Monday, 29 December 2014

Year end Review 2014

Well I can not believe 2014 is almost over, it was a big year for me, my goal for 2014 was to do a race a month and I managed to do this and then some.  I did 16 races, 3 triathlons and 13 running plus I swam 3 heats at the World Master Swim Championships in Montreal in August.  Not all my races had bling but this is the bling I did accumulate this year, quite a collection.

Jan - Disney half and full marathon
Feb - Ottawa BIA 3K for the Heart and Stroke Foundation
Mar - Around the Bay 30K race (PB)
April - 10K for Kideny Health (PB)
May - ORW Half Marathon
June - 70.3 Tremblant
July - Canada 5K 
August - The National Capital Olympic Triathlon (PB)
Sept - 70.3 Muskoka and Army Run half marathon
Oct - Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
Nov - Mec half marathon, Rock and Roll Las Vegas 5K and half marathon (PB)
Dec - Santa Shuffle 5K

Will I do it again, not for a while, next years race plan is much less, 8 races so far but it included the big one, Ironman Mont-Tremblant, the one I have been working toward for 2 years.  I was thrilled to see that the voice of IM, Mike Reilly would be at IMMT...all I want for my 50th birthday is to hear him say "Allyson are an Ironman".  

Part of the year end review is to assess what went right (not a lot), what went wrong (lots) and figure out how to get better (listen to my coach).  I think I can best sum up what happened as this, I lost my drive to get outside my comfort zone.  I did not push myself enough, I was comfortable and until I got uncomfortable, the magic did not happen.  

After a frustrating spring, summer and fall, I figured this out at the MEC half marathon on Nov 1. This was a tough hilly race and I had no intention of running it all but that day, I decided enough was enough, I was going to get uncomfortable and run it all...and I did.  I set an aggressive time goal for my Las Vegas half marathon and I was so close to hitting it (6 min per km pace) that next time I have no doubt I can do it, I did get a PB however. Next year, I need to be uncomfortable, a lot and push myself outside my comfort zone.  I need to trust my training, give 110% for all my training and follow my program...always.  I am glad I learned this lesson now and not on Aug 16, 2015 when I start my long day of fun (that is how I want to think about it), it will be hard, it will hurt but I will have fun because I will have finally grown into the person who can accomplish it!

I am looking forward to 2015, first up is the Miami half marathon on Jan 25th, a chance to hit that 6 min per km goal before I go on a cruise with my friend Debbie.  I have enjoyed a few weeks of reduced training and am excited to get started on next years goals, goals that include a 2 hour half marathon and a 4:30 marathon as well as my Ironman.  2015 will be uncomfortable and I can't wait to get statrted!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

MEC and Las Vegas Race Recap

Sorry for being quiet, I was away on vacation and ran a few races, here is the recap.  

On Nov 1, I ran the MEC Gatineau Park half marathon, it was the loop I biked all summer and in August when this race was announced, I thought it would be fun to run the loop (yes, I am crazy). After I signed I started having issues with my left hamstring so I decided I would walk up the hills and run the downhills and flats.  Finally race day rolled around and I woke up and decided that today, I was going to run up all the hills, every darn one of them.  It was a cold day and snow was threatening but once Anita and I started to run, we warmed up quickly, then the hills started.  The loop has 8 or so big hills, one is my biking nemesis, Black hill, it goes on f o r e v e r.  I had a disappointing season and I was not going to let this defeat me as well so I was determined to run strong that day. My favorite quote about a half marathon..." A half marathon is a 10 mile warm up to a 5K race" and at the 16K mark, I said to Anita that the warm up was complete and it was time to run the 5K race and increase the speed. We finished the race running downhill and fast and I finished with a 2:15, my fastest half marathon this year.  

A week later I was on a plane to Phoenix for a vacation before our Las Vegas race.  I hiked in Phoenix, Sedona and 2 days in the Grand Canyon and loved every minute of it.  I had gone to the Grand Canyon in 2007 and was not in shape to hike but this time I was and boy did I have fun.  We hiked Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Cathedral Rock in Sedona, the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon and down into the Canyon to Indian Gardens and a bit more to the plateau.  I not only kept up but I pushed myself and the others to keep up the pace.  Photos do not do justice to the area, it is breathtakingly beautiful and I am so glad I got to go back and experience it again. 

We finally made it to Las Vegas for our race.  Anita and I where running the 5K on the Saturday nigh and the half marathon on the Sunday. We were running the 5K as a shake out run, just a warm up and decided to dress up as showgirls for this run. It was a warm night and my legs were sore to start but eventually everything clicked and it was fun, lots of fun.  

On Sunday, the temperatures were cooler and it was the perfect day to run.  We started at about 5pm and it was getting dark.  I was looking forward to running the strip at night and yesterdays speed and great feeling stuck around and the run was great.  The first 10K was fabulous and once we got to the old part of LV, the crowds got thicker and my time got slower.  I was frustrated but I kept on running, I wanted a PB and I was not going to let a few people keep me from my goal.  I am not going to lie, the last 3 km was tough, I was tired and ready to be done.  This was the first time I was running the half marathon non-stop and I was chasing a PB.  I was thrilled to cross the finish line with a new PB of 2:08:59!  

We had a fabulous month, Anita and I did 3 races together and had a great vacation of hiking and sight-seeing.  The Las Vegas race marked the end of my season, I have a 5K fun run in December so that I can accomplish my goal of one race per month.  I have trained for 17 months straight and while it might not have all been quality, I did it to the best of my ability at the time and I learned a lot. This is my big takeaway from my training and something I need to remember as I tackle next year is this

Monday, 27 October 2014

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Sorry this is a bit late but we had a traumatic week her in Ottawa and then I had company in town to see Fleetwood Mac this weekend.  I ran my third marathon on Oct 18th in Toronto and I have to say it was a hard run but I was happy with the results.  

I had a rough summer of training and as I headed into the marathon, I was nursing some leg issues, left hamstring and my glutes were playing up but I was going to do the best I could and get it done.  It was a cool morning but clear, almost perfect running conditions and as Barbara and I started I was happy to be there.  The first 21.1K went great, I was almost on pace and the km were going by fast. At the half marathon point Barbara and I parted ways and I headed out on my own.  I felt really good until til the 29K mark and them my hamstring started to hurt and my pace started to slow.  By the time I got to the turnaround point at my glutes and hip flexors joined in the pity party and I was hurting.  The marathon had runners to help you during the last 10km if you were sufferring, they are called Bonnie`s Angels.  I was happy to have my own angel run with me for my worst 4km, from 35 to 39km.  Once I hit the last overpass, I knew the end was near and I thanked my angel and picked up my pace for the last 3.2 km to the finish line.  My watch stopped when I made my 2 potty stops so I did not know if I was ahead of or behind my Chicago time but I powered on.  During the dark period I on the run I thought about my IM next year and wondered how I was suppose to run a marathon after swimming and biking all day.  I also swore I would never run a marathon again...EVER!!!

I happily accepted my medal and stretched while I waited for Barbara to finish, she was only 3 mins behind me and we headed off to get our food and wait for our friends to finish.  I stopped by the sports stats tent to check my time and was thrilled to find out I had run 30 seconds faster then my Chicago time, despite my legs no co-operating I got a PB and it capped off the day, official time 4:51:24.  On and I am already planning marathon 4 and 5 for next year!

Jane, Barbara, Kiza, Liette and me, we all finished!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Desperately Seeking Motivation

Two weeks until my next marathon and I did my last long run on Sunday and I killed it.  I did a fast 6K to start as a warm up, a long slower 22K in the middle and a fast 6K at the end as my cool-down.  It has been a hit or miss summer racing for me, I have not hit any goal since my 10K in April and my confidence has been eroding like sands on a beach.  I needed to find my mojo and get re-focused for next year and Ironman training.

On Saturday I went to a motivational talk with 3 great speakers.  The first speaker was Canadian Olympic medalist Adam VanKoeverden.  He was fabulous, a great speaker and I got a few great tips from his talk.  He said we are the only person on the gas pedal of our car(dreams) and we are the only person who can control it. Translated, we are the only one who can do the work and determine the speed at which we get to our goal. He also said that if you want to get faster, you need to do what faster people are doing so go seek them out, even train with them if you can. 

The second speaker was Jen Segger.  Jen is an adventure racer and ultra-marathoner.  I love the idea of adventure racing so I was excited to hear her talk.  She talked about knowing when to reset, when to give up and how to stay in the moment.  She talked about having fun and doing things that makes you happy not just training all the time.  I believe we must listen to our bodies, know when to throw in the towel and when to take a rest, we need to push through pain and tackle what is hard.  The biggest takeaway was about dealing with  pain, let's face it, sometime what we do hurts.  Jen talked about a pain box and when she hurts, she put it in her pain box and does not open it until the race is over.  I learned a bit about this in Muskoka when I did the whole run with a huge knot in my left hamstring.  I need to focus on putting the pain away during a training day or race and focus on what I need to do.

The third speaker was Ray Zahab, an ultra-marathoner and adventurer of epic proportions.  Ray has run huge distances in extreme conditions, heat and cold.   I have followed Ray on Facebook for a few years and was anxious to meet him.  Ray founded a charity called Impossible2Possible that takes youth on adventures that involve running and doing education programs around the world.  I love Ray's story and what he does with his charity work and as a motivational speaker he is fabulous.  Ray was a smoker who decided to get healthy and do what his brother was doing and eventually it lead to running.  I had read Ray's book and watched Running the Sahara and loved the stories he told us.  I think the biggest take-away from Ray was to believe in yourself, to prepare and plan and you can do anything you set your mind too. 

The evening was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it most and I will take the motivation and start believing in myself a little bit more.  My coach has been telling me I have so much potential and I can do more then I think and I need to believe that and her.  My coach is a great motivational source as well, an ultra-marathoner who proves everyday that hard work equals great results, she walks the walk, not just talks the talk.  I am also luckily to be surrounded by motivational people, I don't have to go far to find someone who has overcome obstacles or tackled huge challenges or even small ones and inspire everyone around them.   To misquote one of my favorite movies, If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that motivation actually is all around.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Army Run

So two years ago I ran the Army Run half marathon for the first time and as my first half marathon.  I was suppose to run it with my friend Roy but he had foot problems and I ran it alone. This year I signed up again to run the half and my friend Roy signed up to do the 5K.  Finally we would get to do this race together, different events but together.  Roy, Cindy and her husband Paul were come for the race, Cindy to run the half and Paul and Roy to do the 5K.   It was a long drive for a weekend but they were excited to do it and I was excited to have them stay. They arrived late Friday night and Saturday we went to the expo and did some sightseeing around Parliament Hill and the Market.

Roy, Cindy, Paul and I at the Expo
Roy and I before the race 

Race day started wet as it rained all night and we were worried about the weather for the race. Luckily it was clear for the 5k and and Roy and Paul had great weather for the race.  Paul had a great first 5k and Roy walked his 5k with a smile on his face.  Finally it was time for the half marathon and it started off clear but I knew rain was on it's way, the question was when.  It started to drizzle around the 8k mark and by the time I got to the Governor General's residence it was a downpour.  The last 5k was miserable, I was wet and cold but I knew the end was near so I kept on running, slowing down a bit but still under my marathon race pace which was my goal. For the third year in a row, just as I crossed Pretoria bridge, "Son't Stop Believing" by Journey came through my headphones, it seems to be my theme song for this race and I love running down to the canal listening to it.  Finally I finished, received my medal from a soldier, all I wanted was to get warm and dry, time to find the others.  

Cindy and Paul after the race, wet but happy
Finally home, showered, warm and dry we had our victory pizza and beverages.  We were all happy with the day, Cindy got a PB, I managed to run it under the pace I wanted and Paul and Roy had great 5K races.  I started the summer running a 5K with Roy and Cindy in NS and it was fitting we ended the summer running together again.  Roy and I finally did the race together, not exactly the way we planned but that did not matter, every runner has a different journey but we all cross the same two lines, the start line and the finish line and I was proud to do that with my friends.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Muskoka 70.3 or actually 72.13 Recap

Ok, let's start with the title. Muskoka is NOT a 70.3 despite the name, it is a 2km swim, a 94km bike ride and a 21.1km run, that equals 117.1km or 72.13 miles.   All summer I heard "You know it's hilly", yes I knew it was hilly and I tried to do all my bike rides on hills and it helped...somewhat.  

I was relaxed and happy heading to Muskoka Friday morning with Neale.  I had done the training, had my pre-race panic attack and was at peace with whatever would happen next, in other words I was in denial.  We headed to the Deerhurst resort to check in and it was very very different from Tremblant, smaller and much less organized but we got through fairly quickly and did a bit of shopping before heading to get groceries and to the rental house.  Our friends Anita and Andre were late leaving Ottawa so we had a nice night watching a movie and having some wine.  

Saturday we headed back to Deerhurst to rack our bikes and get Andre checked in and then we drove the bike course.  OMG, the hills looked huge and the road covering was not the greatest in parts, I was now worried about the hills, really worried.  I also realized that it was going to be an open course so I would have to deal with cars and trucks as well.  My nerves were not helped by finding out that a local cyclist was killed on a charity ride at home, hit by a garbage truck.  I did not know at the time but the cyclist was a member of my swim team, a mother of 2 who was about to get re-married, she was happy, healthy and full of life.  My thoughts and prayer are with Laurie today, her family, friends and community will miss her greatly.  

Sunday morning started at 5:30am, a bit later then normal but the race had an 8am start rather then the usual 7am.  We got ready and walked to the swim start. It was a water start so we got into the water 10mins before our start to warm up and then found a spot and tread water until our start time.  I decided to stay close to the buoy line this time and not swim extra by staying too far left.  I had a great swim start and was feeling good as I turned the first buoy.  As I approached the next turn buoy the front swimmers of the last wave, Men 50+ and relays caught me.  I got shoved around a bit but I held my ground and turned to the back straight.  I was about 100 past the turn when the next wave of men reached me and one guy swam right over me.  I reached up and grabbed him and he grabbed my arm and pulled me to the surface asking if I was OK and swam on.  My biggest fear on the swim came true and I had about a km left to I did.  I finished the swim in 50:25, a bit slower then I wanted but I was happy given what had happened.  It was a long run to transition and as I approached transition, Andre passed me but I did not see Neale.  I am slow in T1, it is hard to put compression socks on wet feet but I took a few mins off my Tremblant time.  My coach told me to be in and out in 8 mins but I could not, T1 was 9:40.

I headed out on the bike and it was nice, not to cool but a bit windy.  The bike course in Muskoka is described as "the stick" and "the loop"  The stick is an 8km section from the resort to the road around the lake and the loop is the road around the lake, we do the stick twice and the loop once.  The stick is all hills and I was off to a slow start but once I got to the highway I was able to pick up my speed and instead of being the one passed I was able to pass people, even on the uphills.  I was feeling good as I got to Dorset and the first aid station, I handled the long highway climbs with ease and was ready for the next section.  I remembered there were some big climbs ahead and set off determined to keep up my speed when I could and pass people.  It was fun seeing a cyclist in front and slowly reel them in, I had definitely improved on the flats.  Every 5km was marked and I used that an opportunity to be grateful for being there, I thought of a lady named Cara and her son Tyler who committed suicide a few weeks before and the cyclist who died the day before.   At the end of the loop is another hill and we have the downhill before we make a sharp left turn back onto the stick.  I climbed the hill and as I crested the top an OPP officer motioned me to the left side of the lane to make the turn and allow traffic to go straight.  I heard a loud muffler coming up behind me so I stayed to the right of the lane and waited for them to pass.  Suddenly a pickup truck flew over the top and down the hill, going well over the posted speed limit. The OPP officer was less impressed then I was and motioned the driver to the side of the road and motioned me to make my turn, he assured me the driver would realize his error quickly.  Finally I was finished the bike leg and I was soooo happy, bike time 4:16, a lot longer then I wanted but I was done.  T2 is alot faster and I was in and out in 2:55.

The first 3k and the last 3k of the run are really hilly, big hills and I ran as many as I could but walked one big one.  On that hill I met Shelley and we ran/walked the whole half marathon together.  We ran when we could and walked when we needed too and it was much better then suffering alone.  I had a knot in my hamstring the whole run and I was afraid  I would tear it if I pushed too hard.  It was not a great run, my runs had been my downfall this summer and this one was no exception.  It was faster than Tremblant but not the run I had hoped for.  At the 18km mark I felt dehydrated and the medic asked me if I was OK, there was no way I was getting pulled so I said I was fine and would get medical attention at the end if I needed it.  I grabbed water and as sponge and headed off.  Did I mention the last 3k is hilly, we did more walking then running but eventually I saw Neale and Anita and the end was in sight.  I was so happy to be done, it was a hard race and a long day, I worked hard and never gave up and most important I finished upright and smiling.  Overall race time 8:09:37, slower the Tremblant and much slower then my goal and way slower them my coach's goal for me.  

I only saw Neale once during the race as he passed me on the bike, I was worried that it took him until the 25k mark to pass me, it usually happens much faster.  He had a slower swim then me but as usual he had a great bike and run.  He finished in 7:00:08 and has mentioned several places that could have cost him those 8 seconds but he is happy with his time overall. 

I grabbed a quick massage for my hamstring and got my stuff.  We were driving home and we saw three cyclists in front of us. All of a sudden I hear Neale swear and slam on the breaks.  My first thought was the car in front of us hit the cyclist but has it turns out he hit the edge of the road and fell off his bike and down the embankment.  The cyclist was conscience and moving, he had a cut on his forehead and a shoulder injury and a medic from the race drove by at that moment.  Since the cyclist was OK and getting medical attention we left and drove home.  A shower and change of clothes and then we were off for a celebratory dinner and drinks. Another 70.3 in the books, learned lots and I have a lot of work to do before next years IM in Tremblant but I am not afraid of hard work and I am looking forward to the journey as much as the destination. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Let's do this

Well I can not believe August is almost over, where did the time go?  I know I spent a great deal of it training for my next race in 9 days (yikes) and I celebrated my 25th anniversary but I want my summer back, it went too fast.  

On August 17th we headed to Mont Tremblant to watch some friends do the Ironman and to volunteer.  We were at a run station last year and this year we would be at the swim start.  I wanted to be a wetsuit stripper but we were on the wrong team so I opted for my second choice and stood in the water, cheering on the athletes as they exited the swim.  It was great but the weather was not optimal and the air temps were colder then the water.

After we warmed up we headed to the bike turn around to watch the athletes and cheer on our friends. Later we moved to the run course and saw the lead men and women finish and saw some amazing athletes, one lady doing the marathon in a boot and she finished.  We stayed to watch our friends finish and headed back to our B&B, we ever up at 3:30am to get to the beach so it was a long day.  The next day, at 9am, we were in line to register for next year, both of us!  So proud and happy that Neale signed up as well, he is such an amazing athlete and will kill it next year.  

After we got back home, I knew my bike would not do for a full IM so I started looking around for a new ride.  I had a limited budget so I was looking at a road bike and not a tri bike.  A friend suggested I at least see what frame size I was for a tri bike as you can get some good deals second-hand.  I called a local bike store that had a bike I liked to see if they had any small or extra small tri bikes in stock and they had one extra small of my dream bike, marked down to $1299.  I could not get to the store fast enough to try it out and it was a perfect fit.  I did not try it out too much, I trust my gut and this bike was made for me.  Meet Skyrider, my new bike.

I have an appointment to get fitted at the end of September and then we will be spending long hours on the trainer together this winter.  I had been admiring this bike on the website for months but the $1999 price was more then I could afford and they just marked it down that morning, I know it was meant to be and Skyrider and I will have many great races together in the future.  I am taking my current bike, Ella Blu, to my next race, it will not be our last I am sure and I look forward to sharing the 94km of hills in Muskoka with her.

So I knew my big race for next summer, time to add a few more and to have a meeting with my coach.  I lost my confidence a bit this summer, my disastrous half marathon in May and my less the stellar 70.3 in Tremblant sure did a number on my head.  While I am not back to full confidence, I have a renewed sense of enthusiasm towards my training and I am ready to get this done.  I trained well this summer, I worked hard but I know I could have done better but you can not cry over spilled milk and you have to let it go and move forward.  This next year will be a crazy ride but I am not afraid of hard work, I have the determination to finish what I have started and awesome friends and husband to support me.  They can not do it for me, I have to do that and I am ready, ready for the good days and the bad days, the sore muscles and overwhelming tiredness that is to come, I AM READY so let's do this. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Learning Lessons

So Saturday we did the National Capital Olympic Tri at home, for Neale it was his first one, for me it was a chance to see how much I had improved from last year.  I was happy with my bike time, I took 12 mins off my time from last year but I was slower everywhere else.  My swim was slower but I will take it but my run was terrible, the negative thoughts flooded in and I gave into the dark side.   Neale was not happy with his time either, especially on the bike but he finished 14 mins ahead of me.  Neale is great at climbing hills and not as great on flats, I am the reverse.  Last year, I hit almost every race goal and this year I hit only two.  I know you can not always get a PB and I am trying to stay focused on moving forward, I am trying to learn from each experience and I know it will make me stronger in the long run but it sure sucks at the time.

Today we had a 65K bike ride and 6K run on the schedule, we were going to go to Mont Tremblant for a change but forecasted thunderstorms keep us closer to home.  We have a great park about 45 mins from home and we bike there most weekends and sometimes through the week.  It is a great place to bike, lots of hills to climb and downhills to speed down.  For some reason I did not want to do this workout,  I knew it was going to be a challenging day when I had to use my climbing ring on a hill I usually don't have too.  I kept pedaling and when we got to the lookout I noticed I was 2 mins faster then any other climb.  We kept going and at the end of the 42K loop I wanted to stop, I was so done.  I knew I could not stop, nothing hurts more then giving up so I headed out again and once again the first hill seemed so much harder then it should have been.  Did I mention that my hubby likes to climb hills, I have a love/hate thing going on watching him climb hills, he makes it look so easy and I am envious but at the same time I am so proud of him. 

So I guess I read my schedule wrong, I thought I had to do a 6K tempo run after the bike, it just said 6K, oops.  Neale racks the bikes and I start to run, he is a much faster runner then me so I get a head start and he usually passes me before the turn around.  Today, I just wanted to be finished, I put my music on, and set up runkeeper to record my run (I forgot my watch).  I headed out and it is uphill to start, did I mention I hate hills, but I kept moving forward, determined to do the best I could.  I had never used runkeeper before and I did not know it announced your ave pace and distance every 5 mins.  The first time it announced my pace I was like, OK you suck girl and you are never going to hit your tempo pace but I kept running.  The next time I was surprised, I was speeding up, yeah me!  At 15 mins I was at the same pace and no where near where I needed to be so I stepped it up a gear and I made it to the turn around and Neale had still not caught up to me, yeah me again.  Every 5 mins my ave pace kept getting closer to my tempo pace and I kept moving forward and at the 35 mins mark it announced my pace was better them my tempo pace, OMG, I was there now keep running and don't slow down. I managed to hold my pace and finished strong and still ahead of Neale...OMG!!!!!

So this weekend I learned a few important lessons, I was reminded what I wanted and how badly I wanted it, I don't want to just finish my IM, I want to do it to the best of my abilities. I learned to keep going even though you want to stop and most importantly I learned if I want something enough, I CAN DO IT! 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Daily Grind

Welcome to the daily grind, get up, go to work, eat, train, shower, sleep....repeat.  Sometimes I feel like a hamster on the wheel but I know it's what I need to do.  I am training for another 70.3 (Sept), another marathon (Oct) and for the World Swimming championship in Montreal (Aug). Luckily they all fit together and I can almost manage.....almost.  I have had 2 good weeks of training and things are coming together, my legs are back for running and my speed with them, my biking is better and my swimming is OK.  I fell a few weeks ago while biking, I still cant bend my knee without pain but it is not stopping me.  My knee does not like me when I swim breaststroke but the rest of the time is just annoying.  I have a knot deep in my calf muscle that does not want to leave, despite rolling and stretching and I can't wait for it to smarten up so I am ignoring it.  

I love being back with the marathon clinic, the 4:15 group is great and it makes running so much fun. Moving up a group from last summer is challenging but it is then that I realize how much I have improved. Last summer the thought of running a 6:05 pace for a tempo run would have been impossible and now I can do it and then some.  Some run feel really good, others are a struggle but I see improvement and I guess that is what keeps me going.  My biking is another matter, I seem to be the same speed week after week and I don't see any real improvement.  I know I am stronger then last year on hills and a bit faster on flats but not by much, it is really frustrating.  I know that I need to really work on this area before next year, not sure what I need to do but I will figure it out.  

I have had a few doubts about doing an Ironman next year, I really don't know if I can survive the training.  I have watched some friends do it this year and I am really scared, I really don't know if I can do it.  I am just telling myself that I said the same before my first 70.3 and my first marathon last summer and I just kept moving forward, one workout at a time and I did it...and then I did it again. I am hoping this works but no guarantees, it might be a crazy year,no it will be a crazy year and now I have to keep my focus this summer and get stronger and finish what I started, time to worry about next year later.  

Friday, 4 July 2014

Starting Over

So I have had a few relaxing few week after the race and it is time to get back to my training, it feels like I am starting over actually.  I was not happy with my training over the last few months, trying to balance working 2 jobs, training, traveling and family were more then I could handle and it showed.  I feel like I lost a lot of my fitness but I have not lost my determination.  The last few weeks have not been easy, I feel like I am not instep with everyone else, everything I do is taken the wrong way, everything I say is wrong and to top it off my dog Loki hurt his leg and may need surgery to repair it.  I had a week off work and I decided to get life organized, organize the house, put breakfasts and dinners in the freezer and get my life organized for a busy training cycle.  While I do not think I am quite where I want to be yet, I am determined to move forward and focus on what is important to me.  Of course I want to focus on my work and training but my family comes first, I have 2 more months before Stephen heads to university, I need to get Loki's leg sorted out, especially if he needs surgery and I need to make time for Neale and I.  July 1st was the mid way point of the year but for me it was like New Years Day, a chance to start again, stronger and determined to make the life I want...wish me luck.

Monday, 30 June 2014

70.3 Tremblant Race Report

Sorry this is a bit late, it was a busy week with a High School graduation for our youngest, the dog getting hurt and other LIFE stuff.  So June 22 saw Neale and I competing in our first Ironman branded event, his first 70.3, my second and one we planned on doing together.   When I signed up for this event last year I had no idea how much my life would change in the  months between nor did I know we would have the longest winter ever which would curtail bike and open-water swim practice time.  Needless to say I did not have an ideal training cycle before the race and I was coming in under-trained and lacking confidence.  I was committed to going, quitting was never an option and I was determined to do the best I could and have fun.  

We headed up to Mt.Tremblant on Friday afternoon and headed to our B&B to drop off our bikes and stuff and then headed to kit pickup.  What a well oiled machine it was, we were in and out in 15 mins and then headed to the merchandise tent to get our goodie bags and to do some shopping.  I was too superstitious to get a finishers t-shirt but I did get a t-shirt that had our names on the back and a cycling jersey, Neale got one as well and a towel with our name on it.  We were meeting friends for dinner so we hung around and soaked up the atmosphere and ran into other friends doing the event.  Mt. Tremblant is a beautiful place, so much to see and do, it was fun.  

Saturday we headed to the beach to see how cold the water was.  I was afraid it would be really cold and was pleasantly surprised to find it was not too bad.   As it turned out the water was not my biggest worry, it was the swimmer who swam straight into me and head butted me as I started out.  Anyway, we managed a 1000m swim and it helped us feel better about the next day.  We went back to our B&B to relax until it was time to rack our bikes.  There was an athlete briefing at 3 so we biked down, racked the bikes, attended the briefing and ran back to our B&B.  Dinner and an early night finished the day and I was feeling pretty relaxed.  
lots of stuff to get ready
Race day started early, up at 3:45 and at transition at 5am.  Body marking, setting up transition, checking tires and general controlled chaos and by 6am we were headed to the beach start.  We had lots of time to relax, warm up and get nervous, I think I forgot about the nervous part, I was having too much fun people watching.  Finally it was time to warm up and I did a quick warm up, watched Neale`s swim start and headed to my place.  The swim is my favorite part, I may not be fast but I can swim and enjoy it.  It was an OK swim, only problem was the faster men in the wave behind swimming over me but I kept my calm and finished strong.  

I found Neale in transition and got ready for the bike, just so you know it is hard to put compression socks on wet feet.  Finally I was ready to bike and headed out.  I knew this would be challenging but I was determined.  Neale would wait for me at each aid station so he would not get to far ahead and knowing he was waiting kept me going.  There was only 2 big climbs on the highway and I kept my head down and kept pedaling and manged to get up the hills and even managed to pass some people.  The last 17K was terrible, a hilly section of short steep climbs and I had to get off and walk up some of the hills but I was happy with my cycle, my goal was 4 hours and I was seconds off that time.

Into transition and only the run left.  I knew this would be tough and this was where my lack of training would show...I was right.  I walked a lot and ran slowly but I never gave up.  Poor Neale walked most of it as he could not run that slow but he never left me behind. 

Finally we were at the finish and I so enjoyed the run down to the finish line.  This is the part I was looking forward to all day, finishing this with Neale, hand in hand.  This is what kept me going all day, I started this fitness journey to do crazy stuff like this with him and it meant so much to me to finish with him.

We have another 70.3 in September and this time Neale does not have to wait for me, he can go have his own race but I will always remember this one, the one we did together.  This summer we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and this race was how I wanted to celebrate and it was a celebration of our partnership, of determination, of perseverance and fun, all the qualities need in training and in marriage. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

I'm back!  Its been a while I know, life has been CRAZY!!!!!  Anyway, I will try to do better in the future now that work is slowing down.  Anyway, where did I leave off, April seems like such a long time ago....

I have done a few races since April, I set a new 10K PB, biked in a 70K charity ride in the rain (yeah, that was fun), tanked on my half marathon and ran a 5K in a beautiful part of Nova Scotia.   After hitting all my goals and paces this year, I was due for a bad race and it came in spades Ottawa race weekend.  My half marathon was my" A" running race this spring and I had high hopes, instead I had one of my worst runs ever. I have to admit, it has shaken my confidence in my abilities but I have continued training and working towards my first triathlon of the season, 70.3 Mt Tremblant this Sunday.  

My training in May and June has been challenging due to work but I know I can do each part of Sunday's race, now I just have to put them together on the same day.  It will not be the race that I wanted but it will be a good baseline for my summer training towards 70.3 Muskoka in September.  The thing I am looking forward to this Sunday, is doing this race with Neale.  I know he is much faster then me and he will be spending lots of time waiting around for me but we are planning on finish this together.  Lots of things can happen on race day and things may not turnout the way we want it but fingers crossed I can make the bike cut off and we can finish together.  

Whatever happens Sunday, I am blessed, I am at peace and I am ready.

Monday, 14 April 2014


Hello....remember me....I use to write a blog.  I have been super busy and the blog kind of got lost in the chaos that has been my life lately. Two businesses, a family and serious training have left me overwhelmed but I have missed blogging so I am going to try to get back to it, maybe not every week but as often as I can.

So where did I leave off, oh yeah, the Olympics. The Olympics seem so long ago, we won in hockey, men's and women's so the nation was happy, I was happy we won the curling gold in men's and women's, it was truly a Canadian Double Double.  

Since then, I lost my motivation, gave a talk about goals, ran a race and got inspired so I will give you a recap.  I was uninspired to train; work, winter and everything else made it hard, all I wanted to do was sleep and eat.  I did 70% of my workouts but my heart was not in it and my results showed.  My coach was great during this time, I was not the only one to feel this way and she accepted what I could do and I am grateful for her guidance and patience. 

In early March I gave a talk to the marathon group about goal setting, I was nervous and excited but I think I did a good job.  It was fun to give back and help inspire others on their running journey. Who would have thought that I would be giving a talk about, the queen of unfinished projects up to a few years ago.  Running has taught me to dream big and more importantly how to achieve those dreams.  I hope I get the chance to inspire others more in the future, it was a great feeling.   

I had signed up for the Around the Bay 30k race on March 30 in Hamilton ON.  It was the 120th anniversary of the run and Neale had run it before so I thought it would be fun.  When I signed up I wanted to get as close to 3 hours as possible but as the race approached I knew I had not trained enough.  We revised my goal to a more modest 3:13 but in my soul, I was disappointed in myself for not training harder.  I felt like I had given up and I hated it so I promised myself that I would give 100% on race day and leave it all on the roads.  I woke up on race day and  I knew it would be a good day, I just felt it, the sun was shining, it was warm and I was running with friends.  The race was tough, I had not done enough hill training and it showed, I lost 3 mins on the last 15 K due to the hills but I managed to come in within my goal, 3:13:49 and I even stopped for a selfie with the Reaper at the 28K point.

This was the photo I wanted as a metaphor for the transformation I had made to my life in the last 5 years, from over-weight couch potato to marathon runner and triathlete.  I am smiling and he is frowning, I had won, he lost and I kept on running, as I plan on doing for as long as possible.  

On April 5 I went to a ladies night at a local sport store.  One of the speakers was Sindy Hooper, at 50 she completed her first Ironman and he planned on completing her second at Ironman Canada in August 2013.  In January 2013 she was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and had surgery to remove half her stomach, he gall blander, part of her pancreas and small intestines.  She went on to complete Ironman Canada while undergoing chemo and this weekend completed Florida 70.3, finishing in the top 20 in her Age Group.  Her talk was inspirational and sad at the same time.  She will not live to see her grandchildren, to grow old with her husband or maybe even celebrate her next birthday.  It reinforced one again, how important it is to live each moment to the fullest, love totally and passionately and chase your dreams with determination while you can.  I plan on completing my first Ironman for my 50th birthday and I will dedicate it to Sindy when I do, a fellow Swim Bike Mom who helped me find my motivation again.  

Here is Sindy's story if you are interested

It is 10 weeks to Tremblant 70.3 and I have 2 more running race and a 70K bike ride for charity before then so training is full on.  I hope to break 60 mins for the 10K in a few weeks, the one goal I did not achieve last year and to get as close to 2 hours as possible for my half marathon in May.  I feel more inspired as I train, that I can do the work necessary to achieve these goals and have fun while doing so.  I also signed up for my fall marathon, in Toronto with my friend Barbara and a fun half marathon  in Las Vegas that I will run with another friend Anita.  I am looking forward to my training and racing, this is going to be a great year...I just feel it!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Olympic Hangover

Well the Olympics are over and we are back to our regularly scheduled lives. I love the Olympics, for 2 weeks I get to watch sports I usually would not watch and to quote Jim MacKay of ABC Sports to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, the human drama of athletic competition.  I loved reading my FB friends updates how the Olympics were influence their children to work harder and dream bigger, to practice more and to want to try new things.  

Canada is a nation of hockey lovers, the country almost shut down for the women's final and the men's semi final and final game.  This was a popular post on Facebook and Twitter and was so true. 

I have been training during this period with some success and more then a few set backs, I have been sick twice since the Goofy, first the flu then a nasty cold and it has taken its toll.  I have had way too much work to do as well, it is the start of my busy season and with 2 businesses and a family, time is tight.  I have been thinking a lot about why I do this, why I push myself so hard, am I running away from something or running towards something, WHY?  

I run because it makes me feel good, usually, I swim because I love to swim, even though my swimming sucks at the moment, I cycle because it is middle and longest part of a triathlon and so I have too.  I think I have been struggling to find my passion since Goofy, I know it is in there, I just need dig it out of that snow bank it's hiding under.  I know once the snow starts to melt and spring comes, I will find my passion again, let's just say it is hibernating right now.  

I did a fun run yesterday and I had FUN!!! It was a small run, maybe 30 people and a lot of families.  It was so great to see the kids run, to see the joy they had to run fast.  At first I was chasing them and they were way ahead but eventually they ran out of speed and I kept on going.  As I ran I knew I had the endurance and if I just kept going I would catch up.  As that thought came to me I realized all my hard work had changed me as a runner, I was confident in my ability and my running, it was a wonderful feeling.  

Running has changed me, it has shaped me physically and emotionally and I am grateful for that. I am now a person who sets goals, who believes in myself and my abilities and I have done things I never though possible.  Finally it dawned on me, this is why I run...

Monday, 27 January 2014

My Olympic dream

I work with some of the brightest political minds in Canada and some of the best writers, sadly I am neither.  I am a proud Canadian, I am proud of my country and what it stands for.  I am proud that we treat people equally or at least try to.  We should not be judged by the colour of our skin, our economic position, our education level or who we love.  That last one is important to me, I have a great husband and so do many of my friends, we have wives and husbands, we are gay and straight, we love and we are loved and we are accepted.  I am outraged by the Russian governments stand on Gay rights and I am disappointed that Canadians do not seem to be.  Maybe I am wrong, that we are outraged but we are too Canadian to say too much.  We are polite, we don’t rock the boat, we are peacekeepers, or are we?    Canada has a strong history of standing up for other rights, and our own.

For the last seven years Russia has become more homophobic while the rest of the world has working at becoming less. Gay marriage acceptance is increasing, gay adoptions are more common and most countries consider violence against a gay person to be a hate crime. We were the 4th country in the world to legal same sex marriages in 2005 and have enshrined equal rights for all in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.   While I agree with the governments position that a boycott is not an option, I do not think backroom discussions are the best way either. 

So this is me, doing something.  During the Olympics, February 7-23, I will replace my profile photo with this image and I encourage you to do the same. 

I will also be wearing a rainbow ribbon every day to show my support for the LGBT community and my outrage over the Russian anti-gay laws.  If we can get every Canadian to do this, maybe just maybe we will send a strong united message. 

While the International Olympic Committee has said athletes cannot comment about the anit-gay laws while on accredited areas, they are free to do so elsewhere.  I encourage our athletes to wear a rainbow ribbon where it is safe to do so to show their feelings about this anti-gay policy.  I would love to see the Canadian contingent walk into the Olympic stadium all wearing a rainbow ribbon next to the Maple Leaf on their jacket but I know that will not happen…but I can dream. 

If you feel the same, please consider changing your profile picture during the Olympics, it’s a small step but something we can do together.  

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Goofy Race Recap Part 2

Sorry for the delay, I got behind due to work and a bout of the flu but I think we were at marathon day. 

So I kind of put the marathon part of the Goofy fun in a back corner of my mind but here it was, big and scary and standing between me and my medal.  Luckily for us, a storm blew through Saturday night making ind cold (OK cool) when we headed out at 3:30am.  We got to the meeting point at 4am and waited for Lori and Barbara to arrive.  We waited and waited and my running mates did not arrive.  Finally we got a text from Barbara explaining they were stuck in traffic and they finally arrived around 5am.  We quickly headed for the start line, at least we did not have as long to wait. 
Ready to run

 We finally headed out and the first part of the course was a repeat of the half marathon course, it felt like groundhog day but it was nice to be running on familiar ground.  We each picked a character we were stopping for photos with on the run, mine was Tigger, Barbara's was Toy Story and Lori's was Monster University, we found 2 out of the 3 in the Magic Kingdom.  After the Magic Kingdom we headed to new parks, first up the Animal Kingdom.  On our way there we ran past a sewer treatment plant, not the nicest place to breath deeply.  Just after that we hit a water and banana stop.  Barbara went right, Lori and I went left and that was the last we saw of Barbara.  
We stuck around looking for her but we could not find her. Unsure what to do we decided to see if she ran ahead, all the while I was worrying.  I had promised I would run this with her and I did not want to let her down.  We ran through the Animal Kingdom and still no Barbara. We stopped for a few minutes to see if she would run by and still no Barbara.  My muscles were starting to cramp so we headed off to run our own race, one Minnie short and my brain in turmoil. Big thanks to Lori for putting up with me at this point, it went above the call of duty. We started to run on a highway and saw runners running the other way and thought maybe we would see her this way.  We did not but at least it kept my mind off the boring flat run.  Just as we turned the corner to run into the ESPN Sports Zone we ran up to Barbara.  She thought we were ahead of her and was running to catch up, she also took a few photo stops along the way.  The Minnie's were reunited and it felt so good to quote Peaches and Herb.  

I have to say, running through the ESPN zone was my least favorite part of the marathon course, it did nothing for me, it was crowded and it was starting to get hot.  Eventually we headed back out onto the highway, there was a lot of highway running, way more then parks but at least it was flat. It was fun to watch the other runners and their costumes, we saw Santa Claus running a marathon, I swear he looked just like Santa....fine don't believe me then.  We saw tons of Minnie's, lots of Mickey's and a few pirates and fairies. We came across a runner who was doing the Dopey and flying home to Ohio that night, right after the marathon.  We already though she was awesome and when she told us she had finished Chemo in March and signed up for the Dopey in part to say FU to her skin cancer.   Even though at this point we were tired and getting grumpy, she lifted our spirits and we kept on running.  

A funny thing happens in the last few miles of the marathon, you lose all reason and intelligent though is just not possible, at this point we just kept running, there was very little talking.  Finally we entered  Hollywood Studios and from the Wine and Dine in 2012, I knew the end was nearish.  We passed a chocolate and candy station, which I avoided, but we did make a quick pit stop so we would feel better for the final run.   By this time the parks were open so there were lots of people to cheer us on, it makes such a difference.  Epcot was the final destination and it was in sight.  We did not see any of the Monster University characters for Lori but we found something better, we found Dopey.  Of course a photo was necessary. 
Barbara and I promising Dopey we would be back to run his challenge too
We crossed the bridge into Epcot and the end was a few KM's away.  All I could think about was running, one foot in from of the other...don't stop because you wont be able to start again...suck it up buttercup...and all the other motivational quotes I know, anything to keep my mind busy and my feet moving. Finally we turned the last corner, the end was in sight and the finish line in front of me. Only one thing stood between me and the finish line... GOOFY!!!  So of course I stopped for a photo.  Coach, I promise not to do this at any other race, cross my heart. 

We crossed the finish line, hand in hand again, tears of joy mixing with the sweat and huge smiles on our faces.  We had done it, Lori had run 78.3km over 4 days and Barbara had run 68.3km over 3 days and I had run 63.3 over 2 days.  We hit the medical area and then collected our medals, 2 for Barbara and I, 3 for Lori. 

I wanted to see if Neale finished his run so we headed out to the meeting point to see.  There he was, grinning wearing his 2 medals and with our friend Susan who had run her first marathon.  I was so happy he finished, that they both finished together as planned.  Barbara had to head off to meet her family for lunch and Lori and Darryl had to meet family as well so we quickly headed for the bus back to the hotel for a shower and food.  I knew I need to walk around so we took the bus to Downtown Disney and met up with another Orleans runner Trevor.  

We eventually ended up on the patio of an Irish pub, eating and drinking, sharing stories and enjoying the sun and heat, it was the perfect way to end the day.  By 7:30, we were ready for bed and called it a day, what a great day it was.  Monday we went to the Animal Kingdom with Barbara and her family.
I had a chance to try Expedition Everest, twice and Dinosaur once.  We really enjoyed the African Safari and the wild animals there, it will have to do until I get to the real thing ( hello bucket list).

A few final thoughts on the marathon....for my second marathon it went well.  

-  I still got tired during the last 10k but I am not sure if that was a time issue or a training issue, something to work on I guess.  If anyone had told me I would be running for over 9 hour over 2 days, I would have said they were nuts, but I did it and enjoyed it.  

-  Running in Disney is crowded, we knew we would stop for photos and we did, we knew it would be crowded and it was and we knew it would be fun and it was...all in all it was a great experience. 

-  I had a great time running both days with Lori and Barbara, running buddies don't get any better then this.  I tried to say this to them during the run but Barbara told me to stop, I would make her cry and she needed the water and salt for the run.  So Barbara and Lori, I am saying it now, I could not have done all the training or the race without both of you wonderful ladies, you make running such a blessing and your friendship is the greatest gift.  

- Finally, this event capped off an amazing year for me.  I did things in 2013 I never thought I could, I grew as an athlete and a person and I surprised myself by what I accomplished.  I am so freaking proud of myself, I did it, I did things I never though possible and I survived.  The sign I saw on the run spoke to me, and it sums up my year. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Goofy race recap Part 1

Well I am back and to jump to the end...I DID IT!!!!!!  Since this is a 2 day race, I will do a 2 part race recap, so settle back for the start of the story.

So most of Canada was stuck in a polar vortex last week and flights were being cancelled everyday, we began to wonder if we would actually make it to Orlando.  Most of our friends suffered through delayed or cancelled flights but by the time we headed out Thursday afternoon it was smooth sailing...or rather flying. We arrived in Orlando on time and hopped on the Magical Express to out hotel, Caribbean Beach Resort.  It was nice to be in the heat again and Disney made the experience so easy.  Friday was kit pickup day and the Expo.  I love runDisney events, they are so well organized and there is no lineups and we had our bibs and t-shirts in less then 5 mins.  A quick stop for photos and we were off to the Expo.

Neale and I with flat Goofy
Runners shopping heaven
I did a bit of shopping and then we met up with my Mom for you guessed it...more shopping.  A trip to the Premiere Outlet Mall was a nice way to spend the day.  We headed back to the hotel early to get ready for the Half Marathon.  We needed to get up real early, middle of the night early...who thought this was a good idea. I got dressed and met Lori and Barbara for the run.  Lori was running the Dopey and Barbara the Goofy with me.  
0 dark stupid- a Goofy time to get up
Barbara, Lori and I ready to run
We ran as fairies for our half marathon, so many people ran in costume, we fit right in. It was hot and humid, you could see the humidity in the air as the sun rose.  We lost Barbara at the first photo op, foreshadowing maybe but we quickly re-grouped and ran into the Magic Kingdom. It was fun to run under Cinderella's castle and through the park.  Did I mention it was humid, it was like running in a sauna.  

Neale and I in front of Cinderella's castle
We had a great time running, it was really crowded in places and slow going but it was fun.  I enjoy people watching during races and there were lots of fun costumes to look at.  I had a great time running with Lori and Barbara, even after all the km we have run together, we never run out of things to say.   Finally we made it back to Epcot and the finish line was close.
Near the finish line at Epcot
 Lori, Barbara and I crossed the finish line together, hand in hand.  We were not doing this race for time but for fun and I had a blast. We took it slow and easy since we had to run a marathon the next day.  I felt great after the race, hot and sweaty but great.  
We finished!
We gathered out bling, our Goofy bracelet and our snacks and headed out to find Neale and Lori's husband Darryl.  Poor Neale was hurting after his run, he was not sure if he would be able to run the next day.  
Neale icing his Achilles
Lori and Darryl- 3 out of 4 races complete
We headed back to the hotel to rest and relax so we would be ready for the marathon the next day.  The weather channel said it would be cooler and I hoped it would be since running a marathon in that humidity would be awful.  Another early dreams filled with thoughts of Minnie, Mickey and Goofy.