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Ladiesfest 2017

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Runners Soul in Lethbridge puts on an awesome “Ladies Only” race each June, aptly named Ladiesfest.  It is an 8km event that starts and finishes at the Lethbridge Lodge.  I have never actually participated in this event (as I am usually away at the High School Track & Field Provincials) but this year the weekends did not interfere!

My husband Dan got asked to help volunteer, which was great because I got to see him on the course!  I had picked up my race packet the night before at Runners Soul, so we just had to show up at 7:30 the morning of the race.  It was VERY windy, even for Lethbridge.  If I was actually racing this would have made me nervous.  Instead, I was just happy it wasn’t super warm out.

“Flat Andrea” the night before!


There were close to 700 ladies in the even this year.  We all lined up and started promptly at 8.  The first mile is completely downhill, following the Wendy’s Hill we take during Moonlight Run.  This is a very fast first mile, but we had the wind pushing us backward as we made our way down.  Mile 1 was 7:11.

Miles 2-4 were down in the river bottom.  The trees blocked some of the wind nicely, and the loops we made on the paths was great.  There were a lot of great volunteers down on the paths showing us the way, plus some awesome highlights—there was someone playing a full-size baby grand (seriously, I think it was) piano.  How they got it down there and back up is a mystery to me!  I held the pace I wanted during these miles down by the river, running a 8:42, 8:48, 8:51.

The last mile was a doozy.  Running up Whoop Up Drive heading East.  The “Run with Johan” group had a fun water stop for all of us planned, with crazy costumes and energy.  I joined up with my friend Emma as we trudged up Whoop Up.  We never walked!  Once we got up to the top of the hill, I knew there was about 400 m left of the race so I kicked it in with anything I had left.  My last mile was a 10:13 (after climbing 246 feet, according to my watch!) and I finished in a time of 43:51.88, which was good enough for 72/696 overall and 8/113 in my 30-34 age group.

First Ladiesfest & 19.5 weeks pregnant!


The race was capped off with flowers and chocolate being presented to us as we crossed the finish line, and then an AWESOME brunch held in the Lethbridge Lodge ballroom.  This is a fantastic women’s run and Runners Soul once again does a wonderful job at putting on a first class event!  Can’t wait for next year!


Lakeview Superhero 5km Recap

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The 2nd running of the Lakeview School Superhero 2km and 5km race occured on Wednesday, May 10th.  I participated in the event last year, which was started as a fundraiser for their new playground.  You can read about last year’s run here.  This post also had some other May recaps in it, which are interesting to look back at!  Crazy how things change in a year!


My husband and I both ran in the 5km event this year.  They had the 5km runners begin before the 2km event this year, which was a welcomed change from last year’s order.  I had just made it ‘public’ that I was pregnant, so I was at ease knowing my slower pace was warranted.  I know, I shouldn’t care what people think…but it’s a runner’s mentality.

It was very busy at the start of the race.  This wasn’t necessarily due to the amount of runners in the 5km, but all the families waiting around for their children to do the 2km.  With all the 2km participants, the number of spectators was ridiculous.  I was happy for the race to start and get away from the chaos of strollers and families.  The route takes you from Lakeview School to Henderson Lake, and you loop over the bridge by the concessions area and head back to the school.  I started off strong, but knew I should probably take it back a bit.  My first mile was an 8:02.

As I got into the park, I could see the lead bicyclist.  And my husband….right behind them!  It was very exciting to see Dan in the lead.  He was able to hold this lead the rest of the race and he finished 1st overall with a time of 20:28 (Which beat my own 5km personal best…I’m not mad…really).  By mile 2 I had slowed down considerably.  It was a bit humid out and it was getting to me.  I was also watching my heart rate and wanted it to lower some.  I ran an 8:39 for that mile.


My last mile I kicked it in to gear a bit and ran an 8:23.  I was able to finish with a respectable time of 25:57.  This was a far cry from my 22:16 the year before, but for being 15 weeks pregnant I’ll take it!  I just missed out on an age group award, as I finished 4th.

This was a great little local event and if they keep having it each year I will keep supporting it!  

10 & 4 Mile Road Race 2017

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On Saturday, April 8th, my husband and I participated in Lethbridge’s oldest running event-The 10 Mile Road Race.  This event was celebrating it’s 44th birthday this year!  I have ran in the 10 mile race 3 different times, with my best finish being last year with a 1:12.59-good enough for 2nd female overall and I walked away with some spending cash for Boston!  My husband has only done the 10 mile race one other time, and that was in 2015 when he ran with no training and finished in 1:46.53.  Let’s just say this year was quite a bit different than those two times!


First off, I ran in the 4 mile race for the first time.  It would just have the gentle rolling of Scenic Drive and no major hills.  Dan would be doing the 10 mile again, but he has been training.  He has been participating in the Tuesday night Runners Soul Racing Team which does speed workouts, and he has been running two other days during the week.  It doesn’t sound like much, but for a ‘non-runner’ it’s pretty good!

Start of the 10 Mile


It was crazy windy the morning of the race.  Warm, but windy!  Dan started the 10 mile at 9 am, and the 4 mile followed at 9:20 am.  Dan and I talked about a pace goal for himself, and based on his most recent 8 mile training run we figured he could do an 8 minute mile pace.  I was hoping to run under 30 minutes in the 4 mile.

The 4 mile race goes out and back on Scenic Drive.  It is great to be able to see those ahead of you turn around and head back.  You really get a good idea of where you stand in the pack.  I was able to start at 2nd place female and hold on to this position the whole race.  The wind was really getting me at open spots, especially in front of Sugar Bowl.  There are a lot of younger kids out there doing this race too (4 miles is pretty doable!) so it was fun to talk to the kids as they were running and cheer them on.  I was aware of how much was left on the course, so I made sure to tell the little guy next to me that there was only 400 metres left and he should just push it!  Off he went!  I finished with a chip time of 30:57; a bit off my goal of sub 30, but good enough to place 2/102 female runners, 1/26 in age group of 30-39 and 13/155 overall.

I cooled down a bit, talked to some friends, got my layers of clothes on, and got ready to be watching for Dan.  His 8 minute mile pace would bring him in at 1:20, so I was not in any rush….but then my friend Drew and I saw him coming in!  He was way ahead of pace!  He finished the 10 mile race in a time of 1:14.33!  That was an average pace of 7:27 a mile!  Holy shit!  He has a very challenging age group, placing 7/18 in 30-39 men, 13/48 in men, and 14/92 overall.  Did I mentioned he beat his 2015 time by over 30 minutes?!?!?!  What the hell Dan!?!?!?

Dan and Bob post 10 mile!


We stuck around for the 4 mile awards, where I received a silver medal for my 2nd place overall, a $75 gift certificate to Runners Soul (which I already spent on leggings) and then a gold age group medal.  It was great to see current and former students I have coached there participating, and many of them also receiving age group awards!  This is a great local race and the two distances (plus the new 1 mile kids race!) offers something for everyone.  Can’t wait for the 45th next year!




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!

 

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

Bare Bones 9km 2016

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My first real ‘race’ since my May Calgary 50km….my first race since my June 10th foot surgery….

I know, I know…my previous post was about the Lethbridge Police 5km I did on October 1st.  You may be thinking “well, wasn’t that your first race?”  I need to clarify that the 5km was my first ‘event’ since surgery…today would be my first ‘race’.  I was screwed…..(I have 3 screws in my foot now.  Get it?)

I wanted to push it and see how much my body could handle.

I was also very nervous….Would my foot hold up?  Would I be feeling immediate pain upon leaving the start line?  Would I push myself too hard and tank?  What would my cardio be like?  Would I feel like a shell of my former racing self?


I have never ran a 9km race before.  It’s an odd race distance.  I figured to try and pace at my 10 km pace…which, I knew I couldn’t hold.  My best 10km time was from April 2015, when I ran a 41:30 at the Rattler Run in Medicine Hat.  I was in my top racing form, as I had been aggressively training for the Vancouver Marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston.  I know it will be a long time until I am back in that shape.  But I didn’t want to be so far off from my more current 10km paces.  I set a goal in my mind of a 7:30 min/mile pace, but I knew that would be crazy to attain…I hadn’t ran a sub 8:00 min/mile since May.  My fastest mile time since surgery was around an 8:14.  Would I go out too fast and just fall apart?

I knew lots of people in the race (there was a 5km and kids 1km events too) and lots of runner friends were there spectating.  It was honestly helpful being in such a familiar location full of familiar faces for my first go at it since surgery.  It made it less scary.

Race start was 9:00 am.  I went out hard for that first mile, and it was a rough mile full of gravel, dirt and the view (and smell) of the water treatment plant.  I ran a 7:11.  Lucky me.  My first thought was “SHIT, I am going too fast.”  When I’m in prime shape, I try for a 7:00-7:15 min/mile in 10km races.  This 7:11 was amazing because I ran about a minute faster than my best mile time since surgery.  But I knew it probably wasn’t possible to hold it for the whole race.

At this point, my friend Glenn came up behind me.  I didn’t even have to turn around to know it was him.  Much like many people say my stride is distinct, so is his.  I could hear him coming.  He has been struggling with injuries for some time, so he was out here today for the same reason I was.  To see what he could do.  He kept me company for mile 2 and 3, which was awesome.  We ran 7:36 and 7:54 splits.  I was nervous I was going to keep slipping, but I knew my mind would help me through.  At this point I was 5km in.  I was over half done.  Glenn went out ahead of me to see what he could do for the latter part of the race, and I kept trucking along.

I made some traction on miles 4 & 5 running 7:49 and 7:49.  During these splits, the 9km caught back up with the 5km runners.  This race is a benefit for the local SPCA (humane society) and it is a dog friendly event.  It was fun heading back to the finish and seeing the families with their dogs running and walking together.  It kept me motivated and moving.  Once I made it back on to the rugged part by the water plant, I just knew I had to keep moving and get this done.  I finished the 9km race (my watch said it was 5.64 miles) in 43:38.  I finished 2nd place female (2/38) and 10th overall (10/57).  I even got to run the last 20 ft into the finish with my main man, Snoopy!


And you know what?  I WAS PROUD!


First, my foot:  it felt GREAT!  I didn’t have any pain in the spot of my surgery.  The only pain I had in my foot was near the tongue of my shoe, as I tied my right shoe too tight.  Whoops!  My cardio wasn’t the best.  I was feeling winded by the 5km.  It took a lot of mental strength to hold pace for the rest of the race.  A few runners passed me in the last 2 miles, but I was able to hold my 2nd place female position, which was awesome.  Cardio it something that will come back over time.  I started week 8 of my Goofy Challenge training plan with this event, and will be adding another day of running to my regime.  I will now be running 4 days a week, plus Zumba! on Mondays.  By the half marathon & marathon in January, I will be back at the level I took for granted!


I will admit, one of my first thoughts after crossing the finish line was “I ran the Moonlight 10km in March almost faster than this” but then I snapped out of it because I know these are different circumstances.  I was thankful for my husband and my dog Snoopy being there for me at the finish.  I even laughed and didn’t get mad at Dan when I ran over to get Snoopy and run into the finish line with him, but Dan had the leash tied around him all weird, so it took about 10 seconds to get him set. I was thankful for my podiatrist, Dr. Williams, who did a damn good job fixing my messed up foot earlier this year.  I’m also actually most proud of myself for WAITING and following “doctor’s orders” this whole summer.  It drove me nuts not running for almost 60 days.  It was even harder getting back at it and having to retrain my foot how to run.  I wasn’t really sure if my racing days would be back.  Today showed me that the best is yet to come.


 

 

Lethbridge Police 5km

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I haven’t done a race since my Calgary 50km in the end of May.  Foot surgery in June.   I had just started doing slow 1-2 milers in August.  My non-aggressive Walt Disney World Goofy Challenege plan began at the start of the school year.  I am in no shape to be going out and trying to crush my personal bests.  But that doesn’t mean I have to deny myself running in local events.  So this year, I participated in the Lethbridge Police Race weekend for the fourth time.  My previous times were doing the half marathon.  This year, I would celebrate my first race since surgery (and my 32nd birthday) by running the 5km with my cross country athletes.


On Saturday, October 1st, 15 of the WCHS cross country athletes ran in the Lethbridge Police 5km.  This event has been growing every year—there were 207 runners in the 5km, 164 in the 10km, and 119 in the half marathon.  The half marathon started first at 8:00 am, with the 5km and 10km runners following at 8:10.  My plan this race was to sprint ahead of my runners during the beginning, stop and take photos as they passed, then sprint ahead again to get down the major hill before as many as I could and take more photos, and then finish with some of the athletes towards the back.

 

I have to say that my foot felt fine during the whole race and after.  What didn’t was my breathing!  My cardio is still sloppy, and my full out sprints to get to photo vantage points probably didn’t help.  I was able to get a bunch of great photos of the kids (which I need to make sure I share with them) and had fun being out with the community during this local event.

 

My time was a far cry from my personal best.  But this fall and winter isn’t about setting new PB’s….it’s about retraining my foot how to run properly, build back cardio, and stay healthy.  Sure, it was a bit sad to not be running the half marathon like I had in years past, but I honestly enjoyed watching the Churchill kids run, running with them, and watching other friends from the community finish their respective races.  This race does not always fall on my birthday, but I have to say I would be happy if it always did!  I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my 32nd birthday any other way……well, going to The Keg for dinner later that night was a good way to cap off the day!


 

10 Mile Road Race 2016

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My training for Boston Marathon has been winding down, and with about a week and a half to go, I still had a 10-12 mile workout to deal with.  I decided to register for the local 10 Mile Road Race (which I have done two other times, here in 2013 and here in 2014) and push myself to the max.  While some people training for a big race like Boston, or any marathon at that, may not want to push themselves all out in an event less than two weeks prior, I needed this.  I need the competition, the motivation, and the chance to see how my foot held up.  In the end, I am so happy I did!

Weather was close to ideal race morning-a slight chill in the air, but warm enough to wear a singlet and shorts when race time came.  I had warmed up and was set to go when I took off my warm up gear, put it in my car, and then locked the doors…..along with my keys.  CRAP!  Well, that would have to be dealt with after, as my husband was out of town, had the extra key, so my only solution would be to borrow a phone and call AMA (spoiler alert-borrowed the phone and they promptly came and helped!)

I really had no idea how my splits were going to be, I was just going to push until I needed to pull back.  Ideally, my goal was to make sure to beat my time from two years ago; 1:14.49.  I knew I was faster and stronger than two years ago, so I knew I could do it.  I also really wanted to place in top 3 females, so I could earn some prize money to take to Boston.

Race began and I started strong for first three miles.  Very strong, and very concerned.  Was I going too fast?  I was trying to just keep with a group, as it seemed like myself and another woman were the natural ‘break’ before a big gap behind.  I didn’t want to be running solo during this thing.  The course is out and back on Scenic Drive, down to the river bottom, turn around at the bridge, and back.  So it is a very downhill course for the first portion, then a stupid climb back up Lynx to get on Scenic for the last 2.5 miles.  My first four miles (which include the steep downhill into the river bottom) 6:53, 7:03, 6:53, 6:44.

At this point I was 2nd female, with the 1st female quite a bit ahead.  She was ahead of my friend Bob and I knew unless she had a total collapse I probably couldn’t catch her, but second place was my spot to lose.  I had some extra energy sent my way when I passed my colleague and co-coach from Cross country, Don, and two students, who had ridden their bikes to the river bottom to cheer on the runners.  I got to see them again after the turnaround and it helped tons.  My splits in the river bottom were 7:11 and 7:20.

At this point I had been approaching the 250 feet + elevation climb of Lynx.  I have not been doing enough hill training, and I felt slower up this hill than I have in the past.  I knew I needed to keep pushing and hold my position, so even if I slowed down I didn’t want to walk.  I knew the splits would be much slower, but I wanted to have energy for the last miles on Scenic.  I hit miles 7 and 8 in 8:08 and 8:14.

By the time I made it back on to Scenic it did feel like I was running solo on a training run, albeit A LOT faster.  Big gaps between individuals.  It helped catching up to some of the participants in the 4 mile portion of the event who were walking, as it gave me people to focus on.  The volunteers at the cross walks also helped me keep on moving.  I ran mile 9 in 7:28 and then finished mile 10 in a strong 7:05.  My final time—1:12.59!  I held on to 2nd place female, beat my time from two years ago, and even snuck in to the 1:12s!

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Route from my Nike Plus watch

After finishing, I felt great.  I was not ready to collapse, and felt like I could have done three more miles.  Which would have been a half marathon.  And then potentially a personal best.  Have I been doubting my speed and ability and not really pushing myself to my full potential?  How fast should I be going at Boston?  My foot isn’t really holding me back, its my mind!

Awards were great, because I truly love being around my running family in Lethbridge!  They presented 4 mile awards first then the 10 mile.  For being 2nd female I was awarded with $150 cash and a hug from the Lethbridge College Kodiak!  Age group awards put me in 1st for 30-39.  By the end of the awards, I had gotten the pictures I wanted, my car unlocked, and my confidence boosted.  Boston, here I come!

 

Hypothermic Half 2016-Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!