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?

 

Favourite Running Clothes and #STWM Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

runhappysleeves

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

photo credit: Edison Yao

photo credit: Edison Yao

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

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

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

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

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

MEC tights/t-shirt

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

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

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

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

We did it!

We did it!

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

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

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

Fit-Fashionable-Friday-Link-Up-250x250

Run, Race and Run Some More

Training, Racing and Tapering

I’m someone who thrives on a schedule, knowing what is coming up and working backwards helps me to have focus.  This year has been a completely different experience for me.  I still have a schedule, but I have added races to my schedule more on a whim than part of a bigger plan.  I don’t know if that’s particularly good or bad thing, but I’ve been having a lot of fun!  However, I’ve been less focused on what I want to accomplish with my running.

I still have a number of races coming up and am looking forward to them all, however, putting some focus back in 2016 will be good for me.

IMG_1595This past weekend I participated in the first ever Girls Run Ottawa, hosted by Run Ottawa.  It was amazing to chat with other runners who were running their very first race.  There were a lot of teen girls running and many women of all shapes, sizes, and ages.  There was a sense of celebration.  Some women were walking it and when the last walkers came in many stuck around to cheer them on.  The course started out at the Terry Fox Facility and ran along Mooney’s Bay, to return to the facility for a second loop.  If you are in Ottawa and a woman you should have this on your list for next year!

Up Next

This Sunday I’ll be running the CIBC Run for the Cure in memory of my mother and in honour of my sister-in-law who has just completed her treatments. This was the very first race I ever participated in (2008), I’m looking forward to sharing this day with so many people who have their own stories and reasons for choosing to participate in this event.  If you would like to donate to the cause please visit my fundraising page.

The Toronto Marathon is also coming up (Oct. 18th) but I’ve been training more for the MEC Race two weeks after Toronto.  This will be my third year running the Toronto Marathon and I’m hoping for a PB.  However, this is my first year running the MEC Race and anything new or unfamiliar makes me want to get ahead of it somehow.  Last week I went out and ran up Gatineau Parkway – 8.5km and then turned around for a total of 16.5km road.  I veered off the parkway and hopped on the trails for another 6.5kms before returning to my car.

Trails have been an important part of my training this past summer and has enabled me to be injury free finally!  I’m trying to still get a few kms of trails in every week.

This week I went the other direction on the Gatineau Parkway and got confused 4kms in 🙂  Usually I’m a planner, as I’ve mentioned, but this year I’ve been so much less “rigid” and more just flowing with it.   This is an example of that.  I should have looked at a map before heading out but just assumed that the parkway would be a loop and I’d just follow it until I returned to my car.  Well, that appears to not be the case!  I mistakenly ran up Dunlop (1km climb) to Camp Fortune.  Then ran back down as it was a dead end.  I ran into some cyclists and asked for some clarity.

I was wearing my I2P patch and one of the guys saw it and said, “I see you are connected with I2P, you must be doing crazy a$$ sh*t”!  Ha, I responded with “well, I’m learning to do crazy a$$ sh*t!” IMG_1615

My coach reminds me often the achievements that I accomplish in my running/training.  I don’t always recognize it, I’m just doing my thing and getting the training done.  Maybe it’s because I am surrounded by so many amazing runners that I look up to.  I appreciate when he tells me though, it’s a good reminder. 😉

After getting some directions I ran up Fortune Parkway and headed towards the Champlain Lookout (this would add on extra kms).  As I was still unfamiliar with the route and had limited time, I returned the way I came from for an out and back.  Besides, after running up Fortune I felt it was my reward to run back down!  I now know what the route should be, so likely next week I’ll head back for an easy go at it.  Total kms was 22km on a very hilly route.  Worth mentioning, 2kms into my run, 3 small black bears ran across the road in front of me (off in the distance but I saw them)!

Time to Taper

Just over two weeks to go before the marathon.  I’ll start to taper now but likely will do one more decent run in Gatineau in preparation for the MEC Race over what I need for Toronto.  Then I’ll take some time to go stir crazy, ummm I mean time for the body to recovery and get prepared for the race.

Fall is by far my favourite running season and one of those reasons is when the leaves start to change.  The next few weeks will be such a colourful reward while running.  Just a little motivation to go up to Gatineau.fall

What are you training for?  How is your training going?  Do you have a favourite season?