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: #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. 

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. 🙂

The easy part’s over…

So the easy part’s over.

I’ve done the paperwork and officially registered for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 18, 2015!

See you on Oct. 18, Toronto!

See you on Oct. 18, Toronto!

This is exciting for a number of reasons:

1. It’s not until October

I really love the idea of running marathons. Getting down to the business of training though? Not so much. Opting for a fall marathon instead of a spring one gives me some breathing room and allows me to extend my state of winter semi-hibernation just a little bit longer. It also means it’ll be more feasible to do my long training runs on the ground instead of the treadmill, better preparing me for real race conditions. Plus, I’ll be coming off a (hopefully) successful season of summertime running in some smaller local races so I’ll be primed and ready.

2. It’s a fast, flat course

If you go to the STWM website, that’s literally the first thing you’ll see at the top of the page: a boast that the race is fast, flat, and festive. Perfect for my first attempt at a sub-4:00 marathon. I’m not trying to test my lungs and legs on any heartbreak hills. I’m just trying to run fast(-ish)

3. It’s my first destination race

To date, I’ve always run in my own province, which has been awesome. It’s had me visiting nearby family, familiarizing myself with our running community, and earning some pretty sweet swag for completing all of New Brunswick’s major races.

A conversation with a Running Room salesperson a couple of months ago got me thinking though. I was looking at a new FuelBelt, and he was asking me what distances I run. I told him I’d probably be training for a marathon next, as I’d run the Fredericton Marathon last year and was looking to improve my time. We got talking and he recommended I look at running a big race.

“You’ll be with thousands of runners instead of just a few hundred,” he said. “You’ll never find yourself out there alone.”

The more I thought about it, the more this resonated with me. Ever watch Buzzfeed’s 8 Stages of Marathon Running?

#4: Isolation. That was me for a good chunk of my marathon last year.

It’s funny though. Even after that conversation, I put running a destination race out of my mind. It wasn’t practical, I thought. It’s too far away, too expensive, requires too much planning. Besides (and here’s the kicker) aren’t those big races just for “real” runners?

Because even though I’ve run a bunch of races, have a dozen or so medals and as many framed bibs hanging on my wall, there was still part of me that didn’t consider myself a “real” runner.

Well, screw that part of me.

I’m doing it. I’m making STWM 2015 happen.

The easy part’s over.