Tag Archives: marathon

Summer Running Recap

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Of course, I did my last post 3 months ago. Of course, I haven’t written about any of the races I did in the late spring and any of the training I have been doing this summer, and I haven’t written about what is ahead.

So, I am doing it now. It’s going to be pretty concise, but it’s a post.

I left you with the fact that the race weekend for Whitefish Half and Full Marathon was upon on. We headed down for the Canadian long week in May and had just an overall fantastic time. We went with our good friends Nick and Alycia, and my husbands parents also came down and stayed at a hotel to help with Andy. Dan and Alycia would then run the full marathon, while Nick and I both ran the half.

En route

Everyone runs the first 13 miles together. Half course was relatively “easy” as far as elevation, turns, etc. Dan and I ran together and had a very good pace for most of it. Dan was actually killing it and ended up leaving me at around mile 8 or 9. I had trouble in those two miles and was very tempted to just start walking and quit. My competitive edge felt lost. However, I mustered up some willpower and pushed through. My finishing time was 1:47:47, which I will happily take after it being such a long time without racing! 20/237 for women and 4/40 for women 35-39.

At the end of the half marathon
Four finishers!

The following weekend I had the disaster that was the Calgary Full Marathon. I need to stop doing this full marathon because it’s never a good race for me. The half goes well. The ultra has gone well. But this damn distance. Anyway, 5km in to the race I knew stuff wasn’t going to go right. I also had my worst day of my period and felt like shit (yeah, I’m whining. but I’m talking about a natural thing that everyone should know SUCKS when you are trying to compete) so there’s that. The fact I finished is just good enough for me. I ran a 4:30.23, and YES-Dan’s time at Whitefish (even with the crazy elevation!) beat mine. He ran a 4:07.25, with a 1:45.41 half split. And his time for the second half wasn’t slower because he hadn’t trained….it was slower because the second half of that course was EVIL!

Happy to be done with a beer!

In the end, Calgary was completed. But the highlight may have been seeing the photos and video of our son Andy run the 1.2 km kids run. Ohhh, he had the best time!

Mascots at the kids race

How was summer then? Well…we bought a house, sold a house, moved, went to Hawaii….and oh yeah….I trained for the Lost Soul Ultra 100KM. This race happens ONE WEEK FROM TODAY and HOLY SHIT IT IS STARTING TO GET REAL.

I did the LSU 50km twice—once in 2019 and then also last year in 2021. Last year, a monsoon came in the middle of the night before the 50km race start so they had to change things last minute and make it the wet-weather route. Not a trail race, but it was done. This will be my first ever go at a 100km race distance, with my farthest ever before being the 54km that is the regular Lost Soul…and the most I’ve ever run in one day is 70km during our silly 100 point day.

Look really close and you can see me. The coulees were so green early in the summer!

My good friend Tracey is crewing me (thank god) and the weather appears to finally be getting cooler. The rain needs to hold off and all should be good. I know there will be some really high HIGHS and some pretty low LOWS during my attempt at this. But as long as I finish, then it’s a personal best.

I really do hope to do a detailed report on this race because this is a pretty big deal for me. I’m grateful for having the time in the summer to do the training while not teaching, and also for Andy being at daycare so I have this selfish time to run.

Next post will hopefully be posted in this same month! I can’t wait to share stories from the trails!

Race Weekend!!!! FINALLY!

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Well well well….it’s finally time. The time has come. It’s here. WE HAVE A RACE WEEKEND GETAWAY!

I know there have been events happening elsewhere in the last year even during the pandemic. But in Canada, most of our things were still cancelled due to gathering laws. And then the ‘easy’ border crossing by road wasn’t easy because it was closed to traffic until I don’t even remember when…November 2021?

In early 2020, we had chosen the Whitefish Marathon Weekend in Montana as our spring race. Had an AirBNB booked with friends. Going to be great! Well, that got cancelled (obviously) and our race entries got transferred to 2021. The race happened in 2021, but none of us from Canada could go…I mean, unless you flew. We weren’t allowed to cross the road border.

Now its 2 years later. And it’s been about 3 years since I have done a half marathon race (my last was Woody’s RV Half Marathon in Red Deer, May 2019). I ran a 1:43.20 then. After that race, my focus was a full in Haida Gwaii (3:42 and change) and my 50km Ultra Trail Race.

I have trained pretty well this spring….but my base and my ability is SO DIFFERENT than it was since I last toed the start line of a road race. I know I should just listen to Dan and focus on that this race weekend is about travel and having fun with friends….but I am nervous. I would used to thrive on being competitive to myself in road races. I am going to push the best I can, and while I have done the mileage in training, I am not sure if I will just explode part way through. It almost feels like this is my first time doing a race and don’t know what to expect.

We leave this afternoon to do the 3-3.5 hour drive to beautiful Whitefish. The weather for the weekend looks ideal. We are staying with really good friends at an AirBNB close to start and finish. In-Laws are already down there at a hotel and are going to watch Andy race day and then take him on Saturday night so we can have some fun.

This trip and race has been 2 years in the making and we finally get to go. I have no clue what my “Race Report” will be. Maybe I’ll surprise myself. Maybe my legs will give out and I’ll have to walk my ass across the finish. Either way, I just have to remember that this means one thing—RACING IS FINALLY BACK!!!

Looking back on 2021 and ahead to 2022

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So, as I look back at 2021…..race wise, I want to forget about it all

No races yet this year. Everything had been cancelled. Notice how on the top of my main page I have result headers going way back to 2013? And the last year was 2019? That’s because 2020 blew up all the races. And then 2021 just kept being disappointment after disappointment of races being delayed and then cancelled. I have said it before–I am not a virtual race person. So I only did one in 2021 and that was the Haida Gwaii Half Marathon. That race holds a special space in my heart from when we went and did it in person in 2019. Once summer hit in 2021, I hit the trails. It was my last hope. Lost Soul 50km WAS going to happen! The 100km and 100 mile racers started on Friday, September 10th. It was exciting that something was actually occurring. I started to get my pre-race, night before jitters and laid all my stuff out.

And then….the rain.

This won’t be a really big recap, but the main thing is rain hit at around 9 pm Friday night. We had been so dry and at risk of wildfires all summer long, and it chose to rain that night. Rained all night long….100 mile runners were STUCK on the course in coulee mud. They pulled the runners off the course starting around 3:30 am whenever they reached their next aide station. At some point in the middle of the night the race directors started making a plan.

When I woke up at around 5:30, everything was up in the air. I believe it was at 6:15 am that a decision was posted on Facebook that YES the 50 km race would start, but it would be delayed to 7:15 am, and at that time all 100 mile racers would also start up again with the 50 km runners. The final catch-wet weather route.

What is a wet weather route for a 50 km trail race in the easy-to-destroy coulees? It is a 10km loop you do 5 times that is on mainly pavement, a touch of shale path, and one 100m stretch of mud.

Now. Today’s date is Jan 6th. This race recap is so soon after the actual race, it’s going to be very detailed…..yeah, no. My New Years Resolution is going to be to get back to actually doing training and race recaps, because 2022 better have some fucking races (more on that at the end). But the main thing about this Lost Soul….we were all just SO HAPPY to have a damn race! If this race had been cancelled due to weather, and not COVID, it would have been a huge slap in the heart. Was my time faster than it would have been on the coulee course? Of course—it was pavement. But was I in more pain than I would have been on the regular route? Of course—it was pavement.

Just look at that muddy shale! Photo Credits above and below-LSU volunteers

I am forever grateful for the lovely race directors who made the decision to change the route in order to protect the coulees and allow us to still have an event. It was very stressful even leading up to race day before the weather hit as there was a chance that it would be cancelled if new COVID restrictions had come in by then. So, the only thing I can thank Jason Kenney for is that he delayed any sort of Vax Passport restriction stuff until after my race. THANK YOU, but you are still an asshat.

My finish time was 5:28. I was sore AF after. I got to run with our son Andy into the finish line. My husband got to see me finish. My friend Tracey helped me at the main aid station whenever I came through. The positive about a looped course was that anyone who was spectating was in the same spot and you got to see everyone anytime you came through headquarters. No, it wasn’t the traditional Lost Soul Ultra. But nothing since March 2020 has been traditional.

So, what’s next? Register for the 50km for 2022 so I can do the regular route again and try to beat my 2019 time? Nah…..how about do it twice? That’s right….I registered for the 100km Lost Soul Ultra. This will be my farthest race ever. The most I have ever run in one day is 70 km during our crazy 100 Point Day event in 2020. This will be a total different race for me, and my main goal is to just finish. I need a different challenge; something to motivate me. I had little motivation last year with everything getting cancelled, so starting 2022 off on the right foot with signing up for races and starting plans is step 1.

While that is the Goal race it isn’t until September. I have also already signed up for the Whitefish Half Marathon and Calgary Marathon (both in May) and Taber Tuff 25km Trail Race in July. We also have a deferred entry to the Lone Wolf trail race in September (that was another last minute cancellation due to BC COVID rules). I am going to attempt to get in to the Elk Valley 50km in July to use as a training run. And I will also keep my eyes open for other races that intrigue me.

This year is about getting back in the habit and reaching some new challenges. Here goes nothing!

2019…the new normal

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You can take a look at my 2019 race result link to see the events I did this year. And then, if you feel like it, you can click on 2018, 2017, 2016…and you’ll soon realize how few events I did this year in comparison to other years.

This was the first full calendar year that 1.) I was back at work full time after maternity leave and 2.) we would be now parents to our son Andy, who turned 2 in October 2019. Before a child, I could run whenever I wanted and sign up for any race I wanted (obviously within reason). There were really no constraints! Even when I was pregnant, I kept up the running and shorter events. During maternity leave, I actually did have lots of time to run and train because I was off of work and I was willing to take Andy with me to any daytime boot camps he was allowed at. We still could travel lots and my schedule was flexible. Coming back full time to work with a child at daycare and trying to manage your own activities is not for the faint of heart.

Race medals from my 2019 events

I barely remember the winter and spring of 2019, but it was me focusing on just running in general. I did start a run streak during that time to get myself motivated for the season, but stopped in late March due to just being worn out. My husband never understands it, but Moonlight Run in March is always stressful for me. The first race of the year! I ran alright, and now looking back at that 45:17 I don’t know why I was that down. Then Rita’s Run 5km in May and Woody’s Half Marathon. The half was frustrating for me because 1.) Dan beat me and 2.) my time was actually about a minute slower than the year before while on maternity leave. I just felt down about my decline.

2019 race swag

As summer hit, things got better. Switched over to trail season and I had a lot of fun. This was my first year really giving trail running an honest try. Dan and I did a two-person coulee cactus crawl team and actually placed in the mixed division, even beating teams who had up to 5 members. We also did Lone Wolf in Fernie as a 2 person team and had a blast with our friends and Andy that weekend. In July, we travelled way West to Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, where I ran the full marathon. What an experience that was! It was a small field of runners, but I was honoured to place 2nd female with a pretty respectful time. With little recovery time and still a busy summer, I had to stay prepped for my first trail 50km Ultra. And I did the Lost Soul Ultra in September, even beating my goal time and placing in my age group.

Special awards

I had one more half marathon race lined up in October before the NYC marathon would come in November. That race never happened, as my world was flipped when I got a phone call late September that my Uncle Ed had passed away. This was my dad’s only sibling. I was shook. I travelled to Longville, Minnesota, for the funeral and to see family. When I came back, I could never get back into a groove. I forced my body through the NYC marathon, thankful that my only goal that race was to run with my husband and our friend and have fun. And since after NYC I’ve just lost motivation.

Am I going to stop running? Hell no. But I need to be a little easier on myself and get back to the root of running—-to stay healthy. Dan reminded me that about two days ago. That is the number 1 reason to run. And now, our number 2 reason to run is to spend time as a family and with our friends. That is something that has changed a lot in the last year or two and I am forever grateful for our running friends. Not just the ones we see at marathon club or races, but the ones we hang out with while in NYC…at beer miles…on our patio…our friends who hosted us while we ran in Haida Gwaii…the ones who cheered me on and crewed never at Lost Soul…the ones we are running with in New Years Eve for a group pub run. The last thing is to be competitive. That may have been a higher point to me in the last years. But it shouldn’t be now. It still matters to me; I’m still going to be competitive. But I gotta remember what is more important.

So 2020, what will you bring? I am registered for the Lost Soul 50km and hope to better my time. Dan and I are also doing Lone Wolf again, and our friend and his daughter are going to come and camp with us! We also plan on having a group of us go down to do the Whitefish Half Marathon in May and making it a fun long weekend with friends. 2019 may have been different compared to my other years, but now after reflecting on it, I’m looking forward to what my running future looks like!

Goodbye 2019…hello 2020!

New York Marathon 2019

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New York City!  WOW!  What a trip this was!  My husband Dan and I were fortunate enough that our local running store, Runners Soul, was putting on another travel event.  The first one they organized was last fall when we went to the Berlin Marathon.  Since that was a success, they got on the planning train again, but this time for the New York City Marathon.  The plan is for the store to do travel groups to all the Abbott Marathon Major races, and this is helping me check off my list.  Upon completion of the NYC Marathon, I would have four of the six majors under my belt—Chicago, Boston, Berlin & New York.

We flew out to NYC on a Thursday night red eye flight.  This allowed us to maximize our time in NYC.  We would be staying four nights, and the marathon was on Sunday.  Arriving at around 9:45 AM to Newark, we were able to get right into the action of the city that day.  While we couldn’t get into our rooms yet at the hotel, we wandered with some friends around the city, got to the expo for packet pickup (the expo was CRAZY busy) and Dan and I eventually were able to sneak in a nap later in the day.

Highlights of sightseeing and tourist stuff we did while in NYC were: Comedy show at Upright Citizens Brigade, finding a sweet jazz club with ping pong tables and shuffleboard, general touring of the city, World Trade Center memorial, Grand Central Terminal, Book of Mormon (HILARIOUS!), dinner and pub hopping in Harlem with friends, seeing a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, wandering Brooklyn, and Katz’s Delicatessan.

So now onto the marathon.  I knew this would be a crazy one, being that it is the largest one in the world.  Somewhere over 54,000 runners!  When registering, Dan and I had transit options for getting to the start line in Staten Island.  You could take the 6 am ferry, which required getting to the ferry first.  Or we could choose the 5:30 am or 5:45 am bus directly to the start.  We opted for the 5:30 am bus because honestly I didn’t know how long it would take.  In retrospect, we should have done 5:45 am or just hung back for a later time because we got there so quickly and then after getting through security we had to wait in the cold for a solid 3 hours before getting into the corrals.

This was the worst part of the day, but once we started moving to get in to our corrals it was a lot better.  I was placed in a faster wave than Dan, even though we put the same expected finishing time.  I moved back to his wave so we could run together.  This did cause major congestion as we were in the second wave versus the first (there were four waves altogether) but since we weren’t going for breaking any speed records this was fine.

Funnelling through the corral up to the start was an experience in itself.  It was crazy to see how well organized all these different corrals were.  There were three corrals (orange, green and blue) in each of the four waves.  So we started separated from two other groups when our wave began!  And since the first mile was over the Staten Island Bridge, two waves ran on the top of the bridge on either side of it (we were one of them) and the third wave ran below the bridge.  It was so well orchestrated.  All three corrals didn’t blend together until around the 5km mark!

The next borough you hit was Brooklyn..  People were proud of their neighborhood!  This was the area you were in the longest.  During the race, Dan and I ran with our friend Adam-it was his first full marathon.   Our general plan was to run at a pace with a goal of sub 4 hours.  We were generally on this pace most of the time, and would only slow down during any of the various bridge climbs.  I was naïve to think this would be an ‘easy’ course.  Those bridges are challenging because of the slight incline to begin, plus there are no spectators on the bridges.

The toughest bridge would be the Queensboro Bridge, which would be located in Queens at around mile 15.  This was a long bridge that hits you at that point where you may start questioning why you are running this race!  When we crossed the bridge we kept our eyes open for our friends Nick and Nicki, who were standing somewhere in the mile 16 area.  I thought we had definitely missed them (the crowds were 3-4 people deep) but sure enough they saw us, so Dan and I ran back quickly to give them a hug!

At mile 20 in the Bronx, we got a little crazy and stopped for a shot of tequila-Patron to be exact!  Figured, WHY NOT!  People had a sign for FREE SHOTS so we took them up on it.  Our spirits were still high and we were still on pace to break 4 hours.  We were still on that pace once we made our way into Manhattan and nearing Central Park.  With about 5km left, I remember telling Dan that if we ran approximately 9:20/min miles for the last bit we could get in under 4 hours!

Then, it all fell apart.

Dan’s body just sorta seized up on him.  His legs were cramping.  He was crabby.  He felt so miserable.  We had to walk a lot in Central Park and he was not enjoying himself at all.  With two miles left, we took the peace offering of a cup of beer from a spectator.  Also, my watch died so I had no idea exactly how slow we were going.  We would walk/jog for the last 5km and it felt like it took forever.  Our final ‘push’ to the finish line was a slow meander.  We came in at 4:07.25 seconds.  While it wasn’t under 4 hours, it was pretty close and we have no regrets!  There was no way I was going to ditch Dan the last 5km; what would have been the point!?  I wanted us to finish together, and so we did.

The course for this race was AWESOME.  Definitely a major highlight just all rolled together.  What wasn’t awesome was the ridiculously long walk from the finish line to get your medal, food and then post-race poncho.  It was an extremely long trek.  Once you got to the ponchos, everyone had them on and were walking so slow and in pain that it looked like a mass scene from The Walking Dead.  It was also a challenge to get to the closest subway station post race, as the area we were let out of for the family meet up spot was conveniently across from the one subway line we needed.  However, we could just cross the street since they had a spot barricaded.  We had to walk to two more blocks, cross the street, and then walk back.

I would definitely recommend the NYC Marathon, especially if you are working on getting those Marathon Majors completed!  I would not recommend it as someone’s first marathon necessarily, as it is very overwhelming.  We were fortunate to enjoy our time in New York with a bunch of our friends and with beautiful weather.  What more could have we asked for?!?

Totem to Totem Marathon

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I don’t even know where to begin! So I’ll start with a quote regarding visitor information directly from the race webpage:

“Located off the north west coast of B.C, Haida Gwaii is as far west as you can go in Canada. It is the home and traditional territory of the Haida. It is one of Canada’s undiscovered treasures.”

 

Flying in

 

This was a family vacation that we planned around a race. It was able to happen in part that our friends, David & Heidi, live out in Haida Gwaii. We booked the three flights, shuttle and ferry and went out on an adventure! By using our AirMiles (and the fact Andy could fly for free) it cost us $100 per adult ticket for all three flights, return! Flying from Alberta to British Columbia is the lowest AirMiles flight redemption for province to province, so this was a steal considering how much all these little flight segments would have cost.

Riding the moving sidewalk in Vancouver

Almost a 3 hour delay out of Vancouver calls for a nap

Even slept through a parent transfer!

We arrived in Haida Gwaii on the Thursday. This allowed us to get settled in at our friends’ place and tour a bit the next morning. Flights were delayed out of Vancouver, and we ended up leaving 3 hours late to the island. Andy was a champ throughout this all (more so, I was getting super anxious and I think my husband was getting sick of airports). I was very worried we would be stuck in Sandspit (not where Dave & Heidi live) because technically, the last ferry would have already left. However, BC Ferries ran one more ferry from Moresby Island to Graham Island solely because of the inbound flight coming in. Phew!

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We made it to Sandspit!

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Loading it up on the ferry

Not loving it on the ferry!

On Friday morning, Dave and Heidi decided to show us how life is out there and we went crabbing. It was a lot of fun. We drove up to Miller Creek (a spot on the race course), parked on the side of the road, then hiked into the beach.(YES we bought our license to crab, which was a whopping $5 per person. You could catch up to six crabs a day per person on that…) We ended up catching a Dungeness crab and a red crab (I forget the name of this kind). The Dungeness was huge! It fed us all lunch that afternoon.

Probably my favourite picture from the trip!  Some serious sand-scooping with a sand dollar is happening.

Dave & Dan became friends in elementary school when they both took French Immersion

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Our catch

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The crew (minus Dave since he was taking the picture)

Bringing home the prize!

Later that day, we went to the Skidegate to pick up our race packages, which was located at the Kaay Centre. FUN FACT: This was an official AMAZING RACE CANADA location! Even though it was a small package pickup, you could walk a little bit inside the centre and out on the grounds to admire the totems, canoes, and the view. I was happy with the shirts, as they were the Authentic T-Shirt Company, and from my experience their shirts are not of the best quality….and often, they are only one “gender size”. Since I got a women’s small, it actually fits my proportionals correctly and is not a lost cause. The logo and the shirt design mesh well together and both my husband and I really like the colour!

 

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Family photo!

Race started at 8 am. The drive from Dave & Heidi’s place in Queen Charlotte was about 15 minutes. If you are a tourist doing the race, there are quite a few B&B options right in Queen Charlotte too! And I am sure people have Air BnB. There are just none of your typical “Holiday Inn”stuff. And that is fine! We loved the comforts offered here! Race parking was so easy, everyone was so nice. The full and half marathon would be starting at 8, with the 10km following at 8:15.

Down on the beach at the Kaay Centre

Getting ready to start

If this race interests you for a full marathon, the first thing I need to make clear is that it is an extremely small field. In the past years of running in general, more and more people take part in 10km and half marathons….full marathons still seem to be a little bit scarier of a task. I knew it would be a small field based on looking at past results. When you look at the 2019 final results, there were 21 total runners in the full marathon, 47 half marathon runners, and 128 runners in the 10km. So, coming from “a city” this is VERY SMALL. THAT IS NOT A BAD THING! For lots of distances, this is great. But I was well aware of how the marathon field would be and how alone I would potentially feel on the course.

The course is “out-and-back” style, where the half marathoners turn around at Dead Tree Point water station. The marathoners would then continue on to St. Mary Spring, then head back to Skidegate. The whole time you are running, you are on the “highway.” It’s the only road there, with one lane each way. They have tall cones on the edge for runners to stay inside of. When cars occasionally pass, most honk and wave. There are water stations approximately every 5km. If you really get frustrated with your race just look to the side and you are literally running alongside the ocean. You’ll forget your worries!

I won’t recap mile by mile, I’ll just post a Garmin screenshot and it’ll tell you how it went. In summary: Started off strong feeling I could get that 3:30.00 but by 7 miles I was so mentally frustrated and alone (since the half marathoners had turned around) I was just in a mood. Lo and behold Meaghan and Benjy from Victoria, BC, come up to me. THANK GOD. They had ran with Dan for a few miles before the marathoners kept going, and Dan must have described me well enough to them that they knew I was his wife. At that point I thought another female runner was ahead of me. Turns out, I was the lead and Meaghan would ultimately win for the women. But without them showing up, and running with me to the turnaround point, I may have just dove into the brush and then found my way to the sand to start crabbing again because I was crabby….

Running with others is fantastic. We met up around mile 7 or 8. We all ran together until the turnaround. Meaghan and Benjy went ahead. I eventually passed Benjy. And then seeing the areas I already had once passed motivated me to keep moving and pick it up. I’m going to say GIRL POWER here because after Meaghan passed me, no other women passed me but I caught up to and passed 3 guys! It felt good! Since I was feeling the pain of the mileage (I hadn’t done a training run longer than 15 miles this season….oops) and I couldn’t see the third place female behind me, I made sure to take my time at the aid stations. They were well stocked, but I will say the first one we hit on our way out from the start was weird because they only have bottled water but no cups or jugs to fill from….so I carried a bottle of water for a while as a shower device!

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Photo credit to @jagsbean Jags Photography

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With less than 400 m to the finish! Beautiful! Follow @jagsbean on Instagram for more!

 

Finish line area was super welcoming and all the runners, spectators and volunteers were genuinely happy when someone came across. We received a beautiful finishers’ medal, the design was new this year by local Haida artist Robert Davidson. Andy was waiting with David & Heidi when both Dan and then I crossed the finish line. They caught video of Dan coming in with Andy clapping, and then when I crossed in I ran and gave him a big hug.

I finished the race in a time of 3:42.35, which is my third fastest full marathon.  This was my 15th marathon.

As a mother runner, coming across the finish line and giving that little monster a big huge is an amazing feeling!

We hung around for a bit, and then we were informed that awards wouldn’t happen until the last finishers came in, so around 2 pm. At standard races,this would not occur. But since this is such a small, community and cultural event, I understand the importance of waiting for everyone to be in attendance to receive their awards. We went back and showered, Andy took a snooze, and we came back at 2 pm. The awards were presented by the totems in behind the Kaay Centre overlooking the water.

IT WAS PICTURESQUE. I received an award for being 2nd female in the marathon (time of 3:42.35…my third fastest time!) and it is honestly, without a doubt, the best award I’ve ever received in a race. Lots of races just have finishers medals, or if there are not finishers’ medals then they do age group medals. They are pretty generic. Since we are on the edge of the damn country, it’s not like they have access to mass-produced awards….so I was given a necklace carved out of black stone, with the Haida eagle & raven on it, and the Argilllite stone that I am told only Haida are allowed to harvest (made by local artist Tyler York). It’s pretty damn special.

2nd place female award

All of the award winners from each event-Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km

After awards, the rest of our trip began. We were only staying three more nights, but we made the most of it and the best we could with a toddler. We walked 400 metres every morning to the playground. And we walked 100 metres from Dave & Heidi’s house to a trail that was a rainforest. We went to a beach, we ate good food, we had a blast!

Hiking trails right behind David & Heidi’s house

Beach before heading to dinner (Notice the monkey swinging on the rope….)

Dinner at Blacktail in Queen Charlotte

Andy approved of our meals that evening!

Berries are everywhere! Ever heard of THIMBLEBERRIES? Yeah, I hadn’t. Andy LOVES THEM. Find them everywhere! We drove out to see the site of the Golden Spruce (I had never read about this act of eco-terroism, but we found out about it whilebeing here. Well, Dan knew but I did not. It’s super interesting actually!) Wesaw ancient carved Haida canoes, we walked random trails, we did beach walks, we dined on friends’ patios that overlooked the ocean….we did as much as we could. And I know there is more to do.

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THE BERRY MONSTER!

Golden Spruce Trail is really accessible for all ages

Since I did in fact drink the water at St. Mary Springs on our last day while doing an outing, I know I will “be back”. But even before that,I know I NEED to be back. Our family needs to be back. And if you are interested in travelling to an amazing island in British Columbia, that feels a worlds’ away, you should too. Even if you don’t run. But if you do run, and want to add a bucket-list race, why not run on the Edge of Canada?

Read the sign….I drank the water, so I will return to the Islands someday!

Dinner on our last night at a friends’ house.  THE END!

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Running on the edge of Canada

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I moved to Canada in December 2008. I started working as a substitute teacher in January 2009, landing my first 1-year contract for the 2009-2010 school year. I was teaching 4 grade 9 math classes and a grade 10 class. It was a new curriculum year for Math 9, and we had a new textbook. As I worked through my notes in the text, when I got to the Chapter 6 on Linear Relations there was a section on interpreting graphs. There is an example problem, that at the time, meant nothing to me. Here it is:

I’ve been teaching math 9 on and off since 2009, and this example comes up when we talk about extrapolation and interpolation. Even though I’ve always been keen on maps, I never took the time to look where the hell this actually was in relation to the rest of Canada. Fast forward 10 years from my first time teaching Math 9 and I am actually going to Queen Charlotte Islands.

Note where Lethbridge is in the bottom right of Alberta. Head due west towards Vancouver, then follow up the coast and you’ll see Queen Charlotte Islands. We are basically almost going to be in Alaska.

My husband’s friend David and his wife Heidi moved out to Queen Charlotte about a year and a half ago. Dan met David when they took late French-Immersion during Elementary through High School in Red Deer, Alberta. David and Heidi eventually moved out to Vancouver Island, then Vancouver, and now have left the big city to live a more simple life. So we decided to make our family summer vacation to be flying out to Queen Charlotte!….and doing a race of course!

Flying out there isn’t an easy task. I was able to use my Air Miles to get our flights covered (just paid $100 each for taxes) and Andy still flies free since he is under 2 years old. We will be leaving Lethbridge and flying to Calgary. Then Calgary to Vancouver. And lastly, Vancouver to Sandspit. Once we land in Sandspit, we have a shuttle arranged that takes us about 20 minutes to the ferry. We get on the ferry, ride it for 20-25 minutes, and then will be dropped off at David & Heidi’s doorstep. It’ll be a full travel day for sure.

Since I am always looking for unique races to participate in, when I found out that the Totem to Totem Marathon occurs in July in Haida Gwaii I knew we had to come out during that time. It is a relatively small race, however, it is still a Boston qualifier. It appears the race began in 2010 (that’s the earliest results they have on their site) and there were 5 full marathoners, 12 half marathoners, and 12 who ran the 10km. Last year, there are results for 14 marathoners, 28 half marathoners and 128 runners who did the 10km. Considering the remote location, the growth in this race (particularly in the 10km) is great to see.

The race appears to be an out and back. No course map is provided on the website. But I think it is paved and pretty much along the water the whole way. I really will be running “on the edge” of Canada so to speak. I have no clue if there will be a bike pacing the lead runner. I have no clue how many spectators there will be. I am preparing myself to be mentally challenged because with so few marathon runners (I count 21 registered marathoners on the confirmation page through Running Room) we will all get spaced out pretty quickly. I am going ot be running my own race.

What do I hope for? Well, in a perfect world I nail that 3:30.00 I was going for back in Berlin this September and qualify again for Boston. But, I honestly feel like this is the least prepared I’ve been for a marathon in years…..

Yes, I have been running. I have been racing. But my training just hasn’t been “right” since being back at work. I’ve been dragging, having back pain, legs hurt. I have been meeting with my doctor, getting chiro done, going for massages. I haven’t ran longer than 15 miles straight all of 2019. So everything after mile 16 is going to be hella interesting.

I just need to trust myself in knowing that I’ve done this before. This isn’t my first rodeo. This will actually be my 15th full marathon! And the last time I ran a marathon in British Columbia I ran my best time ever. Sea level and cool temperatures are a good thing for me! I’m doing a race on an ISLAND!! How cool is that?!?! Either way, I am very much looking forward to not only this race, but the experience of exploring and learning about Haida Gwaii, because I honestly know NOTHING about the history of the area or the area itself. I can’t wait to right this race and trip report!

Berlin Marathon 2018

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Wow. We conquered the Berlin Marathon! What a crazy experience it was! I could write multiple blog posts, all very long, detailing the day by day events. But, it’s 9 pm on a Friday…I am worn out, sick, and have an 11 month old who may wake up middle of night! So I’m doing a small recap that’ll touch on some details I think are worth noting, especially if you are contemplating making the trek out to do this race.  update.  It is now Sunday.  I hope to finish this post today!!!

Pre-event issue…I started feeling sick on the Tuesday before the race. At first I thought it was just my body being sore after boot camp, but I think I was just wearing out. On the drive to my in laws on Wednesday, I started popping cold medicine because my nose was a running machine. Great…a transatlantic flight is upon us and I feel like trash.

I think the whole adrenaline of the trip made me feel better, because once we got to the airport I just forgot about it. But the transatlantic flight was tough. We left at 6 pm Thursday. It was my first time flying overseas and the first leg of flight was 9+ hours from Calgary to Frankfurt. Neither my husband or I slept well. But we kept pushing. By the time we got to Berlin it was 2:30 pm (8 hours ahead of home). Our only confusing transit issue in Berlin was getting from the airport to hotel. We hadn’t researched which “zone” we were travelling to, and the lineups at the machines to buy tickets were long with a lot of other confused people. We did make it to our hotel eventually…freshened up, changed, and headed to the expo.

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The expo was very easy to get to from our hotel. I booked our hotel on Priceline in December and got it at a rate of $82 USD/night. It was walking distance to the Friedrichstraße station, which could link you anywhere. And also walking to the start/finish by Brandenburg gate. We got to the expo quick, and arrived around 5pm.

I’m glad we didn’t have anything we really wanted to stop and purchase because this was the first instance we realized this event was going to a semi-organized chaos. The room to pickup your race packages were in the way back of the old airport hangers, and everywhere around you there were lines. And the lines weren’t straight, just a mosh pit of people pushing through. Luckily I had preordered us two event shirts (no shirts included in registration fee) so we didn’t have to push through people to buy them. Just had to find that line to pickup.

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We didn’t spend much time at the expo. We headed back to the hotel, went out way too late, and then slept in the next day. It was the day before the race, so in theory we should have been taking it easy. But seriously…we were in Berlin. We needed to see as much as possible.

We did a short shakeout run by the river. After changing and finding food, we then trekked around Berlin seeing all sorts of sights. Highlights included Humboldt University, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker, Berlin Wall memorial, and Topography of Terror. We also had a group dinner that evening for all of us in the Runners Soul group. Ate at a fantastic Italian place called Via Nova II. By the time Dan & I made it back to the hotel we had clocked in 11.5 miles. Time to rest for the marathon!

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Marathon morning cake bright and early. But with this being a 9:15 am start time for the elites, and our hotel so close to the start, we didn’t have to get up at a ridiculous time. We had pre-bought some breakfast items the night before and I went to the McDonalds two blocks away to get coffee at 6:15 am, so we were set. The group met at 8 am for a photo and then we all dispersed.

Biggest thing to know about this race is that the Europeans “organize” things differently. 44,000 runners and I’d guess the number of pre race porta potties available were 1/10 of what was available at Boston (25,000 runners). My friend Heather waited 45 minutes to use one and missed her corral start. Dan and I stood in line for about 15 minutes and then left the race grounds to go to a cafe, pay 0.50 euros at a turnstile, and use their bathrooms. People were pissing all over the park on their way to the corrals. It was disgusting. I don’t know if the city just doesn’t have the supply of porta potties or what, but you’d think since they’ve been doing this race for 44 years they’d know it’s an issue.

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So the race itself.  Well, it was 26.2 miles through Berlin and my Garmin clocked it as 26.44 miles.  That’s bound to happen in a race this large with all the weaving going on.  Instead of going through a mile by mile recap, I want to just note some key things during the race.

  1. I was in the second wave of runners, in corral E.  You could just jump into any corral with no one checking your bib…I didn’t have an issue with people around me being in an incorrect corral (up too far) and I was able to weave myself pretty close to the start of our corral.  I was about 10 deep to the left of the start area.  It was an awesome feeling at the beginning with thousands of runners being let off at once!
  2. I kept on perfect pace through the half marathon point.  I actually had a 1:47.30 once I crossed the timing mat, which if I were to have replicated that exactly in the second half I would have had my goal of 3:35.00
  3. My legs started to cramp and tighten in my hamstrings and quads around mile 9.  I am guessing due to transatlantic travel and the ridiculous amount we walked the days prior while touring
  4. Water stations were plentiful, and were also stocked with gels (which I heard tasted disgusting) and fruit later on.  The issue I had with these water stations is that it was not like when you run a race in North America….no “excuse me” or “sorry” or people being aware of those around you.  I got smashed into by no less than a dozen sweaty men during the course of the race as they plowed into the water stations.  Even when I would raise my hand up once getting water to signal I was walking someone would plow into me.  The etiquette I am used to was not present here.
  5. On the website, they said there were 40,775 runners representing 133 nations who finished, with 12,332 being women and 28,443 being men.  So while we are used to races in North America being pretty closely represented by women and men, this european race was not.  Also, while all of Berlin seems to speak English, the race participants I was around did not.  There was no one I could have a conversation with when I started to struggle at mile 16.  Everyone was so serious.
  6. Once I got to mile 16, I knew I needed to slow up and try to just enjoy the last 10 miles.  That’s when I started getting more frustrated with the lack of people around me who I could talk to while running, and all the pushing and shoving by the water stations.  I will say that the course is shaded pretty well in areas throughout, with no long stretches of blazing sun.  This was important because it was actually quite warm compared to what I would be used to doing a marathon in.
  7. For better or for worse, I stopped at the bathroom after mile 20.  Then, lo and behold, Marissa from our Runners Soul group came up behind me.  She was having frustration also and just wanted the race to be “fucking over.”  I now had my person to talk to the last 6 miles!
  8. We had a ton of fun in the last stretch, stopping for water and fruit when we could.  Just past mile 25 someone had a makeshift beer station so we stopped for a beer too!  Finishing as strong as we could in the final stretch through Brandenburg Gate was awesome, because each of us started to just pure on race one another to try and beat the other person.  Marissa’s chiptime came out on top by about 3 seconds.
  9. The finishing area was pretty well organized compared to the whole mess getting to corrals.  I wish I had selected “Poncho” instead of “bag drop” because the poncho that people got was nice.  And I was getting chilled in the shade as we waited for people from Runners Soul to finish.
  10. My husband came in about an hour later.  He started in a farther back corral than me.  I am so proud of him! He finished his second marathon with a 4:00.35 run, beating his first marathon by over 4 minutes.  Since the course ran long, he could have been under 4 hours if it had been less crowed.  And he also, along with four other guys, helped a Brazilian woman across the finish line.  And by help, I mean they carried her because she was passing out.  They just wanted her to finish.

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Below are a selection of the professional race photos (which I bought).  I will say that these photos are of higher quality than the Marathon Foto ones I am used to from North America races.  I wish I had seeked out more photographers for pictures before and after the race so I could have had some with Dan.

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And we are off!

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Somewhere in Berlin between miles 20-26.2 🙂

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Focused on finishing

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Probably my favorite photo, having an on course beer with less than a mile to go.  The tossing of the cup totally captures how we feel.

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Brandenburg Gate in the background and coming into the finish!

 

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Berlin Marathon finisher!

THIS WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!  My husband and I would have not been able to take part of this if it wasn’t for Runners Soul in Lethbridge putting together a travel group.  Also, if I was not still on my sweet 1-year Canadian maternity leave (sorry Americans) then we could have not left the country during this time of year…teachers have a great amount of days off, but you can’t just take time off at random times!  Oh, and if my in-laws couldn’t have watched Andy for a week then this trip would have been impossible..We want to do more races overseas, particularly finishing the Abbott World Marathon Majors.  We have New York (yeah, not overseas), London and Tokyo left for myself.  Dan still needs Chicago and Boston too.  We hope that Runners Soul does more travel groups to these races and that we are able to attend.  Dan still does not love running.  However, he loves these experiences of seeing new places and being with friends.  On our drive back to Lethbridge we talked about races in the future we want to travel to.  It is awesome that we have a common hobby that we can enjoy together. Until the next race…..Auf Wiedersehen!

Next Stop…Berlin!

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So. The time has come. My husband Dan and I are all trained and packed and ready to head on a whirlwind trip to Germany. The Berlin Marathon is this Sunday, September 16th! Friends have been asking “are you excited?! Are you nervous?!?” Of course I’m both, but I already feel more relaxed as I sit here in the car and we head up to Red Deer for the night. At this point, everything is packed for us an also everything is packed for Andy for his week at Nana & Gramps’ house. If anything has been forgotten, we’ll just have to go to a store.

A few weeks ago I was really starting to think about how this race will go for me on Sunday. While you can’t predict with certainty how it will play out, with my experience I am able to pinpoint pretty well reasons why this race will either 1.) be a success or 2.) be a mess.

Let’s start with the pessimistic view first:

Why it Could be a Mess

1.) This is the longest race I’ve ran since Spring 2016

While I trained all during my pregnancy and pretty damn quick after it, I didn’t put miles of over 13+ on until maybe late June of this year. And those were just training runs. And to go with that…

2.) I didn’t get in as many long runs as I would in previous training cycles

For this training cycle, I loosely followed my plan that was made for the Vancouver 2015 marathon. I did, however, adjust the weekend long run distances to align with what Dan and I would do together with the Runners Soul group runs on Saturdays. For distances over 15 miles, I had one 16, 18, and 20 miler during this cycle.

3.) The Stroller made my training runs a lot more challenging

I couldn’t get to the paces I wanted to hit as easily during training runs when I had to run with Andy.

4.) Training in the summer sucks

See above. That’s enough of a description

Now a bit more optimism…

Why it Could be a Success

1.) My consistency with training during pregnancy and postpartum has been awesome

37 weeks of prenatal running, a week where I couldn’t run before Andy was born, and then two weeks to recover…then back at it. I think that speaks for itself

2.) My August workouts were on point

Late in the training game workouts boost my confidence. The 20 miler went well (we even had Alyssa watch Andy so no stroller was needed!), I had some good goal pace workouts, and I got help from my friend Heather on speed workouts. The positive physical output gets my mental game set.

3.) The Stroller made my training runs a lot more challenging

So, since I’ll be running sans stroller on Sunday that should make it feel like a breeze, right?!?

4.) Training in summer sucks

I hate the heat. But it’s prepared me for if it’s a toasty day on Sunday!

All in all, I am set. I can’t change any of my bad training runs in this training cycle. I need to just move forward and do the best I can come Sunday. Maybe I’ll meet my ultimate goal for that race, but I need to recognize that even if the time doesn’t match up with what I’d like, the fact that I’m going out there to complete a full marathon just shy of 11 months postpartum is pretty bad ass.

Final Thoughts on 2017

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To say that 2017 was a crazy year is an understatement.  I started the year off in Walt Disney World with my mom and best friend.  I was pregnant and participated in the Marathon Weekend events.  Then, shortly after coming home, I found out I miscarried.  An immense amount of anger took over me.  But things have a funny way of working out.  No less than 6 weeks after my D&C I discovered I was pregnant again.  We had many early ultrasounds and blood tests to confirm the pregnancy.  We went for the 1st trimester screening test and were able to see a clear image of our growing baby.  At 20 weeks we found out we were having a baby boy.

All during this time I continued to run, using it as a coping mechanism from when I first found out the bad news, and then as a stress reliever to help keep some normalcy in my life. How much did I run this year?  Not as many races as I had in years prior, but quite a few.  I did three 5km races, three 5km virtual races, one 6km, one 4 mile, one 8km, two 10kms, a half marathon relay, two half marathons and one full marathon.  I am most proud of the 10km I ran at 35 weeks pregnant, which I completed in 1:02.50!

It was shortly after that race that I found out I had pre-hypertension.  This was discovered at my 37 week appointment.  I was done with work immediately, and one week later I was induced and gave birth to our son, Andrew Allen Pottage.  Labour was the most pain I’ve ever been in.  It was worse than any race I ever competed in.  But making it to this finish line was oh so sweet.

I have now pretty much fully recovered from not only the pregnancy and delivery, but also from my surprise appendectomy that I had at the beginning of December.  Now that I am ready to take on 2018, I have some big plans.

I will be joining Runners Soul marathon club for my 6th season.  I will be training for the half marathon distance, where I’ll run the Red Deer Half over May Long weekend.  Before May Long, I will do Moonlight Run 10km, 10 mile road race and the Walt Disney World Star Wars Half Marathon weekend, with both the 10km and half marathon events.  That will be an exciting trip, as it will be our first time on an airplane with baby Andy!  I can’t wait to take him to Disney World, and even though he won’t remember a damn thing, the memories  and photos will be ones to cherish.

The biggest running news for 2018 is that my husband and I will be heading to Berlin, Germany, in September to run the Berlin Marathon!  The opportunity was presented to us through our local running store Runners Soul, and there is a group of us heading out there to run in this World Marathon Major event!  And did you notice I said “my husband and I”?  YES, Dan will be running a full marathon!  He actually will be doing the Red Deer Full Marathon in May as his first full, in order to figure things out and see how much pain he is in afterwards.  But this is going to be such a memorable race-cation for us!

I’ll still blog in the new year, though, it may not be as often as I used to.  With the baby and all, things are a little different.  I will always do my race recaps, but also hope to talk about how training postpartum is going.  I am sure there will be some frustration as I try to get back to where I was before baby, and I hope to share how it is all going.

2017 started off really sour.  But it ended oh so sweet.