Thursday, December 20, 2012

Canter Rain Check

Today was supposed to be the first annual Christmas Canter. Yes, that's right ... I said "was."

Sadly, I did not make it out there. As sometimes happens on race days, one might be injured, or get sick, or just not be prepared well enough. Mine is a combination of sickness and ill-preparedness.

A 10 km run I could do without much training, albeit at a leisurely pace - not the race pace at which I had originally intended to run the Christmas Canter. But running it while not feeling well? Not keen on the idea. (Anyone else feel like I've been perpetually sick all year? I sure do.)

To be completely transparent, my running has definitely fallen by the wayside. Creating the race at least got me thinking about running - and got me into my running shoes more in the last few weeks than I'd run all semester. But the workload for school has definitely been a huge factor that I'm going to need to manage better if I'm going to complete any running goals next year. 

For today, I'm going to rest up, pack for our Christmas trip and perhaps do a little research into the races I want to run in 2013. I'm contemplating the Spring Run Off, a long-standing 8 km race here in Vancouver which, oddly, I've never run. I'm also thinking about doing the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon again, as an intermediate race to a full marathon later in the year. Edge 2 Edge is definitely on my mind, having had to let that one go this year due to injury. Although, aiming for a fall marathon might be more realistic, as I'll be able to better train over the summer, without any classes and school work to worry about. Things to ponder.

I'm a little disappointed about not running today, but hey - shit happens. Whaddya gonna do? Sorry to those who were looking forward to today's race results! Perhaps we'll try again next year.

Merry Christmas! Wishing you all the best of the holidays. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy Diabetes Awareness Month!

Okay, so I've left this a little late, but I'm getting it in just under the wire. November is Diabetes Awareness Month so ... happy Diabetes Awareness Month

In recognition, I've pulled an old running journal entry out of the vault. I ran my first marathon in 2009 with Team Diabetes in support of the Canadian Diabetes Association and chronicled that experience mostly through notes on Facebook. Below are the text and images from that entry. Enjoy!

On a side note, is it just me, or did anyone notice that there an awful lot of charities vying for attention in November? Prostate cancer, anti-bullying, diabetes awareness. All worthy causes, but it makes it difficult to appreciate them fully when they're all so crammed together!


Marathon Update: October 12, 2009

It's official. I've run a marathon! 

Screen shot from Garmin Connect of the Royal Victoria Marathon course and my stats on October 11, 2009.

It was a record-breaking year for the Royal Victoria Marathon, with sell-out numbers for both the Half Marathon and 8K road race, and the total number of participants at a staggering 12,492! 

The entire weekend was extremely well organized, with lots of activities for participants to enjoy. On Saturday, Matt and I went on a bus tour of the marathon route and, that evening, we attended a Carbo Gala Dinner at The Empress, where running emcee legend Steve King hosted, and icons Dick Beardsley and Rod Dixon gave special presentations. 

On Sunday, the weather was crisp, cool and sunny - perfect for running. And Victoria is such a gorgeous city, it's no wonder that it's considered one of the top 10 destination marathons. 

Because my expected finish time was over five hours, I requested an early start. This meant that I was up before 5 AM to be at the start line, in the dark, by 6:30 AM. Yikes! But there were cyclists guiding everyone along until the sun came up, and plenty of enthusiastic volunteers along the route, cheering us on. 

Victoria loves its marathon, that's for sure. 

Here are my official results from the big day ... 

Gun Time: 5 hours 27 minutes 54 seconds 
Chip Time: 5 hours 27 minutes 41 seconds 
Overall: 2,384 out of 2,611 
F Group: 979 out of 1,122 
F 20-29 Division: 153 out of 166 

While I haven't decided if I'll run another (maybe ask me when I'm able to walk again), this was definitely an experience I will never forget. I ran over 1,024 km during training, which took who knows how many hours of my life, and raised $2,090 for the Canadian Diabetes Association

Thank you again to everyone who supported me throughout this journey: friends, family and Team Diabetes included! 

P.S. Donations to the Canadian Diabetes Association and my fundraising campaign can be made until December 11, 2009. If you have not yet donated, please visit to make an online donation, and invite others to do the same.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day Round-Up

This is me taking a break from essay writing to bring you a selection of random thoughts on this Remembrance Day long weekend. Enjoy!

Spine woes
A few weeks ago, I experienced some serious discomfort when my neck was rendered immovable. Since then, I've been battling neck pain and headaches. Good times. I went to see my massage therapist this week and he found some weird stuff with the alignment of my spine. He suggested I visit a chiropractor - which I may do, but I thought I would try and make some "adjustments" of my own first to see if any of it helps. While the LiveStrong Foundation has been marred by Lance Armstrong's doping scandal, I found some pretty great references on their site today on spine health. Check out this article for tips on improving upper spine alignment, as well as all the links on the right-hand side of the page.

Lessons From a Marathon Not Run: From the NYT Run Well Blog
You all know my opinion on the debacle that was the NYC Marathon cancellation. This blog post from the New York Times is a practical take on what happened and a good reminder that life doesn't always work out the way we expect.  

Plug for my research project
I suspect, since you are here and reading a blog about running, that you are either a healthy person or someone who aspires to live a little bit healthier. As part of a research methods course I am taking this term, my team and I have put together a short study exploring people's eating habits and why people make the choices they do when it comes to food. If you are from the Lower Mainland, please complete our survey! It shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes, and it's interesting - I promise!

Remembrance Day
It is Remembrance Day in Canada today. While I did not attend any of the ceremonies in person, I did watch highlights on the news and made sure to fasten a poppy on my hat for today's run. Please be sure to take a moment to honour those who fought and died so that we can enjoy the freedoms we do today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Back On The Wagon

Quickie post to report: I went for a run today! My plan is working. (Insert evil laugh here.)

I ran 5 km. The weather was gorgeous, and while my legs and lungs were kinda wondering what was going on, my arteries - and self-esteem - rejoiced.

By the way, when did fall happen out there?? Oh right ... it's been hiding behind sheets of rain. They don't call it the "wet" coast for nothing.

Rain may be inevitable, but at least I don't have
to worry about that for a couple more days.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The First Annual Christmas Canter

Admission: I have not been running. Shock! Sad face!

It's not for lack of interest. At first I genuinely believed it was a lack of time given my school schedule. But then a fellow student started training for the Seattle Marathon and he manages to do all of his weekend long runs and runs during the week - and then I feel like I'm just full of poo. 

In 2011, I didn't register for any long distance races. Not coincidentally, I barely ran at all that year. Clearly, I need a motivator. 

I did a little research on local winter races, looking for an 8 or 10 km road race, thinking that either would be a reasonable distance for general fitness and running upkeep. Sadly, I didn't find any that would work for me.

So ... now what? I can't just give up. I don't want to be stagnant for the next few months, and it's painfully obvious that I won't run if I don't have a reason.

If Santa can do it, so can I.
My solution: The Christmas Canter. It's a race I made up, just for me! It will be held on Thursday, December 20 at 9 AM. 

I've been wanting to improve my 10 km, and I think six weeks is ample time to train for that kind of distance. True, I won't have a crowd to urge me on, and there won't be a medal (or free food!) at the end - but at least it's something to work towards that will get me into my running shoes and away from my computer. And if this works the way it's supposed to, maybe I'll make it an annual event!

I'm not sure where I'm going to run this "race" just yet. I have a 10 km training loop, but the route has quite a few traffic lights, etc. Personally, I think it would be nice to have a dedicated course where I don't have to worry about that sort of thing, particularly as one of my goals is to shave off some of my time. More on this later.

What do you think about this idea? Vote on the Five by 35 poll on the home page and let me know!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thoughts on a Race Cancellation

My apologies for being absent these past few weeks! As you probably have guessed, things have been crazy. Grad school has been keeping me very busy. My parents relocated from the prairies. And if that wasn't enough, one of the bunny rabbits got really sick. Between trips to the vet, calls to my mother and studying for mid-terms, life has been nuts.

As hectic as it's been, however, I am certain that the toils of my life pale in comparison to what happened this week on the east coast with Hurricane Sandy. I sat in front of my computer, worrying, reading updates from friends in New York. But then the storm passed and our friends were all safe. And yesterday, I saw this, the announcement from the ING NYC Marathon
"The City of New York and New York Road Runners announce that the 2012 ING NYC Marathon has been canceled. While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of disagreement and division. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event - even one as meaningful as this - to distract attention from all the critically important work that is being done to help New York City recover from the storm. New York Road Runners will have additional information in the days ahead and we thank you for your dedication to the spirit of this race. We encourage runners who have already arrived in New York City to help with volunteer relief efforts."
The last thing I'd want to do is be overly critical of a type of decision-making situation which I have never personally experienced.  However, it's become such a big topic in the last 24 hours that I feel a need to comment.  

I understand that cancelling the race was certainly a challenging decision for race organizers, the New York Road Runners. But it makes a person wonder: why was this so difficult? Why claim no diversion of resources from those undertaking Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts? Seems like a false statement to me. Anyone who's ever observed or run in a road race knows that it takes manpower such as police and city crews to pull off such a large-scale event. In addition to all this, organizers waited until only two days before the event to make this decision when it was clear that many boroughs would not be supportive of the race going ahead. This resulted in many out-of-town runners being unable to cancel their plans and incurring costs which could have been avoided.

My gut reaction to all this is that organizers were wrong to have waited so long. The backlash they are receiving now is not unfounded. What makes it worse, is the way they have positioned the media as a combatant, citing: "extensive and growing media coverage antagonistic to the marathon and its participants." 

Screen shot from

In this day and age of being able to continually receive feedback through social media channels, I find it hard to believe that organizers were oblivious to growing negative public sentiment to continue with the race following Hurricane Sandy. It's an unfortunate situation caused by something beyond anyone's control. It became even worse when organizers refused to listen to what people were telling them - but rather, forged on stubbornly with a frustrating kind of arrogance, even going so far as to say, "this year's marathon is dedicated to the City of New York, the victims of the hurricane, and their families."

People in New York told them to cancel, media reiterated that continuing with the race was a bad idea, and even runners around the world felt it would be wrong to go ahead. It's a shame that organizers weren't able to recognize all of this at a time when they should have been paying closer attention to what New York City really needed - not a race, not a defense to continue, but a need to come together instead of pulling people apart.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Looking Back, Thinking Back

“Don't forget what you've got.” - Lauryn Hill

Autumn in Regina
© Harry2010
My parents recently decided to sell their home on the Canadian prairies to move out west and be closer to their children and grandchildren. I spent the past few days in my home town, helping them pack and purge and tidy up some last loose ends before their big move at the end of the month.

While they have plenty to look forward to, this move is still rather emotional; they've lived in that house for more than 30 years. The neighbours have been next door for the same period of time. Mom and Dad will be leaving their community, friends, and all the activities to which they've become accustomed, for unfamiliar surroundings and a new life in British Columbia.

TransCanada Trail at Regina
© safariTT
For me, being back for what could, presumably, be the last time, was also a little difficult. I may not live there any more, but I'm still connected to it; it's where I grew up. Our house is located along the TransCanada Trail, which is where I used to ride my bicycle as a kid. I found my love of running on those paths and would spend hours roaming around, discovering the parks and playgrounds with my friends. 

As my parents' move draws ever nearer, I want to pay recognition and give thanks to growing up on the prairies. That experience forever bonded me to other prairie-dwellers, past and present. It made me the person I am, the runner I was to become, and the friend and daughter that those close to me know me as today. 

I left a decade ago, with a na├»ve belief that this house would always be there for me - somewhere I could always call home. But as Thomas Wolfe once wrote: "You can never go home again." It is sad that now, more than ever, this holds true. 

All that's left is this: a sincere and heartfelt farewell to my home. Thank you for everything.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Church of Running

I recently had an epiphany. I was getting ready to go for my first run after being off sick and, for some reason, I'd paid particular attention that day to the individual elements that go into getting ready for a run - which, for me, consist mainly of the following:

  • Pick out a running outfit.  
  • Find my socks.
  • Find my hat.
  • Make sure the watch is charged up (and hopefully I remembered to do this in advance).
  • Put all my clothes on, including the heart rate monitor.
  • Lace up the shoes.

There was such ease in doing all of these things which were so familiar - have been so familiar for years, I never even really thought about them before. Sure, I was only out of commission for a few weeks. But amidst a time when so much change was/is going on in my life, it's so comforting to know that these things remain the same. 

And this is what I realized: 

Running is a constant. It's my comfort. My joy. Everything else could be falling apart or crumbling all around me, but I know I can always come back to running. It won't judge me. It won't scorn me. It will always take me back, even if I've been away. Those routines will always be there; they're not going anywhere. 

So, yah. It was cathartic. And in a way I really wasn't expecting. (It was pretty rad.)

My friend Jeny once told me that running provides her with a balance in her life which she never before realized she needed. I believe that's true for many people - me included. But this was something new. Something wonderful. And a nice reminder that one can find solace in even the smallest routines.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Running? What Running?

It's been a crazy few weeks. In a nutshell, this is what I've been up to:

  • I wrapped up things at work before going on my educational leave. This was a surprisingly hectic task.
  • I started my graduate degree program and had a small freak-out about the volume of required reading ... so I've spent a lot of time this week with my nose in many different books. 
  • I've also been suffering from an extremely stubborn and irritating cough and cold. Can't seem to shake it, either. It's super annoying.

What I have not been doing, sadly, is running. I'd try, except for this small issue of being prone to unexpected and sudden coughing fits. I'm hoping this will change soon.

Rest assured, I will get back out there once my itchy throat goes away. I'm looking forward to discovering just how my new schedule and school routine affect my ability and motivation to run (and blog!). Will I have to run first thing in the morning versus in the afternoons? Will Sundays need to be reserved for group project work instead of long runs? Will the blog accidentally creep into my life as a student? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear about what you guys have been up to, as I feel this need to live vicariously through my running peeps! Did anyone do the Vancouver Triathlon last weekend? Who's running the Queen City Marathon this weekend in Regina? And what other races do you have coming up in the fall?

I go to school here. It kinda rules.
© 2008 Harbour Centre Complex Ltd.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

No Run Sunday

It's been two weeks since the Marathon by the SeaHave I run since? 


With the end of the summer in sight, a few leaving-dos from work to attend, and the deadline for my required summer reading for school looming right around the corner, I just haven't gotten around to it. I fully intend to get back out there ... but not right now.

In lieu of a Sunday long run, and while I'm still somewhat basking in marathon finisher glory, I wanted to share a great running commercial from a few years back. In my opinion, this depicts with scary accuracy what the day after running a marathon feels like. 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everybody!

More than once I've caught myself staring at stairs in just this way.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Number 3 ... Check!

I ran a marathon last weekend! 

Since my injury put me out of the game for most of the spring, I was hesitant to sign up to run a full before the end of August. But in the last few weeks, my leg was feeling really good so I decided to give it a try. 

It wasn't the race I originally intended to run, and it wasn't located in British Columbia, but it was one to complete before the end of the summer and it was a racing experience like no other I've ever had.

© Ben's Smart Marathon by the Sea
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: the Marathon by the Sea

A bit of background
Located in Saint John, New Brunswick, organizers describe the race as such: "Canada's first incorporated city plays host to the Ben's Smart Marathon by the Sea event in a festive atmosphere of down home maritime hospitality." Can't argue with the history - and certainly cannot argue with the hospitality. 

Getting to know the locals 
The whole race weekend really presented us with a flavour for the local community. While wandering around the city, my husband and I were warmly welcomed by many residents who talked to us about the big race. One even chatted to us about her aid station volunteer duties ("I'll see you tomorrow!"), and how her family members were helping with the pasta dinner. 

Carb-loading dinners tend to be standard fare at these kinds of events and always take place the night before race day. While we've previously been to ones that have been hosted in big hotels, this one was held by the Boys & Girls Club of Saint John, where runners were served home-cooked portions of spaghetti and meatballs for free; guests had to pay a small charge. A local musician entertained folks while they ate, and race organizers introduced themselves to the different runners. I even had the opportunity to have a conversation with one of the organizers about my injury and how we had traveled from British Columbia ("You came out all this way for the race? That's great!"). All proceeds from the dinner went to the Boys & Girls Club as well.

On race day, I posed with a mascot who looked like a giant piece of bread. Never done that before. And the start gun? Well, I don't know exactly what it's called, but it had been brought in by the military and gave off a really loud BANG.

The Ben's Smart mascot all ready
to pull the trigger. Ready, set ...


Small event with a lot of heart
Here's a note on scale. There were 58 people registered for the full marathon. Compare this with the 2,619 participants from Victoria in 2009 and the 453 full marathoners who ran Kelowna in 2010 and you start to realize just how small this event really is.

But even though this was an event on a small scale, I was extremely impressed by the level of support on the course and before and after the race. Package pick up was a breeze. There were plenty of aid stations on race day, all manned by enthusiastic and energetic volunteers (the very first one was being manned by the Saint John Fire Department - hello, firefighters). Washroom stations could easily be found along the course. And even though the route was open to regular vehicular traffic, policemen were stationed at each of the route's intersections to direct and stop traffic as runners were passing by. 

The awards ceremony was not limited to just event winners; first, second and third place finishers from each category in each race, as well as exemplary volunteers and aid stations, were recognized as well. How often do you see that? Not to mention all of the door prizes they gave away. I didn't win anything, but it was nice to know I had just as much chance as everyone else in the room!

So for the race itself ...
The forecast was 100% humidity. For reals.
The course was an out and back route. It was incredibly foggy, and I could barely see three feet in front of my face. But the course was well-marked and with a good number of volunteers at key turn-offs to point runners in the right direction. 

My race started out great. I'd paced a little faster than normal, but was feeling good and like I could sustain that pace for the entire duration ... boy, was I wrong

I definitely hadn't prepared well enough in terms of my intended finish and how fast I should be running throughout. I blew it all in the first half and ended up having to slog my way through the second. The turnaround point was also further away than I thought it would be, which really challenged me mentally; if I had simply studied the route a little better the day before, this slip could have been avoided completely. It also didn't help that I got passed at the turnaround by a woman I had flew past much earlier in the route. That's what I get for going out too fast.

My pace slowed considerably after that and I started to get discouraged. About three-quarters of the way through, I saw a mile marker sign that went something like this:

"There will be days when you feel like you can't run a marathon. 
But there will be a lifetime of knowing that you have."

And then I started to cry. So I knew at that point, I'd completely lost it. But it did give me a bit of a boost to keep going.

Towards the end, my legs did not want to work anymore. I ended up walking much more than I ever have in a race. And then I got passed again which is always so good for the self-esteem. Thankfully, I got some encouragement from one of the traffic police and volunteers with about three km to go:
Me (walking up a big hill towards the intersection with the policeman and volunteer): "Hi! My legs refuse to run up this hill."
Policeman (laughing): "But you're still moving! That's the important thing. And - you're not last!"
Loved him. And that gave me another little boost. 

Crossing the finish line.
Photo credit:
As I neared the finish line, I saw my husband along with plenty of other supporters still there, cheering for the back-of-the-packers. It was then that I heard the shout-out from the announcer who called me a "beautiful lady. Let's give her a hand, folks! She's been on her feet this whole time and she's in town all the way from Vancouver, British Columbia!" 

And then I crossed the finish line and immediately burst into tears. I swear, I hiccuped and ugly-cried for at least five minutes. I was so relieved it was over!

The final wrap-up
Out of 58 full marathoners, I finished 53rd, sixth out of six in the female 30-39 division and came in with a chip time of 5:08:48. It's not my best time, but it's also not my worst. And like I've always said: any finish is a good finish!  

Even though I didn't run a smart race, there was plenty to love about this event: the locals, the volunteers, and it was the first time in any race that I have ever been given a call-out at a finish line. 

And to think ... I seriously considered not attempting this race. 

Thank you, Saint John and the Marathon by the Sea! You have a wonderful event. I'm so glad to have been part of it.

Five by 35. Three down. Two to go.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lesson Learned: Some People Really Are Twats

If you've been paying close attention, I've mentioned once or twice that I'm heading back to school in the fall to pursue a Master's Degree in Public Policy. This was a big decision for me to make as it involves quite a large investment: my time, a leave from work for the next two years, going back to a student lifestyle - not to mention the financial cost itself.

An acquaintance was asking me about the program yesterday, so I explained that much of it deals with research and the development of policy. Her response:

"You know everything they teach you is going to be bullshit, right?"

My response: stunned silence.

I mean, what was I supposed to say? "Oh, you're right. My life choices are stupid. I'll just quit right now!"

I reflect on this at the same time I'm trying to make a final decision whether to run in this weekend's Marathon by the Sea in Saint John, New Brunswick. I'm realizing there are a lot of parallels and plenty of reasons to not do either.

I'm not sure if I'm prepared. 

I'm scared to try. 

What if I fail?

It is always easier to say "no" to the hard things and make excuses instead. And there will always be people that can make us forget why we've chosen the paths we have. 

In the end, none of that matters. The only thing that does, is remembering our own reasons for choosing a particular direction and pursuing those dreams with gusto and enthusiasm. Otherwise ... what is the point of it all? 

My final words on the subject: live your life. Dream big. To hell with everyone else.

Grateful for a new day.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Being Sick Blows

These past few days have been a bust for me running-wise. 

I was feeling a bit grotty on Thursday so decided to delay my 6 km run ... but then left the office on Friday feeling the onset of a cold and completely devoid of energy. The weekend was no better; my state deteriorated into a sore throat and sheer exhaustion which meant no running for me.

When I don't feel well, I try and stay somewhat active by toning down the runs to easy 15 or 20 minute jogs. But I've never been sure what to do if I have a long run scheduled. I had 23 km on the docket for today but didn't run at all simply because I really didn't know what to do.

Here's my question - and I'm looking at the long-distance runners who are reading this blog: 

What do you do when you're sick and have to do a long run? 

Do you rest up on the weekend and try to fit that long run in during the week instead? What if you don't have time to be out on a three-hour training run during the week? Do you split up the mileage into two or three runs instead? I know that's not ideal, but we're all working within constraints, right? Are two 12 km runs a reasonable substitute for a 23 or 24 km long run - even just for one week? Or do you merely write it off and work a bit harder next Sunday? 

This is something I've always wondered about but never really knew what might be best. Anyone have any tips? Would love the feedback!

(On a happier note ... being sick this weekend was such a great excuse to do nothing but stay on the couch and watch the Olympics. Who else is watching London 2012 coverage? Can't wait to see how the athletes do in the running events!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stats Rule!

Here's a quick mid-week update simply to say ... I love my Garmin.  

I logged into my account today to find this new resource: a snapshot of my personal best times, based on all of my inputs over the last three years. Amazeballs.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Long Run Sunday, In Verse

Grey skies and rain
Reprieve from the heat.
Most will be disappointed
Except for the runners.

Sunday running groups 
Take up so much space.
They're like a mob! Don't make eye contact.

Hit by bird shit! Never good.
Sign of good luck? I don't buy it.
Nearest washroom
Wipe, wipe, wipe.

One marina, two marina, three marina, four.
Boats in the harbour

Kitsilano. Always crowded.
Beach volleyball tournament
So many people.
Blood pressure rising.

Looming shapes, tankers in the distance.
Eerie, like sentinels
Watching over the beaches.

Blue herons, pond lilies, ducks with green heads.
No camera. 
One might think
I'd know better by now.

Gel flask on the ground.
Kind of muddy
Nowhere to wipe
(see: "Hit by bird shit!"). 

Helping non-locals find 
Nearby washrooms.
"One is right over there!"
Runners always know.

Kits Beach pool. Bright blue against the grey sky.
Swimmers doing laps.
Back and forth, back and forth,
Back and forth.

Is that man naked? Wearing nothing but a towel.
Couldn't be
And there go the swim trunks (or is that underwear?).

Boom! Boom! Thunder overhead.
Well ... that's new.
Wind cooling. Bad weather imminent?
Maybe I'll run faster. 

Thinking about running poetry
Giggling like a nutter.
Long run Sunday
It's good to be back.

Spruce Harbour Marina
© 2011 Greater Vancouver Floating Home Coop

Kits Pool
© Thomsen D'Hont

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Running Round-Up

Deep Thoughts, Not by Jack Handey
I don't know about you, but sometimes I think about the strangest things when I'm out on my runs, probably because I choose to run without headphones and my mind tends to wander all over the place. Here's a sample of what my brain said to me this week:

  • Upon seeing a mouse (or perhaps, rat?) sprint from a pristine, manicured flowerbed, across the bike path right in front of me, to another well-landscaped flowerbed: "Guess they really are everywhere. We just don't know it most of the time."
  • When the sun started to come up: "Holy mother, it's gonna get hot out here!"
  • Seeing weeds along the path: "Too bad there aren't more dandelions. The bunnies love to eat those."
  • Observing a runner wearing a long-sleeved zip-up jacket: "I wonder if she's training for a weather-specific event. Mainly a hot one. Why else would anyone wear such a thing on a run in the middle of summer?"
  • Fur on the sidewalk: "OMG ... is that part of a dead animal??"

It's Getting Hot Out There
The weather has finally (and miraculously!) turned warm and wonderful on the west coast and it's reminded me to draw upon the plenty of ways to safely train in the summer heat. 

Some of the best tips I've picked up over the years include running in the early morning or later at night, slowing down where necessary, always carrying water, and replenishing potassium levels by drinking orange juice after every run. 

One of my favourite and most logical precautionary measures, which I admittedly struggle with, is staying regularly hydrated throughout the day. Really gotta work at getting those eight cups in!  

How do you adapt your training when it's hot outside?

Love You, John Stanton
Last but not least, I'd like to end with a quote of the day - which is, of course, from the Running Room's John Stanton.
"You know you're addicted to running when someone says Boston, New York or Chicago and you think: marathon."
Have a great weekend, everybody! Stay safe in that summer heat.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Am ...

A runner. 

A person who feels so much better about myself and life in general when I've been running.

Much less likely to freak out about the little things when I keep up with a running schedule. 

Annoyed by inconsiderate ignoramuses who are allowed to frequent my regular running routes. This includes, but is not limited to, oblivious dog walkers, full-of-it cyclists and parents who can't be bothered to parent their own children.

Easily frustrated when I've realized how far I've been set back by an injury or a lapse in my training.

A girl who really needs a specific goal to stay motivated. (Case in point: 2011. No races. No running.)

Incredibly disappointed that I wasn't able to run the race I'd trained for all spring. It still bothers me. There's no sense in denying it.

Aware that I need to move on from not being able to run the race I'd trained for all spring.

Going back to school in the fall and would like to complete a full marathon before then because I really thought I'd have #3 in the bag by now.

Aiming to complete a marathon this summer, as a result. On the horizon: the Marathon by the Sea in Saint John, New Brunswick. Date: August 12, 2012.

Unsure if trying to run a marathon by the end of the summer is realistic, but I'm willing to use it as something to work towards if, for nothing else, to keep me motivated for the next few months.

Confident that, if I am unsure about the performance of my leg in any way, that I would not do anything to risk re-injury or jeopardize my ability to finish Five by 35. I've got plenty of time and really don't need to rush things.

Still working on my biomechanics (gotta love physio!) and realizing that there will always be room to improve when it comes to this. 

Happy to be where I am, despite everything. Each experience in running has taught me something new.

Amazed at how much I've learned about myself, and how much more I have yet to learn, just by running.  

Thankful that I am able to run.

I am ... not really into heels. These are more my speed. 
More on my most recent purchase to come.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sometimes It's Good To Not Keep Score

I started out on a 6 km run yesterday when all of a sudden ... my Garmin died.

At first I cursed myself (why didn't you make sure your watched was charged up? Geez!) but then came to the realization that it really wasn't the end of the world (chill out, girl - it's no big deal!). 

So often I have become reliant on doing what my Garmin tells me to do. Before I was injured, on long runs I would be timing myself to walk every 10 minutes; now that I'm still in recovery, I've been timing myself to walk every four minutes. I adjust my pace based on what my heart rate is doing. Each kilometer my watch is programmed to beep and indicate how long it took me to run that kilometer. It can get a bit much.

But not yesterday!

When my watch blinked off, it was a great opportunity to just run. There was no need to track my heart rate, or monitor my pace, or obligation to stop every four minutes for a walk break; I was slave to my data no more! I took it easy, sure, but it was a chance to truly listen to what my body wanted to do. If I felt like walking, I walked. If I wanted to run, I kept going. If it felt like I was speeding up, I slowed down. 

It can get so analytical, tracking so much of my running information and using those results to be prescriptive in my training. Yesterday's blip felt a bit unnatural at first, but in the end, I'm glad it happened. It was unexpected but I think, just what I needed. 

"You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime,
you just might find you get what you need." Makes sense to me. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

In Appreciation

When I started writing Five by 35, I was unsure how it would be received and if anyone would even read it. It's been a little unbelievable to run into friends who assure me, "I'm reading!" or exclaim, "I love your blog!" or even, "You've been really inspirational!"

Hearing all these wonderful words and knowing that there are people out there who actually enjoy reading what I'm writing (who knew?), I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of my own sources of inspiration.

Here are just a few of the people in my life who have recently committed to their own fitness goals, and who I have been incredibly inspired by these past few months. In no particular order ...

Howard and Carole: started cycling recreationally a few years ago as a way to improve their health - and who, between them, have gone on to participate in races such as the Whistler Gran Fondo and Van Fondo, and also now have completing the Tour de Blast in their sights;

Tory: ran the London Marathon to celebrate turning 35 years old;

Jen Q: returned to running shortly after having her first child, switched to VibramFive Fingers in the hopes of appeasing her "leathery IT bands" and took no prisoners when she finished her first ever 10 km race last month;

Jackie: took over my spot in the Whistler Half Marathon and ran an amazing time, despite some crazy elevation;

Kathy P and Barry: cycled from Vancouver to Seattle in support of the Ride to Conquer Cancer;

Tera: completed two legs of a five-leg relay at Edge to Edge, despite torrential rain and having to run a distance she wasn't originally expecting to run;

Rochelle: is fighting a battle with cancer and taking part in The Underwear Affair for a second time, bringing awareness to below-the-waist cancers;

Jatinder: a speedy runner previously beset by injury, back on the wagon and training for the ING New York City Marathon after having to sit out last year's race (and who is also pondering moving up to an ultramarathon); 

Sabrina: amazes me with her sport-specific training regime and constant new personal best times on the Grouse Grind;

Jeny Y: for the first time ever, is running two half marathons in one year; and

Christina S: who has signed up for her first ever 5 km race!

You may think of yourselves as "regular" people, but I think you're amazing because you are willing to try things that other "regular" people are scared of or unwilling to do. You set goals to improve yourselves, look to achieve those goals and then draw from your own strength to get 'er done. I'm really proud of all of you! 

Way to go, my peeps. Thanks for the inspiration.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Marathon #3

Here we are. It's race day in Tofino and Ucluelet and instead of running Edge to Edge I am sitting in front of my computer in Vancouver. 

I made the executive decision last weekend to not run. My recovery's been going well, but I wasn't feeling strong enough and didn't want to risk re-injury after making so much progress.

But here's the thing. This is probably a little strange, but in the past few weeks I've found myself alternating between the five stages of griefdenial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Is that weird? It's an injury, not a death in the family ... right? But often I'd wonder what I did differently (why now? What did I do wrong?) and then feel outraged that my Five by 35 schedule had been disrupted without any explanation. Or I'd get off the treadmill in my apartment building and be on the verge of tears, so upset that my leg still didn't feel right. 

I think part of the reason why I haven't blogged in the last week or so is because my emotions have just been all over the place. Quite honestly, I've felt a bit mental about it all. Is this normal? Part of me thinks that it is really strange to be having such a strong reaction to an overuse injury.

Then again, this was my first marathon after being off running for so long. I'd made such a big stink about it, starting a new blog and telling everyone about my running goals. And then, as you know, I'm a huge believer that good things come with bad; training was going extremely well and after I'd PB'd at the BMO Half Marathon maybe I should've seen this coming.

As for right now, in this very instant, I am okay. Even though I woke up thinking about the marathon I was not running today, and the finish line I would not cross, I also decided to go outside for a slow 6 km; I'm walking every four minutes but things are improving. 

So I guess this is acceptance - for now, anyway. And as best as it can be on a race day that I am not running.

Working my way back. Today's 6 km: almost feeling normal but not quite there.