Tag Archives: Edmonton

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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A Decade of Marathons 

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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.  

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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.  

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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??

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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

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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…

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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

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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! 

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Vancouver Marathon 2015—3 hours 24 minutes 56 seconds

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

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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.

Vancouver Marathon Race Recap Part 1….Before the Big Event

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I registered for the BMO Vancouver Marathon back in about November.  I was feeling really frustrated and defeated after my summer marathons (Calgary & Edmonton) as I didn’t come close to qualifying for Boston.  I ran 3:46.22 and 3:44.59, respectively, at both of these events….well off the qualifying standard of 3:35.00.  So when I decided to give my Boston qualifying attempt one more shot, I wanted to pick a race I hadn’t done before.  And a race that was known for being a good course for qualifying.  It was suggested to me by many people that Vancouver was the course for me.  Sea level, rolling downhills, late Spring, spectator support, large city….I registered, booked a flight, and started thinking about my training.

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I have mentioned before I had Dean Johnson create a training calendar for me.  It was a 16 week training plan, which he took into account my previous fitness achievements and levels.  Each day had set paces I needed to achieve and unique workouts.  Dean went above and beyond and updated my training plan to reflect the success I was having in half marathon and 10 km distances in late winter/early spring.  This training plan held me accountable, as I kept a log of how each workout went in a Google Doc, and it really pushed me above and beyond what I thought I was capable of. 1

So here comes May 1st.  The day I travel to Vancouver.  I was nervous, anxious, excited, scared….basically a pile of emotions.  I had been training specifically for this event for 16 weeks, but as I drove to the Calgary airport, it occurred to me that I really have been training for this since my first half marathon in May 2004.  I wrote about that half marathon here, as it was a race I ran in a daze….it was less than a week after my dad passed away unexpectantly from a heart attack.  I have been running long distances ever since.

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So this race was important.  I have been committed to running long distances for now over 11 years.  Some years were low, some have been high.  The past two years have been a steady high, with breaking personal records, getting podium at local races, and feeling like I am in the best shape of my life.  It was also low when I didn’t get that coveted Boston qualifying time.  I was out on this run to prove to myself I was worthy of running in Boston.

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The expo was held in Downtown Vancouver at the convention centre next to the Olympic torch.  I had stayed with my good friends Alex & Tim in Burnaby the night before, and they were nice enough to drop me off down at my hotel for the night, which was near the expo.  This hotel wasn’t originally in the plans, but my cousin Erin is too nice and booked me a room.  She would be staying there too!  I wandered over to the expo, and this is when I first started getting the chills….the expo was right on the water, it was a gorgeous, crisp and clear day, and the energy was high.  Packet pickup was extremely fast, and before I knew it I was on the merchandise floor.  There were not tons of vendors, but enough things to look at.  I bought a Run Van tanktop, which I know I will wear lots in the summer, and some more Nuun tabs from their vendor table.  Included in our race package (which was a drawstring backpack) was a commemorative shirt (which I really liked….a short-sleeved charcoal grey tech shirt), our race bib, and a transit ticket for the race morning.

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I ended up going back to the hotel to nap in the afternoon, as I didn’t sleep well the night before and was a bit worn from all my travelling.  Actually, before the nap I ordered pasta for lunch via room service.  Eating that in bed while watching HGTV was fantastic.  I was wide awake then when Erin and her friend Rob were ready to go get food for supper.  We went to this sweet market nearby and bought sandwiches and salads, headed to Stanley Park, and had a picnic.  The weather was gorgeous and this was a very relaxing way to spend the evening.  We were back at the hotel somewhere around 7:30, which gave me tons of time to wind down and get prepared for the big event in the morning.  I even was able to head to bed by 10 pm and slept great!  Now I just needed the following Sunday to be the best run of my life……

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The Best Medicine….

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News Flash—-I have been ridiculously busy since the start of this school year. Yeah, I realize most people in the work force are, but this school year has really been a busy one. Our school day runs 8-3 each day, however, I am usually there by 7:40 AM, and have been staying until 6:00 PM or later each night. Planning for my new classes and staying ahead has been a priority. As for running. I have been able to do three runs a week after school with the Cross Country kids, but other than that, I haven’t been doing anywhere near what I was doing last year. My long runs tend to now just be when I have an event (Lethbridge Police Half, Bare Bones Half) and I am not really sure I am liking this. While the rest on my body is much needed, the consistency I was used to and valued the last year and a half is not there currently.

Yesterday, we had parent teacher interviews from 6:00-9:00 PM. This was after a morning of teaching, and an afternoon of professional development. A few of us went to dinner beforehand, and a friend of ours (who is not teaching this year) met us. We made a comment on how tan she looked. She hadn’t been tanning, but made a comment on how she has been going on walks mid day while the sun is out. What a rare concept for us locked in a building all day-outside…..fresh air…the sun! Today, during round 2 of Parent Teacher Interviews, a colleague came and sat down by me to ask how my running has been going. I lamented on how I am not going “as crazy” as last year but have some good events coming up, and that cross country with the kiddos was awesome. We chatted about my upcoming half marathon back in Milwaukee and my Spartan Races in January. I even mentioned how I am contemplating some crazy winter races in February. My best friend Ali, who is now a glorified runner in her own right, sent me a text from the Rock n Roll 5km expo in Los Angeles—she found a head band to buy me and wanted to share it. And later today when I went to the wine & scotch tasting at Andrew Hilton, Max (the owner) randomly started talking to me about my running, asking me what distance it is I usually compete in. He had been well aware of my RunDisney events, but he wanted to know more about what I do in the local area.

All this talk of running made me feel guilty of not having a plan at the moment, calendar wise. All during my RunDisney, Calgary and Edmonton training, I had a meticulous calendar with my runs planned out, whether they were long or short, speed work or easy. I have been sort of half-ass been going forward through the motions. I have been so worn out from work that after my short runs with the cross country kids, all I want to do when I get home is shower and collapse on the couch. That was my plan for today too, as I was beat from the full day of work and interviews all night and morning. However, I decided that perhaps the best medicine for this case of the blues was to just go out there and do what everyone knows I do-Run.

I changed into my running gear, threw on my Fitletic belt, and went out with the mindset of running more than 4 miles. I knew I needed to go someplace different, to get me motivated. I decided to run out of our neighborhood over to Whoop-Up Drive, where I took a paved walking path to Bull Park Trail. I have been on this red shale path before, but not in the recent future. I did my first mile in a powerful 8:20, flying with the wind pushing my forward. I headed onto the shale path with the plan to head down to the river bottom and come back up. However, when I made it to the bottom, I decided to go off the beaten path.

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I was adjacent to the Oldman River, but on the opposite side of where I usually would run. Fort Whoop-Up and the paved trails were East, while all I had in front of my was a grey shale path. I followed this path for some time until I got to a fork in the road—stairs up, or a foot path towards the bridge.

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I decided to go for the foot path. And it rejuvenated me. If I had been walking this path I would have been having a mild case of vertigo, as this was narrow and dropped off to the river. But, I was feeling alive, running in the cool 50 Fahrenheit wind, with the fall leaves crunching at my feet. For a bit of time while on this path, I felt like a crazy-ass Ultra runner…one of the 50km participants in the yearly Lost Soul Ultra. And I was loving it. I was snapping photos every chance I could with my phone—the scenery was uplifting.

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I stopped right next to Lethbridge’s icon-The High Level Bridge. I have taken photos of the bridge before, but not from this spot. I didn’t even remember to stop my watch as I snapped photos and took in my surroundings. This was what I needed.

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At this point I was already over 4 miles into my run. I needed to turn back. Instead of doing the same route back, I opted to run through the tunnel under Whoop Up drive to the path that heads up to the University. I ran up to the university, weaved through the parking lot, and headed through Nicolas Sheran Park. By the time I reached home, I had clocked in 7.3 miles.

I hadn’t planned on running 7 miles today. All I had planned was to shower and collapse on the couch. But, I opted to head out there and muscle through to see what was possible. This run woke me up, made me realize I was in fact alive. While I have been running the past 11 years, and while I have been going crazy with races and training the last year and a half, this simple solo run was an morale and confidence booster that I very much needed. It reminded me why I love to run.

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Going Back to the Original Purpose…

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

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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.

Edmonton Marathon Recap

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This past Sunday I participated in the Edmonton Marathon.  I had signed up for this event in hopes to qualify for Boston, as I failed to in June at Calgary.  I felt better trained and prepared; my head was in the game.  And the weather, other than the mugginess, was perfect-it did not feel like an August day!  Starting race temps were around 50 F, and only got up to just above 60 F.  However, this story did not have the exact fairy-tale ending I was hoping for….  

 

Here’s the story.

 

My husband and I headed up to Edmonton Saturday morning.  We had stayed in Red Deer the night before so this drive was relatively short, compared to the 5.5 hour straight drive from Edmonton back home to Lethbridge would be come Sunday.  After checking in to our hotel (Coast Plaza Edmonton) we walked the ½ mile to the Shaw Conference Center where packet pick up was.  This was a new location this year, and the facility was very nice.  I don’t know if it was crowded the first day of pickup, but by Saturday at 2:00 pm the place was dead.  Not tons to look at either.  I picked up my race bib, got my shirt, and back to the hotel to get things settled.

 

 

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I made a plan with my husband of spots for him to try to be at during the race.  I focused a lot on the second half of the course, as that would be when I would really need the help.  I had pasta for dinner, laid out my clothes and food items for the morning and went to bed around 9:00 (didn’t fall asleep until 10:00).

 

We walked back to the Shaw Conference Center that morning, as the start and finish lines were located here.  I felt mentally and physically set for the challenge ahead.  After kissing my husband, and my dog Snoopy, good-bye I filed in to the starting corral near the 3:30 pacer.  I knew I had to start of strong and find my pace quickly, so when the race began, off I went.  I got into a great groove and I was feeling positive about my pace.  My first five miles clocked in at 7:41, 8:04, 7:52, 8:10, and 8:03.  I was more than set!

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I had seen my cousin Erin and her friend about mile 3, and that was a great boost of energy.  I had been hoping to see my husband at mile 7 or 8, but he was nowhere to be found.  After we did the turn-around, he still wasn’t there.  I was still doing great at my pace, running miles 6-9 in 7:51, 7:55, 8:13, and 7:58, but I needed a familiar face.  The course is indeed flat, but you are curving through some neighborhoods quite a bit, and the streets aren’t lined up with spectators.  I started getting a leg cramp in my right leg (the leg that hasn’t been causing me issues!) and there was a pain in my IT band area.  I tried to avoid thinking about it.

 

I finally made it on a busier street, heading back towards the downtown Edmonton core, when I spotted Dan, Snoopy and Erin.  This was a huge boost that I needed at that point to bring me to the halfway!  I was still on track, though the pain was still there.  I told Dan I needed pretzels and more Nuun tablets the next time I saw him, and off I went.  Miles 10-13 were 8:05, 8:07, 8:15, and 8:16.  I was beginning to slip, but I was still on pace.

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Miles 14-17 was when my mind started going.  In my head, I wanted to keep going for that 8:00 minute mile pace.  I was telling myself to go get it, but I started to waiver in my pace consistency.  It was like what happened in Calgary at the start, but was happening now.  Miles 14-17 were 8:00, 8:27, 8:25, and 8:10.  I still was on pace to be under 3:35:00, but no longer under 3:30:00.  I could do it, and I felt pretty proud of my mile 17 time, because that was the mental mile I needed to get past.  The pretzels I had received from Dan during these miles helped, however, they couldn’t make me fly…

 

Mile 18-22 were a struggle, but it was at mile 21 that I just became unglued.  I knew I wouldn’t quit, but I realized that as each mile passed, Boston was slowly slipping away.  Miles 18-22 were ran in 8:31, 8:28, 8:21, 8:42, and 9:41.  Those miles began after I saw Dan, Snoopy and Erin for the 3rd time, and as I ran by I yelled “I need you to run with me.”  Neither of them had a chance to get out there and help me at that point, and I don’t think it would have done any good.  I knew with how the route was, I would be looping back over to where they were stationed, so I hoped one would join me for the home stretch.  Running through those neighborhood loops with my legs tightening up and being alone was extremely tough.  When I made it back that way, I had about 4 miles left to run.  I was hurting.  Bad.  Dan joined in with me as I was running, and he really thought I had a chance to still get Boston.  If my legs weren’t in the pain they were in, I could have potentially made up time.  But I was slowly coming to the realization that my body just wouldn’t let me do that.

 

Dan ran with me the rest of the raceIn his blue jeans.  And brown North Face canvas shoes.  I use the term ‘run’ loosely because we had to walk at points, I had to stop at points, and I gimped at points.  He kept telling me I couldn’t quit—I wasn’t going to quit.  I was going to finish.  As I realized Boston was gone, I did also come to the realization I could still get a personal best.  It would be close, but I could.

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I managed to get my last mile back under 10 minutes, which helped me get in to the finish at 3:44:59, beating my previous best by 1 minute and 23 seconds.  Those final four miles were run in 10:50, 10:21, 11:30 and 9:50.  I never full out lost it with tears that day, but as I came in to the finish my eyes swelled.  I was thinking about my training, about this race, about how much my legs hurt, about how close my time had been to the correct pace, about the last 2 years of running, about my dad…There was so much going through my head.   Sure, I didn’t make the time I had come out to get, but I had calmly talked to Dan as we jogged the last 4 miles that I would be OK with it.  I think he was actually surprised how calm I was, how I wasn’t throwing a fit.  Four years ago, when I was still all out of sorts about personal losses in my life, I would have lost itBut I am in a better place now.

 

This wasn’t a true failure or defeat, though.  I did not ‘lose.’  Hell-I got a personal best!  I’ll take that any day of the week!  As for Boston-Boston will always be there; I have the rest of my life to qualify for it.  I will qualify for Boston and run in Boston someday.  I will, I can promise you that.  It just didn’t work out in the cards this weekend that I would be running in 2015. 

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The full marathon is a different type of beast, and it’s very hard to tame.  They have a mind of their own.  I can barely move today, and my body feels like it is just shut down.  I want to curl up in fetal and sleep for 24 hours.  I am going to continue with my half marathons, 10 km races, Spartan Races, and other distances I can find.  Maybe I’ll do another full marathon in the near future, but it won’t be for a Boston attempt at this time.  There would have to be a special reason for me to sign up to do the 26.2 miles again anytime soon.  I will keep searching out new races in the area to support and try, and also keep heading back to my old favorites.  I am also hoping to get more people into the act of running, because it is something EVERYONE can do.  I love coaching cross country, I love getting kids excited about long-distance running, and I love getting friends and family members involved who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have.  Running makes me happy, even when I am in as much pain as I am after doing 26.2 miles.  The pain I feel in my body is worth it, because if I didn’t keep running, I would be in more pain than this.

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The Next Big Three Weekends!

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Sorry that I have been absent the last bit. I have not had a race since my Stampede Road Race in July, and after that event I went and enjoyed some vacations, like every teacher should! I went to Walt Disney World with my mom, and I just returned from an epic trip with my husband, to St. John’s, Newfoundland! We had never gone out that Far East in North America before, and holy cow—-it was beautiful. Great people, great food, great music, and as you can see below-great wildlife! Photo credits below go to Richard S. who managed to capture the Humpback Whale breech while we were on our DeeJay Charters boat tour! I didn’t have my camera ready!

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Currently, I am on a “stay-cation” but have the company of my best friend Ali. We have been friends since 1991! She now lives in California, and this is her first visit here. A lot of people have asked her “Why the hell did you come to Lethbridge?!” Well, she came to see me…I just happen to live in a random place. But we have been going on some adventures since her arrival on Sunday. Some brewery detours in Montana, hiking in the coulees, a little tubing down the Oldman River yesterday, and tomorrow we will be heading to Crowsnest Pass and the British Columbia border.

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But the big adventure this week is the Calgary Spartan Sprint. It is a 5 km obstacle course race held in Calgary for now the third year! Ali has never done a Spartan Race, and she is also a beginner runner. I can quote Ali in saying she “hates running.” However, she has been doing Crossfit for over a year. (shoutout to Crossfit 310!). Ali has an awesome coach, Kris, at her Crossfit gym that has built running into her workouts in preparation for this Spartan Race, and also for the longer distance she will be doing at the end of the month.

On Sunday, August 24th, I have my big Edmonton Full Marathon. I will be running side-by-side with my husband’s cousin Erin as we attempt the elusive Boston Qualifying time. My knee has been acting up some in the past week, and I’m trying to keep an eye on it and not push myself too much before the race. This course is fast, flat, and easy to navigate. The elevation in Edmonton is a lot lower than Lethbridge, so that gives me extra confidence.

I mentioned Ali has a longer race distance later this month. I mentioned in earlier posts that I convinced (well, forced) her to sign up for the Disneyland 10km. We signed her up, and immediately she knew she wasn’t going into it half-ass. She started her running in around March, then followed a program beginning in April. She has worked her way up to 4 miles, which is fantastic because last year at this time she could only do 200 metres and want to collapse (her words!)

We will be doing the 10 km together, and enjoying every second of it! The nice thing about the route is the first 2 miles are on roads outside of huge park, and the last 4 miles are all around the Disneyland Resort. I will be participating in the Disneyland Half the next day, thus completing the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and earning my Coast to Coast medal, since I will have completed a RunDisney half marathon distance or longer on both the west & east coast in one calendar year!

I will be writing race recaps following all three of these weekends, and you can bet there will be lots of pictures included! Thanks for continuing to read and follow my blog—-I had originally intended it to just last until after my Dopey Challenge in January 2014, however, I found I really do enjoy writing and sharing my experiences with running. If you have any suggestions for me, please don’t hesitate to write in the comments below or send me an email!

Doing Speed Work in Suburbia…and MATH!

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Today I had a 7 mile workout planned, and 5 of it needed to be speed oriented. I wanted to tackle Yasso 800s one last time, and try to do them in their truest form, with 400 meter recovery jog in between each 800 meter. No standing or walking. Just jogging and giving it!

I planned to do 10×800, which would bring me to 5 miles. In between each 800 I would do a 400 meter recovery. I decided to start with a 400 m jog to get things going, and then do one in between each set, totaling 10×400. This would make today’s workout 7.5 miles. Sounds good to me! But I don’t have access to a real track…..

I have gone to the shale track downtown before. It works alright, except for the homeless man peeing behind the dumpster. I also tried the lake near my house. But I needed a change of scenery. I drove at 8:00 AM this morning over to North Lethbridge to Chinook Lake, an area I actually took my distance runners to quite a bit. I had them do some speed work and circuit training out here, so I figured I should give it a try myself. Nice thing was that at this time of day on a Monday the path was pretty empty. But, I needed an accurate reading of distance—I would figure this out by using my Nike+ SportWatch GPS.

I first walked the lake to see where 400 metres would take me. I started at a sign near the playground and looped to a lamppost around the first big curve. This was my 1/4 mile mark. I kept going and as I was getting back to my starting point, I knew I would overlap. I took a turn off a foot path into a cul de sac, around a corner, and finished off at a set of underground sprinklers. From the lamppost to this area was 800 metres, or 1/2 mile.

If you look at the map below, which I took from Google Maps, I outlined in color my two routes. The yellow star with a “1” is where I would begin. I followed the red path for 400 metres, but would not start my watch yet. Since I had already proven this to be 400 metres that was golden! Once I reached the lamppost, I revved it up, started the GPS timing and away I went for 800 m! You can see that route in the blue.

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The obvious difference between doing these Yasso 800s here versus a standard outdoor track is terrain. While this was relatively flat, there are occasional divots in the ground, slight incline/declines, spots where one has to go off the paved path, and more importantly SHARP CURVES! When you do an 800 meter timed run on a traditional track you can hug the inside curve of lane 1, do 2 laps, and you know you ran 800 metres. Running Yasso 800s in Surburbia, in my opinion, adds some interesting elements.

So how did it go today? AWESOME! I stuck with my plan of doing the 400 m recovery jog in between. The only lag time between finishing my 800 and starting the 400 was when I stopped my watch, I would turn around and start power walking towards the starting sign, resetting my watch in the process so huge GPS was linked and set to go. This was between 5-10 seconds a time. My goal for these 800s was 3 minutes and 30 seconds, as I hope to run a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon in Edmonton on August 24th. Below are the list of my splits, in order that I ran them (to make things more cut and dry, I dropped off the nearest hundredth and did not round)
3:38, 3:25, 3:30, 3:34, 3:31, 3:30, 3:26, 3:30, 3:34, 3:23

I am very happy with my consistency, and I believe this was the most consistent I ever have been doing an 800 meter workout! I was a little slow the first time out, but I needed to get used to the terrain. I was a little fast the last time, but I just had my adrenaline going and knew I was done after that.

Since I am a math teacher, and I have time on my hands in the summer, I decided to figure out what my “mean” 800 meter time was during this workout. “Mean” is the math term you learned back in middle school where you take the sum of a certain amount of terms, and divide it by the total number of terms you had. Now, let me say this—-kids (and adults!) SUCK at working with fractions. Fractions may not be listed in my time right now, but 3:38 IS NOT, I REPEAR IS NOT 3.38 minutes. There are 60 seconds in one minute, and I used 38 seconds of it during the end of my first 800. 3 minutes and 38/60 seconds would then become 3.63 minutes, not 3.38! (3.63 is being rounded to the nearest hundredth). And while no one probably cares, below is my calculation for my MEAN time:

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I was dead on! 3.5 minutes, or 3 minutes 30 seconds, was my mean time. Even if I trimmed the set of data, removing the highest and lowest value, now added up only 8 times, I still end up with 3.5! And, my mode, or most occurring value in my original set of data even is 3.5, occurring 3 times! Both are excellent measures of central tendency in determining my average time in this set of Yasso 800s.

I know it’s summer vacation, but I have to show you how you can in fact use math in your every day life. I would be a horrible math teacher if I didn’t. Now, my calculations better not be messed up!

A Mash-Up of Thoughts on my Slump…and Climb Back!

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I was in a weird slump—As you are aware, Dan and I did the two weeks of the Clean Eating Challenge. We were suppose to feel fantastic! Well, really, I started feeling empty. I was losing too much weight and didn’t have enough carbs in my system. My body has ran on carbs, literally, since my first years’ in middle school track. I am not gluten intolerant, so in moderation I really don’t see this as an issue. My normal eating habits already consisted of whole wheat pasta, and as much as possible scratch-made sauce, so the lacking of that staple, especially during training, hit me. (Wow, that was a lot of commas in a sentence.)

Then the challenge ended. Horray! Eat what I want! Sorta. There were things I wanted to keep with me, like the healthier breakfasts and snacks, and I even realized I should limit my cheese intake (total Wisconsin girl horror!). I also was pumped to get my training back in gear. Thing is, I was headed out to Albuquerque for an International Baccalaureate training. Let me say this-I am SO GLAD I don’t travel regularly for work. Holy crap, it takes a lot out of you. You eat even more different than at home (opposite end of the clean eating challenge) and your normal workout schedule could go haywire.

When I crafted my Edmonton Marathon training plan, I kept in mind my summer vacations. I kept in mind this very week of “school” training in the States. I made sure the runs planned during those times were feasible. Coming off my two challenging weeks of training all while feeling empty, it was harder than I planned getting back into the game…especially while in dry, hot, arid, desert filled New Mexico.

I ended up moving my training days around, struggling to get the miles in. With training going from 8-4 each day, and me not being a morning runner unless it’s a race, getting my ass out training in the afternoon was next to impossible. I went on a ten-miler one day at 4:15 PM…but it was 95 degrees…and I’m a northerner…so I made it 2.5 out and turned around laughing at my rookie mistake. I had to do just 2.5 back, which was a struggle, but I did it. This 5 miler counted for a run later that week. But I needed to do that damn ten-miler sometime.

I got the ten-miler in on Wednesday evening, two days after it was originally planned. And it got done in the Marriott treadmill. Erin, my cousin and motivator for this training, yelled at me via text to get with it and get at it. Well, that I did. I had the luxury of watching my own personal tv during the run, focusing on HGTV, but that wouldn’t be enough. I had to push it to make it worth it.

For each mile, I increased my speed 0.1 mph. I started at 6.0 mph, all the way to 6.8 mph. Then, for the last mile, I increased my speed 0.1 mph for every tenth of a mile. It was the best run I had done in two and a half weeksand it was done on a treadmill. Go figure.

I got back home from the trip, ready to get back into the swing of things. It didn’t come immediately, because then all the traveling back took something out of me. Plus the end-of-school-year party may have too. But the past two days I made huge gains in the right direction. Yesterday, I did a solid 6 miles with a 9:01 average pace, and my fastest mile being the final mile in 8:36. Today, I rocked a speed workout of Yasso 800s. I did not do it on the shale track, but over on the bike path at Nicholas Sheran Park near my house. I ran a mile warmup in 8:46. Then, I did my 800 meter repeats…8 of them to be exact. I wrote about my first experience with Yasso 800s here: YASSO 800s For the WIN!

I was faster than my goal 3:30 pace for every 800 except the 7th one. And I’m not making excuses, but this had a lot to do with the inconsiderate woman taking up the bike path with her three dogs, two of them off-leash…(one of my pet peeves! This is not an off leash park!). I ran 3:27, 3:13, 3:19, 3:17, 3:24, 3:19, 3:43 (ouch! See!?) and 3:12. Each had a 2:45-3:00 minute power walk break. I rounded the workout out with an easy mile home in 9:27.

Tomorrow I have my alarm set for 7 am. After my morning rituals and preparations, I plan on heading out of the house by 9:00 am for my 16 miler. This is a mentally tough distance for me, because during Calgary I hit my decline at 13 miles, and had completely fallen apart at 17. I have a route on the west side mapped out in my head. Then, a decline down Bridge Drive into the river bottom, up the steep Lynx trail, where I’ll prowl through the south side neighborhoods. I’ll head back over the river valley on Whoop Up and hit home. And trust meTomorrow is Canada Day. I am done with the Clean Eating a Challenge, and I will have just run 16 miles. I’m having a carb-filled beer! Cheers!

Initial Post-Race Thoughts From Calgary 2014

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photo 1So it’s been about 24 hours since I finished the Calgary Full Marathon. I went in with the lofty goal of achieving not only a Boston Qualifying time, but a 3:30:00. All my training and experience pointed towards this being possible. I even did the Red Deer Half Marathon on May Long to practice the 8:00 minute mile pace I wanted to achieve and I nailed a 7:59 average pace. And I felt great after!

 

Yesterday, unfortunately, did not go as planned. I woke up so nervous, but figured it would pass. I gave myself plenty of time to eat my standard race-day breakfast and let it settle. We walked to the start line. I got situated comfortably in the corral and was set. I was fired up and ready to get it!

 

I started off fine, but was having trouble comfortably maintaining the needed pace. I ran an 8:04, 7:58, 8:11, 7:59, 8:08, 8:06, 7:58, 8:23, 8:11, 8:13, 8:19, 8:29, and 8:13 for the first 13 miles. My half marathon time was approximately a 1:46:50.  This was abotu 3 minutes slower than I was two weeks prior at Red Deer Half Marathon, and I didn’t feel as strong as I did at that time.  I could still get a BQ if I maintained an 8:15 minute mile pace for every mile after, or faster. At this point in the game, though, my meniscus had been flaring up a tad. This was what I have been going to massage therapy for the last month or so, and it had helped a ton. I did not have this pain in Red Deer. I also had cramps like none other—women cramps—the worst kind. I tried to mentally get myself back in the game—miles 14, 15, and 16 were an 8:17, 8:14, and 8:07. Still on track, albeit I would need to keep at it. It was at mile 17 it all deterred. I slowed down to around 9:00 minute miles for each mile after. I finished with a personal best of 3:46:22. Yes, it is a personal best, and I am proud of that. But it’s not what I went out to do.

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I’m actually surprised I didn’t cry afterwards or even today because I am honestly sad. I really wanted this. And maybe some of you will think “Well, if you wanted it, why didn’t you run harder?” 26.2 miles is a different story. The last time I ran 26.2 was in Disney, and the surroundings of Disney really helped keep me going. That course was also very flat and the elevation level was nothing. While I felt more prepared going into this race, maybe I just got myself too nervous and put too much pressure on it. Maybe I needed to not rely on myself this race, but try to work with the pace group instead. Maybe I did need the moral support of either my husband or my cousin on the course seeing me at different check points. Maybe, maybe, maybe…..

 

Now it’s a game of “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.” I know I can’t go back and change how yesterday played out.  I can’t let that play in my mind, because I am going to be a wreck over it. What I can do is not give up. While it may not be the best decision to register for a full marathon that is occurring in August, in approximately 12 weeks, but I am. The Edmonton Full Marathon is on August 24th. I have ran the half here twice, and the course is FLAT. The elevation in Edmonton is 2,116 ft. Lethbridge, where I live, is 2,990 feet, and Calgary is 3,428 feet. These are all positives weighing in my direction. However, do I enjoy running long distances in the heat of the summer? No, but I will. I will get up at 5:30 am on long run mornings to get the distance in. My mileage base is up so high right now that it would be a shame to give it all up. The weather is the biggest factor in this race, and I can’t control that. But I can control what I do so I am prepared to tackle it the best I can. I know I said Calgary was my one shot at the BQ this year, but everyone needs a second chance. Edmonton 2014, I’m coming to get you.

 

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