Category Archives: race reflections

Taber Tuff 12.5km

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Saturday, July 13th, marked the inaugural “Taber Tuff” trail race. Taber is a small rural community east of Lethbridge, about 45 minutes away. In my mind, all I think about when I hear Taber is CORN. I don’t think of much else at all. And I definitely don’t think of a tough trail race. So I was very interested to see what this would be like.

The race was held at the Municipal campground in Taber. Once you get into town, you make a turn and head down the road for about 3km. What you end up at looks completely different than the town of Taber itself. The campground has lots of trees and is nestled along the water. The coulees that we are used to in Lethbridge, while not the same here, are prominently located past the trees. It was a nice surprise to see this landscape.

The race had two distances-12.5 km and 25 km. I was registered for the 12.5 km. If you chose to do the 25 km, you did the 12.5 km loop twice. The 25 km runners started at 8 am and the 12.5 km runners started at 8:15 am. This allowed for runners to get pretty spaced out which made it easier if you came up to any 25km runners and needed to pass on the single track.

It was already a very warm morning when the race started and I was happy that I was only going to be doing the 12.5 km. Heat is not my friend. Once they started the 12.5 km, I got myself set as lead female. I had no idea if I was going too fast or too slow. I was just going to try and listen to my body and see how it all played out.

The first 5 km were what I would call “deceiving.” What I mean by that is that it was pretty easy as far as trails go. You start by entering into some wooded area and then get some basic rolling coulee hills. Nothing tricky. This was going to be easy…..

Then it all started to change. In my opinion, the challenging parts of this course were between miles 4-6. This was where there were often holes in the ground or sketchy single wide paths on the face of a coulee. There was loose sand and lots of areas with erosion. For me, being someone scared of heights, I was freaked in some spots. I had to really slow my roll in order to comfortably tackle some of these areas.

I also hit some GI issues around mile 4. I honestly have no clue why my stomach got upset, as I was actually more careful than usual leading up to this race with my food and drink intake. I totally felt ready to go in the morning, and didn’t do anything weird with my fueling routine. I am putting this problem I experienced due to the heat but I also noticed that if I really coasted my way downhill fast, the jarring motion in my stomach seemed to bother me and that’s when it got more upset. These are all good things to find out now at a small 12.5 km race so I can work on them in preparation for Lost Soul 50km. Many times I had to literally stop and take some deep breaths before continuing on with my run.

You looped back to the campground at 10km and followed some cones through the campground. Lots of little kids were sitting in their camping chairs cheering us on. The last big climb was a paved path with then a nice descent back to the rivers’ edge, a stroll through some shaded area, and back at the campground base area.

I ran in a time of 1:33.36 and finished 1st female and 3rd overall. There were 27 finishers in the 12.5km race. I think if I was able to do this same course again on a different day I could break 1:30. But, between my stomach issues, the unexpected sandy and scary areas that I am not used to, and my upcoming marathon this Saturday, I couldn’t push as much I know I could have. I am pretty proud of my time though, because I did step out of my comfort zone a bit with this race. Every trail race I do now is a step in the right direction. It’s a new way of thinking and running for me and it’s going to take time to get used to. Maybe I’ll eventually get used to the heights?!?!?!….

Oh yeah. I also won a sweet Igloo cooler in a draw prize! And we needed a new one !

The Lone Wolf-Team “Lammers & the DILF”

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Father’s Day weekend 2019 was spent camping in beautiful Fernie, British Columbia….and running the trails of beautiful Fernie, British Columbia! The Lone Wolf, put on by Stag Leap Running. This was the second year the event was put on, with last year being the inaugural running. We did not participate in the inaugural event, so I cannot speak to how this was compared to 2018. But I will say that overall I was impressed!

These type of trail events seem to be a trending thing: last man standing style. For The Lone Wolf, you could either enter as a soloist or as a team of two. The idea is that every hour, on the hour, runners leave “The Den” to attack an approximately 4 mile loop. On the odd number laps, you would run clockwise and then on the even number laps, you run counterclockwise. You must finish your lap in the one hour, otherwise you are eliminated. It’s up to you or your team how much you want to push it on each lap. Run balls out on your laps, you’ll have more time to rest in between. Run slow and steady, and you won’t have much time before the next lap starts. Also, if you are a team you can decide how you want to split up the laps between you and your partner (more on that later).

Race photos from Raven Eye Photography

Before getting into actual race day, I want to say that if you are into camping, booking a campsite at the Mount Fernie Provincial Park campground is ideal for this race weekend. We are relatively new to the camping world, but I researched and found out I could book a campsite in mid-February. On the day booking opened, I had full selection of campsites. I chose one that I thought would be close to the Nordic Centre that the race would be located at. We came to find out that we were about 1/4 of a mile away! This was awesome for us, as we would be at the race with our 20 month old son and we knew we’d have to be going back and forth for various things. For example, in the evening once my husband was done doing his laps and threw in the towel, he took Andy back to the campsite to feed him dinner, and then he was able to return to the race site before I finished! There are lots of other hotel accommodations very close to the race, but I would strongly recommend booking early so you get exactly what you want.

Happy camper!

Race package pickup was at a hotel near downtown Fernie. It was a quick pickup, with waivers to be signed. We got our race bibs and our shirts. I really love the shirt colour and design, and they are also very soft. We headed back to the campground and were able to get a really good night’s sleep-Andy slept like a champ! With the race not starting until 10 am, we didn’t have to worry about getting up super early. If you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb you would want to get there relatively early and/or carpool as parking is at a premium. We had our friend Nick come to our campsite at 9 am and he parked his car there.

The race staging area is very large and there’s lots of spots to set up your own personal area. We had a group of us from Lethbridge put a couple of those four-sided shade tents together and had camping chairs, coolers and Andy’s pack-n-play set up in the shade. If you have a group that wants to be near one another, also get there early enough to make sure that happens.

So on to the race. Dan and I chose to do this as a relay because 1.) we aren’t skilled enough trail runners to want to try it solo and 2.) we needed to alternate who was watching Andy during each lap. Since we could choose who ran on which laps, I decided to start us off and always run the odd number laps. I can’t even remember who I paced myself off of the first lap, but I ran a conservative 51:10. What I learned during the first lap is that it was approximately 1/2 a mile from “The Den” to the base of the mountain. Then you’d get up the mountain to its peak at just over mile 2. It was then a descent all the way back to start/finish area. Knowing how long it took to get up to the peak would be helpful in later laps, because you could then know if you were going too fast or too slow.

As Dan and I alternated our laps, there was a great selection of food and beverages for the runners. Funny thing is that these items had to be relocated at one point because when I was out on lap 7 a fucking bear came right up to the finish line. It would not move away, even with bear spray and noise. The parks officials came and got it out of the way but holy shit, had I been at the group area and this occurred I would have told Dan we were quitting and done!

Racers could drop out at whatever point they chose. Obviously, soloists generally stopped before teams. The rule was that whenever the final soloist stopped, the teams must stop too. I don’t know what our true tema goal was, but since I’m competitive with my husband I knew I just wanted to run more laps than him (stupid, I know). Dan had had some back issues the week prior so he wasn’t even sure leading up to the race how he was going to feel. After his fourth lap (lap 8) he said he was done. This was at 6 pm. It worked out pretty well because I went out on lap 9 and Dan took Andy to the campsite. I was running with our friend Dylan, who was actually very injured, but it was comical at least. He didn’t want his team to quit yet. When we came after lap 9, Dan wasn’t back yet. Our friends said he was fully expecting me to run another lap. Also, had I stopped at that point I would have felt obligated to go back to the campsite and help out, when really all I would want to do it sit down and have my free finisher beer. So, I had some snacks and headed out for lap 10 with Dylan’s teammate Mark.

With lap 10 finishing at just before 8 pm, I felt like the smart thing to do was stop. I was STARVING and even though my legs felt fine for a lap 11, I knew I would probably pass out from hunger. Had I been able to get out there for lap 11, we could have placed 3rd in our mixed team category. In the end, there were 4 teams that completed 10 laps. They then calculate who ran the 10 laps the fastest to determine placings. We were the slowest of the 10 lap teams, and in the end we placed 6 out of 9 in the Mixed Under 40. The team that won were a couple who sat right near our tent. The husband was running 4 laps and then the wife would run 1. He was training for the Canadian Death Race and yeah, I think he could have lasted all night if the soloists didn’t stop.

We will definitely be back next year. It was so much fun and a really unique experience. I do have to give a special thanks to all our friends from Lethbridge who were there. They really stepped it up and helped out with Andy quite a bit. Andy is so used to everyone from all the other events we do in town and we are so lucky to have these friends who are like family. The race weekend wouldn’t have been possible had they not been there with us.

Coulee Cactus Crawl

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I ran this as an unexperienced soloist in 2013, then as a last minute team member for leg 2 in 2018. This year, my husband and I opted to run as team “Danada & Miss America” for the 25th anniversary event. This event was now lengthened from 20 miles to 25 miles in length. You could choose to run the 5 legs of the race however you want between you and your relay partner(s). The interesting thing for this race that since there are 5 legs to it, you could have a relay of up to five people. Dan and I decided two would be the way to go, and I am very happy with how it all went!

I was nervous the day before the race, as the smoke from the wildfires up north had travelled south to our area. Not nervous just for us as runners, but nervous for Andy as a spectator. He would be outside with us all day at the race, as we would be trading him off at each relay checkpoint. Thankfully, the smoke cleared and all we had to battle through was the heat.

Before the race

We had originally planned for Dan to run legs 1 & 2 and I would run legs 3-5. Dan started off what with what seemed to be a conservative pace. About 20 minutes into the leg, my phone rings. It’s Dan. WTF….you should be running….He said “be ready to run leg 2.” With that statement I had no clue what type of shape he would be in coming to the transition area. He came through in a decent time, and actually had us 2nd in our category (mixed relay <40 years old). I headed off to the 2nd leg.

Playing around at the transition area for leg 2

I had messaged him before heading off stating I would run leg 2 & 3 and hope he could do 4, and then I would do 5. This is what ended up happening. Dan was recovered by the time it got to leg 4 (which was just leg 2 in reverse) and his main issue was the pressure the water belt was putting on his stomach. At the end of leg 2 we were still in 2nd place, but then during leg 3 (when presumably other teams had a fresh runner take a spot) I slid our team down to 4th place. This was the longest and most challenging leg, and I was happy to have a little break.

During these breaks we were basically just shuttling Andy and ourselves to the different transition areas. Andy was a CHAMP! It was hot out, but we kept him under umbrellas and in the shade. With the help of our friends who were also running as teams or spectating, we had such a great crew surrounding us. It’s awesome to have a random selection of people to pass your kid off to when you have to use the bathroom before heading off on your leg of the relay!

My pale-skinned men waiting for me during leg 3!

So Dan made up some epic time in leg 4. We were in 4th in our division when I came in after leg 3. When Dan tagged me off for my portion of the race he had climbed back up to 3rd place. With our friend Nick on the team in 4th place, I knew my burnt out legs (which had already ran 10 miles) would have some work to do in order to stay ahead of his fresh legs (he was running his first leg of the race).

Andy fell asleep finally during leg 5 and the post race celebration

I somehow mustered to hold on, bringing our two-person relay in with a time of 4 hours 23 minutes even. I was really proud of how Dan and I adapted the race on the fly given how he was feeling, and how we were able to hold on and place in our division with just two of us! We had so much fun that day with each other, our friends, and with Andy. We are looking forward to our upcoming race weekend in Fernie, where we will be doing another relay together. This one is a set two-person relay, and thankfully a lot of our same great friends will be out there too. Hope Andy does as well as he did here!

Post race beverages and fun!

May Races

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I had two races this month: Red Deer Half Marathon and the Willow Creek Wilderness 10km. These are both races I ran last year. And they are both races I did worse at this year.

I have done Red Deer Half numerous times. My slowest time for Red Deer is somewhere around a 1:56 (this was before I really started taking my training seriously) and my fastest is in the 1:42. Considering I ran a 1:37 and change at the Police Half in September, I was incorrectly assuming I could maybe break 1:40. Of course, I didn’t take into account how shitty my training has been going this winter and spring. I also seemed to forget that the Red Deer course is actually a bit challenging. While the city of Red Deer is lower in elevation than Lethbridge, the course winds along the Red Deer River with many sharp turns. There are also numerous little hills throughout that put a strain on your body.

I started off the race too fast (of course) but I felt good the first 5 km and thought I was settled in to keep a 7:30 min/mi pace. But mile 4 was a 7:35 and then mile 5 was a 7:49. When mile 6 hit an 8:20 and it felt like my legs had already ran a full marathon, I knew I was in trouble. My husband Dan caught up to me around mile 8.5 and he jokingly said “Don’t let your piece of shit husband beat you!” (He says he’s a POS because he does not train NEARLY as seriously as I do) Well, I was able to join him again by mile 9, and it did push me to keep on trucking. I had told him we should just run together the rest of the race, which we did, but once I got up the final hill and had the last 400 m downhill to the finish line I decided to just fucking book it. Well, he ended up passing me at the finish and I lost. This is the first time my husband has gotten a time better than me in a half marathon. And it sucked.

I ran a 1:43.20. Dan ran a 1:43.12. Last year, at 7 months postpartum I ran a 1:42.28. I know race times can change year to year. But I really didn’t think I’d be a little bit slower than last year. But then, I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have the same time to train like I did last year on maternity leave.

My body doesn’t recover from races as fast as it used to either. I’ve done back to back race weekends before, but doing the Willow Creek 10km this year after doing the Red Deer Half was maybe a poor choice. My time, just like Red Deer, was slower than the previous year. I ran a 48:25 (slightly longer than a 10km) but last year I ran a 47:48. My body was just dragging. I did have fun because our friends Chelsey and Adam were there too, and they won the female and male categories. I came in behind them in 5th place.

I really hope that my road race times can get back down closer to where they used to be. But I may have to just start to accept that this may be my ‘new normal’ for some time.

Spring

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Well, Spring came late with winter never seeming to end. I *think* we can finally say that all the snow is behind us…even though a snowfall occurred last Saturday night and left the trails wet and muddy for the local 5km Rita’s Run this past Sunday. All of it is melted and now we can move onto Spring and Summer, right?

It’s been 3 months since my last post. That’s the longest, by far, I’ve ever had between postings. Anytime I have an idea to write, I am either busy with school work, busy with life work, busy with parent work, busy with wine-work….I just don’t have the energy to make it up to my laptop in the evenings to write a post. When it’s my ‘down-time’ I now just want to relax on the couch. So with that, I never even did a post about my Moonlight Run results from March, haven’t updated anything about how my training this Spring is going, my latest race this past Sunday, and what the next coming months look like.

Moonlight Run 10 km was held on March 23, 2019. Weather was great for this race, and there wasn’t any crazy snow or crazy cold. My overall goal for it was to do better than I did last year. Now, my husband thought this was a stupid goal because he said it was a no-brainer. Last year, I was 5 months postpartum. Of course I would be faster. But, my training had been all over the place since going back to work that I didn’t want to hold my breath.

The race went as well as it could for me. I finished with a 45:17 and was 1/52 in my 30-34 age group, 6/246 in female and then 38/455 overall. Claiming my age group award was the best feeling in the world. Last year I was 3rd with a 47:13. So shaving close to 2 minutes off is definitely on the right track for a comeback!

I opted to not do a lot of races this spring mainly to save money and to also focus on just getting the training in. Having no races in April was probably a first for me since 2012????!!!! Crazy, huh? I also during that time decided to stop my run streak. I made is 135 days straight of running at least a mile a day. I had had it in my head I would streak for a year, but I think it was running a toll on my body. I have bigger goals for this year than just running a mile a day, and getting rid of the streak will help with that.

This past Sunday I ran in the 5m Rita’s Run, which raised money and awareness for Mental Health. It was the first year this race was put on, and they had an awesome turnout for both the 5km and 10km events. there were 231 who completed the 5km and 67 who did the 10km. I think there were more registered, but the unseasonal weather that came through may have caused some people to just sleep in that morning.

The course was in the river bottom and while it was a pretty course, it definitely was not a course to get a personal best on. It started very narrow, had lots of turns, and then ended up measuring over 3.1 miles (3.24 miles on my watch). I hope they can sort those things out for next year. It made it more challenging for myself as I was running with Andy in the stroller. I’m glad I only did the 5km with him because all the sharp turns and narrow pathways did prove a challenge. The extra distance was also not fun with the stroller when I wanted to just be done. We did manage on finishing 2nd overall! 24:07 was our chiptime, and we placed 2/63 in age group, 2/169 female, and 6/231 overall.

So now what? Well, the big task this month is the Red Deer Half Marathon. That’s really what my training has been building towards this winter and spring. I would like to run a decent half marathon time for myself. I feel confident I can get under 1:40, as I ran a 1:37 and change in late September. However, I was training for Berlin right before that and had had more time to get quality training in while on maternity leave. Maybe I can run my ‘best’ Woody’s RV Red Deer Half time? 1:42.28 is the time to beat for it.

I’ve also started doing trail running during the week in preparation for my summer and fall events. I’ll have to do a different post all about my trail running trials and tribulations….hopefully that gets written in less than 3 months!

One Year

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One year ago today, I was sitting in the “induction room” at Chinook Regional Hospital.  Dan and I knew that our baby boy would be coming sometime soon, and it was sooner than originally planned.  Andy was originally due November 3rd, but he made his appearance when I was 38 weeks along at 12:32 am on October 19th, 2017.

We didn’t know what the next year would really look like other than the fact that we had a small human to take care of.  What things would we be involved with as a family?  What things would Andy and I find to do during my maternity leave?  What would my post-partum running actually look like?  Sure, we were able to theoretically imagine what the next year would look like, but we really wouldn’t know what it was like until experiencing it first hand.

I have said many times before, but I am beyond fortunate enough to be here in Alberta, Canada, where I have a one year maternity leave with my job.  Also with my job, I was guaranteed my same position as long as I came back by that one year.  I had sick pay covered for the first 15 weeks (I maxed it out mainly because I ended up having the emergency appendectomy 7 weeks post-partum) and then I received unemployment insurance for 35 additional weeks.  Along with the money we saved in the year leading up to having Andy, we were able to live comfortably and take part in a lot of activities and trips.  Some of the things specifically Andy & I were able to do were:

-“Mommy Connections” 8-week programming during three different sessions

-“Baby Steps” postnatal classes at the Lethbridge Health Unit

-“Baby PACT” (Parent and Child Time) 10 week session at Lethbridge Family Centre

-Swimming Lessons!  10 classes

-Baby Mama Boot Camp through Kinetic Fitness.  We did this often twice a week during the winter and spring and then once a week in summer

-Stroller Boot Camp at University of Lethbridge for one winter/spring session

-Kindermusik Drop-In program at CASA

-Library programming like “Babes in the Library” and “Small & Tall”

-HIGH Fitness classes held at the northside LDS church

and much more!

The great thing about these programs were that they were all locally operated in Lethbridge and while some cost money, many were lower cost (Baby Steps & PACT) or FREE! (Library, HIGH fitness).  These programs were important for both mine and Andy’s well being as it got us out of the house in the dead of winter, we got to socialize with other adults and children, and it kept us active.

While it was mainly Andy & I doing specific classes together, Dan also took Andy to a few “Me and my Dad” drop in programs at Family Centre on Saturday mornings.  He plans to start doing this again when winter rolls around.  I would also often bring Andy for visits at my school, we would go to basketball games, we would do mall walks when it was brutally cold and even just going grocery shopping got us out of the house.

We were also able to do some trips this year.  Our first ‘road trip’ was Christmas, where we packed Andy, Snoopy, Woodstock & Faron (2 month old baby, beagle, and two cats) in our car and drove 3.5 hours to Red Deer to see Dan’s family.  A highlight was going to Edmonton to see Dan’s Grandpa and get a four generation Pottage men photo.  Dan’s grandpa passed away in late spring 2018 so this will definitely be cherished.

In April, we flew out to Walt Disney World in Florida to participate in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.  We met my mom out there and experienced our first family vacation via plane.  This helped us tons in preparation for our summer trip where we flew out to Milwaukee over 4th of July to visit my family.  We also acquired a camper in the summer and plan on using it for family camping trips.  We tested it out for one night in Beauvais Lake and it went so well!

Lets not forget about RUNNING!  Running was going to be a big part of my maternity leave year, as it is a huge part of me in general.  I knew that if I couldn’t run, I would possibly run the risk of falling into a depression.  I was fortunate enough to be able to keep running during the first  37 weeks of my pregnancy, with one week off before having Andy, and then two weeks of recovery.  I ran my first 5km race post-partum at just 1 month having Andy.  If you are interested in all my races and times in detail check out the result links at the top of this page

Then the appendectomy hit.  Ouch.  But a month later I was back.  Boot camps, walking, running….it came back slowly but it was worth the wait.  The picture below depicts all the races I was able to participate in during my maternity leave:

I was able to run in 15 different races:

Four 5km races (Claus Cause, Superhero Fun Run, Travelling Beer Garden Race, Coalhurst Family Run Run)

One 4 mile race (Firecracker 4)

One 8 km race (LadiesFest)

Three 10km races (Moonlight Run, Star Wars 10km, Fort Macleod Wilderness Run)

One 10 mile race (Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race)

One Trail Race as a Relay (Coulee Cactus Crawl)

Three Half Marathons (Star Wars Half Marathon, Red Deer Half Marathon, Lethbridge Police Half Marathon)

One Full Marathon (Berlin Marathon)

OH YEAH….WE DID THE BERLIN MARATHON?!?!?!?!  HOW COOL IS THAT!?  If it wasn’t for being on my maternity leave at the time, it would have been very hard to make this work.  What an amazing experience that my husband and I can say we shared in together.

I was also able to run some amazing times in the last year.  I hit an unofficial 5km personal best of 20:30 in the Beer Garden race (chip time was 20:50 and course measured long) and my Police Half Marathon time was actually my 2nd fastest half marathon time EVER! (1:37.39)  Andy and I ran in a 5km race last weekend and were the first stroller across the finish and actually the first female runner too.  I won some money at different races and I also earned ago group awards throughout the year.  While I was worried on how pregnancy and postpartum would treat me as a runner, I think it’s safe to say that all my hard work before, during and after pregnancy has paid off.

So what’s next?  Well, there’ll be another year to follow.  And years after that.  And while I have ideas of things we have as plans, goals and dreams, we really can’t say those things for certain until they happen.  There will be family events, trips, races, and just family time.  A quote many of my friends have shared on Instagram and Facebook this year comes to mind right now:

“The days are long but the years are short”

To say that this past year went fast is a huge understatement.  But many days were long and tiring.  Some were filled with frustration.  But in the end, all the days created lasting memories.  Next year the days may feel long too.  I know going back to work is something I am struggling with in my mind.  Some of those days are going to feel hella long.  But when we have the free time as a family to do things, we will.  We need to fill our time with memory-making opportunities and seize the moment.

Onto year 2!

Berlin Marathon 2018

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Wow. We conquered the Berlin Marathon! What a crazy experience it was! I could write multiple blog posts, all very long, detailing the day by day events. But, it’s 9 pm on a Friday…I am worn out, sick, and have an 11 month old who may wake up middle of night! So I’m doing a small recap that’ll touch on some details I think are worth noting, especially if you are contemplating making the trek out to do this race.  update.  It is now Sunday.  I hope to finish this post today!!!

Pre-event issue…I started feeling sick on the Tuesday before the race. At first I thought it was just my body being sore after boot camp, but I think I was just wearing out. On the drive to my in laws on Wednesday, I started popping cold medicine because my nose was a running machine. Great…a transatlantic flight is upon us and I feel like trash.

I think the whole adrenaline of the trip made me feel better, because once we got to the airport I just forgot about it. But the transatlantic flight was tough. We left at 6 pm Thursday. It was my first time flying overseas and the first leg of flight was 9+ hours from Calgary to Frankfurt. Neither my husband or I slept well. But we kept pushing. By the time we got to Berlin it was 2:30 pm (8 hours ahead of home). Our only confusing transit issue in Berlin was getting from the airport to hotel. We hadn’t researched which “zone” we were travelling to, and the lineups at the machines to buy tickets were long with a lot of other confused people. We did make it to our hotel eventually…freshened up, changed, and headed to the expo.

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The expo was very easy to get to from our hotel. I booked our hotel on Priceline in December and got it at a rate of $82 USD/night. It was walking distance to the Friedrichstraße station, which could link you anywhere. And also walking to the start/finish by Brandenburg gate. We got to the expo quick, and arrived around 5pm.

I’m glad we didn’t have anything we really wanted to stop and purchase because this was the first instance we realized this event was going to a semi-organized chaos. The room to pickup your race packages were in the way back of the old airport hangers, and everywhere around you there were lines. And the lines weren’t straight, just a mosh pit of people pushing through. Luckily I had preordered us two event shirts (no shirts included in registration fee) so we didn’t have to push through people to buy them. Just had to find that line to pickup.

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We didn’t spend much time at the expo. We headed back to the hotel, went out way too late, and then slept in the next day. It was the day before the race, so in theory we should have been taking it easy. But seriously…we were in Berlin. We needed to see as much as possible.

We did a short shakeout run by the river. After changing and finding food, we then trekked around Berlin seeing all sorts of sights. Highlights included Humboldt University, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker, Berlin Wall memorial, and Topography of Terror. We also had a group dinner that evening for all of us in the Runners Soul group. Ate at a fantastic Italian place called Via Nova II. By the time Dan & I made it back to the hotel we had clocked in 11.5 miles. Time to rest for the marathon!

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Marathon morning cake bright and early. But with this being a 9:15 am start time for the elites, and our hotel so close to the start, we didn’t have to get up at a ridiculous time. We had pre-bought some breakfast items the night before and I went to the McDonalds two blocks away to get coffee at 6:15 am, so we were set. The group met at 8 am for a photo and then we all dispersed.

Biggest thing to know about this race is that the Europeans “organize” things differently. 44,000 runners and I’d guess the number of pre race porta potties available were 1/10 of what was available at Boston (25,000 runners). My friend Heather waited 45 minutes to use one and missed her corral start. Dan and I stood in line for about 15 minutes and then left the race grounds to go to a cafe, pay 0.50 euros at a turnstile, and use their bathrooms. People were pissing all over the park on their way to the corrals. It was disgusting. I don’t know if the city just doesn’t have the supply of porta potties or what, but you’d think since they’ve been doing this race for 44 years they’d know it’s an issue.

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So the race itself.  Well, it was 26.2 miles through Berlin and my Garmin clocked it as 26.44 miles.  That’s bound to happen in a race this large with all the weaving going on.  Instead of going through a mile by mile recap, I want to just note some key things during the race.

  1. I was in the second wave of runners, in corral E.  You could just jump into any corral with no one checking your bib…I didn’t have an issue with people around me being in an incorrect corral (up too far) and I was able to weave myself pretty close to the start of our corral.  I was about 10 deep to the left of the start area.  It was an awesome feeling at the beginning with thousands of runners being let off at once!
  2. I kept on perfect pace through the half marathon point.  I actually had a 1:47.30 once I crossed the timing mat, which if I were to have replicated that exactly in the second half I would have had my goal of 3:35.00
  3. My legs started to cramp and tighten in my hamstrings and quads around mile 9.  I am guessing due to transatlantic travel and the ridiculous amount we walked the days prior while touring
  4. Water stations were plentiful, and were also stocked with gels (which I heard tasted disgusting) and fruit later on.  The issue I had with these water stations is that it was not like when you run a race in North America….no “excuse me” or “sorry” or people being aware of those around you.  I got smashed into by no less than a dozen sweaty men during the course of the race as they plowed into the water stations.  Even when I would raise my hand up once getting water to signal I was walking someone would plow into me.  The etiquette I am used to was not present here.
  5. On the website, they said there were 40,775 runners representing 133 nations who finished, with 12,332 being women and 28,443 being men.  So while we are used to races in North America being pretty closely represented by women and men, this european race was not.  Also, while all of Berlin seems to speak English, the race participants I was around did not.  There was no one I could have a conversation with when I started to struggle at mile 16.  Everyone was so serious.
  6. Once I got to mile 16, I knew I needed to slow up and try to just enjoy the last 10 miles.  That’s when I started getting more frustrated with the lack of people around me who I could talk to while running, and all the pushing and shoving by the water stations.  I will say that the course is shaded pretty well in areas throughout, with no long stretches of blazing sun.  This was important because it was actually quite warm compared to what I would be used to doing a marathon in.
  7. For better or for worse, I stopped at the bathroom after mile 20.  Then, lo and behold, Marissa from our Runners Soul group came up behind me.  She was having frustration also and just wanted the race to be “fucking over.”  I now had my person to talk to the last 6 miles!
  8. We had a ton of fun in the last stretch, stopping for water and fruit when we could.  Just past mile 25 someone had a makeshift beer station so we stopped for a beer too!  Finishing as strong as we could in the final stretch through Brandenburg Gate was awesome, because each of us started to just pure on race one another to try and beat the other person.  Marissa’s chiptime came out on top by about 3 seconds.
  9. The finishing area was pretty well organized compared to the whole mess getting to corrals.  I wish I had selected “Poncho” instead of “bag drop” because the poncho that people got was nice.  And I was getting chilled in the shade as we waited for people from Runners Soul to finish.
  10. My husband came in about an hour later.  He started in a farther back corral than me.  I am so proud of him! He finished his second marathon with a 4:00.35 run, beating his first marathon by over 4 minutes.  Since the course ran long, he could have been under 4 hours if it had been less crowed.  And he also, along with four other guys, helped a Brazilian woman across the finish line.  And by help, I mean they carried her because she was passing out.  They just wanted her to finish.

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Below are a selection of the professional race photos (which I bought).  I will say that these photos are of higher quality than the Marathon Foto ones I am used to from North America races.  I wish I had seeked out more photographers for pictures before and after the race so I could have had some with Dan.

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And we are off!

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Somewhere in Berlin between miles 20-26.2 🙂

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Focused on finishing

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Probably my favorite photo, having an on course beer with less than a mile to go.  The tossing of the cup totally captures how we feel.

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Brandenburg Gate in the background and coming into the finish!

 

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Berlin Marathon finisher!

THIS WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!  My husband and I would have not been able to take part of this if it wasn’t for Runners Soul in Lethbridge putting together a travel group.  Also, if I was not still on my sweet 1-year Canadian maternity leave (sorry Americans) then we could have not left the country during this time of year…teachers have a great amount of days off, but you can’t just take time off at random times!  Oh, and if my in-laws couldn’t have watched Andy for a week then this trip would have been impossible..We want to do more races overseas, particularly finishing the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  We have New York (yeah, not overseas), London and Tokyo left for myself.  Dan still needs Chicago and Boston too.  We hope that Runners Soul does more travel groups to these races and that we are able to attend.  Dan still does not love running.  However, he loves these experiences of seeing new places and being with friends.  On our drive back to Lethbridge we talked about races in the future we want to travel to.  It is awesome that we have a common hobby that we can enjoy together. Until the next race…..Auf Wiedersehen!

Wisconsin Race Recap

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From June 30-July 17th, I was back in my hometown visiting family and friends.  During that time, my husband and I were able to participate in a four mile race, and then I was also able to do a 5km race.

Firecracker Four

Firecracker Four is a 4 mile race held in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.  This is a suburb of Milwaukee, very close to where I grew up.  I had done this race years ago, and was excited to do it again.  It would be an 8 am start on the 4th of July.  I couldn’t think of a better way to start off this holiday!

It was HOT.  that is an understatement, actually…it was HOT AS FUCK.  The humidity was ridiculous.   I believe the “feels like” temp was in the 90s by 7:30 am.  Both Dan and I weren’t sure how we’d do since this felt like a large sauna.

We ran into my college friend Matt before race start, so it was nice to see a familiar face!  He was with his buddy Kevin, who also went to the same college as us.  They grew up in Hales Corners and always do this race every year.  They think it was the biggest turnout this year, with over 1100 people doing the 4 mile run (there was also a walk portion that had people too).  It was also the 40th anniversary of this event so that’s pretty cool.

Once the race started, I knew I wanted to just push as hard as I could.  This isn’t my normal race distance, so really I had nothing to lose.  One crazy thing was that before we even ran half a mile an ambulance had to come through.  Dan and I thought it was part of the race, but if you weren’t in the front pack you got stopped to let the ambulance through.

This route went through neighborhoods in Hales Corners.  There were a ton of people in their front yards and driveways cheering us on.  And these kind souls also had sprinklers going and hoses spraying us.  Seriously, I don’t think I would have ran as well as I did if it wasn’t for all the water being sprayed.  They also added a third water stop because of the weather.

I was able to hold on and finish with a time of 27:54, beating my goal of running 28 minutes!  I placed 99/1124 overall, 14/546 in female and 4/81 in my age group (just missed a medal!)  My splits were 6:35, 7:05, 7:11, 7:05.  And in true Wisconsin fashion there was a variety of beers at the finish line for us to enjoy.  8:30 am beers on the 4th of July is pretty damn American if you ask me!  USA!

Travelling Beer Garden 5km Race Series-Grant Park

Photo Credit to Jeff Crosby

Continuing where we left off at the Firecracker Four…..I did a 5km at one of the Milwaukee County Parks Travelling Beer Gardens.  Oh Milwaukee….you are amazing.  This park is located in South Milwaukee, right along Lake Michigan.  While it was still hot out, it wasn’t nearly as toasty as it was on the 4th.  And being so close to the lake helped because of the breeze.

Take note I had been eating like shit and drinking too much by this point in my trip.   It was July 12th and my body had been going through hell and back.  I really didn’t know how this would go, considering all the damage I’d done to my insides.  This race was a 6:30 pm start, with the “highlight” being that once you finish, you get a ticket for a free pint glass and beer at the beer garden.

I started out strong and felt like with this smaller field I would have a shot at being near the top.  The interesting thing about running races in a location you don’t normally run is that you don’t know your competitors.  When I am in Lethbridge I know who I should be pacing off of and who I am trying to catch.  Here, its a crapshoot.

I ran mile 1 in 6:30.  Alright, this is an epic pace for me.  If I kept this up, I would have a shot at a personal best.  The field had started to thin out, but there was one girl right in front of me.  I decided to draft off of her and hope for the best.  It was an out and back course, so at the turnaround I saw that I was comfortably in 2nd place, within reach of the female leader.

Mile 2 split was slower, at a 6:44.  I got my head in the game and knew I needed to push for that last mile to see what I could get.  I wasn’t sure if my body was going to give up and get another 15 seconds slower or if I could hold on.

I didn’t get slower, in fact, I got faster.  Mile 3 was a 6:36!  Holy Shit!  I kept pushing and pacing off the lead female and was able to come in right behind her with a chip time of 20:50!  The course measured 3.16 miles, so a little long, and other people also agreed that their watches measured it longer.  My time at the 5km point was actually a 20:30, which would be a personal best for myself!  I was extremely satisfied with my performance, placing 1/21 in my age group, 2/74 in female, and 8/156 overall.

The great thing about this night was that my mom and Andy came to watch (Dan had already flown home).  And while we were there, we saw a bunch of people who I knew…Mike & Christina with their kids, Lindsey who I ran with in high school, my friend Amanda and her husband Nathan….this is what is great about coming “home” to run.  I get to see people who I don’t normally see on a daily basis up here in Alberta.  I look forward to the next time we are back in Wisconsin and hope there’s a race somewhere that I can do!

May Days

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Having a kid puts a damper on being up-to-date on my blog posts.  So, since I did three races in May (a trifecta!  5km, 10km and a half marathon) and haven’t written about any of them, I am going to do a post on all three.  This may become a new way of doing things…!?!

3rd Annual Lakeview Superhero Run 5km

I have actually done this race all three years and this was my fastest one yet!  This race is always a Wednesday evening, and the past two years it was hectic getting there because I would have been working during the day.  This year it was even worse because I was trying to deal with stuff at home with Andy before Dan came back from work and  then I had to rush over to the race start.  After parking I got to the start area with less than 10 minutes before the beginning of the race.  Close call.

The weather had been gross all day long and thankfully it cleared up in the evening.  While I would not have minded some rain while running, this is a 2km and 5km race geared towards children and I know they would have been miserable had it been raining.  The 5km runners started first, and the 2km would begin shortly after.  It’s a quick loop from Lakeview School down the green strip towards Bullys, then around the east end of Henderson Lake and back.  I don’t know my splits, because in the rush around the house before heading here I realized my watch wasn’t charged.  Rookie mistake.  But I do know that I finished in a time of 21:57!  I am super proud of this as last year I ran a 25:57(albeit I was 15 weeks pregnant or so) but back in 2016 I ran a 22:16…I beat that!  This sub 22 time that I ran was my goal for my July race in Wisconsin, so now my goal for that 5km will be to beat this time!

20th Anniversary of Woody’s RV World Half Marathon in Red Deer

Dan and I often go and do this race because his family lives in Red Deer.  This would be my 6th time running this half marathon. More notably this would be Dan’s first full marathon!

The weather was the best I’ve ever experienced for this race.  The race starts and finishes right near Dan’s old high school.  I had originally made a lofty goal of running a 1:40 for this race.  When I started, I had some trouble with my legs.  They just felt heavy.  I really thought that I would be able to shake that feeling after a mile or so, but the heaviness and tightness persisted.  I ended up getting pretty frustrated at the 10km mark, but after I hit 9 miles I had a second wind so to speak.  My last four miles were very consistent and back to where they should have been all along.  Here are my splits:

7:26, 7:45, 7:46, 7:48, 7:50, 8:12, 7:54, 7:45, 8:09, 7:51, 7:50, 7:52, 7:53

My final time was a 1:42.28.  So, not in the 1:40 range like I was hoping but still pretty good.  I hope to get down into that 1:40 range or lower by the Lethbridge Police Half this fall.

6th Annual Fort Mcleod Willow Creek Wilderness Walk & Run 10km

The weekend after Red Deer was this little trail race.  My friend Angela and I headed out to Fort Mcleod in the morning.  She would be doing the 5km while I ran the 10km.  While it was advertised as a “Wilderness Walk & Run” I guess I didn’t really take into consideration that this would be a trail race, and not on paved paths.  Surprise surprise!

I would say about 90% of the route was either on gravel, pebbles, mud, dirt, or grass.  I was the leader of the 10km for the first two or three miles, which was col, but very mentally challenging.  With no lead bicyclist, I was starting to lose focus and drive to stay at my normal 10km pace.  My feet just kept sinking into the stones and I felt my pace getting slower and slower.

One guy did pass me and he stayed ahead of me for the duration of the event.  But having him in front of me helped me push a little more and get back on track.  Given the terrain of the race (and my loss of focus) my splits were all over the place.  (6:43, 7:36, 7:53, 8:05, 7:57, 7:46)  I was happy to see myself get my last mile back down a bit.  In hindsight, I probably went out too fast and had I known what the terrain would be like maybe I would have been a little less ambitious to begin.  My final time was 47:48, which was good enough for 2nd overall and 1st place female.  I got a sweet handmade ceramic mug as my prize!

So that was May!  It is already the first weekend in June, and originally I thought I only had one event this month.  But yesterday I joined a relay team for a local trail race last minute.  So who knows what else I’ll decide to do last minute….

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

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In my final post regarding the Star Wars Race Weekend, I will finally talk about the Half Marathon.  In case you aren’t familiar with the RunDisney race weekends, they have all sort of evolved to having a “Challenge” option.  With exception to Marathon Weekend in January, every other race weekend has an option to sign up for both the 10km on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. (Marathon Weekend goes one step further and has the Dopey Challenge where you do the 5km, 10km, half and full….I did this in 2014 and that was my driving force for fundraising in memory of my late father)

Dan and I were both signed up for the Dark Order Challenge, so in addition to the 10km we completed on Saturday we would be running in a half marathon on Sunday.  We went to bed at a reasonable time Saturday night and then participated in a Groundhog Day style moment Sunday moment where I got up at 2:30 am to pump and we got ready and headed to the transportation to race start.

I did want to make sure we got closer to the front of our corral than we were for the 10km, so that meant we weren’t going to waste time wandering slowly in the open areas.  We walked all the way to the back portion of the staging area to use the farthest porta potties and then went to the holding pen for Corral A.  They eventually moved Corral A into the starting gate and we were only a few rows back from the very front.  Nice!

Waiting around is kind of boring at any race, so at least at a Disney race they have announcers, video footage, and characters to help pass the time.  Again, I am not a Star Wars fan.  I am not against it, or hate it, I just don’t know anything about it.  What I learned while standing there watching different trailers for new movies and highlights from old movies is that 1.) Good guys have blue and green light sabres and 2.) bad guys have red light sabres.   Am I right?

Onto the race….

I knew this would be interesting because this would be the first Disney race challenge that I would try and ‘race’ back-to-back events.  I usually will race one of them, and take the other easy.  For instance, in 2015 I raced the Disneyland 10km and then for the half marathon I ran with Ali pacing her to a personal best.  Really, that’s the smart thing to do.  But I wanted to push.  Dan agreed to run along with me this race so at least I’d have him by my side.  Race started and off we went!

I knew the first miles of the course were technically just like the portion of the full marathon from after the monorail hotels.  But this would be different because at 5:30 am it would still be dark.  I was nervous it would be as boring as the previous days’ 10km, but both Dan and I were pleased the the first couple miles that were heavily tree-lined also had lots of lights, music, sound effects and photo stops on the side.  We weren’t stopping for any photos but it is still nice to see these up ahead and to look at them as you run by.

By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, we were getting warm.  The humidity was bothering me more today than Saturday, and I am not sure if it was more humid even or if it was just the fact that I knew I had more miles ahead of me than I did the day prior.  I tried not to think about it when we ran through Animal Kingdom, and I actually forgot about it briefly when Dan and I had some man draft behind us for about a mile who had the most annoying breathing pattern.  I kept trying to speed up to lose him but he kept creeping behind us and right between us.  GO AWAY!!!!  I eventually slowed a tad just to let this guy through because I was ready to lose my shit.  This was at about the time we were running through Pandora so I didn’t really get to take in all the scenery as I was just annoyed with this man. If anyone knows the man in the photo below between Dan and I, please let him know he should not sidle up to others. Thanks.

We made our way out of Animal Kingdom by way of Dinoland and hit an aid station.  Dan and I were so thirsty that we decided to powerwalk through the aid station to drink Powerade and dump water on ourselves.  Did I mention it was humid?  Shortly after this aid station we made a joint decision:  we would walk through every aid station and pound Powerade and dump water.  It would be needed for survival.  Ultimately, I am glad we did this even though I know our time was slower because of the walking.  But if we hadn’t, the final time may have been even worse because we would have been piles of crap.

Also as we left Animal Kingdom I did an unheard of thing for myself: I took my tanktop off and ran in my sports bra.  I may wear revealing bikinis on the beach, but when I work out or run or do yard work I do not like just being in a sports bra and shorts.  Just not my thing.  But again….the humidity was terrible.  Dan encouraged me to do this, as he had already taken his top off and felt better immediately after doing so.  I will admit it did feel great to get the top off.  I didn’t ditch the top, as it is one of my favorite LuluLemon tops, so I wrapped it around my water belt.

After making the decision to take it easy through the aid stations and shed my shirt, Dan and I both relaxed and had a lot of fun!  We still tried to keep up a good pace, but my legs were getting pretty tired, most likely due to the 10km from the previous day.  We were also getting hungry!  I think our early 5pm dinner the night before, the smaller breakfast that morning, and my pumping before the race all played into my hunger pains.  The Powerade provided some liquid calories and sugars to keep us ‘up’ and then when we got to the food station we both took two packs of the Sport Beans to eat.  We needed fuel bad!  Once we got to Hollywood Studios, however, I knew we could both muster the necessary energy needed in order to finish strong.

While we didn’t stop for any photo stops, we did get lots of great Photopass picutres taken of us.  During the food station I actually took some time to get my race bib off of my sweaty, wet tank top and put onto my water belt.  This was important because your race number IDs you for the photos!  Since my mom is an annual passmember she gets Photopass included and she could register our race bibs on her account.  So ‘free photos’ if you want to use that term loosely!

We finished the race with an official time of 1:50.35.  Dan’s time did not show up on RunDisney and I am thinking it is because he ruined the timing chip on his bib the night before.  After running the 10km, he took his shirt and wrung it out because it was soaked, completely crumpling his bib.  I pointed out he needed to use it the next day and the look on his face was so crushed.  Our splits were as follows (and for the record my watch recorded the distance to be 13.3 miles.  I glanced at my watch when it hit the 13.1 and the time was around 1:49.14)

I don’t know when the next RunDisney race weekend that we attend will be, but I know this won’t be the last!  We really did enjoy ourselves, from the well-planned out expo, to me running beyond my goal time in the 10km, to us running together as husband & wife in the half!  You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘fan’ of the race theme to have a great time at the race weekend!

Note: I have extra medals compared to Dan because I had registered for the Kessel Run Challenge in addition to the Dark Order Challenge.  This meant I did the Start Wars Virtual Half Marathon at home, earned that medal, PLUS the Kessel Run medal at the completion of this race.  RunDisney sure knows how to take my money….bling bling.