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…..

 

 

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?

 

 

Bags and Hills

So thankful to see the temperature rising!

Making the decision to tackle a huge stage race, completely out of my comfort zone, was for a reason. If I wanted to inspire others to dream big, then I had to believe I could accomplish a big goal for myself.  Read my previous blog on Bringing Together My Two Loves for One Grand Adventure for more information on who I am running for.

Wishing does not accomplish much, you need to commit to working hard for your goals/dreams. Training for Grand to Grand Ultra (G2G) is so very much more than the event itself (although I’m sure it will change me forever), its about the journey getting there.

Once your application is accepted for G2G you are invited to join a private facebook group. The members of the group are either previous G2G participants or current participants training for the race coming up. Grand to Grand Ultra 2016 will be the events 5th year and as a way to celebrate, many past participants have been invited back to run it again. It’s hard not to feel intimidated knowing that there will be very experienced runners way ahead of you on the course. However,  I can imagine that these faster runners will be great cheerleaders for the middle and back of the pack runners, on the course hours longer ever day. Just as intimating is knowing that, like previous years, there will be some who will not complete the race. For some it might be lack of training, but I think for most, there are things that can happen outside of our control. Regardless of why, anyone who does not finish would likely be devastated. There are months and months of training required and sacrifices that need to be made to put long runs in week after week. There is also the cost involved, registration, flights, hotels, etc.

I could not imagine tackling this kind of race without a running coach. I had no idea when I first met my coach that I would be even considering anything like this. My goal when I hired Ray was to have an experienced coach take my running to another level. I’m pretty sure neither one of us could have thought that I’d be training for G2G just 16 months later.  Less than a year ago the thought of an 80K was on my radar, although just barely and that for me is a challenging goal. The way this race came together was bigger then ourselves, and I knew I had to go for it!

Okay, so update to my  training! Ray agreed to the big goal of G2G if I made the commitment to run a local stage race coming up the beginning of August. Bad Beaver Ultra will introduce me to stage racing and Ray’s  goal for me is to build my confidence for G2G. This is the first year for this race and he happens to be one of the organizers. Currently our focus is getting prepared for this 3-day stage race covering 150km in Gatineau Park.

Another focus, is figuring out the right back pack, this has been a wee bit of a challenge. It appears Ottawa is limited in trail running packs, so I’ve had to order online. Obviously this is not ideal as you cannot test it out beforehand. As a Canadian runner participating in an International event I was really hoping to find and use a red pack, I know silly but hey why not. The Inov-8 is a great pack and met that silly ideal, however it only comes in one size/unisex.

I’m only 5’3.5″ and do not have a very long torso so playing with the pack and figuring out just how it can fit right is challenging, although likely can be custom fit if required by making some adjustments to the pack and the straps.

I recently tried an Osprey Hornet 32 and it worked pretty good, but again seems a bit large and I have most of the adjustments on the smallest setting. My coach and I were searching for a women’s specific fit to try out and think that it might be worth trying the Osprey Rev 24.  Most of the packs recommended to me can only be purchased online, so tracking a Rev 24 here in Ottawa was amazing!  I managed to get the very last one and put it on hold so I can go retrieve it.

My favourite spot on the loop I'm running.

My favourite spot on the loop I’m running.

Training now includes a lot more hills to help build up strength and no doubt mental toughness!  We’ve changed my double long run dates, giving me Sundays off completely.  I’m loving this!  It gives me a day off to relax and enjoy before a new training week and work week commences.  Mondays and Wednesdays are now easy runs (for now),Tuesdays are all about hills and Thursdays are off.  Friday and Saturday are back to back long runs with hills throughout the run, increasing the distance on both days every weekend. I’ve only completed two weeks of this and am amazed at how encouraged I am. I feel like I have nothing left at the end of my runs and then I get up and do it again the next day. I’m also encouraged in the improvement I’m seeing in my ability to tackle hills.  Hills that used to be daunting to me no longer affect me the same. It’s not that they are no longer tough, but I view them, or go at them with a different mindset.

I am now entering a stage in training that is new for me. Like when I was training for my first marathon, every weekend promises new challenges but with it new reward.

What about you? Are you experiencing anything new in your training? Are you continuing to challenge yourself with your goals?

 

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?