Tag Archives: personal best

10 & 4 Mile Road Race 2017

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On Saturday, April 8th, my husband and I participated in Lethbridge’s oldest running event-The 10 Mile Road Race.  This event was celebrating it’s 44th birthday this year!  I have ran in the 10 mile race 3 different times, with my best finish being last year with a 1:12.59-good enough for 2nd female overall and I walked away with some spending cash for Boston!  My husband has only done the 10 mile race one other time, and that was in 2015 when he ran with no training and finished in 1:46.53.  Let’s just say this year was quite a bit different than those two times!


First off, I ran in the 4 mile race for the first time.  It would just have the gentle rolling of Scenic Drive and no major hills.  Dan would be doing the 10 mile again, but he has been training.  He has been participating in the Tuesday night Runners Soul Racing Team which does speed workouts, and he has been running two other days during the week.  It doesn’t sound like much, but for a ‘non-runner’ it’s pretty good!

Start of the 10 Mile


It was crazy windy the morning of the race.  Warm, but windy!  Dan started the 10 mile at 9 am, and the 4 mile followed at 9:20 am.  Dan and I talked about a pace goal for himself, and based on his most recent 8 mile training run we figured he could do an 8 minute mile pace.  I was hoping to run under 30 minutes in the 4 mile.

The 4 mile race goes out and back on Scenic Drive.  It is great to be able to see those ahead of you turn around and head back.  You really get a good idea of where you stand in the pack.  I was able to start at 2nd place female and hold on to this position the whole race.  The wind was really getting me at open spots, especially in front of Sugar Bowl.  There are a lot of younger kids out there doing this race too (4 miles is pretty doable!) so it was fun to talk to the kids as they were running and cheer them on.  I was aware of how much was left on the course, so I made sure to tell the little guy next to me that there was only 400 metres left and he should just push it!  Off he went!  I finished with a chip time of 30:57; a bit off my goal of sub 30, but good enough to place 2/102 female runners, 1/26 in age group of 30-39 and 13/155 overall.

I cooled down a bit, talked to some friends, got my layers of clothes on, and got ready to be watching for Dan.  His 8 minute mile pace would bring him in at 1:20, so I was not in any rush….but then my friend Drew and I saw him coming in!  He was way ahead of pace!  He finished the 10 mile race in a time of 1:14.33!  That was an average pace of 7:27 a mile!  Holy shit!  He has a very challenging age group, placing 7/18 in 30-39 men, 13/48 in men, and 14/92 overall.  Did I mentioned he beat his 2015 time by over 30 minutes?!?!?!  What the hell Dan!?!?!?

Dan and Bob post 10 mile!


We stuck around for the 4 mile awards, where I received a silver medal for my 2nd place overall, a $75 gift certificate to Runners Soul (which I already spent on leggings) and then a gold age group medal.  It was great to see current and former students I have coached there participating, and many of them also receiving age group awards!  This is a great local race and the two distances (plus the new 1 mile kids race!) offers something for everyone.  Can’t wait for the 45th next year!




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!

 

10 Mile Road Race 2016

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My training for Boston Marathon has been winding down, and with about a week and a half to go, I still had a 10-12 mile workout to deal with.  I decided to register for the local 10 Mile Road Race (which I have done two other times, here in 2013 and here in 2014) and push myself to the max.  While some people training for a big race like Boston, or any marathon at that, may not want to push themselves all out in an event less than two weeks prior, I needed this.  I need the competition, the motivation, and the chance to see how my foot held up.  In the end, I am so happy I did!

Weather was close to ideal race morning-a slight chill in the air, but warm enough to wear a singlet and shorts when race time came.  I had warmed up and was set to go when I took off my warm up gear, put it in my car, and then locked the doors…..along with my keys.  CRAP!  Well, that would have to be dealt with after, as my husband was out of town, had the extra key, so my only solution would be to borrow a phone and call AMA (spoiler alert-borrowed the phone and they promptly came and helped!)

I really had no idea how my splits were going to be, I was just going to push until I needed to pull back.  Ideally, my goal was to make sure to beat my time from two years ago; 1:14.49.  I knew I was faster and stronger than two years ago, so I knew I could do it.  I also really wanted to place in top 3 females, so I could earn some prize money to take to Boston.

Race began and I started strong for first three miles.  Very strong, and very concerned.  Was I going too fast?  I was trying to just keep with a group, as it seemed like myself and another woman were the natural ‘break’ before a big gap behind.  I didn’t want to be running solo during this thing.  The course is out and back on Scenic Drive, down to the river bottom, turn around at the bridge, and back.  So it is a very downhill course for the first portion, then a stupid climb back up Lynx to get on Scenic for the last 2.5 miles.  My first four miles (which include the steep downhill into the river bottom) 6:53, 7:03, 6:53, 6:44.

At this point I was 2nd female, with the 1st female quite a bit ahead.  She was ahead of my friend Bob and I knew unless she had a total collapse I probably couldn’t catch her, but second place was my spot to lose.  I had some extra energy sent my way when I passed my colleague and co-coach from Cross country, Don, and two students, who had ridden their bikes to the river bottom to cheer on the runners.  I got to see them again after the turnaround and it helped tons.  My splits in the river bottom were 7:11 and 7:20.

At this point I had been approaching the 250 feet + elevation climb of Lynx.  I have not been doing enough hill training, and I felt slower up this hill than I have in the past.  I knew I needed to keep pushing and hold my position, so even if I slowed down I didn’t want to walk.  I knew the splits would be much slower, but I wanted to have energy for the last miles on Scenic.  I hit miles 7 and 8 in 8:08 and 8:14.

By the time I made it back on to Scenic it did feel like I was running solo on a training run, albeit A LOT faster.  Big gaps between individuals.  It helped catching up to some of the participants in the 4 mile portion of the event who were walking, as it gave me people to focus on.  The volunteers at the cross walks also helped me keep on moving.  I ran mile 9 in 7:28 and then finished mile 10 in a strong 7:05.  My final time—1:12.59!  I held on to 2nd place female, beat my time from two years ago, and even snuck in to the 1:12s!

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Route from my Nike Plus watch

After finishing, I felt great.  I was not ready to collapse, and felt like I could have done three more miles.  Which would have been a half marathon.  And then potentially a personal best.  Have I been doubting my speed and ability and not really pushing myself to my full potential?  How fast should I be going at Boston?  My foot isn’t really holding me back, its my mind!

Awards were great, because I truly love being around my running family in Lethbridge!  They presented 4 mile awards first then the 10 mile.  For being 2nd female I was awarded with $150 cash and a hug from the Lethbridge College Kodiak!  Age group awards put me in 1st for 30-39.  By the end of the awards, I had gotten the pictures I wanted, my car unlocked, and my confidence boosted.  Boston, here I come!

 

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.

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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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This is Supposed to be Easy……

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I have hit a roadblock.

After the Vancouver Marathon on May 3rd, I still kept up with my training for that month, as I had the Spartan Montana Beast and the Calgary 50km Ultra. I mustered through those (pretty decently too) and forced myself to take a solid 15 days off. No running at all. My body needed some recovery time. Near the end of that rest period, I contacted Dean Johnson and asked him to make me a summer training plan, with my end goal being to get a sub 41 minute 10km at the Disneyland 10km Labour Day weekend. Training for a 10km…easy enough, right?


Well, last week Tuesday I started the plan. My first run went well, although I may have pushed myself a bit too much. On Wednesday, I was really sore and my hip flexors were in pain, but I did an awesome hill workout. Thursday, though, it started to fall apart. I opted to take off on Thursday (could take off or do 40-60 minutes easy) as I thought I would feel better come Friday. I went out to attempt my Friday run of 60-70 minutes at easy pace. Mistake 1 was doing this at noon. Holy hell it felt like hell. The heat is not my friend. Mistake 2 was trying for the lower end of the pace goal (8:15 minute miles). I should have aimed for 8:45 from the get go. I held it together the first 4 miles, but by mile 5 I had an 8:58. Then I self destructed and ran a 9:43 for mile 6. I ended up running 6.68 miles in 60 minutes and felt like garbage. This weekend, I skipped my 90-105 minute long run and took off both days. I am not even a week into this plan and I am already sliding.

The plan was supposed to help motivate me to achieve my goal of a personal best 10km time. But right now, I’m in such a weird place and having a hard time getting back in to running. Maybe it was the 16 weeks of intense marathon training this winter and spring that just has me burned out. I mean, it probably is. I guess I just thought getting back in to a rhythm would be easy, as I had such a successful first 5 months of 2015. I got my best 5km, 10km, half and full marathon times in that time frame, and I also ran my first ever 50km. I have been on Cloud 9 and flying high! But now, it’s month 6, and I am a proverbial pile of shit.
If this summer is going to be successful “running-wise” I need to get out of this funk and back in the game. I need to start establishing a routine again. Having the framework of one, with my training plan, clearly isn’t enough. I need to be getting up before work to do my runs, as if I wait until after it is too hot out. And if I run when it’s the afternoon sun blazing down, I get crabby. And frustrated. And even after this last week of school, I need to be setting an alarm each morning so I am up and have a normal breakfast and out the door doing my run by at least 9 am. If I can get into this consistency, the rest should fall in to place.

“…there are no shortcuts or paths of least-resistance on the road to reaching something worthwhile.”-Dean Karnazes “Run!”

Vancouver Marathon Recap Part 2-Desperately Seeking Boston

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I actually was able to fall asleep at a somewhat normal time (10:00 PM) the night before the race.  I only woke up once, albeit in a full body sweat (probably from nerves) but quickly went back to bed until my 5:30 alarm went.  I have never gotten out of bed to an alarm as fast as I did right then.  I went through my morning pre-race rituals, as I needed to be down to Erin’s room and set to go by 6:45.  Her friend Rob was meeting us at this time also, and the three of us would make our way to the closest transit station (a 10 minute walk) and head to the race start.  At the expo, they had given all the racers a free transit pass so we didn’t have to drive in the morning; anyone going into the station at this time on a Sunday was all heading the same place, so they didn’t even bother taking the passes.  It was a short 15-20 minute train ride, and then a 10 minute walk, and we were at the start in Queen Elizabeth Park.  Met up with Bob, dropped off our bags, and got set to head to the corrals.

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We were in the front ORANGE corral and had gotten there with lots of time.  Even after they had everyone move up to the start I never felt crowded.  The elites were let off about 30 seconds before the general runners, and once we started, we immediately had room to spread out.  That is positive thing #1—never feeling crowded on the course!  I was going to be running with Bob during the race, and we set our goal pace at 7:50 a mile.  I was a little uneasy about this, as originally I was training for an 8:00 minute a mile, but my previous races and training runs had indicated that I could perhaps push myself on this course.  The first 5 miles were very straight, all business, routes in commercial areas.  There were spectators surrounding us in area, and I was happy I was already finding my pace.  My first five miles were in 7:44, 7:50, 7:41, 7:33, and 7:44.

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At mile 6 we met the “Camosum Hill Challenge,” which was a times 1,230 metre portion of the route up the steepest incline.  This was by no means any hill like we were used to in Lethbridge, but it was a challenge nonetheless.  There was no use trying to keep my pace at the 7:50 in this spot, so we just kept running comfortably, finishing mile 6 in 8:10.  Miles 7-10 then brought us through some other commercial/residential streets, and we eventually wound over to reaching an edge over the water (which you couldn’t see yet as it was lined with trees).  There was also a little quick turnaround spot around mile 8, where Bob and I saw both Erin and Rob fairly close behind us.  We ran miles 7-10 in 7:52, 7:52, 7:48, and 7:37.

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The next portion of the race had approximately three downhill sections, which wound by University of BC, by Wreck Beach, and ended up in more residential areas right before the Burrard Street Bridge.  I was feeling very strong, but still hesitant, as there was still a lot of mileage ahead.  Bob was constantly keeping conversation with me, which kept my head in the game, and not overthinking if I was going to regret my pace.  We ran 11-17 in 7:51, 7:43, 7:34, 7:49, 7:47, 7:40, and 7:46.  It is worth noting that my half marathon split was a 1:42.08.  I was on pace to run a 3:24.16, if I could run a perfect second half.

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While we had met our hill challenge earlier, I would have to say that the Burrard Street Bridge was mentally tougher.  It was a highway bridge overpass and was quite long.  It felt never-ending.  Bob ran into his brother on this portion, who was out watching Bob’s sister-in-law, so we knew she had to not be far behind.  Bob had tried finding her at the start of the race but couldn’t meet up.  I was nearing mile 20 when I knew I had to just keep staying positive, because everything was lining up perfectly.  In Calgary, I bonked at mile 17.  Hitting my miles 18-20 all in 7:46, 7:56, and 7:50 was very encouraging.  I was starting to get nervous, though, because it was mile 22 that I broke down in Edmonton.  On top of this, as we headed towards the beaches and Stanley Park, I lost Bob.  Well, didn’t lose him.  He told me he had to stop to use the bathroom, and he’d catch up, so I kept on going.  But he never caught back up.  Turns out, yes….I could see him behind me at parts on the Seawall when I looked back, but he ended up hanging around near one of the beaches to see if he’d find his sister-in-law.  Bob said he knew he left me in good shape and he could have caught up to me if need be.  I don’t know about that, because I started doubting myself.  I quickly got my head back in the game and realized I only had a 10km left…I had ran a 10km race the weekend before.  A 10km is nothing!  The Stanley Park area was lonely and winding, but flat and had a cool breeze.  When I first started on this path by the beach, I honestly shut my eyes for a split second and took a deep breath in through my nose.  The smell of the ocean and the sand reminded me of when we used to go to the Gulf Shores in Alabama.  I grew up going there as a kid, with my mom and dad, my grandma and grandpa, and the last trip including my best friend Ali.  The Gulf Shores holds a special place in my heart, and picturing that beach and taking a moment to reflect was all I needed to push on.

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I kept moving down that walkway taking in the surroundings.  I passed a few people along the way, as many were starting to lose it, but I kept feeling good.  One of the funnier moments in this section was the table two girls had set up with a sign that said WEED!  Only in BC, I guess.  We rounded near the parts of the Stanley Park Seawall where Erin, Rob and I had had dinner the night before and I was feeling stronger because of the familiarity.  I could see the expo building in the distance across the bay, and before I knew it, I was running by Yacht Clubs and heading into the Downtown Vancouver core.  I felt so energized coming up this small path in a garden onto the streets of downtown Vancouver.  There were more and more people lined up on this final stretch.  I honestly did start tearing up during this final half a mile, but I held it together (mostly) as I ran into the finisher chute.  I ran miles 21-26 in 7:57, 7:55, 7:52, 7:53, 7:53, and 7:52, and I crossed the finish line in 3:24.56….WELL under my Boston Qualifying standard of 3:35.00, well under my goal pace of 3:30.00, and even more under my prior personal fastest marathon time from August of 3:44.59!

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I was shaking at the finish line, I was smiling, and I was happy.  I called my husband first, and told him to post on Facebook what I did, as my fingers couldn’t type it.  I called my mom and told her too, as she was a nervous wreck since the last timing mat that was posted online was from around 37.5 km, with a time of 2:57.24.  My mom was also so confused with the kilometre distances and paces, so she was just anxiously awaiting a phone call.  I did not venture too far from the finish area as I wanted to wait for Bob, and he crossed in 3:28.55.  I was so fortunate to have him running by my side during the race, and more importantly, convincing me that hitting a 7:50 pace was possible.  I did not just hit that pace, I beat that pace!  Erin finished shortly after that too, running a 3:30.49, her personal best and a Boston Qualifier!  Bob’s sister in law also got a Boston Qualifying time of 3:29.49.  It was an overall successful day for all of us desperately seeking Boston.

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I met up with Tim and Alex, who had been waiting for me near the finish line.  Tim had brought me some celebratory beers and we headed down near the Olympic torch for photos and to find a spot to relax.  I eventually headed back to our hotel to get my post race massage, clean up, and we headed out to lunch at a pub in Kitts Beach.  I did not want to leave.  This day was beautiful weather-wise, scenery wise, friend-wise, and just plain overall one of the best days of my life.  Hard work pays off.  That’s all I can say.  I didn’t give up.  I had tried two times before and failed.  But I went out more determined than ever to achieve something that has always been a bit out of reach.  What’s next….well, I already booked my hotel for Boston, as my qualifying time will allow me to register two weeks ahead of everyone else.  I will take it easy for a bit (I am doing the Calgary 50 km at the end of the month though….) and I will enjoy the summer.  I am not sure what I want my goal to be at Boston, other than completion, but I am thinking I could challenge myself to shave a bit of time off.  Shaving a bit of time off won’t qualify me for the Olympics or become an Elite, but it will give me something to strive for and work for.

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I am Andrea Lammers-Pottage.  I am 30 years old.  I am a wife, daughter, cousin, niece, teacher, and friend.  And now I can also proudly say that I am a Boston Marathon Qualified Runner.  Je Me Souviens, forever and ever.

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EXCEPTIONAL NEWS!

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In August 2014, my husband Dan and I were fortunate to travel out East to beautiful St. John’s, Newfoundland.  During that time, we attended George Street Festival, an awesome music extravaganza!  We were lucky enough to see Dropkick Murphy’s on one of the night’s mid-festival, and had a prime spot….front row of the patio at Rockhouse.   The show was awesome, every last bit of it.  The crowd was ecstatic.  A lot of songs I had not heard before, but many I had.  I was patiently waiting for one song to be played, though.   And it was almost like a “Name That Tune” moment, when I heard the first chord, I know exactly what it was….Shipping out to Boston!  

I recorded a video.  I took lots of pictures.  I have listened to the song lots.  I then I ran the Edmonton Marathon a few weeks and bonked at mile 21.  I cried.  I cried a lot.  I felt defeated.  I started training again specifically with the goal of hitting a Boston Qualifying time at the Vancouver marathon in May 2015.  I made THAT SONG my ringtone as motivation.  I wanted it so bad.   I ran Vancouver today as hard as I could.  And I finally can say….
I’M SHIPPING UP TO BOSTON!!
I will write a recap very soon.  There is a lot to recap.  But I wanted to write a general note of sorts to indicate that YES, I reached my goal!  And I didn’t just squeak by; I hit it hard!   I needed a 3:35.00 to qualify and I ran a 3:24.56!  My personal best before that was in fact that Edmonton Marathon, where I ran a 3:44.59.  The training paid off and I have so many people to thank.
My dad.   What more can I say.  Dad, I love you. You were with me this whole race.  I know you are so proud.  I can’t even put anything more into words right now; I am just smiling.  You would be telling everyone you know, and random strangers too, that I qualified for the Boston Marathon.  I can’t wait to go to there in April and run for you.  For us.
 
My husband, for handling my crazy schedule and putting up with days I was probably a complete pile or bitchy crap.   Yes, I know those happened.   I used you as a punching bag many times when I was upset and training days didn’t go as planned.  I love you; I hope you still love me after these six months of training!
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My mom, who also heard the frustrations and anger sometime, but who was also there to congratulate me….after she would freak out and be anxious before I finished any event, of course.  She had never seen me run a distance road until spring of 2013, when I came home to run the Waukesha Trailbreaker Half, and beat my old half marathon best, running a 1:52.53.   She said she cried at the start of that race.  She is going to be a mess in Massachusetts.
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And of course, I love me some local YQL people/organizations/businesses/professionals.  Runners Soul Lethbridge, for a fantastic marathon club program and a fantastic store full of support and camaraderie.   Shawn & Erin Pinder are fantastic people who will bend over backwards for the running community.  And speaking of camaraderie….Bob Higgins, fellow marathon club runner and friend, who ran with my during Vancouver full marathon to help me qualify.  Wow!  Thank you so much!  You my friend are an inspiration.,,.everything you have done over these last years of running is amazing.  It was an honour to run with you for 20 miles of the race….until you had to pee.  I am proud of the fact you never caught back up!   
To Dean Johnson, who wrote me an incredible training plan and edited it partway through to reflect the changes in my race times.   Anyone in Lethbridge looking for personal gains in running, please talk to Dean!  To my doctors, Dr. Michael Galbraith & Dr. John Power (the best in the sports med business) who have helped me with knee issues and the stride problems over the last year.  I am calling you both in the morning and leaving voicemails of me freaking out.  So when you hear my Wisconsin accent blubbering, I hope you smile.  Or at least laugh.   My friends, family, coworkers….you all have handled me obsessing over this quite well.  Thank you for still being my friend.  Or at least pretending to be.  You may have to fake our friendship even longer because the next year leading to Boston I am going to be very, very annoying.  Probably close to obnoxious.  You may block me on Facebook or unfollow me on Twitter.  I won’t be offended.  That being said, I am so fortunate, lucky and happy to have moved to a city with such support and love….to have family and friends from all over be by my side.   Thank you!  
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#BOSTON2016 !!!!!!

Medicine Hat “Rattler Run” 10km 2015-Race Recap

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On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, I participated in the Medicine Hat College Rattler Run 10km.  This is the second time I have ran this event, the first being in 2013.  Back in 2013, I set a personal best of 48:39.  I remember being so elated at that moment of setting this time, and being able to place 1st in my division.  Since then, I have been able to bring my 10 km time down to a 43:47 at the Moonlight Run in Lethbridge this past March.  I was anxious to run this race in Medicine Hat, as I was familiar with the course, and hoping for another personal best.

This day also held importance to me going into the race as the 11th anniversary of my dad’s passing.  When I registered for the event a few weeks prior, I knew it was fitting to be running a race on this day.  I would have him in my mind all day and be running this race in memory of him.  I stated on my Facebook page the day prior to the event how the event’s motto is “I Run for Me” and to promote healthy and active lifestyles for everyone.  My dad lived a healthy and active lifestyle and was a fitness role model for myself, and while I would be running this race for ME, I was more so going to be running this race for HIM.

Medicine Hat is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from where I live in Lethbridge.  I have driven this distance before for races, usually to Calgary though, but the unique thing about this race is that the start time is 11 am.  I could sleep ‘in’ to a normal time, and still do the drive and make it to race packet pickup and warmup with plenty of time to spare.  I made it to Medicine Hat College at around 10 am.  Packet pickup was a breeze and it was of course great to see Randy and the crew from Racepro working the timing!  I also had enough time to do a good warmup, so I headed out for a 2 mile warmup at an 8:34 average pace.

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The events offered on race day were the 10 km, the 5 km and the 3 km distances.  The 10 km would begin first, with the 3 km following shortly thereafter, and finishing with the 5 km runners.  I was getting anxious at about 10 minutes prior to race start so I just milled around aimlessly outside doing skips and high knees.   When the announcer called for the 10 km runners to assemble, about 5 minutes before start, I headed right up to the front to get in good position.  I actually ended up standing next to a local runner from the Lethbridge area (Taber to be exact) Billie-Jo.  She recognized me and then I immediately recognized her.  It was great to chat before the race start and she left me with the words to “Go chase those boys!”

We were off and I headed out with the mindset of trying to get a 6:45-6:50 pace per mile.  With my interval running I had been doing lately, I knew this was possible….if I was on flat surfaces, with no hills and no wind.  I held a 1st place female position for the first mile, which took us over an overpass and onto the trail system.  The trail system is VERY curvy and lots of ups and downs!  The “Ups” were never that steep, and the “Downs” weren’t either, but there was enough of them to really get you!  At mile 1, a female runner passed me.  OK, I thought….since I was not in Lethbridge, I did not know who this runner was, so I really had no idea what she was capable of.  I kept her in my sight for the next mile and I was able to overtake her by the end of mile 2.  I kept telling myself to never look back, and to only wait until the turnaround to see how close she really was.  I could hear her breathing pattern initially, and then when I couldn’t hear her breathing I knew I was far enough ahead, for now.  I just would keep on trucking.  I ran mile 1 in 6:34 and mile 2 in 7:08.  I did not like that 7:08.

The turnaround was near mile 2.5 and I was still in the lead.  2nd place female was not far behind, but there was a pretty good gap between me and three.  Since this next portion was just heading back on the same route, I knew what was coming ahead.  It was motivating running towards other runners and seeing people I recognized from Lethbridge races.  I ran miles 3 and 4 in 7:01 and 6:52.

By this time, we were back to the overpass, and instead of heading back where we started, we looped around the backside of the college.  This was a very sparse area of the course, with no spectators and no other runners heading past you in the opposite direction. I knew I just needed to keep pace.  There was an aboriginal gentleman who I was running behind the whole race who I caught up to, and stayed about a few steps ahead.  His cadence was the same as mine, so I decided to keep with him.  The crazy thing about this man, though, was he was running the event in SANDALS!  Very thin sandals with a strap around the heel and then through the toes.  I don’t know if he normally trains barefoot, or just always with sandals, but it was a sight to see!

I was able to keep pace for mile 5 and then I knew I wanted to kick it in for the last mile.  We were heading towards people finishing the 5 km and would be hooking up with them for the final straightaway.  Seeing more runners ahead motivated me and I was able to push hard for that last mile.  I also never looked behind me to see where that 2nd place female was, which I will never know if that was a good thing or a bad thing….but it doesn’t really matter….because I finished ahead of her in a time of 41:30!  My final two miles had been 7:03 and 6:45….it was just what I needed!  I stopped shortly after the finish line and was shaking, grabbing my quads….I turned around and saw female #2 finish right after me.  She was right on my tail!  Turns out, my chip time only beat hers by 9 seconds!  Gun time was only 12 seconds!  I thought she was farther back, but apparently not.  I had won the female division in the 10 km—-a first for me!

I was so excited about this win but I knew I needed to keep moving so I didn’t tighten up.  I ran a 2 mile cool down at an 8:55 average pace to total my mileage to 10 miles that day.  Heading back in to the college, a nice spread of post-race refreshments were set up.  I immediately zeroed in on the chocolate milk and bananas!  I had brought clothes to change in to, as I didn’t want to be sitting in disgusting race clothes during awards and more importantly, my drive back to Lethbridge.  They held the awards in the College cafeteria, which was a great setting for the 10 km awards (which were last) but it seemed a bit crowded for the 3 km and 5 km awards, as there were a TON of young kids there and their families.  It emptied out quite a bit for the 10 km awards, which made it nice for us runners, as before it was too hard to hear or see what was going on.

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I sat with the Lethbridge contingency of us who were out at the race, which was nice since a few of us were called up for awards….so we had a cheering section!  I first went up when they called for the 26-35 age group for women (I know, weird age groupings!) and then again at the end when they announced overall in each gender.  This was my “Olympian” moment I guess, as I have never earned a 1st female overall in such a large event…I think this is my third 1st female overall ever, with the last two being from smaller 5 km races.  I am also really proud that my time was a personal best….not just by a little, but by a lot.  So I know personally I worked as hard as I could!  If I had been able to get 1st overall with a time slower than my personal best, I wouldn’t have honestly have been as proud.  Another sweet thing was the prize money—-$200!!!  That cash is coming with me this weekend when I fly to Vancouver for my main event!

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Would I do this event again?  YES.  It is extremely well organized and well worth the commute to Medicine Hat.  If you are looking for a competitive 10 km, this seems to be a good one, for both the male and female divisions.  This is also a unique event in that the whole family really can participate….if one parent wants to do the 10km, an older kid do the 5 km, and the other parent and small child do the 3 km, that would totally work.  The registration was also very reasonable.  The early bird pricing for race registration was $20 for race registration, and the late registration (after April 7th) was $30.  You could also pay with cash day of for $40.  This was the same price for ALL RACE DISTANCES!  This did not include a shirt, however-a shirt would have cost an additional $15.  The Rattler Run was in its 35th year, and I totalled the finishers in the 10km, 5km, and 3 km by looking at the Racepro.ca website- there were 754 participants.  This race reminds me much of Lethbridge’s own “Moonlight Run” in that it is a “tradition.”  Albeit, smaller in scale, but still recognized in the community, appreciated, and thriving.  This was a great event for myself, not just because of my personal accomplishment, but because of the significance that the date April 25th holds.  That date does not need to be a sad day; it needs to be celebrated.  And I am more than grateful that I could celebrate by doing something my dad would have been proud to watch me do.

Coaldale Family Fun Run 5km 2015-Recap

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This past weekend I participated in a local 5km race, the Coaldale Family Fun Run.  It is the fifth year of this event being run, and my second year in a row participating. Originally, I was planning on running most of my Saturday workout before e event, and then ending with the 5km.  I had a 14 mile long run to do, with the last 6 at my goal pace for my marathon, or faster.  As it got closer to the day of the event, I knew I didn’t want to be trying to race a 5km after already doing 11 miles.  So, I decided to reorder my workout, still get the 14 miles in, but do it in reverse. I would do a warmup and cool down at marathon race pace in Coaldale, push as much as I could during the race, and then finish the workout when back in Lethbridge.  

My last timed 5km race had been in November, and I wanted to see if I could beat that personal best.  I ran the Mustache Dache in a 21:07 back in Milwaukee, which broke my 5km personal best that I had held since I was 18.  Now, I don’t train for racing in 5km races,but I know that I have been doing more speed work than ever this winter and spring as I train for the Vancouver Marathon.  So it would have to count for something?

The race was slated to start at 10am.  I arrived at around 9:20, which gave me more than enough time to pick up my race bib, do a 1.75 mile warmup, and meet up with four of my Waterton to Glacier buddies-Julia, Emma, Danny and Ryan.  I even snapped this photo of Julia, Emma and Ryan doing their warmup down the rural road we would be heading down during the last mile of the race.   This shows the terrain and road conditions we would face for about 85% of the course.

 

 

I got lined up with a few minutes to spare.  My race plan-push hard the first mile and hold on.  I really had no other strategy.   The temperature was ideal, so I knew I would be comfortable.  I was a bit worried about the muddy mix of gravel and sand and dirt we would be running on, as I remembered from last year that my feet feeling like sandbags.  The race began and a bunch of us plowed over the kids who were lined up in front.   Ok, I know it is a Family Fun Run, but I mean, I was out to make a statement….so I didn’t feel bad dodging through children.

I found myself in a comfortable position right away, and I knew I was the lead female.  I wasn’t going to look over my shoulder at all during the race, and just wait until the turnaround point near mile two.  At that point I’d be able to see how close any other women were and tackle the last mile.  My first mile was a fast 6:13.  I was feeling good though, and it wasn’t too muddy.  I needed to weave a bit on the rural Range Road to find the least mucky spots, but it helped with my shoes not getting full of junk.  Mile two was slower (I knew it would be because I wasn’t trying to necessarily get even splits) with a 6:36.  This was past the turnaround and up a slight hill.  It was also straight into the wind.  I started feeling sluggish here, and I saw the second female probably 30-45 seconds behind me.  If I bonked on the last mile she would catch me.  The last mile was a solid straightaway to Coaldale Christian School.  It was wet on this portion and I made a mistake of stepping in a pile of mud and gravel, so for a few seconds I had rocks and mud flying from under my shoes.  I was able to hold my position and finish as the first female!  I finished my last mile in 6:57, and finished the race in a 20:42!  I beat my previous personal best by 25 seconds!  

 

  

I did a cool down and milled around until awards, which were held in the gym.  The race organizers did a great job at having lots of post race refreshments—-more than I would expect for a 5km!  They do a great job at recognizing the kids who participated, as each kid gets a finisher ribbon, and they do 5 year age group awards for under 19.  So lots of kids get recognized this way.   They even gave a prize to the youngest runner—I think it was a Toys R Us gift card.  I know I would have been stoked about that if I was a kid!  They got to the adult awards and each of us in our Waterton to Glacier group medalled!  Ryan got 3rd overall and 2nd in his age group, Danny got 1st in his age group, and Julia & Emma earned 3rd and 1st in theirs, respectively.  Along with my gold medal for 1st in the 30-39 female category, I was also awarded a $50 gift certificate to Runners Soul!  

 

I was really excited to be able to run this race at the pace that I did.  I even was able to do the rest of my workout later that day all within my training pace required, so I did total 14 miles!  While 5km races aren’t my focus, they are still fun to do every once in a while!  I know the next one I do I will be aiming for a 20:30 or faster.  I know my training has helped lots, as this was not only a personal best, but I beat my time from last years’ event by over two minutes.   Last year, I ran a 22:59.  Seeing that improvement is what is most important to me.  Up next is a 10km in Medicine Hat (Saturday) and then the big one….Vancouver Marathon is now just two weeks away….

Calgary Hypothermic Half-My Muddled Post-Race Thoughts

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Running a February half marathon in Calgary, Alberta, is slightly crazy. But running one with the mindset of getting a personal best is slightly insane. But, that’s how I went into the 2015 Hypothermic Half Marathon. Go big or why do it, right?

I signed up for the event in November, as I had wanted to find a chip-timed event for my Digital Running “Time of the Season” Challenge (a timed event every month from March 2014 through February 2015. This was the only event I could find somewhat in the area with official timing (other than a 50km!). I have gushed about my love of running Calgary before, as the routes are always pretty and I’ve had pretty consistent race success, so driving up for a quick weekend was something I had no issue with.

I headed up to Calgary on Saturday afternoon for packet pickup at the Eau Claire Market Running Room. Pickup was easy and seamless-received my race bib, which had the timing chip right on the back, and the swag, which was a pair of winter running gloves and Running Room’s version of a Buff (neck/head warmer piece). All were very nice! The ladies at pickup were also very nice at explaining the map to me, which I had looked at online. I was somewhat familiar with the route, as I have ran parts of it on previous races but I wasn’t completely sure where the turns at the bridges would be (more in that later).

My 7 am alarm came fast and I felt pretty lethargic. I was slow to move, but made it to Tim Horton’s to get my oatmeal and coffee for my breakfast and preparation rituals. I was staying at my friend Cindy’s house which is a two minute drive to a Tim’s, so I was able to go there and get back right away to get prepped. It was COLD out…colder than I thought it would be. I needed to layer correctly so I was warm enough….but not miserable. I hate feeling overheated. I also taped my knees and quads up, as those are always potential issues. I headed out the door at 8:20 am to attempt and find my way to Fort Calgary for the race start.

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Not much parking by the Fort, but I was able to finagle a spot for my tiny Pontiac Vibe. I was cutting it a little close as I needed to go to the bathroom and the women’s line was ridiculous. I made it out to the start with about 5 minutes to spare, and I ran out there doing some high knees and other dynamics. I was now set to go and hoping for the best. I lined myself up right in the front center and went out like I was going to own it…

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The biggest thing for any race of a half marathon or longer, for me personally, is getting in the pace groove. I had wanted to be hitting 7:25 minute mile paces or faster in order to potentially beat my September 2014 personal best time of 1:37:51. The first three miles were pretty well marked, had an occasional volunteer directing you, and was all located in the south side of the Bow River. I ran these in 7:14, 7:25 and 7:38, respectively. Because of this inconsistency, I honestly wasn’t that sure of myself at that 5km mark. I needed to get on track fast.

The part of the course I was on now was familiar. I had been here before during Run for L’Arche last March. This “comfort zone” factor helped ease me down some. Also, since this is a public trail and local runners were out running, the random runners cheering us “racers” on as we passed was awesome! This helped push me to a 7:19, 7:26 and 7:18 mile 4-6. This brought me to the clearly marked turnaround, which if this had been a 10km race, I would have gotten a personal best. I was feeling strong, so I decided to get on trucking.

Everyone else around me looked like they were freezing, but I was strangely feeling fine. It was about 10F outside and I kept alternating between having my buff covering my mouth to just my neck. So maybe I’m superhuman, I don’t know. I was grateful that I did have my running sunglasses on, though, just to protect from the bright morning sun and wind. With the paths being clear of ice and snow, I was able to keep my pace up during the tough miles of 7-10, where I ran a 7:21, 7:24, 7:25 and 7:25.

Now looking at my GPS tracking after the race, I notice that mile 10 was approximately where we crossed over from the south side of the Bow River on the way out. I was in my own world by this point, but now it all makes sense because I didn’t recognize anything around me from that day (I recognized the road parallel to me from running on it during the Calgary Marathon, but that’s not what mattered). I knew that the last part of the course was going to be on the opposite side of the river as where we started, but I really wasn’t sure for how long. The last volunteer I saw said “go until the St. Patrick’s Bridge!” Well, that’s great, but I don’t live here and don’t know what that bridge is! That is my one complaint about this event-the lack of volunteers in the later part of the race. I asked every random runner/biker/walker/human I went past from mile 10 until the bridge where this bridge was. I was running with a little uncertainty the last 3 miles because I was nervous I would miss my turn and screw up my time!

I did keep pushing because I knew I was on pace to break my personal best. I held up mile 11 and 12 in 7:21 and 7:24. I knew I had to give anything I had left in the fuel tank the last mile to see what I was made of. There was about 1/2 mile left when I turned on that final bridge and I was feeling awesome! I gave the photographer a smile and looked way ahead for the finish. It was a winding path, heading into the Fort a different way than we had came out. I felt the strongest I had ever felt coming into a half marathon, finishing my last mile in 7:03…..7:03! My official finish time was 1:35:41, good enough to best my personal best by 2 minutes and 10 seconds. I placed 1st out of 62 in my age group, 3rd out of 216 in females, and 17 out of 426 overall. And I did this all while running in a February road race in Calgary, Alberta. And it was COLD! I thrive on the cold, I really do!

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While I usually never want food immediately after finishing a race, I did today. Maybe the cold had a hunger effect on me, who knows. But let me tell you, I am glad I did want food. The brunch that was included with our race entry was awesome! I sat with some great people—-a guy from Red Deer and some local Calgarians. The food definitely hit the spot and held me over on my drive back to Lethbridge.

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Anyone reading this blog for the first time may think that I have always been this fast. Let me stress this—–up until April 2013, my best half marathon time was a 1:54 and change. Finding a plan, finding a motivation within….that’s what I needed. If you read my older posts you will find that I started this blog to honor my dad’s life, and to try and deal with some of the things I had yet to handle since his premature death at age 51 in 2004. I took the thing that caused me so much pain for so many years and found a way to ease that pain-through running, I have found myself. I am also becoming more of an athlete, more of someone who I never though I could be. But I know my dad always thought I could be it. And I know he is proud.

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