Tag Archives: Red deer

May Days

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Having a kid puts a damper on being up-to-date on my blog posts.  So, since I did three races in May (a trifecta!  5km, 10km and a half marathon) and haven’t written about any of them, I am going to do a post on all three.  This may become a new way of doing things…!?!

3rd Annual Lakeview Superhero Run 5km

I have actually done this race all three years and this was my fastest one yet!  This race is always a Wednesday evening, and the past two years it was hectic getting there because I would have been working during the day.  This year it was even worse because I was trying to deal with stuff at home with Andy before Dan came back from work and  then I had to rush over to the race start.  After parking I got to the start area with less than 10 minutes before the beginning of the race.  Close call.

The weather had been gross all day long and thankfully it cleared up in the evening.  While I would not have minded some rain while running, this is a 2km and 5km race geared towards children and I know they would have been miserable had it been raining.  The 5km runners started first, and the 2km would begin shortly after.  It’s a quick loop from Lakeview School down the green strip towards Bullys, then around the east end of Henderson Lake and back.  I don’t know my splits, because in the rush around the house before heading here I realized my watch wasn’t charged.  Rookie mistake.  But I do know that I finished in a time of 21:57!  I am super proud of this as last year I ran a 25:57(albeit I was 15 weeks pregnant or so) but back in 2016 I ran a 22:16…I beat that!  This sub 22 time that I ran was my goal for my July race in Wisconsin, so now my goal for that 5km will be to beat this time!

20th Anniversary of Woody’s RV World Half Marathon in Red Deer

Dan and I often go and do this race because his family lives in Red Deer.  This would be my 6th time running this half marathon. More notably this would be Dan’s first full marathon!

The weather was the best I’ve ever experienced for this race.  The race starts and finishes right near Dan’s old high school.  I had originally made a lofty goal of running a 1:40 for this race.  When I started, I had some trouble with my legs.  They just felt heavy.  I really thought that I would be able to shake that feeling after a mile or so, but the heaviness and tightness persisted.  I ended up getting pretty frustrated at the 10km mark, but after I hit 9 miles I had a second wind so to speak.  My last four miles were very consistent and back to where they should have been all along.  Here are my splits:

7:26, 7:45, 7:46, 7:48, 7:50, 8:12, 7:54, 7:45, 8:09, 7:51, 7:50, 7:52, 7:53

My final time was a 1:42.28.  So, not in the 1:40 range like I was hoping but still pretty good.  I hope to get down into that 1:40 range or lower by the Lethbridge Police Half this fall.

6th Annual Fort Mcleod Willow Creek Wilderness Walk & Run 10km

The weekend after Red Deer was this little trail race.  My friend Angela and I headed out to Fort Mcleod in the morning.  She would be doing the 5km while I ran the 10km.  While it was advertised as a “Wilderness Walk & Run” I guess I didn’t really take into consideration that this would be a trail race, and not on paved paths.  Surprise surprise!

I would say about 90% of the route was either on gravel, pebbles, mud, dirt, or grass.  I was the leader of the 10km for the first two or three miles, which was col, but very mentally challenging.  With no lead bicyclist, I was starting to lose focus and drive to stay at my normal 10km pace.  My feet just kept sinking into the stones and I felt my pace getting slower and slower.

One guy did pass me and he stayed ahead of me for the duration of the event.  But having him in front of me helped me push a little more and get back on track.  Given the terrain of the race (and my loss of focus) my splits were all over the place.  (6:43, 7:36, 7:53, 8:05, 7:57, 7:46)  I was happy to see myself get my last mile back down a bit.  In hindsight, I probably went out too fast and had I known what the terrain would be like maybe I would have been a little less ambitious to begin.  My final time was 47:48, which was good enough for 2nd overall and 1st place female.  I got a sweet handmade ceramic mug as my prize!

So that was May!  It is already the first weekend in June, and originally I thought I only had one event this month.  But yesterday I joined a relay team for a local trail race last minute.  So who knows what else I’ll decide to do last minute….

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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!

 

Spartan Race Red Deer 2015-Weekend Recap 

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So I am doing my race reports a bit out of order. I’m also behind on them, so something is better than nothing! While my next report up is the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, I haven’t finished looking through all the unidentified photos on MarathonFoto to see if I can find more of me. I want to wait until I have those photos to do that recap. So up next is my Spartan Race weekend up in Red Deer, Alberta, which took place on Friday, September 11th-Sunday, September 13th. During these three days, I participated in 3 events: The Hurricane Heat, Spartan Super and Spartan Sprint. This recap will cover all three events, and while I’ll try to be concise, I’m sure this post will get pretty long! Be forewarned!  

I headed up to Red Deer Immediately after work Friday, which I knew would get me in town right on time for the Hurricane Heat. The Hurricane Heat is a Spartan event I had not yet participated in. While I had signed up for the Saturday and Sunday events I think way back in December, this Friday night event I did not register for until end of August. What is a Hurricane Heat? Well, it’s a 3-4 hour “boot-camp” style group workout, where you work as a team, in smaller groups, as pairs, and on your own. It began in August 2011 when Hurricane Irene forced Spartan Race to cancel their Sunday event in Amesbury, Massachusetts. The founder, Joe De Sena, got a bunch of Spartans together the Saturday morning and did basically whatever the hell he felt like. And now the Hurricane Heat happens the night before many Spartan Race events. Whoever runs the Hurricane Heat decides what tasks the group partake in, some heats run the whole course for the weekend events, and some run parts. The great thing is that every Hurricane Heat could be different!

 

Photo credits-Spartan Race Canada

 
John Bouwman of JohnnyB FITT led the Hurricane Heat. He did a fantastic job. I don’t remember how many of these he said he led before, but I know he has pushed Spartan Canada to let him lead them, as otherwise only the U.S. Races regularly hold the heat. We had received an email about a week prior to the event with a list of items we needed to bring with us. Listed were: hydration pack, headlamp, 2 chemlights, NHL toque, salt/electrolyte packets, energy or gel shots, 5 zip ties, a regulation length hockey stick, a 500 word essay on Why I Race, and to wear all black. We also were told to arrive by 5:30 pm. I took this list seriously, as I had read online that if you didn’t have items you may be penalized. I wish John had been harder on the people who didn’t come prepared, because those were the people at the event that slightly irritated me. I mean, if it says to bring a hydration pack and you show up to this event without one, you look like an idiot. Maybe it sounds cruel for me to say they should have been punished with burpees, but that is what I was expecting. There were a handful of people at this heat who, in my opinion, didn’t have a clue what they were getting themselves into. But, each to their own I guess.
We started with splitting up into teams. John picked me as a team captain (he picked people with a Montreal Canadiens hat on) and I got to pick one person to be on my team, and then we had to all split up evenly in a set amount of time. A lot of the evening would be spent with John giving us a somewhat simple task, and if we didn’t complete it fast enough we would do burpee penalties. Like, when we had to take our hockey sticks and clear a path through the weeds and brush from the race site to the shower site so people could walk there the following day. Wasn’t done well enough so we had to do burpees and then try again.
The evening went on for a little over 3 hours. It included running to different obstacles (we did the course partly in reverse) and then completing some of these obstacles. At one point, we zip tied our wrists to a partner and had to get over the 8 foot wall tied up! We also all helped organize the Tire Flip obstacle and the Stairway to Sparta. Near the end of the night, we even did a little swim in the creek before heading back to base with our head lamps and glow sticks. Upon finishing, we were all presented with our Hurricane Heat Dog Tag, a shirt (I ended up giving mine to my husband because I wasn’t fast enough to get a size small) and the honour of being part of class HHI-005! As someone who has done now a dozen Spartan Races of various distances, being able to participate in the Hurricane Heat was a great opportunity. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be doing the Saturday and Sunday events for time, just completion, and since I knew what the terrain was like in Red Deer, I knew doing this event on Friday night wouldn’t completely waste me. If you haven’t done a Hurricane Heat and have done a ton of Spartan Races, I would highly suggest registering for one!

  
So Saturday morning came around and I was up at my normal school day alarm of 6 am. I had the 8:30 Super Spartan heat time to be at, and I wanted to make sure I arrived with plenty of time to park, warm up, and check my surroundings. My in-laws house is only a ten minute drive from the site of the event, Heritage Ranch, so it’s a super convenient location! I parked close by in a neighborhood, which was worth it by morning end (more on that later). My heat started right on time and I positioned myself near the front, as I knew I wanted to be ahead of the masses as we approached the first obstacles (over-under-through, hay bales, and 8 foot wall). If you get stuck in a mosh of people initially you end up waiting at obstacles. So since running is my strong point, I made a point to stay ahead!

  
Red Deer Spartan Races are, in my opinion, a “runners race” more so than other Spartan courses. There is a lot of single track trails through the woods and then wide open areas of cross country running. If you are a strong runner, you can take advantage of these areas and just cruise from obstacle to obstacle. There were many sections on Saturday (and Sunday) that I was solo as I would go slow through an obstacle but then get a good pace going through the woods.  

  
  
I am most proud of being able to do the monkey bars all by myself on Saturday (and Sunday!) I didn’t hit the spear throw, so now I still have only made the spear once in all my races. The course for Saturday was 14 kilometers of fun, and I am so happy I had an early heat as it started to really warm up later. I would not have been able to run as well as I did if I had been later in the day. I finished in a time of 1:42.14, which was 327/2327 overall, 24/1008 females, and 8/222 in the F 30-34 age group in the Open category. Oh, and that parking spot? Came in handy because as I walked back to my car to change before heading to the beer garden (which didn’t have a free beer for us, even though a coupon was accidentally enclosed in everyone’s packs on Saturday…apparently Spartan Canada couldn’t secure a beer sponsor this year so no free beer!) a dad and his kids had a lemonade stand set up. And a sign offering a hot shower for $3! I inquired and I went and rinsed off on their patio with the hot water hose, and then his wife led me to a change area set up in their mud room. The hot shower, lemonade and tip put me back $8, and it was worth every penny!

 
 So I’ll keep Sunday’s recap short, as the course was just a shorter version of the Saturday’s (approximately 5km). I woke up sore…and hungover. Saturday night consisted of hanging out with my sister in law and drinking a bunch of vodka club sodas. I got her to say she would come sign up for the race morning of, but she slept through it. When my 6 am alarm went off, I was facedown on the couch in their basement. Oof, I just needed to get through this day. I needed this race under my belt because then I would be just one step away from my Double Trifecta, which will be earned in Sun Peaks after completion of the Ultra Beast. I again had the first open heat at 8:30, so getting the race started right away and over early was great. It was surprisingly a lot less busy Sunday morning. I guess I had expected more people to show up for the shorter distance race, but I think a lot of people in Alberta had participated in the Calgary Sprint in August, so if they were going for a trifecta this race was not needed for them.  

  
I just went through the motions of this race, as I just wanted to be done with it. I ran hard in the stretches where running was possible, and I strongly believe that is what helped me place well in this event. I finished in a time of 55:53, and ranked 145/1352 overall, 22/724 in female and 5/157 for 30-34. I collected my medal (both the super and sprint medals had a special Canadian band on them) and another shirt (size small men’s, but I was able to shrink it as it was cotton. The super shirt was an XS small dri-fit men’s, which I’m not sure I’ll wear much). I made my way back to my in-laws, showered, packed, and hit the road back to Lethbridge by 11 am. I wanted to nap so bad, but I also just wanted to get home. Upon arriving home, I collapsed for a solid two hours before unpacking.

   
 So the weekend was a huge success! I participated in three Spartan events (Hurricane Heat, Super and Sprint) and spent around 5+ hours doing it in total. The somewhat funny thing is that when I compete in the Sun Peaks Ultra Beast in one week I will be running for longer than that all in one day. The Ultra Beast will be a fantastic way to cap off my 2015 Spartan Race season!

  

…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!

 

2015 Western Canada Spartan Races—Information and a Giveaway!

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Disclaimer: Spartan Race Media Canada contacted me about writing a blog post to generate buzz around the upcoming Canadian Spartan Races. Any Spartan Race Logos/images being used in this post have been used with permission on Spartan Race Media-Canada.  No compensation was received for this post, and the opinions stated here are my own.
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Coveted Trifecta Tribe member for 2015! Going for Double Trifecta with the Canadian events!

My US Spartan Race schedule has come to an end. I completed the Temecula Super and Sprint in January, and two weeks ago I participated in the epic Montana Founder’s Beast! I am so fortunate that I was able to travel to California in the early part of the year for 2/3 of my Trifecta, and being so close to beautiful Big Fork, Montana, is always helpful when the Montana series occurs each year. US Spartan Races occur all year long, all over the country. I could be flying to New York, Ohio, Idaho, Colorado….The choices are endless. I unfortunately do not have the funds to be able to travel across the USA and participate in all these fantastic options. However, I am fortunate that the Western Canada Spartan Race series is right in my backyard!

canada spartan race logoThe Spartan Race Canada series began a few weeks ago with a Super & Sprint in Montreal. Other race sites for the Eastern Spartan Races include Halifax, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Toronto. I have yet to make it to an Eastern Spartan Race, but hope to someday. The Western Spartan Race series begins in June with the Vancouver Sprint. The provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba all have confirmed events for 2015, with a Saskatchewan race also being in the works. With living in southern Alberta, I have the ability to drive just a few short hours to many of these events!

Sun Peaks Sprint Finishers in 2013

Sun Peaks Sprint Finishers in 2013

When I started doing Spartan Races in 2013, I completed my first trifecta by doing Western Canada Spartan Races. My first ever Canadian race was the Calgary Spartan Sprint, which is held right close to downtown Calgary at a local BMX course. I knew after doing this event that the Canadian Spartan Races were the real deal! Canadian events offer the same experience that the USA events have. Some of the same great obstacles are always included—rope climb, monkey bars, spear throw, sandbag carry, barbed wire crawl, traverse wall. But depending on the event, unique obstacles are added! Because of the course makeup in Calgary, there are TONS of mud pits. I’d go out on a limb and say this is the dirtiest course I have ever done! You also get the same great finisher t-shirts and some incredible bling!

Fun in the Calgary Mud in 2014!

Fun in the Calgary Mud in 2014!

While Calgary is held every August, the events that round out the Western Canada Spartan Race series happen in September. I first did the Red Deer Super, Sun Peaks Beast and Sun Peaks Sprint in September of 2013. I am heading out to the same areas again this year, but mixing it up a bit. In Red Deer, I will be participating in the Super on Saturday and the new-to-me Sprint on Sunday. Then a few short weeks later I will be capping off my Spartan Race year by making the drive out to beautiful Sun Peaks, BC, where I will participate in the Ultra Beast-26.2 miles of Spartan craziness! I love that the events have been adding enhancements each year, with different distances and new courses being offered. This makes these races very repeatable, as you won’t do the same thing twice!

Fire Jumping in Red Deer, 2013

Fire Jumping in Red Deer, 2013

Slip Wall in Red Deer Spartan Race, 2013

Slip Wall in Red Deer Spartan Race, 2013

Yes-Snow may fall during a Western Canada Spartan Race!  Sun Peaks Beast, 2013

Yes-Snow may fall during a Western Canada Spartan Race! Sun Peaks Beast, 2013

My first Spartan Race Trifecta from 2013!

My first Spartan Race Trifecta from 2013!

I encourage anyone in Canada who has thought about doing an obstacle course race to look up the the Spartan Race closest to you. Spartan Race, in my opinion, puts on the best obstacle course race in not just America, but Canada as well! I am so sure of this, that I am going to offer my readers a chance to win an entry for any Western Canada Spartan Race in 2015! The fine folks at Spartan Race Media Canada are making this giveaway possible! I will have this giveaway open for a week. You can gain entries for it by entering in my Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post!  You are able to register for the giveaway until it closes on June 3rd.   And if you already know you are going to be registering for a few Spartan Race Canada events, use the discount code AROO15 for 15% off your next race entry!

If you are interested in entering the FREE giveaway for an entry to any WESTERN CANADA SPARTAN RACE please follow the link below to my RAFFLECOPTER giveaway page. You can enter for free there!

Click HERE to enter for your chance to win a FREE Western Canada Spartan Race entry for 2015!

First Run of 2015-Not What I Expected

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My 67 day RunStreak ended January 1, 2015. I am happy that I kept with it, because I like staying with goals I set, but I was also glad to wake up New Years Day and not run! I had ran the night before at the Red Deer Resolution Run 5km, a nationwide run put on by Running Room. It is not a chip-timed event, and the draw is mainly to get in a final run before the new year. You also get a really nice jacket as part of your registration fee (I’d say the registration fee basically just pays for the jacket). The weather was VERY cold, barely in the teens (Fahrenheit) and the race started at 6 pm. I had forgotten my head lamp in Lethbridge, so I was hoping someone in the group of 150 plus runners would be near me with a lamp. Well, we took off and three guys sped on out ahead. In retrospect, I could have maybe been able to stay with them given the proper footwear (more in that later) but I stuck at a comfortable pace and ran pretty much solo (well, not pretty much, I was alone!) for all 5km. I finished in a comfortable 24:25 and was the first female to finish. I was happy with how I did, especially since the Bower Pond trails had negligible lighting. The thing, though, that I took away from this event was how at peace I was with myself.

Now, I am not going to go on and on about how I had some crazy-ass personal revelation on the year 2014, or how 2015 is going to play out, but as I approached mile 1 and realized I was alone….I smiled. I was in a “race” but I was pushing just myself. With no one nearby, I couldn’t see or hear anyone ahead or behind me. The sun was long gone, the moon was behind a hazy, cloudy sky, but the bright white snow of central Alberta lit the path. The sound of feet moving through this crunching snow was mesmerizing. Occasionally, runners would hit turnoffs up onto sidewalks, but then would be led back onto the trail along the river. Whenever I was along the river, I was alone…but so incredibly happy. When the race finished, while I didn’t have anywhere close to a personal best, I was happy.

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So I took two days off after the Resolution Run. We were back in Lethbridge after a whirlwind of holiday travels. It felt great to be back in our own house. I knew I wanted to head out and run Saturday morning, but it was COLD, not just cold, but downright miserable. It was -1 F or so when I woke up, and by the time I got set to go on my run around noon it was a mere 2F. With four inches or so of snow freshly fallen in Lethbridge, which was on top of some older snow and ice, I decided to try out my new INOV-8 X-Talon 212 trail shoes. I had ordered these shoes in Amazon in November after Ali told me how awesome they worked for her during the Rugged Maniac obstacle race. I wanted these for Spartan Races. But, I knew I could use them on the trails in Lethbridge.

I drove over to Bull Park Trail on the Westside with the goal in mind to run down into the valley to the bridge and back. With it so cold out I didn’t know if my phone would cooperate when I wanted to take photos. I packed it away deep in my pockets and set out. As I jogged from where I parked my car in a nearby neighborhood (wasn’t sure if my car would make it into the not-yet-plowed trailhead parking lot) to the trai, I could tell right away these shoes were different. I was just running through snow, but my feet were flying. I hit the trail, which has shale below the snow, and was still moving so fluidly. These were great! The wind was quite cold on my face, but my body felt good and my feet weren’t even cold.

Before descending into the river bottom, I had to watch my footing as I could see ice below the snow, especially noticeable in areas where drifts had occurred. But the shoes gripped these areas so well too! Even descending into the river was easier than what it would have been had I worn my New Balance!

I made it down to the river and could see foot prints. I was not the only crazy person out there running today. I did never actually see anyone on the paths during my jaunt, but I knew people had gone the same route as me! I headed north in the trail with the river parallel to the trail. Roughly parallel, actually, as this path is more of a goat trail. I have done this path before, and it is now probably my favorite stretch in Lethbridge. Running it in the snow, in these shoes, was a completely different experience. I stopped for a bit (didn’t bother stopping my watch whenever I stopped) to try to get a photo. Frozen. Well, not frozen, but it gave the “extreme temperature” message. I putzed with it a little more, but ended up putting it in my sports bra (heat against my body would help???) and went toward the bridge.

I had to stop and pause and take in the surroundings as I reached the bridge. While I had seen Lethbridge from this vantage point before, I had not seen it covered in snow and almost frozen in time. It was awesome.
As I headed back, I checked my phone again. It cooperated! I stopped a couple spots to take photos before heading back up the coulee. Below are some of the shots I was able to get. These were all down in the river bottom, as once I headed back up the coulee, it stopped working again.

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By the time I made it back to my car, I had completed a cold, yet extremely satisfying, 4 miles. Extremely satisfying doesn’t even begin to hit how awesome it was. Yes, I stopped a lot to take in the sights and did not run 4 miles hard, per say. But I felt like I was running in a cloud when I was moving. Much like my run on New Years Eve, I had a smile on my face. I also realized part way through this run that if it had been two years earlier, I would have never set foot outside in these conditions, in this cold, in this snow, in this river valley. But now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. That is good enough for me, and I call that a successful first run of 2015.

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2014 Running Recap

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It is almost a wrap on 2014…what a year! Ok…I hate that I used that as my first sentence, but I am currently going on my 26th hour in a sleeping car on the Amtrak and am not thinking straight. So maybe writing my recap now isn’t the smartest idea, but I don’t have anything else to occupy my time with really (or that I want to be doing?) so I may as well type this on out!

The numbers

My total of unique race events (ranging from 4km, 5km, 10km, 10 milers, halves and full!) in 2014 is currently at 24, and my 25th event will be on New Years Eve when I run the Brita Resolution Run 5km in Red Deer, Alberta. Last year, I finished with the Lethbridge version of the Resolution Run and that made for my 22nd event. So I will be up three events from 2013 when the clock strikes midnight! Doing the Dopey Challenge (4 individual events) and Dumbo Double Dare (2 distances) in 2014 made the yearly total add up quickly, that’s for sure! And in the process, I ran personal best times in the 5km, half marathon and full marathon distances. Now, will I be trying to “beat” that total and “feats” next year? Not exactly…

This year actually could have been a few races less than 25, especially since before Dopey, I didn’t even have another full marathon planned. After Dopey, I had gotten the bright idea that I could maybe push for a Boston Qualifying time. While I did drop my time in the two latter races I ran (in Calgary and Edmonton, June and August, respectively) it wasn’t enough to qualify. Looking back, I probably did too much in between if Boston had been my main focus for 2014. Going into 2014, Boston wasn’t even close to being on my radar…but my mind started going after seeing some of the possibilities. Was I frustrated I didn’t qualify for Boston last year? You bet I was….but now, I can look back and realize that looking at the progress in my full marathons is something to be proud of. My old personal best before 2014 was a 3:56 full from 2007. In 2014, I ran a 3:50, 3:46 and 3:44 over the course of my jam-packed year. And now I know what I need to work on more of while I prepare for 2015.

Boston qualifying is the main focus for 2015, as I am going to officially start my training program on January 11th. I will be running in the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 3rd, and my events leading up to Vancouver will help supplement my training, while not overdoing it. I have been able to get the half marathon distance down pat (running sub 1:40 now three times in 2014) but will need to work on building distance/endurance in my training.

In addition to Vancouver, I am currently registered for 8 additional events. Six of these events are Spartan Races. I will be doing the Temecula Super Spartan & Sprint on two days back-to-back in January, alongside my best friend. Then in May, my husband and I will be making our way down to Montana for their yearly Spartan Race! Only this year, we aren’t doing the Sprint….we are doing the newly added Beast! This means I will earn Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe Status by May! So I should be done with Spartan Races then, right? Of course not, as that is a Trifecta in the US, so I also want to earn a Trifecta in Canada! September will be the Red Deer Super and Sprint, and then off to Sun Peaks for the Beast! But not just the regular Beast….the Ultra Beast! I have already tackled the Beast in Sun Peaks in 2013, so I needed to take it up a notch and give the 26.2 miles of hell a shot. I guess that’s the main thing that’s bound to happen once you start trying all the different types of races out there…you want to keep pushing yourself beyond the proverbial limit.

I know I will pick up other smaller, local races throughout 2015, but my focus is on my full marathon in May and the Spartan Races. And oh yeah, I do have some things to worry about in addition to running…we have a new house to put sweat-equity in, an old house to sell, and I have a killer schedule for second semester that will take up all extra energy I have. Spring will be very busy for myself (and my hubby!) and while the training takes up time, and one might say I should “go relax or something”, I think I can beg to differ, as my running, training and racing is how I, in the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X !!!

Cheers to 2014 and here’s to looking forward to 2015! And GO PACK GO!

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Initial Post-Race Thoughts From Calgary 2014

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photo 1So it’s been about 24 hours since I finished the Calgary Full Marathon. I went in with the lofty goal of achieving not only a Boston Qualifying time, but a 3:30:00. All my training and experience pointed towards this being possible. I even did the Red Deer Half Marathon on May Long to practice the 8:00 minute mile pace I wanted to achieve and I nailed a 7:59 average pace. And I felt great after!

 

Yesterday, unfortunately, did not go as planned. I woke up so nervous, but figured it would pass. I gave myself plenty of time to eat my standard race-day breakfast and let it settle. We walked to the start line. I got situated comfortably in the corral and was set. I was fired up and ready to get it!

 

I started off fine, but was having trouble comfortably maintaining the needed pace. I ran an 8:04, 7:58, 8:11, 7:59, 8:08, 8:06, 7:58, 8:23, 8:11, 8:13, 8:19, 8:29, and 8:13 for the first 13 miles. My half marathon time was approximately a 1:46:50.  This was abotu 3 minutes slower than I was two weeks prior at Red Deer Half Marathon, and I didn’t feel as strong as I did at that time.  I could still get a BQ if I maintained an 8:15 minute mile pace for every mile after, or faster. At this point in the game, though, my meniscus had been flaring up a tad. This was what I have been going to massage therapy for the last month or so, and it had helped a ton. I did not have this pain in Red Deer. I also had cramps like none other—women cramps—the worst kind. I tried to mentally get myself back in the game—miles 14, 15, and 16 were an 8:17, 8:14, and 8:07. Still on track, albeit I would need to keep at it. It was at mile 17 it all deterred. I slowed down to around 9:00 minute miles for each mile after. I finished with a personal best of 3:46:22. Yes, it is a personal best, and I am proud of that. But it’s not what I went out to do.

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I’m actually surprised I didn’t cry afterwards or even today because I am honestly sad. I really wanted this. And maybe some of you will think “Well, if you wanted it, why didn’t you run harder?” 26.2 miles is a different story. The last time I ran 26.2 was in Disney, and the surroundings of Disney really helped keep me going. That course was also very flat and the elevation level was nothing. While I felt more prepared going into this race, maybe I just got myself too nervous and put too much pressure on it. Maybe I needed to not rely on myself this race, but try to work with the pace group instead. Maybe I did need the moral support of either my husband or my cousin on the course seeing me at different check points. Maybe, maybe, maybe…..

 

Now it’s a game of “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.” I know I can’t go back and change how yesterday played out.  I can’t let that play in my mind, because I am going to be a wreck over it. What I can do is not give up. While it may not be the best decision to register for a full marathon that is occurring in August, in approximately 12 weeks, but I am. The Edmonton Full Marathon is on August 24th. I have ran the half here twice, and the course is FLAT. The elevation in Edmonton is 2,116 ft. Lethbridge, where I live, is 2,990 feet, and Calgary is 3,428 feet. These are all positives weighing in my direction. However, do I enjoy running long distances in the heat of the summer? No, but I will. I will get up at 5:30 am on long run mornings to get the distance in. My mileage base is up so high right now that it would be a shame to give it all up. The weather is the biggest factor in this race, and I can’t control that. But I can control what I do so I am prepared to tackle it the best I can. I know I said Calgary was my one shot at the BQ this year, but everyone needs a second chance. Edmonton 2014, I’m coming to get you.

 

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Woody’s RV World Red Deer Half Marathon 2014-Race Recap

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My previous post was about my preparation for the Woody’s RV World Red Deer Half Marathon. Today, I am going to recap the race and let you know if my goal came to be!

This is the fourth year I have ran the Red Deer Half Marathon. I ran in 2010, 2012, 2013, and now this year. It is convenient in that my in laws live in Red Deer, but it is also a great race! The volunteers are fantastic, and swag is pretty great (with one complaint) and the course is gorgeous.

Pick up was no issue at all, as usual. Stopped to get my goods on Friday night, so I had plenty of time to then relax on Saturday I forgot BodyGlide and HoneyStinger Chews, which then caused me to go back to the expo and purchase these. (I didn’t know where any other running store was in town so this was easiest!). Had some pasta with the family Saturday night, threw back a beer that evening (per usual pre race plan) and went to bed early. 6:00 am alarm came fast!

I did my pre-race ritual of eating oatmeal and drinking coffee. I taped myself up, put on some Voltaren 10% on my knee, and headed outside for a warmup. I wanted to get more than 13.1 miles in today, so I planned on doing a 1 mile warmup before the race. I ended up doing about 1.5 miles, but thankfully I did this as I determined I was dressed too warm. Sure, it was raining, but I was already warm with a short sleeve Lululemon shirt on, so I quickly put on a tank, got on a garbage bag to protect myself from the rain, and walked to the start line.

I cut it pretty close this year, arriving at the start line at probably 7:53. It is nearly a mile from my in-laws house and I was power walking it. I got positioned in the corral, Oh Canada was sang, and away we went! You can notice how confused I am at that very moment by looking at the photo found on the front page of the Red Deer Advocate. Nice.

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So my goal this race was to pace it like I will when running in Calgary on June 1st for my full; an 8:00 minute per mile pace. I knew my first mile was going to be a crapshoot, and I actually ended up going too slow! I ran mile 1 in 8:14! I set my Nike plus GPS watch to Average Pace so I could watch it work the way back down to 8:00. Miles 2-5 clocked in at 7:58, 8:01, 7:55, and 7:47, respectively.

The course is gorgeous, and follows the trail system on the Red Deer River. I have ran these trails many times, even though I don’t live in Red Deer, as they are convenient to my in-laws place. Familiarity does help a ton when you are shooting for a specific time in a race, as I knew when certain hills or hazards were coming. As I approached one tricky hill on the south side of the Red Deer river, I started talking with a lady around my age about her pace. Her name was Christy—she was doing the full and was going for 3:30! She was running the same pace as me, but obviously I was only doing the half. For the rest of the course, until she kept going to finish her full, we stuck near each other. Using each other as pace buddies was helpful! I had slowed a bit on that hill, hitting an 8:25 for mile 6, but then got back on track with help from Christy. We ran miles 7-12 in 7:51, 7:56, 8:15, 7:52, 7:53, and 8:02.

I had to run the last mile alone, as the full course forked to the left. I headed behind Lindsay Thurber High School, up Michener Hill, and coasted down to the finish line. This last “mile” took me about 7:00. I put mile in quotes because throughout the race I did not have to weave through traffic much, I hugged the curves, and I ran the tangents. My little legs need any advantage possible. I crossed the finish line comfortable with a time of 1:43.09…and I felt great!

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I was met at the finish line with my finisher’s medal, water, a banana, and one of those space blankets. My only petty complaint about this race is the medal, as this is now the third year in a row the medal has had the same design on the front face, with the backside date being the only thing that changed. After receiving those goodies, I was greeted by my father-in-law and my beagle Snoopy. Snoopy was not thrilled as the rain was now really coming down. I had to get a finisher’s photo with him, because I realized earlier last week that I had a photo with my silly beagle every year at this race! Apparently it is a tradition!

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I had met my “goal” for this race-I completed the half marathon at the same pace I plan on doing my full marathon. And most importantly, I felt like I could keep on going. It is now Tuesday evening and I am not sore one bit! I took yesterday off, but ran a comfortable 6 miles this evening, and I don’t even have knee pain! I am more ready than ever before to attempt to earn the coveted Boston Qualifying time. Less than two weeks….!

A shoutout to Christy, who did meet her goal, finishing the Red Deer Full Marathon in 3:29:00! Boston Qualifier!

Thoughts Before Woody’s RV World 1/2 Marathon…Not Going for a PR, but….

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Tomorrow is the 16th annual Red Deer Marathon; Woody’s RV World 1/2 and Full Marathon. I have done this race three times before (2010, 2012, 2013) and ran times of 1:54:19, 1:56:06, and 1:47:22, respectively. My race last year smashed my half marathon PR, and I have now broken that a few more times, working down to a 1:38:40.

This year, I am not going for a personal record. I am not going for placing in my age group. I am treating this run as a practice for the Calgary Full Marathon, which is in two short weeks. This is the race that stands between me and Boston.

My goal in Calgary is to run an 8:00 min/mi, which would put me at a 3:30:00 full marathon. In order to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I need to be under a 3:35:00. But, as you know from my post earlier this year, just under your maximum qualifying time doesn’t cut it. My Beef with Boston

By shooting for the 3:30, I am giving myself some qualifying cushion, so to speak. So tomorrow, I am attempting to run even splits, something I used to have a huge struggle with. I am still not perfect when it comes to my splits, but I have gotten them a lot more consistent. I am aiming for a time tomorrow of 1:45:00.

If I can tackle my race tomorrow with consistent splits and finish at 1:45, my mission will be accomplished. I will feel more confident going into Calgary and attempting my BQ. But, in two weeks, a lot can change that I have no control over. Weather is the big thing—there could very well be snow on June 1st in Calgary, but there could also be a heat advisory. While that course is also relatively flat with no major changes in elevation, the starting elevation is close to 3,428 feet above sea level. Now that my body has adjusted to “Rocky Mountain Levels” I am a lot better than I once was when I first moved from Milwaukee, but I still get nervous about racing a full marathon in Calgary. Proof is in past experience—-I ran the Calgary Full Marathon in 2009 with an astounding time of 5:03:37a personal worst.

I have ran this course and these trails in Red Deer before, so the familiarity is on my side. The whole course is relatively flat, with one bitch of an incline right at the end. This then turns into a rolling hill down to the finish line, so there is a reward. The elevation in Red Deer is 2,805 feet above sea level, which is very comparable to my home base of Lethbridge (2,990 feet). The climate is more humid here in Red Deer, but nothing compared to my hometown of Milwaukee, so race day temps are nothing crazy.

For now, I am going to enjoy this gorgeous May afternoon and go on a 2 mile shakeout run along the river, to keep those joints moving. I’ll head out to our in-laws cabin later to spend time with my nieces, have supper wit the family, then come back to relax. That 6:00 am alarm will be coming soon!

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Click here for more information on the Red Deer Marathon

I already went and picked up my race packet yesterday, and while there I was happy to run into the folks from Racepro.ca. Randy and company facilitate all the Runners Soul events back in Lethbridge, and when I checked in for my bib he overheard my name and commented “…I know that name! It’s nice to see a familiar face!” Right back at you Randy!