Grand to Grand Ultra – Getting to the Start Line

The Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G) surpassed any thoughts or expectations I may have had about this adventure.

Its been about a year since I first heard about G2G. I was ending 2015 with a sincere desire to inspire others to chase dreams and to not limit themselves. My desire to run G2G was to demonstrate that we can dream big and choose an outrageous goal, make a plan and work hard to achieve it. This race was beyond my comfort level and certainly outside of any experience I had as a runner.

No sleep but all smiles!

Day 2 of BBU

Participating in the Bad Beaver Ultra (BBU) and the 100K i2P Run proved to be 2 of the best training events I could have done. The BBU gave me the confidence of running a multi-stage semi-supportive ultra. I also gained experience with having an extremely bad run day followed up by an incredible run day. This helped me realize that I could push hard and get through a difficult day, rest/sleep and and do it all over again.

i2p night runJust two weeks after the BBU I attempted my first 100km run (i2P). The goal of this race was to gain experience running at night (the first 50km), but I had every intention of completing it. During the night portion of the run I experienced an upset stomach from about 5km’s on, and extreme knee pain for at least the last 25km’s.  I took off to start the next 50km’s before my coach could talk me out of it, after all we accomplished the primary goal. The pain was so bad during the next 23km’s I had to limp going downhills, eventually it was continuous pain. I chose to pull out at 73kms (after some tears) as this was intended for training and was not my goal race (perhaps I’m maturing??)  I had never experienced this kind of pain and was concerned about an injury preventing me from running G2G. This race gave me incredible mental training and confidence that I could keep going even if I experienced pain.

Both of these races were in August, so by the beginning of September, I was struggling to get out for my long runs. I mentally was feeling exhausted and my life was incredibly busy. I managed a few more quality runs, but not as many as I would have liked. I worried I wouldn’t be ready, began to doubt myself, my training, etc.. It came down to making sure I was mentally in a positive place, so I focused on getting my head ready!

I headed down to Kanab, Utah on Monday to get acclimatized to the altitude and adjust to the dry heat (race start was the following Sunday). Runners began arriving throughout the week and it was nice to connect with others who were about to experience this amazing race.

little shake out run

little shake out run

Some I ran with during the week to loosen up and explore, others I had either lunch or dinner with. To my surprise, there were many  first time stage racers. Of course there were many experienced and elite runners as well. I loved hearing everyone’s stories as to why they were taking on this challenge, it put me at ease.

My Gold Sticker!

My Gold Sticker!

The Grand to Grand Ultra is a self-supported race requiring you to carry everything you need for the 7 days, including food. A tent and hot water was provided at camp every night (and morning) but everything else was your responsibility. The mandatory gear check-in was Friday afternoon, runners were given a gold sticker if they had everything necessary.

My bag weighed in at 23.2 lbs, I believe 10lbs of that was food 🙂 Many of the people I was chatting with had bags weighing approximately 13-16lbs. Of course, this caused me to second guess my gear/food and I wanted to eliminate more weight but I had crazy light gear and I was sure I needed the food 🙂 I purged a little more and think I came back starting around 22 lbs. Turns out the average weight for bags was just over 19lbs.

My coach called me and gave a big pep talk and told me to trust the plan and follow it! He convinced me that I would be happy I didn’t get rid of things and would need the food to fuel properly to get through the event. So, I did what I was told and more than once I said to myself during the race, “Ray, you were right”!

Friday evening was the welcome dinner and a chance to meet all the runners, volunteers and of course race directors. It was a fun evening, but I think we were all extremely antsy to get started! We were given our race bibs, tent mate list, race booklet and other essentials for the race. Much to my surprised I was sharing a tent with my fellow Canadian friend and 5 men! I had a chance to meet so many runners but none of them were the names listed as my tent mates, with whom I’d be sharing a tent with for 6 nights. Honestly, by this point, everything just became all part of the adventure. I guess I would meet them eventually 🙂

There were 139 racers heading to the start line from I believe 24 different countries.

First van out!

First van out!

It was a long drive so of course there was a mandatory pit stop for a bathroom break.

Bathroom break - boys on one side; girls on the other

Bathroom break – boys on one side; girls on the other

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Arriving at Camp 

My home for 7 nights

My home for 7 nights

Dinner was catered (and delicious), last minute guidelines and rules were given and before you know it we were heading off to bed for hopefully a good nights sleep.

Dinner - What a view!!

Dinner – What a view!!                           pc: Grand to Grand Official Photos

 

pc: Grand to Grand Ultra Official Photo

Goodnight Moon                                      pc: Grand to Grand Ultra Official Photo

Music blared on speakers at 6am sharp to get everyone moving, hot water was ready. Let’s do this!

Stay tuned for the journey after crossing the start line…..

 

 

Ottawa Race Weekend Recap 2016

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

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Only some of Team Awesome Members – new friends!

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

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

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

X-Mile Crew 2016

X-Mile Crew after running the last runner in

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

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

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After the sponge station

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Water misters along the route

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Chasing Dreams

When the going gets tough….you just gotta keep going

When you set goals, do you count the cost before making the commitment? Do you consider the sacrifices you are going to need to make? What about the kind of support that you will need? Are you willing to put the hard work in to make your goal a reality?

It doesn’t matter what kind of goal you set, these should be questions you ask yourself. When the idea of doing Grand to Grand came about I felt very strongly that I needed to do this. It was outside of my comfort zone, it was beyond what I was currently trained to do. I seriously thought that suggesting this to my husband and coach would get an immediate response of, “you’re just not ready”. I think often its a good idea to bounce ideas off friends and family members, but in this case it only mattered to me what my family and coach thought. To my surprise, my husbands response was simple “you can do it”, not as given me permission 😉 but he believed if I made the commitment to make this run happen then it would happen. Equally surprising was my coaches response, his only question was why I wanted to do it. As I shared with him my desire to encourage people, particularly young people, to look past their current situations and dream big for their lives, it became very clear that it was extremely similar to the vision he has for i2P. I laughed out loud when this occurred to me.

Have you ever met someone whom you just know there is a reason why your paths crossed.  That is how I feel about my coach. We connected “by chance”, kept in touch and eventually he became my running coach.

So why inspire young people? Or really anyone who might be limiting themselves to dream big or see a different life for themselves? I was raised by a single mom (with my father in jail), with little extras in life. I grew up in neighbourhoods where patters were repeated, generation after generation. My mom wanted more for us, she wanted to break the cycle. I see young people, especially today, that have many challenges to overcome. Many kids today do not have the kind of support that says to them, “Believe in yourself”! I want to send a message to people to not focus on why you cannot accomplish something but instead start to look at what they would need to do in order to accomplish what they really want.

I knew the message I wanted to say but did not know how to tangibly demonstrate that message. How could I show people, that with a goal and hard work, the seemingly impossible could be accomplished.

Grand to Grand Ultra came across my newsfeed on facebook one day. I remember seeing it and thinking, wow, maybe one day. I had been running for a number of years now and loved training for marathons but this was beyond my current level of running. Then it hit me, wasn’t that the point. If I made a decision to chase this goal, to commit to the training and to work hard, wasn’t it possible to accomplish this. It terrified me but I felt that this was the kind of “out of my comfort zone” goal needed to encourage others to start dreaming beyond their own comfort zones.

To my surprise my coach was immediately on board. Once I shared my reasons for wanting to do it, he said, “okay, lets do this”. He then went on to say how much he believed I could and would get me ready to do it.

I have been doing back to back long runs for a while now. Running 20km Saturday/Sunday, then 23km on both days the following weekend, and even 29km back to back. All of it has been road running as I had sprained my ankle snowshoeing and couldn’t handle the instability of the trails/snow. It’s been good and I’ve been building up consistency. I had been running at least one of these long runs with the Running Room group for company as well.

IMG_0687About a month ago, my coach wanted to add hill training into the mix.  Both my long runs were now going to be up in Gatineau Park, still mostly on the road but with lots of hills mixed in. To get comfortable with the hills, my coach had me start with 10km both days, increase to 20km (both) the following weekend and last weekend he had me do 30km back to back. I have also been running these runs alone. I’m learning a lot about myself during these training runs.

What I learned this past weekend:

  • I enjoy the solitude that running alone gives me
  • I am no longer intimidated when seeing a huge hill
  • throwing an extra layer in the car “just in case” is a very good idea
  • figure out what you need to do BEFORE you set out for your run in order to get it done and not quit (ie., avoid going back to car in between loops)
  • use positive self-talk while running and recognize how well you are doing
  • avoid sitting on the “evil” chair (as a friend put it) when doing loops for your long run 🙂

thechair

IMG_0659Preparing for these double long runs is requiring a bit more planning. I am now needing post run snack for the drive home and figuring out fuel for during the run. So far Nuun Active and Nuun Plus has been keeping me hydrated well. The weather has also been making it tricky to know just what to wear starting out as it warms up by up to 10degrees by the end of my run. Oh, and of course I’m training with my pack now so am carrying an extra 11lbs on my back!

Getting a recovery week and then training starts back in the trails!

Do you have dreams or goals that you’ve been putting off? What’s holding you back?

 

 

Spring has Sprung!

Washing Away Winter

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

Sick and Tired

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

Training and Learning

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

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

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

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

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

It’s an adventure 🙂

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

Building Up / Testing Out

Let the training begin…..or not

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

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

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Bringing Together My Two Loves For One Grand Adventure

I did not go into 2015 with the intention of running so many races.  I knew that I would do a spring and fall marathon but all the in betweens just kind of happened.  Running can be an individual sport but also very social.  Given an opportunity to travel with running friends and run my first Ultra was too good to pass up!  AND I have no regrets in doing so.  I found out that my mental strength was quite strong.  This of course boosted my confidence for bigger goals.

I remember just prior to running my Ultra I thought I was going to take it easy in 2016.  Allow myself to recover fully and give my body a rest.  If I could just get through running this race then I would likely slow down for a bit.  Ummmm, so that didn’t happen!

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

Volunteering – Is It For You?

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

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

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

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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?!

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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?

 

Fall Into Fitness Exchange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So yes, another tattoo 😉 PicMonkey Collage

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

Here is what she put together for me:

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

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

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

Thank you so much Tina!

Have you ever participated in an exchange similar to this?

Check out the others who participated in this exchange.


Favourite Running Clothes and #STWM Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

runhappysleeves

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

photo credit: Edison Yao

photo credit: Edison Yao

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

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

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

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

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

MEC tights/t-shirt

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

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

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

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

We did it!

We did it!

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

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

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

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