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

Acknowledging the Wins!

Do you set goals?  Are you always looking ahead at what is coming up or do you take time to reflect on where you have come from?

How often do we take the time to just enjoy the moment or take in the day of a particular event or race.

I always have another goal or race coming up.  It’s how I get up the next day and keep going.  There is not a finish in sight for me but just moments and events to check off one at a time.

Having hired a running coach I am no longer “in control” of my running schedule and have submitted myself entirely to his plans and schedule for me.  Part of my fall race plans included the Army Run.  My coach suggested I run it hard.  Now this can be up for debate with people as I’m training for a fall marathon (just 4 weeks away from the Army Half).  Some choose to run it as such, a training run, slow and steady and others will race it.  The difference when it falls into your training and is not your goal race is that you do not taper for it, you just run it.  Tapering allows your body to recover before the race, and of course you’d take time to recover after as well.  Army Run

After being told to race it, I had a time goal in mind.  To beat last years time.  I was short 18 sec. to accomplishing this and a tad disappointed when I realized how close I came.  When sending in my weekly report to my coach, I reflected on my week in review.  I quickly remembered that it was only 4 short months ago that I was removing a cast that I had on for 3 months!  I had come back from a serious stress fracture (including a secondary minor one).  I built my running back up quickly and most importantly I remained injury free!

So in fact, my race really was a victory for me.  I had been training differently, focusing on building strength and using different muscles for only 3 short weeks. I went into the race after a hard training week, including a long run the day before, and I experienced some special challenges the morning of the race, and yet I still came in ONLY 18sec. short of my time last year.

My disappointment very quickly turned around and I was proud of how I ran.  Proud that I have worked hard at correcting my running technique to run more efficiently and injury free and the Army run wasn’t my goal race. 🙂

Next up is my second marathon in Toronto.  I hope to beat last year’s time, but again I have to celebrate the fact that after an injury I am going to be back running a full marathon and therefore need to be proud of that accomplishment regardless of my time.  Getting a “personal best” is the bonus I hope to experience, however the real win has been the journey of getting to the race.  The countless hours and kilometres that I’ve invested to achieve this goal.

ArmyRun DoneI’ve had an exceptional training season, new friends, new connections, being part of special groups including the opportunity to be a Digital Champion for my goal marathon and being given the incredible opportunity to test out new running gear and become an ambassador for some of the gear I’ve tested out and loved.

So my question to you:  Have you taken a moment to celebrate where you are today?  The personal development or steps that you’ve taken to achieve a goal you have.  Again, it doesn’t have to be running related.  Are you still moving in the direction of the goals you’ve set for yourself?  Are you better today than you were say, even one month ago?  Remember why you are doing what you are doing and celebrate what you have already accomplished.

Keep going. 🙂

The Running Continues With Some Help

Adapting to change was evident in this past weeks training.  Although I felt good with my cardio my legs were tired.  It was all I could do to complete an “easy” 5K on Wednesday!  My mind kept trying to convince my legs to go faster, my legs were just not capable, but I pushed and got it done in probably the worst 5K time ever.

It’s funny when you switch up what you’re doing how quickly your body reacts to the change.  I combined two training runs into one on Friday which started off slow but ended up feeling fantastic and strong.  By Sundays run I felt like I was back, feeling strong and marathon ready!  Sunday was a 29K run and I was back running with my running group for a change, it was awesome!  Weather was a cool 3 degrees and didn’t rise much more than 9 I think.  This is my kind of weather!

I have been using Pro Compression Socks for my recovery after my long runs and love how amazing they feel!  purplecompressionOn Friday (15K) I decided to try them running for the first time and could not believe how much support I felt with them.  I believe that is why my run started off with tired legs but within the first 4K or so I literally had a bounce to my step, I felt strong and could have easily ran further.

Recovery after long run

Recovery after long run

My routine after a long run is to put compression socks on for recovery immediately after my shower, as it helps with muscle soreness and blood flow (circulation).

The pro compression socks are so light weight and comfortable I will now be using them for most of my runs for additional support and to help circulation during my long runs.  They have the added bonus of keeping me warmer as we move into fall training.  Not to mention they have the most amazing fun colours to choose from.

So here are the reasons I think you should try them:

  • PRO Compression helps increase blood flow which relieves discomfort and assists in recovery.
  • Super comfortable to be worn during and/or after your runs.  Try them and see for yourself just how comfortable they are!
  • FUN cool colours to choose from.
  • Variety of styles to choose from (my favourite is the marathon sock).
  • Special discount code to get 40% off – Use CODE BLG14 at checkout Pro Compression Website

Would you like a chance to win a pair of Pro Compression Socks?

Simply share with me what you do to stay active and your name will be entered to win.  You can comment below, facebook me or send me a tweet 🙂 (deadline is Sunday, Sept. 21st)

You  might also want to sign up for the Sock Of The Month Email List for special deals and new product announcements (scroll to bottom of homepage).

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed.

I now realize that I want a few more pairs, as colour choices are just too fun not to have a few, plus I can’t keep up with the wash. 😉

Don’t forget to message me and get your name in for the draw!  Good Luck!

 

 

 

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?

 

With Or Without Others

The past two weeks are somewhat of a blur!  I have had to run many of my training runs on my own because of my schedule.  It’s been a great two weeks, my runs have been amazing and I’m feeling really good.  It’s almost like I’m in a stage of newness again, like rediscovering running for the joy of solitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE running with a group.  However, I’ve come to realize that maybe I’ve become a tad dependent on the group.  Having to be somewhere at a specific time helps me get out for sure.  I’ve had some unexpected things come up forcing me to get out more on my own which made me realize I’ve missed the long runs on my own.  I’ve missed the strength I feel when I’m pushing myself at a faster pace OR pulling back forcing myself to slow down for the slow/long run.  I’ve forgotten the satisfaction that comes from being in control of the course and the pace, the feeling of being lost in my thoughts and feeling renewed in my heart, thankful and grateful for my family and life.

I have always been a solo runner and  I’ve trained for most of my races on my own.  I never considered being part of a running group prior to training for my first marathon.  When the kilometres started to really climb,  I realized the benefits of group running.

Group Run Celebrating Canada

Group Run Celebrating Canada

I thrived in the group and loved getting to know other runners and feeling inspired and empowered by many of them while out on runs.  Running in a group also allowed me to run in areas I wouldn’t run much alone, allowed me to just run without thinking about pace or direction and it certainly kept me company on those 3-4hr training runs.  It was the perfect timing for me to connect with the Running Room and train with the marathon group.

This training period  feels different though.  I know I will get out  with the group when I can, and it’ll be just as amazing when I do, however, some of my goals have me being away or training for different events, requiring me to do more training on my own.  I think it’s good though, it’s kind of the best of both worlds.

What about you?  Are you a loner?  Do you like to run on your own or do you need to belong to a running group?  Have you ever been a part of a group?   This certainly can apply to anyone going to the gym, taking fitness classes or whatever new adventures you might be taking on.  There are benefits to doing it alone and certainly joining up with others.

For myself, I think there is a time for both, and I’m thankful I can experience both as I continue to train for all the races coming up in 2014.

Being a part of the Digital Champions (DC’s) for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has also allowed me to connect with some pretty inspiring runners and a fantastic online community that I am truly blessed to be involved with.  So although many of my training runs will be on my own, I’m not really alone.  A supportive online community can also be just what you need!

Ottawa Digital Champions

Here is a shot of the Ottawa Team, a small portion of the DC’s that are encouraging runners who have chosen to make the Toronto Marathon part of their fall racing goals.

Running alone has its perks and for me it is so therapeutic.  It brings me back to the reasons I love running.  It’s a place for me to really be in touch with who I am and process through the events in my life.  However, I will never give up the joy of running in a group. The friendships, encouragements and challenges that come from pushing yourself with others, especially on those long, hot summer runs or, not so long ago, those unbelievable long, cold, snowy ones!

However you run, may you get all you can out of it and be renewed in your love for running!