Monthly Archives: January 2015

Initial Thoughts and Rambles from my Spartan Race Weekend in California

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      spartan medal sign  pro pic 

I am still not fully recovered from my whirlwind weekend in Southern California.  I flew out at 7 pm on Friday, and then was back at LAX on Sunday by 3:30 pm.  I drove home and got into my bed by 3 AM Monday morning in Lethbridge.  I am tired, my body is tight, I had chaffing marks on my ankles from my calf sleeves, my eyes hurt, I am sunburned, and my number is still etched into my calves with permanent marker.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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This weekend I ran the Spartan Race So Cal events-Super Spartan (9 miles) on Saturday, Jan. 24th, and the Sprint (approx. 5 miles) on Sunday, Jan. 25th.  Both events were held at Vail Lake in Temecula, California.  My best friend Ali, her boyfriend, and their dogs picked me up from the airport and we headed to Temecula on Friday night.  We were at the race site nice and early for check in and to peruse the site.  I also spent a lot of money on merchandise!  I would run the Super with Ali and Kevin.  This would be Ali and Kevin’s TRIFECTA race weekend (completed the Beast the weekend before, a distance of a half marathon).  Heading out at the start of the race, I didn’t think the wind would be to bad, seeing that I am used to Lethbridge winds.  I was wrong.  These winds were just as strong at winds in Lethbridge, but add the gritty sand and dirt from the course blowing around and the sun, and that makes it a whole different experience.

view of vail lake

I enjoyed all the obstacles on the course—some that are the same as previous years’, and many that are new.  Seeing that this is my 3rd year doing Spartan Races it is appreciated that they change things up.  Like the Traverse Wall—while they still had one, instead of this one going in a straight line, it now zig-zagged.  The terrain of Vail Lake also just added new natural obstacles that reminded me of the Montana Sprint.  Ali and I finished this race together in a time of 4:40.06.  I know I have said this before, but considering this girl wouldn’t even run 900 metres last year at this time and was now doing 9 mile obstacle course races is amazing!  I am so proud!

us before superfinish beer

That night I realized when we went in the hot tub how sunburned and wind burned my thighs had gotten.  It stung like HELL getting in the hot water.  Whoops. That being said, I still decided to go out and push myself during the Sprint.  Seeing a preview of the course the day before was a huge help, and I was able to tackle those hills just like I would if I were in the Coulees in Lethbridge.  I even nailed the Spear Throw obstacle!— a Spartan Race FIRST for me, and this was my 9th Spartan Race ever!  I still move quite slow over any height obstacle, as my fear sets in, but I made them.  I fell on the Monkey Bars, Rope Climb and also made it 3/4 of the way on the Traverse Wall….so 90 burpees for me.  Even with those burpee penalties, I finished in a 1:21.52, which was good for 33/1655 females in the Open Division!  My running came in handy for my lack of upper body strength!before sprintI knew what to expect coming into a Spartan Race, but I am very happy to say that I feel the organization is back bigger and better in 2015.  The obstacles did not disappoint, the race swag was new and improved (finisher shirts that are specific for each distance, instead of a general shirt!), and incredible medals!  I am very excited for my Spartan Beast in Montana this May so I can become a member of the USA Trifecta Tribe!  AROO, AROO, AROO!!!!

trifecta medallionbefore super

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Vancouver Marathon Training-Week 1 in the Books!

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Oh man—it is Tuesday night and I didn’t get my blog out on Sunday. It really has been crazy around here since, let’s say, Christmas. The semester wrapped up at the high school I teach at on Monday, and we have now entered exam week. This is a great time to get prepared for second semester and just BREATHE! I need to work on some relaxation techniques because this past week was so stressful, as we were working down to the wire to get possession of our new house. All worked out and we got the keys Thursday! To our friends who helped us move this weekend-THANK YOU! It went seamlessly in Saturday and it was all because of you guys! Peter, Mac, Matty, Toby, Patrick, Morgan, Amie….thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

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In the midst of this craziness, I began my Vancouver Marathon training. The first week or three of any official training program is always a bit interesting, as often it takes a step back in total distance one has been perhaps doing on their own, but adds intensity. The intensity was something I was definitely missing the past year as I trained for my fulls, and I am grateful I contacted Dean Johnson of Run Dean Run.

I was pretty nervous, honestly, to be starting the plan he created for me….would I not be able to hit the pacing requirements set for me on each training run? Would I not be able to complete one of the days? Well…so far so good. And yes, I am already trying to mentally prepare myself for that day during this plan that I hit a wall and perhaps break down and cry….that I mess my run up….it may happen. But that chance of pain and frustration is worth it—having a coach and a plan never felt so good.

My plan is on a Google Doc and every day after my run, I log my details into the document. It is linked between Dean and I, and we will be going over my progress after my Hypothermic Half Marathon in Calgary on February 8th. If need be, adjustments will then be made. My first week consisted of a variety of training runs—easy pace, Fartleks, steady state, and long runs. Below are my comments on each day:

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I know each week will obviously get more challenging, but the plan set in place will allow me to be able to make the transition to each week. In fact, the speed work I did at Henderson Lake today (30second sprint, 1 minute jog, x12) felt solid, albeit having to dodge walkers and strollers and ice!

On weeks that I don’t have a race or something earth-shattering to let out, I will be talking about my training. Not as exciting perhaps as old posts, but training is important right now. In the past two years while doing this blog I have became a more confident long-distance road racer and have been able to tackle distances and meet times I never thought I could. But I need to take it further. And this training is the key!

Day 1-BMO Vancouver Full Marathon Training

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Today was the day. Today I did my first official training running in preparation for the Vancouver Marathon, which is Sunday, May 3rd, 2015. This is the first training calendar for a race which I have had someone create one for me! Thanks in advance to Dean Johnson from www.rundeanrun.ca for the calendar (I may be hating you by week 8….no hard feelings).

I knew I needed to take this training up a notch, and having Dean formulate a plan for me tailored to my race times in the past year was key. Each day is laid out to work with my schedule, and there are detailed notes on the types of runs I will be doing during training, the endurance pace ranges for each type of run and more. This is the most extensive training plan I have ever followed. This is key for me reaching my goal of qualifying for the 2016 Boston Marathon.

Today’s run was one that can be done on Sunday or Monday, or both days. It is 30-45 minutes easy, cross train, or rest. Now, without having a definition of what my “easy pace” should be, I would have gone and ran 45 minutes in somewhere around 9 minute miles. But, according to the plan, “easy” means I must run between an 8:02-9:02 minute mile pace. I went out down to the river bottom for this first run, in the middle of the afternoon. Sun was still up, wind was down, albeit a chilly day of around 15 Fahrenheit. I was also on a running high because the Packers had just won, and was just plain excited for this run to start.

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I headed out a bit fast, but was feeling strong, so it was hard to slow down. I ran faster than the goal pace with a 7:53 minute mile. I tried to slow up the second mile and hit 8:12. Much better. In my head, I had thought I would try to hit somewhere between an 8:15-8:25 for each mile and I would be happy. The stretch from mile 2 to 3 is fairly flat, so I again went a bit too fast, hitting a 7:57. Still on track but I needed to slow up and hit my pace ranges. I was able to do so in mile 4 and 5, running an 8:11 and 8:23, respectively. I finished with 42:54 minutes of running, reaching 5.28 miles, with an average pace of 8:07. To say I was pleased with day 1 would be an understatement!

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But I have a LONG road ahead of me. Race is 16 weeks away. And during this time I also have two Spartan Races, a half marathon and a 10km. I have a pretty aggressive training plan. And I have motivation, heart, drive, and support. That is going to be what gets me through this, that is going to be what makes this possible.

The rest of the week will go as follows:
Monday-cross training with circuit training in the gym (shoulders, core)
Tuesday-medium hill repeats 6-8x OR Fartleks 8-10x with 1min hard run, then jog recovery
Wednesday-40-50 minute easy
Thursday-40-50 minute easy with 2 miles at “steady state” pace (half to full marathon race pace)
Friday-off
Saturday-long run of 75-100 minutes with pace between 8:06-9:23 minutes a mile.

I am very happy that the training focus is mainly on the weekends, with really only three days during the school week that I have to power out some training runs. At this point I plan on utilizing the Monday as cross training on the gym (Spartan race prep and/or elliptical), or a rest if needed. I need to stay healthy and get strong. This plan will help guide the way.

Have a great week everyone.

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First Run of 2015-Not What I Expected

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My 67 day RunStreak ended January 1, 2015. I am happy that I kept with it, because I like staying with goals I set, but I was also glad to wake up New Years Day and not run! I had ran the night before at the Red Deer Resolution Run 5km, a nationwide run put on by Running Room. It is not a chip-timed event, and the draw is mainly to get in a final run before the new year. You also get a really nice jacket as part of your registration fee (I’d say the registration fee basically just pays for the jacket). The weather was VERY cold, barely in the teens (Fahrenheit) and the race started at 6 pm. I had forgotten my head lamp in Lethbridge, so I was hoping someone in the group of 150 plus runners would be near me with a lamp. Well, we took off and three guys sped on out ahead. In retrospect, I could have maybe been able to stay with them given the proper footwear (more in that later) but I stuck at a comfortable pace and ran pretty much solo (well, not pretty much, I was alone!) for all 5km. I finished in a comfortable 24:25 and was the first female to finish. I was happy with how I did, especially since the Bower Pond trails had negligible lighting. The thing, though, that I took away from this event was how at peace I was with myself.

Now, I am not going to go on and on about how I had some crazy-ass personal revelation on the year 2014, or how 2015 is going to play out, but as I approached mile 1 and realized I was alone….I smiled. I was in a “race” but I was pushing just myself. With no one nearby, I couldn’t see or hear anyone ahead or behind me. The sun was long gone, the moon was behind a hazy, cloudy sky, but the bright white snow of central Alberta lit the path. The sound of feet moving through this crunching snow was mesmerizing. Occasionally, runners would hit turnoffs up onto sidewalks, but then would be led back onto the trail along the river. Whenever I was along the river, I was alone…but so incredibly happy. When the race finished, while I didn’t have anywhere close to a personal best, I was happy.

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So I took two days off after the Resolution Run. We were back in Lethbridge after a whirlwind of holiday travels. It felt great to be back in our own house. I knew I wanted to head out and run Saturday morning, but it was COLD, not just cold, but downright miserable. It was -1 F or so when I woke up, and by the time I got set to go on my run around noon it was a mere 2F. With four inches or so of snow freshly fallen in Lethbridge, which was on top of some older snow and ice, I decided to try out my new INOV-8 X-Talon 212 trail shoes. I had ordered these shoes in Amazon in November after Ali told me how awesome they worked for her during the Rugged Maniac obstacle race. I wanted these for Spartan Races. But, I knew I could use them on the trails in Lethbridge.

I drove over to Bull Park Trail on the Westside with the goal in mind to run down into the valley to the bridge and back. With it so cold out I didn’t know if my phone would cooperate when I wanted to take photos. I packed it away deep in my pockets and set out. As I jogged from where I parked my car in a nearby neighborhood (wasn’t sure if my car would make it into the not-yet-plowed trailhead parking lot) to the trai, I could tell right away these shoes were different. I was just running through snow, but my feet were flying. I hit the trail, which has shale below the snow, and was still moving so fluidly. These were great! The wind was quite cold on my face, but my body felt good and my feet weren’t even cold.

Before descending into the river bottom, I had to watch my footing as I could see ice below the snow, especially noticeable in areas where drifts had occurred. But the shoes gripped these areas so well too! Even descending into the river was easier than what it would have been had I worn my New Balance!

I made it down to the river and could see foot prints. I was not the only crazy person out there running today. I did never actually see anyone on the paths during my jaunt, but I knew people had gone the same route as me! I headed north in the trail with the river parallel to the trail. Roughly parallel, actually, as this path is more of a goat trail. I have done this path before, and it is now probably my favorite stretch in Lethbridge. Running it in the snow, in these shoes, was a completely different experience. I stopped for a bit (didn’t bother stopping my watch whenever I stopped) to try to get a photo. Frozen. Well, not frozen, but it gave the “extreme temperature” message. I putzed with it a little more, but ended up putting it in my sports bra (heat against my body would help???) and went toward the bridge.

I had to stop and pause and take in the surroundings as I reached the bridge. While I had seen Lethbridge from this vantage point before, I had not seen it covered in snow and almost frozen in time. It was awesome.
As I headed back, I checked my phone again. It cooperated! I stopped a couple spots to take photos before heading back up the coulee. Below are some of the shots I was able to get. These were all down in the river bottom, as once I headed back up the coulee, it stopped working again.

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By the time I made it back to my car, I had completed a cold, yet extremely satisfying, 4 miles. Extremely satisfying doesn’t even begin to hit how awesome it was. Yes, I stopped a lot to take in the sights and did not run 4 miles hard, per say. But I felt like I was running in a cloud when I was moving. Much like my run on New Years Eve, I had a smile on my face. I also realized part way through this run that if it had been two years earlier, I would have never set foot outside in these conditions, in this cold, in this snow, in this river valley. But now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. That is good enough for me, and I call that a successful first run of 2015.

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