Half Marathon Breakdown

Over the years of reading various runners blogs and health and fitness blogs there is one thing I have always wanted to do.  A breakdown of my race, so this past weekend when running my first half marathon I was sure to make a mental note of how I was feeling and what I was thinking at various points throughout the run.   Now this breakdown might not be as detailed as some out there, but it will give a pretty decent overview of the gambit of emotions I felt while running.

finishersFirstly, I would like to point out that prior to running this race I had been warned by a 1/2 marathon veteran that this particular course was full of hills. I took this information in but figured  “how many hills could there actually be?”  The answer to this was an infinite amount of hills, these hills are responsible for a lot of emotions I felt during this run.  But getting back to the point of this post, here is my race breakdown.

Pre-race: organization of the website and kit pick-up was a bit of a frustrating mess.  The types of organization mistakes that were made was something I have experienced before from races that were in their first year however it is definitely not something I expected from a company who’s business is literally running dozens of races every year. It was a little frustrating to say the least, but on the upside this frustration gave us runners something to bond over while waiting to start our run.

ankle braclet1-3km:  The first few kilometers of the race were through a bit of a residential area and were mostly flat if not slightly downhill which wasn’t a bad way to start off. However, I am not sure why but for any race I run, regardless of it’s length, these first few kilometers always feel like they will never end, although they do always seem to.

4-5km: This is where the hills started. I had prepared mentally (and physically although I often feel like the mental part is really the challenge) for hills but as they started coming I realized that I had mentally prepared for one hill, not the multiple hills I was about to be faced with.

starting6-8km:  This part of the race wasn’t so bad, nothing too exciting to look at around you and besides another couple hills and some cows nothing too exciting. However at about the 8km mark we ran through some rows of trees whose leaves had all turned yellow and were cascading down the race route.  My running buddy and I described it as “majestic” and both wished we had camera’s with us to capture the moment for everyone else to see.

9-11km: These kilometers really weren’t so bad either,  I was feeling pretty great and mostly strong.  I had to stop for a rest room break and was slowed down a bit by the fact that there was only one outhouse for all the runners, but after my mini break I was back on track and feeling pretty refreshed.

20131015-111254.jpg11-14km: Still feeling great, starting to feel the benefits of all those hills on the way out because now everything was downhill. My feet were starting to feel as though they had been trapped in 5inch heels for about 8 hours, but the downhill momentum was giving my legs a much needed break from climbing.   I became pretty thankful for my music and the sharkees I had purchased as fuel (candy) for the race.

15-16km: the anger was starting to set in. I kept telling myself “just a few more kilometers, just a few more kilometers” and reassuring myself that I had already run this distance and that “I had this”.  This is also when Can’t Believe It by Flo Rida featuring Pitbull came on my iPod and gave me the extra boost I needed to keep my stride consistent.

17km: I realized I had 5km left and felt hopeful. Besides tight hips and my knee starting to nag at me I was feeling alright, my energy was fair, the anger from running for forever had subsided for a bit and I was ready to finish up.

18km: My running buddy and I decided that we would stay committed to running our own races and this meant if one of us needed to pull ahead or respect our body and take an extra break we would commit to that.   My playlist also capped out at this point and I had to manage to get out my iPod to turn the music back on while not tripping, my efforts were successful!

19km: I am now running on my own and my Negative Nancy voice is starting to rear her ugly little head.  It was time to put in both of my ear buds and try and silence her dirty little mouth.

20km: I saw a hill and became extremely discouraged.  The wonderful marathon runners were full of smiles and positive words for all of us half marathoners that were finishing up which was extremely appreciated. I did my best to power through the last hill but ended up walking about half way up so that I could have some energy left to “finish strong”

21km: Came into the fair grounds and didn’t realize it wouldn’t be as simple as just crossing the line. The route had been set up to circle around the entire grounds to get our last couple hundred meters in.  This sucked! I likely looked like the grumpiest runner out there, luckily I had a mini cheering section of friends (one who had just finished his own half) and my husband taking photos.

20131015-111211.jpgAs I crossed the finish line I was overwhelmed with satisfaction, pride and the strong desire to get my shoes off my feet IMMEDIATELY. I had set a goal of just finishing the race, with the hopes of being around the 2:30 mark and I was happy to have finished in 2hours and 31minutes

20131015-111144.jpgJust a couple short minutes after I past the finish line Susan (my running buddy) came around the bend and finished with the biggest smile I have ever seen on someone’s face.

aftermathIn the end despite the poor organization and all the hills I was so happy that I did it and was able to see just what these legs are capable of.  I am not sure if I will make running half marathons a habit but it is definitely nice to know that I am capable of them.

I hope you all enjoyed my recap of the race and you all enjoyed great weekends this past weekend.  Happy Tuesday!

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Weekend Round-Up

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian friends out there. I hope you are all enjoying some turkey, or whatever meal you have going, with some family or friends or both!

Today I am super thankful for an extra day off of rest. Yesterday marked my very first half marathon and it was pretty decent (I will do a race round up later in the week) so my legs are a little zonked today. But let me get back to the rest of my weekend.

Earlier this week a dear friend of mind turned 30 so Saturday we all headed out for a bit to wish her a happy birthday and celebrate her. It was great getting to see her surrounded by family and friends all showering her with love. I wasn’t able to stay too late because I needed to get up bright and early the next morning.

20131014-105159.jpgSunday morning started super early with a quick trip to the farmers market before heading out of town to line up for my first half marathon. Susan and I had been toying with the idea of running one and once we were presented with the opportunity to participate in this fall run we didn’t want to pass up the chance.

The race itself was pretty poorly planned out and a little frustrating but I would prefer to focus on my accomplishment instead of the pre-race frustrations.

Now I am going to get some foam rolling done so hopefully I will be walking like a normal person tomorrow.

Rest up everyone and enjoy this extra day off work if you were lucky enough to get it.

Happy Monday!

4 Tips for Setting Goals – Post Race

I figured seeing how the Gingersneezes run club just completed their goal of a 10k race it would be a good time to address the “now what?” feeling. Personally I feel that it is great to think of what is next, and it is even better to plan a little for what you want that to look like. The last thing you want to do is train your butt off for months just to finish a race and think “well I am never going to need these running shoes again”. So how do you keep motivated? and what can you do to keep yourself moving in a forward motion?

Running, lifting, yoga, or anything really is full of endless goal setting potential. Hopefully while practicing or training you didn’t think “if I do this once I never have to do it again” and you are interested in trying new things and taking your skills to new levels, and if that is the case then post race won’t be too difficult for you.

Now that you have accomplished your goal it is time to set new goals and remind yourself of what has changed and what is now important to you.   Here are some simple steps to help you set new goals and keep yourself motivated.

Run Club Shirt Collage

1. Look back at your old goals.  Maybe you had made a list of goals you wanted to meet when you first started training or stepped on your mat or picked up that set of dumbbells. Check them out, see which ones you have accomplished, which might need work or reworking.

2. Make it a challenge. When thinking of new goals try and think back to things you felt challenging during your training.  Do they still feel that way? Are there aspects of these challenges you would still like to work on?

3. Set a date.  It doesn’t have to actually be a day, but there has to be a timeline so you know when to check in.  It is great to have over arching goals, but in order to work towards them it is helpful to have smaller time sensitive goals.   Things like picking another race, giving yourself two months to learn how to do a headstand or to be able to curl an extra 10lbs are helpful smaller tangible goals. Whatever it is be sure to give your smaller goals a “due date”.

4. Explain why.  It is important to set goals but it is also important to address why you are setting something as your goal.  Understanding the why will help you to create a plan of attack and when things get challenging will help you stay committed to your goals.

I know I have spoken about goals several times before and it might seem a bit redundant to write about setting “new” goals but it is a whole other beast.  Once you accomplish a goal it can get a little tricky to think of what you want out of the next phase of your training.  Hopefully the four tips above will help you out next time you meet one of your goals and will keep you pushing forward.

Happy Wednesday everyone.  I hope you are all having a wonderful week so far. 

Weekend Round Up – Running Like the Wind

Hello Everyone!  Happy Monday and I hope you all had a restful and amazing weekend.  This weekend was definitely amazing for me.   This past weekend my sister arrived in town from Vancouver for a bit of a visit, and she got in the same morning of the Gingersneezes run club 10k race. So not only do I get to spend some time with my sister I had her in my cheering section during the race which was pretty phenomenal.

Run Club Shirt Collage

Back in April I had started up the Gingersneezes run club, to help build a little running community, and to hopefully help show people who really don’t consider themselves runners that anyone can be a runner as long as they are willing to lace up their shoes and put in some effort.  With the help of my running buddy Susan we started the Gingersneezes run club,  we built a community where no matter what your skill level, pace or experience you would be supported and encouraged to keep on trying.  This past weekend each of the 5 women that joined had the opportunity to show themselves that they really are a group of runners.

Run Club Collage

We had all signed up for the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women and Susan and I made sure to ensure the training the run club was doing would help everyone succeed.  Having done the route before in other races I was sure to incorporate hill training (it was one of those nasty routes where they put a substantial hill right at the end of the race) and various strength training exercises in the weekly routine. Each of the run club members were dedicated to showing up every week for our group runs and were even more committed to making sure they scheduled in their weekly solo runs.  Leading up to the race there were nerves and doubts, but the closer the race came the more excited the run clubbers became.

Run Club Love Collage

Each of the run clubbers were encouraged to set some goals for themselves for their first 10k race and were also encouraged to pick a partner to run the race with.  I am beaming with pride to say that each of the run club members smashed the goals they had set for themselves and far exceeded any expectation I had had for them.   All in all it was a pretty amazing morning of huge accomplishments for everyone!

On a personal note I set a PR for myself finishing in 51 minutes and 52 seconds and came in 28th out of 261 participants.  My initial goal was to finish in 55 minutes so coming in almost 4 minutes under my goal felt pretty great.

After everyone had wrapped up their race and a plethora of photos were taken by our cheering section we all headed home to get cleaned up before our celebratory BBQ.  We all gathered back up to share stories of our race and look at some of the pictures that were taken that morning.  After the main meal Susan and I presented our runners with medals in the form of cupcakes commending each of them on their hard work and progress over the past few months.

Run Club Cupcakes Collage

We may have all reached our goal of completing the 10k race but that does not mean that the run club is finished.  Gingersneezes run club will be starting up for a second session beginning September 9th. So if you can run about 5k and are interested in working on endurance and speed drop me a line to join. Just click on this link and let me know you are interested.

Happy Monday everyone.  Have a great day.

Running a Race – Do’s and Don’ts

The Gingersneeze Run Club is gearing up for their first group race. Four months ago on April 1st the Run Club started hitting the pavement running simple 2:1s and now they are all gearing up for their first ever 10k race.

dontAs the running group is getting ready for their first 10k I wrote them up a little newsletter on tips for running your first race. After typing it up I figured it would be a great thing to share with all of you because maybe some of you are gearing up for your first race. So here they are:

Don’t:

dont1. Don’t change your routine. Stick with what you have done during your training. Don’t test out new foods and fuel packs the day of the race, testing is for training not for race day. You never know how your body is going to react to something so stick to what you know.

2. Don’t wear new gear race day. It is a common mistake ALL runners make. We all want to go out and buy ourselves something nice new and sporty for our big race but this isn’t the best idea. Like with food on race day you don’t want to test out a new pair of shoes or sports bra and get jammed with awful blisters and chafing. If you do need new shoes be sure to purchase them at least two weeks before the race, and any new clothing should at the very least be washed to soften the fabric.

3. Don’t carbo load. Unless you are heading out to run a 1/2 , full or ultra marathon carbo loading is not necessary. The night before prepare yourself a nice meal of something you know sits well in your stomach, that dish could be a plate of spaghetti, but it could also be a quinoa salad. Just make sure it is something you are familiar with, and don’t get stuck on the idea that you need to fill up on carbs the night before.

road-runner34. Don’t be a Road Runner. With all the excitement and cheering going on you may have the urge to take off as fast as you can. Do everything you can to resist this urge. You have been training; you have an idea of what your pace is, plan to stick to it.

5. Check the weather. It is important to check the weather before the race, heck even before leaving the house for the race. You don’t want to be over dressed and fussing over extra layers on race day. Look at the weather and pick an outfit that will best fit the day.

6. Don’t stop moving. Once you cross that finish line you might really want to sit down and take a break do your best to resist this urge. It is important for you to keep moving, active recovery is the best way to go. While doing high intensity exercise blood rushes to your larger muscles (your legs) if you just STOP after a race you increase your chances of feeling dizzy, nauseous and all around weird. Keep walking around for 5-10minutes after your race to cool down, and then stretch it out.

Do’s:
chuck-norris-thumbs-up

1. TRAIN! Getting ready for a race is integral to avoiding injury and being able to feel confident and comfortable when lacing up on race day. You have been training, you have tried various different lengths and you now have the physical stamina to start and end your race strong. So feel confident in knowing that you already take part in probably the most important race day prep.

2. Review your route. Look at the maps provided by the event organizers so you have an idea of what your race route is going to look like. If you are able to run the route do so, if not find terrain that is similar to train on. Knowing your route gives you the ability to plan for what you might encounter and will help to boost your confidence race day.

3. Do your last long run AT LEAST 1 week prior to the race. You want your body and legs to be in optimal condition for race day. You don’t want to burn your system out by over training the week before your race. Be sure to respect of the tapper by being a bit more lenient on your body.

4. Lay it out. Lay your race day equipment out the night before. Take your shorts/pants, top, watch, hat, shoes, race bib, fuel belt or anything else you may need on race day and lay it out the night before. Especially if your race is in the morning you don’t want to be panicking because you can’t find your favourite running socks or the pair of shorts you really wanted to wear. Eliminate some stress by laying out your race day gear the night before. Not only will this eliminate stress it will also get you pumped your race.
Race Collage5. Plan to get there early. All in the name of reducing stress plan to arrive early. The last thing you want is to throw off your game because you can’t find a parking space, your running buddy, or worse the race has already started by the time you get to the starting line. Arrive early to avoid any unwanted stress, and heck most of them time they have some speakers or something to pump you up for the race, and a little extra motivation never hurt anyone.

6. Multiple Goals. Set two goals, this might sound ridiculous but there are so many factors that might contribute to a good or bad race, pre-race food, weather, hydration, injuries…etc. It is good to have two goals one ideal and one backup. This way you always have something to aim for during your race no matter what is thrown at you.

7. Bring some Tissue. This one might sound ridiculous, but after standing in a port-a-potty line up for 20 minutes just to find out that there is no toilet paper can be a huge disappointment. So be prepared bring some tissue paper.

8. Have a buddy. Having a running partner can help to keep you motivated and moving when you hit a wall during your race. Do your best to be encouraging of each other and share a high five or pat on the back with your partner if either side is looking a little sluggish. Keep spirits high and discuss a motivation plan before race day.

9. HAVE FUN!! Yes this is a race, yes I am sure you all want to do well and will be pushing yourselves a bit harder than during a regular training run, however the goal of the race is to have fun. Keep calm, remember to breath, and remember to smile. Enjoy the energy and positivity radiating from the crowd and have fun with it.

I know race season for the summer months is almost over, but incase any of your out there are planning your first race I hope these tips help you find something that works to keep you excited and keep the stress at bay.

Happy Wednesday!

Weekend Round Up – Time to Play the Running Game!

This past weekend was AMAZING! I seriously don’t have enough glorious things to say about it. Despite the kind of not so great weather on Saturday the weekend was pretty perfect. Friday night my husband and I went on over to my mom and stepdad’s for a belated mother’s day supper and some family hangouts, and then Saturday was RACE DAY!! Can you tell I was/am excited?

Running Collage

After over two weeks of not being able to run and being sick all week, I was definitely ready to get moving and go on a run. Seeing how my ankle is still getting back to normal I made a deal to help pace my running buddy and to shout loving, encouraging things at her for the duration of the race and in exchange she would make sure I didn’t break myself all over again. The deal worked out swimmingly.

Saturday started with Susan (running buddy) and I heading over and picking up our race bibs and then checking out the fitness expo that was going on. Which we promptly left because it was so busy! There were some neat booths but just so many people it was awkward and claustrophobic trying to get close enough to see things. Even though it was super crowded we were both happy we took some time to check it out, as we definitely had some time to kill (our race wasn’t until 6:30pm).

Running 2 Collage

Once we had picked up our race kits we walked back home and did some prep for a post race BBQ, then it was time for some lunch and resting. When 6:30pm FINALLY came around it turned out we were right on time for the start of the race, as they had begun their countdown as we were approaching the starting line. Susan quickly re-laced her shoes and then we squeezed ourselves into the coral and began to walk with the crowd towards the start line. With 10,557 participants a race track can get a little crowded but that is part of the fun. Once we crossed the starting line we were focused, we had our plan and we were stoked.

Race CollageBefore we knew it we were passing a 5k marker which as it turned out was a fraud, we were really at about 3.5km, the 5k marker was likely for the 1/2 or full marathon, as utterly disappointing as it was to find out we hadn’t run 5k in just a little over 20 minutes we were still on target.

The runners and all of the wonderful supporters on the side lines made always make the Ottawa Race weekend such an amazing event to participate in. We finished our race in 65 minutes and decided that the 10k we have planned for August will be dominated! As a congrats for a job well done and because it was pretty windy and chilly out, we stopped and grabbed ourselves some tea on the way home. It was a perfect ending to the race.

Shortly after we arrived back at my place, some friends (whom had participated in the 5k earlier that day) joined us for a tasty (albeit late night) BBQ and we shared our stories of our recent victories.

Race StretchingSunday was much more laid back. After about 2 weeks of rehab and stretching only my legs were definitely feeling the race. So it was time for the farmer’s market and some gentle yoga to stretch things out and reward my limbs for doing so great. The rest of the day was a write off filled with movies, book reading, and more relaxation. It was a great way for me to start off my week of planned rest and recovery.

I hope some of you were able to participate in Race Weekend, if not the running at least in the cheering aspect of the weekend.

Happy Monday!

This week is the last week to enter the giveaway so don’t forget to tell your friends about it, and don’t forget to enter!

Struggling

This is going to be a short post. Kind of more like a rant than a post but I hope someone out there can relate I feel like I am going batty. The past couple days (okay it has been over a week) I have been struggling with respecting injury and as of this past weekend illness (just a cold). I know I have mentioned before how important it is to listen to your body and to remember to take breaks and relax when you need to but for me it is likely the most challenging part of my fitness journey.

Relaxing and taking it easy or recovering always seems to feel somewhat counter productive to what I am trying to achieve. I want to build this healthy, fit, active lifestyle and resting and relaxing is a puzzle piece that just doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. I for some reason seem to feel like there should be a designated time or place for such a luxury.

DR3Like a beach vacation or a trip to a cottage, those are designated relax times.Times like now when I am in the downward phase of my training for a race (um…this weekend) taking some rest to recover just feels so innately wrong. So making myself sit back and relax/ do nothing becomes a huge inner struggle. Luckily I have a great husband, good friends, and an amazing trainer to keep my ego in check (I am assuming it is my ego that is making me so thick headed when it comes to this type of stuff.)

So what am I doing? not much to be honest. I am doing my rehab moves to help strengthen my ankle and build up some more stability and I am stretching. I know these are essential components to healthy training but sometimes I get this “if you don’t sweat it doesn’t count” mentality. So I am doing my best to respect my injuries and my sickness and I am learning how to take a step back, which by the way is surprisingly difficult. I am hoping that soon enough I will be able to acknowledge that rest is just as important as physical exercising when it comes to training so that I can learn how to properly integrate it properly in the future.

Have you ever had to deal with something like this? How do you find balance between rest and training?

I hope everyone is having a great Wednesday!