Training Recap May 21-27 and Surprise Race Recap

This week was a bit lighter because I was tapering to race. This race was not previously mentioned here or on IG. I did not mention the race leading up to it for a few reasons. One is that I didn’t want any pressure, which can sometimes happen. Another is that I thought my plan was a little out there. It wasn’t just a any race, it was a marathon.

Here is what I did leading up to Sunday’s race:

Monday: OFF. 

Tuesday: WO, 10’ easy, 3km@4:54, 1km@4:30, 3×90”@4:15, 15’ easy. I also did core.

Wednesday: 30’ easy, I also did core.

Thursday: WO, 10’ easy, 5’@4;43, 2×2’@4:14, 3’@4:35, 15’ easy.

Friday: OFF.

Saturday: 20’ easy, this is the earliest run I can ever remember doing, I started before 6am.

Sunday: 5’ easy, Buffalo “Marathon”.

Total Weekly Mileage: 49.1 km

Buffalo Marathon Race Recap

Obviously, 4 runs and a marathon cannot add up to only 49.1km. So how did my mileage end up like that? I did not complete the marathon. But before I get to that, I will start from the beginning. Why did I feel the need to run another marathon just 6-weeks after Boston anyway? Simple answer, because I’m never satisfied, always looking for another goal. Boston was an amazing experience, it was everything I thought it would be an more. However, while I was happy with my result, it was not necessarily what I trained for. I know that it’s not all about the result, but I felt like I had more in me than the time on the clock reflected. I thought I could do another marathon piggy-backing off the great training cycle I had for Boston, and decided to try and do that in Buffalo.

This is a big marathon weekend in Canada, there was also Ottawa and Calgary. I chose Buffalo because it’s closer to Toronto than Ottawa, and also because based on historical weather, it seemed like Buffalo would have cooler weather than Ottawa (spoiler alert: it didn’t). The courses are both know to be pretty flat so either one was fine for that. Anyway, I registered and decided to run another marathon in close proximity to Boston. My time goal was just to do 1-2 minutes faster than Boston, so 3:30ish. The reason I wanted this time was to secure a BQ with a bigger cushion. I didn’t think it would be realistic to ask too much and look for a massive PB, I just wanted a couple extra minutes.

I arrived in Buffalo around noon on Saturday, stopped by the expo for my race kit (most underwhelming expo I have ever seen). My race kit was a shirt and a bib with pins. Following that, I walked down the street to a cafe for lunch and then to my airbnb, which was in a loft over the cafe. I spent the rest of the day relaxing like you do before a marathon, and I was feeling good. I watched my carb intake for 3 days leading up to the event to make sure I was actually “carb-loading”. My pre-race dinner was pasta and bread which I had delivered, so no extra walking! I ate at 5pm and then continued relaxing and Netflix bingeing. I drank a ton of water.

The first problem began when I wanted to go to sleep. There was a large vent over the bed that would activate every 10 or so minutes and it was VERY, VERY loud. Loud enough that it kept waking me up. In addition to that, I felt like I heard 100 sirens, as well as loud people coming and going between midnight and after. My alarm went off at 4:45am, and I began making coffee and oatmeal. I ate almost all the oatmeal, which was better than usual because it’s often hard for me to eat much in the morning before a marathon. I got all my gear on, slathered myself in Glide and sunscreen, and headed out at 5:50am.

My 5-minute easy warm-up took me almost to the start. I waited for a bit and then joined the corral to ensure I would be in the right position. It was good I got in there early because it was absolute chaos. We were shoulder to shoulder, it was all self-managed so there were people in the completely wrong places. There were a lot of people who weren’t even in the corral when the race started. There was a count-down from 5-minutes and then the American national anthem, and then surprise, fireworks! Well the announcer did not warn us about this and it scared me so much I almost cried. Oh the emotional rollercoaster that is the moments leading up to the start of a marathon!

The start was pretty congested, but it didn’t last long luckily. There was water within 300m of the start which I found strange, especially because the next water station was pretty far away. My first 5km were: 4:51, 4:54, 4:54, 4:50, 4:50. It was pretty hot, and I was sweating even before the race started! Still, I felt pretty good aside from a bit of stomach discomfort but I tried to work through it. We were going around residential streets and there were more people out spectating that I thought there would be. It kind of reminded me of the Eugene marathon, the small town vibe and quaint residential streets. Km’s 6-10 were: 4:58, 4:54, 5:02, 5:33, 4:54. Km 9 included a time penalty because I ended up having to stop at a port-o-let. Since I was able to hit pace for km 10 I remained optimistic. I was following my fuel plan perfectly, a gel every 30 minutes.

Km’s 11-15 were: 4:56, 5:01, 5:10 (hill), 5:05, 5:01. This was OKAY, but not great. Things were already beginning to fall apart, as in, my legs were starting to feel tired. This is way, way too early in a marathon to start “feeling” your legs. I tested it out for another km and then I knew it was not my day to run a marathon. I had gone in with the intention of dropping out if things weren’t going according to plan. This was not a big, special goal race, it was a last minute thing and the decision going into it was that there would be no point in forcing it if I was unable to execute. I also didn’t want to complete it just for the sake of it and have to take all the recovery time, this race was purely for time. Since I was not going to hit the appropriate time, there was no reason to complete it. The weather of course was a concern, along with the fact that I had run a challenging marathon 6-weeks earlier.

When I knew for sure that it was not my day, I began to think about when I should drop out. I still wanted to get in a decent Sunday long-run, plus I needed to pull out somewhere convenient, where I wouldn’t be too far from my Airbnb. I decided to run at least half of it and then see how close I could get to my Airbnb on the course. At 22km we were 1 block from my Airbnb, so I pulled over, unpinned my bib, walked the block and went inside. I was shocked at how salty my legs were, it was insane! I have never been so salty before! My legs were also pretty sore and tired, I grabbed a giant bottle of water and put my legs up the wall.

I showered and scrubbed all the salt off, and then relaxed for a while. Eventually, I walked downtown to Public Coffee and Espresso and had a Turmeric Kombucha, Americano, and breakfast bowl with eggs, sweet potato and avocado. This was planned so that when I was done, the brewery would be open. I arrived there for 12-noon when they opened, sat at the bar and wrote this recap over a beer or two.

The short version of how I feel about this is: no harm, no foul. Of course, it would have been amazing to feel great and nail that 3:30 marathon, but today was not the day for that, and it’s okay. If I didn’t try this, I would have been left playing the “what if…” game. I am happy I went out today and tried to run another marathon, even though I only ran 52% of it. As I sat in Public Coffee, I looked up what other marathons were coming up, like I always do after a race. What I learned today is to appreciate what I have already done. There will not be another marathon from these legs until October in Chicago, and I couldn’t be more excited about that.

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”.

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.

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:

10.

Beyond The Workouts: How Training Impacts My Life

Every Monday I post a recap of what I did for training the previous week. It tells you how much time I spent running, what my workouts were and what cross-training I did. What it doesn't tell you is the implications training has on my life and how I spent my time when I'm not training. My life is not typical of your average 27-year-old, at least as far as I am aware. I honestly don't know anyone else my age who spends their time the way I do. Training involves a lot of sacrifice (to me it's normal, but to an outsider it may look like tremendous sacrifice and a strict way of living). I choose to make the choices I do because I prefer it (1000x more) to other ways I have lived in the past, and ultimately because it makes me happy.

Here is how training affects my life:

  1. I watch an insane amount of Netflix, seriously, I can go through 2 seasons of something over a weekend, even more, if I'm tapering.
  2. You won't find me at the bar/club on the weekend (or ever really). Even if I did enjoy spending time at bars and clubs it would not be conducive to running a big workout or long-run the following day. I do enjoy drinking beer, but it's mostly a 1 and done situation, and at home, not out.
  3. I go to bed super early, we're talking before 10pm often times. Running is tiring, what can I say. In the summer, I often wake up early to run  before it gets too hot.
  4. I spend my Friday and Saturday nights at home 99% of the time. This ties into numbers 1-3.
  5. It's common for me to take naps or lie down. This is especially true on weekends, when the workouts and runs are the longest of the week. Naps are essential to recovery!
  6. I don't participate in many (or any) other sports. I do not enjoy team sports at all, so that's no problem, however, I do enjoy trail running, hiking, and winter sports. I don't do this other activities often or at all because: a) my energy is already used from running and needs to be saved for more running the next day, and,  b) I am nervous about injuring myself and being unable to run.
  7. I think about food all the time, and am hungry all the time! Obviously, large training volume and increased appetite go hand in hand, but there is also a lot of meal-planning required. What I mean by that is, I always think about how what I consume will impact my running. Will it upset my GI tract? Am I eating enough to support current/upcoming training? Am I getting appropriate amounts of carbs/fat/protein? Am I getting enough iron? It's all important.
  8. I don't own a lot of "regular" clothes. I may have an excess of running and athleisure clothes, but when it comes to regular clothes, especially "going out" clothes, there isn't much.
  9. My feet have seen better days. I have some black toenails, some callouses, and a bunion. It's all part of the fun. Pedicures only go so far.
  10. I wear running shoes/sneakers everyday. I choose comfort over all when it comes to shoes, and that means cushioning. This also ties into #9, I don't need extra blisters or damage to my feet.

Training involves a lot more than running and this is what it involves for me. I enjoy putting my full effort into training and everything that comes with it, but I understand it isn't for everyone. There are definitely many ways of training and this is what I choose to do.

What impact does training have on your life? What sacrifices does it involve?

Goals and Races for 2017


It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written anything other than a training recap and that is no bueno! So, 13 days into the New Year, I am here to tell you about my goals and racing plans for 2017. Last year involved a lot of racing, and this year will too. I like to race often to take the nerves away from important races. 

Goal # 1: PB in every distance I race. That will be 5km, 8km, 10km, half and full marathon. To give you an idea of the times to beat, my current PB’s are as follows:

5km: 22:21

8km: 35:24 (though this was achieved last weekend beating my previous 36:12 from 2016).

10km: 44:28 

Half-Marathon: 1:42:02 (this one really needs to be upgraded!) 

Marathon: 3:35:16

Goal #2: Boston Qualify at my next marathon, so for me, a time a couple minutes faster than 3:35. Looking at 5 minutes, maybe more!

Here are the races I am currently planning on doing this year:

1) Pioneer 8km (last weekend)

2) Cobble Hill 10km (Jan 22)

3) First Half (Feb 5)

4) Hatley Castle 8km (Feb 19)

5) Bazan Bay 5km (March 5)

6) Comox Valley Half (March 19)

7) Port Alberni 10km (April 2)

8) Eugene Marathon (May 7)

8) Seawheeze Half-Marathon (August 12)

Realistically I will probably add a few more, but that is what I am currently registered for!