Friday, October 31, 2008

No pumpkin run for me

I suck! By the time I got home from work the little trick-or-treaters were already arriving, and by the time things quieted down my belly was too full of candy! Sorry to disappoint.

As a consolation, here I am in my M&M costume in front of our house and a couple pics of me with my adorable nieces & nephew who came to visit. Soooo cute!

That's an orange in Connor's hand. AN ORANGE! I don't think he understands the concept of Halloween. But in his defense, he thought it was a ball!

Happy Halloween!

It's T.G.I.F. Picture Day as designated by NikeMom so here's a look at what I've been doing this week.

(To those who are asking, yes I did carve them! All by myself! And no, I'm not posting close-ups because they just don't look that great close-up. LOL!)

In running news it's been a pretty mellow week. The way I see it, I'm tapering for the race on Sunday...even if I haven't really been following a training program since the marathon. After my windy 5K on Tuesday, I took Wednesday off because it was even colder and windier. Tonight a couple of friends met me for an 8K; we kept up a nice pace with some good conversation, and promptly dug into the Halloween treats when we were done.

Today is the Virtual 3.1 Pumpkin Run so go put on your costume and run 3.1 miles, 3.1K or 3.1 laps around the block. Try not to scare the trick-or-treaters! Stay tuned for my report & pics tomorrow.

Be safe & have fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

If I were a hero...

The Runners' Lounge: Take it and Run Thursday topic for this week is Superpowers. As a runner, what superpower would we most like to have? (besides the obvious, SPEED!)

Any Heroes fans in the house?

I'm going with Peter Petrelli's superpower: the ability to absorb and mimic the powers of others. You see, this way I'll have access to a multitude of superpowers depending on what I need for the situation. I can borrow Pounding the (NYC) Pavement's built-in air conditioner, Running at the Mouth's hill-flattener, Cross Country Squared's command of daylight, Mel's immediate healing, Training for a Half's Achilles (minus the heel), Fitness Geek's traffic control, See Nat Run's wind control, Julianne's super metabolism... to name a few!

I just discovered that joyRuN had the same brilliant idea as I. I guess we can share it. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The List

I think most (all?) runners have a list of marathons (or other races) that we'd like to complete in our lifetime. With the New York City Marathon coming up this weekend, it has me thinking about my list. Some are realistic, some not so much. Here it is.


It falls just three weeks after Toronto's other premiere event, the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and from what I've heard offers a much more scenic (and challenging) course and usually more favourable weather conditions.

Niagara Falls
The only marathon in the world that starts in one country and finishes in another. After reading Marci's report I am even more excited about this one.

I'm pretty sure it's one of the best around for crowd support, and it's in our nation's capital. I've never even been there!

I've never ventured west of Ontario (within Canada) but would love to see British Columbia. I've been told Vancouver is a must-do for Canadians.


the obvious one: New York City
New York is my favourite place I have ever visited. It's an amazing city and this would be an event like no other.

Earlier this year I watched Spirit of the Marathon and left the theatre knowing I had to run Chicago one day.

San Francisco (Women's)
Chocolate on the course, probably the most stylish race tee, a Tiffany finisher's necklace, firefighters and all kinds of other girlie amenities, all in a beautiful city. What more could a girl ask for?

Walt Disney World Marathon
Need I say more?

A girl can dream.

Far & Away

My hubby was born and raised in England. Last year I spent a week in London with my Mom (thank you radio contest!) and had the time of my life. I love the city and what better way to embrace it?

Gold Coast

Great Wall of China
This is my big goal. Of the world's adventure marathons, it's the one I want to complete. I first had the idea about a year ago and hubby and I actually considered planning it for 2009. We poured over budgets and itineraries and were pretty serious about it, but in the end we decided to put it off for now. But mark my words: we will do it one day.

So, what's on your list?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's a good thing I like the wind-blown look

There's a snowsquall warning around here, so I bundled up before heading out for my easy 5K after work.

A snowsquall is a sudden moderately heavy snow fall with blowing snow and strong, gusty surface winds. It is often referred to as a whiteout and is similar to a blizzard but is localized in time or in space and snow accumulations may or may not be significant.

No sign of snow (yet) but the wind was out in full force! I found myself running against 60+km/h winds and it felt like I was hardly moving at times. I'm definitely not a fan of the wind (is anyone??), especially when it carries a chill to the tune of -3oC (26F). I think I've earned myself a hot chocolate.

You just never know what you're gonna get this time of year! There's a forecast of snow AND rain overnight, so who knows what tomorrow night's run will bring.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Half Marathon goals & game plan

The Hamilton Road2Hope Half Marathon on November 8th will be my third 21.1K/13.1mi. Having trained for and recently completed my first full marathon and run a handful of shorter races this year (three 10K's, one 5K), I am anxious to tackle the half marathon distance again.

I'm looking forward to it. It's a distance that's just long enough to be a challenge, without leaving me feeling like I've jumped out of a plane without a parachute. At least, hopefully.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have three goals for this race (my PR is 2:01:00):

A. 1:55 (5:27/KM): This is my ideal goal.
B. <1:58:57 (5:38/KM): You may be wondering about the random number - it's a friend's HM PR. A friend (male) whose 10K PR is 40 seconds faster than mine, HM PR is 2 minutes faster than mine and marathon PR is 3 minutes faster than mine (this is the guy who ran the entire second half of the race with me, but the bugger crossed the start line after me. No fair!). Nothing like a little friendly competition. I like trying to beat the boys. ;)
C. <2:00 (5:41/KM). If it kills me, I will come in under two hours.

As for the game plan? The first half of the race is downhill, so I plan to use that to my advantage. My goal is to hold a 5:15-5:25 pace for the first half until it flattens out. At that point, I will re-assess and slow down a little, or try to maintain the pace if I feel like I can. I know anything can happen on race day, but I feel pretty prepared.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nothing cures a hangover like...

...a long, slow run. So it wasn't that long (12.6K = 7.8mi) or that slow (1:14), but it did the trick.

We had our softball banquet last night and there was an open bar. 'Nuff said! I crawled out of bed this morning at 8:30 realizing I would not be meeting the group I was invited to 8:30. Oops! It took me over an hour to get going, but I headed out into the cool, windy, overcast morning and had a decent run. The weather has settled down into something more comfortably, so I can get away with light pants and a long-sleeve shirt. Hopefully this will last a while!

One week til the Hamilton Road2Hope half marathon and I have A, B and C goals. Stay tuned for that tomorrow!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Battle of the Bulge in conjunction with Photo Friday!

Today I've decided to participate in NikeMom's T.G.I.F. Picture Day.

I now present you with a "fat pic" in honour of the Runners' Lounge Take it and Run Thursday topic for this week: Weight and Running. (Sorry, I'm a day late!)

I've rambled here and there about the struggles I've had with my weight. I think I can finally say that I am in a healthy place. I've lost 30 lbs this year alone (and kept it off since July). I'd love to lose a few more lbs (10-15 would be nice!) but I'm comfortable with my body right now; I feel great and that's what counts.

I've been a wonderful example of the yo-yo dieter. My weight has fluctuated in 20-50 lb intervals since high school and I've tried every diet in the book.

My most recent success has come from exercise (of course!) in combination with Weight Watchers. Most of the time I have only loosely followed the program and used it as a guideline to monitor/control what I am eating. It has been most useful in encouraging me to keep track of what I eat and for the accountability factor of having someone weigh me each week or month. I recently achieved Lifetime Member status, which means I met my goal and maintained it for 6 weeks. Now I just have to show up at least once a month to weigh-in (must be within 2 lbs of goal) and WW is free! I finally found something that works for ME.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their own weight loss stories, tips, insights and woes yesterday. It's good to know that none of us is alone in this battle.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Last night I went out for some drinks and bites with a group of people that I met through the Running Room half marathon clinic last winter. We've all kept in touch despite going in different directions after the clinic; some pursued the subsequent marathon clinic, some (like myself) continued training on our own, some have been unfortunately laid up with injuries.

It got me thinking about the network of friends I have formed through the running community. It's nice knowing that there is always someone available for a run (I even recruited some company for my run tonight!), or to share stories/ideas/woes over a beer (or fruity girlie beverage).

I'm considering joining the full marathon clinic in January. I'll have the opportunity to meet more great people and I could use all the extras motivation I can get when it comes to running through a Canadian winter. My only hesitation is that the RR program promotes walk breaks and doesn't include enough 30K+ runs (in my opinion). I could always save my money and show up for some of their Wednesday night and Sunday morning runs, and do my own thing the rest of the time. Hmmm..... ?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The sun will come out tomorrow


I'm glad you were all amused by our weather woes up here in southern Ontario. I can't remember a year when it was this bad so early in the season (it's not even winter for two more months!) so hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.

It's still cold, snowy and dreary around here, but it's looking up for the next few days with more reasonable temperatures and even some sun. Tommorrow looks nice, so I'm planning to make up the 15K after work.

Looks like I'll have time for another 5'er tonight before meeting some running buds for wings and beer (and by beer I mean alcoholic beverages of choice since I don't actually drink beer). That's more like it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Did I say 15K?

Because I'm pretty sure I meant 5K. No way was I lasting more than 30 minutes in this today. I was neither mentally nor physically prepared for it and knew before I stepped out the door that it would be a much shorter run than planned. Better than nothing, right?

Jess, to answer your question, 2oC = about 35.6oF, but it's -4 with the windchill factor (=24.8F). Brrrr! Although, I shouldn't be complaining just yet. There will be many much, MUCH colder days to come.

Here I am all bundled up and ready (or not) to go:

And after about half an hour of freezing cold, windy, snowy and wet running (felt more like shuffling with all the extra layers on):

(Look at our snowy pumpkin!)

The good news is, hubby has a chicken roasting in the oven and it smells delicious! After dinner I'm going to curl up on the couch in blankies since we refuse to turn the furnace on before November.

One of those "would rather spend the evening on the couch" kind of days

These are the current conditions at home:

Not exactly ideal running conditions, especially not in October! What happened to the gorgeous weather from this past weekend? I'm not ready for this! I still haven't found my gloves, nor do I have pants that fit. Yuck.

But don't start thinking that I'm looking for excuses to skip the 15K I had planned for tonight because I am going to touchen up, suck it up and run it whether I like it or not.

Check back later to make sure I did. I might even take a pic of myself wearing whatever goofy concoction I come up for warmth. I think a trip to the local running store is in order, and SOON!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Toronto Marathon: commentary as a spectator

Yesterday was the Toronto Marathon and what an exciting day it was! This time I had the pleasure of spectating as opposed to running and while it was tempting to lace up and join the hoards of runners, I had just as much fun (and less pain!) from the other side.

It was dark and cold (close to freezing) when we departed for downtown at 6AM. The route started at the north end of the city at Mel Lastman Square and we arrived with plenty of time to spare at 6:30. At that time, you would hardly know a race was starting in 90 minutes! There were no signs, the starting area was not set up (timing mats were not even down) and very few people were milling around. It was quite a change from our experience at Scotia.

Thankfully there was a building (library?) open for the runners to seek some warmth, so we hung out there until closer to race time. Hubby took off for his final washroom break and warm-up, and a little before 8:30 (30 minutes to gun) we headed toward the starting line. But wait a second, where IS the starting line? The banner was facing the wrong way! Some runners had started lining up facing the sign, so they would be running south, but hubby was sure they should be heading north. Sure enough, the announcer eventually informed everyone that they should be lining up to run north. And so the chaos began!

We have never seen such an unorganized and chaotic start for several reasons - no corrals (for 5000+ runners, you need corrals!), no barricades controlling the entrace to the starting lineup (i.e. runners entering from all directions, displacing those who had lined up early).

The race ended up starting late by about 5 minutes due to runners showing up at the last minute (when the race is scheduled to start at 9:00AM, why do people show up at 8:55?!). Anyone who has run the Toronto Half before, is it always like this?

They eventually got started but I later found out from my hubby that he was fighting crowds and dodging slower runners for the first few kilometres.

As soon as the race started I got in the car and drove to find parking near the finish area at Queen's Park. I arrived in plenty of time to see the lead half marathoners finish. I nervously watched the clock, eagerly awaiting my hubby's finish. He came in right on target at 1:40:38.


His ultimate goal for the year is <1:40, but this was technically a "training run" and the real deal is Hamilton on November 2nd. Considering the crowded start, a few significant hills on course and some glitches with his watch (he thought he was running target pace for the first 5K when he was actually much slower), I'm sure he'll reach his goal in two weeks on a nice flat course with significantly fewer runners.

Once he had finished, we headed down to the lakeshore to watch for our friends running the full (started 1 hour later). We found a good spot around the 23K mark and took in this amazing view, all the while cheering like fools.

I absolutely love cheering at races. While some runners seem to be totally in the zone and don't appear to notice, the occasional nod, smile, wave and even thank you makes it feel like I could actually be making a difference. I know the crowd support during my first marathon got me through some of the tougher kilometres. I actually believed people when they said I was "Looking strong!" or "Almost there!" Sometimes it helps to have just a little distraction from the pain and fatigue. I am always grateful to the spectators and try to thank everyone who goes the extra mile to offer some support.

My friend Patricia (my partner for the City Chase in June) was right on target for a 3:30 finish when she passed. Her hubby followed soon after, keeping an excellent pace for his first marathon.

After giving them both high fives and waving our signs, we headed back to the finish line to wait for them to come in. We were lucky enough to see Mel at this point who kept us company while we waited for the big finish. We waited on the final bend toward the finish, with only 100 metres or so the go. It was amazing seeing everyone come in, some looking strong, most looking absolutely exhausted, ALL looking 100% relieved. There is nothing like running the finishing chute of a marathon...brought me back to a few weeks ago when I was one of those people!

Before long we saw Patricia in the distance and knew she was going to achieve her goal of a Boston qualifier. For her second marathon, she clocked an amazing 3:36:51. So awesome! Her hubby finished soon after with a solid time of 4:02:28 for his first 42.2.

It was such an exciting day and I was thrilled to be a part of it. All the runners raved that it was a beautiful course, one I definitely hope to run in the future.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Don't feed the animals!

Race Report! Oasis ZooRun 10K

It's not every day that you get to run through the Americas, Africa, Australia and Eurasia, but the 10K Zoo Run allowed us to do just that at the Toronto Zoo.

Pre-Race Prep

Earlier this week I completed two impromptu tempo runs to get a feel for a quicker pace. I ran an 8K at 5:17/KM and 5K at 4:52/KM, which got the wheels turning as far as goals for this event. I settled on a target 5:15/KM pace for a 52:30 finish, knowing it would be a tough course (hills, bends, being distracted by monkeys). Naturally, in the back of my mind (and with some urging from Marcy) I was secretly hoping for a PR of sub-49:10.

I ordered a big bowl of pasta at a company lunch function and brought the leftovers home for dinner. I realize it's only a 10K, but I'll take any excuse to carbo-load!

The hubby and I had a quiet evening and got to bed at a decent time.

Race Day Prep

We awoke to a frosty zero degrees C, one of the coldest mornings we've had thus far. We brought several layers of clothing so we could decide what to wear once it (hopefully!) warmed up a little closer to the scheduled 9:30 start.

We got to the Zoo nice and early and picked up our race kits/bibs without any trouble. We used the port-o-lets and just hung out in the car for a while to keep warm. We found some friends by about 8:30 and enjoyed the company while we waited for the start.

(I'm second from the left and that's Sarah second from the right.)

Thankfully, the temperature warmed up as the sun rose and it was closer to 5oC (that's about 41F for the Americans) by 9:30. After much deliberation, I settled on capri pants (I have no long pants that fit!), the long-sleeve technical Zoo race shirt with my Scotiabank tee on top, and a headband for the ears (I get a headache if my ears are too cold).

Here's hubby and I all geared up:

Note the shadow...that's our friend who wore bunny ears (many people dressed up as animals). I later found out he was constantly asked "What's your time?" - people thought he was a pace bunny!

The Race!

They had corrals set up for the 2500 10K runners, so I made my way to yellow (0:49-0:55) and got excited! It was a great atmosphere already and lots of chatter going on as we waited for the gun.

We took off promptly at 9:30 and I crossed the mat after only 30 seconds or so. The first part of the run was pretty crowded, and took us along the outside of the parking lot and along a couple of main roads before we entered the zoo from the "Staff Only" entrance around 2K.

I warmed up extremely quickly, rolling up the sleeves and ditching the headband just minutes into the race.

The next 8K would take us along winding paths through almost the entire zoo, with plenty of twists and turns and ups and downs.

The hills were tough, to say the least. They came one after the other and a few were painfully steep. At one point we made a steep climb that ended with a set of stairs. (Thanks Yumke for the warning! It was funny hearing all the gasps and groans when we the the sign: "Stairs ahead.")

I maintained a good pace under target, gradually increasing over the first 5K.

The second half of the race brought some of the most difficult climbs and I started feeling pretty tired. I pushed hard up the hills and distracted myself by trying not to let anyone pass me. I was successful, for the most part.

I also spent most of the second half of the race trying to remove a pesky rock from my shoe without actually stopping. I didn't discover how big the darn thing was til after the race - no wonder it was so uncomfortable!

I knew I wasn't going to set a PR, but also knew I would be pretty close to 50 minutes if I pushed hard for the last couple kilometres. It was a struggle and I felt like I could either keel over or vomit at any second (neither happened - phew!). Finally, I was on the home stretch and had an exciting finish with tons of spectators.

Official results:
Gun Time: 51:18.0
Chip Time: 50:58.7
Category (Women 25-29) Place: 16/261
Overall Gender Place: 78/1267

After thoughts

Overall, I'm very pleased with my time. It was a challenging course (one of the most difficult I have run). The race was well-executed with plenty of support and great refreshments in the finishers' area. The route was scenic and enjoyable, no matter how tough it got. I had been pretty excited about running past all the animals, but I only remember seeing the zebras. Must have been in the zone! I'll definitely be back next year going for sub-50:00.

Congrats to all of my friends who ran a great race!

Here's the after shot:

Friday, October 17, 2008

5K PR... unofficially

Last night I ran my fastest 5K training run EVER. It was another cool, crisp evening and I was in pure bliss as I hit the sidewalks when the sun went down.

I set out quickly and felt surprisingly comfortable with my first and second kilometres at 5:05 and 4:58 respectively. I managed to keep up the pace for a third kilometre without much difficulty at 4:54. At this point I knew I could beat my previous best 5K (outside of a race) of 25 minutes. Then came The Hill. Almost the entire 4th kilometre of this route (an old favourite) is uphill and it took everything in me to complete it in 5:06. I normally slow down much more, but knew I was close to a PR and hung on tight. Thankfully, most of the homestretch was downhill. I booked it in 4:20, clocking a 5K at 24:29.

I'll take this evening off in preparation for the Zoo Run tomorrow. Speaking of which, the forecast is calling for 2 degrees C when the race starts - looks like it's time to dig out the winter gear!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Runner's high

Yesterday evening I had one of those runs.

It was dusk and a refreshing 13oC. My route took me through a quiet, mature neighbourhood with tree-lined streets and I was immersed in the rich red, orange and yellow hues of the season. I breathed in the crisp and refreshing fall scents and felt the leaves crunch beneath my feet.

I was cruising along at a decent clip, enjoying tunes on my new Ipod (awesome Birthday gift from awesome friends) and loving every minute of it. It was almost disappointing to stop when I got to the gym where hubby was meeting me, except that I was pooped from charging up an ugly hill toward the end.

Stats were: 8.20KM - 43:25 - 5:17/KM

Pretty quick for me! It got me thinking about goals for the 10K ZooRun this Saturday. My PR is 49:10, but that was at a primarily downhill race on a straight stretch of road, whereas this will be a winding route through the zoo with all kinds of ups and downs. I think I'll target a 5:15 pace for a finish around 52:30, but I won't be surprised with something closer to 55 minutes. In the end, it should be a fun race with a bunch of friends and I'll definitely enjoy the change of scenery.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday rambles

I feel like I've been cruising along in some kind of limbo state these days, still in recovery with a couple races coming up and no real program to follow. I'm just sort of winging in, which doesn't generally make for consistent running. I can't figure out how many KM's I should be logging to keep my fitness level high (half marathon November 2nd! PR BABY!) without overdoing it...I'm a little lost.

I ran 14K Sunday morning with a few people from my old Running Room group, which was nice. We had an absolutely beautiful weekend with sunny skies and temps in the 20's. I also went out for a little 5K with the hubby on Monday. Took yesterday off (shouldn't have, but could not get out the door). I'm planning to run to the gym tonight (scenic route - I'll make it 8K or so) when I'll meet the hubby for some strength training. Hopefully my arms won't feel like they need to be amputated the next day this time.

I've been doing pretty well battling the taper/recovery "bulge" - lost 3 lbs of it so far and a couple to go.

Road Warrior is seeking some virtual running buddies this weekend for his 48 Miles in 48 Hours event...check it out if you have a sec.

Monday, October 13, 2008


On January 6, 2007 I mentioned in a post that hubby wanted to run 26 kilometres on his 26th Birthday (this would have been last October). This didn't end up happening since we both took a mini vacation from long distance running after our first half marathon that September.

Today is my 26th Birthday. I won't be running 26 anything (except maybe minutes if I decide to head out for a little 5K), but two weeks ago I ran my first 26-miler...that's gotta count for something.

Now bring on the cake!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pride is permanent.

I needed a little something more to commemmorate my first marathon...

6 Things

Marci tagged me, so here are 6 things you may not (and perhaps didn't want to) know about me:

1. I have a small bump on my big toe that moves back and forth over an area of about one inch. The doctor suspects it's a piece of chipped bone, but it doesn't bother me so we've just left it alone. (Some people think it's gross, but I think it's cool.)

2. I love KD. I can eat the whole box and I could eat it every day (but I don't).

3. My hubby grew up in England (moved to Canada in '96) and we've been trying to plan a trip so he can show me the country since we got married. Next October we are FINALLY going to do it and we're bringing my parents along for the ride.

4. I had surgery to remove my adenoids when I was a kid and the surgeon "slipped", accidentally removing one of my tonsils. So I only have one.

5. I am absolutely addicted to Diet Coke. I've cut back to one can a day (or less) but I can't get enough of the stuff.

6. I sometimes worry that I will never feel "ready" to have children, or that I'll wait too long and regret it.

TAG! You're it: Tigrr, Sarah, Marky Mark and Dando.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Decisions, decisions.

Yesterday was a pleasant 7K on a dark and cool evening. Planned 10 but had to use the facilities, if ya know what I mean. It was dark enough... should've just gone in the bushes.

This is my dilemma. There was a 5 week window between the marathon on September 28th and my goal HM on November 2nd. I wanted to fit in one 20K+ run during that time frame. The ideal weekend would have been the one smack dab in the middle (October 18/19) but that is officially the busiest weekend of the year with the Oasis Zoo Run 10K Saturday morning, volunteering at a local "Run for Rett" for a friend Saturday afternoon, softball banquet Saturday evening, supporting two friends and my hubby at the Toronto Marathon Sunday morning and my niece's 1st Birthday party Sunday afternoon!

The following weekend (25th/26th) is only a week before the event, so no way I am I doing 20K. That leaves this weekend, only two weeks after the marathon. I've been invited for a 14K early Sunday morning with some friends from the Running Room so I'm thinking I'll join them and tack on 6K at the end. I figure this is my best option.

Only thing is, I'll finish the run and have to come home and prepare turkey feast with all the fixins for 10 people... or maybe this gives me an excuse to make hubby do all the work. ;) At least I'll have a great excuse to go back for thirds.

Good luck to all the racers this weekend and Happy Thanksgiving to the Canadians!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


For a lack of anything else to write about today, I'm "stealing" the Runners' Lounge Take it and Run Thursday topic: Signs.

We thought it would be interesting to hear what signs you have seen or you would love to see while running your next race.

My sister captured this one while waiting for me to run by at my most recent race.

Hopefully Shawn laughed as hard as I did!

There was also a woman with a sign reading IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING and I saw her a couple times over the course of the race. I thought that was awesome and remember thanking her, and she said "No, thank YOU!" That was special.

But of course, my personal favourite was this one in the finishing chute:

I was in absolute agony and crumbling from exhaustion, but when I saw this sign, I forgot all about it.

I always enjoy the sweet and sentimental signs, like "Run Daddy Run!" - they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

In running news, my foot is feeling pretty good. I did a boring workout on the elliptical last night (I HATE CROSSTRAINING) and have 8K planned for tonight. After the last two nights in the gym, and with this beautiful fall weather we're having, I can't wait to lace up and enjoy the fresh air.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


First, a few of the reasons that I didn't run yesterday either:

1. Hubby's Birthday - chicken wings, hot dogs and poutine to be consumed.*
2. Laziness - I just wanted to lounge! Since I usually do a longish run on Sunday, I get to chill after work on Monday and that's a hard habit to break.
3. Foot issues - this stubborn pain in my foot is there one day, gone the next. Still not sure what to make of it.

*Since tapering for the marathon, my eating habits have been on a downward spiral. I've been stuffing my face left, right and centre and it is not going easy on the waist line. As of today I am officially back on the healthy eating bandwagon. Keeping track of what I'm eating/drinking, making sure it's all (mostly) healthful, nutritious stuff. October is a difficult month around here with hubby's Birthay, Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, my Birthday on the 13th, two softball banquets, 4 other family Birthdays and a partridge in a pear tree! So to prevent myself from gaining 10 lbs this month (in addition the the few I have already put on), I had to take control now.

Anyway, about the dreadmill. (Can't remember which one of you I stole the term from (and I apologize for that!) As of today, my membership at the gym is re-activated and I hit it up for a workout. Since my foot was cooperating today, I did a little 3-miler first and then a 30 minute weight circuit (I can't move my arms). I don't enjoy the treadmill at all... you might even say I hate it. I sweat like a you-know-what, feel like everyone is listening to my breathing and staring at me, can't take my eyes off the numbers on the screen (which mean nothing to me anyway because it's all imperial - aren't we in Canada?!) AND it's extremely boring. I sucked it up and will continue to do so at least a few times a week. The only way I'll drag my butt to the gym for any cross-training/strengthening is if I'm using the treadmill as well, and it'll be good for some interval workouts which I plan to start once I'm fully recovered from this marathon business.

Going to watch some Biggest Loser now to remind myself why I should not be eating the way I have been...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Reasons I did not run yesterday:

Saturday was hubby's Birthday party...

Could it have been the margaritas?

Or maybe the straight-up tequila?

(Don't mind the freakish red eyes!)

Or was it the wine?

Either way, I got out of bed at 3PM and didn't do much else before going BACK to bed at 10.

In other news, hubby got two awesome books for his Birthday:


So I may not have run yesterday, but at least I did some reading about running.

Planning to run tonight...or go to the gym... ot both. My foot is still aggravating me a bit, so we'll see. It didn't bother me during Saturday's run, but hurts to walk on it today. I'm wondering if I should stick to the elliptical and bike for a few days?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

You guys are funny!

Thanks for the suggestions, but I think I'll stil to the 'thons as opposed to the 'thlons... I could really use the cross-training, but I don't have any interest in tri's/du's. For now.

I should have known at least one of you would mention the Ultra. Sure, a short time ago I probably said "I'll never run a marathon" but I don't think I'll be going any further than this for a while.

So the blog title remains in limbo for now, until I can think of something good. 2009 race plans coming soon...maybe it'll hit me then. :)

But before I get ahead of myself, I still have a 10K coming up in two weeks (Oasis Zoo Run) and a half marathon in 4 (Road2Hope Hamilton). Not sure what to expect for the 10K because it's through the ZOO, so there will be lots of tight turns, rolling hills and animal-watching! My 10K PR was a down-hill race on a straight stretch of road, so I doubt I can come close to that, not to mention being only 3 weeks after my first marathon. Definitely going for a PR in Hamilton on November 2nd and hoping to finally crack the 2:00:00 barrier.

Went for a nice 8.25K this morning in the cool, crisp and refreshing October air. This is my favourite time of year. Pace was quick at 5:21/KM. I may try something a little longer tomorrow, but I may also be slightly hungover from my hubby's Birthday bash tonight... so we'll see.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mission Accomplished! What now?

Back in March '07 when I had the crazy idea to run a half-marathon and changed the name of my blog to reflect that, I never even imagined that it would become a Mission to a Marathon just a year or so later.

And look at me now!

There is no doubt in my mind that there will be many marathons in the future and this is only the beginning of a long journey.

So what the heck should I call my blog now??? I'm taking suggestions. But don't even bother suggesting Mission to an ULTRA Marathon ... it's not gonna happen.

Went for a 5K recovery run (bang on 6:00 pace) yesterday and my legs felt fan-freaking-tastic. I'm having some pain in my right foot (muscle along the outside) but it's bearable, and hopefully getting better. Probably take today off and see how it feels tomorrow. I'm loving the cool crisp autumn temps (high of 12C today!) and just want to get out there and keep on running.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pro pics are in!

Thank you so much for all the comments!

This is the FIRST TIME EVER that I have had decent photos taken of me during a race. I think they speak for themselves.

You can view the whole set here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Race Report: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

This is the story of My First Marathon. I feel like I can't possibly find enough words to adequately describe the experience, but here goes nothing.

On Saturday, hubby and I headed downtown after lunch and checked into our hotel (the Holiday Inn on King, just a short walk from the race site). We checked out our executive suite (free upgrade!) and quickly transformed the office area to a pseudo-kitchen.

I soon headed to the Expo where I had the pleasure of meeting Laurel (aka Mother Hen of Canadian Bloggers), her friend the triathlete Ann, Marci and Emily. It was wonderful to meet these awesome ladies in person. They helped calm my nerves a bit, although Emily kept saying "Do you know how long 42 kilometres is??"

Hubby met me afterwards and we picked up some takeout spaghetti and garlic bread from Joe Badali's, which we brought back to the hotel room and consumed on the bed.

We had a quiet evening, watched an in-room movie and hit the lights at 10PM. Unfortunately, neither of us could sleep. We both tossed and turned for hours and I know I was still awake at one o'clock. As the minutes and hours passed, I got more and more frustrated and upset and could not take my mind off the countdown to 5:45 when the alarm would sound. At some point I feel asleep, and had a few measly hours of rest. (We both decided we will not sleep in a hotel the night before a race again unless absolutely necessary.)

Everything was laid out and ready to go.

We got up before the sun, ate breakfast (a plain bagel for me) and watched the weather channel. I was a little anxious to discover that it was already 16 degrees C before 6AM, but no sense worrying about the weather.

We got ready and walked to the the race site, Nathan Phillips Square/City Hall, at 6:30. I was surprised at the huge crowds already gathered. Hubby and I lined up for the port-a-potties together and then said our goodbyes as we headed toward our respective corrals.

I was surprised and ecstatic to run into my good friends Patricia and Ueli on the way. My nerves got the best of me and I almost started to cry, but some hugs and reassurance helped calm me down. I finally made my way to the correct corral, where I was surprised again to run into an old friend from my half marathon program at the Running Room. Even surrounded by 14000 other runners, it can feel pretty lonely waiting for the gun to go off and we were both happy to have some company.

And before I knew it, the race had started! I had been so nervous in the days leading up to the event and was relieved just to get moving. Whatever happened was going to happen and I was okay with it. Words of advice echoed in my ears, in particular: The marathon is a reward for your training. I was going to enjoy this.

I had hoped to provide a report broken down into segments by distance, but most of it is a blur of numbers so this is going to be more of an overview.

The first several kilometres went by in a snap. I was feeling good, having fun and even looking forward to the next few hours. I did get caught up in the crowd and started far too quickly, but got it under control by about the 5K mark.

I had taken half a gel 15 minutes before the start, and took the other half about 30 minutes in. For the most part, I was taking a gel (or equivalent in Sport Beans or Shot Blocks; I needed variety) every 45-60 minutes. I should also mention that I elected not to carry my own water and relied on the water stations every 2-3KM. This worked out fine and I was able to time my gels accordingly. I could usually hear voices over the loud speakers announcing "Water at the front, Gatordade at the back, both sides of the road!" several minutes before reaching the stations.

We were running along Lakeshore Boulevard alongside Lake Ontario, the same route as last year's half. It was enjoyable and the temperature was still comfortable, so I was feeling good. I had been looking forward to crossing paths with the elites and it gave me just as much of a thrill this time around as it did last year. Many of us applauded, although they likely did not notice.

Around 10K I saw my Mom, my little sister and her boyfriend as well as my father-in-law and his girlfriend standing at the side of the road. They were cheering like fools and I gave them a big smile. It was amazing to see them, as you can see from this pic!

My 10K split was 1:02:12 (gun time). At 12.2K we made a u-turn and headed back along the Lakeshore in the opposite direction. 12.2K split was 1:14:49.

It was around 18-19K that the marathoners finally separated from the halfers. There were two large red arches over the road and this year I pulled to the right and proudly ran through the "MARATHON" arch. There are far fewer marathoners than half-marathoners in this event (only 2500 of us) so the crowd thinned out quite a bit.

We headed along the quiet streets of the Queens Quay and soon passed the half-way point. My split was 2:10:16 and I had a feeling I was in trouble. I was already pretty tired, considering I had 21.1KM to go. The sun was hot, the air was thick with humidity and I was feeling it. I was taking my gels on schedule and drinking a full cup of water AND Gatorade at each aid station, but still felt depleted. This was not a good sign.

I had completely given up on finishing in any particular time and knew it would be a battle just to finish. Despite how I was feeling, I tried to enjoy the entertainment and scenery, and gradually made my way to the Leslie Street Spit. Up until this point, I had run continuously except for brief 30-second walks through the water stations. As I gulped water just past 25K and wondered to myself how I would survive the next 17, someone came up behind me and squeezed my shoulders. THANK GOD! My good buddy Dave was there to save the day. We began running together and would prove to be each other's saviour over the next (roughly) two hours. (27K split was 2:56:51).

This part of the route took us along a peninsula jutting into the lake, but was not nearly as scenic as I had imagined. We couldn't see much more than dying grass and cracked pavement (or maybe that's all I noticed?) and there was absolutely no shade. Being an out-and-back section only made it seem to last forever. We eventually reached 30K where we had agreed to take a walk break. We were both struggling with exhaustion and the heat was brutal. I had started dumping water over my head at every water station to cool off.

30K split was 3:10:47, so I was still making pretty decent time. And it all went down hill from there!

The next 12 kilometres would prove to be a mental and physical battle just to keep moving. The scenery was dismal as we ran through the streets of an industrial neighbourhood. Thankfully, there was some decent entertainment and amazing volunteers to lift our spirits. We just kept each other talking, kept reminding one another how close we were (although 10KM has never seemed to long in my life). We passed several photographers and gave them big smiles and poses. No matter how much it hurt, I was determined to make it look good!

I was in agony from the waist down. My feet and legs were killing me to the point where I could hardly feel them. Every step was laboured. We took it one kilometre at a time and sometimes had to stop in between. To give you an idea of how much we slowed down, here are the last 10 splits.

32K: 6:38
33K: 7:25
34K: 6:57
35K: 8:09
36K: 7:35
37K: 8:06
38K: 9:36
39K: 7:28
40K: 7:14
41K: 7:24
42K: 6:40

Even as we passed the "40K" flags, it seemed like an eternity to the finish.

We finally turned the corner at 41K and began the one kilometre gradual climb toward City Hall. I remember saying "Let's finish this thing!" We could hear the screaming crowds and knew we were almost home. We were running toward the landmark clock tower and could not believe how close we were. I was so exhausted I could have collapsed in a heap right there and then, but no way were we stopping now.

Around 500 metres to go, I heard someone scream my name. My friend Patricia had been waiting on the corner and jumped into the street to run with us.

She pointed out her husband who was up ahead with a bright orange sign reading GO MARLENE GO! Tears came to my eyes as we ran past the "400m to go" sign, then 300, 200...

I was also excited to hear Marci call my name - it was great seeing you at the finish! We could see and hear our friends and family cheering from the sidelines and gave them a huge smile. There are no words to describe how good it feels to have support at the end of a race. Thank you so much to all of you.

Arms in the air, we crossed the finish line before the official clock reached 4:45. This was truly the proudest moment of my life.

It was incredibly hard to keep walking, but we managed to collect our medals, water/Gatorade/food and soon our friends and family came to find us.

Overall, it was a humbling and rewarding experience, one I would not trade for anything in the world. I AM A MARATHONER!

And now it's time to start thinking about which one I'll run next...

Edit: Link to race pics.