Calgary Spartan Sprint 2014 Recap-Not Just ANY Spartan Race for Me…

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The 2014 Calgary Spartan Sprint was my 7th Spartan Race event. I have previously ran this event last in 2013, along with the Montana Sprint (2013, 2014), the Red Deer Super, and the Sun Peaks Beast & Sprint. But more important than reaching number seven was the fact that my best friend Ali would be competing in her first EVER Spartan Race…and this Spartan Race would also be her first EVER timed running event!

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We headed up to Calgary the morning of the event. The weather reports were a little nerve wracking, with chances of thunderstorms all day. We arrived to the race site, Wild Rose MX Park, about two hours before our race time. Pre-race packet pickup was a breeze! The last time I did day-off packet pickup for a Spartan Race was Red Deer last September, and that was a nightmare. Perhaps having a later in the day heat was helpful, because we honestly filled out our waiver and walked right up to a volunteer to get our packets. Took one minute! Before we knew it, we were getting marked with our bib numbers and were ready to go!

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We walked the festival grounds, and I have to say I quite enjoyed the setup compared to the year before. All the food trucks, displays, merchandise, and bag check were above and away from the actual racing area. This alleviated congestion down below. Ali purchased an awesome long-sleeved burnout shirt as a souvenir, and then it was off to check out the course.

We could see quite a bit of the course before actually racing. The vantage points at this Spartan Race are awesome, and as a spectator you can actually view your family and friends quite easily in many spots. Without even venturing that far into the race venue/spectator areas, we could see the following obstacles: Unders, Under a Container, Over Under Thru, Monkey Bars, Container Crawl, 8′ Wall, Rolling Mud, Mud Pit/Barbed Wire, Traverse Wall, Slippery Wall, Rope Climb and Fire Leap.

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What couldn’t be seen from spectator viewing, and what would become Ali’s least-favorite part of the course, were the switchback hills! These were tough! Ali lives in Redondo Beach, California, which has an elevation of 62 feet above sea level. She was now running an obstacle course race in Calgary, Alberta, at an astonishing elevation of 3,428 feet above sea level, and you can tell why the hills may have been a ‘small’ issue!

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When our heat started at 1:00 pm, we barreled out with the stampede. For the first 1/3 mile or so (I’m guessing because I didn’t have my GPS) we were trucking it. Then between bottlenecks and crazy hills, we had to slow down. If we had to power walk up hills, we did that. But whenever there was an opening that we could gain ground on, we ran it.

I am most proud of myself being able to do the monkey bars at this race. This is an obstacle that is sometimes hit-or-miss for me. My hands were clean, the bars were dry, so I got my momentum going and across I went. Ali had major shoulder surgery sophomore year of University, so obstacles like this were a challenge. However, she tried every obstacle out there—she never just walked past it, giving up without trying and just succumbing to the 30 burpees penalty.

The 30 burpees penalty is something Spartan Race does. Now, even though the event is timed, unless you are in the Elite Heat there are not age group awards. Reason why, I would say, is because many people out there have little to no integrity and don’t follow the rules. Dude I saw cut under the plastic tape to skip a section after the Tractor Pull—you’re a loser. And the three people, two women and one man, who failed the Rope Climb and came next to Ali and I at the burpee area, did 3 each and said “That’s good enough”—why did you sign up? If you’re going to sign up for something like this, and you start cheating it, what does that say about your personal mantra? I know it’s not a major event like the Olympics or anything, but don’t do this shit half-ass. Yes—you do have to train. If you don’t and you plan on taking easy ways out, you should just drop out. You are not a true Spartan.

Away from that rant, the course itself was incredible. The volunteers were great. Ali’s best obstacle was the Tire Flip, and she even opted to take on one of the “guy tires” with no issue at all! Special shout-out to the lady at the Traverse Wall giving everyone help and insight on how to help each other across the wall, as it was caked with mud beyond description. Ali and I both got across it thanks to her help!

We finished the course side-by-side in 1:44:01. I cannot wait to see the official photos that get posted, as I know there was a photographer not only at the finish line Fire Leap, but also at the Sandbag Carry and Barbed Wire. We received our kick-ass Spartan Race Canada medals, a finisher shirt, and then I ran up to bag check to get my camera. We needed post-race photos, to go along with our “clean” pre-race ones!

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We enjoyed the lovely delicacy of Coors Light in the Beer Garden (I would never drink this by choice, but it was free, and tasted surprisingly refreshing after that course!). Ali later would tell me that this Spartan Race was the hardest thing she’s ever done…but that she wants to do more. And, she also said she feels extremely confident going into the Disneyland 10km on August 30th! I am so proud of Ali and all the work she has put into Crossfit the past year (hello Crossfit 310)!and the fact that this former swimmer has become a runner.

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UPDATE FROM TUESDAY, AUGUST 19
Pictures! Just a few!

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The Next Big Three Weekends!

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Sorry that I have been absent the last bit. I have not had a race since my Stampede Road Race in July, and after that event I went and enjoyed some vacations, like every teacher should! I went to Walt Disney World with my mom, and I just returned from an epic trip with my husband, to St. John’s, Newfoundland! We had never gone out that Far East in North America before, and holy cow—-it was beautiful. Great people, great food, great music, and as you can see below-great wildlife! Photo credits below go to Richard S. who managed to capture the Humpback Whale breech while we were on our DeeJay Charters boat tour! I didn’t have my camera ready!

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Currently, I am on a “stay-cation” but have the company of my best friend Ali. We have been friends since 1991! She now lives in California, and this is her first visit here. A lot of people have asked her “Why the hell did you come to Lethbridge?!” Well, she came to see me…I just happen to live in a random place. But we have been going on some adventures since her arrival on Sunday. Some brewery detours in Montana, hiking in the coulees, a little tubing down the Oldman River yesterday, and tomorrow we will be heading to Crowsnest Pass and the British Columbia border.

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But the big adventure this week is the Calgary Spartan Sprint. It is a 5 km obstacle course race held in Calgary for now the third year! Ali has never done a Spartan Race, and she is also a beginner runner. I can quote Ali in saying she “hates running.” However, she has been doing Crossfit for over a year. (shoutout to Crossfit 310!). Ali has an awesome coach, Kris, at her Crossfit gym that has built running into her workouts in preparation for this Spartan Race, and also for the longer distance she will be doing at the end of the month.

On Sunday, August 24th, I have my big Edmonton Full Marathon. I will be running side-by-side with my husband’s cousin Erin as we attempt the elusive Boston Qualifying time. My knee has been acting up some in the past week, and I’m trying to keep an eye on it and not push myself too much before the race. This course is fast, flat, and easy to navigate. The elevation in Edmonton is a lot lower than Lethbridge, so that gives me extra confidence.

I mentioned Ali has a longer race distance later this month. I mentioned in earlier posts that I convinced (well, forced) her to sign up for the Disneyland 10km. We signed her up, and immediately she knew she wasn’t going into it half-ass. She started her running in around March, then followed a program beginning in April. She has worked her way up to 4 miles, which is fantastic because last year at this time she could only do 200 metres and want to collapse (her words!)

We will be doing the 10 km together, and enjoying every second of it! The nice thing about the route is the first 2 miles are on roads outside of huge park, and the last 4 miles are all around the Disneyland Resort. I will be participating in the Disneyland Half the next day, thus completing the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and earning my Coast to Coast medal, since I will have completed a RunDisney half marathon distance or longer on both the west & east coast in one calendar year!

I will be writing race recaps following all three of these weekends, and you can bet there will be lots of pictures included! Thanks for continuing to read and follow my blog—-I had originally intended it to just last until after my Dopey Challenge in January 2014, however, I found I really do enjoy writing and sharing my experiences with running. If you have any suggestions for me, please don’t hesitate to write in the comments below or send me an email!

“Running on concrete is bad for your knees. You should run on grass.”

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I don’t make this stuff up….the title of my quick post today was what some random guy said to me, verbatim, while I went on my 5 miler at 10:30 am.  I did not stop, becuase I honestly didn’t feel like putting up a fight with some random stranger on Columbia Blvd.  I kept thinking about his quip to me during my whole run and all the things I could have said.  Below are some of the many one-sided things I would be saying to this individual if I could rewind, and some of them also include my imaginary rebuttals back after he keeps mouthing off:

 

-Yes, running on concrete is bad on my knees, but where would you suggest I go that would allow me cushion for 5 miles?

-Or what about tomorrow for 17 miles?  Oh….17 miles, yes I am running that!  You say you haven’t even driven that far?  Well that’s great.  Good for you.

-I’m running, you’re not, what have you done lately to work out, because really it looks like you haven’t

-You say I should try something else, maybe swimming or biking?  Yeah, don’t like them.  Why don’t you try minding your own business.

-Running may be bad for my knees, but that bag you’re carrying from the liquor store next to Green’s Pop Shop is bad for you liver.

-Running is bad for my knees, but sitting on your ass is bad for your gut.

-Are you going to tell the next person you see smoking a cigarette that that is bad for their lungs?  Are you now a doctor or something?

-Red meat is bad for my cholesterol, but it is great for my low iron.  Everything is life has a bad thing to it.  Sometimes you just need balance.

-Thanks.  I’ll keep that in mind.   I never would have even thought about that.  Actually, I might just turn around right now and head straight home and never run again because you my friend are a genius.

 

I could go on and on, however I have more important things to do, and lets face it—this post is just basically a gripe fest.  But it means something, and not just for running.  Imagine if as I was running I had yelled to someone “You could burn more calories if you walked faster.” Yeah, would never do that.  DON’T give your two-cents to random strangers.  Unless you’re picking for an argument or to just tick someone off, don’t even open your mouth.  

Really, in the end of this all, I don’t care what this guy said because the reason why I run is because I can. 

 

Doing Speed Work in Suburbia…and MATH!

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Today I had a 7 mile workout planned, and 5 of it needed to be speed oriented. I wanted to tackle Yasso 800s one last time, and try to do them in their truest form, with 400 meter recovery jog in between each 800 meter. No standing or walking. Just jogging and giving it!

I planned to do 10×800, which would bring me to 5 miles. In between each 800 I would do a 400 meter recovery. I decided to start with a 400 m jog to get things going, and then do one in between each set, totaling 10×400. This would make today’s workout 7.5 miles. Sounds good to me! But I don’t have access to a real track…..

I have gone to the shale track downtown before. It works alright, except for the homeless man peeing behind the dumpster. I also tried the lake near my house. But I needed a change of scenery. I drove at 8:00 AM this morning over to North Lethbridge to Chinook Lake, an area I actually took my distance runners to quite a bit. I had them do some speed work and circuit training out here, so I figured I should give it a try myself. Nice thing was that at this time of day on a Monday the path was pretty empty. But, I needed an accurate reading of distance—I would figure this out by using my Nike+ SportWatch GPS.

I first walked the lake to see where 400 metres would take me. I started at a sign near the playground and looped to a lamppost around the first big curve. This was my 1/4 mile mark. I kept going and as I was getting back to my starting point, I knew I would overlap. I took a turn off a foot path into a cul de sac, around a corner, and finished off at a set of underground sprinklers. From the lamppost to this area was 800 metres, or 1/2 mile.

If you look at the map below, which I took from Google Maps, I outlined in color my two routes. The yellow star with a “1” is where I would begin. I followed the red path for 400 metres, but would not start my watch yet. Since I had already proven this to be 400 metres that was golden! Once I reached the lamppost, I revved it up, started the GPS timing and away I went for 800 m! You can see that route in the blue.

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The obvious difference between doing these Yasso 800s here versus a standard outdoor track is terrain. While this was relatively flat, there are occasional divots in the ground, slight incline/declines, spots where one has to go off the paved path, and more importantly SHARP CURVES! When you do an 800 meter timed run on a traditional track you can hug the inside curve of lane 1, do 2 laps, and you know you ran 800 metres. Running Yasso 800s in Surburbia, in my opinion, adds some interesting elements.

So how did it go today? AWESOME! I stuck with my plan of doing the 400 m recovery jog in between. The only lag time between finishing my 800 and starting the 400 was when I stopped my watch, I would turn around and start power walking towards the starting sign, resetting my watch in the process so huge GPS was linked and set to go. This was between 5-10 seconds a time. My goal for these 800s was 3 minutes and 30 seconds, as I hope to run a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon in Edmonton on August 24th. Below are the list of my splits, in order that I ran them (to make things more cut and dry, I dropped off the nearest hundredth and did not round)
3:38, 3:25, 3:30, 3:34, 3:31, 3:30, 3:26, 3:30, 3:34, 3:23

I am very happy with my consistency, and I believe this was the most consistent I ever have been doing an 800 meter workout! I was a little slow the first time out, but I needed to get used to the terrain. I was a little fast the last time, but I just had my adrenaline going and knew I was done after that.

Since I am a math teacher, and I have time on my hands in the summer, I decided to figure out what my “mean” 800 meter time was during this workout. “Mean” is the math term you learned back in middle school where you take the sum of a certain amount of terms, and divide it by the total number of terms you had. Now, let me say this—-kids (and adults!) SUCK at working with fractions. Fractions may not be listed in my time right now, but 3:38 IS NOT, I REPEAR IS NOT 3.38 minutes. There are 60 seconds in one minute, and I used 38 seconds of it during the end of my first 800. 3 minutes and 38/60 seconds would then become 3.63 minutes, not 3.38! (3.63 is being rounded to the nearest hundredth). And while no one probably cares, below is my calculation for my MEAN time:

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I was dead on! 3.5 minutes, or 3 minutes 30 seconds, was my mean time. Even if I trimmed the set of data, removing the highest and lowest value, now added up only 8 times, I still end up with 3.5! And, my mode, or most occurring value in my original set of data even is 3.5, occurring 3 times! Both are excellent measures of central tendency in determining my average time in this set of Yasso 800s.

I know it’s summer vacation, but I have to show you how you can in fact use math in your every day life. I would be a horrible math teacher if I didn’t. Now, my calculations better not be messed up!

Recreating Memories

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Some people like to recreate photos with their siblings or friends to model after photos of the past. I, on the other hand, enjoy taking photos resembling some iconic poses from my dad’s past.

These photos may not be important to anyone else but me and my mom. But being able to now go 11, 12 years later and take the “same shot” is priceless in my eyes. And there is no other place better to do this than Walt Disney World.!

My first attempt was last August 2013, when I went on my #16days extravaganza trip to Walt Disney World. My dad loved Buzz Lightyear; I have noted this before. I had to get my photo with Buzz! So, I waited in line solely for the purpose of this shot:

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That was really my one “goal“-to recreate a photo next to Buzz. But this July, I had a second opportunity presented to me! A Photopass Photographer was in front of the Star Wars Starspeeder. The photo of my dad here was not only taken the same year as Buzz, but within a 20 minute period of one another. My mom and him were waiting outside of Star Tours for me that year and wandering around and she took both those pictures then! (She also got pooped on by a bird during that time. Don’t have a photo of that though!). Anyways, with that being said, I had to take a picture!

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If another chance ever arises for me to “recreate” one of my dad’s “iconic” poses, I will certainly rise to the occasion!

Epic Airport Post about People Watching at Airport Bars (Title Says it All)

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My times spent at airports have added up this year. I went to Disney in January for the Dopey Challenge, notably flying direct from Calgary, after the polar vortex hit. In February, I went to Milwaukee, April Quebec, June was Albuququue. And now I am sitting in Chicago. No, I am not heading to Milwaukee again. That’d make sense, since I am an hour away. I am en route to Calgary, though originally I was flying from Orlando to Houston to Calgary…but weather got on the way.

I am now delayed 2+ hours from “change up” flight to Chicago to Calgary flight, and in the end, I will be ending up in Calgary *hopefully* only 4 hours after my original arrival time of 9:00 pm. 1:00 am arrival and then a two hour drive to Lethbridge. Lovely.

So I am sitting at this airport restaurant bar in Concourse B—-Stefani’s Tuscany Cafe. And since these delays stress me out (note the post from January when I broke down in Calgary..read it here!…and I already lipped my poor husband off in an email today. Sorry Dan. Love you) I decided I needed to write this…

Who You See at an Airport Bar

Here are my unedited, sequential notes I took while sitting here in Concourse B…because why the hell not?

Guy next to me-business suit. Hunched over. Glued to phone. A sip of bud light left. Said nothing I was an inconvenience sliding in to the last spot at bar next to him. Is basically mute, when spoken to takes five seconds to respond. We had a little convo about the B gates, and he told me he knows Calgary is expensive. Now standing away. Checking phone. Pretending to watch golf. He hates me.

Woman who ordered a Stella with bedazzled phone case and shopping bags. Trying to look younger than she is. And I have no clue where she disappeared too.

Lady ordered side salad after asking about sides but also a meal and wine. She looks like she doesn’t really want to be traveling but making most of it. She had one drink and was out. A quick hit and run.

Guy over at the island bar facing the concourse who came up for another Bacardi coke. Sounds like he is here all the time. Knows bartender by name. Introducing himself to the guy next to I’m. He’s drunk.

Guy who looks familiar but I know I don’t know. Self explanatory. Who are you?

Lady in the pink 3/4 length polo that looks like it is from American Eagle 2000. She’s been drinking red wine the whole time and has her sunglasses unnecessarily on top of her head (it’s 8:17 pm and we be indoors!). She looks like she’s fun though. Wish a spot had been next to her when I sat. Fuck. I’m stuck here next to Mr. No Personality.

Old man with a hat. Totally exists not just while driving the Midwestern highways but at the bar. Can’t tell what he’s drinking by his mouth has been agape the whole time.

Foreign man with Russian accent who came up with half a Diet Coke bottle and ordered a Captain on the Rocks. Will he mix it in his bottle???….then his lady came, sat at the bar and clearly said NO to not having a drink. Bartender is not amused with them. Quickly cashed out. Not wasting his time.

Bud light and shock top pseudo-businessmen young guns. Can’t really tell what they are talking about. But they ordered beer and don’t seem to know how to drink a beer. I can see them from afar staring at their phones, sorta people watching, but then back to phones.

Now the guy who did not like me cashed out and left. I can now move my bar seat over now from the corner to actually see the tv! I have an empty stool next to me! Normal looking younger 20 girl came and ordered a Belvedere Water (had to settle with Grey Goose) but didn’t sit by me. Seriously—-do I smell? I can’t. I reapplied deodorant and brushed my teeth again after landing here. Wtf?

Four European guys who wandered past this bar, double takedm and were taken back. Not by me, but by Stella Artois. All four sidled up to the bar, taking up the stools between me and Mrs. Belvedere. One guy could say “Four Stella’s. Glasses” and that was enough for their beverages.

And then there is me-wearing the soffee shorts, untied Mizuno shoes, a sports bra with the straps hanging out at my neck, slim fit disney tee. Worn off makeup, crusted curly hair. Staring at my iPad typing furiously. I look up…everyone is forking food in their mouths, drinking, and on devices. No one is having a conversation. I am one of them. But…I think it’s safe to say I’m the gem of this Chicago O’Hare airport bar.

Stampede Road Race Recap-Yee Haw!

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On Sunday, July 6th, 2014, I participated in the Stampede Road Race up in Calgary, Alberta. Those of you not from Western Canada have no clue what “Calgary Stampede” is. Well, if you want to know, here’s a link from Wikipedia explaining the insanity that is Stampede: “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!”

So obviously, this event is held during Stampede week. There was a 5 km, 10 km, half marathon, and even kids races. About two months ago, I did not have a July race planned. Usually I never race in July! But, since I had signed up for the Digital Running “Time of the Season Challenge”, I needed some sort of event in July. You can find information about that virtual event here:
Digital Running Virtual Challenges

I opted to register for the half marathon, as my attitude is that if I have to drive two hours to get to a race, I want to at least be doing an event that will take me over an hour. Yeah, weird theory perhaps, but why get up at 3:15 am, drive two hours, then do a 10km? I also was looking forward to this half marathon, because it would probably be my best shot at a personal best this summer. My Millarville Half Marathon a few weeks ago was so-so, and I wouldn’t be doing another half until Disneyland (which I have not as of yet fully decided how I am going to pace it). I also was still a little volatile towards Calgary after my performance at the Calgary Full Marathon on June 1st. It wasn’t Calgary’s fault! But, I didn’t achieve my goal time, so I was in a way seeking some sort of redemption.

I made it up to Glenmore Athletic Park by 6:15 am on Sunday. The half marathon race was slated to start at 7:30 am, but walkers who thought they would take longer than 2:45:00 could start at 7:00. I wanted to be there early because I needed to pick up my race packet, and I was assured via Twitter I could that morning. But when I got there, the whole area was a ghost town. Sure, there were signs saying the roads were closed for the Stampede Road Race, but there was no sign of life. I followed the map to where the start line would be, and it was an empty gravel road. I was getting anxious, so I moved my car closer, slathered on bug spray, and went to use a Porta John’s. By this time it was close to 6:30, still no start line set up, and as I waited to use the bathroom, the ten of us standing around realized only one porta potty was unlocked. The other six or seven were all zip-tied shut by the door handle. They were obviously delivered the night before and kept shut so people in the neighborhood or surrounding area didn’t go in them at night. It was just a very bizarre first 25 minutes.

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Finally a volunteer showed up to her station near the Porta John’s. I felt really bad for her because at this point about two to three dozen people were milling around confused at where to go, some asking about packet pickup, some asking about the walking start, and some just wanting to go to the bathroom. I found out the packet pickup was actually over on the track at the athletic park, where the finish line would be. I hiked over there, got my packet, used real bathrooms, slathered on bug spray, and dropped my bag. I had about 30 minutes until race start now, so after the initial confusion and frustration, I had time to calm my nerves.

The start area was now set up, courtesy of Racepro Timing . I have talked about these guys before—they are great, and locally based from here in Lethbridge. Before I got set up in the starting area, I asked Randy of Racepro what the heck happened this morning. He said they were there early, around 5:30 am, but whoever was suppose to let them into the locked storage with all the timing equipment didn’t show up until obviously way later. At least Randy and his team are old pros at getting the system set up quickly, because now as five minutes before race time fast approached, it looked more like the start of your typical half marathon.

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I had looked at the map of the route and just assumed it would be a flat bike path around this reservoir. In talking to a few people before the gun, they told me it had LOTS of rolling hills, and some pretty big climbs. Someone also told me it would be a tough course to get a personal best. I took that as a challenge.

When the race started, I quickly found my pace and positioned myself accordingly. For the first mile and a half, we ran on neighborhood streets, which allowed runners to get spaced out. I appreciated this, versus hitting the narrower trails right away. By the time we did the little turn around at the end of a neighborhood, I had roughly counted myself to be the 20th female runner. Little did I know that I would never have a female competitor pass me the rest of the race, let alone that many men. I also wouldn’t be passing too many people myself, at least not until the last 5km, so I seemingly would end up getting used to the people surrounding me for the duration of the event.

We hit the trails hard and I kept on trucking. Besides my always fast first mile, miles 2-4 were pretty spot on. I was aiming for around 7:30 a mile, as this would be necessary if I wanted to beat my personal best of 1:38:40, which i interestingly enough ran in Calgary in March duringRun for L’Arche. We had hit the first “hill” at around mile 3, and it wasn’t that bad. I have mentioned before that hills have become my friends (in shorter races like this) because as long as I know I will be going downward eventually, I can truck my way up. And since I don’t listen to music when I run, this is the only time I actually “sing” to myself during a race. No, I don’t sing out loud, but I get a song (sometimes a weird one) in my head and go through it at the cadence my feet are going, keeping my head forward. I will admit, and you may want to admit me to a psych ward after reading this, but I went through the song “The Perfect Nanny” from Mary Poppins. Why? Because you can basically talk through the words, and I know all of them. Whatever, it got me up the hill just fine, and it got my up the latter two also!

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Miles 5-8 went pretty well too. At 10km, I was at approximately 45:55, which was on pace for a personal best, as long as I didn’t screw up. There was a point after mile 6.5 where I couldn’t see many people in front of me due to the turns on the path, so I think it slowed me up mentally a tad. You can see that in the time at mile 7, but thankfully, I picked it up on mile 8.

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Mile 9-10 are notoriously the toughest for me during a half marathon. This is the make or break it area. I was still feeling super solid, my stomach wasn’t acting up, and my legs felt strong. Right before mile 9, I hit the major hill. You can see that in the map below, where it curves red. I knew this split would be slower, but I didn’t know by how much. The fact that I kept mile 9 at around 8:00 minutes per mile makes me super proud. It was after the top of that hill that I started talking to a guy I caught up with, Chad. I asked him if that was the last major hill and he assured me YES! I told him what I was going for time wise, and he acknowledged that I was right on target. Since no one else was right next to us, I decided to try and pace with him.

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Chad helped me TONS during the final 3 miles. He did lie to me though-sort of. That wasn’t really the last hill! There was one more pedestrian bridge we needed to cross to get over a freeway! It was a switchback sort of climb, and wasn’t too bad, but it came right after mile 11. Once I made it up and over that, and my average pace was still on at 7:30, I knew I could get my best time. As we got closer to the finish, we had now joined up with the 10km runners, so the energy in the race crowd had picked up a bit. More spectators were around the final mile or so, and this helped motivate me. The race ended with entering the athletic park and running about 300 metres on the track. As I reached my last straightaway, I knew my personal best was all but written in pen, and I pushed hard to keep it under that magic number of 1:38. I finished with an official time of 1:37:54!

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I had a huge cheesy smile on my face after finishing. My right leg was also trembling, not because I felt woozy, but because I was so damn excited. I broke my personal best, got the redemption I wanted from the city of Calgary, and did it all while it was close to 75 degrees and increasingly getting warmer. This gave me a huge boost of confidence for my training and running the rest of this summer, as I usually don’t do well in warm weather. Another funny thing about this new personal best is that I beat my last time by 46 seconds, but it was also 68 degrees warmer! No, that is not a typo—it was honestly 7 degrees Fahrenheit in March when I ran my 1:38:40.

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The medal for this race was fun, as it reminds me of a sheriff badge, and it is on a bolo tie. Definitely a fun medal for this theme of a race. I also did really enjoy the shirts we got in our race package, which were lavender for women and orange for men. They are a fitted Mizuno shirt with v-neck, and I will definitely be wearing it to train in, which is great. The race package itself was full of goodies, like coffee from Kicking Horse, and Honey Stinger products.

This great swag made up for my other race complaint (In addition to the confusing morning), and that is in regards to the “Stampede Breakfast” we all received a ticket for. When I finished my half, I received a bottle of water, and eventually made my way up to where the food was. I did this about 15 minutes after I finished, as I needed to walk around a bit, pick up my bag, etc. Now, I had finished fast, so you’d think the line for food would be small. But I did not take into account the people who did the 5km and 10km. They were all finished and all in line. You could tell these were the events they ran by looking at the color of their race bibs. The line went from the entrance to the food pickup all across the bleachers in front of the track. And it was moving SLOW. Since it was a pancake breakfast, it wasn’t just a standard grab a banana and chocolate milk and go. It was frustrating that I couldn’t just grab a piece of fruit or a juice, but would have to wait in this giant line behind everyone and anyone who did the 5km and 10km. I don’t even like pancakes, but I did want that sausage I saw on plates. Oh well, I thought about it for one minute and decided to bail and hit the road, picking up breakfast in the way. I gave my ticket to someone already in line and made the short trek back to my car.

So that was the Stampede Road Race. Would I recommend this race to someone? Sure, if you live in Calgary or were going to be there the night before. I do not recommend doing what my crazy self did and drive two hours there, race, and drive two hours back. You’d think I would have learned my lesson from Millarville, but I didn’t. If I was to do this race again, I would look into staying with a friend the night before, and then possibly only doing the 10km. The route was fantastic and the swag was great, but the morning confusion and the post-race food frustration for half marathoners was, well, frustrating. This race will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was my 20th half marathon, and as I set another milestone with breaking 1:38!

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