Edmonton Marathon Weekend V2.1: The Edmonton Tourist Chronicles

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Yesterday I mentioned that I was pretty nervous and not feeling very confident about my half marathon, nor was I excited. I never did get that “RACE DAY IS EXCITING!” feeling. Why? I have thought about that, so I made a list.

  1. None of my friends were in it. Not that I run with them, but the camaraderie is a big part of the fun for race. I was feeling lonely.
  2. 21.1km is far. I had done it two weeks prior and the thought of doing it again made me tired.
  3. Edmonton Marathon is a boring race. Sure it is flat but no one comes out to cheer, there is zero entertainment and did I mention boring except for a very important point – The River valley views are spectacular as always. It is my favorite part about living in Edmonton. The North Saskatchewan River Valley is Stunning!!!

Race morning I got up after sleeping reasonably well from 10:30 pm – midnight. Then it was hit and miss all night long. The alarm went off at 5:30 and I begrudgingly hauled myself out of bed. I was not feeling it. I felt sluggish, un-enthused and dreading the distance.

I ate my usual long run breakfast – pancakes and banana, no coffee and a huge glass of water. I gathered my running gear and jumped into my car, the Trusty Steed was taking his own car because he had post celebratory plans with his friends. I was taking my own car because my great friend had just announced the previous day that she was going to meet me at the finish line. I cannot tell you what that meant to me. I was prepared to go it alone, unsupported. Knowing there was a friendly face waiting for me at the finish was a massive thrill for me. It was the reason I stood at the start line.

The morning was cool 16C/60F perfect for me. Way warmer than Calgary’s marathon morning at 4C/39F, and I still found that a perfect running morning. I like it cool so this was a plus. I was tired and just couldn’t find the enthusiasm for the race as everyone around had. I knew quite a few people who were racing that morning, only because I know about a million people. We exchanged polite hellos and talked about running stuff. Then I heard the bugle. The Marathon is held at Northlands Racetrack – the Horses and Slots. The bugle was a cool way for the runners to get into the gate. There are no corrals in Edmonton because there are only about 2000 runners/walkers for both the half and full courses. 

They played “O Canada” and then John Stanton did the countdown. We were off!

I am somewhere in there

Again I felt swept up in the crowd, running too fast but able to keep it down to 9:30/km instead of the previous nights time of 7:45/km. I ran to the first water station at about the 3k mark, grabbed water and spit it out because it tasted like mouthwash. GU Brew has a mouthwash minty flavour? No thanks, just plain water please because I packed my own Nuun. I didn’t pack water because I knew I could get it on the course.

I followed my plan.

Rule #1: Bring your own gels and hydration formulas because testing new stuff during a race is never a good idea. 

I had been practicing hydrating while running and made good progress this summer, so no stopping this time!

I kept running and followed the next step in my plan.

Rule #2: Run a 10:22/km pace for a 5 minute interval with a 1 minute walk for the entire race.

When I was on one of my walks, a couple of ladies walked up on either side of me and tapped my shoulders. On gal smiled at me and asked if I run in Mill Creek? I replied yes, and she said, I see you running there all the time, we often high-five! I got all excited and replied”you yell GO GIRL!” She smiled and told me how proud she was of me.  – Wow…a stranger proud of me? I will be honest, this is weird to me but I said thank you and she yelled GO GIRL and High-Fived me again. She and her mom passed me while I walked. I would soon over-take them and cross the finish line 3km in front of them. This was in accordance with my next plan.

Rule #3: Pass people by working for it.

In Calgary I would avoid people, slow down or change lanes. I didn’t want to run past anybody. The NightRace changed that. Passing people now Rocks my World. I passed quite a few people and some we played a back and forth tag. It gave me something to focus on in the quiet Edmonton morning streets.

After the 7k mark, people were begining to run back towards the finish line. This was an out and back half marathon, and the full marathon runners also ran this part of the course. I saw the Kenyan Sprinters, WOW they are fast! I saw a gal running in a Gorilla Suit. I see her a lot, she high-fived me. I saw lots of people give me a thumbs up or yell YOU GO GIRL! I have to admit, I didn’t understand why I got this kind of attention when they are doing the same thing as me. No one else around me got that kind of attention – so I found it odd…until the end and I will get to that in a bit.

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I figured I was very near the end of the pack. The Bike Sweeper Guys would stop to talk to me, so it seemed obvious to me I was almost last because I passed a few runners.

My Biker Sweeper guy is in the Yellow and Brown shirt

The Bike sweeper guy said “nope, you are even close to being last” Whaaaaaaat? He told me I was doing AWESOME! I thanked him and told him how much it meant to hear that. That meant the next part of my plan was working.

Rule #4: Run faster than the To Complete Pace Bunny.

I did not want her talking to me and distracting me like she did the last time I was in this race. Because I was so happy about hearing I was not last or close to last, this made me run faster, not on purpose just pure adrenaline. I had reached the 5km mark at a record time of 50 min. (I had run 6km in 60 minutes – 10 minutes faster than the previous Tuesday!) When I reached the 10km mark, I was at 1:40 min. Seven minutes faster than my Epic Calgary 10k! This was the highlight for me. I was working hard and feeling great, meeting goals and breaking old time records. My ego was PUMPED! At this rate I was going to complete in under 3:30. This was where I broke with the plan.

Rule #5: Do not look too far ahead. Set small goals to get to the finish.

Suddenly I was celebrating my EPIC finish and I still had over half a race to go. Not good.

At the turn around point I kept up with my fast pace but I was getting really tired. I was wishing this was only a 10k race. I kept going sticking to my 5:1 ratio for run/walk intervals.

By the time I made it to the bridge that crosses over Groat Road, I had a flash of giving myself a stress fracture like the first time I walked across this bridge. I needed to change that pattern for my mental status, so I stayed off the sidewalk. The Bridge is a metal grate and difficult to run on, my shoe could easily fit into the holes of the grate and trip me up, so I walked across – breaking my stride and causing me to walk for 2 minutes. Walking that long felt good, so I did it a bit longer. Breaking RULE #2 in a big way. I walked for another 5 minutes until my watch evened out and I ran again. But after that 5min interval, my hamstrings were locking up, I think it was from all that walking, so I pulled over and did pigeon pose on someone’s lawn. This made a huge difference and had a police officer run over to me to check the state of my health. I assured him I was fine, I stood up into Downward Dog to stretch again and then I walked for one minute. This was tough. I could only run for 3 minutes but then I was at the water station at RailTown. I drank 3 cups of water. This did a lot for me. Re-hydrating makes a big difference. I kept running. I passed more people and an old guy in a wheelchair was cheering for me. He held his hand out to high-five me and asked me to run for him. How could I refuse? So I said “My Pleasure!” Off I went again. 

Somewhere around the 17km mark I had a bit of a melt down. My thoughts were beginning to overwhelm me. There was a lot of pity partying going on, I was comparing the support I give to friends verses the support I  got in return. I thought about people not being here when the said they would. I thought about that guy in the wheel chair and thinking I was going to quit. I thought about how much my toes hurt and how tight my hams were. I thought about how things are never going to be the way I want to be so I need to just get over it and suck it up. Then I took a big breath and remembered the next part of my plan.

Rule #6: Remember why you run.

Why do I run? I run because of the look on my girls face when she saw me cross the finish line. I run because it makes me strong physically and mentally. I run because most days its fun. I run because it makes me leaner than I have ever been in 20 years. I run because my friend is waiting for me at the finish line when I didn’t think anyone else would. I am crying now writing this, so you can imagine what kind of mess I was at 17km – all tired and unreasonable. It was the image of my friend waiting for me that made me start running again. I credit her as the reason I crossed the finish line. I couldn’t let her down.

Which lead me to the last part of my plan.

Rule #7: No matter how tired you are PUSH yourself to run the last kilometer through the chute and finish strong. 

I remembered the importance of finishing strong. I wanted my muscles to remember the strength and speed of a great finish. After several kilometers of running an 11:30 pace, I somehow found the strength to run 10:22 just like I wrote on my arm. I crossed the finish line strong and heard John Stanton announce my name as FINISHER. 

I saw my friend and was thrilled to see her smiling and cheering for me! The medal was placed around my neck and I helped myself to 2 bottles of water.

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I was surprised to see The Trusty Steed at the finish line, I expected him to have left already because he had an amazing time of 3:00 for WALKING. He walks fast. His team was there and swooped in on me to congratulate me. Then I found my friend. I hugged her and told her she was why I finished. Pictures were taken.

I look like crap

Me after running 21.1km. I look like like crap but Kathy kept me from dying

I saw a video of me running across the finish line and I have to tell you I am shocked. I felt stronger than I looked. I feel thinner than I look. I have a pretty good idea why I am now singled out in the crowd and why so many runners high five me, give me thumbs up and yell GO GIRL! I watched myself and wow, it looks like tremendous effort to drag my body into a run. I am pretty sure people look at me and are shocked that I can do what I can. No wonder I am slow.

But you know what? I am faster than I was when I started – 8 months ago I ran a 16min/km pace. Sunday I mostly ran a 10min/km pace. Overall my pace was 11min/km. I will take that happily thank you. I set 3 personal bests on Sunday, fastest 5k time, fastest 10k time and fastest official half marathon time – 40 minutes faster than 2011. I finished at 3:50. I wanted 3:40 but I think going too fast in the beginning screwed that up. I was consistent and stuck with my plan for the most part – except for the mental brake down. I think that is normal for so many people when they are reaching maximum output. I left it all out on the course. I did my best and gave more than I had. How can you be disappointed with that? I did all the right recovery things and today I am fine – except my shoulders hurt where the massage therapist beat the crap out of me, but that is a story for tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, I am glad I did it and am left feeling a little smug this morning because it’s not just anyone who can run a half marathon.

Rule #8: Be proud of your accomplishments

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Happy Running!

Was it Something I said?

133Remember way back when, sometime in January when I declared that the Edmonton Marathon weekend’s 10k race was going to be my big race of the year? Ya…well… Things rarely workout for me as planned.

My sister decided that she was getting married on the 10k race day. Since my Dadeo was going to run it with me, I knew he wouldn’t want to miss her wedding – not that she is his favourite or anything, but he does try to be fair. So we then decided to run the 10k in Calgary for THEIR marathon weekend. I felt like i pushed myself a little hard to be able to run the 10k so soon. I had no base to start from. Yes, it was hard. However, I find anything worthwhile IS hard. I am super proud of that 10k. I even bought a 10k spinner pendant to wear because 10k was such a huge deal for me.

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Well, that was May. I learned a long time ago that having future goals to shoot for are important because I went through the Marathon Blues after my very first half marathon in 2011. I didn’t have anything else planned. I thought a one and done kind of deal was all I was in for…HA!

After rearranging the 10k date, Edmonton Marathon decided to move marathon weekend to the weekend AFTER my sister’s wedding. So, now I had to make a decision. Do I run the 10k and build on becoming faster? OR do I go big and run the half marathon. Well, because I don’t think things through very well, I tend to GO BIG or GO HOME. So I registered for the half marathon along with 2500 other people who run at the speed of light.

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I knew the worse case scenario was I could walk this race if things got to tough for me. I have walked it before – with a stress fracture (I don’t recommend that) and I finished. This time, my goal for training was to have a better recovery time. I wanted to feel great the same day – not a week later.

After the 10k in Calgary, I felt good but the drive home sapped my energy and I was a mess for the rest of the week. I was tired. I talked to my dietician and we worked out a plan for the longer distances. I know I need protein within 30 minutes of ending my workout. Without it, my legs HURT. I also know I need a big glass of electrolyte replacement – or start drinking it at around 14-16k depending on the length of the long run. AND don’t forget to stretch. By the time I made it to my first half marathon of the year (that’s right I planned on TWO half marathons – remember the whole “GO BIG or GO HOME” mantra I have?) I had an excellent afternoon, felt great, slept great, bla bla bla…

But what I really wanted for the Edmonton Marathon Weekend was Companionship.

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I know I prefer not to talk when I run and I get quite rude about it. I say things like “SHHH you are talking too much” or I grunt. I am not the most charming runner. I have participated in enough races to know the training and racing are different. I like the camaraderie of a team around me. I like goofing around with friends before and after the race.

 

So I started to invite people to come do the Half with me. One friend – a new runner – tore his hamstring and was told NO RUNNING – so he bailed, how can you blame him? Then there was another friend who would have to fly here. I never invited him, he said he might come do it…well…that didn’t work out either. Then there is my former coach, she has a major injury and won’t be in this race, and a new friend I made WHO RUNS AT MY PACE – now has to work and I am totally BUMMED!

Seriously, was it something I said?

Obviously, I need to take this as a sign. I am meant to achieve this independently. So I need a plan – because who are we kidding – I am a planner at heart.

My plan is to head to the grounds for 7:15 with the Trusty Steed. He is walking it with his walking team. They are faster than me. I know, hilarious… but they have been at this for a long time with several marathons and half marathons under their belt. I will be mentally focused. I have visualized the course during all my training. I look at my distance and I know where I am on the half course. I know where the water stops are and I know where the hot parts of the course are. I have new socks already to go for this day and I decided on my grey running shirt because I run best in that one.

I don’t need the support of friends along the way because I am mentally strong enough to do it alone and I have – two weeks ago. Yet…I would have been nice.

After the race I have a massage booked because I love those and then I will join The Trusty Steed’s team for breakfast somewhere. They have invited me to join them for other races too, which is lovely of them. So you may see me in Vancouver in the spring. Especially because – well…lets just say you can only support people long enough before your efforts are not wanted then you need to cut them loose and do your own thing.

Meanwhile, I will rock my new pendant and Ryders, wear my new Tiffany coloured Injinjis

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and run my own race at my own pace with a desperate attempt to stay ahead of the very last pace bunny who talks too much. I am not as excited about this race as I should be. Perhaps the lack of friends joining in is a factor. Maybe it WAS something I said.

At any rate, I am as ready as I will ever be. My mental fierceness will be called upon once again to get me through.

Happy Running my friends!

 

It’s all fine and dandy until Mother Nature gets mad

 

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Remember how I was going to run 6k yesterday? Well, I didn’t.

I ran 4.5k instead.

After a week of lazy movement behaviour and eating junk, my legs were filled with concrete and burning acid. Well…it felt that way. I stretched everything out after a .5k warm up then I was good to go. I was feeling great! I was faster, I felt strong, I was maintaining my race pace.

The sun set at 9:00pm so I put on my new handy-dandy headlamp so I could see through the creek. Good thing too because suddenly the skies got REALLY BLACK and not from lack of sunshine either. Here is the thing about Alberta storms. The come in and out in a split second. Often without warning. Storm clouds rolled in and I was pelted with hail the size of a dime. For the record – OUCH! I had nowhere to seek shelter. I was running along the trails by my house which is a powerline zone. So Running under those suckers made me feel super safe. (Insert Sarcastic tone here) The lightning started, huge forks lit up the sky. Then a transformer was hit and turned the sky green. When that happened, the sizzle of the extra current traveled down the lines to where I was standing in the open. I was still a quite a good distance from home, so I called my Trusty Steed.

I asked him to rescue me and meet me at the north end of the creek. He agreed and I ran towards the creek to our meeting point. By this time I was soaked through to the bone. Dri fit is only good to a certain point and last night was not it.

I normally am not scared off by rain. The rain wasn’t the problem – the hail hurt and running on the prairies in Lightning is just not smart. So where does that leave me?

Well? I think I will do another 3-4k today. Just light, not at race pace because tomorrow a 10k is on tap at race pace. I have some weird aches and pains that I think yoga will assist me with and running them out should help. I am starting to get the pre-race jitters. BUT I am not scared like I was for Calgary.

That is a good sign.

I have run a half marathon already this month. That does WONDERS for my confidence. I am ready, even if I have to walk it I know I’ve got this.

Looking forward to it because it brings me that much closer to my marathon goal. Goal setting rocks my world. Just WAIT until you hear my plans for 2014 and beyond!

Happy Running!

It may take me a while to cross the finish line, but it will happen.

I went out this afternoon (fyi – not the smartest decision I have ever made because it was hot and humid for Edmonton Standards) for a 5k-ish run that included hills, stairs and just more difficult trails. With the WDW Half Marathon on my mind, I want to make sure I can handle bridges and the inclines leading up to them. Not that WDW is super hilly – but there will be an overpass that I have to run up. Here in Edmonton’s River Valley, I think the incline from Fox Drive to Quesnelle Bridge is similar in grade and steepness. That is where I went today. Up that hill. Now, as I was sitting in my car driving past it to park at Fort Edmonton, I thought, “HOLY HELL that is long! I hope I can do that without too much trouble!” The reality was, it was easy. I didn’t expect it to be and it surprised me. Once I reached the top of the bridge I ran across to the other side to face more hills.

The entrance to Sir Laurier Park is brutal. It is so steep that you really have to be careful so you don’t injure yourself on the way down. I love running downhill, but this one I need to be careful. To get up the hill, I took the stairs and then did it again.

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I’m kidding, those aren’t the stairs, although they felt that steep but it wasn’t even close. A quick loop around the park, brought me back to climb the stairs again.

As I headed back over the river and to my car I thought about training and how it is going. Terrible this week – but for someone who hadn’t run much, I was feeling really great. I will head out again tomorrow and see how it goes. I was feeling pretty good, then I came home.

My daughter ChatterBox (15) was doing Pincha Mayurasana Pose or Forearm Stand in the living room when I got home.

 

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That isn’t her, but that is what she looked like. She is trying to increase core strength and flexibility so she can make the Cheer Team in High School this fall. The girl has a 6 pack. I never ever ever looked like that in high school. I was fit, I walked for miles, cycled into downtown Edmonton from Sherwood Park every weekend and did aerobics twice a week. But I never had a six-pack or upper body strength. I am pretty sure I have a six-pack under the belly fat I am sporting, but the chiseled arms are just not happening yet….yet.

ChatterBox and I discussed the registration for the Edmonton Marathon Weekend 5k. I asked her if she was serious about it because I needed to register before the price went up. She said absolutely, so I signed her and she went for a run after dinner.

Dinner was a Veggie Burger – she is a vegetarian by choice because, “Meat is yucky”. Running on a full stomach was a bad move on her part. She could ‘only’ run for 10 minutes. But in that 10 minutes she ran a mile. SHE RAN A MILE IN 10 MINUTES!!!

It takes me twice that long when I am feeling great!

Although I signed us both up for the 5k, obviously she will run far ahead of me and finish in about 25 minutes. I will make it to the finish line about a week later. Awesome.

My coach talks about the benefits of cycling and how that will make me faster. I am going to pick up a bike trainer (AND NOT TRAINING WHEELS) and begin cross training. I have 39 days until the Edmonton Half Marathon (I paid my fees today). I am not optimistic that I will get any faster for that race, but the cross training should help me with the WDW Marathon Weekend…I hope.

If not, I will just plod along because I am confident that all this hard work will pay off one day. It may not be today, tomorrow or next week…but one day it will.

Meanwhile, I feel fantastic. Running is looking good on me.

 

Two years later and I am still at it, thanks Mo

Happy New Year! This is my second year for the Mo project and wow, I am still at this! The good news it, this is no longer a diet or whim, this has become a life changing process. Physical exercise is now the same as breathing. You just do it. Eating healthy is like sleeping, it feels good. I am not the svelte diva I dreamed of, but I am fit, strong and smarter. Brain food does that – so does exercise.

My goals for this year are simple:

  1. run in my first race
  2. run a 10k
  3. begin training for a half marathon in January. (the plan is to go to a destination half and run the Tinkerbell with my daughter, she wants to run the 5k and I will run with her complete with tutus and wings! Then I will run the half the following day)
  4. continue with the plan laid out for me by my dietician.

None of these seem hard anymore. Two years ago when I decided to walk the Edmonton Half marathon I thought I was doomed. I have very little support. My mom was the only one who said, ‘you are like your dad. When you decided to do something it gets done. I know you will finish.’ I kept hearing people say things like wow that’s far, I’m not sure you can do it. Well, suck it pal, I DID do it. Yes it was hard, yes I wasn’t fit or light enough, but yes I did it anyways.

I am now more fit than ever before, I am lighter than I was and I am still losing weight at a save and healthy rate. I can do this too. I want more hardware. That is the part that has become addicting to me. Why you might ask? It symbolizes the hard work and tenacity that goes into goal completion. I will let you in on a secret if you promise not to tell anyone.

When I am facing a difficult situation, I carry around my half marathon  medal in my pocket or my purse. I touch it to remind myself I can do it. I have sat through difficult meetings, had hard conversations, planned out strategy holding my medal – secretly in my hand or pocket. It doesn’t give me confidence, it reminds me of what I am capable of. 308822_10150354457561337_111659_n

Knowing I did that makes my next goals seem easy. Not that they will be, I am not naive enough to know training isn’t important, but I will tell you this: Once the training is done your muscles know what to do. It is the mind that will let you down. Believing you can do it makes the difference between thinking you can and knowing you can. It’s easy to quit. It is not easy pushing yourself.

Bring on 2013. I am ready and more driven then I ever have been to date. That is the best feeling ever.

Now if only I can get my garmin working on my new computer I will be a happy camper…seriously this is boggling my mind!

Happy New Year!