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?

 

Toronto and Tiffany

Bucket List Races

Do you have a bucket list of things you hope to do one day? Do you go after them and check them off a list? I have an idea of the things I’d like to do, some things I write down and other things are just kept quietly in my head.

Running a Nike run has been something I’ve wanted to do for years, however, I hadn’t given it a ton of thought or planned for it as it has always been held in San Francisco. It simply was a “one day” goal. The draw of course is the Tiffany necklace given to you as the medal when you cross the finish line.

Toronto Nike 15K 2015 Necklace

Toronto Nike 15K 2015 Necklace

So when I heard Nike was doing a world tour and the Canadian city was Toronto, I knew I had to apply to get in. In order to get in to the race you have to apply and get selected through a lottery (random draw).

I had a busy spring race schedule but the run in Toronto was a 15K (not the 21K I expected for San Francisco) so it fell nicely into my training plans for the Niagara Ultra. It was Easter Sunday when the emails went out to notify us if we had been selected. I got the email! Throughout the day it was being posted all over social media others who also managed to get in.

The Weekend

A friend of mine was also selected so we traveled to Toronto together, sharing a hotel. I had booked the hotel and selected it based on where I thought the Ferry pick up/drop off would be. I am not familiar with Toronto too much so this was a bit of a guess. Turns out we could not have had a better spot. We stayed at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel and it was perfect.

We had to be at the ferry for 6:30am. The race didn’t start until 9:30am and we didn’t get through the start line until 9:51am!  Neither of us had ever experienced such a long wait before the start before. The race was held on the Toronto Islands and Nike needed to get over 10,000 runners to the Islands before the start (not including all the volunteers and spectators). Clearly ferry times had to be staggered. There was a lot of complaining on social media, but truly I just felt blessed to be able to participate and take in the experience. They had an amazing “party” arranged, lots of music and photo props for capturing memories. Unfortunately, the weather did not co-operate and what could have been spectacular was overshadowed with just wanting to start the run.

waiting in our coral

waiting in our coral

By the time we were in our start corals the rain was really coming down and I was pretty chilled, we’re talking shivering-goose bumps-and-teeth-chattering chilled.  I think it was because we sat around waiting for hours to start.  Nike anticipated this and offered heat blankets to those who wanted them (unfortunately we didn’t grab one).  There were a number of waves being sent out every 5 minutes or so.  We were in the front of Wave 4.

wave4

When we finally crossed over the start line, I embraced the rain and took in everything around me.  It was a beautiful spot, with unimaginable views.  Spectators were still out cheering us on and the music on the route was incredible.  The rain stopped and then the humidity hit.

favorite moment - choir singing hymns (check out cool nike shoes).

favorite moment – choir singing hymns (check out cool nike shoes).

enjoying the experience

enjoying the experience

I was running my first Ultra the following weekend so my friend and I had already decided to treat this run as a fun run (not worry about the time).

along the boardwalk

along the boardwalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took time to capture a number of photos and enjoy the views (although we did really well with our time 🙂 ).

views were simply spectacular

views were simply spectacular

running on the tar mac at the airport was seriously cool with planes taking off beside us

running on the tarmac at the airport was seriously cool with planes taking off beside us

my favorite

my favorite

Coming in at the end we pushed it for a strong finish.  The experience was amazing and the race memorable. I am truly thankful to have been able to participate in this worldwide event.

Little blue box

Little blue box

So what’s on your bucket list?  A favourite destination?  A must experience event?  I still have two more that I’m figuring out when and how to accomplish.  Run Dopey at Disney (5K, 10K, 21K and finish with 42.2K over 4 days) and back to back marathons (1 week apart).

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.