Let’s Get This Started – Grand to Grand Ultra

How do you start a 273km run? Just like any other run, one foot in front of the other 🙂 It seemed like forever to arrive at the start line and then suddenly Day 1 was here!

Day 1

what became my corner in the tent

what became my corner in the tent

I think most of us were awake before the 6am music started playing. This was our first night and morning adjusting to sharing a tent with strangers. There was snoring, rustling mattresses, zippers opening for middle of the night bathroom needs, etc.  We were awake, trying to be polite and discrete as we tried to get organized to run almost 50km’s for Day 1.

myself, Lisa and Gary

myself, Lisa and Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jar of Hope - Team Jamesy

Jar of Hope – Team Jamesy

I had arranged to meet up with 2 runners, Lisa and Gary, to see if our pace allowed us to run the day together. There was such an energy at the start line, lots of excitement and nerves. This is where I was first introduced to Jar of Hope and why this team was running. I listened to James share about how he was literally running to save his sons life. I was inspired by his story, in his fight and would later connect with James to get involved.

warming up - first km of Day 1

warming up – first km of Day 1

Back to the start 🙂  We headed out from a remote location on the north rim of the Grand Canyon (altitude 5344 feet). Before we could think about it,139 runners set out to complete the 49.6kms required for Day 1. Previous Grand to Grand competitors shared that the first day could be brutal: it was flatter, a lot of the same terrain and full on sun, oh and consisted of a cacti minefield! They were not wrong. The temperature was actually not that bad, with a high I believe of 24°C, but with no shade to be found it was certainly hot!

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The cacti were a tad sneaky! I’ve never seen such a variety of cacti before. Some could be avoided but there were some little ones that were difficult to see and if you stepped on them it could go through your shoe. At one point I had one leap out from behind me and attach itself to my leg (or at least that is what it seemed like 🙂 ). It must have been loose on the ground and got kicked up by my foot. Thankfully, it did not really attach and was easily removed.

Canadian Gal Pals

Canadian Gal Pals

There were 24 countries represented with the 139 participants, 11 Canadians. Yvonne and Crystal were fellow Canadian gal pals with whom I had the privilege of connecting with on the course periodically.

 

 

 

There were a variety of challenges on this day, however, heading into camp stands out. We were still dealing with cacti but now there was a barbed wire fence thrown in for what seemed miles. Instinctively, I wanted to grab hold of this fence to help me, to offer some support, this seemed particularly cruel to me!  I was tired, hot, not thinking clearly and now had to remind myself continually to not grab hold of that convenient fence beside me 🙂

so many times I wanted to grab the fence!

so many times I wanted to grab the fence!

...Don't doubt it, don't doubt it Victory is in your veins...

…Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in your veins…

 

Lisa and I managed to stay with Gary the entire day, until the end, where we ran ahead listening to Katy Perry’s “Rise” on speaker as we crossed the finished line.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2

Remember the cacti? Well arriving into Camp after Day 1 it was obvious that we would be sleeping on top of many cacti! This made me nervous sleeping as I had an air mattress and heard that in previous years some had been punctured. I did not sleep well at all and woke up numerous times afraid to puncture the mattress (even though I had a tarp down to help provide an extra barrier).

Day two: climbed out of Camp 1 and ended up down in Camp 2

Day Two: climbed out of Camp 2 with a big decent to Camp 3

This morning we would spend a good portion climbing. The reality of what we were in for began to set in. I found Day 2 to be extremely hot and hoped my plan for fueling and hydrating was going to work!

These views though!!

These views though!!

2016-09-26_23-31-14_richardsonThe landscape was truly spectacular, like nothing I had ever seen before. Gary and I had decided to stick together for another day and had started to fall in to a bit of a rhythm. We were figuring out our strengths and weaknesses and how to push each other. We started seeing “regulars” at check points and running periodically with other runners who we would pass and then they’d pass us again later on.

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Day 2 Completed!

Although no one had dropped out on Day 1 (a first for G2G), today 5 competitors had decided to not continue. For all the competitors participating this was not good news, we really did want to see everyone finish.

Resting up, so I can start Day 3

Resting up, so I can start Day 3

Coming up….Day 3 and beyond…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping Continues – Grand to Grand Ultra

Gathering Up The Gear

Things are moving very fast suddenly with only 38 days to go before the start of the Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G)! I am flying out early so really I have less than a month to finish getting everything organized.

I have been slowly gathering the mandatory items required by for G2G. Testing out all my gear last weekend in the Bad Beaver Ultra (BBU) had me reconsidering some things.

Things that are working for me:
  • My shirt:  I’ve settled on the Lululemon Swift Tech Shirt. It is moisture wicking, light weight and antimicrobial.
  • My back pack: I had to try out a few to find the right fit for me but finally settled with the Osprey Rev 24. I’ll admit I’m concerned about getting everything into my pack but my coach will have the final say of removing things 🙂
  • Eyewear: I was concerned about this as I have had some eye issues over the past few years when wearing contacts for more than a few hours. I now only wear them to run BUT given we will be running multiple days for hours upon hours this could be an issue. I tested out daily contacts for BBU and had them in for 12+ hours every day and I forgot I was wearing them! No infections so fingers (and toes) crossed 🙂 I will be using my favorite Sundog Sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses are also an option but I’m running out of time (and money)!
  • Shoes: Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 is my shoe. It’s the one my coach recommended to me when I first started trail running. If it isn’t broke why fix it!
  • Sleeping Bag: Check (light weight and very compact)
  • Whistle: Check
  • Lightweight Down Jacket: Check
  • Headlamp: Check (need two with spare batteries)
  • Red Flashing Light: Check (worn at night)
  • Meals: breakfast and dinner is worked out, most snacks but working on in race fuel.
  • Medical Clearance Certificate: My doctor doesn’t get it but has cleared me 🙂
What I am now tweaking,  re-evaluating or still need to do:
  • Sleeping Pad: As the G2G is a self-supported race, I will be carrying everything including my sleeping bag and sleeping mat. I had planned on using the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Mattress but there are some people that have experienced their mats being punctured on the dessert floor. So the other option is carrying the Solite Sleeping Pad, which is extremely light but bulky and would need to be attached to the outside of my pack.
  • GPS Watch: My faithful (but old) Garmin has served me well but is not as reliable to charge lately. It has a max. of 12-13hrs. battery life. I’ve been looking at a new watch as I will need one in the future but adding this expense before my trip doesn’t seem like a true necessity. During my BBU experience I chatted with an experienced runner who only uses a watch to track time on his stage races. This seems like a more practical option, as I do need to know how long I am out and keep cut-off times on my radar. I have an old Timex Ironman Watch that might do the trick. However, still considering the Suunto Ambit 3 Sport Watch.
  • Fuelling/Hydration: This has not been a big issue for me but after my experience in the BBU, with the duration of being out and the heat, I realize I have missed the mark here. After speaking with my coach, we have a plan in place and will test it out this coming weekend at the i2P Run.
  • Shorts: I have been training with the same shorts since Spring and have loved them, however, with the duration of the time out for BBU and the extreme humidity I was chaffing by day 2. I ended up wearing my sleeping capris on day 3 to avoid being uncomfortable.  That sent me on a search for shorts that would be a bit longer to avoid chaffing. Although the temperature will be hot in the Grand Canyon it will be a very dry heat. I do not know if I’ll have an issue of chafing but I do not want to be dealing with it if I can avoid it by adding 1.5 cm to my shorts. I ended up finding a pair from Under Amour and gave them a test run this week. The big test will be at the i2P run coming up this weekend.
  • Patches: I need to have my Canadian Flag and i2P patches put on my pack and my shirts. It is mandatory to have your countries flag on the left sleeve of your shirt(s). The i2P patch is because I’m a very proud supporter and I’ve been working hard to raise $5,000 for the youth ambassadors heading off to Death Valley in September (they will be running during the time I am running, kind of cool as they will be in my heart)! You can still help me by donating here.
  • Gaiters: I have two options here and I am still torn as to what to do 🙂 This will be my priority after this weekends run. It is a matter of deciding and then fitting the shoes accordingly.
  • Compass: need to purchase and get some basic training!
  • Signal Mirror: min. 6cm diameter still need to purchase
  • Knife: min. 5cm blade – need to purchase
  • Emergency Blanket/Space Blanket: min. requirement 1.4mx2.2m (turns out mine is 1.3mx2.1m *sigh*)
  • Blister Kit: almost complete
  • Precscriptions: I have the prescriptions (required to deal with nausea/diarrhea and pain) but still need to get them filled.
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photo from Nia’s facebook 🙂

I have to say this has been an incredible journey since January of this year. I have felt from the beginning that this journey was meant to be and I still feel very strongly about that.  I had the honour of meeting and running with 3 of the i2P Ambassadors that I am fundraising for.

Although the money raised will go directly to support i2P,  when someone gives it’s a special message to me that says, “Leanne, I believe in you and am so proud of you”. I’ve taken it to heart and am so thankful!

Next up the i2P 100K! The focus is the 50km night run to get some training in for running through the night but if I can make the cut-off times and feel like I can do it, I will continue and run the 50km day run.

If you have tips or suggestions to help me finish my check list I’d love your input!

Chasing Dreams…..

Lake Superior – Gate to Gate Run

Goals and Friends

Running has allowed me to meet so many amazing people. I’ve met a number of people online and sometimes I get the opportunity to eventually meet in person. That’s what happened with my friend Agnes. Agnes and I met through facebook a little over a year ago when a number of our mutual friends kept popping up in our news feeds. Agnes and I both support i2P (Impossible to Possible) and we have the same running coach, so it seemed natural to connect.

From the beginning we supported one another with our running goals. The very first time Agnes and I met for coffee we chatted about our running goals 🙂 Agnes mentioned an idea she had for an epic run that she wanted to organize to raise awareness for i2P. My hand went up immediately, please sign me up! Over the next several months whenever Agnes came to Ottawa, we would get together for a running adventure of our own making. It’s been fun. She is seriously a beautiful person with a genuine heart to encourage others.

That of course was before I had any idea what my own epic run in 2017 would require of me.  When Agnes messaged me recently, with the details of her run, I wasn’t sure if I could commit. Would it sideline me from my own training?  Did I want to put finances out when I was already under pressure for the financial commitment to my own run? Would my coach think it was a good idea?  When my coach gave the thumbs up, I decided I had to do this with Agnes and the other stuff would work itself out.

I love what Agnes wrote on facebook about what we were doing? (copied below)

“ad•ven•ture: n. A challenging journey that pushes us beyond ourselves in a positive direction and allows us to engage the world directly, defy personal limitations, expand our understanding, and inspire others.” Tomorrow, this team is heading up to Lake Superior Provincial Park. This Saturday, we will be running from the North Gate to the South Gate, along one of Canada’s most scenic routes on King’s Highway 17 (part of Trans Canada Highway). This 83 km stretch hugs the rugged shores of Lake Superior, providing spectacular views that were a huge inspiration to Canada’s Group of Seven painters. This is not a race, there will be no medals at the end – we are doing this to bring awareness to impossible2Possible, an amazing organization that inspires us all to reach beyond our perceived limits and create memories of a lifetime.

The Weekend

The weekend started with a 12hr drive from Ottawa to Batchawana Bay, ON. I picked up Gesine early Friday morning and we were off. We ended up driving 12hrs, including a 2hr detour accidentally, but the drive was beautiful, the company amazing and I gained a new friend family member. Finally we arrived, met the rest of the team, had dinner and then a quick photo before heading off to our hotel to get organized and hopefully some sleep.

The Runners

The Runners

Woke up at 4:50 am with the sound of trucks whipping along HWY 17, the same hwy we would be running on. I’ll be honest, this made me somewhat uncomfortable to think that we would be running along this for most of the day/evening. There was no turning back, I pushed those thoughts aside.

Gesine and I realized we were not going to get anymore sleep so we got up and rechecked gear, clothes and of course water/nutrition (in the end we forgot our cooler of extra water/hydration mix)!! We met the other half of the team to start the drive to our drop off point, a 1.5 hr. drive along Lake Superior. We missed our drop off (construction on the road), making our starting time later than we had intended.

On route to our drop off

On route to our drop off

We finally got started close to 9:30 am and the temperature was already climbing, we knew we were in for a hot day.

The entire route was made up of rolling hills (part of the beauty when driving), with some inclines continuing for 2-4 kms at a time. The final 4 km was by far the the worst and steepest, but we completed it!

Shot this video at the 11 km mark along the route.

Some of my thoughts during the run:

  • I am not trained for road running
  • what was I thinking
  • man this is amazingly beautiful
  • no doubt people must think we are insane
  • these truckers are amazing – very supportive – I bet they are messaging other truckers to watch out for us
  • okay, seriously I am not going to be able to complete Bad Beaver let alone Grand to Grand Ultra
  • I don’t think I even want to! (see above thought)
  • Why am I even doing this…oh right, I wanted a BIG goal to demonstrate with hard work and a commitment to working towards my goal I could do the seemingly impossible – to encourage others to dream big….hmmmm
  • UGH why does this right foot always give me issues? I seriously need to have Ryan assess it
  • Just focus on counting, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; 1, 2, 30, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 20; etc.
  • This is spectacular! There are so many fire flies!  It’s seriously magical.
  • Okay, for sure people think we are insane now – running in the dark on hwy 17 with headlamps/wrist lights and reflectors – what a site!

I’m sure there were a lot more positive thoughts as well but mostly they escape me right now 🙂 The whole experience was truly remarkable, I do not regret any of it! The reward was so great!

By mid-afternoon a thunderstorm rolled in with some lightning.  Obviously this caused some concern and we were careful to take cover when necessary. I believe we thought if we took refuge in the van the run could be over! I think we were all avoiding getting in the van. The temperature dropped significantly during the storm and we were drenched. When the rain finally stopped, the warmer temperatures and humidity returned. It did not take long for things to heat up again.

About 11.5 hrs into the run we needed to start preparing for night running. We had headlamps and reflective gear ready to go and of course we were very mindful of traffic (both directions). It was a unique experience for me to be running on a hwy in the dark with fireflies all around. I was accomplishing something I had never done before, the entire experience being etched in my mind and heart.

This video is of Anna and I with 5 km’s to go (for distance runners you get this time in a run when your brains have shut off and it’s hard to think clearly)

The goal: run from the North Gate to the South Gate along Lake Superior, a total of 83 km’s to raise awareness for i2P.

The start - North Gate

The start – North Gate

The Finish - South GAte

The Finish – South Gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

The experience: a total of 85 km’s (look out points/beaches along the route, running in and out of bushes (potty breaks) added to the total km’s.  The route provided spectacular views of Lake Superior and gorgeous tree lines. The hwy proved to be incredibly hilly, the first 20-30 km’s seemed to be a consistent incline.  The middle portion seemed more flat(ish) with the decent towards the end. There was a final 3-4 km steady, steeper incline to finish the run. The support from truckers throughout the day was really special. 90+ % of them would move over (if possible), honk their horn and wave! Like cheering us on. Parks Ontario were on route to cheer us on and get some photos, they were really amazed that we were doing this.

Some of the views along the way:

(photo credits to Agnes, Pearl, Anna, Gesine and myself – as we uploaded a bunch and I can’t remember whose was whose 🙂 )

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Park Warden stopping in to meet us.

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Leanne RunsHere is what I learned about myself:

  • quitting was NEVER an option – did not even cross my mind
  • I will need to have salt tablets with me and use them before my fingers swell
  • little pieces of cold grilled cheese sandwiches does the body good
  • my mind truly is able to push my body to do more
  • I can run 85 km WITHOUT music – yup I did not play music the entire run
  • long steady inclines no longer intimidate me (steep hills I still despise)
  • I am trained more than I think – I was shocked at how fast and well my body recovered
  • I need to start asking more questions BEFORE I agree to do things 🙂

Most of my training has been in trails so my biggest hurdle to push past was the physical and mental exhaustion of running road. It’s boring! With trail running my mind is busy looking ahead and anticipating where my foot is going to land next. I feel more engaged in the run when I’m out on the trails. Thankfully the route was beautiful as road running can get monotonous, just keeping one foot in front of the other.

We were five women who came together to share one goal, raise awareness for i2P (Impossible to Possible). We finished, having accomplished that goal but accomplished so much more in the process. The experience allowed some of us time to heal, a time to be renewed, to gain confidence, and a chance to encourage others. We also witnessed that some of our weakest moments  somehow were also our strongest.

My New Family

A highlight of the whirlwind trip was the company, the views were spectacular but the people I ran with are beautiful. When you drive a total of 22 hrs. with someone, you have a chance to get to know each other. I’ve never met any one like Gesine (The German Gazelle), I am inspired and in awe of her strength and her life story. Of course there is Agnes (Aggie Bear) who I admire for her experience and knowledge of the outdoors, her passion for inspiring and helping others achieve greatness and have fun! Precious Pearl is an angel, who took time off work to crew us and genuinely wanted to be with us and encourage us in every way possible. She stayed on course for 14 hrs to ensure we had food, hydration, we were safe and during the storm she circled around to make sure she was available to pick us up at a moments notice! Lastly there was Anna Da Bomb! Anna and I shared the experience of achieving a whole new level of distance together. We had both only ever ran 50 km’s prior to this run, so this was kind of a big deal for both us. Like myself, Anna seems open for anything, seems to enjoy an adventure and doesn’t ask a lot of questions. Anna quickly became my sista, someone who I knew was like me in a lot of ways.

Family

Family

I arrived on Friday in the company of strangers and left on Sunday saying good-bye to family.

Do you have a tribe either in person or online? I’m extremely grateful for the running friends I have, in person and online.

 

 

May Madness

The month of May brought about some crazy weather, crazy training runs and crazy emotions! I am continuing to learn more about who I am during these training runs. Each one bringing more awareness of what I am truly capable of.

The beginning of May brought unusual temperatures here in Ottawa. One weekend training in long pants, t-shirt and sleeves the next shorts and a tank top! Certainly keeping things interesting.

I was finally able to pick up my new back pack and test it out. It is the Osprey Rev 24. So far it is working perfectly, my only concern is that it will not be big enough. It’s hard to imagine carrying EVERYTHING you will need for 7 days on your back! The other options I’ve been testing out are 25L (seems larger somehow) and 34L (love this one as the top rolls down and can be adjusted nicely). However the other two packs do not fit quite as snug as the new Osprey Rev 24 (24L) and fit is so very important.

So now that I’m testing the pack out on my weekend runs, I am needing to find the perfect top. I have always ran in tank tops in the summer, however for Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G) I will need to be running in a t-shirt as it is mandatory to wear your country’s flag on the left sleeve. I’ve picked up two to test out over some long runs. One is from Lululemon and one is from MEC. So far both seem to be doing a good job. It’s important that they are fitted and do not bunch up.

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the bear that was likely 10ft. away from the trail I was on, I took this as he wandered off

I’ve been doing back to back long runs on Friday and Saturday. For Victoria long weekend I added a third long run, making it three in a row. Each run ranged from 2.5hrs. – 4hrs and was 22-27.5kms depending on the duration I was out and how many hills were included 🙂

I’ve had 11lbs on my back for most of the training runs. For the triple in a row I had 14lbs (including water). I’ve also been going out on new trails where navigating is part of the training, this can slow me down a tad! Running in to my first bear on the trail was also a unique experience.

part of the ski hill I had to run up

part of the ski hill I had to run up

Mentally, it was also a tough month, I began to feel discouraged about my fundraising results. I’m doing okay, but with a minimum requirement goal of $5,000 US and with the exchange rate, it’s not where I would like to be.

Discouragement had begun to settle in and I found myself having to encourage myself to not take things personally. I realize that there are many very worthy causes that are very important to people. People just cannot give to everything! However, knowing that your friends and family believe in you and support you can go a long way. The support I have received has come from some surprising places, and I am very thankful <3

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Back to running 🙂 I have never been a fast runner, and I knew going into training for this event I would likely be in the back third of the participants for G2G.  My coach insisted that I participate in the Bad Beaver Ultra to help give me experience in a stage race, but also to build my confidence for G2G. I’m now realizing that I am very inexperienced with trail running (although I love it!) and I will likely come in LAST at this event. That is humbling….

Wasn’t that why I chose G2G though? To take on something that is beyond my comfort zone, that stretches me completely beyond what I would ever think I could do. I’m not a seasoned trail runner, I’ve never ran a stage race, I’m taking on a huge event to demonstrate that with a plan, hard work and an attitude to not give up, you can accomplish your goals.  As individuals we need to look past what we think we are capable of and begin to allow ourselves to dream BIG for our lives. Make a plan, commit to the process and work hard to achieve whatever goals YOU have!

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I have resolved to not give up, even if it means I may come in last. To continue to work hard and to do whatever I can to make this goal a reality.

What about you? Do you have a goal that you want to accomplish? Are there steps that you can take to begin to work towards that goal?

 

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?

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_0112
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.