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.


PinkRunner
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?

 

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.

misc

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.

IMG_1459

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

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

medals

AND the medals!!!  BEST Bling EVER!

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticking With It

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

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

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

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

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

Falling Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Race Schedule:

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

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

Sunrise Run

Sunrise Run

Sunset Run

Sunset Run

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

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

Girl’s Run Ottawa (Sept. 27)
5K

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

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (Oct. 18)
Marathon

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

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

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

Cookie Run (Nov. 7)
10K

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

Resolution Run (Dec. 31)
10K

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

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

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

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

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

hills

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Every Eye and Heart Wants

My absolute two favourite running accessories

Living in Ottawa, Canada means that I am blessed with four seasons.  My favourite season, for many reasons, is fall.  Running year round means having a collection of gear, accessories, seasonal clothing and a multitude of tried and true tips/tricks that I’ve learned over the years.

I love the running community!  It is a place where everyone runs for different reasons, has their own motivation and goals.  Some are just starting out, others have been running their whole lives.  It is a community where we share experiences, knowledge and simply the joy or love for running.  I know a number of recreational runners. However, most of the runners I hang out with have a schedule, are training towards a specific goal/race and have acquired a lot of stuff! Let’s face it, there is a ton of amazing running gadgets, gear, equipment, clothing, etc. that just makes running better!

Sunglasses

I run outside all year round, this means I’m exposed to all kinds of weather conditions.  I have a hard time finding sunglasses that fit properly (What can I say, I have unique facial features 😉 ).  I came across Sundog Eyewear Sunglasses at a race expo and immediately fell in love with the fit.  I found them late fall and wore them throughout the winter!

helps keep wind and snow out of my eyes (vented so they do not fog up)

helps keep wind and snow out of my eyes (vented so they do not fog up)

My past sunglasses have fogged up during some cold winter conditions, but the Sundog sunglasses were vented just right and did not fog up.

I purchased two more pair at the next expo and haven’t worn a different brand since.  I now have several pairs, in a variety of styles and colours.  Every pair is awesome and allows me to match with headbands, etc. when I feel like it. (seriously I’m not usually a girly girl or do I care to be all matchy matchy but with running if I can, why not)!

IMG_5445 IMG_5411 IMG_5380 IMG_5643There are a host of other reasons to love Sundog Sunglasses.  Sundog is committed to offering outstanding value, impeccable styling, dependability and superior protection from the elements.  I have found all of these things to be 100% true!

They are passionate about style but driven to provide their customers with the very best in eye protection and focus on being a leader when it comes to technology.  I’ll leave the details of their technology to them by encouraging you to read about the technology behind their lenses.

I will say that there is an obvious difference in their lenses.  I often forget I’m even wearing sunglasses.  They simply provide more visual clarity than anything I have ever worn before.

IMG_0918I recently decided to try their more casual line of sunglasses.  I love the look of the aviator sunglasses but could never find a pair to fit properly.  They are always too big for my face, either overpowering my face or fitting too loose to fit securely.  I now have 3 pairs of aviator style sunglasses from Sundog and all three pair fit beautifully and I feel good wearing them.

So whether I’m running, driving, walking the dogs or simply out enjoying the sunshine, I can be found sporting a pair of Sundog Sunglasses.

Heart Rate Monitor

Something perhaps unknown about me, is I have a weird obsession with numbers.  Even during mundane tasks I catch myself counting.  So it’s no surprise to me that I also like numbers when it comes to running.  I like to track my kilometres throughout the year/month/week.  I appreciate knowing what my current pace is and my average pace after a long run.   I use the Runkeeper app to track my distance during a run and to keep a record of my overall km’s.  I also use my Garmin to monitor my pace during my runs.  Most recently I’ve been keeping a record of my heart rate during my training runs.  I love learning more about myself and how I can improve.  My latest “gadget/accessory” is the Mio Strapless Heart Rate Monitor.  I never ran with a heart rate monitor, as the few times I attempted to, I had to use one with a strap and I would chafe.  After discovering the Mio Heartrate Monitor I am now consistently using it to monitor my training zones and to get more out of my training.  I was able to pair the Mio heart rate monitor with Runkeeper so now my heart rate details are also being logged.  The monitor has the ability to monitor my heart rate, track calories burned, track distance, speed and pace.  It can also be linked to a variety of apps (using bluetooth 4.0 transmission), it can be used as a watch or as a timer. Also, it has a battery life of 20hrs.   Speaking of holding a charge, how easy is this to charge the monitor?!

USB plugs easily into your computer (or anywhere reallY)

USB plugs easily into your computer (or anywhere reallY)

Mio Heart Rate Monitors also play well with others!  Here is a list of apps that are compatible: Apps

However,  it isn’t necessary as there is a Mio Go App that you can pair with your wristband to track your heart rate, pace and distance, including a map and other cool features.   I’m still in transition from using some old favourites and discovering all the cool features of this new amazing equipment.  Find out how you can train smarter with a Mio Heart Rate Monitor: Why is Heart Rate Training Important? 

I have a small wrist and was not sure how the band was going to fit. Turns out you wear it a little higher on the forearm.  It is very comfortable and I forget I’m wearing it.  The face of the band is large enough to see a variety of the features available.  The Mio Go App will allow you to explore even more features.  There are simply way too many things about this heart rate monitor that I love to get into but seriously, go check out their website and have a look around.

mioblue

 

Worth mentioning is the blue, green and red light that is easily visible while I’m running.  It tells me when I’m running below (blue), within (green) and above (red) my target heart rate zones.  This helps me to adjust my run accordingly just with a glance down at my wrist.miogreen

I absolutely love the possibilities of this heart rate monitor to enhance all my training needs!  I was so impressed with this product that I reached out to the company and became an ambassador!  You can order a heart rate monitor of your choice here: Mio Global.  (see below on how you can save 25%)

I truly love both of these products and believe in them so much that I asked for a special discount for my readers to try for themselves.  Message me if you’d like to get the discounts.

Full Disclosure: After purchasing 3 pairs of Sundog sunglasses I was provided with a few pairs to do a review on.  In addition I was provided with the heart rate monitor to do an honest review and have since become an ambassador.

 

 

 

 

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?

Toronto and Tiffany

Bucket List Races

Do you have a bucket list of things you hope to do one day? Do you go after them and check them off a list? I have an idea of the things I’d like to do, some things I write down and other things are just kept quietly in my head.

Running a Nike run has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, however, I hadn’t given it a ton of thought or planned for it as it has always been held in San Francisco. It simply was a “one day” goal. The draw of course is the Tiffany necklace given to you as the medal when you cross the finish line.

Toronto Nike 15K 2015 Necklace

Toronto Nike 15K 2015 Necklace

So when I heard Nike was doing a world tour and the Canadian city was Toronto, I knew I had to apply to get in. In order to get in to the race you have to apply and get selected through a lottery (random draw).

I had a busy spring race schedule but the run in Toronto was a 15K (not the 21K I expected for San Francisco) so it fell nicely into my training plans for the Niagara Ultra. It was Easter Sunday when the emails went out to notify us if we had been selected. I got the email! Throughout the day it was being posted all over social media others who also managed to get in.

The Weekend

A friend of mine was also selected so we traveled to Toronto together, sharing a hotel. I had booked the hotel and selected it based on where I thought the Ferry pick up/drop off would be. I am not familiar with Toronto too much so this was a bit of a guess. Turns out we could not have had a better spot. We stayed at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel and it was perfect.

We had to be at the ferry for 6:30am. The race didn’t start until 9:30am and we didn’t get through the start line until 9:51am!  Neither of us had ever experienced such a long wait before the start before. The race was held on the Toronto Islands and Nike needed to get over 10,000 runners to the Islands before the start (not including all the volunteers and spectators). Clearly ferry times had to be staggered. There was a lot of complaining on social media, but truly I just felt blessed to be able to participate and take in the experience. They had an amazing “party” arranged, lots of music and photo props for capturing memories. Unfortunately, the weather did not co-operate and what could have been spectacular was overshadowed with just wanting to start the run.

waiting in our coral

waiting in our coral

By the time we were in our start corals the rain was really coming down and I was pretty chilled, we’re talking shivering-goose bumps-and-teeth-chattering chilled.  I think it was because we sat around waiting for hours to start.  Nike anticipated this and offered heat blankets to those who wanted them (unfortunately we didn’t grab one).  There were a number of waves being sent out every 5 minutes or so.  We were in the front of Wave 4.

wave4

When we finally crossed over the start line, I embraced the rain and took in everything around me.  It was a beautiful spot, with unimaginable views.  Spectators were still out cheering us on and the music on the route was incredible.  The rain stopped and then the humidity hit.

favorite moment - choir singing hymns (check out cool nike shoes).

favorite moment – choir singing hymns (check out cool nike shoes).

enjoying the experience

enjoying the experience

I was running my first Ultra the following weekend so my friend and I had already decided to treat this run as a fun run (not worry about the time).

along the boardwalk

along the boardwalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took time to capture a number of photos and enjoy the views (although we did really well with our time 🙂 ).

views were simply spectacular

views were simply spectacular

running on the tar mac at the airport was seriously cool with planes taking off beside us

running on the tarmac at the airport was seriously cool with planes taking off beside us

my favorite

my favorite

Coming in at the end we pushed it for a strong finish.  The experience was amazing and the race memorable. I am truly thankful to have been able to participate in this worldwide event.

Little blue box

Little blue box

So what’s on your bucket list?  A favourite destination?  A must experience event?  I still have two more that I’m figuring out when and how to accomplish.  Run Dopey at Disney (5K, 10K, 21K and finish with 42.2K over 4 days) and back to back marathons (1 week apart).

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?

Ottawa Race Weekend 2015

Well, I did it!  After previously attempting twice to run the Ottawa Marathon I was finally able to get it done. (Injuries took me out the previous two times, having me run two fall marathons instead).

The journey to race day was an experience I will cherish for a long time.  I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of Team Awesome for the race, which was basically a group of runners, running a variety of distances, committed to connecting and encouraging other runners online on the journey to race weekend.  It was fun and I met a lot of amazing people along the way who I hope to stay connected with as we all continue to chase goals and live life full of adventure.

The weekend started Friday night where I was able to connect with some members of Team Awesome at a casual event.  TeamAwesomeIt was great to see people in person who I’ve been chatting with online for months.  It was a wonderful evening, ending with my husband winning a great door prize, a Beau’s Brewery Gift Package.  beauwinnerHe’s been so amazing supporting me in all my adventures so I was thrilled when he won this.

Beau's Git

Beau’s Race Weekend Gift Package

What a beautiful gift.

Saturday I decided to take in the 5K/10K races as a spectator and supporter.  Being downtown on race day is electric to say the least.  The weather was perfect and the atmosphere was a true celebration of a great weekend that all came together perfectly.   The team at RunOttawa did an amazing job at making the weekend a lasting memory for so many people. Congratulations to all of you for the hard work and incredible success.

I was able to get up close to the finish line to see the elites come in and break many course records.   You can view video here:  Elite Runners Finish Line

Then witnessing the youngest and oldest runners complete their races.

dad carried this sweet angel the entire race

dad carried this sweet angel the entire race

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Every runner crossing the finish line has a story and a reason to celebrate.  Too often we look at the finish times, but honestly isn’t it the journey to get to the start line where the story really begins?  It was moving to witness firsthand, up close and personal, many people achieving personal goals and victories as they crossed the finish line.  It was motivational for me, as I was about to line up in the morning to accomplish one of my own personal goals of running the marathon in my home city, Ottawa.

I had not intended on being out so late on Saturday night, so getting the final things ready and off to bed was certainly later than my original plan.  The morning came early, 4:15am early!  I started my morning with oatmeal, my go to race morning breakfast.  Coffee and some final touches on getting my gear ready and I was in the car and off to the race before I knew it.  Of course, pre-race jitters required that I found a bathroom before starting.  This was also the intention of many other runners preparing to start.  I was still in line at 6:55, with a 7am start time for the race.  I managed to hop in to a corral just in time (4 hr. pace, not my group 😉 ), with less than a minute to spare to set things up (music/running app).

Pace bunny up ahead 4:00 (not my pace group)

Pace bunny up ahead 4:00 (not my pace group)

focussed on getting my music playlist going

focussed on getting my music playlist going

We were off!

I settled in to my own pace early and managed to connect with a friend very early on in the race and we ended up running the entire marathon together.  It was an experience I will never forget.  The first half of the marathon was pretty decent, with the weather starting to heat up for the second half.  By the time we hit 25K the sun was really beating down on us.  I was very thankful for the awesome water stations, especially sponges that were being handed out.  I have never soaked myself with water during a race before, but this time around I dumped water over myself a few times in an effort to stay cool.

The crowd was incredible throughout the race with so many people out cheering us on. crowds were incredible throughout the courseHome owners had sprinklers/hoses out so we could run through them to cool off.  Children were out handing out freezies, which certainly was appreciated by many.

Family and friends arranged to be out on the course around the 33K mark to cheer us on and provide extra treats and water if needed.  Always special to see people you know along the route.

Often we can head into a race with a time goal in mind, usually to get a personal best.  I had this in mind in the beginning as well, but along the way decided it was more about the experience and running with a friend that made the day memorable and one that I could be proud of.

Training continues for me as I am running the Women’s Nike Run in Toronto this coming weekend and my first Ultra Marathon the following weekend.  Life is an adventure, sharing the adventure with others makes it a beautiful journey.

Have you run a marathon before?  Have you ever ran one in your home town/city?  I think it is one of the most beautiful ways to experience a city, the people in it and of course the landscape.

Happy Running Friends.