Well well well….it’s finally time. The time has come. It’s here. WE HAVE A RACE WEEKEND GETAWAY!
I know there have been events happening elsewhere in the last year even during the pandemic. But in Canada, most of our things were still cancelled due to gathering laws. And then the ‘easy’ border crossing by road wasn’t easy because it was closed to traffic until I don’t even remember when…November 2021?
In early 2020, we had chosen the Whitefish Marathon Weekend in Montana as our spring race. Had an AirBNB booked with friends. Going to be great! Well, that got cancelled (obviously) and our race entries got transferred to 2021. The race happened in 2021, but none of us from Canada could go…I mean, unless you flew. We weren’t allowed to cross the road border.
Now its 2 years later. And it’s been about 3 years since I have done a half marathon race (my last was Woody’s RV Half Marathon in Red Deer, May 2019). I ran a 1:43.20 then. After that race, my focus was a full in Haida Gwaii (3:42 and change) and my 50km Ultra Trail Race.
I have trained pretty well this spring….but my base and my ability is SO DIFFERENT than it was since I last toed the start line of a road race. I know I should just listen to Dan and focus on that this race weekend is about travel and having fun with friends….but I am nervous. I would used to thrive on being competitive to myself in road races. I am going to push the best I can, and while I have done the mileage in training, I am not sure if I will just explode part way through. It almost feels like this is my first time doing a race and don’t know what to expect.
We leave this afternoon to do the 3-3.5 hour drive to beautiful Whitefish. The weather for the weekend looks ideal. We are staying with really good friends at an AirBNB close to start and finish. In-Laws are already down there at a hotel and are going to watch Andy race day and then take him on Saturday night so we can have some fun.
This trip and race has been 2 years in the making and we finally get to go. I have no clue what my “Race Report” will be. Maybe I’ll surprise myself. Maybe my legs will give out and I’ll have to walk my ass across the finish. Either way, I just have to remember that this means one thing—RACING IS FINALLY BACK!!!
So, as I look back at 2021…..race wise, I want to forget about it all
No races yet this year. Everything had been cancelled. Notice how on the top of my main page I have result headers going way back to 2013? And the last year was 2019? That’s because 2020 blew up all the races. And then 2021 just kept being disappointment after disappointment of races being delayed and then cancelled. I have said it before–I am not a virtual race person. So I only did one in 2021 and that was the Haida Gwaii Half Marathon. That race holds a special space in my heart from when we went and did it in person in 2019. Once summer hit in 2021, I hit the trails. It was my last hope. Lost Soul 50km WAS going to happen! The 100km and 100 mile racers started on Friday, September 10th. It was exciting that something was actually occurring. I started to get my pre-race, night before jitters and laid all my stuff out.
And then….the rain.
This won’t be a really big recap, but the main thing is rain hit at around 9 pm Friday night. We had been so dry and at risk of wildfires all summer long, and it chose to rain that night. Rained all night long….100 mile runners were STUCK on the course in coulee mud. They pulled the runners off the course starting around 3:30 am whenever they reached their next aide station. At some point in the middle of the night the race directors started making a plan.
When I woke up at around 5:30, everything was up in the air. I believe it was at 6:15 am that a decision was posted on Facebook that YES the 50 km race would start, but it would be delayed to 7:15 am, and at that time all 100 mile racers would also start up again with the 50 km runners. The final catch-wet weather route.
What is a wet weather route for a 50 km trail race in the easy-to-destroy coulees? It is a 10km loop you do 5 times that is on mainly pavement, a touch of shale path, and one 100m stretch of mud.
Now. Today’s date is Jan 6th. This race recap is so soon after the actual race, it’s going to be very detailed…..yeah, no. My New Years Resolution is going to be to get back to actually doing training and race recaps, because 2022 better have some fucking races (more on that at the end). But the main thing about this Lost Soul….we were all just SO HAPPY to have a damn race! If this race had been cancelled due to weather, and not COVID, it would have been a huge slap in the heart. Was my time faster than it would have been on the coulee course? Of course—it was pavement. But was I in more pain than I would have been on the regular route? Of course—it was pavement.
I am forever grateful for the lovely race directors who made the decision to change the route in order to protect the coulees and allow us to still have an event. It was very stressful even leading up to race day before the weather hit as there was a chance that it would be cancelled if new COVID restrictions had come in by then. So, the only thing I can thank Jason Kenney for is that he delayed any sort of Vax Passport restriction stuff until after my race. THANK YOU, but you are still an asshat.
My finish time was 5:28. I was sore AF after. I got to run with our son Andy into the finish line. My husband got to see me finish. My friend Tracey helped me at the main aid station whenever I came through. The positive about a looped course was that anyone who was spectating was in the same spot and you got to see everyone anytime you came through headquarters. No, it wasn’t the traditional Lost Soul Ultra. But nothing since March 2020 has been traditional.
So, what’s next? Register for the 50km for 2022 so I can do the regular route again and try to beat my 2019 time? Nah…..how about do it twice? That’s right….I registered for the 100km Lost Soul Ultra. This will be my farthest race ever. The most I have ever run in one day is 70 km during our crazy 100 Point Day event in 2020. This will be a total different race for me, and my main goal is to just finish. I need a different challenge; something to motivate me. I had little motivation last year with everything getting cancelled, so starting 2022 off on the right foot with signing up for races and starting plans is step 1.
While that is the Goal race it isn’t until September. I have also already signed up for the Whitefish Half Marathon and Calgary Marathon (both in May) and Taber Tuff 25km Trail Race in July. We also have a deferred entry to the Lone Wolf trail race in September (that was another last minute cancellation due to BC COVID rules). I am going to attempt to get in to the Elk Valley 50km in July to use as a training run. And I will also keep my eyes open for other races that intrigue me.
This year is about getting back in the habit and reaching some new challenges. Here goes nothing!
So. I have been putting off and avoiding writing a post for some time. I have even had it on my “to-do” list. This week, I made a point to tell myself I would do it by Friday, as I would have some time. When I was heading to work, I decided I wanted to title the post as “Hopeful”. So I find it ironic and a bit funny that my stupid desk calendar at work had this cartoon today:
My last post was bidding 2020 adieu. To fill you in on details of each month, I will begin with January:
Biggest thing here was getting my foot surgery. I had a Cartiva Implant put in on January 18th. Leading up to the surgery, I was not nervous about going under…but I was nervous about not getting to. With COVID, if I had been placed under quarantine at all, I would have to postpone my surgery. See, that month we had our last week of a 6 week stint of students being ‘at home learning’ and then all students in Alberta were coming back in person the week of January 11th. I joked that if any of those damn kids caused me to postpone this surgery I would never let them live it down. Good news is they did not let me down.
During surgery recovery that month I discovered I cannot handle the side effects of T3’s. I also got to watch the Inauguration of a decent human being and VP from the comfort of my couch. I binge watched Bridgerton, Blown Away and Bling Empire. Overall, January was pretty great.
Foot is healing and I was back to work by the end of the first week in February. Crazy that I was already walking on my foot. This surgery is insane! Second semester started and we were all in person, but the COVID cases in classes were still happening and effecting a ton of random classes and kids. I was trying to do strength and core workouts via the Peloton app since I was not cleared to run yet….it was something at least.
Valentines Day allowed for a fun photoshoot with myself and Andy….so adorable this little guy. We also were able to escape to Red Deer for Reading Week because we felt case numbers were down enough in the province to warrant that….little did we know this province would fucking blow up in the coming months.
OK. I feel like this is when the disparity between what was happening in the US vs Canada in COVID started to develop. Vaccines were starting to given places in the states pretty swiftly. My whole immediate family (most importantly my mom) were able to access first and second doses quickly. Rollout was great.
What was happening here? Not a whole lot.
My husband is better at explaining the rollout and why we were so slow to the game….in the end, he just commented that “When the US does something great, they do it damn well. We are just a small fish in the sea” We didn’t have the supply needed to start the rollout fast. Every province’s rollout plan was a bit different, and our Phases in Alberta were moving slow. ALSO-Educators were not included in any of the early phases….we would just be the general public in Phase 3. THANKS JASON KENNEY.
March was nice for weather at least. Very grateful for my friend Tracey who fixed my bike, which is my dad’s old Schwinn from the 90s. And Dan bought a bike off Lethbridge Swap and Buy. Andy is getting a bit too heavy for the running stroller, so we tried our friends’ Thule bike carrier and loved it. Huge thanks to Lexi and Simon who are letting us borrow it this Spring and Summer, as they have a double they now use!
Also, I started running this month. I was first told to wait until mid April, but my foot was healing and I was itching to get out there. I decided to sign up for the Virtual Moonlight 6km as a goal. I ran it in a 35:32 which for being two months out of surgery isn’t too bad. Big thanks to Tracey, again, who was there for me – she joined me as I did my 6km! Felt good to do an ‘event.’
As the month wore on, the numbers in Lethbridge for cases were growing, and our school in particular was having case after case after case. I kept dodging my classes being quarantined, but students were in and out for random amounts. Our district wasn’t allowed to make a change to Scenario 3-Online Learning. The Alberta government must approve that. But our school did get approval finally to go online for the four days leading up to Easter because it was just a hot mess and a half.
Holy shit, this month was a different thing each week….
Easter came and went. The highlight of Easter weekend was the fantastic weather and our friend Nick’s 40+1 birthday celebration. Last year, his 40th had to be completely cancelled because it was the start of the pandemic. This year, we did a “Runstravaganza” on a Saturday where a handful of us (still within the restriction guidelines of groups gathering outside) ran and biked around 18km, stopping at eachother’s backyards for drinks and snacks. We had Andy with us and I biked with him as Dan ran. It was an awesome day! Felt a little bit of normalcy, as this is something we would have done in a non-pandemic year!
Dan and I also took Andy on a little mini getaway the weekend after Easter….We went to the Calgary Zoo for the first time. While I have been to many zoos, this was also my first time here! I know it’s a bit different than normal, as no indoor-exhibits were open. It was outside only with timed entry slots and masks on. It was a cooler day, but it was honestly great seeing the zoo in a low-crowd scenario. We then stayed in Mossleigh for the night at Aspen Crossing, where we booked a Caboose Cabin. I had gift cards that had been given to me in December as reimbursement for the Polar Express that was supposed to happen, but didn’t. Andy LOVED being in his BLUE TRAIN. It was a really fun experience!
So, that weekend was approximately April 10th give or take…..we had to come back to school IN PERSON after Easter break, as the government denied our schools request to stay online for one more buffer week. Thanks guys, thanks. On Wednesday, April 14th, I was minding my own business teaching Pre-Calculus students about Quadratics when I got a phone call from daycare….Positive Covid case at daycare, children must be picked up immediately. Quarantine for 2 weeks (became a bit more due to a second asymptomatic case during tests) and daycare closed.
I had been around these school quarantines, kids and teachers being in and out all year. My husband had not. All in all, we are pretty fortunate that this didn’t already happen to us. But we had to be creative from the 15th through the 28th. My principals were super in explaining all the different ‘days’ I could access for being at home, as I took on most of the at-home care since Dan needs to be working in order to be bringing home the money. I did not have to get into my personal days or my co-curricular days, and the fact that I already have a morning spare two days a week helped too. But dear god, taking care of a 3.5 year old for over 2 weeks when you can’t leave your house with them….that is something else. Andy was awesome though….Dan and I keep having to remind ourselves that he took it like a champ. He had three different COVID tests and they all came back negative…Dan was the champ taking him for those, but honestly driving to the testing centre at least killed time.
During quarantine, covid vaccines were starting to go up a bit, but moving on from the stages was not going fast. After doing some more digging, I felt like I could honestly declare myself as eligible in one of the early phases because I looked at my Cardiac MRI results from last year pre-COVID and compared them to something that was listed an a chronic health condition. This is something I plan on discussing in a future post, so we will leave that for another day. ANYHOW, since Kenney wasn’t prioritizing teachers I took matters in to my own hands and got my first Pfizer dose on April 18th. In another twist, we heard about that the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana was holding a vaccination clinic at the Carway border crossing, as they had a surplus of vaccines to share. After looking into it all, Dan drove down to the border at 4 am on Wednesday, April 21st. He was 13th in line. Our friends were number 35 or so, and the line kept growing and growing. Dan crossed the border, stayed in his vehicle, got his first dose of Moderna, waited 15 minutes, and drove home. He received paperwork from both Canada and US exempting him from a 14 day quarantine for going into the US. The Blackfeet Nation did not have to share these excess in shots…but they did.
So then, a bunch of our friends were able to get the Astra-Zenaca shot because they opened it to 40 and older…don’t worry, no one has had blood clot problems. But the second dose of that is up in the air because of supply….but they suggest 12 weeks for that anyway….and then just when our school and another high school had gotten district approval to moved to a hybrid-teaching schedule for the duration of the school year in attempt to limit tons of quarantine, Jason Kenney sent all 7-12 students in hot-spot areas online. We literally announced to our students Thursday morning that it would be starting the first week of May, and that night an announcement was made. Could have given us a heads up, huh? Fuck.
Well, we are halfway through May so who really knows what’s going to be happening. The two week online for hot-spots now is three weeks because then they decided to move it to all K-12 online. Alberta was a flaming dumpster fire at the beginning of the month….cases are crazy. There are so many people being irresponsible and our hospital admissions are so high right now. And it’s a lot of younger people. Who are being reckless. People hosting Anti-lockdown anti mask rodeos….like seriously. Grow the fuck up. We are all sick of this pandemic but it keeps lasting longer because of idiots.
But remember at the start of this page, when I talked about Hope?
I still have hope for this month…and the rest of the year!
Vaccine supply increased…Teachers were given FINALLY given a go to get their shots before it was wide open. Kenney allowed them a one day heads up….but then it opened to 30 and older for booking. And as of earlier this week, 12 and older. Basically, anyone who wants a shot in Alberta can go get it. So thank you!
All our friends have had their first shot. I feel safe at work. Dan feels safe at work. We feel safe about Andy at daycare. Numbers are starting to go back down with the new restrictions. Weather is getting better. Summer is ahead.
We are going to escape to the cabin for May Long. In June, I have a virtual Ladies Fest 8km to do, we have our 100 Point Day event again…..I maybe (fingers crossed) will get to go to Wisconsin this summer (big fingers crossed). We will be getting second doses of vaccines. Fall school year should be more normal. And I scored a 50 km race bib for Lost Soul Ultra in September along with us doing the Lone Wolf as a team.
So that post I did a little bit ago, about all the information I was getting close to sharing? I’m kind of stuck.
See, this blog was originally started because I was going to talk about my running, my love for Disney world, and my dad. In 2013, I did a ton of races, raised money for American Heart Association & Heart and Stroke Foundation, and trained for RunDisney races like a boss. I did this all for the memory of my dad and it helped me focus on something positive surrounding the still tough-for-me grieving process.
I always hoped we could find information about my dad’s birth family, as he was adopted. For those who haven’t followed for a long time, my dad was adopted from an orphanage in Quebec City in 1954. He was born there in 1952.
I have done DNA tests with 23 and Me and Ancestry in hopes that someone close enough in relation would pop up. 4th, 5th, 6th cousins are galore. But that doesn’t really get you anywhere.
The first week in August, a woman with the closest connection yet to me on 23 and me from my father’s side showed up.On 23 and Me I know with certainty it’s from my dad’s side, as my mom has done the DNA testing and it can sort based on us connecting as mother/daughter on the page. I messaged this woman, and then shortly after her father had results on the page too. He was even a stronger match.
I have messaged him lots in the past month. He is around 80, lives near Montreal. The predicted relationship according to 23 and Me is that he is my 1st Cousins 1x Removed. The chart on 23 and Me shows that his grandparent would be my great grandparent. He and my dad have the same grandparents!
Not just relying on 23 and Me, this man’s brother does a lot of genealogy tracking for the family on his own. I gave my contact all the dates and information that would be helpful, and in talking with his brother, they narrowed down their ‘candidates’ of family members who may have been my dad’s birth mom.
They are pretty confident they know who is my dad’s mom. I have a first name. They have sent me a few photos of the woman. They have given me bits and pieces of her past which then make sense to the whole story….born in 1926, a ton of other siblings, she was still living at home in the late 40s/early 50s when all the others had moved away. They remember her saying in 1951 she was heading to the US for a nanny position….that’s when we assume she went to the orphanage as an out of wedlock woman to have my dad in secret.
She ended up getting married in 1955/56 and had a family of her own. But then she sort of removed herself from the rest of the family. My contact said her and her husband eventually separated, but her children are still alive….but he is not sure of what their relationship with their parents has been. She passed away at some point, though her death and reason for death isn’t really known.
I am so close. The potential mother of my dad, my grandma….her kids are still alive. My dad’s potential half siblings. My contact knows where her oldest son is right now, as he put it “alive and well” and in his 60s. But he hasn’t spoken to him in around 15-20 years. He is unsure about approaching him in regards to this situation. I have offered to pay for a 23 and Me test for this potential half brother of my dad. I need answers.
I have been trying to do some digging on Ancestry. I paid for a membership again. Canadian records don’t seem as readily available as US or world records. I am just searching on my own to try to close in on some things. I am not contacting anyone. I am hoping that my contact will decide a time to talk to the one son and we can connect that way.
I don’t want anything from the family other than to have a confirmed blood-line connection to someone who is related to my dad. The closest relationship possible. My dad lived a blessed life. IT was actually a pretty privilege childhood. He was very lucky to have been raised by my grandparents and have his brother Ed. And if this life hadn’t happened for him, he would have never met my mom, he would have never had me, I would have never met Dan, and we wouldn’t have Andy. Things obviously happen for a reason. But now, I want to unlock the past.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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?!?
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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.