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?

My First Half Marathon!

I did it!!

On Sunday, October 19 I ran my first Half Marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you probably saw all of my pics – the ups, downs, and in betweens of training on my own for this huge challenge. Now, I know for some runners that a Half is not a huge challenge anymore, but since I actually used to hate running, this was quite the goal for me to take on. Honestly, my original plan in the spring was to run an 8K race this month, but something changed in me and I really stretched this goal. And I am glad I did!

I won’t lie, it took a lot to push myself some days. I trained on my own following a basic training plan I found online that had a schedule based on my goal time of 2:15-2:30. As my training went on, I eventually updated my goal to 2:15 and I was completely set on it. Yes, there were days I didn’t want to run and there were other days I was injured and couldn’t wait to get back to running… it was all a part of the journey. I am happy to say that I didn’t skip one run throughout the whole plan, but some runs did get cut short depending on pain/migraine/etc. At least I got out there every time and did my best on that day.

So, now here we are. The Half Marathon is done and I am still cruising on a bit of a runner’s high, even though my body feels like hell. ;) I’m completely proud of myself and I still stare at the awesome medal that I got. (It’s sooo pretty!) Hoping this feeling lasts for a little while, but my mind is already “racing” thinking about a plan for 2015!

Race Recap

Before the race

For days before the race I was obsessed with checking the weather and trying to plan my racing outfit. Apparently this is normal. I was glad that the forecast steadily did NOT predict rain, but the temperature was predicted around a -3C to 3C during the time of the race. That’s cold! Well, for me it is. :) I’m a bit of a wuss in the cold, so I really debated on what I should wear… also because I am a classic over-dresser. I already had my bottom half picked out (my racing capris of the season) but it took till almost the last minute to decide on a long sleeve for up top. A lot of people suggested tanks and short sleeves, but I went with my gut and wore a long sleeve that I could roll up if I needed to. (Turned out to be the right choice for me) I also spent a little bit of time being nervous about the race, but mostly I was excited. Sure, I wanted to get the race done, but I also wanted to experience the whole big race atmosphere and have some fun.

Race Day

So, yeah, it was cold! I almost did not want to turn in my sweater and stuff at bag check, it was so cold. I managed to find a Starbucks/hotel to hide in (with many other runners) before the start time that was near my corral. Thank goodness for that, because it was still pretty cold while we were waiting to take off. The crowds were a bit overwhelming for this introvert, but also exciting. So many runners! Some people looked happy and ready for fun, but I also saw the serious faces around too. Hanging out in the corrals was hilarious as everyone was either amped up or nervous. I heard one guy yell to his friend “WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?” I had to laugh and I wondered if he was doing the Half or the Full.

Once my corral was up, we all ran off cheering, clapping, and completely ready to go. The crowd really helped my energy throughout the entire race – spectators and runners. As for the course, I loved it! Running through downtown Toronto was really fun and I like that we passed some cool landmarks like the ROM, Honest Ed’s, Fort York, and Lake Ontario. It was also great that there were so many spots for spectators to gather up and cheer us on, so much fun and excitement! There were bands, cheerleaders, and lots of people to high five, which I totally took advantage of.

I found the amount of water stations to be appropriate, even if they looked like war zones. Hats off to the volunteers in charge of those areas, that was no small mess for them to clean up. Guides were also helpful along the way, never felt like I was going the make the wrong turn or get lost.

As for my race, I started off pretty strong and kept a good pace for about 10K. It was around that point that my bad ankle started to hurt a little bit, so I joined up with a 10:1 – 2:15 finish pace bunny group. It was my goal time, so I figured I would run with them for a little bit so that I could get my ankle in check. I’m not totally sure how long I ran with them for… maybe about 6K… but then I started to feel strong again and I took off on my own. The rest of the race I felt pretty good… ya know, until that last little climb up Bay Street to the finish. ;) I was a bit tired at that point and I just pushed myself mentally to pick it up and fight to the finish. The crowds at the end probably helped a little too. As I crossed the finish line I raised my hands in the air and I’m pretty sure I yelled ‘yeah’ out loud to myself. But I didn’t collapse and I call that a win! :) I was a little woozy as I walked to get my medal hung around my neck (so awesome!) and my warming blanket. But, I was also filled with so much pride and joy – I had finished a Half Marathon! And, I beat my goal time by 7 minutes! My final chip time was 2:08:01 and I couldn’t be happier. My hard work and training really paid off and I felt great!

That's right, I kicked ass!

That’s right, I kicked ass!

I will mention that there was a bit of a bottleneck of people in the area after the medals/blankets when we were trying to get food. Just the way the gates were set up, there was a bit of wait to get through. Not a huge deal most of the time, but I couldn’t meet up with my boyfriend through there and I wanted to get to snacks on the other side (that he had with him). Also, race snacks are not made for people who are gluten and lactose intolerant. Sure, the banana is fine, but the pita and yogurt were no good to me. I know this going in, so I always have stuff with me… but I need to get to back bag check (or my boyfriend) to get to my stuff. Once I got my own fuel into me, I was good to go and not race delirious anymore.

Post Race

After the race we grabbed some delicious breakfast and that helped my head get back in the game, but my body was still slow moving. Heck, it still is right now. For some reason, I didn’t plan my weekend well and we had a bunch of errands to run and I had the week’s food prep to do. Not next time. After my next half (yes, I’ll run another one!) I am going to make it a lazy day. I believe I’m extra tired today because I didn’t take enough time to relax after the race. Lessons learned!

Speaking of lessons learned, I’m not sure there is too much I would change for my next half marathon. In my opinion, training went well and I got the result I wanted. Next time I run a colder race, I may do the throw away clothing option to keep warm before the race starts. And as I start to run distances longer than the half, I may need to re-assess my fueling option. Clif Bars and plain water seem to help right now, but I’m sure I’ll need to replenish more as I go farther. Oh, and I would probably stretch more after… ouch.  Definitely lots to learn as I go along, so I am thankful for the awesome runner’s community that I have on Twitter and Instagram. Everyone is so helpful and supportive, I’m glad that I found them (you!).

The prettiest bling! :)

The prettiest bling! :)

I bet you might be wondering if I’ll run another Half or maybe even a Full next time… well, I can certainly say that I’ll run another Half, but I am undecided about a Full right now. I think I’ll get there, just not right away. When I finished the Half, one man beside me plainly said “I can’t imagine running another one of those right now”, referring to the Full runners still going. I laughed and completely agreed with him in that moment, but who knows what’s to come. I’ll probably try to tackle the 30K distance first and see how it goes. Seriously, anyone planning 2015 yet? ;)

Lastly, I want to say thank you to the Canada Running Series, their volunteers, and the Toronto Police for putting on such an amazing race. I can’t imagine all the hard work that goes into such a huge event.

And thank you again to my one man cheering squad – my boyfriend. Thank you for the support, drives to races, pics, and extra pushes when I need them. I appreciate it more than you know. :)

Half Marathon Training Update

Can you believe it? Only 8 days until my first Half Marathon! I’m both excited and nervous at the same time, which I think is pretty normal. I still get a little nervous before a 5K, so this is definitely expected.

What hasn’t been expected is the roller coaster of emotions and thoughts that I have been experiencing over the past week. Negative thoughts, then positive thoughts, then discouraging thoughts… well, let’s just say my mind never stops! Just the other night, I even woke up in a panic of anxiety about the upcoming race. Seriously, it shouldn’t be disturbing my sleep this early! But it’s my first, so of course, I’m not sure what to expect.

Finished my last long run this past Saturday (it went well) and at this point I am pretty happy to be in the taper period. A lot of people talk about getting the crazies as they taper, but so far so good, when it comes to distance at least. My feet are happy to be running a little bit shorter because I have blisters that need healing! Sorry if that’s TMI, but that’s what I am going through. On the other side of tapering though, yes I am hungry ALL of the time. But that’s pretty standard for me. I am also checking the weather for race day like crazy, which I find hilarious. Weather can change so frequently, I don’t know why I’ve started this habit. All part of the process I guess! I also want to lay out my gear and supplies for the race, but I definitely know it’s too early for that! ;)

me 10102014.jpg

Today I am feeling pretty good about my training and the race. But who knows how I will feel tomorrow or the day after. Negative thoughts do rise up and I try my best to send them away. I’ve worked hard and put in my miles, no need to beat myself up and get worried. I’m going to kick ass… I’m running 21.1KM (13.1M) and that is no small endeavor! I’m really excited to get there and and experience the race day atmosphere. I believe this will be the biggest race I’ve attended, so it will be interesting to see how many people will be around. –> note: If you’re in Toronto, come out and cheer us on! Make a cool sign, or a cheer, I know all the runners would love to see you.

With only eight days left, there’s not much else I can do but run and mentally prepare myself for the atmosphere and the distance. I’m running 11K this weekend and then only short runs left before the race. I’m really looking forward to what this new challenge will bring for me!

But in all seriousness, is it too early to carb load? ;)

RBC Run for the Kids 2014

As some of you may already know, I was chosen earlier this year to be an Ambassador for the amazing RBC Run for the Kids event here in Toronto. Once I first heard about the opportunity, I knew I wanted to be involved with such a great cause. This run (5, 15, and 25K) raises funds and builds awareness for youth mental health issues – specifically, the Family Navigation Project by Sunnybrook, which is a program available to youth and their families to assist them with getting the help they need at the right time.

RBCRunfortheKids logo.jpg

Over the last few months I have been trying to spread the word off-and-online to encourage others to sign up and/or donate. You’ve probably seen all my tweets and retweets, so I certainly appreciate you sticking with me through all of this promotion and also spreading the word yourselves. I really had so much fun sharing the details of this race and cause with you and I greatly appreciate the donations I received to my fundraising page.

So, this past Saturday, a few months of training and building momentum finally came to fruition. I had been following my plan and building up the miles and I was ready to rock this 15K. I woke up earlier than I have in months at 5am and dragged myself out of bed to get ready after only about 2 hours of sleep. Trust me, I was excited, but I never sleep well the night before a race so it takes me a while to get really pumped up. Didn’t help that it was still pitch black out and that I worked late the night before, but this is what we do for that bling (aka medal). I did my usual smoothie and Clif Bar breakfast routine and by the time I got to the expo and start line, I was pumped! Everyone was already buzzing and the volunteers were cheerful… they must give them caffeine. ;) Bag check was really easy and the port-potties weren’t even that busy. Shocking.

Once I got myself to the start line, I was ready to go! The sun was coming up at that point (7am) and everyone seemed to be coming alive. There were a few speeches about the cause and then we were off! A few points about the race/course:

– I liked the course, even though there was a monster hill on Finch Avenue. ;) Also, this course was a great mix between road race and trail run through G. Ross Lord Park. The only thing that was a little strange was running down the middle of Finch, but I get that it’s difficult to close a full major road like that. It was a little scary at some points with angry traffic on both sides, but I am glad for the helpful Toronto Police officers that were around guiding/blocking the vehicles.

– The course was a little bit long. Instead of 15K it ended up measuring almost 16K in total. Not a huge deal of course, but I can tell you I was wondering where the heck the finish line was. I almost burned out during my final push because I was going by the distance on my watch. (I checked in with the other Ambassadors after the race and they all clocked almost 16K on their GPS devices as well)

– Perfect amount of water and porta-pottie stations in my opinion. At no point was I worried that I wouldn’t get a drink or have the option to go if there was an emergency.

– Great amount of volunteers along the course as well. Some of them were really friendly and cheered us on as we went by, which was quite nice. We need that enthusiasm early in the morning while we are torturing ourselves. ;)

– The post-race expo was one of the best I have ever been to. Tons of food – delicious grilled cheese, pizza, breakfast burritos, bananas, chocolate milk, coffee, etc. I was truly amazed here. The only issue for me is that I am both lactose and gluten intolerant, so the options weren’t awesome for me personally. I did have a few bites of the grilled cheese because after almost 16K, I was hungry for more than a banana. Not the smartest move for me… but I was tired and overwhelmed and just wanted to try it. I then looked longingly at the rest of the food while I filled up on the free coffee. (Side note: I did notice A LOT of non-racers taking in the expo and lining up for multiple servings of the food, which is fine, but it’s important to make sure there’s enough for all of the racers first in my opinion. Just something to look out for.)

– Post-race entertainment at the expo was awesome and fun. I enjoyed jamming along to the music while waiting to gather for an Ambassador photo and I could tell the crowd loved it too. There was also a good amount of vendors and the kids area looked pleasing to the parents.

Great group of people!

Great group of people!

Overall, I had a really great time being an Ambassador for the RBC Run for the Kids. I can’t thank everyone around me enough for their support, donations, and encouragement as I trained. My almost 16K time was 1:30:41, which I am super happy about. I’m right on par for time for my upcoming half marathon and I’m glad to see my training and hard work being rewarded. Feeling good and strong!! This race really solidified that for me, so I am grateful for having done it.

So, if you have a moment, check out what the RBC Run for the Kids is all about and consider signing up or donating next year. You will have one of the funnest mornings you can have running, while knowing that your efforts are going to one great cause.

Check out that bling!

Check out that bling!

Again, one last thanks to friends, family, race organizers and volunteers, sponsors, the Toronto Police, fellow Ambassadors, and our ring-leader, Claire. It was a blast! :)