A Quick Look Back – Exciting Things For 2015

This time of the year excites me!  I love looking back and evaluating how the year went.  Often, the year didn’t go quite the way I plannedfoot. Through every experience, highs and lows, personal bests and setbacks or injuries, there is always an opportunity to learn and discover more about myself and, if I’m lucky, about others.  This year was no different and through my injury I was connected to my now running coach and a ton of other great people.

2014 Year in Review:

Around The Bay and Ottawa Marathon were misses due to injury.  My planned marathon for Calgary was downgraded to the 5K just so I could experience the race 🙂 My daughter and I volunteered and loved it, as usual, and I dressed up for the first time ever in a race to celebrate running through the decades.   I started training for the Toronto Marathon as soon as my boot came off, and had a PB on race day.  I ran my very first trail run, a 23K with the I2P run  in Gatineau, QC, dressed up for the Ghost Run and ran one of my favourites, in the pouring rain, the Army Run!

Some Highlights of 2014

Some Highlights of 2014

Ottawa Foam Fest

Ottawa Foam Fest

My husband and daughter participated in their very first races this year (Strides for Ethan and Ottawa Foam Fest), it was amazing to do these with them.  A few other smaller races and to top the year off I hired a running coach.  Lots of firsts this year!

Setting Goals for 2015

Dream Big

Dream Big

This is also a time that I am looking ahead.  I’m planning new race goals, distances, training schedules, and making arrangements for out of town events.  Some events are still under wraps but staying true to myself, I am setting goals that take me beyond my comfort zone.

One of my goal races this year is The Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon.  I originally planned on running my first marathon in Ottawa (and second) but due to injuries was side-lined from accomplishing this.  I ended up running my first and second out of town.  I am determined that 2015 is my year to run the Marathon in the city I call home.

I am so thrilled to have been invited to join The Ottawa Race Weekend’s Team Awesome. This is such an incredible honour for me.  To share my love for running, encourage others to set race goals and connect with other runners throughout our journey to race day is something I’m already so passionate about – being able to do all of this as part of Team Awesome is a forever memory in the making!!

You can follow the entire Team Awesome on a variety of social media sites.  We will be using #TORW2015 to connect and chat with all of you.   We all have different strengths, personalities, interests and experiences so you’ll likely relate to more than one of us.  Meet Team Awesome

If you’ve ran the Ottawa Race Weekend before then you know it’s a fantastic race and an incredible way to see the city.  If you have not experienced this race for yourself, it’s a must and you should seriously register.  Register Here 

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Night Race Kit Pickup

I also love volunteering for race kit pick up every year for Ottawa Race Weekend, as this is something my daughter and I do for numerous races in Ottawa.  We even convinced my son to come with us for one event.   This is such a great way for your kids to be inspired by others, share something with you that you love to do, and in their words, get cool free stuff!  You’ll see me at Race Pick Up again this year – say hi if you see me!

 

 

Done and Done – No. 2 Completed

The Toronto Marathon did not disappoint!!  What an incredible experience.  Compared to last year’s adventure (read about it here), this race was everything I had hoped for. My goals for 2014 did not include having 2 stress fractures (same time, same foot), wearing a boot for 8 weeks, no running for 12 weeks and therefore not sure if running a second marathon was going to be possible.

If I was to run another one, I hoped to run again in Toronto to see if, with training and the right gear, I could do better.  When I was invited to join the STWM Digital Champions I jumped in and fully committed to doing my best.  This incredible opportunity gave me the extra motivation I needed to train hard and believe for a good race.  My boot came off mid-May (official training started mid June). I did not have a solid base because of the injury and tried to ease back into running.  My injury caused me to miss  Around The Bay, Ottawa Race Weekend and Calgary Marathon.  The boot came off in time to run Calgary, but with no training for the full, I ran the 5K just to experience it.  I even dressed up in an 80’s running costume, something I never do as it’s way out of my comfort zone. But I thought, so what?! Participate, have fun and let loose. 🙂  What a beautiful way to see the city! I’m hoping to still experience the Calgary Marathon in 2015 – but we’ll see.

So after an adventure filled summer of training runs and races, the day finally arrived for the marathon but so did feelings of doubt and anxiety.  I fell on a trail run just 2 weeks before the marathon which caused a slight injury in my groin.  I couldn’t run for a solid week because of the pain it caused.  I got out for a shake out run a few days before and felt okay but not solid.

Toronto Start 2014My goals the morning of the race were to enjoy it, take more in, and be more aware of the people and my surroundings.  My time goal obviously was to beat last year’s time.  I didn’t know if I could get under 4hr. 45min., as I didn’t feel I was trained up enough.  My, “I’m going to cry, can’t believe I did it goal,” was under 4:30 but I honestly had no expectations of that going in.  The mental battle of self-doubt was strong and I wasn’t even sure I could complete the second half.  I even gave myself permission that if I was in pain at 19K, near the split, I’d make the decision to end the race early and come in for the half-marathon instead.

I had hoped to meet up with the other DCs before the race, but got lost and ended up missing them.  I coincidently bumped in to a few of them near the start corals, said a quick hello, grabbed a quick photo and then we were off to line up.

StartCorals

Christine, myself and Susan

Once in the corals with over 25,000+ other people Susan from my running club – who I had no plans to meet up with – happened to find me!  This, I believe, was no coincidence!  We ended up running the first half together, pacing really well!  I ran my first ever continuous 1/2 marathon and pb’d it.  I had loosely planned on walking at water stations but because I really wasn’t sure how much pain I’d be in due to the injury I was open to do 10/1s or whatever I had to do to get it done.  I hadn’t expected to feel so good. My biggest concerns during the first half was if I was overdoing it, was my pace too fast, should I pull back?  What if I tank for the 2nd half?  BUT Susan and I talked most of the time and I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard. Even when I suggested we pull back a bit, within moments we were back running the same pace, feeling good.

For the 2nd half I decided maybe I should switch to 10/1s to be safe–still concerned that maybe I’d tank after the 32K mark, knowing what was ahead still.  I had seen Laura (also from my running club) earlier and she was focused, had a plan and was doing her 10/1s.  I saw her ahead of me and kept her in my sight.  When she walked, I walked, when she ran, I ran. I did this for awhile (I hadn’t set up my app for 10/1’s so this was just logical to me).

At around the 30K mark I was feeling a lot of pain in my right foot.  My foot pronates inward and I had been transitioning into newer shoes trying to solve my issues. Add the groin injury on the same side and I think I was overcompensating a bit.  I had to push through quite a bit of pain the last 3-4K.  BUT I still felt overall pretty good.  I was smiling at the camera whenever I saw it, I was enjoying the cheering stations and the people along the route and I even took time to pull alongside fellow DC – JP, aka Batman, to introduce myself in person as we had only been connecting online up to this point. JP is doing amazing things to raise awareness and support for Sick Kids Toronto (you can see more here: Batman Runs For Sick Kids Toronto).

There was a moment when a 4:30 was in my reach, but at around 39K I realized I was going to miss that so I allowed myself to ease up a bit as my foot was killing me.  BUT, not too much as I could still come under 4:35.  As we rounded the corner entering the final 500m run to the finish line I was hurting a lot!  I was considering walking it in when I saw two guys ahead of me, and something in me decided I was not coming in behind them.  So I pushed a little bit harder picking up speed for the final 300m passing them both and coming in strong!

When I kicked it up and passed them, the announcer called my name and Christine (pictured above) who had ran the half marathon started yelling my name from up above me somehow….and then it was over.  It was amazing and I knew immediately I would do this race again!

TO Finish 2014

Official Time 4:33:52

For The Love Of Running

As a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon I’ve had the amazing privilege of connecting with so many wonderful people online.  Many training for their first marathons but a number of ultramarathoners as well.  Interacting with so many runners motivates and inspires me daily!

August was a busier than usual month for me in regards to races and boy did I have fun!  It’s hard to pick my favourite one however the Ottawa Foam Fest focused on FUNCORE.   This is a quick video of what I experienced with my husband and daughter running their first official races Ottawa Foam Fest Video.

23K Trail Run - Halfway and still smiling!

23K Trail Run – Halfway and still smiling!

Equally as awesome was my first ever trail run.  I absolutely love Ray Zahab’s passion and vision for Impossible2Possible.  So when I found out there was an organized trail run with distances ranging from 10K – 100K I wanted to be a part of it.  All proceeds went to support the youth ambassadors with I2P.  With a little encouragement I signed up for the 23K.  Thank goodness two friends decided to run as well, as it would have been a completely different race experience without them!  I think I’m pretty much hooked and am now including more trail running in my training.

My training has been going very well, I’m actually enjoying my progress and am having more fun!   Long runs are getting long, like really long – today I will be running 32K.  I still feel really good and cannot believe we are 6 weeks out from my goal marathon for the fall.

Oh and I have new shoes!  I’ve finally made the transition (okay, making the transition slowly) to a lower profile shoe to encourage a more natural running form.  So far so good, I still have happy feet!

Fun, right?!

Fun, right?!

Most recently (but certainly in my thoughts for 6 months or more) I’ve decided to get a running coach.  I realize that there are so many amazing athletes who have expertise beyond my own experience in running.  Running is not just recreational for me. I do run for fun, for therapy, and for the challenge and overall feel-good feeling I get by getting outside and running.  However, I want to be challenged more and accomplish more than I think I can accomplish.  I want to achieve some really awesome running goals and for that I will need someone who is more knowledgeable than me to help me achieve the goals I have.

I’ve decided to go all in (well, because that’s what I do! LOL)  My training schedule has changed and I’m trusting in the plan and of course my coach.  Week 1 of my new training schedule is now in the books and I accomplished everything I was told to do. Nothing more and nothing less.  Okay, maybe a wee tiny bit more BUT I’m learning to do a little less for now 🙂  AND I’m happy to be dragging a few running friends along for the ride, making memories, having fun and simply getting out and running!

Up next for me is the Army Run.  Not sure if I’ll be racing it or using it as a training run at this point but I know that it’ll be amazing and I’m looking forward to it.

How is your training going?  What was your summer highlights?  Would love for you to share.

 

 

 

Travelling for Training

Again, life has been busier and I’ve missed more runs with my running group than I had hoped for.  Still getting my runs in but more and more on my own.  I started hills and felt like a pro while doing them. 🙂

Being a part of the amazing  Digital Champion Team (DC’s) for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon means that there are a variety of events happening in Toronto.  There are a handful of us DC’s who do not live in Toronto therefore we must travel if we want to participate in these events.  The event I chose to travel for was the Beaches Jazz Run 20K Training Run.

I managed to get 3 others to join me and our travel plans were set!  We’d leave on the Saturday morning, drive to Toronto, relax Saturday night and be up early for a 7:45am meet and greet with other DC’s before the run began.

Travelling with others that you do not know well can be risky, but when you have health and fitness as a common denominator there is always lots to chat about!   Turned out to be a great group to travel with!  We happened upon an amazing restaurant for dinner, relaxed and managed to get to bed at a reasonable time.  We had three alarms set and were all awake for  5:20am, because we needed time for coffee and of course proper fuelling for our run.  Everything went smoothly and we were off to the Beaches.

I enjoyed meeting other DC’s who I’m getting to know through our connections online.  It’s so nice to meet in person the people that you are cheering for and believing with to accomplish the goals they have set for themselves.  Also, knowing that others were not there as they have had to put their plans on hold.  Knowing all to well, how very difficult it is to be “forced” to post-pone your dream because of life’s circumstances or injury.  When you are passionately driven to go after your dreams, it’s hard to have to sit back or change and adjust your goals so that you remain healthy.  It’s making sure you have balance and that the timetable will work with what is going on in your life.  I admire and respect these people for picking the hard choice and doing what is best for them!

It turned out to be a HOT day!  The humidity was ridiculous and there did not seem to be much of a breeze, even though we ran along the water for a time.  There were pacers for the training run but as far as I could tell only for continuous runners.  I choose to do 10/1’s for my long training runs.  So I lined up near the back, also noticing the slowest pacer was for a 4hr. 10min. marathon.  Realizing that I’d be slower than that, my position in the back seemed to be appropriate.

I had the awesome privilege of travelling with two new friends who were both running their first official 10K’s.  They were there to see me off (10K race started 45min. after the 20K).  They took pictures and cheered me on when I headed out.  I kept up with the 4:10 pacer for the first 2-3K and then gave myself permission to pull back and commence my run/walk plan.  This was clearly going to be my own run.

I was not alone at the back but we were not many!  This surprised me as I really believe I’m an “average” runner, so where were the other average runners?!  It was a fantastic route, having met a number of people earlier on, it was so nice to pass each other on the out and backs and give high fives or simply yell “you’ve got this!”  I think the hardest part of the run for me was when we turned off to do a 5K out and back towards Tommy Thompson Park!  The air felt dead with little or no breeze and the sun just beat down on us!

Because this was a training run and not a race we were sharing the path and road with other runners and bikers.  There were less people in front of me and I unknowingly followed a random runner across Lakeshore Blvd!  This seemed very odd to me and didn’t feel right.  There was a lot of construction and I realized seeing the Loblaws parking lot that I had made a wrong turn!  There was a volunteer  at Lakeshore and Leslie St. directing runners to turn down Lakeshore–not across it–BUT with my luck they must have momentarily stepped away and I just followed the runner ahead of me!

No big deal, right? That’s not what I thought when I added almost 0.5km to my run.  Once back across Lakeshore I was on my way again to get this thing done!  Heading back towards the beaches, I welcomed what little shade there was along the route.  It was a lot busier now with people enjoying a family day and watching all us crazy runners actually running on an exceptionally humid day!

The end was in sight, once hitting the boardwalk my main goal was to not fall!  Legs were tired, heck I was tired, so watching my footing was my priority. Oh, and hitting my Garmin when I crossed!

Met up with others, chatted about the experience, celebrated with everyone and then signed up for a quick massage!

IMG_3571My travelling friends and I quickly freshened up, found a great spot for an amazing brunch and we were back on the road again to make our 5hr. trip back home.

During the trip home our two friends who ran their first official 10K’s had decided that they would go for it and signed up for their first half marathons!!

All in all, it was a fun 34hr road trip!

 

 

 

 

The Forgotten Marathon Bag – Yes, It Really Happened!

When I chose to sign up for my very first marathon I had no idea the challenges that our family were about to face.  I could have chosen to wait and run another time but I had already made the mental commitment to run, I had already psyched myself into doing all that was required to run a marathon.  Running during that time became very therapeutic for me, almost necessary.  It became a place for me to process my thoughts and feelings, by talking it out with a new running friend, or being lost in my own thoughts and feelings on a long run.  I believe training for the marathon saved me in many ways.

So what happened when I discovered every runners worst nightmare and forgot all my gear in another city the eve of my run?

New Running Gear

New Running Gear

Read about it here on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where they posted my experience in their blog.  Honey, I Forgot My Marathon Bag!

Have you ever experienced something like this?

 

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!

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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,