Tag Archives: training

Taber Cornfest 5km Recap & End of Summer Wrap Up

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It’s Sunday, August 27th.  Tomorrow is the first day back to work for teachers, and students start up with mini-schedule on Tuesday, September 5th.  The first full day of classes will be on Wednesday, September 6th.  That day also marks that I will be 32 weeks pregnant.

This was a summer like none other, first and foremost because I have been pregnant.  There were many things that did not occur this summer that usually would.  For instance, drinks on patios.  Sure, Dan and I were able to make some of our evening outings the same with trips to Telegraph Taphouse, but having an ice cold alcohol free Erdinger doesn’t pack the same punch as a Lagunitas IPA.  Right now, I am drinking a club soda with grenadine and cut up peaches.  I’ve got to cool off somehow!  I also did not travel much this summer.  Figured it would be wise to save money and really didn’t want to deal with the potential pains of flying or driving long distances while pregnant.  Since I didn’t travel, I was able to teach summer school in July.  I was very happy I did, as it kept me busy and earning the extra money was awesome!

“Adaptation” has been key.  That’s really the best word for how I’ve dealt with summer 2017.  Because of my ever-changing body, I needed to adapt my running.  Notice, I adapted.  I did not quit.  I am proud to say that I ran 4 times a week all summer long.  I golfed in ladies league on Mondays.  In August, I added in a baby bump boot camp on Thursdays and a cardio class on Fridays.  All of these things kept me busy, and most importantly kept me sane.  I knew I needed to keep my running up this summer, because it really is a key part of who I am.  Other summers, I would have signed up for races in Calgary or Edmonton during July or August but this year I held off.  I knew driving up there to do a race would not be the wisest idea.  However, I kept an eye out for events local that I could do.

That brings me to yesterday, when I ran in the Taber Cornfest 5km.  This event was celebrating their 25th year, and would be offering a 5km and 10km option.  Taber is a small town 50 km east of Lethbridge.  It would be an easy drive out on race morning, and while I was not going out to break any records or place in any divisions, I was going out to race the best that I could at that given day.

With summer being so hot down here in Southern Alberta, my paces for training runs have not been anything crazy.  I had come to terms with that in the past month, knowing that just getting out there and completing the training runs during the week was what mattered…not how fast I was going.  I had a goal in my mind to run around a 33 minutes 5km in Taber, roughly a little faster than an 11 minute mile.  Based on how my running was going in August, I knew I could attain that goal.

Race morning was nice and cool.  It had gotten quite tolerable the night before and this carried on into the morning.  By the time the race started at 9 am, it was only around 59F.   I went out and held a pace that came naturally to me and felt comfortable.  I kept checking my heart rate during the first mile and it was always under 150.  My breathing was in check and I was feeling great.  Suddenly, mile 1 came and my watch hit 8:39!

I was WAY ahead of my 11 minute mile pace.  For a brief second I thought about really slowing it up.  But, my heart rate was good, my legs were feeling strong….so I stuck with my gut and just kept on going.  Mile 2 slowed a bit, but it was still a 9:03.  OK….if I can hold the final mile around this pace and watch my breathing I can definitely finish under 30 minutes!  

The last mile was harder than the first two, as my heart rate did climb up a bit.  I kept watching my FitBit and whenever the bpm got into the 170s I would try and focus on my breathing to bring it down.  Mile 3 clocked in very close to the same time as mile 2, with a 9:04.  I did let myself go a bit the final stretch, wanting to close the gap on the women in front of me.  When I crossed the finish line, my watch stopped at an unofficial distance of 3.16 miles.  My official chiptime would be a 28:02!  I placed 4/23 in my age group, 11/98 in women, and 35/158 overall.


Running 5km races are not really my thing.  They are hard for me!  Call me crazy, but I’d much rather run a half marathon.  It took me a really long time to get my personal 5km best of a 20:42.  The fact that I am about 7.5 minutes slower than my personal best all while being 30 weeks pregnant makes me super happy.  Why does it make me happy?  Because it shows that my hard work this summer is paying off.  I have been reasonable with my running this summer, with the overall goal being to remain healthy while progressing in this pregnancy which should then make it easier to get back to my racing form after the pregnancy.

With being 3/4 of the way through my pregnancy, I know every week will pose a new challenge.  I am also mentally preparing myself for the possibility of having to stop running any day.  There are a variety of things that could come up that would put my running to a halt.  If my doctor told me that it was no longer safe for me to run, I would stop.  I mean, come on…I am not an idiot.  If something I was doing was putting the baby and/or myself in danger, I would quit it.  But, I have been having a fairly low-key pregnancy with no issues so my doctor has been very supportive of my choices to continue running and working out.  I am very fortunate to have an OB who supports my running, as she knows it is something I did not just start overnight.  Before being referred to my OB, my family doctor was also very supportive of me continuing on with my running, as long as I didn’t have a high-risk pregnancy.  I actually had an appointment with my family doctor last week to just confirm that he would be able to take the baby on as a patient and his words of encouragement meant a lot.

I am also very fortunate for the support my family and friends have given me this summer.  They are pretty well adjusted to the fact that running is a part of my identity, and it doesn’t seem to surprise them at all that I have continued.  I think this is one reason actually that my husband sometimes seems to forget how far along I really am in this pregnancy, because I have still gone about my running as I normally do.  He doesn’t seem me out there training in the summer, but he knows I’m out there doing it.  And he knows it makes me happy.

So what are the two next two months going to be like?  For running, I will still continue with my 4 times a week running.  I will be joining my cross country kids on their runs during the week, and will likely be the caboose of the group.  I also am considering doing a 4-week session of the Baby Bump class at Kinetic, as it is offered on a Friday at 4:30 pm.  This will keep me active and help burn off the energy from the work day.  My mom comes to visit near the end of September.  She will be a huge help around the house getting things set for baby, and we will be having my baby shower.  There is also the Lethbridge Police Race on September 30th, where I will be doing the 10km, my mom will be walking the 5km and my husband will be doing the half marathon. When she leaves in October, I will have just had my 33rd birthday and I will surely start to feel the nerves and anxiety attached to becoming a family of 3.  Baby is due November 1st, which may seem like a far way away from August 27th….but we all know it’s closer than you think!  I can pencil in a lot of things, but I know stuff could change in an instance after one doctor appointment!  

 

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My “I’m 63.75% Through This Pregnancy” Post

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I am 25.5 weeks along in this pregnancy.  So, if you consider 40 weeks being 100% through, that’s where I got my percentage up on the header.  But some people like hearing about it in months….so I am approximately 5.7 months along.  That is, if you look at it in terms of 5 months and 3 full weeks, with each week being 21 days.  And then you approximate each month to have 30 days total….so that’s where the 5.7 comes from.

This is why I haven’t really done a post on my pregnancy yet.

I started this blog in 2013 to talk about running, Disney World and my dad.  I have been running since high school track, and then ran my first half marathon in 2004 at age 19.  By 2014, I felt like I had some knowledge to share.  And now in 2017, I feel even a bit more knowledgeable, or at least it is easier to share my insight.  For Disney World, I have been going since 1991.  I have continued to go well into my adulthood, with my mom, my husband, and most notably with my friend Maureen when we went for 16 days.  I have stayed lots of places on property, read all sorts of blogs and updates on the parks….I feel confident I can help many of my family and friends plan a Walt Disney World trip if they were to ask for my help.  And my dad, well…he is my dad.  I had to use this blog as a self-reflection on things I was struggling with since he passed in 2004.   I have not only found out more about my dad’s past as a Quebec orphan since starting this blog, but have found out more about myself in the process.

But pregnancy.  Well, I can’t tell you one thing that I can guarantee to be a helpful insight.  

I can’t give advice on this area!  Sure, I can tell people how I handled the miscarriage I had in January but that hasn’t even still fully settled in.  And what I did after the miscarriage may not work for everyone.  And I dont expect it to.  Much like how my current pregnancy is not like anyone else’s and people shouldn’t be following my advice.  Because lets face it; I’m sure someone out there will have some scrutiny for something I’ve done.  But really, I don’t care if you do!


What I’m going to share below isn’t a list of things that every pregnant woman should do, or what to expect in their pregnancy.   I’m just going to go over a bunch of different things I’ve encountered and dealt with during this pregnancy.  So in no particular order, other than what maybe you’d expect me to discuss….

 

Exercise during pregnancy

At first I was anxious about someone saying the quizzical “Are you sure you should be running still?”  Well, you’re not my doctor, but thanks for pretending like you know what’s best.  So, no one has said anything.  Maybe some strangers have thought things as they’ve seen me in races or running in the summertime here in Lethbridge.  But those who know me know I am playing this smart.

Since finding out I was pregnant, I set a goal to myself to keep running 4 days a week as long as I can.  I am proud to say that I have stuck with that ‘training plan.’  I need a plan to follow so I can hold myself accountable, so that’s why I set that goal of 4 days a week.  I generally do one “long run” and then three other shorter runs.  Yes, my pace has been slowly getting slower, but I am still getting out there.  I watch my heart rate to judge if I can pick the pace up or if I need to reign it in a bit.

I also have my weekly 9 hole golf league on Mondays and I most recently started going to the free HIGH fitness class put on by Kinetic On The Go (think of a Zumba hybrid). I had been doing the classes Kinetic On The Go brought to the school I work at during the Winter and Spring, and I figured I would try them again as I am considering registering for a Post-Natal Baby Mama Boot Camp they do at the studio.

Summer slows things down for road races, but I do have a couple things set in the final stretch.  Currently, I am taking on a RunDisney Virtual Run series, where I do a 5km in each the month of June, July and August.  I only have August left to do.  I run the 5km on my own time and log the race.  It’s given me something to “check off” each summer month.  On September 30th, I am planning on running in the Police 10km in Lethbridge.  It will be a combo walk/jog/run, as I will be almost exactly 8 months along.  If I am not up for the 10km, I’ll drop down to the 5km.  There are also some other local 5km races mid October, but I’ll wait until October to see how I am doing.   Even if I could just do the Bare Bones 5km as a walk on October 22nd that’d be amazing.

Side Effects, Symtpons and Pains

I have been pretty fortunate to say the least!  I have not puked once, which is obviously what everyone automatically assumes will happen upon finding out they are expecting. I had some very slight nausea in the single digit weeks of the pregnancy, but that subsided quickly.  I never had any full over sickness that caused me to call in sick during 2nd semester of school, so that’s a huge positive!

I have had some issues with headaches, but I figured out the main cause: hydration.  A headache starts to creep in mid afternoon if I haven’t been hydrating enough all morning.  The summer heat also kicks it up a notch, so I need to drink even more.  My only other minor issue were leg cramps in my calves.  These started in June and I would wake up with a Charlie horse.  I talked to my doctor about them and I started taking a calcium magnesium supplement three times a day.  Problem solved!  Really, the cramps weren’t too bad at all, but I think it has to do with my high pain tolerance.  The occasional back pains I get I know have to be pregnancy related, but I always just think of them like pains I would get from after a long run or race.  Overall, I’ve been feeling pretty good!

I’ve also had no food aversions!  I was very nervous about this, as I really didn’t want to have to change my diet too much.  All the normal foods that I ate before being pregnant settle in my stomach just fine.  There was one evening that cooked Brussels sprouts sort of bothered my sense of smell, but I had them again another time and were just fine.  And luckily, I am still able to enjoy all the spicy food I always loved!

Diet Staples I Miss

BEER.

It is no lie that I love beer. Specifically, I love hoppy beer.  iPA’s are my favorite!  While I am obviously handling the no alcohol stipulation, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.

My husband has bought me a variety of non-alcoholic beer.  They are not all created equal! In my opinion (and he agrees) the President’s Choice brand at Canadian Superstore is the best available and at the best price.  While I don’t generally go for a blonde beer normally, their NA blonde tastes pretty comparable to a standard blonde beer.  It does the trick after an afternoon of yardwork!  But in case anyone is keeping notes, my husband asked what the first drink would be that I’d want after the pregnancy is complete…..with no more than 5 seconds of thought I responded with Lagunitas Lil Sumpin Wild.  If you’re in Lethbridge, you can buy it at Andrew Hilton on 3rd ave.  Then, just shoot me a message and I’ll tell you where to drop it off!

Other than beer, I miss egg yolks.  Cooking my eggs scrambled or as an omelette is getting old.  I also missed making sandwiches for my lunches during the school year (apparently listeria is a risk in cold lunch meat….).  I did make some occasional grilled sandwiches at home by heating up the meat first on a skillet.  I was anxious about the threat of “no soft cheese” but it is so easy to find pasteurized cheese, specifically Brie, at the grocery store.  I’m a Wisconsin cheesehead, so I need my daily dose of cheese!

What Else Is On My Mind?

The main thing is that it still doesn’t seem real.  Even though I have had four ultrasounds.  Many doctors appointments.  Blood draws.  Feeling baby move.  Setting up the nursery.  Buying baby things. Looking up information about what’s the best breast pump.  Getting really excited about finding a ridiculous good deal on used items on Lethbridge Swap and Buy.

Maybe it’ll feel more real once Dan and I start our prenatal classes this week through Alberta Health Services.  Maybe it won’t feel real until we are on the way to the hospital, or maybe even not until I give birth to this baby.  I can’t determine when it’ll actually “feel real” to me or when it’ll really hit me that we are going to be parents.  But I do know Dan and I are as ready as we can be for every unexpected, unpredictable, wonderful thing that comes our way.

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October 1st, 1984.  Me!

 

Moonlight Run 2017

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I know…It’s been awhile since posting!  I had a race last weekend, so I figured a little recap was necessary.  Moonlight Run has been a staple for me over the years, and this would be my 6th year participating in the event.  However, it would be my first year participating in the 6km, not the 10km.  I had originally signed up for this race under the impression I would be pretty far along in my pregnancy.  After the miscarriage, I decided not to change up to the 10km, as I had not been training to ‘race’ a 10km.  Yes…I can run a 10km.  But really since September 2016, I haven’t been training to ‘race.’  I know that personally I would have been really frustrated with myself if I couldn’t deliver a performance like I did in the Moonlight Run 10km like I did the past two years (my best Moonlight placing overall and my best Moonlight time).  So, 6km it was!  Hey—it was going to be a personal best, as it would be my first ever 6km race!

I did something else a bit different this year for Moonlight-I volunteered!  Obviously, not during the race itself, but I volunteered at package pickup on Friday.  I decided to help out our Winston Churchill kids who were handing out race swag.  It was fun to be with the kids the night before, and see a lot of the racers before race night.  They apparently handed out 1000 of the 2800 registrations in the first 45 minutes!  It was crazy!

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Flat Andrea…gotta wear the pink!

Race night came.  I am always thrown off on nutrition for a night race.  Eat a normal breakfast, a late lunch, and hope your food settles.  I was hoping mine did, and I wasn’t really sure.  Weather was warm, and all the snow/ice had melted that could have caused issues…but it was WINDY.  We would be running into the wind going down the hill and the wind would be with us going back up, so that was a plus.  Dan and I got the race start at around 7:30.  My first task was to find a WCHS student volunteer who would be able to hang on to my vest with keys and phone in it while I ran—success!  It helps to teach the volunteers!  Dan and I mingled around a bit before I found my friend Aaron, who would also be doing the 6km.  We talked about goal times for the race and decided we would at least start together.  Dan was actually doing the 10km, so his race started at 8:00 pm.  He was off running and I had about 15 more minutes to wait for my start.

Usually I like to be right near the front of the race start.  It was hard to get really close to the front of the 6km, as there were over 2000 runners!  After the countdown and the airhorn went off, we quickly wove through a mess of kids in front of us so we could have a clear pathway down 3rd avenue.  My first mile felt nice and easy—didn’t push too hard to start, but actually had to “push” down the hill since the wind was so obnoxious.  Ran mile 1 in 6:45.

It was fun running down in the river bottom because again, there were student volunteers from WCHS.  A lot of them could see my coming in my bright pink socks, so it was encouraging to hear them yell for me.  I was really worried by second mile would be a lot slower, but was pleasantly surprised with a 7:09.  Mile 3 was when the wheels fell off.  I knew it would happen, as we had to go back up the hill.  I have done pretty much ZERO hill training, so it was going to hurt.  Even though I was slowly passing people, I was also slowly getting slower.  My push was not there like usual, so I cruised to a mile 3 of 8:39.  By the time I got to the top of the hill, I had a bit of a push left for the final stretch, but the lady who I passed up the hill caught up to me and passed me at the end.  Looking at the results, it didn’t effect my placing in my age group—just overall.  My time was a 29:12 with a 4:53 km average pace (doesn’t show mile pace on the results.  My watch said 7:47.  Compared to last years 10km, my pace is garbage.  Last year, I ran a 4:25/km and a 4:22/km in 2015.  For 10km, versus 6km.  But, that’s what I get for not having the training regime and race schedule like I have in the past years.

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Age Group Award-Photo courtesy of lethbridgephoto.com

In the end, I wasn’t too upset.  I ran a bit slower than I expected, however, the hill was the main issue.  My first miles felt good and I felt solid in the river bottom.  Just need to get back to that hill training!  I placed 3/140 in my age group, 10/1062 in female, and 44/2058 overall.  I plan on coming back to doing the 10km again, when I know I have properly trained for the hill and can get a time I would be proud of.  The 10km runner I am most proud of this year is my husband!  Dan ran the 10km in a personal best of 46:39!  He placed 11/32 in a very tough age group, 34/222 in males and 42/531 overall.  I will also mention that last year his 10km time was 54:37 and in 2015 he ran a 1:02.36.  We are now joking that if he keeps taking training seriously like he has the past month, he’ll be mid 30s next year. Anyway, there’s a new Pottage in town and it’s Dan!  Watch out!

 

My Next “Big Event”

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Hello and happy 2017 everyone!  I have recently returned from the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, where I completed the Goofy Challenge*…there’s an asterisk there because in the history books, this will be the race weekend that had the half marathon cancelled.  I will be doing a complete write-up on the weekend, but I wanted ot let everyone know some of the basics:

The WDW half, which was scheduled to be held on Saturday, January 7th, was cancelled the night before due to a threatening storm coming through the area.  Thunder and lightning occurred all throughout the evening and into the morning, and this would have cause the race to be cancelled either while we were in the corrals waiting to start, or after we started.  It would have been a disaster!  So, many runners did their own “unofficial” WDW half later that day when the storm system cleared.  I completed the 13.1 miles with two friends.  We wanted to complete the distance, so that we could wear our Challenge medals with pride the next day.  On Sunday, January 8th, the marathon went on without a hitch.  I was able to run with my best friend Ali, as she completed her very first full marathon.  It was an amazing weekend!

I alluded in my last post that I would be talking about what was in store for 2017…well, as you can see by my updated “countdown” on the side….I am pregnant!  I am due late July, and while I was in Disney I hit the 12 week mark.  Today I am 13 weeks, and will be heading to Calgary to get my combined First Trimester Screening test done.  My husband and I are very excited, anxious, nervous, scared, elated, etc.  We have always wanted to have a kid, but I was always the one who had concrete running goals I wanted to achieve first….qualify for Boston, go to Boston…then get foot surgery due to all my running…Really, I think waiting longer was also in my husband’s mind too, but I always was the one with the “bucket list” of things I wanted to achieve before we started a family.

WDW Marathon Weekend!

WDW Marathon Weekend!

I know runners who read this page wouldn’t think anything negative about it, but the general public I know will say “Wait…so you ran a half marathon and a full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant?  Is that safe?”  The long and short of it is, YES.  I had been in talks with my family doctor (who runs a sports medicine clinic) since this past summer and he was well aware of my Goofy Challenge goals.  When I got referred to my OB-GYN, the first thing I let her know was that I was flying out to Orlando in January to do a 39.3 mile challenge.  She said “Great!”  Everyone is different—obviously, if you were doing your first full marathon and just started running, there may be some hesitation.  This was not my first rodeo.  I also was not going for any time goal of say, a Boston qualification.  I had to change some of my fueling during the race (as in increase my food intake) and watch my heart rate.  I know my body, even when I have a baby growing in it, and I could recognize if there was any impending issues.  And now, I can say I completed a half and full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant!  Should I maybe have gotten an additional medal for each since really I ran for two?!?!?!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

So what’s the plan now going into 2017?  Well, I am registering for a few local races, with the farthest distance being a 10km.  I am planning on running 3-4 days a week, as long as I am allowed to during this pregnancy.  I will begin Runners Soul Marathon Club next weekend, where I will run with the half marathon distance runners on Saturdays.  My times will not be important, I am just doing this to stay fit and active.  Once I get to a 10 mile training run distance, I may have to cut it short or I may have to walk a bit.  And that’s fine.

So that’s my news.  My next big event.  The training will be a little different than what I’ve grown accustomed, but I’m ready to take it on!

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My “Announcement” shirt…wore the tank during my “unofficial” WDW Half


Boston Marathon 2016-Post from Mom

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And here is my mom’s straightforward look at her experience spectating me at Boston Marathon 2016!  My husband will do a post on his, and mine will follow. 

My daughter has asked me to do a guest post about my experience at this year’s Boston Marathon. Let me start by saying that my excitement began when she qualified on May 3, 2015 in Vancouver, BC. As soon as I heard this from her, I immediately called Kathy, my best friend from high school, who lives northwest of Boston, & asked if she’d like a visitor the following April. She’s been asking me to visit for years, but I was holding out waiting for Andrea to get her BQ time. Even though Kathy has lived in Massachusetts since 1978, she’d never experienced the Marathon so she was as excited as I was.

Our Marathon Monday began by catching the commuter train from Lowell, where she lives, to North Station in Boston. This is about a 40 minute trip but the only way to go, especially on this day. Once in Boston, we transferred to the Green Line C train to meet my son-in-law Dan in Brookline, where they were staying, to watch for Andrea as well as her friend Bob Higgins & Dan’s cousin Erin Moore. We arrived about 20 minutes later than planned due to all the people & traffic, but still had plenty of time to go grab something to eat & drink. After that we found a spot at mile 24 & watched & waited. I was being updated on her splits by AT&T & also watching her, Bob & Erin on the BAA app, which by the way was slow in updates but did have a map that tracked them which was a big help. We saw Bob & a bit later Dan spotted Andrea first & I guess recorded her coming up to us. I tried to get a picture, but failed. She stopped to give Dan a kiss & me a hug then continued on her way. She certainly didn’t look like she had already run 24 miles! Dan wanted to hang around to see if he would spot Erin, so Kathy & I decided to head into Boston to meet up with Andrea in the Family Meeting Area.

We should have stayed with Dan. Two trains passed us because they were full before one stopped to let us on. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this one was not going as far as we needed. It stopped two stations before & we had to get off. The station was jammed with people who had just left the Red Sox game, so Kathy said we should just walk since it was less than a mile. If we could have just gone from point A to point B it would have been fine, but streets were closed & there were so many people it was like salmon swimming upstream. Not sure how long it took us, but Andrea texted me to say that Dan was on his way & she’d let me know when he got there. We were still trying to make our way to the area when Andrea told me to just stay where we were & they’d come to us. Thank goodness for cellphones. We met them outside of the Westin Copley Place hotel, decided to just go in there for something to eat & drink, & all was well with the world.

I’m very proud of my daughter, happy I got to see her run in this race that she worked so hard to qualify for, but will never again venture into Boston either on race day or the days surrounding it. Way too many people everywhere for me to contend with. I plan to go back to visit Kathy & see more sites in & around the area again, but not during Marathon Weekend for sure.

“Run the Trailbreaker” Recap

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Back in 2013, I “Ran the Trailbreaker” when I was home for Easter.  It was the start of my racing season, with my ultimate goal being completing the Dopey Challenge in January 2014.  I was surprised at that race when I beat my former personal best, running a 1:52.53.  Little did I realize at the time (I am still realizing it now) that this race lit some fire under my feet and I’ve been pushing ever since.

It was great to be back for Easter in Wisconsin this year, and even better that the Trailbreaker fell on the same weekend I would be leaving.  While I knew catching my flight would be tight, I still signed up for the 9:30 am half marathon start.  What was even better was that two of my close friends, Melissa and Gretta, would be running also!  I was able to meet up with them the night before the race, back in our childhood homes, but also got to see them race morning.

The week of Easter was actually pretty nice weather.  However, Wisconsin weather has a mind of its own and it decided that a snow/sleet/hail/rain combo at barely above freezing would be smart.  Thanks a lot!  So, race morning was less than desirable.  I have admitted before I actually like running in the cold…but the rain and wind and then slushy melting snow on the paths is nothing close to fun.

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Looking out to my mom’s driveway at 8 am race morning

I really didn’t know what to expect from this race, as I had eaten and drank too many Wisconsin indulgences over the course of me being home.  In my mind, I had a lose goal of breaking 1:40.  (My personal best is a high 1:35, which I ran last year at the Calgary Hypothermic Half).  I ran a mile warm up and realized it would be slippery.  I knew I didn’t want to fall or do anything stupid, which would then ruin my ability to run in Boston, so I thought that maybe just taking it easy and being in the mid 7:30s-7:50s may be best.  Either way, 9:30 hit and I was off.

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Staying inside before the last minute of race start with Melissa & Gretta!

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Immediately after the National Anthem, we shot this gross selfie.  Note the hail in my left eye.  Gross

The first mile wound us through downtown Waukesha and then we were eventually on some pathways.  The bridges were so slippery!  Almost every picture that was taken catches me looking down on a bridge as I was scared to fall.  It is an out-and-back course, that takes us on to part of the Ice-age trail.  For it being a nasty day out, and a relatively small race, there was still great support from both friends, family and volunteers.  Lots of volunteers were located at any and every confusing intersection or turn.  The first 7 miles there were always a handful of runners around me, either passing, me passing, or us interchanging positions.  I ran respectable times of 7:30, 7:52, 7:51, 7:56, 7:47, 7:48 and 7:50.

By this time the turnaround was near…or maybe I had hit it.  Either way, I knew I was third female, but 4 and 5 weren’t far behind.  The way back was going to be much easier, in theory, as the sun was starting to try and come out and the wind would be with us.  I started realizing I had gas left in the tank and I may as well push and get this thing done.  I did have a plane at 3:00 pm to catch after all!

cold AF

Yes, I run in pink socks as much as possible!  My feet were soaked here.

I started pushing, and slowly my splits started getting near to where my goal half marathon splits are.  I held on to 3rd female, and even passed a few males in the process.  I ran miles 8-13 in 7:24, 7:29, 7:31, 7:19, 7:23, and 7:37!  This was the reverse of my disaster back in September at the Lethbridge Police Half, where I went out very fast and had a near meltdown in the river bottom!  And the best part of this was that I ran a 1:39.37!  3rd female out of 98, 2nd in my age group out of 17, and overall I was 11th out of 168!  

I didn’t have much time to rest, as I really did have to get on the messy roads and drive the 35 minutes back to my mom’s house.  My whole body was shaking, and some weird muscles in my leg that I didn’t know existed kept twitching.  Either way, I was beyond pleased.  I hit my goal time, I ran negative splits, I was able to see my good friends, my ailing foot held up fine, and I was able to run in my home state of Wisconsin.  A fine way to end the Easter Holiday! 

race swag

Moonlight Run 2016

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On Saturday, March 19th, I participated in my fifth Moonlight Run 10km.  Moonlight Run, as I have written about before, is the marquee running event in Lethbridge.  This year, they maxed out on participants in the 10km and 6km, with 2800 people registered!  I first did this race in 2011.  My race times in the 10 km from my first four years were: (OA=Overall, G=Gender, AG=Age Group).

2011: 51:43—148/607 OA, 52/350 G, 9/61 AG (25-29 y/o)

2012: 54:25—210/587 OA, 74/350 G, 11/47 AG (25-29 y/o)

2014: 47:27—45/540 OA, 4/305 G, 2/42 AG  (25-29 y/o)

2015: 43:37—34/526 OA, 5/292 G, 1/55 AG  (30-34 y/o)

What would this year bring?

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As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am having trouble with my foot.  This race would be the true test to see how it held up, as while it is only a 10 km distance, it involves a vertical drop of about 204 feet in the first mile.  Then, you are in the dark river bottom winding around sharp curves and more gain/loss of elevation.  And the final mile includes a gain in elevation of 267 feet back to the downtown core of Lethbridge.  It is quite the course indeed!

flat andrea

Flat Andrea all set!

I was hoping to run something close to my time last year, as that was when I was in top shape and feeling strong.  With this being a night race, I did my packet pickup on the Friday and was able to sleep in Saturday.  Sleeping in is great.  Waiting around the rest of the day for the race is not.  I was so antsy that Dan and I headed to the race start area around 7:00 PM.  Getting their early enough allowed for a great parking spot, and I had time to roam around and chat with people.  The student volunteers were our WCHS kids (where I work) so being able to see them and have them as supporters on the course helps a lot.  A familiar face always helps!

dan and andrea

Husband & Wife pre-race

The race is a self-seeded event, so I positioned myself about three rows deep from the start.  I knew I wanted to be careful the first mile, as last year I went out very fast.  Last year, mile 1 was a 5:32.  This year, it was a 5:47.  (Remember, we are barreling down hill! The +/- differential here was +15 seconds this year.

I felt strong in the river bottom, even though my throat was dry.  At about mile one and a half, a lady I didn’t recognize passed me.  I knew at that point I was 3rd female, so I wanted to keep it that way, and maybe gain ground.  After doing the out and back down the nature centre trail to Tollestrup, it gets pretty lonely.  With the curves of the trails and the trees blocking the sky, you can’t really see much.  And, I don’t want to look behind myself much because that would just slow me down.  Miles 2-5 in 2015 were 6:35, 7:01, 7:16, and 7:27.  I fared better in this segment this year, running 6:33, 7:00, 7:07, 7:12.  The +/- differential was -2, -1, -9, -15.  I was right now ahead of my 2015 time by 12 seconds!  

Mile 6 is the kicker.  It’s the hill.  That damn hill.  By the time I got to the base of hte hill. I really couldn’t see anyone directly within striking distance.  My legs were feeling heavy, my mouth was dry, and my glutes hurt.  I started trying to catch up to a gentleman ahead of me, but seeing him start to walk in parts didn’t motivate me much to push.  It honestly made me want to start walking myself.  While I didn’t walk at all, I knew I was going slower than in 2015.  I did see the 2nd place woman in the distance, and while I didn’t think I could catch her, I tried to keep an eye on her as motivation.  Before I knew it, I was past the dreaded switchbacks and back onto the main road.  Mile 6 was 8:36 in 2015, and a slower 8:48 in 2016.  12 seconds slower.  So, even though I didn’t know it at the time…I was at the exact same race tine in 2016 as I was in 2015 when I hit mile 6.  

I had no clue how far any women were behind me.  I didn’t look back.  I pushed my tired legs the best I could down the final stretch and into the finish line, with a chip time of 44:10.I was slower than the year previous, and my GPS watch said I had ran a 6.25 mile race.  In 2015 I somehow managed to run the tangents a bit better or pay attention to the curves more, because I had ran a 6.21 mile race then.  Regardless, I was ecstatic.  Why?  While this wasn’t my best 10km time, or my best Moonlight time, it was my best Moonlight finish—3rd place female!

Post race at Moonlight brought lots of pictures, eating and chatting with friends.  Dan finished sooner than I had expected, finishing in a 54:37, a 9 minute improvement from last year!  He did no training, so please don’t give him applause 😉  We both waited for awards, got more pictures, and off we went.  Another successful Moonlight in the book!

So how were my stats in this race compared to 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015?

44:10—28/525 OA, 3/289 G, 1/48 AG (30-34 y/o)

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that any day of the week!  Can’t wait until next year!

final photo

Moonlight Run 10km 2016 Complete!

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!

 

 

Running from Anxiety

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Yesterday, I ran an 8 mile progression run as part of my Boston Marathon training.  It was a windy ass day, but not too cold, so I headed out in shorts ready to get this thing done.  I started slow, I ran a 9:02, 8:59, 8:38, 8:23 and 8:11.  By that point I was feeling pretty good, but knew I wanted my last 3 miles to be epic.  At 5.25 miles I actually stopped at the local grocery store, Safeway, to pick up my prescriptions.  This was planned ahead of time, as I had worn my AltraSpire running backpack without the reservoir in it.  Went to the pharmacy, had the tech wrap everything up nicely, and plopped it in my bag.  I headed out to get the rest of the run finished.  Everything was packed nicely, but you could still hear the steady and constant shaking of the pill bottles, almost like maracas.  I ran mile 6 in 8:10, and that is when I wanted to turn it up a notch for the final 2 miles.  As the pills acted as a metronome, I pounded down South Parkside Drive and 10th Ave with all I could.  I don’t think anything could have broken my focus.  I hit mile 7 in 7:29.  I wanted to make mile 8 something special.  Hitting STOP on my watch as I hit that final mile, I saw my split was 7:24.  My progression run was a huge success!

After my stop at Safeway, I was initially bothered by the sound of the pills in my bag.  I thought it was going to drive me nuts.  But then I started thinking about those pills and how they aren’t a nuisance that should be driving me crazy.  I have been taking Escitalopram (Cipralex) and Clonazepam since 2010.  My mother, my husband and some close friends and family have been aware of this, but not a lot of others.  It is important to talk about, and on #BellLetsTalk day I figured today would be a good time to talk about it.

Escitalopram and Clonazepam are both drugs used to help with depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  I take my cipralex daily for help with anxiety, and I take the Clonazepam as needed.  I call this one my “emergency pill.”  The reason why I was put on these medications by my family doctor was due to many compounding reasons.  I have always been a bit high-strung and anxious, even if it didn’t seem like that during my high school years back in Wisconsin.  I had good marks and was involved and on the outside, very well put together.  But then, take into account my father died in 2004….I graduated university in 2007…I moved to a new country in 2008….I didn’t have a full-time job yet in 2010…I wasn’t in a great place, as I didn’t know how to handle with a lot of the stressors around me.

In early 2010 I went and started trying to talk to a counselor about the issues I had dealing with my dad’s death.  I have mentioned before in this blog that I think during my university years I kind of went through a denial stage that the whole thing happened, and just put on a tough face to hide the emotions that I had inside.  The counselor helped a bit, but we parted ways as I didn’t really see eye-to-eye with his philosophy.  With having no full-time teaching contract going into the summer of 2010, planning my December wedding, and then still having yet to fully deal with my dad’s untimely death from a few years before that, I knew I needed to talk to my doctor about options to help.

I was prescribed the two medications and have taking my daily one religiously since then.  After about a month, I could tell it was helping calm me.  I think one of the first times I took my ‘emergency pill’ was in November 2010 when I lost my passport at the Toronto airport and basically went into a ballistic crying spell.  By the time I got into the hold zone at security to try and find out if they could locate it, I had calmed down dramatically.

Since first starting the medications, I decided to try seeing a counsellor again about my issues with my dad’s passing.  I also, in 2013, started this very blog.  While the blog started as a way to remember my dad (and fundraise for heart disease research in his memory) as I trained for and ran in the 2014 Dopey Challenge during Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, it was also a coping mechanism.  The blog, the counselling, the medication….and the running….has all helped me become more of the person I want to be.

After finishing the Dopey Challenge, I could have very well ended this blog.  I used this blog to help bring awareness to my fundraising efforts.  But I realized that this blog really helped me as a person.  And after doing the Dopey Challenge, that was when I first realized that if I focused on just training for and running a full marathon I could maybe, JUST MAYBE, qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I trained for Calgary Marathon in 2014, and missed the qualifying time.  I was frustrated, mad and didn’t want to go through the training again.  But then I signed up for Edmonton, which would be in August of that same year.  Same year, same results.  I only bested my time by about a minute, and was still over 10 minutes away from the max qualifying time for my age group.  Maybe I should throw in the towel….but after thought and consideration, I registered for the 2015 Vancouver Marathon.  I regained my focus, and put my energy into following a new training plan made specifically for me.  Registering for many local races and seeing how my times were dropping were powerful and motivating; it kept me pushing.  While I had stopped seeing the counsellor by this time, running truly had become my therapy.

And if you’ve read my blog, you now know that in Vancouver I did succeed-I qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon running 20 minutes faster than my previous best marathon time, and beating my qualifying standard by just over 10 minutes.  Running had allowed me to do something I love, all while going through every possible emotion.  It pushes me to the limit, it makes me question what is possible…and it allows me time to reflect and become at peace with what is going on around me.  Running hasn’t solved everything, but it sure has helped me along the way, and without running I am not sure where I would be right now.

So, yes.  I am someone, like many, who takes a prescription daily to help deal with daily life.  I also take high doses of endorphins whenever possible, because that along with the adrenaline that racing produces has helped me heal, slowly but surely.  This isn’t something to be ashamed about, so I wanted to share it today.  You now know a little bit more about my crazy, imperfectly perfect life.

2 Different Days, 2 Different Runs, 2 Very Different Results

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I am rounding out week 4 of my Boston training, and not without some interesting running the past few days.  This winter has been all over the place—colder than usual, and snowier than the city of Lethbridge is used to.  On Tuesday, a ray of hope appeared as it was above freezing and a lot of snow covered sidewalks were starting to melt.  During my speed workout that evening, I was able to just puddle jump no problem.  Little ice, just slush.  Fantastic!

Then, overnight, it dropped WAY below freezing.

By Wednesday, all those pathways that was slush and becoming clear now became a frozen apocalyptic disaster.  It was like hundreds of asteroids had hit Southern Alberta and planted themselves on the sidewalks I depended on running on.  I had brought my running stuff to work and as I headed out at just before 4 pm for a 60-75 minutes “easy-paced” run, I knew it would be anything but.  It was around 14 Fahrenheit outside, which I will say what I have said before…I don’t mind the cold at all.  But the terrain conditions were the issue.  I ran my first mile just a second above the max pace of my easy limit; 8:45.  I was encountering more ice than I had anticipated, and 5th ave North to 28th Street North didn’t clear way.  I was bracing my whole body so much as I ran, clenching my shoulders and watching my footsteps.  During mile 2 I decided right then and there I would just run 60 minutes, as to just get the ‘on my feet’ feeling in.  My splits were dreadful:  9:21, 9:24, 9:42, 9:41, 9:46.  I finished 6.5 miles in a pathetic-for-me 1 hour 1 minute and 39 seconds.  My whole body ached.  I was mad.  I went home and promptly molded myself into an Epsom salt and bubble bath filled tub.  It was an ugly day.

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My Thursday came and went; busy day at work.  Lots of kids in my room in the afternoon preparing for their math final exams and diplomas.  Before I knew it, it was time to go back home and get ready for my run.  It had been above freezing during the day, and clear skies, so I had a glimmer of hope that the sidewalks had cleared more.  Today’s workout was to be 50-60 minutes with 4 miles of it at my goal marathon pace.  My goal pace is a solid 8:00 minutes per mile (3:30.00 full marathon time); that’s what I trained for last year during Vancouver training.  Anything around that while in Boston I will be pleased with.  I was nervous heading out tonight, as yesterdays run was a complete pile of shit.  And I knew how disappointed I would be if I could keep 4 miles at this pace that was seemingly easy for me one year ago.

My warm up jog to Mayor Magrath/Henderson was 1 mile in 8:44, right at the top of my “easy pace.”  Alright, after I cross the street, I would head north towards North Parkside Drive, stay on the road but hug the gutter while on N. Parkside, go by exhibition grounds, down South Parkside on the cleared sidewalk, and repeat until I hit 4 miles.  My first mile felt shaky, and my legs were hurting bad.  My quads and hamstrings have been feeling the burn these last 4 weeks as I started my official training, and I am hoping that heaviness will soon pass.  I ran the first mile of my “goal pace” in 8:01.  Alright, that is fine…but could I do better than that for the last 3?  Or was I setting myself up to fail?

I rounded by exhibition grounds and Bullys to wear I got to the sidewalk adjacent to Henderson Lake Golf Course.  This was COMPLETELY clear of ice and snow!  YES!!!  I think I was smiling as I was running, even though I was running into the wind!  It was nearing the golf course entrance when I hit my second mile at goal pace, and I did so in 7:55.  Faster than the first!  Alright, I only had two more to go.

I rounded the corner of 10th ave and Mayor Magrath with some power.  I had to keep this momentum going.  I fought through some pain and hit my third goal-pace mile at 7:58.  Three down and one to go.

As I ran the last mile, I ran on the road on North Parkside Drive.  While Henderson Lake has a fantastic path, I could see out the corner of my eye that it had ice chunks and snow in various spots.  The road was clear, so I stayed here.  I wasn’t in the way of any traffic as I ran where cars would usually park on the side of the road during the summer.  I pushed until I hit my last mile and was more than ecstatic to see a 7:45!  I did it!

I rounded out the run by taking an easy jog through Henderson and headed back home via 10th Ave   And for the heck of it, I decided to stop my watch a bit early (about four blocks) from my house.  It was at that point that I hit 6.5 miles—-the same distance I did 24 hours prior.  The time today, though, was 53:45   Much more like it!

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To say I was happy about how today’s workout went would be an understatement.  After a dreadful Wednesday, Thursday bounced me back up on that high that I needed.  I love running outside, and I don’t want to give that up.  I know I could drive to the University to run circles on the track indoors, but I don’t want it to come to that.  Having a workout go as planned (and even better!) is a great mental boost.  Rest day tomorrow and then a 13 miler to round out the week.  Happy Thursday evening everyone!