Tag Archives: stampede

Calgary Half Marathon 2017

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I first ran a Calgary Marathon Weekend event in 2009.  That marathon was AWFUL for me, and I took a break from running full marathons.  But, in 2013 I returned to Calgary for their half marathon.  And in 2014 for the full.  And 2015 & 2016 for the 50km.

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Calgary Marathon Expo

 

This year, my husband and I ran the half marathon.  I went in with a few time goals, with my overall goal being to run a sub 2 hour half marathon.  Normally, this is no problem as I have been running low and sub 1:40s for a few years now.  But, being 17.5 weeks pregnant would be new running territory!  If that goal couldn’t be met, I wanted to beat my first half marathon time of 2:05.30.  Third goal would be sub 2:10.  And after that, just completion.

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Runners Soul Marathon Club

Weather was set to be comfortable, and the 7:00 am start is always nice.  In my experience running Calgary Marathon Weekend event, the heat really kicks in at around 9:30 and on.  I would be done before the heat of the morning arose, and off those non-shaded city streets.  I was concerned, however, about needing to use the bathroom multiple times.  I am needing to stay hydrated more than ever, but that comes with consequences!

Dan and I started in separate areas of the starting corral.  I actually started with our cousin Erin, even though I knew she’d be gone from my sight in a few short steps.  I started farther up than maybe I should have, but I also know so many people self-seed themselves incorrectly.  I planned on pushing the first mile just so I could get some space and not be trampled/ran into/stepped on.  This plan worked as I ran mile 1 in 8:33, and therefore had plenty of elbow room.

Miles 2-5 were consistent and uneventful.  Actually, the eventful parts of these miles were people running by me commenting on my shirt!  “Run Faster!  I’m pregnant and still kicking your ass!”  I heard a comment from a guy at one point saying he’s done a lot of races and that’s the best shirt he’s ever seen.  I got a lot of “congrats” and thumbs up.  It kept me smiling and moving, and I’m sure it kept a bunch of other people moving!  Miles 2-4 were 8:45, 8:59, 8:58, and 8:59.  I was on pace to break 2 hours (ideally wanted an average pace of 9 min/mi…I was on track!)

Mile 6 was my slowest, at a 9:46.  This is due in part to my one and only potty break.  I spotted two Porta Potties downtown at around mile 5.8 and there was no line.  PERFECT!  But, they were both occupied.   I had to wait probably somewhere around 15-20 seconds, went in and was out quickly.  Probably used about 45 seconds there.  But, it was needed.  Hopefully it wouldn’t come back to taunt me as my time approached the 2 hour mark.

I was never able to get my pace back below that 9 minute mark, but I hovered right around it.  Miles 7-10, which mentally were the most challenging as you saw people already heading back to Stampede grounds as you were heading to the turnaround, were 9:05, 9:03, 9:14.

During those miles, I took advantage of the soaked sponges, as I do at every Calgary event!  The sun was up, clouds were non-existent…it was warming up!  I needed to keep my body temperature down. I kept watching my heart rate and every time it got near 170 I would slow down a bit and adjust my breathing to bring it down to a 150.

On the home stretch I knew I could get that sub 2 hour.  I ran a 9:02 for mile 11, 9:08 for mile 12 and a 9:11 for mile 13.  The problem was when my watch hit 13.1 miles, I wasn’t at the finish line.  This can happen in a lot of races, especially if you veer off the course to use a bathroom, run zig-zagged to go to aide stations, don’t run the tangents of the course….I pushed as hard as I could so I could get under 2 hours.  My watch read 13.9 when I finished, and I finished in a 1:59.12!  A sub 2 hour half marathon!

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Finish area 

Dan was in the finish area waiting for me (I’m not sure how he managed to stay there without the volunteers kicking him out after he finished).  He ran a personal best of 1:41.08.  This was over 11 minutes faster than his only other half marathon, which he ran a year before this.  Look what a little training can do!  And with him running that time now, if I can get him to keep on with running, I will have some friendly competition post pregnancy!

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Another half marathon in the books!

 

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Stampede Road Race Recap-Yee Haw!

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On Sunday, July 6th, 2014, I participated in the Stampede Road Race up in Calgary, Alberta. Those of you not from Western Canada have no clue what “Calgary Stampede” is. Well, if you want to know, here’s a link from Wikipedia explaining the insanity that is Stampede: “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!”

So obviously, this event is held during Stampede week. There was a 5 km, 10 km, half marathon, and even kids races. About two months ago, I did not have a July race planned. Usually I never race in July! But, since I had signed up for the Digital Running “Time of the Season Challenge”, I needed some sort of event in July. You can find information about that virtual event here:
Digital Running Virtual Challenges

I opted to register for the half marathon, as my attitude is that if I have to drive two hours to get to a race, I want to at least be doing an event that will take me over an hour. Yeah, weird theory perhaps, but why get up at 3:15 am, drive two hours, then do a 10km? I also was looking forward to this half marathon, because it would probably be my best shot at a personal best this summer. My Millarville Half Marathon a few weeks ago was so-so, and I wouldn’t be doing another half until Disneyland (which I have not as of yet fully decided how I am going to pace it). I also was still a little volatile towards Calgary after my performance at the Calgary Full Marathon on June 1st. It wasn’t Calgary’s fault! But, I didn’t achieve my goal time, so I was in a way seeking some sort of redemption.

I made it up to Glenmore Athletic Park by 6:15 am on Sunday. The half marathon race was slated to start at 7:30 am, but walkers who thought they would take longer than 2:45:00 could start at 7:00. I wanted to be there early because I needed to pick up my race packet, and I was assured via Twitter I could that morning. But when I got there, the whole area was a ghost town. Sure, there were signs saying the roads were closed for the Stampede Road Race, but there was no sign of life. I followed the map to where the start line would be, and it was an empty gravel road. I was getting anxious, so I moved my car closer, slathered on bug spray, and went to use a Porta John’s. By this time it was close to 6:30, still no start line set up, and as I waited to use the bathroom, the ten of us standing around realized only one porta potty was unlocked. The other six or seven were all zip-tied shut by the door handle. They were obviously delivered the night before and kept shut so people in the neighborhood or surrounding area didn’t go in them at night. It was just a very bizarre first 25 minutes.

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Finally a volunteer showed up to her station near the Porta John’s. I felt really bad for her because at this point about two to three dozen people were milling around confused at where to go, some asking about packet pickup, some asking about the walking start, and some just wanting to go to the bathroom. I found out the packet pickup was actually over on the track at the athletic park, where the finish line would be. I hiked over there, got my packet, used real bathrooms, slathered on bug spray, and dropped my bag. I had about 30 minutes until race start now, so after the initial confusion and frustration, I had time to calm my nerves.

The start area was now set up, courtesy of Racepro Timing . I have talked about these guys before—they are great, and locally based from here in Lethbridge. Before I got set up in the starting area, I asked Randy of Racepro what the heck happened this morning. He said they were there early, around 5:30 am, but whoever was suppose to let them into the locked storage with all the timing equipment didn’t show up until obviously way later. At least Randy and his team are old pros at getting the system set up quickly, because now as five minutes before race time fast approached, it looked more like the start of your typical half marathon.

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I had looked at the map of the route and just assumed it would be a flat bike path around this reservoir. In talking to a few people before the gun, they told me it had LOTS of rolling hills, and some pretty big climbs. Someone also told me it would be a tough course to get a personal best. I took that as a challenge.

When the race started, I quickly found my pace and positioned myself accordingly. For the first mile and a half, we ran on neighborhood streets, which allowed runners to get spaced out. I appreciated this, versus hitting the narrower trails right away. By the time we did the little turn around at the end of a neighborhood, I had roughly counted myself to be the 20th female runner. Little did I know that I would never have a female competitor pass me the rest of the race, let alone that many men. I also wouldn’t be passing too many people myself, at least not until the last 5km, so I seemingly would end up getting used to the people surrounding me for the duration of the event.

We hit the trails hard and I kept on trucking. Besides my always fast first mile, miles 2-4 were pretty spot on. I was aiming for around 7:30 a mile, as this would be necessary if I wanted to beat my personal best of 1:38:40, which i interestingly enough ran in Calgary in March duringRun for L’Arche. We had hit the first “hill” at around mile 3, and it wasn’t that bad. I have mentioned before that hills have become my friends (in shorter races like this) because as long as I know I will be going downward eventually, I can truck my way up. And since I don’t listen to music when I run, this is the only time I actually “sing” to myself during a race. No, I don’t sing out loud, but I get a song (sometimes a weird one) in my head and go through it at the cadence my feet are going, keeping my head forward. I will admit, and you may want to admit me to a psych ward after reading this, but I went through the song “The Perfect Nanny” from Mary Poppins. Why? Because you can basically talk through the words, and I know all of them. Whatever, it got me up the hill just fine, and it got my up the latter two also!

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Miles 5-8 went pretty well too. At 10km, I was at approximately 45:55, which was on pace for a personal best, as long as I didn’t screw up. There was a point after mile 6.5 where I couldn’t see many people in front of me due to the turns on the path, so I think it slowed me up mentally a tad. You can see that in the time at mile 7, but thankfully, I picked it up on mile 8.

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Mile 9-10 are notoriously the toughest for me during a half marathon. This is the make or break it area. I was still feeling super solid, my stomach wasn’t acting up, and my legs felt strong. Right before mile 9, I hit the major hill. You can see that in the map below, where it curves red. I knew this split would be slower, but I didn’t know by how much. The fact that I kept mile 9 at around 8:00 minutes per mile makes me super proud. It was after the top of that hill that I started talking to a guy I caught up with, Chad. I asked him if that was the last major hill and he assured me YES! I told him what I was going for time wise, and he acknowledged that I was right on target. Since no one else was right next to us, I decided to try and pace with him.

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Chad helped me TONS during the final 3 miles. He did lie to me though-sort of. That wasn’t really the last hill! There was one more pedestrian bridge we needed to cross to get over a freeway! It was a switchback sort of climb, and wasn’t too bad, but it came right after mile 11. Once I made it up and over that, and my average pace was still on at 7:30, I knew I could get my best time. As we got closer to the finish, we had now joined up with the 10km runners, so the energy in the race crowd had picked up a bit. More spectators were around the final mile or so, and this helped motivate me. The race ended with entering the athletic park and running about 300 metres on the track. As I reached my last straightaway, I knew my personal best was all but written in pen, and I pushed hard to keep it under that magic number of 1:38. I finished with an official time of 1:37:54!

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I had a huge cheesy smile on my face after finishing. My right leg was also trembling, not because I felt woozy, but because I was so damn excited. I broke my personal best, got the redemption I wanted from the city of Calgary, and did it all while it was close to 75 degrees and increasingly getting warmer. This gave me a huge boost of confidence for my training and running the rest of this summer, as I usually don’t do well in warm weather. Another funny thing about this new personal best is that I beat my last time by 46 seconds, but it was also 68 degrees warmer! No, that is not a typo—it was honestly 7 degrees Fahrenheit in March when I ran my 1:38:40.

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The medal for this race was fun, as it reminds me of a sheriff badge, and it is on a bolo tie. Definitely a fun medal for this theme of a race. I also did really enjoy the shirts we got in our race package, which were lavender for women and orange for men. They are a fitted Mizuno shirt with v-neck, and I will definitely be wearing it to train in, which is great. The race package itself was full of goodies, like coffee from Kicking Horse, and Honey Stinger products.

This great swag made up for my other race complaint (In addition to the confusing morning), and that is in regards to the “Stampede Breakfast” we all received a ticket for. When I finished my half, I received a bottle of water, and eventually made my way up to where the food was. I did this about 15 minutes after I finished, as I needed to walk around a bit, pick up my bag, etc. Now, I had finished fast, so you’d think the line for food would be small. But I did not take into account the people who did the 5km and 10km. They were all finished and all in line. You could tell these were the events they ran by looking at the color of their race bibs. The line went from the entrance to the food pickup all across the bleachers in front of the track. And it was moving SLOW. Since it was a pancake breakfast, it wasn’t just a standard grab a banana and chocolate milk and go. It was frustrating that I couldn’t just grab a piece of fruit or a juice, but would have to wait in this giant line behind everyone and anyone who did the 5km and 10km. I don’t even like pancakes, but I did want that sausage I saw on plates. Oh well, I thought about it for one minute and decided to bail and hit the road, picking up breakfast in the way. I gave my ticket to someone already in line and made the short trek back to my car.

So that was the Stampede Road Race. Would I recommend this race to someone? Sure, if you live in Calgary or were going to be there the night before. I do not recommend doing what my crazy self did and drive two hours there, race, and drive two hours back. You’d think I would have learned my lesson from Millarville, but I didn’t. If I was to do this race again, I would look into staying with a friend the night before, and then possibly only doing the 10km. The route was fantastic and the swag was great, but the morning confusion and the post-race food frustration for half marathoners was, well, frustrating. This race will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was my 20th half marathon, and as I set another milestone with breaking 1:38!

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Race Medal Personalization—Beyond the Norm…

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Back when I was in high school and had a letter jacket, my parents always took my medals to Alberti’s in West Allis, Wisconsin, to get sewn on. If you know anything about West Allis, Alberti’s is just what you would expect—-a local trophy and award shop that is always kind of in disarray, doesn’t have a website, but has been opened for years and operates efficiently, with great prices and excellent service. When I started running road races in university, I wanted my medals to be engraved with my finishing time. Alberti’s did that too!

Below is an image (best I could take) of a mess of my early medals with the times engraved. Alberti’s charges about $3 or less per medal. They are very clear and aligned!

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This was fine for my first 7 medals. These were all races I ran back home while in the Midwest. Thing is, I moved to Alberta in late 2008 and still continued doing races. As I completed these races I would take a piece of masking tape, stick it to the back, and put the time on it. I had been in Alberta for about three years when I decided to try and find my own Alberti’s here in Lethbridge. I did some research, found a trophy store, and headed over. They seemed so confused on why I wanted them to do this, and did not even have a standard price to give me! I know the amount they quoted per medal was around $8 each, and many depended on the surface they would engrave on. The thing that threw them the curveball was this beauty below:

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Only in Calgary would the full marathon medal be a belt buckle. It always is. And it’s awesomely ridiculous. Anyway, this shop that won’t be named said their machine could not do the curve of the buckle. I left beaten and unsure what to do. Will my medals ever be engraved?

Fast forward to the next time my mom visited. Well, lets say her suitcase was a bit heavier on her way back to Wisconsin, as she was taking the medals back with her. A few months later during my next trip home, there were my medals, all engraved. Even the belt buckle! (I know it’s very hard to see in the picture with the glare, but below the date is my god-awful time from that race. Mountain elevation caused major upsets in my stomach that day!)

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Now, I have my collection of medals I have been getting so far this year. As I am typing this today, I message my mom for the Alberti price information….she warily answered, and then asked “are you telling me I have to bring more medals home in July?” (She is coming out to visit on Saturday for a month). No, I won’t do that to her this trip…I am just going to wait until I go home next and bring home quite the box myself!

What have I decided to do while I wait for all my medals to be engraved? My future step is to have a display built in the guest bedroom for the medals to hang nicely—-many online shops make these, and so do sellers on Etsy. I am opting to have my husband build me one with reclaimed lumber. There will be pictures when that is done, but probably won’t be until landscape season is over, as that’s when he will have time to make it to my specifications! Until then, I decided to start embroidering my times on the ribbons of the medals. Sure, my earliest medals already are engraved, but by embroidering the time in you can visibly see it as it hangs. And since I haven’t been able to run since my Septoplasty surgery, I had some time to kill and decided to go back to my Girl Scout arts and craft roots.

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To quote my husband, after he saw my first medal I embroidered “that looks a lot better than I expected!” I’ll take that as a compliment!

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Race Recap & Fundraising Update-Calgary Half Marathon

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Today marked my sixth race out of eight weeks. Yes, I am sort of going crazy. But, this year is all about going big. All or nothing at all! I went into the Calgary Half Marathon riding high on my major personal best accomplishment in Red Deer last weekend (1:47:22) but this is the first time I have ever ran two marathons two weekends in a row-one week rest! I have now learned some of the limits of my own body!…but here is my experience (this will be short because frankly, I am about to fall asleep!…)

I first experienced RUN CALGARY in May 2009. I participated in the full marathon this year, and it was the worst race of my life.. I have yet to do a race reflection on this race, but lets just say my first experience racing in elevation proved to be trying to my stomach. I have always had this nervousness about trying to do a race in Calgary again. Last year even, when my husband and I did the Energizer Night Race in Calgary, my stomach hated me too. Third time had to be a charm, right?
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Package pickup was at Calgary Stampede grounds, the same location as the start and finish of the race. Well organized expo! Quick and easy package pickup, great shirts, good selection of vendors, and a great preview of the race medals! (I tried taking a photo of all five medals but since it was encased in glass, the 10km race medal got all funny looking. Sorry!

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Race morning my alarm went off at 5 am. I stayed at my friend’s place on the north end, so I was out of the house by 5:25, and made a quick stop at Tim Horton’s for my morning coffee. to the Tim’s on Centre Street down near the McKnight exit on Deerfoot….your coffee at 5:30 am should not taste like the burnt pot from the previous night at 9 pm! Day!. Anyway, made it down to Stampede grounds, parked, and killed some time. I anxiously walked around, toured the warmth of the grandstand where I found legit restrooms, and met up with my friend Krystal from marathon club.

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi of Calgary started off the race at 7 am. The full and half began together, with the 10 km at 7:30, and the 5 km not until noon. I had my hopes set on beating my half time from the previous week, and for the first four miles this seemed possible. Running in an urban setting has its benefits—heavier crowds of people and groups cheering you on, a relatively flat and fast course, and lots to look at. Krystal and I stuck together for the first 7 miles or so, but it was back at mile 6 I started feeling both my quads start to tighten. This was the issue on mile 11 in Red Deer last week, but this week is happened much earlier. I tried to muster through, but by mile 8 I knew I couldn’t keep up with Krystal and for my own wellness I needed to slow down and not race this one as fast as I had hoped.

The last 5 km of the race was a steady decline and we ran through one of the best neighborhoods, as far as local support goes. Some crazy mid 20-early 30 year olds were all lined up blasting Gangham Style and dancing like nobodies business. It is in stretches like these that I feel no pain and I just go for it. I knew way back at mile 6 I probably wasn’t going to get close to my Red Deer time, and I then spent the next 7 miles telling myself it was OK. By the time I finished at 1:54:22 (exactly 7 minutes slower than last Sunday) I had come to terms with the fact I cannot simply PR every race I run. And I can honestly admit, I was happy. I had conquered Calgary, with little stomach pain…..just a little, but I will spare the details.

I managed to find my other friend Whitney, who ran Red Deer last week also. Her race experience this week was similar to mine time wise, and hers last week was also similar to mine. We both had felt the effects of doing a two-in-a-row. Myself, Whitney and Krystal did all manage to get a picture together before funneling through the masses and onto the freebies. It was an amazing race with excellent volunteers and event organizers, gorgeous day, beautiful course….basically the perfect race!

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tired.. I kind of want to just go to bed right now (it is 8:15 pm and sleep till Saturday. This is what I felt like at mile 8 of my half marathon during the 49th Calgary Marathon Weekend. I mustered on through, but for once in my running life, I listened to my body and played it safe, as I knew the wear I have been putting myself through during this journey has been harder than ever before. While I am slightly disappointed in my time, I am more happy than I would have normally been if it had been any other year.

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FUNDRAISING UPDATE! If this your first time reading my we page, welcome!You will want to read the PURPOSE link at the top of my page to better understand why the hell I am doing a web page. You will also want to look at the CHARITIES tab to find out more about the two heart disease research organizations I am fundraising for (American Heart Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation. CANADA has now taken the lead over the USA in fundraising! We have now raised $655 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation in Canada, just edging out the $635 for the American Heart Association! My close friends and family know that I am a born and raised Wisconsinite, and lived there for 24 years until moving north to Alberta, Canada. This is part if the reason why I decided to issue this friendly competition as I fundraise and run in memory of my father, Andrew A. Lammers! He was the reverse, however, being born in Quebec, Canada, and then living most of his life in Wisconsin! Thanks to all the generous donations from my family, friends and co-workers!