Tag Archives: races

10 Mile Road Race Recap 2018

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While the 10 Mile Road Race was held on Saturday, April 7th, it actually felt like Saturday, January 2893821th.  This winter has SUCKED. SUCKED!!!  Seriously, our son was born October 19th and he’s been cold ever since.  Our trip to Disney World can’t come soon enough!  But, back to the race.

Yes, it was cold.  In the morning I checked the temperature and it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit.  Ha ha ha.  But, there was no wind.  There was sun.  And there was no new snowfall.  All those things could have gone the other way and it would have been just awful.  So since our bodies have just gotten used to this perpetual winter, race morning actually didn’t feel too bad.

The cold winter was definitely the reason the participant numbers were down.  At least, that’s my assumption.  All winter has been snowy, cold and ugly so unless you’re a nut job like me….you probably haven’t been running much.  This race is actually called the 10/4 Road Race…there is a 10 mile distance and a 4 mile distance.  Last year when I was pregnant, I did the 4 mile distance because I had not announced my pregnancy yet.  I figured doing the shorter distance would trick people, I don’t know.  Last year, there were 155 participants in the 4 mile distance.  This year there were only 89.  And in the 10 mile distance, there were only 38 runners this year compared to last year’s 92.  With a much smaller field, it was hard to stay fired up during the race (especially once we got spread out in the river bottom).

I had set a goal to run a sub 1 hour 20 minute race.  This equates to an 8 minute/mile pace, which is essentially my ‘goal’ marathon pace (or at least it was when I qualified for Vancouver in 2015).  I also figured this was reasonable given my previous attempts at this race, but also a little ambitious keeping in mind I would be 5.5 months postpartum.

I had done the 10 mile distance at this race three other times.  My race times were:

1:23.14 in 2013

1:14.49 in 2014

1:12.59 in 2016

The race is out and back from Lethbridge College.  You follow Scenic Drive and head north.  Once you get to Lynx Trail by the pedestrian crossing you head down to the river bottom.  You follow the trail adjacent to the river and wind over to the bridge.  You hit the turnaround before crossing Indian Battle Road.

The racers get spread out pretty quickly, and this year it felt even more spread out with so few runners.  By the time we were heading down Lynx I could barely make out the two females who were ahead of me.  When you get into the river bottom, all the winding messes with your head and you can’t see anyone in front of you.  That is where my splits started to slow and get above 8 minutes.  The turnaround itself helped boost my morale because I was able to see how close I actually was to the ladies in front of me (and the ones behind).  I knew I needed to push.

Running back up Lynx is never fun.  Usually, I do quite well on this hill in this very race.  But I am still not back to where I was at before Andy, so I still need to get some more hill training in.  I did not walk at all up the hill, but I definitely was going slow!  Once I got to the top of the hill my vantage point of the runners directly ahead of me was much better than when we were in the river bottom.  I could see there were some runners I could hopefully catch, and maybe even move up in the female placing!

I actually caught up to one of my grade 10 students on the hill.  He was walking some segments of it, and when I caught him on Scenic I started giving him a hard time (he’s a kid I know I could without hurting his ego).  I said “You know, I was pregnant 6 months ago….are you going to let me pass you?”  He laughed and that was enough to get him moving again.  We ran the last two miles together and honestly it helped push me a ton!  I like to think that I helped push him too!  Yes, he did beat me down the final stretch (he runs 400m and 800m in track and once we had only 800m left I told him he had to just gun it) but running with him in the last bit helped me pass a few other runners and also brought me into 2nd position for women!  I finished the race 10th overall out of 38.  I was 2nd out of 16 females and then 2nd in my age group of 30-39 year olds (only 5 of us in the division).  My (rounded) splits were as follows:

7:24 (starting off a little too excited), 7:58, 7:44, 7:44, 8:02, 8:05, 9:18 (up Lynx!), 8:35, 8:10, 7:42 (nice final mile!)

Did I break 1 hour 20 minutes?  No….but I got damn close! My final time was 1:20.39.  Given the cold conditions, I’ll take it!  Also, a shoutout to my husband who ran his third 10 Mile Road Race.  He finished 5th overall with a time of 1:15.44.  And as much as he claims he doesn’t care about “the bling” he appeared actually upset that he didn’t place in his age group during awards (The top three finishers were all males in 30-39).  So he got 4th in his tough age group!

As long as I am in town, I will always do this event!  It is a well organized race and I get to see lots of people I know at it.  Hopefully next year we have a better winter and this race is actually a Spring event!

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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.

Ladiesfest 2017

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Runners Soul in Lethbridge puts on an awesome “Ladies Only” race each June, aptly named Ladiesfest.  It is an 8km event that starts and finishes at the Lethbridge Lodge.  I have never actually participated in this event (as I am usually away at the High School Track & Field Provincials) but this year the weekends did not interfere!

My husband Dan got asked to help volunteer, which was great because I got to see him on the course!  I had picked up my race packet the night before at Runners Soul, so we just had to show up at 7:30 the morning of the race.  It was VERY windy, even for Lethbridge.  If I was actually racing this would have made me nervous.  Instead, I was just happy it wasn’t super warm out.

“Flat Andrea” the night before!


There were close to 700 ladies in the even this year.  We all lined up and started promptly at 8.  The first mile is completely downhill, following the Wendy’s Hill we take during Moonlight Run.  This is a very fast first mile, but we had the wind pushing us backward as we made our way down.  Mile 1 was 7:11.

Miles 2-4 were down in the river bottom.  The trees blocked some of the wind nicely, and the loops we made on the paths was great.  There were a lot of great volunteers down on the paths showing us the way, plus some awesome highlights—there was someone playing a full-size baby grand (seriously, I think it was) piano.  How they got it down there and back up is a mystery to me!  I held the pace I wanted during these miles down by the river, running a 8:42, 8:48, 8:51.

The last mile was a doozy.  Running up Whoop Up Drive heading East.  The “Run with Johan” group had a fun water stop for all of us planned, with crazy costumes and energy.  I joined up with my friend Emma as we trudged up Whoop Up.  We never walked!  Once we got up to the top of the hill, I knew there was about 400 m left of the race so I kicked it in with anything I had left.  My last mile was a 10:13 (after climbing 246 feet, according to my watch!) and I finished in a time of 43:51.88, which was good enough for 72/696 overall and 8/113 in my 30-34 age group.

First Ladiesfest & 19.5 weeks pregnant!


The race was capped off with flowers and chocolate being presented to us as we crossed the finish line, and then an AWESOME brunch held in the Lethbridge Lodge ballroom.  This is a fantastic women’s run and Runners Soul once again does a wonderful job at putting on a first class event!  Can’t wait for next year!


Boston Marathon 2016-The Run

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

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

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

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Race Plans, Boston Training, & Clean Eating

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…For Boston Training that is!

I began my 16-week training plan for the Boston Marathon on December 27th.  It was a tough first week, as while I had been doing the RunStreak through Runners Soul all December, I really did not have the mileage (or speed…or skill) that I had last year at this time.  I had been taking it really easy the last two-three months (as I needed to) so getting back at it has been tough.  Those “Easy Paced Runs” aren’t feeling very easy, but I’m managing to hit my pace goals for each day so far.  This Saturday was my most impressive day, as I did 9.12 miles in 80 minutes in the nasty cold (-4F when I went out to start).

When I compare the data I have from last year’s training cycle for Vancouver to what I have so far for Boston, it is slightly frustrating as I was A LOT faster 365 days ago.  But, I was on a stretch of a bunch of races, and hadn’t taken a moment to slow down.  I took the time to slow down and BREATHE this fall, and have been managing with my foot bone-spur issue.  Will I be able to get to Vancouver 2015 shape by Boston?  Who knows.  But I do know I am going to Boston in April and I am going to finish that damn race and be happy no matter what my time is!

A better indicator for how Boston will go, time wise, will be the races leading up to it.  Other than my under-trained 5 km in November, I haven’t had a longer distance race since Labour Day weekend.  I have updated my race schedule for 2016 here.  There are quite a few unknowns, as two races I normally do (10 Mile Road Race & Rattler Run 10km) don’t have their registration up year, so I am not certain of the weekends.  I am also toying with the idea of doing the Calgary 50 km again (My husband and mom are going to yell at me when they read that).  That would in a way probably be my ‘last hurrah!’ before my foot surgery.  Or, if they schedule my foot surgery later in June or July, I would try to register for the coveted local race, LadiesFest, which is an 8km.  It is later this year than usual, as I am normally at ASAA Provincial Track & Field.  I have not done that race before!  Lets be honest, as long as my surgery isn’t until later in June, I’ll probably register for both…Might as well mess my foot up more before they cut it open!

As an unrelated (sorta?) thing….Dan (my husband) and I decided to not learn from our craziness in June 2014 and we embarked on the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge yet again.  I wrote about it twice on this blog, once at the beginning and at the end.  The beginning post from the last adventure is here.  Why the hell are we putting ourselves through this again?  Well, we did learn some great recipes the first time, we did lose some weight, and we actually had fun (in between our angry bouts due to lack of booze, sugar and salty snacks).  We also somehow convinced our friends Peter & Mac to join in on this, and they are doing it too.  We will all celebrate with pizzas and beer once the shenanigans are over.  The timing for these two weeks have been carefully planned, as we needed it to be two weeks where neither of us are too overloaded with work, as this requires a lot of cooking and time.  We did a weigh-in on Saturday and started the challenge Sunday.  Dan is documenting most of the cooking with pictures and videos on his phone, which yesterday consisted of me almost peeing myself laughing at the sheer size of the meals we were creating.  And the volume of dishes.  Lots and lots of dishes to wash…….

clean eat table

How will this diet alter my ability while training??  Not sure.  When we did it the last time, I had just finished training for and running in the Calgary full marathon.  That marathon was the first attempt I made at qualifying for Boston, and I fell way short, running a 3:46.  I was in really good shape at the start of the diet, and the diet did really clean out any ‘bad’ I had going on.  But it did wreck havoc with my system a bit.  I had one race during the diet in 2014, Millarville Half Marathon, and I certainly did not feel the best when I was done.  I have some straightforward training runs the next two weeks with some basic speed work, so I should be OK.  Pushing through the long workouts while not ‘carbing up’ will be interesting, but I think this diet tying in to me getting back at it with my Boston training couldn’t come at a better time.  I will keep everyone posted on how it turns out in the end!  Until then, time to keep on running…Boston is less than 100 days away!!!!!!!!!!

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!

before

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!

cali advent

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

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

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

leaping to the finish

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

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…And that was Summer 2015

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Tomorrow is the first day back to work for us teachers in the Lethbridge School District.  So, farewell summer—it’s been nice knowing you. The first couple days will be a lot of the general small talk of “How was your summer?  Do anything fun?!?” And I personally have had people already ask me, or more so say to me, “You must have run a lot Andrea?”

I did run.  I did my one race of the Summer Alberta Summer Games, but I trained a ton.  Followed a training plan from my coach Dean Johnson pretty well, which was meant to keep me on track and work toward the goal of a 40:30 10km personal best while running the Disneyland 10km, which is coming up this Labour Day weekend.  I also have the Lethbridge Police Half this weekend, which I hope to run my best time at!  We have been having Air Quality Warnings in Southern Alberta the past few days, due to wildfires in Washington state.  Hope it clears up!  I also have in two weeks the time Red Deer Spartan Super and Sprint….and also the Hurriciane Heat!  I have never done the special Hurricane Heat before in all the Spartan Races I’ve done before, so this will be a first!  If you don’t know what one is, you’ll have to wait for my recap!  And rounding out September is my Spartan 2015 grand finale—Sun Peaks Ultra Beast.  26.2 miles of Spartan hell. 

So I am excited for the school year to start because I have some great races ahead!  And not just that; I do love my job.  It is my sixth year in the district and I’ve been at the same school the whole time.  It’s great looking at your class list and seeing familiar names year to year, and it’s also great having courses you’ve taught before.  I have gotten the opportunity to be involved in our schools IB (International Baccalaureate) program over the past year, so that’s always a great challenge.  And today, while we didn’t have to report to “the office” officially, I went in to do a couple hours of housekeeping items.  And I even decided to get to work the best way I know how-I ran.  So long Summer 2015, and hello new school year!
 

Hanging out at my desk after running to work!

 

Summer Training: Slumps & Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southern Alberta Summer Games 10 km Recap

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As a teacher, I have summers off. But every summer even since I was a kid, my summers consisted of family vacations, going to camp, working at camp, and then going on my only vacations with my friends and my husband. I usually take off quite a bit during the summer, so my training plans fall through, and I never stay consistent with my running. I mean, two years ago I went to Disney World for 16 days….in August….how was I going to keep a stable running routine while there?

Summer 2015
…turns out I am not flying anywhere, or doing much of anything. No week long trips home, no gigantic trips to Disney, no nasal surgeries, no binging in Newfoundland….nothing. So I needed to keep a training plan and have some goals to keep me motivated. My training plan from Dean (who did my Vancouver Marathon plan!) has me training for a pipe-dream time at the Disneyland 10km Labour Day weekend of 40:30. I need a challenge, might as well shoot high?! I had ran a 41:30 in the Rattler Run 10km back in April (right at the peak of my marathon training) so this seemed within reach.
In the midst of my training calendar I had the Southern Alberta Summer Games 10km race, which was held on Wednesday, July 8th. I had heard about the event from a friend, Danny, and he has done different running and cycling events in prior years. The one thing we have in common, other than running, is that we are adults. Why does this matter! Well, in my head I just always picture these provincial summer games to be for middle-college aged kids…not me. But, sure enough, they have age categories every 10 years up to 60+. The event would be held in Claresholm (45 minute drive) and since I am a teacher and have no work on a Wednesday morning in July at 9:45 am, I figured signing up was a good way to spice up my training routine!
Now, I said I wasn’t going anywhere or “doing anything” this summer. Sort of a lie. My Wisconsin mom is currently here and six days into her three week visit. I had also thought this would be fun for her to come watch, as she hasn’t been to many of my events before. I wrote about my first half marathon she ever came to here, where I did the Trailbreaker Half in Waukesha, Wisconsin, during Spring Break 2013. This would be a good day outing for us. I didn’t really know what to expect with this race, not the same way as I do with others. She asked me the night before “how many people are in it? How many are in your age group?” I was totally left in the dark. When you do a summer games event, in particular when you do a solo summer games event, it appears you don’t know who is showing up until you show up yourself.
We headed out to Claresholm at 7:30 am. My event wasn’t slated to start until 9:45, but registration would begin at 8:00 am. My first comment to the organizers is that they should have had the 10km be the first event. It was supposed to be a mass start of the 2.5/5/10km all at 9 am, but a week or so ago I noticed on the site it was changed to the 2.5 km beginning at 9 am and then the 5/10 km beginning at 9:45. A 9:45 am start for a 10km in early July? Eeeeee…..that makes me nervous.

Arrived and was happy to see Randy and crew from Racepro as the official timers!
Yay! I went and checked in, received my race number and timing chip, and then I had plenty of time to relax and warm up. Saw my Lethbridge School District cohort Todd on site as a volunteer. He informed me that the route for the 10km would start as paved road but for about 2km you would be a fresh gravel.  Also met up with my friend Danny, the one who told me about the race.  He would be doing the 5km.



I had peaked at the entry list numbers just to take a look at how many were in my 30-39 female category. There was a number 4 listed there. Ok. I got this. We lined up at 9:45 for the mass 5km and 10km start. The weather felt comfortable standing at this point, with a slight breeze, but I could tell the heat was hiding. We started and I felt strong my first mile, settling in to a 6:45 mile one. Right on where I wanted to be. Then, we had turned onto the never ending rural road. This was still paved but it was one of those cases like when you are on the Vegas strip and you say “it’s right there….it’s just a short walk!” And it isn’t. I slowed my second mile split to a 7:03. Still in a good place.
The 5km runners had already hit their turnaround so now it was me and a high school kid in the middle of this country road. He was slightly ahead of me and I drafted right behind him. At the turnaround for the 10km, Todd was handing out water, which I took, but slightly slowed down. He yelled at me to catch that kid. So, I drank the water (oh man it tasted so good) and kept my eye on this kid. As we ran back on the same route that took us out to the turnaround, I counted all the people behind us. There were only 11 other runners. So 13 total. Small turnout indeed. The shade on this course was non-existent, and the gravel made my feet feel like they were sinking. It was pretty fresh gravel, so there were not any substantial tire tracks sunk in. I kept weaving back and forth trying to find a track to run on, but really just got stuck kicks up more gravel. My mile 3 & 4 times were 7:15 and 7:39. I was going downhill, figuratively.

At approximately mile 4 I did gain enough ground on the teenager and passed him. As much as the heat and terrain were getting to me, I think it was getting to him worse. I steadily increased my distance from him the last two miles of the race, despite having no “rabbit” in front of me to go after. And also, despite my last two mile splits being slower than some of my full marathon splits in Vancouver. I ran mile 5 & 6 in 7:49 & 7:45. I finished in a time of 45:55.

They did the award presentation about 25 minutes later, after the final 10km runner finished. There turned out to be only 2 people in my age category in the end. I also saw a bunch of race bibs not picked up. I wonder how many people were supposed to be in the event? I picked up my gold medal and got a picture with Danny, who also earned gold in his male 30-39 category of the 10km running a time of 19:32. His goal was for under 20 so that’s awesome!



Would I do the Southern Alberta Summer Games again?
Depends. Location makes a difference. I wouldn’t drive all the way out to Medicine Hat for it, but 45 minutes or less sure. They really don’t advertise the event well at all or promote it. It would be very easy for the organizers to make a single page brochure to place in race bags at local Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and area races.  Really, as far as the City of Lethbridge team goes, they just need to not just focus on the elementary schools, but other area athletic organizations who have athletes 18 years or older.  So, not just running….but biking, basketball, etc.  The City of Lethbridge is the biggest in Southern Alberta so there is no excuse as to why we shouldn’t have the most competitors, points, and medals in these games! I’m at the point now that when I run races, I need to be pushed, so the low entry numbers was huge negative.  I’m not confident enough that I can just cruise at a my fastest race pace every time if there is not someone  for me to chase after.  I also wish the start time was earlier for the 10km. July has been ridiculously hot and we are fortunate it wasn’t any worse this morning. I know they have to make sure things don’t overlap with any of the track events happening, but I wish there was a way to make this an earlier start.

So yes, I finished the race first.
But with a less than stellar time. Between the heat, no shade, gravel, small field of runners, and how early it is in my training….I should just be happy with how I did. And I pretty much am. It puts it all into perspective on how trusting your training makes a difference, and that training works. I trained for 16 weeks for Vancouver Marathon and set a new personal best in a 5km, 10km, half and then full when I qualified for Boston at that very race. I kept trucking through the month of May and capped it off with my first ever 50km. Took two weeks off and am now back in the grind, in a way starting from one of the very bottom steps. This just means I have more work to do in order to be where I want to be.

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 !!!!!!