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?


Help! Tips On Fitting in Fitness/Running

There are so many reasons why “life can get in the way” of our own fitness/running goals.  Have you heard these comments, or perhaps even said them yourself?

    • I’m too busy, I just do not have time
    • My kids are to young, it’s difficult with them around
    • I can’t afford a gym membership
    • my spouse/partner is not supportive of my goals
    • I’m a single parent and do not have any support


As mentioned in my previous post, we all have 24hrs in a day.  However, we all live very different lives mostly.  So how can we balance our lives in order to achieve our goals.  First up, know what your goal is.  Do you want to workout 3x/week?  Do you want to learn to run? Run a goal race?  Know your goal and then write it down.

For myself, I tend to look at seasons and I’m about to enter a slightly more relaxed season but I do not want to lose my consistency with running, my base.  However, I will be adding in home workouts for variety and strength training.  I highlight any races coming up with purple, my running days get highlighted in orange and the rest just get marked on the calendar.  This is my “plan”, but if I have to adjust I just change it on the calendar 🙂  We cannot always control our lives, but making “appointments” for ourselves helps us to intend to get them done!

FullSizeRenderAs you can see, I have 3 races in October and two marathons!  So I’m actually slowing down with my running to get ready for those bigger races.  However, I still want to be working out, more yoga/piyo and some running.

There are a number of challenges we are faced with as mentioned above.  I’ve chatted with a number of people about this topic.  Some ride/run to work, others get it done over their lunch hour, or hit the gym on the way home from work.  Some single parents put their heavy workout schedule on the week their ex has the children.  The challenges are real, here are few more tips:

Ray shares: (Adventure Runner; both parents running long distances)

It’s about recognizing that you both have goals.  Respecting each other and stepping in where you need to, in order to make it happen.  Getting the runs in where ever they fit in for that day.  Sometimes that means an exceptionally early run, running when the girls are at school or one parent prepping dinner, hanging with the girls while the other gets a run in.  Whatever works!  Working together as a team!

Find our more about Ray and follow his blog.

Noel writes: (new dad) 

What I find tough is finding time to run and trying to adjust to à new way of life.

So far I have switched to running at lunch and after work (run home) so when I arrive at home I am ready for daddy duties. On the weekends I now run when I can, not always when I want to lol. Now that Morgane  is 4-months old I have just started running with her in the stroller and this allows me to run with my daughter but also give mom à break at the same time.

As an uber new dad, I have been able to train and got quite fit but dad duties, family stress with new baby and adapting to everything made races almost impossible. I ran one 5k and had to bail on planned fall marathon. BUT happy, have great family and still running.

I think there is always a way to find time to run, but its about being flexible, adapting to à new lifestyle and defining your priorities and determining your goals and what is important to you.

Find out more about Noel and follow his blog

Brent writes: (Brent and his wife are new runners)

Having two boys 5 and 7 it’s a bit more of a challenge for us but a good jogging stroller and two tablets keep them happy for an hour or so. Most of the time my wife goes for a run at 6pm when I get home from work and I go at 9pm when the kids are asleep. We have had the luxury of my mother in law being available to watch the kids for us to do  full day events. 

Laurie Ann writes:  (Author, Mom and Outdoor Adventurer)

Parenting and fitness is a tag-team, juggling event in our household. During the weekdays I am often like a single Mom with Bryan’s travel schedule. I have Fridays off so during the school year I am able to hit the gym with a friend and now that my son is old enough he can watch my daughter from time to time. Bryan and I also take turns plus we do fit things that include the kids. After all, they need to keep moving too. When my daughter was little we used the running stroller and a bike trailer. When our son was 11 or 12 he’d cycle back and forth on the trail while I ran or he’d run with one of us. When he wasn’t old enough to babysit on his own he’d watch a movie with my daughter in the same room as my treadmill and I’d run with them in view. When Bryan and I would run at the track I’d start my run and then he’d show up later with the kids. They’d run with us for a bit and then we’d walk while Bry finished his run.

Oh and with the stroller… a MEC Newt Suit is indispensable. Kaia would sit in her stroller and even in the worst weather that one piece rain suit would keep her toasty dry.

Find out more about Laurie and follow her blog

Liette writes: (both parents running)

Challenges? Getting homework done is my number one (why so much, whyyyy??!!). My number 2 would be getting the laundry, groceries and any other household task done that I can’t accomplish during the week. Especially when the Sunday distances are long. Sometimes, it’s 2 o’clock by the time I’m cleaned up and fed. That reduces my weekends to just under 1.5 days.

So how do we manage? Barely. LOL! I do the bulk of my running during the lunch hour. He runs after work while I get dinner on the table. He cleans up my mess while I do homework with the little one and make sure the teenager is on top of his workload. We tag team the chores on the weekend. And meal planning is key! If I’m lucky, I can get a pot of soup, sauce or chill on the go Sunday afternoon so weeknight dinners are easier.

Jennifer writes: (mom and business owner)

It is super hard to make time for fitness as a mom of little ones. I only started when my youngest was 2yrs old, prior to that I just couldn’t get it together! But once my little one was in daycare it gave me much more time freedom. As soon as I started I became happier and much more productive in all areas of life. I realized that fitness/running/being outdoors gave me time to be alone, focus on my dreams and goals and in turn be a better mom and wife. It really changed my life.

In terms of time management, I only work out Monday to Friday so that my weekends are free to spend time with the kids. School/daycare are my saviors! 

Find out more about Jennifer and follower her blog.

Cathy writes: (mom of fur babies)

My hubby and I don’t have kids, but we are joint owners of a small business and our needy 3 dogs (one very senior, 2 rescues with separation anxiety).  For me, I have a very understanding husband who knows how important running is to me.  He is willing to ‘hold down the fort’ for my long run on Saturday.  I do the same on Sunday but for him it is so he can work.  During the week, I combine my run, walk or cycle with my commute to work.  So I do arrive to work later than he does (he drives and brings the doggies) but again, he is very understanding and the amount of time for this varies depending on the season/closeness to a race.

Find out more about Cathy and follow her blog.

So as you can see, regardless of who you are, what challenges you have, what you do for a living or the goals you set for yourself, if you want something bad enough you’ll figure out a way to make it work.  It’s often not easy, sacrifices often need to be made but you can figure out what can work for you.  The key is to know what you want to accomplish, set a goal and then work towards achieving that goal.

my daughter keeping me company on the bike path

my daughter keeping me company on the bike path

Getting fit can also be done with your family.  Planned hikes, workouts at the park, kids riding alongside you as you run.  Be creative, have fun and find what you love to do!

Lastly, for those that find that they cannot afford a gym membership or that they struggle with getting to the gym at the times available for group classes, here are a few of my favourite home workouts.

PiYo (great for body strength exercises and a fantastic workout compliment workout for runners).

21 Day Fix (focuses on portion control with your diet and has a great mix of workouts to jump start anyone looking for a great workout).

I have a ton of dvd’s I rotate through but I seem to come back to these two often.

Do you have a tip on how you fit in your workouts/running with a busy life?  I’d love to hear about it!

When Life Gets Busy

Hitting a Busy Season

Suddenly my life is feeling crazy busy!  I’m so glad I’m entering a taper period just to try and catch up.  Does anyone else feel like this, at least occasionally?   Here’s the thing, most of us will put ourselves last when life gets busy.  If you have a family, are working outside the home and/or have other commitments that keep you busy, you understand what I’m talking about.  I’m in a season of finding a new normal, I think.

Putting running or fitness as a priority in your life can be hard.  I have been struggling lately with getting out for my runs, period.  I’ve been training consistently for over a year and a half.  I think mixing things up and creating a schedule again will help me re-commit to what honestly is very important to me, running. 🙂

So what’s my plan?  Well, that’s just it, I need to create a plan and set some new goals for the rest of the year.  My two big races are coming up this month and then I have two months to play.  So I’m looking at mixing up my workouts, working on some core/strength exercises and keeping a running base.  Come January I’ll be back to training, but in the meantime I feel like mixing up my fitness goals.  In the end, it’ll benefit my running.

Last week I ran the CIBC Run for the Cure.  The weather was perfect!  I love witnessing the variety of runners/walkers who participate in this run.  Most, if not all, have in some way been touched by cancer.  My mother passed away after a 7 year long battle with breast cancer, my mother-in-law beat breast cancer and most recently my sister-in-law has just completed her treatment for a rare form of breast cancer.  Raising awareness and support especially for those who are battling this disease is close to my heart.  Our team raised over $1,700!

You’ve Got 24hrs!

How do you spend your 24hrs?  Let’s face it, many of us live very different lives.  BUT in the end, we all have 24hrs, correct?  So, what fills your time?  What is important to you?  Are you giving time to the things you “say” are important?  If not, how come?

Sometimes we need to look at how we spend our day and weeks and see if they line up with our overall goals.  Are there hours that are wasted online or watching random tv shows that we could instead use to achieve some of our goals?  Can we find even 30min. extra in a day to do something for our health?

I know I can!  I can use time online and television as “down-time” that I tend to relax with. It’s a mindless activity and quite frankly I enjoy it 😉  However, if I am complaining I’m running out of time, I think I can re-prioritize some extra time for working out.  I have a number of home workout DVDs that I LOVE.  I find trying to get to the gym and working a fitness class into my already busy schedule is difficult, so working out at home lets me control the time I do it.

So I’m re-focusing some of my goals to what is important to me.  I’ll be making a plan, writing it out on a calendar (I still use a paper calendar 🙂 ) and staying accountable with a few friends online.

Do you have a plan written out that you follow? OR do you pretty much wing it when it comes to getting a workout/run in?  Do you prefer to workout at a gym?  Or does working out at home benefit you most?


Run, Race and Run Some More

Training, Racing and Tapering

I’m someone who thrives on a schedule, knowing what is coming up and working backwards helps me to have focus.  This year has been a completely different experience for me.  I still have a schedule, but I have added races to my schedule more on a whim than part of a bigger plan.  I don’t know if that’s particularly good or bad thing, but I’ve been having a lot of fun!  However, I’ve been less focused on what I want to accomplish with my running.

I still have a number of races coming up and am looking forward to them all, however, putting some focus back in 2016 will be good for me.

IMG_1595This past weekend I participated in the first ever Girls Run Ottawa, hosted by Run Ottawa.  It was amazing to chat with other runners who were running their very first race.  There were a lot of teen girls running and many women of all shapes, sizes, and ages.  There was a sense of celebration.  Some women were walking it and when the last walkers came in many stuck around to cheer them on.  The course started out at the Terry Fox Facility and ran along Mooney’s Bay, to return to the facility for a second loop.  If you are in Ottawa and a woman you should have this on your list for next year!

Up Next

This Sunday I’ll be running the CIBC Run for the Cure in memory of my mother and in honour of my sister-in-law who has just completed her treatments. This was the very first race I ever participated in (2008), I’m looking forward to sharing this day with so many people who have their own stories and reasons for choosing to participate in this event.  If you would like to donate to the cause please visit my fundraising page.

The Toronto Marathon is also coming up (Oct. 18th) but I’ve been training more for the MEC Race two weeks after Toronto.  This will be my third year running the Toronto Marathon and I’m hoping for a PB.  However, this is my first year running the MEC Race and anything new or unfamiliar makes me want to get ahead of it somehow.  Last week I went out and ran up Gatineau Parkway – 8.5km and then turned around for a total of 16.5km road.  I veered off the parkway and hopped on the trails for another 6.5kms before returning to my car.

Trails have been an important part of my training this past summer and has enabled me to be injury free finally!  I’m trying to still get a few kms of trails in every week.

This week I went the other direction on the Gatineau Parkway and got confused 4kms in 🙂  Usually I’m a planner, as I’ve mentioned, but this year I’ve been so much less “rigid” and more just flowing with it.   This is an example of that.  I should have looked at a map before heading out but just assumed that the parkway would be a loop and I’d just follow it until I returned to my car.  Well, that appears to not be the case!  I mistakenly ran up Dunlop (1km climb) to Camp Fortune.  Then ran back down as it was a dead end.  I ran into some cyclists and asked for some clarity.

I was wearing my I2P patch and one of the guys saw it and said, “I see you are connected with I2P, you must be doing crazy a$$ sh*t”!  Ha, I responded with “well, I’m learning to do crazy a$$ sh*t!” IMG_1615

My coach reminds me often the achievements that I accomplish in my running/training.  I don’t always recognize it, I’m just doing my thing and getting the training done.  Maybe it’s because I am surrounded by so many amazing runners that I look up to.  I appreciate when he tells me though, it’s a good reminder. 😉

After getting some directions I ran up Fortune Parkway and headed towards the Champlain Lookout (this would add on extra kms).  As I was still unfamiliar with the route and had limited time, I returned the way I came from for an out and back.  Besides, after running up Fortune I felt it was my reward to run back down!  I now know what the route should be, so likely next week I’ll head back for an easy go at it.  Total kms was 22km on a very hilly route.  Worth mentioning, 2kms into my run, 3 small black bears ran across the road in front of me (off in the distance but I saw them)!

Time to Taper

Just over two weeks to go before the marathon.  I’ll start to taper now but likely will do one more decent run in Gatineau in preparation for the MEC Race over what I need for Toronto.  Then I’ll take some time to go stir crazy, ummm I mean time for the body to recovery and get prepared for the race.

Fall is by far my favourite running season and one of those reasons is when the leaves start to change.  The next few weeks will be such a colourful reward while running.  Just a little motivation to go up to Gatineau.fall

What are you training for?  How is your training going?  Do you have a favourite season?


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?

Race Day Preparations

Countdown is ON

Crazy excited is an understatement!  I am so looking forward to running the marathon in my home town.  Although I will likely need to keep it slow and steady, not getting any personal bests in terms of my time, I’m still excited to run.  I’ve been dealing with lower leg issues for over 6 weeks now and do not have any power.  I’ve pulled back in hopes of giving them some rest.  I still have 2 goal races to get done in June so I want to prevent a serious injury.

Preparing for Race Day

So what can be done leading up to race weekend?  Here are a few of the things I’m spending my time doing.  I hope it helps you as well.

1. Hydrate/Fuel

Do not wait for the night before the race to eat well.  You should be drinking more water and eating well most days, but at the very least, the week(s) leading up to your race.   Make sure you are loading up on healthy carbohydrates (avoid sugary zero nutrient junk), lean protein and fresh fruits/veggies.  Some of the things I like to eat are: bean patties, oatmeal, chicken breast, salmon, rice, quinoa, fresh fruit (snack mid-morning), salads and sweet potatoes.  Also, get some good fats in your diet.  Avocado and hummus are great for sides or dipping.  I will often add hummus as a side to my bean patties and use it as a dip for fresh cut veggies.

Recipe for bean patties:
can of black beans
1/4 cup oats (I use steel cut ground up)
diced onion (optional)
cumin (to taste)
Bragg’s Liquid (few sprays or 1.5 tsp)
salt/pepper (to taste)


I throw it all in a food processor and then make 4 patties.  I’ve also used a potato masher and mashed the beans then added the rest of the ingredients.  Add some coconut oil to the fry pan and cook the patties at a medium-high heat, both sides.  It makes 4 patties.

2.  Rest/Stretch

Make sure you are getting enough sleep.  Aim for 7-8hrs a night if you can.  Your diet and sleep are important aspects of recovery.  I also take extra time to stretch/do yoga once or twice in the week.  You want to be relaxed and ready for race day.

3. Playlist

Some people prefer listening to the music they trained with.  I personally like to mix it up with a few new songs sprinkled throughout my playlist.  Do not leave this to the night before.  Trust me.  I have had unnecessary stress trying to get my playlist organized the night before a race.  Usually, I scrap the idea and run with what I have.  Not this time.  Got it all done a week ahead of time. 😉

4. Race Day Fuel, Gear and Clothes

I like to plan what I am wearing ahead of time.  You should have already practiced with some long runs, but knowing what you are wearing ensures that it will be clean for race day.  The same goes for your fuel. Now is the time to do a quick inventory of what you have and go buy anything you will need.  Or, write a list and pick it up at the expo (but I like having everything prepared before hand).  This way there are no last minute panics.

5.  Laying It Out

There is a reason a lot of us do Flat Race Runfies – having everything laid out and ready to throw on first thing in the morning gives peace of mind in knowing that you have everything you need for the race.  I use my dining room table to lay out my clothes, gear, fuel, electrolytes, etc.  I do not want to miss anything.   Once I have everything ready, I lay out my race day clothes and take my “flat runner”. 🙂  runme

When I head out in the morning for a race, I’m wearing or carrying everything I will need. Besides, you’ll sleep better knowing it is all together.

6.  Organize Meet Ups

If you are planning on meeting friends and/or family prior to the race or afterwards, choose that spot ahead of time.  Figure out where the road closures will be.  How are you arriving on race day?  Plan these details out in advance to make it easier and less stressful on race day.

7.  Trust Your Training

My last piece of advice would be to trust your training.  Regardless of the distance you are running, if you followed a plan, know that the training will get you to the finish line.  There can be a lot of variables on race day that you cannot control, so don’t try to.  When you get up, deal with the weather and dress accordingly, but do not let that sideline you from doing your best.  Get to the start line, believe in yourself and have fun!  No matter what your time is, whether it turns out to be your best run ever or perhaps your worst,  I guarantee you’ll learn something from it.  Celebrate the hard work you’ve put in and be proud of your well earned medal.

These are the things I like to do ahead of time, as it seems to work for me.  Are there things you do that work better for you?  Is there a tip you’d share with someone running their first race?


I Can and I Will

Training Week In Review

Monday – OFF
Tuesday – 5K (accelerations)
Wednesday – 15K easy
Thursday – 10K tempo
Friday – OFF
Saturday – 20K LSD
Sunday – 15K LSD

I think this has been my best training week so far in 2015.  Every run was good and I’m feeling healthy and strong.  Perhaps finally having some decent weather to run in has also put an extra spring in my step.  Saturday and Sunday brought snow and cold weather again, but knowing it won’t last makes it a little more tolerable.

Fundraising for the Children’s Aid Foundation is going very well.  There is a little extra bonus if you purchase a moisture wicking headband from me between March 13 and March 31, your name will automatically be entered to win this awesome mask.  mask

The mask was generously donated to me by Wasteland Artisan who created a special mask for me for an upcoming race and wanted to help me with my fundraising efforts.

Here are a few of my current favourite headbands:


Some days just get it done!


Just keep going


Yup, do not let others bring you down


Makes me think of my coach


Thankful for all the crazies in my life!

To find out more about my fundraising efforts and to see more headband suggestions please visit: Fundraising.

Spring Freshness

Spring has finally arrived, although it’s hard to believe as the colder temperatures have returned. Knowing it cannot last helps me hang on to the spring fever I felt last week.  I’m actually feeling very good and quite happy to have survived the winter training.

Last year due to my injury my training stopped around the middle of February.   I did not get to experience the benefits of making it through winter and how it would affect my spring training efforts.  I cannot explain the sense of accomplishment that I feel.  I persevered through a minor injury that greatly impacted my confidence.   I wrestled with the fear of being injured and not knowing how to discern the severity of my aches and pains.  My injuries to date have seemingly showed up out of the blue, so how do you avoid it if you cannot see it coming?  This honestly created a very fearful mindset.

My coach had to push me past the point of where my discomfort started, both physically and mentally.  I didn’t like how I was feeling.  Looking back it felt like a slow process but it was certainly building a solid base.

I feel strong as I head into my race season.  I know I’m going to have to tap into the lessons that I learned through the winter as my mileage continues to go up.  I’m aiming to cross a number of goal races/events off my list this year and I believe my mental health is going to help me achieve these goals.

Winter training helped me learn more about myself.  It was a time to face some fears that I hadn’t realized had snuck into my life.  I realized just how tough I am mentally.  On some runs I had to deal with physical aches, mental fears and crazy winter conditions, but I laced up and did it anyways.

I’m so very thankful for what running does for me.  Each training run offers a chance to push harder, have fun, get lost in thought, run with friends or just keep putting one foot in front of the other until it’s over.  Even then, the feeling you get for getting it done is worth it.

This week is a taper week for me as I prepare for Around The Bay.  Having a coach means he makes the plan and I just follow. 🙂  I’m sure I will go a little crazy but I’ll use the time to think about what I want the upcoming season to look like.  Either that or I’ll get some serious spring cleaning done around the house!  Ha!

How about you?  Do you find that running has helped you overcome anything?  What do you love about running the most?


Running Towards Something

Training Week in Review

March 9 – March 15

Monday – OFF
Tuesday – 5K easy
Took a good 3K to warm up.  Crazy tight calves.
Wednesday – 5K easy
Calves still very tight.
Thursday – 6.5K treadmill
500m 6x with 2min. recovery between sets
Friday – OFF
Saturday – 15K
Nice and steady. Felt good.
Sunday – 30K
Ran with running group, it was a good run.   Finished the last 3K on my own.

Do you have dreams?

Maybe they are not so much dreams but perhaps personal goals to one day achieve.  How do you check something off your list?  Does it just work out for you or do you need to plan it?

For myself I think it is both, often.  I like to plan for things but often things seem to fall into place.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have to work for something, but while working towards one goal, sometimes another goal just falls into place.  Or I’ve decided to jump in and go for it even when it wasn’t part of the bigger plan when I started out.

2015 seems to be like that for me.  I had some goals I was working towards, then other, bigger, goals seemed to present themselves in such a way that I didn’t want to say no to them.  Sometimes I think we are just mad. 🙂 photo (31)

So for me that means a busy race calendar.  We are all different and our personalities play a role in how we tackle our goals.  I like to plan, even when a race wasn’t part of the original plan.  I think it is important to be as prepared as possible to avoid injuries.  For myself, it might mean using a race as a training run for the bigger goal races.  Listening to my body more to understand when to pull back or perhaps to shut the mind off as I’m over thinking things.  I’m also being more proactive with acupuncture and massage.
photo (32)

Fine tuning my nutrition is becoming more important to me to ensure that my body is getting the right fuel to handle the amount of training that is required this year.  Limiting some of my favourite things, or perhaps giving them up all together.  I’m also looking at ways to improve my training.  I’m researching more about heart rate training and running in my specific training zones.  I’m not there yet, but I’m always looking for ways to improve.

My first race of the year is coming up at the end of March and it will be the first time I go with a group of strangers on a bus trip.  I’m excited about this, as this is my first time doing this race and the whole experience will be new for me.  I’m excited about how running has challenged me not only physically, but emotionally and socially.  I keep being encouraged to get out of my comfort zone and do new things.

Spring is around the corner and with its arrival is a real sense of new adventure awaiting for me.  My bucket list continues to grow with the things I want to do.  Some of my dream goals only require additional training. Some, however, require a budget and the hope of getting into the race itself.

How about you?  What is on your bucket list?  Do you focus and work hard to achieve those things or are they a someday goal that seem to fall into place at the right time?

Never stop dreaming!

Groundhog says early spring! Here’s to winter running in the meantime

Training Week in Review

(Missed posting last week pretty much the same kms as this week.)

Monday: Yoga
Tuesday: “Over-Under” 6.3K crazy greasy outside (snow/slushy conditions) plus TRX training
Wednesday: “Volume Builder” 10K treadmill run (conditions still terrible outside) plus TRX training
Thursday: “Hill Tempo” 5.5K footing was a challenge still but I ran the circuit as hard as I could.
Friday: Upper Body Strength Training
Saturday: 1hr treadmill (trying out new shoes)
Sunday: “LSD” 15K lots of snow, most sidewalks not cleared but got it done and overall felt pretty strong.

Need help sticking to your winter training plan?

Know your WHY,  have a PLAN and JOIN others.

WHY did you sign up?  Do you have specific goals?  Are you supporting a charity?  Perhaps it’s a motivation to get healthier.  Understanding your why will help you on those days when you just do not feel like getting a run in.  If you want to have a successful race then you need to get your training in.  My suggestion is, make your “why” big enough to help push you to get it done.

Here are my whys:

  1. Fundraising for the Children’s Aid Foundation (my heart connects with this cause).
  2. Running my first Ultra Marathon (50K)
  3. Participating in a World Record Breaking Event in a fall race (using it to fundraise).
Moisture Wicking Headbands

Moisture Wicking Headbands $15 ea. Proceeds go to the Children’s Aid Foundation

You need to have a PLAN.  You cannot just hope it happens, or figure you’ll get it in when you can.  By putting together a schedule it will allow you to work around your life.  Plan ahead and know what distances you need to cover.  If you have an appointment or perhaps you are going on holidays, you want to be fairly consistent with your training.  I have a month planned in advance, review it, break it down for the week and then schedule it in for the day. My days do not all look the same.  Most days I run outside, but as a back-up I have my treadmill.  I try to get my run done early but some days it’s afternoon or evening.  Before I go to bed I know what distance and where/when I’m running for the next day.

JOIN others.  I was mostly a solo runner until I trained for my first marathon.  Now I try to do most of my long runs with the Running Room.  The Running Room has a great program for all race distances, including a Learn To Run one.   Aside from having a variety of personalities along for the long run, I particularly enjoy just following along.  It allows my brain to be shut off for a bit. I do not need to think about pace or directions for the most part.  It gives my brain a “rest” while enjoying conversations with others or a great song on my playlist.  If running with an organized group is logistically difficult, connecting with a friend or two for the entire run or part of the run also helps.

The online community is also an amazing way to stay motivated and connect with other runners.  Most races tend to offer a special group of runners who are passionate about running and helping others on their running journeys.  Check your race website for groups such as Digital Champions (as in The Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon) or Team Awesome (as with Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend).  Follow some of these runners on social media for support, encouragement, motivation and just plain fun in sharing the journey with others.

Last but not least, BELIEVE you can do it.

My coach and mentor Ray Zahab says this:

The challenge is believing that overcoming obstacles is 90% mental and the other 10% is all in our heads.

Going the distance means pushing beyond our perceived limits…

Leading to a discovery that we are ALL capable of achieving the extraordinary!

How about you?  Do you have suggestions to help others get their training in?  I would love to here your thoughts.

What’s that? Things didn’t go as planned?

A day in the life of training for a race.

Last week I made a mental note to get my hill/speed work completed BEFORE my massage/acupuncture appointment.  After my appointment last week I was feeling pretty beat up and could not imagine running.  So, I made a deal with myself 🙂  Do half.  The road conditions were not great so I opted for the treadmill.  I started out with the first km and a bit feeling pretty stiff, but then things started to loosen up.  By three km’s I figured I could get it done, so I did.

I decided during that run that Thursdays I would need to get my run in early.

I woke up this Thursday, relaxed and no big plans on for the day (obviously forgetting about my “note to self” from last week).  I planned on getting some computer work done for our business, get my TRX training in, then lunch, then do my run on the warmer part of the day.  It was only when I was in shorts and about to start on the TRX that it hit me, I had an appt. at noon and I needed to run first!!  GAWD!!  Did I still have time?

Those who run outside in the cold winter months understand it’s not like throwing on running shoes and getting out the door.  You need to layer up. Like, a lot.  Everything just seems to require more time to run outside.IMG_4938

I’m usually a bit of a planner.  I like to know in advance what my training week (well, month) looks like.  I work my life around my runs to ensure I make them happen.  So for the month of January my Thursdays had been pretty relaxed and I could basically run anytime I wanted to.

Once I was all dressed and had my Garmin strapped on, the battery light showed up!  *sigh* Never a good sign.  I have a routine, and I am pretty good at charging it so this doesn’t happen (often).  But I didn’t, I guess.  I need the Garmin to help me know my pace during my speed drill portion.  I’m recording it to see improvement and to know how to push myself.  Well, today would have to be on “feel”,  I need to get my run in.

My usual routine is to run 2K for a warm up, then a 1km hilly route to run at my fastest pace, then recover, stretch and run the 1km route again at full speed, then repeat.  Then easy 2K’s home.  Yesterday, however, I didn’t have a lot of time.  I ran at a good pace to get to the hilly part.  Then I didn’t do very much recovery time between hill sets.  Then ran quickly home.

When I realized I had to get out for my run and the available excuses came my way (including compromising to find 2 layers of pants), I didn’t have time to entertain them.  I just had to run!

How about you?  Do you have those training days, where it is easier to give up or say the signs are saying stay home today??  How do you handle them?