Tag Archives: running room

Hypothermic Half 2016-Why?

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imageOn Saturday, February 27th, I participated in the Lethbridge Edition of the the Hypothermic Half. This event is put on by The Running Room and held nationwide. I participated in the Lethbridge event in 2013, then the Calgary version in 2015. I wrote about those events here (Lethbridge 2013) and here (Calgary 2015)…and as you can see, they were completely different experiences. Going into this event, I had an idea of what to expect, and I was disappointed. But that doesn’t mean it was an amazing race experience.

I don’t like being negative on here, especially about races. But when an event needs some improvement, I will share my two-cents. I signed up for this local event knowing it would probably be low-attendance. In comparing the Lethbridge 2013 run to the Calgary 2015, the first thing one would notice is turnout. The Calgary Running Room in Eau Claire Market downtown seems to do quite a bit more promotion and draws more runners. That event was chip timed. It was a bigger deal. The Lethbridge event, yet again, was not chip-timed had only about 40 or so runners (tops) and was a mish-mash to say the least.

Packet pickup was both the Thursday and Friday before the event. This was nice as I could not make it Friday (would have been tight on time). However, I went to packet pickup and they couldn’t confirm race start. It would either be 8 am or 9 am. I had to write down my email so they could let me know. They also had no details on the brunch. Now, while I did receive an email late Friday afternoon, that is very odd to me that a race did not have these details for participants less than 48 hours before the event. Especially when it’s an event being put on by a national store.

In 2013 the race swag was a duffle bag (Dan uses it from time to time). Last year. I received a buff-like head gear piece and black mittens (which I actually use). This year, they decided to have everyone receive a flimsy orange backpack (I like the Colour but I is destined to tear if I put anything bigger than a pair of shoes in it) and a toque that doesn’t fit over my Afro. I like it when races change up the swag, but for the registration price, this is so-so. For the record, early bird registration was $65 up until October 1, $70 until Jan 1st, and $80 until race day. I believe I did the $70 one, knowing you get an item other than a shirt. This also includes a post-race brunch…which I’ll talk about later. Really, Running Room is making a killing because this is the same cost for the 5km or 10km, which they hold that same morning. I, just really confused on this pricing tier, as since it’s a nationwide event and all race sites have the same swag and medals, it’s all ordered in masses. Anyways, onto the race.

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Race did start at 9 am, which was what I had thought was the original start time anyway, so that was good. I signed up for this race knowing I would have a long training run this weekend, and it timed out to be the weekend I needed to do 18 miles for my Boston Training. I got up early and did a 5.5 mile “warmup” to get my legs going. The warmup miles felt good, but I was already going faster than I normally had been going on my long runs…not faster than the pace I should be going, but I was averaging 8:21 a mile. I made it to my car, drove down to the river bottom, and was at the start line with about three minutes to spare. Way to cut it close!

The route was a familiar one, as it went out past the nature centre to the metal gate, turn around, loop adjacent to the Oldman River and under Whoop Up Drive, past the water treatment plant and down to the loop right before the country club. Then head back to the start…and do it again. As a local runner, I know the segments of this route like the back of my hand…all the turns, dips, climbs, bridges, etc. But with the event having such a low number of people, keeping motivated would be tough as often I felt alone, yet still wanted to push to keep my goal pace for the race. I had in my mind I wanted to pace for an 8:00 minute/mile, as that is in the faster end of my “long run” pace, but exactly what I want for my goal pace in Boston (gives me a 3:30 full). Even though the race start didn’t have the traditional excitement I am used to at the start of a half marathon (maybe part of it was that I was still tying my left shoe when they said GO) I got fired up during that first mile. It felt GREAT to be in a race again. And to feel in shape. I did my first mile too fast, in a 7:22. I hope that I can remember what that felt like, as that is my goal half pace. I held close to that last year when I ran my 1:35.41 personal best. I have a half marathon on April 2nd in Wisconsin, and if I haven’t eaten too much cheese or drank too much beer the week leading up to it, I plan on going for that.

Back to Lethbridge. First half of the half went with a 7:22, 7:56, 8:04, 8:02, 8:05, 8:16, 8:01. It was around here while heading past the nature centre a second time I came across some tool walking his dog not on the leash. The dog was a huge Great Dane/boxer mix (maybe?) and came up to my hip. It was running in the side brush and onto the trail, and as I got closer it decided to run right toward me. It didn’t bite, but it nudged it’s damn head at my hip so I, naturally, turned my head back at the guy and yelled “THIS ISNT AN OFF LEASH PARK! YOU CAN GET A FUCKING FINE”. Then, I ran off the pavement a bit, and promptly ran into a rock. For real. And I hit it with my right foot. The one with the bone spur. Yeah, I jacked my foot into the rock, but caught myself and then kept running. The idiot owner was saying he was sorry….but yeah. That happened.

Regained myself and did the second loop with 8:16, 7:56, 8:02, 8:07, 8:12 and then the last 0.75 miles in 5:50, to finish with 1:42.15. My total distance was 12.75 miles, and I think I was so under due to the fact I really did run the tangents and hug all the curves, as I am so familiar with the route. The route did have a Garmin Connect map online that clocked it as the true 13.1 miles, but that would being on the outside curves the whole time. At 5km, for instance, I looked and was at 3.06 miles instead of 3.11…and then the gap just slowly grew. I was very happy with my finish, as my pace was a solid 8:01 minute/mile. Pretty much exactly what I wanted for the day!

I finished and got my medal, which is sweet. I do like the abominable snowman/Sasquatch/The Bumble that is on it, so that is a plus. I got my layers in and waited for my friend Aimee and her friend Zita to finish, and then we headed to the brunch at Lethbridge Lodge. Now, I didn’t go to the brunch in 2013 for some reason, but I did in Calgary last year when it was at Fort Calgary and it was awesome. Tons of food, fantastic scramblers…lots of juice, coffee, beverages. Filled with people. This one…was…interesting.

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Got to the ballroom in the Lodge it was at, and it was basically empty. I think there were about 12 people in there, and no one was checking our race bibs to actually see if we paid to eat. The buffet line up was scrambled eggs, ham, plain cubed potatoes, and some Danishes. Then some poorly made coffee and questionable orange juice. Additional brunch tickets were sold online for $30 a piece…this was a $9.99 buffet. Thankfully, the company of Aimee, Zita and her husband made it worth it, as the food was a joke.

Would I recommend this race? Not the Lethbridge one. Would I do it again? Probably not anytime soon. But if it lined up in a training plan, I’ll probably throw my credit card number down and try to give it another chance, but the only be left to complain yet again. Memories! 7 weeks til Boston ya’ll!

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8.5 Weeks Until Boston…Training Progress, Race Goals, Injury Update

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Helllllloooooooooooo!  Crazy to see on my training plan that I am now 7.5 weeks in, with 8.5 weeks left to go!  Almost at that halfway point!  Training is on schedule and I am feeling pretty good.  I lamented before how it is frustrating sometimes as I notice myself slower on some workouts this year than I was last year, but I then remember that last year I was coming off some strong races in late fall/winter so I was better prepared to enter training.  I have had some awesome training runs, though, and that makes me feel even more confident getting to this halfway point.  The 16 miler I have on Saturday will be my first true test, in my opinion, as it has the mileage challenge and the mental challenge.  I missed my first 16 miler two weeks ago because I was fighting this awful stomach bug, so I need to go out and just get the mileage in.  Nothing fancy, no crazy pace accelerations…just run 16 miles in my long-run pace range (7:48-9:04 per mile).

I also have mentioned before that not having any races lately has made it hard at times to really push my limits.  On February 27th, I will be doing my first event of 2016.  The Hypothermic Half is an event held nationwide and put on by Running Room.  I am doing this in conjunction with my 18 miler that day, so I am not going to race it, just simply use it as part of my training run that day.  The ‘competitive’ events come in March and April, as I have the local Moonlight Run 10km on March 19th and the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on April 2nd.  My dream goal at Moonlight would be to place in top 3 women overall.  The race can be all over the place, due to the change in weather, time of year, and the wicked hill climb for the last 3/4 of a mile.  Last year, while I ran faster than the year prior, I placed 5th overall in women.  I ran a 43:47.  In 2014, I placed 4th overall with my 47:27.  This year, I expect to be somewhere in between those times, but have no real clue how I will finish.  It really depends on who shows up on race day….and I don’t mean just what competitors….I mean what Andrea will show up?!?!?

For Trailbreaker, I am planning on pushing myself to the limits and run the best half marathon I possibly can.  To beat my personal best, I would need to run faster than a 1:35:41.  I did that time exactly one year ago in frigid temperatures.  My most recent half marathon time was my less-than-pleasing Lethbridge Police Half, where I had stomach issues the last 4 miles and dropped position and time, finishing with a 1:40.13…well off what I was capable of.  So really, I am aiming for anything under 1:40 at Trailbreaker, as coming off a week of ‘vacationing’ in Milwaukee is sometimes a bit much.  And since I have been training for Boston, I know my  legs are ready for this.  And, the elevation is lower back home, so you never know!  Lets just hope the humidity stays away!

Lastly….my foot.  It’s not an injury, per say, but a nuisance.  I know, KNOW it is getting more aggravated by the day as I keep pounding out the mileage.  The new shoes and orthotics have helped tons, and I am so glad I got them.  However, the only way for it not to hurt would for me to not run, walk, stand, be human.  So, I am just going to keep ruining my foot and build that bone spur up more and more until I have a surgery date set.  I have been putting prescription 10% Voltaren on it as of late, and this has helped numb the pain.  I am set to see my podiatrist next week to talk about pain management, and then I will hopefully be booking an appointment with my family doctor (and sports medicine extraordinaire) to have him inject something into it?????  I have been going to physiotherapy pretty regularly, and I am addicted to the TENS machine…those electric wave pulses (or whatever they are) on my foot feel SO GOOD.  I really don’t know how my foot will hold up on races, as during runs I don’t really think about it. It is after I am done running and my shoe is off that the throbbing really kicks in.  So the Hypothermic half, Moonlight Run and Trailbreaker will all be good indicators on how 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston will physically feel come April 18th!  I don’t really care if my foot feels like it is going to fall off during that race, because emotionally it will feel amazing!

 

 

Calgary Hypothermic Half-My Muddled Post-Race Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Santa Shuffle 5km 2014 Recap

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Yesterday, I participated in the Santa Shuffle 5km. It is a “fun run” and it is not chip-timed. This event is hosted by Running Room, and just like their Hypothermic Half and Resolution Run events, it is held in various locations all over Canada. The event is ran over at Nicholas Sheran Park, which is less than a mile from where we live, so it makes for an easily accessible event. I also registered early enough so it was just a $25 entry fee, which would include a finisher medal (a rare thing for 5km events). I opted to not purchase the t-shirt (yeah, don’t need another long sleeve cotton shirt).

I decided to tack on some extra mileage to my run that day, wanting to total 8 miles, so I went out at 9:15 am and put in 3.3 miles before the 10am start of the event. After the event, I would cool down jog what I needed in order to reach 8 miles. I made it over to the start area at 9:52. People were milling around pretty clueless by the start. They had a 5km and a 1km “Elf Walk” starting at the same time. When they called out to start in one minute, everyone around me was questioning “what the hell is the route?” Some older woman volunteer was then honestly in THE MIDDLE of the pack of people waiting to start trying to explain this half-ass planned 5km route around the lake. While she was in the middle of explaining, they started the race. Needless to say, that isn’t the best organization.

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We were off….it was perfect weather for running (above freezing!) and sunny, very little wind. However, the snow we had had the previous week was just melting, and was still drifted and packed down in spots on the trail. The route would be two laps around the lake, with an additional straight-away added each time once you made it around to near the start. You would turn south and head down the path to where it reached the end of the park, then make a quick almost dead-stop turn, where you would the route again.

The first mile brought runners to this quick turn, and I had ran it in 7:07. At this point, I was actually the leader. Not the female leader, but the main leader. Yeah—it was a small race. I decided I wanted to hold this position because it’s fun to beat guys. Doing the second lap was more challenging, because you had to dodge families coming back from the out-and-back Elf Walk, plus the walkers (who usually had their dogs too) doing the 5km. My feet were feeling heavy with the snow stuck to the bottom, but I kept pushing. Mile 2 slowed to 7:19 and mile 3 even more to 7:32. I finished the event (which my GPS had at 3.18 miles) in 23:11…quite a bit slower than my 5km personal best from the Mustache Dache in November (21:08) but was still good enough for a 1st Place Finish.

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I was very surprised when I received a small “gold medal” for being first place female, in addition to my participant medal. Sure, my husband made fun of it when I got home later because it is pretty tiny, but I thought that was nice and not expected since the race wasn’t officially timed. That is my huge complaint with these “Fun Run’s” and most of the events Running Room hosts nationwide—-they aren’t timed. Why? I have no clue. I am guessing that if I asked them, I’m sure they would say “Well, we want to just encourage people to come out and run without pressure of being timed.” I think it is because they are being cheap and don’t want to pay a timing company to come out and run the event. Is that harsh to say? Maybe. But it is pretty sad when the largest running store in Canada can’t even do an officially timed event.

That being said, with the lack of organization and perks to this race, I will not be registering for it again. I would recommend it for families because of the Santa theme, but for anyone else (even a beginner runner) do yourself a favor and choose a better 5km for your first event. I can give you suggestions to local races that have better experiences than this for a 5km. And hint—none are put on by Running Room.

And with that crabby post, Happy Sunday!

Millarville Run to the Farmers’ Market 2014—Race Report

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Today was the 3rd Annual Millarville Run to the Farmer’s Market Half Marathon. Last year, I ran this event, and you can find the recap here: Millarville 2013

I had such a positive experience at this event last year, that I decided to run it again! Two things were different though: I didn’t go up the night before, and the weather was cool and had a slight drizzle!

My alarm was scheduled for 3:45 AM today, but I woke up naturally at 3:43 AM. How does that happen? Anyway, if you read earlier this week, the husband and I are on this “Clean Eating Cleanse” diet for two weeks. This morning was breakfast number 7. I knew this “diet” could play into how my race would go, but I was using this race as a scheduled speed training workout, not necessarily a personal best. That being said, I had green tea, black coffee, steamed asparagus and two poached eggs as breakfast…not my normal race-morning breakfast. I got dressed, packed a bag to check, and hit the road at 4:50 AM.

I made it to Black Diamond Oilfields Arena at around 6:40 am. I was able to park close the the start line, went in for my morning-of packet pickup, and got myself situated. Packet pickup was smooth, and the shirts are great. Same logo as last year, but different size, orientation, and shirt color.

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The bag check was located right behind the start line, and I was able to drop my bag about 10 minutes before the 7:30 am Half Marathon gun. One thing to note about this event—they have a half marathon, a half marathon relay, an 8 miler, and new this year was the 8-Mile “Bun Run”, where participants had to consume a homemade cinnamon roll from a local bakery at (I think) two different locations during the race before proceeding! The half marathon also offered a 7:00 AM early start for walkers, where I say about 20 people took part.

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I started off the race feeling very solid! The weather was in my favour, and I pumped out a 7:26, 7:51, 7:27, 7:35, and 7:29 for the first five miles. I will note, though, that the first portion of the course had little to no incline, and was mostly flat, or rolling country roads. So what goes down…must eventually go up.

After the relay exchange point was where we hit the first substantial hill. I made mile six in 8:04. No biggie, I still had a great average pace. If I wanted to beat my 1:38:40 personal best from March it could still happen. My legs got a little tight from the climb, but started to loosen during mile seven and eight, where i ran 8:00 and 7:55.

Then came the rural highway from hell.

If you look at this overview map from my NikePlus app, you can see that long, long straightaway, which I would like to nickname “The Mindfuck.” It isn’t just a straight shot for nearly 4 miles, but it’s a straight shot that then keeps rolling upwards, going flat, then climbing up again. During mile 9 and 10 is when I started to feel the tightness in my quads and hip flexors. While I kept telling myself to go for a 7:45 for both these miles, my legs just couldn’t. I ran an 8:35 and 8:11.

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After the climb that wouldn’t end, I looked at my watch around 10.33 miles. I looked at the average pace (which was around 7:49/7:50 a mile) and I quickly assessed my pain level. I also thought about the training I had all summer ahead of me, and most importantly the big Boston Qualifying race I have in Edmonton in August. At that point, I quickly decided to run smart and run slower, coasting into the finish line. I did not quit—I just weighed my options and realized since a PB wasn’t going to happen, it wasn’t worth killing it to just run somewhere in the 1:40s. So mile 11-13 were 8:40, 9:04, and 8:15, which brought me in at 1:44.32.

After walking off the soreness in my leg, I received my sweet handmade bling, and then I broke our cleanse rule and devoured a quarter of a cheese bagel. Sorry Dan! And I also downed a bottle of water. I also immediately felt at ease with how I did! Last year, I ran this same event in a 1:52.10….I ran almost 8 minutes faster! Sure, I was 6 minutes off my personal best, but the improvement I have had over the past year and a half of doing all these races makes it all fine! I finished 36/331 overall runners, 12/213 females, and 8/47 in the 20-29 female category. You can’t have a personal best every race, and sometimes running smarter and safer is key, so that the “Big Show” goes as planned!

How did I feel after? Legs were sore, my knee was fine….but my stomach was beating me up. Did not hurt till after the race. I wanted to keel over into fetal position during the shuttle ride back to the start line, and while I drove back to Lethbridge, I had to stop at a Wayside before Claresholm. This is when I laid in the back seat on Snoopy’s blanket, wincing in pain, and napped for one hour. I did eventually make it back to Lethbridge, and now 10 hours post race, my stomach seems to have settled. Lesson learned—-don’t expect to feel like a rock star after a half marathon when you are on some whack job clean eating cleanse! Next half marathon is the Stampede Road Race in Calgary on Sunday, July 6th. I WILL NOT be on a weird diet then!

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Claus Cause 10km Race Recap!

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November 16th, 2013, marked the day of the annual Claus Cause run. This is another great event hosted by Runner’s Soul, and along with picking up your race registration, you are asked to bring non-perishable food items in for donation to Lethbridge Food Bank. Upon trading my boxes of granola bars in at packet pickup, I received my bib and an awesome Claus Cause Buff! This was a nice takeaway from a race, considering we all have too many race t-shirts to count!
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The event had both a 5km and 10km, which started at 9:00 am down at Fort Whoop Up. The 10km route would just be the 5 km twice, which was just fine as it was relatively flat. The only challenge with this course, which I have mentioned before in previous posts, is that the curviness of the paths can sometime pose to be a mental problem.
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The weather was very overcast at race start, but perfect temperatures considering it was mid November. My husband kept telling me it was supposed to snow, but I chose to ignore him. As everyone got set for the mass start of the 5km and 10km, Erin from Runner’s Soul made some announcements. When she started talking about people to watch in each event, it came to my surprise when she said “…in the women’s 10km, watch strong local runner Andrea Lammers-Pottage…” I looked at my husband, but I don’t think he knew what my face was thinking…..holy crap, now I have to do my best.
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I went out pretty fast, as I knew the first loop of the route would be more competitive, since the 5km was at the same time. There were 177 runners in the 5km and 86 in the 10km, so if I wanted to be with a pack of people I needed to stay near the front now. As I made my first lap, I felt strong. I could do that same pace again! I was at this time in the lead for the female 10km racers.
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I had more motivation than a normal 10km since this would be my last 10km race of the year. If I wanted to PR, now was the time. And my friend Lauren from back in Wisconsin had bet me if I ran faster than 46 minutes (my personal best was 46:32 at the time) she would donate $46 to American Heart Association.

I had one mile left and I knew my pace was on to beat the 46 minutes, but it would be close. I just kept trying to keep those legs moving around the curve before Whoop Up, and once I saw the finish in the distance I couldn’t slow down. I came in with a personal best time of 45:37, and had kept my first place position for women!

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When I finished, I felt so elated and just happy to have done it. It started to sink in I had earned another personal best, and then I realized that over the course of a little over a year, I had been able to drop my 10km race time from 50:27 to 45:37…..about 5 minutes have been knocked off! And of course, I have in my mind I can break 45, given if I have someone right in front of me as a pace bunny the whole time!

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So that snow Dan mentioned? Well, it conveniently arrived about an hour or so after race start. By award time, the snow was pounding down and it had gotten cold! The pictures are hysterical because it looks like I am in two different events, but it proves to be an amusing time lapse.

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I have one more race this year, a 5km Santa Shuffle, in two weeks. I just registered for it, and while this Claus Cause was suppose to be last, I need to find something between then and Dopey in January! What else will I be doing until the Dopey Challenge? Well, other than getting the mileage in and doing four days in a row of buildup to mimic Dopey. I needed a race In-between to keep me competitive. And if you are in Lethbridge, look for me on the roads today and wave—At 2:00 today I am heading out on a 14 mile tour of the Westside of Lethbridge, and it looks like by then weather will be pretty solid, with a temperature of 37 F and clear skies.

Race Recap-Edmonton Half Marathon

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I ran my first Edmonton Half Marathon two years ago in August 2011. It was a disaster. I had been on vacation (to Disney World, duh) and gotten back on a Friday night. I headed up to Red Deer for a night with the in laws, then to Edmonton Saturday to spend time with Dan’s cousin. Sunday was race day, and all the lovely vacation food and beverage that was still in my system messed with my capability to run the race well, thus running it in 2:34:09. A disaster.

So when I registered for all my races this year, I naturally ignored history and signed up for Edmonton again. It was originally slated to be run on August 18th, two days after I would return from my 16 days in Disney World—–familiar set up, right? Well, race organizer had to switch the race to a week later due to a scheduling conflict, so I had a little over a week from my return from Disney to prepare mentally for this race.

For my stateside friends, or people generally unfamiliar with Canadian geography, Edmonton is the capital of Alberta (not Calgary), and is located about 5 hour north of Lethbridge, a little south of centre of the Province. Everything else North of Edmonton is a lot of space….national parks, oil fields, etc.
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So onto the race itself. Well, first, the expo. Rumor was that the race organizers were having trouble dealing with Northlands (the start/finish line sponsors, huge exhibition grounds) this year, as this is why the original date got switched, due to a scheduling conflict. Also, the expo and packet pickup was usually at Northlands Park, an incredibly easy to access location. It got switched to a hotel in downtown Edmonton, conveniently located in the middle of construction. It was a nightmare to get to. My friend Kelly and I managed to find our way there, but didn’t spend too much time at the expo. Kelly started running half marathons just in the past 9 months or so, and trains with a group from The Running Room in Edmonton, so she saw a lot of people she knew there—a few of the people she runs with were the Pace Bunnies for race day.

Before leaving the expo, we also bought our parking pass, which did not allow in-out privileges. This was by no fault of the race organizers, but this was Northlands adding something else to charge people up the ass for. I know for a fact two years ago I did not pay for parking. I paid for parking in Calgary, but that race was downtown with limited space, and you had to be at the Stampede Grounds before 6 am to get into parking….so that seemed acceptable. If we didn’t buy the $5 pass that day it would have been $12 on Sunday. Ridiculous. But, we needed it so our husbands could come back and watch us at the finish.

The morning of the race offered excellent race temperatures. I actually had to wear a short sleeved shirt instead of just a tank top! Kelly and I were both a little slow going in the morning, as we had the bright idea the day before to go to the West Edmonton Mall indoor watermark. Probably not a great pre-race quest, but we had a blast and its not like we are champions or something! Anyway, got dropped off at Northlands around 7 am, with plenty of time to use the restrooms, stretch, and get prepared for our 8 am start. The full marathon started at 7:30 am, and we viewed it from inside the Northlands race track building.
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The Edmonton course is always billed as “fast and flat” and our shirts stated this too. The total elevation change in the entire half marathon course is a whopping 12 meters. This is what actually got me nervous as we waited to start, since in all fairness, anyone used to the general high elevation in Alberta should be rockin’ this course. But, we saw two years ago, you can self-destruct at any time.
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We made the mistake of not getting down the the start chute until the last 9 minutes. There was no way I could get up farther in the pack to where I wanted to be (in between the 1:45 and 1:50 Pace Bunny). So after the gun went off, I spent the first half a mile of the race slowly making my way through the pack. The race was an out and back course, that led us into Chinatown and downtown Edmonton, then through some gorgeous neighborhoods, and back. Below is the course map, and it is similar, if not identical, to the one two years ago.
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I have lamented this before, but the one thing I really struggle with is a consistent pace. And this race was no different, in that I start out faster than my average pace should end up being, and I do this for about 5 km. I then start to slow down to where I ideally want my pace to be, but end up going way slower for miles 7-10 than I want. I hit my half marathon wall of frustration at around mile 9. It is always my slowest. I have ran enough in my life I should be able to know what 8:15 min/mi feels like and stick with it, but I am still working on it. Also, I forgot my Nike Sportwatch in Lethbridge, so I had to use the Nike+ app on race day, which I do have to say is awesome, but since I had my phone in my fuel belt pocket, I didn’t have a visual to look at, just the voice cues.

With my complaints about my pace, when I get to the last 3 miles I can always put on a smile and know the end is near. I haven’t fully decided if I like out-and-back courses better than a route that is all different, but it is nice going back over something you did earlier that morning, and being able to picture how much further you have left. Since I am not from Edmonton and don’t visit often, it is not like I know the area and landmarks well, but since I ran past the beautiful overlook of the river at about 2.5 miles, when I returned past it I knew I didn’t have much to go! I rounded into Northlands and was able to see my husband and Kelly’s husband behind one of the gates. I think Dan, my hubby, was surprised to see me actually finish in a decent time, given the vacation the first half of the month and our day at the waterpark. My chip time when finishing ended up being 1:51:58, which is my second best half marathon time ever! A far cry from the 2:34:09 two years prior! I conquered Edmonton!

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After receiving my medal and some water, I trekked back to the Northlands entrance so I could watch for Kelly. I highly recommend anyone who finishes a race and feels up to it, to go back and cheer on some fellow runners as they finish. I know I appreciate as a runner having the cheers from strangers. And I could tell that many runners enjoyed having those words of encouragement, and me telling them its just a “right turn and a left turn into the finish line!” It was also neat because as I was walking out to watch for Kelly, runners who were coming in to finish were congratulating me for already being done—it was pretty neat. Kelly came in and set a PR for herself, finishing at 2:11:50! There were 1719 participants in the half, with 998 of them women! Kelly finished 417/998 in our gender, and I was 114/998.
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I had a great time at the Edmonton Half Marathon, and would consider doing to again, as the course is gorgeous, it really is fast and flat, and it is a great race location since we have family and friends to visit. This really could be a PR course for me if I trained for it in mind, so I might set my sights on that next August, since I won’t be doing as many races as this year.

(Also, I got to meet quickly with one of my fellow Dopey Challenge runners who is part of the same Dopey Training Group as me on Facebook! Saskia lives in Calgary, and we were able to meet up after finishing the Edmonton Half! It was great meeting you and hopefully you do come down for the Lethbridge Police Half Marathon in two weeks! Otherwise, see you in January!)

First Race of the Year-Tomorrow!

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My first half marathon of 2013 is happening tomorrow! It is the “Hypothermic Half.” It is a local one right here in Lethbridge, hosted by the Running Room. Being that I have been sick the last week, I am just hoping to be able to feel strong throughout the race and look forward to receiving my finishers medal at the end!

I will be doing a full race recap tomorrow afternoon, but if anyone is in town and wants to come down and watch, here is the info! It begins at 9:00 down at Fort Whoop-Up. The course seems fairly mindless, as we loop twice around Indian Battle Park, head down to the police firing range and back, only to do that same sequence one more time. The benefit is the easy viewing from the trails down in the river bottom, and the fairly level elevation. Dan will be there taking photos, but he will be lonely, so other spectators are welcome!