Tag Archives: LRPS

Summer Training: Slumps & Success

Standard

My training this summer has been all over the place. Some weeks are solid, other weeks it’s like I’ve never run before in my life.  While I have a schedule to follow and check off (If I was just going to “keep up running” in the summer without a schedule it’d be next to impossible) I sometimes am not able to follow it exactly.  

My body is worn out.  I’m not whining, I’m just stating a fact. I had 16 weeks of full marathon preparation and then a bunch more races after the fact before summer hit.  And I kept at it right into the start of summer.  Start of summer brought a horrific heat wave…still can’t believe that the province of Alberta hasn’t gone into a state of agriculture emergency due to the lack of rain we’ve received.  There have been some runs I’ve had to cut short just because my body can’t handle the heat, even when I plan ahead and go out early.  
Last week, I struggled again. Friday I went out to do my easy run and was having trouble hitting my paces.  Here’s the quote from my running log I keep on this 60-70 minute workout:

“that was trash!!!! My legs were on fire from yesterday’s mile repeats. My bandaid on my open blister wouldn’t stay on my heel and I couldn’t keep pace. I ran down scenic to Wendy’s hill, down to Helen Schuler, and then back up the damn thing. I just plucked along because I was hurting so bad. 6.5 miles in 61 minutes. Average pace of 9:21. Let’s not even talk about the splits. Only my first and third mile was in the pace range.”

Then the following day I went on what was supposed to be a 105-120 minute run.  I left the house at 6:30 am, way before any heat.  But. I faltered:

“something is wrong with me. My legs are feeling so heavy, I have a pain down the side of my right shin and calf. I try to pick the pace up and I just can’t. I did everything right leading up to today, in that I went to bed early, got up at 5:30, out the door by 6:30 Had moleskin over a bandaid on my heel. But it was just hiccup after hiccup. I cut it short at 9 miles and 1 hour 20 min and 38 seconds. It was just painful. 8:31, 8:44, 8:51, 9:22, 8:55, 8:44, 9:20, 9:02, 9:02. So actually now looking at that, I had two miles that were over my pacing limit, so it makes me feel a bit better. I just don’t know what’s up.”

I took Sunday-Tuesday off.  My legs needed rest.  I rolled out my muscles lots using foam roller and “The Stick.”  My blister healed.  I felt rested and set for Wednesday. Wednesday would be a 50-60 minute run at easy pace, which for me should fall between 7:52-8:52 minute per mile. 

“That was encouraging. Will have to roll out my hamstrings more later tonight but my 6 miler felt pretty good! 8:33, 8:29, 8:32, 8:35, 8:36, 8:29. Consistency and right where I wanted to be.”

With that in the books I headed into my speed workout on Thursday pumped.  I successfully completed 20×200 metre repeats of 90-95% with 200 metre jog after each one. I felt strong!  And today, I pumped out 7.04 miles at the easy pace…with my best mile being the final one!  8:54, 8:27, 8:24, 8:32, 8:23, 8:41, 8:19.  

This past week hasn’t been the only running roller coaster this summer, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  The main thing I need to learn from it is to not get discouraged when training days are tough, and to listen to my body.  I obviously needed the rest, and those couple extra days gave me some gusto back. Now to keep at it strong for the rest of this month, and I’ll cap it off with my sole August race: The Lethbridge Regional Police Services Half Marathon.  

Lethbridge Regional Police Services Half Marathon 2014

Standard

September 13th, 2014, marked the 2nd annual Lethbridge Regional Police Services half marathon. I had ran in the inaugural race the year prior, loved the downhill course, and set a new personal best of 1:46:42. Signing up again was a no brainer!

The night before, I decided to partake in my standard pre-race beers. Now, I don’t write about this often, because I know it is not scientifically proven to be helpful, but for me, having beer the night before a race that is a half marathon or less works wonders. I went for some happy hour beers with my friend Jaclyn after work (2 brews) and then later that night after showering, eating plain pasta, and taking a nap, I went for some drinks with co-workers after the football game (4 brews). I went to bed by 1am, woke up at 6:45 am, and was ready to go.

It was just above freezing at the start of the race, so I ditched my layers the last possible second. The half, 10km, and 5km were all starting together at 8 am, and would be on the same route for about the first mile. Then the 5km and 10km would turn down Lynx Trail into the river bottom as the rest of us continued south in Scenic Drive. When the 5&10km runners split off, I had positioned myself pretty well, and I thought to be around the 6th female runner. I was going for broke, and had nothing to lose, so my first three miles were 7:25, 7:33 and 7:19.

IMG_5939.JPG
After mile three, we ascended out of the Sugar Bowl and onto the 20th Ave greenstrip. I had moved my way up to 4th female, and closed in on securing the 3rd position shortly after. I was still feeling really strong, and new I could keep pushing. I wanted to keep third and possibly moved up, since this meant prize money. Miles 4-6, which took me to about hallways around Henderson Lake, clocked in at 7:28, 7:19, and 7:27.

Because of the openness of huge route, the visibility of the runners ahead of you was very open. I had my eye on the woman in 2nd for quite some time, and could also clearly see the first place female with her friend biking next to her. There was a long straightway coming up down 7th Ave South and I knew I needed to make a move if I wanted a chance at 2nd position. This road also had a slight downhill to it, so I kept rolling as fast as I could. Miles 7-9, which went from Henderson down 7th Ave, all the way to the top of Scenic Drive, were 7:31, 7:33, and 7:28. I had locked down 2nd position in the process too!

The steep downhill of Lynx Trail was next. I have done this downhill before in other races (10 Mile Road Race, Bare Bones Run), but usually you have to run back up it. Not today, as you just had to barrel on down to the river bottom. This is about 3/4 mile of steep paved trail, so I lengthened my stride and started actually closing in on the first place runner. She was starting to look tired, and her legs weren’t going as fast as mine down the hill. Mile 10, which took me down the trail to the Water Treatment Plant, was my fastest at 7:13.

You know that openness I spoke of from earlier in the race? Well, since everyone was pretty spaced out by now, except for female #1 and another male runner between us, you couldn’t see much in the winding trails. And there were no spectators along this part of the route. So while the trails are familiar to me, the strain I had been putting on my body for the first 10 miles was catching up, and my mental game was cracking. I kept focusing on female number 1, but anytime I sped up, she did too. When she slowed, I couldn’t overcome the numbness in my quads to get up next to her. Miles 11-12 were really slow at 7:44 and 8:10. My time was 1:30.10, and I could still make a personal best, even with my legs starting to give out. I pretty much had added an extra minute to my previous pace from when we were on flat straight-aways. And while I was still in 2nd position, I was nervous my body would crash and burn.

At mile 12, though, something happened. To east of the trail, I heard a voice yell “ANDREA!!!” On the metal stairs going down from the coulee was Haley, one of my cross country runners from WCHS. She had been doing hill training with her dad that morning. I yelled back to her “COME RUN WITH ME!” and about 30 seconds later I had an eager 16 year old by my side. I told her I was in 2nd place with less than a mile to go, but was wearing down. I needed her to push me to the finish, and make sure no one passed me.

IMG_6019.JPG

Haley saved me at the end of that race, as I not only held my 2nd place female position, but I finished in 1:37:51—-a new personal best by 3 seconds! First place clocked in at 1:37:00-If I hadn’t slowed down so much after the downhill, it could have been mine! But, honestly, I was giving it as hard as I could leading up to those last 5km, and the mix of sharp turns, no straightaways, and no crowd to cheer you on, made it tough. Finding my own personal pacer the last mile was key for me finishing as strong as I did!

The woman who beat me actually turned out to be a friend of a friend! She knew who I was from talking with my friend and co-worker Amie, and Amie had told her I was pretty intense and to look out for me! Marissa, the woman who took first place, is not only a few inches taller than me, but a few years younger than me. So, since this was my last race in the 20-29 category I felt pretty proud as I enter my 30s! This race also gave me the confidence that it is possible for me to keep ticking time off my personal best. I have the goal set in my mind to be in the 1:36’s by next year. Considering last year I was running 1:46, and the year before that I was doing 1:56, I am very proud of my progress.

Awards came at 10:00 am, and I was the recipient of a $100 cheque from the police. It is funny to me because the day prior I had went to the courthouse to pay an $89 speeding ticket. Irony. Marissa and I chatted some more, then I went and had a free 20 minute massage from students at the Lethbridge College. The race day started and ended perfectly! I was so excited to share with everyone how I did, so I spread the word on social media. In doing so, I also found out from Amie later that day that Marissa and I share more in common than just running—she also loves herself some craft beer. Maybe she will partake in my pre-race tradition next time? Or at least go have some celebratory beers after? Your move Marissa!

IMG_5944.JPG

Race Recap-LRPS Half Marathon…Finding Motivation Where You Least Expect It!

Standard

20130922-111610.jpg

The Lethbridge Regional Police Half Marathon for Special Olympics was held on Saturday, September 14th, 2013. They were hosting a 5km and 10km in addition to the half marathon. All events started at the Lethbridge Lodge on Scenic Drive, and all ended down at the police firing range in the river bottom.

20130922-111640.jpg
Dan came with me to the start if the race to catch a few snapshots of the start. It started a little later than the 8:00 time. It was amusing to me, as it was being organized by all the police officers, and the main issue with starting on time was making sure the entrance and exit from the Tim Horton’s on Scenic Drive was blocked so the runners could go by. We didn’t need to be hit by some crazy folks getting their double-doubles!

20130922-111734.jpg
All three event distances ran together from the start until you hit the Lynx Trail on Scenic. The 5km and 10km turned down the steep descent, and the half trucked onward. This was when I hit mile 1 and realized that yet again, I was going too fast. My second mile slowed down so much, and ended up being my slowest split of the whole race. I had to get with the program, otherwise I would be lucky to even finish the race in sub-2 hours.

20130922-111811.jpg
As I was running next to the cemetery on Scenic, an old man tinkered past me—-I heard his steps coming my way, and as he got in front of me he said “nice pace!” He was decked out in short-short running shorts, a red and yellow marathon race sleeveless shirt with French writing, and a buff on his head. I started talking to him….his name is Barney, he has been running for 40 years, and he is in his upper 60s. I started running with Barney as we headed down into the Sugar Bowl, and the conversation we were having was fantastic. I started picking up my pace, and so did he, as we ran down the green strip to South Parkside Drive. Found out that the shirt he was wearing was from a marathon in France, where the goals as not to run your best time, but to stop at as many places as possible on the course and drink wine. He finished that one in 6:15, and was a little boozy by the end.

20130922-112012.jpg
As we ran down Parkside Drive, another older man named Graham came up behind up. Barney knew him, and it turns out Graham is sort of a running icon in the running circle of Lethbridge. Graham is a little younger than Barney, and had moved from England to Lethbridge 30 years ago. Barney told us to keep on pushing and to go ahead of him. He thanked me for running with him all that time, as did I. Graham and I headed into Henderson Lake, where we ran together around the lake and chatted. He told me how my form was fantastic and so was my breathing. When he found out I was only 28, he also talked about how I have my whole life ahead of me to reach my running peak and potential—-that most women distance runners who compete in half marathons and more are their best in their mid 30s to 40s. After we got out the park and onto 9th Ave South, he told me to pushed ahead and he would be right behind—-his goal was for around 1:50, but he also said that at his age, just finishing is a goal in itself.

Miles 9-10 are usually my hardest spots in a half. This race made those miles feel like nothing, as a natural decline in the neighborhood kept my stride smooth. We now hit up to the Lynx Trail and it was our turn to go down to the river bottom. This trail is about 3/4 a mile, with a pretty steep decline, that if you’re not careful, you’ll ruin your quads. I barreled down to the river bottom and now I only had 5 km left.

The last 5 km was tough, due to the fact it is so windy down on those trails, and the spacing between competitors was far enough apart you could not see anyone behind or in front of you. It felt as if you were running alone, your own race. I was realizing I was getting really close to possibly running my fastest race ever. This motivated me to keep on trucking through, past Helen Schuler Nature Centre, and down past Fort Whoop-Up and Indian Battle Park. As you finished the race following the trail near the dirt bike park, you could see the fork in the road and then the finish. I went up a small incline, and then the goal was on sight! Down the gravel road, I finished in at 1:46:42, a whole 40 seconds faster than my previous best of 1:47:22 in Red Deer this May!

20130922-112052.jpg

I wandered into the park area, only to see Graham come in one minute later, at 1:47:41! He came over and gave me a huge high five and handshake, thanking me for pushing him. Then Barney came in at 1:50:27! Seriously, these men are in a class of their own, and it am so grateful I got to run with them during this race. It is a good thing that I was hitting a wall around mile 3 when Barney decided to pass me, because I had some of the best race conversations ever while running the LRPS Half Marathon. Thank you Barney and Graham for being a huge inspiration!

20130922-111844.jpg