Tag Archives: half marathon

Millarville Half Marathon Relay 2017

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It had been a couple years since I ran in one of the Millarville events, so what better way to get back at it than do a relay with my husband?!?!?  I signed us up some time back, but had always planned that I would run the first leg of the half marathon and he would run the second leg.  We stuck with that plan as race day approached, since I would be over 20 weeks pregnant and the first leg was the shorter distance.  Having just come off a good race time at the Lethbridge 8km Ladiesfest I knew I could pound out a good time for the 9km portion of our relay.

Our alarms went off at 4:15 am that Saturday morning.  We would be driving up to Black Diamond and do our race pickup before the event.  The drive took about 2 hours, so we arrived with about 45 minutes to spare.  There was another reason why doing the relay was the better option for us—we had to bring our dog Snoopy along for the trip.  I’ll be doing a blog post at some point this summer about what has been going on this June, but the main point is that Snoopy has bad arthritis and has been going to Calgary for doggie acupuncture appointments.  We booked an appointment strategically for after the race, since we’d already be almost to Calgary.  Doing the relay allowed one person to stay with Snoopy at all times while the other person ran!

I was off at 7:30 am with the other runners.  All relay and half marathon runners started together.  The 9km portion I was running winds through Black Diamond neighborhoods, past golf courses, and onto paved trails.  It offers some rolling hills and lots to see.  Being the first leg of the relay had the benefit of having lots of other competitors around you as your ran.  This always pushes me more!

I had my phone with me, so I voice texted Dan when I had less than a mile to go. I wanted him to be prepared at the transition area.  I crossed the relay transition with a 9km time of 48:26.08.  My splits were 8:01, 8:55, 8:56, 8:59, 8:28 for miles 1-5.  The distance on my watch clocked in at 5.65 miles and I had an average pace of 8:35 a mile.  

I went to the car (where Snoopy was patiently waiting) and we drove the short drive to the finish line at the Millarville racetrack.  After parking and walking to the finish line, we didn’t have to wait too long for the first half marathoner to come across.  It was then pretty quick having other finishers for the various distances come by.  Dan came by with a half marathon finish time for our team of 1:43.50.  His split for the 12.1 km he ran was a 55:24.57.  This works out to a team average pace of 7:55 minutes/mile.  Not bad for a pregnant wife and a husband who still doesn’t really like to run!

Dan, Andrea and Snoopy


 

Calgary Half Marathon 2017

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I first ran a Calgary Marathon Weekend event in 2009.  That marathon was AWFUL for me, and I took a break from running full marathons.  But, in 2013 I returned to Calgary for their half marathon.  And in 2014 for the full.  And 2015 & 2016 for the 50km.

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Calgary Marathon Expo

 

This year, my husband and I ran the half marathon.  I went in with a few time goals, with my overall goal being to run a sub 2 hour half marathon.  Normally, this is no problem as I have been running low and sub 1:40s for a few years now.  But, being 17.5 weeks pregnant would be new running territory!  If that goal couldn’t be met, I wanted to beat my first half marathon time of 2:05.30.  Third goal would be sub 2:10.  And after that, just completion.

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Runners Soul Marathon Club

Weather was set to be comfortable, and the 7:00 am start is always nice.  In my experience running Calgary Marathon Weekend event, the heat really kicks in at around 9:30 and on.  I would be done before the heat of the morning arose, and off those non-shaded city streets.  I was concerned, however, about needing to use the bathroom multiple times.  I am needing to stay hydrated more than ever, but that comes with consequences!

Dan and I started in separate areas of the starting corral.  I actually started with our cousin Erin, even though I knew she’d be gone from my sight in a few short steps.  I started farther up than maybe I should have, but I also know so many people self-seed themselves incorrectly.  I planned on pushing the first mile just so I could get some space and not be trampled/ran into/stepped on.  This plan worked as I ran mile 1 in 8:33, and therefore had plenty of elbow room.

Miles 2-5 were consistent and uneventful.  Actually, the eventful parts of these miles were people running by me commenting on my shirt!  “Run Faster!  I’m pregnant and still kicking your ass!”  I heard a comment from a guy at one point saying he’s done a lot of races and that’s the best shirt he’s ever seen.  I got a lot of “congrats” and thumbs up.  It kept me smiling and moving, and I’m sure it kept a bunch of other people moving!  Miles 2-4 were 8:45, 8:59, 8:58, and 8:59.  I was on pace to break 2 hours (ideally wanted an average pace of 9 min/mi…I was on track!)

Mile 6 was my slowest, at a 9:46.  This is due in part to my one and only potty break.  I spotted two Porta Potties downtown at around mile 5.8 and there was no line.  PERFECT!  But, they were both occupied.   I had to wait probably somewhere around 15-20 seconds, went in and was out quickly.  Probably used about 45 seconds there.  But, it was needed.  Hopefully it wouldn’t come back to taunt me as my time approached the 2 hour mark.

I was never able to get my pace back below that 9 minute mark, but I hovered right around it.  Miles 7-10, which mentally were the most challenging as you saw people already heading back to Stampede grounds as you were heading to the turnaround, were 9:05, 9:03, 9:14.

During those miles, I took advantage of the soaked sponges, as I do at every Calgary event!  The sun was up, clouds were non-existent…it was warming up!  I needed to keep my body temperature down. I kept watching my heart rate and every time it got near 170 I would slow down a bit and adjust my breathing to bring it down to a 150.

On the home stretch I knew I could get that sub 2 hour.  I ran a 9:02 for mile 11, 9:08 for mile 12 and a 9:11 for mile 13.  The problem was when my watch hit 13.1 miles, I wasn’t at the finish line.  This can happen in a lot of races, especially if you veer off the course to use a bathroom, run zig-zagged to go to aide stations, don’t run the tangents of the course….I pushed as hard as I could so I could get under 2 hours.  My watch read 13.9 when I finished, and I finished in a 1:59.12!  A sub 2 hour half marathon!

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Finish area 

Dan was in the finish area waiting for me (I’m not sure how he managed to stay there without the volunteers kicking him out after he finished).  He ran a personal best of 1:41.08.  This was over 11 minutes faster than his only other half marathon, which he ran a year before this.  Look what a little training can do!  And with him running that time now, if I can get him to keep on with running, I will have some friendly competition post pregnancy!

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Another half marathon in the books!

 

My Next “Big Event”

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Hello and happy 2017 everyone!  I have recently returned from the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, where I completed the Goofy Challenge*…there’s an asterisk there because in the history books, this will be the race weekend that had the half marathon cancelled.  I will be doing a complete write-up on the weekend, but I wanted ot let everyone know some of the basics:

The WDW half, which was scheduled to be held on Saturday, January 7th, was cancelled the night before due to a threatening storm coming through the area.  Thunder and lightning occurred all throughout the evening and into the morning, and this would have cause the race to be cancelled either while we were in the corrals waiting to start, or after we started.  It would have been a disaster!  So, many runners did their own “unofficial” WDW half later that day when the storm system cleared.  I completed the 13.1 miles with two friends.  We wanted to complete the distance, so that we could wear our Challenge medals with pride the next day.  On Sunday, January 8th, the marathon went on without a hitch.  I was able to run with my best friend Ali, as she completed her very first full marathon.  It was an amazing weekend!

I alluded in my last post that I would be talking about what was in store for 2017…well, as you can see by my updated “countdown” on the side….I am pregnant!  I am due late July, and while I was in Disney I hit the 12 week mark.  Today I am 13 weeks, and will be heading to Calgary to get my combined First Trimester Screening test done.  My husband and I are very excited, anxious, nervous, scared, elated, etc.  We have always wanted to have a kid, but I was always the one who had concrete running goals I wanted to achieve first….qualify for Boston, go to Boston…then get foot surgery due to all my running…Really, I think waiting longer was also in my husband’s mind too, but I always was the one with the “bucket list” of things I wanted to achieve before we started a family.

WDW Marathon Weekend!

WDW Marathon Weekend!

I know runners who read this page wouldn’t think anything negative about it, but the general public I know will say “Wait…so you ran a half marathon and a full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant?  Is that safe?”  The long and short of it is, YES.  I had been in talks with my family doctor (who runs a sports medicine clinic) since this past summer and he was well aware of my Goofy Challenge goals.  When I got referred to my OB-GYN, the first thing I let her know was that I was flying out to Orlando in January to do a 39.3 mile challenge.  She said “Great!”  Everyone is different—obviously, if you were doing your first full marathon and just started running, there may be some hesitation.  This was not my first rodeo.  I also was not going for any time goal of say, a Boston qualification.  I had to change some of my fueling during the race (as in increase my food intake) and watch my heart rate.  I know my body, even when I have a baby growing in it, and I could recognize if there was any impending issues.  And now, I can say I completed a half and full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant!  Should I maybe have gotten an additional medal for each since really I ran for two?!?!?!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

So what’s the plan now going into 2017?  Well, I am registering for a few local races, with the farthest distance being a 10km.  I am planning on running 3-4 days a week, as long as I am allowed to during this pregnancy.  I will begin Runners Soul Marathon Club next weekend, where I will run with the half marathon distance runners on Saturdays.  My times will not be important, I am just doing this to stay fit and active.  Once I get to a 10 mile training run distance, I may have to cut it short or I may have to walk a bit.  And that’s fine.

So that’s my news.  My next big event.  The training will be a little different than what I’ve grown accustomed, but I’m ready to take it on!

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My “Announcement” shirt…wore the tank during my “unofficial” WDW Half


2016 in Review

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I like doing my ‘recap’ on the year of running events at the end of each calendar year.  Just a little summary of what my main take-a-ways are from the events I participated in.  I know I wrote a recap for each after they originally occurred, and I have all the stats and details on how I did on my Race Results 2016 link, but now that it has been a couple months since some of these events occurred I thought it would be fun to see what I think of when I reflect on what I did this year!

The Hypothermic Half Marathon was my first event of 2016.  I really have nothing to say about this event, other than I know I signed up for it to include it as part of a training run.  I really just remember being done and at brunch with Zita, Aimee and others, and us just talking about how unimpressed we were with the event.  I had a good time hanging out with them, I got a training run in, and I will not be running this event in 2017.

Moonlight Run 10km in March.  Always my first ‘race’ of the year.  I always get nervous for it too!  This was an exciting year as I got to wear my “Run Red Deer” shirt from the Woody’s RV Marathon, as I won “Runner of the Month” and was going to promote the Red Deer event at our local event!  I also was able to finally win some prize money at the Moonlight Run!  I always love this event not only because of how many people come out from the city to participate, but because of all the volunteers who are from Winston Churchill High School (where I teach).

Run the Trailbreaker Half Marathon back in Waukesha, Wisconsin, was a race to remember….as it was almost a blizzard the morning of the race!  In early April!  Weather was AWFUL but it made it fun for running.  Again, I used this race as a training run for Boston, and it was helpful to have the race while I was home visiting family for Easter.  Otherwise, I would have not wanted to go outside and run in that weather!

10 Mile Road Race was great this year, as I ran my personal best time for the event.  I also was excited to win some prize money that would be taken to Boston!  What I remember most from this day is that I locked my keys in my car 10 minutes before race start!  When I finished the race, I borrowed Dennene’s phone to call AMA.  They came and unlocked my car in time for the 10 mile awards!


BOSTON MARATHON….well, if this list wasn’t in chronological order and in an order where the best event of the year was talked about last….this would be it.  I still can’t even wrap my head completely around this experience.  Really, it wasn’t about just race day.  It was about the years I have spent running full and half marathons….the times I failed to qualify….all the training it took to qualify….the waiting to race day….It was a process!  My husband and I had a fantastic time in the city, touring it via public transit and my foot.  We saw a baseball game, went on a brewery tour, ate awesome seafood, drank a lot of beer, and even ran the B.A.A. 5 km together.  The trip will go down as one of my most memorable trips (in general).  My proudest running accomplishment was qualifying for Boston…being able to run in Boston was the reward.


I did only one Spartan Race this year, and it was the Montana Spartan Beast.  This was the first year I did not do the Montana race weekend with my husband Dan.  But, I got to do it with my best friend Ali!  She flew in from Redondo Beach, California, to deal with this crazy 14 mile course.  She has continued to stand by her statement that this was the toughest Spartan Race she has ever done…even a harder course than the World Championship Course in Tahoe!

A local Lethbridge 51 elementary school put on a little 2km/5km event in May.  The Lakeview Superhero 5km was a great event that the school did as a fundraiser for their new playground.  Lots of kids were out there doing the 2km.  It honestly was a bigger turnout than I expected!  Having a local elementary school do an event like this helps get the kids interested in running at a young age, and that’s awesome!

I’ve done the Woody’s RV World Red Deer Half Marathon before.  This was my 5th time running in it.  But it was definitely the nastiest weather I have had to deal with at it!  My husband also ran it (hadn’t trained at all) and of course….he did just fine.  I still beat him, but my time was not that impressive.  I was most impressed with him running while wearing a garbage bag as a poncho the whole time!  The downpour was ridiculous!

I had sworn I wasn’t going to do this race again….and then I  registered for it…again.  The Calgary Marathon Weekend 50km Ultra was being held for the 3rd time, in conjunction with marathon weekend.  I figured that since I had done Boston at end of April, and this was at end of May, my legs would still be primed for it.  I also wanted to prove to myself that I could run it faster than I did the year before, as the heat was pretty nasty the first time I did it.  It was again a tough race, but I felt more confident during it this time around.  I cut off a bunch of time from my first year  I ran it, and even walked away with 1st place in the female 30-34 category!  I now have two trophies in my race bling collection, and they are both from the Calgary 50km Ultras!  This race was also monumental as it was my little ‘farewell’ from running for a bit, as I would be going under the knife two weeks later for my foot surgery.  Figured my foot was already messed up, nothing that a 50km road race couldn’t do to make it any worse!


Lethbridge Police Services Run is an event I’ve been enjoying every year.  This year, I wouldn’t be participating in the half marathon, as my foot was not ready post-surgery.  I did join our cross country runners as they ran in the 5km.  It was a great event to be a part of, and I really enjoyed being able to see the kids out there.  It was also my 32nd birthday, so that marked for a fun way to spend it!

 

The first event post-surgery that I attempted to “race” was the Bare Bones 9km.  They have had a half marathon in the previous years, but this year it wasn’t an option.  So, I chose the odd 9km distance.  I pushed as hard as I could, and I felt completely beat afterwards, but I was pleased with how I finished and how my foot held up.  It was far off my times I was hitting the year before, but it was a good start and a great sign of things to come post-surgery.

 

The Claus Cause 10km is another local event that I have participated in quite a few times.  It was held in November, and we weren’t having November weather yet.  I wore shorts during this run!  It was still another test for my foot, and my foot did well.  And of course, the gingerbread men ‘medals’ were handed out for top category runners.  My gingerbread man had a bit of a foot issue….coincidence?  I have said in the past and I’ll say it again—I love the events that Runners Soul puts on in town.  It’s such a great ‘get-together’ at any of their events, because there are so many familiar faces!

My last ‘event’ of 2016 was the Santa Shuffle.  Put on by Running Room Canada, this is a small  casual 5km fun run.  I signed up for this for the sole purpose of adding mileage to my daily training run, as  I was right in the thick of things for my Goofy Challenge training by this first week in December.


So that was my 2016.  14 events over the course of 12 months.  And considering I was out of commission for two of the months, I’ll take it.  2016 will always be the year I ran Boston….that’s for sure.  That’s obviously what I’ll think of first.  But, all these other events that surrounded it have a special place too.  All the events I have ran since my first half marathon in 2004 have a special place.  Sure, the medals I receive for finishing a race or placing in a race don’t have much monetary value….but they have value to me.  Every.  Last.  One.

On to 2017!  What will it bring……?!?!?!?!??!?!

 

August 2016—All in One Post!

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So, I did around 3,500 miles this month!….

In my car.

I haven’t been active here lately, partly due to my roadtrip!  On July 31st, I packed up my trusty 2009 Pontiac Vibe and hit the road.  Along with the essential clothing, toiletries and podcasts to entertain, I also packed my 9 year old beagle, Snoopy.  Where were we heading?  We were going across the border south east to my hometown of Franklin, Wisconsin.  We had stopovers planned in Longville, Minnesota (my aunt and uncle live there).  Snoopy is an excellent travel companion; I honestly cannot say that enough.  He just curls up and sleeps the whole time, does not fuss, and is excited to arrive to any destination.  So I kept myself occupied by listening to a variety of podcasts and when I really started losing it I would talk to Snoopy.

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All packed and ready to hit the road!

 

We made it to my mom’s on August 4th, and we stayed until August 22nd.  During that time, I was able to see all of my family that lives in the area, attend a closing day of Badgerette Pom Pon camp (I worked for Badgerette for 5 summers), watch the State Distinguished Young Woman show with my friend Maureen (I won 2nd alternate back in it’s Junior Miss hey day), go to two travelling beer gardens, see a bunch of my friends back home, eat and drink my way through both Wisconsin State Fair & Zoo Ala Carte, go to my favourite Mexican restaurant 3 times, play in a bag toss tournament, and so much more.

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“Swimming” with Snoopy in Lake Wabedo in Northern Minnesota

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When you are in Longville, MN, you go to the Meat Raffle at the bar….and win!

 

The main reason I drove was so I would be able to bring back the remains of my childhood that was still housed at my moms.  It wasn’t that she was forcing me to take it, but I have been gone since 2008, so I figured it was time.  Yearbooks, photos, games, puzzles, Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop, etc, etc, etc….It is now all back in Alberta.  I also packed up some New Glarus Beer, a ton of Wisconsin cheese, 32 bottles of Sprecher soda, and who knows what else.  Snoopy and I arrived back in Lethbridge on August 24th.  Wow, it felt good to get back!  We both missed his daddy Dan and his brothers Woodstock and Faron.

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That’s for DAMN sure!

 

During that trip, I also started running.  I had done my first 5km run prior to the trip in a numbing time of 33:43.  I had walked and jogged a bunch during it.  That was on July 28th.  Remember, my foot surgery was on June 10th.  I had been given the clear I could start running after my 6 week post op on July 21st.  I did my first humid (SO HUMID AND HOT) Wisconsin run on August 7th.  It was a little 20 minute jaunt that average 9:40 per mile.  Oww.  On August 11th, I went out to try and beat my July 28th 5km time.  I did so handedly, running a 30:02!  So close to that sub 30!  I did a couple other 1-2 mile runs during my time in Wisconsin, but I wanted to try and get under 30 minutes.  On August 16th, I set out to do that.  I ran that 5km in 28:20!  These gains I have made in less than a month since coming back into running are huge.  I was going nuts not running for over 6 weeks, and taking this time to get my newly fixed foot used to running (and running properly) has been great.

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5km well under 30 minutes!

 

Since returning to Lethbridge, I am happy that the humidity is gone.  I have ran on August 25th, 26th and 27th, and the weather has been glorious.  The biggest highlight was yesterday, the 27th.  I went out to run a sole mile with the goal of getting between 8:00-8:15, a pace I was always easily able to obtain on my runs, and my sweet spot for my Boston qualifying pace.  I finished that mile in 8:14!  Guess what world…LAMMERS IS BACK!

And guess what today is?  Today marks the start of WEEK 1 of my GOOFY CHALLENGE training plan.  I have put together a very non-aggressive 19 week training plan with the goal of “comfortable completion” of the 2017 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, which is a half marathon on Saturday, January 7th followed by a full marathon on Sunday, January 8th.  The even more special thing about this race is that I will be running my 2nd WDW full marathon alongside my best friend Ali.  It will be her very first full marathon!  I will be there to support her through those dark moments (especially between miles 15-23!!!)  She has run half marathons before, and I have set her up with a training plan to coincides with her Spartan Race and Crossfit schedule.  It will be a weekend to remember!

 

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The original “Pottage Pose” from the marathon portion of the 2014 Dopey Challenge in WDW

 

 

19 weeks is a LONG training plan.  When I ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2015 and Boston in 2016, I had an intense 16 week plan.  This plan does not include speedwork.  It just has two easy runs a week plus a long run on the Saturday.  Then, in late October, I add another mid distance run on Friday, which will help prepare me for the two day challenge that Goofy presents.  I am not going for any speed records at this race; I want to get my body back into running shape so I can begin to push myself again come the new year!

I have updated my 2016 race schedule, as I have a few local events in October and November.  I will be recapping those after they occur, and I will definitely be keeping you posted on how my Goofy training goes.  Until then, I need to get ready for my first day back at work tomorrow….Teachers start this week, with students coming in the day after Labour Day.  For teachers, this is our “New Year”.  Happy New Year to all the teachers, students and parents out there! 

May Happenings…FOUR recaps and then some!

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Wow, I have been slacking on blog posts!  May has been SO busy with not only races, but teaching, coaching, and life!  If I tried to do an individual recap for each for the four events I did in May, I wouldn’t get them done until September, so I am going to briefly touch on what I’ve been doing ‘running-wise’ lately, and also whats next…

MONTANA SPARTAN BEAST

On Saturday, May 7th, I participated in my 4th Montana Spartan Race weekend.  This time, instead of doing it with my husband, I was able to do it with my best friend Ali.  She flew in from California on the Friday night and would be participating in both the Beast on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday.  The Sunday Sprint would be her first Trifecta of the year, and she is going for an incredible 5 Trifectas by the time 2016 is complete!

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Before the Sunday Sprint

I knew what the expect with the course; Ali had an idea from what I’ve told her or what she read online.  But I think it’s safe to say it was tougher than she could even had imagined!  The terrain is very challenging, and you are basically doing hills for 14 miles.  The barbed wire crawl at the end is also brutal, as I would say it’s a solid 200 metres long.  We stuck together the whole race and were very happy to be finished!  It is a gorgeous course with a great atmosphere post race.  I was happy to just be doing the Beast, as come Sunday being a spectator was right up my alley.  Sunday was a bit of a let-down, as it seemed that Spartan Race was more interested in their Elite Heat and the NBC video crews than the paying customers.  After the elite heat started over 30 minutes late, they started the open heats really quick, one after another.  This caused for back ups at obstacles and just hoards of people in the way.  I saw this first-hand by being a spectator.  I do enjoy Spartan Races, but I think I will be taking a break from them for some time.

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Who doesn’t love a good fire jump!?

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Happy to be finished…and even happier to have those fries!

LAKEVIEW SCHOOL SUPERHERO 5KM

This event was a late addition for me.  As a Wednesday night race put on by a local school, this event had a different purpose and would draw a different crowd.  The school was fundraising to build a new playground, and ScotiaBank had agreed to match their fundraising amounts!  Around 450 kids and adults registered for either the 2km or 5km run.  I think it would be safe to say it was a huge success!

The event was geared more towards the children, and that makes perfect sense as it was put on by an elementary school.  The 2km race went first at 6:00, and then at around 6:30 they started the 5km.  The loop for the 5km runners was down the green strip we run on with Marathon Club, around park of Henderson Lake and back, with the last 400 metres or so on the grass at the school.  Running on the grass was the hardest part for me personally!  I was able to huff and puff my way in to a first place female finish with a time of 22:16.  If they did this event again next year I would definitely participate, as it supports a local school…and I am a teacher!

WOODYS RV WORLD RED DEER HALF MARATHON

This is an event I have done many times before.  Red Deer is where my in-laws life, and the event always falls on the Victoria Day/May Long Weekend, so it’s super convenient!  For my 5th running of the half marathon, I would be joined by my husband and my sister-in-law.  Thing is, it turned out I was the only one who really had been ‘training.’  Now, let me be clear—Erika, my sister-in-law, works out and stays active doing things other than running.  She just joked saying that she had a running ‘rest week’ that lasted 7 weeks!  And my husband….well, he hadn’t run since the BAA 5km…and before that he ran while in Hawaii in January…so he initiated his 5 day training plan leading up to the race.  I didn’t have high hopes for him.  He just wanted to finish.

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Pre-race clothing consisted of rain poncho garbage bags…which Dan wore all race!

Come race day, I didn’t have high hopes for myself.  I had cramps that felt like Satan was inside my body and it was raining.  HARD.  I started out feeling OK, but by mile 4 I knew I just needed to trod it out and not care about my time.  My time was a 1:46.35.  I was freezing, wet, irritable and just happy to be done.  I thought I would have enough time to get back to the car, get clean clothes, and see my husband finish.  Well, of course he outdid himself.  He finished his first half marathon in a time of 1:52.37.  Seriously….it took me until 2013 to hit under 1:54, and he just goes out there and does that.  Whatever!  He was on Cloud 9 the rest of the weekend…that is, until Monday morning after I let Snoopy out to the bathroom at 5:45 AM and he got sprayed by a skunk.  What a memorable Victoria Day 2016 it was!

 

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Half Marathon Finishers!

CALGARY MARATHON WEEKEND-50KM ULTRA

 

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Expo fun!

My last event of May 2016 happened to be the Calgary Marathon Weekend.  I often do an event in Calgary, having done the half marathon in 2013, the full marathon in 2009 and 2014, and the 50km Ultra in 2015.  This year, I opted to register for the 50km, as I wanted to see if I could better my time from the prior year, which was 4 hours 40 minutes and 34 seconds.

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Other than my races in between Boston Marathon and race day, I hadn’t put on any crazy mileage in preparation.  I really was going out there and seeing what I was made of.  The race start of 7 am is great, because it ALWAYS it warm this weekend, and the sun was out in full force early.  There was at least a nice breeze throughout the morning to help break the heat.  I started running with the plan of holding a 8:00 minute/mile pace for as long as I could, knowing I would probably have to slow down some.  I was able to keep my mind going on tons of different things during the race, because during the week before I asked for family and friends to let me know if they wanted me to ‘run for them’ at any point.  I had a list in my back skirt pocket that had the names of those who wanted me to run for them and the segments I would think about them.  I took this idea from my friend Dennene, who I met at this very race last year!

I was holding my own until around mile 22, when I realized I wouldn’t be able to hit the marathon timing mat (42.2 km) at a 3:30.00 (8 minute pace).  I decided to take a little break, use the washroom, and hydrate even more.  I knew I was just going to try my best to finish still with a better time than the year before.  I trucked along a bit more and my right foot started to really hurt (where my bone spur and arthritis is).  I ended up compensating for this pain by almost running on the outside of my right foot for the last 7 miles or so; it hurt too much to have my whole foot hit the ground.

My friend Saskia was helping out with her triathlon group at the 40 km mark, and she saw me as I went by.  She joined me and got me to the marathon mat, which I hit at 3:41.02.  What’s even funnier is that this is now my third fastest marathon time, with Vancouver being the fastest and Boston being next!  I was quite a bit ahead of my pace from last year, so I knew I just needed to muster through any pain and get the last 7.8 km or so completed!  I kept a positive attitude, smiled and had fun, and by doing this, I even had some extra energy stored during the final stretch to really push myself.  My final time—4:23.10!  I beat my time from last year by just over 17 minutes!  YES!

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Thumbs up!

I was very happy with my time for this race, and even happier to find out I placed in the 50km at 20/122 runners overall.  For my gender, I was 6/42 and in the 30-34 female I was 2/9.  I earned a 1st place age group award, however, because much like last year the overall female winner was in my age group, thus removing her from age category awards.

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Bling and trophy acquired!

This race was not a ‘goal race’ by any means, but it was important.  This marks my “last hurrah” before my cheilectomy surgery, which is happening on June 10th.  My bone spur will be shaved off my right foot, along with my arthritis being cleaned out.  Stitches will be put in, and I will be put resting and elevating my foot most of the summer.  I will probably have 8 weeks off of any sort of running, and then when I do start running again I will be taking it VERY EASY.  The arthritis will most likely come back over the years, but hopefully the bone spur stays away.  I will have lots to write about in regards to this surgery, and that will be what my summer posts are devoted to, so stay tuned.

And with that, my Winter/Spring/beginning of Summer 2016 races are complete!  Up next-surgery.  After that—get back into running so I can complete the 2017 Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World!  Can’t stop me now!

 

Boston Marathon 2016-The Run

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

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

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

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“Run the Trailbreaker” Recap

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Back in 2013, I “Ran the Trailbreaker” when I was home for Easter.  It was the start of my racing season, with my ultimate goal being completing the Dopey Challenge in January 2014.  I was surprised at that race when I beat my former personal best, running a 1:52.53.  Little did I realize at the time (I am still realizing it now) that this race lit some fire under my feet and I’ve been pushing ever since.

It was great to be back for Easter in Wisconsin this year, and even better that the Trailbreaker fell on the same weekend I would be leaving.  While I knew catching my flight would be tight, I still signed up for the 9:30 am half marathon start.  What was even better was that two of my close friends, Melissa and Gretta, would be running also!  I was able to meet up with them the night before the race, back in our childhood homes, but also got to see them race morning.

The week of Easter was actually pretty nice weather.  However, Wisconsin weather has a mind of its own and it decided that a snow/sleet/hail/rain combo at barely above freezing would be smart.  Thanks a lot!  So, race morning was less than desirable.  I have admitted before I actually like running in the cold…but the rain and wind and then slushy melting snow on the paths is nothing close to fun.

before race

Looking out to my mom’s driveway at 8 am race morning

I really didn’t know what to expect from this race, as I had eaten and drank too many Wisconsin indulgences over the course of me being home.  In my mind, I had a lose goal of breaking 1:40.  (My personal best is a high 1:35, which I ran last year at the Calgary Hypothermic Half).  I ran a mile warm up and realized it would be slippery.  I knew I didn’t want to fall or do anything stupid, which would then ruin my ability to run in Boston, so I thought that maybe just taking it easy and being in the mid 7:30s-7:50s may be best.  Either way, 9:30 hit and I was off.

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Staying inside before the last minute of race start with Melissa & Gretta!

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Immediately after the National Anthem, we shot this gross selfie.  Note the hail in my left eye.  Gross

The first mile wound us through downtown Waukesha and then we were eventually on some pathways.  The bridges were so slippery!  Almost every picture that was taken catches me looking down on a bridge as I was scared to fall.  It is an out-and-back course, that takes us on to part of the Ice-age trail.  For it being a nasty day out, and a relatively small race, there was still great support from both friends, family and volunteers.  Lots of volunteers were located at any and every confusing intersection or turn.  The first 7 miles there were always a handful of runners around me, either passing, me passing, or us interchanging positions.  I ran respectable times of 7:30, 7:52, 7:51, 7:56, 7:47, 7:48 and 7:50.

By this time the turnaround was near…or maybe I had hit it.  Either way, I knew I was third female, but 4 and 5 weren’t far behind.  The way back was going to be much easier, in theory, as the sun was starting to try and come out and the wind would be with us.  I started realizing I had gas left in the tank and I may as well push and get this thing done.  I did have a plane at 3:00 pm to catch after all!

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Yes, I run in pink socks as much as possible!  My feet were soaked here.

I started pushing, and slowly my splits started getting near to where my goal half marathon splits are.  I held on to 3rd female, and even passed a few males in the process.  I ran miles 8-13 in 7:24, 7:29, 7:31, 7:19, 7:23, and 7:37!  This was the reverse of my disaster back in September at the Lethbridge Police Half, where I went out very fast and had a near meltdown in the river bottom!  And the best part of this was that I ran a 1:39.37!  3rd female out of 98, 2nd in my age group out of 17, and overall I was 11th out of 168!  

I didn’t have much time to rest, as I really did have to get on the messy roads and drive the 35 minutes back to my mom’s house.  My whole body was shaking, and some weird muscles in my leg that I didn’t know existed kept twitching.  Either way, I was beyond pleased.  I hit my goal time, I ran negative splits, I was able to see my good friends, my ailing foot held up fine, and I was able to run in my home state of Wisconsin.  A fine way to end the Easter Holiday! 

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Hypothermic Half 2016-Why?

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imageOn Saturday, February 27th, I participated in the Lethbridge Edition of the the Hypothermic Half. This event is put on by The Running Room and held nationwide. I participated in the Lethbridge event in 2013, then the Calgary version in 2015. I wrote about those events here (Lethbridge 2013) and here (Calgary 2015)…and as you can see, they were completely different experiences. Going into this event, I had an idea of what to expect, and I was disappointed. But that doesn’t mean it was an amazing race experience.

I don’t like being negative on here, especially about races. But when an event needs some improvement, I will share my two-cents. I signed up for this local event knowing it would probably be low-attendance. In comparing the Lethbridge 2013 run to the Calgary 2015, the first thing one would notice is turnout. The Calgary Running Room in Eau Claire Market downtown seems to do quite a bit more promotion and draws more runners. That event was chip timed. It was a bigger deal. The Lethbridge event, yet again, was not chip-timed had only about 40 or so runners (tops) and was a mish-mash to say the least.

Packet pickup was both the Thursday and Friday before the event. This was nice as I could not make it Friday (would have been tight on time). However, I went to packet pickup and they couldn’t confirm race start. It would either be 8 am or 9 am. I had to write down my email so they could let me know. They also had no details on the brunch. Now, while I did receive an email late Friday afternoon, that is very odd to me that a race did not have these details for participants less than 48 hours before the event. Especially when it’s an event being put on by a national store.

In 2013 the race swag was a duffle bag (Dan uses it from time to time). Last year. I received a buff-like head gear piece and black mittens (which I actually use). This year, they decided to have everyone receive a flimsy orange backpack (I like the Colour but I is destined to tear if I put anything bigger than a pair of shoes in it) and a toque that doesn’t fit over my Afro. I like it when races change up the swag, but for the registration price, this is so-so. For the record, early bird registration was $65 up until October 1, $70 until Jan 1st, and $80 until race day. I believe I did the $70 one, knowing you get an item other than a shirt. This also includes a post-race brunch…which I’ll talk about later. Really, Running Room is making a killing because this is the same cost for the 5km or 10km, which they hold that same morning. I, just really confused on this pricing tier, as since it’s a nationwide event and all race sites have the same swag and medals, it’s all ordered in masses. Anyways, onto the race.

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Race did start at 9 am, which was what I had thought was the original start time anyway, so that was good. I signed up for this race knowing I would have a long training run this weekend, and it timed out to be the weekend I needed to do 18 miles for my Boston Training. I got up early and did a 5.5 mile “warmup” to get my legs going. The warmup miles felt good, but I was already going faster than I normally had been going on my long runs…not faster than the pace I should be going, but I was averaging 8:21 a mile. I made it to my car, drove down to the river bottom, and was at the start line with about three minutes to spare. Way to cut it close!

The route was a familiar one, as it went out past the nature centre to the metal gate, turn around, loop adjacent to the Oldman River and under Whoop Up Drive, past the water treatment plant and down to the loop right before the country club. Then head back to the start…and do it again. As a local runner, I know the segments of this route like the back of my hand…all the turns, dips, climbs, bridges, etc. But with the event having such a low number of people, keeping motivated would be tough as often I felt alone, yet still wanted to push to keep my goal pace for the race. I had in my mind I wanted to pace for an 8:00 minute/mile, as that is in the faster end of my “long run” pace, but exactly what I want for my goal pace in Boston (gives me a 3:30 full). Even though the race start didn’t have the traditional excitement I am used to at the start of a half marathon (maybe part of it was that I was still tying my left shoe when they said GO) I got fired up during that first mile. It felt GREAT to be in a race again. And to feel in shape. I did my first mile too fast, in a 7:22. I hope that I can remember what that felt like, as that is my goal half pace. I held close to that last year when I ran my 1:35.41 personal best. I have a half marathon on April 2nd in Wisconsin, and if I haven’t eaten too much cheese or drank too much beer the week leading up to it, I plan on going for that.

Back to Lethbridge. First half of the half went with a 7:22, 7:56, 8:04, 8:02, 8:05, 8:16, 8:01. It was around here while heading past the nature centre a second time I came across some tool walking his dog not on the leash. The dog was a huge Great Dane/boxer mix (maybe?) and came up to my hip. It was running in the side brush and onto the trail, and as I got closer it decided to run right toward me. It didn’t bite, but it nudged it’s damn head at my hip so I, naturally, turned my head back at the guy and yelled “THIS ISNT AN OFF LEASH PARK! YOU CAN GET A FUCKING FINE”. Then, I ran off the pavement a bit, and promptly ran into a rock. For real. And I hit it with my right foot. The one with the bone spur. Yeah, I jacked my foot into the rock, but caught myself and then kept running. The idiot owner was saying he was sorry….but yeah. That happened.

Regained myself and did the second loop with 8:16, 7:56, 8:02, 8:07, 8:12 and then the last 0.75 miles in 5:50, to finish with 1:42.15. My total distance was 12.75 miles, and I think I was so under due to the fact I really did run the tangents and hug all the curves, as I am so familiar with the route. The route did have a Garmin Connect map online that clocked it as the true 13.1 miles, but that would being on the outside curves the whole time. At 5km, for instance, I looked and was at 3.06 miles instead of 3.11…and then the gap just slowly grew. I was very happy with my finish, as my pace was a solid 8:01 minute/mile. Pretty much exactly what I wanted for the day!

I finished and got my medal, which is sweet. I do like the abominable snowman/Sasquatch/The Bumble that is on it, so that is a plus. I got my layers in and waited for my friend Aimee and her friend Zita to finish, and then we headed to the brunch at Lethbridge Lodge. Now, I didn’t go to the brunch in 2013 for some reason, but I did in Calgary last year when it was at Fort Calgary and it was awesome. Tons of food, fantastic scramblers…lots of juice, coffee, beverages. Filled with people. This one…was…interesting.

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Got to the ballroom in the Lodge it was at, and it was basically empty. I think there were about 12 people in there, and no one was checking our race bibs to actually see if we paid to eat. The buffet line up was scrambled eggs, ham, plain cubed potatoes, and some Danishes. Then some poorly made coffee and questionable orange juice. Additional brunch tickets were sold online for $30 a piece…this was a $9.99 buffet. Thankfully, the company of Aimee, Zita and her husband made it worth it, as the food was a joke.

Would I recommend this race? Not the Lethbridge one. Would I do it again? Probably not anytime soon. But if it lined up in a training plan, I’ll probably throw my credit card number down and try to give it another chance, but the only be left to complain yet again. Memories! 7 weeks til Boston ya’ll!

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Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap

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So, almost two months late, but this recap is right in time for Halloween!  Why does that matter?  Because I put more effort into my Disneyland Half Marathon costume than I ever have into any Halloween costume!  This would be my second year running in the event, and my second year doing the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.  I did my recap on the Disneyland 10 km here.  The Disneyland Half is held on the Sunday after the 10km, part of Labour Day weekend.  The fact it is Labour Day weekend makes this event especially desirable to myself, because as a teacher, I have the Monday off.  It makes the travel to California possible without having to book many days off!

I would be running this race with my best friend Ali.  I have mentioned her lots in this blog, and she even has her own blog here.  She is a relatively ‘new’ runner, as she started running in April 2014.  She started running because I signed her up for the Disneyland 10km 2014.  She has now done many other events, and this would be her 3rd half marathon.  We were going to be aiming to get her a personal best time, specifically below a 2:30.00.  Her previous personal best was a 2:44 and that was at the San Francisco

We arrived bright and early like with all Disney races.  This time, we spent a lot of the extra time taking photos together.  As my one friend said, I ‘upped’ my Mary Poppins game!  I went as Mary Poppins for my 1st RunDisney event (Wine and Dine Half) but was dressed in her nanny outfit.  For this race, I went for the Jolly Holiday costume.  My mom made the arm bands, skirt and red waist corset.  I made the hat, neck piece, and the carousel horse.  That horse was interesting to pack!  Since Ali would be next to me the entire race, I wanted her to be part of the costume too, however, I knew she didn’t want anything restrictive on.  So she was one of the penguins from the Jolly Holiday scene!  I think we looked pretty cute!

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Ali had ran a fast enough 10km time at the Tinkerbell 10km to get into Corral C.  So, we were the third group off and running.  I kept Ali going at a pretty good pace through the parks.  The first part of the Disneyland Half course is solely through the parks, and its a lot of fun!  With it still being dark out, it is really cool to see CarsLand lit up and run through the castle!  After exiting the park, we were well under pace.  But I think Ali was starting to hate me!  We were cruising!

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We would power walk up any big hills (aka overpasses) and I kept encouraging Ali the best I could.  I knew I would be pushing her limits.  After leaving the parks, you are on the streets of Anaheim until the last mile.  While the streets don’t offer a lot of picturesque views, there are a lot of spectators and groups out there keeping everyone motivated.  I think Disney does an awesome job with this portion of the race, given the fact this could be a very, very boring stretch!  Tons of high school bands, cheerleaders, dancers, ethnic dance performances, antique cars, people in costume and more!  During this stretch, the sun was starting to come up and was shining right in our face.  The heat was starting to bother me, but I wasn’t going to complain, because I knew the pace was starting to bother Ali and she really wanted to slow down.  But I wanted to keep her going, as I knew she could do it!

We were still right ahead of the 2:30 pace group when we got to the Santa Ana trail before Angels stadium.  This was the only unfortunate portion of the course, as it narrowed quite a bit and part of the trial seemed to be under construction.  Being in the mid-pack of runners was a different thing for me, as I was used to starting in Corral A at Disney races, so now I see how it can get very bottle necked.  We took a lot of walk breaks in here, and I knew we’d be able to make up the time once we reached the stadium.  The energy in Angel Stadium is amazing!  Rows and rows of Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts fill the seats, cheering us on.  The announcer is there saying as many names as he can, and video footage of the runners coming in appears on the big screen.  Ali and I were smiling through this portion and it felt awesome!

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After the stadium, I knew we had to slow down.  Ali was having a little trouble keeping the pace because she was starting to feel a bit dizzy, but I knew we had built a good cushion so she could still easily get a personal best.  We kept moving and I kept encouraging her that the park was coming quick and we would be done before she knew it.  As we approached the back entrance of California Adventure, we wound around back stage for the final stretch.  This is unlike in the 10km, where you go through Downtown Disney.  I like that the final stretches are varied for each race, but the 10km finish is a bit ‘more magical.’   As we went down the final stretch, this was one spot that I didn’t mind it was narrow.  The crowds of people on each side really encouraged all the runners and pushed everyone until the very last moment.

leaping to the finish

While we weren’t able to break 2:30, we did manage to crush Ali’s personal best by over 10 minutes!  The final time was 2:33.41!  I was so proud of Ali!  She has done so much in the past year to improve her running performances and is so motivated to keep on crushing her goals!  I would not have wanted to run this race with anyone else, and I will always remember this Disneyland Half weekend!

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