Category Archives: running

My next World Marathon Major

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So, since I’ve been so scattered with my recaps and blog posts, I am not even sure of when the last time I mentioned the fact that I am training for a full marathon.  Not just any marathon, but the Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany.  Yes, this is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Major events.  The others are Chicago (completed in 2006), Boston (completed in 2016), Tokyo, London and New York.

I was not planning on running a full marathon this year.  When I was pregnant with Andy, I had told myself that the first year after having him would be just focusing on getting back with running and try to do some decent half marathons.  Fast forward to November 2017, approximately one month after Andy was born.  Dan comes home from race team and tells me that Runners Soul would be doing a travel group to the Berlin Marathon next September and that we should do it.  That’s right—my husband was the one who said we should do it (mind you he hadn’t ran a full marathon yet at this point…)  I would still be on maternity leave, so really…..we couldn’t say no!

I did my winter and spring running, getting my legs back at it and began to feel more confident in my postpartum body.  The training for Berlin would begin a week after the Red Deer Marathon weekend.  I decided to roughly use my same training calendar that I used when I ran Vancouver 2015 and qualified for Boston.

Pushing the running stroller is no joke.  It is definitely helping me with resistance training!  I usually run with the running stroller 3 times a week.  On my speed workout days, I try to wait until Dan gets home from work and then do those runs on my own.  And when we do our long runs on the weekend, Dan and I run together and alternate every mile or two with the stroller.

Berlin is less than 2 months away.  I feel ready, yet I don’t.  The reason why I didn’t want to do a full marathon in my first year postpartum was because I knew I would be hard on myself with the actual result.  Yes, I realize I had a baby less than a year ago, but I don’t want to go out there and be a shell of my former self.  My dream goal is to qualify for Boston again.  The weekend Berlin falls can count for the 2020 Boston Race, and at that race I am 35 and will be up an age group.  So the fact that I get an extra five minutes to my qualifying time makes me think there actually is a sliver of hope that I could do it.

I need a sub 3:40 to qualify.  My personal best is a 3:24.56, which was a 7:49 pace.  I am setting my sights on a sub 3:35 in Berlin, which would be a pace of about 8:11.  I can run 20 seconds slower per mile than I did back in 2015 and be able to qualify for Boston.  Seems doable, right?

But I also need to mentally prepare myself for if it doesn’t work out.  I can’t let potentially not qualifying ruin the rest of the trip.  I also do need to keep telling myself that YOU JUST HAD A BABY IN THE LAST YEAR and the fact that I am even going out there to do this event is pretty bad ass.  I am just going to keep picking away at my training calendar and hope that all the running I did while pregnant and all the running I am doing pushing Andy in his stroller will help me achieve the dream result-a return to Boston.

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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.

Star Wars 10km Recap

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When we planned our trip to Disney, I asked my husband if he wanted us to try and incorporate a race weekend into it. Since we both agreed that it would be fun to do a race weekend, (and more so since my mom would be there with us so she could watch Andy on race mornings) we went ahead and planned our trip around the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.

I am going out on a limb here and saying that this race weekend has some hardcore Star Wars fans. Sorry, but Dan and I aren’t. Well, Dan has seen all the movies and enjoys them. I will admit that I have only seen the third movie in the original instalment….yes, I suck. So with all that being said, our takeaways from the race weekend will be a little different than those of people who are hardcore Star Wars fans.

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We arrived to Disney on Thursday of race weekend. We headed over to the Expo at around 5pm that night. I am usually at Disney race expos right when they open at the morning, and the last time I went in the evening was Wine & Dine 2013. I need to give two huge thumbs up to what I view as positive changes at the Disney Expo. The official Run Disney merchandise is no longer in the main exhibition hall. They have it in a separate field house. The last few years the lines to get into the exhibition field house were CRAZY and it was all because of the official merchandise. Now, we weren’t at the Expo first thing so I am not sure how crazy the lines were in the morning. But Dan and I were able to casually walk in and look at merchandise without having to wait. I hope they keep it like this!

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Now onto race morning! RunDisney events are still very early and that poses a challenge in itself. My alarm went off at 2:30 am…gross. I had it this early so I could pump before we headed out. I woke Dan up at 3:20 am, and we were out the hotel door by 3:45 am. Getting on the provided transport to the start area was a breeze and we were dropped off shortly after 4.

This was the first RunDisney event I’ve done where we start at the Ticket & Transportation Center parking lot. A major pro in this start area is that you do not have an epic journey to the corrals like you do when it starts at EPCOT. There are also TONS of porta potties.  We made our way into the corral at what I thought was a decent enough time ahead of the start (30 minutes) but we were kind of stuck in the middle of the pack.  The corrals for the 10km are a bit frustrating because if you are a runner doing just the 10km, you don’t need a proof of time submitted.  You just submit an estimated pace per mile and your are assigned a corral that way.  So there are presumably some runners in the corral who should probably not be in corral A.  I made Dan hold my hand as I weaved our way up towards the from 1/3 of people.  I gave up trying to get closer to the front at that point.

Race started at 5:30 am.  Dan and I were both going to race it the best we could, and not necessarily stay together.  Had to do some careful zigzagging the first 400 metres or so to get around people who didn’t really properly self-seed themselves.  But then we were good.  Dan was ahead of me to start and I just tried to hold my own.  My goal going into this race was to run in the 45 minute range.  I set this goal back in January when I made running goals for the year.  I wasn’t really sure if this was too lofty of a goal being that I ran a 47:13 in mid March at Moonlight Run 10km. But I figured I would just push it and see what happened.

I will say this about the race; the first 5km was so boring.  Once we go away from the Ticket & Transportation Centre (which was by half a mile) we were just on a boring straight away of darkness.  There was really nothing to see and no entertainment around.  I then just had to focus on every female runner that was ahead of me and kept my mind thinking about catching each one.  This gave me something to think about while running, because otherwise there was absolutely nothing to see.

The humidity was bothering me a bit, but I made sure to grab water at the water stations and dump it over my head.  It wasn’t that ‘hot’ outside, but I was getting sweaty very easily so I knew I needed this water dumping to cool off and keep myself sane.  It wasn’t until mile 4 that we actually got to some scenery.  This is when we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

At this point in a 10km I usually struggle a bit.  Normally I struggle because I may have pushed my first mile way too fast and I’m now suffering because of it.  While my first mile was fast at a 6:47, it wasn’t ridiculous and in the low 6:00 range.  I’ve done that many times before and then my legs are just beat by mile 4 and 5.  By the time I got to mile 4, my first four splits were 6:47, 7:03, 7:14, and 7:08.  I had actually picked up a bit in mile 4!

I had a lot of fun from mile 4 until the finish.  Since we were now inside the parks and hotel areas, there were lots of photographers.  As hot and sticky as I was, I still managed to smile and wave whenever I saw a photographer.  I was being competitive in the race but also trying to stay light hearted and have fun.  It was somewhere between mile 5 and 6 that I saw Dan.  I could tell the humidity was getting to him.  I caught up to him and hoped that it would keep pushing him and that we’d finish together.  Spoiler: we didn’t, as I did stay ahead of him during this race.  But during the half, we ran together and if we hadn’t I think he definitely would have finished before me (more on that in my next post).  I ran mile 5 and 6 in 7:14 and 7:25, respectively.

When I crossed the finish line, my official time was a 44:58!!!  HOLY SHIT! I not only achieved my goal but surpassed it!  The distance on my watch read 6.30 miles, which is common in a race like this due to crowds and weaving in extra distance.  I was so excited with my time and I hung past the finish line for a few seconds to wait for Dan to cross so I could tell him.

By the time we walked through the post race area and got on the bus back to the hotel, unofficial results were coming in on the RunDisney result page.  While I was hoping for an age group award, what I came to find out was that I was one of the top 10 female finishers.  I did not see that coming!  After all was said and done, I was the 10th female finisher in the race, out of 6005 women!  Keep in mind, a lot of people do RunDisney races for different reasons.  Many people are doing them as their first race, and because of the required race pace many people will walk.  But regardless, I was ecstatic!  I did get my age group award I was hoping for, placing 2nd out of 940 in the 30-34 female division.  RunDisney will mail the awards in the next coming weeks so I look forward to receiving it.  The icing on the cake for this race was that Dan and I were back to our hotel by before 7 am and Andy and my mom had not woken up yet!  Time to wake them up and start our Saturday!

10 Mile Road Race Recap 2018

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While the 10 Mile Road Race was held on Saturday, April 7th, it actually felt like Saturday, January 2893821th.  This winter has SUCKED. SUCKED!!!  Seriously, our son was born October 19th and he’s been cold ever since.  Our trip to Disney World can’t come soon enough!  But, back to the race.

Yes, it was cold.  In the morning I checked the temperature and it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit.  Ha ha ha.  But, there was no wind.  There was sun.  And there was no new snowfall.  All those things could have gone the other way and it would have been just awful.  So since our bodies have just gotten used to this perpetual winter, race morning actually didn’t feel too bad.

The cold winter was definitely the reason the participant numbers were down.  At least, that’s my assumption.  All winter has been snowy, cold and ugly so unless you’re a nut job like me….you probably haven’t been running much.  This race is actually called the 10/4 Road Race…there is a 10 mile distance and a 4 mile distance.  Last year when I was pregnant, I did the 4 mile distance because I had not announced my pregnancy yet.  I figured doing the shorter distance would trick people, I don’t know.  Last year, there were 155 participants in the 4 mile distance.  This year there were only 89.  And in the 10 mile distance, there were only 38 runners this year compared to last year’s 92.  With a much smaller field, it was hard to stay fired up during the race (especially once we got spread out in the river bottom).

I had set a goal to run a sub 1 hour 20 minute race.  This equates to an 8 minute/mile pace, which is essentially my ‘goal’ marathon pace (or at least it was when I qualified for Vancouver in 2015).  I also figured this was reasonable given my previous attempts at this race, but also a little ambitious keeping in mind I would be 5.5 months postpartum.

I had done the 10 mile distance at this race three other times.  My race times were:

1:23.14 in 2013

1:14.49 in 2014

1:12.59 in 2016

The race is out and back from Lethbridge College.  You follow Scenic Drive and head north.  Once you get to Lynx Trail by the pedestrian crossing you head down to the river bottom.  You follow the trail adjacent to the river and wind over to the bridge.  You hit the turnaround before crossing Indian Battle Road.

The racers get spread out pretty quickly, and this year it felt even more spread out with so few runners.  By the time we were heading down Lynx I could barely make out the two females who were ahead of me.  When you get into the river bottom, all the winding messes with your head and you can’t see anyone in front of you.  That is where my splits started to slow and get above 8 minutes.  The turnaround itself helped boost my morale because I was able to see how close I actually was to the ladies in front of me (and the ones behind).  I knew I needed to push.

Running back up Lynx is never fun.  Usually, I do quite well on this hill in this very race.  But I am still not back to where I was at before Andy, so I still need to get some more hill training in.  I did not walk at all up the hill, but I definitely was going slow!  Once I got to the top of the hill my vantage point of the runners directly ahead of me was much better than when we were in the river bottom.  I could see there were some runners I could hopefully catch, and maybe even move up in the female placing!

I actually caught up to one of my grade 10 students on the hill.  He was walking some segments of it, and when I caught him on Scenic I started giving him a hard time (he’s a kid I know I could without hurting his ego).  I said “You know, I was pregnant 6 months ago….are you going to let me pass you?”  He laughed and that was enough to get him moving again.  We ran the last two miles together and honestly it helped push me a ton!  I like to think that I helped push him too!  Yes, he did beat me down the final stretch (he runs 400m and 800m in track and once we had only 800m left I told him he had to just gun it) but running with him in the last bit helped me pass a few other runners and also brought me into 2nd position for women!  I finished the race 10th overall out of 38.  I was 2nd out of 16 females and then 2nd in my age group of 30-39 year olds (only 5 of us in the division).  My (rounded) splits were as follows:

7:24 (starting off a little too excited), 7:58, 7:44, 7:44, 8:02, 8:05, 9:18 (up Lynx!), 8:35, 8:10, 7:42 (nice final mile!)

Did I break 1 hour 20 minutes?  No….but I got damn close! My final time was 1:20.39.  Given the cold conditions, I’ll take it!  Also, a shoutout to my husband who ran his third 10 Mile Road Race.  He finished 5th overall with a time of 1:15.44.  And as much as he claims he doesn’t care about “the bling” he appeared actually upset that he didn’t place in his age group during awards (The top three finishers were all males in 30-39).  So he got 4th in his tough age group!

As long as I am in town, I will always do this event!  It is a well organized race and I get to see lots of people I know at it.  Hopefully next year we have a better winter and this race is actually a Spring event!

Moonlight Run 10km 2018

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The annual Moonlight Run in Lethbridge was held on St. Patrick’s Day—March 17th, 2018.  This would be my 7th time participating in the event, having done 5 previous 10km distances and one 6km distance.  I have talked about this race at length in the past few years, so I won’t be going into as much detail about the event itself, but I do want to touch on the things that made it ‘unique’ this year…specifically 1) the weather 2) my postpartum race experience.

I’ll be doing a general recap of the race first, and then at the end I will touch on some specific things that came up as being a postpartum runner.  So if you don’t care about one of those things, skip to where you want to read and ignore the other!

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To put it frankly, this winter has been ugly.  We got our first snowfall on the night of October 1st, and I remember this because this was the day of my birthday and baby shower.   Just when you think winter is over, another dumping of snow comes….more ice, melting, snow, ice melting, grass, snow, snow..,..it hasn’t let up.  It has been nasty and cold.  And in the last week or more we got some bad drifting.  Well, everything started melting….and the river valley was so ugly that the organizers for Moonlight Run had to make some adjustments to the course route (more on that in a bit).  I went down the day before the race to check on one of the main paths….and the picture above shows the straightaway between Helen Schuler Nature Centre and Tollestrup.  When I took the photo Friday afternoon, I considered this to be great conditions…I knew what I had looked like at Marathon Club the week before!  By race night, it was even better.  Sure there was still spots with thick chunks of ice and a puddle here and there, but considering what our winter had been like, this was heaven.

Given the weather, I am not sure how many people really thought they would be setting personal bests at Moonlight.  Training this winter has been tough.  But, Dan and I both went into the race knowing we wanted to give it our best.  Dan has actually been legitimately training, running three times a week.  And I wanted to see what I could power out as my first big race since having Andy.  However, we obviously weren’t taking ourselves too seriously as we went to Sister’s Pub at 7pm the night of the race to share a beer….race started at 8 pm….

I knew I wanted to just try and power as much as I could during the race to really see what my body could handle at this point being 5 months postpartum.  Dan wanted to see if all his training really has made a difference.  When the race started, we both positioned our selves very near the front of the pack so we could have our space once the horn sounded.  Dan was immediately in front of me and it stayed that way the whole race (this would be the first race Dan beat his non-pregnant wife…him beating me while I was pregnant doesn’t count!)  The first mile of Moonlight is always great as we get to pass the bagpipe troupe and the Japanese drummers.  And it’s a fast mile as you are flying down 3rd ave to the river bottom, lovingly called the Wendy’s Hill (Wendy’s is at the top).  You can see in my splits later how fast that first mile went!

With the course adjustments due to the frozen and wet river bottom, we turned south on Indian Battle Road and headed on the asphalt to the water treatment plant.  We turned around there heading back on the same road, and once we got to the base of the hill we continued on Indian Battle Road to Helen Schuler Nature Centre, down the path to Highway 3, past the smell of the sewage plant, and turned around at Tollestrup.  This route was AWESOME as with the weather and conditions, if we had been on the normal route we would have encountered some very dangerous icy spots. With headlamps, road lights, volunteer flashlights and the bright moonlit sky I felt very safe and not concerned about falling and hurting myself.  Another change was that all the runners, both 6km and 10km, went back up the same hill to get to 3rd ave.  In previous years the 10km runners would head up on the adjacent trail (I found this part very mentally challenging).

While I did not stop to walk at all on the hill up, it was tougher than years’ past.  Obviously because I have just been getting back into hill work!  I made it up with help from the cheers of friends I passed who were spectating, and I pushed the final stretch back to the finish.  My best Moonlight Run 10km time is from 2015 (the year I qualified for Boston) and I ran a 43:47.  This year I finished with a 47:13.  I had not advertised to friends or family what my goal time for this race was, but I had written it down (along with my other goal times for races this year).  I had written a goal of 46-48 minutes for Moonlight.  So, falling right in the middle of that range is perfect and I am proud!  I am also extremely proud of my husband Dan, who did in fact run a personal best 10km with a time of 44:40.  Yes, he beat his wife….but I still have the best 10km time between the two of us (41:30 from 2015).

We were able to stick around for awards, as our friends were watching Andy while we attended the event.  Both Dan & I received age group awards.  Dan earned 2nd in the 30-34 male age group, where he placed 2/24.  He was 23/189 for men and 25/377 overall.  I snagged 3rd in the 30-34 female age group, placing 3/28.  I was 11/188 for women and 45/377 overall.  The pictures below show us before the race, the start/finish area, and us after the race together and with our friends Bob & Christine.

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So that was the race.  I felt pretty good during it, and after as we waited for awards I kept moving about so I didn’t tighten up.  I felt like it was a success and my body had held up.   Now, onto the postpartum issues.  So if you don’t care about this, stop reading now.

This isn’t actually a ‘gross’ issue that occurred, and it wasn’t something I really wasn’t preparing for.  Hopefully is there are other postpartum runners out there this can help them.  We left the race at around 10:15 pm and went to pickup Andy.  When we got home around 11pm, I sat down to pump (I am an exclusive pumper by choice).  I pumped for close to 30 minutes and got 275 ml—this is more than one regular sized Medela bottle.  Well, I had earned a post race beer by now so I went to grab one and go take a shower.  I immediately started having blurred vision and couldn’t really see clear out of my peripherals.  Ok, I must still be hyped from the race.  Got my contacts out, washed my face and jump in the hot shower.  When I was done with the shower my vision was still fucked.  I was feeling dizzy.  I went to the kitchen to get some food thinking maybe I din’t eat enough.  Strawberries….maybe my blood sugar was low?  I ate a couple handfuls and that seemed to help the vision.  But my head was starting to hurt.  I started pounding water.  I think it was too little too late.

While I had paid attention  to really hydrating myself during the daytime, I stopped my water intake about 2 hours prior to race start because to be honest, I was nervous about having to go to the bathroom while running.  And after the race, sure I had a bit of water (about as much as I would normally have after a race) but I didn’t take into account one major new issue—-I am now a milk truck.

The evening pumping session where I did not consume water did me in.  I was dehydrated.  And it hit hard.  I went to bed quickly and had water bedside.  When I got up with Andy in the middle of the night my headache was verging on migraine.  I drank more water and pumped again.  By morning, I needed Dan to get up with Andy at 7 while I slept another two hours.  My head was in so much pain.

I eventually got it under control by noon.  But, I learned one major lesson—I need to be drinking tons of water not only before the race, but after and ESPECIALLY during my next couple pumping sessions post race.  I had had the headache issue occur when I was running while pregnant, because I just simply wasn’t drinking enough water to adequately hydrate my body that was working overtime.  Even though I am no longer pregnant, my hormones are still in overdrive since I pumping about 6 times a day to feed our child.  And while I do pay attention to my water intake during a normal day, race days are different.

I am glad that this ‘problem’ occurred this race though.  It was better for me to realize the potential issues during a local 10km than have it happen during a destination race.  When we go to Disney World in a month and run the Star Wars 10km & half marathon I need to be taking in tons of water, not only because of the reasons I have now realized but because it’s going to be humid as hell down there.  To feel miserable one morning post race in my own bed is one thing…I don’t want to feel miserable post race while on vacation!  So, any breastfeeding or pumping momma’s out there who do any strenuous exercise…please make sure you hydrate more than you normal would if you do something beyond your normal daily activity.  If you are going to feed your baby close to after a big workout or race, have a water bottle handy and rehydrate yourself as your feed your little one….you start to become immune to realizing how much liquid you’re expelling from your body every time you feed or pump….and it’s important to rehydrate yourself so you don’t ‘go to the darkside’.

 

Final Thoughts on 2017

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To say that 2017 was a crazy year is an understatement.  I started the year off in Walt Disney World with my mom and best friend.  I was pregnant and participated in the Marathon Weekend events.  Then, shortly after coming home, I found out I miscarried.  An immense amount of anger took over me.  But things have a funny way of working out.  No less than 6 weeks after my D&C I discovered I was pregnant again.  We had many early ultrasounds and blood tests to confirm the pregnancy.  We went for the 1st trimester screening test and were able to see a clear image of our growing baby.  At 20 weeks we found out we were having a baby boy.

All during this time I continued to run, using it as a coping mechanism from when I first found out the bad news, and then as a stress reliever to help keep some normalcy in my life. How much did I run this year?  Not as many races as I had in years prior, but quite a few.  I did three 5km races, three 5km virtual races, one 6km, one 4 mile, one 8km, two 10kms, a half marathon relay, two half marathons and one full marathon.  I am most proud of the 10km I ran at 35 weeks pregnant, which I completed in 1:02.50!

It was shortly after that race that I found out I had pre-hypertension.  This was discovered at my 37 week appointment.  I was done with work immediately, and one week later I was induced and gave birth to our son, Andrew Allen Pottage.  Labour was the most pain I’ve ever been in.  It was worse than any race I ever competed in.  But making it to this finish line was oh so sweet.

I have now pretty much fully recovered from not only the pregnancy and delivery, but also from my surprise appendectomy that I had at the beginning of December.  Now that I am ready to take on 2018, I have some big plans.

I will be joining Runners Soul marathon club for my 6th season.  I will be training for the half marathon distance, where I’ll run the Red Deer Half over May Long weekend.  Before May Long, I will do Moonlight Run 10km, 10 mile road race and the Walt Disney World Star Wars Half Marathon weekend, with both the 10km and half marathon events.  That will be an exciting trip, as it will be our first time on an airplane with baby Andy!  I can’t wait to take him to Disney World, and even though he won’t remember a damn thing, the memories  and photos will be ones to cherish.

The biggest running news for 2018 is that my husband and I will be heading to Berlin, Germany, in September to run the Berlin Marathon!  The opportunity was presented to us through our local running store Runners Soul, and there is a group of us heading out there to run in this World Marathon Major event!  And did you notice I said “my husband and I”?  YES, Dan will be running a full marathon!  He actually will be doing the Red Deer Full Marathon in May as his first full, in order to figure things out and see how much pain he is in afterwards.  But this is going to be such a memorable race-cation for us!

I’ll still blog in the new year, though, it may not be as often as I used to.  With the baby and all, things are a little different.  I will always do my race recaps, but also hope to talk about how training postpartum is going.  I am sure there will be some frustration as I try to get back to where I was before baby, and I hope to share how it is all going.

2017 started off really sour.  But it ended oh so sweet.

Getting Back in the Game

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Its been 5 weeks since I was told I needed to stop running and 4 weeks since I was admitted to the hospital to be induced.  I will admit, that one of my biggest concerns going into labour was “when would I be able to run again?”  I know, that’s a bit selfish.  But, running is part of my identity.  I don’t plan on losing that piece of me now that I am a mom.  I need it for my health, sanity and well-being.  My husband if 100% behind me running and working out again as soon as possible post-partum, however, he was nervous because he didn’t want me to go out there too soon and do something detrimental to my body.  Fair enough.

When we took Andy to his first doctor’s appointment on October 25th, Dan wanted to talk with him about when I would be able to start running again.  Dr. Galbraith is not only Andy’s doctor but mine as well.  He is also has a sports medicine clinic here in Lethbridge.  He is well aware of my running background and what I did as far as exercise during my pregnancy.  After talking with Dr. Galbraith, he informed us that it would be safe for me to go out and run after 2-3 weeks from the date of delivery.  This obviously is not the same for everyone who just had a baby.  He took into account my previous running experience before being pregnant, how active I was during the pregnancy, and any trauma my body may have went through during the actual labour and delivery.  My labour was painful as hell due to being induced, but my delivery went very smooth.  He made it key that I needed to listen to my body when I start running again, which was something I was doing all throughout the pregnancy.  I was very happy to hear this from the doctor, and it was enough information for my husband to feel confident that I would not be doing harm to my body once I started working out.

On November 1st, I ran my first single mile since week 37.  I felt great out there.  I was cautious with my running, did not overdo myself, and was listening to the changes my body had taken.  This was just the start of the next chapter in my life as a ‘mother runner.’

My plan for the rest of 2017 is simple:  For November, I will be running 4 days a week.  Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.  The distances on those days are not set in stone.  They will often be between 1-3 mile runs, working up to maybe a 4 miler by the end of the month.  I will go to Runners Soul Run Club on the Wednesday nights it is offered and do their route.  I also registered for my first post-pregnancy race on Saturday, November 18th—The Claus Cause 5km.  I am also adding in other components to my exercise regime on the days I am not running.  On Tuesday & Thursday, I will be attending Kinetic Fitness and taking the Baby Mama Boot Camp class, which I can take Andy to!  It is a great way to meet other mom’s and get a great workout in.  And on Fridays, I will attend the free Kinetic-On-The-Go HIGH Fitness class that they hold in the morning.  I can also bring Andy to this one, as it is in the gym of an LDS church and kids are welcome.

Every day has some form of exercise scheduled in, with also room for walks (weather permitting).  Having three fitness activities that I can bring Andy along with is key, as it gets us out of the house!  And being able to run those 4 days a week helps get me back at building a base.  In December, I will continue the classes at Kinetic but I also plan on participating in Runners Soul Run Streak, where you commit to run at least 1 mile a day each day for the whole month.  There are prizes each day, so there is that extrinsic motivation.  I also hoped to get on at least one 6 mile training run before the end of the year.  Once 2018 rolls around, Half Marathon Club begins and training for  local 10km, 10 miler and the RunDisney Star Wars Half begins!

I think it’s safe to say all new mom’s long to get their bodies back to where they were before being pregnant.  Yes, I am one of those mom’s.  But, more so than worrying about a number on the scale, I long to get myself back into the running shape I was in before.  I know it will take some time, and I also know it’ll take some work.  But it is important to me to get back to the level I was at pre-baby—I worked so hard to get to that point that I don’t want it to just be a distant memory.  I hope in the near future to re-qualify for the Boston Marathon…that will be the true signifier that I’ve done it.  But until then, I will put in the time and try not to get frustrated if it takes a bit longer than I hoped.

Lethbridge Police 10km Recap

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Saturday, September 30th, marked the day of the 5th annual Lethbridge Police Services Run.  They offer three different race distances—half marathon, 10km and 5km.  I have now participated in not only every year, but every event!  The first three years I ran the half marathon, and in two of those years I even placed in top three and was awarded prize money!  Last year, I ran the 5km with my cross country kids—-it was my first race after my foot surgery.   And this year, I ran the 10km.  More specifically, I ran the 10km while over 35 weeks pregnant.

All our race bibs for race morning!


I had kept up with my training all summer, and most recently I had done two separate 6 mile training runs on Saturdays in late August and early September to make sure my body was prepared for the distance.  As the race date approached, I knew I was feeling heavier (duh) and would have to just take the race with ease.  I had set in my mind to have a goal of an 11 minute mile, which if I could manage this would get me in at under 1 hour 10 minutes.  This would be very reasonable, considering my personal best in this distance is 41:30.  However, I understand that every day could be different in this pregnancy and I wasn’t entirely sure how my body would feel come race morning.

The race day came, and I was very happy with not only the cooler temperatures, but that the smoke from forest fires had been long gone.  I knew cooler weather would benefit me.  The half marathon started first, with the 10km and 5km participants following about 5 minutes later.  When our race began, I knew the first 5km would not be an issue—-cool weather, along with race adrenaline and the long downhill to the riverbottom, would all be working in my favour.  If anything, I knew I had to be cautious and careful as I wasn’t sure how my body would feel the last 5km.

My first 3 miles were a lot faster than the 11 minute pace goal—-9:09, 9:39, 10:31.  At this point in the race, the 5km runners had split off from us and the crowd of runners thinned.  We wound through the river bottom and made our way to the bridge, our past Helen Schuler, and back.  With less people out there, it was mentally challenging to get through mile 4 and 5.  I was able to hold on pretty close to my third mile split, running mile 4 and 5 in 10:35 and 10:32, respectively.

Now with only 1 mile to go, it was mind over matter.  I pushed my legs the best I could, all while still watching my heart rate.  There as a point in this final mile where I knew I could go faster, but my heart rate would spike.  I had to hold back a little bit.  Mile 6 was 10:32, and I was able to close out the last 0.2 of the race comfortably.  I finished my 6.2 mile run in a time of 1:02.50!

Coming in to the finish!


Finishing when I did was perfect—my mom and mother in law had just finished walking the 5km and were able to see me come in to the finish.  There were friends of mine who had done the 5km race that were watching the finishers—their words of encouragement helped a lot!  I was able to grab a bunch of food, which I normally don’t eat but figured baby needed, walk around to stretch my legs….I eventually went to the bathroom, but it was funny that I didn’t need to immediately!  Baby presses down on my bladder, but I just have to try and block that out of my mind when I race because I know I really don’t have to go to the bathroom!  I then was also able to catch my husband finish his third half marathon, with his second best time—a 1:42.56.  I am still so amazed at the times he can run given that he only runs once a week….ONCE A WEEK!  And it’s just speed work with Runners Soul Race Team.  Imagine what he could do if he took it seriously!

Mom and I


Overall, this event was again fantastic.  I had a great run, my family had a great time participating in it, and the event itself was put on so smoothly (like always).  I always enjoy this event, but this year will be extra special as it fell on my 33rd birthday weekend and baby shower.  This is a 10km to remember!