With Or Without Others

The past two weeks are somewhat of a blur!  I have had to run many of my training runs on my own because of my schedule.  It’s been a great two weeks, my runs have been amazing and I’m feeling really good.  It’s almost like I’m in a stage of newness again, like rediscovering running for the joy of solitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE running with a group.  However, I’ve come to realize that maybe I’ve become a tad dependent on the group.  Having to be somewhere at a specific time helps me get out for sure.  I’ve had some unexpected things come up forcing me to get out more on my own which made me realize I’ve missed the long runs on my own.  I’ve missed the strength I feel when I’m pushing myself at a faster pace OR pulling back forcing myself to slow down for the slow/long run.  I’ve forgotten the satisfaction that comes from being in control of the course and the pace, the feeling of being lost in my thoughts and feeling renewed in my heart, thankful and grateful for my family and life.

I have always been a solo runner and  I’ve trained for most of my races on my own.  I never considered being part of a running group prior to training for my first marathon.  When the kilometres started to really climb,  I realized the benefits of group running.

Group Run Celebrating Canada

Group Run Celebrating Canada

I thrived in the group and loved getting to know other runners and feeling inspired and empowered by many of them while out on runs.  Running in a group also allowed me to run in areas I wouldn’t run much alone, allowed me to just run without thinking about pace or direction and it certainly kept me company on those 3-4hr training runs.  It was the perfect timing for me to connect with the Running Room and train with the marathon group.

This training period  feels different though.  I know I will get out  with the group when I can, and it’ll be just as amazing when I do, however, some of my goals have me being away or training for different events, requiring me to do more training on my own.  I think it’s good though, it’s kind of the best of both worlds.

What about you?  Are you a loner?  Do you like to run on your own or do you need to belong to a running group?  Have you ever been a part of a group?   This certainly can apply to anyone going to the gym, taking fitness classes or whatever new adventures you might be taking on.  There are benefits to doing it alone and certainly joining up with others.

For myself, I think there is a time for both, and I’m thankful I can experience both as I continue to train for all the races coming up in 2014.

Being a part of the Digital Champions (DC’s) for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has also allowed me to connect with some pretty inspiring runners and a fantastic online community that I am truly blessed to be involved with.  So although many of my training runs will be on my own, I’m not really alone.  A supportive online community can also be just what you need!

Ottawa Digital Champions

Here is a shot of the Ottawa Team, a small portion of the DC’s that are encouraging runners who have chosen to make the Toronto Marathon part of their fall racing goals.

Running alone has its perks and for me it is so therapeutic.  It brings me back to the reasons I love running.  It’s a place for me to really be in touch with who I am and process through the events in my life.  However, I will never give up the joy of running in a group. The friendships, encouragements and challenges that come from pushing yourself with others, especially on those long, hot summer runs or, not so long ago, those unbelievable long, cold, snowy ones!

However you run, may you get all you can out of it and be renewed in your love for running!

 

 

The Ups and Downs of Training

Training for the Toronto Marathon officially began June 19th at the Running Room I run with.  I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of runners who have chosen to run Toronto this year.  I’m loosely following the Running Rooms Training Plan but will switch some of my runs on my own to trail running as I’m trying to challenge myself differently this season.

We ran an easy steady run on our first Thursday night together and it felt good.  It was my first time back running with a group since my injury in February and I missed it.  Saturday I was out for another easy 6K on my own and again felt really comfortable.

Before I officially signed up for the marathon, I had the privilege of connecting with Ray Zahab, who is the founder of i2p (impossible2possible)and chat with him about my injury and my goals for this season.  I have been a huge fan of his for years, I recommend these books about his journey: Running To Extremes and Running For My Life: On The Extreme Road with Adventure Runner Ray Zahab.  He was kind enough to connect me to Mike Stanish who runs runeffortlessly.com, a run clinic that teaches proper running technique (as well as raising money for local charities).  I took one of Mike’s clinics and have  since been working at staying relaxed during my runs, it seems to be a little more natural now.  Mike then connected me to Dr. Troy from Holistic Clinic who specializes in helping athletes through torture, ahem, I mean ART (active release therapy) treatments.  He has been helping me with my hip issue.  Dr. Beauchamp and Mat from Sante Chiropractic and Wellness Center are part of my wellness team for massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care, to help me get to the finish line injury free!

So back to training, on Sunday it was a 10K run with the Running Room and again felt really good.  Feeling rested, lighter on my feet, and encouraged that perhaps I was back from injury and ready to get into the fullness of marathon training again.

I need to learn to bottle that feeling up, as we all know that we will run into bad training days.

Week two proved to be less than stellar.  Easy 6K on Tuesday on my own and it was an okay run.  Wednesday met with the group and we headed out for our 10K Tempo run, which was my first 10K continuous since February.  I believe our temperature was 89% humidity and 25 degrees (not sure the ‘feels like’ temperature).  So it was hot and humid!  I was feeling pretty good the first 7K, even chatted a lot during the run (on a tempo run you should not be able to have a conversation with someone, you should be pushing yourself).  I even thought to myself, this feels good, I’m even able to chat.  AND THEN, I had to stop talking.

happypaceI found it difficult to keep up with the group but kept at it.  I realized I should stop and take a walk break but the others in the group seemed good, so I fought with myself for 0.5km.  I was wearing my new Bondi Band Headband that says “Find Your Happy Pace” and I was telling myself, this is my training, I need to run it smart.  It’s okay to walk if you need to and so on.  I smiled at the thought of my headband and the reality of finding my own pace.  I pulled back and took a needed walk break.  I then proceeded to run my own pace to complete the run.  I was disappointed and filled with doubt about my upcoming races, including the marathon.  I was already in a slower pace group than I was in the winter, in hopes of giving myself a recovery period to train smart and not over do it.  Then I asked myself, what would you say to someone else, and I started to encourage myself with those same words.

On to Thursdays 6K steady run.  I work long hours on Thursdays and need to bring my running gear to work and have a 15min. window to get to the running group.  As I was changing I realized I forgot my socks.  UGH!  This means going home and missing the group talk before the run.  Okay, no big deal, headed home.

Arrived as the group was about to head out.  Again, humid day, high of 28 and lots of sunshine!  We headed out and I intentionally pulled into the back to give myself room and run my own pace with only two others behind me.  I ended up chatting again and it was a decent run.  I turned to say something and missed the uneven sidewalk and for the first time in my life fell hard onto the ground.  I’m not entirely sure how much of my body hit the concrete, but it seemed my shin, my right knee, elbow, shoulder and both hands showed evidence of the fall.  AWESOME.  Of course, the entire group stopped and helped me up and then shouted out “footing” the rest of the way back, LOL!  I stiffened up after getting home but woke up feeling not too bad, the elbow/shoulder and knee sore but doing fine.  So thankful, as the first thing running through my head when I got up to continue running, feeling some throbbing, was am I injured, is it adrenaline that is allowing me to run, fearful of another setback.  Not concerned about much other than will this affect my training?  🙂

Isn’t training very much like life?  There are highs and well, there are lows.  I think we need to celebrate both.  The highs build confidence and encourage us, and give us a boost, a place of rest almost.  The lows build character and are a mental challenge that we all need to face and overcome.  One thing I do know, we get up the next day and we do it again.  We commit to the training and we work out the ups and downs on our runs.

Let The Adventure Begin – Round Two Booked!

 

It’s official, the marathon is booked!  October 19th, 2014 is my goal race and I’m so excited to return to Toronto.  I always look for ways that I can run for others in addition for myself, so this marathon I’ve decided to fund raise for the Children’s Aid Society.  If you would like to partner with me and donate, you can do so here:  My Fundraising Page

My first marathon was Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2013 and I had no idea then that I would return for another year.  My plans for 2014 had included Ottawa and Calgary and then perhaps a different city or the Ottawa Fall Colours Run in the fall.

Due to my injury, my plans of course changed.  In hindsight it is crazy ridiculous how things have worked out and I am actually thankful for the experience and the connections I’ve made through the journey.  Maybe everything does happen for a reason 🙂  Hmmmm…..

As I train this year the experience will be completely different as I’ve been invited to be a Digital Champion (DC) for the race!  As a DC I get to do what I am passionate about doing, I get to encourage and connect with other runners online to help them achieve their own personal goals and have an awesome experience doing it!  Here is the list of all the DC’s:  Digital Champions

If you are married with children then you get how much of a sacrifice the whole family makes when you are training for a full marathon.  I am in awe of the parents who get it done and are still raising a young family.  I am at a stage in my life where my kids can help out and that they do!

There were so many nights where my daughter (15 at the time) stepped in and would make dinner on the days that I knew I’d be working late, or if I was heading out for a run she would take over and get the family fed.

Countless times my family would help me stick to my goals by keeping me accountable to what I said, or question if I should be doing something.  They always asked me how my run was or how many km’s I was doing on a certain day.  They made an effort to take an interest in what I love to do, or at least to pretend to, ha!

training

I am already looking forward to the cheering and support that they provide.  Yesterday, my daughter rode her bike ahead of me while I ran so I could run along the river and not be alone!  It was so great to be chasing after her, I just need to figure out what she could carry on her back that I want bad enough to run hard for!!

There will be other long runs that I think I’ll have my son meet me on the route to provide a smiling face and needed nutrients, especially on some of the hot summer days that are coming.

Even my eldest son who is living in another province will ask me about my training when he calls, how many kids do that??

My husband tries hard to ensure the kitchen is cleaned after dinner if I head out for a run, which I cannot adequately express how much I appreciate that!

If you do not already have the involvement of your family, might I suggest that you look for ways to include them.  Depending on their age, by including them you show them how much running means to you.  You demonstrate to them that it is healthy for mom to have a dreams and goals that she is striving for.  You might even spark a passion in them for running.

My daughter is the first to admit she has no desire to run.  She’s been watching me for years, coming out to many races to cheer me on, volunteering at countless races to hand out race kits, giving me massages when required, cooking dinner, and so much more.  This year there is a Foam Fest coming to Ottawa.  A 5Km obstacle course that she is so excited to do.  Say what!?

So much so that she has convinced the family to do it all together.  No one else in my family runs. It will be so much fun and you can be sure great memories will be made.

What are some of the ways your family supports you?  Have you found ways to include them to be apart of your journey?

 

 

 

Another Marathon Didn’t Happen – BUT Wait!

Hello from Calgary!  Well, I made it through the second weekend of my original goal of running back to back marathons, but because of injury that goal has had to be postponed.    Instead of not running at all, I decided I’d go ahead and run the 5K  so that I could experience the race and celebrate alongside others.

running80'sThe  Calgary Race Weekend was celebrating 50 years of running through the decades and encouraged its participants to dress up from the 60s through to current day (50 years of running).   I decided that although I could not run the race I had hoped to, I would still be involved and have fun.  So I put together a running outfit and got out of my comfort zone 🙂 (I’m not usually one to dress up).

When I hit 4K on the run, I was so thankful for running the 5K event.  It turned out to be a gorgeous day, lots of sun and HOT!  I really felt it–the lack of training, the heat and the elevation change (approx. 3000ft.) proved to challenge me more than I expected.

My daughter and I had a great time volunteering on Friday imputing the last minute distance switches that were coming in.  I personally love volunteering for races–seeing things come together and seeing the excitement in the faces of the racers. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that racers experience the best the day can offer!   Calgary did a fantastic job of providing an experience where memories were made!

runningmemories

It was a great race and Calgary celebrated new course record holders in both the men and women’s Marathon. (Kip Kangogo 2:19:47 and Emily Chepkorir 2:46:21).

Here is a video highlight of the marathon:  Calgary Marathon Highlights

I’m still in Calgary visiting with family.  My eldest boy, Ryan, is out here pursuing his own goals and dreams and I’m thankful I’ve been able to spend so much time with him.  We are off to camp today!  Lows of 3 in Calgary could mean below zero in the mountains–brrrr!

I get back to Ottawa on Monday and then the real serious training begins for a fall marathon!  So excited to get focused and back into a rhythm.  The new summer running clinic starts in a week and I look forward to the routine that it will bring.

My heel fracture (stress) has me a tad concerned about putting in the extra miles, so I think I will set up an evaluation of my running and make sure I’m in the right shoes.  It’s funny how life works out, through my injury I’ve made some great connections with a group of guys that are helping me run healthy.  I’m also focusing a lot on “diet” this time around.  I’ll be very intentional on what I eat  and how I fuel my body.  I’ll be posting recipes that I try in future posts.

If you have a favourite recipe, I would love for you to share it with me!

I’m currently loving the Oh She Glows Cookbook – great recipes!

‘Til next time,

 

When Plans Change

Do you set goals? 

I have to in order to be focussed and disciplined to get workouts in.  I love to run and planning for races helps me stick to a schedule that pushes me past what I might “feel” like doing.

I ran my first marathon in October 2013.  It proved to be a challenging but memorable experience.  I decided the day after that race to run another marathon, Ottawa Race Weekend, kind of as a do over.  It didn’t take me long, but I’ve since realized that there is no need for a do over, but instead it’s a new opportunity to do something great for me!

After signing up for Ottawa’s Marathon, I learned that Calgary was celebrating it’s 50th race weekend and I decided to sign up for it’s marathon as well.  No big deal, right?  Well, it happens to be the week after Ottawa.

I like to push myself and challenge myself to see what I can do, so the training begins.  End of November I starting running with the RR groups half marathon clinic just to keep a decent foundation in my running leading up to the Jan. start of the marathon training.  Ran through the most minus stupid weather throughout the winter months, outside, usually after a snow storm!  Challenge, character building weather, but great fun with great fellow runners.

By mid-February, on yet another snowy long run, my foot was achy…by treating it at home and icing it I continued to run another week or two, until after a 19K run, I realized that something was wrong and I was in too much pain.

Took 3 weeks to get a proper diagnoses, in which a bone scan showed that I had a Calcaneal Stress Fracture (across the body of the heel bone), a minor tibia stress fracture, a bone spur AND minor plantar fasciitis!  I believe this was due to a combination of things, some avoidable, some not.

So suddenly my big marathon back to back plans were in jeopardy!   What now?  Treatment consisted of a boot, for likely 8 weeks up to 12!  I immediately booked the half marathon in Calgary as a back up plan.  Figuring I could at least run the half.  Maybe, possibly run half in both cities instead.

No workouts aloud for the first 4 weeks!  Four weeks later, I’ve been cleared to start swimming and doing some non-impact training, but still in the boot.  Likely not able to even test my foot for another 4 weeks, and even then I need to start with walking!

What about my plans, I can’t run the marathons, that’s a given, but now I can’t possibly do the half marathons without risking injury.  *sigh*

Okay, there are worst things in life, right?  YES!  So how can I experience these great events and continue with my racing goals?  Well, we will volunteer (my daughter and I).  We usually do race kit pick up (we’re kind of pros now LOL).  My daughter and I volunteer for race kit pick up for a number of races every year.  I do it to be involved, she does it for the free shirt, ha!

So we are signed up to volunteer in both cities.  I’m planning on running the 5K (maybe 10k) in Calgary and I’m already preregistered for Calgary Marathon 2015!

I plan to run another shorter distance race in the summer, signed up for the  Army Run (half) in September.  Looking at a 5K/half in Nova Scotia for the fall as well AND then will focus on doing Ottawa and Calgary back to back in 2015 (full marathons).

Plans change, we cannot always control what happens to us or around us.  Life happens, I just love to run and love having goals towards to achieve new levels of training for me.  I love the friends that I’m meeting along the way and the shared experiences that I get to have with others.  I love how my family never questions the insane choices I make, but instead they support me all the time and challenge me if I do anything contrary to the goals and plans I’ve set out for myself.

Do you set goals?  What do you do when your plans change?

I’d love to hear your experiences as well 🙂

Happy RUNNING!