Reflections on my Early 20’s: why I’m Running a Marathon on my Birthday

Running down Queen St at 6am few Saturdays ago, I passed broken beer bottles, half-eaten boxes of poutine, puddles of vomit, from someone’s Friday night and a few people just finishing up their Friday night. At that moment, I fully realized how much my life has changed since I last lived in Toronto just over 4-years ago.

At that time, the roles would have been reversed (though I would never waste poutine). My Friday night’s were certainly not spent eating nutrition dense meals and going to bed early in preparation for a big Saturday run. For as long as I can remember, I have felt torn between focusing on fitness or focusing on “having fun”, albeit someone else’s idea of fun. Sure drinking can be enjoyable, I enjoy beer immensly, but staying up late and drinking something you don’t like with the goal of getting drunk is not fun. Especially, when that voice in the back of your head says, “you’re going to feel like shit tomorrow and not want to do anything”. I knew that lifestyle wasn’t for me, but I wasn’t ready to move on, and hear all the accompanying “you’re so lame” comments that would have followed.

Staying up late and getting up early to exercise may not be ideal for successful training, staying up late, drinking excessively and getting up early makes training almost impossible. I used to try to do both. I still worked out 6-days a week then, but it was a lot different than it is now. It was pretty normal to show up to a spin class smelling like vodka from the night before, and somehow still get through the class. I guess that’s what is now referred to as a weekend warrior. I ran then too, but typically just a couple 10k runs a week to burn off the “drunk food”.

At that time, the idea of running a marathon was impossible. It simply did not make sense to me how someone could run that far; I was certain I never would. I was right, it was impossible, because running a marathon with that lifestyle would NOT have worked.     About 8 months before I moved to BC, things began to change, I had run 4 half’s at that time, including a best of 1:45, which I was happy with, and had achieved with little training. The day I got that PB was significant for a few reasons, and I used it as inspiration to run more and prioritize health. I lifted weights, I ran 4 times a week, sometimes up to 16km on an indoor track to avoid the snow and ice. In the month before I moved to BC, I began running everyday. I set a goal to run 100 miles that month and I did. I remember feeling so happy about that.

Moving to BC in June 2014 was a massive change, I knew no one there, and had no sense of obligation to participate in anything I didn’t want to. I was working in a craft beer bar, which was awesome, and surrounded by people who were living my old lifestyle, but it no longer mattered. I went out sometimes, but mostly I wanted to prioritize running and that was that. In January 2015, I began training with a coach and met other like-minded people. My intention at that time was to prepare to run a marathon. My coach wanted me to build a strong base first and knock a few more minutes off my half-marathon time before committing to a full. I put in the work, and my times continued to improve. In October 2016, I lined up at the start-line of my very first marathon in Victoria, BC.

Almost 2-years later, I am preparing for marathon #5, The Erie Marathon on Sunday September 9, also my 29th birthday. I have spent the summer training hard, running 6-days a week. I feel stronger than I ever have, and happy with the training I have put in. This is how I chose to spend my summer, and I have never regretted it. I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to my 20’s than to run a marathon on my birthday, and set the tone for the next decade – where I will continue to do things my way. I have grown a lot since 2014, my priorities have changed, my goals keep getting bigger, and I plan to keep chasing them.

What does “I can’t” really mean?

The other day, one of my brothers’ colleagues said to me, “I heard you run marathons”. To which I said, “Yes, that’s true”. He then said something like, “How do you do that? I can’t even run 8km without barfing!”

I am confident that any endurance athlete will have a story or 10, about someone asking them, “How do you run a marathon?” or “How do you do a triathlon?” etc. I find this question difficult to answer because it’s pretty simple. You put in time, effort and train for your endurance sport of choice, and then you do it. There is no magic. Regardless of the response, it is typically followed by something like, “I could never do that!”

But how can you know for certain that you CAN’T do something if you never try? You see, the choice of language, “I can’t” cannot be interpreted literally.

It can mean:

“I don’t want to”.

“I have never tried”.

“That seems daunting, I’m scared just thinking about it”.

Etc.

It can also mean:

“I am not trained to..”

“I can’t…TODAY”.

These two statements are true of endurance athletes too, the ability to complete a marathon or triathlon requires training, it’s not just something you up and do on a random afternoon (typically). Even people who are seasoned endurance athletes go through periods of un-fitness, and times where they aren’t prepared to complete long events. Training is hard, there’s no question, it involves prioritizing, organization, and dedication. Just because something doesn’t come easy, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It means it’s going to take time and effort.

Saying you “can’t” is limiting yourself, putting a box around a goal and saying no without ever fighting for it. I believe this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you have it in your head that you are unable to do something, you probably won’t try to do it. Even though it’s more than likely that this goal would be attainable if the necessary effort was put forth. There are very few things someone actually “can’t” do so long as a goal is set, and we give ourselves the time and tools to complete it.

You may have heard of a tool called S.M.A.R.T goals. It can be used for any type of goal, personal, professional, athletic or other.

S: is for specific.

M: is for measurable.

A: is for achievable.

R: is for relevant.

T: is for time bound.

Using SMART goals is helpful because it keeps you accountable. Sometimes the difference between meeting a goal or not is realizing it by saying it or writing it out etc. Sometimes the difference can be the language we use, for example, “I can’t” vs. “I can’t right now” or “I’m working towards…”

Anyone who can was previously someone who couldn’t. The only difference between those who can and those who can’t, is that those who can are willing to try, willing to potentially fail in pursuit of being able to accomplish their goal. We aren’t born with the inherent ability to do many things, let alone run a marathon. Some of us choose to spend our time training in order to run them. So before you say “I can’t” do something, ask yourself, “Have I ever put forth the effort required to meet this goal? Seriously, have I?” If the answer is no, don’t say “I can’t”.

Training Recap April 30-May 6, 2018

This was my last week in BC. I made sure to run in all my favourite places sinceI won’t be back for a while. It was definitely bittersweet. I ended my week with a race in my favourite city, Vancouver. I signed up pretty last minute, but it was an excellent decision. It was a beautiful day for a half-marathon and a perfect see ya later to the west coast. It’s funny how a half can feel SO short when you have been marathon training for essentially a year and a half. That said, it may not have felt so short if I was racing it instead of pacing a running buddy!

Here’s what I did this week..

Monday: 30′ easy, I ran an out-and-back from work to the ocean in Vic West.

Tuesday: OFF.

Wednesday: Group WO, 20′ easy, 3×5′ (the pace was supposed to be super chill 5:10, but it ended up being between 4:38-4:45) 25′ easy. I thought I was going to be in trouble because of the pace, but it means I’m feeling GOOD so all good. I was also talking the whole time and it felt very comfortable. I also did core.

Thursday: 40′ easy, Jo and I went for a midday run on Dallas rd, definitely my favourite run view in Victoria.

Friday: OFF. I did core.

Saturday: 30′ easy, I tested out my warm-up to the start. I finished it at Bows and Arrows for an americano. I also did core.

Sunday: 10′ easy, BMO half-marathon. I ran my warm-up to the start and then ran with my friend Tay who PB’d!

Total Weekly Mileage: 53.5 km

My next run will be in Toronto!

Cobble Hill 10km 2018 Recap

This was my second year racing the Cobble Hill 10km. The plan was to run at a hard effort, no expectations to run a fast time or anything. The course is known to be hilly. The week leading up to the race wasn’t very high in mileage, and the Wednesday workout leading up to it was short and fast. I wasn’t feeling very fast during that workout though, which furthered the idea that Sunday’s race would just be a hard effort.

There was a wind warning the night before the race, due to 100km/hr winds, and it was insanely loud. We weren’t sure if the race would be impacted, but it was not. That being said, it did not look like a great day for a race, still windy, grey and cold. We headed out to Cobble Hill around 9:30am, it’s a bit out of town, and we had to get organized and do our warm-up before the 11am start-time.

When we arrived in Cobble Hill it was raining, and we were wishing the race was cancelled. We got organized, and once we came back out for the warm-up the sun had come out. It had turned into a beautiful afternoon. We ran our required 20′ easy and strides, and hung out by the start waiting. One of my running buddies suggested I should try and beat another competitor in my category who is typically a bit faster than me, I said I wasn’t sure it was in the cards today. As the countdown happened, she said, “you know what you have to do”. I laughed and off we went.

The couple km’s felt easy, I wasn’t looking at my Garmin, though when I saw the pace was hovering around 4:10/km, I realized this was significantly faster than my 10km pace. As we rounded the bend of an out and back, I noticed how close I was behind one of our faster team-mates. Shortly thereafter, we began ascending a hill and that brought my pace under control. Still, as I hit the 3rd km, someone yelled out the time and it was under 13 minutes, which surprised me as I rounded the corner. Another hill. I settled in and began climbing, again focusing on looking up and not at my Garmin. The 4th and 5th km’s clocked in at 4:33. It was hard work, but I was happy to be half-way done. Since this was my second time on this course, I remembered the second half of the race was “faster” than the first.

Km 6 was 4:30, at this point the runners were pretty spread out, I was close to a girl from another local team, and made sure to keep her in my sight. Her coach kept showing up on his bike and offering tips and encouragement, I decided to listen to what he had to say too, and we ended up running together for the second half of the race. This was also around the time, I realized I was likely going to PB if I kept running strong. Km 7 was 4:15, at which point her coach said something like, “now it’s time to go, this is when the race starts”. We began climbing the final incline during km 8 which was 4:26. I missed the marker for that km, so when I saw the sign for km 9, I was very happy. Km 9 was 4:21, and then I knew it was a flat, fast finish. I buckled down, and passed her. We exchanged a quick “good job”, and I continued on. With the finish line in sight she said, “lets get ‘er done, girl” and we sprinted to the finish. This is why I love the running community.

The sun was shining as I crossed that line, I stopped my watch, a PB. Grabbed some water and watched the other runners come in. I could hardly believe I took a whole minute of my previous best, with my 43:25 finish. This was my first PB since May at The Eugene Marathon and I will work to continue improving my times throughout this season.

Rock’n’Roll Vegas Part 2: Race Recap

Day 3: Sunday, the race

We head south on the strip, away from New York, New York towards the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. The crowd thins out faster than I expect, and my anxieties about being tripped and falling fade. The desert sunset is visible on the right side, illuminating the sky in neon pink and orange. Since this is Sky’s first time running a half-marathon I am in charge of the pace. As far as I am aware, the goal is to finish. She tells me she doesn’t know the ball-park time, maybe 2:30, maybe longer. I try to keep us at a 5:45-6ish min/km pace, to avoid hitting the wall later in the race and walking. This proves to be challenging due to a few factors, 1) it’s a race 2) there are a lot of people 3) there is live music 4) Sky is a fairly competitive person by nature. I keep trying to reel her in, though I can tell she just wants to let loose and pass people.

Our first 5km are: 6:08, 6:04, 5:49, 5:46, 5:46. This takes us to the Vegas sign and back to Mandalay Bay. It is dark now, and the temperature is perfect. A loud fellow runner starts yelling, “If you’re not yelling, CHEER” to spectators, he continues this and waves his arms madly. It is obnoxious. Km’s 6-10 are: 5:48, 5:48, 5:22, 5:29, 5:48. There are a lot of people cheering in the middle part of this stretch taking us past Paris and the fake Eiffel Tower. Just before km 8, I decide to take a video of Sky running past the Eiffel Tower, once I upload the video, I face-plant and both hands, my right elbow and knee are scraped and bloody. I continue running as a fellow runner tells me “no one saw”, which I think is funny. At the 10km mark we have passed The Wynn and most of the landmarks on The Strip. I tell Sky whenever I think we have done a km too fast and she asks when we can pick it up. I tell her we have to wait until 16km in, the length of her longest run leading up to the event. She is feeling good and I know it is hard to hold back, but I still want to remain conservative.

Km 11-15 are: 5:45, 5:38, 5:49, 5:37, 5:40. We pass Circus, Circus, one of the oldest casinos and hotels, the Stratosphere and then the wedding chapels start popping up. We pass a few houses with people on the lawn having a party and cheering, they offer little cups of wine and beer. No one seems to accept it except our loud friend from earlier, who immediately starts spitting and yelling, “JESUS CHRIST, they’re giving out vodka” and then tells the police to “do something about them”.

By now we are in downtown Vegas and Sky announces that she will be “very mad if we don’t finish in under 2 hours”. Classic. This is the first mention of a time goal. I see the wheels turning as she calculates our pace in order to do that, and then the disappointment in her voice as she says, “I don’t know if we can do that, it’s 8:30/mile (5:17/km)”. I tell her, “it’s up to you and I will do whatever you decide”. Her outlook quickly changes and she says, “we may as well try”. Game on.

We take off and I keep my eye on the pace. Km 16 is 5:18. 17 is 5:14. 18 is 5:16. We begin weaving through dozens of people who are trudging along, maybe they didn’t start as conservatively as we did. We begin to pick it up and km 19 is 4:57. Sky says she is using the mall as a landmark, it looks like a spaceship. She knows the finish is straight down the street from there, only a km away from the mall and I wonder if things are starting to get tough. Km 20 is 4:54, she’s still strong. We continue weaving through people, not ideal, but we are running for time now. For a moment I don’t see Sky beside me anymore and I worry, but a second later she says, “I’m here!” She was just stuck maneuvering around other runners. Km 21 is 5:02. We pick it up over the last couple hundred metres and cross the line in 1:58:47. We did it. So much for a 2:30 finish.

STWM Weekend Part 1

It’s Friday, I wake up at 3am to get ready to go to the airport, just enough time to have some toast with peanut butter and a coffee. I arrive at the airport too early, Air Canada staff haven’t even arrived yet, so I cannot check my bag. After about 15 minutes they arrive and I proceed to security which is similarly empty, quickly passing through. I start listening to the podcast “My Dad Wrote a Porno” and try not to succumb to laughter in public as I am alone. A short flight later, I arrive at YVR with some time to spend before my next flight. I join the line at Starbucks for another coffee since it’s already been 3 hours since my first one, and a bagel for later. I find the gate for my next flight and continue listening to the podcast.

Before long I arrive in Toronto, grab my bag and head downtown to the race expo. It is much bigger than most expos in BC, but still small compared to an American one. We wander around for a while. I am not tempted by anything, and instead, take a few pictures with one of the photos of Ed Whitlock. We decide to head down to Ossington as we have a dinner reservation there later, and stop in at my favourite brewery, Bellwoods. I always stop here when in Toronto to fill my suitcase with beer to bring back to BC. For dinner, we go to La Banane, a french bistro. They start by bringing a warm pretzel instead of bread (I like this place already). I order fish, the meal is very good, and I would definitely return.

Saturday I wake up early, already adjusted to the time change after a week of waking up at between 3-4am Pacific time. I have coffee and breakfast, and head out for my short shake-out run. I run down to the beach, just a block from where I grew up, where I began my journey as a runner. There are lots of other runners and cyclists out, I feel overdressed in my shorts and t-shirt, it is way too hot for late October. I head home, and shower before heading downtown. My mom has an appointment to get her hair done, so I have time to spend, and end up getting my nails done, so I don’t walk too much, having a bagel for lunch and a mint tea. We head home and I lay down for a bit.

After a while, we head downtown to visit my brother at work. I have a kombucha and some pita and dips for a pre-dinner snack. We don’t stay long as I have dinner plans. Saucony had invited me to a pre-race dinner at Terroni. It was a fairly small group made up of a few Saucony employees, influencers, athletes (Krista Duchene!) and friends from Blacktoe Running. I had bread, pizza, salad and eggplant parmesan, Terroni is always a good idea. We had some great conversations about…all things running (surprise, surprise), my kind of night for sure! I almost forgot I had a marathon to run the next day, almost.  It was especially good to meet some people I have had only IG relationships with in real life finally! This group and the running community in Toronto is top notch and really made me think about moving back.

Training Recap Oct 9-15

This week consisted of 6 runs in beautiful Vancouver. My mileage dropped even further, and I have started waking up and going to bed early to prepare for the 3-hour time change in Toronto next weekend. I wake up between 4 and 5am, unfortunately this is too early for places that offer GOOD coffee to be open and I have had to drink Starbucks, which I only do out of desperation. We are spoiled in Vancouver and Victoria with so many options to get coffee with locally roasted beans. Anyway, this is how the week went:

Monday: OFF. I did the NTC Abs and Arms workout.

Tuesday: 45′ easy, I ran around East Van and the sun was out, a great fall day.

Wednesday: Solo WO: 20′ easy, 10’@MP, 4 x 4’@10km pace, 20′ easy, ran to New Brighton Park and used the gravel loop for my intervals. I even missed the rain. I did the NTC Core Strength WO afterwards.

Thursday: 50′ easy, back to New Brighton Park for a relaxed run.

Friday: 40′ easy, did a little neighbourhood loop down Powell St to downtown and then back along Hastings. I also did the NTC Core Strength WO.

Saturday: WO with Tay, 10′ easy, 30’@MP, 20′ easy, it was brisk on the Seawall, but lovely to do a WO with Tay who crushed it as usual. I also did the NTC Ab Burner 2.0 workout.

Sunday: 60′ easy, and I did the Ghost Race as well as some extra km. There were many more people out on the Seawall than usual, and I have a feeling many of them were fellow Ghost Racers. Leave it to Lululemon to encourage more people to get out and run on a Sunday, always impressive!

Total Weekly Mileage: 58.6km

The taper begins, fingers crossed the crazy stays at bay.

The “A”Word


In the world of Instagram, being an ambassador is like winning a gold medal. You advertise it in your bio, right under your name, sport and location and wear it with pride. It becomes a defining feature of your profile. In the last few years ambassador programs have become plentiful and accessible to athletes of all levels. 

The expectations for the ambassador vary depending on the company being represented. In general, you should be representing products you truly like and use and doing so in a way that creates interest from other viewers. This can be done in a variety of ways from wearing gear at races and events, to blogging about products, writing reviews, or just posting pictures and using brand specific hashtags on IG. The purpose is to promote the brand in (hopefully) a mutually beneficial relationship. The ambassador might receive product discounts, free product, a feature on the company website or social media pages etc.

So how do you become an ambassador? There isn’t one answer. In my experience, many companies have application processes in the late fall/early winter. They often mention the application opening over their social media channels. The process includes a series of questions with topics ranging from what sport(s) you participate in, and how often, as well as your goals, what being an ambassador means to you and how you can partner to promote their brand. There is also a portion where you input which social media channels you use, how many followers you have etc. Sometimes they tell you when you can expect an answer back and you’ll either get a congratulatory email or one expressing regret, or no email at all meaning you were not chosen.

This year I applied to be an ambassador for 4 companies whose products I already use. They all used the online application process I outlined above. I was very fortunate and was accepted as an ambassador for 3 amazing companies (2 of which are Canadian!). I am an ambassador for Nuun Hydration, Endurance Tap (gels), and Tiux (compression socks). These are 3 amazing companies and I am very excited to represent them! The other company I applied to represent was Saucony. I knew it was a long shot because the athletes they choose are typically in the elite category and I of course am not. I continue to use their products in training and racing and will continue to recommend their shoes to other runners because I 100% stand behind their products and brand.

Training Recap January 16-22


This week started out a bit differently than normal. Since I am typically running 6 days a week, Monday is my rest day. However, this Monday was not a rest day. We tried something different, 10 days in a row running and then a day off and a shakeout run leading up to Sunday’s race. By the time the Wednesday workout rolled around, I was feeling pretty tired and I was lagging behind a bit in the workout. It wasn’t too long or intense though which was good.

Monday: 40 minutes easy, run home from work. I also did an NTC core workout.

Tuesday: 70 minutes easy, I went out to Dallas Rd to check out the waves, (love stormy evenings) and then home. I got in a 25 minute strength training circuit as well after my run.

Wednesday: Group workout, after the warmup we did: 3 x 90 seconds at 10km pace, 4 x 30 second hill sprints and then another set of 3 x 90 seconds at 10km pace, followed by a cooldown. This was our pre-race workout, so nothing TOO crazy.

Thursday: 40 minutes easy, a run home from work and then I did an NTC core workout.

Friday: OFF, thank goodness for a rest day 🙂

Saturday: 30 minutes easy, a shake-out run. Took this super easy! And then did nothing for the rest of the day.

Sunday: Race day! We did a 20 minute warmup before the 10km and then 30 minutes after we finished. I will be posting a race recap mid week.

Total Weekly Mileage: 59.8 km

Training Recap December 12-18


I felt great this week, my pacing during this weeks’ workouts surprised me in a good way! I am getting excited to start officially training for marathon #2 after the holidays. I think it I am going to be pushed harder than my previous marathon, but I’m up for it!

Monday: Off. I did the essential strength training for runners program from Runners World. 

Tuesday: 45 minutes easy, this was  run home from work in the dark.

Wednesday: Group workout, I ran to the workout for some extra mileage or moreso an effective means of transportation. We did 20 minutes warm-up and then 5 x 1km repeats, it was supposed to be 4, but my RPE was too low so I got another one added on. 

Thursday: 70 minutes easy, I was home from work waiting for my new couch to arrive, so this run was needed to get me out of the house! I went along the Galloping Goose Trail to Vic West and was so hungry I had to stop at a bakery for a pain au chocolate, so worth it. I also did an NTC core workout. 

Friday: 30 minutes easy, I ran home from work directly, this is how long it takes without adding mileage. I then got ready for our run groups’ holiday party.

Saturday: Post-Holiday party group workout, we did the regular 20 minute warm-up and then 3 double sets (10 mins each) of: 4 minutes tempo, 1 minute @ 10km pace and then our regular 20 minute cool down. It was hard work, but very good, the snow was falling, a perfect morning. After I rested a while, I did the Runners World strength training session.

Sunday: Long(ish) Run Day: it was 19.25 km today, got me right where I needed to be, Dallas Rd with a bright mountain view, can’t ask for more than that.

Total Weekly Mileage: 78.5km

This upcoming week I will be doing my training in Toronto. I am going home on Tuesday for the holidays! It will be great to switch to my routes and have my old running buddy back for a few days (my dad)! Happy Holidays!!