Running Coast 2 Coast: Podcast Edition

rc2c5 years ago I was sitting in the car with my friend Simone and she was telling me how much she loves running. It released her from her stresses. I replied with…. I don’t understand how running feels good AT ALL. You are crazy, it makes no sense to me.

My dad always ran and my family was always saying “you are addicted to running, this is terrible, you need to stop, its bad for you.”

My dad didn’t stop. He kept running. He basically did what he always does. he replied with a “yeah yeah yeah” and did what he wants. Why? Because my dad is a grown up. He gets to choose his own hobbies, his own passions and his downtime spent freely from obligations.

Go Dad, you rock!

I met a runner who runs marathons…get this…FOR FUN. Seriously? Do you know how far that is? Dude, 42.2 km is FREAKING FAR! I didn’t give him the proper respect. I was all….big deal, so you run. So do lots of people. But the more I listened and understood, the more the Kool-Aid tasted better. I drank enough Kool-Aid that I wanted to give running a try.

Boom, 5 years later I am a bonafide Runner.

I have a Pie Run tomorrow. I get to go for a run and they will give me PIE at the finish line. Seriously….who doesn’t like Pie? I’ll run for pie.

I told my pal about the Run for Pie – the same guy who runs marathons for fun. He said “Pie? That has to be one of the best foods available a race course! But there was one time I had a sub, there was these people….”

We exchanged race stories.

Then we thought, this might be a fun podcast.

So he pressed the record button on one of our conversations.

Suddenly, not only am I a runner, but I am a podcast host who talks about running.

Weird how life takes you down paths so unexpected.

You can find my podcast Running Coast 2 Coast here:

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If you like it, please leave a review. If you hate it, please leave a review with WHY. Whys are important for growth.

We are 3 podcasts published and have lots ready to roll out. Even if no one listens, we are having fun. AND I get to talk about running, my next favourite thing to running.

Doing stuff I like and having fun. Can’t get better than that.

Dad’s are smart. Well, mine is. Thanks Dad.

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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!

So you think I am Dopey?

Yesterday my team-mate Mitch discovered why his foot has been giving him issues. Apparently it has a stress fracture and his doctor told him not to run.

Been there, ran on it and STILL finished a half marathon. I think Mitch is being a wuss, however, he IS being smart and listening to his doctor. It is smart for lots of reasons:

  1. he won’t have a permanent injury
  2. he can rest and mend, then come back stronger than ever
  3. he can get out of chores around the house

All those reasons are good ones.

He asked me yesterday what was the craziest thing I have ever done in the last 30 days. Obviously it was running in a blizzard. That was stupid.

Then he asked me, “What is the craziest thing you will do in the next 30 days?”

Obviously run the Grumpy with very little distance training under my belt.

I was wrong.

He informed me that I was going to run the Dopey. He was giving me his marathon bib and I can run a marathon for fun! WOOT! Now WHO wouldn’t want that for Christmas???

I sat in my chair and looked out my window at this:

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A foot of new snow with more coming and temperatures hovering around -17F. I had asked my other team-mate Joe how many miles did I need to be at this week if I was to consider running the Dopey. He said 15k Saturday and 32k Sunday.

Right.

The furthest I have run to date was in August, I ran 22km. Since then, I struggle in with the snow and cold to make my distances. Today was an hour out there freezing my tushy off and I made it to 6k.

The Dopey is a 4 day back to back race. The first day starts with 5k, next is the 10k, followed by the 21.1k and then finally on the last day you go big with a full marathon. I have never run a marathon in my life. I am not even sure I have walked that far even with all my Disneyland commando type days. 42.2km is FAR. It is the equivalent of walking from Sherwood Park to Spruce Grove (this is for the benefit of my Edmonton peeps). Respect the distance.

As I looked out my window I thought about the possibility. I could toe the line and start. If I get swept, then I get swept. There is no shame in trying. The up side is I am mentally strong enough to finish in 7-8 hours. I know I could do that. This article from Forbes explains me very well.

But do I want to?

Running the Dopey means earning a collection of 6 beautiful medals.

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Running the unofficial Dopey – which is what I would be doing is a collection of 4. I would miss out on the Goofy medal and the Dopey medal. I would have to try to score them on ebay.

My daughter is coming with me that weekend. She is running the 5k with me. She was worried that I would not be able to visit parks after I ran the half because I would be so tired. If I ran the marathon too, I know I would be too tired to be in the parks on Sunday. She is my reason for breathing. Missing out on a full day of park time with her would be devastating for me.

The other thing I thought about was some goals I set for myself.

Recovery is a big part of that. To recover quickly after a race, proper training is part of it. I have NEVER run a marathon and to do so without training is not respecting the distance and doing mean things to my body, then I need to sit on an airplane for 8 hours. I will not be able to move, never mind getting up for work the next day.

I have a dream.

My dream is to prepare to run a marathon. Train to the best of my ability and that includes sleep and nutrition. When I run my first marathon, I want to be in the moment. I want to be prepared and see what my best effort can bring. The days of taking risks because I am mentally strong enough are over.

Go Big or Go home is a motto I will save for different adventures that include training and supporting my physical needs properly. I really do think I could run the Dopey this year. I am in the best physical condition of my life. However, I am not prepared for the physical consequences or the emotional ones where my daughter becomes disappointed. Just thinking about what she means to me brings tears to my eyes. And really, no physical goal is more important than her.

So Thanks for believing in me Mitch and Joe, but I will pass on the unOfficial Dopey and will do the real thing in 2015 when I am ready.

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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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.

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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?

 

Crisp, Cool and Perfect

I committed an unselfish act of stupidity Sunday. I gave my mom the last of my Voltaren.

To be fair, I love my mom and she needs it more than me. Secretly, I hadn’t had knee pain for a while so I figured I was done with it.

HA!

Oh well, I only had one uncomfortable evening, today it’s better. My bursa sac filled with fluid and its better today. Its been a while since I pushed myself. If I am being honest, I have gone through the post marathon blues syndrome….again.

Getting myself out there without a training schedule sounds great but it doesn’t really work for me. I need more structure. I need a calendar that tells me how far I am running today.

Clearly, I have slacked off for 2 months and now I have a WDW Marathon weekend to prep for and, well…. I need to up the training now.

I was worried I would lose my fitness level and be back at square one again.

I went out for a long-ish run on Monday morning just to see how far I could go. The good news? 5 miles or so. The better news? my initial pace was my race pace – 10:30…but then I had equipment problems and needed to adjust the shoes and long story short…I was a bit slower in the end. However, it was the best run I have had in a long time.

The weather was perfect, cool and crisp with the sunshine sparkling through the trees. I could have used gloves to start off with, but I was fine once I got going. It was perfect. I ran for about 1.5 hours. A good start to see where my fitness is.

Today I will hop on Danger Bike and give her a chance to annoy my knee then I will run again tomorrow. I heard Belgravia Trail is stunning this time of year, or perhaps I’ll check out Emily Murphy Park. But it doesn’t really matter where I go. It’s my favorite time of year to run.

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Today is more exciting than Christmas #disneytrail #sma800k

The big day is here! To day is the day that I can invite you to go and meet my new running team. I have been hinting at it for a while now, and the day is finally here. Although we originally figured it would be in January, things/events/circumstances worked out better than we first thought.

This is the front of the Team Jersey

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I belong to Team DAWS. It stands for Do Away with SMA. SMA is a genetic disease that stands for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It It afflicts 1 in 4 people, mostly children, who don’t survive this genetic disorder. Our Team Captain’s brothers died in infancy due to SMA. So the team decided we would help eradicate this disease through fundraising and an awareness campaign.

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August 17, 2015, our team is going to attempt run 42.2km per day for 20 days. Crazy right? You betcha! We are training, learning and promoting our adventure and we would like you to follow along while we figure this out. I can promise you injuries, fatigue, a crazy training schedule and lots of laughing along the way. I can also promise you inspiring moments and embarrassing ones.

We are having many contests, virtual runs with medals and podcasts so you can participate and be a part of the team! Come over to our blog and check us out, enter the contest for a Team DAWS Prize Pack – we have some great things in that box that you will want to win. But most of all, we want to hear what YOU think! We want to hear your cheers and leers and we want to know what you think about the insane running schedule.

Stop by and say hi and tell us what you think! Don’t forget to enter the contest! It will be running until November 14, 2013. Do Away With SMA 

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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!

 

 

 

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!