Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Cape to Cabot (aka Let's Punch Pete Soucy in the Face)

It's been just over a week and I finally feel like I'm ready to talk about it. Because I refused to even think about it for so long, it's kind of difficult to actually put the entire thing into words.

I finished the Cape to Cabot.

Now that's it's over, I can look at my sneakers without hyperventilating. My compression pants no longer cause cold sweats and my PRC shirt once again makes me think of fun runs instead of the Bataan death march.

The weeks between the half marathon and the Cape were somewhat stressful at my house. All I could think about was trying not to think about the race. My hip and knee were still sore from my first training run from Cape Spear and I had convinced myself that I would not be able to finish the course. I even considered backing out altogether. I had a plan to wait until Saturday night before the race and then tell Lori that I wasn't going to run. Can't tell her too early or she'll talk me back into it.

Maybe it was a coincidence, or maybe she's psychic, but over the next few days Lori managed to talk me back into running without even knowing I was quitting. She kept texting things like "I'll regret it if I don't start" or "It doesn't matter if I don't finish it" or "I just need to try and see what I can do".

Sugar's daily weather updates for race day didn't help with my stress levels. "Three degrees and pouring rain for race day". Shut up. "Up to five degree now and scattered showers". Shut UP. "Changed to five degrees and overcast". SHUT UP.

Because there was nothing I could do to stop it, race day arrived. We got up at dark o'clock to have breakfast and left shortly after to make it to the shuttle buses by 6:00 am. 

The ride to Cape Spear was interesting. When a vehicle can barely make it up a hill you have to wonder why you thought it was a good idea to try and run said hill. Maybe I could just stay on the bus and hitch a ride back.

There are so many runners outside the bus warming up. There's a lady doing yoga. That couple over there are having what looks like a picnic while they wait. There's a guy in a garbage bag trying to keep warm and a guy wearing what looks an awful lot like a hazmat suit.

At 7:50 am I got kicked off the bus and had to make my way to the starting area. I went as far back as I could because I knew I'd eventually end up there anyway. We sang the Ode, the gun was fired and off we went. 

My plan was to run slower than usual, even on the flat parts so as not to re-injure myself. I'd done the calculations and knew that if my average pace was under 9 minutes per kilometer, I would finish the race in the three hour time frame. 

I don't remember much of the race itself. I do remember forcing myself to slow down running down several of the hills. I remember a man at the 5 k water stop looking at me with concern and asking if I was alright. Did I really look that bad? Maybe I'm having some sort of breakdown and don't even realize it. 

I also remember getting past the 10 k mark where the pain started during the training run and realizing that I was going to be able to finish the race. 

Southside Road, Water Street and Harbour Drive were wonderful. I ran along at my usual pace feeling pretty good. The stress was gone and my app was telling me I was going to be finished in less than three hours, even with Temperance and Signal Hill left to go. 

Photo credit: Canvassing the Neighborhood Photography

Enter the piper. There is seriously nothing more encouraging than having someone pipe you up Temperance Street. I felt a little like Braveheart. The real Braveheart, not the monkey with the lightning bolts. (Video)

I did walk some of Signal Hill, because let's face it, it's awful. I could hear the shouts from my fellow PRCers at the top and I knew that in a matter of minutes it would all be over. I could go home and never speak of this whole experience again.

Photo credit: Ron Earles

I ran down the finish chute passed a sea of yellow jackets but all I could really think about was getting over the finish line. I was almost at the mat before I realized that Sugar was there, looking just like National Lampoon's Uncle Eddie, waiting with my medal, ready to place it around my neck. That moment made it all worth it.

I think I asked someone where I could find Pete Soucy so I could punch him in the face. Since he was long finished, we took a few pictures, gave a few hugs and headed for home, no worse for the wear. 

I survived. 

I've been asked since, "Will you do it again next year?" My answer - no. But then again I also said I'd never run a half marathon or do the Cape to Cabot, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

I Ran a Half Marathon

I am officially a half-marathoner.

On Saturday, September 17th, 2016, I ran my first half at the Maritime Race Weekend in Nova Scotia, but I really don't feel any different. I thought there would be a huge sense of accomplishment, success or pride when I rang the bell in Eastern Passage to let the world know that I just ran my first 21.1 kilometers but in all honesty, all I really felt was that I just finished another long run with my friends.

Was it was because my thoughts were on Sugar as he completed his second marathon? Maybe it was because Paula wasn't able to run with us due to an injury. Or maybe it was because we had already run 20.9 kilometers a few weeks before and a running an extra 200 meters really didn't seem like such a big deal anymore.

Photo courtesy of Neal Bagnall

Of course it could be that we really didn't treat this race as a race. To us, it was more of a stop at every water table and dance with the marshals kind of race. A take a break at the Temptation Station and eat chocolate kind of race. A pose for the photographers like we're super models kind of race.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all shits and giggles. Getting up at 4:20 am to eat a breakfast of Gatorade, bananas and un-toasted bagels was not a highlight of my trip. Neither was getting off a shuttle bus an hour and a half before the race and having to wait outside in the cold for the sun to come up. It's at moments like these that you really start to believe that you will never sign up for another race again.

But then the sun comes up, the cannon blasts and you're running along with your peeps like there's no other place in the world you'd rather be.

Except a cruise ship. Nothing trumps cruise ship.

We managed to run the majority of the race together. There were a few times when Lori forgot who she was running with and when her natural pace took over she surged ahead. But we would eventually reunite and continue on towards the finish like the three musketeers. 

One of our pit stops was the Temptation Station around kilometer twelve. There were chairs to sit in, chocolate to eat and an amazing view. Another half marathoner stopped and asked for orange slices. There were none. She looked like she could really use a pick-me-up so I offered her some of my Rice Krispie cookies. As per usual, I received a look that says "Are you on something?" I explained the merits of the cookie and she reluctantly took a small square, probably to make me go away more than any belief that what I was saying had any truth to it.

We soldiered on. Renee's knee started acting up and so did Lori's IT band. At about the 19 km mark, our friend from the Temptation Station caught up to us once again. This time she was full of questions. How many squares do you take on a run? When do you start to eat them? How often do you eat them? Store bought or homemade? 

And then she was gone. Flying down the road to the finish line ahead of us.

You're welcome.

Even with all our pit stops, photo ops and injuries we managed to finish the race under our three hour goal with a chip time of 2:56:36.

Highlights of our trip:

1) I bought a visor. 
2) There was a Starbucks in the lobby of my hotel and it's Pumpkin Spice time.
3) Hills in Nova Scotia are not the same as hills in Newfoundland.
4) The Lower Deck was 10 feet away from my hotel.
5) I ran a half marathon.

If I have to give a summary of what I learned that weekend or what I took away from the experience it would be this: once you run a half marathon, you'll want to run half marathons instead of 10 K's. After all that training there's no way I'm going back to shorter distances. My next year's Huffin Puffin will be a half and our destination race next fall will be a half. I never thought I would ever run the distance, but now I can't imagine NOT running it. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Call Me Sophia

"Picture it, Random Island, 1985...

A group of school age children are playing outside - hopscotch, tag, jump rope, war, riding bikes. Suddenly, the street light comes on and everyone groans because they all know it's time to go back inside. Nobody wants to go home because being outside is way more fun."

My kids are staring at me like I'm on a day pass from the Loony Bin.

In actuality, I'm trying to convince them of the merits of coming with me for a run.

The weather was crap last night so I skipped the group run. Since I hate the treadmill, I also skipped running at home with a promise that I would run in the morning. As I laced up my sneakers this morning, a conversation I had with my eldest came to mind. I had suggested to him a week or so ago that he should join our LTR program the next time it was offered. To my surprise, he seemed to consider it. I thought I would float the idea again this morning, see if he wanted to try some intervals.


The beauty of being a parent is you can counter the "no" with "yes" and win automatically. In the end, we reached a compromise. The kids would come with me, but they would bike while I ran.

After a lengthy struggle with the bike rack we made our way to Neil's Pond. My two Ronnie's took off down the trail, laughing all the way because I was so far behind. They'd stop and wait for me every once in a while with a look of "poor, slow mom" on their faces.

But by the time we made it around the pond the first time, I could tell they were starting to wane. They turned towards our vehicle, but I was having none of that. My "One more lap!" was met with looks of misery, but they pushed on. Sort of.

One stopped near the gazebo and started walking, pushing his bike next to him. The other kept pedaling, but it wasn't long before I was passing him. Seriously?? I'm 40 years old and I can outrun an 11 year old on a pedal bike. Those kids need to get out more. Looks like I have a new motivation to keep me running.

After lap two they sat on a rock on the side of the trail, looking like they had just finished a marathon, while I ran on a little further to get my 5k. I have to say, I really enjoyed this run. Maybe it's because the temperatures were ideal for a run. Maybe it's because it was only 5k. Or maybe it's because I was able to spend some time with my kids without iPads stuck to their faces.

Despite being disproportionately tired, Thing One and Thing Two seemed pleased that they managed 4k on their bikes/feet and even hinted that they might do this with me again.

I'm going to hold them to that.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Four Weeks and Counting

I seriously wish the half marathon was this week. We've been training forever and I'm really looking forward to going back to doing regular easy, shorter, lazy distance runs.

I did two noteworthy runs this past week. One was an 18 K run with Renee on Sunday (she wrote about that over at the PRC blog) and the other was at the Thursday night group run.

On Thursday, my regular peeps were AWOL and since most everyone seemed to have ran in the morning, we were down to a skeleton crew. It was hills night and with the C2C ever present in my mind, I couldn't skip them, even though there wasn't anyone there to hold me accountable. In fact, the group I had figured on running with weren't doing hills at all. However, I made the mistake of asking, "Is anyone doing hills?"

Carol Ann heard me and the next thing I knew, I was running with her towards Mockingbird. Carol Ann is a much faster runner than me and she was obviously running a little slower so I could keep up. Being aware of this, I attempted to run faster so she wouldn't have to go too slow.

Mistake #1.

Carol Ann chatted away while I responded with grunts while trying to breathe. This should have been the first sign that I was well out of my depth, but Carol Ann was very encouraging and really seemed to believe that I could keep up with her.

We made it to the hill and connected with the others that Carol Ann usually runs with - Cathy B, Ed M and the Energizer Bunny, Madeline. If there was a flashing neon sign that said "SIGN TWO - YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR DEPTH!" it couldn't have been more obvious that I was well out of my league with this group.

I think I did six hills to their eight and was about to make a break for it at the top after my last repeat, but they caught me trying to sneak away. I was then informed that instead of heading back our usual route, we were running the opposite direction and adding in a cul-de-sac. I tried to decline and play the "I'm too slow for you" card, but it didn't work. I followed along, like the kid brother, lagging behind the group while the others ran in circles at the end of the road until I caught up. Again, I tried to pick up the pace so the others wouldn't be waiting for me.

Mistake #2.

When we make it back to the community center Carol Ann said we did around 8 K. I was glad that Sugar was already back and waiting for me so we could leave right away. I could already start to feel the strain in my body from the extra exertion. I hadn't fueled for the extra effort because, let's face it, I really hadn't planned on putting in any real effort at all.

I spent the rest of the evening reading all the positive posts about our run on Facebook while I lay in bed trying not to die. I calculated our pace to be about 6:30, hills included. I'm not that great at math, but I'm pretty sure that means our pace on the flat sections was under 6:30. Looks like I added tempo runs to my training.

There are only two more long runs before the half and I don't think I've ever looked forward to finishing something so much. I know the C2C will be on the horizon when we get home but I've decided to stop thinking about that race and just run it on the day. Right now, all my energy is focused on Halifax and being done with training for a while.

Four weeks and counting.

Monday, 15 August 2016

It's the Final Countdown

Running Calendar

Week of August 14 - 2 groups runs + 18 K training run (3)
Week of August 21 - 2 group runs + 19 K training run (3)
Week of August 28 - 2 group runs + 20 K training run (3)
Week of September 4 - 2 group runs + PRC Five and Dime (3)
Week of September 11 - 2 group runs + MRW Half Marathon (3)
September 18 to October 15 - C2C training (12)
October 16 - C2C (1)
October 17 - quit running

The countdown is on. Cue Europe.

By my calculations I have 28 more runs left to complete before I can quit.

Ok, maybe I won't actually quit, but my life will stop revolving around running. I won't be getting up early on my one day off to go on a long run. I can stop pouring over Google maps, looking for routes that end near a coffee shop. I can spend a Friday evening out with friends and not leave early because I have to run in the morning. I can miss a run and not feel like I have to make it up. Basically, I can stop thinking about running altogether. 

But until then, the training continues. 

There are 32 days left before the half and it's getting harder to schedule the Rice Krispie long runs together. Luckily there are enough PRCers doing long runs that we can join in with them if our schedules allow. And sometimes, other PRCers are able to join us.

Take this week for example. Renee was working and Paula was on vacation so on Sunday morning I met Hardcore Lori and Roller Derby Amanda at Peter Barry Duff for a 17 km run. We set out on a route that I chose because it had a couple of nice hills. I figured if I have to train, might as well train for both the half and C2C at the same time. 

It was a bit of an odd route - lots of side roads and backtracking that caused a bit of confusion and the possibility of getting lost. The two major hills were horrible and I had to stop myself from thinking that they weren't even half the length of the ones we'd see at C2C. Maybe I will quit after all. It's the only way to make sure I never register for another race again.

Hills aside, the run was a success. Amanda, who is a much faster and stronger runner, ended up running 19 km because of all the running back and forth she did making sure we were still nearby and not lost on a side street somewhere. Myself and Lori finished our 17 with no ill effects which continues to make me confident that the half will be just as successful.

My FitBit was pretty pumped about the whole thing too. 17 km is now my longest distance and I know that adding four more clicks won't be a problem. Sorry 4.1. Can't forget that point one.

32 days and counting!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Knowledge = Fear

Nothing makes you question your sanity for registering for the Cape to Cabot like running up hills.
Thursday night's hill repeats took on a whole new meaning. I've run that hill hundreds of times but my first trip up this week made me panic. Why did I ever think I could run the C2C? There's no way I'll be able to do it. I'll die. They'll find me at Maddox Cove Road curled up in the fetal position praying for an earthquake that will reduce all the hills on the Avalon Peninsula to rubble.

The same thing happened on Saturday at the Figure 8 race. I thought the run would be fairly easy considering I had home field advantage, but when I started up hill from Octagon Pond back to the T'railway, all I could think was that in October I'll be followed by an ambulance for 20 kilometers, which is probably a good thing since I'm going to end up in one before the race is done.

Maybe I'm over reacting. Maybe I should do some research, figure out exactly what I'm in for. Knowledge will slay the fear.

I decided to look at the course elevation. There are four up hill sections. For some reason I thought there would be more. Race starts out downhill for one kilometer. So far so good. First uphill is one kilometer followed by another kilometer downhill. See, that's not so bad, right?

Hill number two is two kilometers. That's a long way up. It's like running Neil's Pond, only all uphill.

Ok, don't panic, that's probably the worst of it.

Downhill for two kilometers, followed by uphill for three kilometers.

I was wrong. Knowledge feeds the fear fire and it's like Guy Fawkes night over here.

After pacing back and forth trying to stop from hyperventilating, I give the elevation chart one more glance. Downhill for three kilometers followed by three kilometers flat along Water Street. That I can do. I think I'll ignore the final slog up Signal Hill Road for now. Most people walk at least a portion of that section and I know I'll do the same.

That's enough knowledge for one day. I don't think I can handle knowing any more.

Instead, let's think about how this will be my last race of the year. Maybe of my life. Maybe I'll quit running after this. I'll become a race volunteer. Or I'll start sleeping in on weekends. Think of all the drawer space I'll have when I get rid of all my running clothes.

Yeah, that probably won't happen.

I'm sure Renee and Paula will be at Cabot Tower with tea when we finish racing. That's a good thought. I'll have an awesome new running shirt - Sugar says his C2C shirts are some of his favorites. I'll have that really amazing medal with the Forget Me Not's on it. I'll finally get to go to the post race reception. And I hope that I'll be able to say that I'm glad I did it.

It's going to be okay. I think it will really all be okay.

That is, until I run hills again this week.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

I'm Not Sure What Just Happened

I'm not sure what just happened.

One minute I'm scarfing down a bag of Nibs while watching Ice Age: Collision Course with my kids and the next thing I know I'm looking at the confirmation of my registration for the Cape to Cabot.

What did I just do?

I blame Lori. She decided that running her first 5K, 8K, 10K, Tely and half marathon wasn't enough accomplishment for one year and added the C2C to her list. She was panicking all day and suggested I do the race with her.

Um, no.

But she had planted that seed somewhere in the back of my mind. Never mind that I swore I would NEVER run the Cape. Never mind the visions of all the strong PRC runners I've witnessed struggle up the Munn Mile, looking like death. Never mind that it's promoted as the HARDEST and TOUGHEST race in Northeastern America.

I should never have checked my messages after the movie. Lori had sent a screen shot of her registration confirmation. I checked with Sugar to make sure he had registered and casually mentioned that "Lori wants me to run the C2C with her." "Do it," was his response. No doubts there.

It's probably sold out by now. It sells out fast. I'll just log in and then I'll know for sure that it's sold out and I have a good excuse.

24 spots left. 

There's no going back now. This brings a whole new meaning to our hill training.

One thing is for certain - if Lori decides she wants to add her first marathon to her list this year, I'm definitely looking for new friends.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Tely Train of Thought

It's Tely morning. 6 am.

Do I get up now or wait for the alarm to go off? I'll get up. It's not like I'm going to get back to sleep.

Should I still wear my singlet? It's foggy out there. Might be coolish. Don't want to be cold at the start line. Let's check the forecast. 16 degrees. That's 26 degrees once I start running. I'll stick with the singlet.

I should eat breakfast first, give it time to digest. A bagel and a banana should be good. And a Rice Krispie square. Get the rocket fuel in before I run. Should I have tea? I'll have to pee 10 times if I do. Maybe I'll just have a small cup. Use one of those teacups I have that are covered in dust in the cupboard. Yeah, let's do that.

I should put Body Glide on my feet today, just as a precaution. Don't want to get blisters. Should I wear my hat? It makes my head hot, but it blocks the sun from my eyes. But there's no sun right now and the forecast says not to expect any until after 10 am. I'll be finished running by then. No hat. I wish I had a visor like Sue or Ironman. Maybe I'll get one at the Maritime Race Weekend Expo.

I just made tea in the biggest mug in the house. Oh well, maybe I should wear a Depends under garment today.

I have one million messages from the girls. They are a little freaked out about getting to the race on time.

It's 7:35. Time to head to the start line. I'll park near Coffee Matters and walk up the trail with Sugar.

Hey, there's Ed doing a warm up run along the trail. He's stopping to have a chat.

It's a short walk, but that was a lot of talk about poop.

I wonder where the girls are? Text says in the 2 hour corral in the middle. There they are. Paula looks terrified. I'm sure she'll do fine.

There's the gun! And we're going...nowhere. Am I running for time? I don't know. Depends on the heat. And how I feel as I get going. Ok, here we go, a slow walk to the start mat. Push start on my phone. Let the fun begin! Don't start out too fast! Slow it down. You don't want to burn out too quickly.

I think it's starting to rain. No, I was wrong. It's starting to pour. Everyone's laughing. At least we're all good humored about it.

The weather man lied. That's the sun right there, beating down on my hatless head. I'm spending all day Friday before the half marathon shopping at the Expo in Halifax this September. I'm going to buy several visors. Maybe I'll buy some Bermuda shorts too because I'm going to end up with runner's tan. Tan lines just about the knees. Looks real nice with regular shorts and bathing suits.

I think I've lost the girls. Should I try and find them or keep going? I think I hear Renee talking. Maybe they're closer than I think.

Oh look, there's my parents! Smile and wave. No kids. Guess they're smart and stayed in bed.

I wonder if Aaron will be out taking pictures today. Better practice my running smile.

Kilometer three! I have the cold sweats. That's not a good sign. That means heatstroke. I think I better slow down for a bit. Don't want to be delusional by kilometer five. Although there's a good argument to be made that I'm already delusional since I'm running in this humidity.

That's a better pace. More to the beat of Thin Red Line. Alan Frew, I'm depending on you to keep me going. Shadows fall over me. 

There's Kim P passing me again. She's really rockin' it! She's really improved with her running since last year.

Water station up ahead. I think I'll be okay with my Gatorade. Plus there are one million people there in desperate need of fluids. The cups hitting the ground sound like someone is making Jiffy Pop. I wonder if you can still buy Jiffy Pop? I like popcorn. Maybe I'll have some when I get home.

Kilometer five! Time for Rice Krispies! Yes, lady, I'm eating cookies while I run. And they're delicious.

That's a big line up at the porta potties. And it's all women. Except for that one guy who doesn't realize all the other guys are standing in the woods behind him. If I could stand in the woods I'd stop now too. That giant mug of tea has turned my insides into a water bed full of jumping children.

Over and over, Her shadow falls over me.

Half way there. Gatorade. Cookies. It's HOT. H-O-T. Hot. hOt. hoT. HOt. hOT. HoT.


All for the thin red line.

I wonder if they'll have the hoses spraying at the fire station? I could use a cool down. Gotta try and keep my feet dry though. They're already wet from the rain and I can feel hot spots forming. I predict blisters.

I'm sure I just heard Renee again. She probably yelling at her brother. I still don't see her though. I can't stop to look or I'll never start again.

So many people walking now. The heat is ridiculous. Glad I have my fuel belt. A lot of people have nothing with them. I would still be in Paradise if I wasn't drinking every kilometer.

I love Cornwall Avenue. It has trees and shade. Think I'll run on the right where the sun can't find me. Shadow falls over me.

Another water station. More Jiffy Pop. I should go to Sobeys on the way home and see if they still sell it. Should pick up a few other things while I'm there. I think tea bags are on sale. Think I'll take some water this time and pour it over my head. I wonder how much further to the PRC pit stop? I could use a cold sponge right about now.

There's Aaron. Saw him too late. He probably already has my picture and I'm guessing I'm not smiling. Hopefully I don't look too much like death. Or insane.

Gina can't be much farther. I can see yellow! Bring on the candy and the sponges! Sorry lady, I think I just sprayed you with sponge water! My bad.

That kid has a sign that says 2.5 kms to go. Is he trustworthy do you think? He looks innocent enough but you never know.

The crowd of spectators is getting bigger. That means I'm definitely nearing the end. Good thing too cause my hip is starting to ache. And my legs.

There's the turn to Bannerman Road. Not yet. Still too far out. Wait for it. Wait for the right moment. Don't get caught up in the sudden rush of people going past you.

There's Newly Engaged Ryan offering me water. I'm too close to the finish to slow down now. Now! Go now. Increase your stride. Pick up the pace.

There's the clock. What does it say? I need to get closer or else get glasses - it starts with a one! I'm under two hours. PB! RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN!

Over. Done. Dying. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Medal. Water. Banana. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Yellow. Go. Eat. Drink. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Tree. Shade. Stop. Stretch. Breathe.

Where's Sugar? Wonder how he did. Batman is sitting on the ground and can't get up. There's Renee! I wonder how Paula is doing? And where's Lori?

Everyone is discussing their time. Mine is one hour something. I didn't even look at the other numbers when I saw that I was under two hours.

There's Paula and Collette! Paula has her knee bandaged and she's in tears. Joy or Pain? Maybe both. Maybe more pain than joy. But she crossed that finish line upright.

We did it. All four of us got a PB. Well, since it was Paula and Lori's first Tely, the automatically get a PB, but myself and Renee also beat our previous times. And of course, like all crazy runners, we're already talking about "when we do this next year". I wonder when registration opens?

My Results: 1:49:53 (chip time). 12:36 faster than 2013
Team Results: Rice Krispies placed 6th (out of 6 teams)

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Race Nemesis

If you are a regular participant in road races you have undoubtedly discovered that you have a race nemesis. A race nemesis is that person you see at every event who is just slightly faster and 99% of the time crosses the finish line just ahead of you.

The race nemesis plays a very important role. Their main purpose is to motivate you to dig deep, to encourage you to push yourself just a little harder, to make you believe that you can catch them if you really put your mind to it. And to drive you slightly crazy when they beat you yet again.

My race nemesis is called Walter.

I know his name because it's always above mine in the race results. He probably doesn't even know I exist and yet he is one of my biggest motivators.

For three years Walter has beaten me at every race (except one) that we have entered. For three years he has unknowingly encouraged me to try and catch him.

So when I spotted him at the starting line for the Mews 8 K on Sunday, running along Mundy Pond Road for a warm up, I decided for the first time this year, I was going to try for a personal best. My last PB was three years ago and it was time to try and change that. Sorry girls, you're on your own.

A last minute bathroom break left me racing to the start line with about 10 seconds to spare before the starting gun. I didn't have time to find Walter so I decided that I would just run on my own and hopefully spot him somewhere along the route. If I could keep up with him, I was fairly certain I could beat my previous time.

I managed to find Renee and Paula and we ran together for a few minutes before I decided to pull ahead and see if I could catch a glimpse of Walter. I don't know why I chose him as my person, but I think it had something to do with the fact that he wears a headband when he runs. I am partial to a runner in a sweatband. 

I wasn't running with my phone so I had no idea what my pace was or how many kilometers I had clocked. I tried to listen to the voice feedback from the apps of the runners around me for some clue but I was too preoccupied with finding Walter to really take in any data or do the math to see where I was.

I pushed onward but as I neared King's Bridge Road, I realized that my chances of running across the finish line with my motivator were quickly diminishing. I hadn't even been able to catch a glimpse of him this time around. Then I saw the clock and I realized that despite not finding my pace bunny, a PB was within my reach. I crossed the mat with a chip time of 51:12, five seconds faster than my best Figure 8 time and a minute and a half faster than my last Mews. And it's all thanks to Walter. I never would have ran like I did if I hadn't been looking for him.

So Thank You, Walter. Maybe next time I'll get that finish line photo. For now, this one will have to do.

Walter and I after the race

Oh, and just a word of encouragement to those who have yet to finish ahead of their nemesis - there's one thing you should always remember:  you're someone's race nemesis too.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Just Like Bad Underwear

It's less than three weeks to the Tely. When I really think about that I can't help but wonder how it crept up so fast. Just like bad underwear, as Sugar would say.

I'm not panicked or freaked out. I've put in the time training and I know what I need to do to have a good run. I have good shoes, I know how to fuel and hydrate and I've got a bazillion PRCers running with me. Bring it on.

It seemed like the majority of the running community decided to run the Tely route on Canada Day so I jumped on the bandwagon. Snap, Crackle and Pop were either out of town, running other races or had previous commitments so I joined another bunch of PRCers (I will call them Batman's Angels, or BA for short) for the practice run. BA were doing the full Tely route, but since I only had 15 K to do (yes, I said ONLY) and planned to finish at Quidi Vidi where Sugar would be waiting after his run, I started further along the route, between the one and two mile markers.

It was humid. For the first eight kilometers or so, everything I was wearing or carrying was pasted to my body. I felt like a roll of Saran Wrap. Or Scotch Tape. But at least it was overcast, or it was for the first half hour of the run. Then the skies cleared and the sun came out in full force, beating down on us like ants under a magnifying glass. As we passed the Village Mall, I decided to cross over to the opposite side of the street where there was at least partial shade. Many of the other ants followed my lead. 

It was difficult to run in the heat and I started having flashbacks of Tely's past. I kept reminding myself that it would be different on race day - the firemen will be out with the hoses, Gina will have the PRC pit stop set up, there will be water tables around the next turn. And maybe it won't be this hot on July 24th. 

When I reached the Mile 10 marker, BA were all lying in the grass enjoying cold beverages and relishing being finished. I stopped for a brief chat before heading on to the lake where Sugar and his Crisps were waiting to take me out for tea. 

I made it to the lake and hit the finish button on my phone. My FitBit app always has an encouraging message for me after I finish a run. This time it was "Bring it!" I thought it was fitting considering my next long run will be the Tely. It pretty much sums up how I feel.

And maybe it's also fitting that the map showing my route looks like a smile. My app is happy and so am I - this is the longest I've run since my last Tely and I felt great after. No aches, pains or discomfort of any kind. 

With every long run, I'm more and more encouraged that the half marathon will be a success. It's only eleven weeks away and I'm sure it will be another pair of bad underwear. I think when Maritime Race Weekend is over, I'll buy myself a nice pair of bloomers. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Lessons Learned

This was supposed to be an easy running week with a couple of 5 K's and an 8 on the weekend, but with the Tely getting closer, I started questioning my training plan. Originally, there were 2 weeks between each long run which I thought would give my body time to adjust to all the extra strain it was undergoing, but I began to notice one week after a long run, I felt able to do another. 

As the weekend approached I mentioned to the girls that we didn't have a 15 K scheduled before the Tely and if we wanted to run that distance, we would have to move our 14 K up to this weekend. Even as I write this I'm trying to figure out what exactly has happened to me. How did I get from not wanting to run at all to adding an extra 15 kilometers to my schedule? 

We decided to run the T'railway from Coffee Matters in Paradise down to Biped on Water Street. If you take the trail right to the train station before heading to Biped, it's exactly 14 kilometers. Plus now that Biped has its own coffee bar right in the store, it's the perfect spot to finish a run. 

Before we set off, the girls surprised me with t-shirts they had made. It all started when the lovely Wendy Wall referred to us as "The Rice Krispie Group" one Saturday morning at Coffee Matters. Shortly after that, Batman gave us all nicknames.

And it's only gotten weirder as time goes on. Sugar is now referred to as Sugar Crisp and Molly has been dubbed Tony the Tiger. I'm trying to figure out who could be Toucan Sam and Count Chocula. At Maritime Race Weekend we'll all be Captain Crunch. I'm starting to think the next PRC group photo will look something like this:

But I digress.

There were five of us running this morning - Myself, Lori, Paula, Renee and Joyce. Things started out on a bad note when both Joyce and Renee realized that their iPod's were dead and they would have to run 14 K without music. At 5 K Renee had to drop out because she was feeling light headed. Then Paula ran out of water and by the time we reached Water Street she was feeling the effects of the heat and loss of fluids. Biped was an oasis in a 14 kilometer desert.
Within a few minutes of entering the store we were all eating yummy treats and drinking tea. They had all the necessities for runners - bananas, granola bars and my personal favorite, snowballs. Renee joined us for a snack and all the horrible parts of the run were forgotten. This was the longest, warmest run we've done to date and it was a good reminder of how things could be at the Tely. We have one long run left to get all the kinks out before July 24th. We've all learned a few lessons and I'm sure our 15 K next week will see a huge improvement.

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Ultimate Running Secret

Today I begin the Town of Paradise's FitBit Challenge. I figure all this training has got to put me in the running for one of the top spots on the leader-board. Plus, I need some extra motivation to help keep me on track with my running.

This past week I only managed to get in about 19 km. I missed the group run on Tuesday since I was helping my teenager study for his final exams. I had every intention of running the day before, or Tuesday morning, or maybe Wednesday but I ended up staying home, contemplating why rain, drizzle and fog seem to have moved in permanently.

Thursday was hill repeats and I couldn't miss another run, even if the rain was coming down in biblical proportions. Paula started the run with a big hate on for the weather, while Lori made the most of it and ran the entire time wearing her Spiderman rain poncho. Myself and Paula managed seven repeats, while Lori did eight. She is hardcore after all.

Saturday was our long run day. 13 kms were on the schedule so I came up with a route that included the upcoming Mews 8k course plus a lap of Quidi Vidi lake. For the first time in ages I decided to run with music. I knew Renee and Paula would be wearing their ear buds and since I didn't fancy spending the hour and a half talking to myself I figured having my own music was the way to go. My Tely 10 playlist from 2013 was still on my iPod so I added a few of my recent favorites and we hit the road. 

Maybe it was the music, maybe it was because we didn't run until 11:00, but whatever the cause, I was having a great run. We were nearly finished the Mews course and it felt like we had just started out so when Renee suggested we change our route to include Lakeview Avenue I was all for it.

By the time I reached the top of the hill, I thought I was going to die. Visions of Sugar fixing his sneakers floated in front of my eyes. This is it - I'm having a stroke or a heart attack. Death by running.

It wasn't until Renee started talking to my vision that I realized Sugar was actually there at the top of the hill. He had planned his 23 km route to end with ours so he could hitch a ride home.

With five kilometers left to go, I finished off the last of my Rice Krispie Cookies. We ran through Quidi Vidi Village and back to the Boulevard. It was about this time that the energy from the cookies kicked in. I started to run a little faster, my feet hitting the pavement to the beat of the music.

At kilometer eleven I discovered the ultimate running secret. 

Rick Astley.

With "She Wants To Dance With Me" ringing in my ears, my pace increased from 7:13 to 6:28. Not only is he still making number one hits, Rick Astley has given me hope that I can get my first PB in four years. Gigs all around. 

When I run the Mews in 3 weeks I'm hoping to not only beat my previous Mews time, but beat my best 8 K time as well. It's been a while since I've "raced" and I'm kind of looking forward to it. This will be the first race of the season where all four of us will be trying for a PB and I'm sure with a little help from Kellogg's and Rick, we'll be able to do it.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Seaman Simeon Rogers, Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve, 1885 - 1917

The Uniformed Services Run is a race that is new to me. This is the sixth year the run has been hosted by ANE and the first time I have taken part. I couldn't have picked a better year for my inaugural USR.

As most Newfoundlanders know, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. If you are anywhere in the older parts of St. John's, your bound to see the signs, banners and displays that commemorate the sacrifice of so many young men who died during the First World War. ANE decided to incorporate these soldiers into their race by assigning each runner a fallen soldier. The race bibs held the names and service numbers of those who died and everyone received a beautiful finisher medal, complete with the caribou, the emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

We had the option of choosing a soldier to run for. As far as I know, none of my ancestors perished during WW1, but the name Simeon Rogers caught my attention. I did have a great uncle named Simeon Rodgers who, coincidentally, also died in 1917 when the train he was traveling on derailed and caught fire. Though they were two different people, since they had the same name I thought it could be possible that if I looked back far enough, I just might discover that we are distant cousins.

I did a little research on Simeon. According to his military file, his last reported address was 176 Water Street - the building that currently holds the Kitchen Queen store. His parents were Willis and Sarah Rogers. He was married to Bertha and they had four children, ranging in age from two to nine when he was killed on January 25th, 1917.

StateLibQld 1 149967 Laurentic (ship).jpg
Simeon was assigned to the HMS Laurentic. They sailed from Ireland on the afternoon of the 25th and ran straight into two German mines. While it was reported that all men safely made it to life boats, the weather was too stormy for them to reach shore and more than 350 men died from exposure. Simeon was 31 years old.

While we could have run a half marathon or half marathon relay, myself and the girls chose the 10K option for the race. Lori and Paula were slightly ahead of myself and Renee the entire time, and though we had every intention of catching up so we could cross the finish line together, in the end it didn't happen. Most likely because there was an impromptu photo shoot somewhere around kilometer eight.

Photos courtesy of Kiley Dominie
Even though we didn't cross the finish line at the same time, our names did end up together in the results.  

It was a great race and I was pleased to see how many others took the time to learn a little something about the soldier they ran for. We have the freedom to take part in events like this and have fun along the way because of men like them. I hope we will always remember the fallen.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Thank You For Being A Friend

This past week we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday and as I sat at her kitchen table watching her celebrate with friends, some old, some new, I realized that she is part of a wonderful group of ladies that make up an awesome support network. I could just picture myself and the girls in the very same situation one day in the future. 

I am so thankful that I too, have such a supportive group of people to lean on. When I'm struggling to get through the temptations that inevitably come my way and threaten to derail my training and healthy eating goals, I know I can always count on them for encouragement and to help me make better choices. 

Sort of.

Well, at least I can depend on them to make sure we get our long runs in. This past week we had 12 km on our schedule and we struggled to find a time on the weekend when we could all run together. Between work schedules and kid activities it looked like we wouldn't all be able to run together. But we were determined to find a solution and finally decided to do our long run on Thursday night instead of on the weekend. We did our hills on Tuesday to be sure we didn't miss out on those and Thursday night all five of us met for the group run, raring to go. Maybe it was the route, or maybe it was the cool temperatures, but this run didn't seem as long or as hard as our 11 km two weeks ago. Most likely it's because we didn't have to run up the hill on Paradise Road this time. 

Maybe I should have picked a route with more hills because as we ran, Molly and Paula (who obviously forgot how horrible Paradise Hill was) started making plans to run from Cape Spear to Water Street. I'm sure this is their way of trying to convince me to run the Cape to Cabot next year. I'm thinking NO.

Sugar was working on Thursday so I knew there wouldn't be any surprise water stops on our route. I decided to leave my vehicle at the half way point so we could refuel without having to carry all our snacks. On the advice of Kiley Dominator, I flattened my treats this time because apparently they make you run better if you eat them that way. They are definitely easier to eat and I may have had more than I should have at the pit stop. I'm not sure the others even got a taste. 

According to my FitBit, I ran 12.15 km in 1:37:38. Since I forgot to pause my app, this includes the time it took to stop and visit the bathrooms at Coffee Matters as well as the time it took for me to eat all the aforementioned cookies. Overall, I think that's a pretty decent time. For me at least. And other than tired legs the next day, there were no ill effects from the run. That alone deserves a medal.

This coming week we'll actually get a medal for our long run because we're doing the USR on Sunday. I've never done this race before but I'm glad to be a part of it this year since its focus is on the 100th anniversary of the battle of Beaumont Hamel. I think there's still time to register for one of the five races (anywhere from 1 km to 21 km) so head on over to the ANE website and check it out.

Happy Training!

Monday, 30 May 2016

55 Days and Counting

Whenever one of us suggests that we might not be able to make a run, Hardcore Lori sends us this screenshot:

The Tely 10 is 55 days away and by my calculations we have about 160 kms to run before July 24th. It seems to be harder to schedule runs that all four of us can do together because work, school, kids and naps are interfering with our plans. 

Maybe I should say all five of us now. Molly is becoming a regular on our training runs and I think we all feel better because of it. Molly is a good match for Lori when it comes to pace, so now that Lori has someone more on her level, she's more likely to stick with us.

A recap of our runs this week: 

Tuesday - It was one million degrees out and myself, Lori and Paula ran Octagon Pond, which is about 6 km. 

Thursday - It was negative one million degrees out and myself, Lori and Molly ran Neil's Pond and did six hill repeats, which is about 6.5 km. Molly informed us that the last time she did hill repeats was 21 years ago but that didn't stop her from being the first one finished. Looks like we have two hardcore runners in our little group now.

Saturday - Was the LTR graduation run and there were hail stones smacking me in the face. Myself, Lori and Renee ran Octagon Pond with the group (5 km) and after we filled up on tea and cookies, myself and Lori ran another 3 km around Neil's Pond to bring the total up to 8 km. Renee had other commitments and since she couldn't join us, decided to put her Garmin on her five year old in an effort to make up the extra distance. I think her plan backfired because Renee has been preparing us for another monkey funeral in the not to distance future.

Lori sent me our pace info after we did hills on Thursday. Obviously it's a little skewed since she runs up hills like her butt is on fire, but over all, we started and finished running at the same time, side by side. Our average pace for the 6.5 km run was 7:11/km. For comparison, my average pace for the 6.3 km the week before was 8:28/km. Not only did I have to run farther faster, I had to do it in seven minutes less. Obviously, running with Lori and Molly takes some serious dedication. Or maybe ignorance. Either way, you have to give up on talking during the run and really dislike being able to breathe. That being said, I did like having a little extra push and it's always good to be reminded that I still have the ability to run like this and survive.

This week coming we have a 12 km run planned. Molly already told us she wants in. Lori is raring to go. Renee went all hardcore and ran 12 km solo on the weekend so she'll probably only join us for a portion of the route. Paula is going whether she likes it or not (55 days Paula!!!). We had planned on a route that conveniently ended at The Big R where we would obviously have to have breakfast, but conflicting schedules have pushed that route to a later date. I'll just have to settle for tea and maybe something with coconut on it this time around. 

Monday, 23 May 2016

Half Marathon Training - Week Two

Before I fill you in on our training for this week, I want to update you on my weight loss progress.

The healthy eating/exercise plan is still going well. I've been getting in my 10,000 steps each day and Sugar has continued to fill the fridge with veggies and protein each week while I watch My 600 lb Life and text the girls, who are at their own homes, meal prepping for the week and watching TV as well. I'm down 10 pounds and can now fit comfortably in my clothes again. I've been diligently using My Fitness Pal to keep me on track, as have the girls, which makes it much easier to stick to the plan. Each Friday we do our own weigh ins and share our results with each other and we've all been doing great. It's so much easier to keep going when you have a good support team.

Awesome sneakers from Biped
Alright - back to training. Tuesday we did 5K with the LTRs, who are way faster than I will ever be. They officially finish their program this coming weekend, but they've done so well, they could have been done weeks ago. Thursday, we did 6K with 5 hill repeats thrown in, just for fun. Did I tell you I bought a new pair of sneakers? My Saucony Blues have been showing signs of wear and I wanted to be sure I had a decent pair for running the Tely/Half, so I headed down to Biped's new store on Water Street and got these new Saucony Pinks. I wore them on my long run this weekend and they are just as awesome as my Blues. I couldn't be happier.

Our scheduled long run this week was 11k. For some reason I have been nominated as the training coach for our little group. I create a possible route and they always seem to agree to it without question. I'm pretty sure they don't even look at the maps, they're just happy to have someone else set it all up for them. Take Sunday's route for example. If they had really looked at the route I picked, I'm sure they (Renee) would have said no. It wasn't until Sunday morning that they (Renee) finally realized what we were going to do. Truthfully, I started to doubt the route myself at about the 9K mark. It was blissfully warm and feeling overheated, I wondered if running up Paradise Road was such a good idea after all.

Lori was the first to reach the top. When she runs a hill, she runs a hill. Full steam to the top, no stopping or slowing down. I think I was second, with a whole lot less steam, but no stopping. I waited at the top for Renee and Paula and it took a minute for me to realize that Lori had stopped a little further down the road and was talking to someone. She had a red cup in her hand. The someone she was talking to was waving at me with a big toothy grin. I'm staring, trying to make sense of what is going on, when Renee runs past me, angry running music blaring from her headphones, asking, "Is that Sugar???" She took off like a blue streak and it finally dawned on me that Sugar had set up an impromptu water station for us. I left Paula on the hill alone (Sorry Paula) and ran ahead to join in the celebration with Lori and Renee. There was Gatorade being poured, ice cubes in buckets, cold paper towels in baggies, towels to dry off with. I'm pretty sure Belinda Carlisle was on the radio singing "Heaven Is A Place On Earth". 

Thanks Sugar! You are AMAZING.
I now know how all the runners who stopped for sponges at our Tely 10 pit stop felt. It was so encouraging to see someone you know standing there with a little pick me up to get you through the last few kilometers. I'll definitely be happy to see Gina and the gang on the Tely route this year, and I'm sure so many others will as well.

Paula did make it up the hill and joined us for a cool down before heading to our finish line at Coffee Matters. She wrote how she felt about the experience over at the PRC blog. Be sure to check it out.

We survived another week. The text messages have already been flying back and forth about our next long run. I'm not sure what has happened to my tea-drinking, rest-day-taking running buddies, but I think I've inadvertently turned them in to running monsters. They are adding distance and hill repeats to all our runs and rearranging their lives to fit in with the running schedule. They are an amazing group and I'm so glad that I get to go through this process with them. Bring on week three!