Tag Archives: winter

Claus Cause 10km Recap

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I have participated in the Lethbridge Claus Cause since 2013.  I have done the 10km twice (2013, 2014) and the 5km once (2015).  I opted to register for the 10km this year 1.) because I am training for a full marathon and need distances! And 2.) I needed a challenge.

I don’t normally get anxious or nervous for 10 km events, but this one was causing some grief.  I knew before even setting foot at the starting line, my time would not be what it was back in 2013 and 2014.  Those times were 45:37 & 45:52 (2013 and 2014, respectively).  My most recent 10km times (up to this race) had been 44:10 (Moonlight Run 2016), 43:28 (Disneyland 10km 2015) and 41:30 (my personal best, Rattler Run 2015).  Those events, especially the 2015 ones, were surrounded by training focused on speed work.  It was also before my foot got the best of me.  So I was fully prepared to not run anything close to those.  But I still wanted to run something that was respectful for me.  I decided the night before the race that I would be happy with anywhere from a low 46 minutes to an upper 47 minutes.

The weather was perfect for running on race morning!  Minimal icy spots on the paved course, and a nice brisk winter air.  I was one of the only fools wearing shorts, but I did have layered long sleeve shirts and my tall compression socks, so really there was not much skin being hit with the elements.  I made sure to arrive early enough to allow for a proper warmup.  My husband came to cheer me on (I sort of forced him because of my nerves).  Race began at 9 am, with the 10km and 5km runners heading out together.

For the first loop, all the runners were together.  This allowed us to be near other runners, but you have to be careful….those 5km runners are potentially going at a faster pace than you would for a 10km (I mean, they should be) so I didn’t want to get wrapped up with trying to stay ahead of people near me….they may be doing the 5km!  I was able to check race bibs, as the different colours signified which event you were in.  I was able to determine by mile 1.5 I was the 3rd female in the 10km.  It was around mile 2 and 3 that my mind started playing games with me, and I didn’t know if I could hold pace.  Was I going to fall apart?

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Photo Credit to Shay, who was volunteering on the course!

The 5km runners head to the finish line as the 10km runners do another loop (plus some).  I started to get my groove back, but then also got myself comfortable.  I was a bit behind runner 1 and 2, but I didn’t see runner 4 nearby.  I held my pace and then in the final straightaway pushed in the best I could.  I successfully held my position of 3rd place female the whole race, and also ended up placing 1st in the 30-39 female category.  My splits were: 6:58, 7:50, 7:40, 7:53, 7:53, 7:45 with an average pace of 7:39.  Official chip time of 47:30.

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Post race-got my sweatpants on and a water, so I’m good!

Takeaway on my splits….I ran my first mile like I was going to run a sub 43 minute 10km.  I want to get to that point again, really I do!  But that obviously hurt me in the miles after.  What would have been ideal is if I could have hit consistent 7:30 splits, but I can’t go back and change that.  I am happy, however, that I was able to reach my goal of being faster than 48 minutes.  I also was able to have a faster pace per mile at this event than I did back a month prior at the Bare Bones 9km.  A farther distance and a faster pace; I’ll take that!  My foot felt strong during the race, and I didn’t have too much pain afterward.  My cardio (and confidence) is what needs to come back.  And it will in time.  I was definitely feeling the ‘race pains’ then next day, but I couldn’t lay around….I had a 15 mile training run for the Goofy Challenge to do, and honestly….it went better than expected!  Countdown to Goofy is beginning NOW!

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After awards with Bob and his daughter Abby

“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!

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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! 

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Calgary Hypothermic Half-My Muddled Post-Race Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…and Winter is Here

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We had a really random weather-week here in Lethbridge. It was 67 degrees outside last week Monday. 67! On January 26th! In Lethbridge, Alberta, CANADA! Well, of course this wasn’t going to last. This Saturday blizzard-like conditions hit and I looked outside at 7:15 am saying “What the……” It was time for me to head to my first Runners Soul Marathon Club run of the year and I needed to get in 90-105 minutes at a pace between 8:02-9:23 for each mile. As much as I wanted to head back into bed, I knew I couldn’t.

Club run was 8 miles in length for those training for marathon distance, but I knew I would need more than 8 to reach 90 minutes. I ran from our house to Runners Soul (which is exactly a mile!) and got there in 8:58. The snow had started in the middle of the night, so nothing was shoveled yet, and visibility was tough. I knew this 8 mile route would feel a whole longer today.

The route brought us around the southside to the trail behind Home Depot near the coulees, past the College, and back down Scenic Drive. I won’t lie-it was rough going. I had wanted to be hitting around 8:20s for my pace, but I knew with the snow and ice I would have to lessen up, but still stay within pace parameters. I managed to do so for 7/8 of the miles in the club run, and the one I didn’t hit was only off by seconds! My miles were done in 8:57, 8:42, 8:43, 8:50, 8:41, 8:47, 9:03, and 9:26. So it wasn’t until the last mile that I fade and missed my pace by 3 seconds. I warmed up a bit in the store (which was a mistake) because then when I went outside to do my last mile home I got SO COLD SO FAST. I ran as hard as my body would let me and got home in 9:10. My feet were soaked, my fingers were numb, and my husband greeted me at the door with “I can’t believe you ran in that shit.”

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While still snowy outside today, the weather had warmed up to just at freezing. My options for today were either to take an off day, run 30-45 minutes easy, or cross train. My calves were sore from all the resistance running in the snow, so I opted for cross training. My husband and I took our nearly 8-year old beagle out to the off-leash dog park for a little hike. 3.2 miles later, we had taken Snoopy through the coulees, down stairs, through bushes, off the path….he acted like a puppy and was having so much fun. He even did some sprints with us up some hills and held his own. It wasn’t a traditional “workout” but it was a perfect way to spend the Sunday. Winter may be back, but that doesn’t mean it has to slow anyone down.

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First Run of 2015-Not What I Expected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Santa Shuffle 5km 2014 Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

And with that crabby post, Happy Sunday!

Claus Cause 2014 Recap

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Hi everyone! Only behind by one race recap, phew…so that’s what I’m going to talk about tonight! On Saturday, November 15th, I participated in the annual Claus Cause 10km. I did this event last year, and you can read about the wacky weather that occurred in my post from last year. Claus Cause 2013This year, was just as crazy….but unlike last year where the snow came in after the race, the ice and cold was already evident that morning.

I bundled up quite a bit for this race, though I knew I would end up warming up rather quickly. Midway through I would end up ditching my outer layer of mittens to just be left with stretchy mitts, but all my layering was necessary for the beginning. Maybe I spent too much time over analyzing what I was going to wear because I made my seemingly consistent mistake of leaving my house too late, thus arriving and parking at the last minute. While I am always very early and relaxed for races outside of Lethbridge, I am just apparently terrible at getting to local races early. I jogged up to the start area, dropped off my food donation for the Lethbridge Food Bank, and weasels my way into the start corral near the front…all with about four minutes to spare.

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It was cold. How cold was it?!?….I think it was around 6 degrees Fahrenheit at race start (9:00 am) which is a very, very, very cold -15 Celsius. The course was quite a bit different that last years, as we were starting and finishing at Helen Schuler Nature Centre. While we would run on the same trails as last year, there would be some different looping to make up the distance.

I started off with a vengeance, maybe because I was so damn cold and wanted to warm up, running a 7:01 mile. The 10km and 5km started at the same time, and since I had positioned myself near the front I had good spacing around me right away, which allowed me to run such a fast first mile. Mile two and three slowed, with a 7:28 and 7:19. After mile three, I was wishing I had signed up for the 5km, because breathing in the cold air just hurt.

Mile four and five was where we had split off from the pack of 5km runners to head down past the water treatment plant and to the turnaround. I wasn’t really sure where the turnaround was, but when I got to it (past Lynx Trail and before the bridge) I almost came to a complete stop going around the pylons. Ooof…it would be hard to pick the pace back up again. I ran mile four and five in 7:30 and 7:26.

The last stretch was hard. My legs weren’t really giving out on me, but I thought I had something stuck in my shoes. Turns out, when I finished, I realized I had nothing stuck in the tread but it was just that my feet were so cold they were tingling. Probably on the edge of hypothermia, who knows, but at least I had worn two layers of socks. As we headed back towards the nature centre, my one complaint about the course came up—the 90 degree turn which led to a 50foot straightaway, three pylons to turn around, and then back. I slowed so much here, because the ice was just ridiculous. I had to stutter step and it really threw off my stride. But at least I knew the finish was ahead. I pushed towards the High Level Bridge and made my way to the finish line—1st place female in the 10km was mine! I finished in a 45:50!

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I was very happy with my finish time, which was my second-best 10km time! (My 10km personal best was set last year at the same event!). I really like the 10km distance, but don’t get to do enough of them. I was feeling very positive after this race, and I already decided that after my quest for Boston and training for the BMO Vancouver Full passes, I will focus a lot more on 10km events. I would really like to break 45 minutes!

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Runners Soul presented age group awards inside (thankfully!) and raffle prizes pretty quickly after the events. They had the cute gingerbread “medals” again this year, and lots of snacks to partake in. I look forward to this event every year, as it really is the last chip-timed event of the year in town. I know the weather can always be a crap-shoot at this time of the year, but that’s fine-registering for this race gets me out the doors and running…no excuses!

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Tyranena Beer Run Half Marathon-Race Recap

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When Kirby came to Calgary for my full marathon in June, we came up with the great idea to fly out to Milwaukee in November and run a race together. We had found the Madison Marathon on Sunday, November 9th, but were looking for a half marathon. After a few more weeks of searching, I uncovered the Tyranena Beer Half Marathon, which would be occurring on Saturday, November 8th. I love running, I love beer, I love friends, I love Wisconsin….so we signed up!

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With the race start being 11:30, we didn’t have to leave my mom’s house in Franklin until shortly after 9 am. The drive to Tyranena Brewery is simple-head on the Interstate towards Madison and get off at the Lake Mills exit. We arrived to the brewery at around 10:15 am, and headed into the beer tent for the race packet pickup.

Pickup was a breeze, and in our bags were our shirts, dinner vouchers, race bib and drink tickets. This stuff would be put away in the vehicle until after the race was done, as the real party would occur after the finish line! Kirby was starting to get nervous, as it was pretty chilly out. Even though it was about 43 degrees, I’d bet the wind temperature was much colder. Kirby lived in Arizona the last 7 years, so her body was not used to this standing around in the cold. We hid out in the tent for awhile, then the car, and then we had to get ready for the race.

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The plan for this race was to run together. Kirby would be running her fourth half marathon, with her most recent about a month ago in Nashville, Tennessee. I had been encouraging her this month that she could run a personal best at this race, and I wanted to help her. I had thought her personal best was around a 2:18, so we were going to go for a 2:15. Now, I am fast-forwarding a bit because it was somewhere around mile 10 that she admitted she sort of lied to me and that her unofficial best time was 2:18, from the Phoenix Rock n’Roll Half. It was unofficial because she paused it during a long potty stop, and restarted her watch after the stop. She kept telling me she didn’t want to admit her time to me, and I told her she was an idiot because I didn’t think any less of that time, because it’s awesome! She is a former sprinter, who used to do the 400m in high school in 57 seconds. This girl is a former sprinter now turned casual long-distance runner! I was just happy to be running a race with my good friend!

So her personal best was from the Women’s Running Series Half in Tennessee from the end of September this year, which was 2:24.20. I also told her I would shame her on here for lying to me, because I picked the 2:15 goal based on a 2:18 best time! Part way through the race, I would start making changes to our goal, to eventually just get a personal best…no matter what. Now, I am not a mean friend, really, I am not….because wait until the end of this post.

So the race started and we headed out for our first mile at a great pace of 10:00. It was actually 9:59 and change, but pretty damn close to a perfect 10. The weather was still windy, yes, and cold, yes, and Kirby was cold, though I knew she would warm up. The initial plan was to run around 10:10 min/miles for the first 6.5 miles and then see how she felt. For a 2:15 you would need approximately an average pace of 10:17 minute per mile. I decided to lighten the mood and also take a selfie with Kirby at each mile marker, and she would hold up the mile number with her frozen fingers. These ended up being VERY amusing. Here are the first three miles and some of the pretty views we saw!

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The course was very nice, with some rolling hills through some VERY nice neighborhoods. The view of the lake was gorgeous. The only major hill was at mile 4, but otherwise I found the course pretty comfortable. The wind was bothering Kirby, and the cold air was causing it to be harder to breathe. I tried to be encouraging, and our pace was still on, so all was good. When we exited the lake view and headed towards a farm, the wind started to kick in even more. Miles 4-6 looked like this:

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Kirby was starting to hurt, and I told her it was totally ok if we slowed down. We were now on a gravel path (was a bit boring at first) but I kept just talking to her to keep her occupied. We were still on pace, so slowing for a mile or two would be good for her to catch her breathe. We were now on the Glacial Drumlin Trail, so the wind was blocked from the trees a bit. Miles 7-9 are here:

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So after mile 9 is when the truth came out. Kirby is such a positive person, so she really wanted to keep going at that pace, but I could tell she was hurting. I made the decision we would slow down lots and try for a 2:20 finish, and if not that at least get her under that 2:24. I knew even if she kept a slow shuffle we were set for this because of the pace we held the first six miles. The unfortunate part of the last miles on the course was the boring scenery. You wound through an industrial park and then up into an older neighborhood, down and back up to the brewery entrance. You could not see the brewery at any point until the final turn at mile 13 so it was very tough mentally. Kirby never complained, and the meanest she was during this segment was when she made the face for our mile 12 photo. Here are miles 10-13:

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We finished the 13.1 miles in 2:21.28…new official personal best for Kirby! I was so proud of her! She beat her old personal best by three minutes! So solid! She was so happy to be done though, not going to lie there! We headed into the post-race tent which was filled with bananas, cookies, nuts, chocolate, peanut butter sandwiches and water. And, of course, our medals!

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The major perk of this race was the bang for your buck with post-race party items. We went back to the car to change into warm clothes and headed back to the beer tent. We had two tickets for Tyranena Beer (YUM!) and a catered lasagna dinner. We couldn’t remember what the registration price was, but know it was under $50! Probably around $45. So, a beautiful course, shirt, medal, dinner, two beers, live DJ and a great time at a great price was perfect! The dinner was HUGE and the beers were tasty (remember, I haven’t had a beer in two+ weeks so it was VERY yummy). This was my cheat day, and worth it. The atmosphere was fantastic and we stayed until 4:15, and then it was back to Milwaukee.

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I would recommend this race to anyone within the area. Next year will be the 10th anniversary, and I am sure they will hit it out of the park. The weather could vary from a warm, Indian-summer 61 degrees to a full-blown blizzard, given the time of year, but the show that Tyranena puts on makes it doable! This will be a race experience we will never forget!

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The End-of-Winter Slump

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It was bound to happen.

I’ve been training and racing pretty much non stop since March 2013. So the fact that my left knee hurts a tad and I am sort of in a slump is understandable. Coming off the Moonlight Run 10km last weekend, I was feeling pretty much on top of the world! A normal, sane human being would have taken a few days rest and slowly climbed back into training. I took two days off, then ran 4 miles Tuesday, 8.5 miles Wednesday, and a slow 5 miles Thursday. The 5 miles on Thursday were slow because this is when I really noticed the pain behind my left knee cap.

Our athletic director told me to do the “poop squat” test to see if my knee was really an issue. What is this deranged test you ask? Well, he had me squat with my legs shoulder width and my quads parallel to the ground, like I was shitting in the woods, I held this for 15 seconds. My knee didn’t have any pain as I held it. So, according to Toby, I’m alright.

Maybe it is just a mix of pure exhaustion catching up to me. Friday I was going to do 7 miles, but I opted for a 2 hour nap before attending a friend’s birthday party. I was worn out all night and yawning every five minutes. But, I did the 7 miles on Saturday, and I felt solid! I split the mileage into a 5 miler and a 2 miler—I did a route on the west side of town before going to watch our JV boys basketball team in the zone finals at the university. Then, I ran the 2 miles home. During the first portion of the run, I really pushed the limits and knocked out a 7:33 pace during mile 5. My knee felt just fine!

Today, however, I woke up around 10:00 am. My alarm was not set this morning, so I missed marathon club. I was supposed to get in a 10 miler today. But, now I am glad I didn’t. The pain in my knee is back. And I’m trying to figure out how to best tackle this upcoming week.

My only half marathon of the spring is on Saturday in Calgary-The Run for L’Arche. I really want to lay it all out there and push for that sub 1:40. The course is relatively flat, and appears to have a slight decline after the midway turnaround. It’s a 10:00 am race, and there is packet pick up for out of town runners on the morning of the race. This will allow me to sleep soundly in my own bed, get up early and trek up to Calgary.

In preparation for this event, I am planning on resting tomorrow, but then running 8 miles (Tuesday) 4 miles of intervals (Wednesday), and a very easy 3.1 miles (Thursday) before resting on Friday night. The Thursday run may even become shorter, but I need it as a shakeout run. And if I don’t feel like a complete pile, I will be attending run club on Sunday. Yes, I will have raced in Saturday…and this may be why I feel like I am hitting the proverbial wall…and maybe this is the explanation for the knee pain…but the longer distance of 16 miles is something I need to do when I have others around me as encouragement. With the Calgary Full in June as my big event this spring, I need to feel confident in the longer runs, even if I am taking it at a slow pace. I think come Sunday afternoon, I may be buying a couple bags of ice and having a big old ice bath!

That’s it for tonight. Hopefully next week I have some great news to share in regards to how the half marathon went. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel more like a normal human being again. Doubtful…but it could happen!

That One Time When I Signed Up For a Gym Membership….

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Southern Alberta has been having some ridiculous weather for the last week. Blizzard on Monday and Tuesday, extreme cold conditions…for instance, each morning since the blizzard my car temperature would say at least -18 Fahrenheit. You go outside and your nose hurts when you breathe. Two days ago, it was apparently the coldest place on earth up near Ponoka, AB. In Calgary it was -40 C, which for you people who don’t know Celsius, this is where Fahrenheit and Celsius cross….-40 Fahrenheit.

What. The. Hell.

I have Dopey Challenge training to do, and even in the cold it has to be done. I ran 5 miles in the blizzard compacted snow on Tuesday, but then after my cross training on Wednesday, I knew I had to do the unthinkable—-buy a pass to the University of Lethbridge gym so I could use the indoor track.

I know there are people who access a gym all the time. If you a weightlifter, fine, I get that. If you like to go play open court basketball, more power to you. But I would rather be on the roads.

The track is 200 metres so 8 laps in lane 1 equal a mile. I soon realized that counting laps sucks, so on Saturday I paid 99 cents for the “Tap-A-Lap” app on my phone. I can enter how many total miles I am doing, how many laps equal one miles, and every lap I just hit a button and it counts for me. I can also play music or podcasts in the background, so I am now using this time to catch up on all my WDW Radio, WDWNT and WDW Today podcast (All Disney podcasts, obviously.). I have to say yesterday’s 9 miles in the track felt pretty great, especially given that I had done 4 outside already, and the temperature on the track is comfortable enough that I can be wearing a tank and shorts and be set.

But, that all being said….there has been some things in the last three visits that remind me why I hate going to a gym. In no particular order…..(drumroll please).

1.) Just getting there!-While the U of L is close to our house, and should take five minutes to drive to on a normal day, add the fact the roads are garbage and then when you get there everyone parks like an idiot. I waste about 15 minutes plus each way getting to the gym, parking, going in, getting a locker and starting my run. That would be a good 3 miles plus on the road that could be done during that time. Grr.

2.) The track is not always open to general public-There is a Lethbridge Track & Field team that generally practices Monday to Thursday from 5:30-7:30. Track is then closed. Damn high school kids. So I have to go use a treadmill (which up until Thursday I haven’t ran on a treadmill since I was 20). For the record, I obviously love and support these high school kids, especially since some of our own from work do Lethbridge Track Club. But I can’t even go anywhere on the Westside now without running into students! First world teacher problems, I tell ya!

3.) Guy who runs on treadmill like he’s 300 pounds, but really he’s 150-I was on the treadmill on Thursday and did my 5 miles, since the high schoolers kicked me out. Guy got next to me and was there about 30 minutes running and walking. And when he ran, he ran so heavy I thought his treadmill and mine would break. I looked like I weighed more than him too. Run lightly my friend, please.

4.) Girl at the gym to look cute and flirt-While mister heavy foot on the treadmill ran, I got to witness a girl flirt with the worker at the Ascent Climbing Wall. The glass windows allow you to see out across the hall and she was so shameless. She ended up coming into the gym and then getting on a treadmill a few down from me and then started yakking it up to the guy next to her too, and she kept waving and making faces to the guy at the climbing wall. I don’t want to see that shit.

5.) Girl who “forgot” a ponytail holder– Running on the track on Friday I got to witness a girl in black spandex and a pink short sleeve top run laps while her long brown flat-ironed hair hung down. If your hair is long enough for a ponytail holder, use it. You looked like an idiot.

6.) People who don’t know proper track etiquette-This track is 4 lanes. 200 metres. Not a lot of room. Even says on sign walkers in lanes 3 & 4, runners in 1 & 2. Thank you to the guy who was strolling in lane 1 and then stopped there on a straightaway to look over the railing and watch the basketball tournament going on below. You were totally not in anyone’s way….

7.) Girl who made bad decisions but didn’t cover it up-Yesterday a girl came up to the track and did a combination of laps, biking, stretching, etc. Fair enough. However. She must had been drunk the night before because on her ankle was a washed out, but not completely gone, black permanent marker drawing of a nazi swatstika and the letters KKK. Ok girl, if you can’t scrub that shit off the morning after, wear higher socks. You looked like a god damn idiot who may as well have had a Confederate Flag tattoo…and I almost said something to you.

Oh, there is more I could complain about. And some of you are probably thinking I just shouldn’t complain. Actually, a lot of it is really laughable after the fact, but now I just shake my head. Around noon today I am heading over there for my 18 mile run, which will be the farthest I have ran in one shot since 2009, when I was training for my last full marathon. I am sure that during the 3 hours I am there I will witness even more stupidity. Who knows, maybe people there are thinking I am an idiot too. I am ok with that.

Off to the gym!