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

Volunteering – Is It For You?

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

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

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

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Running Adventures with Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

MECrace

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?!

mecracefriends

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?

 

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?