Friday, October 30, 2009

It's hubby's turn

Good morning and happy Friday!

It's an exciting weekend for the Mission to a(nother) Marathon household - hubby is running his first marathon this Sunday at Hamilton Road2Hope!

He's run more than 1000 miles this training cycle and he's in good shape for a very strong debut. Please think speedy thoughts for Mark on Sunday!

Good luck to everyone else racing and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Things Thursday

1. Spin class last night was a success, except that I forgot to eat something before. I was about ready to keel over half way through the class, but made it through. It was an incredible workout head to toe with plenty of core work (off the saddle, hands free) and arms/shoulders (spin push-ups anyone?). I missed this burn!


2. The lovely happy go lucky alex has bestowed upon me the Kreativ Blogger Award. (Thanks Alex!)

The rule is: tell you seven things you don’t already know about me. These will be completely random and not very deep. Don't mind me. :)

1. I don't like the taste of coffee. This includes coffee-flavoured desserts.

2. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. (And never will.)

3. My dream car is a VW Beetle.

4. My worst habit is biting my nails. Awful.

5. I've never learned to type properly, but I still type very quickly. At work they call me the 4-fingered bullet.

6. I'm a chronic putter-awayer. I am constantly putting things away that people are still using.

7. I would love to go on What Not To Wear. (Pretty sure I qualify.)

If you'd like to play along, consider yourself tagged.


3. It's Julia's turn to host Take it and Run Thursday and she wants to know:

If a genie were to appear and grant you any three running wishes in the world, what would you choose? It can be anything from superhuman powers, new running inventions, race entries, shoes, you name it!

What would be your three wishes?

1. unlimited funds for apparel/equipment, race registration fees and travel [this would also eliminate the necessity of working, which severely limits my time to run]

2. the lean mean running machine bod that I'm striving for

3. injury-free running!

I'm guessing I'm not alone in those desires... what are your 3 wishes?

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Summer Snapshots

[First: I survived my fitst fitness class last night (H.O.T.) after a 6+ month hiatus. It kicked my butt, but I loved it! Spin class tonight.]

A collection of random photos taken throughout an amazing summer of running, thanks to our awesome coach who provided a personalized CD to each of us. (Click to enlarge - some contain coach's captions from the slideshow.)

First night at clinic, 4:00 pace group

Meeting at the conservation area for one of our first long runs.
(you can see the temporary tattoo on my hand from the City Chase the day before)

The next 4 are from this "scenic" run at coach's place in the country.

Rocking the Recovery Socks at a post-run brunch

The infamous Hockley Valley 20-miler

A day at the track

Another Sunday run

Taken during our longest run - 23 miles

Hitting the "EASY" button at the end

A couple taken at the Toronto Waterfront

And finally, the Toronto Marathon

Group shot before the race
(I'm back centre in my colourful scarf)

Bringing Micki in for her BQ
(yep, I am holding her fuel belt)

Bringing one of the girls in for her first marathon finish
(I believe I am holding two fuel belts at this point!)

What an unforgettable summer!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Now what?

As I mentioned in my last post, I am officially done racing for this year. Aside from enjoying some down time, it's time to start thinking about what's next.

First things first, I'm going back to the gym. I completely neglected any form of cross-training all summer and I'm tired of feeling 'squishy.' I know that working on strengthening will improve my running (and overall fitness) - I just need to stick with it this time. I get dreadfully bored working out on my own, so I'll be taking group fitness classes again, starting tonight. I was taking classes regularly this time last year and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to getting back at it. My weekly schedule will determine which classes I can take, but I'd like to incorporate 2-3 of the following each week:

Monday - body-sculpt yoga
Tuesday - H.O.T. (high octane training - strength/cardio intervals)
Wednesday/Thursday - spin

Next, Project: Lean Mean Running Machine. I've let my nutrition slide too much lately and I'm feeling it on the run. It's time to get focused again and pay attention to what I'm eating. I have some 'marathon pounds' to lose and I'd love to lose an additional 10 after that. Hopefully the fitness classes will help with this cause. (Last year I successfully reached my lowest weight in years when I was taking classes regularly).

And finally, Goofy training! Yes, the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge is coming up soon. Since I do not have any time goals for either race, I will be taking a more laid back approach to the training and replacing 1-2 easy runs with cross-training. I'm not planning to incorporate speed work, but rather work on my endurance and building overall body strength/fitness. The key to Goofy training will be back-to-back long runs (Saturday being half of Sunday's distance) most weekends.

A typical week might look like this:

Monday: yoga or rest
Tuesday: H.O.T. + 5K easy
Wednesday: 10K general
Thursday: Spin
Friday: 5K easy or rest
Saturday: 15K
Sunday: 30K

My overall mileage will be quite a bit lower than it was when I trained for my last marathon; I'm most concerned about arriving in Florida injury-free and strong.

I'm taking a mini hiatus from running this week (will run only if/when I feel like it); I need the mental and physical break before officially kicking off the training.


One last thing: Tall Mom is having a fun Brooks for Her Giveaway this week. I know you want this jacket! But so do I, so please don't enter. ;)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Race Report: Niagara Falls International Half Marathon

Pre-Race Rambles

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been experiencing a major lack of running mojo lately. In all honestly, I think I just need a break and probably should not have signed up for another half after my marathon. This was my 14th race in 7 months and I was just not physically or mentally up for it.

Thanks for all of your comments suggesting that I don't necessarily have to race every race. I ended up taking your advice.... sort of. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Hubby and I checked into our hotel yesterday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised with a rate almost $50 less than we had been quoted (unexpected marathon discount). $75 for a king suite is a very good deal in Niagara! The room was nice and the bed was comfy - we were happy! (Free breakfast, too.)

We made the short walk to the expo at Skylon Tower where they had some great deals, but we didn't end up buying anything. The race swag was pretty awesome, the highlight being a Brooks gym bag with the race logo.

The yellow thing is a poncho.

We then wandered down to the falls to scope out the finish area and snap a photo. No matter how many times a year we see this, the view never gets old.

After our little walk, we had some time to unwind at the hotel before grabbing some pasta at T.G.I.Fridays for dinner. Holy huge servings! Neither of us could finish even half of our meal. We then had a quiet evening before hitting the sack early. I had a great sleep - I love hotel beds!

Since the race wasn't starting until 10am, we got to sleep in until 7. We headed downstairs for the continental breakfast, then had some more time to chill in our room before driving to the start line. The drive was smooth and quick (20 mins.) and we arrived in plenty of time.

It was a sunny and cool (about 7C/44F) at the start with a slight breeze off the river. Hubby stayed with me until the start so I could keep my warm layer on, but I was thrilled about the weather. People had been filling my head with horror stories of torrential rain and heavy winds, so the weather was a pleasant surprise.

After one final pit stop, ditching my sweats and a good luck hug from hubby, it was time to line up just in time for the national anthems (both U.S. and Canadian). I was excited and ready to go, even though I had no idea what this race would bring.

Race Rambles

While I had some goals in mind, I was prepared to make a last minute decision to just run if I wasn't feeling up to it. I was on pace for the first few miles, paying attention to the KM splits on my Garmin and keeping an eye on my pace band at the mile markers. I was only about 20 seconds behind at the 5K mark, but I was working way too hard. I could tell that my legs (and heart) didn't have it in them today, and that's okay. I decided on the spot to slow it down, run comfortably and enjoy the experience. It's certainly not everyday that I get to enjoy this route and I wanted to take it all in.

We were running along the picturesque Niagara River and the rich reds and oranges of autumn made it even more scenic. I turned up my music, reflected on a great year of running (after getting off to a rough start in January) and just ran.

The course was very well-supported with plenty of volunteers (dressed up in their school colours) at the water stations every mile. I made an effort to thank them all, catching on to their inside competition to see who could hand out the most cups of water. I had my handheld and wasn't helping the cause, but it was amusing to watch. :)

One of my most vivid memories was at the 10 mile marker, noticing the mist over the falls along with an incredible rainbow in the distance. It was absolutely beautiful and reminded me what a unique experience this was.

My pace was slowing, but I wasn't concerned as I plugged along toward the finish. At some point, the 2:00 pace group passed me. I had been expecting it and I was unconcerned. I thought, 'This is not my race, but it's all good.' I was loving it.

I picked it up as I passed the 12 mile marker and coasted downhill toward the finish. I could hear the crowds and hear the falls. At that moment, "Proud" (The Biggest Loser theme) came on my iPod and I immediately remembered a comment from Tall Mom. I felt proud to be running, to be completing my 8th half marathon. I turned it up and passed as many people as I could (I love a good finish sprint). I could see the FINISH sign up ahead and the stunning horseshoe falls to my right. I was flooded with emotion and covered in goosebumps as I made my way across the mat. What an exhilarating moment, and one of my most memorable race finishes.

*No race photos yet but I hope to have some soon!*

Chip time: 2:01:25
Overall: 622/1746
Females: 246/1126
F25-29: 45/144

(Notice the backdrop.)

Post-Race Rambles

I loved everything about the race. I definitely plan to return and hope to run the full marathon some day, which offers the unique experience of starting in one country and finishing in another.

It may not have turned out to be a great "race" but it was a great run and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not every race can be a PR.... especially since I've raced so much this year already. I can admit that I'm feeling 'over-raced' and needing a break. I had planned to run a 10-miler in November, but I've decided to scratch it in favour of a short break before jumping into Goofy training (more on that in a later post).

So this wraps up my 2009 racing year. Another day, another medal...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Not the best idea

We went to the Mandarin Buffet for my brother-in-law's Birthday dinner tonight (over-eating central). It's definitely one of those places where I can go every six months - tops!

So we feasted on Asian cuisine (I use that term loosely) and hubby and I thought it would be a good idea to head out for a run when we got home. I got a cramp immediately and then...

*burrrp* *gurgle* *gurgle*

Not pretty! I cut it short at a measly 4K, made a dash for the bathroom and called it a night.

It'll be a quiet morning tomorrow and we head to Niagara Falls in the afternoon. We booked a hotel for the night so we won't have to worry about a 90+ minute drive Sunday morning. I'm not feeling great about the race; I've been suffering from a major lack of motivation and confidence lately and find myself wondering why I signed up.

Hopefully I can at least enjoy the view!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Three Things Thursday

Another Three Things Thursday brought to you by CAUTION: Redhead Running (although she has 10 things today...)

1. Our end-of-season social this evening was fantastic. 50+ of us chatting away, sharing some good eats and drinks (even champagne), watching a spectacular slideshow of hundreds of photos taken all summer long and just having a jolly old time. Coach has promised us each a personalized photo CD, so I should have plenty to share soon.

2. MCM Mama is our host for this week's TIaRT and she wants to know:

We've all discussed why we run, but why do you RACE and how do you choose which races to run?

Do you look for certain distances, swag, location, start time, or something else? Tell me how you decide where and when to race. Also, I'm currently on a quest to run a race in every state. Please tell me--and others about a particular race you've run that is not to be missed.

For me, racing is about the challenge and excitement. When I'm racing, I can push myself to new levels and achieve goals I never imagined possible. The best part, though, is the energy surrounding race day. The anticipation of the starting horn, the adrenaline flowing through my veins, wondering if it's going to be my day, the comraderie with everyone around me (thousands of instant friends!).

When it comes to selecting races, there are a few I hope to run every year and I also like to support the local events. But most importantly, I like to keep things interesting with races like the Wine Country Run (stopping by wineries for a taste along the way), the Amaxing Race style City Chase and the Mud Run (need I say more?).

3. Check out Tall Mom's Baby It's Cold Outside Giveaway. Yes, it's already time for us northerners to start thinking about bundling up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Group Love

Everyone from my training group has been sending "race reflections" from the marathon on Sunday to our coach, who then sends them around to all of us. I love reading them and reliving the excitement of race day.

I submitted my own "Spectator's Perspective" and thought I would share it here also:

What a thrill to be out there on Sunday supporting the team. Having 30+ of us rally together to support one another in a great day of running is a true testament to the kind of group we have. It's been quite the summer as we've shared countless miles of blood, sweat, tears and sexual innuendos, and I hope to share many more miles with all of you in the future.

But back to Sunday... it was extremely rewarding seeing everyone out on the course to celebrate their training, and running alongside Sue, Micki, Scott, John, Neil, Wayne and Jane throughout the morning.

I'd like to note that I had arranged to meet Micki for the tail end of the race to keep her going and bring her in on pace. Micki and Scott were running together when I jumped in around 36K and imagine my surprise to discover they were both running so strong that I struggled to keep up! I was humbled to find myself counting down the KM markers for my own benefit as much as for theirs (of course I didn't admit it at the time) - keeping in mind that I had run about 25K less than they had at this point! Neither of you needed me, but it was a pleasure to share the experience with you.

A highlight of my day was certainly accompanying Micki for her "victory lap" around Queen's park into the finish. We both knew she had a BQ in the bag and I was so excited, you would have thought I had achieved it myself.

At the end of the day, I "finished" the race 4 or 5 times, bringing several of our runners around the seemingly endless loop to the finish line (and falsely promising "It's right around the corner!" over and over again). I could get used to this - simply running the END of a marathon; all the glory without all the pain. I wonder if some of the spectators started to recognize me....

This is much longer than intended - oops! Congratulations all around!

I can hardly believe this clinic is officially over after tomorrow. Another session will start up in January, but sadly our coach has decided not to return next year. It turns out his wife would actually like to spend some time with him. Go figure. Despite having a different instructor next time around, most of the group will be returning - myself included. (And many of us will continue to train together 'unofficially' in the coming months in preparation for Goofy and other races.)

Tomorrow evening is our end of session get together where we'll rehash many good (and not so good) stories shared on the roads over some food and drink, and also watch a slideshow that coach has put together of photos taken throughout the season. It should be a good time, although bittersweet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Good Things


inVigorators sent me a pair of their patented graduated medical-grade compression socks.

These socks definitely offer a good compression. They feel great on, they do the trick and they come in black so I can wear them to work. Bonus!

Visit inVigorators on Facebook or Twitter!


I won a Zensah giveaway from Team Giles recently and my goodies arrived in the mail last week.

I decided to go with the arm sleeves and seamless running skirt.

I haven't tested out the skirt yet, but I love the sleeves. The material is soft and comfy, they fit nice and snug and they happen to look pretty cute.


I also won a book giveaway from Mel Tries to Run. My copies of Running Hot by Lisa Tamati and 50/50 by Dean Karnazes arrived yesterday. I can't wait to check out Running Hot and I've already read 50/50, but it's definitely worth of a re-read. Mel also included a postcard of beautiful Darwin. Thanks Mel!


Lacey at Common Objects and Everyday Events sent me some goodies for participating in her "creative caption competition": a nice card, a magnet with a great quote and an Emergen-C drink mix packet. I love finding surprises in the mail. Thanks Lacey!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Run4Rett, Toronto Marathon and more

What a whirlwind of a weekend! My head is still spinning, but let's see if I can do a quick wrap-up so I can finally catch up on what you've all been up to.


First and foremost, congratulations to Yumke who has been chasing Boston for some time now. Today he achieved his coveted BQ at the Toronto Marathon with a 3:12:36. Amazing! I spotted him around 37K (I think) and he was looking strong with the 3:15 bunny. Congratulations Kenny!!!

AND... my girl Lacey may have run a little BQ herself... in her debut marathon! Way to go, girl!


Run4Rett was a tremendous success yesterday. It was a long and busy but rewarding day. My volunteers were outstanding, we had a great turnout of participants in the 1K and 5K and we raised over $56,000 for Rett Syndrome.

I'll share plenty of photos from the event once they're available, but for now here is one of hubby finishing the 5K with a PR of 19:36 for 4th place overall.

I also snapped one of Jean-Marc Genereux (of So You Think You Can Dance Canada) finishing the 5K. It was great seeing he and his family out there to support the cause.

After being on site at 7am, we wrapped up around 2pm. I only had a quick break at home before heading out to meet some friends for girls' night. I sat down to have a tea and check up on a few things online at the same time... and somehow managed to completely dump a mug of hot tea all over myself and my laptop. NOT COOL. It's still not working, but we're drying it out and trying a few other tricks to hopefully get it working again. Ugh.

Other than that, girls' night was fun, but a late night after a long day and I was exhausted when I crawled into bed.

Sleep in on Sunday? No way. I was up dark and early to head downtown with more than 30 people from my training group for the Toronto Marathon. It was an exciting morning with many running their first marathon, some going for BQ's and all of them out to see several months of training pay off. There were just as many of us out for support as there were runners and it was incredible to be a part such an important day for all of them.

After seeing everyone off, we all separated in order to spread ourselves out on the course and offer as much support as possible. I headed to about the 2K mark with a few others where we picked up some of our people and ran with them to 10K or so, which included running up the infamous Hoggs Hollow hill. I ran up ahead a few times (huffing & puffing!) to snap photos of the girls I was running with. I had a predetermined spot where I would pull off to meet up with others and head to our next stop together, but somehow I totally missed it. Must have been having too much fun! Not a total disaster, as I was able to hop on the subway and head to the next stop to find everyone.

We positioned ourselves next just past the half way point. Everyone was looking amazing at this point and it was so great to see them and give them a boost. Once everyone had run by, we took a walk to about 36K where we would catch them on the 'back' portion of an out and back along the lake shore.

I had arranged to meet my friend Micki at this point and bring her to the finish in under 4:00 for a BQ. She came along right on time (a couple minutes ahead!) and going strong. I jumped in immediately, asked all of the essential questions "How are you feeling?" "Do you need anything?" "Can I carry something for you?" She was running fast and picked it up as we passed the 4:00 bunny. She was focused and strong and I didn't doubt for a second during that entire 6K that she could do it. As we reached the lase few kilometres, another lady from our group jumped in to help bring her home. We yelled to the crowd that our girl was going to Boston and got them to cheer like crazy. It was such an amazing thing to share with her and what a great feeling. We finally sent her on her way with the finish line in sight, which she crossed in 3:56! BQ with time to spare! Fantastic.

I didn't waste any time turning around and running back along the course to see who else I could pick up. Over the next half hour, I successfully located four others and brought them in one at a time. Some were thrilled with their run and some were not, but watching someone finish a marathon, sharing those last minutes with them when it seems like the finish line is NEVER going to be there, watching their face light up when it finally comes into sight - what an incredible thing.

So many of these amazing people have supported me all summer long and during my own marathon and it was a true pleasure to be there today.

At the end of the day, I ran 18K and loved every minute of it. What a day! Photos to follow.

And now? I need to go to bed. I'll catch up with everyone tomorrow!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good Things

Thank you for all of your comments and support on Run4Rett. It was truly been eye opening to get involved behind the scenes and as you can imagine, it has been pretty hectic this week wrapping up the last minute details. 2 days til the event!

And now I have a few good things to catch up on...

Here are a couple pics from the chocolate peanut butter cake that hubby made for my Birthday - from scratch! It was delicious.

I won a Disney-themed giveaway a while back from The Running Briefs after she ran the Disneyland Half Marathon. Check out this awesome hat. Thanks Kristen!

For months I've been drooling over the Clif Bar flavors that Heather at trials of training often mentions in her Tuesday Trials... and I've often complained that we don't have nearly the selection around here! Well Heather surprised me with a wicked package (which arrived on my Birthday, btw!) containing a sweet card and two delicious Clif Bars. Thanks Heather!

[Sorry for the blurry pic!]

I neglected to mention last month that I received some special mail from Mel aka Tall Mom on the Run wishing me good luck on my marathon redemption. Thanks Mel!

And speaking of Tall Mom, she is our host this week for Take it and Run Thursday. It's been too long since I've participated in TIaRT and I apologize to those I missed! Here's what she wants to know.

Scarecrow asked for a Brain, Tin Man for a Heart, and Lion for Courage. If you could meet the Wizard of Running and ask for anything what would it be? When your wish was granted how would your travels down the Yellow Brick Road of running be different?

My wish to the running gods would be for resilience.

"Resilience is defined as a dynamic process that individuals exhibit positive behavioral adaptation when they encounter significant adversity or trauma." (Wikipedia)

Okay, so bad weather conditions may not necessarily qualify as "significant adversity or trauma" so this may be a bit of a stretch... but all too often I allow crummy conditions to get to me and completely ruin my run/race. If I could accept and adapt to these conditions, I would be much more likely to succeed.

I suppose hitting the wall would constitute "significant adversity or trauma" - if I could overcome that, I'd be running along the yellow brick road with a little extra pep in every step.

That's all for today! Thanks for reading and
Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!