Wednesday, December 31, 2008


January: Followed a training schedule for the first time with the Running Room half marathon clinic and met many new friends.

February: Decided that I might want to run a marathon.

March: Set a PR by almost 12 minutes at the Chilly Half (2:01:00). Suffered an IT band injury, which laid me up for almost three weeks.

April: Finally started running again, but I realized I would not be prepared for a May marathon. Decided I would run the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in September instead. Had a wonderful experience volunteering at the local Hartwell Half Marathon.

May: Ran the Sporting Life 10K and surprised myself with a time of 49:10 (net downhill). Took a ball to the ankle straight off the bat at a softball game and hobbled around on crutches for a week.

June: Got dirty at my first trail race, the Mud Run 10K. Competed in the Toronto City Chase, an urban adventure race taking us all over Toronto on foot completing crazy challenges along the way. Vowed to participate in each of these races again next year. Began building mileage in my marathon training.

July: Ran my first 5K in 23:37 at a small community event and placed 1/15 for my age group. Continued building mileage and celebrated my longest run ever, knowing this would be a continual occurrence for the remainder of the summer.

August: Ran my first 30K (training) run, followed by a 35K two weeks later. 222KM for the month (this still stands as my highest month ever) and the countdown was on for my first marathon.

September: Hit the wall hard during my third and final 30K+ run. Taper madness set in. I used the downtime to reflect on how far I had come.And finally, on September 28, 2008, I became a marathoner.

October: Recovered. Got a tattoo to commemorate my accomplishment. Ran the Toronto Zoo 10K for fun with a bunch of friends - pleased with 50:59 for the challenging course. Spectated at the Toronto Marathon to witness my hubby's 1:40 half marathon and my girlfriend's Boston qualification.

November: Ran my third half marathon and my first <2:00 at the Hamilton Road2Hope. Decided to take up cross-training.

December: Began training for my next marathon. Celebrated losing 30 lbs this year. Realized that I could achieve 1000 miles for the year. As of this morning, I have reached that goal, with 1003 miles or 1614 kilometres logged in 2008.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home stretch

The event photographer captured this highly unflattering pic as I approached the finish line of Friday's 10-Miler.

We're also in the home stretch of 2008 and I'm so close to my goal of 1000 miles I can taste it. I'll check back in tomorrow to report on that.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

One day to the next

You just never know what you're gonna get when it comes to the weather around here.

These photos were taken just days ago:

We've had a rainy couple of days and some unseasonably mile temperatures, as demonstrated by my husband's running wardrobe yesterday; Shorts. In December. In Ontario.

By today, our streets were flooded and almost all of the snow had melted:

This morning as I set out to meet some friends for 10K in the country, it was pouring rain and extremely windy, gusting over 90 km/h. Thankfully, the skies cleared by the time we set out for our run, but the wind was not cutting us any slack. Apparently I wasn't the only one fighting the ridiculous winds today. Like Mel, I was certain that I wasn't moving at all when we faced the headwind (while dodging various flying objects and falling branches) and felt as though I was about to take flight in the tailwind.

Myself and a couple of other keeners were feeling foolish ambitious and added an additional loop to our planned route, for a total of 13K. It was also a particularly hilly run, in the beautiful rolling (I may have referred to it as lifesucking at one point during the run...) countryside. Between the wind and the hills it was challenging to say the least, but the scenery and compaany were worth it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Race Report: Boxing Day 10-Miler

Several weeks ago Marci mentioned the 88th Annual Boxing Day Run, which immediately caught my interest. I typically spend Boxing Day lazing around the house recovering from the previous day's festivities and I knew this event would (a) get me off by butt and (b) keep me running over the holidays.

My preparations for the race were certainly not typical - I spent most of the afternoon nibbling on chocolate, feasted on turkey with all the fixins for dinner and even had a few glasses of wine. Nonetheless, I climbed into bed at 10 to ensure that I at least had a good night's sleep. And that I did! I slept like a rock and woke up at 7 feeling refreshed (one thing I love about winter races - they don't start at 7).

We picked up our friend U. and drove to Hamilton where we picked up our bibs, used the washrooms and kept warm at the YMCA until the 11:00 AM start.

Being my first 10 miler, I took comfort in knowing I would have a PR no matter what. Still, I set a somewhat arbitrary goal of 1:30. I was really looking forward to the distance because in all three of my half marathons, I have 'bonked' around the 10-mile mark and struggled to the finish line. I had low expectations, but hoped it would be a good race.

We certainly would not complain about the weather. In fact, we overheard some runners discussing the fact that they had not had such perfect conditions for the event in years, right around zero Celsius (32F) and overcast with only a slight breeze.

Hubby (speedster that he is) took off ahead, while U. and I stuck together. During the early miles, we continuously reminded each other to watch our pace and slow it down. We were targeting 5:30 kilometres (8:51/mi) and kept catching ourselves getting caught up in the masses, closer to a 5:00 (8:03) pace.

Still, we were feeling pretty good and comfortable enough to maintain our conversation, so we just ran with it. (heehee)

The route took us primarily along waterfront (paved and cleared) trails and the scenery was beautiful, especially through the marina. We faced several climbs (some steep, some gradual), but also enjoyed some nice downhills.

Our pace remained consistent as the miles ticked by, and we hit the half way point at 42:31, way ahead of schedule for my targeted 1:30:00 finish. I started tiring slightly and slowed a little, but U. kept me going and stuck by me, even after I encouraged him to go ahead. I was definitely thankful for the company and managed to keep my pace up. We walked briefly through each of the three water stations and I took one gel around the 6 mile mark.

And then came mile 7 with a long, steep climb up the mountain escarpment. It was ridiculous. Almost everyone walked, but I kept running - although it was more of a shuffle and I certainly wasn't moving much faster. Not surprisingly, this was our slowest kilometre split at 6:01 (=9:41/mi).

The next mile or so took us along unpaved trails, which were pretty slushy and muddy. Being so late in the race, I really didn't mind getting a little wet/dirty. I found that I had an extra bounce in my step (either the Gu kicking in or the knowledge that we were getting closer to the finish, or both) and made up for any time lost on the mountain hill with a 4:59 kilometre (=8:01/mi).

We soon passed the 9 mile marker and found ourselves back on local streets. We took advantage of a nice decline a clocked our fastest split approaching the finish. I saw the clock and was pleased to discover that I came in way under my goal.

The Stats:

10 miles
Chip Time: 1:25:10
Pace: 8:31/mile
F25-29 Place: 8/28
Overall Place: 325/753

Here's a quick pic that U. snapped of hubby and I at the finish:

We took advantage of some yummy refreshments being offered at the Y (hot soup, buns, fruit and gingerbread cookies!) before heading home for a relaxing afternoon. This was definitely a good way to spend Boxing Day and I hope to do it again next year... to set a 'real' PR. ;)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

mini recap and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

This week has not gone exactly as planned. I woke up yesterday morning with extremely sore and tired legs. Apparently, it was not the brightest idea to take a fitness class at the gym (especially not one called High Octane Training) the day after a 24K run. High octane recovery might have been a better idea.

I've listened to my body for the past couple days in an effort to recuperate. Ran a 10K yesterday and 5K this morning, both at recovery pace. I decided to skip yesterday's Spin and today's Boot Camp. These legs needed a break, especially with 10 mile race on Friday.

With all of this free time, I was able to do some shopping and scored a great deal on this awesome jacket:

I love the colour, the warm and fuzzy fabric on the inside, the thumb holes, the little zip pocket... and the colour!

Here I am heading out for my run yesterday:

I also picked up a new pair of shoes. In two years of running, I have yet to find the shoe for me, so whenever a new pair of motion control shoes arrives at our local store, my girlfriend who works there gives me a heads up so I can try them. The latest ones are Saucony's Progrid Stabil CS. They feel comfortable, but I have to try them out on the treadmill a few times before I commit to keeping them.

That's about it for me. I can't believe it's Christmas Eve already! This evening we're heading to my parents' house where we'll spend the night and all day tomorrow. They live just 15 minutes away, but I love waking up with Mom and Dad and my 'little' (23, 19, 17) brother and sisters and spending those first early morning moments together while we're still groggy - it's my favourite part of the day.

Interesting fact of the day: it looks like this will be the first time since 1971 when all of Canada will have a white Christmas. How cool is that?

Merry Christmas to my RBFs! Wishing you all safe travels, full bellies and plenty of cheer. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The training must go on

I am currently enjoying the bliss of being on holidays. As in not working. As in two full weeks of AWESOME.

I don't have to stick to a schedule, I don't have to get out of bed or get dressed until I feel like it. But the training must go on.

First, weekly recap for last week.

Mon: off!
Tue: HOT + 7K with 25 mins steady state (5:28-5:37/KM)
done, but no SS... dragged my feet for 7.25K on the dreadmill
Wed: 7K
short on time... 5K done
Thu: 5K + Spin
skipped Spin but ran an awesome 9K, all of which at SS pace
Fri: off (part-ay!)
Sat: Boot Camp + 5K
Sun: 24K (24.6 ... every bit counts!)
Total - 50K

It was a good week and I ended up logging 2 'bonus' kilometres despite the hectic schedule.

Week 4 (Step-Back Week):

Mon: HOT (usually my rest day but I took advantage of being home and took an early morning class at the gym. High Octane Training may not be the best idea the day after such a long run. Squats and lunges were not fun today and we did a lot of them. OW.)
Tue: 9K Thirds Progression Run* + Spin
Wed: 5K + Boot Camp
Thu: off (Merry Christmas)
Fri: Boxing Day 10-Miler (16K)
Sat: off (maybe Boot Camp)
Sun: 10K in the country with friends

* Thirds progression is pretty self-explanatory - run each third progressively faster, from about 6:40 for the first 3 to 5:30 for the last 3.

As you can see, I'm planning to take advantage of a couple more day-time classes. I'm doing all I can to ward-off the inevitable holiday weight-gain.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday run in bullets

  • Snowed overnight.
  • Still snowing in the morning.
  • -12 degrees Celsius
  • How many layers?
  • Paula showed up at 8.
  • Hubby stayed in bed.
  • (What a wuss.)
  • Just kidding.
  • "Wow, we're moving pretty slowly."
  • Sidewalks not cleared.
  • Snow stinging my eyes.
  • Wish I had my sunglasses.
  • "Are we there yet?"
  • At least it's not windy.
  • Running in the middle of the road, trying to find some traction.
  • "That cop is slowing down. Is he going to offer us a ride, or tell us to get the hell off the road?"
  • Neither.
  • "Flag down that bus!"
  • Just kept moving.
  • Frosted eyelashes.
  • Soggy feet.
  • Chocolate Gu, thick and partially frozen.
  • Another hill!
  • Some crazy punks screamed Are you f'ing f'd? out the window. (no comment)
  • Probably on their way home from last night's party.
  • "Whose idea was this anyway?"
  • Water is completely frozen.
  • Handful of snow.
  • Watch for the yellow stuff.
  • It's still snowing.
  • "Are we even moving?"
  • Wrong turn.
  • Forced to take the sidewalk on a busy road.
  • But wait... what sidewalk?
  • Trudging throw snow drifts, uphill.
  • "Are you sure we're moving?"
  • Stopped snowing at some point.
  • Home stretch.
  • Hallelujah.
  • 24.61 KM
  • 2:40:02
  • Average pace 6:30/km
  • Slowest. Run. Ever.
  • 2730 calories.
  • How many Hershey kisses is that?

Friday, December 19, 2008

T-G-I- Snowy Photo Friday

The Greater Toronto Area is being pounded by a winter storm today - it's freezing cold, windy and the snow has been falling non-stop since this morning.

From these pictures, it doesn't look like much snow has settled, but that's because it's blowing all over the place. If I was brave enough to venture more than a foot outside the house, I'd show you some ginormous snow drifts.

I was able to leave work super early, got my hair done and made it home safe and sound (yay snow tires!). Why is there always a snow storm on the day of my company Christmas party? Thankfully, the bosses are paying for a taxi to chauffeur us to and from the event, so we don't have to worry about driving.

Went for a quick 7K last night which turned into 8.7 due to a wrong turn. I was able to incorporate 25 minutes of steady state that I had missed on Tuesday and actually ran the entire route at steady state pace. I'm happy to report that my mojo stuck around. I skipped Spin for the first time since I started 5 or 6 weeks ago (oh, the guilt!) to get some housework and last minute Christmas shopping done. I'll make up for it next week... on a week day... when I'm at home... during the day!

Regardless of the festivities tonight, I'll be up early tomorrow for a run and Boot Camp. I've recruited some company for 24K on Sunday - the forecast is calling for another snow storm, but hopefully it'll hold off til we finish the run.

Time to start getting ready and incase I haven't mentioned it, today was my last day of work until January 5th!

Have a great weekend!

ETA: Quick bathroom self-portrait before we go. Hopefully the blizzard won't ruin my hair! :S

Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008 in Review in 52 Words or Less

Today's Take it and Run Thursday theme is A year In Review in 52 words or less.

I ran a marathon. It defined my year and has in many ways defined me as a person. 2008 will always be the year that I became a marathoner.

There were several other races and experiences along the way, but I'll save that for my long-form review closer to the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mojo lost, then found

Yesterday I felt like I had lost my mojo. I was feeling sluggish and dragged my feet through both my HOT (high octane training) class and my 4.5 miler on the treadmill afterwards. The 25 minutes steady state certainly didn't happen and I just chugged along, wanting to call it quits early several times. The good news is, I finished 'er off and rewarded myself with two hours on the couch with The Biggest Loser finale and a delicious oatmeal-bean cookie.

Thankfully, my run this evening was much better and I clocked a quick (for me) 5K at 25:25. I had a bounce in my step and a smile on my face as I coasted through the neighbourhood - narrowly escaping sudden injury when I nearly slipped on a patch of black ice more than a few times.

I had to modify the schedule a little this week, hence 5K tonight instead of the planned 7. I'll make up for that tomorrow before Spin. I'm hoping for oodles of energy like last week.

Thanks for all of your comments and advice on my last post with respect to strides - I think I have a better handle on the purpose and execution and I'm looking forward to giving it a go. I'll keep you posted.

Also, <50 miles to go til I reach 1000!

Not much else to report for now. 1.5 working days til TWO WEEKS VACATION and one week til Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Strides - help!

I neglected to mention yesterday that my program this week calls for my first dose of strides.

Hubby kindly included the following explanation in my spreadsheet:

Strides are NOT all-out sprints but are short periods of faster running starting at around 5K race pace and getting faster to around mile race pace (95% of top speed).

7km with 4 Strides of 25 seconds each starting at 5K pace and progressing down to mile race effort with 1 minute recovery jog between.

Apparently my stride pace should range from 4:59 to 4:27 / KM (8:01 to 7:10 / mile).

I'm having a hard time deciding when to incorporate the strides this week. My weekday runs are either on the treadmill at the gym before/after HOT/Spin class or in the dark.

I've also been told that I can incorporate it into my long run, but I just can't picture myself moving that quickly at any point during a 24 KM run.

What should I do?! Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Catch-up

The weekend began with hubby's work Christmas party Friday night - 1000+ people! It was a little insane, but we had a nice time. I even controlled myself at the buffet and offered my designated-driver services so as to avoid the wine. (I'm saving my indulgences for my own work party next Friday...)

It was a bit of a late night but I was able to drag myself out of bed for Boot Camp on Saturday. Our 'drill sergeant' mixed it up and combined our usual cardio intervals with kick-boxing. We were advised to "get mad" and "punch like you mean it!" At the time I was skeptical that it would be much of strength workout without any weights, but the pain in my arms and shoulders definitely proved otherwise the next morning. After Boot Camp I made up for the 3-miler that I had missed on Friday - dragging my feet every step of the way!

After a late Christmas party Saturday night, I slept in and set out for my long run just after 9 Sunday morning. Yesterday's weather was much more agreeable than last Sunday for a long run. It was slight above zero Celsius (32F) and overcast - sun would have been nice, but I'm not complaining! The roads and sidewalks were mostly just wet and I had no issues with footing, except for a few slushy spots. I did encounter some freezing rain, but it didn't bother me too much. There were no incidents of gloves falling in the toilet or frozen fuel, and it was a pleasant run overall. Overall numbers - 22.02KM/13.68mi, 2:10:46.

That wraps up last week with just over 46KM or 28.6mi plus 3 hours cross-training (HOT, Spin, Boot Camp).

I've been meaning to make these interesting-looking cookies for a while now and finally had a chance on Saturday. I found the recipe on a friend's blog, which you can see here. There's an entire can of kidney beans in the recipe, but you would have no idea. They make the perfect pre-run breakfast or post-run snack - full of good carbs, fibre, protein and even iron. And they're freakin' delicious. I'm pretty sure I ate four yesterday. Highly recommend them!

Anyway, this week looks like:

Mon: off!
Tue: HOT + 7K with 25 mins steady state (5:28-5:37/KM)
Wed: 7K
Thu: 5K + Spin
Fri: off (part-ay!)
Sat: Boot Camp + 5K
Sun: 24K

10 days til Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

You Spin Me Right Round

(Baby Right Round!)

First, thank you so, so, so much for all of your kind comments on Wednesday's post. It means a lot to me and I feel privileged to share the journey with you.

Okay, enough mush. ;)

Everything has pretty much gone according to plan so far this week.

Monday: off ~ check!
Tuesday: 5K easy (+ H.O.T. class) ~ check! actually, 7.25K (4.5mi)
Wednesday: 7K with 20 mins. steady state (5:28-5:37/KM pace) ~ check!
Thursday: 5K recovery (+ Spin)* ~ check! actually, 6.5K (4mi)
Friday: 6K easy ~ skipped - couldn't get up this AM and have a party tonight, will make up tomorrow
Saturday: off (Boot Camp)
Sunday: 22K steady run (6:04 to 6:41/KM)

The Mission to 1000 is right on track.

*Spin class last night was the best one yet. Nothing changed in the class - same instructor, same music, same routines) - but I had buckets of energy. I can usually feel myself fading during the second half, especially if I have run first, and wishing for the end of each song so I can recover for 30 seconds. Well last night something came over me and I was killing it for the entire hour! I'm usually dying during the standing sprints and sit-stand intervals (two beats up, two beats down) but not this time, baby. I felt like I was flying.

Did somebody spike my water?

Anyway, it was a great workout and I can tell that I exerted myself way more than usual because I'm feelin' it this morning!

We're heading to hubby's Christmas party tonight, a casual holiday party with friends tomorrow night and my "little" (17) sister and he boyfriend are coming over to watch some Christmas movies and make a gingerbread house on Sunday (annual tradition). At some point I hope to finish the Christmas shopping.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One year later

One year ago today, I felt dragged down by the extra weight I was carrying. I was a runner, but I wasn't as energetic, confident and strong as I knew I could be. I had been running for about a year but could not seem to get a handle on nutrition. I seemed to think that running meant I could eat whatever I want. And for some people, it does... but not for me. I was gaining and gaining and I felt sluggish and miserable.

After years of yo-yo dieting and trying everything in the book, and after some encouragement from a friend at work, I decided to give Weight Watchers a thought. I liked the concept of lifestyle change - it seemed flexible and manageable. I went to my first meeting and weigh-in on December 10, 2007 and I firmly believe it changed my life.

I spent the next several months learning how to make the program work for me and my lifestyle. The most important factors for me have been accountability and balance. I was accountable because I had to weigh-in regularly and report to my leader and fellow members. I gradually learned to balance proper nutrition with an active lifestyle, leaving room for life's little indulgences. I have never had to give anything up.

By July I had reached my goal weight and in August I became a Lifetime Member (by maintaining that weight for six consecutive weeks). I struggled a little through September and October and developed what I like to call the Marathon Bulge, resulting from the pre-race taper/carb-loading and post-race binge! Thankfully, it was only about 5 lbs and I have since lost all of it. As of this week, I am officially below my goal weight and 30 lbs lighter than December 10, 2007.

Now that I am Lifetime I only have to weigh-in once a month (and the program is free as long as I am no more than 2 lbs over my goal). I still attend my meeting and weigh-in almost every Monday just to keep myself in check. It's become an important part of my life and I intend to keep it that way.

Sorry for rambling, but my hope is that this experience may inspire someone who has struggled in the same ways I have. This has been a non-stop learning experience and I know it's far from over, but I am happier and healthier than I have ever been and I just want to scream it from the rooftops!

And incase you haven't seen enough of my face lately, here's a little Before and After for you.

Dec. '07

Dec. '08

Thanks for reading. :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Room for one more

A few weeks ago, I said I was finished racing for 2008, but Marci peaked my interest in the Hamilton Harriers 88th Annual 10 Mile Boxing Day Run.

It didn't take much to convince hubby that it was a good idea, so we registered today. It will be my first 10-miler and looks like a great event. And hey, it's 10 more miles toward 1000 for the year.

It will also be a good way to burn off some of the excess calories from Christmas dinner the day before - hopefully I will have recovered from the turkey coma by 11:00 AM the next day.

Looking forward to seeing you there, Marci!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday already?!

First off, I am happy to report that the Hatphones worked very well. My iPod fir neatly in the pocket and I couldn't even feel it (surprisingly) once I put the hat on. It was easy to position the speakers directly over my ears or slightly askew so I could hear more 'background' noise. I wore them on a two hour run yesterday (more on that to follow) and it was such a relief not to be messing around with wires. This is definitely a keeper and I highly recommend it. Chic Runner posted a website with a great deal for the Americans but here in Canada it's available at the Running Room (although I can't seem to find it online).

My weekend was somewhat of a whirlwind of parties, with a 30th anniversary dinner for dear family friends on Friday night, a Christmas open house at my (almost-9-months-pregnant) cousin's on Saturday afternoon, a girls' evening of decorating gingerbread houses and playing Cranium Saturday night and my nephew's 2nd Birthday party on Sunday.

Here's a quick pic of hubby and I at dinner (it's not ever day you get to see me in something other than running attire) and a peak at the gingerbread madness.

In the midst of all the parties, I still made it to Boot Camp Saturday morning and logged another 15.5 miles toward my goal of 1000 in 2008. Saturday morning I logged a short 3 before boot camp and yesterday morning I headed out for 20K (about 12.5mi) in very wintery conditions - it was -12C (10F) with a -20C (-4F) windchill and gusting winds over 40 km/h. I ran through snow drifts and fought blustering snow from all directions. There were a few mishaps along the way - frozen Sharkies, frozen water (should've used vodka) and a dropped glove in the port-o-let - but I stuck it out and finished the run in about 2:05.

Overall, week one was a success and I logged 3K more than planned.

On to week two...

Monday: off
Tuesday: 5K easy (+ H.O.T. class)
Wednesday: 7K with 20 mins. steady state (5:28-5:37/KM pace)
Thursday: 5K recovery (+ Spin)
Friday: 6K easy
Saturday: off (Boot Camp)
Sunday: 22K steady run (6:04 to 6:41/KM)

Weekly Total: 45K

Time to catch up on what you've all been up to this weekend - congrats to all the racers!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Early Christmas Present!

Yesterday my girlfriend surprised me with an early gift - an item which I just so happen to have had my eye on ever since Chic Runner raved about it: NIKE HATPHONES!

I have a 3rd generation iPod and worried that it wouldn't fit in the narrow pocket inside the hat, but it fit perfectly. I can't wait to try these babies tonight!

No more wire woes for me. Now they just need to come up with a summer version...


4 slow miles on the treadmill before Spin last night. I just read a magazine and took is easy so I'd actually have some energy left. Our Spin instructor incorporated some Christmas tunes into the mix, which totally got me going. Have I mentioned how much I love Christmas? ;)

Tonight we have an anniversary dinner to attend right after work, but I'll be heading out for another 3 miles/5K when we get home.

Good luck to everyone running CIM or LVM this weekend (any other racers too!) - can't wait to read the reports next week.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

TIART: I wish...

Today's Take it and Run Thursday theme over at Runners' Lounge is... Make a wish. Share your dream.

If I had to narrow it down to just one wish, I would wish for unlimited funds!

This would allow me purchase new running clothes and accessories on a whim, to register for races without consulting the budget and best of all, to travel all over the world to race! I could have a live-in masseuse to work out the kinks after a tough run, a personal chef to ensure I am properly nourished and maybe even a running coach! Of course, I would also have a housekeeper so I wouldn't have to worry about mundane chores while being massaged, working with my coach or traveling the world.

Best of all, I WOULDN'T HAVE TO WORK! This day job of mine really interferes with my training.

Ahhhh, a girl can dream.

Back to reality...

7.25K on the treadmill Tuesday after H.O.T. class. Another 7.8K last night - I ran to the grocery store and met hubby there. Note to self: this is not the best place to find myself after a run - I wanted to buy (and consume!) everything in sight. I'm happy to report that I did not.

So that's another 15K, or about 9 miles toward 1000 miles in 2008. Check out my new ticker above.

Tonight is 4 (or so) miles on the treadmill followed by one-hour spin class.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Inspired by Jess, Mel and Marcy's recent posts, I decided to take a look at my mileage for this year.

Not surprisingly, March was my lowest month when I was sidelined with an IT band injury and August was the highest, being one month before my marathon.

So, what's the verdict?

1427 KM this year to-date = 886 miles.

I would have to run an additional 114 miles by December 31st to hit 1000 for the year, or 183K. Out of curiosity, I took a look at my program and wouldn't you know it - I'm scheduled to run 185K. Seems to me it's meant to be.

So now I have added motivation to stick to the plan this month, even through the holidays - I'm going for 1000!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A New Beginning

As of yesterday, I am no longer in limbo. December 1st marked the beginning of my training for 2009. The ultimate goal race is the Bluenose Marathon on May 17th, and incorporates the Chilly Half Marathon on March 1st and Around the Bay 30K on March 29th.

The program will incorporate moderate speed work of various varieties - from Steady State to Strides to Thirds Progressions to Long-Run-Fast-Finish to Intervals. The challenge will be incorporating Run Club with my marathon clinic starting in January, so we'll have to make some adjustments to the program once I receive that training schedule. I'm counting on a combination of having a group to run with and a program of my own to keep me interested and focused through the long winter months ahead.

Day 1 was a success - but Mondays are rest days, so that was pretty easy. ;)

The rest of Week 1 looks like this:

Tuesday: 5K easy (+ H.O.T. class)
Wednesday: 7K with 10 mins. steady state (5:28-5:37/KM pace)
Thursday: 5K recovery (+ Spin)
Friday: 5K easy
Saturday: off (Boot Camp)
Sunday: 20K steady run (6:04 to 6:41/KM)

Weekly Total: 42K

*In other news, down 2.2 more lbs at WeightWatchers last night. So in the past three weeks, I have lost the 7(ish) pounds that I managed to gain through September and October.*

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finishing November on a good note

I met a friend bright and early this morning for 19K. She trains in heart rate zones and needed two 'sets' of 15 minutes in zone 3 (what that means to me is fast). We did a 15 minute warm-up, then a 15 minute burst at just over 5:00/KM (speedy for me). We cooled down with a 5 minute jog, then completed round 2 in zone 3. This time we were running up a steady incline and the pace was closer to 5:15/KM, which still kept our hearts going. The remainder of the run was supposed to be zone 2 (to me this means conversational pace) but we faced a ton of hills ("Not another one!) so we often found ourselves back in zone 3.

I don't actually train with a heart rate monitor, but apparently I like to pretend that I share the heart rate of my running partner. I was constantly asking, 'What zone are we in now?" as if my heart rate would be the same. Hubby has a fancy new Polar HRM so I think I'm going to try it out this week - it might be interesting to see just what my heart rate is on an easy run compared to a more difficult run.

Unfortunately my running buddy had a lot of knee problems during the second half of the run and we took several walk breaks. It was still a good run overall and we finished 19.15K in 1:54:35 for an average pace just under 6:00/KM. More than anything, I was glad to have the company.

Today's run rounded out my week at just over 40K plus 3 hours of cross-training.

And tomorrow officially marks the beginning of training for my 2009 race schedule. I have a fancy-shmancy program thanks to my hubby and can't wait to kick it off.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

T.G.I. Festive-Photo-Friday

(First, happy belated Thanksgiving to my American friends! I hope you all had a great day filled with family/friends and feasting!)

I'm feeling super festive this year, so you may have to tolerate Christmas-themed Photo Fridays until, well, Christmas!

(To participate in Photo Friday, just post a pic and let NikeMom know.)

That's our tree, which has been a-glow for two whole weeks already. I turn it on every evening when I get home from work and it just puts me in a great mood.

In other festive news, I've finally put a (small) dent in my Christmas shopping. I've started using my lunch hours when it's not quite as busy as evenings or weekends. Hubby and I plan to get another good chunk finished tomorrow.

26 days til Christmas!

On the running front:

A slushy 5K Wednesday after work - had planned 8 but just didn't feel like it. How's that for an excuse? My mileage has suffered a little this month, but I'm in maintenance so it's all good. Here's a glance at my runs for the month (so far) - first in kilometres, then miles.

Yesterday was four boring miles on the 'mill before Spin class. I definitely felt more than usual exhaustion in the legs during spin, but it was bearable. (Although Iw as *this* close to keeling over by the time I got home.) I think I'll stick to running before class on Thursdays for a while.

I have a short run planned for tonight, Boot Camp tomorrow morning and 19K for Sunday. Let's hope it goes better than last Sunday's "long" run - I'll be sure to eat more than salad for dinner on Saturday.

That's about it for me. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If cross-training doesn't kill me...

... will it make me stronger?

I walked into my High Octane Training class yesterday evening - arms, abs, quads, inner thighs and tush still sore from Saturday's Boot Camp. Every squat, lunge, crunch and lift stung as we worked our muscles to exhaustion. The bursts of cardio in between felt great and kept everything pretty loose. I absolutely love the class - for the instructor, the music, the variety and (most importantly!) the workout. But holy crap, it's exhausting.

I followed it up with a quick run (5.39K = 3.35mi in 29:43) before collapsing on the couch to catch up on some TV. When it was time for bed, I could barely carry my legs up the stairs. I had planned 8K for last night, but knew I didn't have it in me. I'll make it up tonight or in the next couple days.

I'm having a very difficult time staying motivated to run by myself on these cold, dark and icy/snowy evenings (whereas I loved running solo in the summer). I can't wait for my marathon clinic to start in January, when I'll be meeting the group to run three times each week. 'Til then, I'll latch on to company when I can and suck it up when I can't. Tonight will be solo... meh!

Tomorrow I'll be trying something new and running before Spin class. It's all about experimentation.

In other news:

• I lost 2.2 lbs at WW on Monday
• I have 17 working days til two weeks off for Christmas (!!!)
• I really need to start Christmas shopping…

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, November 24, 2008


I hope everyone had a great weekend! I stayed off the compy for the most part, but caught up on almost everyone's blogs last night. Probably have a little more catching up to do this morning. Congratulations to everyone who kicked asphalt in Philly! Can't wait for the reports.

Quick recap of last week:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: H.O.T. + 6K
Wednesday: 9K
Thursday: Spin + 5K
Friday: rest
Saturday: Boot Camp* + 4K
Sunday: 14K**

*Boot Camp totally kicked my butt again on Saturday. We had a different instructor who did a lot less yelling but still kept us pumped up. We had 6 strength stations from chest presses to squats with body bars to push-ups, with bursts of cardio in between. My butt, quads and arms are still killing me!

**Yesterday I had planned 17K and drove out to the country to meet a girlfriend. My legs felt like dead weight from the moment we left the driveway and it was a struggle to make it as far as I did.

I'm still adjusting to the new cross-training schedule and running three of my runs immediately after a fitness class this week really did a number on my legs. But I think the bigger problem was not eating enough this week. I've been trying to lose the marathon bulge (just 1 lb to go!) and definitely kept the calories low this week. I should have known that chicken salad for dinner on Saturday was not going to cut it for a long run. Live and learn.

I'm planning to stick to a similar schedule this week with improved nutrition and see how my legs are for a long run next Sunday. If I'm still dragging my feet, I'll need to re-assess.

For now, this week looks like:

Monday: 60 min. yoga class
Tuesday: H.O.T. + 8K
Wednesday: 8K
Thursday: Spin + 5K
Friday: 5K or rest depending on the legs
Saturday: Boot Camp
Sunday: 19K

I'll leave you with a sneak peak at what else I was up to this weekend:

Friday, November 21, 2008

My first "Brick" + Photo Friday

Last night was a first. I went to my scheduled spin class (which I am really getting the hang of! yay!), bolted home to change and headed out for a little run with the hubby. He promised "recovery" pace so I figured, what the heck? I had a serious case of the jelly legs at first, which quickly turned into lead legs. It was so freakin' hard and I wanted to quit so many times, but just kept moving. In the end it felt like we had run much further than 5.6K, and much faster than 6:03/KM. I was convinced that my legs were actually going to fall off, but miraculously they are still attached and even carried me upstairs and into a hot bath when we were done.

So they call this a "brick" workout, right? Does it count when it's a spin class as opposed to actually biking?

I felt so hardcore!

And on that note, here's my Photo Friday contribution, which further proves my hardcore-ness.

(If you want to participate, just post a pic and be sure to let NikeMom know.)

This was taken at outdoor paintball with my company (sweet work function, huh?) last year. I'm holding my gun in the air because I've been hit... hmm, maybe I'm not so hardcore afterall.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

TIaRT: Gratitude

The theme this week for Take It and Run Thursday at the Runners' Lounge is thank goodness for running.

I am thankful for running for my physical health.
Running is good for my physical well-being - I have never been in such good shape in my life. I am strong and fit. In addition, training also encourages and reminds me to maintain a healthy, wholesome diet. I'm much less-likely to indulge in junk food because I know that it impacts my running (ever try to run after eating McDonald's for dinner?). It also keeps me out of the wine... most of the time.

I am thankful for running for my mental health.
Running is my 'happy place'. If I have a bad day or have a lot on my mind, going for a run (even if I don't feel like it) will lift my spirits almost without fail. Sometimes it's the fresh air, sometimes it's the company (if I'm running with friends), often it's just the "me" time that I needed. I can go out and run for 30 minutes, an hour, even three hours, and for that time I don't need to worry about anything else. Not a care in the world! I almost always come back from a run in a better mood.

I am thankful for running for the challenge.
I thrive on the satisfaction of reaching new milestones and achieving goals. And each time I cross a finish line, I am overwhelmed with pride and a sense of accomplishment. A couple years ago, I would never have imagined I could do this. Now I feel like I can do anything.

I am thankful for running for new friends.
I have met an incredible group of people through my local running community. There are no less than 8 people that I can call or email at any time and almost always find a buddy or two to run with on a moment's notice. I didn't even know these people this time last year! Not to mention all of my wonderful bloggie friends - you motivate, encourage and inspire me. What would I do without you?

I am thankful that running is something I can share with my husband.
I am fortunate to have a hubby who also runs. While we don't always run together, we share the love of running, support one another's goals, share the triumphs and failures and perhaps most importantly, recognize the kind of commitment it takes to be the best runners we can be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Double Trouble

Wellll, I didn't get out of bed this morning for a run. We got a ton of snow overnight (didn't make for a very pleasant drive to work) and it was freeeeeeezing cold, so my bed was just too darn comfortable.

HOWEVER, I went to my H.O.T class this evening (again, so much fun and super workout), came home, got changed and immediately went for a run with hubby. I had asked him to wait for me so I could tag along because otherwise I knew my butt would be on that couch the second I got home.

We clocked a little over 6K with a 1K warm-up at 6:09 and the subsequent 5 kilometres progressively faster as follows:

KM2: 5:46
KM3: 5:28
km4: 5:20
KM5: 5:11
KM6: 5:06

It was nice having the company and trying to keep up with him the entire time - which I certainly did! I even took off in a sprint for the final stretch and left him in my dust. (Yeah, I know he let me 'win' but I can pretend...)

Thankfully the roads had (mostly) been cleared, but we had to dodge some snowy & icey patches. I have to get used to keeping my eyes on the ground again, especially in the dark. Temperature wise, it was a brisk -4C (25F) but zero wind, and it was actually pretty refreshing.

And now I am absolutely zonked and some trashy television (ahem, 90210) is calling my name.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Squeezing it all in

This week looks a little something like:

Monday: off (supposed to be yoga, but I have dinner plans)
Tuesday: morning short run (if I can get up!), evening H.O.T. interval class
Wednesday: evening 8K
Thursday: evening Spin class
Friday: morning short run (no time after work)
Saturday: Boot Camp
Sunday: 17K run

In this time of limbo, I was hoping to maintain 30-40K weeks. Last week I only ran 25; this week looks like 30-35 depending on the morning runs. It's definitely taking some adjusting as I incorporate cross-training and I'm glad I started now while I'm not on a run program. The way I see it, I'll have a few options once training officially starts up in December: cut down the classes, learn to run longer after work and/or learn to get out of bed early enough to run before work. It would be much easier if I didn't have to work...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I survived boot camp, and a slushy 12K

Yesterday morning I had my first taste of Boot Camp.

This is not your mother's workout! Join in this military style workout designed to kick your butt.

They weren't kidding!

The instructor, Tracey, walks in, a tough-looking lady in an army tee that says "DON'T MESS WITH ME!" I learn right off the bat that the answer to every question is a resounding SIR YES SIR! We start with a cardio warm-up - jumping jacks, jogging in place with high knee kicks and a step routine. We then broke off into three separate stations - standing lunges with the rear leg raised on a step, walking lunges with 10-lb free weights and thigh crunches on a balance ball. We went through each station twice, with bursts of cardio in between, several rounds of push-ups (I can only do the girlie ones) and we finished it off with the ab workout from hell. (Owwwwwwww!)

At once point, Tracey caught me doing something wrong. She gets up in my face...
Me: I'm not telling.

She was tough and I often caught myself checking to see if she was looking so I could slack off and catch my breath for a second. (Shhh, don't tell.) It was one of the best workouts I have ever had and I actually loved every minute of it - even when I hated it. I'll be going back!

We spent the rest of the day watching the Santa Claus parade with hot chocolate (in the rain!) and decorating the house. The dreary rain eventually turned to snow, and it was looking particularly festive by the time we called it a day.

Last night I realized that after nine consecutive days of working out and/or running, I did not have it in me for a long run today. I managed to latch on to a couple friends who were running 12K and met them at 9 this morning. I woke up to a snow-covered neighbourhood. It was 0C (=32F) but felt great as the sun warmed up. Unfortunately, the snowy roads and sidewalks quickly became a slushy mess and it turned into a pretty wet run. Still, with good company it was enjoyable. One of us was sick, one of us was recovering from a severe hip injury and one of us (me!) was just plain exhausted, so it was a slow 12K at 6:02/KM pace.

In the process, they also convinced me to join the full marathon clinic starting in January. We will have a combination of 8 different instructors with extensive experience and it's going to be a great bunch of people. These instructors go the extra mile to organized varied routes, often point-to-point, and always plan a brunch for afterwards. Sounds like just what I'll need to get the miles in through this Canadian winter.

But for now I'm looking forward to a relaxing afternoon. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2008

T.G.I. (Photo) F.

It's Photo Friday for anyone who wants to participate - just let NikeMom know if you do.

Here's hubby and chubby (that would be me last December) after the 2007 Santa Shuffle.

I'm feeling particularly festive and have a Christmas-filled weekend planned, including our local Santa Claus Parade, putting up the rest of the exterior lights, decorating the interior (even the tree!), all the while listening to some Christmas tunes. Can you tell that I LOVE CHRISTMAS?! All that will be left is the baking, but it's far too dangerous to start that so soon. I don't want to turn back into the Marlene pictured above. ;)

Weekend plans will also include a 7.5K run tonight, Boot Camp class tomorrow (still not sure what that entails!) and long run (going for two hours) on Sunday.

Have a good one!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is that a cramp, or....

...just my stinging abdominal muscles?

Last night I went for my scheduled 7.5K run, and immediately felt a sharp pain under my ribs on both sides. It felt like a cramp so I just tried to breathe deeply and ignore it. Unfortunately, it would not subside and I felt it through the entire 40-or-so minute run. It was on my way home that I finally realized it wasn't a cramp at all, but my screaming abdominal muscles as a result of the previous two nights' fitness classes.

I've mentioned before that I have always neglected my core, so after the pilates-infused yoga on Monday night and core-segments of Tuesday night's interval class, I was definitely feeling it. I keep reminding myself that I have to stick with it and it will hurt less every time... right?

In other news, we booked our flights to Halifax last night! WestJet was having a seat sale and we scored a sweet deal for our tickets from May 13-20, 2009. The Bluenose International Marathon falls on Sunday the 17th, so this gives us a 4 days before to explore and a couple days after to recover before the flight home. Next step: registration!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adventures in cross-training


It was cold and rainy after work and I couldn't get myself out the door for the short run I had planned. Instead, I ate a quick dinner and headed to the gym early for 30 minutes on the elliptical before my first yoga class.

Yoga was great. The class was pretty small, only about 12 ladies, so we had lots of room. The instructor turned the lights off, which made me a lot more comfortable. We started with a series of light stretching and easy poses, working on our deep breathing. The second half of the class included more challenging poses, but we were encouraged to take it only as far as we could comfortably. It included several Vinyasa sequences of movements through various poses, which I enjoyed because it felt more active.

Being "Body Sculpt Yoga", I wasn't too surprised by the extensive core work. My core is an area I have always neglected and I could barely complete half of the sequence, but I know I will improve over time.

I left class feeling loose and refreshed, but my shoulders were definitely feeling the downward dog the next morning!


Last night was my first H.O.T. (High Octane Training) class. Based on the title and description, I was pretty nervous, but the instructor was very welcoming and made me feel at ease immediately. She helped me get set up with all the equipment (body bar, free weights, BOSU and step). Our individual stations took up quite a bit of space, so luckily there weren't too many people in class. We started with a warm-up taken from the Zumba (latin dance) class, which got me warmed up and relaxed. The rest of the hour consisted of intervals from high-intensity cardio (step routines, jumping jacks, various dance moves) to strengthening (squats and lunges, BOSU balancing, crunches, free weights). It was an incredible workout, and Can't wait to go next week!

So cross-training CAN be fun afterall!

Tonight is a 7.5K run. Tomorrow morning 5K before work (hopefully I can get my butt out of bed again!) and spin class tomorrow night. Woohoo!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend Recap

Thanks for all of your enthusiasm and support on Friday's post. If I shared my 2009 plans with anyone outside of the running-blog-o-sphere, I would surely be greeted with looks of disbelief and people asking "WHY?" From your comments, it looks like I will have the opportunity to meet up with Canadian bloggers at many of the events... now we just have to convince some Americans to join us. :)

I mostly stayed off the computer this weekend. Since I spend my week days more or less glued to my desk from 8 to 5, it's something I try to avoid outside of work. I'm caught up on everyone's blogs (I think?) so now it's my turn!

Saturday I woke up early for a quick 5K (actually, 5.65) before heading out of town for the day for my cousin's baby shower. I didn't experience any post-spinning soreness, but I was feeling the lead legs Saturday morning even after taking Friday off. I still finished the run in 32:15 for a 5:42/KM pace, which is about average for me.

Sunday morning I slept til 9 and woke up not feeling like running at all. It was cool and dreary, looked like rain and the couch and television were awfully appealing.

Me: I don't feel like a long run today.
Hubby: Well, I'm still running.
(5 minutes later)
Me: Fine, I'm coming with you.

So, we geared up and headed out into the chilly air. I had a route previously mapped in my head that took us past the Running Room for my mandatory 3K restroom break (EVERY TIME!), then through some older neighbourhoods and eventually to our favourite (paved) trail through the parks of Fairy Lake. There were some significant hills, but I was able to recover on the downhills and enjoyed the run. It was kinda nice having some company, even though he started pulling away from me in the last couple kilometres when I started fading (note to hubby: do you know what it means to run TOGETHER?! just kiddin'!). The numbers were: 14.10KM, 1:23:32, 5:55/KM.

We ran a few errands and had a mostly quiet afternoon. I sipped hot chocolate while watching hubby positioned himself on the roof hanging Christmas lights. I know it's early, but this is our first Christmas in a house and I just couldn't wait!

My pseudo-plan for this limbo week is as follows:

Monday: 5K + yoga class
Tuesday: High Octane Training class
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 5K (AM) + spin class (PM)
Friday: 7.5K
Saturday: Boot Camp class
Sunday: 20K

Friday, November 07, 2008

2009: Revealed

It's no secret that my plans for 2009 have been in the works for some time now. I realize that everything won't necessarily go according to plan, but here's what I would like to see on the calendar next year.


Training! It's too darn cold (and blizzards too likely) to race in Ontario during these months.


1st: Chilly Half Marathon, Burlington, ON
I ran this race last year and loved it. Plus, almost everyone I know seems to be running it so it seemed like a good way to kick off the season. Space is limited to 2000 and it sells out very early, so I already registered for this one.

29th: Around the Bay 30K, Hamilton, ON
The oldest road race in North America (Older Than Boston, as advertised on the shirts). I registered last year but had to sell my bib due to ITBS issues.


20th: Boston Marathon
Don't choke on your Gu, I clearly did not qualify, but my girlfriend did and I wouldn't miss it. We're already planning the road trip.

26th: Hartwell Challenge Half Marathon Relay, Aurora, ON
We're "competing" (and I use the term loosely) as couples with a group of friends. This is a great (and small!) local event where I volunteered last year and I can't wait to be a part of it again.


9th: Desjardins 10K or Hazel 5K, Mississauga, ON
This was intended to be my first marathon last year, but it didn't work out. Not sure which distance I will go for, but it looks like a great event.

17th: Bluenose International Marathon, Halifax, NS
This is the big one for next year. My aunt lives in Nova Scotia and has generously offered to have us stay with her for a week and will also show us around the beautiful province. It's reputed to be a challenging but scenic course. Hubby will run the first half with me.

23rd/24th: Ottawa Race Weekend
This one is on my list, but the timing clearly doesn't work out this year. We're planning a weekend getaway to support some friends and hopefully meet up with some bloggers.

31st: Toronto Women’s Half Marathon
This will be its inaugural year and offers some truly unique and "girly" amenities, from the 19K chocolate station to the Firefighter's Water Station, not to mention a special finishers' memento (details are still hush hush). Hmmm, sounds a lot like the Nike Women's Marathon...maybe some Tiffany bling? The event was capped at 1000 and has already sold out, so I'm glad I registered early. This one will no doubt be for fun!

June (if I don't need to sleep all month to recover from May)

7th: MudRun 10K, Toronto, ON
We completed this challenging and dirty trail race this year on a team of 3 with a friend of ours and placed 6th. Next year we're going for top 3!

20th: Mitsubishi City Chase, Toronto, ON
An "urban adventure" team challenge similar to The Amazing Race with challenges to be completed all over the city. I knew immediately after the race that my first time would not be my last.


11th: Rebecca Run 5K, Newmarket, ON
I placed first (in my category) this year, so naturally I have to go back to defend my title! (Although, I'm sure that won't happen again...)

19th: Nissan 10 Miler at The Distillery, Toronto, ON
It takes a scenic and historic route in Toronto, and it's a unique distance for us Canadians, so I want to take advantage.


22nd: A Mid Summer Night’s Run 15K/30K, Toronto, ON
I heard rave reviews from some friends and also like the idea of running at night. Not sure which distance - 30K would work out well in training for a September marathon, but I'd like to incorporate a 15K race. We'll see!


7th: Labour Day Oakville Half Marathon
This is a maybe, as it might be by only shot at a Fall half-mary, even though it's still Summer.

27th: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
I've told a few people that I would not run this full again because I hated the second half of the route, but part of me wants to make it a tradition since it was my first. And overall, it's a great event and the biggest in Toronto.

The End!

We'll be in England for most of the month of October and there are limited races around here in November and December, so I'll be playing it by ear. I think that's enough for one year anyway, don't you?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just when my quads were starting to forgive me...

I go and take a spinning class!

I knew it was going to be tough, but holy freaking crap! That was a grueling, intense, kick-my-ass workout. I was literally pushing myself to the limit for a solid hour. At times I felt like I was going to fly right off the bike, and I could actually see my muscles trembling. I felt sort of clumsy and awkward since I don't have the right form and I didn't know the positions, but I started getting the hang of it toward the end.

And I loved every minute of it!

I'm feeling the jelly-legs right now and I'm thinking I might be in a lot of pain in the morning. Oh, and I can't feel my butt. But the instructor tells me it will get easier.

(Note to self: bring a towel next time!)

Take it and Run Thursday: Transitions

It's Thursday again and this week's topic is Running Through Transitions.

I mentioned yesterday that I am currently in a state of limbo, having completed my last race of 2008 and not yet ready to start training for my first race of 2009. It got me thinking about the fact that I've allowed myself to fall into a bad habit of limiting my exercise exclusively to running. It seems that I run... or do nothing. I know how important it is to incorporate cross-training, and yet I don't do it. I've tried using the elliptical or bike at the gym and even lifting weights occasionally, but I find it dreadfully boring and can't seem to stay motivated.

In the spirit of transitions and change, I'm trying something new. I'm a member of a fantastic fitness club with a wide variety of classes (all included!), and I've never tried a single one. I went online, printed the schedule and descriptions of the classes and decided on a few that I'd like to try.

Body Sculpt Yoga: Discover the subtle, dramatic way yoga can transform your body. Sculpt, lengthen, strengthen and align.

Boot Camp: This is not your mother's workout! Join in this military style workout designed to kick your butt.

H.O.T. (High Octane Training): Get your heart rate up using a combo of athletic based movements and intervals.

Spin: Ride your way to a new level of fitness in this exhilarating body challenging class.

It's going to be a new experience for me incorporating cross-training, especially in the form of group classes. I'm turning over a new leaf! There's no time like the present, so I start tonight with my first ever spin class. I don't want to give myself too much time to chicken out. I even woke up early this morning for a sunrise 5K (only the second or third time ever that I have run before work).

I'm in for a beating tonight, aren't I? Any words of wisdom for a first-timer?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I went for a nice little recovery run with hubby after work today. It felt good to get my legs moving again and a lot of the discomfort in my quads quickly disappeared.

5K @ 6:08 pace (3mi @ 9:52 pace)

For the first time in months, I find myself in a state of limbo with no race on the schedule. I'm using the down time to regroup mentally and hopefully enjoy lots of leisurely runs (and cross-training). I know my body needs some recovery time after a few intense months of pounding the pavement, and my mind could use a little break as well. I love having races on the calendar, but it's also nice having a little bit more freedom and flexibility. This Sunday, I'm gonna run as far and as fast (or slow) as I feel like.

A few people have asked if I'll be running any more races in 2008, and the answer is no. I'm retiring for the year, with a shoe-box full of bibs and medals to show for it.

But don't you worry, training for 2009 will be starting in no time; 25 days to be exact... December 1st. The 2009 race calendar (13 planned so far) will be posted on Friday.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The downside of downhill

Oh me aching quads!!!

Check out this hysterical video that Erik posted. I'm pretty sure we can all relate! Watch for the girl hobbling downhill at about 0:10... yep, that's me right about now! I was loving the 6K downhill on Sunday, but now I am definitely paying for it.

Everything else is feeling great (other than an ugly blister on one toe) so I can't complain too much. And it felt pretty darn good to update my personal record in the sidebar. :D

I'll be in limbo for a couple weeks before training officially begins for my first race of 2009. Details coming soon!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hamilton Road2Hope Half Marathon Race Report

Earlier in the week I came up with A, B and C goals for this race. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, taking into account my sporadic training since the marathon five weeks ago (only two runs over 10K, max being 14) and persistent foot pain (still not sure if it's PF - more on that in another post).

I stuck to my usual pre-race regimen of pasta for lunch and dinner, lots of water and a quiet evening. I checked the weather once more for good measure and tucked myself in at 10:00. Fortunately, we were able to set the clocks back Saturday night, which means it was actually only 9:00. I slept okay - not great, but not terribly.

The alarm went off at 5 and hubby and I were up, fed, dressed and out the door by 5:45. We picked up our groupies (my Mom, sister and her boyfriend - world class spectators, photographers & supporters!) and hit the road for Hamilton shortly after 6AM.

We arrived at Confederation Park where we left our groupies to catch one of the many school buses to the start line. It was a short ride to a local school where we were able to keep warm. We arrived extra early (7:30 for a 9:00 start) but it was nice to have some time to relax. They were offering free Tim Horton's donuts and coffee which I thought was a nice touch. I had packed a banana knowing that by the time the race started it would have been 4 hours since breakfast, but my stomach was giving me grief and could only get down a bite. I don't know if it was nerves or just stomach issues, but I wasn't feeling too hot.

The marathon was starting half an hour before us, and I was fortunate to see Marci (and her hubby) briefly as they headed to the start line. She was running her second full marathon in two consecutive weeks in her endeavour to become a Marathon Maniac. Make sure you check out the report if you haven't already because not only did she become a Maniac, but she set a new PR! Congrats again, Marci!

When it was almost 9AM we headed out, used to port-o-lets one last time (there were indoor washrooms available in the school, but the lines were too long) and walked to the start line. It was a small-ish crowd of <1000 and no corrals, so we lined up pretty close to the front.

Unfortunately, there were some complications shutting down the highway and we ended up starting about 15 minutes late. It was cold (~2C=35F) but we huddled in the crowd under the sun and managed to keep relatively warm. Many runners were jogging up and down the street, which is something I probably should have done.

The race finally began at 9:17 and I was excited just to get moving. I felt some stiffness initially, but warmed up pretty quickly. I was wearing light pants and a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve, which turned out to be perfect. I rolled up the sleeves and tossed by cheapie dollar store gloves within the first couple KM's.

I started out pretty fast knowing that a significant downhill was coming up soon and targeting a 5:25/KM pace for the first half. The first 3-4K were on quiet residential streets and flew by. I took a gel at the first water station (3K) because breakfast had been more than 4 hours ago and I was already feeling it. The volunteers were the best I have ever seen. I believe they were all from a local high school because they were all wearing matching colours. Every aid station had a cheering section as well and some were so loud it sounded like the finish line! They gave me a real boost every time I passed through.

Before I knew it we were on the Red Hill Valley Parkway, where the entire north-bound lanes had been shut down. It was actually pretty neat running on the highway! Many cars travelling in the south-bound lanes were honking, so that was fun. (they probably thought we were nuts!)

The best part of the highway portion is that it was on a constant downhill for about 6K. Approximately 2 kilometres were at a 3% decline with the remainder at about 1%. I was basically coasting and letting my legs carry me. A few of those KM's came in under 5:00 but my average was around 5:15. I felt strong and was enjoying the race.

We had to leave the highway at around the half way point (and were greeted with a steep uphill). My pace at half way was on target at 5:21/KM. I was confident at this point that I would come in under 2:00:00 and maybe close to 1:55.

We followed some side streets at this point until we reached the waterfront. I noticed my pace was slowing a little, but kept it under 5:30. I took 2 Shot Bloks (=1 gel) at the aid station closest to 12K. It was around this time that I discovered I had been over-hydrating. I had been drinking water AND Eload at every station and was barely sweating. I could feel it sloshing around in my belly and it was not a nice feeling.

At 13K we reached the waterfront and hung a left to follow a street running parallel to the beach (about 20m from the water?). I could feel quite a breeze coming off the water, but tried not to worry about it even though I knew we'd be running right next to it in just a couple kilometres.

Sure enough, we made the turn at 15.5K and took a narrow, paved waterfront path along the beach, which we would follow all the way to the finish.

Enter LIFE SUCKING WIND. It was a constant head-wind from that point on, and felt like it must have been at least 35-40 kph. The sun was bright and I wasn't cold, but I was having a really hard time staying upright - let alone running - in the wind.

I slowed down significantly. I may have let the wind get to me a little too much mentally, because I suddenly felt like I was dragging my feet. I was also feeling very sick and worried that I wasn’t going to be able to keep the water down. People were passing me constantly and just couldn't will myself to keep up the pace. Most of these kilometres were over 6:00 and I saw my average gradually slip to 5:40, which would equal a 2:00 finish.

I had been taking brief walks of 10-20 seconds through the water stations (approx. every 3K) but it was getting harder and harder to start running again. I felt my dream slipping away and almost gave up on two hours.

At about 17K, the 2:00 pace bunny passed me (an old man!). I was able to keep him in my sights and held on for dear life. I wanted to catch up to him just to ask if he was on target or slightly ahead/behind just to find out what I had to work with.

At about 18K there was a sudden, steep incline (very short though) and I pushed so hard up that hill I actually thought I might keel over. Somehow I caught up to and even passed the 2:00 bunny! I kept telling myself that I just had to get to 19K and it would be cake from there. Who was I kidding? 19 turned out to be my slowest kilometre!

I finally saw the 20K sign, glanced at my watch and knew I could come in under 2 hours. I pushed as hard as I could. We ran parallel to the finishing chute before making a turn and bringing it home, and I saw hubby (who had finished at 1:36!) and my Mom and sister waiting for me. DH jumped in to run with me a few paces. I was flooded with relief to be so close to the finish, but still could have curled up in a ball at the side of the path. I'm pretty sure I gave him a look like "Is this ever going to end?!"

(That's the 2:00 bunny in yellow shorts behind me!)

I barrelled through it and eventually crossed the finish line. I was disappointed that there was no time clock for the half marathon, but thankfully remembered to stop my Garmin immediately. I looked down and saw 1:58:32 and could have cried with relief. I grasped one of the rails because I was sure I was going to pass out. Somehow I managed to get my medal, remove my chip and stumbled over to hubby and my family. There were some excellent post-race goodies: pizza, Doritos, bagels, fruit, pop. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any of it down.

At least I was finished!

The car ride home was not fun. I have never felt so sick after a run and let’s just say it was a good thing I had a barf bag. As hubby says, I “opened the dam”. Sorry for the TMI. I immediately felt better, but it was short-lived. When we got to my parents' house, I was sick again in the washroom, them curled up on the couch in a blanket. I was able to eat a few crackers and felt a smidge better. When we got home I laid down again for a bit, but wasn’t able to eat anything substantial until much later that evening. I ended up going to bed at 8:15 and slept straight through to 6:30.

Overall, it was a great event and I had a good experience, despite the windy kilometers and aftermath.

The Stats

Gun Time: 1:58:32
Overall Place: 447/843
Gender Place: 186/475
F25-29 Place: 22/45
Chip Time: 1:58:27 = PR!!!