10 Signs You’re Training for a Marathon

In just 3 months, I will be toeing the start line of the Boston Marathon. I feel like even if you didn’t know I was training for a marathon, after quick look through my room (and my Strava) it would become pretty obvious. Here are 7 signs you’re training for a marathon:

1. You’re super stocked up on run fuel.

Can’t train for a long-distance event without fuel, so I have a bunch on hand for all the long runs I’ll be doing leading up to race day.

2. This is the view from your bed.

These are the medals I have received since living in BC, and my acceptance card for Boston 2018. #motivation

3. Your hydration game is on point.

Hydration is obviously very important in life as well as in endurance training and I like to replenish electrolytes by using Nuun.

4. Your training journal lives next to your bed.

Though my training schedule is kept on an excel doc, I also like to have it written in a training journal. I write down what the run is, any notes about how it went, what shoes I wore as well as when I do strength training.

5. The answer to have you seen…on Netflix is almost always YES! Recovery is a major part of training and admittedly, I spend a lot of my recovery time watching Netflix. Always accepting recommendations! Just started Black Mirror.

6. You have a stock-pile of running shoes ready to wear.

Saucony is my preferred brand of running shoes, especially Kinvara’s and the Freedom ISO’s. I have run in Saucony’s for all 3 of the marathons I have done and plan to run in them in Boston as well.

7. You have pre-scheduled your sports massages for the entire training cycle. What can I say, runners tend to like structure, routine and planning oh and massages, duh.

8. Reading for pleasure is mostly made up of running content.

Other reading I have done recently includes a 46 page power point presentation on nutrition for marathon running. I plan to print out some of the key slides and post them on the fridge.

9. You use running as a means of transportation. I am a big fan of the run commute. Instead of spending the time and money to get home and then run, I run home instead. It allows me to run while there’s still daylight, and saves time. No brainer. I also “ran” an errand the other day during my run commute home.

10. When people ask what you’re doing this weekend, you send them this meme:

Or this one:


Eugene Marathon Race Report

My runs in the week leading up to this race left me feeling more discouraged than they should have. As per my watch (now old watch) I had trouble hitting my paces which were only 1-3km long. It was frustrating and left me questioning how I would perform during the race. If you’ve read any of my other recent posts, you know I was having some watch issues. Maybe it was the taper crazies or maybe I just got fed up, but that week, I bought myself a new watch because I couldn’t wrap my mind around running a marathon with a watch that doesn’t track distance accurately.

I went into this race with my primary intention being to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I also thought I would finish in about 3:28, not entirely sure where I got that number from, but for a while during the race I thought it was going to happen. Spoiler alert: I didn’t finish in 3:28, but I did BQ (!). If you just wanted the punchline then that’s that, but if you’re really interested in the nitty gritty details of my experience running my second 42.2 sit back relax and grab a coffee, cause that’s a lot of km to recap.

Jo and I wove our way through the start-line, seeding ourselves appropriately between the 3:25 and 3:35 pacer. Then, she took off weaving to the left not wanting our races to impact each other. The anthem finished, and off we went. It was a brisk morning, but the sun was out promising ideal conditions. I told myself not to start out too fast. My average pace for the first 5km was 4:54/km.

At km 6 the air filled with a sweet, smoky smell, pot, which caused a few laughs and comments from fellow runners. It was strong! For km 6-10 my pace increased a bit to 4:50/km and that continued from km 11-15 as well. I found myself with the 3:25 pacer for quarter or so of the race. From 16-20 I dropped a bit to 4:56, my stomach began to feel very full of water and bloated. I began to wonder whether I should stop to use a port-o-potty. I have never done this during a race, but during the final few km before the half-way point, I knew I couldn’t wait another 13 miles/21 km. As soon as I crossed the half-way timing mat, I darted into the port-o-potty, only wasting about 30 seconds. The second thing that happened at this point was, I became aware of my legs starting to feel tired. I had expected that to happen a bit later on, but it was more a mental than physical struggle I suppose.

Km 22-25 I felt better and averaged 4:55/km. I kept thinking, the race doesn’t start until 30km, and began counting down. The closer I got to the 30km mark, the more I wondered how I would feel when I got there. From 26-30 km I slowed a bit to 4:59/km. I did not enjoy the parts of the course along the river, and there was a lot of time spent there, not only was it monotonous, there was GPS interference and my pace would bounce around sometimes telling me I was running close to 6:00/km (which is hard to see), I knew I wasn’t and was thankful for keeping my KM pace notifications on, but it still annoyed me and brought my morale down a bit.

Km 31-35 were pretty brutal my pace plummeted to 5:13/km, it wasn’t fun. At some point in there I began counting down until the end of the race. There weren’t too many runners around nor spectators and I think it really would have helped if there were at this point. I heard heavy steps behind me and a man in an orange t-shirt said, “3:30, let’s go”. I was feeling pretty down at this point and mustered a “yeah”, but let him go on without me. I also knew, I could do a  3:30-31 even with this glacial pace, so long as I didn’t slow beyond 5:20, the perk of being able to do quick math even in that state. I am not sure if this constitutes “giving up” or if I really couldn’t have gone faster (in the moment I definitely would have said I couldn’t  go faster). I also think that since my goal was to BQ and I knew I was on pace for that, maybe I didn’t need to try and force myself to run faster that day.

Km 36-40 were still pretty slow, 5:11/km but I did end up passing orange shirt in this stretch. In the last 5km I ended up with 2 ladies who had lined up beside me at the start, they were playing music out of a cell-phone and reasoning that they could still hit  3:30, one even suggested they run/walk. No way was I doing that, so I carried on past them alone, as strong as I could. Finally, I was back in town, finished running along the mentally draining river. The crowd support returned, the finish line was quickly approaching, and I started to feel better. After a final boost from EVRC (East Van Run Crew), I rounded the bend for my half-lap of Hayward Field to the finish. Km 41 was 5:15 and 42 was 5:02 and that little “sprint” to the finish line was 4:45/km. Official time 3:31:06.

There are a few things I took away from this race:

  1. This was only my second ever marathon and my expectations were probably too high.
  2. I ran 4 minutes faster than my first marathon, and that is great.
  3. I got a BQ (which was my A goal).
  4. I ran for 3:31 with  no music (and it wasn’t bad).
  5. My legs didn’t feel like they were being ripped apart the day/week after, and I recovered so fast.
  6. Maybe I started out too fast?
  7. The marathon will likely always be a humbling race.

As soon as I crossed the line I felt faint, then I got my medal, some photos, my bag of goodies and some water and started to feel better. I had no idea where Jo was since I had not seen here since the start. I later found out we were only a minute apart during the first half of the race and she also had no idea where I was either. That is, until sometime in the last quarter where she saw one of my empty Endurance Tap gels on the ground and deducted that I must have passed that point already. We sat on the fake grass for a bit, put our names on the massage list and headed over to the Ninkasi tent for a hard-earned beer.

Sometime in the hour that followed, I started to plan my next marathon.

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.

Victoria Marathon Race Recap

I finally did it, I am a marathon runner! I think the best way to describe my experience yesterday is surreal. When I crossed that finish line, I was excited to be done, but I didn’t fully register what I had accomplished. It just felt like a tiring race that had come to an end. Today, I still don’t know if I fully understand that I ran 42.2km yesterday, but my legs definitely tell me that I did! Maybe when I’m done writing this, it will have set in that I ran a marathon.

I’ll start out from first thing in the morning, I woke up much earlier than my alarm, sometime before 5am. It was my first night sleeping in my new place in Victoria and it was FREEZING, plus I often have trouble sleeping the night before a big race. I made coffee, and oatmeal, and struggled to eat the oatmeal. I was feeling super nauseous because of being nervous, but managed to eat almost all the oatmeal. I pre-packed my bag the night before with my change of clothes and shoes, Flip Belt containing 11 gels, disposable jacket and gloves.

Since there is an early start-time for the marathon as well as 3 other races before the marathon main start, getting to the start-line was tricky. I ended up walking from China Town to the Parliament Buildings and that helped calm my nerves. I grabbed my bib from the out-of-towners pick-up and went to meet a running buddy at The Grand Pacific Hotel, where a local running store had rented out the banquet room so runners could relax and stay warm pre-race. We talked about our race plans, mine was to aim for a 5:00-5:10 pace for the first 30-35km and then see what was left in the tank after that. My fuel plan was to take a gel every 20 minutes. The half hour before the race went by super fast and before we knew it we were lined up at the start line. We hugged and then the gun went off, and so did we.

I started out a little bit faster than my target pace, the first 2 km were 7-11 seconds too fast. I didn’t even feel like I was running very fast and was very determined not to fall below a 5:10 pace. This was no issue at all, and I kept making a conscious effort to make sure I was not going faster than a 5:00/km pace. I realized I  had seen a 3:15 pacer, but not the 3:30 pacer, because I was ahead of them. I kept making sure my pace was okay and they caught me a few km in, previous to that I was in a pretty thin pack, but all of the sudden I was engulfed by this thick crowd of sweaty people. It was kind of gross to be running like that. It was congested and hot. The other thing was, they weren’t going at the 4:59 pace needed to achieve that 3:30, it was 4:45-4:50. It was too soon in the race to go faster than goal pace as far as I am concerned, so I let them go, but kept them in sight.

I finished the first 10km in 49:22, a bit faster than a 5:00 minute pace. Everything was good and easy and I was enjoying myself and in disbelief that I was actually running a marathon. The km’s continued to tick by and before I knew it I was passing the 10 mile/16km point where a coworker was going to meet me for a few km. It was fun to have someone to talk to for a few km and I definitely appreciated it! What seemed like all of the sudden, it was already the halfway marker and my time was 1:44: 38. Closer to my goal pace, so that was good. I wasn’t really concerned about the distance remaining or really anything at all. All I had to do was keep running, stick to the pace, and take a gel every 20 minutes. I think taking all those gels actually made the time go by faster, because I had something to do every 20 minutes. If the water station coincided with my gel time I took it with water, if not I took the gel on its own and the water when it was available. I used a mix of Endurance Tap and Guu Gels. They worked great. I definitely recommend stepping up your gel game and seeing how your performance is impacted.

Shortly after the half-way point, I began seeing the elites after completing the turn-around. I always get excited to see how fast and smooth these runners are. Also, I knew I would get to see some people I knew shortly. I always get very excited and cheer for people I know when I see them, and yesterday was no exception. I cheered for the fellow racers I knew and loved every second of it. We all had an amazing day out there and I am so impressed by how we did.

I kept on feeling fluid and pretty at ease sailing through the 30km mark at 2:29:45, right on track with my target pace. Now, 30km is the longest I ever went on a long run, so I knew I could do that, but it was the last 12km that were the question mark. When you have already run 30 km, it doesn’t seem like 12km is very far to go… From 32-35km my pace dropped a bit and my quads just started to feel very tired. Those rolling hills had taken their toll. I managed to hit my pace again for the 36th km, but it fell again from 37-39km. I knew I was tired, and I was okay with it, there was never a question of whether I would be able to finish the race, just a question of how long it would take. I absolutely did not want t0 go over 3:40-3:45, and I knew I would still be able to do that or better with the strong beginning I had.

There were a lot of people walking and that was hard to see, I had no intention of walking though and just focused on continuing to run even though my pace had dropped. I hit my pace again for the 40th km, and it dropped again for the 41st km. This last part of the route is where I had done 2 training runs leading up to this race, I know it well and I knew it would be over soon. I knew it was almost over, but the reality of soon having completed a marathon was not clicking. I mustered up a 5:02 pace for that last km. Crossed the finish line and have never felt such pain in my legs and feet. There were team-mates cheering, my boyfriend and my coach, it was so amazing to have all that support.

After chatting with my coach, I headed through to the food tent, denied the cheese strings I was offered and grabbed my bag. Walking around the downtown area was no easy task and it took 5x longer than normal for me to get anywhere. Food was the last thing on my mind and all I wanted was water and a bath, so that is what I did. It took about 3 hrs before I was ready to eat and then I was starving. I chose the Guild for my treat meal and had the best soft pretzel I have ever had, along with a Persephone Dry Irish Stout and a burger as well as lots of water. I got full easily and didn’t have much desire to eat again for the rest of the day. After the Guild, I met up with a bunch of runners from Vancouver and EVRC to share race stories, over well earned beers. It was great to hear about everyone’s experiences, especially because the majority of us were very happy with the outcome. I finished  my day watching the tale end of the Jays game and fell asleep before 10pm.

Overall, I am very happy with my first attempt at the marathon distance. I did finish within my target. However, I also know that I can do much better than this next time and that means a BQ. The cutoff time for my age is 3:35, so I need a few minutes faster than that to make sure I get in. I am looking at the Eugene marathon in May as my next race. I have heard it is fast and flat, plus it finishes on Hayward Field. Sounds pretty great to me!


Prep and Raceday Plan for my First Marathon

I am still feeling pretty excited about next weekends’ race, fingers crossed I don’t go crazy during the taper and turn into a ball of nerves. I plan to go into this race ready to conquer it. A lot of planning is involved in gearing up to run a long distance race, including volume of running, nutrition, race day clothing, warm-up, fuel, and best of all, the post-race celebration!

Running: I have about 43km of running total to do between now and the marathon next Sunday, not much considering my total weekend mileage is often around that. The longest remaining run is a mere 13km. Considering I ran about 100km last week, the 2 weeks pre-race involve a significant decrease in running volume. The goal is for the legs to have a chance to recover from all the training and be ready to hold marathon pace throughout the race.

Nutrition: I have been extra hungry these last few days, not too sure why, it’s almost as though my body knows it will need all the healthy food it can get in preparation for this race. I am making sure I give my body what it needs and if I am hungry, it means I eat, but I always make sure I’m getting enough carbs, protein and fat, not too much of one macronutrient  and too little of another. For running, carbs are and will always be king, but protein and fat can’t be neglected.

For dinner, pre-race, I will likely have pasta, cliche I know, but it works. I will either have some form of protein in the pasta or on the side. For breakfast, I will have hot oatmeal, gotta stick to your regular foods so you know your body will react well.

Race Outfit: As of now, the weather report is saying it will be 14 degrees on race day. There is still ample time for that to change of course. I think I will bring two options: a singlet and split leg shorts, and a t-shirt and crops. I will be forgoing the hat for fear of how long the forehead dent would remain after running 3+ hrs with a hat on. The non-negotiables are my Saucony Hurricane Iso 2’s, Flip Belt (best running accessory ever) and my Garmin (duh).

Pre-race Warm-up: Typically, I warm-up for 15-20 minutes before running a race. This is true for distances beginning at 5km all the way up to half-marathons. The marathon distance will be the exception, my warm-up with be a measly 5 minutes, so as not to use up energy needed for the race.

Fuel: What I will be taking throughout the race is an energy gel called Endurance Tap, they are just sachets of maple syrup and I plan on fuelling every 30 minutes. Fuelling this often really helps me continue to feel great, I recommend trying it. Since I will be taking at least 6 gels, my one concern is that I might get sick of taking so many of these maple ones. I am still deciding whether I want to alternate them with another gel that I have also trained with.

Post-Race: My first wish is to be able to walk. Aside from that, I am sure I will be ready to eat something large and not ingest anymore gels. I also imagine I will be looking forward to a long, hot shower or bath (if I can’t stand). Following that, I am planning to meet up with some fellow EVRC folks to celebrate over a craft beverage or two at my favourite beer bar in Victoria, The Drake.

What do you do in the days leading up to a race to prepare?