Monday, December 31, 2012

Running Scared

It's NYEve ya'll!  What a fabulous year its been, yes?  This has been a big year for me.  A huge year, in fact.  I've changed my job.  I've changed my life.  I've completely let go of some things that were holding me back and embraced others that have allowed me be authentic and true to myself.  And while that is a seemingly simple sentence to type,the truth is that it was a tumultuous journey that included laughter, tears, truth and love, culminating in some pretty damn amazing things.

2012 was I year that I didn't just achieve some goals.  I crushed them.

All but one.  And truthfully, it's the one goal that if you had asked me one calendar year ago, I would have said that I would achieve that goal with no problem, worry or a second thought.

Marathon.  2:59:59. Sub 3.  You still elude me.

I've reflected a lot lately on why it is that for me, the goal that should likely have been the easiest to achieve has suddenly become the most difficult I'm facing.  My Everest, if you will.  My Achilles heel.  The devil on my shoulder...in Asics and a lulu running outfit whispering "you can't do it..."

And.

Here it goes.

Massive Confession.

I haven't given this goal EVERYTHING I have.  I've held back.  Sometimes consciously.  Sometimes subconsciously.  But it is the truth, and one that's really, really hard for me to admit when I pride myself on encouraging other to commit 100% to getting after what they want.  I wanted it, but I didn't want it enough to give it what it deserved.

Allow me to elaborate.  In the past year I had the opportunity to train with a fantastic coach named Janice McCaffrey and a fantastic group of fast and furious (a fun and smiley and encouraging kind of furious) runners called Adrenalin Rush.  I ran speed intervals with this group once a week and sometimes met people for long runs on Saturdays or Sundays and was emailed weekly training plans that were structured around a goal crushing sub 3 hour marathon.  I was provided with unlimited access to the fountain of running knowledge in the form of a coach who knows her shit and a group of incredibly experienced runners who combined, have run in more races and won more awards than I could begin to list here.  And the truth?  I didn't take advantage of it.  In a nutshell, I half participated in the training program.  I did the runs I felt like doing, or the runs that fit into my schedule.  And the rest of the time I did exactly what I felt like doing- which could have been yoga.  Could have been training at the gym.  It also may have been running, but was likely not the running I was given to do in the training plan.

Why? 

I've thought about it and when I throw away that story that seems to attach to it, the answer is fear.  Plain and simple.  I was scared of failure.  2:59 is a huge benchmark in the world of marathons and I have questioned whether I am a good enough runner to get there.  Which, in reality, is a contradiction in itself since the advice I would give anyone else is that it IS possible if you think it is.  In my head, if I didn't run the 2:59 of my dreams, I knew I would have an excuse.  It would seem less frustrating and less of a mystery to me because deep down in my soul, I would know exactly why I didn't have the race of my life, even if no one else did.  And so there was a part of me that held back.  That didn't commit to the process.  That did not allow the universe to create the magic it does when I have allowed it to.  And the result?  No spring marathon and a disappointing (albeit awesomely disappointing if that makes sense) 3:13 in DC. 

If I've learned anything in this past year, it is that for me, running is a metaphor and a parallel for life.  And this was the year that in life, I really, really went for it.  And amazing things happened.  Moving forward, I am making the promise to myself that in ALL THINGS (running and otherwise) that I will not hold back.  Because, truthfully, working my ass off, committing to the process and not hitting a 2:59 is so much better than half committing and not getting there.  I owe it to myself.  I deserve to give myself my best.  Simple.

And so 2:59 it STILL is.  100% commitment.  Nothing held back.  Nothing to lose.  The result will be fantastic.  No doubt. 







Friday, December 14, 2012

Guess What

Guess what I JUST did?   Moments ago. 

I bought myself a special present.  I signed up for the Saskatchewan marathon.  Eeeeeeeeek!  Registration opened yesterday.  I am the 4th person to sign up.  THE 4th!  Come on, Sask-y!  Let's get feet into shoes, shoes onto pavement I mean ice and GET RUNNING!

Saskatoon, May 27th, here I come! 

This is like a Christmas present, a moving present and a present for no special reason present all wrapped up into one big present with sparkly paper and a shiny bow that I am giving to MYSELF.  It's been a tough week.  A busy week.  And I find myself struggling to get it all in.  I can't think of a better way to bring some focus and clarity to it all than to set a goal that will support my life with some structure.

I know the next few months will bring stress, joy, laughter, tears, wonder, amazement, question and everything in between.  I can't think of a better way than to BE in each and every moment of all of these feelings than to run.  To run and to breathe and to savour it all and to realize that it might be hard, but that doesn't mean its bad.  It just means it just is.  Running and training will be a time for me to take it all in, meditate on it and appreciate the moment. 

After all...























So?  Do tell, peeps!  Whose got races coming?  I want to know!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The #sweatlife
















I'm livin' #thesweatlife.  Big time.

Not only am I in a self-imposed 21 day sweat challenge (simple: sweat each and every day for 21 days), a part of my new job involves #thesweatlife.

How?

Simple.

I'm learning all about how people get sweaty, get fit, get trained, and get limber in my new community.  There is no better way to do this research than to just get out there and do it.  To sweat it out in gyms.  And yoga studios.  And the great out of doors with runners.  And the track.  And spin classes.

I am having so much fun.  Have I mentioned I love my job? 

And because this is a running blog, I best be getting to some running nuggets.

And so...

Two marathons planned.  So very exciting.  One in May, one in September, BOTH in Saskatchewan.  Both taking care of letters in my alphabet challenge.  Training has already started.  Not the running type of training, although I am running a fair bit, the type of training that prepares the bod for the running training.  Strength, fitness, yoga, fun!  All in the name of planning to pound out a speedy 26.6 in Saskatoon and one in Regina.

New races, new training, same running love.  Can. Not. Wait.



Friday, November 23, 2012

Through the Eyes (and Heart) of a Runner

I've been absent.  From the blogging world that is!  Reason?  I moved.  I wish I could tell you that I moved to a beautiful tropical paradise which is, at this moment in time, high on the list of places I'd really, really like to be.  You see, where I am at this moment in time is Regina.  Saskatchewan.  Canada.  And it is cold.

Hella cold.  Like -30C cold.  For my American friends who measure temps in F's instead of C's...trust me.  This is extremely and incredibly wintry and frosty!  However, it is also just so very beautiful.  I can say this with conviction and certainty, because as I've promised those of you who know me well, this is the winter that it happens.  I go from hating winter, to embracing and loving the frosty loveliness that is Canada in November, December and January.  And so, I've been venturing out into my new habitat bundled in layers and mittens and a toque for several runs.  True story!

So.  New city.  New job.  New temporary until I find one home.  New, new new.  And most importantly, new running routes!  Exciting!  One of the things I relish most about being a runner is the opportunity to explore the world on foot.  I feel like I get into my surroundings and truly notice whats around me when I'm on a run.  I notice things I would never notice if I was driving.  Names on streets,  Inscriptions on the sides of building.  People coming and going.  Since I'm in an entirely new environment, I find myself making even more observations than I normally would.  What follows are some observations I've made while I've been out pounding the pavement in the city that rhymes with fun.

I notice the trees.  So massive.  So beautiful at this time of year, covered in snow and Christmas lights and frost.  I love the way they canopy over the streets, protection from the elements for anyone who is crazy enough to be out in elements such as these.

I notice the flat.  Or shall I say lack of hills.  For as far as I can see, just straight and flat.  Which is awesome when I'm running intervals, but I'm wondering how this lack of hills will affect my training and fitness.  I do love running hills, after all!

I notice the beautiful, old, classically designed buildings and architecture.  I love the presence it creates.  Huge wooden doors.  Beautiful stone columns.  Newer doesn't necessarily mean better.  This is proof.

I notice that for a small city, that there are fabulous running paths here.  And that despite the snow and the cold, the sidewalks are (mainly) cleared and the pathways are (mainly) plowed so a runner can hit a full stride without much worry about slipping on the ice.  So grateful!

I notice how the downtown is so different here.  I have run early in the morning and I have run late at night.  And it is quiet.  Deserted, in fact.  Not like the seemingly endless hustle and bustle that is Calgary.  All I can hear is the sound of the crunch of my shoes on the hard packed snow and ice.  Nothing else. 

I notice how running in Regina is so much like running in Winnipeg, epecially the flat and the trees!  And this makes me smile. It reminds me that I am just that much closer to my family who I miss so much that a day doesn't go by that I don't wish I could hug them all. I notice how running in Regina is not a thing like running in Calgary. No rolling hills. No river pathway.  No familiar faces running the other way.  No friends to meet for yoga or sushi when training is done. And this makes my heart ache for the familiar. 

And even though its cold, and even though its winter, and even though its flat...there is something beautiful and special about this place.  It doesn't feel like home, yet, but I know that in time, the path around the lake, the route around the oldest neighbourhood and the trek in front of the parliament buildings will become MY route.



And I can't wait for that.



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Perfect Storm

Resigning from old job.  Starting new job.  Relocating to Regina.  Packing my life into boxes.  Looming Hurricane Sandy.  Stressful.

The perfect antidote?  Run a marathon.  In Washington DC, no less, with 35 000 other members of the running tribe.

On Sunday, I took to the mean (which are not mean at all, and in fact, are quite friendly and lovely) streets of DC for the 37th running of the Marine Corps marathon.  This was to be my first full marathon in almost a year after complete training derailment with illness last winter and spring.  To say that I was excited is a complete and utter understatement. I was practically vibrating I was so excited.  Mind was ready.  Body was ready.  Heart was ready.  What I was NOT ready for, however, was the weather on this particular marathon race day.  In case you live in a cave with no interweb, TV or other various news media and missed it, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Sunday evening and Monday for this region of the northeast coast.  And while I was not running in brutal rain or cold temperatures, I was facing some pretty darn spectacular winds.

Rewind to the starting line of said marathon.  The Marine Corps marathon is unique in that you not only run Washington DC, you also run some parts of Arlington, Virginia.  The start line is in Arlington and much like the other large races I've participated in, this means an early wake up call and camping out in the dark in a large parking lot until the official start time of the race.  Definitely not ideal for running fast, but super fun in its own right.  I met some lovely people that were a nice distraction from the pre-race jitters.

As for the course itself, the first 15k of this race are spectacular!  It is run on the back roads in Arlington, which meant protection from the wind, beautiful fall colours lining the course, winding roads and rolling hills.  To be honest, my legs weren't feeling it right from the start.  Although I was running with control and maintaining my goal race pace without labouring, it still felt a tiny bit foreign.

And then I hit the wind.

For those of you reading this (wouldn't it be awesome if my blog went viral?  Just saying :) , maybe send me some interweb love and share this post) who haven't had the pleasure of pounding out a 26.2 mile road race, it is an amazing, if not incredibly challenging feat in its own right.  When you throw in an added complication like this brutal wind, a tough situation just gets that much tougher.

I have never experienced a wind quite like this.  At times it was so strong it was like running on the spot, which, when you still have 27km of running left, is not an awesome feeling.  I had a few fleeting moments of  anger and frustration, but I let go of those quickly and remembered why exactly I was running this marathon.

I was running it because I love running.  Simple.

I was running it because running allows me to feel a level of freedom that I don't experience doing anything else.  By freedom, I mean the feeling of leaving behind, stress, worry, anxiety, life, the feeling of being in and appreciating the moment, and the sense of feeling completely alive.  Simple.

And although I had a pretty ambitious time goal in this race (2:59 in case you don't know or I haven't put it out there into the universe enough) I had to remind myself that in every single race that I run, the first and most important goal is to enjoy it, to love it and to have an amazing experience doing it.

Perception really IS everything.  Once I remembered these small things, my body felt lighter.  I smiled and laughed.  I started to notice more my beautiful surroundings and the wonderful spectators and volunteers who, despite the cold and wind came out to support all 35 000 runners on a day when they likely should have been preparing for the disaster that was about to strike their city in hurricane form.  What amazing generosity, kindness and spirit.  I enjoyed each and every step, even the last 10k which were incredibly painful and tough.  And although I was physically in DC alone, I felt the spirit, energy and love of my friends and family who I KNOW without a doubt were thinking about me during those 3 hours of time.  When they read this they should know that I felt the love and energy and used it.  A big, BIG hug to those people- you all know who you are.

This is what mile 23 of a 26.2 mile road race appears to look like.  Special thanks to Bobby Gill, friend and lululemon run ambassador extraordinaire who provided amazing runner support at the lulu cheer station and also takes fabulous pictures.  I'm thankful he caught me smiling.  :)

What am I doing?  Running a marathon and a doing a moving sun salutation in appreciation for the amazing cheer station  that was provided at mile 23 by lululemon.  Photo Courtesy of Bobby Gill.

 Running through mile 23.  Please note the sign.  And also note that I'm losing 2 toenails..  Badge of marathon  honour.   Photo courtesy of Bobby Gill. 



So?  Where did it all leave me?  With 3:12.  Certainly well off my personal best and certainly well off my desired goal time, but I am happy with my effort nonetheless.  I really did leave it all out there on the course and  couldn't have run any harder than I did.  And given the stress that has been my life for the past month, running in this marathon provided me with something so valuable and precious, that money could never, ever buy it and nothing else could ever replace it.  And that is, like always, peace in my mind and happiness in my heart.

Thanks DC.  Thanks Marine Corps marathon.    Thanks so very much volunteers and spectators.  I hope that your recovery from Hurricane Sandy is as quick as my recovery from the race.

And as for the 2:59, I'll get there.  I know I will.  And knowing is half the battle.





Tuesday, October 23, 2012

There is ALWAYS Running

Did you ever read something that inspired you? Made ya think? Forced you to wonder? Kicked you in the gut?

The following is a guest post. Obviously, I didn't write it, but I sure felt compelled to share it here for many reasons. In a nutshell, I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to train with this individual on Thursday nights. Not only is he an exceptional runner (super fast, I simply cannot keep up to him on interval nights no matter how hard I try or how fast I may run), he is an exceptional human being. While I don't claim to know him well, I do know that he is tenacious, dedicated and focused. I like it.

And he nailed it. Not just the amazing race he had in Victoria, but this idea that no matter where we are in life, no matter where the journey may take us, there is ALWAYS running. Through joy, through pain, through the ultimate highs and through the absolute shit...

There is ALWAYS running.

Please read. And enjoy.

This is a report about a race in which everything went right after a year in which a heck of a lot
seemed to being going wrong. If you’re training for a marathon, you may want to stop reading at this
point since I only ran 21.1 kilometres, or as my good buddy JB so eloquently put it in his Victoria race report, "Oh you ran a half marathon? Ask me if I give a f@%k!"

Having said that, I’m hoping my teammate JS reads this, because I’m thinking of him as I write, knowing he’s had a challenging few months and has just picked up what we all hope is a minor injury. He’s spent all summer training his ass off to be ready to run a sub-three marathon in New York. If he can make it to the start line in one piece, I know he’s going to have an amazing race
because he will want it more than any of the thousands of runners who line up worrying about the
multitude of things that can go wrong in a road race and especially a 26.2-mile road race.

In order to get to the ‘shit runners say’ analysis of how my race went down – you know, all the info on splits and everything else we runners talk about ad nauseam – I want to put how I felt at the start line into perspective.

Twelve months ago, I made the ill-fated decision to race on a bad ankle in Victoria and ended up
pulling out at the 15k mark. I later found out I had snapped my fibula. What followed was five long
months stuck in a walking cast, followed by a few months of battling shin splints as I stepped onto the comeback trail. As an aside, what ended up curing that problem was running more, not less, kind
of counter-intuitive. I discovered the value of recovery runs and was eventually able to follow coach
Janice McCaffrey’s program, more or less, which was always my hope. Surrendering to the program
and my coach was a major goal for me this year … as opposed to listening to my ego and trying to
come up with harder workouts or adding mileage, or racing injured...but that’s another story!
While this was going on, I had some pretty interesting things happen in my personal life. Without
boring you with the gory details, this included: a divorce, house sales and condo purchases, two
friends dying and my sister battling breast cancer. Why is this relevant? Because through it all,
running became more than just a hobby – it was a lifeline. Even when I couldn’t run, which was for a
long time, I promised myself that this wouldn’t be a comeback year, that this would be a year in which I would shatter my personal bests in the 10k and half. It was a very healthy and welcome distraction for me even if, in all honesty, it didn’t really matter whether I achieved those goals.

In order to keep those targets in sight through long periods when I couldn’t run and considered
quitting running altogether (I had a serious injury on the same ankle a few years ago due to soccer),
I did what I could. I’ve been doing core twice a day – almost without exception – since January. I
realize it’s not necessary or helpful to do that much, but having a routine helped keep me motivated
and feeling like I could come back stronger, even when I started to doubt that notion. Before I got
the all clear to run again, I was at the gym 3-4 times a week. And when I came back and couldn’t run
because I didn’t have access to babysitters (I have joint custody of my girls), I took them swimming
and dragged them around with pool noodles while I pushed off on my feet doing a kind of pool
running thing. I have no idea whether it made a difference but it felt like a great workout and I still
do it to this day – 2-3 times per week. Other than two weeks before race day (thanks to another
teammate, Patty), all my long runs were done on my treadmill for three months prior to Victoria. And
I HATE treadmills.

 The point I’m trying to make is that I felt that because of all these challenges – not in spite of them –
it was just a matter of time before I got to grips with my PBs. In my mind, because I’d had the will to
endure all those treadmill long runs, I had already proved how much I wanted it, and I would have all
the motivation I needed to get the absolute maximum out of my body on race day.

 It still took a while. I set a personal worst time in my first race back and got beaten by a 12-year-
old boy, who just happened to be a family friend of a colleague at work (he took great delight
in telling me that the kid didn’t even like running) but by August things were coming together and
I started gaining confidence. The Dino Dash 10k proved to be a big turning point. I decided to do
something I’d been afraid to do before: run without a watch. I still had one strapped to my wrist but I
was aggressive in my approach and ran by feel – without redlining - and didn’t check my Garmin until I hit the halfway point. When I realized I’d set a 30-second 5k PB I thought disaster may be imminent but I ended up staying strong and recording a 1 minute and 30 second PB. Two weeks later I ran by feel at Melissa’s, on a much harder course, and almost equaled that time while chasing down – or at least attempting to chase down anther Adreanalin Rush teamate, DG.

When I told my teammate Dougie the day before the Victoria half that I was going to go out hard,
what I meant was that I planned to be aggressive. Mark, another teammate, described my race strategy as “balls out” but much as I like that analogy - if not the mental picture! – that’s not what I
tried to do or ended up doing. I ran Victoria completely by feel instead of by Garmin. On a course where I wasn’t sure (a) what the pace should be through the early hills (b) what difference elevation would make and (c) how fast Icould go without red-lining, it was – in my opinion – the ONLY way to run. Instead of looking at my Garmin every kilometer, I wrote my desired kilometer splits for 5k, 10k, and 15-18k on my arm so I could compare when I reached those markers. What happened was that I hit 10k about 30 seconds ahead of my ‘dream goal’ pace of 1:18.00 and maintained that through to the finish. I ran the first 10k at an average pace of 3:39 and the next 10k at 3:41. My slowest kilometer was 3:46 and I did that at kilometer 6. My fastest was my last (3:25). My goal going in had been 3:40 to 3:45.

There’s not much else to say about the race. I was looking forward to running with others but ended
up doing the whole thing on my own. It wasn’t windy so it wasn’t a problem. I passed a whole bunch
of guys from kilometres 3-10 and in the second half I passed five people and was passed by one guy,
who later turned out to be a 1:08 half marathoner who was doing a progression run. He absolutely
destroyed me by running 3:15s at the top of the last hill. I didn’t run the last few kilometres that well – the twists and turns were pretty distracting when I was trying to put the hammer down – but it was a good feeling to cross the finish line and realize I had been able to beat my dream goal for the race – and more importantly, attain my goal for the year of crushing my half marathon PB. As I crossed the line I pumped my fists and yelled out what felt like an entire year’s worth of emotion. At the time I thought it was Whitfield-esque but unfortunately, after reviewing the race video I realize I looked kinda like a wooden version of Mr. Bean – story of my life!

 I’m now done for the season and pondering whether to run Boston. Unlike my friend JB, I’m a
terrible marathoner who questions whether it’s really worth training for six months only to be left
hoping that you stay healthy/avoid getting sick/are helped by the weather Gods and then get your
nutrition, fueling and race strategy right on the day. Even then, you might do what I did in my last
marathon and bonk or cramp and walk the last few miles. I admire all of you for doing it; I’m just not sure if I want to!

Whatever happens, though, I’m so glad to be back running again and I’m grateful for every run I’m
able to do these days. I’m convinced regular core and running by feel were big difference-makers
for me this year, but it’s always so hard to figure out what works for every individual. It’s entirely
possible the theories mentioned above are a bunch of bunk and that the biggest difference-makers
had nothing to do with training, diet or exercise. At our pre-race meeting coach Janice summed up myseason with the following words...

 “You’re running with happy feet.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Tribe

I have always maintained that I'm a pretty simple gal.  I work.  I run.  I eat.  I yoga.  I work out.  I hang out.  I love music.  I love baking.  I love my family and friends.  I love the sun on my skin, the feeling of the lake first thing in the morning when I jump in on a spectacular summer day and the sound of my feet on the pavement, the wind in the trees and the water flowing over the rocks on my moonlit morning runs.

Simple, yes?  This is one of the reasons I've always maintained that geography is not super important to me.  Don't get me wrong, there are certain minuscule requirements when it comes to locale, such as being close enough to my family that I can visit when I need some selfish cuddles from wee H and being close enough that I can get to the lake for a chunk of summertime for night boating expeditions and turtle hunting.  Other than that, for me, a place is less about the geography and more about the peeps that allows me to dig in, heart and soul.  It's really about finding my tribe.  My peeps.  My community.  Those people.

Who is it that makes up my tribe?  Who are the people that allow ME to connect, to feel a part of a community, to feel like I've found my place in this crazy world?  To start, the runners, of course must be included in this crew.   Really any and all runners are a part of my tribe, but especially those runners who are in it for the long run; the marathoners and the half marathoners, the ultras and the trail runners.  Those who know that the day is not quite over and all is not quite right in the world until feet have been into shoes and shoes have hit the pavement.  The ones who really understand the need to leave it all behind, tune out of the world and onto the path, clearing the mind, moving the body in one long continuous meditation.  The crazies who know, without a doubt, that the runner's high is real and is most definitely worth chasing.  This is my tribe.

It's also the yogis.  Those who really understand what it means to be brave enough to try, but to be smart enough to try easy and to smile and laugh at the prospect that you TRIED and to let go of the idea that it should turn out any certain way.   The ones who keep breathing and understand the need to breathe in joy, love and kindness and to breathe out fear, worry,  and inadequacy.  This is my tribe.
 


And let's not forget the fitness freaks.  The gym rats.  The peeps who look at an outdoor space and see the perfect obstacle course for pullups, hill repeats, step ups and anything and everything else exercise related.  Those who love to squat and lunge and pushup and pull up and press and raise.  Those who know their core is ALWAYS engaged and so that their spine is ALWAYS supported and protected.  Form, posture, perfection.  Mind NEVER turned off.  Body ALWAYS turned on.  This is my tribe.


Of course, I can't forget to include my peeps who believe in the power of the universe.  And who believe that one of the best, most awesome feelings in the world is to give or get a hug.  There is nothing in the world quite like being on the receiving end of a hug that someone really, really means.   You know THOSE hugs.  The ones that feel like you are getting squeezed so tightly that you can feel the meaning behind it?  The genuine intention of care, love and kindness?  THOSE hugs.  And those that give out love, unconditionally too, these are my peeps!  I know I try really, really hard to lead with my heart and to let it shine.  My peeps are the ones who are let their hearts shine as well.  There are lots of ways to show love.  You really never know how a simple loving gesture (perhaps re-read the part about hugs) can sure change someone's attitude, day, moment or maybe even life.  The people that think like this, they are my tribe.

I know, without a doubt, that wherever this crazy life will take me, that I will never, ever be alone.  Because there are always runners, yogis and fitness freaks.  Those who hug first and ask questions later.  People who believe that love WILL find a way. 

They are everywhere.  My tribe. 



Friday, September 21, 2012

Coyote Running

Friday.  Sky was blue.  Sun was shining.  Day was HOT.  Perfect day for running, in my estimation.

Today I had the privilege of running with the Centennial Coyotes cross country team!  I love running (surprise) and one of the best things about this whole marathon craziness is when I get to teach, share it, live it with others.  And who better to share it with that a group of high school kids and their fearless coaches who are about to embark upon their very first cross country race of the year!

First.  I would be remiss if I didn't offer a huge shout out to the coaches of said team.  While it might seem that training for running is really just about going running, truthfully there is a whole lotta science behind it and a whole lotta energy that goes into leading these students in practices and in meets.  Centennial coaches, you are wonderful.  The extra time and energy you dedicate to ensuring these student athletes can be a part of a team like cross country is nothing short of admirable and so large cyber hug to YOU.  Yes, you, D-Ost with your moullet (that's French for mullet) blowing in the breeze and YOU Chaney with your incredibly coordinated running attire.  I love that you guys give your time to these students and to running.  Thank-you.

Second.  WOW.  Exactly one calendar year ago I ran with this exact cross country team and had the opportunity to run with one runner girl who shall remain nameless.  Remember her?  Grade 10?  Super, super talented athlete?  Exceptional student?  Loves running, maybe even as much as I do?  Anyhow, runner girl is now is grade 11, and, I can state, with confidence, that the world should look out for this girl.  That's right.  Look. Out. World.  Her tenacity and spark are amazing.  She has huge goals.  And she's going after them.  Not just in running, too.  In LIFE.  To me, this is the sign of foresight and maturity well beyond her years.  It was a privilege to see her and run with her again, and I hope that she is enjoying her running journey just as much as I enjoy learning all about it. 

Third.  This team has a boxer.  A fighter.  If that ever gets old for him, he should certainly take up distance running as more than a supplement to his training.  Huge hill in Fish Creek Park?  He killed it.  And killed it 5 times.  Just for fun.  And then looked at the rest of us as if to say, "That's it?".  INSANE.  And awesome. 

Hopefully, one of the messages I shared with these runners was clear; and that is running is an amazing life sport that can take you to places you never even imagined.  It might take you to a crazy race in a crazy place.  It might allow you to meet and run with people who will change your life.  It might open doors that you never even knew existed.  It just requires that you keep on keepin' on.  Feet into shoes.  Shoes onto pavement.  One foot in front of the other.  AWESOME.

And the best running advice an old gal like me can give?  Here it is!



Friday, September 7, 2012

So Close...So Far Away

Sometimes 2:59.59 feels like its a long way away.

From 3:07, that is.

Confused?  My current marathon personal best is a 3:07.  My ultimate goal, for now, is a 2:59.  This means I need to shave a whole 7 minutes from my time.

7 minutes.  This is the length of time it took this morning for me to: park my car and walk into Starbucks.  Order a grande Earl Grey tea with lots of room in my lovely new white re-useable cup.  Pour a healthy amount of skim milk into said tea.  And return to car.  All things considered, not that long of a time frame.

But when I'm thinking about those 7 minutes out there on the marathon course, I am very aware of exactly how those 7 minutes are going to feel.  They certainly are not going to feel like this morning's leisurely stroll into Starbucks to order tea.  Those 7 minutes are going to hurt.  Hella hurt.  Body telling brain to stop hurt.  Lungs exploding, feet numb, every muscle in my body burning hurt.  The sweat equity that is going into those 7 minutes is extensive...intervals, long runs, hill training, tempo runs, recovery runs, yoga days, stretching, stretching, stretching.  To me, there is something so simple and beautiful about this, the fact that with marathon training, you get out EXACTLY what you put in. And yes, no doubt...it. will. HURT.

However, I also have to remind myself that my philosophy on running and training parallels my philosophy on life, in which case it is never just about the destination but about appreciating the journey along the way.  And what a journey to 2:59.59 it will be. Along the way there is 3:02 and 3:03 and 3:06.  Those numbers are all fabulous in their own right and stand for me being just a little better than I was last time out.  Even before the finish line is crossed and there is a final time on the clock, there are so many amazing adventures to be had within this journey.   Great running to be had with even better friends.  Great running to be had at high schools sharing what I know with kids who are likely way faster but maybe slightly less disciplined than me.  Great meals to be consumed after long, long, LONG Saturday or Sunday morning runs.  So much great, in fact, that I get excited just thinking about it.  And during my 30k tomorrow morning?  I'm going to breathe deeply, appreciate the moment and relish every step of the way.

And where does this leave me?  I guess it leaves me right in the middle of it all.  Putting one foot in front of the other.  Again, and again.  Heading towards the finish line, which is also the middle point...and the starting line and all the places in between.  2:59...I'm comin' for ya!










Friday, August 24, 2012

Freedom

I've been writing this post in my head for a long, long, LONG time!  Yes, you see, I've been at the lake!  All summer long, in fact, and for me this means: no computer, no internet and barely cell phone reception!  It certainly did not mean no running, of course, and as you can expect I've been hard at it: long runs in 30+ heat and humidity, intervals early in the morning so I don't perish in the summer hot, trail running right from my cottage at Trinity Bay (courtesy of by brother in law, Tee Dubs) and half marathon training with the best training partner a gal could ever ask for, ARJR.  Anyhow, I'm back.  Back to the city, back to the structure and routine of life, back to some serious training.  With the Marine Corps marathon looming in the not so distant future, I am on it!

Anyhow, I spent some time this summer thinking about freedom.  While I certainly do NOT take my beautiful Canadian freedom for granted and am grateful for it, the kind of freedom I'm referring to here is the sense of peace that occurs when you are able to free your mind from the business, craziness and stressfulness that everyday life can bring.  For some, like me, clearing thoughts and worries right out the mind is a seemingly impossible task.  I know it's supposed to happen at yoga, but for me, it most certainly does not, no matter how hard I may try (hearing my one of my fav yogis, Kathy in my head right now saying "try easy") or how much I want it.  Thankfully, running has become a form of moving meditation for me and the peace I feel in my mind and the happiness I feel in my heart can only be achieved by getting my feet into shoes and onto the pavement.  Bliss, every single time!

And then this summer, I made the most awesome discovery.

The same peace of mind I am able to achieve during a run can also be found night boating.

For those who have not had the pleasure of spending any length of time on the water, I was born and raised on the shores of an incredibly unique lake in Northern Ontario called Lake of the Woods.  I have been driving a boat for just about as long as I can remember.  My first boat was an awesome 14ft red aluminum vessel with a fabulous 4hp Evinrude.  Definitely not breaking any speed records, but it certainly got me to and from whomever I was visiting lake side!

Let's set the stage for this whole night boating thing:

Sunset at Trinity Bay, Lake of the Woods, KENORA
This is sunset.  Pre night boating if you will.  Magical, yes?  I sure think so.

Anyhow, driving a boat on a big lake in the pitch black of night is a surreal experience.  The only light is if there happens to be a bit of moonlight dancing on the water.  There are no signs, no speed limits, no noises, no anything, really.  Just the sound of the wind in your hair. You do need to have a general sense of where the heck you are going, since, even though its black, you are navigating reefs, rocks, channel markers, buoys, islands, mainland and other various hazards.  Every part of you is aware of where you are at during that particular moment...not where you are coming from or your destination, just that very moment.  I breathe in the summer humid air, notice the sound of the air swooshing by my ears and smile because I am so very fortunate to be able to be in that moment...in a boat...on a lake...in the dead of night. 


And the result?  A sense of calm, peace, gratitude and happiness that for me, can only be replicated (so far :) by putting one foot in front of the other, on the pavement, in running shoes.  Its difficult to put into words just exactly what this feels like, but if you've experienced it, you know.  And if you haven't, rest assured it is a very unique and individual experience; you WILL know when you get there, and will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Freedom.  It really, really is a beautiful thing.




Monday, July 16, 2012

Lemon Love

Peeps!  Be prepared to be blasted with an attitude of gratitude!

Before we get to that, I'm wondering about your summers'.  Yes, yours!  And YOURS!  I can only hope that wherever you are reading this from in the world that you are having as fantastic a summer as I.  My summer is going a little something like this:

Run cross training: open lake swims!  FUN!
Nothing like rolling out of bed and into the lake, especially when its hot.  DAMN hot.  So hot I'm almost remembering that really, I am a mermaid after years of being land locked on the prairies because I am spending so much time in the water.

Anyhow, I've mentioned before and I will again, that this year, I had the most massive honour of being chosen to be a lululemon run ambassador for the 4th St. store in Calgary.  In a nutshell, what this means in its most basic sense is that lulu supports me in my running endeavours, and I support them in their running endeavours.  However, it means, much, much, MUCH more to me than just that, and I want to take a moment to share with you what it has meant to me to be a run ambassador with this most amazing company!

One of the things I really appreciate about lululemon is that they fully and wholeheartedly support grass roots community building where their stores are located, locally AND globally! They really, really are trying to elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness and for me, this has meant that I am able to ask them to support me in the work I do with individuals I am supporting to meet run, fitness and lifestyle goals.  Supporting and elevating individuals from mediocrity to personal greatness, if you will.  Truth?  This is what I LOVE to do.  It is my passion and  I feel so very fortunate that I have been able to do this with and through lululemon.

This is the bigger picture, but I'd also like to share, on a more personal level, just how much I appreciate everything and anything the 4th st. store in Calgary does for me.  Every single time I come into the store (truth- about twice a week, whether I'm taking runners out or not, I have a SERIOUS addiction to their clothing, run and otherwise) I feel like I'm with my tribe.  All of the peeps who work in the store treat me as a friend that they are happy to see, and that just makes me smile.  I love going to the store, talking running, talking goals and talking life with not only the people that work there, but the guests that are often cruising around the running section looking for some new gear.  I should also mention, that I am the proud owner of quite possibly the most fabulous running wardrobe the world ever did see thanks to my 4th street peeps!  I spend a lot A LOT of time in running gear and just because we're working hard and sweating it out on the mean streets of Calgs sure does not mean we shouldn't look good doing it, so much much gratitude to lululemon for continually coming up with new styles and colours that make a gal feel like she looks great despite the sweat!

Also...and this is big...I'd dare say that lulu and the 4th st. staff in particular, believed in me long before I actually believed in myself.  This has been a really big year for me.  Huge in fact.  I've imagined my life in 10 years, have clarity in seeing where I will be and now have the confidence to take the huge steps to get there.  In essence, I have been encouraged to get the eff out of my own way, and quite simply, I will!  There have been many messengers of magic on this journey and several of them wear luon (that would be lulu material :) and hang out at the 4th street store on a daily basis.  They encourage and inspire me each and every time I see them.  The impact they have had on my life simply cannot be understated and I feel like I am well on my way to achieving the goals I have set for myself.  I am humbled, honoured and so incredibly grateful to know these people, be a part of the lemons (as they affectionately call themselves) and to be a part of the work they undertake.  What an amazing company.  What an amazing experience.  I am so lucky.

Last but not least, did ya know that lulu is holding its first ever half marathon?  Eeek!  It's called the Sea Wheeze.  EXCITING!  Did ya know that its very, very soon on the 11th of August?  Did ya know that they sold it out?  That's right...sold. it. out.  A huge accomplishment on the very first try.  And like everything the lemons do, this will be one fantastic event and I am super pumped to be a part of it.   I know there are many people working tirelessly in Vancouver and elsewhere to ensure that the event is awesome, memorable and let's be honest, the best dang half marathon the world ever did see.  How much work it is to create and carry out an event of this magnitude, I cannot even imagine, so I'd just love to give a big shout out and a huge hug over the interweb to those who are involved.  Thank you for all you are doing to create an amazing event!

And on that note, I think I see the sun poking its head through the clouds.  My inner mermaid is calling and its time to hit the lake!

PS- One more running thing...I went for a long one this morning...25k in fact, in the mist.  It was a run and a facial all at once.  And surprise, surprise, I loved every second. 



Monday, July 2, 2012

The Plan

Running universe!  It feels like forever since I've blogged since I've been so very busy running around, quite literally. Training and running and working and training other people and running with other people and yoga...keeps a gal busy and out of trouble for the most part.  Notice I did say for the most part.

Last Saturday I ran in the K100.  For those non-Calgaryians, the K100 is a 100 mile relay race in Kananaskis Country.  10 runners make up a team and each run a leg of various distances, some trail, some road.  I had leg 1, which starts in the wee town of Longview and is a lovely18.1km on the open road.  Despite the 3:45 am wake up call to get my butt to the start line in time, this race was a fabulous experience and one that I highly recommend to anyone and everyone that wants to partake in a relay race with some seriously stunning scenery!

K100 legs 1-4.  Super speedy I might add!  Nicely done ladies!

I had no plans to run this race quickly as it was all for the fun and the experience.  I cruised through 10k and pushed for 8k.  Truth?  It just felt AWESOME to race again.  Totally and completely.  I felt alive.  I tingled.  I pushed hard up hills.  I laughed.  I raced a guy in an all out sprint for the finish.  I missed racing so much and I didn't even know it. Super excited now to get to the Seawheeze in August and the Marine Corps marathon in October.  Can. Not. Wait.

And this brings me to the summer training plan.  I'll be up to some serious training in between swimming and boating and fishing and water skiing and drinking summer in a can (that a Coors light in case you're wondering) and night boating and living like a hippie at my cottage.  Training will look like this:

1. Cross train, cross train, cross train.  Lots of open water swimming.  Cannot wait to hit Trinity Bay for several three island swims.  Glorious.
2. Maintain strength.  TRX hanging from tree overlooking the lake.  Intervals up and down the hill to the water and back.  Who needs a gym?  It's summer, people...GET OUTSIDE
3. Yoga.  On the dock.  In the sun.  What could be better?
4. RUN.  Like a maniac.  Keep the distance and the mileage up but ultimately need to work the speed.  Shocking, I know.

My summer gym.  LOVE.
And that's about it.  Busy but not too busy.  Outdoors, in the sunshine.  And on the water.  I can't wait for the feeling of peace and serenity I will get from it all.  For me, summer is truly a time to let it all go, give myself permission to stop planning, thinking, doing and seriously breathe deeply and appreciate the moment.  Summer Andrea is generally a more calm and peaceful Andrea.  I've kind of missed her lately...and am very, very glad that we will be reunited in just 2 short days.

So...in case you miss me over the summer as I am off the grid and blogging less, please, please, please have wonderful summers, ya'll!  And do some running too, please!  There is nothing better than summer running in my opinion, so get out there while the sun is shining and shorts are the costume of choice!

Peace.  Love.  SUMMER.  RUNNING.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Non Advice

Eeek!  Several marathon virgins and marathon veterans and relay maniacs and half marathon hooligans pounded it out on the mean streets of the Peg today in the Manitoba marathon.  Congrats to all those who participated!  A huge accomplishment and hopefully the start of an amazing journey into marathon madness for each and every one of you.  Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction at the end of a race, so it is my hope that each and everyone of you is revelling in yours.

Do ya know what one of my most favourite things about being a marathon veteran is?  Really?  Besides the training and the running and the yoga and the hills and the fitness part of it, one of my happiest moments in this marathon adventure is when I get to share what I have learned with running newbies.  The running community is one that I am privileged to be a part of and I consider it an honour to answer (or at least try to) any and all questions that come my way.  However, I find myself in the tricky position, at times, of trying to come up with answers to questions that I simply cannot.  As much as I would like to, running really and truly is a journey of individual discovery in many different ways, and while I have many of the answers, I certainly don't have them all.   In no particular order, here are the most common questions I find myself faced with that I simply can't answer.

1. What kind of shoes should I buy?
Truthfully, finding the right running shoes for YOU is kind of like finding a boyfriend or girlfriend.  You see a pair that look pretty awesome.  You take them for a quick spin on the track or treadmill.  Sometimes it works out and forward into running bliss you head.  Sometimes it doesn't and you have to go back through the process again and again until you find some that do.  I don't know if Asics will work for you just like I don't know if you will suddenly like a brunette if you've always liked blondes.  Although, brunettes ARE pretty damn awesome if I do say so myself.  I can't say if minimalist or barefoot running is for you just like I have no idea if the dude that you met on-line last week is really the one.  I would suggest going slow, taking your time, knowing what you want from things and then moving forward if it feels right, in the case of finding the partner AND the right shoes!  The best advice I can give is to get into a running store where they are knowledgeable about gait and shoes ( the TechShop will do nicely) and allow them to put you in several pairs until you find "the ones" that feel just right.  How will you know?  Trust me.  You just will.  ;)

2. What should I eat before I run?
Well, after a long and interesting experiment, I have a huge list of foods that do not work for me pre running, so I can certainly tell you what I will NOT to eat before a run.  High on the list is pea soup.  Just between you, me and my legions of faithful followers (hey, how about becoming an official follower of my blog, there's no time like the present :) I had some pea soup for lunch one day and then embarked on a long run.  Let's just say it didn't end well.  Thankfully, peeps on my regular running route are used to seeing me sprint into their homes in a mad dash to make it to the washroom.  Again, I repeat, pea soup does not work as a pre run meal for me.  As for what does?  It's an experiment that you'll need to figure out for yourself.   My stomach is different from your stomach.  What might cause me to break into a mad sprint for the porta john may have an entirely different and awesome effect on you. But just in case you're wondering, socks double well for toilet paper if you're in a pinch.  This is the best advice I can give in this case!

3. What's wrong with my knee?
I wish I knew.  Also, I wish I knew what was wrong with you hip and your back and your ankles.  I wish I knew what was wrong with my knee too.  While I'd love to be able to help you out with your injury by diagnosing it, treating it and telling you that you will be back to running in no time, the bottom line is that I am not qualified to do so and you need to get into see an expert.  There are all sorts of qualified peeps who can help you out here: massage therapists, physiotherapists, chiros, sports docs, peeps at the running injury clinic are all far more qualified to help you find an answer to this question.  I simply cannot.  What I can tell you is this: do the work you need to PREVENT an injury, and a happy injury free runner you will (hopefully) be!  Get on the foam roller (this I can help you with), get your butt to a yoga class on a regular basis, and strength and cross train in the off season.  Trust me.  I'm living proof that it works and it works well.  Training for endurance events in running is a lot, A LOT of wear and tear on the bod.  Look after yourself and keep running until you're 80 or older.  I know I plan to!

So while I'd like to believe I am the guru of all things running, the truth is I will do my best each and every time, but most of the time, my answers to questions  you have start with it depends, maybe it could be and I don't know.  But I DO know that the journey to figure it out is half the battle.  And figure it out you will, one pair of shoes, one mad sprint to the toilet and one tweaked knee at a time.

And just because it's almost summer...but mainly because it's awesome...remember this one?  Nothing says sexy like a bandana, a large chain and a topless Mark Wahlberg hanging off a chain link fence. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Going Commando

Yesterday, I ran a 10k.  In my underwear no less!

Confused?  No, I didn't go streaking. I have (hopefully) left that behaviour far in my past, but I did participate in The Underwear Affair, a fundraising 10k to raise dollars and awareness for cancers "down there".  This is more that a worthy cause to support as so many people are affected by these cancers.

For some time I have thought, that as a runner, I should participate in a fundraising run of some sort.  There are, after all, many runs out there supporting a variety of different causes and this one seemed as good a cause as any to support.  A quick trip to the Underwear Affair website and it was official; I was captain of Going Commando.  In case you've missed it, this 10k is a bit unusual in that everyone runs in their underwear (or some iteration of underwear- there were some REALLY interesting costumes and underoos on parade) and Going Commando was chosen as the team name for the double entendre.  No, we were certainly NOT "going commando" as an arrest for public nudity may not appear favourable on my record, but I thought it would be fun if everyone who was a part of the team sported their best army themed skivvies.

Curious about what a bunch of runners dressed in camouflage underwear look like? Here it is:

Marcel: tall guy in the middle- you win the prize for best Commando costume.  HANDS DOWN!

And here's the rest of Going Commando:


A decent looking bunch if I do say so myself!

And now for an admission. 

Did you know that I AM SHY?  I really am.  About my body, that is.  For a long time, I wished that my body was everything that it wasn't: super thin, ultra long-legged, super model-esque.  I suppose people always want what we really can't have to some extent, and in my case, that has meant the desire to have much, much longer legs, less muscle and a trunk with way less junk.  Very recently, I made a decision that I was going to stop wishing for what I was never going to have and I was going to accept the body I was born with.  Embrace it, if you will.  And a part of embracing it meant deciding to be proud of it.   Thus was born the idea of running around the city of Calgary in my underwear.  Thank goodness the Underwear Affair provided a platform for this, otherwise a solo run in my underwear may have resulted in people questioning my sanity! 

It was interesting and timely to me that the underoos I selected for the race had a message in the band that seemed to be put there entirely for me:



Again, I repeat: I really DO have an athlete's body.  Healthy, strong and fit.  For this, I am thankful.  All it took to come to this conclusion, truthfully, was to switch my mindset.  I started to refer to my body as athletic.  I told people I wasn't shy and that I was GOING to be running in underwear.  Just underwear and nothing else.  I started to thank my body for all it does for me.  I stopped wishing for longer legs and less of an ass and started to realize that having an ass means that I can power through those last few incredibly difficult miles in a marathon.  It really is amazing to me the power our thoughts and mindset can have over how we feel about ourselves. 

And guess what happened?  For real?!  I loved every second of it.  As I trudged along in my skivvies I felt happy and free.  I started to run a bit faster.  And then a wee bit faster.  And then, it just felt like I was flying.  I felt light, happy and confident.

Me!  Running towards the finish in my underoos!
Me!  Pre-race in  my underoos!
The result?  Going Commando: Mission Accomplished.

Dollars raised for cancer research: over $9000- a huge thank you to everyone who supported me with generous donations.

Mindset: changed.  I am an athlete.  I have an athletic body.  Strong. Healthy. Fit.

And incredibly thankful.














Sunday, May 27, 2012

Harder, Better, Faster, STONGER

Eeek!  Music.  It makes me run HARDER BETTER FASTER STRONGER!

Seriously, who doesn't like some good tunes whilst pounding out a tough run on the pavement?  I get asked a lot for running playlists, so rather than make random suggestions, I thought I would compile what for ME would be the ultimate running playlist. 

Before I get to said playlist, a warning...my taste in music is eclectic.  This means that I love it all.  And for different reasons.  Sometimes I love a song because of the message in the lyrics or because I'm a fan of a specific band.  Sometimes a song just has a great beat and makes me run faster.  And some songs remind me of something or someone special...a memory from my life that makes me smile, takes the focus off of the hurt and make the run just a little easier.

So here it is.  Without further ado...NO JUDGING!

Andrea's Ultimate Running Playlist

1. Great Day to Be Alive- Travis Tritt
Of course I started with country.  And Travis Tritt.  Why?  Simple.  Every day IS a great day to be alive.  Especially if you're running!

2.  White Doves- Young Empires
New. Awesome. Inspirational.  Love some of the lyrics: it takes a thousand miles to reach the stars tonight; and you will find your dreams they come alive.

3.  Let It Ride- BTO
I have always claimed to have been born in the wrong era.  I love the groove of the 70's.  And that is why I love running to this BTO classic.

4.  C'Mon (Catch 'em By Surprise)- Busta Rhymes Diplo and Tiesto
Makes me run fast.  Like a fox.  Like a maniac.  Like a Kenyan.  A white Kenyan.  With short legs and a long body.  Very un-Kenyan like as a matter of fact...but a gal can't dream, can't she?

5.  Sofi Needs a Ladder- deadmau5

6.  Runnin' Down a Dream- Tom Petty
No explanation needed.  I AM running down a dream.  Many of them, actually.  But most specifically, 26 marathons, 26 different places, see to the right if you're confused...

7.  Don't Stop Believin'- Journey

8. Long Hot Summer- Keith Urban

9. Eye of the Beholder- Metallica
Every running playlist needs some Metallica.  Yes.  Every single one.  Laughing?  Whatever.  You'll see.  Download some.  It will get you through some tough spots on any and every run, I promise.  Plus it takes me back to my misspent Northern Ontario roots.  Kenora Dinner Jackets and pit parties.  Rock on.

10. Sad But True- Metallica

11. Sexy And I Know It- LMFAO
Nothing says sexy like running.  Running is Sexy.  Strong is Sexy.  Healthy is sexy.  Having endurance most 20 year olds don't even know exists yet, SUPER sexy.  And we all know it!

12. Save Me San Francisco- Train
I love the lyrics.  I smile and laugh.

13. Here I Go Again- Whitesnake
It's summer.  It's hot and humid.  I'm driving my boat.  In it are ARJR, Ellis, Haney and Bergie.  We are just pulling up to the Yacht Club Dance and this song is playing.  We just stole beer from someone else's boat and chugged it in a sauna to avoid a short but crazy rainfall.  What a great memory.

14. Banjo- Rascal Flatts

15. Not in Love- Crystal Castles f. Robert Smith

16. Run this Town- Jay Z
Jay Z is badass.  Therefore I become badass when I run this town.  I mean run in this town to this song.  Super street, that's me.

17. Paradise City- Guns n' Roses
For a period of my life, I partied like I was a rockstar.  To be specific, a rockstar in GnR.  Or at least like GnR bandaid.  While those days were...fun (?) they are certainly behind me now.  This song certainly gets me moving.  and when you're running this can't be a bad thing. 

18. Shake it Out (Benni Benassi Remix)- Florence and the Machine

19.  Stinkfist- Tool
Much like Metallica, I can't imagine a running playlist without Tool.  These guys have pushed me through some pretty tough marathon spots.  Tool, if (I mean when) you read this, you rock.  Completely.

21.  Electric Feel- MGMT
A nice slow beat to wrap it all up.

And that is all I have to say about that.  Like I said, my taste is varied, but to me, music for running is not about sticking to a certain genre or band.  It's about motivating me to run Harder.  Better.  Faster. Stronger. 

My suggestion?  Start downloading.  And then get your butt into shoes and onto the pavement.  Preferably singing the whole time!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

For REALS

It's true.

I am not running in the Ottawa marathon next weekend. 

I am not running in the Ottawa marathon next weekend.

For real.  I even wrote it twice to be sure.  Ever notice how when you say something out loud or write it down, it suddenly becomes that much more real?

I have to admit, it hurts.  While my knees, hips and back are not hurt at all (and are likely silently rejoicing, if body parts can rejoice) by this turn of events, my heart is.  And my soul.  And my psyche.  When you are hyper-focused on a goal as marathoners tend to be, it can be a harsh reality to admit that the finish line will just not be crossed.  As I've reflected most recently, it certainly isn't just about crossing that proverbial finish line, but really is more about the process in getting there. Choosing not to run in Ottawa needs to be seen and felt as just that, then...a part of the process.  A part of the process that will ensure I am strong, fit and healthy when I hit up DC in October for the Marine Corps marathon.  I am thinking of this as the GIFT I am giving my future self so I am ABLE to train at the level I truly, truly want.

Dear Body: Today I am giving you the gift of PERMISSION.  Permission to rest, recover, HEAL, regain strength, fitness and health so in the future, you can be pushed to sub 3 and you respond with NO PROBLEM!

The silver lining in the cloud?  I get to be a supporter and spectator in my home city marathon, the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon.  Next weekend, starting in the wee hours of Sunday morning, you will find me with the fabulous team from lululemon manning a support station.  FUN!  I've never really been a race spectator before, and I have to say I'm looking quite forward to supporting runners, cheering them on and perhaps even running with them for a short distance when they might really, really need something like that.  I always appreciate the support I receive during races and am thrilled that I get to be on the giving end next weekend.  Also, because I know the lemons NEVER do anything halfway, dare I say that this will be the most awesome of support stations that runners have ever seen.  There will be music, there will be dancing.  There will be signs and sun salutations.  And from me?  Free hugs to all runners, of course!  That is if they have time to stop for one!

And in case you're wondering, I do have a running goal.  Another one.  Or an extension of the same one that I've had for a while.  First: regain health, fitness and strength so when July 1st hits, this body is going to be so ready for Marine Corps marathon training that I will be UNSTOPPABLE.  Next:

I run a sub 3:00 marathon on October 28th, 2012.

For reals. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nike vs Garmin

It's official.  My Garmin 405 died a long, slow, painful death.  It was a good run with that Garmin while it lasted.  It only took me a year to figure out how to use it beyond its basic function and then after what seemed to be constant malfunction, I can't actually say that I'm feeling overly sad that the Garmin 405 and I will no longer be running together.

This morning, I took the Nike GPS system out for a spin.  Just a test drive to see if this system will be a better fit into my running life.  Liked the look (although kind of hoping they make it in pink, liked the LACK of a bezel, liked the ease of moving through the different functions.  Like that it only costs about $250.00.  Did not like the length of time to link to satellites or the bulky feeling on my wrist, albeit I have small wrists! Seemed pretty straightforward and easy to use and I particularly enjoyed the digital fireworks show and excitement when I broke the 5 and 10km records on the watch, set previously I might add by a 19 year old practically Olympian male pole vaulter.  Perhaps my speed isn't totally lost after all!


Nike!  I'd like a custom pink GPS system please!
However, I'm not totally sold.  Not yet anyhow.  I hear whispers that the Garmin 910 is pretty damn awesome and shouldn't be overlooked just because I happened to have a bunk experience with the 405.  Truthfully, I kind of feel Garmin and Nike are vying for my running love.  I'm like a princess in running gear waiting for the Garmin and the Nike to joust for my affection.  What's a gal to do?

Garmin!  I'd like a custom pink GPS system please!  And maybe a free one?
Runners, can we weigh in on this debate, please?  Thoughts one way or another?  Although I'm enjoying my back to basic runs for reals, I know me and I therefore know that there will be a time when I am ready to head out for some serious speedwork in the form of intervals and I'm not even sure if the Nike system can be set up for specific distance repeats. 

Has the past poor performance of a Garmin 405 forced this princess in running gear into the arms of the Nike GPS?  Will she continue to be haunted by the ghost of Garmin past?  Or has the 910 tugged at her heart strings just enough. Only the input of other runners can possibly save this decision.  Stay tuned.

P.S.  I'm actually more of a mermaid than a princess.  Seriously. 


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Inner Cowgirl

With music like this I wonder why I waited so long?  Country Love.  Is anyone else feelin' summer?  Because I sure am!



Makes me think I should break out the boot and stick around for Stampede!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Magic

I'm back.  I found it.  My mojo, that is.  It was missing, for a while.  It was actually missing for so long I didn't even realize it was missing.  It had nothing to do with being sick.  It had nothing to do with being busy.  It had everything to do with my mindset.  All it took was 4 short days in a tiny mountain town with 100 or so people full of inspiration and love who are living their dreams in the best way they know how.  I heard their stories, spoke with many of them (I wish I had had more time) and they showed me that if you want to do it...all you have to do is do it.  Maybe some of them will read this, and if they do, they should know that I am giving them the biggest hug a gal can think to give over the interweb.  Magic.  Each and every one of them.

And guess what happened?  I went running.  Shocking, I know, but it was different this time.  I let my hair down and felt it in the wind.  I ditched the overpriced running watch and the ipod, threw on my favourite running gear and just ran.  I ran my favourite running route in all of Calgs.  Through the dog park, down the hill, along the river, along Riverdale Avenue, through Stanley Park around the river and back.  I didn't worry about my pace or distance and whether or not I was doing intervals.  Truthfully, I didn't worry about anything.  I cleared my mind and just revelled in the sound of one foot after the other hitting the pavement again and again and again.  It was moving meditation in running form at its finest!  I laughed.  I cried.  I smiled.  I remembered how much I love to run.  I wasn't running to train for a race or to train other people for a race, I just ran because, well, quite simply because it felt awesome to run.  I'm not sure how to describe it except to say that I felt light. I felt magical.  And happy.  And that is something I haven't felt for a very long time.  I remembered that for me, running is not about the result in the race or the time on the clock, but is about the process involved getting there.  I lost that for a while, and I'm sure glad to find it.  It really is like most other things in life, less about the destination and more about the journey.  I feel like the universe has been nudging me to head in a certain direction on that journey for a while; I'm sure glad I decided to listen.

And those 100 or so peeps?  You know who you are.  You all shine.  You all inspire.  I will see you again because likely I will be sleeping on your couch when I come your way for a race.  And I can't wait.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bionic Runner

This is me being in a running study:

















Totally crazy like a bionic runner, yes?!

Anyhow, the study involved running back and forth several times while the electrodes measured the vibration in my muscles thus testing the new technology of a new brand of shoe.  I should also mention that this description is likely inaccurate as I am not a scientist, but this was how I understood things in my own (strange yet wonderful) mind.  I then had to answer a series of surveys and complete the same running back and forth and surveys in my own shoes.  Next, I get to keep the shoes (and they are pretty sweet if I do say so myself) and must run in them 2-3 times per week for the next six weeks.

These are the shoes:





I like the mint green, I like the reddish orange, I like the springy feel.  Overall, it's a like.  But its not a love.  My heart still belongs to Asics.  Even though I'm cheating on Asics.  At least for two runs per week.

And on another even more crazy note, recall my obession with running shoes and my thoughts to add a few more pairs?  Well, running friends, first world consumerism got the better of me and I caved.  Check it:


New trail shoes, new study shoes, new 2170 training shoes.  I suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of pride that I did NOT purchase the ultra cool blue and yellow Adizeros that I had on my feet in Florida.  I feel double glad that my sister purchased the coolest pair of bright orange Asics that I can borrow all summer long.

And speaking of summer, its right around the corner.  I'm feelin' it.  Shorts, tshirts, post running jumps off the dock.  Right up there with shoe love just has to be summer love!

Now I must stretch.




Saturday, April 14, 2012

Boston Inspiration

I ran the Boston marathon in 2008.  It suddenly seems like a super long, long time ago! 

The 2008 Boston Marathon saw the closest women's finish in the history of the event.  Take 3 minutes and watch this video.  Can you imagine running this hard after running a whole marathon?  I sure can't.  CRAZY.  Inspirational and AWESOME.  To all the peeps I know headed to Boston that will be running on Monday, have an amazing race, good luck, enjoy, take it all in, kiss a girl or two at Wellsley, kill those Newton hills and revel in this life-changing experience!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Truth

I get asked A LOT about marathon training.  A LOT.  Here is the cold hard truth:


Sums things up very nicely, indeed.  Ready to commit to an amazing and unique life experience known as running a marathon?  Please let me know!  I'd love to help.  One of the greatest pleasures in life for ME is to see and hear about people crossing the finish line in their first marathon.  Life-changing.  Totally cool.  And very emotional.  What are you waiting for?  find a race, get into some running shoes, make a plan (and let me help you make a plan) and hit the pavement RUNNING.  Only great things can come from this; I promise!