Monthly Archives: October 2013

One Little Spark…..

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As my upcoming Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon nears closer, I thought I would share a flashback photo from 20 years ago. I have always been an EPCOT fan, and there are many Disney Parks’ fanboys who love classic, retro EPCOT. For my trip next week, I am especially looking forward to being back at Yacht Club, an EPCOT resort, and being there for not just the half marathon but also for the final week of Food & Wine Festival! I love being near EPCOT and at EPCOT as much as possible every time I visit Walt Disney World!

But before the Yacht Club and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the Food & Wine Festival….there was Figment. Figment is a character created by Disney Parks as a “mascot” of sorts for EPCOT, a park which was initially character free. I fell for Figment on our first trip in 1991. When we went back in 1993, I really wanted to meet Figment, and his partner Dreamfinder. It wasn’t until one of our last days that my mom figured out what time and where we would have to go in order to capture what is now considered by Disney fans’ a rare photo!
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Dreamfinder and Figment no longer are around for photos at EPCOT, and haven’t been for sometime. The Imagination Pavillion which was their original “home” has gone over changes the past years, and now Dreamfinder is no longer there. Long standing EPCOT fans can always hope for the day for Dreamfinder to make his return!

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Reevaluating my Training Calendar

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On August 19th, after my 16 day Disney extravaganza, I started following my official Dopey Training Calendar. Brian Darrow from Digital Running Club had outlined a sample basic calendar for members of our Facebook group (Dopey Training Crew) and he was nice enough to suggest to me which weeks to splice together, as I was starting it later than others and had more of a base of miles started. When the school year began, I had been signed up for the Super Spartan in Red Deer, Bare Bones Half in Lethbridge and the Wine & Dine Half in Disney. Three races during the school year and then Dopey to top it off in January seemed good!. But the I signed up for then Spartan Beast….and the Spartan Sprint the following day….and I got asked to be a relay member for the Grizzly Ultra in Canmore….and I signed up for the Lethbridge Claus Cause 10km….and I randomly just did a 10km for the University of Lethbridge Pre Med Club this past Saturday….

So my three races before Dopey turned into 8….

I have still been getting in my miles needed for my weekly totals. It has been tough due to the hectic nature of this school year, but I have made it work by juggling days in my calendar. Last week Sunday on the day for Bare Bones half, I was suppose to run 18 miles. So after the race, I ran home. It ended up being 5.5 miles back, but I made my weekly.

This week, though, my body started to hit a wall.

I have been taking every race I run seriously, and not used them as “training runs” but as competitions. My adrenaline has been going harder than ever before. For instance, at Bare Bones I knocked 5.5 minutes off my previous best time and rolled in at 1:41:07. I felt like a rock star after finishing and that feeling stuck with me as I ran home.

That feeling turned into immense pain in my hamstrings by morning.

The average person will train some months for their first race, and then take about a week or two off after to recuperate. If you take that race seriously at your race pace, you will undoubtedly feel like crap the next day, unlike after an easy 10 mile training jog.Feeling like “crap” after a successful race is good in my eyes, as it means I pushed myself enough. I admit, I haven’t taken days to rest after each race…..not like I should have at least. But I needed to keep building my mileage base since I will be competing a full marathon in January.

But the pain in my hamstrings Monday morning hit hard. I was going to run 5 miles that day but when I stepped outside to start the run, the first few steps hurt so bad. I readjusted the calendar. The 5 miles in Tuesday turned into 3 miles. Wednesday was 1 mile, Thursday was off, Friday was 5. My race on Saturday became just the race, not an additional 2 miles after to make that day 8. And today’s 18 miles just didn’t happen.

Am I failing myself now? No…but I need to take care of my body so I can make it to Dopey. I could have gone out and ran that 18 today….but I pushed hard yesterday at the Pre Med Hoof It 10km (got my PR with a 46:32!) and just have an overall exhaustion taking over my body from the work during the weekday. I slept a solid 12 hours last night, and I needed it. This morning I readjusted this next week and next weeks’ training days, as I will be prepping for Wine and Dine. I needed to incorporate more of a taper leading into Wine and Dine, as my friend gave me the go ahead to run in Corral A on my own and go for my best time (I hope to get into the 1:40s, and ultimately maybe under 1:40 into the world of the 30s!)

My goals with my races have evolved over the past months since starting. Back in April when I ran in Waukesha, Wisconsin, at the Trailbreaker Half all I wanted to do was break 1:54:19. I did that with a 1:52:53, and I have not looked back since. I went on this running and writing and fundraising journey to do something special in memory of my dad. I was always planning on running more races in one year than I ever had before. But I hadn’t planned on having the sheer drive to keep competing against my own personal bests and to keep on striving to improve. I am excited to see what the rest of 2013 brings with my upcoming races, and I am even more anxious to continue what I have started as I head into 2014!

Bare Bones Race Recap/Still in Shock/Training Pays Off/Didn’t Expect this Today/Love You Dad

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Today was without question the most successful race of my road race career. And I didn’t expect it to be.

Ok, first off, the last two days was spent with the WCHS Cross Country team up in Drayton Valley, Alberta, for Provincials. Don’t know where Drayton Valley is? Don’t worry—-bet most people don’t. It’s 6 hours north west of Lethbridge. And it’s small. Anyway, we took our six qualified athletes up Friday, they competed Saturday, drove them back last night, and got in at 11 pm. The kids had a great weekend, and us coaches were so proud of how they conducted themselves and how they ran.

But, I was worried about how the mixture of standing/running back and forth at the meet, plus the sitting in a bus for 6 hours each way, plus my still having a cold (and the fact I ate poutine from Wendy’s for dinner on Saturday) would effect my race on Sunday. When I got home at 11:30 pm, I was still wide awake, so I sort of unpacked and laid my race clothes out for the morning. Then I was still hungry and ate Brie cheese with Triscuits. And then I had a beer at midnight, because I always have beer the night before a race. OK, now you just know all my dirty secrets. But, please know I am not saying that drinking beer makes you run well. I just know how my system works and I have it set in my mind that I run better the next day if I drink beer the night before.

My 7 am alarm came fast. I ate my oatmeal, drank my coffee, taped up my quads with KT tape, got my hydration belt set, and off to Softball Valley I went. My husband dropped me off with about 20 minutes before race start of the Bare Bones Half Marathon. This is a small race benefitting the local humane society, and all race distances are canine friendly. The most popular is the 5km, then the 9km, and lastly the half marathon. Over 300 total participants in all three events, but only just above 60 in the half.
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The 9 am start came and off we went. The morning was absolutely gorgeous, and I got wrapped up right away with keeping a quick pace. I was passing people who had 9km bibs, and men with half marathon bibs were getting in their spots. At about half a mile, a very petite Asian woman passed me. And by petite, I mean 5 foot, about 95 pounds, but intimidating. Back to her later. My first mile was at 7:19. Crap. That’s way too fast. Mile two clocked in at 7:36. Then mile three was 7:32. Holy shit, what am I doing? I was going way too fast. But in my head I kept telling myself that since I actually felt great, to keep this up, because I knew that ridiculous hill up to Scenic Drive would slow me later.
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At the mile 4 turnaround, I slowed to 7:44. This is a mentally tough location, as you are in the river bottom and the trails turn every 20 feet. They wind so much that you can’t see anyone in front of you. I had no clue really how far the woman was in front of me, because before we looped back we had gone around a circular part….and when I came out of that loop she never ran towards me. I knew she was close.

I hit the hill, which I have now ran a few times during training and races, and knew I could not start walking. As I climbed the hill, I saw my competition walking. She was quite a bit ahead of me but she was speed walking up the hill. This gave me that extra push to keep going. I now have officially entered a competition between me and the 95 pound woman.

After getting onto Scenic Drive, what I am still amazed by is how I actually got my pace back on track. And I’m not saying this in a bragging way—-I honestly have no f’n clue how I did it. I have never ran this fast before in my life…but I was in a zone.

At a little past mile 7, we turned around and headed back north on Scenic Drive. I kept telling myself to stay on the inside curve when possible and that the downhill at just past mile 9 would feel fantastic. Mile 7, 8, and 9 were 7:58, 7:53 and 7:41, respectively. As I descended into the river bottom, I could still clearly see my competition, and I knew that getting a personal best was possible….just didn’t know by how much. The first thing I kept thinking about was dropping some time off my 1:46:42 best time solely so I had a better shot at getting Corral A at Dopey Challenge. As I thought this when I was going down the hill, I then immediately pictured my dad standing there telling me “You Got This!” I honestly kept replaying that as I rolled out onto the trail and into the last 5km.

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The last 5km is an area I know all too well, and have written about before. This is the part that slowed me down my last mile at the Police Half Marathon in September. The reason why I slowed down then was partly because 1) I was chatting with another runner and 2) after he passed me, I never cared enough to try to catch up.

Today I had a pace bunny ahead to get, and I saw her clear as day around every turn.

As we headed into our last mile and a half, one of the event organizers said this to a volunteer as we passed “lead female and number 2 right here.That was honestly the most amazing thing I have ever heard while running. I was number 2, and mentioned in the same utterance as the lead. I all of a sudden felt like one of the high school athletes from the day before as they were in the Nordic ski trails running the race of their life. I wanted to make the podium.

Sorry to say, but this isn’t the fairy tale ending you may be hoping for. No, I did not hover past my competition with ease, nor did she do something dramatic that caused me to win in the end. And no, as I crossed the finish line there were not people there to lift me up on their shoulders and pour champagne on me. But as her and I turned into Softball Valley and the finish line was straight ahead, I heard Erin from Runner’s Soul on her microphone say “Looks like we have our first female half marathon finisher coming on in…….and number 2 is right behind her!” They had binoculars to look up our bib number and name and as I heard her saying my name as I came in to finish, I didn’t care that I didn’t get 1st overall. I just didn’t have a care in the world—-I was so overcome with excitement that nothing else mattered.

My time was 1:41:07. 1:41:07!!!!!!!!. My last personal best was in September with a 1:46:42. I dropped basically 5 and a half minutes in five weeks. And last year when I did this same race, I ran a 1:57:32. I improved a whole 16 minutes since last year. I was just in reflective happiness mode and complete disbelief. How the hell did I manage to do this? This shouldn’t have happened today….my weekend was out of whack…this course had a terrible hill for 3/4 of a mile….how…was….this…possible?

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Later, my cousin Erin told me simply “It’s called training! Turns out it works!” And she’s right. Now, what I did or didn’t do the past 5 weeks didn’t magically allow me to run this time. It’s what I have been doing the past 10 years and more importantly how I have been busting my butt during 2013 with my runs. I have done so many races and also have been intrinsically motivated by my fundraising in memory of my dad and my pinnacle race of the Dopey Challenge. The distances and effort I have put in during my runs have paid off, and I am now seeing the results—-results I am not used to seeing. And I can’t believe are mine. But they are.

Running still is, in my mind, as much about physical ability as it is about mental strength. If someone is just a beginner runner, yes, they need the base and the mileage to get them going and ready for a race. But they also have to be mentally ready to handle any challenges they might face. I was in a mental rut for the last few years with my running and was doing it without any motivation or goal…it was just getting done. So I had to kick up both my physical, and mental game. Trust me…as much as I would like to say that this race was all about my athletic ability, it wasn’t that. It was about my mental ability to let myself go and push myself to my full potential.

I am still in a “can’t believe this happened” mode, and I’m going to be smiling for days now. And you better believe that after I showered, I sent my updated race info in to Disney for my new and improved proof of time for Dopey Challenge. Now let’s see if that 1:41:07 can get me Corral A in January!

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The Picture So Bad, it is Epic.

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Behold….20 years ago….almost year to the day….my second trip to Walt Disney World.

I was downstairs getting my carry-on bag from the closet for my trip tomorrow to Drayton Valley, Alberta, for Cross Country Provincials, when I found my Disney photo album I made some years ago filled with highlights.
This picture caught my eye.

Take note of the duel fanny packs my mom and I are rocking so casually. I have cords on my sunglasses. I am wearing a coordinated tank top and plaid shorts. And my dad……terrible Speedo tank top.

But this moment, as retched as it may look and laughable as it is now, it is priceless. I get to go to WDW in about 20 days for my first RunDisney race and in January I will go again for the race of my life, the Dopey Challenge. I will be able to run past this very spot during that half marathon and the full marathon.

Maybe I’ll wear a fanny pack.

Race Recap Part 2—Spartan Sprint Sun Peaks

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In continuation of my last post, I am now going to talk about day 2 of my British Columbia Spartan Race weekend! So where did I leave off…oh yeah….Erin and I drive 10.5 hours to Sun Peaks Resort, run a 3 and a half hour race in rain, sleet and blizzard conditions, attend an after party for too late, get about 4 hours of sleep….and now it’s Sunday at 7:45 am.

And we have the 8:30 Sprint heat. WTF were we thinking…..?!?

Well, again, we weren’t. But, we signed up for the Sprint because we figured since we were already out there, we might as well do both races. And Erin needed this race for her Trifecta Tribe race, so I decided to do it with her.

Weather was a lot better this morning than Saturday. It was very quiet at the starting area, and not until 8:25 did they start calling our heat into the chute. And before you knew it, we were off! The race started off on the same route as the Beast….but it hurt ten times more today! A handful of others around us were Beast competitors the day before, and they were feeling the pain too. I was also feeling the dehydration due to too many sponsored Coors Lights on Saturday…
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The obstacles and routes were pretty much the same as Saturday, though some terrain had changed over night, due to foot traffic and weather conditions. All the mud obstacles were especially gross, like the cinder-block pull, as the blocks were sunken into the ground and so were the ropes.

Erin and I were trying to bust through this course the fastest we could, so we could shower and be on the road. Sheer utter over-tiredness took me by storm at the barb-wire crawl, because at the end of it I laid in snow angel position and yelled “BLAH!” I had reached the end of my Spartan rope.

We did, however, accomplish some things today that we couldn’t the day prior. Both of us made it on the Traverse Wall, and we both successfully completed the Monkey Bars! Helped when they are not full of frozen rain!

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IWe finished the race strong, with a time of 1:32:14, and later found out the course was actually 7 km and then some, not the advertised 5km! Either way, we completed two Spartan Race distances in two days. And day 2 was as well-organized as day 1. The crowd and volunteers were outstanding, the workers were fantastic…and they brought us better weather the second go-around. Keep in mind, we also drove 21 hours in two days. And still had one of the best weekends of our life. Until next time…AROO!

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Race Recap-Day 1, Sun Peaks Spartan Beast

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A few weeks ago I had a post about “Race Envy.” Well…it struck again. Bad. After completing the Red Deer Super Spartan at the beginning of September, my husband’s cousin and I had the wise idea to drive out to British Columbia a few weeks later to compete in the Sun Peaks Beast. And the Sun Peaks Sprint. I mean, come on….just a mere 10.5 hours away was our chance to earn a Trifecta medal…and do something completely bad ass! We both got on the bandwagon, registered ourselves, and started the planning for our weekend adventure!

20131006-102534.jpgToday I am going to touch on our Spartan Beast experience, and in a later post i will talk about the Sprint. The weather for Sun Peaks was not looking promising for race day—-pretty much a chance of rain all day. And cold. And on race morning we found out there was a solid 15 cm of snow near the top of the ski hill we would be climbing. Hello September 28!

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We started in the 10:30 am heat. We were fired up and ready to go! The race started at the base of Mt. Tod, which is about 4,200 feet above sea level. We would be climbing up the mountain and back down during our 21km adventure, eventually totaling around 4,000 feet of climbing.

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While I have done Spartan Races before, this one provided challenges unlike any other. Basically, take the Montana Sprint and times it by 5, add in polar opposites of weather, and you have an idea of what we faced. There were the standard Spartan obstacles on the course, with the over-under-through being one of the first. The obstacles had to be strategically placed, as the trails we were running were mountain bike or hiking trails up the slope. The obstacles had to be placed in open areas that were relatively flat—-this was hard to come by. Some that could be placed in the trails, like the first rope net, were fun, but got backed up due to the narrowness of the course and the fact you couldn’t have more than one or two people attempt it at a time.

The weather was the biggest factor in the Beast. The higher we got, the more the weather turned. It started out just damp and slightly muddy. And at one point Erin and I did notice little patches of snow flurries at the base of some trees. No biggie. But then the ground started to become a horrendous mix of mud and snow, and then pretty soon just snow and ice. When we got to the Hercules Hoist, we had to climb up a little incline that was covered in fresh wet snow. We would not be messing around. I would dare say we reached blizzard conditions when we got to the highest point of the course, the sandbag carry.

20131006-102344.jpgDuring our descent, you had to go almost as slow as you did going up, due to footing issues, ice, snow and mud. Erin and I used her patented “McLaren Slide” to get down many of the narrow trails—-a squat down to the ground, with both hands anchored behind your butt, and your right leg extended as a guide. I got a sweet bruise almost immediately after sliding over a rock, but it was better than tumbling face first and ruining my whole septoplasty procedure!

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All in all, the race was incredible. Erin and I finished in a respectable time of 3:33:28. They had to shorten the course about 4 km due to the dangerous weather conditions even higher up the hill. We understand and appreciate why they did this, but now we want to make sure to do another Beast in the future so we can do a full 21 km! But, this Beast was my Trifecta Tribe race and I am happy that I had my trifecta be all Canadian races. My Trifecta Tribe medal is being mailed out to me soon, as they did not order enough for the event, but Tara (new friend from Edmonton!) let me borrow hers for a photo in the beer garden! AROO!

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