Blue Nose Marathon 2015 10K Race Recap

Some of you may know this, but I’m originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia and I like to visit home at least once a year if I can make it happen. I usually visit in the spring or during the holidays because that’s the way it works out, but I tell you, I would much rather visit in the summer. Halifax can’t be beat during the summer and early fall, so beautiful and festive – you really should visit if you can! So this year I booked my trip a few months ago for the May long weekend, but would you believe it took me till about 5 days before to realize that I would be home during the very popular Blue Nose Marathon?! I have no idea why it took me so long to clue in, but once I realized it, I had to sign up. I managed to squeeze in my registration on the last day online, grimacing a little about the cost of waiting until the last minute. I definitely like to register for races ahead of time to save $$ (for more races), but I just couldn’t miss this one in my home town!

I got to Halifax the Thursday before the race and did the usual – spent time with one of my good friends and checked out some familiar sites. I’ve always been a tourist in my own city and how can you not be when  you’re right next to the ocean? Seriously, I could sit on the waterfront for hours just listening to the water and people watching.

Friday morning I got myself up and ready to go to the Expo. This is when I started to get really excited for my first race in my home town (I wasn’t a runner when I lived in Halifax). So many happy and excited runners wandering around the expo and I can’t forget to mention the awesome volunteers. There’s just something about Halifax, when I visit there from Toronto I really see how friendly Maritimers can be. I greatly enjoyed this expo and not just because I got to try some chocolate avocado mousse (SO GOOD). There were lots of vendor booths, food samples, and friendly people around to really make the experience enjoyable. I even got my picture taken with the race mascot! :D Packet pick up was a breeze and I was even able to exchange my t-shirt size easily. I don’t normally do that, but I really want to wear this shirt when I am out training in Toronto and Calgary.

 

Selfie with Myles!!

Selfie with Myles!!

The night before the race I probably didn’t really need to carb load, but my aunt made a huge bowl of delicious potato salad for our BBQ dinner so I pretty much ate all of it. It was for the greater good of running, you can’t blame me for that!

The morning of the race I got myself up nice and early and enjoyed my usual quiet ritual of getting ready and having breakfast. My grandparents did not get up at 6am to join me, but I can’t blame them… I may be a little running crazy. :) I had to hop on transit to make my way down to the ol’ Metro Centre (close to the start line), so I am very glad that transit fees were free if you showed your race bib. Such a nice bonus, really! Once I arrived, I did a little people watching and then I was able to check my bag easily before getting myself ready to head to the start line.

The morning was a little cool and it started to rain while we were waiting to take off at the start, but the atmosphere was fun and vibrant. People were laughing, chatting, and having a good time despite the little bit of rain. I really enjoyed this relaxed and fun vibe, which I normally don’t experience before races in Toronto (why is everyone so tense here? ;) ). Someone from GoodLife Fitness came out on the stage and even got us all dancing and jumping to the music to keep warm – so much fun! But then it was time to get serious, it was time to race my fellow Bluenosers to the finish… but ya know, still have fun and all that. ;)

The rain literally stopped as the race started and we were set off into the streets of downtown Halifax. I was amped up and really feeding off all of the excitement, so I took off ready to give it my best for this race. I’ll mention that I did not have my running watch with me, which I worried about at first but this actually became freeing as I tackled the kilometres feeling confident and strong. My biggest challenge was climbing up the MacDonald Bridge going back towards Halifax nearing the end of the race. I was a little tired and did have to walk for about 30 seconds, but after that it was ON. With no watch, plenty of hills, and my own determination I managed to come in with a 10K PB at 53:12!! I can’t express my excitement about this in the proper words. I felt strong for most of the race, I had a good stride going on, and the cheering crowds were the icing on the cake when it came to pushing me along. The support on the streets in Halifax and Dartmouth was amazing. I felt a new level of pride for my home town as everyone came together early on a cloudy Sunday morning to cheer on all these crazy runners. I don’t know if I’ve ever had so much fun at a race. Star Wars Half was fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about running in your home town that just makes your heart explode with pride and love.

After giving it my all, I was so happy to cross the finish line and then get my medal from a Twitter/Instagram friend (@crazymamaruns) that I had been wanting to meet. She was awesome and friendly to me in my post-race delirium, which I appreciated. When you go to races alone it’s nice to run into people you “know”. :)

Who's this crazy gal posing in front of the clock tower?

Who’s this crazy gal posing in front of the clock tower?

After the race I went into the Metro Centre to get my food and bag and then I basically sat in the stands people watching for at least an hour. It was nice to see everyone so happy and congratulating each other, I just didn’t want to leave. I wanted to soak up as much of the race excitement that I could before heading home. I stretched. I enjoyed the music. And I basked in the camaraderie. Halifax, you made me feel at home again. What a great morning.

Once I finally left the Metro Centre and walked around downtown it was nice to see how many people were congratulating complete strangers, so of course I did that too. When I got on the bus to head home we were all acknowledging each other and having a quick chat about the morning too. Even the bus driver asked me about my race. Got to love that! The Maritime charm is still there if you allow yourself to see it. :)

Overall, I had a fantastic morning at the Blue Nose Marathon 10K and I certainly hope I will be back again. Most likely to take on the hilly half marathon, because the extra challenge will be fun, right? Thanks for a great race Blue Nose Marathon, this was one to be remembered.

A huge thank you to all the workers, police, volunteers, and vendors for putting on such an amazing race weekend in Halifax. And to the runners – you were all awesome! 

GoodLife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon 2015 Recap

Love that Bling!

Love that Bling!

On Sunday, May 3rd I ran my third Half Marathon at the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon. I was very excited before this race because I had a goal of achieving my first sub-2 hour 21.1K race. But, in my last post I mentioned how I had to adjust this goal because of the foot injury I sustained while running Around the Bay. This didn’t mean I was any less excited, it just meant that I had to adjust my expectations so that I wouldn’t feel disappointed. I still trained the best I could after Around the Bay and I went into the morning of the race with a good mindset. I wasn’t worried about covering the distance, I just knew my time goal might not be the most ideal for me at this time.

The morning of the race I did my usual ritual of getting up early to enjoy a fruit/protein smoothie while I got ready. I already laid my gear out the night before, which really helped me not to panic at such an early time in the morning. I also made sure to check Twitter and Instagram to send off last minute motivational messages to others who were running GoodLife as well.

One thing I really like about this race is that the start line is relatively close to where I live in north Toronto. So, my awesome bf gave me a drive so that I didn’t have to feel rushed with taking transit (especially since the subway doesn’t open till 9am on Sundays in this crazy city!). I was able to find the start line near Mel Lastman Square easily, but before taking off I did spend about a half an hour waiting inside the North York Centre for the washroom. The timing actually worked out really well for me, but I couldn’t believe how crazy the lines for the washrooms were. Spent a good amount of time getting pumped up and chatting with other runners who were a little nervous about the race. Maybe it’s because I was about to run my third Half, but I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. Take out all the expectations on yourself and you tend to lighten up a little I guess. I was just really excited to be there that morning and even happier about the good weather were having.

Taking off at the start was really easy and relaxed and I even ran into some runner friends, which was just the extra push I needed before the race. I always start races alone, so it was nice to see some familiar faces (and take a selfie) while waiting to take off. I wasn’t too far back, so I was off and running pretty quickly!

Overall, I love the course for this race. I was ecstatic about running down Yonge Street and even kicked butt running up the hill right after York Mills Road (Hoggs Hollow Hill). I managed to tag along behind a 2:00 hour pace bunny group because I was starting out the race optimistic and feeling good. I was able to stay with this group for pretty much the whole race until I took off from them around 19K. At that point I was feeling tired, but I felt good and knew I could get to the finish line under 2 hours. With that last push to the finish line I finished in 1:59:28 and I couldn’t be happier! I actually surprised myself and felt really good about this accomplishment. I was even more pleased with the fact that my foot/ankle didn’t bother me the whole race. The whole race!

The Half course did have a good amount of entertainment & cheer squads to motivate us along the way. The Briar Hill Lululemon crowd was especially entertaining – thank you for being out there! I also found that there was an adequate amount of water, which was good considering how this race was a little warm (and I don’t carry any water on me). I was a little disappointed that at the end there weren’t any bottles of water (unless I couldn’t find them) and there were only tiny cups of Brita filtered water available. Walking back to downtown Toronto to find water got a little rough there. Run 21K and you get pretty thirsty! I did like how there was a gluten free bun (Udi’s) option available though! That’s definitely a nice addition to the post-race food for those of us who can’t have gluten but still want ALL THE CARBS. :)

As you can probably guess, I really liked this race. I had a fun morning (yes, fun!) running the Half Marathon with all those other “crazy” people and earning my shiny, cool medal. The 2:00 hour run/walk pace bunny was very nice and encouraging and I’d like to thank him for doing such a great job. I’m not sure I could have kept up the pace without his encouragement and conversation. I had a fun time at the 5K last year, a great time running the Half this year, and who knows what distance I’ll do next year! ;) Maybe it’ll be time to early that Marathon medal that is the size of a plate!

Huge thanks go out to:

GoodLife Fitness for this great race!

Toronto Police and Paramedics for monitoring the runners and roads,

And, all the hard working staff and volunteers. You did a great job!

 

GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon and Adjusting Goals

Happy it's Spring!

Happy it’s Spring!

As a runner (or any athlete, really) sometimes you have to adjust your goals mid-training. Hopefully the adjustments are for the better, but occasionally they’re not. I’m currently in the latter category.

After running Around the Bay and injuring my foot, I’ve had to adjust my goal for the GoodLife Half Marathon to something more realistic. Originally I had made my goal to finish the 21.1KM race in less than 2 hours. That means that if I crossed the finish line at 1:59:59 (chip time!), I’d be happy. I would have achieved my goal for that race. Unfortunately, I’ve now had to adjust this goal. I injured my foot running the ATB 30K on March 29, so I had to take 2 weeks off running to let it heal. I know that’s not a long time and trust me I am grateful, but it threw off my training for the 5 weeks before GoodLife. Speed training? Nope. Hill training? One session. Long run? 16K. So sure, I still feel strong and I know I can cover the distance, but under 2 hours has now been adjusted. At this point I am just hoping to PR (under 2:08), but I know that I can’t hold that against myself.

It’s three days before the race and my foot feels good. Running over the past 2.5 weeks has picked up and I’ve felt strong, so I’m taking that as a good sign. I’m also excited to get out there again to enjoy a crazy morning with my fellow runners. Races become almost like an addiction because of the connection to community and the excitement of everyone achieving new goals and dreams. It’s the amazing energy that I feed off of and really look forward to each race. I think even more so because I run/train mostly alone. It’s nice to get out there amongst the others who are taking part in this crazy sport. ;)

So here I am, chowing down on a bag of popcorn (carb loading, right?), ready as I’ll ever be for my third half marathon. It’s the first time that I’ve had to adjust a goal to be slower and it probably won’t be my last. But the best thing I can do is look after myself and listen to my body… and most of all – have fun!

Good luck and have fun to everyone running the GoodLife Toronto Marathon (every distance!) this weekend! May we be blessed with fine weather, speedy feet, and good treats at the end!

Around the Bay 2015 Race Recap

About six months ago I had this crazy idea… well, crazy for me anyway.

I’d just finished my first ever half marathon (something I never thought I would do in my life) and I thought it would be a great idea to trying running 30K at the end of March. I felt good after the half, so why not take on the extra challenge of about 9 more KMs? Well, I didn’t know what I was getting in to.

First of all… winter running, not sure I’m going to do that again. When you have an early spring race it’s inevitable that you have to train during the winter and most likely outdoors. I’d never ran outdoors through the winter before and I had no idea how challenging it would be. Sure, I knew it would be cold and snowy at times, but I didn’t plan for the mental game that would accompany my already existing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I get the winter blues at the best of times, but when extremely cold or snowy weather got in the way of my training, I felt even more depressed and defeated. I did have some very difficult moments, but through it all I only skipped 2 runs and spent only 2 weeks late-February training in the gym. For my first season of winter running, I consider that a freakin’ win. I’m actually surprised how well I stood up to the challenge even with the couple of lows that I experienced. All in all, for Around the Bay (ATB) it ended up being worth it.

The hard months of winter training all came down to the March 28 – 29 weekend for North America’s oldest race – ATB 30K in Hamilton, Ontario. The day before the race I commuted to Hamilton by transit and visited the expo shortly before closing. Somehow the expo was still packed and at points even felt a little crammed. I guess that’s just the nature of the design of First Ontario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum, which I still call it) with all the booths and stands lined up on the sides for vendors. Packet pick up was relatively easy and I had a chance to browse some of the stands. I’ll say that I love the tech shirt that came with the race package, great colour and long sleeve. The line on the back that says “Older than Boston” is great, but I feel like I have to tell people that it means the race and not ME! :) After the expo I grabbed my carb filled supper and spent the evening relaxing and watching movies with a friend. I am very fortunate to have a friend who lives in Hamilton and is pretty close to Copps, so I am very grateful for saving on hotel fees, etc.

Around the Bay 2015 collage

Then it was the big day – Sunday, March 29, 2015. ATB doesn’t start super early (9:30 am), so it was nice to not have to get up before the crack of dawn. My last race was Star Wars Half and I had to get up at 3:30 am, big change for this race! Somehow I actually managed to sleep for about 7 hours, which is amazing. I’m not sure why I was so relaxed the night before, but hey I will take it. I got ready, had my morning smoothie, and then headed to Copps to try and meet some fellow runners before the race. Well, if I thought it was busy at the expo, I was wrong! Copps was packed with all the runners coming and going and waiting in bathroom line ups. This is one great thing about this race – indoor toilets before and after! Actual flushing toilets and sinks to wash your hands in, worth the price of admission, friends. Somehow I managed to find two runner friends in the crowds, which was nice because by this point I was nervous and they helped to calm my crazy mind. After that, it was time to head to the start line. Now the excitement really began!

I’m not too speedy, so I was not set up to start in a corral. So I made my way to the “general” corral and tried to get in the zone. I’d done some warming up before, so by this point I was ready to go. It was exciting to be out there with all the people and for some reason I found them to be generally more calm than at other races I’ve ran. Maybe I was surrounded by all Relay (10 or 15K) people, because no one seemed to be freaking out except me! We started moving pretty quickly as the corrals set off first and then the rest of us. There was some hooting and hollering as we all crossed the start and then everyone started to take off. I was so focused on getting going that I forgot to turn on my GPS watch for the first 1.5K. I was a little upset about this, but I had to shake it off and focus on the run.

Overall, I found the course to be quite enjoyable (the historical big hill near the end was taken out this year though due to construction). We ran on the city streets, through the well-known industrial plant area of Hamilton (yes there was a smell), and then through the rolling hills of a section of suburbia. I actually started off really well and maintained a good pace. I got confident and joined a 2:55 pace bunny group (my original goal was 3:15) thinking it would be a good time to really challenge myself and step up my running game. Well, I was able to maintain this great flow for the first 20K… but then I started to slow down. The rolling hills caused me to lose the pace bunny group and then I started to get some terrible pain on the bottom of my left foot. I had to walk a little more than I wanted to and I even tried to stop to stretch it a little bit. The last 8K were difficult and I had negative thoughts rolling through my mind constantly. But, I had to smarten up. I was there on my own accord and I should be having fun on the nice sunny morning with all the other crazy runners. So, my mantra became “this pain is temporary”. Whether that was a good idea, I’m not sure, but it helped me to finish the race. It helped me fight the rolling hills and then the winds that really picked up for the last 5K. I remember at one point I was feeling so down and then I saw the famous Grim Reaper walking down the middle of the road (27Kish point?)… I high-fived that dude and then somehow I had a surge of energy that pushed me to the finish. Who would have thought that the Grim Reaper would do that? ;)

I zoomed those last 500m (definitely lost running form) down the road and into Copps Coliseum, crossing the finish line with my hands in the air. I was done! I gave everything I had and I was almost in tears reaching that finish line in an arena semi-packed with people hanging out in the stands and cheering people on as they came in. I was ecstatic to see 3:00 on the clock above the finish because I knew then that my chip time would be under 3 hours, which it was. My official chip time was 2:56:36 and I couldn’t be happier. (So I didn’t lose that 2:55 pace bunny group by much ;) ) I definitely earned my medal that day – mentally and physically. Around the Bay was a big challenge that I took on and I feel that I met it head on… and possibly crushed it. And even though my left foot is still hurting almost a week later, I’m still happy that I ran that race and I’m still feeling accomplished as a runner. Who the heck knew I would run this far ever?! Certainly not me. So, I am damn proud of myself.

Around the Bay 2015 medal

Will I train through the winter next year for another big goal? That remains to be seen. Winter is a beast on it’s own, so I will definitely have to think about it. For now, it’s time to enjoy spring & summer racing and holding on to the great feelings I had during Around the Bay 2015. Happy running!

PS. Sharing the love time… 

Thank you 2:55 pace bunny group leader, you helped me challenge myself and see that I could go a little faster. I can see that I have some potential I can work on.

Thank you Grim Reaper, I’m not sure how you motivated me, but you did.

Thank you random guy who yelled out “You’ll come in under 3 if you don’t slow down from here” at around 800m to go. I picked my ass up and finished in great time!

Thank you kind older dude who hung my medal around my neck. I was carb deprived and almost in tears and I appreciate your kind patience.

And of course, thank you to all of the race workers, volunteers, and police service workers. The race wouldn’t be as awesome as it is without you!

7 Ways to Turn Your Work Frown Upside Down

Ok, let’s be realistic for a few moments here. Not all of us love our jobs. Some of us are in transition, some of us took what we could get in this economy, and the rest may not know where to take their career next. Either way, there are people out there who don’t enjoy their current roles and aren’t in the position to move just yet. It happens.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll say that this post isn’t about getting out of your job and finding another one… this post is about the little things you can do to get through the day while you have to stay in your current position. (Because ‘make the best of it’ isn’t always the best advice, right?)

Trust me, I get it. You can be going along and having a pretty good day and then you have to go to work. Ok, it has to be done. We have bills to pay and experience to build. But, what can you do to keep that smile on your face? What are some things you can do to help you get through this shift?

7 Ways to Turn Your Work Frown Upside Down

1. Have intelligent conversations. Hopefully there are some cool people where you work. If so, seek them out and get to know them better. Spend a few minutes or a lunch break together having great conversations. This can help to pass the time, but also helps to keep your mind fresh and excited for what’s actually out there. If your job isn’t very exciting, intelligent conversations with others act as a great reminder that you’re still a smart, motivated, and engaging person underneath it all.

2. Watch a funny video. Not a whole movie, but a few short funny videos to pick up your mood. Like cat videos? Watch one or two. Comedy? Check out a video on your lunch break (just keep the volume down if the comedian swears a lot ;) ). Maybe even check out an inspirational video or two to help keep your spirits up and to inspire action. {TED Talks are a great place to start!}

3. Research your passion. I’m not telling you to search for a new job while you’re at work, but you can research your interests, passions, and hobbies. During your lunch read articles and blog posts that relate to whatever you’re interested in. This will also help to motivate you when you see others who are just as passionate about what you’re in to. (Not too sure what you’re calling is? Grab a motivational/self-help book for your lunch breaks or check out more inspirational videos to start getting the ideas flowing.)

4. Grow your skills. If you don’t entirely hate your job and if there is the opportunity to do so, take on new tasks or projects in your current role. Find out what else you can take on and then tackle those projects with determination. This will help to build skills for your resume, but also may show your current employer that you are capable of so much more. And you never know, this could lead to a promotion. …. Now, if you are in an awful job and you just can’t fathom the thought of taking on more tasks, I understand. This is an opportunity to take on a project, hobby, or class outside of work. Build those skills, put it on your resume, and start searching! You never know what might come up.

5. Allow yourself a treat. I’m not saying go wild and eat all the cupcakes here, but I do know from experience that depriving myself while working at a cruddy job is not the path to happiness. To help me get through the day I’ll grab a coffee at the start of my shift and I always have dark chocolate on hand. When I’m feeling a lull in my shift, I’ll have a couple of pieces and this helps me to get my brain back on track. Chocolate may not be it for you, so try what makes you happy. Green smoothie? Cookie? Fruit? Latte? I say just do it… but remember that moderation is key here.

6. Go for a walk. Yes! Get up from your desk and walk it out. Walk around the office building or do a little desk yoga. Live somewhere nice or it’s summer where you are? Take your walk outside. NOW. Fresh air and exercise are so refreshing and the time away from your desk helps to break up the day. Gym at your work? Even better! Do a short workout on your lunch break and you’ll be energized for the whole afternoon.

7. Read self-help articles. Read blogs, articles, books, etc. that are self-helpy and motivational. Then, journal. Seriously, get your thoughts down on paper (or online). This will help you get out of your head for a little while, but can also be quite revealing. Maybe you’ll notice patterns in your writing and the sorts of books/articles you’re drawn too. Maybe you’ll get your goals down on paper or start to develop a vision board. Either way, this will help you get through the day and will inadvertently help you start to plan for the future. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, just do it and be amazed at what happens. :)

 

Pic credit - www.dilbert.com

Pic credit – http://www.dilbert.com

Disney Star Wars Half Recap Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of my Disney Star Wars Half race recap, you can check it out HERE.

Race

At the start line there were two fun, energetic announcers who were sending off the corrals. They were pretty funny and did a good job of pumping us up at 5:30 am. I was in Corral B, so I didn’t have to wait long to take off, which was nice since my adrenaline was really high by this point! Once they let us go everyone was cheering and waving and having fun, but then it got a little serious after the first turn. I’m sure everyone was planning who they were going to take pictures with or just trying to stay focused in the dark. Once we moved into Disneyland (DL) though, the mood got light and fun again. At almost every turn there were staff members or guides who were cheering people on or saying “Good morning”, which really made me smile. Everyone was so friendly (even that early) and I made sure to wave or say something back to as many people as I could.

We first ran through Disneyland, which has a lot of waves and turns but is totally worth it because there’s so much to see! I’ve never been to DL before, so I stopped to take a lot of pictures and of course a few selfies. I found that some characters were a little hidden and if it wasn’t for spotting the line ups, you would probably never know there was one there (for example, Chewbacca was behind a fence in the dark). I also realized that you really have to look out for other runners during a Disney race. The flow isn’t the same and people are always stopping and starting at the last minute and in the middle of the lane. Runners probably shouldn’t listen to music while running through the parks, because you really have to be alert (I did see 2 people crash into one another and it wasn’t pretty). As for characters, I only saw Luke & Leia, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader and I only stopped to line up (for 15 minutes!) for a pic with Chewie (Marathon Photo is at every stop too in case you’re interested in professional pics). There may have been more characters, but if that’s the case, I missed them.

Chewie!!

Chewie!!

After DL, we then transitioned into the California Adventure park. The sun was starting to come up by this point, so it was really nice to be able to see the park in a bit more daylight. The sunrise was actually spectacular and a lot of us stopped to take many pictures in different areas of the park. I can’t even describe how beautiful the sunrise was, such a nice experience to go along with the race. In California Adventure I only spotted a few characters and stopped to get my picture taken with some Stormtroopers because the line was short. I really enjoyed this park and was totally blown away by the area that looks like the Grand Canyon. Such an amazing sight and the sunrise really helped the experience!

image

Once through the parks, we then headed out on to the local streets in Anaheim. This did not take away from the experience and I was certainly not bored. There were so many high school marching bands, cheerleaders, people in costumes, and spectators along the way that you couldn’t help but continue to feel motivated. I was blown away by the local support and you just can’t thank these people enough for getting up so early to cheer us crazies on! Also worth noting is that runDisney provided tons of water/Gatorade stops along the route, so there was no need for me to carry water. Clif was also around mile 9 (I think) handing out gel shots, which is good if you already use this kind of fuel.

I'm not the droid they're looking for. ;)

I’m not the droid they’re looking for. ;)

I will say that all of the starting and stopping when running through the parks did start to affect me. I got a little sluggish around mile 10 or 11 and I got really hungry for more than just race fuel. I toughed through it though, and with the help of all those spectators I got my butt to the finish line! I kept thinking about that beautiful medal and how I just couldn’t wait to have it hanging around my neck. Good motivator, right?

Post-race

So much excitement at the finish line! Tons of people and a few characters were around, and also the announcer was saying people’s names as they crossed the line. I was a little disappointed that R2D2 and C-3PO were on a stage at the end (were they along the course?!) because I REALLY wanted my pic taken with R2D2 because of my costume. It was hard to grab any pics around the finish because staff/volunteers were trying to move you along, which I totally understand and they maintained a good flow despite the amount of people.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the nice people handing out the medals. A really nice lady hung my medal around my neck and congratulated me and I felt so elated and grateful for the opportunity. Yes, I was grateful to have run 13.1 miles at a very early time in the morning! It’s hard to put all of the feelings to words, but I was beyond ecstatic and had a permanent smile on my face.

After the medals I moved to the picture area because I wanted to grab a pic or a selfie in front of one of the branded back boards. This is where I felt a little rushed. The Marathon Photo staff weren’t allowed to take a pic for you with your own camera/phone and they also hinted that you kind of weren’t allowed to have someone else grab your pic in front of the boards. Well, I was able to find a nice person and we took turns (quickly) grabbing photos with our own cameras. I understand this company wants to make money, but their pics are extremely expensive so I like to have to opportunity to take one of my own. Just my thoughts. Once pics were done we were able to pick up the food kit, which had a nice mix of taco chips, nuts, dried fruit and a banana. Wheat free options actually made me happy in this case. Bag check pick up at this point was also a breeze and then I was set to go.

Look at that beautiful bling!!

Look at that beautiful bling!!

Of course, I didn’t leave right away because there was still a band playing on the main stage and there was tons of people watching to still do! I saw a few more people in their costumes, took some more pics, rocked out with the band, and then headed on my way to grab some delicious breakfast grub at Denny’s. Don’t judge me! Denny’s is perfect after a race. :)

After grabbing breakfast, I walked back to my hotel room in all my glory. It was about a 10 minute walk and I enjoyed every minute of it in the sun. It was also nice to pass by people heading towards the part who yelled out congrats and costume compliments. Made me feel like I was really part of something… some kind of happy, Disney, silly runner community. And you can’t beat that. Needless today, I am hooked and I hope to do the Rebel Challenge next year!!

~ May the Force be with you ~ ;)

Have you run Disney before? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Disney Star Wars Half Recap Part 1

Well, I’ve been back in Toronto for almost 2 weeks now and slowly processing everything I experienced during my 5 days in Southern California. Seriously, this dream trip did not disappoint and I keep daydreaming about when I will go back again. But, instead of rambling on about that, I’m going to give you a little recap of the Disney Star Wars Half Marathon – the main reason I finally went on this trip in the first place.

Some of you may remember when I registered for the Star Wars Half over 6 months ago and I wrote about how I was stepping outside of my comfort zone. Well, I am glad that I did. I was a little anxious before the trip, but once I settled into California I got over my nerves really quick! As per suggestions, I arrived the Thursday before the race to give myself a little time to adjust to the time zone change and where I was staying, and of course to tour around the area.

At the Expo

At the Expo

Race Expo

I went to the Expo on the Friday morning (2nd day) before the race, which I thought would be a good time to go. For bib and shirt pick up it definitely was a good time because there weren’t that many people there yet. For merchandise, I was already too late. There was some official runDisney merchandise left, but all of the really good stuff was gone (which you can now see on ebay for extremely high prices). The Expo was a little smaller than I was expecting, but there was a good amount of vendors there (FlipBelt, Clif Bar, Pro Compression, Sparkle Athletic, etc.). A particular fave of mine was Raw Threads, they had lots of colourful and fun gear so I ended up making a purchase from them.

While I was at the Expo, I made sure to get some information about the morning shuttle (Anaheim Resort Transit (ART)). My hotel was only about a 10 minute walk away, but I wanted to have the information handy in case I didn’t feel like walking in the early hours. Also, there were presentations and interviews going on during the Expo, but I didn’t really partake in any of those because I wanted to get outside into the sunshine as fast as I could!

After the Expo I went outside to wander around Downtown Disney, checking out shops and people watching. It was fun to see people still dressed up and wearing their medals from the morning’s 5K race. One thing I really noticed was how friendly and happy everyone was in this area. Ok, I know they are visiting Disney, but it was refreshing to experience good customer service and chat with strangers about running, Star Wars, etc. I grabbed a coffee at one of the nicest Starbucks I’ve ever been in and spent some time just taking it all in under the sun while watching the people go by. Seriously, if you have time, I recommend this as part of the experience. I also met Pluto by the Disneyland Hotel, which was a hilarious highlight of my trip!

Best ever!!

Best ever!!

Pre-Race

For these Disney races you have to get up EARLY. The half marathon starts at 5:30 am, so depending on where you are staying you may have to get up between 2:30 – 3:30 am to make it on time. I was quite worried about this leading up to the race, but the wake up call actually wasn’t that bad. Of course, when you are super excited about your morning, it makes it easier to get out of bed! I tried to go to bed really early the night before, but ended up crashing around 9:30 pm and I felt fine. I’m actually amazed that I slept, but I am grateful that I did. I stayed at the Motel 6 near Disneyland and took the shuttle to the race, so I was able to wake up at 3:30 am. I had plenty of time to eat, chill out, and get my gear/costume on. I was by myself, so it was pretty easy to get ready. But, if you have more people with you, I imagine that you would need more time to get everyone organized. The ART shuttle I hopped on only made 2 stops and then quickly zipped to Disneyland, so that was pleasantly painless.

Once at Disneyland, it was just a quick walk through Downtown Disney to find the area with the main stage, bag check, and porta potties. Bag check was a breeze and the porta potties were not very busy at all in this area. Of course, the area was a little bit chaotic with people running around late and such, but overall this process before the race was easy. Walking to the start line was a little unclear once I got closer (it was dark), but I figured out where they were holding extra Corral B people before the A’s ran off and then everything was fine from there. Once I was waiting in my corral, that’s when I started to get really pumped up. There was an electric buzz of excitement all around and everyone was in a great mood and ready to run. So many fun costumes, everyone encouraging each other and laughing – I took it all in since regular races are usually so serious before the start. It’s hard to be nervous when you are standing there with thousands of other people dressed up in Star Wars themed costumes next to Disneyland. Of course, I took a lot of pictures in the dark that my cell phone camera couldn’t handle, but it’s all part of the experience, right?! :)

 

There's a Wookie behind me!

There’s a Wookie behind me!

To be continued…

{Check back (or follow me on Twitter!) for the 2nd half of this post and to see how my race went!}

Winter Running Update 2.0

Well, I skipped a run for the first time ever today.

In the past I’ve had to cut distance or switch up hills with speed training, but I’ve never just skipped the scheduled run on my plan. I just couldn’t go out there today. I didn’t have it in me to get all my gear on to run in the cold, wind, and snow. (Doesn’t help that I don’t have the proper footwear for this type of running either) I didn’t have the energy or the motivation to fight with the extreme winds for even 5K. Yep, this morning I was totally fading.

It also doesn’t help that I don’t like winter at all. Yes, you read that right – I am a born & raised Canadian who doesn’t like winter. I’m usually pretty good with it until January 2, but then after the holidays are over I am ready for spring, sun, and getting back outdoors. I don’t know, for some strange reason I am totally dependent on sunshine and being outdoors for energy. So, in the winter, I do suffer from seasonal affective disorder. If you’re wondering, I do take LOTS of vitamin D, try to get outside when I can, and exercise but it doesn’t always help… like today.

You can imagine how awful I felt this morning. Going back and forth and back and forth trying to motivate myself to run outside, while also thinking that it probably wouldn’t be safe. But, I don’t like to skips runs and I don’t like feeling like a failure. What’s wrong with me?! How is missing one run a failure in my training? I have a great base and I could probably run 30K (Around the Bay) right now… but I wouldn’t feel too great after! :P

Anyways, I find it amazing how we can make up these rules and imaginary faults to beat ourselves up over. Seriously, it’s one run! So, I had a quick chat with some great runner friends on Twitter this morning and they helped me turn my perspective around. I realized that it’s ok to miss one run… or even more! And, it’s ok to listen to my mind or body and realize that maybe I just needed a break. Can’t forget the mental part of this running game! If I wear myself down early, I won’t have it in me to keep going when the distance gets tough and long.

Not all was lost this morning though. I went out for a walk, which ended up confirming the good decision to not run and then I did an at home workout. Once my endorphins were boosted, I was back on track for a good day! This experience helped me learn a good lesson about quieting my inner critic when it comes to my training. There is no need to make myself feel bad and no one is keeping score, so I need to just do what is right for me. My first season winter running has exposed some new challenges that I am taking on, for better or for worse, and preparing me to be a better runner all year round.

How do you deal with negative self-talk when you have to miss a run/workout? 

Me Snow 2015

Winter Running Update

Before I went away to California for the Star Wars Half Marathon, I struggled with running in the cold and snow. Every freezing day or quick snow storm had me wishing I owned a treadmill or that I hadn’t signed up for winter races at all. You see, no matter how much I bundle up, my body doesn’t like winter running. I’m slower, I feel awful, and my asthma is quickly challenged on the super chilly days. You can imagine what this does to my running confidence.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen some of my discouraged posts. The cold really kicks my butt when it comes to this running thing. Speed training doesn’t happen, long distance runs are slower, but hill work? Now that’s fine. I can actually really hammer out my hill work, as long as it’s not icy of course. In general, hill work is my favourite, so I guess it’s good that it translates the same into my winter running. Either way, I feel like my running has suffered in this cold weather. Which doesn’t help that I am actually training for races. I had begun training for the Star Wars Half basically right after my first Half Marathon in October, but it wasn’t extremely serious because I knew I would be spending more time having fun during the Disney race. But now it’s time to get serious. In just over 2 months I am running my first 30K race, which apparently has 10K of hills at the end, so I am freaking out a little bit. I quite enjoyed running the Disney run in 15C weather, but my first run back in the frozen tundra today kind of sucked. It was only around -6C, but that was enough to make me feel sluggish and caused my lungs to work extra hard. Somehow, this run felt worse than before I left for California!

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I am a fair weather runner. Actually I don’t even mind running in the heat as much as I do in the cold. That’s probably weird, right? Here’s another “weird” thought… is it possible that our bodies are just made for certain climates? And not necessarily the one we were born/raised in? Because I am seriously starting to think that my body is meant for the California climate (sorry Canada <3). I don’t know, maybe I am just rambling here, but it’s something I am starting to seriously think about.

Anyway, that’s my winter running update. I don’t like it. Am I going to do it? Yes. I have a 30K race to run at the end of March and there is no way that I am giving up now. Will I enjoy every outdoor run on the way there? No, probably not. But, I will do my best to savour the moment while being proud of myself for getting out there and taking on this new challenge. I’m going to need some of you cheering me on along the way though, because it can get damn cold here! :)

{Find me on Instagram & Twitter for more frequent updates & rants about my first winter running journey}

How do you power through winter running? Or, do you just absolutely love it?

Runner Pet Peeves

It never fails. During every single training run something happens around/to me which really makes me angry. I can be running along in my own little bliss and then BAM! Another human is doing something that really pushes my buttons. I know this happens to all of us, so I wanted to share a few of my training run pet peeves with you. If you’re excited, read on my run-loving friends!

My Running Pet Peeves (not a complete list ;) )

Drivers who don’t look both ways. Yes drivers, you also have to look both ways when pulling out of a driveway or street. I’d rather not be hit by your vehicle because of your laziness/incompetence. (This also includes drivers who are texting and don’t look up before proceeding.)

Drivers with full, dark tinted windows. Maybe I am old fashioned, but why do you need this? Do you think it makes you look oh so cool? Well, I can’t see your face and which way you’re looking, so I’m going to be extra slow using the crosswalk in front of you, mmmkay?

Litter. Why the hell do so many people litter? Be nice to your freaking city and just stop it. It really does not take that much effort to carry your garbage home or to the next waste bin on the street.

Pedestrians who won’t step to the side to let you pass. You see me running towards you and you still won’t move to the side to let me pass. What is your issue? I’m not going to run in the mud or a snowbank for you, so we’ll probably end up smashing into each other. I won’t be sorry. (extra points for people who just HAVE to stay side-by-side)

People who don’t shovel their sidewalks. This should be illegal, in my opinion. Stop being lazy and clear a small path… or at least throw some salt/sand down. Much better than having a walker/runner cursing and screaming after slipping and falling on your property.

Drivers that honk at you. Stop trying to scare the shit out of me.

People at the bus stop who give me the craziest looks while I do hill training. Actually nevermind, this is just funny more than anything. :)

Long traffic lights. Such a runner’s high buzz kill. And, occasionally makes my legs think that the run is over… not fun getting back into the pace again.

People riding their bicycles on the sidewalks. SHARE THE SIDEWALK OR GET ON THE DAMN ROAD. This one is a huge pet peeve because I am tired of bike riders bullying me on the sidewalks.

Dogs not on leashes. Look, I’m sure your huge Doberman with the big, sharp teeth is very friendly, but I don’t know that so how about you keep your dog on a leash in public spaces. Thx. (Oh, and please pick up after your dog. C’mon man!)

Runners who don’t appear to be dressed for the weather. I know everyone’s body is different, but the running skirt and bra top with compression sleeves in -10 Celsius weather – are you really warm enough? I guess you still look fast and that’s what matters, right?

Runners who don’t wave. I understand that this one might be a personal preference/community thing, but still, when you stare right at me and I give a little wave, could you wave back? It’s nice to be polite sometimes. Just a thought. :)

Running uphill, into the wind, on a slanted sidewalk. Enough said.

What, my dear readers, would you add to this list?

See, don't I look peeved?

See, don’t I look peeved?