All 11 RunDisney medals I have earned from November 2013-now. Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Dopey Challenge and now Dumbo Double Dare. This was what the last year and a half has been all about. Disney was and still is such an important place for my family. Running is such an important part of my life. Being able to mesh them both together in memory of my dad has been the best therapy ever. I love you dad.
When I wrote my first blog post on January 6th, 2013, I stated some information about who I was, what I was about, and what I was planning on doing over the course of the next year.
In those initial purpose and goal statements, running a Boston Qualifying race time was never an initial goal. I ran more races than I ever had before, I raised money for a cause important to my heart. I even started breaking my own personal best times and realized I could become a contender in my own right. I went and achieved all my original goals. The thought of Boston came after I completed the Walt Disney Full Marathon in January in 3:50:52. It was a late-in-the-game goal. I figured I might as well try.
As you know from my post yesterday, I didn’t achieve that goal. But, as you also know from that post, I am not going to let it get me down and ruin me. I think back to everything I have been able to complete and achieve this past year and it makes me smile. It makes me happy. And being happy is the most important thing to me right now.
Tonight, I head out California where I will be participating in something else that wasn’t in the original plan. I am participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, and partaking in the “Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.” Not as daunting as the “Dopey Challenge“, but still challenge enough, I will run 19.3 miles over the course of two days: A 10km on Saturday (with my best friend Ali-her first 10km ever!), and a half marathon on Sunday. Upon completion, I will not only receive the gorgeous Dumbo Double Dare medal, but I will also be the proud owner of the Disney Coast 2 Coast medal. I will have completed two RunDisney events of a half marathon or longer on both coasts in one calendar year.
I didn’t plan on this when I first started my blog. But, plans change. The Boston challenge was a stressful, demanding one. I could have really let that get me down after not getting in at both Calgary Full Marathon in June and in Edmonton Marathon this past Sunday. But I didn’t. And now come the exciting change, that helps me bring this back to what it was all about. It says so right at the top of my page:
Running, Disney World & Dad….How do they connect together? Follow my journey this year to find out.
It has now been well over a year since I first started that journey. If you have been following me since then, I think you may better realize how they all connect. I know I have a deeper understanding myself. I am looking forward to doing this race weekend in Disneyland not only for myself, for my best friend, for my family members, but most importantly, for my dad. If he could see me smiling running through Disneyland, that would be more important to him, even now as I near the age of 30, than me making Boston.
I love you Dad. Je me souviens.
This past Sunday I participated in the Edmonton Marathon. I had signed up for this event in hopes to qualify for Boston, as I failed to in June at Calgary. I felt better trained and prepared; my head was in the game. And the weather, other than the mugginess, was perfect-it did not feel like an August day! Starting race temps were around 50 F, and only got up to just above 60 F. However, this story did not have the exact fairy-tale ending I was hoping for….
Here’s the story.
My husband and I headed up to Edmonton Saturday morning. We had stayed in Red Deer the night before so this drive was relatively short, compared to the 5.5 hour straight drive from Edmonton back home to Lethbridge would be come Sunday. After checking in to our hotel (Coast Plaza Edmonton) we walked the ½ mile to the Shaw Conference Center where packet pick up was. This was a new location this year, and the facility was very nice. I don’t know if it was crowded the first day of pickup, but by Saturday at 2:00 pm the place was dead. Not tons to look at either. I picked up my race bib, got my shirt, and back to the hotel to get things settled.
I made a plan with my husband of spots for him to try to be at during the race. I focused a lot on the second half of the course, as that would be when I would really need the help. I had pasta for dinner, laid out my clothes and food items for the morning and went to bed around 9:00 (didn’t fall asleep until 10:00).
We walked back to the Shaw Conference Center that morning, as the start and finish lines were located here. I felt mentally and physically set for the challenge ahead. After kissing my husband, and my dog Snoopy, good-bye I filed in to the starting corral near the 3:30 pacer. I knew I had to start of strong and find my pace quickly, so when the race began, off I went. I got into a great groove and I was feeling positive about my pace. My first five miles clocked in at 7:41, 8:04, 7:52, 8:10, and 8:03. I was more than set!
I had seen my cousin Erin and her friend about mile 3, and that was a great boost of energy. I had been hoping to see my husband at mile 7 or 8, but he was nowhere to be found. After we did the turn-around, he still wasn’t there. I was still doing great at my pace, running miles 6-9 in 7:51, 7:55, 8:13, and 7:58, but I needed a familiar face. The course is indeed flat, but you are curving through some neighborhoods quite a bit, and the streets aren’t lined up with spectators. I started getting a leg cramp in my right leg (the leg that hasn’t been causing me issues!) and there was a pain in my IT band area. I tried to avoid thinking about it.
I finally made it on a busier street, heading back towards the downtown Edmonton core, when I spotted Dan, Snoopy and Erin. This was a huge boost that I needed at that point to bring me to the halfway! I was still on track, though the pain was still there. I told Dan I needed pretzels and more Nuun tablets the next time I saw him, and off I went. Miles 10-13 were 8:05, 8:07, 8:15, and 8:16. I was beginning to slip, but I was still on pace.
Miles 14-17 was when my mind started going. In my head, I wanted to keep going for that 8:00 minute mile pace. I was telling myself to go get it, but I started to waiver in my pace consistency. It was like what happened in Calgary at the start, but was happening now. Miles 14-17 were 8:00, 8:27, 8:25, and 8:10. I still was on pace to be under 3:35:00, but no longer under 3:30:00. I could do it, and I felt pretty proud of my mile 17 time, because that was the mental mile I needed to get past. The pretzels I had received from Dan during these miles helped, however, they couldn’t make me fly…
Mile 18-22 were a struggle, but it was at mile 21 that I just became unglued. I knew I wouldn’t quit, but I realized that as each mile passed, Boston was slowly slipping away. Miles 18-22 were ran in 8:31, 8:28, 8:21, 8:42, and 9:41. Those miles began after I saw Dan, Snoopy and Erin for the 3rd time, and as I ran by I yelled “I need you to run with me.” Neither of them had a chance to get out there and help me at that point, and I don’t think it would have done any good. I knew with how the route was, I would be looping back over to where they were stationed, so I hoped one would join me for the home stretch. Running through those neighborhood loops with my legs tightening up and being alone was extremely tough. When I made it back that way, I had about 4 miles left to run. I was hurting. Bad. Dan joined in with me as I was running, and he really thought I had a chance to still get Boston. If my legs weren’t in the pain they were in, I could have potentially made up time. But I was slowly coming to the realization that my body just wouldn’t let me do that.
Dan ran with me the rest of the race. In his blue jeans. And brown North Face canvas shoes. I use the term ‘run’ loosely because we had to walk at points, I had to stop at points, and I gimped at points. He kept telling me I couldn’t quit—I wasn’t going to quit. I was going to finish. As I realized Boston was gone, I did also come to the realization I could still get a personal best. It would be close, but I could.
I managed to get my last mile back under 10 minutes, which helped me get in to the finish at 3:44:59, beating my previous best by 1 minute and 23 seconds. Those final four miles were run in 10:50, 10:21, 11:30 and 9:50. I never full out lost it with tears that day, but as I came in to the finish my eyes swelled. I was thinking about my training, about this race, about how much my legs hurt, about how close my time had been to the correct pace, about the last 2 years of running, about my dad…There was so much going through my head. Sure, I didn’t make the time I had come out to get, but I had calmly talked to Dan as we jogged the last 4 miles that I would be OK with it. I think he was actually surprised how calm I was, how I wasn’t throwing a fit. Four years ago, when I was still all out of sorts about personal losses in my life, I would have lost it. But I am in a better place now.
This wasn’t a true failure or defeat, though. I did not ‘lose.’ Hell-I got a personal best! I’ll take that any day of the week! As for Boston-Boston will always be there; I have the rest of my life to qualify for it. I will qualify for Boston and run in Boston someday. I will, I can promise you that. It just didn’t work out in the cards this weekend that I would be running in 2015.
The full marathon is a different type of beast, and it’s very hard to tame. They have a mind of their own. I can barely move today, and my body feels like it is just shut down. I want to curl up in fetal and sleep for 24 hours. I am going to continue with my half marathons, 10 km races, Spartan Races, and other distances I can find. Maybe I’ll do another full marathon in the near future, but it won’t be for a Boston attempt at this time. There would have to be a special reason for me to sign up to do the 26.2 miles again anytime soon. I will keep searching out new races in the area to support and try, and also keep heading back to my old favorites. I am also hoping to get more people into the act of running, because it is something EVERYONE can do. I love coaching cross country, I love getting kids excited about long-distance running, and I love getting friends and family members involved who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have. Running makes me happy, even when I am in as much pain as I am after doing 26.2 miles. The pain I feel in my body is worth it, because if I didn’t keep running, I would be in more pain than this.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
UPDATE FROM TUESDAY, AUGUST 19
Pictures! Just a few!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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!