Tag Archives: anniversary

Medicine Hat “Rattler Run” 10km 2015-Race Recap

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On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, I participated in the Medicine Hat College Rattler Run 10km.  This is the second time I have ran this event, the first being in 2013.  Back in 2013, I set a personal best of 48:39.  I remember being so elated at that moment of setting this time, and being able to place 1st in my division.  Since then, I have been able to bring my 10 km time down to a 43:47 at the Moonlight Run in Lethbridge this past March.  I was anxious to run this race in Medicine Hat, as I was familiar with the course, and hoping for another personal best.

This day also held importance to me going into the race as the 11th anniversary of my dad’s passing.  When I registered for the event a few weeks prior, I knew it was fitting to be running a race on this day.  I would have him in my mind all day and be running this race in memory of him.  I stated on my Facebook page the day prior to the event how the event’s motto is “I Run for Me” and to promote healthy and active lifestyles for everyone.  My dad lived a healthy and active lifestyle and was a fitness role model for myself, and while I would be running this race for ME, I was more so going to be running this race for HIM.

Medicine Hat is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from where I live in Lethbridge.  I have driven this distance before for races, usually to Calgary though, but the unique thing about this race is that the start time is 11 am.  I could sleep ‘in’ to a normal time, and still do the drive and make it to race packet pickup and warmup with plenty of time to spare.  I made it to Medicine Hat College at around 10 am.  Packet pickup was a breeze and it was of course great to see Randy and the crew from Racepro working the timing!  I also had enough time to do a good warmup, so I headed out for a 2 mile warmup at an 8:34 average pace.

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The events offered on race day were the 10 km, the 5 km and the 3 km distances.  The 10 km would begin first, with the 3 km following shortly thereafter, and finishing with the 5 km runners.  I was getting anxious at about 10 minutes prior to race start so I just milled around aimlessly outside doing skips and high knees.   When the announcer called for the 10 km runners to assemble, about 5 minutes before start, I headed right up to the front to get in good position.  I actually ended up standing next to a local runner from the Lethbridge area (Taber to be exact) Billie-Jo.  She recognized me and then I immediately recognized her.  It was great to chat before the race start and she left me with the words to “Go chase those boys!”

We were off and I headed out with the mindset of trying to get a 6:45-6:50 pace per mile.  With my interval running I had been doing lately, I knew this was possible….if I was on flat surfaces, with no hills and no wind.  I held a 1st place female position for the first mile, which took us over an overpass and onto the trail system.  The trail system is VERY curvy and lots of ups and downs!  The “Ups” were never that steep, and the “Downs” weren’t either, but there was enough of them to really get you!  At mile 1, a female runner passed me.  OK, I thought….since I was not in Lethbridge, I did not know who this runner was, so I really had no idea what she was capable of.  I kept her in my sight for the next mile and I was able to overtake her by the end of mile 2.  I kept telling myself to never look back, and to only wait until the turnaround to see how close she really was.  I could hear her breathing pattern initially, and then when I couldn’t hear her breathing I knew I was far enough ahead, for now.  I just would keep on trucking.  I ran mile 1 in 6:34 and mile 2 in 7:08.  I did not like that 7:08.

The turnaround was near mile 2.5 and I was still in the lead.  2nd place female was not far behind, but there was a pretty good gap between me and three.  Since this next portion was just heading back on the same route, I knew what was coming ahead.  It was motivating running towards other runners and seeing people I recognized from Lethbridge races.  I ran miles 3 and 4 in 7:01 and 6:52.

By this time, we were back to the overpass, and instead of heading back where we started, we looped around the backside of the college.  This was a very sparse area of the course, with no spectators and no other runners heading past you in the opposite direction. I knew I just needed to keep pace.  There was an aboriginal gentleman who I was running behind the whole race who I caught up to, and stayed about a few steps ahead.  His cadence was the same as mine, so I decided to keep with him.  The crazy thing about this man, though, was he was running the event in SANDALS!  Very thin sandals with a strap around the heel and then through the toes.  I don’t know if he normally trains barefoot, or just always with sandals, but it was a sight to see!

I was able to keep pace for mile 5 and then I knew I wanted to kick it in for the last mile.  We were heading towards people finishing the 5 km and would be hooking up with them for the final straightaway.  Seeing more runners ahead motivated me and I was able to push hard for that last mile.  I also never looked behind me to see where that 2nd place female was, which I will never know if that was a good thing or a bad thing….but it doesn’t really matter….because I finished ahead of her in a time of 41:30!  My final two miles had been 7:03 and 6:45….it was just what I needed!  I stopped shortly after the finish line and was shaking, grabbing my quads….I turned around and saw female #2 finish right after me.  She was right on my tail!  Turns out, my chip time only beat hers by 9 seconds!  Gun time was only 12 seconds!  I thought she was farther back, but apparently not.  I had won the female division in the 10 km—-a first for me!

I was so excited about this win but I knew I needed to keep moving so I didn’t tighten up.  I ran a 2 mile cool down at an 8:55 average pace to total my mileage to 10 miles that day.  Heading back in to the college, a nice spread of post-race refreshments were set up.  I immediately zeroed in on the chocolate milk and bananas!  I had brought clothes to change in to, as I didn’t want to be sitting in disgusting race clothes during awards and more importantly, my drive back to Lethbridge.  They held the awards in the College cafeteria, which was a great setting for the 10 km awards (which were last) but it seemed a bit crowded for the 3 km and 5 km awards, as there were a TON of young kids there and their families.  It emptied out quite a bit for the 10 km awards, which made it nice for us runners, as before it was too hard to hear or see what was going on.

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I sat with the Lethbridge contingency of us who were out at the race, which was nice since a few of us were called up for awards….so we had a cheering section!  I first went up when they called for the 26-35 age group for women (I know, weird age groupings!) and then again at the end when they announced overall in each gender.  This was my “Olympian” moment I guess, as I have never earned a 1st female overall in such a large event…I think this is my third 1st female overall ever, with the last two being from smaller 5 km races.  I am also really proud that my time was a personal best….not just by a little, but by a lot.  So I know personally I worked as hard as I could!  If I had been able to get 1st overall with a time slower than my personal best, I wouldn’t have honestly have been as proud.  Another sweet thing was the prize money—-$200!!!  That cash is coming with me this weekend when I fly to Vancouver for my main event!

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Would I do this event again?  YES.  It is extremely well organized and well worth the commute to Medicine Hat.  If you are looking for a competitive 10 km, this seems to be a good one, for both the male and female divisions.  This is also a unique event in that the whole family really can participate….if one parent wants to do the 10km, an older kid do the 5 km, and the other parent and small child do the 3 km, that would totally work.  The registration was also very reasonable.  The early bird pricing for race registration was $20 for race registration, and the late registration (after April 7th) was $30.  You could also pay with cash day of for $40.  This was the same price for ALL RACE DISTANCES!  This did not include a shirt, however-a shirt would have cost an additional $15.  The Rattler Run was in its 35th year, and I totalled the finishers in the 10km, 5km, and 3 km by looking at the Racepro.ca website- there were 754 participants.  This race reminds me much of Lethbridge’s own “Moonlight Run” in that it is a “tradition.”  Albeit, smaller in scale, but still recognized in the community, appreciated, and thriving.  This was a great event for myself, not just because of my personal accomplishment, but because of the significance that the date April 25th holds.  That date does not need to be a sad day; it needs to be celebrated.  And I am more than grateful that I could celebrate by doing something my dad would have been proud to watch me do.

Stampede Road Race Recap-Yee Haw!

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On Sunday, July 6th, 2014, I participated in the Stampede Road Race up in Calgary, Alberta. Those of you not from Western Canada have no clue what “Calgary Stampede” is. Well, if you want to know, here’s a link from Wikipedia explaining the insanity that is Stampede: “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!”

So obviously, this event is held during Stampede week. There was a 5 km, 10 km, half marathon, and even kids races. About two months ago, I did not have a July race planned. Usually I never race in July! But, since I had signed up for the Digital Running “Time of the Season Challenge”, I needed some sort of event in July. You can find information about that virtual event here:
Digital Running Virtual Challenges

I opted to register for the half marathon, as my attitude is that if I have to drive two hours to get to a race, I want to at least be doing an event that will take me over an hour. Yeah, weird theory perhaps, but why get up at 3:15 am, drive two hours, then do a 10km? I also was looking forward to this half marathon, because it would probably be my best shot at a personal best this summer. My Millarville Half Marathon a few weeks ago was so-so, and I wouldn’t be doing another half until Disneyland (which I have not as of yet fully decided how I am going to pace it). I also was still a little volatile towards Calgary after my performance at the Calgary Full Marathon on June 1st. It wasn’t Calgary’s fault! But, I didn’t achieve my goal time, so I was in a way seeking some sort of redemption.

I made it up to Glenmore Athletic Park by 6:15 am on Sunday. The half marathon race was slated to start at 7:30 am, but walkers who thought they would take longer than 2:45:00 could start at 7:00. I wanted to be there early because I needed to pick up my race packet, and I was assured via Twitter I could that morning. But when I got there, the whole area was a ghost town. Sure, there were signs saying the roads were closed for the Stampede Road Race, but there was no sign of life. I followed the map to where the start line would be, and it was an empty gravel road. I was getting anxious, so I moved my car closer, slathered on bug spray, and went to use a Porta John’s. By this time it was close to 6:30, still no start line set up, and as I waited to use the bathroom, the ten of us standing around realized only one porta potty was unlocked. The other six or seven were all zip-tied shut by the door handle. They were obviously delivered the night before and kept shut so people in the neighborhood or surrounding area didn’t go in them at night. It was just a very bizarre first 25 minutes.

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Finally a volunteer showed up to her station near the Porta John’s. I felt really bad for her because at this point about two to three dozen people were milling around confused at where to go, some asking about packet pickup, some asking about the walking start, and some just wanting to go to the bathroom. I found out the packet pickup was actually over on the track at the athletic park, where the finish line would be. I hiked over there, got my packet, used real bathrooms, slathered on bug spray, and dropped my bag. I had about 30 minutes until race start now, so after the initial confusion and frustration, I had time to calm my nerves.

The start area was now set up, courtesy of Racepro Timing . I have talked about these guys before—they are great, and locally based from here in Lethbridge. Before I got set up in the starting area, I asked Randy of Racepro what the heck happened this morning. He said they were there early, around 5:30 am, but whoever was suppose to let them into the locked storage with all the timing equipment didn’t show up until obviously way later. At least Randy and his team are old pros at getting the system set up quickly, because now as five minutes before race time fast approached, it looked more like the start of your typical half marathon.

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I had looked at the map of the route and just assumed it would be a flat bike path around this reservoir. In talking to a few people before the gun, they told me it had LOTS of rolling hills, and some pretty big climbs. Someone also told me it would be a tough course to get a personal best. I took that as a challenge.

When the race started, I quickly found my pace and positioned myself accordingly. For the first mile and a half, we ran on neighborhood streets, which allowed runners to get spaced out. I appreciated this, versus hitting the narrower trails right away. By the time we did the little turn around at the end of a neighborhood, I had roughly counted myself to be the 20th female runner. Little did I know that I would never have a female competitor pass me the rest of the race, let alone that many men. I also wouldn’t be passing too many people myself, at least not until the last 5km, so I seemingly would end up getting used to the people surrounding me for the duration of the event.

We hit the trails hard and I kept on trucking. Besides my always fast first mile, miles 2-4 were pretty spot on. I was aiming for around 7:30 a mile, as this would be necessary if I wanted to beat my personal best of 1:38:40, which i interestingly enough ran in Calgary in March duringRun for L’Arche. We had hit the first “hill” at around mile 3, and it wasn’t that bad. I have mentioned before that hills have become my friends (in shorter races like this) because as long as I know I will be going downward eventually, I can truck my way up. And since I don’t listen to music when I run, this is the only time I actually “sing” to myself during a race. No, I don’t sing out loud, but I get a song (sometimes a weird one) in my head and go through it at the cadence my feet are going, keeping my head forward. I will admit, and you may want to admit me to a psych ward after reading this, but I went through the song “The Perfect Nanny” from Mary Poppins. Why? Because you can basically talk through the words, and I know all of them. Whatever, it got me up the hill just fine, and it got my up the latter two also!

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Miles 5-8 went pretty well too. At 10km, I was at approximately 45:55, which was on pace for a personal best, as long as I didn’t screw up. There was a point after mile 6.5 where I couldn’t see many people in front of me due to the turns on the path, so I think it slowed me up mentally a tad. You can see that in the time at mile 7, but thankfully, I picked it up on mile 8.

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Mile 9-10 are notoriously the toughest for me during a half marathon. This is the make or break it area. I was still feeling super solid, my stomach wasn’t acting up, and my legs felt strong. Right before mile 9, I hit the major hill. You can see that in the map below, where it curves red. I knew this split would be slower, but I didn’t know by how much. The fact that I kept mile 9 at around 8:00 minutes per mile makes me super proud. It was after the top of that hill that I started talking to a guy I caught up with, Chad. I asked him if that was the last major hill and he assured me YES! I told him what I was going for time wise, and he acknowledged that I was right on target. Since no one else was right next to us, I decided to try and pace with him.

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Chad helped me TONS during the final 3 miles. He did lie to me though-sort of. That wasn’t really the last hill! There was one more pedestrian bridge we needed to cross to get over a freeway! It was a switchback sort of climb, and wasn’t too bad, but it came right after mile 11. Once I made it up and over that, and my average pace was still on at 7:30, I knew I could get my best time. As we got closer to the finish, we had now joined up with the 10km runners, so the energy in the race crowd had picked up a bit. More spectators were around the final mile or so, and this helped motivate me. The race ended with entering the athletic park and running about 300 metres on the track. As I reached my last straightaway, I knew my personal best was all but written in pen, and I pushed hard to keep it under that magic number of 1:38. I finished with an official time of 1:37:54!

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I had a huge cheesy smile on my face after finishing. My right leg was also trembling, not because I felt woozy, but because I was so damn excited. I broke my personal best, got the redemption I wanted from the city of Calgary, and did it all while it was close to 75 degrees and increasingly getting warmer. This gave me a huge boost of confidence for my training and running the rest of this summer, as I usually don’t do well in warm weather. Another funny thing about this new personal best is that I beat my last time by 46 seconds, but it was also 68 degrees warmer! No, that is not a typo—it was honestly 7 degrees Fahrenheit in March when I ran my 1:38:40.

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The medal for this race was fun, as it reminds me of a sheriff badge, and it is on a bolo tie. Definitely a fun medal for this theme of a race. I also did really enjoy the shirts we got in our race package, which were lavender for women and orange for men. They are a fitted Mizuno shirt with v-neck, and I will definitely be wearing it to train in, which is great. The race package itself was full of goodies, like coffee from Kicking Horse, and Honey Stinger products.

This great swag made up for my other race complaint (In addition to the confusing morning), and that is in regards to the “Stampede Breakfast” we all received a ticket for. When I finished my half, I received a bottle of water, and eventually made my way up to where the food was. I did this about 15 minutes after I finished, as I needed to walk around a bit, pick up my bag, etc. Now, I had finished fast, so you’d think the line for food would be small. But I did not take into account the people who did the 5km and 10km. They were all finished and all in line. You could tell these were the events they ran by looking at the color of their race bibs. The line went from the entrance to the food pickup all across the bleachers in front of the track. And it was moving SLOW. Since it was a pancake breakfast, it wasn’t just a standard grab a banana and chocolate milk and go. It was frustrating that I couldn’t just grab a piece of fruit or a juice, but would have to wait in this giant line behind everyone and anyone who did the 5km and 10km. I don’t even like pancakes, but I did want that sausage I saw on plates. Oh well, I thought about it for one minute and decided to bail and hit the road, picking up breakfast in the way. I gave my ticket to someone already in line and made the short trek back to my car.

So that was the Stampede Road Race. Would I recommend this race to someone? Sure, if you live in Calgary or were going to be there the night before. I do not recommend doing what my crazy self did and drive two hours there, race, and drive two hours back. You’d think I would have learned my lesson from Millarville, but I didn’t. If I was to do this race again, I would look into staying with a friend the night before, and then possibly only doing the 10km. The route was fantastic and the swag was great, but the morning confusion and the post-race food frustration for half marathoners was, well, frustrating. This race will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was my 20th half marathon, and as I set another milestone with breaking 1:38!

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Question: Andrea-How Do I Get to “Like” Running? Answer: ……..

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Over the past few weeks, about half a dozen co-workers, friends, and acquaintances have asked me some form of that question. Apparently I have became the running guru of some kind. But, whenever someone asks me this….I kind of just pause. My answers have varied from “It takes time” to “Just keep going out there!” and “Sign up for races as a motivation to train” and also “Oh. You will like it soon enough.”

But then I reflected on this. I actually contemplated it all last week while doing, you guessed it, my training runs. After much reflection, I came to the realization that I have been lying to everyone—not everyone will like running. And honestly, there have been moments in my life that I didn’t like running. Days I didn’t love running. Days I HATED running. I do, however, think everyone has the potential to enjoy and appreciate running. Let me explain…

This is approximately my 10 year anniversary of running for me. That’s right—for me. While in middle and high school no one forced me to run on the track team, I was still part of a team. I was into events based on how I was doing at practice and how my times were at previous meets. For this anniversary, I really only take into account the 10 years from when I started training for my first half marathon in 2004. 10 years. I am 29. So 10 years is a lot of my short (yes, it’s short….I’m still not even 30!) life thus far. So in this last year, I didn’t decide to do Dopey Challenge this January after just starting to run one year ago…it had been a long 10-year process.

I have talked about it before, but there were a handful of these 10 years that I was going through the motions, signing up for one race a year. I trained every spring, ran my race, then became a lazy pile of shit in summer and winter. When I moved to Canada and thought I had trained so well for the Calgary full in 2009, but then completely bombed it with a 5:03 time, I was frustrated. WHY DID I KEEP ON RUNNING?

In those years of frustration, I tried group fitness classes–I went to Zumba, kickboxing, spinning, yoga. These didn’t work for me. I know for many people, they do. I also have gotten short-term memberships at gyms to use the elliptical. While I like the elliptical, I just became frustrated having to drive to a location in order to work out. So I always ended up back running. Running is fantastic because you don’t need a membership…you don’t pay a fee per day you work out. You put on your shoes and you hit the road.

Winter is what can be tough for new runners, and I see that now. Especially if you don’t like the treadmill! A suggestion I have for new runners is to not begin during winter. That would be a way to make you want to quit within 24 hours. Now, I have gotten my body used to the ridiculous weather conditions, and over the years I have acquired better gear. I didn’t have this luxury at the start. I was out at 8:00 AM with Runners Soul Marathon Club for a 10 miler in the 5 degree Fahrenheit weather. This is not for the faint of heart.

This last year when I kicked up my game, it was what I needed in order to get out of my running “rut.” I was not gaining anything from running anymore—my body was just sustaining it’s current state, and I wasn’t challenging myself. So my craziness I embarked on last year was needed to up my game and invoke some competitiveness in my blood. I was now starting to race again, like I did back in high school….but had the luxury of being able to be my own team.

Anyone who participates in a certain form of exercise or activity needs rejuvination. That’s exactly what I needed. I challenged myself in ways I hadn’t since my days of high school track & field, and in turn, rediscovered my love for running.

I apologize to anyone reading this who thought I would give you some scientific, or even philosophical, answer. I instead wrote 8 paragraphs and didn’t actually answer the question. Running works for me, and it may not for everyone else. Maybe for some people getting up to racing in a 5km will be the most comfortable distance. Maybe some people will be more comfortable going to a gym three times a week and working out, taking a fitness class here and there. There is no best answer for what is the best workout for everyone. But I do challenge anyone who is curious about running to give it a chance—go into it slowly, and set some goals. If you get frustrated, don’t just go and throw out your running shoes and call it quits. Take a step back, reevaluate, and try again. I am personally glad I never gave up on running the past 10 years!

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Mom, Can You Do Me A Favor?

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I have indirectly noted in my past few posts that my mom is here in town for the month. She got in on June 29th and is visiting basically all July. We are heading for a mini getaway to gorgeous Banff, Alberta, where tears may shed as we see Lake Louise! It’s been a great visit so far—lots of Disney talk and lots of talk about my Disney marathon weekend.

I asked my mom on Wednesday if she would be so inclined to write a blog entry for me this week. She could choose the topic. So, here is her contribution to the page! Enjoy!

Mom, can you do me a favor? When that comes from my daughter Andrea, I’m never too sure what to expect. In this case, she asked me to do a guest post for her blog this week. She said I could cover any or all of her topics–running, Disney World and her Dad. Except for the fact that I will be doing the 5K with Andrea and her husband Dan this January as part of the WDW Marathon, I have no input on running. Therefore, I will touch on Disney World and her Dad–my late husband Andy.

Andy passed away about one month before our 23rd wedding anniversary. Even though it was more than two years’ away, I had been thinking about how I wanted to celebrate our 25th. A lot of couples go to tropical islands, renew their wedding vows, or have a party. I knew I wanted none of those. So when Andy asked what I thought I’d like to do, I was ready with my answer. I wanted to go to Walt Disney World and stay at the Grand Floridian. It had been a dream of mine to stay in that gorgeous resort, and I figured 25 years of marriage would offer the perfect reason to fulfill that dream. That dream, along with countless others, was shattered when he passed away. For a time I thought I still wanted to stay there on one of my visits, but I realized I just couldn’t do it–at least not yet. I’ve eaten at two of their fine restaurants–Narcoossee’s with my dear friend Denise and Victoria & Albert’s with Andrea. Walking into the elegant lobby and exploring the grounds, along with dining at those restaurants, is enough for me now.

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Many new memories have been added with my four visits since 2004, but the memories of visits with Andy are still the most special. I’m not ready to add a very, very special one that was supposed to include him as of yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind one day. Otherwise I’ll just take my dream “to infinity and beyond!”