Ottawa Race Weekend Recap 2016

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend certainly had some extra publicity leading up to the races. Extreme heat was putting some of the races at risk. It’s not like we have not run in hotter conditions, most of the summer training runs are extremely hot, however, this was the first hot weekend of the year, so runners were not prepared for it. The Race Director, along with the Team, needed to be watching the weather very closely.  It was amazing how well the information was getting out to the runners. Through the website, emails, social media and of course the media – there was a lot of news circulating leading up to the start of the races. Also, I believe for the first time in Ottawa, the coloured flag system was put in place. To everyone’s surprise, the weather was actually fairly decent at the 7am start of the marathon. We started with the green flags, indicating good conditions, however somewhere along the route I realized we were now showing red flags, alerting us to watch for course changes.  Weather Update on Run Ottawa Site.

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Only some of Team Awesome Members – new friends!

13233063_10156973704745192_4909925577072335454_n Being involved with Team Awesome, a social media team to help inspire/encourage and connect with runners online, has allowed me to get to know some of the team at Run Ottawa.

Here is a clip that Rogers TV put together of Team Awesome this year.  Team Awesome

There were some tough decisions to be made, and they were not made easily but in the end I believe they made the best decisions for everyone involved. Of course, keeping the safety of the runners at the forefront of any decisions. There were some slight changes to the start times for the 10K and the half marathon races. The marathon course was also cut-off later in the race (for those running over 6+hrs.) when the heat, combined with the hours on the course, could prove to be problematic not only for the runners, but also for the volunteers.

X-Mile Crew 2016

X-Mile Crew after running the last runner in

New this year to race weekend was The X-Mile Crew. I was so excited by the idea of this I decided, last minute, that I wanted to participate. That meant running my own marathon first, and then changing shirts to go back out and run other runners in as part of the crew. I had no idea what to expect of my own run as race day can be unpredictable on it’s own but add to that hotter conditions, it was unclear how the day would go. In the end, it was a tough run. Due to my training for Grand to Grand Ultra, I did not taper as most runners would prior to their races, in fact I completed my first triple long run the weekend prior (3 long runs; 3 days in a row). I also had been dealing with a cold/chest congestion that just wasn’t going away, making breathing a challenge in the heat.

I was doing very well up to the first 16 km’s or so. Then over the next 16+ km’s I watched almost everyone I knew pass me. I knew it was not a race to attempt a personal best, however, I didn’t think it would be my worst time recorded 🙂 At some point in the last 10 km’s or so, I decided the goal was to just complete it and then get back out to help others run it in. I knew how they would be feeling, as I was in fact feeling it as well. Discouraged, tired, and wanting it to be over. Until you see the finish line, then there is a new sense of empowerment and the idea that you did not give up! You did it!

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After the sponge station

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Water misters along the route

IMG_1145I was so proud of Ottawa/Gatineau and how the cities came together to do whatever they could to help the runners out. The residents were out all along the route with hoses, sprinklers, freezies, even strangers holding up bags of ice for you to grab what you needed to cool off. I particularly liked the fire station along the route with the fire hose ready to open it up when given a simple head nod, confirming yes soak me! It was awesome!

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Just before the fire fighters let loose the hose on me 🙂

If all that wasn’t enough, heading back out to run with the runners still out there, making their way in after being on course for well over 5.5+ hours was so rewarding. I met some pretty amazing people, with some remarkable stories. Many first time marathoners who did not quit. I even met a women, 72 years young, who was running her 84th marathon! Many of those in the last few years….amazing!

Being involved with Ottawa Race Weekend, in a variety of capacities, has helped me discover the many wonderful aspects of this race. The team works year round to ensure we have the very best race to offer anyone who would like to experience it, including making it the biggest multi-distance race in Canada! It is also the only running event in North America to be given TWO Gold Label Standards from the International Amateurs Athletics Federation (IAAF). More interesting facts.

If you are a runner can I encourage you to register for one of Ottawa’s races next year. Guarantee you’ll love your experience! If you do not run, volunteering is one of the most amazing, rewarding experiences that allows you to make an impact in a runners life. As a runner, I cannot adequately express how much we appreciate and need the support and encouragements along the way! Volunteers give us the ability to keep going.

If you are on twitter, follow Ottawa Marathon (Race Weekend) to stay informed. Also, please connect with me as well so I can support you along your journey!

Have you run one of the race distances in Ottawa? Are you considering running Ottawa in 2017? I’d love to hear your experiences and your goal race for 2017.

Keep Chasing Dreams

When the going gets tough….you just gotta keep going

When you set goals, do you count the cost before making the commitment? Do you consider the sacrifices you are going to need to make? What about the kind of support that you will need? Are you willing to put the hard work in to make your goal a reality?

It doesn’t matter what kind of goal you set, these should be questions you ask yourself. When the idea of doing Grand to Grand came about I felt very strongly that I needed to do this. It was outside of my comfort zone, it was beyond what I was currently trained to do. I seriously thought that suggesting this to my husband and coach would get an immediate response of, “you’re just not ready”. I think often its a good idea to bounce ideas off friends and family members, but in this case it only mattered to me what my family and coach thought. To my surprise, my husbands response was simple “you can do it”, not as given me permission 😉 but he believed if I made the commitment to make this run happen then it would happen. Equally surprising was my coaches response, his only question was why I wanted to do it. As I shared with him my desire to encourage people, particularly young people, to look past their current situations and dream big for their lives, it became very clear that it was extremely similar to the vision he has for i2P. I laughed out loud when this occurred to me.

Have you ever met someone whom you just know there is a reason why your paths crossed.  That is how I feel about my coach. We connected “by chance”, kept in touch and eventually he became my running coach.

So why inspire young people? Or really anyone who might be limiting themselves to dream big or see a different life for themselves? I was raised by a single mom (with my father in jail), with little extras in life. I grew up in neighbourhoods where patters were repeated, generation after generation. My mom wanted more for us, she wanted to break the cycle. I see young people, especially today, that have many challenges to overcome. Many kids today do not have the kind of support that says to them, “Believe in yourself”! I want to send a message to people to not focus on why you cannot accomplish something but instead start to look at what they would need to do in order to accomplish what they really want.

I knew the message I wanted to say but did not know how to tangibly demonstrate that message. How could I show people, that with a goal and hard work, the seemingly impossible could be accomplished.

Grand to Grand Ultra came across my newsfeed on facebook one day. I remember seeing it and thinking, wow, maybe one day. I had been running for a number of years now and loved training for marathons but this was beyond my current level of running. Then it hit me, wasn’t that the point. If I made a decision to chase this goal, to commit to the training and to work hard, wasn’t it possible to accomplish this. It terrified me but I felt that this was the kind of “out of my comfort zone” goal needed to encourage others to start dreaming beyond their own comfort zones.

To my surprise my coach was immediately on board. Once I shared my reasons for wanting to do it, he said, “okay, lets do this”. He then went on to say how much he believed I could and would get me ready to do it.

I have been doing back to back long runs for a while now. Running 20km Saturday/Sunday, then 23km on both days the following weekend, and even 29km back to back. All of it has been road running as I had sprained my ankle snowshoeing and couldn’t handle the instability of the trails/snow. It’s been good and I’ve been building up consistency. I had been running at least one of these long runs with the Running Room group for company as well.

IMG_0687About a month ago, my coach wanted to add hill training into the mix.  Both my long runs were now going to be up in Gatineau Park, still mostly on the road but with lots of hills mixed in. To get comfortable with the hills, my coach had me start with 10km both days, increase to 20km (both) the following weekend and last weekend he had me do 30km back to back. I have also been running these runs alone. I’m learning a lot about myself during these training runs.

What I learned this past weekend:

  • I enjoy the solitude that running alone gives me
  • I am no longer intimidated when seeing a huge hill
  • throwing an extra layer in the car “just in case” is a very good idea
  • figure out what you need to do BEFORE you set out for your run in order to get it done and not quit (ie., avoid going back to car in between loops)
  • use positive self-talk while running and recognize how well you are doing
  • avoid sitting on the “evil” chair (as a friend put it) when doing loops for your long run 🙂

thechair

IMG_0659Preparing for these double long runs is requiring a bit more planning. I am now needing post run snack for the drive home and figuring out fuel for during the run. So far Nuun Active and Nuun Plus has been keeping me hydrated well. The weather has also been making it tricky to know just what to wear starting out as it warms up by up to 10degrees by the end of my run. Oh, and of course I’m training with my pack now so am carrying an extra 11lbs on my back!

Getting a recovery week and then training starts back in the trails!

Do you have dreams or goals that you’ve been putting off? What’s holding you back?

 

 

#Runfie – What’s the Point?

Online Friends or Foes?

I belong to a number of closed groups on facebook and to often I see posts from people saying, “I know you guys will understand, I can’t post this on my personal wall because my friends and family don’t get it” or “my friends and family are sick of hearing about my running, blogging, (insert whatever)”.  More hurtful, “my friends and family have posted for me to shut up, or messaged me telling me they do not appreciate or care about the things I post”.

I understand that what others post (myself included) can be annoying to some, I really do.  I also get that sometimes we simply do not relate or have any interest in what some people post about.   If you do not like what is coming up in your newsfeed all the time then you can choose to unfollow someones posts, this allows you to still connect or message one another (especially helpful if it’s family 😉 ).

Everyone uses social media for different reasons.  For some it is to stay connected with friends, for others it may be to connect with a special interest group, hobbies, favourite past times.  Still for others it can be used mainly for business.  Whatever the reasons shouldn’t we respect one another more and judge others less?  Why is it some people expect others to use it the way they do?  Why is their way correct?  Is there a correct way?

Why Post?

So why do I post?  Why do I take selfies or “runfies” as we call them. 🙂

If you know me it should not come as a surprise that I love to encourage people.  I think it comes out of my own life of being misunderstood and not really having people believe in me or support me much.   Our past shapes us and for whatever reason I believe in people.  I have a soft spot for people who seem to be misunderstood or not heard at all.  I am naturally open and vulnerable–“what you see is what you get”.  I don’t pretend to be someone I am not.  I have long since stopped trying to be liked by everyone, because the reality is not everyone is going to like me.

What really bothers me is when someone judges me and they know nothing about me.  OR worse, they actually should know me, yet they assume the worse.  This can be difficult for me as I naturally assume the best in people most of the time.  So it’s hard for me to accept that sometimes, someone is just plain mean, critical and judgmental.

Okay, so back to why I post about running/fitness.  It is a way for me to be accountable to myself!  I have many goals and if I share my journey it helps me get out the door.  It is a way for me to connect with some amazing friends I’ve met online who are also chasing dreams.  We encourage one another with cyber high-fives and way-to-go chatter.  I hope to inspire others to find something they are passionate about and do it.  I often help people privately who reach out and want support, encouragement and accountability.

I have also been blessed with being involved as an ambassador for a number of my favourite fitness products.  Part of being an ambassador is posting, tagging and doing shout outs to introduce others to the products that I love and believe in.  I am honoured to be teamed up with these companies and I love sharing about them.   I am also involved in a number of online fitness/sports related ambassador programs that require you be active on social media.  That means sharing your journey, with the idea of encouraging others to be active.

I feel bad for the people who feel they cannot post on their own facebook walls!  Seriously, it’s their wall.  We all have “negative Nellie’s” on our feed, again you do not need to follow their posts.  Why should someone be made to feel bad for getting in shape, or setting goals and achieving them.  Why should they feel guilty if they are changing their lives for the better??  Why should they have to seek a private group on facebook, with strangers, to be encouraged because their facebook “friends” criticize them.

At times, we may post an opinion about politics, movies, events in the city, etc.  This can open a door for others to jump in and offer their own opinions.  I think we can expect this, however, I also believe we should be grown ups about it.  Be respectful.

I also use social media at times to highlight how proud I am of each of my children.  I love to support them and over tell everyone the great things they do.  I am their biggest cheerleader and will forever be proud of them.  Social media allows me to share with others some of the neat things my kids do.  My intention isn’t to make someone else feel bad, I just want to give a shout out to my kid.  I’m also very respectful to my kids, I almost always ask their permission (to be that mom).

I understand that maybe you just do not want your feed filled up with things you just do not care about, that’s cool.  It’s YOUR feed!  As previously mentioned, you can control whose posts you see?  You can actually unfollow someones posts, but remain their friend (mine included).

Truthfully, I’m just being me, doing what I love, trying to enjoy life and hopefully connect with others along the way.

www.dontbeachicken.com

www.dontbeachicken.com

Can I perhaps challenge you? Maybe instead of being annoyed or frustrated, maybe you could message someone and encourage them on their journey. Tell them you are inspired by them or you are proud of them for their hard work.  Maybe their posts have nothing to do with fitness, but instead just maybe they’ve been going through a hard time and have been sharing their story of getting through it.  You’ll be amazed at what a kind word can do for someone.

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!