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!

Edmonton Marathon Weekend V2.0: The ChatterBox Chronicles

I am not a stranger to Edmonton Marathon Weekend. My first time going was 2010. I was a spectator standing there cheering for people thinking…Why would any one do this??

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Fast forward a year later and there I was talking to a guy at the water station, he asked me why I wanted to walk this. I replied with “Last year I couldn’t understand the appeal, this year I do. I am walking because someone said it would be too hard. I laugh in the face of hard, HA!”

Last year I didn’t sign up. I went to cheer people on instead. Then came some inner drive to RUN. So I ran…kind of like Forest. I just ran. Then I figured I could run 10km. Never did I think I could run farther.

You know the details of my training. I ran farther.

IMG_4566This past weekend I had the opportunity to run with my girl for the first time ever. She entered her first 5k race. IMG_4570She wanted a medal and I know that feeling!

So we signed up for the Edmonton 5km together.

IMG_4572As we stood at the start line she was nervous. She asked me “what happens if I fall?” I said, “I will pick up  and kiss you better, then we keep running.” Then she asked, “What happens if I am last?” I said, “Sweetheart, as long as I am in the same race as you, you will never have to worry about being last.”

She hugged me and we set our Garmins. We were ready. John Stanton called the start and we were off.

The problem with the chaotic start is I run too fast. I went out at a 7:45/km pace. This is lightning speed for me. My race pace was going to be 10:30. By the time I got control of my speed, my daughter was long gone.

1150242_10151860697776337_397909244_n1001267_10151860681051337_791461993_n We passed each other and she was so excited she double high fived me. I crossed the finish line 10 minutes after her for my fasted 5k time EVER. I was moaning earlier in the week about how slow my 5k was at AN HOUR! IT TOOK ME AN HOUR on Tuesday – wow…that was my slowest time and a short week later, I ran my fastest, 51 minutes. It may seem slow to you but it is HUGE progress for me. The confidence booster I had been needing.

As I ran past my girl and my dad at the finish line. The look on my girls face as she watched me finish was worth every pain, ache and bad day. I could see pride. She told me that 4k is just right and 5k is too far. She hugged me and said 21.1k feels impossible. My Dad hugged both of his girls and declared his pride, I was hugging my girl and telling her how proud I was of her. Its funny how emotional you get after completing goals.

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My ChatterBox is now excited about her next big race. The Family 5km in WDW. She takes after her mama, the lure of the medal. My next big race was to be the next day. Back to back races, 21.1km  – I won’t lie, I was more than a little nervous, but more about that tomorrow.

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Phase 2: set new goals because I achieved!

734173_366866946755461_645697048_nToday is the day I begin half marathon training for the Canadian Derby Half Marathon in Edmonton August 25.

I am suppose to run 4km at a steady pace.

I laughed coffee out my nose.

In 2011 I was training for the half in August and I met with my walking class to walk 4km. It was really hard for me. It took a lot of visualization and moaning on my part to finish the 4k. It was at that point when I figured I would likely die of a heart attack. I couldn’t quit because I had told everyone I was doing it and the there were nay sayers telling me it was impossible for me to do. Stubborn as I am, I kept at it and finished.

The last couple of weeks, before my taper for the 10k, I was running 38km a week. This week I will only run 24km. I want to run more but I will stick to the plan. I pulled my running plan from John Stanton’s Running Start to Finish. His plan is solid. The theory is based on 3 days of running maintains your fitness, while 4-5 days of running improves it. I want to improve. I have set a half marathon goal of 3 hours. I know it seems slow for everyone I know. Who cares? Lots of people are running a half in 2-2.5 hours. If I make it at 3 or sub 3 (fingers crossed) that will shave 1.5 hours of my previous time. I am the one competing against ME, not the rest of the pack.

I am already ahead of my fitness level from the last time I entered the half.

I ran in the 10k race in Calgary Sunday. I have run 13km – my farthest running distance to date.

That is why I laughed at 4km. My mid-week runs of late have been 8ks or tempos or hill work. This is a nice easy week or 3 steady runs for a total 11k. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

I think these early days for training will help me improve my speed. I will be running 10ks on weekends – not a stretch for me, my body is use to this so I will be able to improve rather than reach for that goal. In fact, I don’t run an 8k mid-week until week 12! Not that I am looking at these training runs as easy – but I won’t have to fight my legs to go the distance. We understand that distance. I just have to coax them to improve the pace. THat means I need to work up to 8:57/km. That is huge. I ran the Calgary 10k at 10:30/km. Dropping 1.5 minutes off my km will be my focus. I can’t believe I am in that position.

I am finally able to do the distance but now need to improve the pace.

Here are my next round of goals for between now and August 25th:

  1. Work up to running tempo at 8:30. My current Tempo is 9:30.
  2. Work up to 8 full hills. I currently can do 6 half hills.
  3. Work up to 6k of fartleks. I currently run 3k of fartleks.
  4. Build core and hamstrings through weights and ball.
  5. Add yoga class to regular yoga stretches. A full class on non run day will lengthen muscles and improve overall flexibility and increase speed.

My head is still spinning. I started running from scratch January 1. Here it is May 28 and I am not worried about distance, just eager to increase my speed.

Life is good.

Happy Running!

 

 

I am not slow, I am Bionic

Sunday was the longest run I have ever done. I have walked that far, I have cycled that far, but I have never run 13 km. It is an empowering feeling.

13km

Last week when I was talking to my former coach, I told her which program I am using to train for Calgary‘s Jugo Juice 10km road race. On that web site there was a link to John Stanton’s 10k for beginners and intermediates. Clearly I am not an intermediate. I wouldn’t even call myself a beginner, is there a name for before beginner? Pre-beginner? At any rate, I followed the program when I wasn’t even ready to run 6km at the beginning of training. Yet here I am 3 months later and put in 13 km. I had asked her the logic in running 13k while training for a 10k race. She said it is mental training. That makes sense. That way when I am in Calgary and I find it tough because I went out too fast because the adrenaline kicks in, I can look back and think “I did 13k, this is only 10k – I’ve got this!”

YAY ME! I did it!

I stopped and walked twice – mostly because I cannot refuel and run. I am just not coordinated enough. It is hard enough to sip water and run, never mind ingest food.

I realize something. I often compare my chapter 2 story to other people’s chapter 26.1. I need to stop doing that. I’ll  explain what I mean.

I ran 13k through Edmonton‘s River Valley from Millcreek Ravine at Argyll Park to Hawrelak Park. I had only 1 stop light at Walterdale Bridge. It took me 2:29 at a pace per km 11:26. Apparently I am not slow, I am Bionic. Remember how the Bionic Woman would run in super slow-mo speed? Ya…that is me.

Only I have better music in the background.

My 13k time is my dream time for the Edmonton Half Marathon.  Obviously I need to lose more weight and keep up with speed work. I have decided not to stress about progress. It will happen for me as I keep up with my scheduled effort.

My goal of faster recovery time was achieved! I didn’t need a nap and feel fantastic this morning as I am moving around. I could run today but it is a scheduled day off, so I am honoring that and doing some yoga later.  Tomorrow I run 8k steady pace and I run 8k Wednesday at a tempo. I have never truly run a tempo before, so we shall see how that goes for 8k. I do not expect a miracle, however, I will try my best. Then Thursday is an easy 5k. It’s weird to think of 5k as easy when I struggled for so long to be able to complete a 5k. 12 days until my 10km race with my dad. I am super excited! I hope the view is half as nice as my 13km run was. Here is to 2 more weeks of productive training!

Happy Running!

Hills, I love to hate them – Thank goodness for coaches!

8503c2e33b94a0c20cb09c257b2689d5I achieved two major goals for myself this week. I ran my first 10km distance – training not a race – and demolished some hills my second time out. I feel pretty good! Well…my legs hate me but I am use to them thinking I am mean. Secretly, they love it.

In 2011 I began training for my first half marathon. I walked it, I trained to walk it and it was the hardest thing I had ever done physically. Part of it was my extreme weight and low fitness levels and part of it was the lack of support. People constantly kept telling me I had no idea what I signed up for. That was true, but neither did they. They had never participated in a half marathon either.

My plan was simple, join the Running Room‘s Learn to Walk a Half Marathon class, do what I was told to do and then cross the finish line! YAY ME!

It wasn’t that easy.

The first class we were to walk 4km. I remember thinking, I find this hard. How am I ever going walk 21.1 km? I finished the 4km in just over an hour.

A few weeks went by and we were scheduled to walk hills, it started with 3 x 400m. Ya right – no freaking way could I do that. So I didn’t. What I considered a hill back then, I consider a bump now. A hill to me is serious business and there is an actual elevation change. I trained for my first half marathon and never climbed a hill. Which is fine, kind of, because the Edmonton Canadian Derby Half Marathon course is FLAT – prairie flat. No hills, so why did I need to do them?

I will tell you why I SHOULD have done them, recovery.

Training on hills and doing Fartleks makes you faster, stronger but more importantly, it shows your body that you can do more than it thinks it can.

I had no business walking a half marathon in 2011. I was not fit enough – yet I did…barely. My goal then was to cross the finish line.

This year in 2013 I have two half marathons scheduled. I am running the Canadian Derby half and I am heading to Florida for the WDW Marathon weekend. This time I have a different goal. I am aiming for a finish time and I am determine to have a better recovery time. Meaning – I don’t want to feel like death after the half. I know I will be tired and sore, but my fitness level needs to be raised from the last time I did this so I feel better. My plan is working. After I ran 10k on Sunday, I felt fabulous. The first time I walked a 10k I needed a nap. Not this time. I kept active and did stuff for the rest of the day. I didn’t feel tired, in fact I felt the opposite, I felt ENERGIZED.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not dissing walking. The reason I want to run is because walking takes a REALLY LONG TIME! Walkers go the same distance but tend not to be as fast – although they are still faster than me running but that is another story. So when a half-marathon walker finishes in 3:30 and runner can do it in 2:30… or something like that. My point being, walkers are as fit as runners. They just use different muscles.

Part of my strategy to recover quicker and get faster is

  1. Hill Repeats
  2. Fartleks
  3. Nutrition before, during and after the run
  4. Core strengthening – I have a six pack under here somewhere! I swear I do!
  5. Building up the hamstring and glutes for more power

Wednesdays are Hill Repeats! My first session didn’t go so great. I was to do 3x400m. Well, Edmonton has two types of hills steep get your heart rate going NOW type hills and laugh hysterically and question the incline type of bump. Most southside runners favour Emily Murphy Hill. Not the one out of the parking lot but the one that leads to the U of A. It’s officially called Emily Murphy Park Road. It is PACKED on Wednesdays. Why? Well, most people follow John Stanton‘s training methods because he is from here, he is a famous learn to run guy in Canada and well, people are sheep. We like being told what to do  and when. Training is no different. I don’t like to think about what I need to do, I just want to look on my calendar and know what’s next. Stanton has Wednesdays as Hill or Fartlek days. So everyone goes to Murphy Hill. The Running Room club goes at 6 on Wednesdays, so I go earlier because my schedule is flexible.

My first session had me excited and raring to go, so I ran up the hill – made it halfway, felt like my heart might explode so I walked the rest of the way, and ran back down. I ran up again, this time didn’t make it half way and walked the rest. I did that one more time and felt like a failure, defeated and slug like.

This week, I reached out for advice. I belong to the WDW Radio Running Team. We fundraise for Make A Wish, but more importantly we are a very supportive team. I have yet to run with them, yet I feel like a team member. They are truly terrific! There are a couple of coaches on that team Brian writes this blog and Joe writes this blog. I asked them each the same question :

Question: when running hills and you can’t make it all the way up, is it better to walk the rest of the way or turn around and start again? I’m running on an fairly steep incline for about 600 meters.

I got two different answers addressing different aspects of running. I love those guys! Brian suggested I slow my pace because walking uses different muscles than running. He added a ton more information, but it pertains to me and my fitness level. Joe gave me tips for mental toughness. This guy is the most focused guy on the planet when it comes to goals. He suggested I pick a target and don’t stop until I get there. That worked best for me. Often I could run past that target. I used a combination of both coaching methods and did 6x100m. It was all I could do without my heart exploding. I am a mom, so it’s important I don’t die until my kids move out. Listening to my body is important but it is also important to push it beyond what it thinks it is capable of. I did that yesterday. I kicked it! I did better that I thought I could and finished on a high note. That was the other bit of advice Joe gave me. He said:

Your muscles remember the last they do. So you want to finish a workout by hitting a target that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment, not a defeat.

Actually, it has to do with brain memory and habits – you can read more about that kind of stuff in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg or some Dr. Bruce Perry research. At any rate, Joe’s suggestion resonated with me and by slowing my pace as Brian suggested, I finished on a high.

I know I need work to reach my hill targets, but practice makes perfect. Difficult doesn’t make me quit, it makes me work harder. I will get there and you will be able to hear me yell and scream with excitement when I do because celebrating is now part of my success ritual. Fist pumps for everyone! Woohoo!

The rest of this week’s training requires an easy 6k today (that makes me laugh, remember when I was afraid of the 5k?), 10km on Saturday and I am volunteering for the Police Half Marathon on Sunday. I am a road marshal over at McKinnon Ravine and 142 street so if you run by say HEY! I think it is important to give back to the running community. I appreciate them and volunteering shows it.

Here is a great video on the benefits of hills. Take a look, this Doctor guy is great! and as always, Happy Running!

Hills Get Stronger!

 

Enter the big goals: Me and Mo and a Marathon

I need races to motivate me. I put out information on a night-time race to see if my friends wanted to join me. No takers. One gal said that she just isn’t competitive. Huh. I never thought about signing up for a race as competitive because I only hope I don’t come in last. I have come in last and you get treated like a rock star. It’s not about placing or times for me…well maybe a little bit about time, but mostly I just want to finish.

I have begun looking for my very first marathon to participate in. I thought I would likely run at home in Edmonton for my first marathon distance. However, I have come to really like the idea of destination races. I plan ongoing to Disneyland for a half marathon in January (The Tinkerbell) and I would like to hit up WDW for the Donald, so I need something closer to home for a marathon. I went to marathonguide.com and took a gander, but those mostly promote American races. Being Canadian, those races are to far away to be local!

Then I found this one: The Banff Marathon

I love the Rocky Mountains.

I checked out the course map, and it appears to be on the old Banff Hwy starting just south of Lake Louise. The half marathon starts at Johnson’s Canyon and both finish in Banff’s downtown. Not that Banff is a big city – far from it. Running through the Bow Valley would be so fantastic AND it’s downhill. It starts at an elevation of 4845 ft and ends at 4537 ft. I have been on that road, there are a few ups and downs but nothing like mountain climbing, so I am good there. This race excites me like no other, so I think it is a good choice for me.

Now the bad news.

It caps at 1500 people. I need a 15 min/mile pace and must be done by 6:30. To do that I need to lose more weight, so far so good on that front, and I need to pick up my pace. I have a year to work on that and you only get better by practicing. They warn of cars so run on the shoulder – hahaha so the road won’t be closed. The good news is that road hardly gets used – and I mean HARDLY so that shouldn’t be too big of a deal. They also warn of wildlife. That is the best part of the mountains anyways! Can you imagine running down the road and seeing a bear, cougar or an elk? Cool right? Well…maybe not the bear or cougar, but the elk would be fine. I’ve seen Bears (black and grizzly) and I have seen cougars both from the safety of my car. Except the time I saw the grizzly IN BANFF TOWNSIGHT and a bus full of tourists ran out to take a picture. The bus driver was going crazy trying to pull the people back. Respect the bear distance people! The Rocky Mountains are not a zoo, it is filled with wildlife.

The other bit of bad news is it could snow. Snow in June is RARE but I have been there and needed mitts and a parka. It can be cold – even by my standards. But – the good news? It is on the longest day of the year so the sunshine will be at it’s peak and I really want to do this!

My intent is to train smart, I likely will use the John Stanton method. Eat right, I will consult my dietitian. My future runs will include me visualizing me running through the Bow Valley. Take a look with me and tell me what you think. Maybe join me, marathon weekend is suppose to be fantastic!

Meanwhile, Happy Running!

 

Thank you John Stanton @runningroom

My last post was an open letter to John Stanton of the Running Room. Here in Canada, he has changed the face of running and made it something for everyone to do, no matter your size or athletic ability. His story is an amazing inspirational one and I encourage you to look into it. Keep in mind, he is the head of a giant corporation that has stores located across the country. The Running Room is THE source in Canada for running and races. Want to run the New York Marathon? They have a class for that and can hook you up with an entry. Want to learn to run 3km? They have a class for that. Want to find a shoe that works for you? They have an expert for that and their expert will spend all the time you need to find the shoe that works for you. It took me 7 pairs and 25 laps around the store to figure out my Adidas were right for me.

I just had an issue with their clothing sizes and told him so.

He contacted me today and told me he wishes for me to talk to and meet with his Senior Apparel Buyer for the Running Room Canada Inc.

How amazing is that? He is willing to talk to the one customer who would like to see change. His Senior Apparel Buyer then contacted me want to set up a date to meet at any store, or just talk.

Never did I think this would happen.

Thanks John Stanton, I am more impressed with you than ever now.

An Open Letter to John Stanton and the Running Room @runningroom

 

Dear John Stanton,

I know your inspirational story and follow your training programs. I walked a half marathon because of you and I thank you.

But I have a bone to pick with you and your purchaser for the Running Room stores across Canada.

We all know your story about you running when it was dark so people couldn’t see you due to your size. You started running because you were an extended size. Guess what? So am I. In fact there are a TON of us extended size people who run or are learning to run because we no longer wish to be on the extended size of the clothing chart. But guess what? Your store does not  carry extended size apparel. While that is not entirely true, your online shop shows you sell XL but are out of stock. However, if I wish to purchase S or XS I am IN! You have plenty of those sizes! Here’s the thing, most women are a size 12 of larger. I know you have all those runners at your store who have the classic runners physique. I also will have one of those, but not this winter. This winter I need to sport an extended size. While I am 3 sizes smaller then last year, I am still not one of those gazelles. I do not wish them ill will, I know your gazelles work and run hard to look like that. Well, Mr. Stanton, I have worked and run hard to look like this too. All I want is to be able to go to the Running Room, and buy tech wear that respects my body shape.

Please don’t tell me that there isn’t a market for it otherwise NorthFace and Columbia would not be making jackets that would fit me. I have yet to find a store that can help me. I want to be fit and you and other fitness merchants make it hard for me. I live in Edmonton. It is starting to get cold when I run. I do not have the luxury of running during the day. My options are morning or evening in the dark. Dark in Edmonton typically means cool or the very least, COLD.

Columbia also makes tech shirts that are extended sizes. The problem is, I can’t try them on. I live in the Capital City of Alberta. The streets are paved with gold, yet I have to shop online for tech wear. Seriously? The luxury of trying on clothing is lost for me. While you assume most runners are created equal, I can assure you this is not the case. Remember back to before you started the Running Room. Why can you not offer extended sizes for runners like me? I am a woman, therefore I am curvy, so those unisex jobs you sell do not fit the upper body very well.

Is it too much to ask that ONE of your stores offer extended sizes? Come on, one per city is all I am asking, please. I understand how inventory works. I guarantee you it will pay off in the long run. Bloggers like me will spread the word. Besides, I have lots of women friends who are looking for running apparel that fits them. I cheered on the marathoners at this years Canadian Derby Marathon and guess what? There were quite a few extended runners, shocking! We run in daylight for people to see. We are working hard to be the same on the outside as we feel on the inside. Support us by offering clothing that fits, and you will have the most loyal shoppers out there.

Please help us to keep running all winter long.

 

I didn’t wanna do it, but Mo made me.

I have been participating in John Stanton’s learn to run program – self induced. I am not doing this with the Running Room Clinics because I hate crowds. That isn’t entirely true, crowds are fine at Disneyland but not when I am trying to run up a hill. I don’t need someone talking to me to keep me going, in fact, I get slower because I cannot walk and talk at the same time…true story.

I own a couple of John Stanton’s nifty books and have figured out his learn to run program with the exception of a couple of modifications,

  1. I run every other day so my knee will still love me in the morning.
  2. If I am not ready for the next phase of increased increments, I will run another day of the same for strength and practice. Because really, I am in no hurry.

I am in no hurry. This is very hard for me. I am the one who likes to jump ahead to the finish line and check of my goal. I can’t do that this time if I want my knee to keep loving me. I had some very solid advice of late and intend to follow it. I really wanted to run yesterday but spent the day icing and elevating my leg instead. I spent a good portion of yester walking on concrete and my leg didn’t like it. So I babied it when I came home. Smart move. I wanted to run, and thought about it seriously, but I held back. Part of the problem is my pool has been closed for the week for maintenance. This worries me because the water will have ice cubes floating in it tomorrow. It has also made me feel like a slug. Swimming is my zen, my fun and my power. Without it, I am a slug with great shoes.

Monsoon

A Lot of rain!

This morning when I woke up I was ready to face the day and get it started with an easy 3k in Wildrose Park. Problem number 1, the rain was SIDEWAYS. That usually means couple of scenarios are possible,

  1. There is a Monsoon
  2. It is very Windy
  3. it is time to build an ark

I put on my running shorts and tank. Put on my coolmax socks and nikes. Then I sat on the bench at my front door staring and listening to the rain as it pelted down. I was thinking about waiting it out. Then I got a text from a friend

Me: It’s raining sideways, I don’t want to run.

A: Get out there anyways

It is surprising how motivating that was. So I did. I went out in the driving rain in my tank and my hat, water was an inch deep on the side walk so I ran down the middle of the road. Not a soul was out. It was kind of awesome. As I ran I thought about pros and cons to running in the rain.

Pros and Cons to running in a Prairie Style Monsoon

Pros:

Cons:
You aren’t hot It is 60F or 15C no one is hot
You get a acupuncture session for free You skin goes numb from rain pelts
You don’t have to share the park, path or road because you are alone It’s too wet to bring your phone. If you fall and need help you may drown waiting for someone.
You don’t get thirsty You don’t get thirsty
People think you are dedicated People think you are an idiot
Newspaper really does work for water absorption in your shoe Water squishes between your toes
You cannot get more wet than drenched Drenched often brings lighting

As it stands, I prefer to run rain free. However, I have a feeling I will be wishing for more days like today when the snow comes and -30C mornings feel biting cold. The good news will be, Mo and I will run faster by then. That way we can be done sooner…or does it work that way?

Mo has a Wild Streak – Let the training begin!

Perhaps by now I’d come far enough that I had enough guts to be afraid.

                                                                                              ~ Cheryl Strayed

I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed. That girl now as it figured it out. Mo does too. Intellectually I do too.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Photo credit: bubbletea1)

I have been at this journey for well over a year. Last year it was about setting goals that were insane for me, achieving them and celebrating them. I then fell into a goal setter let down…

I couldn’t find my focus. I was tired. Not so much physically, but mentally. I let go of some serious things, serious people, toxic things and toxic people. Where does that leave me to date?

I smiled spontaneously this week for the first time in I have no idea how long. I smile a lot. I have the wrinkles and laugh lines to prove it. Smiling because you feel JOY is a whole other smile. It comes from a place of peace.

I found it. I have no idea how long it will last but I am enjoying the ride while I am on it.

Because I felt JOY, I was able to sit down and make some goals that had to do with wants. This is different than last year. Last years goals were about proving myself to people. I finally figured out that I don’t need to prove myself to others, I really needed to prove myself to me.

Things I have learned;

I am smart.

I am strong physically and mentally. I am almost strong emotionally. Baby steps.

I like me. I like spending time alone with me.

I have skills that can save my life in the wilderness, in an urban environment and in a recreation environment. How many people can say that?In an effort to find myself I tried a billion different activities and have weeded out the ones that I do not enjoy. If it is for pleasure, then do pleasurable things.

The quote at the top has deep meaning for me. I now have a healthy fear of life. I respect it. I know how to proceed with caution and not reckless abandon. This is a huge growth for me. I walked a half marathon thinking, pfffff I can do that easy. It was not easy. It was 99% mental and 1% physical. I could have and likely SHOULD have done things differently. Being the smart girl I am, I have taken what I have learned, and am applying it to my next set of goals.

In October 2010, I was in Germany. I was walking back from the camp showers late at night to the caravan. It was dark and damp. I slipped on some muddy grass and tore my MCL on my left leg. I saw stars, I howled, I cried and I needed help getting into the caravan. I hit rock bottom physically. Mentally that was about to happen much later…

My Doctor encouraged me to walk and he is the type of guy who doesn’t want to tell someone not to exercise. I was just suppose to listen to my knee and not push it. What the hell does that mean? I walked the Half a year later, I swam 1.5 hours 4 times a week and walked 40k a week….that was a lot. My knee hated me but I told it to feck off.

I started training for the Calgary half in January. my knee hated me more than anyone could possibly appreciate. I was stronger than ever. My heart and lungs could take me to new heights and I could walk fast enough to pass runners on the track. Once I hit 45 minutes, my knee said…that is IT, I HATE you and I quit.

And it did.

I had to stop walking, swimming and strenuous yoga. I felt soft and gooey. Gross…

When I went back to my Doc and walked up 3 flights of stairs without my knee weeping, I figured I could swim again. So I did. This time I took it easy. I swam 30 minutes for my short swims and 45 for my long. I was faster than before. I couldn’t belive it. I felt strong, healthy and focused.

I still felt squishy. I knew I needed weight baring exercise. I want to run like a gazelle. I see and hear stories of men who were fat and chunky running and then they became these fit Adonis’. Why can’t I do that? Truthfully, there is no reason why I cannot.

I started reading John Stanton. He is a local hero who was a chubby guy, started running then became the go to guy in Edmonton for all things running. He branched out. He is now the go to guy in Canada and owns a string of Running Room stores. I figured this guy knew what he was talking about.

This is what I know. I HATE LEARN TO RUN CLASSES. When I have a goal I turn inward. I prefer the silence and solitude to pull me through. I have an inner drive and focus that will amaze the strongest man. I get this from my dad. When I swim I use this focus. This is why I can swim for 1 1/2 hours. I only stop because I am hungry and have no energy left. Mentally I could go for days.

I did some research and discovered that I should start my learn to run classes at a 3Km. Running for 20 minutes non stop. I don’t want to be surrounded by people when I do this. Perhaps it is because I talk for a living  – but I don’t want to chit chat when I run, walk or swim. I just want to go. It feels like flying when I am alone in my head.

Saturday I did my first session alone at Wildrose Park. I ran 1 minute and walked 2 minutes x6. This took me 19 minutes. I went a distance of 2.07km. My heart and lungs laughed their heads off. It was easy for me. It was EASY for me. The fat girl RAN and it was EASY. I can walk 26km.

When I got home what struck me as I walked in the house was, wow it feels good to not be so tired I want to sleep. I felt energized.

I need to repeat 1 and 2s for the rest of the week. Stanton says to do it every other day. Awesome, that is easy enough to do. I did yoga today. Tomorrow I will run 1 and 2 for a total of 19 minutes. I will then swim after work for 30 minutes. I swim to de-stress and to change eating habits of eating while stressed out. Here is my challenge for the week…

It is no secret that I am a night owl. Mornings are for the birds and the sunrise. To get my runs in this week, I will need to run in the morning before work. Holy Hell that sucks the big one.

That will be the challenge. Not the running, not the swimming – but running in the MORNING for crying out loud. I will do it. Laying out my clothes tonight will help motivate me. I can do this because this is the MENTAL challenge. I kick-ass at mental challenges. Morning run? I accept that challenge!

Besides it has me excited. I am anxious to run 3k without stopping.

I plan on doing that for my birthday. Happy birthday to me on Dead Elvis Day! August 16 incase you want to come cheer me on at Wild Rose park.

Goal #2 5k in the same fashion. I will start at the beginning and work every week until I can run 5km with out stopping. I plan to have that goal achieved by October. Then I will be a 5 k runner and do the Santa shuffle in December, run at the indoor track and perhaps outside if I can figure out the not falling on ice part.

Goal #3 will be to run the Canada Day 10Km.

Goal #4 will be the Donald Half in WDW. I want that medal so bad I can taste it. I will run the 5 k fun the day before.

Doing this slow to re-build the muscles around my knee will be the key. It is hard not to skip to the end. But that is the goal – slow and steady.

I completely get Cheryl Strayed. Her journey made perfect sense to me because in many ways it is my journey. One step in front of the other. I can’t jump ahead to the end and neither did she.

Wake up call at 6:00AM – good grief… I’ve got this.