Tag Archives: canada

Spartan Ultra Beast 2015-A Race Like No Other…

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Since January 1st, 2014, I have participated in one 5 km race, four 10 km races, three half marathons, one full marathon, one 50 km ultra-marathon.  In addition to these traditional races, I also did two Spartan Sprints (5 km each), 2 Spartan Supers (14 km each) and 1 Spartan Beast (21 km).  I was in the shape of my life when I ran the Vancouver Marathon in May and qualified for Boston.  I placed in my 50 km race in Calgary in my age group and won a trophy!  I won other races, made personal bests in all the standard race distances:  a 20:42 for a 5km, 41:30 for a 10km, 1:35.41 for a half marathon, 3:24.56 for a full marathon.  So I naturally thought signing up for the Spartan Ultra Beast in Sun Peaks, to be held on September 26th, 2015, would be a logical next challenge.

I just did not know that this challenge would be my first ever DNF.

DNF is a running term for “Did Not Finish.”  No one plans to run a DNF.  No one wants to run a DNF.  Many people have, and for those people that race will always hold a sour note in their mind.  Sure, it will be a learning experience, and everyone’s reasons for DNF’ing will vary, but it’ll still hurt.  Even if it was the right thing to do.

My husband Dan and I drove out to this race on Friday, September 25th.  It is a 10 hour drive from Lethbridge.  We left early, made good time, and I felt excited at packet pickup.  I had been feeling a bit sick earlier in the week, so I have been going to bed quite early.  Like 8:00 pm early.  But I felt ready.  It was very exciting to be back at Sun Peaks-I not only ran the Sun Peaks Beast in 2013, but Dan and I celebrated our honeymoon here in January 2011 while attending the Winter Wine Festival.  I got my bags set for the morning and headed to bed.

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The morning weather was a lot better than the “Snow Fest” that was 2013.  It was cool and overcast at 7:15 am when I headed to festival grounds.  My heat of the Ultra Beast began at 7:45 am.  All 175 of us crazy enough to register for this event that would be double the length of the Beast (two loops) began at once.  I was geared up with supplies and ready to go.  The first hour of the race was a lot of switch back climbing through single track trails, which eventually brought us up to where the chairlift let spectators off at.  There were a few obstacles during this time: a wall, Hercules hoist, log carry.  Once hitting the chairlift (an important spot for me) you did the monkey bars.  Nailed it!  A few more obstacles later and we kept climbing.  And climbing.  To a section I never was at before.  “The Top of the World” was closed to us in 2013 due to the blizzard.  But I made it here this year!

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It was after this section that I really started to have fun.  There was a lot of downhill running in open areas and on single track trails.  The main thing was I actually could run.  I was staying hydrated with my water that had Nuun, fueling myself with carbs in the form of HoneyStingers…Feeling great.  I got to obstacle 16, the Wall of Sparta, and still felt like a million bucks.  I was the 2nd place Ultra Beast female at this point in the race, and I even asked a volunteer what kilometer we were approximately at.  She said 17km….alright, if this is a double Beast (21 km) I am getting really close to my first loop!  Podium dreams danced through my brain.

But then a close to 1.5 km hill climb came.  Wow, that burned.  Straight on up.  Forever and ever it seemed.  Eventually we got to a tire flip at the way top and then there was a split off point-The Ultra Beast Runners had to go to the left and the regular Beast runners went right.  Apparently the regular Beast runners had the rest downhill.  We had a teaser of downhill for about 4 minutes and then hit our extra obstacle:  a burlap sack carry.  This in itself was not too hard, but we had to go up a stretch of ski hill and back down.  And then had to run (or barely walk) back up another stretch of hill (MOUNTAIN) to get on back with the main course.

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While I was still feeling positive, as I still held 2nd position, I was getting weak.  I failed the parallel bar obstacle, I fell off the stupid balance beam (which I NEVER fall off of), missed my one-chance spear throw and then just didn’t even attempt the rope climb.  120 burpees total.

I came in after loop 1 under the cut off time, with the 3rd place woman coming right in with me. No 4th place female in sight at all.  We got in to the transition area somewhere between 4 hour 30 minutes and 4 hour 40 minutes.  Dan was waiting with some now luke-warm soup for me.  He was almost laughing in disbelief at how long it was taking me, considering I guessed a first loop of 3-3:30, based on how it was 2 years prior and the better shape I was in.  Holy shit this was a hard course.  I ate my soup, had a fruit bar, refilled my water, and checked out of transition.

That’s when it started to crumble.

In retrospect, I should have spent more time fueling and getting mentally prepared while in the transition area.  Maybe finding someone else leaving transition who seemed to be in a good place mentally and physically and sticking with them.  I ran off and before I knew it I was on these ski and mountain bike trails alone.  No other runners around me.  Just the forest.  And bear poop.

Other runners would catch up and fall back, but we all looked worse for wear.  Looked like we were part of a zombie apocalypse.  My foot was burning with pain where my bone spur is.  Any time I went downhill and landed on even the smallest of rock, if it was on the ball of my right foot it felt like it would shoot through the top of my foot.  I was soaking wet and cold with mud encrusted on me.  I neglected to change my clothes in the transition area because I knew getting my compression socks off would be hard enough.  I was starting to cough and sneeze.  While the weather at the start of the race was pleasant, we had ran into rain, sleet, snow flurries, sun, and repeat during that first lap.

I started thinking more about if completing this race was worth the potential risks.  At this rate, I would be alone in the dark with no headlamp at some point.  My body was hurting, my mind wasn’t in the right place, and for the most part I wasn’t enjoying myself any longer.  Yes, I had ran a ton of different races this year with grueling distances and circumstances, but I was always having fun…even if I was in pain.  This race, the pain wasn’t quite maxed out, but if I had kept going on I was worried what could happen to my body and effect my upcoming events.  Boston kept going through my head.  One wrong land on my foot could have immense damage and possibly nix my ability to compete in the marathon I have always dreamed of.  When I registered for this Spartan Ultra in December 2014, I registered for it because I knew I would have been training for other events that could help me out with it.  I was not training specifically for it, so my weight training/cross training was lacking to non-existent.  But my training I had done did pay off and help me make my goal of qualifying for Boston.  I didn’t want to ruin Boston.

At that chairlift, round 2, I borrowed a volunteer’s cell phone and phoned my husband at the bottom.  This was an hour after I had left the transition area.  I asked for him to come up on the chairlift and get me.  I sat in the chairlift lodge and Spartan Race workers came over to check on me.  I wasn’t wincing in pain, I wasn’t hurt, and I wasn’t breathing ridiculously hard.  I was just done.  A lady gave me her tea, and when I talked to these workers the tears started flowing.  I just felt defeated at that moment, and while the course was literally steps away and I could have gotten back up, I just knew the right decision was to pull.

Dan got up there about 15 minutes later.  We got on the chairlift down (which he said I would hate since I hate heights) and I just put my head on his shoulder.

“I feel like such a fucking loser.” 

“Losers don’t qualify for Boston”

After making it to the bottom, retrieving my bag, taking a shower and a nap, I knew we had to make the most of the night.  It wasn’t worth staying in the room sobbing about it.  We went out that evening and had a hell of a time (probably spent a bit too much money).  During that time I ran into a few people who had similar, yet different, fates on the course.  Two girls didn’t even make it to the transition area in the cut off time (over an hour late) so they weren’t allowed to continue on.  They own a gym in Red Deer, so they were definitely in excellent physical shape.  Another guy we sat by at the bar had his hand all taped up.  During the Beast, he fell during an obstacle about 2 km out of the finish.  His hand gashed open, blood everywhere.  He had to pull from the race and go to the hospital to get it stitched.

I found out yesterday of the 175 that started, only 55 finished.  Only 3 of those 55 were women.  The fastest time for a male was 7:02:04 while the fastest female was 9:59:59.  It also said in the email the course for the Ultra Beast, including the extra loop with obstacle, was 52.87 kilometers….that is over 10.5 km more than I thought we would have!  I know Spartan Race wanted to make something challenging, and I by no means am trying to say that I would have completed it if it was without that extra loop, but that extra loop really wasn’t necessary to make it that “Ultra.”  Hell, I may have even bailed if that loop hadn’t been there but the extra loop just must have taken more out of me.  And I am sure a lot of others.

Will I be going back again in the future?  Not really sure.  I always did Spartan Races as my ‘fun-filler’ around my other races that I put my training focus on.  I think my husband and I will continue to head down to Montana each May for the race weekend, as it is a close enough getaway for us and an awesome time.  But other than that, I may be putting Spartan Races on the shelf and focus on my recovery from all the other races I did this year and then my training for the 120th Boston Marathon.

…and Winter is Here

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We had a really random weather-week here in Lethbridge. It was 67 degrees outside last week Monday. 67! On January 26th! In Lethbridge, Alberta, CANADA! Well, of course this wasn’t going to last. This Saturday blizzard-like conditions hit and I looked outside at 7:15 am saying “What the……” It was time for me to head to my first Runners Soul Marathon Club run of the year and I needed to get in 90-105 minutes at a pace between 8:02-9:23 for each mile. As much as I wanted to head back into bed, I knew I couldn’t.

Club run was 8 miles in length for those training for marathon distance, but I knew I would need more than 8 to reach 90 minutes. I ran from our house to Runners Soul (which is exactly a mile!) and got there in 8:58. The snow had started in the middle of the night, so nothing was shoveled yet, and visibility was tough. I knew this 8 mile route would feel a whole longer today.

The route brought us around the southside to the trail behind Home Depot near the coulees, past the College, and back down Scenic Drive. I won’t lie-it was rough going. I had wanted to be hitting around 8:20s for my pace, but I knew with the snow and ice I would have to lessen up, but still stay within pace parameters. I managed to do so for 7/8 of the miles in the club run, and the one I didn’t hit was only off by seconds! My miles were done in 8:57, 8:42, 8:43, 8:50, 8:41, 8:47, 9:03, and 9:26. So it wasn’t until the last mile that I fade and missed my pace by 3 seconds. I warmed up a bit in the store (which was a mistake) because then when I went outside to do my last mile home I got SO COLD SO FAST. I ran as hard as my body would let me and got home in 9:10. My feet were soaked, my fingers were numb, and my husband greeted me at the door with “I can’t believe you ran in that shit.”

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While still snowy outside today, the weather had warmed up to just at freezing. My options for today were either to take an off day, run 30-45 minutes easy, or cross train. My calves were sore from all the resistance running in the snow, so I opted for cross training. My husband and I took our nearly 8-year old beagle out to the off-leash dog park for a little hike. 3.2 miles later, we had taken Snoopy through the coulees, down stairs, through bushes, off the path….he acted like a puppy and was having so much fun. He even did some sprints with us up some hills and held his own. It wasn’t a traditional “workout” but it was a perfect way to spend the Sunday. Winter may be back, but that doesn’t mean it has to slow anyone down.

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2014 Running Recap

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It is almost a wrap on 2014…what a year! Ok…I hate that I used that as my first sentence, but I am currently going on my 26th hour in a sleeping car on the Amtrak and am not thinking straight. So maybe writing my recap now isn’t the smartest idea, but I don’t have anything else to occupy my time with really (or that I want to be doing?) so I may as well type this on out!

The numbers

My total of unique race events (ranging from 4km, 5km, 10km, 10 milers, halves and full!) in 2014 is currently at 24, and my 25th event will be on New Years Eve when I run the Brita Resolution Run 5km in Red Deer, Alberta. Last year, I finished with the Lethbridge version of the Resolution Run and that made for my 22nd event. So I will be up three events from 2013 when the clock strikes midnight! Doing the Dopey Challenge (4 individual events) and Dumbo Double Dare (2 distances) in 2014 made the yearly total add up quickly, that’s for sure! And in the process, I ran personal best times in the 5km, half marathon and full marathon distances. Now, will I be trying to “beat” that total and “feats” next year? Not exactly…

This year actually could have been a few races less than 25, especially since before Dopey, I didn’t even have another full marathon planned. After Dopey, I had gotten the bright idea that I could maybe push for a Boston Qualifying time. While I did drop my time in the two latter races I ran (in Calgary and Edmonton, June and August, respectively) it wasn’t enough to qualify. Looking back, I probably did too much in between if Boston had been my main focus for 2014. Going into 2014, Boston wasn’t even close to being on my radar…but my mind started going after seeing some of the possibilities. Was I frustrated I didn’t qualify for Boston last year? You bet I was….but now, I can look back and realize that looking at the progress in my full marathons is something to be proud of. My old personal best before 2014 was a 3:56 full from 2007. In 2014, I ran a 3:50, 3:46 and 3:44 over the course of my jam-packed year. And now I know what I need to work on more of while I prepare for 2015.

Boston qualifying is the main focus for 2015, as I am going to officially start my training program on January 11th. I will be running in the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 3rd, and my events leading up to Vancouver will help supplement my training, while not overdoing it. I have been able to get the half marathon distance down pat (running sub 1:40 now three times in 2014) but will need to work on building distance/endurance in my training.

In addition to Vancouver, I am currently registered for 8 additional events. Six of these events are Spartan Races. I will be doing the Temecula Super Spartan & Sprint on two days back-to-back in January, alongside my best friend. Then in May, my husband and I will be making our way down to Montana for their yearly Spartan Race! Only this year, we aren’t doing the Sprint….we are doing the newly added Beast! This means I will earn Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe Status by May! So I should be done with Spartan Races then, right? Of course not, as that is a Trifecta in the US, so I also want to earn a Trifecta in Canada! September will be the Red Deer Super and Sprint, and then off to Sun Peaks for the Beast! But not just the regular Beast….the Ultra Beast! I have already tackled the Beast in Sun Peaks in 2013, so I needed to take it up a notch and give the 26.2 miles of hell a shot. I guess that’s the main thing that’s bound to happen once you start trying all the different types of races out there…you want to keep pushing yourself beyond the proverbial limit.

I know I will pick up other smaller, local races throughout 2015, but my focus is on my full marathon in May and the Spartan Races. And oh yeah, I do have some things to worry about in addition to running…we have a new house to put sweat-equity in, an old house to sell, and I have a killer schedule for second semester that will take up all extra energy I have. Spring will be very busy for myself (and my hubby!) and while the training takes up time, and one might say I should “go relax or something”, I think I can beg to differ, as my running, training and racing is how I, in the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X !!!

Cheers to 2014 and here’s to looking forward to 2015! And GO PACK GO!

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…It is Time for a New Age Group…

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I am a 29 year old female runner. But, on Wednesday, I jump an age group. I turn 30 years old on October 1st. In the running world, this is a big deal. Age groups at races are usually 10 year groupings. I have been in two major age groups during my time running road races. The first was when I was in my teens, and my first official event I ever participated in (that can be found still online for all to see) was the 2002 Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis. I was 18. I jumped up into the 20-29 age group when I ran in the Madison Full Marathon 2005. Other than larger events that have age groups every 5 years (20-24, 25) I have been sitting comfortably for the last 10 years.

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I am not someone who is “dreading” turning 30. Actually, I think the fact that running has taken over a large part of my life the last two years helps the aging shock. Yes, it is an age group jump, and as someone who runs events regularly I will constantly be reminded that I am now 30. When I register for any event now, my “age on race day” will be 30. But it is exciting as for some events, it will present new challenges. I will be against different competitors in the local races I run regularly. I may place higher than I would have in the 20-29…and sometimes I may place lower. I am looking forward to the new age bracket, and will be running two races this month where my age on race day is in fact 30. We will have to wait and see if I am this positive about the aging process come the next age bracket….

Calgary Spartan Sprint 2014 Recap-Not Just ANY Spartan Race for Me…

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The 2014 Calgary Spartan Sprint was my 7th Spartan Race event. I have previously ran this event last in 2013, along with the Montana Sprint (2013, 2014), the Red Deer Super, and the Sun Peaks Beast & Sprint. But more important than reaching number seven was the fact that my best friend Ali would be competing in her first EVER Spartan Race…and this Spartan Race would also be her first EVER timed running event!

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We headed up to Calgary the morning of the event. The weather reports were a little nerve wracking, with chances of thunderstorms all day. We arrived to the race site, Wild Rose MX Park, about two hours before our race time. Pre-race packet pickup was a breeze! The last time I did day-off packet pickup for a Spartan Race was Red Deer last September, and that was a nightmare. Perhaps having a later in the day heat was helpful, because we honestly filled out our waiver and walked right up to a volunteer to get our packets. Took one minute! Before we knew it, we were getting marked with our bib numbers and were ready to go!

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We walked the festival grounds, and I have to say I quite enjoyed the setup compared to the year before. All the food trucks, displays, merchandise, and bag check were above and away from the actual racing area. This alleviated congestion down below. Ali purchased an awesome long-sleeved burnout shirt as a souvenir, and then it was off to check out the course.

We could see quite a bit of the course before actually racing. The vantage points at this Spartan Race are awesome, and as a spectator you can actually view your family and friends quite easily in many spots. Without even venturing that far into the race venue/spectator areas, we could see the following obstacles: Unders, Under a Container, Over Under Thru, Monkey Bars, Container Crawl, 8′ Wall, Rolling Mud, Mud Pit/Barbed Wire, Traverse Wall, Slippery Wall, Rope Climb and Fire Leap.

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What couldn’t be seen from spectator viewing, and what would become Ali’s least-favorite part of the course, were the switchback hills! These were tough! Ali lives in Redondo Beach, California, which has an elevation of 62 feet above sea level. She was now running an obstacle course race in Calgary, Alberta, at an astonishing elevation of 3,428 feet above sea level, and you can tell why the hills may have been a ‘small’ issue!

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When our heat started at 1:00 pm, we barreled out with the stampede. For the first 1/3 mile or so (I’m guessing because I didn’t have my GPS) we were trucking it. Then between bottlenecks and crazy hills, we had to slow down. If we had to power walk up hills, we did that. But whenever there was an opening that we could gain ground on, we ran it.

I am most proud of myself being able to do the monkey bars at this race. This is an obstacle that is sometimes hit-or-miss for me. My hands were clean, the bars were dry, so I got my momentum going and across I went. Ali had major shoulder surgery sophomore year of University, so obstacles like this were a challenge. However, she tried every obstacle out there—she never just walked past it, giving up without trying and just succumbing to the 30 burpees penalty.

The 30 burpees penalty is something Spartan Race does. Now, even though the event is timed, unless you are in the Elite Heat there are not age group awards. Reason why, I would say, is because many people out there have little to no integrity and don’t follow the rules. Dude I saw cut under the plastic tape to skip a section after the Tractor Pull—you’re a loser. And the three people, two women and one man, who failed the Rope Climb and came next to Ali and I at the burpee area, did 3 each and said “That’s good enough”—why did you sign up? If you’re going to sign up for something like this, and you start cheating it, what does that say about your personal mantra? I know it’s not a major event like the Olympics or anything, but don’t do this shit half-ass. Yes—you do have to train. If you don’t and you plan on taking easy ways out, you should just drop out. You are not a true Spartan.

Away from that rant, the course itself was incredible. The volunteers were great. Ali’s best obstacle was the Tire Flip, and she even opted to take on one of the “guy tires” with no issue at all! Special shout-out to the lady at the Traverse Wall giving everyone help and insight on how to help each other across the wall, as it was caked with mud beyond description. Ali and I both got across it thanks to her help!

We finished the course side-by-side in 1:44:01. I cannot wait to see the official photos that get posted, as I know there was a photographer not only at the finish line Fire Leap, but also at the Sandbag Carry and Barbed Wire. We received our kick-ass Spartan Race Canada medals, a finisher shirt, and then I ran up to bag check to get my camera. We needed post-race photos, to go along with our “clean” pre-race ones!

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We enjoyed the lovely delicacy of Coors Light in the Beer Garden (I would never drink this by choice, but it was free, and tasted surprisingly refreshing after that course!). Ali later would tell me that this Spartan Race was the hardest thing she’s ever done…but that she wants to do more. And, she also said she feels extremely confident going into the Disneyland 10km on August 30th! I am so proud of Ali and all the work she has put into Crossfit the past year (hello Crossfit 310)!and the fact that this former swimmer has become a runner.

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UPDATE FROM TUESDAY, AUGUST 19
Pictures! Just a few!

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Quest in Quebec City, Part II

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The post below is a continuation from two days ago. It is my recap/reflection on the experiences I had while in Quebec City!

On Thursday, April 24th, we arrived at Musee Bon Pasteur. I was looking forward to this visit—the second floor was advertised to have an exhibit featuring the orphanage my dad was born at! When my husband and I walked through the doors, the receptionist did not know any English. Dan spoke with her to let her know I did not speak French; she then asked if we wanted an English-speaking guide. I am very appreciative that they had an English speaking guide in the facility, because visiting the museum would not have been the same without Sister Claudette’s guidance!

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Sister Claudette met us and gave us an overview of who the Sisters of Good Shepard are, and how they were formed. The story is quite incredible, and I encourage you to go to Musee Bon Pasteur and read about how this group of women found each other. She knew we were most interested in the items on the second floor, so after her 15 minute overview on the history on the first floor, we headed upstairs.

This is where everything came out. She first asked to see what information I had with me. After pulling out the envelope with the ominous “680 Chemin Ste Foy” address on it, she quickly told us why we were confused when we went their yesterday—-because it’s actually at 1210! The addresses had shifted over the years! She gave us a postcard with an old photo of La Crèche St Vincent de Paul so we could use it when we went back to find 1210 Chemin Ste Foy.

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We then looked at the handwritten letter together, and Sister Claudette then had a surprise for us. The sister who had signed the letter was a very prominent Sister at La Crèche, and there was a photo of her on that floor of the museum! Sister James Philip had signed that letter in 1954! Below is a picture of the letter next to her photo—these items are displayed on the original baptismal font that was used at the original St. Patricks! This font was used on my dad’s baptism on June 10th, 1952, three days after he was born (we know this because of the statement on his baptismal abstract which was produced in 1957; we can only assume, and Sister Claudette agreed, that this abstract was needed by my grandparents for when he went through his American Citizenship)

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Lots of other artifacts were on site for viewing in the museum. There are pictures, which reminded me of yearbook photos, of the doctors and sisters who were at La Crèche during certain time frames. There are also pictures of the children being looked after. Sister Claudette said these photos were taken in the 1950s

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Sister Claudette then explained to us more about the timeline of my dad’s adoption. He was born on June 7, 1952, and we knew from original paperwork that he was adopted and brought across into the US on July 4, 1954…this approximate two-year window is important. She explained to us that when a woman gave birth at La Crèche, the choice was to sign the child over for adoption right away, or wait a maximum of two years. In those two years if she felt fit to take care of the child on her own, or in some cases if she had then wed the father and came back, the child would be reunited.

My grandparents worked with the help of Catholic Charities in Illinois to set up an adoption. The Catholic Charities sent a letter in May 1954 that a boy had been selected for them. They drove up to La Crèche to meet my dad. I would love to know if photos of this occasion had existed somewhere in my grandparents hands, but they moved so much all over the world they may have been lost. One thing I should have assumed but was never certain was my dad’s birth name. We knew it was Luke, as written on the old envelope. But that was the English spelling. Sister Claudette confirmed that the name on the “Alien Registration” form that was used when moving to the US was his given name—Luc Parent. This was not chosen by the birth mother, though. We learned that the doctors and Sisters had a list of generic first names and last names they went through and gave to the children. So my dad was given Luc Parent!

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It was an amazing visit. Absolutely memorable. I will never forget it! We learned so much in that short time at the museum. Plus, there is still a chance to learn more. Later that day, Dan phoned a number given to us by Sister Claudette. It was for Centre Jeunesse-Centre for Adopted Youth. There’s an outside chance they will let me provide my dad’s information for the archives, in case anyone from his birth family has tried looking for him. This is something traditionally the adopted child must do, but we may as well try. Problem was, we called twice, and the person on the other line had horrific English, and Dan’s French was just as bad. An English speaking worker was supposed to call us back by yesterday but hasn’t. I will tackle this feat over the next few weeks.

And 1210 Chemin Ste Foy? Well, we went the following day. On April 25, 2014, we walked the two miles to La Crèche St Vincent de Paul. My dad had passed away exactly 10 years before on April 25, 2004. How did I feel?—rejuvenated.

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Quest in Quebec City, Part I

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Oh wow. Where do I start? I am still trying to take everything in from our amazing trip out East to Quebec. I am going to share the family history highlights we uncovered on this trip, but also try to keep this post short. The post will be broken up into two parts, and I hope the pictures will speak for themselves.

If you have read my blog before, you now know my dad was an orphan from Quebec City. He was born on June 7, 1952, at the La Crèche St Vincent de Paul, a home for children born to unwed mothers. I have always wanted to go to Quebec City so I could be immersed in the surroundings, and hopefully get some answers in the process.
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The first we did upon arriving in Quebec City was trek from the Via Rail station to our hotel. During the trek we passed St. Patricks Church—I knew this name from all my years of looking at the papers we had of my dad’sthis was where my dad’s baptismal abstract was from! We went in and spoke with an incredibly friendly receptionist. She informed us that the original church burned down and all that remained was the front. An active St. Patricks church in Quebec City does exist, but it is not the one from the 1950s. The old building inside was rebuilt and now houses a cancer research centre. She was trying her best to help us with finding any thoughtful information. She told us to come back tomorrow, as she wanted to get us a name of a fellow who knew a lot of history of the church.

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The next day we stopped back at the former church, where the receptionist had a piece of paper for us with contact information for C. Robert McGoldrick. We thanked her greatly, and on we went to 680 Chemin Ste Foy, the address I had stared at so long on an old 1950s envelope. This address was that of the orphanage!

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The walk to the “site” of the orphanage was about 2 miles. When we got closer to where 680 was, I started getting excited. But then, there was nothing. No 680. Just a green space between a giant apartment building and some townhouses. This was not big enough to house a whole orphanage…I was so confused. Had it gotten torn down and part of the land was built on? Nonetheless, we took a picture and moved on to phone Robert McGoldrick.

Robert answered and Dan spoke with him briefly. He told us to look up Saint Sacrament Parish, on the corner of Holland and Saint Croix. Even though the original St. Patrick’s burned down, he said any documents that may have been saved would be here. This was a lot to take in! What could they have there?

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We now headed back 2 miles to Old Quebec where something very exciting was waiting—a museum with an exhibit featuring La Crèche St. Vincent de Paul. This is Musee Bon Pasteur (Good Shepard Museum). I had found this museum while searching things online some years ago. This was where I had to go. This was where I would find answers!….

Part II to be posted tomorrow….

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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!

One Month of 2013 to Go!

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Happy December 1st everyone! The next couple weeks are going to be crucial training weeks in preparation for the Dopey Challenge, and a big push for any final fundraising I may be able to achieve. Here are some thoughts and things going in in my head right now….

Training Calendar
This weekend (Thursday-Sunday) was my first true semi- imitation of Dopey, in that I ran 5-7-13-15 miles four days in a row. If I hadn’t had been doing other races over the past month, this would have been happening sooner, but better late than never. I have to admit that right now, I feel pretty solid. My 13 and 15 milers were around a 9:25 min/mile pace, which I am very happy with considering that today I ran up both the Wendy’s hill from down at Fort Whoop Up and up Whoop Up Drive to the Westside. My mileage total was 45 miles this week, with 40 of it being accumulated in the past four days. The next weeks’ mileage totals go up to 48-51-52 and then drop to 37 and 28 before I head out to Disney.

Weather
I know a lot of people training for Dopey have much nicer temperatures to deal with, but I also know a lot of us have winterized crap. I have fortunately been lucky enough to have had a very balmy, uncharacteristically warm November. Today, on December 1st, it was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit at 3 pm. Now, that being said, tonight there is a blizzard warning in effect for basically all of Alberta and by Tuesday morning it’s going to be very different out. But I am lucky I have had such nice weather so far to train in. I am prepared, however, to maybe have to suck it up and go use the University of Lethbridge indoor track one day when I have a long run….can’t wait to see how many laps I will have to run in order to total 20 miles…..!

#whyirundisney
All of last week, ever since RunDisney announced their new contest, I had been trying to think of what to do. My husband and I brainstormed how to best fit what I needed to say into a 15-second Instagram video. My video submission was done today, and I am pretty pleased with it. I got the words in I needed to say and a few choice images. Who knows what RunDisney will think and if they will even give a second thought after seeing my video, but let’s hope! Below is the video link I shared under the #whyirundisney hashtag via Twitter.
Andrea’s #whyirundisney Submission

Andrea’s ‘Canniversary’
Tomorrow marks my 5 year anniversary of living in Canada. It’s crazy to think five years have already come and gone. So much has happened in the last 5 since being here, and even thinking about everything that has happened in the last year alone is crazy. I had no clue how things would play out five years ago when I crossed that border with Dan and gave up my life in Milwaukee…but things are going pretty solid if I do say so myself. Steady job for myself, Dan’s business is going great, our house is a home, our pets are great fur babies, and the running I have been able to do since being here has been second to none. This year has overall been pretty spot on!

“…Tell us Where You’re From….”

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This is a post about identity. Who we are. Who we think we relate to. And it may change over time. And my post may not have a closure. It may loosely tie to racing. It may loosely tie to my dad. Really, it is just a pondering of thought I have had since Saturday…

When I fill out race registrations, I have to put in my address and phone number. So I naturally enter Lethbridge, Alberta, as this is where I live. I am now coming up on my 5-year Canada anniversary (December 2nd) and it is still crazy to think of this whirlwind I have been a part of. My dad was born In Quebec City….moved to Beloit, Wisconsin around age 2. Lived in Switzerland. Back to Wisconsin. Raised a family. Daughter moves to Alberta. What the……?!? Anyway, while entering an address in a race entry form may not seem to be a big deal, the first time it really sank in for me was this April, when I ran the Waukesha Trailbreaker Half back in Wisconsin….but I was entered as a Canadian.
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This past weekend I ran a 10 km in Lethbridge, Alberta. I am now calling this area “my turf” and felt strong going into it. I am use to the weather, the elevation, the surroundings, and the trails. With all that on my side, I rocked out a PR of 45:37 and got 1st overall out of 55 females. Erin from Runners Soul also mentioned me on the microphone before the race as a “strong local runner to watch for in the women’s 10km.”

So I am a Milwaukee girl, born and raised, who lived there for 24 years….and now I am 5 years into being in Lethbridge and am finding my place. But I am still struggling with that question “where are you from?”
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Anytime anyone asks me this in a basic conversation, I say “Well, I am from Wisconsin, but live in Lethbridge, Alberta.” If someone within the province asks me where I am from, like when I went to Banff with my mom this summer, I answer straight with “I am from Lethbridge!” But then they question me because of my ridiculously heavy Milwaukee-esqe accent (trust me, it’s a thing), knowing I am not a since-birth Canadian.

And when I was interviewed by RunDisney last week, they asked me to say my full name and say where I am from (presumably to look me up before adding me into the final cut). I said my whole name and simply said “Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada”
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I know there’s tons of people out there who have been from everywhere under the sun….maybe born overseas on a base, then back to the US, moved around every couple years….so they may be laughing at my post and think I am an idiot since I am FROM one distinctive place but now LIVE in another. But the thing is….Lethbridge is my home and future. Milwaukee is my hometown and my roots will always be firmly planted there. I will always have a ridiculous connection to Milwaukee….it has made me who I am today. Lethbridge is just beginning to experience what Milwaukee created.

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