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!

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Running Adventures with Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

MECrace

The views throughout the race were spectacular, but this one was worth stopping for.

Beaver damn

Beaver damn

At the top of the longest stretch of an incline someone yelled out in victory and I think those of us within earshot celebrated with them!  The best part was the 4-6km decline towards the end of the race, followed up of course by the last km climb to the finish line.

Allyson, Kristina and myself managed to keep each other in our sights for most of the race.  During some of the more difficult climbs Allyson came up with a 10sec. run/10 sec. walk chant to get it done!  We used this near the finish line as well.   You can do anything for 10sec., right?!

mecracefriends

This was the first time I met Kristina. What an experience to share.  We ended up with a very respectable time considering we were only wanting to complete it!  I loved the company and would seriously consider doing the marathon in the future.

The week after this race I ran the Cookie Run.  I decided early on in 2015 that I was going to participate in more local runs.  This was the 2nd last race of the year for me.  The weather was perfect, the course was fantastic with a 5K loop, that we did twice.

What I love about the running community is the friendships you can make.  Your life can be completely different from one another and yet running can bring you together.

Start line

Start line

That’s how I met Agnes.  We are huge supporters of I2P and through mutual online friends we connected.  There was an event where Ray Zahab (founder of Impossible2Possible and adventure runner) and Christopher McDougall (author of Born to Run and Natural Born Heroes) were speaking in order to raise support and awareness for I2P.  Agnes was coming up to Ottawa for the event so she figured she might as well run the Cookie Run in the morning. 🙂

leannerace 2We made arrangements for coffee the day before to meet in person for the first time and then decided to run together the next morning.  It was a blast!!  We ran very well and talked throughout most of the race.  So fun!

I’m currently enjoying my down time from formal training.  I am continuing to get out for runs and doing back to back longer runs in the trails on the weekends, no pace in mind just a length of time on my feet.

2016 goals are now set and I’m working on the details.  I cannot wait to announce my BIG race goals!  This year will be more about training and much less racing!

How about you?  Do you have your 2016 goals set yet?

 

What Every Eye and Heart Wants

My absolute two favourite running accessories

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

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

Sunglasses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heart Rate Monitor

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

USB plugs easily into your computer (or anywhere reallY)

USB plugs easily into your computer (or anywhere reallY)

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

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

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

mioblue

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

So You Want To Run An Ultra?

Running my first Ultra just kind of happened.  Of course I had to train for it, but the opportunity kind of just worked out.  I was already training for the Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon end of May, so when the talk of doing the Niagara 50K came up, it seemed doable!  The 50K would be 3 weeks after the Ottawa Marathon, the plan we were using suggested getting TWO 42.2km training runs in prior to the 50K.  Okay, sign me up!

My running friends who started it all had enlisted approximately 17 other runners.  They put a Facebook group together and started sharing their training plans with the group.  The highlight for me was joining them often on a Saturday longer run.  My coach had already started me on the double long run idea for my weekends, Saturday being the shorter of the two. The idea was learning to run with tired legs.  It was nice to have others to run with again.

Training through the Winter for 2 big goal races sure helps get you out the door on some miserable, cold, Winter days!   Overall training went well, but I seemed plagued with lower leg issues throughout the fall/winter training.  By April/May I didn’t know if it was even possible to get through the marathon, let alone the Ultra.  I was doing everything I could to get relief.  I had chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, graston technique and dry needling.  It helped, but it didn’t 100% get me pain-free.  I started making “deals” with myself.  If I could just get through and finish the 50K I’d take as much time off of running as I needed…until I was 100% pain-free, and I believed I would. 🙂

Being that it was an out of town race, it meant driving, so I enlisted my daughter (and her friend) for company.  We headed out early Friday morning (the race was Saturday).  I figured that I was now pretty much a professional for packing for out of town races as I had learned the hard way about forgetting race gear.  You can read about that here:  Forgotten Marathon Bag.  Apparently, there are always new lessons to learn.

As we were driving near Oshawa, ON a random thought jumped in my head.  I must have aimlessly been visualizing packing up my bag because suddenly I realized that I did not pack the clip to close the bladder that goes in my hydration pack.  What!!!???  How was I going to run 50K without a pack on!  I know that maybe I would have been okay with the water stations (every 5km) but I like to be in control of when I hydrate.  Plus I had a special hydration mix that I now use and didn’t want to rely on a different electrolyte drink. Ugh!

IMG_0434So, my sweet daughter, who is accustomed to handling my unexpected crazies prior to race day, was now on a mission to google local running stores and find me a new hydration bladder or pack.  After only finding 2 stores at a cost of approximately $80 I decided I just didn’t want a new one, this was stupid.  Okay, what could I do??  Think….Walmart!  
I’ll buy super big office clips and that should work.  So we pulled into a Walmart somewhere off Hwy 401 and found some clips.  This had to work, right?!

We arrived in Niagara mid-afternoon and decided to hit the outlet mall first.  Race pick up wasn’t until after 6pm so we had time to kill.  This is a smaller event and there was no expo, just pick up the cool sweatshirt and race bib.

IMG_0435

View outside our hotel

Quick dinner, check-in to hotel and then off to explore the falls!  Just so spectacular.  I was only out for a bit and then it was race prep and early to bed.

IMG_0457_2

Orleans Runners (missing some)

I had arranged to meet friends in the lobby at 5:45am.  Four of us drove out to the start line together and met up with the rest of our Orleans runners.

My plan going in to the race was to run my training pace for my marathon training.  About 40sec. slower than my marathon race pace.  It doesn’t seem much to add 8km to the end of a 42.2km run, but it really does ADD to the race!  Keeping an easier pace was just part of the plan, the other was just to finish.  I took time to take photos along the way and took a 17min. break to refresh, reload and refocus at the halfway mark.  

At the falls (halfway)

At the falls (halfway)

Lori, Jordan and I ran the first 25K together.  This is halfway

Lori, Jordan and I ran the first 25K together. This is halfway

It was a very cool experience.  I’m so glad I decided to jump on board when the others from my running group signed up.  Also, I had the privilege of running mostly behind a couple who ran the Ultra together and got married at the finish line.

Gonna Get Married!  Just need to run 50K first.

Gonna Get Married! Just need to run 50K first.

Only about 10K left to go before they say I do!

Only about 10K left to go before they say I do!

The scenery was stunning, and it helped pass time being distracted with amazing views.  My “bladder” in my hydration pack worked out with the $2 jumbo clips.  During my recap after my race, my coach helped point out that I have an amazing ability to shut out negative thoughts, discouragement, pain, etc. once I cross over the start line.  During the race it’s all about completing it.  Even when in pain, I somehow shut it out and keep going.  Telling myself I’ll deal with it when it’s over.  A lesson that I will now carry with me as I continue to train for new adventures.

Oh, and my promise to take time off after the 50K? Well my coach helped me recover smart.  I didn’t have to stop running, but I did start more trail running during the recovery process.  I am currently 3 weeks completely pain-free for the first time since last October!  I also happen to be rethinking my future running goals, because I fell in love with trail running.

I enjoyed this race so much, that I plan on running it again in 2016.  It looks like there is a new group of runners wanting to join me.

Have you run an Ultra before?  What was your experience?  Would you recommend it?