Rock n Roll Vancouver: The great, the bad and the ugleeeeeey

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So I was in this little town named Vancouver over the weekend. Maybe you heard of it? Apparently they hosted some sporting event called the Winter Olympics. It was apparently quite the big deal. I flew in for a one night stay so I could run the Inaugural Vancouver Oasis Rock n Roll Half Marathon.

We (the hubs and I) left Edmonton about 6 am. We boarded the plane with several other runners planning on doing the same thing. I knew a ton of people from RunClub, my work, and just bumping into people on local run paths. I am not a morning person, so I slept the 1,5 hours to Vancouver.

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We arrived safe and sound inspire of the Pilot telling us about the massive head winds and demanding the attendants sit and buckle up. I thought about the possibility of death briefly then fell sound asleep. We gathered up our carry-on luggage and headed straight for the train into the city. 45 minutes late we were ensconced securely downtown tucked into a Starbucks eating breakfast and getting our bearings. The Hubs was TOTALLY lost. He kept want to go in the opposite direction. It was beginning to annoy me and I finally said…just follow me. I had the great fortune to be trained in navigation by my grandfather the WWII navigator. Sure he made me cry while teaching me how to do it, but I can now find my way across the world with a map and a compass. Screw you Suri! I’m solid!

We got to the Listel hotel in one piece, although I was a bit tired of saying…No, its THIS WAY…

Dumped our baggage and headed to the Expo by 9:30 AM. We could have walked but I was hearing my Coach’s voice “Save the legs!” Right, so we hopped onto transit once again and I must say, the best app in the whole wide world is Transit. It’s brilliant and works in every city.

If there is a more beautiful city in North America… please invite me and show me. For now I think it is Vancouver. The sea, the mountains and the green is SPECTACULAR! I bought some Brooks RunHappy Clothing and a sticker for my car – I am now the annoying person who brags about milage on her bumper 13.1 baby! That’s in Miles. 21.1km for you metric babies. You bet I’m bragging. Its a big deal. If you don’t think so, join me next time. 13.1 is half of nothing. It’s a fine distance on its own.

After Expo we spent time at Canada Place just taking in the view. Amazing.

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People kept wanting to take my camera so they can take my photo… I’m good thanks. I selfie and runfie because I’m cool like that.

From there we hopped the transit once again and headed for Granville Island. Home of the Market and the Grandville Island Brewery. These were the two things I wanted most on my trip…and an Umbrella, but an Umbrella isn’t a practical carry-on item for the plane, so I went without even thought the rain came down in buckets ALL DAY LONG. In Edmonton is rains like that for 10 minutes and its done. All day rain is something else and it gives me hideous hair, however, I think I still want to live coastal.

The Market was amazing, I knew to go where the crowds were so we secured bagels, yogurt and bananas for $6. It was a delicious pre-race breakfast. We took photos for Chatterbox because she is determined to live and work in the TV industry here. She enjoyed the sets she has seen on various shows and was thrilled to hear about the thriving theatre district.

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We returned to the Listel for a pre-dinner nap, then trudged out in the downpour, fight the Umbrella People for sidewalk space. Riddle me this: you have an Umbrella, yet you still need to walk under the awnings where it is dry poking people in the eye with your Umbrella. Why?

We woke up bright and early for a 8 AM race start. That meant 7 AM awake and leave by 7:30 to walk to the start at Convention centre. 24 corrals and I was in 23. #24 got to leave at 8 because they were slow. Lucky them…wish I knew about that because the Grim Sweeper was on my tail the entire time. It makes for a stressful race and fast one for me to avoid his clutches.

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I snuck into corral 17. I needed the extra time, I knew to stay to the right out of the gazelle’s way. Hubs was worried we’d get caught. Of course I am that person who thinks “What is the worst thing that can happen?” They can kick me out…big deal. I wasn’t the only one doing it either…not that it makes it right. Slow people need more time to finish. Putting us last doesn’t make sense. This race was full of people who understood runner etiquette  – I am LOOKING AT YOU DISNEY RUNNERS. When you are going to walk, put your hand up and move to the right. Don’t STOP in front of someone. This made for a smooth race. Except for the lady telling walkers they should AT LEAST TRY…WTF? Has she ever walked that far? Walking is a legitimate sport.

I ran my fastest 10k ever, when I say ran I mean walked…with running on the downhill. For the record, Vancouver is kinda hilly and not in a good way. I found my runs to be smoking fast which isn’t good when you have to monitor your heart rate. But still…. smoking fast is fun and AWESOME. When I say fast…I mean for me. I was running last January at 12:30 km/min. Sunday I was running 8:40 km/min. THAT IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!

By the time I made it to Stanley Park, the sun was out and the sky was blue, no rain at all! But my feet were soaked and shredded. The humidity was high and it was cold – that’s right – cold for me! I was freezing by 19km. Soaked thru with moisture not being able to dissipate because of the high humidity. The hills through Stanley Park were brutal for the end of the race, it just sapped me of all my reserves. However the view was stunning.

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When I ran across the finish line I was thinking “this is the longest 500 meters in the WORLD” The finish line was up hill, the start line was up hill…really Competitor Racing? Really? I have come to the conclusion that although I think Edmonton has some good hills for training, I am kidding myself. Clayton is right. It may be a sea level, but the hills are hills. I need better hill training for The Donald. It will only serve to make me stronger and faster.

The finish line had blankets…. YES! Because I was cold. It also had free beer, YES! because I like beer and especially after running. It didn’t have bananas, or bagels, but it did have granola cereal….Awesome? And it did have those yogurt power bars that taste like plastercine. The pretzels were good with the beer, and I was satisfied with my time. PR for me, 45 minutes faster than Calgary. How did that happen? I have no idea….I think it was due to the sea level part. I train at 2300 feet. OR it’s because I did what I could for training. I get the go ahead to actually begin running in a week. A WEEK! WOOT! Bad news though, I feel like I need to start from scratch building those running muscles. I can do it. I have a plan.

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To get me going in the motivational department (because lets face it, why train when doing next to nothing made for a great race) I am joining the Doctor Who 50 Mile Ultra. I need to record my milage for the month. The first one to reach 50 miles, wines.. I don’t expect to win, but it will keep me motivated and I get an awesome medal for it. I thought about doing the 100 miler, but that’s just silly. To far too fast. I have learned my lesson in that department.

Anyways…back to the Rock n Roll Vancouver. What did I think?

  1. Calgary had WAY MORE MUSIC on their course. Way more! That was disappointing. I had to wear my ear buds because the silence got to me after a while.
  2. The cups were too full. There was a ton of water and Gatorade but filling a cup full makes it hard to hydrate.
  3. The start line at the bottom of a hill is stupid.
  4. The finish line at the top of a hill is stupid.
  5. There was NO BAND AT THE FINISH. What??? It was a Rock and Roll event! Maybe this is always the way it is done, but Calgary did it better, and I am by no means a Calgary fan. They just put on an awesome event.
  6. The course was well marked. There wasn’t a lot of volunteers showing the way, but it didn’t matter because it was clearly marked with road closures and pylons.
  7. Not lots of cheering spectators but I am good with that. It’s normal for Canada.
  8. The course was BEAUTIFUL. Well done picking it out Race Marshall! The only ugly part was Rail Town, but the music was great thru there.
  9. The Medal was AWESOME! The Lion from the Lion’s Gate Bridge? Nice choice!
  10. Would I do it again? I don’t think so. Not because of the event itself, but there are so many other Vancouver events I want to try, like the BMO Full and Half Marathon, the SeaBreeze and maybe hop over to Vancouver Island for the Victoria Half Marathon! I would however, go do the Portland Rock and Roll or even Chicago. Vancouver is an amazing place to run!

Next race: The Santa Shuffle, 5 km twice around Hawrelak Park here in Edmonton. Last year it was -42C. Fingers crossed it will be a tad warmer this year.

Destination: Vancouver Rock n Roll Half Marathon

I leave soon for Vancouver. This will be my 5th destination Race. I am growing quite fond of them.

I need to pack and I saw the forecast, it calls for rain and lots of it. I have never run a half in the rain. A first for everything I suppose. I don’t believe it will happen…the rain, I mean. I believe in Sunshine and pleasant 12 C.

I am very excited and I am terrified.

We have established I have less than zero training logged in my shoes. I walk and my coach confirmed for me that I will be walking this 21.1km through Downtown Vancouver. (I might run a little bit, especially the downhill parts because they are fun). I am looking forward to walking at sea level and seeing what that will do for my pace. I train at 2300 feet. Sea level will be interesting.

The Grim Sweepers will be on my tail. But I will do my best to keep ahead of them.

My goal is to cross the finish line injury free so I can wear this home:

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The Blue one will be mine. Half Marathon #3 for the year. I will love walking the streets of Vancouver with the Mountains in the background and the sea in front of me. When I finish, my training for WDW will begin. The running will start…but for now my focus is Sunday.

Cheer for me.

Good News! I didn’t Die Today

It’s been a very difficult year for. I once sat in front of a gal who was gazing into my crystal ball and she told me that my life was going to be difficult for a few years to come. That was 3 years ago.

She was right.

It’s not that my life has been terrible, on the contrary. Growth and learning have happened at an exponential rate for me. All the great life lessons come to me at a price. They are never pleasant and they are never pain free. I learn best from hitting bottom than I do from skipping along smelling daisies. I am pretty sure I have reached Super Genius Level with all the life lessons of late.

My ‘not running’ lesson has been hard as well.

Since my Calgary half Marathon – my plans and goals were shelved.

Calgary was the most kick-ass awesome race experience to date.

  1. I felt strong
  2. I recovered quickly
  3. I was ready

I had set some pretty amazing goals for right after the race. I had planned on not losing my distance. I was going to maintain the ability to run16k for my longs. That to me works perfectly for half marathons – well, for me. I had the Moose is Loose lined up to walk it with my dad, then I was going to Disneyland to Run the Dumbo Double Dare (10km on Saturday and 21.1km on Sunday). The Vancouver Rock and Roll Half Marathon would be next the last weekend in October and then FULL ON TRAINING for the Donald in January. As you may recall, I achieved a DNF in WDW for a knee injury.

So where did I leave off?

Well, I had surgery after Calgary and my world fell apart. For the record, Patience is not a Virtue that I am very good at. I should have not walked the Moose with me Dad, but it was with my Dad and it was his first half and I am very happy I did it even though I experienced a major health scare. When I say major, I mean major. My Doc was not happy and wrote me a note forbidding me to run in Disneyland. So I deferred it until next year.

I watched all my pals and my daughter cross the finish line.

It sucked.

I was happy for them but I was sad for me.

Now looking at my calendar, the time table tells me that Vancouver is 6 weeks away.

I have been walking, I can do the distance, but time is a major factor. I am not elevating my heart rate lately so speed eludes me. The other side of that coin is…I am afraid I have lost my mojo.

Today was the day I would attempt to run again. I announced it at RunClub on Wednesday. In front of 60+ people who know me as the RunClub MC. IT made me accountable. So what did I do?

I went for a run today. And I didn’t die.

I brought The Captain with me. I knew that we would be stopping lots because he has to sniff everything.

I am out of Ghost6 runners. This makes it sound like a grocery list item. Well, for me it kinda is. I work in the running industry, so shoes are one of those ‘milk, bread and eggs’ items. I have a wall rack FILLED with shoes of every make and model you can think of. But Ghost 6 is my long distance shoe. My last two pairs are finished. I wore one yesterday on the floor at work, walked over 5k just doing my job, and got home to find my joints, back and shoulders were pain riddled. This is a sure fire sign that my shoes are done. I had discussed my shoe issue with Nic, my shoe whisperer. He had suggested that I give my Nike Pegasus 31 a try (I have 2 pairs) They are a neutral shoe with nice cushioning and a drop similar to the Ghost 6 that I have been using. I wear them all day for work and feel great! Odds are this was going to be a reasonable replacement and I was happy with that idea!

I began my run this morning at the top of Mill Creek Ravine. It is an old rail line that has been converted into a running path. It is paved and tree lined. When I say tree lined I mean it is bush. IMG_7680

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It feels like you are in the middle of no where. I love it. It is my favourite place in the whole world. It isn’t tainted by memories with others because I will not share it. It is my place. In fact, it is my happy place.

I just lied, I share it with my Captain, but only him.

The run started off pretty good. My legs felt good, lungs felt good, I kept my pace slow so I wouldn’t over do it. It was good….not great or fantastic, but good!

Half way I needed to stop and sit on the bench. I was getting dizzy and I blame my brain tumour. It makes me dizzy all the time, sometimes worse than others. Sitting calms things down. It was at this point The Captain decided he needed to chase rabbits into the bush. Ummm, no.

I was not going to bush-sack today. He looks at me and speaks like Chewbacca with groans and such. I looked at him and firmly said no. He actually  “harumphed” followed by a pout. He wouldn’t look at me for the next 10 minutes as punishment.

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Off we went, further into the valley.

It was at this moment I listened to my feet.

Feet: Hey Robyn, WTF is on us?

Me: Nike Pegasus 31

Feet: Where are the Ghost 6 that we love?

Me: I don’t have any left. Brooks has the Ghost 7 out now and we don’t like it remember?

Feet: Oh right, but that doesn’t explain the Pegs.

Me: True, but they felt so good on a 9 hour day, I figured they would be awesome!

Feet: well, now we know they aren’t. To prove this point, we are going to make the arches burn now. Followed by telling the knee you injured to get cranky because your arches burn and compensating for us is really going to make your knee cranky.

Me: DAMN, why can’t you two just be happy you are out running again?

Feet: Because, we want Ghost 6 strapped to us and we are not going to behave until you meet our demands.

Me: Seriously? you are holding me hostage? You are going to regret this feet.

And they did. But in turn, they made my last 3km H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICK!

To make them suffer, I did a long a steep hill. This made knees really pissed at me. Heart and lungs were cool with it though.

Once I reached the top I paused to check out the view.

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To me there is nothing prettier than a prairie blue sky! The feet were finally relaxed about the running thing and felt happy again. Then Cap and I hit the road once more and the feet were ANGRY!

I ignored them, but ran to my store.

I entered the building, walked back to the clearance room, found the last 2 pairs of Ghost 6 size 10 Women’s and marched to the counter where I did a product check for other shoes in the province.

These were the LAST 2 SIZE 10 WOMEN’S SHOES LEFT. DAMN YOU BROOKS!!! So I bought them, and some KT Tape for my knee.

I ran just .2 shy of 7km. Not bad for my first day back. It took me a while, but that part will take practice. I have a 10km scheduled with Karen on Sunday, so I will run a couple of 4-5ks this week to keep the joints moving.

AND I will run in my new Brooks Ghost 6, training has begun for the Vancouver Rock and Roll. I have my health, the motivation and the shoes.

Bring it on.

 

The Calgary 50th Marathon or What was I thinking?

June 1st is a day that will live in infamy…at least in my mind.

I ran the Calgary half marathon and didn’t really train for it. Everything I could have done wrong I did and yet I never felt better completing a half marathon in all my life…true story.

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I knew after I completed the Calgary 10k last year that I was going to run the half. How could I not? It was the 50th year for the Calgary Marathon, the oldest Marathon in Canada. (not to be confused with the oldest race because I think that may be the run around the lake in Hamilton…but I could be wrong, in fact DO NOT USE THIS AS A FACT FINDING MISSION.

Calgary has a lot going for it, great speaker series, great course – it is NOT AN OUT AND BACK! Terrific crowd support and beautiful weather. I know they didn’t have anything to do with that, but they should still take credit! And ELVIS!

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He called me Darlin’. There was a ton of entertainment on the course. I love you for that Calgary!

I was really looking forward to the Speaker Series at Expo. I wanted to meet Bart Yasso and Dean Karnazes. I saw the both speak but waiting in lines is not my thing, so I just waited to meet Yasso. He signed my bib. I rubbed it LOTS on race day for luck and inspiration. I made the most shocking comment ever. I tell everyone who will listen that a Half Marathon isn’t ‘just a half’ it is HALF of nothing, it is far! Be proud! Yet when I sat next to Bart Yasso, the first words out of my mouth were, I’m only doing the half, I am not ready for a full yet.

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Being the Amazing Bart Yasso, he replied with, a Half is FAR. You are like me,I am a halfer. do not apologize for your distance, be proud.

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You are right Mr. Yasso….I am very disappointed in myself for saying that, and worse…THINKING IT!

The next morning I walked to the Stampede Grounds and waited with the Trusty Steed, Amy, Rachel, Tiffany, Greg, Brent, Natalia, and a bazillion others that I knew in passing from Edmonton and those who were strangers but became friends that morning.

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(Did I mention I was in corral B? I didn’t?? CORRAL B PEOPLE! That is the closest I have ever been to the front of the line. )

We all got caught up in the hype of the morning and took off like the Kenyans we are not. Once our hearts exploded we then found our pace and ran. I knew the first 10k of the course because I ran it last year. This year the Halfers had to cross the 10k track and merge over into the other lane. That was tricky. If I was faster than I would have beat the 10ers, but that was not to be my fate. No one died or was harmed in the merging but I really had to sprint. I hate sprinting, but I can now do it. There is something you never would have heard me say a year ago.

I learned a lot about myself. I am that person who will stop and help people on the course. I am NOT that person that runs past someone and thinks “sucka…I am passing you!!!” On the contrary, I am the person who will hold your hair while you puke, give you my last GU if you look like you need it, Wait with you until the first aiders arrive because you are delirious. Conversely, Karma was just as kind to me, I had spectators jump on the course with me a run a bit, they asked my story and seemed concerned that I wasn’t doing well. I have news for you – that expression on my face is a problem I have had all my life. It is called “Bitchy Resting Face” It makes me look like I am in pain, or tired or having problems when in fact, I had the best best run of my life.

I crossed the finish line and fist pumped the air because HAHA I DID IT! I had a massage, because for $20 it is stupid NOT to get one. And I walked back to my hotel. Now, this halfer was the first time I didn’t need crutches or friend support to hold on to me. I walked home with a spring in my step and felt fab. The only thing I wish I had was flip-flops. I didn’t want to endure bag check and really, I was fine. I still have all my toenails.

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Me and Aimbo (can you see the size of that Full Medal?? It is a belt buckle with a bottle opener. Amy just finished the Blackfoot 100k the weekend before and paced a group to finish 2 minutes under 4 hours for this one. She is a BEAST. This summer she is running the Sinister Seven and Death Race SOLO back to back. She is my hero.)

I broke the cardinal rule in Running and wore BRAND NEW OUT OF THE BOX Shoes. That was stupid, but Brooks Ghost is MY SHOE. They felt like home putting them on and I don’t regret it. I don’t advise this of you. I walked away blister and injury free. So it worked for me.

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Flat Robyn and her shiny new shoes!

I ate a steak sandwich because I was thinking about a burger at the 17km mark. GU just doesn’t cut hunger. I drank a beer because it tastes the best after a half marathon and I stole cupcakes because that is how I roll.

I stayed at the Fairmont Palliser and there was a reception in the lobby. Cupcakes were everywhere. I took one on the way up to my room. Sugar was good. On the way back down for lunch, I stole another one. Hunger is a problem for me after that many miles. I can only imagine when I run a full what I will need to eat.

Will I run this course again? YES! I really want the belt buckle that is also a bottle opener. It is the size of my head. Big in the way only Calgary can do. But I won’t be running it next year, I have new races to face.

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Happy Running!

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!

 

Why Would I Stop Running?

1476023_668049609912757_266164373_nI had a conversation the other day with a person who tries to be kind but after decades of being mean and nasty, words still come out wrong. She had called me to see how I was doing, we speak to each other and ‘catch up’ about once a year….and only if she calls.

She had asked me about my progress on my running and my weight loss because apparently it is how you look that defines you. I had NO IDEA  ← insert a heavy sarcastic tone here. I always thought it was the things you do and they way you treat people that define you.

At any rate, I told her about my weight loss  – it has tapered off but that happens. It leaves in waves and the tapers off. The suggestion was to drink shakes or smoothies to boost something or rather so it will kickstart me again… Um – get ready for more sarcasm – I had no idea she was a nutritionist too!! I ignored her helpful suggestion and told her my Doctor, my dietitian and I had a plan and its working great. (apparently if it was working great I would be thin by now) I also told her of my running life – its hard right now because of the new snow and the windchill makes it disgustingly hard to want to go outside – but I do it.

Then she asked me what will happen to me when I stop running altogether? It would be a shame to get massively fat again. WTF? Why do I have to stop running?

Apparently, it isn’t as awesome as cycling and I should switch now before its too late.

Really? Too late for what? Armageddon? The Zombie Apocalypse? I am pretty sure I don’t have to quit if I don’t want to. In fact, my Doc and I were just talking about up coming races and how I preregister to keep motivated because I always need to know what is coming up next so I don’t fall into the Marathon Blues ever again.

The Marathon Blues is a phenomena where you train super hard for an event and then once it is done, you have nothing to look forward to or train for and life feels like it is missing something. I told my Doc I have 4 half marathons for 2014. That will keep me going in spite of the snow.

I am currently waiting for the sun to come up because I don’t feel like running with my headlamp today. And I am hoping the wind will slow down when the sun is up…at the very least it will look warmer than dark and foreboding out.

As far as I can tell, there is no real good reason why I have to quit running or why I would ever stop. When that day comes, I will deal with it then. Meanwhile, being 46 I have a good 20+ running years ahead of me if I continue to play it smart. Between me, my Coach and my Doc – we have it covered… Thanks.

Now please excuse me, I have a 5k in shin deep fluffy snow to run.

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Plankety Plank Plank

download (1)Can you guess what the very first thing I did this morning was? Even BEFORE I had my first cuppa o coffee? I planked. And I hate it. Its boring and hard and boring and the longest 60 secs of my day. Sad…I know.

My Coach Brian started a training challenge called Planksgiving. The facebook chatter about it has been fun. He goes through roll call every day and publicly shames us if we skipped out. He does it in a fun way…he isn’t mean and he has a great sense of humor! But the Planksgiving fun ends there. Doing the planks isn’t so fun.

I was a regular plank doer last spring. Like all good habits I try to create…this one too fell by the wayside. It is much more effective if I have accountability. So I signed up for the DAWS Plank a Day Challenge and commit myself to the scheduled plank amount. Today was a looooong 60 secs. The first day was a really looooooong 20 seconds. I am not going to lie, it was hard for me. But each day I get stronger and hate Coach less.

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I know planks will help my running. They will help me keep my body upright when I want to quit from exhaustion. They will help me fight fatigue especially where I carry it, in my back. The girls I lug around are heavy and I do not enjoy them for running. However, the planks will add strength in areas that will help me cope with them. Planks will also provide stability when I run.

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It is now winter here in Edmonton and I have to run through snow today at 10F….so those of you at the WDW Wine and Dine Half Marathon who keep telling me 68F is freezing…I have news for you: I would SWIM at 68F, 68F is my summer.  I want to run without cleats so Planks will help me find stability – although I am not there yet, I still need the cleats because I fear injury more.

So, today was 60 seconds. Soon I will be planking at 240 seconds and beyond. I will attempt to make this a daily habit. Come join us! Follow us on facebook DAWS and join in the shenanigans! Worst case scenario: you have fun. Best Case Scenario: You look like Gwyneth Platrow. That is a win/win situation to me! Did you see her abs in Ironman 3? Damn girl, its obvious you workout all day long, I want just a fraction of that, so I will do the work.

Meanwhile, back out into the snow!

Happy Planking!

There is a race with a medal? I am IN!

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The last time I wrote here, I was talking about fall and how lovely it is out. I may have mentioned how I enjoyed my run. On Thursday, I got an email from the running room telling me the  30th Annual Fall Classic 5 and 10 miler has a finisher medal this year.

Whaaaat?

Thursday was the last day to register AND it was package pick up. I am a sucker for an awesome medal. So I signed up, drove to the 109th street store and picked up my race package.

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This is the first race I entered on a whim and without focused training for it. What does this mean? Goal #5 met and complete. My base is such that I can hop into a 5 miler or a 10k and it is just a regular run for me.  This blows my mind. January, I was training for a 10k to complete in AUGUST, that was going to be my big distance for the year. These are the medals I have collected this year( except the medal on the far left – that is my very first Half Marathon medal for walking), I have a virtual race in November and that medal will come then,024 but my racing is pretty much over until January for the WDW Marathon weekend where I will run the 5k, the 10k and the 21.1k. I am scared about the half. I am just so darn slow. Yet I am making progress.

This morning I got up and carpooled with the Trusty Steed. He was walking the 10 miler with his team. They had decided weeks ago. I jumped in last minute because of the medal, they go because breakfast is served after.

The 10 miler walkers left at 8:30. I was going to hang around until the 10 miler runners left. I was going to be in that group even though I was only doing 5 miles. Why? I am slow. I talked to the race director about it, he was cool with it. This is the nice thing about a small race – no corrals. I have never been in a corral position before – I imagine it will be intimidating. I thought the 10 milers would leave at 9:00. I was wrong. I sat outside waiting until 9:45 before we left. I was cold. My legs stiffened up and my back was cold. It took me a good 3k before I felt warm.

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My finish time was 1:26:15. I know…slow. BUT – I checked out my Garmin stats. April 7 was my first 5 miler and my time for that one was 1:34:30. I was 8:15 faster today. That makes today a PR. Cool! I will take it. Progress is good. It’s funny how my running feels so slow – way slower than it did in the spring yet comparatively, I am zipping by. Sure I am last…Who Cares? Well…I kind of do a little bit. I hate people waiting for me. But still, shaving 8 minutes off my time is kick-ass awesome.

The course was lovely all along the north side of the River.

FallClassic

It is the last part of the Marathon Course – somewhere around the “wall”. I thought about that as I ran. Then I thought about the time I cheered on runners at the Marathon. I wasn’t a runner yet, but here I was cheering for them and now I ran right past that spot. It’s funny how your life takes unexpected turns.

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When I saw this photo, I was shocked at how much smaller I am getting. It shows on calorie burns on the Garmin too. I am burning less…that kind of sucks but the bright side is it means I am not working as hard to do better. That is awesome. Weighing less is better for all my organs and my heart thanks me.

ShirtFinalThis was also my fist run for my new team Do Away With SMA (DAWS) I can’t wait until my Team Jersey comes in the mail! I invite you to check out my blog post over on the team page. If you hadn’t heard, we are running 500 miles in 19 days for Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (FSMA). Well…when I say WE I am mean THEM – I am the kick-ass Crew with band aids, ice packs and potatoes – apparently Mitch needs potatoes on the grocery list 🙂 Check out all the shenanigans here. And don’t forget to enter the Prize pack, you can win a Team DAWS Jersey, Sweaty Bands, Whimsy gear and some other great swag!!

So…where did YOU run this weekend?

 

Runner’s Anxiety

images (7)Since my Half Marathon last weekend, I have been experiencing Runner’s Anxiety. I have it bad. So bad, in fact that I have considered dropping out of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

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I won’t though. I will find the courage to stand at the starting line. I bet you are wondering why I have anxiety at this stage of the game, 2 half marathons into my season with 6 shiny medals hanging on my wall from this season’s races. Well…you see, it’s because I RAN those races already. I know what I am capable of and I am not feeling awesome about it.

This past weekend, some of my team mates and friends went to Disneyland to run the Disney Dumbo Double Dare. Quite the mouthful. There was a 10k on Saturday and to qualify for the Dumbo Double Dare, you had to run the 10k and run the 21.1k the very next day. I am doing a similar race in January. I run a 5k The Thursday, 10k the Friday and 21.1k the Saturday. I opted out of the Marathon on Sunday because I am just not ready. I am positive about that.

I was looking at everyone’s race photos and medals and was thinking about how much fun they were having. When I began to panic a little. And when I say a little, I really mean A LOT. RunDisney requires that you run a 16 mile pace. Pardon me while I laugh my head off. I am not there yet. I am close! My big fear is being swept by the golf cart people telling me to get out of the way and no medal for me. Not being able to complete a race is a big huge massive fear. I think about it and my anxiety levels rise to beyond reasonable levels.

At this point you are likely wondering why I sign up for races if they make me worry so much. Well? I find them fun. No really I do! I like the before and after of the race! During sometimes. Disney Races have a reputation for having lots of entertainment on the course, thus making them more fun than your average race. (FYI Disney ruins regular parades, fireworks and parties because once you go to a Disney one, the rest are just not even in the same league. I imagine Disney will ruin all races for me as well.) Running the Donald (the half-marathon) is a bucket list item for me. So it is important to me to cross the finish line. Sure I want the medal, but crossing the finish line is the important part.

Knowing this gets placed around my neck helps…a lot

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Look how cute Donald is? But knowing this medal is awesome didn’t alleviate my anxiety.

The fact is I am slow dammit! So I looked up past results of the Disney half marathons, including Saturday’s in Disneyland and you know what I discovered? The slowest half marathoner in 2011 took 5 hours. That made me smile! 5 hours!!!!!! that was net time, not clock time! YAY! I think I can run it in about 3:40. That would still give me time to take pictures. Even more recent times had the last runner coming in at 4:32. My first half marathon was faster than that. So now I can breath easier and enjoy these medals too.

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Then maybe I will go for my coast to coast medal.

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But none of these will ever happen for me if I don’t get my feet back into my shoes.

Anxiety is now back…great. I better keep running.

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!