Tag Archives: American heart association

Strength Training as Cross Training…and More…

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I mentioned a while back that I was attempting to get into the fitness centre twice a week to do weights and strength training with my friends from work, JJ and Shannon. I figured this would be helpful for my Spartan Races….which it has! I have had a tough time sticking with going on both Monday and Wednesday morning, partly because I get lazy in the morning. Unless it is a race day or a long run with Runners Soul Marathon Club on a Saturday, I love to SLEEP. This week, I could not pull myself out of bed on Monday for our workout (I felt just exhausted and beat from my half marathon the day before). But, I did get myself up and out of bed in time for our Wednesday workout…..but OUR workout turned out to be just a ME workout.

JJ and Shannon ditched me Wednesday. Alright, alright, they didn’t ditch me…just on Monday when I ditched them, they decided they wouldn’t be coming in Wednesday (Shannon was going to be at Curling Zones that day). I just didn’t find out about this until I got to work at 6:50 am and no one was there. For a split second, I was tempted to just change into my regular clothes and bail. Then, I thought of just going in and doing the elliptical. It wasn’t until I actually walked in the doors of the fitness centre that I realized I should just stick with what I was going to be doing all along—arms and abs.

I still am not wise when it comes to being in a weight room, but I had luckily remembered 7 of the 8 exercises from the circuit we did the Wednesday prior. We did this circuit three times, with a short break in between. I laid out the mat for bicycle abs, the Swiss ball for the other thing of abs, got a plate ready for whatever the thing is where you are inclined on your stomach and lift up….got barbells set for lunges and bench press…got a bar out with light weights for what I think is called “Military Press” and some other squat thing…and since I couldn’t remember the 8th thing, I took out a box to out under the hand grips by the chin up bar so I could reach and do hanging abs. Wow….I am such a fish out of water in the weight room, can you tell? I seriously don’t know what any of the proper names of things are…I just follow JJ and Shannon around.

It would be boring to go on and try to explain everything I did, because it would also be painful to try to interpret what the hell I’m saying. But I will say this—immediately upon starting my first set in the weight room solo, I thought of my dad. And I couldn’t stop thinking about him. The weight room was his place of worship. It was his safe haven. I had these images in my head of heading into our basement to go ask him a question and stopping outside the back room…his weight room. If he was in the middle of a set I knew to just stand and wait and then talk to him after. I remembered the random home video from the late 1980s we have of him doing bench presses in the basement while I’m dribbling a basketball next to him. I have mentioned before that he would mention to me on occasion about trying to lift, and I always shot him down. He never pushed, though, because he wasn’t like that. As I grew up, he could clearly see it “wasn’t my thing” so we left it at that. But having all these thoughts in my head early on a Wednesday morning made me push myself.

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I never pictured myself in a million years in a fitness centre, alone, doing a weight training circuit. But this Wednesday, I was. I started this blog to honour the memory of my dad, I started all my crazy running to help deal with my loss…and now I have found that being alone in the weight room is another way to reflect and just live. I felt alive. And I felt like he was there with me. He always is.

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The pictures of my dad before the last paragraph are from 1995. He had undergone triple bypass surgery in June of that same year. These were taken in November. He was 43 years old. Heart Disease can effect anyone.

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Going Back to the Original Purpose…

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When I wrote my first blog post on January 6th, 2013, I stated some information about who I was, what I was about, and what I was planning on doing over the course of the next year.

My first “real” blog entry

In those initial purpose and goal statements, running a Boston Qualifying race time was never an initial goal.  I ran more races than I ever had before, I raised money for a cause important to my heart.  I even started breaking my own personal best times and realized I could become a contender in my own right.  I went and achieved all my original goals.  The thought of Boston came after I completed the Walt Disney Full Marathon in January in 3:50:52.  It was a late-in-the-game goal.  I figured I might as well try.

 

As you know from my post yesterday, I didn’t achieve that goal.  But, as you also know from that post, I am not going to let it get me down and ruin me.  I think back to everything I have been able to complete and achieve this past year and it makes me smile.  It makes me happy.  And being happy is the most important thing to me right now.

 

Tonight, I head out California where I will be participating in something else that wasn’t in the original plan.  I am participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, and partaking in the “Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.”  Not as daunting as the “Dopey Challenge“, but still challenge enough, I will run 19.3 miles over the course of two days:  A 10km on Saturday (with my best friend Ali-her first 10km ever!), and a half marathon on Sunday.  Upon completion, I will not only receive the gorgeous Dumbo Double Dare medal, but I will also be the proud owner of the Disney Coast 2 Coast medal.  I will have completed two RunDisney events of a half marathon or longer on both coasts in one calendar year. 

 

I didn’t plan on this when I first started my blog.  But, plans change.  The Boston challenge was a stressful, demanding one.  I could have really let that get me down after not getting in at both Calgary Full Marathon in June and in Edmonton Marathon this past Sunday.  But I didn’t.  And now come the exciting change, that helps me bring this back to what it was all about.  It says so right at the top of my page:

 

Running, Disney World & Dad….How do they connect together? Follow my journey this year to find out.

 

It has now been well over a year since I first started that journey.  If you have been following me since then, I think you may better realize how they all connect.  I know I have a deeper understanding myself.  I am looking forward to doing this race weekend in Disneyland not only for myself, for my best friend, for my family members, but most importantly, for my dad.  If he could see me smiling running through Disneyland, that would be more important to him, even now as I near the age of 30, than me making Boston.

 

I love you Dad.  Je me souviens.

Father’s Day

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Last week, I avoided doing school work during my prep by choosing to clean my classroom shelves. I still had binders from my classes at UW-La Crosse! I had emptied many in the past and dumped them, but the few that remained in the bottom corner must be ones I thought I may use??…well, I still had some of my “methods” classes down there. Language Arts binder, Reading Methods 432…yeah, don’t need these anymore. The binders were in great condition, so I emptied the contents into the recycling bin and was going to call it a day.

Until I found my journal entries in the back of my RDG432 binder.

This RDG 432 course I remember clearly. It was fall of my senior year, and we met once a week on Monday. The class was 3 hours long. I initially dreaded it, because I really had no interest in teaching reading or language arts, but I came to enjoy it. Part of it was the professor, Michelle Boge. She was very humorous, approachable, and realistic. The journal entry activity was something she did with us at the start of a few of our classes, as it was something we could do in a classroom of our own. She wasn’t going to read them, but they were meant to get us to reflect on a broad topic for 5-8 minutes and write. Michelle would write a statement on the board for us to copy down, and then we had to write whatever came to mind. One entry I did was on chocolate chip cookies, one was on my first job of being a caddy. And the one below was on my dad.

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Was this a happy day I wanted to relive? Not really at all. But it is still a day engrained in my mind. Is there anything I can do about it, now 10 years later? Not really. Except not beat myself up over it. I have matured and I have come to better terms with the situation. I have handled the loss of my father by running for him, using that time during my races to reflect on our family and the times we spent together. I am still not 100%, nor will I ever be, but I can say I am in a better place than I was in October 2006.

It’s never too late to say “I Love You.” I love you Dad—Happy Father’s Day.

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My Beef With Boston

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The Boston Marathon…THE BOSTON MARATHON. It is a prestigious race. Non-runners even have heard of it. Most runners dream of qualifying for Boston. That’s my goal this year—running below a 3:35 at the Calgary Full Marathon on June 1st, 2014, will be my ticket in….or will it?

I know this coming Boston Marathon should have a double asterisk next to it in the record books, due to the events that occurred last April, so some application procedures may have been changed or altered. But my real beef I have here is in regards to when official registration submissions were accepted for the 2014 race. What I have an something I have had on the back burner of my mind since this last September 2013—-issue with will probably surprise some people, and undoubtedly some runners won’t agree with my position. What do I have a problem with at Boston?

Charity runners.

Ok. Now that I got that out of the bag and half of you think I’m a cold-hearted you-know-what….let me explain. (Be prepared….this may become long-winded). All major races have runners who are part of charity groups. I know this. My friend Matt even reiterated this when I spoke to him about my position. Charity runners do a lot for the local communities where these races are held. At my latest race, the Dopey Challenge in Walt Disney World, Cigna was the main sponsor and Team in Training (Leukemia) was the head beneficiary. There were many people who ran with these groups, and other groups during the race weekend. Groups like these have a minimum fundraising requirement one must meet in order to run in the event. People in the “running world” are well aware of these charity runners. And they are also well aware that charity runners can get into otherwise “sold out” events. Dopey Challenge sold out in one week last April 2013. The marathon sold out some months after. But as late as December, people could still sign up for running via a charity group. Fundraise enough money and you’re in!

I am all for fundraising-anyone who has been following my website since it’s conception would know that. In this past year, I raised approximately $3500 for heart disease research. The monies raised went to the American Heart Association and the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. But this fundraising was done not for a race bib-I raised money for something specifically important to me and my family, and along that way I registered for a boatload of events with Dopey Challenge as the grand finale. I’m not saying this in order to make it seem like I think I am better than those who run with charity groups….I am not saying that. Not at all. But while I assume most people who fundraise for sponsored charity groups at races have a good heart and truly care about the charity they are running for, you know there are some who just happen to have rich running friends or be sitting on wads of cash themselves. One might even say they are “buying” themselves a late entry into a race.

But for Boston? This is where I take issue….

My husband’s cousin Erin is a fantastic trail runner. She does crazy races up in Edmonton and in the the one I ran the Spartan Beast with in September. Anyway, she ran the BMO Vancouver Full in May 2013 and just missed out breaking the 3:35 qualifying time. Once she realized how close she was, she did what any sane person would do and registered for the Red Deer Woody’s RV Full Marathon….which was two weeks after. I was running the half there, and after my race I went back to the final hill to watch for her. As I saw her coming, she was shaking her head saying she wasn’t going to get it. I pushed her up that ridiculous hill by Lindsay Thurber High School, and she brought herself into the finish line in 3:34:24. She had qualified for Boston! She made it!

In Erin’s words
“.…I was training for a 50mile, and my pace just naturally got faster. When I missed out on qualifying in Vancouver by those few short seconds, that’s when I became obsessed with the goal, and really started looking into exactly what this whole Boston Marathon was really about. The more I read, the more I wanted it. Boston is a Runners race. Meant to be something for those of us who have committed the time and pounded out mile after mile, giving up time with friends and family all for chasing the dream of qualifying for Boston. It was a race for people like me, who pushed their bodies for week and months, and it was like a final reward for all my hard work. To qualify and run Boston was the ultimate goal….Registration day came for Boston, and I submitted my time, and the waiting game began. I never actually received my email saying I didn’t make it in, but I checked and checked the registration list. No Erin McLaren….I was okay with it. It meant that I just wasn’t fast enough, and that’s okay. It meant that other women my age trained harder, and ran a better race….Then I found out about all the charity runners. I’m all for charity, I really am. I think races like this are an excellent way for runners to raise money for deserving cause, but the key word there, is Runners. Why is it that because someone is able to raise more money than me, they get to run in a race that others have worked so hard to get to…10% of runners are charity runners. Great. How about give those bibs to deserving runners, and give 100% of the racers a chance to raise money for charity. Are you telling me that 10% can raise more than 100%?
There are so many races out there that anyone can pay for and run. Boston should be something you earn…”

Going on the official Boston Athletic Association (BAA) website will tell you a couple things. 25,654 applications were received during the two weeks of registration. Of these, 22,679 were accepted. There is a chart on their website showing that in our age/gender group, times that were at or faster than 3:33:22 were accepted. Erin qualified for Boston, but in the end didn’t make the cut.

“…the B.A.A. Has set the field size for the 2014 Boston Marathon at 36,000 official entrants. At least seventy percent of the field will be comprised of athletes who have met the qualifying standards. The balance will consist of invitational entrants, many of whom run for local charitable organizations…” [baa.org website, September 2013]

Boston is on a pedestal for me. . I think it is for a lot of runners. Especially those of us who have been running a long time. I am coming up on my ten year anniversary of long-distance road racing actually. Boston, to me…. It is the race of all races! To qualify and run in Boston is a dream.. And after this last year of training, a conceivably realistic dream at that! So when I read that statement, taken directly from the B.A.A website, I got especially frustrated…because it to me is a harsh reality that even with all my training, I may never make it there. I am going to be working my ass off this winter and spring to run my race in June but ultimately, even if I break 3:35, I still may not get in. But someone who signs up with a charity group will get to go. Someone my age who yes, I am sure will train hard, but will maybe run a 4:45 instead. They will get to run in my place…In Erin’s place…In someone else’s spot who qualified but was not accepted. Am I jealous of them? In a word-no. Sure, they will get to buy and wear that jacket with the ever-recognizable horse on it. They will get a finishers medal. They will get to run the historic course on Marathon Monday. But I’m not jealous. If I ever get to run in Boston, it will be because I raced my way there. And if I never qualify, it wasn’t meant to be.

A Post From The Husband

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backstory…this morning, before I left for my District Math Committee Meeting, I asked my husband Dan if he would write a guest post for my website. At first, he thought I meant “write it right now!” but he then realized anytime today would be ok. After dinner, he wrote the piece below. All I had asked was for him to write something from his point of view…whether it be about my races this last year, his trip to Disney, him running in some of my races with me…this is what he wrote….

The shutdown of Pearson Airport in Toronto made me fully realize the gravity and importance of this Disney Marathon Trip. After spending a night in Calgary because our flight to Toronto was delayed, we showed up early to the airport to find that the flight was straight-up cancelled. As we received more information on the current situation and continuing cold weather that was to come at Pearson Airport, it dawned on us that the tickets in our hands were not going to get us to Orlando.

Andrea broke down; I mean she really lost it.

But with good reason, right? At first glance, there’s plenty for her to be upset about. An entire year’s worth of training to prepare herself for the longest race challenge of her life. $3500 plus worth of fundraising over that same year of training. Blog posts, twitter and facebook groups and friends (Wang Nation!). She wanted me to experience Disney with her and Linda. She was doing this trip to commemorate her Dad…

But the tears that came out suggested that there was more to it than that.

I wanted to help, but other than a shoulder to cry on, I couldn’t offer her much. Andrea’s the intrepid traveler, I’m pretty much useless at an airport without her telling me where to go. Not that it mattered, though. Andrea’s too determined to stay broken down. In Canada, there’s essentially two Airlines. The big airline, Air Canada (which we had our original tickets that transferred in Toronto) had nothing else to offer us with Toronto in bad weather. So Andrea looked up the smaller airline Westjet. It turned out there was a direct flight to Orlando leaving in three hours with a few seats left. She bought the tickets on her iphone, we walked to the Westjet check-in and were waiting by our gate within an hour of the breakdown.

My wife just doesn’t take shit from anyone. Not me, not her mother, not even the weather, apparently. Sure, she can get knocked down. But she won’t stay down. She always gets up. Always.

And I think this is why the tears flowed so heavily at the airport. The hardest thing Andrea’s had to deal with in her life is the death of her father. Grieving has not come easily for her. Andrea and Linda have had trouble communicating about their shared loss. Andrea says that they’re too much alike, and without her Dad there to provide a buffer between them, their emotions get the better of them, and they wind up yelling at each other.

Her Dad’s passing has kept Andrea down for a long, long time. I think she broke down in the airport because the weather was robbing her of her opportunity to commemorate her father and move on with life. Although the race itself is an achievement, and she wanted to see me experience Disney World, this trip was about Andrea getting back up after being knocked down from her father’s passing.

I’ll admit, the weather got to her. She was shaking with fear. But she always gets back up. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. I’m told she gets it from her father.

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The Big Bang…(in a few short words)

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Wow.

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 has come and went. I prepared all year for this week….training, fundraising and reflecting…I haven’t even been home for more than 48 hours and I still can’t figure out how to take it all in. I know that as the days and weeks pass, as I start to sift through all the professional photos taken by MarathonFoto, after I look at our Disney Photopass pictures…..after I watch more race video recaps and read fellow bloggers’ recaps,…it may start to sink in how big this weekend was….

….until then, I wanted to share some highlights from the final day of Marathon Weekend—the full marathon. 26.2 miles, which took us through all four Disney theme parks! The first three race distances (5km, 10km and half marathon) went as planned…I went out for them slow and stuck with the game plan. I ran my half marathon 50 minutes slower than my October personal best, in order to conserve my energy and have some juice left for the full. I had it in my mind I could PR the full. So when my 2:45 AM alarm went off for the fourth day in a row, I rolled myself out of bed and started pepping myself up. I needed to be on the ball for this race today, as this was the big one!

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I timed arriving at the race start well, so all I had to do was head straight to the corrals. I got to corral B at about 40 minutes before the official start. The weather was ridiculously better than the previous day—a cool breeze and hardly any humidity. I knew I had to go for my personal best.

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After the official start, my corral was next to the start line. When we were set loose, I flew out of the gate and was going for broke. My first four miles were solid, but a little too fast. I was caught up in it all, but I didn’t let it stop me. I didn’t want to slow down.

My eyes swelled as I ran down Main Street USA…not to the same extent as the day prior, when tears streamed down my face…but I was still getting all worked up. I didn’t even pull my phone out to take photos, because I was on a mission to beat my 3 hours and 56 minute time. I took a short 5 second stop for a photo with Buzz Lightyear and in front of the castle (literally, 5 seconds tops each) and Marathon Foto captured these.
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This is where my mind started playing tricks on me.

It was still dark out and we had left Magic Kingdom. I knew the area from the day before, but I started to slow my pace and question if I really should be pushing it like I was. For a solid mile or two I kept going back and forth if I should slow down and just take photos and not go for the PR. Then, my stomach started acting up. I mean, imagine that….it’s the fourth day of four early races, and I’m eating and drinking vacation food, me also shoving sugar and electrolytes in my system….I took a two minute bathroom and banana stop—now I didn’t know if getting the PR would be possible.

I saw fellow Dopey Challenge “Team Wang” runners before this stop, Dan Tinney and Jason Perez. They were cruising! The brief time I s a w and chatted with them motivated me to keep pushing forward—-I had trained so hard all year for this, i just couldn’t slow down.

Animal Kingdom Park went fast and soon enough we were back on the highway heading to Wide World of Sports. The morning sun rising got me nervous that the heat would kick in, so I didn’t want to slow down and get caught in the heat. I pushed through to WWOS and just kept trying to smile the whole way. On the highway back from WWOS, I had reached mile 20. The first 20 take talent, the last 6 take heart. That’s the mantra I had going through my head.

I knew that once I got up the hill by the green army man, it would be all recognizable paths to the finish. I got into the Studios, and was grateful for the fruit snack stop. I then started talking to a girl who looked about my age, doing her first ever marathon. You could tell she was starting to struggle and may have wanted to slow. She didn’t have a Garmin or GPS watch and wasn’t sure if she could break 4 hours. I knew that even though she started in corral C, she was on pace to break it. We both were, and by the last 5 km I was still set to break my 3:56.

We wound down to the Boardwalk, past Yacht & Beach and into EPCOT. Dopey was standing near the World Showcase gate welcoming us in (I managed to get a photo with the bugger later as we walked back to our resort,) and I knew I had to keep on pushing.

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I spotted my mom and husband in the stands as I ran in, and the emotions were released. I finished with an official time of 3:50:52. And I felt awesome. I can’t even put it into words how I felt! Even with this being the fourth race in a row, I still had energy-the adrenaline was flowing! I went and picked up my marathon finisher medal, got my wristbands verified for the Goofy and Dopey medals, and then met up win my husband and mom at the family reunion area.
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“I am so proud of you.” This is in fact what both my husband and my mom said to me. And I know my dad said it to me too. He was with me this race, and he pushed me to achieve something I didn’t know would be possible at the end of four days of races. This was truly the most amazing race experience I have been part of thus far in my life. TO INFINITY & BEYOND!!

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Dopey Challenge-3 in & 1 to go….!

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Hi guys!

A short update on how things are going so far down in Disney! (If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook this isn’t new news…but thought if do this anyway!)

The travel down here was almost a disaster due to the weather issues out east and the extreme cold in Toronto. After a last minute expensive flight change, we got to Disney in the same day as originally planned. We may honestly still be in Calgary if we hadn’t done this!

5 km was Thursday and we “ran” with my mom. That was just fine! She finished somewhere in the 50s, but hubby and her told me to go ahead at mile 2. I did a slow and easy 44 minutes.

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On Friday, I did the 10km with Dan at a slow jog and finished at about 1 hour 9 minutes. Stopped at a few character stops, and it was great! Humidity was rough though!

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Today the humidity was even higher! I had planned on doing a slow half marathon at about a 10 minute mile pace and stop at every character stop. I did not want to get wrapped up in the excitement and run to fast I ran with a fellow Dopey Challenge member (and Wisconsinite!) and we kept eachother in line and did just that! I was a bucket of sweat by mile 2 but we had a blast taking photos! Did a 2 hour and 32 minute half, with about 10 photo stops plus stopping to say hi to my husband and mom in Magic Kingdom and his wife near the Polynesian.

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Tomorrow is the big show 26.2 miles to go. I am feeling really good actually and pretty pumped and ready to go. Humidity is suppose to break and should be cool at start. I am planning on racing this tomorrow and using all my resources left.

No matter how it goes tomorrow, I am already incredibly happy with the results. This has been an amazing journey this year and I have learned so much about myself as I have trained and competed in all my races. I know my dad is extremely proud of how I have done too. The race tomorrow is for him, as I will be Buzz Lightyear….it will help me soar!

if you are still interested in donating to either of my charities (American Heart Association or Heart & Stroke Foundation) please follow the link above to the CHARITIES page! Thanks so much–anything is appreciated.

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More Than a Year’s Worth of Effort…It Is Here!

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The event I set as the goal of my running career so far is almost here-Dan, my mom, and I leave for the Dopey Challenge in less 40 hours! Dan and I have to get through one day of work tomorrow (January 6th) before we head up to Calgary to catch our red-eye flight to Toronto, where we will then catch a flight to Orlando. My mom leaves on Tuesday AM, and if all our flights are on time :::fingers crossed::: we arrive within one hour of each other!

At the start of this journey, I talked about how I was made for this race. I have had the picture below posted a couple times, and it’s currently both my cover photo on Facebook and background on Twitter:

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The year was 1988. I am almost four years old. I am sprinting up the driveway after running up the hill with my dad. I am sporting a Walt Disney World shirt, a gift from my Uncle Chuck & Auntie Debbie. I had not been to Walt Disney World yet. Little did I know, that after 1 trip in 1991, I would become an addict.

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Disney World became our family vacation destination. The three of us took six fantastic trips together as a family, the last being in Spring 2003.

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My dad suffered a fatal heart attack the following Spring, on April 25th, 2004. My life and my mom’s life were turned upside down. I turned my energy to running, and ran my first half marathon on May 1st, 2004. I haven’t stopped running road races since.

I needed to find a way, a suitable way, to honor my dad. It was time. I was finally able to handle the loss, and knew honoring him was my last step. Running and Disney….that had to be the combination. I set out on January 2013 ready to raise money for heart disease research…setting up fundraising accounts with American Heart Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation. I blogged about my running and races and Disney World and family memories. I signed up for more races in 2013 than I ever have done in my life—I ran 22 unique races over the course of this year! And most importantly, I signed up for the Dopey Challenge, which is to be held on January 9-12, 2014, during WDW Marathon Weekend.

I was meant for this race. My whole life. I never knew it until this past year. This week, when I step into the Walt Disney World Resort with my husband and my mom….I will be ready to run…more than ever….my dad will be with me too.

Je Me Souviens! To Infinity & Beyond!

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If you are interested in donating in memory of my father, Andrew A. Lammers, please click on the “Charities” tab at the top of the page, and follow the links to my personal fundraising pages with American Heart Association or Heart & Stroke Foundation. Every little bit helps and is appreciated more than you know!

How Do I Sum Up 2013?

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There is that. That picture is worth a thousand words.

While this is a mix of finisher medals, placing medals, and challenge medals….they all share in common that they are some pieces of special bling I earned during 2013. I registered and competed in 21 unique races so far in 2013.…I say “so far” as I will be doing race 22 tomorrow when I run the Brita Resolution Run 5km with my good friend Kelly! The mix of races I ran this year weighted heavily on half marathons, along with some 10kms and unique distance 10-miler and 35 km trail races. I also got snatched into the whirlwind that are Spartan Races, where I completed 3 Sprints (5km), 1 Super (14km) and 1 Beast (21km) which earned me a coveted Trifecta Tribe medal!

Those aren’t the only important numbers of 2013.…I went into the year with a two year old half marathon PR of 1:54:19, from Woody’s RV Half in Red Deer 2011. I wanted to break that sometime during this year! While back in Wisconsin for Easter……First race out, I hit 1:52:53….holy crap.….I was hoping that wasn’t the peak! I went on to break this NEW PR three more times during 2013! My best ended up occurring up in high elevation-ville of Lethbridge, where I ran a 1:41:07 at the Bare Bones Half! I never thought I would now be setting my sights at sub 1:40!

More numbers…..1155 & 1621. These are the dollar amounts I have fundraised so far for the Heart & Stroke Foundation (Canada) and the American Heart Association, respectively. I began this fundraising journey at the start of 2013, with the roll-out of this very website. My year would be devoted to running more races than my previous years, and all races would be ran in memory of my father, Andrew Lammers. This April 25th marked the 9th year since his passing. He was only 51.

While the medals are the tangible item I can now hold in my hand to reflect and remember the races of this year, there is much more that I have gained by competing in this ridiculous number of events. The personal bests…the fundraising goals being met and surpassed…the new race experiences….doing it all for Dad…….and now it’s one week until I leave for the culminating event of the year….the Dopey Challenge….2013 has been an amazing year. I can’t wait for the start of 2014!

And So Begins the Taper….

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In a week from tomorrow, Dan and I will be sitting at the Calgary International Airport (most likely at Chili’s Too enjoying some beverages) waiting to board our red eye flight to Orlando. In the next week I will be writing up an overview on this year and everything I have done to prepare for this culminating event, but it is so crazy to even think that we will finally be heading down to Disney for the Dopey Challenge!

The last week has been a whirlwind of Christmas celebrations and holiday cheer. Dan and I headed to Red Deer, Alberta, last Saturday for a whopping six nights. In those days, we became Godparents for our niece Norah, met up with some dear friends who now live in Vancouver, went to the Pottage family Christmas in Edmonton, had 12 meatless Ukrainian dishes at my brother and sister-in-laws on Christmas Day, went shopping on Boxing Day, and slept 10-12 hours each night. In those days, I also spent next to no time looking at crap related to RunDisney. I have had that consuming my daily thoughts the last few months, and it was a good break to get away from being anxious for Dopey. But while we were away, I did manage to get some training runs in….some more successful than others….

Saturday, December 21st was miserable. Absolutely gross in Lethbridge (cold, brisk wind chill) and even more gross in Red Deer. I attempted to start my 20 mile run in the morning before we hit the road, but I ran a whopping 0.68 miles before I realized frostbite was a legit possibility. So we hit the road. Red Deer is three and a half hours north of Lethbridge, smack dab between Calgary and Edmonton, so you can imagine what December may feel like. I went to the Collicut Centre in Red Deer that night to attempt 20 miles indoors. While the track was more favorable than the one in Lethbridge (a 300 meter track vs. 200 meter) I just couldn’t do it. At mile 11 I just hit a wall and had to stop. I did 9 miles on the bicycle and called it a night.

Two days later I bundled up and hit the trail system in Red Deer, where I did manage to do 6 miles. It was a good confidence booster after my failed long run on Saturday. But I knew I had to get a long run in before I started my taper. 6 wasn’t enough.

I had planned on attempting a 20 miler on Saturday, December 28th, but when December 26th rolled around, I knew I had to go for it then. Weather in Red Deer was a few degrees above freezing and the sun was out. And there was not an ounce of wind. Dan and I went on our annual Boxing Day shopping spree with his Grandma, and then at 11:15 am I head out from Bower Mall to conquer 20 miles. I am familiar enough with Red Deer to not get lost, but as far as how their extensive trail system links from piece to piece…..I’m a novice. I have ran the Red Deer half marathon three times, so I am familiar with that route. Also, we did a Spartan Race in September up there, and this covered 8 miles over on the opposite end of town. So with these routes mashed in my mind, I went and winged my 20 miles.

I knew I needed to complete a successful 20 mile distance solely for my own state of mind. I have done a ridiculous amount of training all year, and while I know I could run a full 26 miles on the day of the race, I was psyching myself out. I haven’t ran more than 20 miles since the Coulee Cactus Crawl in Lethbridge this June when I did a painfully slow 21 miles in the dreaded coulees.

The nice thing about the trail system was that much of the snow was packed down, which made it easier to navigate and run on. I even went off to some smaller footpaths that offered absolutely breathtaking winter views underneath the evergreens. After running the trails by Kerrywood Nature Centre, I found my way down the Red Deer River over to Heritage Ranch, which was the site of the Spartan Race. I went down some gorgeous cross country ski trails and spilled out by Bower Pond, where TONS of families were ice skating. Music was piped in outside and the energy was fantastic. I looped back on the other side of the Red Deer River and extended my route a bit farther past my end point to reach my goal. After 3 hours 19 minutes and 21 seconds I had completed 20 miles.

Finishing that 20 was a huge weight off my shoulders. I can now officially start to taper and slow things down. It has also fired me up and gotten me even more anxiously excited for Dopey Challenge. Right now, all I can say is BRING IT!