Tag Archives: Boston marathon

My next World Marathon Major

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So, since I’ve been so scattered with my recaps and blog posts, I am not even sure of when the last time I mentioned the fact that I am training for a full marathon.  Not just any marathon, but the Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany.  Yes, this is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Major events.  The others are Chicago (completed in 2006), Boston (completed in 2016), Tokyo, London and New York.

I was not planning on running a full marathon this year.  When I was pregnant with Andy, I had told myself that the first year after having him would be just focusing on getting back with running and try to do some decent half marathons.  Fast forward to November 2017, approximately one month after Andy was born.  Dan comes home from race team and tells me that Runners Soul would be doing a travel group to the Berlin Marathon next September and that we should do it.  That’s right—my husband was the one who said we should do it (mind you he hadn’t ran a full marathon yet at this point…)  I would still be on maternity leave, so really…..we couldn’t say no!

I did my winter and spring running, getting my legs back at it and began to feel more confident in my postpartum body.  The training for Berlin would begin a week after the Red Deer Marathon weekend.  I decided to roughly use my same training calendar that I used when I ran Vancouver 2015 and qualified for Boston.

Pushing the running stroller is no joke.  It is definitely helping me with resistance training!  I usually run with the running stroller 3 times a week.  On my speed workout days, I try to wait until Dan gets home from work and then do those runs on my own.  And when we do our long runs on the weekend, Dan and I run together and alternate every mile or two with the stroller.

Berlin is less than 2 months away.  I feel ready, yet I don’t.  The reason why I didn’t want to do a full marathon in my first year postpartum was because I knew I would be hard on myself with the actual result.  Yes, I realize I had a baby less than a year ago, but I don’t want to go out there and be a shell of my former self.  My dream goal is to qualify for Boston again.  The weekend Berlin falls can count for the 2020 Boston Race, and at that race I am 35 and will be up an age group.  So the fact that I get an extra five minutes to my qualifying time makes me think there actually is a sliver of hope that I could do it.

I need a sub 3:40 to qualify.  My personal best is a 3:24.56, which was a 7:49 pace.  I am setting my sights on a sub 3:35 in Berlin, which would be a pace of about 8:11.  I can run 20 seconds slower per mile than I did back in 2015 and be able to qualify for Boston.  Seems doable, right?

But I also need to mentally prepare myself for if it doesn’t work out.  I can’t let potentially not qualifying ruin the rest of the trip.  I also do need to keep telling myself that YOU JUST HAD A BABY IN THE LAST YEAR and the fact that I am even going out there to do this event is pretty bad ass.  I am just going to keep picking away at my training calendar and hope that all the running I did while pregnant and all the running I am doing pushing Andy in his stroller will help me achieve the dream result-a return to Boston.

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Boston Marathon 2016-The Run

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I’ve participated in track & field since middle school (1998-1999), ran varsity track during high school (2000-2003), started running half marathons at college in 2004, full marathons since 2005.  When I moved to Canada in 2008, I ran my worst full marathon that spring 2009.  I stopped running full marathons for a few years and focused on half marathons.  I changed my training.  I registered for more races.  I went crazy and signed up for the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge to run in memory of my dad.  And, my times started getting faster.  However, I was unsuccessful at qualifying for Boston–I tried twice in 2014.  I trained during winter and spring of 2015, and qualified for Boston that May.  Now I made it to the 2016 Boston Marathon.  To say a lot had gone in to being here is an understatement.   A huge understatement. Making it to this race is definitely the biggest achievement in my ‘running career’ but it also will rank up there as one of the biggest moments of my life.

I could go in detail about every moment of this day….from waking up, to loading the busses down in Boston Common, driving to Hopkinton, athletes village, walking to the corrals, realizing I should have worn sunscreen, running a bit ambitious for the first 7 miles, then deciding to just slow down and enjoy it….to realizing there really are people AT EVER MILE on the course…not just every mile, but every moment!…to then deciding to start giving high-fives to every little kid I could, dumping water over my  head every water station due to the heat, and giving high-fives to drunk college kids at Boston College…to finding my husband, mom and her friend at mile 24 in Brookline and stopping for a kiss, hug and a hello….and then finishing the 120th Boston Marathon.

Was this my fastest marathon to date?  No, but my 3:35.01 happens to be my second fastest.  Was I mad about my time?  Hell no.  I just had ran my dream race, and had a damn good time during it.  Will I come back to Boston to run again?  Hopefully in the future I am able to qualify and do it again.  Was it everything I hoped it would be and more?  I can’t even begin to describe that…..

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Boston Marathon 2016-Post 3 of 4

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Sunday of the Boston Marathon weekend brought more fun and sun for my husband and I.  While other marathoners were probably taking it easy today (maybe I should have?) we wanted to seize the moment and do any other touring we hadn’t done yet.  We started the day off by catching transit and heading to the North End (Little Italy).  Once down here, our plan was to join on the Freedom Trail and do as much of the loop as we could.  We finally found Paul Revere’s house, and then later the Paul Revere statue!  We opted to pay for the entry into the Paul Revere house, and it was worth the small donation.  Seeing the inside of the house was incredible—all the old fireplaces, the brick, the solid wood…it was a real treat!  We weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, so there are just exterior pictures.

We also walked by the first Roman Catholic Church in New England.  It was neat to see the intricate interior of the church, but of course Dan and I both wondered what bad things had gone on behind those doors over the years.  Note—on my flight home from Boston I watched “Spotlight.”  Had wanted to see it sooner, but seeing that I was flying home from Boston I figured I needed to watch it then.

On a more positive note, we continued our trek on the Freedom Trail to a cemetery, over the river, and on to the U.S.S. Constitution.  Touring the ship was awesome—it was free to tour, and you could go below deck.  By the time we finished this, my feet were getting pretty tired.  We used our transit pass to take the water taxi back to the downtown core.  It offered great views, albeit a bit windy!

We wanted something healthy to fill our tummies, so we hopped on transit again and headed to Chinatown.  Found a great little spot for some Pho…yum!  Then, Dan and I headed to the finish line, as I had a group photo with my Facebook “Boston Squeakers” at 3:30.  The commotion at the finish line today was CRAZY compared to how it was on Friday.  You could feel the energy!  Dan left at this time, as he was going to spend the evening exploring Harvard and find a pub to watch basketball.  I was going to make my way BACK to the City Hall area so I could attend the Pasta Party.  I headed down to the party with Mike from our Facebook group, and on our way we met a lady named Julie, who was from Edmonton.  We paired up with her, and in talking during dinner I found out she knew some of the same people I knew down in Lethbridge!  Small world!

The pasta party was what you would expect—mass pasta and salad, beverages, and a lot of people.  But, it was well organized, the weather was gorgeous (outdoor seating) and the food was above average for being ‘free.’  There was also free Sam Adams beer!  I had one, as my body can stomach a beer pre-race.  I didn’t stay too long as I did want to get back to the hotel at a decent time.  I think I was showered and in bed by 9:15 pm that night.  I did have a big event going on the next day to get rested for…..

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Boston Marathon, Part 2 of 4-Saturday

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I wrote my first post on my Boston Marathon experience here, and now I am moving on to the events that occurred on Saturday (Day 2)

Day 2 started early…earlier than we needed it to be actually!  I had signed Dan and I up for the B.A.A. 5 km event that morning.  The B.A.A. 5km is the first event of the year for the B.A.A. Distance Medley (5km, 10km, and half marathon).  If you register for the medley (which I heard from a local sold out in 20 minutes) you get a special medal upon completion.  Since we aren’t local, we just chose to sign up for the 5 km, which filled up in 24 hours!

We had to take transit to Boston Common that morning, and since there would be 10,000 runners in the event, I really had no clue how busy it would be.  Turns out we left a bit earlier than we needed to, and I didn’t really think ahead in terms of preparing us weather wise.  My one gripe is that international runners had to pick up their race packages morning of.  This is hwy I had us leave so early, since I wasn’t sure what it would be like.  It was seamless and easy, however, if we had been able to have our stuff mailed to us ahead (like those in the US had) it would have been one less thing to worry about.

That being said, I should have thought about a drop bag.  We just showed up to the race ready to go, and it was a little cold.  Dan even had to borrow my throw-away shirt I had brought for Marathon morning to wear and race in.  I wish we had worn sweats and layers prior to the 5 km, and then gear checked them, but I didn’t even think of that.  Since we didn’t have our race package when we left the hotel the thought didn’t cross my mind.  Instead, we just found a spot in the sun and blocked from the wind and waited it out.

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We did end up getting a bag to check, however, as we were allowed to pick up our race shirts before running the event.  I liked being able to do this, as the shirts were unisex sizing, and I wanted to make sure to get an extra small.  The shirts are a nice Adidas short-sleeve tech shirt.  They had the price tags attached still ($35).

The race itself was not going to be a ‘race’ but a nice shakeout for myself and a fun experience for us as a couple.  We made our way to the front 20% of people in the mass corral…there were A LOT of people!  I tried getting a photo of those behind us.  They seemed to start the race in spurts of groups, so when we did cross the start line it actually did spread out nicely within about half a mile.  At around mile 1.5 we even ran by Dick & Rick Hoyt, the famed father and son of Team Hoyt!  That was awesome!

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We finished in under 30 minutes, and had a lot of fun.  I would definitely consider doing this event again, especially if it was with another person I was travelling with.  The $75 is steep for a 5 km, especially since when I registered for it the Canadian Dollar was at rock bottom.  However, the organization, swag, course and experience make up for it.  Comparing it to a $65 Disney 5 km….this was a better value in my opinion.  The course was less congested, even though there was more people.  The shirt is of higher quality (tech vs. cotton) and the medal was a real medal (at Disney 5km races its a rubber medal).

We made it back to the hotel and then had a full day of touring ahead.  After cleaning up, we headed back on transit but this time all the way down to the Fanueil Hall area.  We went through the Holocaust Memorial, toured through the marketplace, and then ventured to a pub so Dan could watch the Toronto Raptors vs. Indiana Pacers.  I had my 2nd cup of clam chowder for the trip here (delicious!)  We stayed here until halftime of the game, and then ventured down to Fenway Park area so Dan could watch the rest of the game at a pub closer to the ball park.  We had tickets to the 4:05 pm game, so I wanted to make sure we weren’t late!

Dan saw the rest of his game (which they lost) and we got to Fenway on time.  We had awesome seats and the vibe was fantastic.  I unknowingly bought us tickets in an area that was already in the shade, so it was quite cold.  Brr!  It was The Red Sox vs the Blue Jays, so we were cheering on our national team.  They started off strong, even with a Donaldson triple!  But they fizzled later on, making it the second Toronto pro sports team to lose that day.  Sigh!

Instead of going back to the hotel like normal people, we wandered around to see where we could go after the game (It was still ‘early’).  We eventually made it back to Brookline near our hotel and went to a sports bar in Coolidge Corner, where I had my third cup of clam chowder for the trip and my second in that day.  We ended up back to the hotel and in bed still by 10 pm, but man, it was a full day!  Neither of us want to miss a moment while we are here!

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Boston Marathon 2016-Post 1/4-Friday

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So, my Boston post isn’t going to be one giant mess, I promise.  I have decided to break my own recaps on this amazing trip into four posts-Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  That way I can better highlight each day!

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Cover shot!

Friday was one long day, and actually a continuation of Thursday…we flew out of Calgary at just after midnight, connected through Toronto, and arrive in Boston at around 8:30 am. After figuring out transit pretty well (only one small fail, which then led to a one mile walk to our hotel with our suitcases in tow…this happened to Dan and I in Quebec City too…hm) we unpacked, changed and headed downtown to the Hynes Convention Centre for the expo.  Before entering the expo, I decided we should take the time to walk down Boylston to see the finish line set up, which was getting finishing touches as we made our way to it.

 

As we looped back down Boylston, we came across the Adidas RunBase store.  This store is relatively new, and is the official store of the B.A.A (Boston Athletic Association).  I ended up buying a nice store shirt for $25 and a black/neon pink/teal headband for $16.  They also had some cool signage that explained the meaning of the unicorn logo among other things!

Entering in the convention centre was something else.  You could tell from that very moment that “YES  THESE PEOPLE HAVE ORGANIZED THIS EVENT BEFORE.”  My husband even realized that as we made our way to packet pickup, as there were volunteers and security at every possibly corner directing us.  There was no possible way to get lost.  The pickup process went so fast and so smooth.  I had my bib!  My lucky ticket!  We then made our way back downstairs to the expo floor.  I knew Dan was just going to follow me aimlessly as I walked the aisles looking for nothing in particular.  This is when I eventually got my Runner’s World ‘cover shot’ done.  As you can see, I am wearing my go-to shirt that I wear on expo day to a lot of my races!  I love wearing the Nike “Hustlin’ From Start to Finish‘ shirt!  I think it says everything I need to say!  Before getting this photo done I was able to stop and meet Runner’s Worlds very own Bart Yasso…the man behind the menacing Yasso 800 workouts.  We had a nice chat, and he even spoke highly about the city of Lethbridge, where I live!  He had been there a few years back and had the opportunity to run in our famed Coulees, and raved about it!

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Bart Yasso & I

The expo was massive.  It was hard to actually gauge how large it was, as the ceilings were rather low, unlike when I attended Chicago in 2006.  In Chicago, the convention centre ceiling was quite high so you could see how many booths there were and it was a more natural looping through the exhibits.  I was scared I would miss something as we walked through.  I picked up some freebies here and there, and even bought a couple little things.  My big purchases were made prior to arriving, as I had already pre-ordered my Adidas jacket along with some other long sleeve shirts and shorts.  We even managed to find a Samuel Adams booth where we got to sample their 26.2 brew.  I have to say, I really liked it!  I tend to lean toward more of the IPA-style beers, and never expect much from a beer with lower alcohol percentage, but this was a good brew!  I had it lots over the course of the trip!

By this point in the afternoon, the fact I hadn’t really slept on the plane hadn’t settled in yet.  We made our way down to the Fenway Park area where we went to a couple pubs, most notably the famed “Cask & Flagon.”  This is where I had my first cup of Clam Chowder during the trip.  (I ended up having four!)

After checking out another nearby bar, Jerry Remy’s, we made the trek back to the hotel so I could dump my stash of goodies.  We had an hour left in us, as it was still light out, and after making it back from a little tour of the Brookline neighborhood (where our hotel was located) we hit the sheets pretty early.  Dare I say Dan was snoring by 9:01 PM and I followed closely by 9:30 pm.  An action packed day for sure!  And Saturday had an early alarm coming up, as we would be running in the 8 am B.A.A. 5 km even the next morning in Boston Common!  Rest was needed!  More to come…..!

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The swag acquired from the day!

Boston Marathon 2016-Post from Mom

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And here is my mom’s straightforward look at her experience spectating me at Boston Marathon 2016!  My husband will do a post on his, and mine will follow. 

My daughter has asked me to do a guest post about my experience at this year’s Boston Marathon. Let me start by saying that my excitement began when she qualified on May 3, 2015 in Vancouver, BC. As soon as I heard this from her, I immediately called Kathy, my best friend from high school, who lives northwest of Boston, & asked if she’d like a visitor the following April. She’s been asking me to visit for years, but I was holding out waiting for Andrea to get her BQ time. Even though Kathy has lived in Massachusetts since 1978, she’d never experienced the Marathon so she was as excited as I was.

Our Marathon Monday began by catching the commuter train from Lowell, where she lives, to North Station in Boston. This is about a 40 minute trip but the only way to go, especially on this day. Once in Boston, we transferred to the Green Line C train to meet my son-in-law Dan in Brookline, where they were staying, to watch for Andrea as well as her friend Bob Higgins & Dan’s cousin Erin Moore. We arrived about 20 minutes later than planned due to all the people & traffic, but still had plenty of time to go grab something to eat & drink. After that we found a spot at mile 24 & watched & waited. I was being updated on her splits by AT&T & also watching her, Bob & Erin on the BAA app, which by the way was slow in updates but did have a map that tracked them which was a big help. We saw Bob & a bit later Dan spotted Andrea first & I guess recorded her coming up to us. I tried to get a picture, but failed. She stopped to give Dan a kiss & me a hug then continued on her way. She certainly didn’t look like she had already run 24 miles! Dan wanted to hang around to see if he would spot Erin, so Kathy & I decided to head into Boston to meet up with Andrea in the Family Meeting Area.

We should have stayed with Dan. Two trains passed us because they were full before one stopped to let us on. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this one was not going as far as we needed. It stopped two stations before & we had to get off. The station was jammed with people who had just left the Red Sox game, so Kathy said we should just walk since it was less than a mile. If we could have just gone from point A to point B it would have been fine, but streets were closed & there were so many people it was like salmon swimming upstream. Not sure how long it took us, but Andrea texted me to say that Dan was on his way & she’d let me know when he got there. We were still trying to make our way to the area when Andrea told me to just stay where we were & they’d come to us. Thank goodness for cellphones. We met them outside of the Westin Copley Place hotel, decided to just go in there for something to eat & drink, & all was well with the world.

I’m very proud of my daughter, happy I got to see her run in this race that she worked so hard to qualify for, but will never again venture into Boston either on race day or the days surrounding it. Way too many people everywhere for me to contend with. I plan to go back to visit Kathy & see more sites in & around the area again, but not during Marathon Weekend for sure.

Marching on in March…

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Oh man.  Where to start?

At the beginning of March, I opted to have a cortisone injection into my foot.  This was performed after I had a “test run” injection of some other solution (yeah, I’m that bad that I couldn’t even name what they injected into my foot…but then i referred to the photo i took and it was Xylocaine.)  This first injection was to give me pain relief for a 3-5 hour window.  If this was successful, then a cortisone shot would most likely work.

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What got injected in round 1

What this first injection caused was pain, swelling, and not to mention, the fact I almost passed out during the shot!  That’s not surprising, because I have a history of passing out with needles….the first time I attempted to give blood when I was 18, after getting a flu shot at the student health center in university as part of a flu study trial (which I got paid $40 for by monitoring the injection site for two weeks)…some of the more recent ones also involved when I gave blood.  Not during the process, but after.  Donated blood and got lightheaded and had to sit down and get help from workers at Safeway grocery store…..TWICE.  My personal favorite was when I walked through The Bay department store after donating blood and then went to check out at the till and passed out briefly.  They had to get the workers at the blood clinic (it’s in the same mall) to come down with a wheelchair to get me, wheel me back, and phone my husband.  Oh, and lets back pedal to the original needle pass out occasion—when I went and got my belly button pierced when I was 15 (but lied that I was 16) and as I walked back to the car with my mom I passed out in an alley in West Allis.  I still have a scar on my elbow to prove it.  I think I was so hyped up that passing out just seemed like the right thing to do.

So, with all those needle freak outs/meltdowns/pass outs, you would have to know I would not handle this injection well.  The doctor had to go in blindly to my foot, without using ultrasound, and had to try it three times until he knew the injection had taken.  It was on the third time that I had to lay down, starting sweating, and started seeing stars.  I left the office after the first injection with high hopes, but then found myself walking around the house in pain, and I couldn’t even put full pressure on my foot, let alone put my shoe on my foot.

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First injection…before seeing stars

By the morning, my foot was better.  I had phoned the doctor a the previous night as the pain was overtaking me, and he believed that the shot may have irritated my arthritis.  Great.  So, a normal person would then cancel their second appointment for the cortisone.  I did not.

I am getting desperate, as I need to somehow function for the next four weeks and finish my training, do some races, and then run the race of my life:  The 120th Boston Marathon.  While Boston is all about completion, I have put a ton of training in, and don’t want to take it ‘easy.’  I still plan on pushing myself, though, I don’t necessarily expect a personal best.  So a week later, I went in for the cortisone.

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Selfie before the cortisone injection…a tad unsure!

I was better prepared for the needle, and it only took two times to get it injected into the correct spot.  I also creepily took a video of the doctor during the first injection, as to keep my mind off of just thinking about the pain.  This helped, and I didn’t pass out.  I know, after looking at my photos, its obvious I have a tattoo on my foot.  And I have many others too.  But tattoos never cause the pass-out feeling.  Just when the needle is actually under my skin….ugh.  So the cortisone shot was over and done.  The kicker with the cortisone was needing to take one week off of running.  I figured this was worth the chance of possibly being in less pain and having my foot less swollen after.

During those days off, my foot felt good.  It not swell like after the first injection.  I spent lots of time using my TENS machine and taking baths.  Once a week was up, my first training runs (Starting March 7th) went well.  By run 4, however, my foot was flaring up while doing a tempo workout.  Maybe the cortisone won’t help….and then on Sunday I went out to do a long run of 2 hours and 45 minutes max (20 miles max) and stopped at 14.25 miles.  While every mile was in the pace range I aim for during long runs, my foot was throbbing and I just didn’t want to push on.

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iMessages with my mom, post-cortisone

Does that mean I would quit during Boston if the pain took over?  Hell no.  I just don’t want to make it worse before Boston.  That seems silly because training for Boston and doing races in town before Boston is obviously messing it up more.  If the pain takes over in Boston, I know adrenaline, support, and absolute awe will take over.

 

8.5 Weeks Until Boston…Training Progress, Race Goals, Injury Update

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Helllllloooooooooooo!  Crazy to see on my training plan that I am now 7.5 weeks in, with 8.5 weeks left to go!  Almost at that halfway point!  Training is on schedule and I am feeling pretty good.  I lamented before how it is frustrating sometimes as I notice myself slower on some workouts this year than I was last year, but I then remember that last year I was coming off some strong races in late fall/winter so I was better prepared to enter training.  I have had some awesome training runs, though, and that makes me feel even more confident getting to this halfway point.  The 16 miler I have on Saturday will be my first true test, in my opinion, as it has the mileage challenge and the mental challenge.  I missed my first 16 miler two weeks ago because I was fighting this awful stomach bug, so I need to go out and just get the mileage in.  Nothing fancy, no crazy pace accelerations…just run 16 miles in my long-run pace range (7:48-9:04 per mile).

I also have mentioned before that not having any races lately has made it hard at times to really push my limits.  On February 27th, I will be doing my first event of 2016.  The Hypothermic Half is an event held nationwide and put on by Running Room.  I am doing this in conjunction with my 18 miler that day, so I am not going to race it, just simply use it as part of my training run that day.  The ‘competitive’ events come in March and April, as I have the local Moonlight Run 10km on March 19th and the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on April 2nd.  My dream goal at Moonlight would be to place in top 3 women overall.  The race can be all over the place, due to the change in weather, time of year, and the wicked hill climb for the last 3/4 of a mile.  Last year, while I ran faster than the year prior, I placed 5th overall in women.  I ran a 43:47.  In 2014, I placed 4th overall with my 47:27.  This year, I expect to be somewhere in between those times, but have no real clue how I will finish.  It really depends on who shows up on race day….and I don’t mean just what competitors….I mean what Andrea will show up?!?!?

For Trailbreaker, I am planning on pushing myself to the limits and run the best half marathon I possibly can.  To beat my personal best, I would need to run faster than a 1:35:41.  I did that time exactly one year ago in frigid temperatures.  My most recent half marathon time was my less-than-pleasing Lethbridge Police Half, where I had stomach issues the last 4 miles and dropped position and time, finishing with a 1:40.13…well off what I was capable of.  So really, I am aiming for anything under 1:40 at Trailbreaker, as coming off a week of ‘vacationing’ in Milwaukee is sometimes a bit much.  And since I have been training for Boston, I know my  legs are ready for this.  And, the elevation is lower back home, so you never know!  Lets just hope the humidity stays away!

Lastly….my foot.  It’s not an injury, per say, but a nuisance.  I know, KNOW it is getting more aggravated by the day as I keep pounding out the mileage.  The new shoes and orthotics have helped tons, and I am so glad I got them.  However, the only way for it not to hurt would for me to not run, walk, stand, be human.  So, I am just going to keep ruining my foot and build that bone spur up more and more until I have a surgery date set.  I have been putting prescription 10% Voltaren on it as of late, and this has helped numb the pain.  I am set to see my podiatrist next week to talk about pain management, and then I will hopefully be booking an appointment with my family doctor (and sports medicine extraordinaire) to have him inject something into it?????  I have been going to physiotherapy pretty regularly, and I am addicted to the TENS machine…those electric wave pulses (or whatever they are) on my foot feel SO GOOD.  I really don’t know how my foot will hold up on races, as during runs I don’t really think about it. It is after I am done running and my shoe is off that the throbbing really kicks in.  So the Hypothermic half, Moonlight Run and Trailbreaker will all be good indicators on how 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston will physically feel come April 18th!  I don’t really care if my foot feels like it is going to fall off during that race, because emotionally it will feel amazing!

 

 

Running from Anxiety

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Yesterday, I ran an 8 mile progression run as part of my Boston Marathon training.  It was a windy ass day, but not too cold, so I headed out in shorts ready to get this thing done.  I started slow, I ran a 9:02, 8:59, 8:38, 8:23 and 8:11.  By that point I was feeling pretty good, but knew I wanted my last 3 miles to be epic.  At 5.25 miles I actually stopped at the local grocery store, Safeway, to pick up my prescriptions.  This was planned ahead of time, as I had worn my AltraSpire running backpack without the reservoir in it.  Went to the pharmacy, had the tech wrap everything up nicely, and plopped it in my bag.  I headed out to get the rest of the run finished.  Everything was packed nicely, but you could still hear the steady and constant shaking of the pill bottles, almost like maracas.  I ran mile 6 in 8:10, and that is when I wanted to turn it up a notch for the final 2 miles.  As the pills acted as a metronome, I pounded down South Parkside Drive and 10th Ave with all I could.  I don’t think anything could have broken my focus.  I hit mile 7 in 7:29.  I wanted to make mile 8 something special.  Hitting STOP on my watch as I hit that final mile, I saw my split was 7:24.  My progression run was a huge success!

After my stop at Safeway, I was initially bothered by the sound of the pills in my bag.  I thought it was going to drive me nuts.  But then I started thinking about those pills and how they aren’t a nuisance that should be driving me crazy.  I have been taking Escitalopram (Cipralex) and Clonazepam since 2010.  My mother, my husband and some close friends and family have been aware of this, but not a lot of others.  It is important to talk about, and on #BellLetsTalk day I figured today would be a good time to talk about it.

Escitalopram and Clonazepam are both drugs used to help with depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  I take my cipralex daily for help with anxiety, and I take the Clonazepam as needed.  I call this one my “emergency pill.”  The reason why I was put on these medications by my family doctor was due to many compounding reasons.  I have always been a bit high-strung and anxious, even if it didn’t seem like that during my high school years back in Wisconsin.  I had good marks and was involved and on the outside, very well put together.  But then, take into account my father died in 2004….I graduated university in 2007…I moved to a new country in 2008….I didn’t have a full-time job yet in 2010…I wasn’t in a great place, as I didn’t know how to handle with a lot of the stressors around me.

In early 2010 I went and started trying to talk to a counselor about the issues I had dealing with my dad’s death.  I have mentioned before in this blog that I think during my university years I kind of went through a denial stage that the whole thing happened, and just put on a tough face to hide the emotions that I had inside.  The counselor helped a bit, but we parted ways as I didn’t really see eye-to-eye with his philosophy.  With having no full-time teaching contract going into the summer of 2010, planning my December wedding, and then still having yet to fully deal with my dad’s untimely death from a few years before that, I knew I needed to talk to my doctor about options to help.

I was prescribed the two medications and have taking my daily one religiously since then.  After about a month, I could tell it was helping calm me.  I think one of the first times I took my ‘emergency pill’ was in November 2010 when I lost my passport at the Toronto airport and basically went into a ballistic crying spell.  By the time I got into the hold zone at security to try and find out if they could locate it, I had calmed down dramatically.

Since first starting the medications, I decided to try seeing a counsellor again about my issues with my dad’s passing.  I also, in 2013, started this very blog.  While the blog started as a way to remember my dad (and fundraise for heart disease research in his memory) as I trained for and ran in the 2014 Dopey Challenge during Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, it was also a coping mechanism.  The blog, the counselling, the medication….and the running….has all helped me become more of the person I want to be.

After finishing the Dopey Challenge, I could have very well ended this blog.  I used this blog to help bring awareness to my fundraising efforts.  But I realized that this blog really helped me as a person.  And after doing the Dopey Challenge, that was when I first realized that if I focused on just training for and running a full marathon I could maybe, JUST MAYBE, qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I trained for Calgary Marathon in 2014, and missed the qualifying time.  I was frustrated, mad and didn’t want to go through the training again.  But then I signed up for Edmonton, which would be in August of that same year.  Same year, same results.  I only bested my time by about a minute, and was still over 10 minutes away from the max qualifying time for my age group.  Maybe I should throw in the towel….but after thought and consideration, I registered for the 2015 Vancouver Marathon.  I regained my focus, and put my energy into following a new training plan made specifically for me.  Registering for many local races and seeing how my times were dropping were powerful and motivating; it kept me pushing.  While I had stopped seeing the counsellor by this time, running truly had become my therapy.

And if you’ve read my blog, you now know that in Vancouver I did succeed-I qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon running 20 minutes faster than my previous best marathon time, and beating my qualifying standard by just over 10 minutes.  Running had allowed me to do something I love, all while going through every possible emotion.  It pushes me to the limit, it makes me question what is possible…and it allows me time to reflect and become at peace with what is going on around me.  Running hasn’t solved everything, but it sure has helped me along the way, and without running I am not sure where I would be right now.

So, yes.  I am someone, like many, who takes a prescription daily to help deal with daily life.  I also take high doses of endorphins whenever possible, because that along with the adrenaline that racing produces has helped me heal, slowly but surely.  This isn’t something to be ashamed about, so I wanted to share it today.  You now know a little bit more about my crazy, imperfectly perfect life.

2 Different Days, 2 Different Runs, 2 Very Different Results

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I am rounding out week 4 of my Boston training, and not without some interesting running the past few days.  This winter has been all over the place—colder than usual, and snowier than the city of Lethbridge is used to.  On Tuesday, a ray of hope appeared as it was above freezing and a lot of snow covered sidewalks were starting to melt.  During my speed workout that evening, I was able to just puddle jump no problem.  Little ice, just slush.  Fantastic!

Then, overnight, it dropped WAY below freezing.

By Wednesday, all those pathways that was slush and becoming clear now became a frozen apocalyptic disaster.  It was like hundreds of asteroids had hit Southern Alberta and planted themselves on the sidewalks I depended on running on.  I had brought my running stuff to work and as I headed out at just before 4 pm for a 60-75 minutes “easy-paced” run, I knew it would be anything but.  It was around 14 Fahrenheit outside, which I will say what I have said before…I don’t mind the cold at all.  But the terrain conditions were the issue.  I ran my first mile just a second above the max pace of my easy limit; 8:45.  I was encountering more ice than I had anticipated, and 5th ave North to 28th Street North didn’t clear way.  I was bracing my whole body so much as I ran, clenching my shoulders and watching my footsteps.  During mile 2 I decided right then and there I would just run 60 minutes, as to just get the ‘on my feet’ feeling in.  My splits were dreadful:  9:21, 9:24, 9:42, 9:41, 9:46.  I finished 6.5 miles in a pathetic-for-me 1 hour 1 minute and 39 seconds.  My whole body ached.  I was mad.  I went home and promptly molded myself into an Epsom salt and bubble bath filled tub.  It was an ugly day.

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My Thursday came and went; busy day at work.  Lots of kids in my room in the afternoon preparing for their math final exams and diplomas.  Before I knew it, it was time to go back home and get ready for my run.  It had been above freezing during the day, and clear skies, so I had a glimmer of hope that the sidewalks had cleared more.  Today’s workout was to be 50-60 minutes with 4 miles of it at my goal marathon pace.  My goal pace is a solid 8:00 minutes per mile (3:30.00 full marathon time); that’s what I trained for last year during Vancouver training.  Anything around that while in Boston I will be pleased with.  I was nervous heading out tonight, as yesterdays run was a complete pile of shit.  And I knew how disappointed I would be if I could keep 4 miles at this pace that was seemingly easy for me one year ago.

My warm up jog to Mayor Magrath/Henderson was 1 mile in 8:44, right at the top of my “easy pace.”  Alright, after I cross the street, I would head north towards North Parkside Drive, stay on the road but hug the gutter while on N. Parkside, go by exhibition grounds, down South Parkside on the cleared sidewalk, and repeat until I hit 4 miles.  My first mile felt shaky, and my legs were hurting bad.  My quads and hamstrings have been feeling the burn these last 4 weeks as I started my official training, and I am hoping that heaviness will soon pass.  I ran the first mile of my “goal pace” in 8:01.  Alright, that is fine…but could I do better than that for the last 3?  Or was I setting myself up to fail?

I rounded by exhibition grounds and Bullys to wear I got to the sidewalk adjacent to Henderson Lake Golf Course.  This was COMPLETELY clear of ice and snow!  YES!!!  I think I was smiling as I was running, even though I was running into the wind!  It was nearing the golf course entrance when I hit my second mile at goal pace, and I did so in 7:55.  Faster than the first!  Alright, I only had two more to go.

I rounded the corner of 10th ave and Mayor Magrath with some power.  I had to keep this momentum going.  I fought through some pain and hit my third goal-pace mile at 7:58.  Three down and one to go.

As I ran the last mile, I ran on the road on North Parkside Drive.  While Henderson Lake has a fantastic path, I could see out the corner of my eye that it had ice chunks and snow in various spots.  The road was clear, so I stayed here.  I wasn’t in the way of any traffic as I ran where cars would usually park on the side of the road during the summer.  I pushed until I hit my last mile and was more than ecstatic to see a 7:45!  I did it!

I rounded out the run by taking an easy jog through Henderson and headed back home via 10th Ave   And for the heck of it, I decided to stop my watch a bit early (about four blocks) from my house.  It was at that point that I hit 6.5 miles—-the same distance I did 24 hours prior.  The time today, though, was 53:45   Much more like it!

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To say I was happy about how today’s workout went would be an understatement.  After a dreadful Wednesday, Thursday bounced me back up on that high that I needed.  I love running outside, and I don’t want to give that up.  I know I could drive to the University to run circles on the track indoors, but I don’t want it to come to that.  Having a workout go as planned (and even better!) is a great mental boost.  Rest day tomorrow and then a 13 miler to round out the week.  Happy Thursday evening everyone!