Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where the Magic Happens

In just 5 short sleeps time, I will be traipsing across the swamp in Dade City, Florida running a full marathon.

The Big Green Swamp Marathon has arrived! 

Truthfully, when I signed up for this race, way back when in December when Georgia-D threw down this challenge at his new found Canadian running friend, I don't think I truly, truly thought about what I was getting myself into.  A quick visual, for those of you that are silently snickering at the fact that a roadie like me is about to embark on a 26.2 on the trails in the Florida swamp:

Note: the Gators!  Eek!  I'd better have my speed on!
Growing up in Northern Ontario, I am fully prepared to deal with creatures and critters over the course of a run.  After all, creatures like bears and wolves and deer and the like are a common sight in the Northern Ontario forest.  But an alligator?  And poisonous spiders with webs across the trails?  I'm not so sure how I feel about those things.  Also, increasing the complexity of this little off-roading adventure is the description K-Rock provided to me when he and J-Rock drove to the course to check out where I'll be running.  He indicated, ever so eloquently, that it looked like a scene from Deliverance and that I should likely be running with a pistol, machete and can of mace. First of all, I'm not sure what to make of that and second, I'm not sure if all those things will fit in my fuel belt.  And, of course the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake is the fact that I have a grand total of 2 trail runs under my belt.  An experienced trail gal I am not!   Suddenly seems like quite a few variables to consider in just a very short time!

Where does all of this information leave me at this point, just 5 short sleeps out of the race?

Truthfully, I'm terrified and nervous...but I'm also really, really excited for a new adventure into the muddy and swampy unknown.  I have to remind myself that I am NOT running this one against the clock and that my goal is to finish in the 4 hour range.  I think this is fair given the fact that I have no idea what the course will look like until I get there on race day and the weather will likely be hot and humid which, truthfully, warms this Canadian runner's heart, fingers and toes! Also, I'm currently in the middle of some pretty intense training and mileage for my goal race in Ottawa at the end of May.  Throw into the mix that I'm also recovering from "the cold" which I staved off for days and days and finally succumbed to last weekend so my health is not quite at 100%.  However, I also must remember that an important part of this whole running adventure and this whole adventure that is life itself is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and always looking for new experiences.  You just never know where the magic in this world may be, and in this case, there may be magic just waiting for me in the swamp in Dade City, Florida.  So my plan?  Stay open...stay lose...avoid the gators and find the magic!

And if you think of it on Saturday, perhaps do me one small favour? 

Keep your fingers and toes crossed that I make it across the line with all my fingers and toes intact! 

Off to the swamp I go!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Marathoner's Conundrum

Look to your right, people!  No, not over your shoulder, just to the right of the screen!  See my list?  Remember my goal to marathon the alphabet?  New marathon, new letter, new city, new adventure!

Washington DC.  Marine Corps Marathon.  October 28th, 2012.  YES!

I already can't wait.  Just have to get through the swamp in FLA and the race in Ottawa and then I'll be here:

As if the prospect of a fall marathon is not exciting enough in it's own right, there will be Marines.  Lots and lots of Marines.  In uniform.  Motivating and inspiring for sure.  Especially if you happen to be a  single gal like me! 

Only one question remains: do I count this race as an A for Arlington, Virgina where the race starts?  Or a W for Washington DC where the race runs through?

Confusion.  Please help. Feedback welcome. Open to suggestions. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sister Support

Did anyone go running today?  In Calgary?  If you didn't, I hate to tell you, but you missed out.  Big time.  Sunny and warm.  Almost hot warm.  Inching so very close to summer almost hot warm.  Nothing like a fabulous spring day like this one to remind you that running is a completely amazing way to get out there, breathe in the fresh spring air and move your body while you're at it.

So.  Birthdays.  Did you know it was ARJR's happy happy day yesterday?  This would be my younger sister.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am so fortunate to have a sister like ARJR.  She is incredibly supportive, an awesome mom to wee H-bean (my nephew who is dreaming about his first marathon already, I'm sure) and also a runner.

In fact, did you know that long before I ever undertook the task of completing a distance event of any sort that JR did indeed pound out a half herself?  I recall this very, very clearly.  She was in law school and took it upon herself to run in the Manitoba Half in June.  I remember her sharing her experience with me, raving about just how awesome the energy and crowd was, how much fun she had, the great support the city of Winnipeg offered the runners, the funny signs on the course (last beer for 26.2 miles was a fav) and the way that she kept encouraging me to sign up for my own half to test the distance.  Her excitement was contagious and before long I found myself at the start of my first half marathon (which of course, she was there for) and shortly after, my first full distance.

And now here we are years and years and years later (well, maybe just years and years later) and I am soon to embark upon running my tenth marathon in the Florida swamp and all of that I owe to the inspiration and encouragement of my wonderful sister.  I've spent some time thinking about her lately, and given the fact that it is her birthday and we are separated by Saskatchewan (damn that Gap) my gift to her is to let her know that I would not be where I am today without her encouragement, support, and love.  Further than sparking my interest in this whole marathon adventure, she has been my support crew at almost every marathon I've ever ran in.  This has ranged from my very first Calgary marathon experience during which she met me on the course with Advil, Gatorade and a peanut butter sandwich (seriously) and proceeded to run at least a kilometer by my side in flip flops and a cowboy hat to getting lost in Calgary trying to find the best vantage point to see me run by only to make it to the finish in time to cheer me on as I exited the porta-potty.  This has also meant dragging other more reluctant (but just as awesome) members of my support crew (my rents, tee-dubs, chaney and ellis) to watch me run by for three seconds in whatever random city I may be running in.  She has spend thousands of her own dollars to see me run in Boston, Chicago, and New York City.  At each and every one of those races she was up well before the crack of dawn to hug me and to tell me she loved me before I left for the start.  I carried that with me through each and every one of those races and it meant more than I could ever say.  In New York City she lugged with her a three month old baby, her husband, my parents, two friends, a 1 year old and a 3 year old on and off the train and then all over the city to get the "best spot" in Central Park to see me run by.  This carried me through the last two hardest miles I have ever run.  She was with me for every step of those last two miles, and most of that 3:07 is because of her love and support.  She is responsible for introducing me to my current speedy training friends and for encouraging me into some "real" running gear (she used to say I was the only runner without any running gear) and now I am proudly affiliated with lululemon as a Run ambassador.  And then, of course, there was the time that we ran the Manitoba half TOGETHER.  And we crossed the line together.  Holding hands.  Of all the places and races I've been to, this is my favorite memory.  I loved that we did that together. 

Running long distances in racing and in training can be a lonely affair.  I'm lucky enough to have never, ever felt alone, and most of that is because I have a sister who loves me, inspires me and encourages me each and every step of the way.  Thanks, JR.  You are the best.  I miss you, I love you and I can't wait until the summer when we can go running together.  Have the best day ever.