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

Ottawa Race Weekend 2015

Well, I did it!  After previously attempting twice to run the Ottawa Marathon I was finally able to get it done. (Injuries took me out the previous two times, having me run two fall marathons instead).

The journey to race day was an experience I will cherish for a long time.  I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of Team Awesome for the race, which was basically a group of runners, running a variety of distances, committed to connecting and encouraging other runners online on the journey to race weekend.  It was fun and I met a lot of amazing people along the way who I hope to stay connected with as we all continue to chase goals and live life full of adventure.

The weekend started Friday night where I was able to connect with some members of Team Awesome at a casual event.  TeamAwesomeIt was great to see people in person who I’ve been chatting with online for months.  It was a wonderful evening, ending with my husband winning a great door prize, a Beau’s Brewery Gift Package.  beauwinnerHe’s been so amazing supporting me in all my adventures so I was thrilled when he won this.

Beau's Git

Beau’s Race Weekend Gift Package

What a beautiful gift.

Saturday I decided to take in the 5K/10K races as a spectator and supporter.  Being downtown on race day is electric to say the least.  The weather was perfect and the atmosphere was a true celebration of a great weekend that all came together perfectly.   The team at RunOttawa did an amazing job at making the weekend a lasting memory for so many people. Congratulations to all of you for the hard work and incredible success.

I was able to get up close to the finish line to see the elites come in and break many course records.   You can view video here:  Elite Runners Finish Line

Then witnessing the youngest and oldest runners complete their races.

dad carried this sweet angel the entire race

dad carried this sweet angel the entire race

IMG_0112
Every runner crossing the finish line has a story and a reason to celebrate.  Too often we look at the finish times, but honestly isn’t it the journey to get to the start line where the story really begins?  It was moving to witness firsthand, up close and personal, many people achieving personal goals and victories as they crossed the finish line.  It was motivational for me, as I was about to line up in the morning to accomplish one of my own personal goals of running the marathon in my home city, Ottawa.

I had not intended on being out so late on Saturday night, so getting the final things ready and off to bed was certainly later than my original plan.  The morning came early, 4:15am early!  I started my morning with oatmeal, my go to race morning breakfast.  Coffee and some final touches on getting my gear ready and I was in the car and off to the race before I knew it.  Of course, pre-race jitters required that I found a bathroom before starting.  This was also the intention of many other runners preparing to start.  I was still in line at 6:55, with a 7am start time for the race.  I managed to hop in to a corral just in time (4 hr. pace, not my group 😉 ), with less than a minute to spare to set things up (music/running app).

Pace bunny up ahead 4:00 (not my pace group)

Pace bunny up ahead 4:00 (not my pace group)

focussed on getting my music playlist going

focussed on getting my music playlist going

We were off!

I settled in to my own pace early and managed to connect with a friend very early on in the race and we ended up running the entire marathon together.  It was an experience I will never forget.  The first half of the marathon was pretty decent, with the weather starting to heat up for the second half.  By the time we hit 25K the sun was really beating down on us.  I was very thankful for the awesome water stations, especially sponges that were being handed out.  I have never soaked myself with water during a race before, but this time around I dumped water over myself a few times in an effort to stay cool.

The crowd was incredible throughout the race with so many people out cheering us on. crowds were incredible throughout the courseHome owners had sprinklers/hoses out so we could run through them to cool off.  Children were out handing out freezies, which certainly was appreciated by many.

Family and friends arranged to be out on the course around the 33K mark to cheer us on and provide extra treats and water if needed.  Always special to see people you know along the route.

Often we can head into a race with a time goal in mind, usually to get a personal best.  I had this in mind in the beginning as well, but along the way decided it was more about the experience and running with a friend that made the day memorable and one that I could be proud of.

Training continues for me as I am running the Women’s Nike Run in Toronto this coming weekend and my first Ultra Marathon the following weekend.  Life is an adventure, sharing the adventure with others makes it a beautiful journey.

Have you run a marathon before?  Have you ever ran one in your home town/city?  I think it is one of the most beautiful ways to experience a city, the people in it and of course the landscape.

Happy Running Friends.