Tag Archives: Alberta

Millarville Half Marathon Relay 2017

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It had been a couple years since I ran in one of the Millarville events, so what better way to get back at it than do a relay with my husband?!?!?  I signed us up some time back, but had always planned that I would run the first leg of the half marathon and he would run the second leg.  We stuck with that plan as race day approached, since I would be over 20 weeks pregnant and the first leg was the shorter distance.  Having just come off a good race time at the Lethbridge 8km Ladiesfest I knew I could pound out a good time for the 9km portion of our relay.

Our alarms went off at 4:15 am that Saturday morning.  We would be driving up to Black Diamond and do our race pickup before the event.  The drive took about 2 hours, so we arrived with about 45 minutes to spare.  There was another reason why doing the relay was the better option for us—we had to bring our dog Snoopy along for the trip.  I’ll be doing a blog post at some point this summer about what has been going on this June, but the main point is that Snoopy has bad arthritis and has been going to Calgary for doggie acupuncture appointments.  We booked an appointment strategically for after the race, since we’d already be almost to Calgary.  Doing the relay allowed one person to stay with Snoopy at all times while the other person ran!

I was off at 7:30 am with the other runners.  All relay and half marathon runners started together.  The 9km portion I was running winds through Black Diamond neighborhoods, past golf courses, and onto paved trails.  It offers some rolling hills and lots to see.  Being the first leg of the relay had the benefit of having lots of other competitors around you as your ran.  This always pushes me more!

I had my phone with me, so I voice texted Dan when I had less than a mile to go. I wanted him to be prepared at the transition area.  I crossed the relay transition with a 9km time of 48:26.08.  My splits were 8:01, 8:55, 8:56, 8:59, 8:28 for miles 1-5.  The distance on my watch clocked in at 5.65 miles and I had an average pace of 8:35 a mile.  

I went to the car (where Snoopy was patiently waiting) and we drove the short drive to the finish line at the Millarville racetrack.  After parking and walking to the finish line, we didn’t have to wait too long for the first half marathoner to come across.  It was then pretty quick having other finishers for the various distances come by.  Dan came by with a half marathon finish time for our team of 1:43.50.  His split for the 12.1 km he ran was a 55:24.57.  This works out to a team average pace of 7:55 minutes/mile.  Not bad for a pregnant wife and a husband who still doesn’t really like to run!

Dan, Andrea and Snoopy


 

Calgary Half Marathon 2017

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I first ran a Calgary Marathon Weekend event in 2009.  That marathon was AWFUL for me, and I took a break from running full marathons.  But, in 2013 I returned to Calgary for their half marathon.  And in 2014 for the full.  And 2015 & 2016 for the 50km.

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Calgary Marathon Expo

 

This year, my husband and I ran the half marathon.  I went in with a few time goals, with my overall goal being to run a sub 2 hour half marathon.  Normally, this is no problem as I have been running low and sub 1:40s for a few years now.  But, being 17.5 weeks pregnant would be new running territory!  If that goal couldn’t be met, I wanted to beat my first half marathon time of 2:05.30.  Third goal would be sub 2:10.  And after that, just completion.

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Runners Soul Marathon Club

Weather was set to be comfortable, and the 7:00 am start is always nice.  In my experience running Calgary Marathon Weekend event, the heat really kicks in at around 9:30 and on.  I would be done before the heat of the morning arose, and off those non-shaded city streets.  I was concerned, however, about needing to use the bathroom multiple times.  I am needing to stay hydrated more than ever, but that comes with consequences!

Dan and I started in separate areas of the starting corral.  I actually started with our cousin Erin, even though I knew she’d be gone from my sight in a few short steps.  I started farther up than maybe I should have, but I also know so many people self-seed themselves incorrectly.  I planned on pushing the first mile just so I could get some space and not be trampled/ran into/stepped on.  This plan worked as I ran mile 1 in 8:33, and therefore had plenty of elbow room.

Miles 2-5 were consistent and uneventful.  Actually, the eventful parts of these miles were people running by me commenting on my shirt!  “Run Faster!  I’m pregnant and still kicking your ass!”  I heard a comment from a guy at one point saying he’s done a lot of races and that’s the best shirt he’s ever seen.  I got a lot of “congrats” and thumbs up.  It kept me smiling and moving, and I’m sure it kept a bunch of other people moving!  Miles 2-4 were 8:45, 8:59, 8:58, and 8:59.  I was on pace to break 2 hours (ideally wanted an average pace of 9 min/mi…I was on track!)

Mile 6 was my slowest, at a 9:46.  This is due in part to my one and only potty break.  I spotted two Porta Potties downtown at around mile 5.8 and there was no line.  PERFECT!  But, they were both occupied.   I had to wait probably somewhere around 15-20 seconds, went in and was out quickly.  Probably used about 45 seconds there.  But, it was needed.  Hopefully it wouldn’t come back to taunt me as my time approached the 2 hour mark.

I was never able to get my pace back below that 9 minute mark, but I hovered right around it.  Miles 7-10, which mentally were the most challenging as you saw people already heading back to Stampede grounds as you were heading to the turnaround, were 9:05, 9:03, 9:14.

During those miles, I took advantage of the soaked sponges, as I do at every Calgary event!  The sun was up, clouds were non-existent…it was warming up!  I needed to keep my body temperature down. I kept watching my heart rate and every time it got near 170 I would slow down a bit and adjust my breathing to bring it down to a 150.

On the home stretch I knew I could get that sub 2 hour.  I ran a 9:02 for mile 11, 9:08 for mile 12 and a 9:11 for mile 13.  The problem was when my watch hit 13.1 miles, I wasn’t at the finish line.  This can happen in a lot of races, especially if you veer off the course to use a bathroom, run zig-zagged to go to aide stations, don’t run the tangents of the course….I pushed as hard as I could so I could get under 2 hours.  My watch read 13.9 when I finished, and I finished in a 1:59.12!  A sub 2 hour half marathon!

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Finish area 

Dan was in the finish area waiting for me (I’m not sure how he managed to stay there without the volunteers kicking him out after he finished).  He ran a personal best of 1:41.08.  This was over 11 minutes faster than his only other half marathon, which he ran a year before this.  Look what a little training can do!  And with him running that time now, if I can get him to keep on with running, I will have some friendly competition post pregnancy!

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Another half marathon in the books!

 

Medicine Hat Rattler Run 10km 2017

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The Rattler Run was the first race I have done where I officially made it known I was pregnant!  I had “pregnant-raced” in secret while 7.5 weeks along (Moonlight Run 6km) and at 10.5 weeks (10 & 4 Mile Road Race 2017) but this would be the first weekend that I had made it public knowledge to all our family and friends.  I was 13.5 weeks along and feeling good, so I knew I would still have a respectable time.  Mainly, I just wanted to have a great day with my husband at this event!


Race weather was perfect for late April and the 11 am race start time is perfect for us as we travel in from Lethbridge.  Dan and I both started near the front of the pack, as I wanted to make sure I had room around me right away.  He went off ahead of me and I wouldn’t see him until the finish.  I got myself settled into a comfortable pace and hit my first mile in 7:32.  I was very happy!

I started to slow immediately the next mile.  The biggest change I have noticed in my body while running is how heavy my legs feel.  Probably due to increased blood flow and all.  The heaviness caused me to automatically slow down, and that’s ok.  8:13, 8:30 and 8:37 were miles 2-4.  These were all down below Medicine Hat College on a really pretty route next to some coulees.


The route was different for the 10km compared to the other two years I had ran it.  We had to run up the hill at Kin Coulee Park this time.  I would describe it as a mini-Moonlight run….mini because the hill is only about 1/4 of the Wendy’s hill you need to run up at moonlight…but still a pain this late in a race!  My heartrate went up as I started climbing up, so I immediately took it easier up the hill to settle my heart rate back down.  Ran mile 5 in 9:34.

The last mile was a struggle mainly because my legs were just beat by the time I got to the top of the hill.  Had to do another loop around the college and in to the finish line.  I finished mile 6 in 8:53, and then kicked it in for the last bit in with a final time of 52:40.

I had set my A goal for this race to be a sub 50 minutes.  I knew by 5km in that wouldn’t be happening, nor would it be worth it.  My B goal was to run between 50-55 minutes. So I made that!  C goal was under an hour.

Dan’s race went pretty well too, but he was a little frustrated because of a cramp he got really early on.  With all the speed work he has been doing I know he can run an even faster time, so I think he is looking forward to some redemption down the road.  He finished with a 46:47.


Final results/placings weren’t available immediately, so we hit the road because Dan had a meeting to get to.  As we drove away from Medicine Hat, I realized I had placed 3rd in my age group!  Luckily, my friend Heather was still at the event because her son was waiting for his award.  She picked my medal up for me.  I had thought my placing days were done until post baby!  My stats  were 3/25 Age Group, 13/83 Gender, and 52/152 Overall.  Dan was 7/15 Age Group, 17/69 Gender and 21/152 Overall.  A great day for both of us!

Moonlight Run 2017

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I know…It’s been awhile since posting!  I had a race last weekend, so I figured a little recap was necessary.  Moonlight Run has been a staple for me over the years, and this would be my 6th year participating in the event.  However, it would be my first year participating in the 6km, not the 10km.  I had originally signed up for this race under the impression I would be pretty far along in my pregnancy.  After the miscarriage, I decided not to change up to the 10km, as I had not been training to ‘race’ a 10km.  Yes…I can run a 10km.  But really since September 2016, I haven’t been training to ‘race.’  I know that personally I would have been really frustrated with myself if I couldn’t deliver a performance like I did in the Moonlight Run 10km like I did the past two years (my best Moonlight placing overall and my best Moonlight time).  So, 6km it was!  Hey—it was going to be a personal best, as it would be my first ever 6km race!

I did something else a bit different this year for Moonlight-I volunteered!  Obviously, not during the race itself, but I volunteered at package pickup on Friday.  I decided to help out our Winston Churchill kids who were handing out race swag.  It was fun to be with the kids the night before, and see a lot of the racers before race night.  They apparently handed out 1000 of the 2800 registrations in the first 45 minutes!  It was crazy!

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Flat Andrea…gotta wear the pink!

Race night came.  I am always thrown off on nutrition for a night race.  Eat a normal breakfast, a late lunch, and hope your food settles.  I was hoping mine did, and I wasn’t really sure.  Weather was warm, and all the snow/ice had melted that could have caused issues…but it was WINDY.  We would be running into the wind going down the hill and the wind would be with us going back up, so that was a plus.  Dan and I got the race start at around 7:30.  My first task was to find a WCHS student volunteer who would be able to hang on to my vest with keys and phone in it while I ran—success!  It helps to teach the volunteers!  Dan and I mingled around a bit before I found my friend Aaron, who would also be doing the 6km.  We talked about goal times for the race and decided we would at least start together.  Dan was actually doing the 10km, so his race started at 8:00 pm.  He was off running and I had about 15 more minutes to wait for my start.

Usually I like to be right near the front of the race start.  It was hard to get really close to the front of the 6km, as there were over 2000 runners!  After the countdown and the airhorn went off, we quickly wove through a mess of kids in front of us so we could have a clear pathway down 3rd avenue.  My first mile felt nice and easy—didn’t push too hard to start, but actually had to “push” down the hill since the wind was so obnoxious.  Ran mile 1 in 6:45.

It was fun running down in the river bottom because again, there were student volunteers from WCHS.  A lot of them could see my coming in my bright pink socks, so it was encouraging to hear them yell for me.  I was really worried by second mile would be a lot slower, but was pleasantly surprised with a 7:09.  Mile 3 was when the wheels fell off.  I knew it would happen, as we had to go back up the hill.  I have done pretty much ZERO hill training, so it was going to hurt.  Even though I was slowly passing people, I was also slowly getting slower.  My push was not there like usual, so I cruised to a mile 3 of 8:39.  By the time I got to the top of the hill, I had a bit of a push left for the final stretch, but the lady who I passed up the hill caught up to me and passed me at the end.  Looking at the results, it didn’t effect my placing in my age group—just overall.  My time was a 29:12 with a 4:53 km average pace (doesn’t show mile pace on the results.  My watch said 7:47.  Compared to last years 10km, my pace is garbage.  Last year, I ran a 4:25/km and a 4:22/km in 2015.  For 10km, versus 6km.  But, that’s what I get for not having the training regime and race schedule like I have in the past years.

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Age Group Award-Photo courtesy of lethbridgephoto.com

In the end, I wasn’t too upset.  I ran a bit slower than I expected, however, the hill was the main issue.  My first miles felt good and I felt solid in the river bottom.  Just need to get back to that hill training!  I placed 3/140 in my age group, 10/1062 in female, and 44/2058 overall.  I plan on coming back to doing the 10km again, when I know I have properly trained for the hill and can get a time I would be proud of.  The 10km runner I am most proud of this year is my husband!  Dan ran the 10km in a personal best of 46:39!  He placed 11/32 in a very tough age group, 34/222 in males and 42/531 overall.  I will also mention that last year his 10km time was 54:37 and in 2015 he ran a 1:02.36.  We are now joking that if he keeps taking training seriously like he has the past month, he’ll be mid 30s next year. Anyway, there’s a new Pottage in town and it’s Dan!  Watch out!

 

Reflection Post-Election…

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…But nothing to do with politics!

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post, which was about my last race.  In those weeks since, I have been trying to stay away from Twitter, Facebook and the likes….because it always just gets me in trouble.  I was really good up until the night of the election and then I just ugly cried into my beer.  Then I pounded another beer.  And then I believe I made some Facebook comments angrily…..mature.

I had been avoiding Twitter even more, because I was sick of seeing anything election related leading up to the election.  For about the last month I honestly did not tweet as much as I used to.  I get too aggravated seeing things that upset me at my core, and I can’t deal with my anger well.  So, I just cut Twitter off pretty much.

I know I said this wasn’t a post about politics.  It isn’t.  Trust me.  Because I’m done talking about it.  What I said above was necessary, though, because in my absence of Twitter I didn’t connect with the #runchat community as much.  I am not necessarily a huge contributor to the community, but a lot of the people I follow on Twitter are through Runchat.  Many of these people I have never met.  I joined Twitter initially to help spread the word about this blog.  To connect with other runners.  To read more about running.  To find out more information about RunDisney events.  To commiserate with others when I failed to qualify for Boston.  Twice.  To celebrate with others when I finally did qualify!  To be able to be part of #BQChat, and to spread the joy and recount my trip to the 120th Boston Marathon.  I joined Twitter for running.  Not for politics.  It’s just a shame that it had to overtake my Twitter feed for the past bit that it bothered me so much that I needed to just not open it for some time.

I love talking about running.  About other people and their running experiences.  About my own experiences.  About goals, plans, dreams.  But most of the time, I like to just run alone.  I know a lot of people need a group or a running partner when they go on a long run, but I still yearn for those long runs when I am by myself.  Today, I ran 14 miles in the Lethbridge River Bottom.  It is November 13th.  And it is ridiculously gorgeous out.  I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  And sunglasses.  I headed out at roughly 10 am.  Down to the river valley I went.  I looped through the paved paths of Indian Battle Park, down past the Helen Schuler Nature Centre, to the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands, back past the Baroness Picnic Shelter, over to Whoop-Up Drive, onto the shale and dirt filled path that takes one right underneath the iconic high-level bridge….I took breaks during this run.  I took some pictures.  I took my time.  I eventually made my way back home and took my shoes off to find new blisters on my left foot.  My right foot, the surgery foot, felt good though.  It is worth noting, though, that during this solo run I never felt alone.  I ran past tons of couples, friends, families….all out enjoying the beautiful November Sunday.  Some people I passed two times.  I ran into other runners, who as we crossed paths we gave the little head nod to acknowledge the other.  I had my mind entwined in all the crazy things I have been thinking about the past while.  And when I returned from my run, while those crazy things weren’t gone….they weren’t driving me absolutely mad.




Tension.  Frustration.  Stress.  Sadness.  Anger.  

These things were all released from the simple act of going on a run.

Happiness.  Joy.  Accomplishment.  Satisfaction.  Pride

These things were all gained from the simple act of going on a run.

I know running can’t solve all the worlds’ problems, but I know it helps a lot of us deal with them a little bit better.

 

Go run.  You won’t regret it.

 

Volunteering at the Lost Soul Ultra

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Copyright LostSoulUltra.com

For all the races I have ran in over the years, I had yet to volunteer at an event.  Until now.  Each September, Lethbridge is home to a well-known ultra marathon event-The Lost Soul UltraMarathon.  This year’s event fell on the weekend of September 9-10th, and offered three different race distances: The 50km, 100km and 100 mile.  The race winds it way through the challenging Lethbridge coulees, taking you way up on ridges that overlook the river valley, and then down along the river bottom.  The course is not just full of basic climbs and descents—it is filled with grueling hills, single track madness and rough terrain.  It is not for the faint at heart!

I signed up earlier this summer for two volunteer shifts.  I would be volunteering at the headquarters, which was located behind Lethbridge Lodge.  This is the starting and finishing point for all events, plus a transition area for different legs of the 100km and 100mile.  I would be working from 4-8 pm on the Friday evening and then a few hours later, the graveyard shift of midnight-4 am.

The Lost Soul committee put on a nice volunteer BBQ a few weeks before the event on August 29th.  We got to mingle with other volunteers, receive our shirts (I was able to get a long sleeve shirt since I signed up for two shifts) and basic information.  On race day, I reported to headquarters and found Lorelei, our station captain.  The only runners on the course at this time were 100km and 100 mile runners, as their event began at 8 am that Friday.

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Finish area by headquarters

The timing of my first shift ended up being a crazy time at headquarters.  Lots of runners from both distances were coming through transition area.  As a volunteer, we were to help these runners at the aid station.  Whether it was fetching their drop bag (all runners could leave drop bags or boxes with their race number at each aid station) or finding them food or water in the aid tent.  The aid tent was unreal-at my first shift, there was a gentleman manning the grill making bacon.  Lots and lots of bacon!  The runners needed their salt!!!  He later on made burgers for the runners.  There was hot chicken broth, various fruit, sugary candy, chips, coffee, water, pop, and a whole lot more.  Runners had to check in with the timers as their entered the aid station, and could stay as long as they needed.  We then would put their drop bags back and send them off.

I was able to see quite a few runners that I knew during this time as they came through the aid station.  It was great to cheer on friends and people I knew from marathon club.  During my first shift I even got to see the 100km lead runner crush the course record and finish in around 10 hours and 55 minutes!  My friend Bob was helping crew him, so I got to hang out with Bob and his daughter Abby as they waited to see him come in and take the title.

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Shift 1 done!  Also now sporting my Lost Soul buff I received for volunteering

I headed out to dinner with a friend after shift 1, tried to take a nap (but failed) and came back at midnight.  It was a lot quieter at headquarters then, as far as runners go.  The runners have gotten more spread out, and the amount of runners coming in to the aid station at the same time had dispersed.  But that doesn’t mean that headquarters was boring.  There were lights and music, lots of happy volunteers to keep the runners’ morale up, and more food being served.  The later shift was a lot of fun because most of the 100km runners that came through were finishing.  Some of these people were seasoned vets, and some it was their first 100km race.  My friend Aimee came in well under her goal finishing her first 100km race!  She ran the race with her Dad, who is a veteran of these types of events!  I also got to meet a lady also named Andrea, who was also from Wisconsin!  She came all this way to do this race!  I had brought some Sprecher Soda with me to the midnight shift, so I gave her a taste of home by handing her a Puma Kola when she was finished.

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Aid Station at Headquarters between midnight and 4 am

 

Volunteering was an awesome experience, and I wish I had done it sooner.  It felt great to give back to the local Lethbridge running community, as it has already given so much to me.  Honestly, running races in Lethbridge and finding Marathon Club at Runners Soul really has kept me sane as I transitioned from a Wisconsinite to a Canadian.  I have met lifelong friends.  I have been able to reach goals I never thought would be possible. Everyone who runs in races should try to volunteer at a local race to pay it forward.  I am happy I did and I know I will again.

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Lost Soul Ultra is a premier ultra marathon ran in Lethbridge, Alberta, each fall.  Runners from all over North America make it out to western Canada to tackle our beautiful coulees and river valley.  For more information about this prestigious event, go to Lost Soul Ultra

May Happenings…FOUR recaps and then some!

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Wow, I have been slacking on blog posts!  May has been SO busy with not only races, but teaching, coaching, and life!  If I tried to do an individual recap for each for the four events I did in May, I wouldn’t get them done until September, so I am going to briefly touch on what I’ve been doing ‘running-wise’ lately, and also whats next…

MONTANA SPARTAN BEAST

On Saturday, May 7th, I participated in my 4th Montana Spartan Race weekend.  This time, instead of doing it with my husband, I was able to do it with my best friend Ali.  She flew in from California on the Friday night and would be participating in both the Beast on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday.  The Sunday Sprint would be her first Trifecta of the year, and she is going for an incredible 5 Trifectas by the time 2016 is complete!

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Before the Sunday Sprint

I knew what the expect with the course; Ali had an idea from what I’ve told her or what she read online.  But I think it’s safe to say it was tougher than she could even had imagined!  The terrain is very challenging, and you are basically doing hills for 14 miles.  The barbed wire crawl at the end is also brutal, as I would say it’s a solid 200 metres long.  We stuck together the whole race and were very happy to be finished!  It is a gorgeous course with a great atmosphere post race.  I was happy to just be doing the Beast, as come Sunday being a spectator was right up my alley.  Sunday was a bit of a let-down, as it seemed that Spartan Race was more interested in their Elite Heat and the NBC video crews than the paying customers.  After the elite heat started over 30 minutes late, they started the open heats really quick, one after another.  This caused for back ups at obstacles and just hoards of people in the way.  I saw this first-hand by being a spectator.  I do enjoy Spartan Races, but I think I will be taking a break from them for some time.

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Who doesn’t love a good fire jump!?

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Happy to be finished…and even happier to have those fries!

LAKEVIEW SCHOOL SUPERHERO 5KM

This event was a late addition for me.  As a Wednesday night race put on by a local school, this event had a different purpose and would draw a different crowd.  The school was fundraising to build a new playground, and ScotiaBank had agreed to match their fundraising amounts!  Around 450 kids and adults registered for either the 2km or 5km run.  I think it would be safe to say it was a huge success!

The event was geared more towards the children, and that makes perfect sense as it was put on by an elementary school.  The 2km race went first at 6:00, and then at around 6:30 they started the 5km.  The loop for the 5km runners was down the green strip we run on with Marathon Club, around park of Henderson Lake and back, with the last 400 metres or so on the grass at the school.  Running on the grass was the hardest part for me personally!  I was able to huff and puff my way in to a first place female finish with a time of 22:16.  If they did this event again next year I would definitely participate, as it supports a local school…and I am a teacher!

WOODYS RV WORLD RED DEER HALF MARATHON

This is an event I have done many times before.  Red Deer is where my in-laws life, and the event always falls on the Victoria Day/May Long Weekend, so it’s super convenient!  For my 5th running of the half marathon, I would be joined by my husband and my sister-in-law.  Thing is, it turned out I was the only one who really had been ‘training.’  Now, let me be clear—Erika, my sister-in-law, works out and stays active doing things other than running.  She just joked saying that she had a running ‘rest week’ that lasted 7 weeks!  And my husband….well, he hadn’t run since the BAA 5km…and before that he ran while in Hawaii in January…so he initiated his 5 day training plan leading up to the race.  I didn’t have high hopes for him.  He just wanted to finish.

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Pre-race clothing consisted of rain poncho garbage bags…which Dan wore all race!

Come race day, I didn’t have high hopes for myself.  I had cramps that felt like Satan was inside my body and it was raining.  HARD.  I started out feeling OK, but by mile 4 I knew I just needed to trod it out and not care about my time.  My time was a 1:46.35.  I was freezing, wet, irritable and just happy to be done.  I thought I would have enough time to get back to the car, get clean clothes, and see my husband finish.  Well, of course he outdid himself.  He finished his first half marathon in a time of 1:52.37.  Seriously….it took me until 2013 to hit under 1:54, and he just goes out there and does that.  Whatever!  He was on Cloud 9 the rest of the weekend…that is, until Monday morning after I let Snoopy out to the bathroom at 5:45 AM and he got sprayed by a skunk.  What a memorable Victoria Day 2016 it was!

 

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Half Marathon Finishers!

CALGARY MARATHON WEEKEND-50KM ULTRA

 

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Expo fun!

My last event of May 2016 happened to be the Calgary Marathon Weekend.  I often do an event in Calgary, having done the half marathon in 2013, the full marathon in 2009 and 2014, and the 50km Ultra in 2015.  This year, I opted to register for the 50km, as I wanted to see if I could better my time from the prior year, which was 4 hours 40 minutes and 34 seconds.

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Other than my races in between Boston Marathon and race day, I hadn’t put on any crazy mileage in preparation.  I really was going out there and seeing what I was made of.  The race start of 7 am is great, because it ALWAYS it warm this weekend, and the sun was out in full force early.  There was at least a nice breeze throughout the morning to help break the heat.  I started running with the plan of holding a 8:00 minute/mile pace for as long as I could, knowing I would probably have to slow down some.  I was able to keep my mind going on tons of different things during the race, because during the week before I asked for family and friends to let me know if they wanted me to ‘run for them’ at any point.  I had a list in my back skirt pocket that had the names of those who wanted me to run for them and the segments I would think about them.  I took this idea from my friend Dennene, who I met at this very race last year!

I was holding my own until around mile 22, when I realized I wouldn’t be able to hit the marathon timing mat (42.2 km) at a 3:30.00 (8 minute pace).  I decided to take a little break, use the washroom, and hydrate even more.  I knew I was just going to try my best to finish still with a better time than the year before.  I trucked along a bit more and my right foot started to really hurt (where my bone spur and arthritis is).  I ended up compensating for this pain by almost running on the outside of my right foot for the last 7 miles or so; it hurt too much to have my whole foot hit the ground.

My friend Saskia was helping out with her triathlon group at the 40 km mark, and she saw me as I went by.  She joined me and got me to the marathon mat, which I hit at 3:41.02.  What’s even funnier is that this is now my third fastest marathon time, with Vancouver being the fastest and Boston being next!  I was quite a bit ahead of my pace from last year, so I knew I just needed to muster through any pain and get the last 7.8 km or so completed!  I kept a positive attitude, smiled and had fun, and by doing this, I even had some extra energy stored during the final stretch to really push myself.  My final time—4:23.10!  I beat my time from last year by just over 17 minutes!  YES!

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Thumbs up!

I was very happy with my time for this race, and even happier to find out I placed in the 50km at 20/122 runners overall.  For my gender, I was 6/42 and in the 30-34 female I was 2/9.  I earned a 1st place age group award, however, because much like last year the overall female winner was in my age group, thus removing her from age category awards.

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Bling and trophy acquired!

This race was not a ‘goal race’ by any means, but it was important.  This marks my “last hurrah” before my cheilectomy surgery, which is happening on June 10th.  My bone spur will be shaved off my right foot, along with my arthritis being cleaned out.  Stitches will be put in, and I will be put resting and elevating my foot most of the summer.  I will probably have 8 weeks off of any sort of running, and then when I do start running again I will be taking it VERY EASY.  The arthritis will most likely come back over the years, but hopefully the bone spur stays away.  I will have lots to write about in regards to this surgery, and that will be what my summer posts are devoted to, so stay tuned.

And with that, my Winter/Spring/beginning of Summer 2016 races are complete!  Up next-surgery.  After that—get back into running so I can complete the 2017 Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World!  Can’t stop me now!

 

Disneyland 10km Recap (Better late than never…)

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I’m sitting in the basement at 8:30 pm aimlessly switching between HGTV and the Sunday Night Football game. This is a first since August. School has been so busy that I have fallen behind on my posts. I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon and 10km back over Labour Day weekend…yes, first week in September…and haven’t written the recap yet. Well, it won’t be as long and glamorous of a recap as usual, but I’m getting it done tonight!

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I went out to California Labour Day weekend of 2015, much as I had the year prior. I was going to do the RunDisney DumboDouble Dare Challenge. My BFF lives in Redondo Beach, so accommodations are easy! I booked the direct flight from Calgary on Thursday evening of the weekend knowing I’d be back before work started again on Thursday….but, oops. Misread the school calendar. While I knew I’d be taking a day off of teaching on the Friday, I thought it was just a work day (year prior classes hadn’t started yet). But I would miss a teaching day. And I hate missing teaching days. Especially since we only would have had one regular class day before I bailed. But I had the days planned to use, so it was what it was, and I went on my way.

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Now, as a RunDisney veteran (so to speak) I knew what to expect with this weekend. I knew the lay of the land. But this weekend was different as my goal was to place in my age group in the 10km, beat my personal best of 41:30 in the race, and help my BFF crush her half marathon personal best.

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Summer training went alright…but I was burnt out. I spoke in previous posts that I was feeling the burn and needed to rest. But with this 10km goal I didn’t want to stop. 10km race day came and I was anxious. And warm. It was by no means hot in Anaheim this particular weekend but the air is just different than Alberta and I was feeling clammy. I also had just had a sub par performance at a local Lethbridge half the weekend prior, that while placing and winning prize money, I had felt like garbage with stomach issues. I was nervous this would happen again.

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Racing Disney races with a goal time in mind is so different than just doing them for fun. If you do them for a goal with the first corral you are in the DARK the whole race. I mean, it starts at 5:30 AM after all. I began with a dead on split at mile one of 6:31. If I held this I could well beat my goal. But my legs were already feeling a bit woozy and my body warm, so as I entered California Adventure I slowed to a 6:48 for mile 2.

imageNow, note…I am writing this recap a month and a half after the fact. I cannot remember the details but I knew I was counting women in front of me from the very start and trying to peg if they were my 30-34 age group. I just wanted to be top 3 in that.  

Between mile 3 and 4 I was still trucking along but slowing. A lot. And I was getting frustrated. I had been at an extreme level for myself in April when I ran my 41:30 and felt like I should be able to match that here…low elevation, happiest place on earth….but as I ran down Main Street, through Tomorrowland, around Small World and through the back stage, I slowed to a 6:51 and 7:00. Damnit. What is going on? I had had mile repeat workouts at 6 am this summer that were fastest than this. I was running at “my happy place” but not happy.


I knew I was still in an OK position to hopefully place in my age group. I pushed on what I could for the last two miles. I got really scared as one woman passed me with about 800 left because she looked my age and I wasn’t sure how that would make the results look. Miles 5 and 6 were 7:23 and 7:18. I finished with an official time of 43:28. I was mad. Frustrated. I felt like I was better than this.  

image image imageIn the end, this was good enough for 3rd out of 1046 in my age group. Yeah, I realize how that sounds, and now it looks like I’m looking for a pity party….but while I reached my goal of placing in a RunDisney event, I didn’t do it to the caliber I know I am capable of. Maybe I have now set myself into a bad spot, as I spent the first six months of 2015 breaking my own personal bests and thus, maybe I think I can keep up with that?

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Second week of October I received the email from RunDisney verifying my address and where to send my age group award. And this weekend I just finished coaching five amazing grade 12 runners at Alberta Cross Country Provincials. These things put it in perspective. 1.) I did reach a goal. I set a goal to place in my age group at a RunDisney event. And I did. 2.) All weekend I told my girls to go out and run the best race they could. That every day is different. That every course is different. And that just because they ran a certain time on a 4km course in Medicine Hat, Alberta, didn’t mean they could get that or beat that, or beat the same girls for that matter, while running on a new course in Grand Prairie, Alberta.

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Every race is different. Some don’t turn out exactly how you hope, but that’s why I just keep running. After being around all these amazing young athletes this weekend, I realize how stupid I was to get mad that I didn’t get my time goal. Getting a personal best isn’t going to happen every race you run; I realize that. But I had a convoluted idea in my mind that while in Disneyland, anything can happen. I’ll just have to set that time goal off to the side burner for now, with the heat on simmer, and I’ll stir it occasionally until it’s time to taste it.  

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Spartan Race Red Deer 2015-Weekend Recap 

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So I am doing my race reports a bit out of order. I’m also behind on them, so something is better than nothing! While my next report up is the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, I haven’t finished looking through all the unidentified photos on MarathonFoto to see if I can find more of me. I want to wait until I have those photos to do that recap. So up next is my Spartan Race weekend up in Red Deer, Alberta, which took place on Friday, September 11th-Sunday, September 13th. During these three days, I participated in 3 events: The Hurricane Heat, Spartan Super and Spartan Sprint. This recap will cover all three events, and while I’ll try to be concise, I’m sure this post will get pretty long! Be forewarned!  

I headed up to Red Deer Immediately after work Friday, which I knew would get me in town right on time for the Hurricane Heat. The Hurricane Heat is a Spartan event I had not yet participated in. While I had signed up for the Saturday and Sunday events I think way back in December, this Friday night event I did not register for until end of August. What is a Hurricane Heat? Well, it’s a 3-4 hour “boot-camp” style group workout, where you work as a team, in smaller groups, as pairs, and on your own. It began in August 2011 when Hurricane Irene forced Spartan Race to cancel their Sunday event in Amesbury, Massachusetts. The founder, Joe De Sena, got a bunch of Spartans together the Saturday morning and did basically whatever the hell he felt like. And now the Hurricane Heat happens the night before many Spartan Race events. Whoever runs the Hurricane Heat decides what tasks the group partake in, some heats run the whole course for the weekend events, and some run parts. The great thing is that every Hurricane Heat could be different!

 

Photo credits-Spartan Race Canada

 
John Bouwman of JohnnyB FITT led the Hurricane Heat. He did a fantastic job. I don’t remember how many of these he said he led before, but I know he has pushed Spartan Canada to let him lead them, as otherwise only the U.S. Races regularly hold the heat. We had received an email about a week prior to the event with a list of items we needed to bring with us. Listed were: hydration pack, headlamp, 2 chemlights, NHL toque, salt/electrolyte packets, energy or gel shots, 5 zip ties, a regulation length hockey stick, a 500 word essay on Why I Race, and to wear all black. We also were told to arrive by 5:30 pm. I took this list seriously, as I had read online that if you didn’t have items you may be penalized. I wish John had been harder on the people who didn’t come prepared, because those were the people at the event that slightly irritated me. I mean, if it says to bring a hydration pack and you show up to this event without one, you look like an idiot. Maybe it sounds cruel for me to say they should have been punished with burpees, but that is what I was expecting. There were a handful of people at this heat who, in my opinion, didn’t have a clue what they were getting themselves into. But, each to their own I guess.
We started with splitting up into teams. John picked me as a team captain (he picked people with a Montreal Canadiens hat on) and I got to pick one person to be on my team, and then we had to all split up evenly in a set amount of time. A lot of the evening would be spent with John giving us a somewhat simple task, and if we didn’t complete it fast enough we would do burpee penalties. Like, when we had to take our hockey sticks and clear a path through the weeds and brush from the race site to the shower site so people could walk there the following day. Wasn’t done well enough so we had to do burpees and then try again.
The evening went on for a little over 3 hours. It included running to different obstacles (we did the course partly in reverse) and then completing some of these obstacles. At one point, we zip tied our wrists to a partner and had to get over the 8 foot wall tied up! We also all helped organize the Tire Flip obstacle and the Stairway to Sparta. Near the end of the night, we even did a little swim in the creek before heading back to base with our head lamps and glow sticks. Upon finishing, we were all presented with our Hurricane Heat Dog Tag, a shirt (I ended up giving mine to my husband because I wasn’t fast enough to get a size small) and the honour of being part of class HHI-005! As someone who has done now a dozen Spartan Races of various distances, being able to participate in the Hurricane Heat was a great opportunity. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be doing the Saturday and Sunday events for time, just completion, and since I knew what the terrain was like in Red Deer, I knew doing this event on Friday night wouldn’t completely waste me. If you haven’t done a Hurricane Heat and have done a ton of Spartan Races, I would highly suggest registering for one!

  
So Saturday morning came around and I was up at my normal school day alarm of 6 am. I had the 8:30 Super Spartan heat time to be at, and I wanted to make sure I arrived with plenty of time to park, warm up, and check my surroundings. My in-laws house is only a ten minute drive from the site of the event, Heritage Ranch, so it’s a super convenient location! I parked close by in a neighborhood, which was worth it by morning end (more on that later). My heat started right on time and I positioned myself near the front, as I knew I wanted to be ahead of the masses as we approached the first obstacles (over-under-through, hay bales, and 8 foot wall). If you get stuck in a mosh of people initially you end up waiting at obstacles. So since running is my strong point, I made a point to stay ahead!

  
Red Deer Spartan Races are, in my opinion, a “runners race” more so than other Spartan courses. There is a lot of single track trails through the woods and then wide open areas of cross country running. If you are a strong runner, you can take advantage of these areas and just cruise from obstacle to obstacle. There were many sections on Saturday (and Sunday) that I was solo as I would go slow through an obstacle but then get a good pace going through the woods.  

  
  
I am most proud of being able to do the monkey bars all by myself on Saturday (and Sunday!) I didn’t hit the spear throw, so now I still have only made the spear once in all my races. The course for Saturday was 14 kilometers of fun, and I am so happy I had an early heat as it started to really warm up later. I would not have been able to run as well as I did if I had been later in the day. I finished in a time of 1:42.14, which was 327/2327 overall, 24/1008 females, and 8/222 in the F 30-34 age group in the Open category. Oh, and that parking spot? Came in handy because as I walked back to my car to change before heading to the beer garden (which didn’t have a free beer for us, even though a coupon was accidentally enclosed in everyone’s packs on Saturday…apparently Spartan Canada couldn’t secure a beer sponsor this year so no free beer!) a dad and his kids had a lemonade stand set up. And a sign offering a hot shower for $3! I inquired and I went and rinsed off on their patio with the hot water hose, and then his wife led me to a change area set up in their mud room. The hot shower, lemonade and tip put me back $8, and it was worth every penny!

 
 So I’ll keep Sunday’s recap short, as the course was just a shorter version of the Saturday’s (approximately 5km). I woke up sore…and hungover. Saturday night consisted of hanging out with my sister in law and drinking a bunch of vodka club sodas. I got her to say she would come sign up for the race morning of, but she slept through it. When my 6 am alarm went off, I was facedown on the couch in their basement. Oof, I just needed to get through this day. I needed this race under my belt because then I would be just one step away from my Double Trifecta, which will be earned in Sun Peaks after completion of the Ultra Beast. I again had the first open heat at 8:30, so getting the race started right away and over early was great. It was surprisingly a lot less busy Sunday morning. I guess I had expected more people to show up for the shorter distance race, but I think a lot of people in Alberta had participated in the Calgary Sprint in August, so if they were going for a trifecta this race was not needed for them.  

  
I just went through the motions of this race, as I just wanted to be done with it. I ran hard in the stretches where running was possible, and I strongly believe that is what helped me place well in this event. I finished in a time of 55:53, and ranked 145/1352 overall, 22/724 in female and 5/157 for 30-34. I collected my medal (both the super and sprint medals had a special Canadian band on them) and another shirt (size small men’s, but I was able to shrink it as it was cotton. The super shirt was an XS small dri-fit men’s, which I’m not sure I’ll wear much). I made my way back to my in-laws, showered, packed, and hit the road back to Lethbridge by 11 am. I wanted to nap so bad, but I also just wanted to get home. Upon arriving home, I collapsed for a solid two hours before unpacking.

   
 So the weekend was a huge success! I participated in three Spartan events (Hurricane Heat, Super and Sprint) and spent around 5+ hours doing it in total. The somewhat funny thing is that when I compete in the Sun Peaks Ultra Beast in one week I will be running for longer than that all in one day. The Ultra Beast will be a fantastic way to cap off my 2015 Spartan Race season!

  

Calgary Marathon Weekend-50 km Ultra Race Recap

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I participated in the Calgary full marathon, half marathon, and full marathon (again), in 2009, 2013 and 2014.  Calgary is only 2 hours away from Lethbridge, so the ease of access to these events is fantastic.  I didn’t want to drive up there and do the same thing again….so when it was announced that they would be having the 50 km Ultra for a second year in a row, I decided WHY NOT?!?!  I mean, I would have been only a month off my Vancouver full marathon training, so my body would be set, and I had never done an ultra.  And what’s an additional 8 km anyway?  So I registered for the race, and put it in the way back of my mind, since Vancouver and qualifying for Boston was what this year was about. I had been so busy with school and coaching in the month of May, that this race weekend snuck up on me.  I will be honest—after Vancouver, I didn’t properly keep training for this event.  My body was exhausted, and it needed recovery.  I did keep up some running in between Vancouver and the Ultra, but it was no where near what it should have been if I was training for the Ultra as my goal race.  I knew I would be able to finish the race come Sunday, May 31st…I just wasn’t sure how ugly it would be.

I headed up on Saturday morning and went straight to the expo.  The expo is at Stampede Grounds.  It is easy to access, with free parking, but the expo itself is small and nothing outstanding.  I was able to pick up my race essentials, and purchase a cute tank top, all pretty quickly.  I then headed to my hotel to check in.  I opted to book on Priceline and got a steal of a deal by ‘naming my own price’ for a 4 star hotel.  I lucked out and got the Westin for only $75!  They offered a shuttle to the start line on race morning, which was a nice perk.  I also took advantage of the rooftop pool later that afternoon.  Dan’s best friend Chris lives in Calgary with his girlfriend Ashley, and I walked a measly 3 blocks to meet them for lunch.  We threw back a few beers, had some great food, and I lamented how I didn’t really care how tomorrow would go.  When we parted and they headed out to a friends’ party, I was sad to be going back to my hotel alone.  I wanted to go out, not run!  Oh well, I would finish this race some way, some how.

race swag

I got up around 4:30 AM, and was on the shuttle at 5:30.  I was only about a mile and a half from Stampede grounds, but having this shuttle was a nice bonus.  I did my bag check, did my pre-race rituals, and was set to go for the 6:30 am start.  The half, full and ultra would all be starting together at 6:30, and the 10km event would begin at 7:30am.  There was also a 5 km that would run at noon!  So lots going on in the morning!  It was comfortable outside right before the race began, but you could tell it was going to get ugly out later on.  Ugly as in HOT.  I tried not to think about it, and when the race began I was off.  I had told myself to try and pace an 8:15 minute mile, as I did 7:49 in Vancouver, but my first mile was just that…7:49.  I knew this was too fast for this hilly, high elevation course. I decided to ease on up and just try and enjoy the race.  By 10 km, I had to go to the bathroom.  Maybe the beer the day before wasn’t a good idea.  This would be 1 of 3 bathroom stops on the course.  The later ones were more so for also having time to hydrate and eat something.  Also around this first bathroom stop I ran into Todd Myers, a teacher at Chinook High School.  He was also doing the 50 km, but he has done crazy races before.  My goal in my mind was now to just stay ahead of Todd. 

start line

A little bit later, a lady was running next to me and chatting away.  She looked very intense….I could tell she knew what she was doing and was no rookie at this.  I come to find out and realize that this is Dennene Huntley.  Now, you may not know the name, I didn’t know the name on paper…but holy crap this woman is impressive.  She had come back from doing this 24 hour championship in Italy where she ran 193 km in 24 hours.  SERIOUSLY!  And, the funny thing about running into her, is that in Edmonton last year I actually ran into her at the end of the race.  When I was struggling to finish that full marathon, she came up behind me with her friend and paced her friend in to beat me.  She recognized me because I was wearing the same thing I wore in Edmonton, and she had told her friend to ‘catch the purple skirt!’  Her friend was in a similar situation as I was at that race—was trying to qualify for Boston, but didn’t.  It was a heartbreak, much like it was for me.  But her friend, the one who didn’t qualify last year….she qualified this year.  Much like me!  Anyway, Dennene and I ran most the race with eachother from about 14 km on.  We’d lose eachother for a kilometre or two, but then be back together.  She helped me tons complete this race and it was a pleasure getting to know her.  Turns out she knows a lot of the same people as me….my run coach for Vancouver, Dean Johnson….she knows him very well!  It was great hearing her stories as we ran. I could talk about every mile in this race and what happened, but that’d be boring for most of you.  I wasn’t racing this for a record or anything, I was just now on track to really enjoy the experience.  The weather was getting progressively warmer, and the sun was shining super hard.  If there wasn’t the breeze, I would have had to walk for stretches…I hate the heat!  And I have to add, the aid stations saved me this race!  There were tons, and since you do a couple loops past the same spot as you head out and back, and do the extra loop for the 50 km turnaround, you pass some of the stations a couple times.  They had cold water-soaked sponges at a lot of them, and these were amazing.  I think I doused myself in a sponge about 20 times.  I was soaking wet by the time I was done!

east village

I felt fairly in control most of the race until the last 10 miles.  My right leg started to tighten up, especially near my hip flexor and my hamstring.  I wanted to keep on moving because if I stopped, I didn’t know if I would be able to start again.  After I had done the second loop of our turnaround, I had rejuvenated energy, as I knew I was on the home stretch.  I also had no clue of my time after 27.5 miles because my watch died.  We looped back into the city, through East Village a second time, and into the Stampede Grounds.  I was sore, warm, sweaty, tired, and numb…all at the same time.  I was able to cross the finish line in a time of 4 hours 40 minutes and 34 seconds.  The sun was beaming down and I just felt other exhaustion!  I also could barely feel my fingers….it took about 5 minutes to do so, but I am not sure why that happened!  They were bloated and shaking…..nice.  I had put my body through hell and back.  I initially had the thought “never doing that again” but we all know how that pans out….

50 km finisher

….because a while later I saw the official results and was surprised to find out I took second in my age group!   As they would say on “A Christmas Story”…..I WON A MAJOR AWARD!  Ok, it wasn’t major…but it is my first trophy ever!  Makes me feel pretty bad ass.  And It also makes me want to do better at it another time.  And how did I celebrate?  I found Todd in the beer tent, found out he had placed 2nd in his age group, and we toasted our personal victories!  And oh yeah….I beat him!

todd and andrea