Friday, 30 October 2015

Taper Week

So this is taper week. It's not the first time I've been here, and definitely not my last.  This training cycle for marathon #5 has been a tough go for me. I'm not sure why I've had such a tough go, but I am not going to dwell on it.

I have been following a customized training plan and completed almost all the training plan that was given to me. However, as my training progressed, I realized that I wasn't getting any faster.  It had seemed as if I had hit a plateau. My plan had me running less mileage, but more frequently.

I ran some races during this training cycle and all of them I crashed. I couldn't seem to pick it up. With each race, I started to doubt myself and my abilities. I felt beaten before every run.

Other than running with my little guy in the stroller, it has been a lonely training cycle.  I don't really talk to people about my running anymore other than posting on Instagram and blogging.  I am always inspired and motivated when seeing other runners post about their successes, but I wonder if it's making me feel worse about myself.  I was able to get out on a few runs with a friend and was able to push myself to run harder than I had in any previous runs. These runs boosted my confidence a bit, but also helped me understand that I may perform better if I had other runners to help push me.

My running buddy and I

I am looking forward to the upcoming marathon just so that I can get it over with and start over again with the next marathon.  I know it sounds crazy, but I am actually looking for another marathon to run next year.  I am almost certain that I will not run a personal best, but I will finish. Finishing is an accomplishment on its own, but I am not going to give up my dreams. I will continue to train and chase down a BQ (Boston Qualifier).

One Step at a Time

Do you have a race coming up?

Have you ever had to deal with self doubts ? If so, how did you deal with it?

Thank you for reading

Thursday, 1 October 2015

29 Days to Go to Marathon #5

I cannot believe that it is already October.  I feel as if I was just doing back to school shopping the other day for my kid and now I'm already looking out for Halloween costumes.

It seems like things are falling back to place with my princess back in school, I only have my crazy toddler son at home with me. We are back to running in the stroller and looking forward to my fall marathon. I had hoped that I would do well and PR on this upcoming marathon, but as I do not think it is going to happen.

I started a new training plan which has been more time based than distance. I do like knowing how long I will be out on the road, but at the same time it has been challenging planning the routes. I know that running is a process and there are highs and lows. This training cycle has proven to really challenge me. I have been battling self doubt as my training has not seemed to have paid off. I have been sluggish and running slower than before.

I don't want to be one of those people that blame it on age, but heck I was hoping 40 would be my new 30. A friend sent over some articles about overtraining. I didn't think it really applied to me as I am training rather conservatively, with reasonable mileage. I think it maybe the fact that I'm over thinking now.

I have not run a personal best this year which has been very deflating. I think part of the reason is that I keep beating myself down with every run and also I miss my running buddy terribly. I always thought that I could do it on my own, but running with another person just makes it so much more enjoyable.  My run buddy (my son)  is great company on the short runs, but he's getting big now. I'm pushing 29lbs of toddler plus the stroller and all the bribes I carry to keep him from jumping out.

Fall is my favourite season.  I love the crisp weather and watching the leaves change on each run. This will be the last fall that I will be pushing my little guy with me as he will be starting school next year. I was reflecting on all of this while pushing him today and part of me was sad. I know that I will miss having him tag along on my runs. Until then, I will enjoy every mile that I have with him.
My First Run with the Little Guy - April 18, 2013
I finished September with 166 kms/103 miles. It was a nice easy month.  The mileage will pick up this month as I am now 29 days out from my fall marathon.

I have decided to not freak out and trust in my training. I have accepted the fact that my upcoming marathon may not be my best, but I will still try my best to to better my previous times.  I often think back to my first marathon and wonder why it was my fastest one to date.  It may have been because I didn't know what I was in for. I was a complete rookie with no previous times to beat. I had no expectations except to finish.  I will look ahead to my last month of training up to the marathon and hope for the best.

Happy October!

How was your September?

Any Fall Races planned?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Toronto Zoo Run and Yorkville 5K Recap Karen's Comeback Run

Training for the upcoming marathon has been a tough go for me. I'm not sure if it is because I turned 40 or if it's all in my head. My legs don't seem to want to move when I lace up and try to go out for a run.

I decided last minute to pick up a bib for the Oasis Toronto Zoo Run. I ran it for the first time last year and had a blast. It is a challenging course through the Toronto Zoo with many undulating hills. A one hour aerobic run was scheduled for the Saturday, so I could use the race a training run.

It was pouring rain Saturday morning and I prayed that it would stop by the time the race was to start. I am fortunate to live fairly close to the zoo, so I was able to stay warm at home until heading out to the race. I arrived a little later than last year, so I was directed to park off site and walk over with my garbage bag rain coat to the event site.  Bag drop off was quick and efficient but had a time cut off as they bags had to be driven to the finish line area.

I got into my coral  and the gun went off shortly after. I had decided to run conservatively and use it as a training run since I was going to be racing again the next day. I was pretty miserable standing in the rain. My cousins wife was a course marshal and it was one of the few things that was motivating me get moving. The course is hilly and challenging, but running through the zoo and seeing the animals is definitely a bonus.

It was another tough race for me as I started to doubt myself. I was hitting the wall and hard. I have run many races, but this feeling of self doubt was really crazy. I had never felt this way ever and I was only 3km into the race. I kept telling myself that it was only 10km, but then I would think about the upcoming marathon and freak out. I started thinking about downgrading to the half marathon. I could barely run this 10km race, how in the world would I run 42.2 km? I battled these demons for almost the entirety of the race. As each person passed me, I would feel worse about myself. It was insane. I had never experience these thoughts before.

I trudged along and finally saw my cousin's wife at one a the last uphills. It was nice to see a familiar face, but I knew I still had about 2 km to go. I had never been so happy to see a finish line. There was no course PB for me today as I did worse than last year. I guess there will always be next year.

Posing with the Giraffes 
After the race, I headed back to the kids and headed out to pick up my buddy Gen who was flying in from Montreal to run the Yorkville 5K. She had run this race last year as her first ever road race with my run buddy.  My run buddy Karen had also registered for this race as her comeback race after her stroke last year. I had been anxiously nervous about this race for many reasons. I knew that Karen would do great as her recovery has been remarkable, but still weary and terrified that something would happen.

We got there early to see the elites run and was once again amazed by their athleticism. The first runner came through in 14:16 (Male), 15:57 (Female).  I ran a few kilometres to warm up and then bid adieu to my buddies to run the race. My buddies had made me promise them that I would race the race and I didn't want to let them down. I told myself that I would run as hard as I could but at the same time once I started running I was cautious and I don't know why. I don't know if it's because I'm afraid I won't have enough fuel to get me through the 5K. It's crazy as I write about it now and thinking back to the race. I always have regrets that I should have pushed harder. I knew the first few kilometres was a nice net downhill and the last few would be a slight uphill. Once I started the uphill, the winds also picked up. I kept thinking positive thoughts to get me to the finish. I finished 27:43. I am happy with the time considering I raced a 10k the day before.

I quickly collected my medal and ran back for my buddies. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I ran back. In my head, I was thinking that I would come up to Gen first or Gen and Karen together, but  I was pleasantly surprised that I found Karen running up to me. I ran up beside her and checked in with her. She said that she was doing good and for me to go back and find Gen. It is so Karen, to ask me to go back for others. She is so selfless. I ran with her for a little bit and went to find Gen who was not far behind. They had just over a kilometre left to run. I pushed Gen to keep on running and to catch up with Karen. We got into view of her and cheered her onto the finish. I ran Gen into the finish area and let her finish on her own. I am so proud of both my friends.

I'm totally losing it after Karen crossed the Finish

She did it!!!
Do you believe in miracles? I thank God everyday for my health and the ability to do what I love. Karen is a true testament to miracles. She had a stroke 9 months ago and was completely immobilized. I was afraid that she would never walk again, let alone run. But with her determination and a lot or prayers she has made and amazing recovery. I am so happy to have my run buddy back and looking forward to running some more races with this amazing woman.

Showing off our Medals

Do you have an amazing story to share?

How do you get yourself through the mental part of training ?

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Summer Update

It's been a long time since I posted and I have not been keeping up with my New Year's resolution with blogging more frequently.

I didn't realize how much time it would take from my daily life. And life seems to be so busy ALL THE TIME.

Since my last post about the Barrie Half Marathon, I have raced a few more races which I still need to report on as well as squished in a few family trips.  I just wanted to let whoever is following my blog to know that I am still around and training as hard as I can for my fall marathon. My training has been frustrating for me as I don't seem to be getting the results I was hoping for. I will explain in my race report, which I will be working on as soon as I'm done this post.

The summer has been busy with the kiddies at home and trying to keep them busy. We put our older one in a few camps, but who are we kidding.... camps are expensive. So, for the weeks that I was not flying, I was camp counsellor of fun at our home. Hubs also did a fantastic job of keeping them entertained.

My older one has mastered the art of riding two wheels... YIPEE!! This allows us to get out and run as a family. I still push my little guy in the stroller, but we all get out and get active.

Family Action Shot
How has your summer been?

Do you have little ones, if so, how do you keep them from saying "MOM, I'm Bored!!"?

Have a great weekend !!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

San Francisco Weekend - Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon 2015

 I decided to surprise my mom with a quick trip to San Francisco for her birthday. We both had at the time off, kids were free and hubby was going out of town with his buddies.

My mom's best friend lives in the San Francisco area and they hadn't seen each other in almost 5 years, so it was going to be a great way to celebrate. I called my cousin last minute and dragged her along to visit our cousins in SF. It was going to be a fun and busy weekend.

We're on our way

We Made it!!!
We weren't quite sure the plan for the weekend, but we were excited to go as it was very last minute.
My cousin and the kids had never been to San Francisco and there were a million things that I wanted to show them.  I also found a half marathon taking place minutes from where we were staying. My cousin decided that she would do the 10K and I the half marathon.

We picked up our rental car and off we went to my mom's best friends' place. They have been friends for over 50 years and it was like watching school girls catch up. They had cake ready for mom.

Happy Birthday Mom!
Since we were only there for the weekend, there was a lot to cram in. I knew that I wasn't going to see it all, so narrowed it down to a few things. We decided to take the kids to California Academy of Sciences as it was inside of the Golden Gate Park and also housed an amazing aquarium. This place is full of things to keep the kids busy and entertained for the day. We spent the entire day there exploring.

Inside the Rainforest
It is definitely worth a visit, the kids and adults enjoyed all the exhibits and shows. The kids were wiped so I headed home with mom and the kids and sent my cousins off to explore San Fran on their own.

The half marathon was the next morning and was literally minutes away. We arrived early to register and was able to get a parking spot right next to the start/finish line.  The race was set along the San Leandro Marina.  Registration was quick and simple. We both registered for our races and headed back to the car to set up and eat some goodies. I was going to use this a a training race for my marathon training and hoped to break through some mental barriers.

Carb Loading before the Race
The course was and out and back route which took you on grass, gravel and paved paths along the beautiful marina shoreline. It was a nice a small race which offered a 5K, 10K and half marathon distance.  There were 408 participating in the half distance which made it a nice small group which was great as the race was on a path.  I started out keeping a pretty steady pace, but eventually lost wind. I can't say it was my greatest race, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  The scenery was beautiful and the weather was great. I was also thrilled to have my cousin there with me.

Still smiling !
The food afterwards was also super with your standard bananas and bagels, but there were also ice cream cookie bars and sweet pastries.  With the race being so close to where we were staying, we were able to make it home by lunch and head out for another day of exploring San Francisco.

Showing off our Bling
I have to admit that I do always look up races in any city that I will be visiting.  It gives me a chance to see parts of a city that I may have never seen or had planned to visit. I definitely suggest it to you all, if your schedule allows it.

Hanging out

We spent the rest last of our time catching up with my cousins, keeping the kids busy and my mom enjoying every moment with her best friends. They have been friends since their teens which means that they their friendship has spanned over 50 years.  I remember receiving letters from them as a child before there was internet and before long distance calls were much more affordable. They were at my wedding and my parents attended their children's weddings. It was pretty amazing to watch them catch up and chat as if no time had past.

I was so thrilled to see how happy my mom was that we were all able to be there with her for her birthday. It was a memorable weekend for all of us.

Weekend is Done!


Monday, 15 June 2015

Barrie Waterfront Half Marathon Recap

Hubby ran this race last year and had a blast and convinced me to join him this year. I haven't raced this distance for a while now and was looking forward to running this distance.

This is a very small race that has a 5K, 10K, kids fun run as well as the half marathon. We were allowed to pick up our kits on race day as we live out of town. It was super convenient as the packet pickup was steps from the start/finish line. Parking was free and plentiful. Hubby decided last minute not to run this year as he has not been able to train properly and didn't want to injure himself.

I had a busy week leading up to race day. I had a trip to Hong Kong and tried to get in all my workouts according to the plan. But training in 85% humidity and temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius can be tough.  It was nice to have hubby drive up to the race even though he had decided not to run. I was able to relax and chill in the car.  We stopped to pick up a buddy who was going to run the half as well and headed up to Barrie.

After picking up our race kits. We headed to the potties, which were plentiful and right at the start/finish area.  The half marathon runners are the first wave to go followed by the 10K and then the 5K runners. There were a total of 333 people that finished the half marathon which indicates how small the race was. It was a nice change to the big races. There was space for everyone to pass and run at their own pace. There was no bumping or impatient people grunting from behind.

It seemed like it was going to be a perfect day for a race. I was pumped and also a bit nervous. I was going to aim for a personal best.  The national anthem was sung and we were off.   I started at a comfortable pace for the first few metres but my legs didn't seem to want to pick up the pace.  It was a first for me. It was as if my legs and my brain were not communicating. It was the strangest feeling. I kept trying to keep up with the people around me, but I seemed to be falling behind. I had left my phone in the car because I wanted to focus on the race and just run.

This race ended up being quite a tough race for me. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why my legs wouldn't work. Every time I looked down at the watch, my pace seemed to be slower than then previous time I looked down. I would try to look ahead and try to catch up to the person that past me, but it just wasn't happening.
These Kids Ran out for High 5's
Right when I needed it 
The course was very scenic out and back route. It took us along the Barrie waterfront with beautiful view of Lake Simcoe, through some residential areas and part of downtown Barrie. There was plenty of room on the road for all runners. We ran on pavement for the first half of the race and then gravel for the later part.

Struggling for the Finish
There was no bag check for this race, but thank goodness there was plenty of parking nearby and the weather was perfect. Race photos are also complimentary, but had not come out yet for my recap. The  medal is huge. It also serves as a bottle opener and a magnet.
Finally done
Although I did not get a half marathon personal best. I really enjoyed the course and the beautiful day. I was quite upset that my body didn't perform as I had hoped. I kept questioning myself to what happened. Going into the race, I felt strong and ready. Was it the jet lag? Was it too much training leading up to race day?  I'm not sure what happened. What I had thought would be an amazing race for me turned out to be one of my worst.   All I know is that there will be good races and bad. I'm hoping this will be my last bad race. I will try not to dwell on it and move onto the next race and keep training.

Hubby, My Personal Photographer

Have you ever had a bad race? 

How did you deal with it?

Monday, 25 May 2015

Paris Marathon Race Recap

I decided to run the Paris Marathon for my 40th birthday. I dragged my whole family with me to the beautiful city of Paris with me and turned it into a family vacation.

Training was mediocre at best. I was not able to get in many long runs into my training plan and the winter just broke me down. I completed most of my long runs on my layovers with very little sleep, but just thankful that I was able to plug the miles into my legs. With all this in mind, I decided that this race would be a fun run and I would enjoy the race and take in all the sights.

We spent the first few days exploring the city. The expo was HUGE and definitely the largest that I had been to with over 200 vendors.

Lining up for the Expo

The expo was easy to get to by Metro. We headed out bright and early and was only met with a short line, where our bags were checked before we entered the centre.

Did I mention how huge the Expo was
The first thing we had to do once we entered was to drop off our Medical certificates. This was the first race I had ran where I had to get a signed letter from my doctor to confirm that I was fit enough to run the distance. Once it was checked, I was off to pick up my bib.

Getting My Certificate Checked

Course Map
With my bib in hand, I was off to check out the expo.  As much as I wanted to peruse  down each aisle and check out the latest running gear, I knew that my kids would have had a total melt down and likely never accompany to anymore races. And seriously.... do I need anymore running stuff????

Flat Alice all laid out the night before the race. I always tell myself to get some proper sleep leading up to races but it never happens. I happen to be bunking with my little guy and he woke up when my alarm went off at 6am which meant the rest of the family had to wake up.

I quickly got dressed, gobbled up my breakfast, emptied the bladder and got the family set up before I headed out the door.

We were lucky that the apartment was only a few steps from the Metro station. I made it to the starting area in 10 minutes. I quickly found my corral and lined up for the porta potty. The line was already fairly long. One of my biggest complaints was the lack or ports-potties at the start and throughout the race.  It took an hour before it was finally my turn. I had 5 minutes to spare before my corral was to start. Men were starting to just pee into bottles ... GROSS!!

The Start with the Arc de Triomphe

I was in the 9:30 corral and it was already starting to get warm. The sun was out and there were barely any clouds in the sky. The gun went off and I was off.

Hotel de Ville - 4km
We started off running down the Champ-Elysees which is partly paved and part cobblestone then heading past the Jardin Tuileries and the Louvre.

Our apartment was within walking distance of the race course and had mentioned to hubby that if he was so inclined, he could come on down with the kids to look for me. It was at the 4 km mark and I knew that it would be tough for him to get both kids ready and out for that time, but I snapped a shot and still looked out for them. I found out that they had come out but much later on and tried to look out for me, but ended up riding the carousel and hanging out at the Notre Dame.

I had decided to enjoy this race as I knew I wasn't going to be making at PB's with the lack of training I was bringing into the race. First 5K done 29:41. I was pleased, but doubtful that I could keep the pace for the next 35kms.

Place de La Bastille

The course was going to take me through all the major sights of Paris. I was looking forward to seeing parts of Paris that I had never seen and scoping out new places to take the family.

As I was nearing the 10K mark, I could see a clearing and realised that I was coming up to Chateau de Vincennes. I had seen it as a stop on the Metro map but had no idea that it was a a CASTLE!!! I thought of my daughter right away. She would have loved to visit a real castle. I felt bad for not doing my research. I snapped a few photos of her and promised to take her back on our next visit.
The one thing I noticed was the awesome crowd support from the start to the end.  There were people all along the way cheering us on and yelling "Bravo, Bravo!!" The Chateau sits at the entrance to  the Bois de Vincennes which is the largest public park in the city.  Crowds died down a bit here, but I had started to notice the lack of port of potties AGAIN!!! People were running off the course into the trees to do there and women. It was so disgusting, but if you have to go, you must go.

20KM into the Race
 You notice the crowds pick up once again when you exit the park. This part of the route was also my favourite because we run along the Seine. It was so incredible. I was in awe of the views and slowed down quite a bit to take photos and take it all in. My pace was not getting any faster and I was burning up with the heat. I had remembered to bring my sponge that they provided in my race kit to soak with water and cool myself down. I guess it must be a European gesture as I have never had sponges except in Athens and now in Paris. Firemen along the way had hoses out to spray runners along the course.
Tunnel where Princess Diana Died

This part of the course also takes you under 2 tunnels, one of which is where Princess Diana had the terrible accident that took her life. It was so hot and stuffy in the tunnels and the smells was awful.  Had these people not heard of deodorant??? There were laser lights and a DJ pumping super LOUD music to keep you moving. I was barely halfway done and I was almost ready to throw in the towel. I missed my run buddy, I started blaming my lack of training for the slow pace and just wanted to cry.

Once out of the tunnels, I was greeted with fresh air, loads of crowd support and amazing views of Paris. I had to stop along the way to take tons of photos, I promise not to load them all.
La Tour Eiffel

The crowds seemed to be everywhere. You can see from my photos below with the runners in front of me as we are trying to all go over the timing mat.  I love having spectators cheer us on, but they were literally on the race course. 

30 km with Spectator Crowding
One of the things that did help me trot along was the constant cheering and bands along the way. Check out the crowds on the bridge in the photo below.

Just Clearing the 30K Mat.
The path before me never cleared, I've never run a race with so many participants. It kept me going even at the 35km timing mat when someone had set up a huge blow up Wall. At first I couldn't figure out what it was, but it was a play on runners hitting the wall :)  I was determined to not hit the wall especially after seeing this. 

Running being a mental sport is so true. I was out there with less than 7 km to go and I just wanted to throw in the towel. People were cruising by me and my legs were getting tired. I stopped at every water station as well as the food stops where there were fresh cut oranges. The only pit fall with this was the orange peels and banana peels thrown all over the cobbled stone roads. It made the roads super slippery and hard to run. Most people had to stop and walk and try to hop over all the fruit peels.

The last part of the race was a blur. All I could think about was finishing and heading back to see my kids. I remember there was some wine offered at a table around the 39km mark. I honestly contemplated it, but decided against it as I just wanted to finish.

Coming in for the Finish
The roads cleared up as we were finishing. I tried to pick up the pace, but my quads wanted none of it.  They were burning, but I didn't care. I saw the Arc de Triomphe and pulled out all the stops.  I knew I had done it. Marathon #4 was in the books.  There was no personal best here, but it was by far the most beautiful marathon I had ever run. It was a dream to be able to run through the streets of Paris. I collected my medal and finishers shirt.  There wasn't much for food after the race, except for water and more oranges and bananas. 

No caption Required  :)
Final thoughts......

The race was top notch. Packet pickup was easy. The expo was HUGE with lots of vendors. The course is amazing. You will run pass the Louvre, Bastille, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Musee d'Orsay and Arc de Triomphe.  The crowds were fantastic and were plentiful.  My few complaints would be the lack of port-o-potties,  the cobblestone sections of the course, and lack of post race grub.

If you could run a race anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Friday, 24 April 2015

Paris with the Family

We had been looking forward to our Paris family vacation for a long time now.  I had registered for the Paris Marathon early last year as a 40th birthday present to myself.

It had been over 10 years since hubby and I first went to Paris and I was looking forward to sharing it now with my children. I had found us a lovely apartment in the heart of the Marais district. Our trip was going to be a short one as the reason why we were there was for me to run the marathon.

My daughter had been reading books and making lists of places and things that she wanted to see and do. I tried to work her list and create an itinerary that would work for all of us.

 It was a bit of a gong show as I found out at noon the day before we were to leave that our original flight was cancelled due to air traffic controllers going on strike at Charles De Gaulles airport. 40% of flights had been cancelled and ours was one of them. I called hubby to see if he could get the day off and leave early as I scrambled to pack for all of us and load the car with all our luggage.

Seated and Ready for Take Off
After a 7 hour flight we arrived to a beautiful spring day in Paris. My daughter was the only one who got quality sleep on the flight and she was ready to go, the rest of us were wiped. We arrived at apartment, dropped our bags off and headed off to explore.

Our first stop was to grab a quick bit at a cosy bistro across our apartment with a traditional Parisian breakfast, chocolate chaud and croissants. After fuelling up, we walked down to Hotel de Ville and soaked in the sunshine in the square. My little stud was fascinated by the water fountains and all the pigeons chilling with us.

With the Notre Dame a few steps away, we walked down to see the historic Cathedral. The Notre Dame was on the top of my daugther's list since watching the Disney's Hunchback of the Notre Dame. She was fascinated with the gargoyles and bell towers. It was a glorious as I had remembered.

After a tour of the Notre Dame and snapping some photos, we dragged our jet lagged selves back to the apartment and crashed.

We slept in day 2 and decided to take it easy. We spent the day walking over the the Louvre and exploring the grounds and eventually into the Jardin de Tuileries. The kids loved the carousal
and all the free space for running around.

I was pleasantly surprised at how kid friendly Paris was.  No matter where we went there was always a bistro or cafe with fresh baguettes and crepes for us to devour. Parks were plentiful and the wide open spaces were great to keep the kids busy. We took public transportation a few times and found it easy to use. I must note that there are not many escalators or elevators so be prepared to do a lot of walking.

We tried to squeeze in as much as we can in the 5 days that we had in Paris. We look forward to going back when the kids are a bit older and seeing more of Paris. There are so many museums and parks and bistros that we still have to see. We loved our apartment as I have found it much easier when travelling with kids. We had a kitchen and all the amenities that one would have at home. We were able to live amongst the locals. I highly recommend looking into apartment rentals when travelling with children.

There are so many places in the world that we would like to visit as a family. As we were on our flight home, hubby commented on what a great time he had and was looking forward to my next destination race with the family.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Around the Bay 30K Race Recap

I was looking forward to running Around the Bay for the second time, but not sure how it would pan out as it was only 2 weeks before my goal marathon. I have fallen off the track with my training and was still deciding the night before my race plan. In the end I decided to run it at a comfortable pace and figure out how I would gel and hydrate for my marathon. I was to start tapering after this race.

I have run this race 4 times, but this is only the second time running the full 30k. I was happy to hear that they had removed the killer hill at the end this year due to construction in the area. But it turns out that it would still have some hills to give us a workout.

It was nice to get there early and find awesome street parking.  I had only slept 3 hours as the baby as I was up all night with a teething, whinny toddler. I almost slept through my alarm, so needless to say I was rushing out the door. Luckily, I had a laid out  my outfit the night before as the weather was going to be ever changing.
Flat Alice

There is no bag check for the race so I didn't carry my phone to take any photos during the race, so no photos until the very end.

One Last Selfie

I was a bit freaked out because I had always ran this race with my run buddy K, but she is on sabbatical from running, so I felt quick naked and lost without her there with me. With the nervous knot in my belly, I headed over the the First Ontario Centre to stay warm and find toilets. This is a bonus to starting and finishing by the huge building - INDOOR TOILETS!!! and lots of them.

I got into my coral with all the 'regular' runners and we were off.  The weather was overcast and a bit chilly. I kept thinking in my head if I had over dressed, but it was too late now.

I placed myself between the 2:45 and 2:55 pace group and hoped for the best. I had never been able to run under 3:00 for this race and I was determined to do it this time. I was not feeling positive as I knew I was undertrained and not in the best shape.

I decided to go out and try to stick with the pack and warm up the legs. I was feeling good and was going a bit faster than I had wanted.  I didn't have a race plan and decided to run comfortably and test the legs for my upcoming marathon. 

I was getting into the groove and was happy to come up to the 10K relay exchange point coming up the ramp to see all the spectators and fresh runners ready to go. I checked my Garmin and kept on trucking along.  First 10K split was 54:32. This part of the race is very scenic with the on both sides of you as you run. I had decided to not carry water with me during this race and try to see how I would do with the water stations. I was looking forward to the next relay exchange point at 15K and seeing the lift bridge meant that I was halfway done. 15K split was 1:23:29. All I could think about was I cannot believe I have to run another 15K. I decided to take a gel at the 18K point, which in the end turned out to be too late.

Still feeling good, maybe a bit overdressed :(
I had been feeling pretty comfortable for the entire race. I had no urge to pee and my legs were still working. The rolling hills started as we were coming up to the 20K mark and the winds seemed to have picked up as well. My 20K time was 1:52:35. As I ran past the half marathon point, I started wondering how in the world I was going to run a marathon in 2 weeks. It was a low point for me during this race. I knew I only had 10 more kilometres to run for this race, but the negative thoughts just kept on pouring in.

I was thrilled when I ran pass the regular turn off to head towards the infamous Valley Inn hill. It didn't seem to matter because it seemed like there were no stop rolling hills. My pace was quickly slowing and I couldn't figure out why. I knew that I had been running at a comfortable pace and not much faster than I had been used to. As I hit the 27k mark,  my calves started to cramp up. I knew that it was most likely because I had taken my gel too late. My legs were burning and yelling at me. I had to stop and walk which probably made it worse. I didn't want to walk pass the Grim Reaper, so I forced myself to trot by him, to hear him tell me that I was doing better than the guy that was just a few steps behind me. With those words, I knew that I had to keep running and finish running and not walking.

Turning into the Finish Line
At that point, I saw the 2:50 pacer pass me, so I knew that I was still in reach of a sub 3:00 finish. When I finally saw the 29K mark, I was so relieved. I knew the race was almost over. The last kilometre seemed to go on forever. I turned quickly into First Ontario. I love the quick finish with the steep downhill ramp into the arena.

Crossing the Finish

When I finally caught my breath, I was happy to see that I had finished under 3:00. It was a course personal best for me. Overall, it was an decent race for me. Looking back now I see all the mistakes and areas where I could have done better.

I will have to take may gels earlier for the upcoming marathon and really battle my mental demons. Not having running buddies or a network of people supporting you is really tough, at least for me. I will go into Paris trying to stay positive and enjoy the race and city.

Gun Time -  2:57:45
Chip Time - 2:55:08
Place - 2863/7277
Gender - 993/3423
F35-39 - 172/25

What goes through your mind when racing?

How do you deal with those negative thoughts?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Manitoba Hemp Hearts Review and Giveaway

What are Hemp Hearts? 

Hemp hearts are the edible insides of hemp seeds. They have many health benefits because of their high and diverse nutritional content. They are packed with protein, contain omega 6 and omega 3 and fibre.  A 30 gram serving has 10 grams of protein and 10 grams of Omega 3 and 6.

Hemp hearts are lower in carbs than flax and chia; they are raw, vegan friendly and Non-GMO.  Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts are only grown in Canada and manufactured in their own hemp dedicated facility in Manitoba Manitoba Hemp Hearts which means there will be no cross contamination with any other products. 

They are super easy to eat as they do not need to ground up. You can sprinkle them on salads, yogurt, cereal,  savoury dishes like salmon and steaks, add them into smoothies, bake with them or just eat them as is. The options are endless. 

I found them to have a nutty flavour. The texture is soft and delicate with a slight crunch. I like to add them to my smoothies and when I'm in a rush I just sprinkle them onto my yogurt to give if a bit of crunch. My kids love them too. I put the hemp hearts into a shaker and they love to sprinkle them on their meals. It's a great way for them to get all the health benefits and they have fun. 

Coupon Code

Would you like to try some Hemp Hearts?  Until March 31, 2015, you can receive 20% off your order at using coupon code HHSweatPink215

Giveaway Time 

Manitoba Harvest has offered up one bag of their Hemp Hearts to one of my readers to win. Open to Canadian/US residents (No P.O Boxes)

To enter contest please.....

1. Follow @ManitobaHarvest on Instagram

2. Follow @ManitobaHarvest on Twitter

Bonus entries:

1. Follow @ainrunningland on Twitter

2. Follow @ainrunningland on Instagram 

And leave me a comment below telling me where you are following them, your Twitter or Instagram handle AND what's the first way you would try your Hemp Hearts.

Disclosure :  I was provided with this free product in exchange for my review and giveaway.  All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Coldest February Ever

February went by in a flash, but at the same time it seemed never ending. It was the coldest month of 2015 where cold alerts were plenty and not a single day of temperatures above freezing. This is what living in the Great White North really is like. Toronto has not seen weather this cold since 1978.

With weather like this, all you want to do is crawl up under a blanket and curl up by the fire. But, if you've registered for a marathon in the spring, it means that training must go on.

As much as LOVE running outside,  I have spent a lot of February on the treadmill. I have learned to love my treadmill. I used to joke about how much I hated it, but I'm very lucky to have one in my home. It is always there when I need it, I don't have to worry about browsicles or slipping on ice. With a little one at home it's always tough to squeeze all the training runs in. It would be crazy to attempt to push my toddler in the running stroller in below freezing temperatures and snow covered sidewalks. So, the treadmill has been my saving grace.  I admire all my fellow runners who run outside through all the adverse weather. I always catch myself planning my week according to the weather and seeing if and where I can run outside. 

I have been keeping up with the Insanity Max 30 workout which is quite fun and very challenging. I've gotten the whole family to do it with me. Check out my updates on Instagram. I am hoping that it will help build my core and make me a stronger runner. I am now into month 2 of the challenge and it's definitely INSANE!

My training has been all over the place because of the weather but I have tried to stick with mileage required. I am praying for some warmer weather in March and with Daylights saving coming up, there will be more daylight and hopefully some stroller runs instead on treadmill runs. 

How was your February? 

How do you deal with extreme weather and training ?

What upcoming races or events do you have in the horizon?

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