Category Archives: travel

Andy’s 1st Vacation

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Call us crazy, but the first vacation we took our son on was to Walt Disney World. And if you want to call us crazy, just keep it to yourself. You see, I know that Andy won’t remember anything from this trip. After all, Andy turned 6 months the day we left on the vacation. But Walt Disney World is a place I feel very comfortable in travelling to. This blog started as one about “Walt Disney, Running and my Dad.” Those three things all tied together for this “first vacation” as we we brought Andy, who was named after my late father, to Disney World…Dan and I ran in the Star Wars First Order 10km & Half Marathon Challenge…and on the day we left it was 14 years since my father passed away. So to go to Disney with baby Andy and run a 10km and half marathon one day after another while surrounded by the memories of the trips my family made together in the past makes sense!

Is traveling to Disney World with a 6 month old for everyone? Probably not. Like I said above, I have been to Disney a lot. I could take the time to count the individual trips but I believe I am now over 20. I am familiar with the resort enough that I figured it would help ease the stress of travelling with an infant.

And trust me…it did.

The first airplane ride was going to be a challenge no matter wheee we were going. I booked the tickets before Andy was born, and in my head I figured a red eye would be ok because “he would sleep.” Well. He maybe would have slept better if Dan and I hadn’t tried to stick to our “plan” so much. We assumed that having him in the Ergo chest carrier would be just fine while we flew. But really, he got too warm and was PISSED. He did better the second portion of the trip after our connection because we just swaddled him in his blanket and laid him across us. So rule #1-don’t stick to what you think will work best, because ultimately the baby will tell you what does!

One thing I was anxious about in the general travelling issues with this trip was travelling with breast milk. I was bringing about 2L of frozen milk in a soft sided carrier (Dan’s personal item for onboard) and then a few bottles of fresh milk. We had no issues going through security and customs. So easy!

Pumping while flying is a different story. I had originally wanted to keep my fresh supply the same as normal, but after the terrible red eye flight I was so tired and worn out. I had thought I would pump in the Priority Pass lounge in Toronto but I forgot to pack my ID card and couldn’t remember my log in information on the app. So I pumped in some sketchy corner of the airport. Instead of worrying about pumping at the airport in those conditions, I should have just breastfed. I’m not 100% confident in my breastfeeding abilities, which is why I stray away from it, and I don’t like not knowing how much he intakes during a session. But doing this on the flight did help calm him down and also made it easier than dealing with pump parts. If you are a breastfeeding mama who does give the baby a bottle with expressed milk, I strongly encourage bringing frozen milk on a trip because once we arrive to our resort I stored the milk in the fridge. The frozen milk was thawed slowly and used within two days. This gave me time to build back my fresh supply from pumping. It also allowed us to be relaxed on the trip and not have our plans dictated by a pumping schedule.

Going to the Disney parks with Andy was definitely different than any of my previous trips where I’d gone with family or friends. I knew that we’d have to definitely do it in pieces with an afternoon break. As the trip progressed we really did listen to Andy on when it was time to go home. For instance, our second Magic Kingdom day we had a Splash Mountain fastpass after lunch. Andy was getting tired, and if we did the fastpass we would probably be adding on another hour to our day before getting to hotel. While Andy did fall asleep in the stroller or chest carrier on this trip his naps in those positions weren’t of high quality. Getting him back to the hotel for a proper nap was key. It also allowed us to enjoy the evening more. What worked for us-we’d get back to the hotel for his nap. I would pump and dan would get him settled. Dan would take a nap too and I’d go to the pool. We could usually count on 2 hours of a nap for him in the pack and play, so he’d be ready to go for a short evening at EPCOT then!

Andy did a handful of rides: at Magic Kingdom he did People Mover, Dumbo, Small World (ate a bottle during 3/4 of it), Peter Pans Flight (asleep in chest carrier the whole time), Voyage of the Little Mermaid and saw Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theatre (unimpressed but good). At EPCOT he did Nemo (just wanted to stand up the whole time), saw fish at Living Seas (was wide eyed), Gran Fiesta Tour Boat Ride in Mexico (loved it and did great) and Frozen in Norway….whoops, sorry Andy for scarring you for life! He was getting tired during our fastpass time but I strapped him to my chest and we road anyway. What the picture doesn’t show is that he is wailing so loud as we go down that little hill. It was too loud and too much for him. He screamed as Elsa sang “LET IT GO!”

At Hollywood Studios the only thing he did was get pictures with Minnie & Mickey. And at Animal Kingdom he road Kilimanjaro Safaris and went on the Pangani Forest Trail. Andy is happiest in the morning so we made sure to do the safaris first thing. I was nervous since it’s a 20 minute ride, but I had him in the chest carrier looking out and when he started to fuss we distracted him by giving him solid food (those dissolvable crackers for babies). Worked so well! One of the moms in my Mommy Connections class suggested those so I’m glad we bought them before the trip.

If you go to Disney and want to do the rides, using Baby Swap/Rider Switch is a must. I knew it existed, but did not really understand how to best utilize it. A friend and her husband explained it to me a few days before leaving and it was well worth using! You could also plan fastpasses a bit better if you wanted to try to do more rides and do rider switch, but we just stuck with our original plans. The key component is that rider switch is good for up to three guests. If you have a fastpass, your whole party & Baby go to fastpass area to check in. (They need to see you actually have a baby!!!). The ones who want to ride first go through. Since Dan and I would ride together first we scanned our fastpasses. Grandma waited with Andy. We receive a ticket (like the old paper fastpasses) to use at any time during the day. We always had Grandma ride it right away after we were done, but you could leave the attraction and go back to it later if you’d like. The awesome thing is that 1.) either Dan or I could ride again with my mom when she went and the other person stayed with Andy 2) my mom did not need a fastpass booked for this ride. Just return to fastpass queue with rider switch and they let you through. This could be extremely beneficial in trying to get difficult fastpass rides like Flight of Passage. You can basically use rider switch/baby swap on any ride in Disney that your baby would not be able to ride with you. If you have more rider switch questions, feel free to message me and I can try to help or direct you to someone who can explain better.

Dining with Andy went pretty well. We had one reservation a day. Some meals he slept. Some meals he was awake. Some meals he lost him mind. Just have food for baby and a sense of humour if you are bringing to meals at Disney. And really, having a baby crying at a dining reservation in Disney is the best place for it to happen! There are toddlers having tantrums and grumpy adults all around…a cute 6 month old with tears isn’t too bad. One thing we did change part way into our trip was our final dinner time. We had a 7:45 pm reservation, but Andy had been falling asleep at night by 7:30-8:30 pm. Changed it to 5:15 pm. Smartest move ever.

I could talk more about this trip, and I will in two other posts. Those posts will be recaps on the 10km and half marathon. But to end this post, taking Andy to Disney at 6 months worked for our family. Having my mom down there with us in a connecting room was a HUGE part to why the trip was a success and generally went smoothly. If it was just Dan and I down there with him I am not sure we would have enjoyed it as much. I know not everyone has that luxury to have a grandparent travel with them on vacation to help (she watched him in the mornings we did the races and on Sunday night when we went out) and we won’t have her on other family vacations. But for our first trip it helped tons! It was awesome seeing my mom spend time with Andy and getting him to giggle and smile. The pictures we have from this trip will be something we cherish.

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Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2017

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Well.  It’s almost been a month since the WDW Marathon Weekend…about time I do a little recap I think!  I could do a really, really long one and go on into great detail….but I am going to try and spare you all from that.  I’m going to try…TRY…and keep it condensed!

I arrived in WDW on Tuesday, January 3rd.  This allowed me to enjoy the days leading up to the events, which would be on the Saturday and Sunday.  My mom had arrived earlier that morning and I met her at the hotel.  My best friend Ali was arriving the following day, and she got there without a hitch….well, her Magical Express bus from the airport almost needed to be hitched by a trailer and towed away because it broke down a few miles away from the hotel.  But she got there safe and sound!

Even though these are from different days, here are some “enjoying WDW” pictures that aren’t race related!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

My mom and I went to the expo on Wednesday, January 4th.  I would go back to the expo the next day with Ali so she could get her race bib, but I knew I wanted to make sure I got some certain race merchandise items.  So arriving at expo open was key.  I did not like that the expo didn’t open until noon.  It was an upcharge by Disney if you wanted to get into the expo and hour or two (can’t remember which one) earlier than general opening.  Money grab if you ask me.  But since we arrived at Wide World of Sports at 11:30, we queued up and were let into the expo floor by around 11:45.  Straight the the merchandise, we had no problem getting the items I wanted.  I also bought Ali what she was requesting.  We did a little tour of the expo floor where I bought quite a few other items.  In retrospect, I should have gone to the other building where packet pickup was…that line was never a stand-still, but when I eventually made my way up there I had to go back and forth and back and forth until I got into the building.  Thankfully, my race shirts were in that same building to pickup…otherwise I would have to go BACK into the expo hall…and that line was ridiculous.  I don’t know if it was just that every person in an event that weekend (5km, 10km, half, full, goofy, dopey, kids races) showed up, but the crowd was crazy compared to what I remember in 2014.

 

 

 


Day before the half marathon, the weather didn’t look great.  RunDisney started issuing updates early afternoon, telling us runners to stay tuned for up to date info.  At around 7 pm on Friday night, they cancelled the half marathon.  This was due to a huge storm coming through in the evening, that called for thunder and lightning.  At first, it was a huge let down that the race wouldn’t be run.  But, RunDisney did the right thing.  I did, however, mention to my mom and Ali that “It better fucking STORM!” because otherwise you know people on social media were going to lose their minds even more…and for the record, and it storm.  All night, and then at 7:45 AM we heard a huge CRACK.  It would have been chaos if 20,000 + runners were out there on property running and this happened.

 

 

(For the record, RunDisney offered four different “reimbursement” options since they cancelled the event.  This information came out later Friday evening.  And, they didn’t have to do this.  That’s what it says in the fine print whenever you sign a race waiver.  It was great of them to do this.  I opted for the reimbursement of the cost of the half registration in form of Disney Gift Card…which I gave to my mom.  She paid for my registration to begin with.  Now, she has $185 to spend on her Disney Cruise this June!)

So, Saturday came.  Race was cancelled.  I had already heard of people talking about getting the miles in somehow that day, be it treadmill or waiting until weather cleared.  RunDisney was still giving everyone their half marathon medal, so it wouldn’t really feel right to take the medal (and then my Goofy Challenge medal the next day) and not really “earn it.”  My mom, Ali and I were taking the boat to the Studios for 9 am park open, and the weather was already starting to clear.  We saw runners on the Boardwalk, on the promenade in front of Yacht & Beach, on the walkway to the Studios….tons of runners were out there, wearing their race bibs…some in their costumes too….getting in the miles.  I immediately knew I had to get my 13.1 in.  I messaged Alyssa & Drew, who had mentioned they were planning on getting the 13.1 miles in that day.  They ended up meeting my at the Studios at 11:45 am and we did our “Unofficial WDW Half Marathon.” We got the 13.1 miles in, and honestly had a blast doing it!  At around mile 11, when we had looped back by the Studios, we even went in and were able to get a photo with Donald….which was appropriate since he is the ‘mascot’ for the half marathon.  It may not have been the way I imagined Saturday would be, but I am always going to remember that “race.”

 

 


So then the weather went from one extreme to the other by Sunday.  It was cold.  Wehn Ali and I left the room at 3 am to go to the busses, it was around 40 degrees fahrenheit.  I was grateful my body was conditioned and used to cold weather, as the poor Floridians were freezing……hahaha!  Neither Ali or I packed much for layers…I had packed a throwaway long sleeved shirt, but didn’t think about sweats or hats.  I fashioned us some gorgeous garbage bag ponchos (which for some reason I thought to pack) and then got creative with Disney towels.  I figured using Disney hotel towels and dumping them before a race on Disney property would be OK….I mean, they’d get them back if they wanted them?

 


After the long wait that is the start of a RunDisney race, Ali and I were off at around 6 am.  The official race start was 5:30 am, so with us starting in Corral I, that’s not to bad.  I did only remind Ali once or twice that I could have already been to the Magic Kingdom (I was able to start in B).  I don’t know if she cared for my sarcasm.

Race began and we kept moving with the pack the best we could.  I kept reminding her we needed to just try to stay with the pack and not get stuck with all the other people behind us, as it would make Magic Kingdom even more crowded.  I made it my mission to take a photo of each mile marker (which I did) but I won’t post those all because, well…it’s boring.  I kept texting my mom, who was at Magic Kingdom on Main Street.  When we got into Magic Kingdom, we stopped quickly to talk to her, get a photo, and on we went.  That was at mile 5.

 

 

The next stretch to the half marathon mark was a bit of a challenge.  Lots of people, narrow part of the course.  Kept having to remind Ali we were almost to Animal Kingdom, and then we’d have more to see.  We even stopped quickly for a photo with Meeko, from Pocahontas, before we entered Animal Kingdom.  It was fun seeing people jumping in line for Expedition Everest, as it had just opened.  We weren’t in the park all that long, or at least not long enough for Ali….because before we knew it we were in the back lot and heading towards the parking lot.  I knew she was dreading the next stretch of open road, as we’d be logging in the miles 16-21 before getting back into the parks.

 

 



I’m happy to say we are still best friends after that stretch, because man….our friendship ending was a possibility.  Ok, not really….but I think Ali wanted to beat the shit out of me during Wide World of Sports.  I forgot how much turning and winding you do during that part!  I tried to distract her by talking her ear off, and I do think it helped when we got to mile 20!  Mile 20 was right on the ball diamond, so I made Ali stop for a picture there.  I reminded her now we just had a 10km to go!  It also helped motivate her when we were heading down the road away from WWOS that we saw the “Balloon Ladies” (the sweepers) who runners must keep ahead.  We were definitely going to stay ahead of them, so it eased our minds going in the final stretch.

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20 miles!

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While the morning started off cold, the sun had came out and was hitting your body pretty good. I knew I would have an epic racerback tanline after this was all said and done.  As we made it up the hill with the Green Army Men yelling at us, down a final descent of non-descriptive WDW resort road way, we finally made it into the back entrance of the Studios.  There were people everywhere, as by now it was late morning and thegeneral public were all going about their days at the parks!  It was awesome to have people around us in the park, cheering us on, encouraging us.  We exited the Studios (after our fourth bathroom break of the day) and took the walkway to Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach Club, and then the back entrance of EPCOT.  I think Ali thought we would have a lot of backstage running to do before entering the park, but before we knew it, we were entering World Showcase at the United Kingdom pavilion!  And then over the first bridge we hit the mile 25 sign!  Only one mile was between us and the finish line…well, and a Grand Marnier Orange Slush in the France pavilion for Ali!



The last mile was a lot of fun.  Ali got her drink (I think the alcohol hit her immediately), which an older lady with a solid Boston accent bought for her, and we saw other runners enjoying beverages from World Showcase.  I got a picture with Jasmine, we took a selfie by Spaceship Earth, saw the gospel choir at mile 26.  Then it was the final stretch!


Ali had some fire saved up in her, as she started sprinting down to the finish line.  We finished!  Ali had finished her first ever full marathon!  I finished my 10th official* RunDisney race! (11 if you count the unofficial half from the day before!)  This is going to be a memorable race weekend for years and years to come, and I will cherish those memories!

 

 

My Next “Big Event”

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Hello and happy 2017 everyone!  I have recently returned from the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, where I completed the Goofy Challenge*…there’s an asterisk there because in the history books, this will be the race weekend that had the half marathon cancelled.  I will be doing a complete write-up on the weekend, but I wanted ot let everyone know some of the basics:

The WDW half, which was scheduled to be held on Saturday, January 7th, was cancelled the night before due to a threatening storm coming through the area.  Thunder and lightning occurred all throughout the evening and into the morning, and this would have cause the race to be cancelled either while we were in the corrals waiting to start, or after we started.  It would have been a disaster!  So, many runners did their own “unofficial” WDW half later that day when the storm system cleared.  I completed the 13.1 miles with two friends.  We wanted to complete the distance, so that we could wear our Challenge medals with pride the next day.  On Sunday, January 8th, the marathon went on without a hitch.  I was able to run with my best friend Ali, as she completed her very first full marathon.  It was an amazing weekend!

I alluded in my last post that I would be talking about what was in store for 2017…well, as you can see by my updated “countdown” on the side….I am pregnant!  I am due late July, and while I was in Disney I hit the 12 week mark.  Today I am 13 weeks, and will be heading to Calgary to get my combined First Trimester Screening test done.  My husband and I are very excited, anxious, nervous, scared, elated, etc.  We have always wanted to have a kid, but I was always the one who had concrete running goals I wanted to achieve first….qualify for Boston, go to Boston…then get foot surgery due to all my running…Really, I think waiting longer was also in my husband’s mind too, but I always was the one with the “bucket list” of things I wanted to achieve before we started a family.

WDW Marathon Weekend!

WDW Marathon Weekend!

I know runners who read this page wouldn’t think anything negative about it, but the general public I know will say “Wait…so you ran a half marathon and a full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant?  Is that safe?”  The long and short of it is, YES.  I had been in talks with my family doctor (who runs a sports medicine clinic) since this past summer and he was well aware of my Goofy Challenge goals.  When I got referred to my OB-GYN, the first thing I let her know was that I was flying out to Orlando in January to do a 39.3 mile challenge.  She said “Great!”  Everyone is different—obviously, if you were doing your first full marathon and just started running, there may be some hesitation.  This was not my first rodeo.  I also was not going for any time goal of say, a Boston qualification.  I had to change some of my fueling during the race (as in increase my food intake) and watch my heart rate.  I know my body, even when I have a baby growing in it, and I could recognize if there was any impending issues.  And now, I can say I completed a half and full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant!  Should I maybe have gotten an additional medal for each since really I ran for two?!?!?!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

So what’s the plan now going into 2017?  Well, I am registering for a few local races, with the farthest distance being a 10km.  I am planning on running 3-4 days a week, as long as I am allowed to during this pregnancy.  I will begin Runners Soul Marathon Club next weekend, where I will run with the half marathon distance runners on Saturdays.  My times will not be important, I am just doing this to stay fit and active.  Once I get to a 10 mile training run distance, I may have to cut it short or I may have to walk a bit.  And that’s fine.

So that’s my news.  My next big event.  The training will be a little different than what I’ve grown accustomed, but I’m ready to take it on!

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My “Announcement” shirt…wore the tank during my “unofficial” WDW Half


August 2016—All in One Post!

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So, I did around 3,500 miles this month!….

In my car.

I haven’t been active here lately, partly due to my roadtrip!  On July 31st, I packed up my trusty 2009 Pontiac Vibe and hit the road.  Along with the essential clothing, toiletries and podcasts to entertain, I also packed my 9 year old beagle, Snoopy.  Where were we heading?  We were going across the border south east to my hometown of Franklin, Wisconsin.  We had stopovers planned in Longville, Minnesota (my aunt and uncle live there).  Snoopy is an excellent travel companion; I honestly cannot say that enough.  He just curls up and sleeps the whole time, does not fuss, and is excited to arrive to any destination.  So I kept myself occupied by listening to a variety of podcasts and when I really started losing it I would talk to Snoopy.

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All packed and ready to hit the road!

 

We made it to my mom’s on August 4th, and we stayed until August 22nd.  During that time, I was able to see all of my family that lives in the area, attend a closing day of Badgerette Pom Pon camp (I worked for Badgerette for 5 summers), watch the State Distinguished Young Woman show with my friend Maureen (I won 2nd alternate back in it’s Junior Miss hey day), go to two travelling beer gardens, see a bunch of my friends back home, eat and drink my way through both Wisconsin State Fair & Zoo Ala Carte, go to my favourite Mexican restaurant 3 times, play in a bag toss tournament, and so much more.

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“Swimming” with Snoopy in Lake Wabedo in Northern Minnesota

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When you are in Longville, MN, you go to the Meat Raffle at the bar….and win!

 

The main reason I drove was so I would be able to bring back the remains of my childhood that was still housed at my moms.  It wasn’t that she was forcing me to take it, but I have been gone since 2008, so I figured it was time.  Yearbooks, photos, games, puzzles, Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop, etc, etc, etc….It is now all back in Alberta.  I also packed up some New Glarus Beer, a ton of Wisconsin cheese, 32 bottles of Sprecher soda, and who knows what else.  Snoopy and I arrived back in Lethbridge on August 24th.  Wow, it felt good to get back!  We both missed his daddy Dan and his brothers Woodstock and Faron.

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That’s for DAMN sure!

 

During that trip, I also started running.  I had done my first 5km run prior to the trip in a numbing time of 33:43.  I had walked and jogged a bunch during it.  That was on July 28th.  Remember, my foot surgery was on June 10th.  I had been given the clear I could start running after my 6 week post op on July 21st.  I did my first humid (SO HUMID AND HOT) Wisconsin run on August 7th.  It was a little 20 minute jaunt that average 9:40 per mile.  Oww.  On August 11th, I went out to try and beat my July 28th 5km time.  I did so handedly, running a 30:02!  So close to that sub 30!  I did a couple other 1-2 mile runs during my time in Wisconsin, but I wanted to try and get under 30 minutes.  On August 16th, I set out to do that.  I ran that 5km in 28:20!  These gains I have made in less than a month since coming back into running are huge.  I was going nuts not running for over 6 weeks, and taking this time to get my newly fixed foot used to running (and running properly) has been great.

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5km well under 30 minutes!

 

Since returning to Lethbridge, I am happy that the humidity is gone.  I have ran on August 25th, 26th and 27th, and the weather has been glorious.  The biggest highlight was yesterday, the 27th.  I went out to run a sole mile with the goal of getting between 8:00-8:15, a pace I was always easily able to obtain on my runs, and my sweet spot for my Boston qualifying pace.  I finished that mile in 8:14!  Guess what world…LAMMERS IS BACK!

And guess what today is?  Today marks the start of WEEK 1 of my GOOFY CHALLENGE training plan.  I have put together a very non-aggressive 19 week training plan with the goal of “comfortable completion” of the 2017 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, which is a half marathon on Saturday, January 7th followed by a full marathon on Sunday, January 8th.  The even more special thing about this race is that I will be running my 2nd WDW full marathon alongside my best friend Ali.  It will be her very first full marathon!  I will be there to support her through those dark moments (especially between miles 15-23!!!)  She has run half marathons before, and I have set her up with a training plan to coincides with her Spartan Race and Crossfit schedule.  It will be a weekend to remember!

 

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The original “Pottage Pose” from the marathon portion of the 2014 Dopey Challenge in WDW

 

 

19 weeks is a LONG training plan.  When I ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2015 and Boston in 2016, I had an intense 16 week plan.  This plan does not include speedwork.  It just has two easy runs a week plus a long run on the Saturday.  Then, in late October, I add another mid distance run on Friday, which will help prepare me for the two day challenge that Goofy presents.  I am not going for any speed records at this race; I want to get my body back into running shape so I can begin to push myself again come the new year!

I have updated my 2016 race schedule, as I have a few local events in October and November.  I will be recapping those after they occur, and I will definitely be keeping you posted on how my Goofy training goes.  Until then, I need to get ready for my first day back at work tomorrow….Teachers start this week, with students coming in the day after Labour Day.  For teachers, this is our “New Year”.  Happy New Year to all the teachers, students and parents out there! 

Boston Marathon 2016-The Run

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I’ve participated in track & field since middle school (1998-1999), ran varsity track during high school (2000-2003), started running half marathons at college in 2004, full marathons since 2005.  When I moved to Canada in 2008, I ran my worst full marathon that spring 2009.  I stopped running full marathons for a few years and focused on half marathons.  I changed my training.  I registered for more races.  I went crazy and signed up for the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge to run in memory of my dad.  And, my times started getting faster.  However, I was unsuccessful at qualifying for Boston–I tried twice in 2014.  I trained during winter and spring of 2015, and qualified for Boston that May.  Now I made it to the 2016 Boston Marathon.  To say a lot had gone in to being here is an understatement.   A huge understatement. Making it to this race is definitely the biggest achievement in my ‘running career’ but it also will rank up there as one of the biggest moments of my life.

I could go in detail about every moment of this day….from waking up, to loading the busses down in Boston Common, driving to Hopkinton, athletes village, walking to the corrals, realizing I should have worn sunscreen, running a bit ambitious for the first 7 miles, then deciding to just slow down and enjoy it….to realizing there really are people AT EVER MILE on the course…not just every mile, but every moment!…to then deciding to start giving high-fives to every little kid I could, dumping water over my  head every water station due to the heat, and giving high-fives to drunk college kids at Boston College…to finding my husband, mom and her friend at mile 24 in Brookline and stopping for a kiss, hug and a hello….and then finishing the 120th Boston Marathon.

Was this my fastest marathon to date?  No, but my 3:35.01 happens to be my second fastest.  Was I mad about my time?  Hell no.  I just had ran my dream race, and had a damn good time during it.  Will I come back to Boston to run again?  Hopefully in the future I am able to qualify and do it again.  Was it everything I hoped it would be and more?  I can’t even begin to describe that…..

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Boston Marathon 2016-Post 3 of 4

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Sunday of the Boston Marathon weekend brought more fun and sun for my husband and I.  While other marathoners were probably taking it easy today (maybe I should have?) we wanted to seize the moment and do any other touring we hadn’t done yet.  We started the day off by catching transit and heading to the North End (Little Italy).  Once down here, our plan was to join on the Freedom Trail and do as much of the loop as we could.  We finally found Paul Revere’s house, and then later the Paul Revere statue!  We opted to pay for the entry into the Paul Revere house, and it was worth the small donation.  Seeing the inside of the house was incredible—all the old fireplaces, the brick, the solid wood…it was a real treat!  We weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, so there are just exterior pictures.

We also walked by the first Roman Catholic Church in New England.  It was neat to see the intricate interior of the church, but of course Dan and I both wondered what bad things had gone on behind those doors over the years.  Note—on my flight home from Boston I watched “Spotlight.”  Had wanted to see it sooner, but seeing that I was flying home from Boston I figured I needed to watch it then.

On a more positive note, we continued our trek on the Freedom Trail to a cemetery, over the river, and on to the U.S.S. Constitution.  Touring the ship was awesome—it was free to tour, and you could go below deck.  By the time we finished this, my feet were getting pretty tired.  We used our transit pass to take the water taxi back to the downtown core.  It offered great views, albeit a bit windy!

We wanted something healthy to fill our tummies, so we hopped on transit again and headed to Chinatown.  Found a great little spot for some Pho…yum!  Then, Dan and I headed to the finish line, as I had a group photo with my Facebook “Boston Squeakers” at 3:30.  The commotion at the finish line today was CRAZY compared to how it was on Friday.  You could feel the energy!  Dan left at this time, as he was going to spend the evening exploring Harvard and find a pub to watch basketball.  I was going to make my way BACK to the City Hall area so I could attend the Pasta Party.  I headed down to the party with Mike from our Facebook group, and on our way we met a lady named Julie, who was from Edmonton.  We paired up with her, and in talking during dinner I found out she knew some of the same people I knew down in Lethbridge!  Small world!

The pasta party was what you would expect—mass pasta and salad, beverages, and a lot of people.  But, it was well organized, the weather was gorgeous (outdoor seating) and the food was above average for being ‘free.’  There was also free Sam Adams beer!  I had one, as my body can stomach a beer pre-race.  I didn’t stay too long as I did want to get back to the hotel at a decent time.  I think I was showered and in bed by 9:15 pm that night.  I did have a big event going on the next day to get rested for…..

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Boston Marathon, Part 2 of 4-Saturday

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I wrote my first post on my Boston Marathon experience here, and now I am moving on to the events that occurred on Saturday (Day 2)

Day 2 started early…earlier than we needed it to be actually!  I had signed Dan and I up for the B.A.A. 5 km event that morning.  The B.A.A. 5km is the first event of the year for the B.A.A. Distance Medley (5km, 10km, and half marathon).  If you register for the medley (which I heard from a local sold out in 20 minutes) you get a special medal upon completion.  Since we aren’t local, we just chose to sign up for the 5 km, which filled up in 24 hours!

We had to take transit to Boston Common that morning, and since there would be 10,000 runners in the event, I really had no clue how busy it would be.  Turns out we left a bit earlier than we needed to, and I didn’t really think ahead in terms of preparing us weather wise.  My one gripe is that international runners had to pick up their race packages morning of.  This is hwy I had us leave so early, since I wasn’t sure what it would be like.  It was seamless and easy, however, if we had been able to have our stuff mailed to us ahead (like those in the US had) it would have been one less thing to worry about.

That being said, I should have thought about a drop bag.  We just showed up to the race ready to go, and it was a little cold.  Dan even had to borrow my throw-away shirt I had brought for Marathon morning to wear and race in.  I wish we had worn sweats and layers prior to the 5 km, and then gear checked them, but I didn’t even think of that.  Since we didn’t have our race package when we left the hotel the thought didn’t cross my mind.  Instead, we just found a spot in the sun and blocked from the wind and waited it out.

5km shade

We did end up getting a bag to check, however, as we were allowed to pick up our race shirts before running the event.  I liked being able to do this, as the shirts were unisex sizing, and I wanted to make sure to get an extra small.  The shirts are a nice Adidas short-sleeve tech shirt.  They had the price tags attached still ($35).

The race itself was not going to be a ‘race’ but a nice shakeout for myself and a fun experience for us as a couple.  We made our way to the front 20% of people in the mass corral…there were A LOT of people!  I tried getting a photo of those behind us.  They seemed to start the race in spurts of groups, so when we did cross the start line it actually did spread out nicely within about half a mile.  At around mile 1.5 we even ran by Dick & Rick Hoyt, the famed father and son of Team Hoyt!  That was awesome!

5km people

We finished in under 30 minutes, and had a lot of fun.  I would definitely consider doing this event again, especially if it was with another person I was travelling with.  The $75 is steep for a 5 km, especially since when I registered for it the Canadian Dollar was at rock bottom.  However, the organization, swag, course and experience make up for it.  Comparing it to a $65 Disney 5 km….this was a better value in my opinion.  The course was less congested, even though there was more people.  The shirt is of higher quality (tech vs. cotton) and the medal was a real medal (at Disney 5km races its a rubber medal).

We made it back to the hotel and then had a full day of touring ahead.  After cleaning up, we headed back on transit but this time all the way down to the Fanueil Hall area.  We went through the Holocaust Memorial, toured through the marketplace, and then ventured to a pub so Dan could watch the Toronto Raptors vs. Indiana Pacers.  I had my 2nd cup of clam chowder for the trip here (delicious!)  We stayed here until halftime of the game, and then ventured down to Fenway Park area so Dan could watch the rest of the game at a pub closer to the ball park.  We had tickets to the 4:05 pm game, so I wanted to make sure we weren’t late!

Dan saw the rest of his game (which they lost) and we got to Fenway on time.  We had awesome seats and the vibe was fantastic.  I unknowingly bought us tickets in an area that was already in the shade, so it was quite cold.  Brr!  It was The Red Sox vs the Blue Jays, so we were cheering on our national team.  They started off strong, even with a Donaldson triple!  But they fizzled later on, making it the second Toronto pro sports team to lose that day.  Sigh!

Instead of going back to the hotel like normal people, we wandered around to see where we could go after the game (It was still ‘early’).  We eventually made it back to Brookline near our hotel and went to a sports bar in Coolidge Corner, where I had my third cup of clam chowder for the trip and my second in that day.  We ended up back to the hotel and in bed still by 10 pm, but man, it was a full day!  Neither of us want to miss a moment while we are here!

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Boston Marathon 2016-Post 1/4-Friday

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So, my Boston post isn’t going to be one giant mess, I promise.  I have decided to break my own recaps on this amazing trip into four posts-Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  That way I can better highlight each day!

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Cover shot!

Friday was one long day, and actually a continuation of Thursday…we flew out of Calgary at just after midnight, connected through Toronto, and arrive in Boston at around 8:30 am. After figuring out transit pretty well (only one small fail, which then led to a one mile walk to our hotel with our suitcases in tow…this happened to Dan and I in Quebec City too…hm) we unpacked, changed and headed downtown to the Hynes Convention Centre for the expo.  Before entering the expo, I decided we should take the time to walk down Boylston to see the finish line set up, which was getting finishing touches as we made our way to it.

 

As we looped back down Boylston, we came across the Adidas RunBase store.  This store is relatively new, and is the official store of the B.A.A (Boston Athletic Association).  I ended up buying a nice store shirt for $25 and a black/neon pink/teal headband for $16.  They also had some cool signage that explained the meaning of the unicorn logo among other things!

Entering in the convention centre was something else.  You could tell from that very moment that “YES  THESE PEOPLE HAVE ORGANIZED THIS EVENT BEFORE.”  My husband even realized that as we made our way to packet pickup, as there were volunteers and security at every possibly corner directing us.  There was no possible way to get lost.  The pickup process went so fast and so smooth.  I had my bib!  My lucky ticket!  We then made our way back downstairs to the expo floor.  I knew Dan was just going to follow me aimlessly as I walked the aisles looking for nothing in particular.  This is when I eventually got my Runner’s World ‘cover shot’ done.  As you can see, I am wearing my go-to shirt that I wear on expo day to a lot of my races!  I love wearing the Nike “Hustlin’ From Start to Finish‘ shirt!  I think it says everything I need to say!  Before getting this photo done I was able to stop and meet Runner’s Worlds very own Bart Yasso…the man behind the menacing Yasso 800 workouts.  We had a nice chat, and he even spoke highly about the city of Lethbridge, where I live!  He had been there a few years back and had the opportunity to run in our famed Coulees, and raved about it!

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Bart Yasso & I

The expo was massive.  It was hard to actually gauge how large it was, as the ceilings were rather low, unlike when I attended Chicago in 2006.  In Chicago, the convention centre ceiling was quite high so you could see how many booths there were and it was a more natural looping through the exhibits.  I was scared I would miss something as we walked through.  I picked up some freebies here and there, and even bought a couple little things.  My big purchases were made prior to arriving, as I had already pre-ordered my Adidas jacket along with some other long sleeve shirts and shorts.  We even managed to find a Samuel Adams booth where we got to sample their 26.2 brew.  I have to say, I really liked it!  I tend to lean toward more of the IPA-style beers, and never expect much from a beer with lower alcohol percentage, but this was a good brew!  I had it lots over the course of the trip!

By this point in the afternoon, the fact I hadn’t really slept on the plane hadn’t settled in yet.  We made our way down to the Fenway Park area where we went to a couple pubs, most notably the famed “Cask & Flagon.”  This is where I had my first cup of Clam Chowder during the trip.  (I ended up having four!)

After checking out another nearby bar, Jerry Remy’s, we made the trek back to the hotel so I could dump my stash of goodies.  We had an hour left in us, as it was still light out, and after making it back from a little tour of the Brookline neighborhood (where our hotel was located) we hit the sheets pretty early.  Dare I say Dan was snoring by 9:01 PM and I followed closely by 9:30 pm.  An action packed day for sure!  And Saturday had an early alarm coming up, as we would be running in the 8 am B.A.A. 5 km even the next morning in Boston Common!  Rest was needed!  More to come…..!

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The swag acquired from the day!

Boston Marathon 2016-Post from Mom

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And here is my mom’s straightforward look at her experience spectating me at Boston Marathon 2016!  My husband will do a post on his, and mine will follow. 

My daughter has asked me to do a guest post about my experience at this year’s Boston Marathon. Let me start by saying that my excitement began when she qualified on May 3, 2015 in Vancouver, BC. As soon as I heard this from her, I immediately called Kathy, my best friend from high school, who lives northwest of Boston, & asked if she’d like a visitor the following April. She’s been asking me to visit for years, but I was holding out waiting for Andrea to get her BQ time. Even though Kathy has lived in Massachusetts since 1978, she’d never experienced the Marathon so she was as excited as I was.

Our Marathon Monday began by catching the commuter train from Lowell, where she lives, to North Station in Boston. This is about a 40 minute trip but the only way to go, especially on this day. Once in Boston, we transferred to the Green Line C train to meet my son-in-law Dan in Brookline, where they were staying, to watch for Andrea as well as her friend Bob Higgins & Dan’s cousin Erin Moore. We arrived about 20 minutes later than planned due to all the people & traffic, but still had plenty of time to go grab something to eat & drink. After that we found a spot at mile 24 & watched & waited. I was being updated on her splits by AT&T & also watching her, Bob & Erin on the BAA app, which by the way was slow in updates but did have a map that tracked them which was a big help. We saw Bob & a bit later Dan spotted Andrea first & I guess recorded her coming up to us. I tried to get a picture, but failed. She stopped to give Dan a kiss & me a hug then continued on her way. She certainly didn’t look like she had already run 24 miles! Dan wanted to hang around to see if he would spot Erin, so Kathy & I decided to head into Boston to meet up with Andrea in the Family Meeting Area.

We should have stayed with Dan. Two trains passed us because they were full before one stopped to let us on. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this one was not going as far as we needed. It stopped two stations before & we had to get off. The station was jammed with people who had just left the Red Sox game, so Kathy said we should just walk since it was less than a mile. If we could have just gone from point A to point B it would have been fine, but streets were closed & there were so many people it was like salmon swimming upstream. Not sure how long it took us, but Andrea texted me to say that Dan was on his way & she’d let me know when he got there. We were still trying to make our way to the area when Andrea told me to just stay where we were & they’d come to us. Thank goodness for cellphones. We met them outside of the Westin Copley Place hotel, decided to just go in there for something to eat & drink, & all was well with the world.

I’m very proud of my daughter, happy I got to see her run in this race that she worked so hard to qualify for, but will never again venture into Boston either on race day or the days surrounding it. Way too many people everywhere for me to contend with. I plan to go back to visit Kathy & see more sites in & around the area again, but not during Marathon Weekend for sure.

8.5 Weeks Until Boston…Training Progress, Race Goals, Injury Update

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Helllllloooooooooooo!  Crazy to see on my training plan that I am now 7.5 weeks in, with 8.5 weeks left to go!  Almost at that halfway point!  Training is on schedule and I am feeling pretty good.  I lamented before how it is frustrating sometimes as I notice myself slower on some workouts this year than I was last year, but I then remember that last year I was coming off some strong races in late fall/winter so I was better prepared to enter training.  I have had some awesome training runs, though, and that makes me feel even more confident getting to this halfway point.  The 16 miler I have on Saturday will be my first true test, in my opinion, as it has the mileage challenge and the mental challenge.  I missed my first 16 miler two weeks ago because I was fighting this awful stomach bug, so I need to go out and just get the mileage in.  Nothing fancy, no crazy pace accelerations…just run 16 miles in my long-run pace range (7:48-9:04 per mile).

I also have mentioned before that not having any races lately has made it hard at times to really push my limits.  On February 27th, I will be doing my first event of 2016.  The Hypothermic Half is an event held nationwide and put on by Running Room.  I am doing this in conjunction with my 18 miler that day, so I am not going to race it, just simply use it as part of my training run that day.  The ‘competitive’ events come in March and April, as I have the local Moonlight Run 10km on March 19th and the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on April 2nd.  My dream goal at Moonlight would be to place in top 3 women overall.  The race can be all over the place, due to the change in weather, time of year, and the wicked hill climb for the last 3/4 of a mile.  Last year, while I ran faster than the year prior, I placed 5th overall in women.  I ran a 43:47.  In 2014, I placed 4th overall with my 47:27.  This year, I expect to be somewhere in between those times, but have no real clue how I will finish.  It really depends on who shows up on race day….and I don’t mean just what competitors….I mean what Andrea will show up?!?!?

For Trailbreaker, I am planning on pushing myself to the limits and run the best half marathon I possibly can.  To beat my personal best, I would need to run faster than a 1:35:41.  I did that time exactly one year ago in frigid temperatures.  My most recent half marathon time was my less-than-pleasing Lethbridge Police Half, where I had stomach issues the last 4 miles and dropped position and time, finishing with a 1:40.13…well off what I was capable of.  So really, I am aiming for anything under 1:40 at Trailbreaker, as coming off a week of ‘vacationing’ in Milwaukee is sometimes a bit much.  And since I have been training for Boston, I know my  legs are ready for this.  And, the elevation is lower back home, so you never know!  Lets just hope the humidity stays away!

Lastly….my foot.  It’s not an injury, per say, but a nuisance.  I know, KNOW it is getting more aggravated by the day as I keep pounding out the mileage.  The new shoes and orthotics have helped tons, and I am so glad I got them.  However, the only way for it not to hurt would for me to not run, walk, stand, be human.  So, I am just going to keep ruining my foot and build that bone spur up more and more until I have a surgery date set.  I have been putting prescription 10% Voltaren on it as of late, and this has helped numb the pain.  I am set to see my podiatrist next week to talk about pain management, and then I will hopefully be booking an appointment with my family doctor (and sports medicine extraordinaire) to have him inject something into it?????  I have been going to physiotherapy pretty regularly, and I am addicted to the TENS machine…those electric wave pulses (or whatever they are) on my foot feel SO GOOD.  I really don’t know how my foot will hold up on races, as during runs I don’t really think about it. It is after I am done running and my shoe is off that the throbbing really kicks in.  So the Hypothermic half, Moonlight Run and Trailbreaker will all be good indicators on how 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston will physically feel come April 18th!  I don’t really care if my foot feels like it is going to fall off during that race, because emotionally it will feel amazing!