Saturday, 24 November 2012

It's All About Balance

So it’s the first full week of my off season and I am struggling.  I have been training 5-6 days a week for months and now I do not have a plan or a race to plan for and I am worried that I will slide backwards and all my hard work will disappear.  Now the logical part of my brain knows that is a load of crap but the illogical part of me is worried.  I worry that if I am not running 5 times for more than 40K a week my weight will creep back on and I will lose my fitness.   This is worse than a taper week because at the end of it I know I don't have a race to look forward to…now I have…nothing. 

It’s not like I am sitting on the couch and eating bonbons but it feels different and I do not like it.  I like a plan, a sense of purpose and I guess I need a direction to be pointed in.  I am running 3 times a week as a group leader and I have an indoor cycling class once a week starting Monday but it does not feel like it is enough.  I signed up for a half marathon in May as part of Team Diabetes, something I have wanted to do for a long time but May is so far away and it’s too early to start training for it.

Two years ago, I would have been happy to do nothing athletic but not now, now it’s like an addiction and when I do not get my fix, I get crazy.  It’s all about balance and I cannot go too far to one extreme or the other; I need to take these next few months to regain my balance.  I still need a plan but not a training plan, a different plan.  I want to fine tune my running technique, improve my strength and flexibility and loose that last 15 lbs.  Its funny how much I have changed, that fat girl happy to sit on the side lines is gone for good and I do not miss her.  I like the fit girl I have become, the one that follows her dreams, inspires other to follow theirs and who won’t ever give up.   

Monday, 19 November 2012

I Double Dare You

I am a runner, not a racer.  I run for exercise, for fun and for the social aspect of it.  I will never win a race, qualify for the Olympics, probably not Boston either.  I only finished first in my AG once (still can’t believe that happened) but that does not mean I do not like to run hard.   Sure, I love to try to get a personal best time but I have learned that some of my best running experiences are when I ran just for fun and even without my Garmin.

I recently did the Disney Wine and Dine half marathon and on a Facebook group for the event, a bunch of runners were complaining how bad their runs were, how disappointed they were by their times and how they did not like running at night.   I went into the event to have fun, not to get a PB and I had a great run.  I had a run that made me feel like a real runner.  I enjoyed the run, the atmosphere and the crowds and did not care what my Garmin said or what my pace was (for the most part).  Most of the time I could not see my Garmin as I am technologically challenged and could not find the light button and I ran by how I felt, and I felt great.  Now I respect everyone’s right to run for a PB, I do it for some races but there is a time and place to enjoy your running and to me Disney is that place. 

On Friday I was running with the 10K group and one of the runners was not having a good run.  I was telling her that in my opinion out of 100 runs, 10 will be truly excellent, 10 will be really bad and the rest will be OK but they all make us a better runner.  We cannot let the good or the bad runs define us a runners, it’s the consistence of our training and determination to achieve our goals that define us.   If we let time be the only way we define a good or bad race, we are missing the beauty of the run, the sound of our feet hitting the pavement and the measure of our breathing…or in my case the slapping of my feet and the gasping for breath.  Go on, leave your watch or Garmin at home for your next run and just run…I dare you.

The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.
Bill Bowerman

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

My Magical Mystery Tour

Disney Wine and Dine 2012 Race Report- grab a coffee, it’s long.

So, do you believe in magic?  Well I do and I had a magical night at Disney.   The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon was the last big run for the year and my first night race so I thought I would need a bit of fairy dust and a fairy godmother to get me to the finish line but in fact my Mizuno’s did just fine.   My t-shirt summed it up ‘Forget the glass slipper, this princess wears running shoes’.

We spent Friday shopping, I was supposed to do a 4K run but opted for a day of shopping, I think it was a harder workout and by the time we reached the Expo at 5pm, I was tired and my feet were sore.   The kit pick-up was easy and I managed to get moved up a coral based on my Army Run time.  They had photo opportunities everywhere and Run Disney sure knows how to provide customer service.   The Expo was in a different building and was huge.  I had fun buying things I never saw before in Canada.  I splurged and bought runner earbuds and some t-shirts, one a triathlon shirt and I was thrilled to find that one.  Another fun find were shoe charms, I bought one for each shoe (have to be balanced right) left shoe says 'powered by fairy dust' and the right shoe says 'I run for wine'.  I bought my finishers t-shirt and hoped I would be able to wear it home, knock on wood (I did wear it home).

Saturday was an odd day since the run was at night.  We went back to the Expo in the morning and then spent the day by the pool relaxing.  It was warm and sunny but it was hard to do nothing while you are at Disney.  I was excited but relaxed, a bit nervous but nothing like before the Army Run.   Eating was interesting but I got through the day without incident.  One big thing about Disney races, you have to be there so early and you have a long wait to start.  I brought my Go Lean Crunch from home and found Greek yogurt on site so I brought my snack to eat at 8pm. At 9pm they asked us to go to our corral, 70 mins before the race start.  The entertainment was great and I had time to talk to other runners and the time passed quickly.

At 10:10 we started with a bang…the bang of fireworks that is.  OK, let’s get this done.  I usually start too fast and get slower as I go but I wanted to stay consistent this time, I was aiming for a 7:00-7:15 min/km pace with walk breaks and photo stops (or a 12 min mile).  We started on the highway and it was dark, I forgot my light so seeing my Garmin was tough but I decided to go by how I felt and not clock watch too much.   I felt great as I started and was enjoying the crowds and the entertainment.  I was surprised at how much running we did on the highway (mile 1-3) but eventually we got to the Animal Kingdom (mile 3-6).  It was nice seeing the park at night and it took your mind off the running.  Back to the highway (mile 6-9) to run to the Disney Hollywood Studios, our next park.  At mile 9 or the 15K mark I hit the wall at the Army Run and I hit it again here, luck for me it was the wall of the Tower of Terror and nothing else.  We were now running through Disney parks to the end and it helped take your mind off the last 4.1 miles, there was so much to see.  The downside was the paths were narrower and there were a lot of walkers so the running was harder and slower.  This was one of the big differences I noticed between running in Canada and the US, or at least the Running Room runners and other runners.  We are taught to signal we are about to take a walk break and move to the side to allow the runners to pass easily, it was easy to spot the RR runners who were doing this during the run and the others were stopping wherever and walking 3-4 abreast and blocking the path, grrrr.

So I never hit the wall, in fact I had a great run. I stuck to my plan; my splits at 5k, 10k, 15k and 21.1k were all between 11:50 and 11:54 mins per mile and my finish time was 1 min off my Army Run time even with all my photo stops along the way. I finally felt like a runner, I felt so good as I finished, all my training and hard work came together and it was truly magical.  Then it was time to party!!! 

After I made it through the finish line and changed, I found Leah and we walked around Epcot, eating and drinking our way around the world.  I was a little bit sore and had a blister on my big toe but felt great.  By 3am I was ready to crash and we headed back to the hotel.  Staying on site is the way to go, they provide transportation to the event and the hotel and it was so easy to get around.   The next day I had a bit of tightness in my quads and my right knee but nothing major and certainly not enough to stop me from shopping some more.   Monday we went to the Magic Kingdom for some rides and to celebrate, it truly is the most magical place on earth!

Run Disney runs a great event, they think of everything. There were tons of water stops on the race, the entertainment was great and the finish line went really smooth, no big lineups or bottlenecks.  Now I am looking forward to 2 months of reduced training before it all starts again and I do another half marathon in early May.  We will be back in Disney January 2014, Neale to run the Goofy and me to do my first marathon, I can't wait to go back! This truly was the most magical way to end my training year!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Waiting to Exhale

Tomorrow I leave for my last big race of the season and my first international destination run.  I registered for this half marathon BEFORE I had run my first one, a leap of faith on my part but it seemed like so much fun.  The Disney Wine and Dine is a half marathon through 3 Disney parks ending at a food and wine expo at Epcot, what’s not to like right? It seemed like a fitting end to my first big training year, like going to Disney World after winning the Superbowl.  In truth, I feel like I am waiting to last bit of business and then I can relax.

Little did I know when I started this training season what I had gotten myself into,  I would run a few races, do a triathlon and have some fun, easy, simple and to the point.  I had signed up for a few races before the year started, a 10K and a sprint triathlon and later added a 5K and a half marathon.  Little did I know that I would also add another triathlon, two 5K’s, an 8K and another half marathon.  My easy simple plan became a monster that continued to grow, getting out of control and pulling me along whether I was ready or not.  I had my highs points, running my first half marathon, and my low points, getting my first DNF on my sprint tri but all in all it’s been a great year.  I pushed my body to its limits and it fought back with a few injuries.  

Looking back, I sure did not know I had it in me; I am surprised at what I achieved and what’s to come. Running Disney is my victory lap, or laps as it is 21.2K long, I am trying to forget that fact.  I trained hard and respect the distance but I want to have fun, soak in the atmosphere and enjoy myself. I will be running thinking about all the fabulous people who helped me get through this year, my husband and sons of course (love you guys) but also the other runners from the Orleans Running Room, Kiza , Stephanie and Barbara especially.  The Facebook friends and bloggers who provided advice and insight and a kick in the pants when needed, you people are the best!  We might race alone but we train together and I could not do it without you!  Next year will be interesting but that can wait, now is my bit of fun and then I have 2 months “off”.  Before you think I will be doing nothing, not the case, 3 runs a week, I am a group leader for the 10K clinic and an indoor cycle class for cardio and 2 strength training sessions to help my core.  Hardly a holiday but less intense then training season and more fun and relaxed. 

I learned a lot about myself this year, I am stronger than I thought and I can achieve more and work harder than I ever thought.  I learned that failure does not have to define you and its part of the journey to success.  I learned I LOVE being a cheerleader for others, I love helping other achieve their goals and inspiring them to dream big.  I learned to love running, something I never thought would happen and I learned to love my body but I can learn to love a little bit less of it too.  Anyway before the soft music swells up and I need the Kleenex I had better go and pack…the race report will follow next week….BYE!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Follow the Leader

So the follower becomes a leader, sort of.  I agreed to be a group leader for the 10K clinic at the local Running Room.  I took the clinic twice and before I moved up to the half marathon clinic but before I moved up I told Stephanie I would love to help out in a future clinic.  The timing is perfect; it will keep me running 3 times a week after my Disney Half Marathon.  I start training with K2J in January so this is my last chance and I jumped at it.  I wanted to do this as a thank you to the group leaders who supported me over the last 2 years, without them it would not have possible to achieve my goals, they have been amazing.  Stephanie is another big reason I agreed to do this, she is one of the biggest reason I love running now.  She is one of those individuals who loves running and shares it with everyone and her enthusiastic attitude is infectious. I hope I can do justice to this and help share the love of running with others.

Last night was our first run, it was great and I had fun connecting with a new group of runners.  The ladies I was running with are new to the 10K clinic, one moving up from the 5K clinic, another is looking to run with a group for motivation the other has not run in a few years and wants to re-ignite her fitness routine.  I love being part of their journey; it should be a fun few months.  I have a support group as well, Losing it in Ottawa is a Facebook group I belong too, we support each other, offer encouragement, support and words of wisdom to each other.  They help keep me accountable and inspired and it is great to follow their journey.  We all need support and encouragement, not just in fitness but in life generally. 

This week I was selected to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador (SPA) as well.  SPA’s encourage and support others to be fit and healthy and achieve their goals.  Sometime next year I hope to plan a Sweat Pink event, something in my community to inspire my fitness friends and the community and I look forward to sharing that with you.