30 Good Things Before 30: #27 – The Naysayers

It’s the freakin’ weekend! Happy 4th to my American friends. Hope you’re all having a wonderful time.

Me? I’m here, north of the border, relaxing like it was my national holiday. Pretty much the only productive thing I got up to today was running a nice steady 3.5 miles.

Happy to say, I felt pretty well-rested after Thursday’s 10 km tempo run. And thank goodness for that because it was kind of a doozy.

30-good-things-before-30My training plan for running a 4-hour marathon says my pace for tempo runs should be 9:14/mile. Even when I include my warm-up and cool-down in Thursday’s run, I slaughtered that pace.

And that’s primarily because of #27 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


The Naysayers

When it comes to moral support in my running, I’m a darn lucky lady.

I have an amazing husband who tells me regularly how proud he is of my commitment to running — especially on those days when I’d rather do anything but. I have a mom, dad and brother who get up at ungodly hours on Sunday mornings to come watch me race. And I have extended family who always ask about my running and shower me with kind words of admiration.

I’m lucky. I know.

I guess that’s why it’s particularly jarring for me when I encounter someone of the opposite persuasion: a naysayer.

That’s what happened to me on Thursday. Our regular marathon clinic instructor was out-of-town so we had someone else fill in. We set out on our warm-up and he started asking about our goals.

I mentioned I was aiming for a sub-4:00 marathon this year.

“What did you run your last one in?” he asked.

“4:45-ish.”

“What about your last half?”

“2:07.”

“Yeah, realistically, you’re probably looking at 4:30.”

Say what?!?

I mean I get where he’s coming from. I’m familiar with the general notion that your marathon time will be your half-marathon time doubled, plus 10 minutes. I get that maybe it’s not a good idea to set someone up for failure if they’ve set an unrealistic goal.

But what he didn’t get about me is that I’ve been running my butt off. I’ve been working hard on my speed since that last half-marathon. And since my marathon training began, I’ve been consistently meeting and exceeding the prescribed training run paces for a 4-hour marathon.

And he’s gonna waltz into my clinic and tell me my goal isn’t realistic? C’mon!

I gotta thank him though, because after hearing his thoughts I ran the heck out of our tempo miles. I stayed at the front of the pack, pushed hard, told my tired legs to buck up, and ran faster than I knew I could.

Turns out a naysayer can be a good thing after all! For me, it was just the fire I needed lit under my bum to dig deep and find out what I’m really capable of. My dad suggested we invite him to come to my marathon in Toronto! 😉

How do you deal with the naysayers?

What motivates you more: positive supporters or pessimistic naysayers?

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30 Good Things Before 30: #26 – Trying to Walk After NYC Marathon video

Today is a rest day. A glorious, glorious rest day.

And boy, do I need it!

30-good-things-before-30I’m into Week 3 of marathon training and last night’s workout was a 10k tempo run. It was a hot day, I made the mistake of not bringing along water, but I killed it anyway. Pretty proud.

But now very tired. And hungry.

For those reasons, I’m very much into just relaxing for today. Which is why #26 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30 is perfect.


Trying to Walk After NYC Marathon video

I was scrolling through my FB timeline, trying to find some photos my husband had posted of our kitchen renovation when I came across this gem somewhere in 2014.

It’s a video, created by The New York Times, that shows marathoners on their way home after the 2014 New York City Marathon.

It had me crying with laughter after watching it. Twice.

Just makes me shake my head at what we runners put ourselves through, while simultaneously feeling a sense of pride to be part of that twisted bunch.

When I shared this on FB in 2014, I wrote: “I get it.”

Still do. 🙂

Do you look like this after a marathon?

What is your post-race routine? Something you love to drink, eat? Comfy shoes you have to immediately put on?

Are there any funny running-related videos you think are must-sees for runners? Links please!

30 Good Things Before 30: #24 – Foam Rollers

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks out there!

I wanted to mark the holiday with some Olympic-level sleeping in to make up for my very late night last night. Sadly, it was not to be.

I was awoken somewhere around 7 a.m. by the vibration of construction equipment outside. Unfortunately for me and for the workers who are putting in a sidewalk on our street, there are no holidays when it comes to summer roadwork.

I’d like to say I bounded out of bed, got my run out of the way early and then had the entire day to do with as I pleased, but that’s just not true.

It was only after much procrastinating, humming, hawing, and some flailing about in my workout clothes like a four-year-old having a tantrum, that I finally got around to completing my steady 5-mile run.

It’s Week 3 of my marathon training and I feel like fellow blogger hellyontherun had it totally correct this week when she wrote:

I feel like Weeks 3+ are when the real deal starts. Like, you’re excited and gung ho about training at the start but once you’re settled into a plan and the weeks go by, that’s when the discipline really starts happening.

30-good-things-before-30That’s exactly where I am.

It’s become clear that there are a few things I will need in order to survive marathon training unscathed: many, many Clif Shot Bloks, copious amounts of strawberry-banana smoothies, and #24 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30.


Foam Rollers

So the funny thing about my foam roller is that I actually bought it as a Christmas gift for my husband. He saw one while we were out shopping and said it was something he’d like to have as he’d used it in physio.

I took a mental note and went back a couple days later to pick it up.

Fast forward to my marathon training. My legs are starting to feel really tight and I’m trying to figure out how to work them out. Then I see this guy in the corner of my home gym:

Just a simple foam roller. Something similar here.

Just a simple foam roller. You can get a similar one here.

I searched YouTube for “foam rolling for runners,” clicked on the first video and that was it. Life changed forever.

Pretty much every runner I’ve talked to feels the same.

According to the experts at Runner’s World, the benefits of the foam roller are two-fold:

  1. It breaks up knots that can limit range of motion.
  2. It also improves circulation, which can help get you warmed up for a workout and speed up recovery afterward.

I generally just use mine to work out tight muscles. And it hurts so good.

Totally worth it though. A good roller session means my legs will not only feel a million times better but also way more prepared for the next run.

Anybody else in love with their foam roller?

What muscles do you target with your foam roller?

Ever give a Christmas gift to someone that you then ended up using yourself?

30 Good Things Before 30: #22 – Donation matching for the Canadian Cancer Society

As you probably know, I’m running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.

As you may also know, I’ve decided to run that marathon to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

30-good-things-before-30The idea is that I can balance out the self-involvement that comes along with marathon training by doing it for a good cause — one that’s affected my family and the families of many I hold dear.

Raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society is a good thing. And from now until Canada Day, it’s twice as good thanks to #22 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


Donation matching for the Canadian Cancer Society

Since I’ve started my fundraising, I get periodic emails updating me on my progress and giving me some tips to help in my efforts. This most recent email, however, held some extra good news!

With almost half of all Canadians developing cancer in their lifetime, the sad reality is that just about everyone has been affected by cancer in some way.

However, uniting in the face of adversity is a big part of who we are as Canadians – we stand up for each other! So in true Canadian spirit, a group of passionate and committed donors has come together to match all donations made before Canada Day.

That means any donations from now until July 1 will have double the impact! That’s twice as much money for research. Twice as much money to provide community-based support for people living with cancer and their families. The potential to save twice as many lives.

With just under four months to go, I am already at 73% of my fundraising goal thanks to the amazing generosity of my family and friends. With my 30th birthday coming up next week, the best gift I could ask for is to get to 100%.

If you’d like to make this happen and have been thinking about sponsoring me, now’s the time! Take advantage of this awesome donation matching opportunity and donate online here.

30 Good Things Before 30: #21 – Clif Shot Bloks

It’s Sunday. And I’m in marathon training mode.

You know what that means, don’t you?

It’s LSD day. (You know you’re a runner if you automatically translated that to long slow distance run and didn’t assume I was on some kind of psychedelic voyage.)

I’m in Week 2 of training and I wandered around all day yesterday thinking I had to run 10 km today. When I finally checked my plan this afternoon, however, I realized I was actually supposed to get an 8-miler on the books.

This was disappointing news.

Not that an 8-miler is that much longer or more difficult than a 10k. It’s just that I was up early yesterday and on the road for a family get-together and that I ran 4 very hilly miles on unforgiving concrete last evening and that I drank way too many coffees and not nearly enough water this morning and that I could barely keep my eyes open on the drive back home today.

But, so far, I’m at 100% adherence to my training plan and I didn’t want to break that streak so I suited up, laced up, and got ready to hit the treadmill (trying to do a couple of my weekly runs indoors to give my joints a break as they get used to this increased mileage).

30-good-things-before-30It was around this time, several hours post-brunch, that I realized I was kinda hungry. But having barely mustered the energy to tackle the run, I couldn’t stop to make something to eat.

Along came #21 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30 to the rescue:


Clif Shot Bloks

I was forced to begin toying with eating during runs when I embarked on my marathon training last winter. I’d received a couple of energy gels in swag bags at previous races so I started experimenting with them.

This did not go well.

I’m a texture girl. Consistency is important. No matter what flavour gel I tried, each one threatened to come back up every time I gulped it down. I just couldn’t get past the slimy goo sliding down my throat.

I don’t know why. It’s a mental block. But I knew I couldn’t be the only runner to feel that way.

For my first marathon, I was going at it alone. Google was my coach. So I turned to Coach Google for alternatives.

There I discovered there was a whole world of candy-like alternatives that could fuel my miles. I picked up a variety of options and quickly became hooked on these:

My two favourite flavours of Clif Shot Bloks

My two favourite flavours of Clif Shot Bloks: Citrus and Strawberry

Clif Shot Bloks are like gummy bears for endurance athletes. Each package contains six 33-calorie cubes that have a great chewy-but-not-too-chewy consistency with a sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavour. They’re my go-to on all my long training runs and on race day.

My mind also occasionally turns to my stash of Clif Shot Bloks longingly when I’m craving a sweet treat. They’re that good!

A Mountain Berry Clif Shot Blok

A Mountain Berry Clif Shot Blok

Today, I started popping a couple of Bloks two miles into my long run when my legs were already feeling like dead-weight. In minutes, they felt revived.

That’s why I love these things.

If gels gross you out but you need some good long distance fuel, check out Clif Shot Bloks. Also, I should mention that I have not received any kind of compensation from Clif Bar for this post. I just live off these things during marathon training–and occasionally when I just want a treat…

Do energy gels gross you out?

What are your favourite fuelling products for long runs?

What’s your tried-and-true strategy for consuming calories on long runs?

30 Good Things Before 30: #14 – Group Runs

It’s not quite 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning as I’m starting to write this. There’s not yet a stir from my husband or my furbaby. (My husband is making the most of the one day of the week he can sleep in; Kenzy is content having some company for her regular sleeping in routine.)

And me? Well, I’m just sitting back with a strawberry-banana smoothie, a cup of coffee, and a bottle of water (I think it’s best to have at least three beverages on the go at all times). I’m freshly showered, snug inside my office, watching tree branches wave under the rain.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.

Even better? My 10k long run is already done.

For me, that’s unheard of. When I have a long run on my training schedule, I always preface it with several hours of moping around the house, debating if I’ve had enough to eat or drink, wondering what I should wear, what I should listen to, and where I should go. The general rule of thumb is that I do this for approximately30-good-things-before-30 three times as long as it will take me to complete the actual run. Which means I’m always late getting out.

So what’s up with me today? No, I’m not suddenly some super-motivated version of myself. I can chalk it all up to #14 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:


Group Runs

Up until this week, I’ve been a lone wolf when it came to running. I’d run with a friend on the rare occasion, but 99.9% of the time, it was just me out there. Alone. With my thoughts. (And often zombies.)

I’d heard about running groups, knew that the Running Room offered free group runs a couple times a week, even met their little running posses on occasion when I was just a one-woman wolf-pack taking on the trails.

And while I always wondered what that would be like, thought it looked like fun, and figured it would be a great way to stay motivated, I held back because:

  1. What if no one talks to me?
  2. What if while they’re all ignoring me, they’re also all running way faster than me?

I ran my first group run on Thursday, the first night of my 18-week marathon training clinic. It. Was. Awesome!

First-ever group run!

First-ever group run!

Today, was my second group run, and guess what? Every. Bit. As. Awesome!

Second-ever group run

Second-ever group run

It’s funny how our minds can work in the face of uncertainty, coming up with worst case scenarios that, when examined under a logical lens, just don’t hold up. For example:

  1. “What if no one talks to me?” Really? Have you ever known runners as a group to be anything other than incredibly upbeat, supportive and friendly? Case in point, this smiling group from my local store’s Learn to Run spring clinic:
  2. “What if they’re all faster than me?” Within five minutes of us arriving for our first run on Thursday night, one of the ladies in the group asked “Are you guys fast?” To which we all simultaneously smiled and shook our heads. Everyone thinks they’re slow, regardless of their PRs! And even if you are the slowest one, so what? This article from Women’s Running sums it up well:

“Chances are there is always going to be someone faster than you. Fast is relative. I get it. You run 12 or 15 minutes per mile and are embarrassed to call yourself a runner because a lot of people are faster. Here’s a secret: ‘fast’ runners feel the same way.”

In my group runs, there were definitely a variety of speeds but no one ran alone. We’d find a buddy, match their pace, carry on a conversation and let the miles speed by. I’ve never ran a 10k that seemed so short!

My only regret about running with a group? That I didn’t start sooner.

So all you lone-wolf runners out there? Take it from me and give a group run a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.

The Fredericton Running Room has free group runs, open to anyone, on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. See you then!

30 Good Things Before 30: #11 – Birkenstocks

Happy Thursday, folks!

I’ll be trying to keep this brief because I’m in desperate need of a shower after just finishing my very first group run as part of a marathon training clinic at the local Running Room!

That’s right. Today was Day 1 of training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon! Eek!

Even though this will be my second marathon, I’m more nervous about it than my first. Probably because I know exactly what running 26.2 miles feels like (in my case, about three parts bone-crushing fatigue, one part pure joy).

Let’s face it, It’s a lot easier to be like “Sure, I’m going to run a marathon!” when you don’t understand how wonderfully brief a half-marathon is, when you’ve never been gazed upon with pity as you shuffled your way through mile 26, when you don’t know you’ll be walking like John Wayne for several days after.

I remember that post-marathon period vividly. The funny thing about running a marathon is that the world doesn’t really care that you ran a marathon. Life goes on. Work piles up. Chores must be done. Groceries must be bought. Dogs must be walked.

Two things got me through:30-good-things-before-30

  1. My husband who had painstakingly researched every detail of marathon recovery, which I had somehow totally neglected in favour of focusing every ounce of time and energy on training.
  2. The 11th thing on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:

Birkenstocks

You know what feels real good after 26.2 miles on your feet? These mothers:

Skinny jeans and Birkenstocks: This is how we do

Skinny jeans, Birkenstocks and skin so pale it actually glows in the sunlight

Birkies have been on my wishlist since my days as a poncho-clad university student playing hacky-sack at my small liberal arts school. When I’m not decked out in technical gear, I’m pretty much all earth tones, wool socks and granola. Basically, I fit the stereotype.

I am also extraordinarily cheap — er, thrifty — so the price tag on a pair of these German-crafted hippy shoes was a pretty big deterrent.

When I turned 26, my mom made my dream come true with my first pair of Birkenstocks. I’ve been wearing them ever since. For four years. And not just occasionally. Pretty much daily from May to September.

The treads are well-worn, the straps are just starting to hint at breaking away from the cork soles, but I expect to still get another season or two from them.

They really are the holy trinity of sandals: comfortable, durable, and — can you believe it? — fashionable!

I have it from an extremely reliable source (ahem, Vogue) that Birkies are actually now in style (although, it was Vogue circa 2013… does that still count?).

In fact, it’s part of a movement toward what The Loop calls “ugly-chic,” which has seen Birkie-inspired sandals on the runways in fashion shows for the past two years.

Ugly-chic. Wonder if that applies to ponchos too…

30 Good Things Before 30: #2 – RockMyRun

It’s a rainy, rainy day here in my neck of the woods and, if the forecast holds, it looks like it’s going to stay that way until Friday!

Rainy day rhubarb. (By the way, it looks like we're going to have quite a crop this year. Any good rhubarb recipes out there?)

Rainy day rhubarb. (By the way, it looks like we’re going to have quite a crop this year. Any good rhubarb recipes out there?)

I officially start my training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon next week so, in the mean time, I’m trying to up my mileage to make the transition a little less painful. And because it’s rainy and 30-good-things-before-30because there’s a slew of construction workers tackling a project just outside my door, I opted to hit the treadmill today instead of venturing outside.

Which reminded me of something I think is awesome so I’m making it #2 on my list of 30 Good Things Before 30:

RockMyRun

I’ve been using RockMyRun since way back. Downloads from its website have seen me through three iPods and one marathon and now, as a smartphone user about to start training for Marathon #2, the RockMyRun app is a go-to for me.

RockMyRun_Logo_Tagline

RockMyRun provides running mixes, designed by professional DJs, specifically for running. You can search by genre, BPM and length to find the perfect mix for your day’s workout or, if you’re like me, you can just check out their newest mixes and always find something fresh there.

Today, for instance, I started off my run watching Sons of Anarchy on my phone (still two seasons behind so no spoilers, please!). This kept me distracted for the first three-quarters of my workout. Come the final mile or so, I realized I needed a little less biker drama and a little more musical motivation to finish strong. I threw on the RockMyRun app, brought up their freshly pressed mixes and was pounding out the last bit of my run to DJ Chris B’s World on Fire mix in no time.

Three things I really love about RockMyRun:

  1. It’s free – Yes, you can pay for a “Rockstar” membership to get access to some longer mixes but they’ve also maintained an awesome selection of free mixes so there’s plenty to listen to even if you’re cheap…er, thrifty like me.
  2. It’s flexible – You can stream songs directly from the app or download them to listen to later if you’re running into spotty reception, want to save your data, or just want to run with your iPod instead of your phone.
  3. It’s varied – The mixes include old and new tunes from the likes of Katy Perry to Metallica to George Jones, perfect for someone like me who loves all of these artists equally. Sometimes I’m content to run with Bruno Mars, sometimes I need some AC/DC to kick my butt in gear. RockMyRun has ’em all.

If you could use some new tunes for your workout, check out Rock My Run. Also, I should mention that I have not received any kind of compensation from RockMyRun for this post. I just think they rock… my run… and feel like they could rock yours too. 

The PR that almost was: Fredericton Marathon 10k Race Recap

Sunday was the big day I’d been planning for since… well, since March 17 at least: the Fredericton Marathon 10k.

Because this race weekend happens in my hometown, I’ve participated a couple of times, completing the 5k in 2013 and my first full marathon last year. This year, my first Fredericton 10k race, was different in one very significant way: I was attempting to run for speed.

2013 Fredericton Marathon 5k

Crossing the finish line at the 2013 Fredericton Marathon 5k

My 2013 5k came less than a week after a mini health crisis. I had a bad reaction after donating blood that culminated in a loss of consciousness, some seizure activity, an evening in the hospital and several days of bed-rest. I was weak, barely walking let alone running. So I set a simple goal: cross the finish line.

And I did with a final chip time of 31:51. I remember very little about that day other than the satisfaction of just showing up, my slow cautious pace, and the relief that I survived it.

The next year, I trained all winter to run my first full marathon during the Fredericton race weekend. Again, I was in uncertain territory. The race would be the longest run of my life. My stomach was churning with nerves for days leading up to it. I could barely comprehend the idea of running 26.2 miles, let alone trying to do it with any kind of urgency. So again, I set one simple goal: cross the finish line.

First full marathon

Crossing the finish line at the 2014 Fredericton Marathon

And I did with a final chip time of 4:42:47. I remember everything about that day: the panic when the 5k, then the 10k, and finally the half-marathon runners veered off toward the finish line leaving me with so many more miles to cover; the feeling of lightness when I passed my family and read the signs they’d made for me; the mantra I found myself repeating when it seemed I might never finish at my glacial pace:

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

And of course, the tears in my eyes when I reached that final stretch toward the finish line (which are somehow still here a year later when I recall it).

But 2015? Well, the 2015 Fredericton race weekend was different because this year my goal wasn’t just to finish. It was to finish fast.

When I first signed up, I hoped to beat my PR of 53:02, set by a 23-year-old me six years ago. In the final week before the race, I added a couple more goals:

  • Floor Goal: 59:59.
  • Realistic Goal: 57:00.
  • Optimistic Goal: 53:00

When I showed up at the start line on Sunday morning, I was being an optimistic realist and hoping for something around 56:00. At the last minute, I decided to run blind, leaving all my running tech at home because I didn’t want to be discouraged if I fell behind my goal pace. This would turn out to be both a blessing and a curse.

My friend Fidele was in town to run with me. It was his first race and I relished every bit of getting him to the start line. A couple days before, we walked a few kilometers of the course and I explained what he’d see and hear as he approached the finish line. The day before, we picked up our race kits and laid out our gear, while peer pressuring each other to hydrate. The morning of, I introduced him to my go-to race day breakfast: a banana and almond butter wrap.

Finally, at about 7:30 on race day morning, Fidele and I, along with my long-suffering but much-loved cheer team (parents, husband, and brother) piled into a couple of vehicles and, after a bit of a struggle, found a couple of parking spots a couple of blocks away from the start line. Just a short walk to work the kinks out of our legs.

As we got closer and closer, we saw more and more runners streaming in the same direction. I felt the familiar pangs of inadequacy. On race day, every single race-bib-wearer seems to exude way more confidence and experience than me. I thought I would feel more like a “real runner” after completing a full, but until the gun goes off I still always feel like I’m playing pretend. (Wonder if that will ever go away?)

We made it to the start line with about 15 minutes to spare. Time enough for porta-potties (No lines! Amazing!), some snapshots and, of course, the pre-race jitters to get a firm grip.

Ready to run

Fidele and me ready to run

When it was time to line up, we spotted a 1-hour pace bunny in the crowd and decided to hang out near him. We both felt a 60-minute finish would be respectable and, if we happened to get out ahead, knowing where the bunny was would at least help us gauge our speed. We hung out for a bit, I tightened up the laces on one of my shoes (this will be relevant later), and then we were off!

It didn’t take long for the crowd to thin out. We were soon passing other runners and leaving the pace bunny behind as we found our stride. I was breathing heavy almost immediately, but felt comfortable running on fresh legs after several rest days and a welcome freedom at having no idea what my pace was.

The race begins with a loop downtown. There’s lots to look at, some cheering spectators, and by the time you get onto the walking trail for an out-and-back, you’re already several kilometers into the race.

Just before I made the turn onto the walking trail, however, I felt one of my shoes loosen and then, as I was looking down, watched it become totally untied. Cursing myself that I didn’t check on both shoes at the start line, I pulled over, tied it up tightly, and was on my way. This probably took, at most, 20 seconds (this will also be relevant later).

It was around this time that I heard someone say my name, assumed it couldn’t be for me, and almost missed my friend Amy cheering. I spotted her at the last minute, gave her a smile and a wave, and felt that familiar boost that can only come from people cheering you on.

(This, by the way, is why we pay money to run the same routes we could run for free any other day of the year. Any other day of the year, there’s no cheering. It’s worth the $40. Believe me.)

As I made my way across the walking bridge, things started to feel a bit laboured. Time to put into action a strategy I read about a few weeks ago (tried to find a link but can’t remember where it was):

  1. Set sights on a runner ahead of you.
  2. Focus just on overtaking them.
  3. Once you have, repeat steps 1 and 2.

This works wonders: the time passes quickly and it helps keep up your pace (even when you have no idea what that pace is).

In fact, I was having such a great time I breezed by the 6 km water station. By the time I made it to the turnaround (the prettiest pylon I ever did see), I was thinking that might have been a mistake. There was some definite gurgling in my tummy, and I vowed to grab some Gatorade on the way back, hoping some electrolytes might settle things down.

Then I saw Fidele on his way out, not far behind me, and gave him a high-five. A couple minutes after that, I spotted the 1-hour pace bunny and realized Fidele and I were both killing it.

Totally re-energized, I skipped the water station again. Very soon thereafter my leaden legs brought on a stirring of regret. This is when I called on a mantra I’d seen the night before:

The day will come when you can no longer run, but today is not that day.

Today is not that day. With a lot of grimacing and panting, I put one foot in front of the other at what I hoped was the same steady, somewhat challenging pace I’d been maintaining.

With about a kilometre to go, I overheard a runner just ahead of me say something that sounded like: “If we keep around this pace, we should come in between 52 and 54.”

Hold the phone. Did I hear that right? Could I actually be on track to potentially beat that longstanding PR of 53:02?

Unsure and with my tummy now gurgling ominously, I held on hard to the pace and pushed myself around the final bend to the finish line. When I finally came close enough to see the clock, it was ticking away somewhere around the 54-minute mark.

With no clue how much was on the clock when we crossed the start line, I gave it my all until I crossed the mat, smiling at my family as I passed them, focusing on overtaking one last target, and trying very, very hard not to throw up.

“Don’t throw up, don’t throw up, don’t throw up.”

Amazingly, when I checked my official chip time, it was 53:39–a mere 37 seconds shy of my PR.

If only I hadn’t had to stop to tie my shoe. If only I had been keeping track of my pace. If only…

Never the less, I was and am ecstatic to have run so much better than I expected. And it just goes to show that a new PR is totally within reach. Next time.

(By the way, Fidele absolutely killed his first race, coming in at 56:47. We’re already planning our next one. A day will come when we can no longer run, but today is not that day.)

Running for Karma

I’m the type to shy away from raising money for charity.

I think it’s because in my youth, I was a total joiner. I signed up for every damn team, club and committee. As such, I was constantly conducting bottle drives or bake sales and terrorizing the neighbourhood door-to-door peddling Girl Guide cookies or pestering for pledges.

I think it traumatized me.

That being said, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about giving back. My husband and I have worked hard and done well for ourselves. We have nutritious food on the table, a sturdy roof over our heads, and good health to pursue the activities we love. We still have a bounty of struggles and uncertainties, but on a global scale we’ve landed pretty firmly in a category of privilege.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about Karma (perhaps a hangover from my 21-Day-Meditation Experience): the idea that what you put out into the world, you get back.

This is an interesting concept as training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon begins surfacing on my horizon. The thing about marathon training is it requires incredible levels of self-involvement.

Weekends with the family are instantly reduced by half: Sundays are run-days. Half of the day is spent on a long run. The other half? Recovering. (Not to mention, a good chunk of Saturday is focused on nutrition and route-planning.)

Throughout the week, regular household duties (laundry, dishes, cooking, brushing your dog’s teeth) fall by the wayside as interval runs, cross training and hill repeats take over. You are constantly running, planning your next run, or hungry because of all the running.

So wouldn’t it be great if something good came out of this? Something beyond being a faster (hopefully), stronger (maybe) and hungrier (definitely) person?

That’s why I’ve decided to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to support the mission of the Canadian Cancer Society.

I chose this charity because we’ve all been touched by cancer. And if you haven’t? Well, the unfortunate truth is you probably will be. The latest stats say about 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. One in 4 will die from the disease.

The money I raise will help fund research that is improving cancer treatments, preventing cancer and saving lives; provide reliable and up-to-date information on cancer, risk reduction and treatment; offer vital community-based support services for people living with cancer and their families; and advocate for healthy public policies.

The Canadian Cancer Society has conveniently set me up with a fundraising page here. I’ve set a goal of $300 and got the ball rolling with a small donation. I hope you’ll consider supporting me as well.

Your reward? Instant good Karma. 🙂