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Perspective – A BMO Vancouver Half Marathon recap.

It has been a long time since I set a new PB (Personal Best) in the half marathon distance. Over 2 years to be exact.

It feels like it has been a long time since I set a PB at any distance.

After my last attempt at a half marathon, in March at Comox,  I was a woman on a mission.

In the 4 weeks before Comox I ran a total of 53km, thanks to the injuries I sustained in that nasty fall I took in February.  In the 4 weeks before BMO I ran 153km.

I felt strong, I felt confident. I felt ready to run a PB.

1:52:something was the goal.  1:40something was the dream. And in the week before the race, I thought it was going to happen.

Then the weather forecasts started to talk about the coming heat.  We were going to have a record breaking weekend.  And I was going to try and run my fastest half marathon ever?

 

The morning started off well.

I woke up at 4:45 am, at the home of the parents of the incomparable Jess.  I had my clothes laid out, and everything ready.  I got dressed and headed down to the the kitchen were Jess had already started the kettle boiling for my breakfast.

Her awesome dad got up at 5:15am on a Sunday to drive us, along with Jess’s sister, to the start line of our respective races. Paisley was running the 8K, I was running the half, and Jess was tackling the full. We had the entire event covered.

We got to the start area, checked my back and headed over to my corral at the start line. Jess hung out with me for a little while, before she went off to check her bag and get ready for the start of her race.

For some unknown reason, I was in the first corral. I was at the front of the thousands of runners who were lined up.

Knowing my pace, I found myself a spot near the back of the corral and started chatting with another runner.

The race started 25 minutes(ish) late, and for those of you who know how I am about timing my food before my races, you can imagine how annoyed I was getting.   (I will never understand why race directors feel the need to waste our time with aerobics instructors leading a warm up. No one wants to do something new on race day. Don’t waste our time, just start on time!)

The majority of the race is a blur. But I’m going to run down the parts of it I remember.

I remember the first stretch was down hill, and I had talked about this with my coach, and other runners who had raced this course last year. I knew what to expect and I had a game plan.

Hold back.

Don’t get out of control and run too fast on the downhill, it will kill your legs for later.

I checked my pace on my Garmin regularly in the first few kilometers, to make sure I wasn’t going too fast.  I stayed comfortable.  Down the hill, across the bridge, past BC Place & Rogers Arena (and the old finish line), then over toward Science World. A hairpin turn and back where we came.

Out and backs are some of my favourite parts of races. On your way out, you see the fast people who are way ahead of you, and on your way back, you see the people who think YOU are one of the fast people.

Pretty soon it was time for the first up hill of the course. We went through the gates China Town and climbed a hill.  I remember this hill being on the full marathon course back in 2011.

After that, we twisted and turned through Vancouver, and I was starting to get hot and tired.

Plan A was to aim for about 15km before taking a walk break, Plan B was to make it until at least 10km.

My first walk break happened just before the halfway point.  I needed to slow down, get some fluids in and gather myself together.

By this point we were in the west end, nearing Stanley Park.   I was hot and tired, but still on track for a 1:52:00 half marathon.

Between 13 & 14 kilometers, I was having a hard time choking down my fuel. Warm Gu can be a little hard to swallow.  At this point we were winding our way through Stanley Park and it was getting hot.

Around the 15K mark, I really started to feel the impact of the heat. It was draining. And it was clear to me that others were feeling the same.  It was around this point I started to see runners going down.  Some of them slowly realizing they were done,  others just coming to a sudden stop and sitting down, and a few who were already flat on the ground before I passed them.  The last 6km of the course kept the medical volunteers busy!

It was also at this point I saw one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen at a race.

There was this guy running to my right side, and every now and again, he would reach his had out for someone I couldn’t quite see who just just behind me.  He would say things like “come on, we’ve got this” and “just 3 more K, that’s less than 20 minutes”, or “you’re so close to the finish now”.  He was pacing (who I assume was his) girlfriend through the race.

I had realized back at around 17k that I wouldn’t be making my goal. The heat had taken too much out of me so, I jokingly said to him “I know you’e saying that to her, but I’m pretending it’s for me too”, to which he replied “well now I’m doing it for both of you”.

After that, he talked the both of us through the last 2K.

With about 1km to go, we exit the park, and head down the last stretch of downtown streets to the finish line.

This year, you could see the finish line in front of you for about 800m, which was a bit difficult. But between the encouragement of my newly adopted friends, and the cheers of the crowd, I managed to push though.

I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:55:57,  about 2:30 slower than a time that I would have been happy with. But, just on the other side of the finish line, after the volunteers handing out the medals, my new adopted friends were waiting for me to share a post race high five!

 

Now this is where the perspective comes in.

If I had written this post in the hours after the race, it would have been angry and disappointed about not making my goal. But in the days that have passed, I have realized that, as much as I want to set a new half marathon PB, sometimes you have other victories on race day.

This year, at the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon I only took 3 walking breaks. I ran the first half of the race without stopping, then I only took 3 breaks int he second half.  That is a HUGE step towards my goal of running a half without any breaks in the near future.

The heat really took a lot out of people at BMO this year, and that is one of the reason I don’t like spring races. I don’t like training in the cool, dreary winter weather, then racing on a warm spring day.  Weather is a HUGE factor on race day!

 

I have another half marathon coming up soon, about 2 weeks from now. It’s much closer to home, so I will be able to sleep in my own bed the night before. Hopefully the weather will be cooler and I will be able to give 1:52:something another shot.  I’ve run this race 3 times before, with my course best being 1:55:28, so wish me luck that I can shave 3 (or more) minutes off of that on May 26th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing it because I can.

I know, I know, long time no write.

Life has been busy! Taking on a 3rd WeightWatchers (long-term temporary) meeting, and covering for coworkers when the need arises, plus working a full time day job, while training for a half marathon goal race has sucked up a lot of my time. And on top of that I’m trying to make it a priority to be social and spend time with friends.

So somewhere, something had to give, and unfortunately it was the blog.

Last time I posted, I said I would be back once the bandages were off of my hand and I was able to type better.  Well, the bandages have been off for almost 3 weeks now!

So why were the bandages there in the first place?

Back in February, I was out for an evening run with one of my coach‘s other athletes when I took a nasty fall.   We were running at night, in the dark and I guess my toe caught some uneven side walk, and the next thing I knew my jaw was hitting the ground and I was laying there, arms extended fully in front of me, wondering how I ended up on the ground.  To make a long story short, I ended up with a sprained ankle, both of my shoulders sprained, a bruised knee and a bruised/swollen/sprained baby finger.

All in all, the fall resulted in a lot of missed, or cut back runs, and a lot of pain and stiffness.   When I saw my chiropractor after the fall, he said it would take at least 6 weeks to get back to normal, that was 5 1/2 weeks ago.

Since that fall, I haven’t run longer than 13K. I’ve been listening to my body, taking it easy and letting myself rest when I need it.

 

Comox Finish

2009

Yesterday I headed up to Courtney for the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon. This is(was) a favourite of mine because it was my first half marathon 4 years ago, on March 22, 2009.  I have a love affair with this race because I remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed that finish line! (2:07:32) I have a funny little tradition when it comes to running Comox, I wear the same outfit each time.

The thing about Comox is that it is fun course. It’s an undulating out and back, with the out being mostly uphill, but the back being mostly down hill.

 

 

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2011

In 2011, I set my current half marathon PB at this race. (1:53:41)

The 2011 Comox Half Marathon also has the distinction of providing me with my WORST race photo ever! I mean seriously, what kind of cruel photographer hides out IN the finish chute to catch the look of pain on your face as you push as hard as you can to get across that line?

 

 

 

2012

2012

2012 was the year Team #yyjrun took on the Comox Half as a group.   Speedy Damian led the team, then came back out on the course to cheer on those of use still out there.  Skye came up, even though she wasn’t racing, and jogged out on the course to meet Kat and run her in.

Afterwards we had delicious home made Nanaimo Bar Cupcakes and had a good time hangin gout as a ‘team’ watching the awards.   2012 was really a fun year!

 

 

I have such a great connection this race, it is(was) one of my favourites to run regularly. I’ve now run this race 4 times, which makes it second only to Bazan Bay, which I have run 5 times.

Every year I go in to it with high hopes. I know the course so well, I think I could go up there and run it without the marshals there to direct me.  I know the ups and downs, and the turns, like the back of my hand. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.  It is good in the fact that I know what to expect.  It is bad in that in can lull me in to a false sense of security, a false sense of “ease” with the race.

Yesterday I went up there with a ‘celebratory’ attitude. This race isn’t about setting a new PB, even though it is always in the back of my mind that it would be nice if everything went my way and I did mange to set a new one.

 

This year, this race was about enjoying the fact that I CAN run a half marathon.  4 years ago I ran my first, yesterday I ran my 16th, and that is a big deal to me. Every time I run a half marathon, it is a big deal to me.

The race started out well enough. Although I know I was going a little fast and my neck and shoulders were just not comfortable.  I’ve always run long runs using the 10 & 1 method (run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute) but this time around I ran straight for the first half hour, before taking a walk break.  After that I only took walk breaks if I needed them. If the alarm went off on a down hill, I skipped the walk break!  I’m not going to waste the assistance of gravity by walking!

My plan was working well until just after the 15K mark.   Somewhere after 15K, I was letting gravity do the work, and enjoying a down hill stretch when my left foot hit some uneven pavement and gave me a good jolt.  I kept enjoying the downhill stretch for a while, until my next walk break. At this point I took a walk to take in some Gu and was faced with every distance runners worst nightmare!  My bladder was screaming at me!  MUST PEE NOW!

When the walk break was over, I picked up the pace again and managed to get a good rhythm going, until I started to notice that my left leg was angry after that jolt.  It just wasn’t moving smoothly.  I kept pushing myself, but it was getting uncomfortable, so I took an unscheduled walk break, only to be greeted with my screaming bladder again.

Somewhere around this point is when I started to notice that my left shoulder HURT.  My posture was falling apart, my gait was uneven, and my bladder was screaming.  But hey, at least it wasn’t a goal race.

In the last 3K I was out of sorts and feeling defeated, and with about 2K to go, Jess  caught up to me, and was quite concerned about the fact that I was walking. She slowed down to walk with me and informed me that she had bonked at about the 8K mark and had been struggling ever since. (Something about a 30K training run 4 days earlier!) So for the last 2K we ran, we walked, we laugh, we complained, we cussed, and then we did it all again!

When we finally crossed the bridge and made the final turn towards the finish, I just remember Jess saying “Where is the finish? I can’t see it, it’s too far away”.  We pushed, we knew the time on the clock wasn’t going to be what either of us wanted, but we finished, side by side and we had a BLAST! A grumpy, whiny, complaining BLAST!

 

It may not have been my best half marathon, and it certainly wasn’t my worst, but it was my SIXTEENTH half marathon, and THAT is worth celebrating!

 

After the race I thought about it, and it is clear that my body just wasn’t ready for the distance yet.  It was the furthest I’ve run since the fall, and clearly I am not quite 100% yet.

Now it’s time for a couple days rest & a trip to the chiropractor,  then it’s back to training for my goal race, The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon!

3 seconds is still 3 seconds, right?

Ah January, you have returned, and along with you comes the start of the new year of racing.

In my neck of the woods, we always start the year with the Island Race Series, a series of races every second weekend from January – April with distances varying from 5K to half marathon.  The series starts each year with the Pioneer 8K, a fun, friendly, race just outside of Victoria.  It’s a great start to the year!

After a disappointing race in 2012, I was ready to take on the course and set a new PB (Personal Best).

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This was my 5th consecutive year running this race, so I’m pretty familiar with the course, which I think was definitely a benefit to my race plan.  In the days leading up to the race, I would visualize the course and how I was going to tackle each kilometer.

Start line, down hill, hold back, don’t go too fast, left turn, slight downhill, keep holding back, right turn, flat, stay consistent, right turn, smallish hill, don’t slow down, around the roundabout, right turn, keep pushing to the crest of the hill and ride the downhill to the halfway point.  Then a slight up hill, keep it up, your legs will be tired by now, don’t let them win, past the start line, left turn, this is where it gets hard, keep going, right turn, hairpin turn, left turn, straight with a slight downhill, keep pushing, right turn, finish line in sight, it’s up hill, keep pushing, don’t let the hill win, right turn, uphill finish!

The plan was in my head, I knew where I had struggled in the past, so I knew what I had to push through.

2 years ago I set my 8K PB, finishing this same race in 40:14. I knew a new PB could be possible, but I also knew that I had missed a few runs leading up to the race, and I hadn’t done everything I could have to prepare.  Then there was the fact that last year’s time was over 3 minutes slower than 2011. On top of that, I hadn’t run a time ‘short’ distance race in 8 months! I went in to the race having no idea where I stood, or what to expect from myself, all I knew was that I was going to give it my all!

I set a goal for this year, I actually set 3.  The ‘BIG’ one was to break the 40 minute mark, second was to set a new PB and third was just to be faster than last year.

I am really pleased with how I ran the race.  I stuck to my plan, and for the first time in the 5 years I’ve run this race, I did not stop to walk once. Not on the hill, not through the water station, not when my legs were tired.  I did not stop to walk at all!   I knew that I was going to blow my #3 goal out of the water before I even got to the half way point, but I would have to wait until I crossed the finish line to see if I beat my #1 & #2 goals.

It turns out that breaking the 40 minute mark wasn’t in the cards, but I did set a new PB.  I started my Garmin as I crossed the start line, and stopped it moments after I finished. It showed a time of 40:03.  The ‘official’ race time is ‘gun time’, which is the time elapsed from the gun, to when I crossed the finish line. That means since it took about 8 seconds to cross the start line, my official result was  40:11.  Not bad, I guess, 3 seconds faster than my previous PB, but PAINFULLY close to my #1 goal of getting under 40 minutes.

I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to race times, so I have to admit that I have spent some time contemplating where I could have pushed harder to make up the time I would have needed to get under. But the thing is, when I look at the bigger picture, I am happy with how I ran, I am happy with how I raced.  I made a plan,  I stuck to that plan and I performed well.

#LetsGetPhysical - Pioneer 8kmAnd speaking of people who performed well, I want to give a shout out to my friend Nikki! This race was her very first timed race, and she rocked it.  Seriously, you guys should go on over to her BLOG and read all about it!  And I have to tell you, I am in LOVE with this collage she made to celebrate!  Look at all the support she had on race day!   And rumour has it that she’s got the racing bug now and is considering a HALF MARATHON! Go Nikki!

All in all, I think this was a great start to the 2013 year of racing. I had a blast hanging out with my #yyjrun  crew, and I am so proud of everyone for getting out there and kicking some 8K butt!

Sometimes I forget that I’m not fat anymore!

524426_10150924833127629_1839616826_nSometimes I forget that I’m not fat anymore. I forget that I am a fit, energetic, active person!

I realize that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I often refer to myself as a ‘fat person in a skinny body’, since I will ALWAYS struggle with my food weaknesses.

Most people who know me now never knew fat me. They never new the girl who would buy A&W on the way home from work, order the Chubby Chicken sandwich, regular fries, a side of onion rings (with honey mustard dipping sauce) and a DIET coke,  then eat it form the bag in bed, with my laptop on my knee.  (That meal, by the way, is 42 PointsPlus Values, which basically means I’d have to run a marathon to burn that many calories!).  They never saw me roll over in bed, throw the A&W bag on the floor and go to sleep.  No one who knows me now knows that I used to get in to bed at 5pm after work and stay there until I got up for work at 6am the next day.  I actually don’t think anyone who knows me now would believe what I just wrote.

The thing is, I know that’s how I was, I still remember it. And even now, after 6 years on WeightWatchers, with almost 5 years at goal, sometimes I forget how far I’ve come.

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When you look at my ‘statistics’  from a logical standpoint, they will tell you I am a fit, active person.  5 marathons, 16 half marathons, multiple 10, 8 & 5K races.  Hundreds of kilometers run on an annual basis, not only on the nice weather days, but also in rain, wind and snow. I see the race bibs and medals on the walls at home all the time. My apartment is filled with reminders of what I’ve done.  But sometimes I still forget I’m not fat anymore!

This past weekend, I went on an adventure to a place called Myra Falls, in Strathcona Provincial Park.  It is an absolutely gorgeous place, well worth the almost 4 hour drive!

As you can see from the picture below, there is plenty of snow on the ground up there. In fact, when we arrived, we found that the access road to the parking area was still covered in snow, so we would have to park on the road and walk in.

I remember my first reaction to having to walk in being “ugh, I didn’t sign up for hard work today. This is going to be hard!”.   Then once we walked in to the parking lot, we saw that the trail to down to the falls was covered in untouched, knee deep snow.  Again, my reaction was “ugh, this is going to be hard”, but I kept my thoughts to myself and we proceeded down the trail.  I took the lead, since I was the only person wearing actual snow boots, and made my way down the never ending hill.

At one point we rounded a corner and I saw fallen trees blocking the trail and tried to use it as an excuse to turn back, but I was overruled!   It was at this point that I turned to look back up the hill and realized just how much of a climb the return trip would be!!!  And yet again, my reaction was “ugh, no! This SUCKS! I’m never going to make it back up that hill!!!”

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After spending about half an hour or so having snowball fights, taking pictures and admiring the falls, it was time to head back up the trail to the car.  I was DREADING this!  In my mind on this day, I was still a fat, lazy out of shape person, and there was no way I was capable of climbing that hill back to the car!

In my head, I was remembering a summer day about 15 years ago, in a previous life, when N’s parents were out here visiting from Winnipeg.  We went on a hike out to Sooke Potholes and I swear, it almost killed me!  Walking up the hill to the old abandoned resort site I was huffing and puffing and whining about the hill, and the heat, and how hard it was.  In my head, I was still fat, and today was going to be just like that day, only I’d be whining about the cold instead of the heat!

Hmmm, turns out I was wrong.  It turns out it was all in my head! (Imagine that!)

I admit, I was breathing heavy on the way back up the hill, but then that’s normal.  The thing is, I didn’t really struggle.  My legs didn’t hurt, my heart rate wasn’t excessive, I wasn’t completely out of breath, I didn’t need to take a breather. I just walked back up the hill like it was nothing.

It turns out that I’m not actually fat & lazy anymore.  It turns out I am a fit, active, energetic person who can easily do things that she would have once avoided because of the physical inability to actually do them!  It turns out, I am the new me!  (haha, that was cheesy!)

 

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I made it to the startline.

For me,  that is the key to any race.  Making it to the start line.

This time around, it was a hard journey. It was an intense journey.

Back at the end of last year, after the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, and then the Shawnigan-Kinsol half marathon a few weeks later, I was all run out.  I was done.  I didn’t run at all in December. I had no interest.  2 marathons, plus numerous other races in one year was too much. I was done.  DONE!

Then January came around, and my relationship with N hit yet another road block, and my life turned upside down.  The Island Race Series started, and a new batch of Running Room training clinic started.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what clicked inside me, but something was different this time. After burning out in the last few weeks of training for each of the marathons I ran last year, and then burning out completely in  December, when January came, I was re-energized.  I decided that 2012 was the year I was going to get my marathon time under 4 hours. A time that started with 3 was now my goal.  I used the time 3:59:59 to signify my commitment to my goal, and surrounded myself with it.  I was on post it notes everywhere.  On my computer monitors at work, in my car and all over my home. When I moved, the post it notes moved with me, and were there before the furniture arrived.

It wasn’t that I actually expected a time of 3:59:59 (although it was pretty close), it was that I needed to be reminded of my goal io a regular basis so that I would keep pushing forward. And it worked. There were so many times when it was the post it notes that got my ass out the door. During tax season, during my move, on those lazy days where I just didn’t want to run. 3:59:59 was everywhere.

Then there was James. I can’t remember the exact story now. But somehow, somewhere, we ended up in  challenge to log 200km of training in the month of March. Again, it was another push in the right direction. Nothing like a little competition to light a fire under your butt! All the way over in Toronto, this guy became a great training partner.

And what about Jess. This girl is amazing.  Last year, she had to drop out of the marathon mid race, due to injury. This year, she came back strong and determined! Seeing her training away, alone on the (hilly) streets of Shawnigan Lake, posting her DailyMile workouts with such determination made me ever more determined to make this the best training cycle ever.

Now, let’s talk about Kathryn, shall we? What can I say about the incomparable Kathryn? This girl is the definition of inspiration.  She took on her first ever attempt at the marathon with such dedication and commitment, not to mention enthusiasm, that it was absolutely contagious! Following the ups and downs of her training reminded me what it was like the first time, when it was all new & exciting. She reminded me that simply having the ability to train for a marathon is a gift in itself, and we should embrace it.

And I can’t tell you the story of all the people who pushed me through training without telling you about my pace group for my training clinic! Paul, Matt, Carly & Christine. These guys were a pleasure to spend hours of my Sunday mornings with.  The runs flew by so quickly with all crazy things we talked about along the way!

I don’t quite know how I did it. With the craziness or moving, during tax season, while training for a marathon, somehow I managed to log the  highest mileage training cycle I have ever logged and March was my highest running mileage month ever.

The weeks leading up to race day were crazy. Tax season was at it’s busiest, and running was starting to taper off in preparation for race day. Phantom pains were common place, and sitting still for too long was agonizing. The pre-race dreams began, and so did the anxiety, the worry, the wondering if my goal was achievable!

All my worries magically disappeared on Saturday, May 5th, when my float plane touched down in the gorgeous Vancouver harbour, and I found all my run buddies hanging out at the race expo!  Being around friendly faces, people who all had the same nervous anticipation I was feeling, somehow made all my worries disappear!

Our group dinner was just what I needed. It nourished my body with amazing food, and my soul with priceless friendships.  I think there is a special bond with distance runners. While our friends and family are supportive and do their best to understand, our running buddies just get it, they understand, they know.

I left the restaurant ready for the startline.

I’m a cover girl!

Earlier this year my friend Skye started working on putting together a calendar to raise money for the BC Cancer Agency through the BC Cancer Foundation.

Before you knew it, not only had I signed on to be a model, I was also helping out with the  organization of the  photoshoots and the planning & layout of the calendar.

It has been a long process, but finally, today, I have in my hand the actual physical calendar!

 

 

We are having an everyone (19+) welcome launch party on Tuesday, November 29 at 6pm. It is being held at the Bard & Banker pub. If you want to come down and get yourself a copy, you can RSVP on the Facebook Event. If you can’t make it, please let me know by leaving a comment below and I will get in touch with you to make arrangements.  the calendars at $15(cdn) each.

 

Thanks for your support!

I’m living the Goodlife.

I mentioned in my last post that ‘step 2’ of my training plan for my next marathon was to join a gym blocks from my office.

I’ve never been a gym person. In fact, I took up running so that I could be physically active, but avoid the gym.  I’ve always found the concept of a group of sweaty people, side by side, on work out machines, grunting & groaning, running in one spot like a bunch of hamsters running on a hamster wheel, to be quite un-motivating!

I guess something has changed that opinion for me though.

I had the realization that my fitness goals will be hard to reach without the benefit of a gym & that there is more to a gym than just rows of cardio machines. At the gym, I can work on my upper body strength, and my core.  2 things that will benefit my running. I can also do some cross training on the bike, or the elliptical machine, which will still give me a cardio workout, without the impact of running.

Yes, there are benefits to the gym, even for an ex-gym-hater like myself.  In fact, I’ve actually come to quite enjoy my time at the gym, and not just for the eye-candy that can often be seen there.

I can often be seen tweeting about my work outs, and work out plans.  So much so that it caught the attention of the people working the twitter account for my gym and the next thing I knew I was talking to the people at their head office about sharing my story.

I was initially asked to write a single, 600 word,  blog post, outlining my story from overweight & inactive to living the “goodlife”.

What I ended up submitting was an 850 word post. I couldn’t get all the parts of the story in there, and make it any shorter.

Well, apparently my style of writing really caught their attention & they want to know more.  So I have been asked to write a bi-weekly blog post for  the Goodlife Fitness Blog.

Starting with my introduction post on March 1st, you can read my point of view on topics like goal setting, motivation, nutrition, work out variety & more!

I am really excited at this opportunity to share my experiences with health & fitness, and to hopefully motivate others to make positive changes in their lives!

If there are any topics you guys would like me to cover, feel free to let me know!

K.

If you want to win something, run 100 meters.

If you want to EXPERIENCE something, run a marathon.

It’s with that quote in mind that I start on a new year in my running career. A year in which I plan to win & experience.

I love running here on Vancouver Island.  You start the year fresh on January 1st with the Resolution Run at Running Room, and then it’s straight in to the Island Race Series.  8 race, every second Sunday from January to April. The races vary in length, there are a couple 8Ks, a couple 10Ks, a half marathon & 1 each of a 5, 12, and 15K race.   One day I’d like to compete in the full series, but this year there is only time for 4 races in my schedule.

So far I have run 2 of those races & I’ve won.  Okay, maybe I didn’t come first, but I won. For the first time in the 3 years I have been running these races, I placed in the top 10 in my age group.   In the Pioneer 8K on January 9th, I set a new 8K PB. I came in at 40:04, well over 3 minutes faster than last year & good enough for 5th place in my age group.  Then, in the Cobble Hill 10K on January 23rd, I came in a 49:48, knocking over 2 minutes off of my previous 10K PB, my first sub 50 minute 10K & good enough for 6th place in my age group.

In my time running, I have collected a few medals.  But there is a difference.  When you run a half marathon or a marathon, you get a medal. Everyone who crosses that finish line gets a medal. Hundreds/Thousands of people get that medal. In the Island Series you have to earn your reward.  10 people get acknowledged. You have to compete against the rest of your age group.  So yeah, they may only be ribbons, but man, do they ever come with a sense of acheivement. An acheivement  that is different than the one that comes with the (half)marathon medals.

After getting these two ribbons, I was really tempted to run the entire series & see how many races I could place in, but unfortunately the rest of the races don’t fit in with my training schedule. And I’ve set myself another goal.

 

I’ve registered for my second marathon.

I’m not sure how it came about. Was it peer pressure? Was it Jealousy? Was it insanity?

Yes.

The peer pressure has been present for a while. There have been a few people that have wanted me to run the marathon in Vancouver on May 1st, but I was managing to do a pretty good job staning my ground and saying no.  May 1st is a bad day for me to run a marathon, since the busiest day of the year at my job is April 30th.And to top it off, with April 30th landing on a Saturday this year, that means the deadline will be bumped to Monday, May 2nd. So that means I will have to be back at work bright & early, Monday morning, after running a marathon!

The jealousy was what broke me.  It was so hard watching all my running friends chatting on Twitter about their plans to run the BMO Vancouver Marathon. I felt left out. I felt like that kid on the playground that nobody wanted to play with. I felt like all the cool kids were doing the cools things & I was the lonely loser watching from the sidelines. I love running, but more than that I love racing & challenging myself, and the marathon is the ultimate challenge for a runner.  I had to do it. I had to go play with all my friends!

The insanity comes with the territory when you are talking about distance running. You have to have a bit of insanity in you to want to commit the time & energy it takes to get your body ready for the challenge of the marathon.The insanity isn’t in what happens on race day, the insanity is in the hours of work that go in to getting ready for race day!

I’m really looking forward to training for this marathon. I have a frame of reference this time. I’ve done it once & I have an idea of what to expect. I also know how much more work I have to to put in this time around to improve on my time from last time. It’s going to be an intense 3 months, and I hope to bring you all along for the ride with regular updates.

91 days & counting.

 

Happy training all!

 

The Race Course that (almost) Broke me.

When you set a goal that is to simply ‘finish’ a half marathon, that seems perfectly reasonable & within your grasp. It should be pretty simple really, especially when it is your 6th half marathon in 6 months.

But when that half marathon is the ONLY race out of over 25 races you’ve started, that you did not finish, that weighs on the back of your mind.

You tell yourself “the only reason I didn’t finish last year was because I was injured” but you don’t listen. All you know is that last year, at the 8k mark, you had to ask a race marshal for a ride to the finish line because you couldn’t take another step. All you know is that after this race, last year, you were out of the game for 8 weeks and that recovery was long and hard.

You distract yourself with friends and fun and hot cocoa, and go to bed.

The next morning you go through the familiar pre-race routine. Eat the right breakfast, pack the right things, lace up the shoes and head to the start line.  At this point you’re on auto pilot. Pin on your number, sip some gatorade, strap on the fuel belt, walk to the start line.

The next thing you know it’s “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO” and you’re off.

Then you come around the first corner, and you see that first hill, and all of a sudden all you can think about is last year, and you start feeling phantom pains in your ankle.  But there’s nothing wrong with your ankle, you haven’t had pain there in MONTHS. That injury is long since healed, and you are in the best shape of your life. So why are you feeling this pain, why is your ankle doing this to you?? Is it the course? Is that what causes the pain? Is the course too much for you? Are you going to drop out again this year?

Soon, you settle in to a rhythm, tunes in your ear, running buddy at your side, one foot in front of the other. You zone out and get in to your groove, counting the markers as each kilometer ticks by. The next thing you know, you’ve passed that point where you dropped out last year, and you are that much closer to conquering this race!

You finally start to have some confidence. You finally start to believe you will conquer this race this year, you’re on the home stretch, finally off of the trails and back on to the road. You pass the 18km marker and you think you’re home free.

You were wrong.

Apparently this is where your will to finish this race will be tested. This hill that leads you to the 19km marker is the hardest hill you have ever run in a race.

I have to tell you, I have never in my life wanted to just quit a race and just sit on the side of the road as badly as I did on this hill.

If it wasn’t for my running partner, beside me, reminding me that we were just a couple kilometers from finishing this race, I would have just sat down on the side of the road and quit.  And that feeling was one shared by many of the runners around us on that hill!! That was one heck of a hill to have at the 19K marker of a half marathon.

Until the hill from hell, I had been entertaining the idea of finishing this race under 2 hours. After the hill from hell, I just wanted to finish.

After a minor break down, I pulled myself together, and started off again, up and over the rest of that hill, then downhill for a bit, before the last up hill stretch of the race. Once the 20km marker was in sight, it was all down hill to the finish, where Jen & I crossed, hand in hand, victoriously, at 2:01:03.

Just after the finish, we were greeted by our speedy friend Rebecca, who we had last seen at the start line. She came with Rice Krispie Squares in hand, and I instantly forgot the agony of that hill, and celebrated with my friends.

It was a hard one, but I finished it.

That was my 6th half marathon in 2010, and my 9th since March of 2009.

Now, who’s going to join me for Half marathon #10?

All that's left to do is wait…

December 28, 2009.

That’s the day I was given the go ahead from my doctors to run again after my long recovery from the injury I gave myself by running too soon after the marathon last year.

December 29, 2009.

That’s the day I decided that a marathon wasn’t in the stars for me in 2010, and that I would focus on improving my half marathon time.

That was 282 days ago.

I have spent the last 282 days with a single focus: set a new Personal Best Half Marathon time on 10-10-10.

I really didn’t realize how much pressure I would be putting on myself when I announced that goal. Pressure that comes from both myself, and the people who have been with me through my training. And I know they mean well. And I know that the people who care about me will be proud of me no matter my time on this one race. After all, it is my 5th half marathon in 2010, and that in itself is an accomplishment.

The thing is, last year was so much easier. Last year I was running my first marathon and my goal was simply to ‘finish on my own two feet, under my own power’.   There was no pressure to do it in a certain time. All I had to do was finish.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a great 9+ months of training and I know that I am more than capable of running a strong half marathon.  Even if there were a couple aches and pains that slowed me down from time to time, all in all, training went as well as I could have hoped.  I feel stronger than I ever have. I feel faster than I’ve ever been.

I feel ready.

So why am I freaking out so much?

Why can’t I stop thinking “What if?”. “what if I don’t set a new PB?”, “What if I totally fall apart & don’t finish?”, “What if a shoe lace comes untied and I fall on my face?”, “What if one of those silly little aches & pains comes back and ruins my race?”. Then I start to think “what if I have an amazing race, and blow my time out of the water, and collapse at the finish line?”, “what if I push too hard & become that person that passes out/pukes/shits their pants at the finish?”. Then after I’m done thinking that, I start with the ‘What if I don’t have the energy to get out there and cheer  on my friends running the marathon?’, “what if I completely exhaust myself & spend the next 3 days in bed with dehydration/exertion headaches?”

I don’t know if this is typical for runners in taper. Sometimes I think I am the only one who spends the days leading up to a race full of self doubt.

The thing about taper is, there is nothing left to do but wait. You can’t do any hard training anymore, all you can do now is short easy runs to keep your legs moving. There is nothing that you can do now to improve your race time. You just have to wait for race day to get here. The only thing you really have control of now is your nutrition & hydration and getting enough rest. Your mind has so much time to wander, and you don’t have those 2-3 hour runs to help clear it. Once you’ve got your race day clothes picked out, and  your nutrition purchased, and all the physical things you need ready for race day, all that’s left to so is wait. All that is left to do is think, and plan, and wait, all the while wondering “What if?”.

So I leave you with this…

What if I run an amazing race, set the PB I am aiming for, and feel great at the finish line?

Good luck to everyone running this weekend in whatever event you are running. Extra good luck to my friends Jen & Bri who are both running their first marathon this weekend!