I have become that person I used to mock….Karma is real

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Welcome to Winter in Edmonton. Everything was moving along all tickety boo when suddenly there wasn’t enough snow to go around. Old Man Winter in his infinite wisdom decided to dump a couple of feet on us and then share frigid wind chills too.

Awesome.

And when I say ‘awesome’ I mean ‘$%#&*@!@$#%^*!!!”

That photo is my neighbour’s car mid way between the snow dumps. Dear Neighbour: USE YOUR GARAGE! My sled dog needs to bound across the snow because the piles come up to his shoulder. He is a big dog.

This winter I have become a wimp.

I admit it.

I am a wimp. I am the person I used to tease and mock. I DON’T WANNA RUN IN DEEP SNOW! Nor do I want to run when its -29F Windchill. Its nuts. I admit it. I am a sissy lala crybaby.

I have a problem. I am running the Donald Half marathon and I need to train. I am HATING my treadmill and do my Speed work on there. Its gross, but I do it.

My LSDs are another issue.

I just can’t face running the trails … I just can’t.

The Meadows Recreation centre just opened up down the street from me. I decided to give it w whirl. $10.50 for the drop in fee.

OUCH….did I mention I am also cheap? I like free. But given my options….$10.50 will have to do. Thankfully I wouldn’t be using the treadmill there. I have my own torture machine of evil in my office.

My first impression of the facility was WELL DONE EDMONTON! It is big, bright and well thought out. I love that there is a ‘dry’ change room (which also means no kids in there because they use the pool!) Now that I no longer teach, I like kids WAY LESS when they aren’t mine – true story.

I made my way up to the track. It was located around the perimeter of the north side of the building, it didn’t go around the hockey arena nor the swimming pool. That would have only made the facility track better. Why? Because when you train for a distance like a Half Marathon, less laps = good.

As it was, 4.25 laps = 1km or 7 laps =1 mile.

3/4s of the track had large windows that reminded me why running inside was good. The other 1/4 of the track over looked the pool. That served as a reminder that I am thankful my kids are big….as in adult sized.

The track was 3 lanes wide and had ample room on the sides for stretching, lunges, walking super slow or just resting. I laced up my Ghost 6 and attached my footpod to my shoe (Don’t tell Andie, but I left my Polar M400 at home and wore my Garmin Forerunner 15). I kept a rough estimate to how many laps I did, and it was fairly comparable with my footpod. That was good to know. GPS units don’t work so well inside a concrete fortress.

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Now that I know how terrific the facility is, I think I will get myself a monthly pass so I can go there before and/or after work during the winter to get my workouts in. Did I mention there is a library too?

Meanwhile, next Saturday I am running the Santa Shuffle 5km with some pals. It’s supposed to warm up to +1C. That is not great because the snow will be slushy. MAKE UP YOUR MIND WINTER!

At any rate, the training is happening and I am still slow and now I have no excuse.

Thanks winter…you’re a jerk even though you are pretty.

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The First Valley Run of the Winter Season

Lately it has been super cold so I rode DangerBike on my office. I haven’t been for a run farther than 8 miles in a while…a long while. I have a month-ish before I have a major race at Walt Disney World, so I made it outside today and the first 7km were lovely! The last 4km? Well, lets just say it was my intent to run 13km but trudging through the city streets made it difficult and exhausting.

(Follow me on instagram to see my video of my run – you can hear what the cold crunch of northern snow sounds like http://instagram.com/ragrobyn)

Today’s run has to be the most difficult 11km run I have ever done. Period. That includes the run I did when I was dehydrated or the run I did in the pouring sideways rain. Today’s run ended with a trek UP Walterdale Hill (FYI – that was stupid and it is a ONE and DONE hill…not again this winter!) after running on un-shoveled sidewalks and roadways. Lumpy, uneven paths are difficult to navigate.

BUT.

Millcreek was ploughed by City Tractors and it was gorgeous running.  I ran down the creek into the river valley. I was hit on by Hobos who wanted to kiss me, I said no thank you. Then they asked if they could run with me, I said, no thank you. They were disappointed, I was a little scared. Running in the opposite direction of them and towards the University Run Club Men made me feel a little happier.

The biggest issue I find with running in the winter is the cleats I have to wear. Running without them is too scary for me. I easily lose my footing and am thankful for the solid feeling my YakTrax Run provide me. But, my feet get tired quickly. I was at about 8km and I wanted to pop the cleats off. If I remember correctly, it will take me a few weeks to build up the strength in my feet again. It should make me feel like I am flying for the WDW Half Marathon!

Next week, my coach has me running 5k on my long run and then 15km the following week. I have to say, 5k almost feels like a waste of time, but 5k I shall do. Why? Because I trust him. He hasn’t let me down yet.

Meanwhile, keep warm and Happy Running!

 

In Search of New Trails

Remember when Leonard Nimoy had that show In Search of? No? Well, it was great, filled with paranormal oddities and strange events. I wasn’t searching for that. I have enough odd behaviors and events in my life thank you very much! I am in search of new running trails that will challenge me and give me some new scenery to look at.

I sat down in front of Mapmyrun and began searching out a nice newish 5km trail.

I was looking for a loop but decided 10k was too far for my scheduled 5k Wednesday ( I like a schedule, it keeps me motivated). I liked the idea of the river valley and I also liked the idea of new to me. I settled on an out and back 2.5k through Buena Vista and over to Belgravia. Belgravia looked simple enough, it was registered as a dog park and the elevation made it look flat….oh how simple it is to deceive…

I parked over by the Edmonton Valley Zoo at the Buena Vista Dog park and Edmonton Rowing Club. I strapped on my iFitness hydration belt and fired up a pod cast  – a new one this time (Let’s Run Disney podcast). I headed north-ish towards Hawrelak Park. It was going to be hot but I set out just before lunch. The sky was blue and the sun was warm. I love September.

My favourite tree tunnel with the Edmonton Rowing Club in the background.

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The wide open spaces of the Buena Vista Dog Park.

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This is the wide gravel road that I will be running on for Kathy’s Race for Research 10k in October. Gravel is not my favorite running surface, but practice makes perfect!

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Then I came to the foot bridge that spans the North Saskatchewan River. I get here quicker than I use to, it surprised me that it came up so quick!

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After I crossed the bridge and entered into Hawrelak Park, I wasn’t all that certain which way to go, luckily I found this map at the end of the bridge. See how flat the trail looks? HA!

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I headed down the path, south towards Keillor Road, knowing full well I won’t make it there before I would need to turn around.

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Then I came to the part in the road that had me question if I should turn around or keep going. I saw the beginning of the hill but I couldn’t see the rest, it made me think of a roller coaster drop. So the question was: Do I keep going? Do I turn around? The answer? If I am going to run San Francisco, then I keep going. You don’t get good at running hills by avoiding them.

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I have to admit that running down the hill was a ton of fun. As soon as I go to the bottom I had to go up again. I lost count as to how many cycles I went up/down. My legs felt the burn after about 7 or 8, then i found this marker:

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I run trails all over the valley and this is the first marker I have ever seen. 8km from where? No clue. Then I came to the Saskatchewan Drive stairs – I often call this place Rich and Famous Blvd. At the top of these stairs is the University of Alberta. A bustling metropolis filled with cars, people, trains, buses and noise. At the bottom of these stairs I am in the middle of no where with just me and some coyotes,horses, dogs, a squirrel and runners. Edmonton is the best place to be in the middle of nowhere with a 5 minute walk to Starbucks.

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I was so happy to see this sign:

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450m until my turnaround point!

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YAY I get to run those hills again!

They weren’t so bad, the hills were steep but short. Completely doable. In fact, I plan on adding this trail to my regular 10km rotation. I am beginning to enjoy the challenge of a hill. The reward is running down. Running downhill makes me feel like I am one of those fast gazelles. I like that, it helps me envision who I will be in the future.

I am certainly not the girl I use to be.

Happy Running!

Welcome to the Fall Running Season: Next up Kathy’s Run for Pancreatic Cancer

As I sitting here sipping my 3rd MASSIVE mug of coffee only because I have drank 9 glasses of water, I realize that I need to slow down and collect my thoughts. Perhaps think about something else for a while.

I hinted once before that I have a huge plan for an epic endeavor that will take place in the future. I will make a formal announcement in January and don’t worry, all of you will hear about it plenty and will want to be a part of it in someway – that is how fabulous it is! This endeavor is becoming bigger than I thought it would be. Planning for it so far has been fantastic, but I need to collect my thoughts, notes and ideas, pull back and breath. Perhaps a reboot of personal goals and focus for a bit.

Yesterday I went for a 5ish km run. The first run since my half marathon weekend here in Edmonton. First of all, let me just say how amazing recovery has been. For the first time after a big run I am not a bit stiff or sore. I did all the right things after the half to ensure my recovery efforts would pay off. And they did. Not only has my fitness improved, but my frame of mind is fantastic. I had the post race blues the very first time I walked the half marathon in August 2011. This time I have goals leading me into 2015 and beyond, so I am looking at this week as a recovery week. Zero training for me. I am giving my body a chance to rest, enjoy and have in short running and cycling adventures. Aside for the heat and humidity yesterday, I have to admit I had fun!

I went down to Emily Murphy park for a trail run for two reasons.

  1. Flat and scenic was something I needed after running through the streets of Edmonton on Sunday.
  2. I signed up for a 10km race in October earlier yesterday morning and I wanted to explore the part of the course I had never been on. That meant running the upper trail around the river bend, past the Mayfair Golf Course and into Hawrelak Park.

Can you believe I signed up for another race? Ya, me neither. I wasn’t going to but I need to. I want to give RunDisney an offical 10k time that will bump my corral starting point. I don’t want to be in the last one, I want to be closer to my friends. Not because they will run with me, but the before and after of the race with friends is super fun! My race day 10k pace is getting quicker, so if I do speed work on Danger Bike and run through the week, I think I can post a great time. The only thing that might hamper this is the weather, the race is October 26th. There might be snow and it WILL be cold. Not Yankee cold like 65F but Canuck Cold of sub freezing. The entire race is on trail. The plus side to that is the chances are the trail will be frozen, so it will feel like pavement. But trail isn’t as fast as pavement. However, I run trails ALL THE TIME. I have decided I love trail running. The deeper in the woods the better. This race has that. And the race has a medal. Of course it does. Having a medal is my standard for participating. Although I needed a chip time and that was the priority, I would have run without the chance of a medal, luckily I won’t have to! Go to Facebook and like the page so you can be entered for a free race entry fee!

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Now that I have run 2 half marathon distances, a 10k has become my weekend basic long run. I will increase that to a standard of 16k/10miles in the next month or so. Now that the distance is a standard for me, I can focus on speed, form and ease. I am pretty excited about that. I now have a base. I HAVE A BASE! Excuse me while I happy dance all over the place!

So I checked out the trail I am unfamiliar with. I usually run the lower trail next to the river, it is hilly. The upper trail is not. I am not sure which trail is part of the race course, but now I have a good idea what both look like. These trails are part of my 16k distance – I know, I HAVE A 16k ROUTE!!!! Again…happy dancing 🙂

Do you know what else I loved about running yesterday? I would stop to take pictures and enjoy the moment. I live in a beautiful city that prioritizes its park system. Thank You City of Edmonton! I love the trails through the valley. It never gets boring, although I am shocked because I saw THIS:011

WHAT THE HELL? Red fall leaves mean August is just about over. I don’t feel like I made the most of my summer but I am rocking an awesome runner’s tan! Yesterday was my zen run. I am tapping back into that feeling so I can continue forward will all my goals, big and small. I ran past the high bush cranberries that are changing colours and ran through caragana tunnels, into the park and past the field of canoes where the Canadian Forces are prepping for Mountain Man. Good bye summer run season, and now it’s time to embrace the fall run season. Learn to run is over, endurance is over, time now for speed.

Happy running!

Edmonton Marathon Weekend V2.2: Is it fair to compare it to Calgary?

For as long as Edmonton and Calgary have been around, there has been a rivalry between the two cities. Both are comparable in size, both have major league sports teams, both have easy access to the Rocky Mountains and both have great summer festivals. For an Edmontonian (Me) to travel to Calgary and declare my civic pride, I risk ridicule and good-natured teasing. It is a lot like sibling rivalry. However, when the going gets tough, Calgary and Edmonton stand together. Great examples are when the tornado smashed through Edmonton and Calgary experienced devastating flooding. We stand together like family.

We are similar enough that I don’t think it is unreasonable to compare Calgary’s Marathon Weekend to Edmonton’s Marathon weekend. Since I attended Calgary’s big weekend May 25 & 26 and I also attended Edmonton’s big weekend August 24 & 25, I think I can do a reasonable job. However, this of course is subject to my opinion. There were great things about both weekends and terrible things about both, but all in all they were great events.

So let’s get started, shall we?

Let’s start with Expo.

Calgary Package Pick up

Calgary Package Pickup

 

Edmonton Vendors

Edmonton Vendors

Event Calgary Expo Edmonton Expo
Package Pick up Located at the Big 4, a huge venue with lots of room. Calgary had lots of space very little waiting and the volunteer spent time telling you what to expect. No longer located at the Expo Center, the venue was changed to The Chateau Lacombe. Package pick up was tight and the lines were confusing, the volunteers were rushed but excellent.
Chip Check Did not have Chip Check One guy was checking chips, so even though you had very little wait time for package pick up the line for chip check was insane. 1 guy???
Parking $15 unless you had your bib number, then it was free. Free in the hotel parkade to expo goers
Vendors There were several vendors who offered product for sale and had excellent variety and mediocre deals. Only a couple of vendors offered a few items but I found a gal who made custom compression sleeves for my calves SCORE!
Charities Team Diabetes and Team in Training were well represented and so was Right to Play with Martin Parnell signing books. Team Diabetes and Team in Training were well represented and Team in Training talked to about the Women Nike’s Marathon in San Fran, I am in! Kid Sport was well represented.
Other Races Calgary is a mecca for fun runs and longer distant races. They had reps from all over Alberta, Western Canada and California. New York City Marathon and Vancouver Marathon were promoting their races as well as a couple of cycling races.
Speakers Several speakers from Canadian Medalists to book authors were scheduled. None

Best Expo? Calgary had more variety, Edmonton answered more of my questions and was WAY swankier.

Transportation and Parking

Item Calgary Edmonton
Parking Very limited on race day and $15 Tons of parking at Edmonton Expo Grounds. $5 prepaid pass available at the Expo, $12 on site.
City Transportation The C Train was easily accessible and most people used it. Wouldn’t let you purchase a special event ticket for the return. Station was walking distance from the start line. The ticket line on the return trip was insane. LRT is fairly accessible and plenty of people used it, although most people drove. Public transit tends to be less popular than people self-driving. Why? Wow-let’s just say the city is working on it. LRT offers a special event ticket and can pre-purchase a return ticket which means fewer lines when it is time to go home.
Road Blocks Calgary Police is an awesome job blocking roads and directing traffic. Not very chatty. One confusing intersection had us running into oncoming traffic, it was scary. No one was paying attention. Edmonton Police did an awesome job blocking roads and directing traffic and had the added bonus of being chatty and friendly. One car pulled out of a parking lot and nearly ran me over. The Police Office took a piece out of him and fixed the situation.
Road Conditions Calgary had a lot of potholes and ankle turners. It was spring and winter plays havoc on the roads. The bad sections of the roads were spray painted in neon as warning.

Edmonton wins best parking and Calgary wins best public transit.

Race Course

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Calgary Start – Where are the pace bunnies?

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Edmonton Start, Lots of bunnies every where!

 

Items Calgary Edmonton
5km Morning Race- same time as the other races, no opportunity to run 2 different races. Evening Race – this race was the night before the bigger events. It gave you an opportunity to run 2 events. The Evening race perfectly showcases longer summer days in Edmonton
10km Morning Race same time as the other races, no opportunity to run 2 different races. Evening Race – this race was the night before the bigger events. It gave you an opportunity to run 2 events. The Evening race perfectly showcases longer summer days in Edmonton
21.1km Morning Race In the spring 4C Morning Race in the summer 16C
42.2km Morning Race In the spring 4C Morning Race in the summer 16C
hills Yes – each race had hills but the marathon distance had a significant hill about the half way mark. No – fast and flat
location Along the Bow River and downtown Along the North Saskatchewan River and into residential
views Running beside the Bow is nice Running beside the NSask is spectacular
Crowds A very well promoted race. All of Calgary knew about it and came out to cheer or run it. 15 000 participants over 4 races. The streets were practically empty. Not well promoted. Hardly anyone heard about it. Over 2500 participants for all the races

Calgary was a circular race, Edmonton was an out and back. I liked being able to register for multiple races. There were other runners who like it too. Calgary’s race morning was pretty exciting with everyone there. It was a cluster F*** at race start. They were big enough to have corrals. The evening race was fun, the kids race 1k was first then the 5k and the 10k left at the same time. An evening race during sunset is lovely and the view was spectacular in Edmonton. I am giving the win to Edmonton.

Course Amenities

Amenities Calgary Edmonton
Food The post-race refuel food was located downstairs in the grandstands. It wasn’t advertised well and you heard about it through word of mouth. After running 42.2km who wants to walk stairs? Lots of chips and granola bars. They would only give me one bottle of water and wanted me to take juice. Right after medal and water pickup, the food tent was part of the exit. Lots of variety and even had wraps! Gave me two bottles of water was cool with me not choosing juice.
Water Stations They had a water station about every 3k-5k. Gave a choice of Water or Gatorade and gel 3 stations on the way out and 3 on the way back (about every 3-5k) – same stations. Offered GU Brew or Water and gel.
Port-a-potties There were easily 50 at the start line and two at each water station Zero at the start line and 2-4 at each water station. Northlands provided facilities – but not enough for the volume of people at the start.
Massage Therapists Pre-purchased post-race massage $15, race day purchase $20 Post-race massage $20
Pancake Breakfast The Stampede association provided a pancake breakfast – not sure if there was a cost. None, but Tim Hortons provided coffee
Booths/vendors Lots was going on, a real party atmosphere but couldn’t see what was in the tents because of the volume of people in a small space.

Nowhere to sit

A few vendors were lined up on the way out of the Race Park. Lots of room to move around, Sofa and Chairs were set up for runners to eat their post-race food.
Massage Tent Could not find it. Well marked, easily found inside next to the casino. Long wait 30-60min. Well worth it.

Stairs post marathon are just stupid. Be kind to rookie athletes Calgary! Edmonton wins the post-food category because of location, quantity and sandwiches.

Calgary wins for party atmosphere. Calgary Stampede association knows how to throw a party – hands down winner.

Medals

Calgary had a new medal for every race although I am not sure why they didn’t wait until next year to have the big reveal for the 50th anniversary. These medals had a cool factor and so did the shirts. The 42.2km was a belt buckle. Usually you need to complete an Ultra-marathon for a belt buckle. This was cool and at the Stampede, if you were caught wearing it, you won swag from the Calgary Marathon Association. Way to market yourselves Calgary Marathon!!114

Edmonton had a new medal this year. It no longer had the Canadian Derby theme attached to it. I think it should go back to the old Festival Marathon theme since we are Festival City. The detail on the medal was exquisite. I like di-cuts and detail. The Alberta Legislature is the prominent feature except you don’t really see it on the course. The different distance medals were differentiated by the ribbon. Interesting how in Edmonton the half is red and in Calgary the half is blue, while the full in Edmonton is blue and the full in Calgary is red. Coincidence?

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I didn’t put volunteers into the equation because quite frankly, Alberta is second to none when it comes to people stepping up to help out. These two events were no different. Lots of help, everyone was smiling, kind and supportive. I love volunteers!! As a runner, I always make sure I thank them as I run by “Thanks for volunteering!” People like hearing thanks and knowing they are appreciated. Without their support, there would be zero road races for me. I pay it back by volunteering one race for every race I run. You get groovy swag for helping out, and its fun.

The winner? Tough call, it might be preference. I am giving it to Calgary for size and variety but Edmonton wins for detail.

Looking at both events, I am thinking carefully about where to spend my race dollar. I really want to be a part of the 50th anniversary in Calgary because they do throw a great party. Which distance? Hmmm, I am leaning towards the Marathon but I am not sure yet. I will see how I improve in January. How about Edmonton? I don’t think I will do the half or full in Edmonton. It is just too lonely out there to go that far, but I will do the 10k because Saturday night was a lot of fun! Now, I would love to see Edmonton Marathon weekend become a massive success, so I think I will see if I can help out with organization. I am a big believer in put up or shut up, and Edmonton made huge gains this year, maybe they could use some more help.

Happy Running!

 

 

 

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!

I forgot to like like running. I corrected that last night.

I announced to whoever was listening last night that I was going to go for a run after dinner down in Cloverdale – because, I like Cloverdale. The Trusty Steed decided to join me because he had 6k to walk in prep for the Edmonton Half marathon on Sunday…fine.

The drive to the river valley had him and I talking about the plan for our individual run/walk evening. The conversation went like this:

TS: Mike and I are planning on going out on Sunday at a 9:30 pace then once we are warmed up, we plan to do fartleks by passing each other and reaching a 9:00 pace.

Me: (Freaking walkers I hate you all) Well, I plan to go out slow and continue on.

TS: Good plan, then speed up as you near the finish.

Me: I have never done a negative split in my life, and I highly doubt Race Day will be my first one.

TS: Then we will meet up with everyone for Breakfast!

Me: Everyone will be waiting around for me at least an extra 40 min. Then I am going for a massage.

TS: Well… (silence)

Me: I hate that kind of pressure. They are your team, your group, go without me.

TS: Well…. (more silence)

downloadThen we get to Cloverdale. I tell him my route and run away…he catches up and is walking a minute and a half slower than he planned because I am that slow. My muscles were stiff from sitting at my desk all day and I was crabby. I am blaming the full moon.

We had gone maybe 1.5k when I told him to just go. He was stressing me out.

Now, to be fair to him, he is supportive in his own way. He says things like “good job” and never tells me how to do anything (mostly because I am that girl who will karate chop him down where he stands for telling me what to do) I do not take unsolicited advice well. I am pretty sure it has to be because I am a teacher. We GIVE instructions, not take them.

I was anxiety ridden, feeling awful, angry and well, just plain old frustrated. So I stopped. I watched him walk off into the distance and I took 3 deep breaths. I pulled out my ear buds and plugged into Mickey Miles Pod cast to listen to the prep for the Dumbo Double Dare. I like knowing what to expect before I try anything. I am not running the Dumbo – or will even be in LA for the long weekend, but you never know. What if something happens and I get to magically go? I want to be prepared! Besides, it was a lovely way to not think about anything. Let my stresses go.

I waited until I couldn’t  see the Trusty Steed any more. Then I began running again.

I told myself to relax. Run my own pace, run my own way. Who cares about anyone else. I run for me and me alone. It is my ME time. I don’t like to share. I am a mom so I spend my life sharing. Running is mine. I actually like it.

I had forgotten that this week. I forgot to like running.

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So last night I ran while the sun was setting over the city and I ran along the river and watched it sparkle and Dragon Boats paddled by.

EdmontonDragonBoatRacing-bI ran over the wooden bridge and smiled at the people who were enjoying the dog days of summer. I ran through tunnels of trees that lined the trails that lead through 4 different parks. I smiled as I ran down hills because running down a hill is the most fun I have had since I was a kid. It is as awesome as rolling down a hill. Only I don’t think I could roll down a hill any more because it makes me dizzy and I hate puking.

I made it back to the meeting point where the Trusty Steed was stretching. I was 10 minutes behind him. I first thought was – oh good he didn’t have to wait too long. What the hell? Why do I stress about how other people feel when they are waiting on me? Might be the mom thing again, or something else. No one seems to worry about how I am inconvenienced. So maybe I need to let that go because my running time is just that, MINE. It is how I choose to keep my metabolism active, it is how I choose to de-stress. As soon as I start worrying about someone else, it defeats the purpose of running for me.

So I need a new plan.

Sunday morning, I will drive the Trusty Steed to Northlands. He will meet up with his team. I will run a bit and stretch out my hams and calves. I will center myself and focus. I will get into the crowd and hang around the 3:30 bunny. I will listen for the starting gun and let the Kenyans go. I will watch my pace on my watch and relax. I will run for me. I will celebrate the fact that I had only planned to run 10k this weekend and here I am running 5k the night before and 21.1k the next morning. I will have my Nuun in my pouch, I will have my gels on me and I will be rocking my brand new Injnjis. After I cross the finish line and have my new medal around my neck I will walk to the massage tent, I will let some hot dude rub my legs down. I will then drive myself somewhere to feed the dragon that lurks within me after a half marathon. I will pass on meeting the Trusty Steed and his pals for an after half marathon breakfast celebration. I will enjoy the moment doing this for me. I have earned this. No one else ran all those miles this year for me to get where I am. I ran them. I ran 626km to train for this event.

I am ready and more importantly,

I am looking forward to it.

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!

 

Shake up the training for round 2

finishersMedalThis weekend I will run the 5k Saturday and the Half marathon Sunday here in Edmonton. Last week I ran 22k on Sunday and pretty much decided to rest on my laurels. HA! Meaning – Robyn felt lazy.

This week, I am in taper mode…HA! what does it mean when you run zero miles and then run less than you did two weeks ago but more than the previous week in preparation for a race? I have no idea. I have a feeling it isn’t trying my hardest or preparing properly. But it is what it is.

My nutrition training has been a lot of cake and wine. With two weddings and a birthday in recent days, I think I have failed in the proper nutrition routine, however, they were delicious calories. So basically, I have failed in my execution of my training plan.

I am pretty much okay with that. 

I can knock off a 10k without too much effort. When I say “not too much effort” I mean, I am still slow, but it doesn’t wipe me out. It has become a baseline run effort for me. As I prepare for my WDW weekend in January, I want to keep that level of endurance up and build on it.

I have been researching 2 very different schools of thought. One says start the training from scratch and rebuild the base. The other says maintain the 10k base and build on that. However, every now and then it is good to start from the beginning because that helps you increase your speed.

I have decided that building my speed will come when its ready. I have logged some of my fastest times in recent weeks without trying, just sticking with my plan. I really want to build my endurance at this point. I want to continue feeling great after a half marathon so I can run a marathon distance in under 6 hours without crying. I do not want to be THAT girl who cries because it hurts – so far so good. I am not that girl. BUT I have never run farther than 22k.

I plan to sit down in the coming weeks and map out my plan for training. Since I am running the 5k, 10k, and 21.1k consecutively, I will add Friday to my training day and take Thursday as my rest day. Currently, I run Saturday & Sunday, Monday rest, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with Friday rest.

Both Bart Yasso and Jeff Galloway talk about the 3 day training for WDW Marathon weekend. The both suggest the first of the 3 day run – in my case that is Friday, should be worked up to 5k. No problem – that is a light run for me. Then the next day, work up to 10k. Okay – I can do that. The key will be the Sunday workout. running the third day with tired legs and building to a marathon distance.

I think my first 3 day consecutive plan will be 5k, 6k and 10k. I will increase it by 10% a week. Until I reach 5 and 10k. those I will maintain and increase my Sunday Long. I think I need a bit more research on this. But I have a general idea how to go about it. I will use the Dumbo Double Dare Training plan as a guide. The other two days during the week will be a recovery run and hill training/speed work. I am pleased with my hill training this year. I look at the hills at WDW and consider them speed bumps, so I should be ready for those, but hills will make me faster AND they are important because around here, if I run the river valley – the hills are my steady diet. They are the ONLY way out of the valley.

I will keep up with yoga, core work and ride DangerBike because apparently she will help me be faster. I will test that in earnest for the next round. We shall see.

A good shake up will help me out of the boredom with routine I am currently in. AND I am back at recording all my food – I need to watch the protein levels. I have been neglectful of that lately. I need more protein in my life.

So…6k today. It feels almost too easy and worth the effort. Too bad so sad for me – need to strap those shoes on. I have a half marathon to run next week.

Happy Running!

Back to Back races and I didn’t die

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I live in a so-called Prairie City. When you think about he word ‘prairie’ you conjure up images of flat land. While its true, I live a couple of hours away from the Rocky Mountains, by no means do I live on flat lands nor the foot hills. After my weekend, my butt is thinking about moving to Regina where there are ZERO HILLS.

I ran in two different events this weekend and both had beasts called hills. The first 3 hillbeasts were in the Night Race. Now, because I live in Edmonton, the Night Race didn’t start until it got dark. That means I was at the start line at 10:00 pm. The sun had just set and the northern sky was all twighlighty. The runners all had their head lamps and it was quite pretty. We ran mostly in the trails where I always get lost. The trails were lit by lanterns and our headlamps. It was so much fun! Except the 3 beasts we climbed. If the Night Race comes to your city, give it a go because it is a fun race with fantastic swag! I got a Brooks Adrenaline Race shirt, Energizer Headlamp and a 6 pack of beer.

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Win/win/win!

I got home around midnight, knowing I needed to get up for my Doctor Who Virtual Half Marathon you think I could fall asleep? Not a chance! So at 6:30 I got up with 4 hours sleep to my credit and headed down to the creek to start my 21.1k journey. The plan was to meet up with the walking group in Goldbar Park and go for Brunch afterwards. But I did this 21.1k solo, alone, by myself with only my dying phone for company. Yeah, about that. I forgot to charge my phone the night before. I needed to conserve battery power incase I was about to die and needed to call someone. So no music for me! That really annoyed me because I downloaded some fresh music to my running list, Black Sabbath, Bruce Springsteen, ACDC, Alice in Chains – you know, GOOD STUFF! Could I listen to it? Sadly…no. Whatever, I am a proud introvert. Being alone with my thoughts is fine, it just doesn’t pump me up, it relaxes me. Suddenly, this became way more challenging.

I ran 10k all over the valley flats and was feeling pretty great. The route I had planned on taking was scrapped because of the Edmonton Folk Fest, so I decided to climb the beast called Connors Hill from the valley floor up to the top.Folk Fest from the Top

Hello Edmonton!

 

This was a new adventure for me. I decided I don’t really like these kinds of adventure. They blow. This was also the point where my Auto Pause on my watch wouldn’t turn the gps back on. YOU REALLY SUCKED GARMIN 410! That’s okay, I had a pretty good idea where I was on the milage scale, I was doing fine….until 14k.

I forgot to pack my Nuun. This was BAD NEWS. I am on a self-induced half marathon, I have zero course support. I needed salt and potassium in the worse way. I had my gels and they helped a bit, but I find Nuun gives me the mental clarity I really need around 14 – 16k. This was the part where the wheels fell off. I wanted to quit.

I fantasized about a phone conversation with my Dadeo.

Me: Hey Daddy, you were right, running this far IS STUPID, come get me.

Dadeo: Okay baby, I will be right there. Don’t worry and now I can claim I was right every time you go running.

<insert record needle scratching sound>

Hold it right there. What is WRONG WITH ME??

I don’t quit.

I decided to walk a bit, drink more water and take another gel. I was NOT QUITTING! After walking a bit, I felt more refreshed. My legs and feet were good, but the shoulders were killing me because the girls are just too heavy. I set a goal of Cap Hill. I couldn’t WAIT to run down it! I love running down hill. The last time I ran Cap hill, I was training for my first half. I knew it was a beast of a hill, but this time I was at the top and running down would be fun.

The view from Cap Hill

By the time I got there, all I could think was….WTF? This is a puny road bump not a HILL. The I started to laugh. I  couldn’t believe how my fitness level had changed so drastically. Here I was at about the 19k mark and feeling fab inspite of no hill to run down.

By the time I reached the end of my route, I met up with the Trusty Steed and his walking group for breakfast. I had run/walked 22km.

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The last time I walked 21.1k, I was a mess. I needed crutches to get around. I could hardly move. This time I put on my flip flops, stretched and didn’t need to sit. I had a great brunch, did stuff in the afternoon, and was suitably tired by bedtime. I am not even walking funny today. Do you know what this means??

I have completed my goal of RECOVERY!

I had set a goal to increase my recovery time and feel great after a long run. Mission accomplished! Although, having the Nuun would have been better for my time, I won’t make that mistake on Race Day, August 25th.

Things I need to remember for Race Day:

  1. There are ZERO HILLS
  2. Bring Nuun
  3. Take Melatonin before going to sleep Saturday Night. Sleep makes you run better.
  4. Charge the Phone!
  5. Wear the new injini socks – blister free feet is AWESOME

There is nothing better than achieving your goals. I recommend it.

Happy Running!