Tag Archives: dopey challenge

RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts 2017

Standard

I’m not someone who partakes in “Virtual Races” much.  For those of you who don’t know what a virtual race is, it’s any event where you register to race the set distance but on your own course.  Some actual road races offer virtual options, which usually need to be completed and logged during a certain window of time.  And some companies put on virtual races just as events where people can log their times and earn a medal to commemorate the run.

The times I have done so was when I did a Digital Running Virtual Run to tack on to my RunDisney Dopey Challenge in 2014 (Hat Trick medal, Grand Slam medal), an “Interstate Challenge” (run a race in Canada and USA…easy!) which then led me to doing a “Time of the Season” challenge with them (run at least a km race in every month of 2014….HUGE four piece medal once done!)  I also did the Knotts Berry Farm Coaster Run 10km as a Virtual Race in 2015 solely for the Snoopy medal.  I mean, duh….

I would rather just be out running an actual race than doing a Virtual Race.  And a lot of the Virtual Races that I see people doing are through promoters in the USA, which then means its a US dollar registration fee, and since our exchange rate in Canada isn’t really that great at the moment it just gets pricey.  It has to be something special for me to consider a virtual event.

In Spring 2016, RunDisney announced their first “Virtual Running Shorts” which would take place in the summer.  There would be 3 different 5km virtual runs you could do, one for each month, with a different medal for each month plus a challenge medal if you did all three.  I was intrigued by this last year since I knew I couldn’t run that much distance in the summer, as my foot surgery was early June, but opted to not push myself post surgery with events (even if just a 5km virtual run).

This year, RunDisney offered the Virtual Shorts again and I jumped on board pretty quickly.  The price tag sort of made me contemplate if it was worth doing-each virtual race was either $40 a piece or you could pay $142 for all three plus the challenge medal and other goodies.  This was then when our Canadian dollar was really at its worse, so after the tax and fees and exchange rate, I did end up paying quite a bit for what is basically just appears to be 4 medals.  Would it be worth it?

I was impressed with that I received my package from RunDisney very early in June—even before some other people in the USA!  They mail you all four medals right away, each individually packed, plus the other goodies which was a collapsible dog bowl, dog tag, and cool towel.  The additional goodies were only for if you registered for the whole challenge, and are dog items since the mascot for the series was Pluto.  They are definitely not something on their own worth registering for, and if you don’t have a pet there really isn’t a use….but I have to say we used that dog bowl a lot this summer with all our travels to and from Calgary for Snoopy’s acupuncture!

 

I opted to keep all the medals in the box and would only remove each one as I completed a race.  What’s the point of hanging them all up right away?…I needed to earn them!


Since I wanted to be able to hang my medals early each month, I tend to chose early dates to complete my virtual run.  I also tried to choose days that were important to me, just to make them a bit more special.  I ran my June 5km on June 7th, which would have been the day of my dad’s 65th birthday.  I was 19 weeks pregnant at this point, and full of emotions, as Snoopy was not yet back to walking.  I finished this 5km in a time of 34:55.

img_6733

I opted to use the Canada Day Red Dress Run 5km event as my July digital run.  That event ended up being closer to 6km in length, but I made sure to stop my watch once I reached the 5km point so I had a time for my virtual run.  I had most fun doing this run as part of the RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts series mainly because I took the “Dress in Red & White for Canada Day” theme as the opportunity to wear my Minnie Mouse tutu!  It was also fun for it being during an event, as I pushed myself a bit more and ran a 31:45.  I was 22.5 weeks pregnant.

img_6732img_6844

I couldn’t wait any longer for my last medals, so once August 1st rolled around I went out and did my final event.  The whole month of July had been incredibly hot, but I had stuck with my 4 days a week training plan of running.  Honestly, having these little 5km virtual events each month helped keep me going through the heat and this pregnancy!  I was just shy of 27 weeks along in my pregnancy when I completed the final 5km, in a time of 35:41.

img_6731

All four medals are hanging proudly on my medal hanger, and I even made sure to hang them right by all my other RunDisney bling!  Participating in this virtual event was perfect for me, given that my last half marathon was end of May and that I wouldn’t be doing any other long races this summer during my pregnancy.  It helped keep me accountable this summer, when otherwise I may have just gotten frustrated that I wasn’t registered for any summer time 10km or half marathons.  If someone needs a little extra push, this race series may be a good option for you.  While I most likely won’t do it again next year (I’m doing Start Wars-The Dark Side and Disneyland Half Weekend, so I get the real deal!) I am happy that I registered for it this summer!

img_6736

Advertisements

A Decade of Marathons 

Standard

I have wanted to do this post for sometime, but haven’t found time to sit down and do it. So now I am finally sitting down and doing it! While Vancouver Marathon has come and gone, I can’t stop thinking about that race. The more I think about that race, the more I think about the races I did before it. And then I realize how long I have been actively running long distance races.  

—-——-——-——-——-——-——-——-
I ran my first full marathon in May 2005. 10 years ago! It was the Madison Marathon in Madison, Wisconsin. I trained with a plan my friend Matt had put together and was able to finish in a respectable time. I was sore and felt like junk afterwards though! My body wasn’t used to the beating it was put through. I honestly couldn’t lift my leg over the tub to get into the shower a few hours after the race! But, even with all that pain, I was hooked. It felt great to do something not everyone can do! I did my second marathon the following year in 2006, when I repeated that very event. The heat index was out of control and they actually closed the course after 5 hours and 15 minutes. Thankfully I had finished.  

—-——-——-——-——-——-——-——-
I did marathon number 3 that same year in October-The Chicago Marathon! It was my first BIG event! 40,000 runners…through the streets of a big city…amazing crowds….I broke 4 hours in this event and felt unstoppable! The next year I did Madison again, and I dropped a few more minutes off my Chicago time. Wow…maybe I can keep dropping time? Maybe in the future I could qualify for Boston? Well, reality hit when I ran the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in October 2007. I ran my second worse race, hadn’t really properly trained (I had been working at Badgerette during the summer running Pom Pon camps and not really taking training seriously in between). When I did Madison Marathon the following May 2008, I only dropped half a minute off my Lakefront time. Maybe I wasn’t meant to get any faster??

—-——-——-——-——-——-——-——-

  

Madison Marathon 2005—4 hours 27 minutes 38 seconds

Madison Marathon 2006—4 hours 47 minutes 48 seconds

Chicago Marathon 2006—3 hours 59 minutes 25 seconds

Madison Marathon 2007—3 hours 56 minutes 37 seconds

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 2007—4 hours 42 minutes 18 seconds

Madison Marathon 2008—4 hours 41 minutes 50 seconds

—-——-——-——-——-——-——-——-

Then I moved to Canada. And I trained in Lethbridge for my first marathon in Canada. While the training seemed to go well, my body wasn’t well adjusted to the elevation and I bonked. I did awful. This was the Calgary Marathon in 2009. And after this race I took a hiatus from full marathons until January 2014. This was when I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon to cap off my Dopey Challenge four race adventure! Now, I had trained extensively for this event, doing many 10km and half marathons in preparation. And during that time I had dropped down all my shorter race times and had gotten faster! And all that hard work paid off because I didn’t just break 4 hours, but I ran my fastest race yet! This got me thinking about the elusive Boston Marathon again. If I focused on training for full marathons again and took my training up a notch, maybe, just maybe I could drop enough time to make it there! I trained for the May 2014 Calgary Marathon. I ran in, running way better than I had in 2009. But it wasn’t good enough. I was frustrated. I quickly registered for the Edmonton Marathon in August 2014, hoping to shave enough time off. I faltered. And it hurt. Maybe it was time to retire after running 10 marathons…

—-——-——-——-——-——-——-——-

  
Calgary Marathon 2009—5 hours 3 minutes 37 seconds

Walt Disney World Marathon 2014—3 hours 50 minutes 52 seconds

Calgary Marathon 2014—3 hours 46 minutes 22 seconds

Edmonton Marathon 2014—3 hours 44 minutes 59 seconds

—-——-——-——-——-——-——-——-

I decided to give my Boston Qualifying attempt one last shot. I trained my ass off for my 11th marathon, the Vancouver Marathon held this past May 2015. I had a training plan made specifically for me, and took things more serious than I ever had before. It was all or nothing. And that attitude paid off. I not only made the 3:35.00 qualifying standard for Boston, but I smashed it by just over 10 minutes! After 10 years of running marathons, I had finally achieved what every runner wants-to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon. And while one would think that marathon 12 would be Boston in 2016, it actually was when I went back up to Calgary in the end of May 2015 for a little redemption. I ran the 50km Ultra during Marathon weekend in a time of 4:39.37….I ran 50km in Calgary faster than I ran 42.2 km in Calgary 2009! I even managed to podium in my age group! 

—-——-——-——-——-——-——-——-

  
Vancouver Marathon 2015—3 hours 24 minutes 56 seconds

Calgary Marathon 50km Ultra 2015, Marathon Split—3 hours 56 minutes 37 seconds

—-——-——-——-——-——-——-——-

So now what? Well, marathon #13 will in fact be Boston 2016. I register for that during the second day of rolling registrations, on September 16th, 2015. Running my qualifying time by over 10 minutes paid off! I am all but set to be running the 120th Boston Marathon. I cannot wait for marathon #13, as it will be so sweet. Spending over a decade of my life…my 30 years life….so 1/3 of my existence….running marathons has paid off. Yes, it is a hobby, but it is an important one. Running all these races have taught me determination, focus, resilience and mental toughness. I faced triumphs…and frustrations. But I never gave up. Never, ever give up.

Digital Running “Time of the Season” Challenge

Standard

When I was training for the 2014 Dopey Challenge in Walt Disney World, I was introduced to Digital Running.  The website offers a place for other runners to meet and participate in team relays, share information, training plans, and more.  You can also register and participate in online challenges.  In 2013, I registered for the Hat Trick and Grand Slam Challenge, which were completed at the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend where I ran a 5km, 10km, half marathon and full marathon.  I also registered for the Interstate Challenge where I needed to complete an event in both Canada and USA.  

   

 

Since I am a bling addict, I registered in March 2014 for the “Time of the Season” challenge.  For a full year, I needed to log an event of 5km or longer, at least one per month.  Each event would be verified, and once I completed three months in a row, I would earn a pie piece towards a giant medal.

Tricky part was finding a chip-timed event nearby once the weather got cold.  I could not find a chip-timed event in December, only local fun run 5km events.  I still did those events (Santa Shuffle and Resolution Run 5km) but they wouldn’t be officially counted.  Luckily, a one-time “free pass” was issued if you couldn’t get a timed event in.

  

My final event for this challenge was the Hyptothermic Half in Calgary, Alberta.  It was tough to find a February event in Alberta, but I am glad I did as this event was where I ran my 1:35 half personal best!  Soon, after logging this event on my member page, the final piece of my “medal” came.

  

Virtual races and challenges aren’t something I always sign up for, and they aren’t for everyone.  But when I found something fun like this, which encouraged me to compete in events each month for a full year, I couldn’t pass it up!  

 

Weekly Wrap Up-My Random Thoughts From This Week

Standard

I don’t really have much to report on “race wise” but I am still trying to keep up with always posting a new blog on Sunday’s. I am actually quite shocked that I have kept up so well with it since starting this blog, as I mentioned in early posts that “journaling” was never really my thing. So the fact I am still at this almost two years and counting is amazing!

This past week brought some unseasonably warm December weather for Lethbridge (low 50s on Friday!) and then a pile of snow yesterday. Go figure. I went on an awesome 8 mile run Friday to take advantage of the weather. It was my first run with my new pair of shoes…aren’t they pretty!?!

IMG_6692.JPG

My RunStreak is now 47 days strong (will be 48 after a quick run this afternoon!). I think yesterday was the most comedic of the runs, as I did 1 mile on the WCHS treadmill….with my dog and two cats in the room. Why? Well, we had an open house from noon till two and I had to get the pets out of there. So taking them to work was the logical solution. I watched them in the mirror as I ran the mile and holy crap, they were confused in there. They were much more at ease once we got to my classroom. I Spy a little orange cat…..

IMG_6672.JPG

I also received my tentative training plan for the BMO Vancouver Full Marathon, which I am running on May 3rd. This blog will definitely focus a lot on my training for this race, as I attempt to try and qualify for Boston. I will talk more about the issues I have had in attempting before in the past year in a later post, but I can say that I feel very positive about my chances after seeing this plan. I had Dean Johnson, of RunDeanRun a local Lethbridge coach, make my training plan. He took my previous race times into account and customized my plan quite nicely. He did tell me that the plan is “pretty aggressive” and that’s what I need!

I have one last race this month, and that is the New Years Eve Resolution Run 5km in Red Deer, Alberta. I was hoping to find a race during Christmas week in Milwaukee, but apparently none exist. Oh well, I’ll just have to go on traditional training runs while home for Christmas. I may do a non-traditional run next Monday, though, while at our station stop in Minneapolis, MN. I need to keep that RunStreak going, and the Amtrak stops over there long enough that I could bolt off the sleeping car and get in a mile before we leave again…that could prove for an interesting story!

And in conclusion to this weeks random thoughts and stuff, RunDisney picked me as their “Fan of the Week” on Facebook. I had submitted my Dopey Challenge photo last week and they picked me! No, I don’t win anything for this, but it is pretty damn cool if you ask me! Have a great week everyone! The holidays are right around the corner!

IMG_6691.JPG

A two month experiment

Standard

I need to do something to my daily regime to liven up my body. While basic running is what I love, I noted in my last post that the act of finding a new route to run did wonders…but I need something more. Something that will help me see some visual results, which will in turn hopefully translate to physical improvements. Now that I have experienced one month of my 30s, I have decided to embark on a two-month experiment….

No booze….
….well, except for twice.

On Saturday, November 8, 2014, I am participating in the 9th Annual Tyranena Beer Run Half Marathon. I will enjoy my two included post-race beers after the event, and that is it. Come Christmas Eve, I will also enjoy a glass of wine during dinner. And then when 2015 rolls around I will reevaluate my training and beverage consumption, hopefully creating some more clearer goals.

This no booze will be interesting, because well one—it is well-known my husband and I love our craft beer. We even have a craft beer advent calendar that I purchase last month…but since I embarking on this experiment during December, we have decided to save the calendar for January as a nice treat (If Dan was drinking each beer on his own all through December I may crack.). But I’m curious to see what happens if I cut it out. Even without cutting it out or down last year during my Dopey Challenge training, my body composition changed rather drastically. The number on the scale lowered quite a bit, and I was surprised at by how much, even with no major diet change that was kept consistently. Yes, when Dan and I did our crazy “Clean-Eating Challenge” (Link is HERE)in June we both also lost weight, but we were tired and worn out. While I won’t be enacting another challenge like this at this point (not enough time to barely make a bagged lunch for work it seems this school year) I will be attempting to watch what I eat a bit. And with the decrease in alcohol, and in keeping up with my exercise, I am sure hoping I will see some positive changes that I otherwise wouldn’t see in winter months.

I have been trying to go into the school twice a week to work out with two friends. Yeah, I am going to admit to be failing at that. I am so not a morning person, unless it is for a race. 5:45 am alarm is ridiculous. But I liked it. So I either neither to just get my ass up. Or try something else for variety. Since I got Ali into running, I am keeping my promise and giving Crossfit a good old try. This Saturday I am going for the trial class to see what it is all about. No promises, but it will be something new.

In the end, I know I will end up mostly just running. But varying my calendar and adding new challenges for myself will be what keeps it fresh. I have a small handful of cross country runners who come run on Tuesday and Thursday with me after school—-it keeps us accountable. And also, with this “dry-streak” for two months, I decided to do a “Run-Streak” of my own. While many runners do “Run Streaks” in December as preparation for Holiday eating and cold weather, I figured I’d start now. I made a calendar and I am running every day from now until January 31st, even if one day is just a mile. One mile is the shortest distance.

I have now five events between now and the new year. Tyranena Half, Mustache Dache 5km (both in a week and a half in Wisconsin while I am home!), Claus Cause 10km, Santa Shuffle 5km, and on New Years Eve the Resolution Run 5km. Having events always keeps me motivated, and keeps me training, and even these aren’t any huge do-or-die type events, I am still motivated to do my best and reach goals in each. For instance, I will be pacing my friend Kirby at Tyranena in hopes of a personal best for her (2:15 is the magic number!). I am also hoping to get a personal best in the Claus Cause 10km (need below a 45:37!). And in the near 2015 future, I have my Spartan Race Trifecta looming (Temecula x2 and Kalispell) plus some other ideas of intense events up my sleeve.

So this two month experiment is just a stepping stone to help me see what I am fully capable of and in turn, hopefully, make me a healthier and stronger woman. I’ll be keeping you all posted in the process!

Dumbo Double Dare Photo Recap-Official MarathonFoto Pictures!

Standard

Finally got around to ordering my Disney Dumbo Double Dare race photos from MarathonFoto. I knew I had to purchase the download package as the pictures of me and my best friend in the 10km were incredible, and the half marathon shots weren’t too shabby either.

Below are some of my favorite shots from the Disneyland 10km, held on August 30th, 2014!

IMG_5976.JPG

IMG_5980.JPG

IMG_5981.JPG

IMG_5988.JPG

IMG_5986.JPG

IMG_5974.JPG

IMG_5990.JPG

IMG_5989.JPG

And now, here are my personal favorites from the Disneyland Half Marathon, held on Sunday, August 31st, 2014.

IMG_6002.JPG

IMG_6005.JPG

IMG_6001.JPG

IMG_6007.JPG

IMG_6003.JPG

IMG_6014.JPG

IMG_6022.JPG

IMG_6011.JPG

What a great weekend! Loved that this event capped off my Coast to Coast adventure!

IMG_6025.JPG

IMG_6026.JPG

Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

Standard

So this is a few weeks late. Not too bad considering I came home after Dumbo Double Dare and started work five hours later, and then went to Vancouver for a wedding three days later. I need to get this recap posted because I just did another half marathon back in Lethbridge yesterday, and I don’t want to be behind on my recaps! This one won’t be long anyway….I think….

I went to bed early on Saturday night (around 9:00) because I had had trouble sleeping the night before since it was warm outside. My 2:30 alarm went off and I got ready in a zombie-like state. The best part was going to 7/11 dressed as Snow White to get coffee and some drunks heading home after a night out saying “What the fuck?!?

IMG_5910.JPG

IMG_5913.JPG
Ali and Kevin parked and got me to the staging area by 4:00 am. There were a lot more people milling around this morning compared to the 10km. The DJ was there getting people pumped up. I was set to go! I headed to the corrals around 4:45 and placed myself in the outside of Corral A, near the front. I wasn’t necessarily trying to go for some epic time that morning (I was actually nervous how my knees were going to hold up since I had just done Edmonton Full Marathon the week prior) but I wanted to be out front to start, since the course is rather narrow.

IMG_5879.JPG

IMG_5895.JPG

I knew when I started I wanted to push hard early on, so to avoid the warm Anaheim sun. I was not going to stop for any pictures during the race, as I would rely on Marathon Foto to capture any of me as I went by. (I have purchased the photo downloads of both races from them and will post a pictorial of my favorites in a separate post!)

The first mile was my fastest. I blew out of that gate. I ran a 7:17. And before I knew it, I was already in Disney’s California Adventure! The course for the half brought you into the parks much quicker than the 10km, and it also brought you through it somewhat in reverse. I got to run past World of Colour without having to run on the wooden boardwalk, run down Cars Land towards the Radiator Springs facade. As I cut between DCA and Disneyland I was able to see Ali and Kevin for a brief second. Running down Main Street was fantastic, as people who had purchased ChEAR Squad packages were allowed on there, unlike the 10km where no one was able to spectate. The thing I realized early on, that would keep me pumped throughout, that since I was near the front of the group, I was one of the first “costumed” runners people would see. A lot of the hard cores don’t normally dress up, especially the guys, and many women may just have a sparkly skirt on. It was fun to have kids and adults yell “Go Snow White!”

By the time I was out of Disneyland property, I had run miles 2-4, in 7:29, 7:31, and 7:51. I was concerned how running on the streets of Anaheim would go, as I was unsure how “entertaining” it would be. I had read tons of reviews of this race, and people almost always said how great the support and entertainment was on the city streets. Now, I was actually able to see what everyone meant!

This was not a bunch of empty roads full of commercial businesses. The roads had many clusters of spectators cheering loudly. Spectators had awesome signs and music blaring. There were various ethnic dance groups performing as we ran by. I remember a Mexican & Hawaiian troupe specifically. There was also a mile long stretch going through highway underpasses that could have been dreadful. This was remedied by our own personal classic car show. Car afficiandos would have LOVED this, and while I don’t normally care for looking at cars, the tailgate-style atmosphere and pride of the car owners was incredible. Miles 5-8 were 7:44, 7:32, 7:41 and 7:55.

There were close to 20-25 cheerleading/Pom Pon teams and high school bands entertaining throughout. Families of these kids were there watching the event also. Jumping ahead of myself, near the end when my knees really had taken a beating and I was sweaty from the humidity and heat beyond belief, the thing that kept me going was running by the band kids and cheerleaders, giving them high fives. I felt a connection to them, as I was in high school band and a Pom Pon girl for all my years of high school. And also, when you get to Angels Stadium, the entrance into it, the exit out of it, and while running the bases, was lined with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I was a Girl Scout until 9th grade and after I graduated high school, worked for one summer at Camp Alice Chester, the Girl Scout Camp I grew up going to. Without being too sappy, seeing the scouts, the marching bands and the cheerleaders gave me flashbacks of my life 10-15 years ago. I got emotional about it, because I’m a piece of crap like that. But it pushed me through.

IMG_5954.JPG
Those last miles were tough. My body hurt, my legs felt like trash. But I wanted to finish strong. The crowds that lined the finish area of Downtown Disney were electric. I even found some energy in my reserves to help push me in just under 1:40.00. My final miles were 8:02, 8:00, 8:00 and 7:44, bringing me in with an official time of 1:39:57. I had completed the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and also earned my coveted Coast-to-Coast medal. The combination of doing the Dopey Challenge in January and now Dumbo in August is unreal and unmatched, in my opinion.

IMG_5817.JPG

IMG_5750.JPG
Will I do this race again? YES. I love Disney. I love visiting my best friend. I love running. This course is fantastic. The race swag is second-to-none. The time of the race is right before the school year starts, so traveling here is doable. While it costs a pretty penny to fly down to California from Alberta, it is still more affordable than going to Orlando. And Ali and I are in the talks of doing Dumbo together next year. This race will always be special to me, and I can’t wait to do it again and again.

Going Back to the Original Purpose…

Standard

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

My first “real” blog entry

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I love you Dad.  Je me souviens.

Stampede Road Race Recap-Yee Haw!

Standard

20140708-122746-44866007.jpg

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.

20140707-103929-38369636.jpg
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.

20140707-104021-38421420.jpg

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!

20140707-104129-38489943.jpg

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.

20140707-104425-38665705.jpg

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.

20140707-104525-38725369.jpg

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!

20140707-104612-38772807.jpg

20140707-104613-38773127.jpg

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.

20140707-104741-38861260.jpg

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!

20140707-105017-39017975.jpg

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

Standard

20140223-140930.jpg

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!

20140223-140643.jpg