Tag Archives: summer

Millarville Half Marathon Relay 2017

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It had been a couple years since I ran in one of the Millarville events, so what better way to get back at it than do a relay with my husband?!?!?  I signed us up some time back, but had always planned that I would run the first leg of the half marathon and he would run the second leg.  We stuck with that plan as race day approached, since I would be over 20 weeks pregnant and the first leg was the shorter distance.  Having just come off a good race time at the Lethbridge 8km Ladiesfest I knew I could pound out a good time for the 9km portion of our relay.

Our alarms went off at 4:15 am that Saturday morning.  We would be driving up to Black Diamond and do our race pickup before the event.  The drive took about 2 hours, so we arrived with about 45 minutes to spare.  There was another reason why doing the relay was the better option for us—we had to bring our dog Snoopy along for the trip.  I’ll be doing a blog post at some point this summer about what has been going on this June, but the main point is that Snoopy has bad arthritis and has been going to Calgary for doggie acupuncture appointments.  We booked an appointment strategically for after the race, since we’d already be almost to Calgary.  Doing the relay allowed one person to stay with Snoopy at all times while the other person ran!

I was off at 7:30 am with the other runners.  All relay and half marathon runners started together.  The 9km portion I was running winds through Black Diamond neighborhoods, past golf courses, and onto paved trails.  It offers some rolling hills and lots to see.  Being the first leg of the relay had the benefit of having lots of other competitors around you as your ran.  This always pushes me more!

I had my phone with me, so I voice texted Dan when I had less than a mile to go. I wanted him to be prepared at the transition area.  I crossed the relay transition with a 9km time of 48:26.08.  My splits were 8:01, 8:55, 8:56, 8:59, 8:28 for miles 1-5.  The distance on my watch clocked in at 5.65 miles and I had an average pace of 8:35 a mile.  

I went to the car (where Snoopy was patiently waiting) and we drove the short drive to the finish line at the Millarville racetrack.  After parking and walking to the finish line, we didn’t have to wait too long for the first half marathoner to come across.  It was then pretty quick having other finishers for the various distances come by.  Dan came by with a half marathon finish time for our team of 1:43.50.  His split for the 12.1 km he ran was a 55:24.57.  This works out to a team average pace of 7:55 minutes/mile.  Not bad for a pregnant wife and a husband who still doesn’t really like to run!

Dan, Andrea and Snoopy


 

Lethbridge Police Half 2015

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OHHHH, I had high hopes for this race personally. It isn’t my goal race of the summer (that’s next week at Disneyland 10km) but it was a local half that I have done the past two years and know the course quite well. The Lethbridge Police Half Marathon (and 5km/10km) was held Saturday, August 29th, 2015. Of the 126 half marathon finishers, I finished 9th overall and 3rd place female…so I even won $75.00! So why am I a little upset with myself? …




Race morning came and I was psyched. I felt positive and strong and ready to go. I did have an awful stomachache the night before and it had sort of gotten better, but I thought it was just nerves. I was hoping to try and run my personal best, so below a 1:35.40. I was aiming for 1:35. I started off quite strong…perhaps too ambitious. I went out way fast for mile 1, and slowed to where I should be in miles 2-4. I could see my friend Bob (the one who paced me in Vancouver) right ahead. I wanted to keep this nice distance between us as I wanted to be pushed.

   
 
I also was lucky to have my husband come help me out today. I had asked him a few weeks ago if he would not work today and bike along the course (he’s an arborist for his own business so it’s not like he called in sick!). I had picked key spots I wanted him to meet me at and then he could let me know how my placing was, and really, wanted his encouragement. By the time we got to Henderson Lake, at around mile 5, my legs were starting to feel a bit heavy and my stomach wasn’t feeling right. Ok, I just kept my eyes ahead and kept looping the lake and when I got to mile 6 I was still on pace for my goal. 


Then, it started to slowly get slower. 


Now that I look at the barely used Nuun water I prepared in my bottles, I don’t know if I didn’t hydrate enough or what. My legs got so heavy and I was not able to keep going in the 7:20s. After mile 7 I officially gave up my 1st place female spot. I could still catch up if I lit a fire up my rear, but the gap slowly grew. I knew I had to make up time when we crossed Scenic Drive down to Lynx Trail around mile 9. So going down that hill I got back on pace. But my insides did not appreciate the downhill descent. 
I have done this hill a ton of times, but my ever present stomachache got exponentially worse as I descended to the river bottom. I had to speed walk in two spots and I almost wanted to stop at the porta potty near Helen Schuler when we got to mile 11. At that point first place was long gone and Heather came up earlier on in the river bottom and passed me. I wanted to hold on to 3rd but I also wanted to stop!

Down in the river bottom was where Dan made all the difference. Up above on the streets and parks, he just biked to a spot, took a picture, and sped ahead. Since I was in pain down here and no one was around us, he stuck close by my side for the final 3 miles. I needed to keep having him tell me I had good distance on those behind me and that if I kept where I was at I could stay at 3rd. We ran under Whoop Up and two of my WCHS cross country kids snapped a great photo that showed how happy I was even though I was feeling the pain. Actually, how happy we both were because in the end, Dan would admit to me that he “...actually had a lot of fun doing that with you today! I’d do it again!”

  
I held onto 3rd somehow but boy, I was glad to be done. 1:40.13…well off what I am capable of. I know I haven’t been running the farther mileage on weekends this summer like I was in Spring training for Vancouver, so that’s a huge issue. Summer heat training has been tough and I’ve been doing lots of short speed work. I’ll be set for my 10km next week as long as I take it easy the next couple days. The smoke-filled air from the wildfires I don’t THINK bothered me…no coughing at all. But who knows? And I really can’t peg what caused my stomachache….other than perhaps still having some of the craziness of Kelowna in my system from last week. 

So all in all, while I wish my time was faster, I am happy about the day. I got to spend the day doing my favourite sport (Running!) while my favourite guy (my husband Dan!) was by my side and I got to celebrate it all in the end with lots of great friends from the running community who also participated. I also got to spread the running love to four of my WCHS Cross Country athletes, as they did the 5km. The other coach was there at the start and finish to see them, but I got to see them all before leaving. They placed 5th, 13th, 14th and 18th overall in their event out of 188 people! So now, I’m going to just try to enjoy my weekend before we are all back to school with kids in our class next week! Final weekend of no exams or papers to mark!  

   
   

Summer Training: Slumps & Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southern Alberta Summer Games 10 km Recap

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

Doing Speed Work in Suburbia…and MATH!

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Today I had a 7 mile workout planned, and 5 of it needed to be speed oriented. I wanted to tackle Yasso 800s one last time, and try to do them in their truest form, with 400 meter recovery jog in between each 800 meter. No standing or walking. Just jogging and giving it!

I planned to do 10×800, which would bring me to 5 miles. In between each 800 I would do a 400 meter recovery. I decided to start with a 400 m jog to get things going, and then do one in between each set, totaling 10×400. This would make today’s workout 7.5 miles. Sounds good to me! But I don’t have access to a real track…..

I have gone to the shale track downtown before. It works alright, except for the homeless man peeing behind the dumpster. I also tried the lake near my house. But I needed a change of scenery. I drove at 8:00 AM this morning over to North Lethbridge to Chinook Lake, an area I actually took my distance runners to quite a bit. I had them do some speed work and circuit training out here, so I figured I should give it a try myself. Nice thing was that at this time of day on a Monday the path was pretty empty. But, I needed an accurate reading of distance—I would figure this out by using my Nike+ SportWatch GPS.

I first walked the lake to see where 400 metres would take me. I started at a sign near the playground and looped to a lamppost around the first big curve. This was my 1/4 mile mark. I kept going and as I was getting back to my starting point, I knew I would overlap. I took a turn off a foot path into a cul de sac, around a corner, and finished off at a set of underground sprinklers. From the lamppost to this area was 800 metres, or 1/2 mile.

If you look at the map below, which I took from Google Maps, I outlined in color my two routes. The yellow star with a “1” is where I would begin. I followed the red path for 400 metres, but would not start my watch yet. Since I had already proven this to be 400 metres that was golden! Once I reached the lamppost, I revved it up, started the GPS timing and away I went for 800 m! You can see that route in the blue.

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The obvious difference between doing these Yasso 800s here versus a standard outdoor track is terrain. While this was relatively flat, there are occasional divots in the ground, slight incline/declines, spots where one has to go off the paved path, and more importantly SHARP CURVES! When you do an 800 meter timed run on a traditional track you can hug the inside curve of lane 1, do 2 laps, and you know you ran 800 metres. Running Yasso 800s in Surburbia, in my opinion, adds some interesting elements.

So how did it go today? AWESOME! I stuck with my plan of doing the 400 m recovery jog in between. The only lag time between finishing my 800 and starting the 400 was when I stopped my watch, I would turn around and start power walking towards the starting sign, resetting my watch in the process so huge GPS was linked and set to go. This was between 5-10 seconds a time. My goal for these 800s was 3 minutes and 30 seconds, as I hope to run a 3 hour and 30 minute marathon in Edmonton on August 24th. Below are the list of my splits, in order that I ran them (to make things more cut and dry, I dropped off the nearest hundredth and did not round)
3:38, 3:25, 3:30, 3:34, 3:31, 3:30, 3:26, 3:30, 3:34, 3:23

I am very happy with my consistency, and I believe this was the most consistent I ever have been doing an 800 meter workout! I was a little slow the first time out, but I needed to get used to the terrain. I was a little fast the last time, but I just had my adrenaline going and knew I was done after that.

Since I am a math teacher, and I have time on my hands in the summer, I decided to figure out what my “mean” 800 meter time was during this workout. “Mean” is the math term you learned back in middle school where you take the sum of a certain amount of terms, and divide it by the total number of terms you had. Now, let me say this—-kids (and adults!) SUCK at working with fractions. Fractions may not be listed in my time right now, but 3:38 IS NOT, I REPEAR IS NOT 3.38 minutes. There are 60 seconds in one minute, and I used 38 seconds of it during the end of my first 800. 3 minutes and 38/60 seconds would then become 3.63 minutes, not 3.38! (3.63 is being rounded to the nearest hundredth). And while no one probably cares, below is my calculation for my MEAN time:

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I was dead on! 3.5 minutes, or 3 minutes 30 seconds, was my mean time. Even if I trimmed the set of data, removing the highest and lowest value, now added up only 8 times, I still end up with 3.5! And, my mode, or most occurring value in my original set of data even is 3.5, occurring 3 times! Both are excellent measures of central tendency in determining my average time in this set of Yasso 800s.

I know it’s summer vacation, but I have to show you how you can in fact use math in your every day life. I would be a horrible math teacher if I didn’t. Now, my calculations better not be messed up!

A Mash-Up of Thoughts on my Slump…and Climb Back!

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I was in a weird slump—As you are aware, Dan and I did the two weeks of the Clean Eating Challenge. We were suppose to feel fantastic! Well, really, I started feeling empty. I was losing too much weight and didn’t have enough carbs in my system. My body has ran on carbs, literally, since my first years’ in middle school track. I am not gluten intolerant, so in moderation I really don’t see this as an issue. My normal eating habits already consisted of whole wheat pasta, and as much as possible scratch-made sauce, so the lacking of that staple, especially during training, hit me. (Wow, that was a lot of commas in a sentence.)

Then the challenge ended. Horray! Eat what I want! Sorta. There were things I wanted to keep with me, like the healthier breakfasts and snacks, and I even realized I should limit my cheese intake (total Wisconsin girl horror!). I also was pumped to get my training back in gear. Thing is, I was headed out to Albuquerque for an International Baccalaureate training. Let me say this-I am SO GLAD I don’t travel regularly for work. Holy crap, it takes a lot out of you. You eat even more different than at home (opposite end of the clean eating challenge) and your normal workout schedule could go haywire.

When I crafted my Edmonton Marathon training plan, I kept in mind my summer vacations. I kept in mind this very week of “school” training in the States. I made sure the runs planned during those times were feasible. Coming off my two challenging weeks of training all while feeling empty, it was harder than I planned getting back into the game…especially while in dry, hot, arid, desert filled New Mexico.

I ended up moving my training days around, struggling to get the miles in. With training going from 8-4 each day, and me not being a morning runner unless it’s a race, getting my ass out training in the afternoon was next to impossible. I went on a ten-miler one day at 4:15 PM…but it was 95 degrees…and I’m a northerner…so I made it 2.5 out and turned around laughing at my rookie mistake. I had to do just 2.5 back, which was a struggle, but I did it. This 5 miler counted for a run later that week. But I needed to do that damn ten-miler sometime.

I got the ten-miler in on Wednesday evening, two days after it was originally planned. And it got done in the Marriott treadmill. Erin, my cousin and motivator for this training, yelled at me via text to get with it and get at it. Well, that I did. I had the luxury of watching my own personal tv during the run, focusing on HGTV, but that wouldn’t be enough. I had to push it to make it worth it.

For each mile, I increased my speed 0.1 mph. I started at 6.0 mph, all the way to 6.8 mph. Then, for the last mile, I increased my speed 0.1 mph for every tenth of a mile. It was the best run I had done in two and a half weeksand it was done on a treadmill. Go figure.

I got back home from the trip, ready to get back into the swing of things. It didn’t come immediately, because then all the traveling back took something out of me. Plus the end-of-school-year party may have too. But the past two days I made huge gains in the right direction. Yesterday, I did a solid 6 miles with a 9:01 average pace, and my fastest mile being the final mile in 8:36. Today, I rocked a speed workout of Yasso 800s. I did not do it on the shale track, but over on the bike path at Nicholas Sheran Park near my house. I ran a mile warmup in 8:46. Then, I did my 800 meter repeats…8 of them to be exact. I wrote about my first experience with Yasso 800s here: YASSO 800s For the WIN!

I was faster than my goal 3:30 pace for every 800 except the 7th one. And I’m not making excuses, but this had a lot to do with the inconsiderate woman taking up the bike path with her three dogs, two of them off-leash…(one of my pet peeves! This is not an off leash park!). I ran 3:27, 3:13, 3:19, 3:17, 3:24, 3:19, 3:43 (ouch! See!?) and 3:12. Each had a 2:45-3:00 minute power walk break. I rounded the workout out with an easy mile home in 9:27.

Tomorrow I have my alarm set for 7 am. After my morning rituals and preparations, I plan on heading out of the house by 9:00 am for my 16 miler. This is a mentally tough distance for me, because during Calgary I hit my decline at 13 miles, and had completely fallen apart at 17. I have a route on the west side mapped out in my head. Then, a decline down Bridge Drive into the river bottom, up the steep Lynx trail, where I’ll prowl through the south side neighborhoods. I’ll head back over the river valley on Whoop Up and hit home. And trust meTomorrow is Canada Day. I am done with the Clean Eating a Challenge, and I will have just run 16 miles. I’m having a carb-filled beer! Cheers!