Monthly Archives: September 2013

Evening Pondering

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I didn’t get to write my Sunday entry yesterday due to being on the road with Erin, heading back from our Spartan Beast/Sprint/Trifecta adventure. That entry will hopefully come next week, as I hope all pictures are posted by then. But we had an amazing race weekend—-one of a kind! And after spending two nights and 20+ hours in a car with Erin, I feel like I can refer to her not as my husband’s cousin, but my cousin. (Much like she did towards me as she took photos of me winning a beer chugging contest!)

On a different side….I turn 29 in 2.5 hours. Well, technically my birthday is October 1st at 2:03 pm. But for ease of understanding, I turn 29 at midnight. And I honestly don’t think the 29 will hit me. Yeah, it’s another year older…but this past year has been a roller coaster of emotions, and I am hitting my 29th birthday while on an euphoric high I have never been on before…and I want it to keep going for my last year of my twenties.

What am I getting at tonight? Nothing really, just a small ramble and musing at all the things that have been happening lately to make my entrance into the last year of my 20s a grand one. I look forward to what 29 has to bring, as 28 taught me a lot about the important things in life.

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Exciting Things in the Next 50 Days!

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So the school year is officially in full swing, and any teacher would agree with me that the days are crazy busy, and the nights just bring full-on exhaustion. I have been doing well with sticking to my training plans, and also staying busy during the week so I can go away on the weekends and run some ridiculous races!

This coming weekend on September 28th and 29th, I will be competing in the Spartan Beast and Sprint at Sun Peak Resort in British Columbia. Upon completion of the Beast on Saturday, which is a half marathon filled with obstacles on the ski hill, I will earn the coveted Trifecta Tribe Medal, as I will have completed one of each Spartan Race distances (Sprint, Super & Beast) in one calendar year, in one country. And since Erin and I will have driven all that way, we are doing the Sprint on Sunday!

During Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I will be participating in my first ever relay trail race, the Grizzly Ultra in Canmore, Alberta. The total race distance is 50km, but I am responsible for just Leg 1, which is 14 km. I stepped in as a late addition to a team due to someone dropping out. One of my Dopey Challenge Training Crew members on Facebook asked if I was interested in helping out! After checking out the website, I had to sign up!

And then in November, I have my first RunDisney event, the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. It will be a quick three nights in Orlando, with Saturday night being the exciting night race of the half! We will end at EPCOT where an after party occurs until 4 am, with all the food and wine expo booths open, live entertainment, and select attractions open!

As a reminder, my fundraising efforts are still in full swing, and you can check out more by clicking the charities tab at the top of this page. I have raised $1,125 for the American Heart Association and $1,005 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation in Canada. All these funds are being raised in memory of my father, Andrew Lammers, who passed away from a heart attack at age 51 in 2004. If you are able to, please consider donating to heart disease research efforts in North America!

Keep checking back to this page over the next few months, as I will have more race recaps posted from not only the highlighted events above, but other small races I have planned. This will all lead up to my culminating event of a lifetime, the Dopey Challenge 2014 during the Walt Disney Marathon Weekend!

Race Recap-LRPS Half Marathon…Finding Motivation Where You Least Expect It!

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The Lethbridge Regional Police Half Marathon for Special Olympics was held on Saturday, September 14th, 2013. They were hosting a 5km and 10km in addition to the half marathon. All events started at the Lethbridge Lodge on Scenic Drive, and all ended down at the police firing range in the river bottom.

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Dan came with me to the start if the race to catch a few snapshots of the start. It started a little later than the 8:00 time. It was amusing to me, as it was being organized by all the police officers, and the main issue with starting on time was making sure the entrance and exit from the Tim Horton’s on Scenic Drive was blocked so the runners could go by. We didn’t need to be hit by some crazy folks getting their double-doubles!

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All three event distances ran together from the start until you hit the Lynx Trail on Scenic. The 5km and 10km turned down the steep descent, and the half trucked onward. This was when I hit mile 1 and realized that yet again, I was going too fast. My second mile slowed down so much, and ended up being my slowest split of the whole race. I had to get with the program, otherwise I would be lucky to even finish the race in sub-2 hours.

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As I was running next to the cemetery on Scenic, an old man tinkered past me—-I heard his steps coming my way, and as he got in front of me he said “nice pace!” He was decked out in short-short running shorts, a red and yellow marathon race sleeveless shirt with French writing, and a buff on his head. I started talking to him….his name is Barney, he has been running for 40 years, and he is in his upper 60s. I started running with Barney as we headed down into the Sugar Bowl, and the conversation we were having was fantastic. I started picking up my pace, and so did he, as we ran down the green strip to South Parkside Drive. Found out that the shirt he was wearing was from a marathon in France, where the goals as not to run your best time, but to stop at as many places as possible on the course and drink wine. He finished that one in 6:15, and was a little boozy by the end.

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As we ran down Parkside Drive, another older man named Graham came up behind up. Barney knew him, and it turns out Graham is sort of a running icon in the running circle of Lethbridge. Graham is a little younger than Barney, and had moved from England to Lethbridge 30 years ago. Barney told us to keep on pushing and to go ahead of him. He thanked me for running with him all that time, as did I. Graham and I headed into Henderson Lake, where we ran together around the lake and chatted. He told me how my form was fantastic and so was my breathing. When he found out I was only 28, he also talked about how I have my whole life ahead of me to reach my running peak and potential—-that most women distance runners who compete in half marathons and more are their best in their mid 30s to 40s. After we got out the park and onto 9th Ave South, he told me to pushed ahead and he would be right behind—-his goal was for around 1:50, but he also said that at his age, just finishing is a goal in itself.

Miles 9-10 are usually my hardest spots in a half. This race made those miles feel like nothing, as a natural decline in the neighborhood kept my stride smooth. We now hit up to the Lynx Trail and it was our turn to go down to the river bottom. This trail is about 3/4 a mile, with a pretty steep decline, that if you’re not careful, you’ll ruin your quads. I barreled down to the river bottom and now I only had 5 km left.

The last 5 km was tough, due to the fact it is so windy down on those trails, and the spacing between competitors was far enough apart you could not see anyone behind or in front of you. It felt as if you were running alone, your own race. I was realizing I was getting really close to possibly running my fastest race ever. This motivated me to keep on trucking through, past Helen Schuler Nature Centre, and down past Fort Whoop-Up and Indian Battle Park. As you finished the race following the trail near the dirt bike park, you could see the fork in the road and then the finish. I went up a small incline, and then the goal was on sight! Down the gravel road, I finished in at 1:46:42, a whole 40 seconds faster than my previous best of 1:47:22 in Red Deer this May!

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I wandered into the park area, only to see Graham come in one minute later, at 1:47:41! He came over and gave me a huge high five and handshake, thanking me for pushing him. Then Barney came in at 1:50:27! Seriously, these men are in a class of their own, and it am so grateful I got to run with them during this race. It is a good thing that I was hitting a wall around mile 3 when Barney decided to pass me, because I had some of the best race conversations ever while running the LRPS Half Marathon. Thank you Barney and Graham for being a huge inspiration!

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Red Deer Super Spartan-Race Recap. “Have I Gone Batshit Crazy?”

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My husband and I headed up to his old stomping grounds of Red Deer, Alberta, on Friday, September 6th, for the Red Deer Super Spartan which would be held the following day. The weather report was grim—-rain, showers, clouds, unseasonably cool weather. As we drove from Lethbridge to Red Deer, we could see the clouds making faces at us, and the lovely downpour that greeted us between Airdrie and Red Deer made us a tad concerned how we would fair the next day.

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We headed out to Heritage Ranch at 8 am Saturday morning. I have ran near here during the Red Deer Half Marathon, but never through all the horse trails. Heritage Ranch was a short 10 minute drive from Dan’s parents’ place, and it is quite an odd location—-we came in through a newer neighborhood and parked on the street, walked to where the check-in would be and it was all RIGHT THERE. Imagine if you looked out your bedroom window and you saw half-naked, spandex-clad soon-to-be-muddy people, heard ridiculously loud belongs-at-a-crossfire-gym music, and witnessed mass confusion of mobs of people at package pickup….that was the Red Deer Super Spartan at 8:20 am.

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Dan and I had never been to a Spartan this early in the morning, and the area was so congested that it didn’t help the situation. We met up with his cousin Erin and us three waited in line for about 25 solid minutes. Some times it was very frustrating as you saw volunteers not being able to check people in or find their names….there was no packet pickup offered the night before so I think that was most of the issue. Once we had our bibs and packages, the rest was pretty smooth. We took turns going to the marking station to get our number put on us in marker, while the others held line for bag check….got to use the porta potty once…check out the finish line area (where they put the rope climb as basically the LAST obstacle! Ugh!) and then it was only ten minutes until our 9:30 start!

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Because of how Heritage Ranch is set up, you literally could only see the start and finish area of the course, and you had no clue what to expect on the course. When the countdown finished and we set off, we barreled through some very narrow horse trails. Some of the first obstacles we hit were the over/under/through wall, stacked bales of hay that we had to crawl over, buckets of soil we had to load and carry, and even some naturally occurring horse poop!

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My biggest achievement in this race was finally being able to complete the monkey bars. My last two Spartan races I slipped off almost immediately, and pretty much psyched myself out of being able to do it. Since Dan scurried across real quick, Erin and I stood there a moment before starting. Erin is not tons taller than myself, but her arm span is ridiculous. She started and got her momentum and went three bars at a time! I started and was just doing one at a time, but once I saw her ahead doing the three, I got some momentum myself and double-barred it to the end. I was so pumped when I jumped off it just fired me up!

The trail running was challenging, but having Erin be our leader most of the race was really helpful. She thrives during trail races and is used to running with the exposed roots, rocks, uneven surface. You couldn’t see any obstacles from inside the thick covering of trees so every time you spilled out of the woods, you were greeted with a surprise. One of the surprises was not just muddy water to walk through, but a 40 foot body of water we had to swim across, which I would describe as a cross between a creek and a small river. It was fairly calm, but the idea of not having your feet be able to touch the bottom was new! They did have life jacket provided if someone needed it. Dan opted to use a regular front stroke, while I just doggy-paddled across. Erin got a little freaked out once submerged, but then made her way over.

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Sooner than we expected, we had reached the finishing obstacle area. The mud wall to climb over was extra tough this time due to the ropes being absolutely covered in sludge. Erin and I both had to do burpees at the rope climb, so when Dan finished it successfully, he told him to finish ahead of us. He did not have to do burpees as an obstacle punishment at all this course, which is a first, since he usually fails the spear throw. Erin and I finished together with a jump over the fire, finishing with a time of 1:27:46, covering a distance of 13km!

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We really enjoyed this course, and had a fantastic time running it. The longer distance was an advantage for me over Dan, since 13km is a normal distance for me to run. This allowed there to be larger spaces and breaks in between obstacles, so I was able to get into a good stride multiple times. So what is next? Well…Erin and I are 99% sure we are registering for the Spartan Beast in Sun Peaks, BC, on September 28th. We have gotten addicted…some may say we have drank the kool-aid—and upon completion of the Beast, I would join the Trifecta Tribe. Have I gone batshit crazy yet? Maybe. But I am having the time of my life!

Diagnosis—Race Envyitis

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My husband’s cousin Erin came down to Red Deer, Alberta, from Edmonton this weekend to participate in the Super Spartan Race with us. She wasn’t registered for the event until early last week, but she knew for some time I was. Reason why she ended up signing up for it, in her words, was RACE ENVY!

If you have run lots of races, or just are getting into racing, you may have experienced Race Envy before. Race Envy is when you are jealous of someone else running in a race you haven’t been able to do yet. It may be a race you never even considered running before. It may be a distance you never have ran yet. The point is, someone you know is running in an event that you aren’t, and you want part of it.

Erin is a long distance trail runner who has participated in some crazy runs, like the Grizzly Ultra and Sinister 7. She also has run two full marathons, and qualified for Boston at the Red Deer Marathon by just getting under 3:35:00! I wrote about this in my race recap of the event, and you can read about it here: Red Deer Race Recap. She had never done a Spartan Race before, but heard all about mine and Dan’s experiences down in Montana in May and in Calgary last month. She got jealous and had to take part.

I’m glad she did get that hot case of Race Envy because having her run the 8 mile (13 km) with us really pushed me. I will write up about the race soon, once I have all the race photos, but her trail racing experience really helped kick it up a notch for Dan and I. And Erin had a great time too!

After the race, I started thinking more about her statement about having Race Envy. I thought back to everyone running the Disneyland Half Marathon last week and all the Dumbo Double Dare runners. I definitely had race envy then, because I realistically could have gone to run it if I had thought of it soon enough, as I wouldn’t have missed any school. I am already thinking of registering for it next year, as I am envious of the Coast to Coast medals. Since I am doing Dopey Challenge in January, if I want one of those prized Coast to Coast medals then 2014 is my year.

Last night we hung out with my brother in law and sister in law. She also did the Spartan Race that day and we started talking about doing a Spartan Beast next year, which is 20km or more. Then we started talking about making sure to do a Sprint, Super AND Beast in 2014, so we can earn the Trifecta medal. And then, maybe because I was about 7 beers into the evening, I started conjuring in my head if I could possibly get to Sun Peaks, British Columbia, on September 28th to do the Beast there and get my Trifecta medal this year. This Race Envy is also a mix of Bling Envy, and those two combinations are deadly.

I’m sure I will have a case of Race Envy again myself, and I am positive Erin will too. Us runners are always wanting to try something new and different, earn a sweet medal, run a race no one else we know has tried, or even be the first of our core group to complete something. Have you ever had a case of Race Envy, or are you recovering from Race Envy?

School has Begun, Motivation is High…How is Dopey Going to Fit in….?

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People who are on here who have not met me in real life may not know I am a high school math teacher. School officially started for students today in most places across Alberta, and many spots in North America. We all know that the start of school brings new beginnings. It brings excitement….motivation….spirit….and for me, it also got me wondering how I am going to manage to do all I strive to do in the classroom & my school, manage my Dopey Challenge Training along with other scheduled races, keep somewhat sane, and not drive my husband completely nuts in the process.

I am a teacher who puts her time in during the summer. I do this so come fall, I can start off with at least some sanity and peacefulness of what is going on. Or at least what I want to go on. A false security that I am prepared maybe! But, even if I plan a whole new unit ahead of time, three units ahead, a whole course…things come up and changes have to be made. Work and lessons often need to be adjusted. I keep telling myself the importance of time management this semester is going to be key, as after my day at school, I need to make sure I am prepared for the following days of class….thing is, I can’t work solely on school work non-stop 24/7. It doesn’t work like that. If anyone did tha, you would turn all types of crazy.I need to head off on my run.

But, here is the thing: I am afraid that at first I will be feeling guilt about these runs. Even though I set myself a 5 pm limit to staying at the school doing school work each night and an 8 pm limit marking papers at home, if I feel like there is something to work on, I may feel guilt about going on that run. But I know eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, once on the run I will realize how much of a release it is. Running has kept me calm and sane through so many tough times. It is the best therapy, even after your hardest day. This Dopey Challenge training may actually help me keep a sane mind during my heavy-loaded semester…

I spent this whole last weekend following everyone and everything in regards to the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. Watching the videos online, looking at the photos of the race itself and all of the sweet bling handed out, reading the blogs, getting in on the discussion via social media… I got excited, pumped up, motivated, spirited….all the same feelings I get for the start of school. Now I just have to make those feelings and emotions in running work with the feelings and emotions of the school year, and most importantly, keep them in balance. So here’s to being motivated for the school year and being motivated to earning some major RunDisney bling!

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Race Recap-Edmonton Half Marathon

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I ran my first Edmonton Half Marathon two years ago in August 2011. It was a disaster. I had been on vacation (to Disney World, duh) and gotten back on a Friday night. I headed up to Red Deer for a night with the in laws, then to Edmonton Saturday to spend time with Dan’s cousin. Sunday was race day, and all the lovely vacation food and beverage that was still in my system messed with my capability to run the race well, thus running it in 2:34:09. A disaster.

So when I registered for all my races this year, I naturally ignored history and signed up for Edmonton again. It was originally slated to be run on August 18th, two days after I would return from my 16 days in Disney World—–familiar set up, right? Well, race organizer had to switch the race to a week later due to a scheduling conflict, so I had a little over a week from my return from Disney to prepare mentally for this race.

For my stateside friends, or people generally unfamiliar with Canadian geography, Edmonton is the capital of Alberta (not Calgary), and is located about 5 hour north of Lethbridge, a little south of centre of the Province. Everything else North of Edmonton is a lot of space….national parks, oil fields, etc.
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So onto the race itself. Well, first, the expo. Rumor was that the race organizers were having trouble dealing with Northlands (the start/finish line sponsors, huge exhibition grounds) this year, as this is why the original date got switched, due to a scheduling conflict. Also, the expo and packet pickup was usually at Northlands Park, an incredibly easy to access location. It got switched to a hotel in downtown Edmonton, conveniently located in the middle of construction. It was a nightmare to get to. My friend Kelly and I managed to find our way there, but didn’t spend too much time at the expo. Kelly started running half marathons just in the past 9 months or so, and trains with a group from The Running Room in Edmonton, so she saw a lot of people she knew there—a few of the people she runs with were the Pace Bunnies for race day.

Before leaving the expo, we also bought our parking pass, which did not allow in-out privileges. This was by no fault of the race organizers, but this was Northlands adding something else to charge people up the ass for. I know for a fact two years ago I did not pay for parking. I paid for parking in Calgary, but that race was downtown with limited space, and you had to be at the Stampede Grounds before 6 am to get into parking….so that seemed acceptable. If we didn’t buy the $5 pass that day it would have been $12 on Sunday. Ridiculous. But, we needed it so our husbands could come back and watch us at the finish.

The morning of the race offered excellent race temperatures. I actually had to wear a short sleeved shirt instead of just a tank top! Kelly and I were both a little slow going in the morning, as we had the bright idea the day before to go to the West Edmonton Mall indoor watermark. Probably not a great pre-race quest, but we had a blast and its not like we are champions or something! Anyway, got dropped off at Northlands around 7 am, with plenty of time to use the restrooms, stretch, and get prepared for our 8 am start. The full marathon started at 7:30 am, and we viewed it from inside the Northlands race track building.
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The Edmonton course is always billed as “fast and flat” and our shirts stated this too. The total elevation change in the entire half marathon course is a whopping 12 meters. This is what actually got me nervous as we waited to start, since in all fairness, anyone used to the general high elevation in Alberta should be rockin’ this course. But, we saw two years ago, you can self-destruct at any time.
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We made the mistake of not getting down the the start chute until the last 9 minutes. There was no way I could get up farther in the pack to where I wanted to be (in between the 1:45 and 1:50 Pace Bunny). So after the gun went off, I spent the first half a mile of the race slowly making my way through the pack. The race was an out and back course, that led us into Chinatown and downtown Edmonton, then through some gorgeous neighborhoods, and back. Below is the course map, and it is similar, if not identical, to the one two years ago.
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I have lamented this before, but the one thing I really struggle with is a consistent pace. And this race was no different, in that I start out faster than my average pace should end up being, and I do this for about 5 km. I then start to slow down to where I ideally want my pace to be, but end up going way slower for miles 7-10 than I want. I hit my half marathon wall of frustration at around mile 9. It is always my slowest. I have ran enough in my life I should be able to know what 8:15 min/mi feels like and stick with it, but I am still working on it. Also, I forgot my Nike Sportwatch in Lethbridge, so I had to use the Nike+ app on race day, which I do have to say is awesome, but since I had my phone in my fuel belt pocket, I didn’t have a visual to look at, just the voice cues.

With my complaints about my pace, when I get to the last 3 miles I can always put on a smile and know the end is near. I haven’t fully decided if I like out-and-back courses better than a route that is all different, but it is nice going back over something you did earlier that morning, and being able to picture how much further you have left. Since I am not from Edmonton and don’t visit often, it is not like I know the area and landmarks well, but since I ran past the beautiful overlook of the river at about 2.5 miles, when I returned past it I knew I didn’t have much to go! I rounded into Northlands and was able to see my husband and Kelly’s husband behind one of the gates. I think Dan, my hubby, was surprised to see me actually finish in a decent time, given the vacation the first half of the month and our day at the waterpark. My chip time when finishing ended up being 1:51:58, which is my second best half marathon time ever! A far cry from the 2:34:09 two years prior! I conquered Edmonton!

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After receiving my medal and some water, I trekked back to the Northlands entrance so I could watch for Kelly. I highly recommend anyone who finishes a race and feels up to it, to go back and cheer on some fellow runners as they finish. I know I appreciate as a runner having the cheers from strangers. And I could tell that many runners enjoyed having those words of encouragement, and me telling them its just a “right turn and a left turn into the finish line!” It was also neat because as I was walking out to watch for Kelly, runners who were coming in to finish were congratulating me for already being done—it was pretty neat. Kelly came in and set a PR for herself, finishing at 2:11:50! There were 1719 participants in the half, with 998 of them women! Kelly finished 417/998 in our gender, and I was 114/998.
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I had a great time at the Edmonton Half Marathon, and would consider doing to again, as the course is gorgeous, it really is fast and flat, and it is a great race location since we have family and friends to visit. This really could be a PR course for me if I trained for it in mind, so I might set my sights on that next August, since I won’t be doing as many races as this year.

(Also, I got to meet quickly with one of my fellow Dopey Challenge runners who is part of the same Dopey Training Group as me on Facebook! Saskia lives in Calgary, and we were able to meet up after finishing the Edmonton Half! It was great meeting you and hopefully you do come down for the Lethbridge Police Half Marathon in two weeks! Otherwise, see you in January!)