Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ottawa Race Weekend

I love Ottawa race weekend!  This is the largest race in Canada with 45000 runners taking part in the different events.  Once again this year, I ran the 5K and my goal was to break 30 mins, something I have been trying to do for a while.  Race day arrived and it was windy and cold and I was not feeling great and did not really want to run.  Maybe it was race fatigue, maybe it was nerves, who knows but I sucked it up and showed up ready to run.  I was in the second corral in the first wave, I had hoped this would allow me to get out fast and not be stuck behind the walkers this year.  Unfortunately this was not the case, dear ORW, if you are going to have corrals and waves, maybe you can make sure runners are in the correct one, just saying.  Anyway, that is my only whine about the whole weekend. otherwise it is a top notch run, the shirts, the organization, the community spirit everything is fabulous.  

My first km was 7 mins, more then a min off my sub 6 min per km pace needed to break 30 mins.  The good news was I felt fabulous, whatever was bothering me during the day was gone and I was in the zone. I was happy, felt like I was flying and enjoying the other runners as I passed them and boy was I passing them, lots of them.  The 5K is a fast, crowded race and the weaving and dodging slower runners means you have to concentrate or you will end up on the road.  Once we passed the Convention Center the runners spread out and I havd room to turn up the speed.  I was surprised when I looked at my Garmin to see 5:35, I have never run that fast.  I knew I could not sustain that pace so I forced myself to slow down to 5:45 and to enjoy the run.  As I crossed Pretoria bridge I knew I would be under 30 mins barring any major problem and slowed for the water stop and a small drink.  The last km of the run is glorious, it is lined with people cheering you on and their energy lifts you if you are tired. This is one of the few times I was not dragging at the end of the race and totally enjoyed the crowd.  I managed to find Neale in the crowd, slowed for a quick wave and a photo and took off for the finish line.  I jumped over the finish line, arms in the air to a new PB of 29:32, I did it! For the number people I took 2:51 off my old 5K time and was in the top 16%  in my AG.  

We stayed to watch some friends run the 10K, well start anyway as it was cold and headed home so Neale could get a good night sleep before his race.  My hubby was trying to run his half marathon in under his Boston qualifying pace to see if he could do it and to test his training program.  He usually runs the marathon but decided to work on speed and let a foot injury heal and run the half this year.  Well once again my running man ran...and ran...and ran, all the way to a new PB well under his Boston pace! I can not wait to see him get his chance at the Chicago marathon and I will once again wait hours to see him for 5 seconds as he passes the finish line.  

So my May madness is over, for both of us. Both Neale and I ran a 5K, a 10K and a Half marathon in the last 5 weeks and got a PB in each, we had fun and enjoyed the races, it was a great month.  Now we move onto Duathlon training for Neale and Triathlon training for me and of course running, lots of running.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Redemption Run- Bluenose 2013

On Sunday I ran the 10K at the Bluenose in Halifax, I had unfinished business and a hill I needed to beat.  Last year I ran the same event but felt that I did not have a good run, I was looking for redemption.  I knew I could do better, run stronger and I was coming back to show myself what I could do. The biggest question this year would be the weather, it was cold and rainy on Friday and Saturday but Sunday was sunny, cold and a tad bit windy. 
Neale and I before the race

It was about 5C when the race started, I was cold and wanted to get started, it was cold standing at the start line.  My game plan was to go out slow so that I could avoid last years final 2K crash and burn.  The start of the race is flat, around Citadel Hill and then out to North St and the bridge. Running down North St, my nemesis from last year, I looked out over the bridge and it was wall to wall runners, I can not describe the awe inspiring sight before me but I was on a mission and was not going to stop to take a photo.  First bridge crossing done, next up Nantucket Ave, a long slow up hill and a real challenge to run.  As we turned the corner onto Slayter I spotted the 65 min pace bunny and I knew I was on target and figured I would stick with him for a bit, 65 mins was my goal time.  I chatted with the pace bunny, Jeffery, a bit and then it was time to cross the bridge again. Halfway up on the Dartmouth side I spotted my aunt and uncle who were there once again to cheer us on.  A quick stop for a hug and photos and I had to get ready mentally to conquer the part of the race that has haunted me since last year.
almost 8K done and looking strong

I had lost the 65 min pace bunny when I stopped but I knew he was up there so I focused on running and catching up with him.  Just past the top of the bridge I caught up to Jeffery and as it was downhill, I went with it and passed him, figuring he would catch up with me as we went up North St.  North St, the hill that haunted my dreams for a year, I was ready.  Funny how thing look bigger in you mind, they grow into a huge thing, well North St did not disappoint, there it loomed.  I focused on a pedestrian crossing sign at the top of the hill and with determination started up and did not stop until I was at the top...take that, this year I had won . The last 1.5K is a long flat section, a short down hill and then a 350-400m uphill section at the end.  Ending a race on an up hill incline is evil but it was a fitting way to end a very hilly run.  I never saw the 65 min pace bunny, I was still ahead of my 65 min goal and as I turned up Brunswick St and the finish line was in sight I knew I could finish strong.  I was thrilled to cross the finish line under 1:04, 1;03:46 in fact, more then 5 mins off last years time.  I had surpassed my goals, I had run all the hills, I had finished strong and I finished under my 65 min goal time, it was a great run.  
My friend Jenny and I after the run

The second leg of my May hat-trick was in the bag, 2 races, 2 PB's and one more to go, Tamarack Ottawa Race weekend 5K on Saturday night.  I would like to set a PB for the 5K but this is a really crowded race and if I do not, I will not be disappointed.  I am looking forward to this weekend, I love this race but what I am really looking forward to is cheering on my friends in their races.

Thursday, 16 May 2013


For years I have avoided Yoga, I swore it was not for me, no reason but not my thing. So how did I end up here on Wednesday?
Parliament Hill

You will have to trust me that I was there with my friends, I am behind the guy in blue who had obviously done it before, unlike me.  I do not know the difference between my warrior 1 and warrior 2 pose or my left from my right apparently either, but I was on Parliament Hill doing yoga for the first time in the rain.  Parliament Hill, the home of our government, where Stephen Harper rules with an iron fist, where Justin Trudeau tries to hide from the ghost of his father and Senators fiddle expense claims.  Every Wednesday this hallowed ground becomes a yoga studio for anyone who is interested in stretching muscles they never knew they had.  All in all it was not bad, I did not make a total fool out of myself and other then the balancing poses I managed to do them all.  So next Wednesday I will be there again, stretching the muscles I mistreat with all my running, cycling and swimming, trying to look like I belong.

This weekend I am running in my old hometown, Halifax NS.  Last year was the first time we ran the Bluenose and let's just say, Hills 1, Runners 0.  We are back this year to try again, 10K of hills and bridges await us, and apparently colder temperatures.  I love running with some of my high school friends and their friends.  My friend Jenny runs with a group, a group of "Sole Sisters" who encourage each other and train to run together at various races each year.  Running with friends is the best part of running, they help you through the bad runs and are there to celebrate the good runs.  On Sunday night we will celebrate together again, it was one of my favorite parts of last years run.  I am looking forward to joining Jenny and her friends Sunday night. The opening party is at my running buddy Roy's, another great party to celebrate our run.

last year after race party at Jenny's

Sunday, 12 May 2013

What is an athlete?

So what does an athlete look like?  Are they these god and goddesses with less the 5% body fat who show up at the start of every race.  Athletes with abs of steel, no cellulite and bodies toned to perfection. Are they the models on the cover of fitness magazines that entice us with ways to lose 10 lbs in a week or how to get that bikini body in 28 days. 

I think athletes are the people we see everyday who motivate us and inspire us to keep going and set goals.  These athletes are not always model thin, but some are, they are not sponsored by some clothing company or sports drink, they have full time jobs and families in most cases, look around and you will see what I mean. 

My friend Mustang Sabby who just completed her first Tough Mudder, this mother of 2 small children carves out time at lunch and after work to workout.  Everyday she battles traffic, life and her Type 2 Diabetes to find time to do her thing.  She is an athlete!

My friends who are doing their first Triathlon next weekend.  They are getting out there and swimming, biking and running, doing things that so many other will not.  They are not whining and finding excused, they are doing it and they are athletes!

My Marathon Mom friends who juggle kids and training for long distance running events, they are super athletes.  They manage to do the near impossible and make it look easy.  Parenting like marathon running is a long distance event and they manage to find time to do a great job at both, they are athletes!
Fit Mom in Barrhaven

My running buddy Roy who is training for the Bluenose 10K next weekend.  He is a single parent to 2 teenagers, works full time, participates in school activities and parent teacher boards and still finds time to work out 4-5 days a week.  He has had more then enough setbacks but keeps coming back, time after time, because he know his life depends on it.  He is an athlete!  

My hubby Neale who is conquering new things, learning to swim and tackling Duathlons this summer.  He is a great runner but he is willing to push himself to run faster and try new things outside his comfort zone.  He is also my inspiration and motivation because just once I want to beat him at something athletic (not likely to happen but I can dream). He is an athlete!

My running friends, some who find it hard and those that find it easy, the men and women I swim with and those that lift heavy weights and make it look easy, they are all athletes!  

I guess an athlete looks like all of us, those brave enough to get up each day, to embrace the SUCK and do it anyway.  Those that set small and big goals and work to achieve them, those that fail and get up to try again and those that inspire us each day to do a little more and to be a little better.  

Monday, 6 May 2013

Toronto Half Marathon- race recap

I will start this post saying that I am thinking of and praying for the family of  Emma van Nostrand of Cape Breton NS who died Sunday while running her first marathon in Toronto.  Emma had run several half marathons and this was her first marathon, which she was running with her parents. 

Also in my thoughts and prayers are our niece and nephew and the rest of our family in New Zealand.

So long before I had ever run my first half marathon, I had a plan to run at least 3, the Army Run, the Disney Wine and Dine and the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon weekend.   The Army Run would be to finish upright and smiling, the Disney Wine & Dine would be for fun and the Toronto Half would be for Team Diabetes and for time.  I completed the first 2 as planned and in January I started my training for the third.  I knew I would have challenges training for this Half Marathon but I was determined. I knew it would be challenging because I was training in winter and in Ottawa, the winter means I spend a lot of time running alone on my treadmill.  Also the  January to April training schedule would coincide with my busiest work months but I was ready.  I saw this on someones Facebook wall in January and laughed...maybe I shouldn't have. 

January was a struggle, adjusting to a new coach and training plan, I was being tested in ways I had not considered and I was not sure if I could actually do it.  In February an injury sidelined me and my training plan, no running for 4 weeks.  All I was able to do was swim 3 times a week and spin once a week.  I had resigned myself to walking my Half Marathon for Team Diabetes, they would come first.  I decided to part ways with my coach, there was no point wasting her time or mine and suddenly my calf came right and I could run again.  I was advised to keep my running to a minimum, no more then 3 times a week; that and swimming 3 times a week would have to be enough. I had 6 weeks to get it together, I hoped it would be enough.  

In January I set a time goal of 2:20 or less for this run, 15 mins less then my Army Run time.  I ordered a personalized pace band from a company that would be at the expo and planned to execute it.  Well I have learned that things never go as planned and that was certainly the case this time.  We had trained in one of the snowiest Winters and coldest Springs in years and then a week before the race, summer arrived and the race day temperature was scheduled to be 22-25C and sunny.  OK I told myself, have a  backup plan and do the best you can on race day.  I went to Toronto with my friend Barbara (who was running her first Marathon) a few days before the race, time to relax and see a show.  We had a great day Saturday and before we turned in for the night I decided to check my Facebook one more time, I wish I had not. Some bad news from home was not what I expected the night before my race and now that I knew, I had to do the best I could to compartmentalize and focus on my race, there would be time for sadness later.  

Race day came and we went to the start line for the start of the marathon, I saw Barbara off for her run and headed back to the hotel to get myself ready.  I was trying to focus on running for Team Diabetes and my friends with Diabetes whose names I had written on my tank.  I added one more name to my tank, read an email from Neale and headed off.  Standing on the start line in my tank top, already sweating from I heat, I knew it would be a hot run but I would do the best I could.  I was told that this race course was flat and downhill, yeah right, there were more then enough hills to be run and I had not done enough hill training.  Despite all the obstacles  I beat my 10K split time per the pace band for my time goal by 30 seconds and was on target up to 15K and then the "SUCK" happened.  I had experienced the "SUCK" before in the Army Run, I had hoped to avoid it this time.  

That is what I kept telling myself before the race, I would not let the last 5K beat me this time.  Well lets just say it did not beat me totally but I did not conquer it either.  I ran the last 5K non-stop but way off my goal pace and I sure did not feel great doing it.  It was hard running in downtown Toronto with the traffic fumes, the heat and the street hazards,  cracked pavement, TTC rails and stupid people trying to cross the street ( trying to run here, get the Fu@K out of my way).  

Eventually the finish line came into view and I saw I was in reach of my back-up goal, a time under 2:25 and I sprinted the last 500m, it is the closest I have ever come to throwing up at the end of the race.  Once I crossed the finish line, the tear flowed and I finally had a moment to mourn the lose of our sister-in-law, whose death I had read about on Facebook the night before.  She will be missed by so many, especially our niece Kirsten and nephew Adam. RIP Karen, we loved you.

The final result was 2:24:43 and a pace of 6:52.  Barbara finished her first marathon with an awesome time, I was so proud to be part of her day.  

Next up is 10K in Halifax on May 19th.  Lots of hills that I am not ready for but I will do the best that I can and try to have fun....and a donair ....and more then a few beers with my friends.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Next Stop Crazyville

So I had a full blown panic attack this morning trying to pack for my race this weekend in Toronto.  I have to take everything I might need and that is not easy.  What to wear Friday and Saturday, what sandals to wear that will not cause blisters, I need a pedicure, compression socks or not on race day which is now going to be warm and were the heck are my arm warmers, I have not seem them since my Disney run last November.  I was in quite the state so I reached out to my friends in a Facebook group and dumped it all there before I went for my scheduled 45 min slow run (I did it slow, I promise).   45 mins later I felt calmer and came back to an inbox of great advice from my peeps.    Pre-race jitters was the verdict and I worked hard and it would all come right race day, exactly what I needed to hear.  A few wise friends reminded me that 6 weeks ago, I was not even running and thought I would have to walk this race.  Now I am running, running long and fast and feel great.  Thinking about this helped remind me why I am running this weekend, I am running for Team Diabetes. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my youngest son and was at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  Running has helped me reduce this risk but some of my closest friends have not been that lucky and Sunday I am running for them and other.  I have written the name of my friends and a few other friends family members on the inside of my top to remind me why I am doing this, I also have BOSTON in big letters  to remember those who died or were injured  on April 15th.  Whatever happens on Sunday, I am running for the right reason and that is all that matters.  Next stop Crazyville...I mean Toronto.