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Canadian COVID Chronicles

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Oh hey.   I still have a blog.   Just haven’t had time in the last three months to actually write what I’ve wanted.   COVID is the reason why.   I have time today to write something, and I want to just do a month-by-month recap on things.  Some of it family, some of it running, some of it work, some of it just whatever.  More so now, I just want this as a record of what the hell has happened since the Pandemic started!

MARCH

Yeah, so March was a chaotic mess.  On a Friday at work I frantically printed out like a dozen different study packages for my IB kids in case we weren’t there on Monday….and sure enough, school got canned Sunday night.  For the month of March, in our district we had to still be coming into work unless you were immuno-compromised.   This also meant daycare was cancelled.  Our son is 2.5 years old.  We have no family in town.  Our family are our best friends Peter & Mac and their daughter, Aria.  Since both kids go to daycare together, we figured out a way to make a cohort family and basically co-parent.  We rotated days that one adult would take both kids.  It took some planning, but we had to make it work.  And it did.

Races and events this month that were cancelled was Moonlight Run 10km (which is usually the kick-off of the race year) and we officially cancelled my mom’s trip for the month of April.  I had a hunch that she wouldn’t be able to come visit, so she cancelled her Amtrak ticket and got refunded, and then about a day or two later the borders got closed.

APRIL

I barely can remember April.  It was Easter, but we didn’t do anything special.  Actually, we were going to try and do a dinner, but then I got a sore throat and freaked out and two days later I got a COVID test.   It was negative, but I was happy at how easy it was to book.  In Alberta, we have been fortunate to have pretty easy access to testing.  At that point and time, they had expanded testing a bit, but all I had to do was go on the Alberta Health website and complete a self-assessment.  The next day, I received a call from someone and booked an appointment for that afternoon.  It was quick and easy, and it was the throat swab, not the nose jab one.  In three days I got an automated call telling me my results were negative.   At this point in time, I remember talking to a friend back home who said she wasn’t even sure how they could access a test if they wanted one.  I realized at that point how lucky I was to be where I am.

As I said before, April was supposed to be a time my mom came and visited.  10 Mile Road Race was cancelled, our friend’s 40th birthday party pub run was postponed, Dan’s yearly Guys Trip to watch NBA playoffs was a no-go, and Andy’s appointment at the US Consulate in Calgary to get him a Social Security Number (first step to get him dual-citizenship) was canned.  We had the option to start working-from-home, so I started doing that.   I became less-motivated as the month wore on.  With running and work.  With no real consistency it was very hard to stay on track.  Our friends started doing weekly trivia on Tuesday nights so that was a great way to pass the time via ZOOM calls.  I said it at some point this month that I actually felt like Dan and I were ‘doing’ more with friends, as there was a concerted effort for front lawn drinks together, quarantine wine and beer tastings and Tuesday Trivia.

MAY

This is when it got weird.  Beginning of May was just like April in that we were pretty much at home all the time.  But in Mid May, Phase 1 of the Alberta Relaunch came.  Our friends, due to their jobs, opted to have their daughter go back into daycare.  That left Dan and I with Andy on our own.  It ended up being that I basically stayed home and worked while taking care of Andy so Dan could go into work and make money.  Dan has been the busiest he’s ever been this year (we think that since everyone is just at home they decided to take care of all their yard stuff!)  By the month’s end, I was at the end of my rope.

In May, our Whitefish trip for the half marathon was cancelled.  We had a beautiful cabin booked for us and three other couples.  We hope to do it next year.  Instead, some friends and I partook in an underground race involving trail running and drinking.  That’s all I am going to say about that!

JUNE

We waived the white flag for help and my mother in law came down for a week to watch Andy so both Dan and I could actually get work done.  HUGE stress relief.  The school year was wrapping up and then thinking of the next school year was stressful in itself, as there are so many uncertainties.  The Alberta Government will make an official announcement on August 1st for the the plan in going in to the fall.   So I am just going to shut myself off in the month of July.

Phase II began in mid June and at that point Dan and I decided to try and get Andy back in to daycare, at least part time.  The month prior, I had said we could just save money this summer and wait to put him back in August….but my sanity to wearing thin.  He needs to socialization, we need him to be back.  He started back two days a week just last week and in July he will be back full time.  The protocols that they are following are very detailed and we feel confident and happy that he is back.

This month also marked some sadness.  Our beagle Snoopy had to be put down.  He had a decline occurring the previous six months, and it was just time.  His last week with us he stopped eating.  It was a cue.  We are so grateful that he made it to his 13th birthday in May, because back in 2017 was when he stopped walking for a bit due to his arthritis.  All we really were hoping for was that he would be around when Andy was born.  We aren’t sure how much Andy will remember Snoopy, but we will remember the time that he had with him.

The US/Canada border is still closed to vehicle traffic.  I understand why.  But it is now hitting me hard.  In a week, I was supposed to take the train back to Wisconsin with Andy.  We last were in Wisconsin with him during Christmas 2018.  This is the longest time that I haven’t been back.  The fact that I can’t go is hard.  I know there are worse things in life, but I am starting to struggle with this.

As I write this, it is my last day at work.  I took tomorrow off and we are heading to the family cabin at Gull Lake after school with Peter, Mac & Aria.  We haven’t ‘gone on a trip’ in some time.  To be somewhere different than Lethbridge for a few days, with our best friends, and seeing some of our family will be amazing.  COVID-19, you’ve really sucked the life out of 2020.  But, this is going to be a story to tell for the rest of our lives.

So, what are you training for?

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It’s been over two months since my last post.  I did a post about closing out on the year 2019 and talked about what was ahead.  I titled that post “2019, the New Normal”

Funny thing about that title now that we are two and a half months into 2020….

Obviously, this post comes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  I live in Alberta, Canada.  I am a teacher.  We just found out a few hours ago that all Alberta schools and daycares will be closed indefinitely.  The past few weeks have been crazy following the pandemic around the world, but now there is action being taken here.  It is so surreal.

I’m not going to talk about the pandemic, give my two cents on social distancing, tag exponential graphs (but those are pretty cool.  Because in a few years there’ll be Math 30-1 Diploma Questions related to this outbreak).  But I want to talk about what this means for me personally in running.

A lot has been going on in the running world lately once this started to take off.  Tokyo Marathon limited their field to just the elite runners.  And then fast forward a few weeks and now London and Boston have been postponed.  Those are just the big races.  Tons (I’m assuming thousands) of smaller races around the world are being cancelled.  

I had originally planned on doing my first running post of this year until after our annual Moonlight Run, which was scheduled for this coming Saturday, March 21st.  I’ve done a Moonlight Run post every year, so I figured I would do one this year even though I thought the race would be ugly for me.  My training had gotten a good start in January, but some extreme cold temps made it hard to get motivated.  They cancelled the event early last week, after the Alberta government put forth an initiative to not have events of greater than 250 people congregate.  It was bitter sweet, but that’s when everything started getting real.  This year, my race schedule was actually very odd for me.  I have been reflecting on it a lot, and I realized that this year, I had no races booked where I would have a flight required.  Nothing on either end of Canada, nothing far away in the US, and nothing overseas.  Everything is drivable.

Looking back on my race results on this site, the last year I never needed to take an airplane to get to a specific event 2012, because in 2013 was my first RunDisney event at the Wine and Dine Half.  So everything from 2012 and earlier were just your basic, local races.  In 2014 I went back to Disney for Dopey Challenge and Disneyland for Dumbo Double Dare.  I also did the Tyranena Beer Runhalf marathon in Wisconsin and a Mustache Dache 5km too.  In 2015 I went out to California for two Spartan races with my best friend, along with hitting my dream goal of qualifying for Boston while running the Vancouver Marathon. Oh, and I did Disneylandagain.

2016 led to a small half marathon back in Wisconsin and then straight into this big race called The Boston Marathon!  WOW!  I went and had foot surgery in summer of 2016.  I recovered and went to run the Disney races again in January 2017.  I then went back to Disney in 2018 for the Star Wars races, did two small July races in Wisconsin (Firecracker Four or Beer Garden 5km).  And then my first ever international was the Berlin Marathon! Finally, in 2019 my husband and I travelled to the edge of Canada to Haida Gwaii to do the Totem to Totem Marathon and then I did my fourth Abbott World Marathon Major with the New York Marathon.

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The main races we had planned this year were going to the Whitefish Half Marathon in late May (that has not been cancelled at this time.  We are really hoping we can get to it).  We are going with a bunch of friends and driving down to a cabin in Montana.  Not as fancy as New York City, but tons of fun non the less.  We are also planning on doing The Lone Wolf out in Fernie, BC again.  It was so much fun last year!  That is in June.  And in September, I am giving Lost Soul Ultra 50 km another try.  Oh, and I am most likely having a second foot surgery this fall.

I’m not sure how this all aligned, but I feel extremely fortunate of where I have gotten to travel to to do the hobby I love dearly—RUN.  I have had 7 straight years of amazing trips and memories made all surrounding running.  And this year, while those trips may look a little different, the memories are going to be there.  We have to make the most of what is given to us.  These next couple of months will suck for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, but in the grand scheme of things, as long as we take care of our selves the next coming months then we have the following years ahead to look forward too.  I will in fact finish those Abbott World Marathon Majors….London and Tokyo, I’m coming for you!  I want to requalify for Boston.  I want to find small niche races all around North American to participate in.  I want to have fun running.

So, a lot of runners right now are in a weird spot.  What are we training for?  Well, we are training for the chance to come back fighting once that stage is opened for us again. 

New York Marathon 2019

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New York City!  WOW!  What a trip this was!  My husband Dan and I were fortunate enough that our local running store, Runners Soul, was putting on another travel event.  The first one they organized was last fall when we went to the Berlin Marathon.  Since that was a success, they got on the planning train again, but this time for the New York City Marathon.  The plan is for the store to do travel groups to all the Abbott Marathon Major races, and this is helping me check off my list.  Upon completion of the NYC Marathon, I would have four of the six majors under my belt—Chicago, Boston, Berlin & New York.

We flew out to NYC on a Thursday night red eye flight.  This allowed us to maximize our time in NYC.  We would be staying four nights, and the marathon was on Sunday.  Arriving at around 9:45 AM to Newark, we were able to get right into the action of the city that day.  While we couldn’t get into our rooms yet at the hotel, we wandered with some friends around the city, got to the expo for packet pickup (the expo was CRAZY busy) and Dan and I eventually were able to sneak in a nap later in the day.

Highlights of sightseeing and tourist stuff we did while in NYC were: Comedy show at Upright Citizens Brigade, finding a sweet jazz club with ping pong tables and shuffleboard, general touring of the city, World Trade Center memorial, Grand Central Terminal, Book of Mormon (HILARIOUS!), dinner and pub hopping in Harlem with friends, seeing a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, wandering Brooklyn, and Katz’s Delicatessan.

So now onto the marathon.  I knew this would be a crazy one, being that it is the largest one in the world.  Somewhere over 54,000 runners!  When registering, Dan and I had transit options for getting to the start line in Staten Island.  You could take the 6 am ferry, which required getting to the ferry first.  Or we could choose the 5:30 am or 5:45 am bus directly to the start.  We opted for the 5:30 am bus because honestly I didn’t know how long it would take.  In retrospect, we should have done 5:45 am or just hung back for a later time because we got there so quickly and then after getting through security we had to wait in the cold for a solid 3 hours before getting into the corrals.

This was the worst part of the day, but once we started moving to get in to our corrals it was a lot better.  I was placed in a faster wave than Dan, even though we put the same expected finishing time.  I moved back to his wave so we could run together.  This did cause major congestion as we were in the second wave versus the first (there were four waves altogether) but since we weren’t going for breaking any speed records this was fine.

Funnelling through the corral up to the start was an experience in itself.  It was crazy to see how well organized all these different corrals were.  There were three corrals (orange, green and blue) in each of the four waves.  So we started separated from two other groups when our wave began!  And since the first mile was over the Staten Island Bridge, two waves ran on the top of the bridge on either side of it (we were one of them) and the third wave ran below the bridge.  It was so well orchestrated.  All three corrals didn’t blend together until around the 5km mark!

The next borough you hit was Brooklyn..  People were proud of their neighborhood!  This was the area you were in the longest.  During the race, Dan and I ran with our friend Adam-it was his first full marathon.   Our general plan was to run at a pace with a goal of sub 4 hours.  We were generally on this pace most of the time, and would only slow down during any of the various bridge climbs.  I was naïve to think this would be an ‘easy’ course.  Those bridges are challenging because of the slight incline to begin, plus there are no spectators on the bridges.

The toughest bridge would be the Queensboro Bridge, which would be located in Queens at around mile 15.  This was a long bridge that hits you at that point where you may start questioning why you are running this race!  When we crossed the bridge we kept our eyes open for our friends Nick and Nicki, who were standing somewhere in the mile 16 area.  I thought we had definitely missed them (the crowds were 3-4 people deep) but sure enough they saw us, so Dan and I ran back quickly to give them a hug!

At mile 20 in the Bronx, we got a little crazy and stopped for a shot of tequila-Patron to be exact!  Figured, WHY NOT!  People had a sign for FREE SHOTS so we took them up on it.  Our spirits were still high and we were still on pace to break 4 hours.  We were still on that pace once we made our way into Manhattan and nearing Central Park.  With about 5km left, I remember telling Dan that if we ran approximately 9:20/min miles for the last bit we could get in under 4 hours!

Then, it all fell apart.

Dan’s body just sorta seized up on him.  His legs were cramping.  He was crabby.  He felt so miserable.  We had to walk a lot in Central Park and he was not enjoying himself at all.  With two miles left, we took the peace offering of a cup of beer from a spectator.  Also, my watch died so I had no idea exactly how slow we were going.  We would walk/jog for the last 5km and it felt like it took forever.  Our final ‘push’ to the finish line was a slow meander.  We came in at 4:07.25 seconds.  While it wasn’t under 4 hours, it was pretty close and we have no regrets!  There was no way I was going to ditch Dan the last 5km; what would have been the point!?  I wanted us to finish together, and so we did.

The course for this race was AWESOME.  Definitely a major highlight just all rolled together.  What wasn’t awesome was the ridiculously long walk from the finish line to get your medal, food and then post-race poncho.  It was an extremely long trek.  Once you got to the ponchos, everyone had them on and were walking so slow and in pain that it looked like a mass scene from The Walking Dead.  It was also a challenge to get to the closest subway station post race, as the area we were let out of for the family meet up spot was conveniently across from the one subway line we needed.  However, we could just cross the street since they had a spot barricaded.  We had to walk to two more blocks, cross the street, and then walk back.

I would definitely recommend the NYC Marathon, especially if you are working on getting those Marathon Majors completed!  I would not recommend it as someone’s first marathon necessarily, as it is very overwhelming.  We were fortunate to enjoy our time in New York with a bunch of our friends and with beautiful weather.  What more could have we asked for?!?

Lost Soul Ultra 50km

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While this is a bit delayed (2 months….)It’s official.  I completed my first trail ultra marathon!  On Saturday, September 7th, I trekked out into the infamous Lethbridge coulees on an adventure.  I felt prepared enough, I suppose, but I didn’t really get as much trial running in during the summer as I had hoped.  However, my training and completing of Totem to Totem in July must have helped as my legs felt better than expected.  And my result was better than I could have asked for.

The last two years, the weekend of Lost Soul has been HOT and smoky.  Forest fires over in British Columbia were the culprit.  On Friday, when the 200km, 100 miler and 100km runners started it was cool, overcast, and even drizzled a bit of rain.  On Saturday morning the temperatures were comfortable and great for running.

The course is split into 6 different sections, or legs.  There are also three aide stations-Headquarters (HQ, where the start and finish are), Softball Valley and Pavan Park.  Each leg varies in length and difficulty.

I had done *just enough* training this summer that I felt confident going into the race.  I had ran on legs 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 before during training.  I was not able to attend the leg 4 training night-Leg 4 is on private land and is only opened once during the summer for runners to explore and then again on race day.  I made a general race plan that I gave to my friend Aaron, who would be my crew captain for the race.  Well, he was my only crew person to be exact—I didn’t want to have to rely on Dan with Andy, because if Andy gave him any grief during the day, they may not be at a required spot when I needed them.  Aaron’s job was to meet me at each aide station around the times I was hoping to get in, provide me with any food and beverages I needed at that time, fill up my water, and then also keep Dan in the loop.

This was the general plan I gave Aaron to follow:

LSU GOAL of SUB 7 HOURS with Time of Day to LEAVE Aide Station

Leg1 -South Loop 7km, goal of 45 min, no stop at aid station T.O.D 7:45 am

Leg 2-HQ to Softball Valley 8.4 km, goal of 55 min, 2 min stop at aide station T.O.D 8:42 am

Leg 3-Softball Valley to Pavan 9.6km, goal of 1 hour 15 min, 5 min stop at aide station T.O.D 10:02 am

Leg 4-North Loop 16.4 km, goal of 2 hours, 5 min stop at aide station T.O.D 12:07 pm

Leg 5-Pavan to Softball Valley 6.6 km, goal of 55 min, 2 min stop at aide station T.O.D 1:02 pm

Leg 6-Softball Valley to HQ 6.2 km, goal of 50 min T.O.D 1:54 pm

Total time—6 hours and 54 minutes

 

RACE TIME! (My “actual times” are found on the Aide Station breakdown results from the LSU website.  I believe these are the times I came through the aide stations)

Leg 1

I knew I couldn’t get caught up in the hype.  I took it easy and paced myself off of someone I knew.  Not really much to say about this section except I did start off fast just so I knew I wouldn’t be stuck behind people on the first narrow hill climb.

Goal time-7:45 am    Actual time-7:43 am


Leg 2

I ran though the first aide station at HQ like planned.  This is also a section I was familiar with.  I have done this section many times as it is easily accessibly from our house.  The weather was still nice and cool so I focused on not pushing too hard (since it was still comfortable) and just focusing on the goal.  I also made sure to hydrate and get some calories in, even though I wasn’t hungry or thirsty yet.

 

Goal time-8:42 am     Actual time-8:39 am


Leg 3

I met Aaron at Softball valley and got a few bites of watermelon.  I also walked a bit through the station before running onward.  I didn’t have a need for a bathroom break so I decided to keep moving.  This leg was one that I had a bit of experience on the first half of it (Gun range hill, Ryan’s hill) but not as much experience in the second half as you head to Pavan.  As I was getting further along on this leg I was definitely starting to feel hungry and a bit tired.  I was also looking forward to getting to Pavan so I could go to the bathroom before hitting the North Loop.

 

Goal time-10:02 am    Actual time-9:53 am


Leg 4

This is where I will definitely need to find room for improvement.  The fact that I had no first-hand visual of what this route looked like was a mental struggle for me.  It was also starting to get warm and we were pretty spaced out on the course.  I felt very alone on this long segment.  I did not realize how many late-in-the-first-half of this loop coulee climbs there would be.  I think there were at least 3 that I didn’t expect to happen.  My stomach was bothering me and I was crabby.  I really thought I would be falling being my goal here and I was starting to come to terms with it.  As soon as I realized we had crossed the bridge to the other side of the lake and were heading BACK to Pavan, my spirits were lifted.   I also found a fellow runner who was training for NYC Marathon with us on the weekends, Steven, and we ran a bit together which was nice.  It was also a huge mental boost coming in to the aide station and seeing Dan with Andy.

 

Goal time-12:07 pm    Actual time-12:05pm


Leg 5

Apparently, I looked like hell when I got in to the aide station.  I think I spent a solid 10 minutes or more going to the bathroom, getting ice, drinking fluids and eating watermelon.  I couldn’t stomach any other solid foods other than watermelon or gummi chews.  I got my body heat cooled down and headed out.  With this being a shorter leg than the last, I knew I could focus on the fact that I wouldn’t be out there as long as the North Loop.  And, the first part of this loop had shade!  I tackled it the best I could, and as I head in to Softball Valley for the final time, I was feeling a burst of energy!

 

Goal time-1:02 pm    Actual time-1:07pm


Leg 6

I didn’t even stop for Aaron at Softball Valley.  All I did was ditch my hydration backpack and I didn’t even take the water belt.  I knew I could get this last leg done efficiently.  It is the easiest leg on its own, but after doing 5 prior it could still be a challenge.  I had a goal and I was going to reach it.  I had planned on trying to do this leg in 50 minutes….I ended up crushing it in 41 minutes!

 

Goal time-1:54 pm    Actual time-1:48 pm


 

I BEAT MY GOAL!  Holy shit it was a ride.  And to be honest, as I finished, I felt like I could have run another 5 km.  With the strategy of ultra running being a mix of running on flats and downhills, power walking on inclines, my body actually felt incredibly good.  Aaron was there at the finish line with my single tall-boy can of Blindman Longshadows IPA on ice.  Dan and Andy were not there immediately because they didn’t think I’d be there by that time!

I ended up finding out that I placed 3rd in my age group!  I knew it would be close, but I did in fact place 3rd in the 18-39 female category with an official time of 6:48.11.  I placed 3/17 in my age group, 5/61 women and then 15/137 overall.  The coveted LOST SOUL ROCKS were awarded to all finishers this year, as it was a special 20th anniversary year.  However, I earned a special age group rock which I received sand-blasted about a month later.  This means so much to not only finish this bucket-list race, but also earn an age group award!

 

Will I do this again?  YES!  Now that I have a baseline, I would love to try and beat my personal best.  I think with more trail training and experience, I could definitely break 6:40, and maybe head down to the low 6:30s.  I have a lot to learn on the trails, especially work on my downhill descents, fueling, stomach issues, and just overall trail experience.  I don’t know if I will be out there in 2021, as a lot revolves on a possible 2nd foot surgery, but I will be back!

Brief hiatus

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Hey everyone

I know it’s usually a gap between all my posts anyways with work, all our family commitments and etc. I was starting to write my recap on my Lost Soul Ultra experience (the recap was already delayed) and a family emergency happened last week. I need some time to decide what to write next.

Street art from Europe, circa 1965

Totem to Totem Marathon

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I don’t even know where to begin! So I’ll start with a quote regarding visitor information directly from the race webpage:

“Located off the north west coast of B.C, Haida Gwaii is as far west as you can go in Canada. It is the home and traditional territory of the Haida. It is one of Canada’s undiscovered treasures.”

 

Flying in

 

This was a family vacation that we planned around a race. It was able to happen in part that our friends, David & Heidi, live out in Haida Gwaii. We booked the three flights, shuttle and ferry and went out on an adventure! By using our AirMiles (and the fact Andy could fly for free) it cost us $100 per adult ticket for all three flights, return! Flying from Alberta to British Columbia is the lowest AirMiles flight redemption for province to province, so this was a steal considering how much all these little flight segments would have cost.

Riding the moving sidewalk in Vancouver

Almost a 3 hour delay out of Vancouver calls for a nap

Even slept through a parent transfer!

We arrived in Haida Gwaii on the Thursday. This allowed us to get settled in at our friends’ place and tour a bit the next morning. Flights were delayed out of Vancouver, and we ended up leaving 3 hours late to the island. Andy was a champ throughout this all (more so, I was getting super anxious and I think my husband was getting sick of airports). I was very worried we would be stuck in Sandspit (not where Dave & Heidi live) because technically, the last ferry would have already left. However, BC Ferries ran one more ferry from Moresby Island to Graham Island solely because of the inbound flight coming in. Phew!

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We made it to Sandspit!

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Loading it up on the ferry

Not loving it on the ferry!

On Friday morning, Dave and Heidi decided to show us how life is out there and we went crabbing. It was a lot of fun. We drove up to Miller Creek (a spot on the race course), parked on the side of the road, then hiked into the beach.(YES we bought our license to crab, which was a whopping $5 per person. You could catch up to six crabs a day per person on that…) We ended up catching a Dungeness crab and a red crab (I forget the name of this kind). The Dungeness was huge! It fed us all lunch that afternoon.

Probably my favourite picture from the trip!  Some serious sand-scooping with a sand dollar is happening.

Dave & Dan became friends in elementary school when they both took French Immersion

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Our catch

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The crew (minus Dave since he was taking the picture)

Bringing home the prize!

Later that day, we went to the Skidegate to pick up our race packages, which was located at the Kaay Centre. FUN FACT: This was an official AMAZING RACE CANADA location! Even though it was a small package pickup, you could walk a little bit inside the centre and out on the grounds to admire the totems, canoes, and the view. I was happy with the shirts, as they were the Authentic T-Shirt Company, and from my experience their shirts are not of the best quality….and often, they are only one “gender size”. Since I got a women’s small, it actually fits my proportionals correctly and is not a lost cause. The logo and the shirt design mesh well together and both my husband and I really like the colour!

 

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Family photo!

Race started at 8 am. The drive from Dave & Heidi’s place in Queen Charlotte was about 15 minutes. If you are a tourist doing the race, there are quite a few B&B options right in Queen Charlotte too! And I am sure people have Air BnB. There are just none of your typical “Holiday Inn”stuff. And that is fine! We loved the comforts offered here! Race parking was so easy, everyone was so nice. The full and half marathon would be starting at 8, with the 10km following at 8:15.

Down on the beach at the Kaay Centre

Getting ready to start

If this race interests you for a full marathon, the first thing I need to make clear is that it is an extremely small field. In the past years of running in general, more and more people take part in 10km and half marathons….full marathons still seem to be a little bit scarier of a task. I knew it would be a small field based on looking at past results. When you look at the 2019 final results, there were 21 total runners in the full marathon, 47 half marathon runners, and 128 runners in the 10km. So, coming from “a city” this is VERY SMALL. THAT IS NOT A BAD THING! For lots of distances, this is great. But I was well aware of how the marathon field would be and how alone I would potentially feel on the course.

The course is “out-and-back” style, where the half marathoners turn around at Dead Tree Point water station. The marathoners would then continue on to St. Mary Spring, then head back to Skidegate. The whole time you are running, you are on the “highway.” It’s the only road there, with one lane each way. They have tall cones on the edge for runners to stay inside of. When cars occasionally pass, most honk and wave. There are water stations approximately every 5km. If you really get frustrated with your race just look to the side and you are literally running alongside the ocean. You’ll forget your worries!

I won’t recap mile by mile, I’ll just post a Garmin screenshot and it’ll tell you how it went. In summary: Started off strong feeling I could get that 3:30.00 but by 7 miles I was so mentally frustrated and alone (since the half marathoners had turned around) I was just in a mood. Lo and behold Meaghan and Benjy from Victoria, BC, come up to me. THANK GOD. They had ran with Dan for a few miles before the marathoners kept going, and Dan must have described me well enough to them that they knew I was his wife. At that point I thought another female runner was ahead of me. Turns out, I was the lead and Meaghan would ultimately win for the women. But without them showing up, and running with me to the turnaround point, I may have just dove into the brush and then found my way to the sand to start crabbing again because I was crabby….

Running with others is fantastic. We met up around mile 7 or 8. We all ran together until the turnaround. Meaghan and Benjy went ahead. I eventually passed Benjy. And then seeing the areas I already had once passed motivated me to keep moving and pick it up. I’m going to say GIRL POWER here because after Meaghan passed me, no other women passed me but I caught up to and passed 3 guys! It felt good! Since I was feeling the pain of the mileage (I hadn’t done a training run longer than 15 miles this season….oops) and I couldn’t see the third place female behind me, I made sure to take my time at the aid stations. They were well stocked, but I will say the first one we hit on our way out from the start was weird because they only have bottled water but no cups or jugs to fill from….so I carried a bottle of water for a while as a shower device!

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Photo credit to @jagsbean Jags Photography

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With less than 400 m to the finish! Beautiful! Follow @jagsbean on Instagram for more!

 

Finish line area was super welcoming and all the runners, spectators and volunteers were genuinely happy when someone came across. We received a beautiful finishers’ medal, the design was new this year by local Haida artist Robert Davidson. Andy was waiting with David & Heidi when both Dan and then I crossed the finish line. They caught video of Dan coming in with Andy clapping, and then when I crossed in I ran and gave him a big hug.

I finished the race in a time of 3:42.35, which is my third fastest full marathon.  This was my 15th marathon.

As a mother runner, coming across the finish line and giving that little monster a big huge is an amazing feeling!

We hung around for a bit, and then we were informed that awards wouldn’t happen until the last finishers came in, so around 2 pm. At standard races,this would not occur. But since this is such a small, community and cultural event, I understand the importance of waiting for everyone to be in attendance to receive their awards. We went back and showered, Andy took a snooze, and we came back at 2 pm. The awards were presented by the totems in behind the Kaay Centre overlooking the water.

IT WAS PICTURESQUE. I received an award for being 2nd female in the marathon (time of 3:42.35…my third fastest time!) and it is honestly, without a doubt, the best award I’ve ever received in a race. Lots of races just have finishers medals, or if there are not finishers’ medals then they do age group medals. They are pretty generic. Since we are on the edge of the damn country, it’s not like they have access to mass-produced awards….so I was given a necklace carved out of black stone, with the Haida eagle & raven on it, and the Argilllite stone that I am told only Haida are allowed to harvest (made by local artist Tyler York). It’s pretty damn special.

2nd place female award

All of the award winners from each event-Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km

After awards, the rest of our trip began. We were only staying three more nights, but we made the most of it and the best we could with a toddler. We walked 400 metres every morning to the playground. And we walked 100 metres from Dave & Heidi’s house to a trail that was a rainforest. We went to a beach, we ate good food, we had a blast!

Hiking trails right behind David & Heidi’s house

Beach before heading to dinner (Notice the monkey swinging on the rope….)

Dinner at Blacktail in Queen Charlotte

Andy approved of our meals that evening!

Berries are everywhere! Ever heard of THIMBLEBERRIES? Yeah, I hadn’t. Andy LOVES THEM. Find them everywhere! We drove out to see the site of the Golden Spruce (I had never read about this act of eco-terroism, but we found out about it whilebeing here. Well, Dan knew but I did not. It’s super interesting actually!) Wesaw ancient carved Haida canoes, we walked random trails, we did beach walks, we dined on friends’ patios that overlooked the ocean….we did as much as we could. And I know there is more to do.

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THE BERRY MONSTER!

Golden Spruce Trail is really accessible for all ages

Since I did in fact drink the water at St. Mary Springs on our last day while doing an outing, I know I will “be back”. But even before that,I know I NEED to be back. Our family needs to be back. And if you are interested in travelling to an amazing island in British Columbia, that feels a worlds’ away, you should too. Even if you don’t run. But if you do run, and want to add a bucket-list race, why not run on the Edge of Canada?

Read the sign….I drank the water, so I will return to the Islands someday!

Dinner on our last night at a friends’ house.  THE END!

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The Lone Wolf-Team “Lammers & the DILF”

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

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

Race photos from Raven Eye Photography

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

Happy camper!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Race Plans

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The kid is napping, I finished my Sunday chores, so I am going to try to push out a blog post!  It’s early February, and I will say that the last month has been tough on me for running.  With the holidays and the year end of 2018, I was getting my daily runs in for the December Holiday Run Streak that our local store puts on.  But other than that, my physical activity was going downhill.  Work has been tough, and managing work with being parents and wanting to still do the same level of running and training I did before Andy is even tougher.  And it’s not even the ‘before Andy’ that is the most challenging.  It’s the now being a working parent.  Maternity Leave was a godsend and I was probably close to the best shape of my life by mid July and August of last year.  I ran my best 5km ever, was feeling strong AF and also felt like a pretty bad ass mom.

Now, I just feel like a mom trying to swim upstream.

I am still doing the Runstreak, and have been running at least a mile a day every day since December 1st.  My first 2019 goal is to continue the RunStreak for one whole year.  It’s not a mileage goal, or a race time goal, but it gives me something to focus on every day and it something that I know can be attainable even when I am feeling overloaded with work and everything else.

As 2019 creeped into existence, I knew I needed to get back in control of my diet and exercise.  It wasn’t awful, but in the last months of 2018 I started buying chips and salsa again for at home.  And I was drinking more beer than my ‘lack of running’ body should be consuming.  The husband and I both went in for body composition appointments at Kinetic at the beginning of January.  My weight was actually better than I expected.  But, weight is a funny thing.  It’s a number to not take too much to heart.  I weighed in at 135 lbs.  The measurements for the body composition though, however, were frustrating (but expected).  I didn’t completely fall of the wagon, but comparing the results to what I had back in June at the end of the Mommy “Time 4 Me” challenge was frustrating.  My body fat percentage had gone up and my measurements had increased in total inches.

This was all expected because I 1.) Wasn’t running as quality of workouts 2.) It’s winter and not race season so I wasn’t in the training mode for anything in particular 3.) I am not able to go to boot camp anymore (damnit, I wish I was still on mat leave!) 4.) our diet had started to creep back into the higher carb amounts.

Husband and I have decided to tweak our eating habits, using the tools I learned during the Time 4 Me challenge.  Lower carb, higher protein.  We’ve also greatly cut the beer intake, and have generally switched to red wine (except I am drinking a beer as I type this……).  I’m not making myself go crazy with this, but we are going to do another body composition early March to see what has happened in two months with some small changes.

The bigger thing is that I have my second goal of getting back into racing shape and loving to run.  I contacted Dean Johnson, who did my race training plan for Vancouver in 2015, and asked him is he’d make a plan for me for this year leading up to my big race in September (more on that later).  If someone makes me a plan to follow, I automatically make it work in my day.  It was also key that I gave him which days work best for me to fit in quality workouts (Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and then have the other days as just my minimum mileage for my runstreak.  I started this Thursday with his set workouts and even though the cold and snowy weather is absolute shit, I have to say I’m already feeling better about myself and the race season ahead.

I know I can’t necessarily have crazy time goals for my races this year, but I need to have some goal.  If I just register for random local races but don’t have a new big race or plan in sight, I’ll get into a rut.  My 2019 race schedule is shaping up to look like this:

-Moonlight Run 10KM in March

-Some local 5km races (possibly with Andy in the stroller) in April and May

-Red Deer Half in May (goal of sub 1:37, depending on how training goes!)

-Lots of trails in June (Coulee Cactus as a relay, Lone Wolf in Fernie as a relay with the husband)

-Haida Gwaii Full Marathon in July (would like to run at least faster than Berlin, with the dreamy goal of sub 3:30…but its a very small race and it’ll be mentally challenging for me).

-Lost Soul Ultra 50km in September (My first trail ultra….more on that in a much later post)

-Police Half Marathon in October (would like to beat my time from this years’ race which was 1:37.39)

-New York Marathon in November (run with the husband and just generally have a blast)

How the next two months go will determine how those 5km’s and Red Deer half goes.  Will I be competitive with the field, or even with my own times?  I’m sure as hell going to try.  When June rolls around and I start playing with trail races, I have the hope that this ignites a new fire in me.  I am really looking forward to July and August, as I will have off of work and Andy will still have daycare Monday-Friday.  I can use those days to follow a trail training plan in preparation for Lost Soul.  As that approaches, a reasonable goal for the race will be determined.  Or maybe not so reasonable.  I have one in my mind, but it may be a bit lofty.

Anyway, with second semester in full swing and a new training plan to follow, I have high hopes for the coming months of running.  And bonus—kid is still napping!

I Could Not Remember When I Last Washed My Hair

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Hey everyone. I feel like I’ve been MIA. Well, my last post was written the day before I went back to work. And since going back to work, I feel like I’ve barely had a second to breathe. I know everyone’s experiences are different, but right now as I sit passenger in the car driving home from a family weekend in Red Deer, I realize how easy the year of maternity leave was and how much work it is being back at work and being a parent.

I obviously use the term “easy” not in a way that means I was a cake walk. But looking back, maternity leave was a breeze. Sure, Andy would get up a few times in the night, but he napped tons during the day. I could clean. I could cook. I could nap too! If I wanted to go workout, I packed Andy up and we went to boot camp at Kinetic. We also did stroller boot camp at U of L. I could run with him mid day in the stroller.

Want to go out to dinner? Sure! Andy was a great baby and we could bring him in his bucket seat into places like Telegraph Taphouse and he’d sleep for two hours while we enjoyed beer and dinner.

Want to take a shower mid day? That could happen. Throw Andy in the swing or the jolly jumper in the bathroom and a shower could happen.

Now, fast forward to this weekend. Friday night we get to my in laws. My eyes hurt from exhaustion. Andy slept the whole three hour drive, but Dan and I are running on empty. I take the opportunity to take a long shower and as I get in the shower I feel my hair. It was at that point I could not remember when I had last washed it. I guessed it was last Saturday. I proceeded to take a shower, wash my hair twice, and then I laid in the tub as the shower beat down on my body. Then I flipped to my stomach and let it beat down on my back. No fucking shame in doing this. I was probably in the shower for over ten minutes.

You hear about all the new moms who don’t take showers for days or don’t get out of the house for a nice meal. This officially didn’t hit me until going back to work. Balancing working a full time job that takes a whole shitload of energy to do and then coming home to keep your 13 month old alive and well is a whole new deal.

Do we go to Telegraph any more? Not with Andy, that’s for sure. Our dinners out with him are now relegated to stupid Boston Pizza. You take him in and it’s a ticking time bomb. We order his meal of over cooked pasta and our jug of beer. You entertain him with said pasta while you chug your beer, then eat your meal fast and pay up before even finishing all your food.

My running has gone to the back burner. I’m still getting in four runs a week. But the quality and distance suck. No more boot camps.

I may sound like a complainer. Really all I’m getting at is that I was naive to think that returning back to work would be easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in a long ass time. The preparation of having a new baby and being a new parent was one thing. But being a parent with a full time job is not a joke.

I know over time I will be better accustomed to managing my work and home life. Some things are going to have to give. There are undoubtedly going to be very tough days, very tough weeks. (Like the one we just had where Andy was the final kid at daycare to contract pinkeye…we had a walk in clinic visit followed by a trip to emergency two days later).

Dan and I will make mistakes. We will be frustrated. We will be stressed. But we will figure it out. We are going to give Andy the best damn life possible and are going to enjoy every moment.

The End

One Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Swimming Lessons!  10 classes

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

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

-Kindermusik Drop-In program at CASA

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

-HIGH Fitness classes held at the northside LDS church

and much more!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was able to run in 15 different races:

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

One 4 mile race (Firecracker 4)

One 8 km race (LadiesFest)

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

One 10 mile race (Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race)

One Trail Race as a Relay (Coulee Cactus Crawl)

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

One Full Marathon (Berlin Marathon)

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

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

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

“The days are long but the years are short”

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

Onto year 2!