had any pain going into the marathon.  At around 26km’s I made myself sit down and loosen my laces as I felt like they were tight and cutting off circulation. Either that or my feet were swelling and they became too tight? Not really sure.  It seemed to help, but by the time I adjusted the laces, I think the damage was done.  Around 32Km’s, I began having a serious discussing with myself about NOT running the MEC Marathon but instead running the half.  I told myself, to remember this moment and be smart moving forward.  I wanted to start 2016 healthy and ready for a great winter/spring training season.

The spectators were great!  I enjoyed the cheer stations along the route.  They helped keep me going when I felt like I wanted to just walk.  I felt like I was pushing myself to keep a decent pace, like I couldn’t possibly be holding the pace I needed.  Then I’d look at my watch and be like, okay I’m doing good, this is okay.  My legs felt tired early on but somehow I just kept running.  I know we all earn the reward of every race, but I felt like I had to dig deep for this one.  It felt physically harder, both in the pain I was feeling but also in the effort I had to put out (or felt like).  Of course this plays with your head and you end up battling through your thoughts!! I did terrible again at tangents and ended up running 44.2 km’s.  In the end, I’m happy with my results.  Another successful marathon in the books.

We did it!

We did it!

We drove home after a quick shower.  A little stiff on the ride home and the next day but by Tuesday I was feeling great again.  Of course by Monday I was already debating whether I should just go for it and run the marathon 🙂  I was out for a little jog on Tuesday and felt good, more reason to run, yes?  I decided to leave it up to my coach.  He agreed and we decided to stick with the half.  I was able to get out for a trail run on Saturday.

Next up is the Ottawa MEC Race and the week after the Cookie Run with an awesome fun medal!

Do you have a race coming up?  What about a favourite fall clothing pieces you love?

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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.

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

So You Want To Run An Ultra?

Running my first Ultra just kind of happened.  Of course I had to train for it, but the opportunity kind of just worked out.  I was already training for the Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon end of May, so when the talk of doing the Niagara 50K came up, it seemed doable!  The 50K would be 3 weeks after the Ottawa Marathon, the plan we were using suggested getting TWO 42.2km training runs in prior to the 50K.  Okay, sign me up!

My running friends who started it all had enlisted approximately 17 other runners.  They put a Facebook group together and started sharing their training plans with the group.  The highlight for me was joining them often on a Saturday longer run.  My coach had already started me on the double long run idea for my weekends, Saturday being the shorter of the two. The idea was learning to run with tired legs.  It was nice to have others to run with again.

Training through the Winter for 2 big goal races sure helps get you out the door on some miserable, cold, Winter days!   Overall training went well, but I seemed plagued with lower leg issues throughout the fall/winter training.  By April/May I didn’t know if it was even possible to get through the marathon, let alone the Ultra.  I was doing everything I could to get relief.  I had chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, graston technique and dry needling.  It helped, but it didn’t 100% get me pain-free.  I started making “deals” with myself.  If I could just get through and finish the 50K I’d take as much time off of running as I needed…until I was 100% pain-free, and I believed I would. 🙂

Being that it was an out of town race, it meant driving, so I enlisted my daughter (and her friend) for company.  We headed out early Friday morning (the race was Saturday).  I figured that I was now pretty much a professional for packing for out of town races as I had learned the hard way about forgetting race gear.  You can read about that here:  Forgotten Marathon Bag.  Apparently, there are always new lessons to learn.

As we were driving near Oshawa, ON a random thought jumped in my head.  I must have aimlessly been visualizing packing up my bag because suddenly I realized that I did not pack the clip to close the bladder that goes in my hydration pack.  What!!!???  How was I going to run 50K without a pack on!  I know that maybe I would have been okay with the water stations (every 5km) but I like to be in control of when I hydrate.  Plus I had a special hydration mix that I now use and didn’t want to rely on a different electrolyte drink. Ugh!

IMG_0434So, my sweet daughter, who is accustomed to handling my unexpected crazies prior to race day, was now on a mission to google local running stores and find me a new hydration bladder or pack.  After only finding 2 stores at a cost of approximately $80 I decided I just didn’t want a new one, this was stupid.  Okay, what could I do??  Think….Walmart!  
I’ll buy super big office clips and that should work.  So we pulled into a Walmart somewhere off Hwy 401 and found some clips.  This had to work, right?!

We arrived in Niagara mid-afternoon and decided to hit the outlet mall first.  Race pick up wasn’t until after 6pm so we had time to kill.  This is a smaller event and there was no expo, just pick up the cool sweatshirt and race bib.

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View outside our hotel

Quick dinner, check-in to hotel and then off to explore the falls!  Just so spectacular.  I was only out for a bit and then it was race prep and early to bed.

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Orleans Runners (missing some)

I had arranged to meet friends in the lobby at 5:45am.  Four of us drove out to the start line together and met up with the rest of our Orleans runners.

My plan going in to the race was to run my training pace for my marathon training.  About 40sec. slower than my marathon race pace.  It doesn’t seem much to add 8km to the end of a 42.2km run, but it really does ADD to the race!  Keeping an easier pace was just part of the plan, the other was just to finish.  I took time to take photos along the way and took a 17min. break to refresh, reload and refocus at the halfway mark.  

At the falls (halfway)

At the falls (halfway)

Lori, Jordan and I ran the first 25K together.  This is halfway

Lori, Jordan and I ran the first 25K together. This is halfway

It was a very cool experience.  I’m so glad I decided to jump on board when the others from my running group signed up.  Also, I had the privilege of running mostly behind a couple who ran the Ultra together and got married at the finish line.

Gonna Get Married!  Just need to run 50K first.

Gonna Get Married! Just need to run 50K first.

Only about 10K left to go before they say I do!

Only about 10K left to go before they say I do!

The scenery was stunning, and it helped pass time being distracted with amazing views.  My “bladder” in my hydration pack worked out with the $2 jumbo clips.  During my recap after my race, my coach helped point out that I have an amazing ability to shut out negative thoughts, discouragement, pain, etc. once I cross over the start line.  During the race it’s all about completing it.  Even when in pain, I somehow shut it out and keep going.  Telling myself I’ll deal with it when it’s over.  A lesson that I will now carry with me as I continue to train for new adventures.

Oh, and my promise to take time off after the 50K? Well my coach helped me recover smart.  I didn’t have to stop running, but I did start more trail running during the recovery process.  I am currently 3 weeks completely pain-free for the first time since last October!  I also happen to be rethinking my future running goals, because I fell in love with trail running.

I enjoyed this race so much, that I plan on running it again in 2016.  It looks like there is a new group of runners wanting to join me.

Have you run an Ultra before?  What was your experience?  Would you recommend it?

Head, Heart and Foot Training for Your Next Race

racedayIf you have ever trained for a race then you know it’s so much more than just putting miles in.  Depending on the distance you are training for, it can also require you to be mentally ready.  There is a quote that I love. “Run the first two-thirds of the race with your head and the last third with your heart.” – Unknown

When I was training for my first marathon I was told to expect to run 2 races. The first 32 km’s and the final 10 km’s.  Sometime during the race it becomes about what you want. You draw from the countless hours of training, you reach down deep within you to draw the strength that you need to complete it.  It is no longer just physical, you need your mind (right thinking) and heart (the will) to get through.

Every race distance requires preparation, and I believe to prepare you need to set some goals.  Is it a specific time you want to come in under?  Are you running it with friends and just for fun?  Are you doing a new distance and just want to complete it upright and smiling?  The first step is to decide what you want to achieve from the race you just signed up for.

Then, get a schedule.  Whether you join a run clinic, pick up a good book or find a schedule online, you need to plan for it.  My favourite race distance is the marathon.  It’s a 16 week schedule, running 4-5 times a week.  I’m pretty consistent and usually run 5 days a week with Mondays and Fridays off.  My long run is on the weekend and I add to the distance every week.

It’s not enough to have a schedule, though. You need to make a commitment to stick to the schedule.  Sometimes you have to plan life around your runs, or plan your run around your life but if you do not put a priority on your training runs, life does get in the way.  You have to decide it is important.  I am blessed to have my family’s full support.  Once you start training for a half-marathon or marathon the time commitment can be taxing for some.  For some people, getting up in the morning before their families are awake is the best time to get a run in.  Others do it on their lunch hours.  The long run can be the most challenging as you can be out running for hours!  The key is figuring out what works best for you (and your family).  In addition to my schedule, I plan when I’m going for my run.  I look a week ahead and plan it accordingly.  So if someone has an appointment or there is a family commitment coming up, I’m not surprised by this and my run gets done.

It’s not just about the running.  If you want to do well, it should also be about nutrition.  Some people figure that running allows them to eat anything they want. But for myself, the more I run, the more focused I become on fuelling my body with food that serves a purpose.  It doesn’t happen overnight but you can learn how food can support you and aid you by providing energy and also helping you with recovery.

The mind also plays a vital role in running a race.  During training runs, using visualization can help prepare your mind for the race.  How do you want race day to go?  What are your ideal running conditions? spectators Can you visualize your friends and family members cheering for you?  Self-talk is also very useful.  When you are on a long run and everything about it is awful, remind yourself why you are doing this.  Remember the feeling you will have after getting it done, or knowing the sense of accomplishment that you will have for sticking to it and not giving up.  It’s helpful to write down some favourite quotes, your reason why you want to accomplish this running goal/race.  When you are out on a run if everything about it is perfect, write down what was so perfect about it.  Draw on that memory when things get hard.

I think for everyone, the race is about completing it.  As you evolve as a runner you begin to set different goals.  At least for myself, I set a few goals for each race.  Regardless, I think you need to be proud of every race, no matter the outcome.  If you trained, committed to the training process and gave it your best on race day, then you need to celebrate that.  We cannot control a lot of things on race day, but we can give it our best.

I am nowhere near the runner that I was when I first started out.  I started out walking by participating in a 60Km walk for breast cancer.  Eventually, walking turned into running.  From there my girlfriend invited me to run a 5K.  I enjoyed running and loved to challenge myself.  I started out just completing the events and I would raise $ for a cause and take in the experience.  Then 5K’s turned into 10K’s, and eventually I was running half-marathons.  Most of the time I trained on my own.  I seriously loved the challenge physically and mentally.  I felt accomplished when I set a goal to run a race, trained for it and completed it.

It was during my first marathon training that I decided to go out of my comfort zone and join a run club.  As my runs were getting longer and longer, I was wanting company in part to help distract from the long run but also for safety reasons.   I wanted to run along the river and other more isolated areas.  Joining the Running Room for their free running clinics allowed me to make new friends and learn from the experiences of others.  It also connected me to a running community to share my love for running.

I’ve learned that when you commit to your training, you need to trust in that training.  My very first marathon was out of town and I forgot my marathon bag!  I ended up running the marathon with all new gear (yes, every runners nightmare).  You can read more about that here:  Forgotten Marathon Bag

You can do everything right, you can eat properly, train properly and still race day can be unpredictable.  I’ve learned that it’s good to set goals and push yourself for a personal best or a bigger distance.  In the end though, you need to be proud of all the moments, of the journey to get to the start line.  During the race, take in the moments, learn from what the day offers you.

I’ve learned to be thankful that I get to run.  I’m constantly challenging myself with new goals and race distances.  I’m about to run my first Ultra (50K) on June 20th.  I’ve also learned to accept that every race offers a new experience.  Even if I do not get a pb, I can be proud of the day because of the choices I made either leading up to the race OR during the race itself.

In my last race I had the opportunity to finish with a pb (although it was a tough race).  Instead I chose to run in with a friend who was struggling, because in the end that seemed to be more important.  I walked away proud of my decision.  If you’d like to read about my last race experience you can read it here:  Ottawa Race Weekend

How about you?  Are you training for your first race?  Have you set specific goals for yourself?  If you’ve been running for a while, how have you evolved as a runner?