JFR

Four ingredients for success

I recently wrote a post on Instagram about my four ingredients for success. I wanted to build on that and add some meat to the bones. When I am asked about how I got faster, there are many reasons why my body has adapted and become stronger {speed work, strength training, nutrition, mental strength}, but when it comes down to it, these four things have had the biggest impact. This can be applied to running but also in all areas of our lives. DREAM BIG.

You must believe in a dream so crazy that it scares you. This goal will light a fire deep within you. It will give you a reason to get out of bed in -20ºC at 5:00 am to train. For me that was Boston back when I was a 4:45+ marathoner. Qualifying for Boston seemed impossible, but there was a tiny voice in my head that asked, Why not you? I started to dream. I stated to plot. I started to think, Yeah! Why not me? I decided then and there I would one day qualify. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it - NEVER worry about the how-to at first - but I knew I was going to do it.

As you move the yardstick closer to achieving your goal, it's important to have stepping stones along the way. These stepping stones can be found daily if you look for them. Your ability to go faster, stronger, longer....

While the dream big goal is the driving force, if you don't have smaller wins along the way, I am afraid you'll miss out on the best part: the journey. As for me, there have certainly been highs and lows in this journey, but you know what? I’ve never once lost my faith that I will achieve this dream.

SHOW UP.

Consistency trumps perfection always. This means showing up when you don’t feel like it. This means doing the work even when it’s not perfect. This means working with what you have RIGHT NOW.

There are many days when we'd rather sleep in, watch Netflix, do anything BUT the thing that will get us closer to our goal. Why does that happen? We are so *fired up* one minute, and other minutes we are ready to throw in the towel and call it a day.

Know that you are NOT the only one who experiences these feelings. When these moments come, tell yourself all you have to do is show up. Somedays these workouts will turn out to be some of the best of your cycle, others will be garbage. That's ok. Your getting out there did more than sitting on the couch. And when that's not enough, there's always tomorrow.

WORK HARD.

"Stop wondering why you didn’t reach the goal you set out to achieve without doing the work required to get there."

Big goals, I don’t care who you are, do not come without hard work and they certainly do not happen over night. This means getting ugly and gritting through each and every tough workout. That 20 miler on the schedule? It’s there for a reason.

After 15 marathons and some time spent in the running community I can tell you that no one is an overnight success. Those people qualifying for Boston in their first marathon? This is not their first rodeo. They've likely been running for years and have equally put in the work. I used to focus on other people's journeys. What are "they" doing that I'm not? STOP. Comparison will get you no where. Put your head down and focus on your own journey.

DON’T QUIT.

Now above all, you can not quit. Trust the process. This journey may be months, it may be years. I won’t deny there aren’t times I wonder what I’m doing. Allow yourself those moments {they’re normal}, but whatever you do, do not quit. Keep moving relentlessly forward. Be open to change and learning from your mistakes.

This is all part of your story.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava. You can find my latest articles on Salty Running here.

Fail quick

It's Saturday morning and I'm sitting here fired up and reflecting on what went down in last week's half. Over the years I've had many a races that didn't go exactly as planned. Truth be told, last week I set out with the A goal to run a sub-1:40. I came up short by 3 minutes and 37 seconds. My B (sub 1:45) and C (run a steady strong race) goals were accomplished. I was on a high placing top 15 and 2nd in my age group. As someone who ran their first half marathon in 2007 in 2:45, back then I would have never thought I would be a "front of the pack" runner. I smile at this now. I also learned that my legs didn't bounce back as quick as I thought from being on my feet for 22+ hours the previous weekend, with very little sleep. I am OK with this (it was one of the best weekends of the year). These are my takeaways from that race.

Instead of dwelling on the negative, I'm fuelling my fire for my next half (I will undoubtedly need another one before Chicago), and of course the Chicago Marathon. I KNOW I have a sub 1:40 in me now. With the fitness that inevitably comes with summer training, I will achieve this goal.

Over the years I've experienced my fair share of "missed goals".  Whether that was my sub-4:00 marathon, my current quest to BQ, or my sub-2:00 half (that took me 4+ tries in 2011/12). Success is not determined by your wins, but by how you bounce back after a "failure". Growing up a ballet dancer, and a recovering type-A perfectionist, I have struggled with failure. I would let it eat me up. Running has helped me grow A LOT in this area (in all parts of my life). I now look at things much differently and EMBRACE FAILURE. I've stopped dwelling on the "what ifs" and "could haves". They do not serve me. They lead to overthinking and do very little in helping me move the yardstick closer to my goals.

You have to have PURPOSE in running. If it's strictly for the quantifiable goals (time, weight), sadly I am not certain the running journey will be a pleasant one. I run because it makes me strong mentally and physically and has changed my perspective on life (running can do that, you know). I see failure as a productive part of life. Onwards.

Show up.

Fail quick. 

Shake it off.

Learn the lesson. 

Get going. 

RACE RECAP: SHAMROCK MARATHON 2017

One week ago I ran my 15th marathon. Before I get into it, let me set the stage. If you know my story, you know that the marathon has been a journey for me. I ran my first 42.2K in 2008 at the Calgary Marathon and finished in 5:38. I didn't think much of that time, other than I had *actually* finished. As someone who grew up dancing, I would never have pictured myself a marathoner. Over the years, my relationship has running has evolved. I have goals and big dreams and those are what fuel my fire. Along the way, I have chiselled nearly 2 hours off my marathon time and have set my sights on Boston. I'm close, but I do not, for one second, take for granted the hard work that goes into moving the yard stick from my previous PR of 3:44 (November 2016) to the sub -3:35 it will take to get me to Boston. My goal going into the Shamrock Marathon was to move the yard stick closer. On the Friday of the race, my husband and I drove from Ottawa to Virginia Beach. We got to Virginia Beach around 8:00pm and dropped our stuff off at our AirBnB. We were tired but all was good. There were some rumblings that there was a storm that weekend, but mentally I would not entertain that. I couldn't. I knew it would impact my mental game that I have worked so hard on.

On Saturday we went to the expo and picked up my race kit. Fun! Everything was decked out in green and four leaf clovers. I bought some green 2xU calf socks and we left before lunch. My bib would be 350. I texted my Mom and she said "3+5+0=8. Eight is great." It was. I got this. I had packed most of my food for Friday and Saturday, so my fueling plan was going well. With away races, I like to control as much as possible, as I know there will be lots of new elements that I will have to be flexible with. Oatmeal, white rice, water, nuun, repeat.

I had given some thought to my race plan, but wasn't going to stress. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to pace the first half and then run like hell to hold onto my pace in the second half. Thankfully, with 14 marathons behind me, I have some knowledge of what this was going to feel like. I knew it was going to hurt. I knew it was going to be hard, but this is why I love the marathon. If it was easy, everyone would be doing them.

Race morning. 5:20 am. I wake up before my alarm. I hear rain outside, but don't think about it. I focus on my coffee, sipping my water and eating pre-race Picky Bar. I have no problem with the washroom (tmi) and I'm feeing good. I get dressed and watch my pre-race youtube clips. I'm in the zone and grateful for a husband who gets that. I'm quiet, not talking much. Preparing for what's about to go down. George drives me to about 300m from the start. It's 3ºC out. Funny, it was 16ºC yesterday. It's pouring rain. It will stop, it has to stop. I remember going to leave about 20 minutes before the start and George saying to me, "You sure you don't want to wait longer? It's pouring." I responded, "I'm going to be running a marathon in this. I don't see the sense in avoiding it now." It was my attempt to subtly tell Mother Nature I did't care about her today, this was my race. Out I go. I'm wearing a garbage bag, at least.

(0-10K) The race begins. I'm just behind the 3:35 pace bunny and I'm focused on not being swept away. I don't think much at this point other than being cold. I am so cold. I will warm up I tell myself. I try not to think about my feet. I feel like my feet are in two blocks of ice. My legs are feeling nice and fresh though, so I don't dwell. The rain is coming down and I'm regretting tossing that garbage bag. The race is fairly flat, at least. The course is bookended by two military bases. We head out to the first base where so many military members were out cheering. THANK YOU.  

Around 8K I think of Steve. Some of you may have known him, but he was a fellow Run Ottawa member that passed away that week. He was in his 50s. Far too early.  I first met Steve when we volunteered together in the Run Ottawa booth at Ottawa Marathon Race Weekend 2016. He told me all about his Running Room race clinics and I remember so many people coming up to him to say Hi. He clearly had made a positive impact on many. We exchanged funny race stories and he offered tips for the heat we would go on to experience in the Ottawa Marathon that weekend. While I only knew him briefly, he seemed like a great guy and a passionate runner. I think of him for a kilometre of two and know I will think of him again. For now, keep your head. We're running a marathon today.

5:12, 5:01, 5:00, 5:06, 4:55, 5:02, 5:05, 5:12, 5:07, 5:18

(11-21.1K) The rain is still coming down hard. The route makes a couple of turns and all of a sudden I am running right along the ocean into the wind. Physically, I am doing ok, but this wind and rain is starting to get to me. I take a quick side glance at the waves and realize they are huge. I commit to not looking at them again for the rest of the race. They tick me off. We are practically running single file on side walk to stay far away from the break wall and the waves. I am soaking and cold. I was only at the half and the knew the second half would be marching directly into the wind. Buckle up.

5:00, 5:06, 5:11, 5:12, 5:14, 5:16, 5:21, 5:23, 5:26, 5:43, 5:23

(22-32K) I see George just after the half. I wish I could put on a happier face for him. I grab his gloves and carry on. It was around 22K that it hits me that there rain has turned to sleet. That's why my face and legs sting. I'm annoyed. This is not where I had planned to be (mentally or physically) at the halfway mark. I know this is where the race begins and I'm struggling with the FACT that this is not the race I wanted. I know some races don't go your way. I know there are many things beyond your control, but this realization cuts deep. I see many of the half marathoners are on their way back to the finish and I know that my race has only just begun.

I start to bargain hard with myself around 24K. Negotiating with yourself in a race is something to be expected. The doubt demons will ALWAYS come out to play. It's just some days you are better at squashing those conversations than others; I firmly believe your ability to manage these conversations will determine your race outcome. I entertain a DNF for a few minutes and tell myself a hard NO. Shut that right down, girl. I battle between feeling weak and pathetic and telling myself WE ARE NOT QUITTING TODAY. After letting my race goals go, I told myself to JFR. No judgment here, Jayme. Just. Keep. Going.

With the added weight of the water, my shorts start to fall down. I need to get my gels out of the pocket, or I will be pulling these shorts up the rest of the way. At 30K I ask a female volunteer to help me. With a frozen face, I tell her my butt is showing. She says, "That's ok. We all have butt cracks," and kindly helps me get my gels out. We laugh. I think how awesome these volunteers are for standing out there in the rain. THANK YOU. 

5:36, 5:39, 5:52, 5:57, 7:07 (stop @ aid station), 5:41, 5:44, 6:14, 5:40, 6:01

(33-41K) We reach the second base, a naval base. I know we will be turning around to head home to the finish soon. Thank goodness. Get me off this ride. I run up beside a gal who seems to be trucking along pretty well. We run for a bit. She must of heard me either sniffle or laugh (or cry?) to myself because she says, "I've done 10 marathons and this is by far the worst conditions I've ever seen." We both say, "less than 8K (5miles) to go." You got this.

With less than 8K to go, everything in me wants to quit. I have never felt this defeated. Or maybe I have and this is just my most recent encounter with the feeling. I think of my Mom saying EIGHT IS GREAT and tell myself repeatedly to keep going. The wind has blown sand in my mouth. Lovely. By the grace of God, I manage to keep moving. I was on the brink many times in these last few kilometres. That's the thing about marathons, the 42.2K is an opportunity to show yourself what you're made of. I was heartbroken. All I wanted to do was cry, but I knew couldn't. I had to finish and knew that I would manage a sub-4 if I *just* kept moving. Easier said that done.

5:41 5:52 5:49 6:08 5:46 6:27 5:56 6:00 6:52 6:21

(42-42.2K) I feel everything all at once. I want to cry but at the same time I AM SO PROUD. I remind myself how long it took for me to achieve a sub-4 race, and here I was running in at 3:58 on a horrible day. I look for George and see him running along beside me. I love him so much. THANK YOU. I cross the finish and don't have words for what happened out there. I am so happy I finished this marathon. A volunteer hands me my medal and my finisher hat. I will wear this hat for years.

422/1354 Overall

124/607 Female

32/109 30-34

3:58:11

Cutting some slack

I am a routine oriented person, to a fault. I have a plan and I stick to it. Whether this is my morning routine, my running routine, or my general life routine: I am a creature of habit. This helps, as you can imagine, for marathon training. With expectations of running nearly every day of the week, it's important for me to have a game plan for getting sh*t done. I do what is necessary to make it all fit. Sometimes this can help me in my pursuit of #goalz, and in others it can hinder (e.g., running myself into the ground). I'm aware of this, at least. All that said, sometimes the plan needs to be adjusted. This is where I've had issues in the past. The type-A in me clung to "the plan" and hated to change course. Now, I won't go as far to say that I don't have any moments of freakout (I do), but I can say that after 14 marathons I'm better at managing my mind and body (often these two can be in disagreement + compete for your attention).

If you follow me on Instagram, you've likely seen me running in preparation for the Virginia Beach Shamrock Marathon (March 18). I am currently in the midst of peak training. This past week I experienced some significant-to-me fatigue. I went to the track on Tuesday night and my body felt heavy and my mind cloudy. I told my coach and we decided it was best if I took it easy that night. I can't say a small part of me was disappointed in myself, but I was overall confident this was the best move.

Reflecting on this past year, I have had a few moments where I've had to check myself. From my Achilles injury in the summer, to marathon training while planning my wedding, I've made a ton a progress in the "chill out" area. As I enter into Peak Week, I am grateful for everything in the past few months. Every treadmill kilometre, every snow covered run, every rest day. With six weeks to go, I know I am ready for my best forty two point FREAKING two.

I got this.

Let's go.

#IDOFORTYTWOPOINTTWO

How do you keep yourself in check?

Is this an area you need to work on?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava. You can find my latest articles on Salty Running here.

 

Why I don’t hate winter

As the middle of February approaches, the days are short and the treadmill runs are long. Was it just a few short months ago I was running outside in shorts? As easy as it is to dislike the many challenges of winter, as a runner I've come to enjoy this part of the year. It's a different season of running for me for many reasons.

Increased time on the treadmill 

In 2012 I moved into a building that had a great gym and a treadmill. I've never left. This little basement gym has been a saving grace and has played a big role in my last three spring marathons (Ottawa 2013, Toronto 2015, Ottawa 2016).

With my mornings starting at dark-o-clock, with temperatures -10ºC and below, I often rely on my treadmill for workouts. Not only does this eliminate the risk of icy footing, it allows me to hit paces that I would otherwise have difficulties running in the snow + ice conditions. It also allows me to hoover in high-weekly-mileage territory, with less impact on my legs. After my Achilles injury this summer, I've been paying extra attention to my body while running higher mileage weeks.

That said, the one challenge I do have is getting to the treadmill before anyone else. I know I know, this may sound selfish. But hey. We're marathon training here! And, let's be honest. It's really only one person I compete with (if you watch my instagram stories, you'll understand).

Mental strength 

Treadmill running can be a mental challenge. There’s no change in the scenery, and you're staring at the same place in the wall/out the window for unimaginable amounts of time. Last week, I actually felt a little fuzzy after staring out at the bright white snow for 2.5 hours (32K). Over the years, I’ve managed this by watching movies, listening to podcasts, playing with the speed/incline to keep things interesting.

I also do a lot of thinking on the mill. It’s hard to ignore that voice inside your head when you’re running in the same spot for hours. My thoughts wander from day-to-day things (what am I going to put in my post-run shake, what will I wear today), to deeper things depending on what’s going on at the time. Other times I tune out and JFR.

During these winter months, I am reminded how much progress I have made in the mental strength department. I wasn't always mentally strong. In my early running years, I frequently quit workouts or just plain ole wouldn't do them. Now, I frequently run for hours, often challenging myself with fast-for-me paces. I give a lot of credit to my ability to make my MIND RUN THE BODY.

Strength training 

In the summer I am more likely to spend time outdoors. Whether that's going for a long walk, or doing core work post-run, I find it harder to get myself down to the basement gym. This means I do less strength and cross-training! In the winter, I'm more likely to stay inside for my runs, leaving my conveniently close to the weights. I often do a 30 minute strength training routine post-run, or I'm more inclined to go downstairs for a workout on active rest days.

How do you use the winter months?

Do you run on the treadmill more in the winter?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava. You can find my latest articles on Salty Running here.

A letter to #MyFutureSelf

New Balance Canada has launched an initiative that gives runners an opportunity to write a letter to your future self about aspirations in sport and life. You can submit a letter to yourself here. In approximately one year, New Balance will send the letter back to you through a unique time capsule initiative. Make sure to include the hashtags #MyFutureSelf and #iRunMagazine for a chance to have your letter in an upcoming iRun edition! When I saw this initiative, I was intrigued. However, I didn't realize how much of an impact actually writing the letter would have. I highly encourage you to write one.

Here is my letter. 

Jayme,

Look how far you have come. In 2008 you ran your first marathon in 5:38. You were never going to do that again. Running was hard. Training was hard. Why do people do this? You carried on. Remember that feeling when you first broke 2:00 in the half marathon, and then 4:00 in the marathon. I want you to smile when you think about these milestone moments. They always seemed like an impossible hurdle at the time. Yet, you proved you could do it. Now you are training to qualify for Boston. You will get there. Never underestimate the power of a dream.

Look how far you have come. Running at one point in time used to be for a number on a scale. You hated your body and saw running as a way to punish yourself. You were chasing a perfection that could not be defined. Over time, running became more. Running turned into redemption, not punishment. Don’t EVER take the gift of running for granted. Be grateful daily.

Look how far you’ve come. You are in a good place. The demons that used to eat you inside are no longer in control. You still have to work on things (everyone does), but you are strong. Running is still hard, but the daily challenge is something you crave. See this letter as a reminder. A reminder that running has changed your life for the better. You are motivated to run because running makes you strong mentally and physically. You train hard, so that you know come race day You Are Ready. The early morning runs, the hours spent outdoors, never quitting. This is why you run.

#MyFutureSelf #iRunMagazine

-Yourself

Have you wrote a letter to your future self? 

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava.

 

You are entirely up to you

Unlike past marathons, I decided this time around I would incorporate a couple 36K long runs in my training for the Hamilton Marathon. The point in the marathon I've always struggled with is 32K and beyond. My thinking is that by training in these higher distances, my legs won't be as shocked when I get there come race day. My first 36K was on my schedule for Saturday. In the past year, my long run pace has ranged from 5:45-5:25, with only a few runs being on the fast end of that range. That said, I've been having many ah-ha! moments in my running these past few months, and deep down know that I can run faster. On Friday, I played around with my pace calculator. I wanted to see what a faster paced long run would feel like. I decided that 5:08-5:10 would be my target range.

Saturday morning, I woke up to a hot and humid forecast. 90 percent humidity and temperatures climbing aggressively with each hour. That's ok, I thought, I would be leaving the house before 7:00 am and stripped down to the least amount of clothing I could get away with. I decided not to carry water or bring my phone, and planned a route that would take me by multiple water fountains. My first 10K ranged from 5:17-5:06. I was aiming to run a bit slower, but my legs were feeling good.

I ran along the Rideau Canal, where the Ottawa Triathlon 2016 Canadian Championships were underway. I  cheered for athletes as they raced by and thought to myself how much I LOVE race days, even if they are not my own. I took a hammer gel around 12K and 25K and made perfect timing with passing a water fountain at those times. My second 10K ranged from 5:12-5:02. Body and mind feeling great. Playlist on point.

I looped around the Rideau Canal twice. I decided that running alongside a triathlon race was better scenery then the out and back I had planned into New Edinburgh. Lucky for me, I ran into a few of my teammates and ran the last 10K with them. Final 10K ranged from 5:26-4:50, with the final 3K being 5:15, 5:08, 4:50.

Saturday's long run was a huge milestone for me. I proved to myself that I could run long distances at a faster pace, and to be honest, I felt like I could have kept going. While I'm pleased that my body held up, what is more important is that I proved to myself that I am capable. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BINQ0dMDPuB/?taken-by=thepacinglife

 

What ah-ha moments have you had lately? 

Do you run your long runs slow-er or fast-er? 

Check out my recent posts in Salty Running:

Five reasons to run with faster runners

Training log for the week of July 17th

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running MagazineHave a suggestion for a runner profileLet me know!

Turn it around

Whether it’s a training run or a race, there will be times that you want to stop. I’ve encountered these moments many times along the way. For example, last Saturday, as I was running through downtown Montreal to complete my 27k, I started to feel blah. My legs were tired, and my mind momentarily started to spiral. In that moment, I decided I was not going to let this moment of doubt define the run and told myself to TURN IT AROUND.

After thousands of kilometres and hundreds of runs of various purposes, speeds and distances, I’ve learned a thing or two about the mental game. I can’t say I was always great at the mental side of things, nor will I claim to have nailed it, but now I have a better idea of what is needed to turn things around. These are some of the things that go through my mind when the going gets tough.

This too shall pass. Like the old adage, run the mile you’re in, I tell myself that I’ll feel better by the next kilometre. 95 percent of the time I do. Sometimes I give myself a few moments to back off, but rarely allow myself to quit completely. Have confidence that it will be a great run.

I do hard things. There are other times where the moments of doubt don’t pass. It is those times that are even more important to run through. I repeat to myself that I do hard things and that these are the times that will make me a stronger runner. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Run through it. There are other times that I literally picture myself running through the negative thoughts or feelings. While it's easy to say mind>matter, its another to do just that. I've worked a lot on this area and use the idea of running through (or over) a brick wall as a mental strategy. Remember, the brick walls are there for a reason.

words
I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagram and Strava. Check out my running story in Canadian Running Magazine.

Why I Run

I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal running story and why I run. I wasn't always a runner. No, in fact I grew up in ballet and never really participated in sports. After growing out of ballet, it was hard for me to find my thing. I tried a few activities, but never really found my groove. I went off to university and battled to keep weight off and stay in shape. Without having a sport to call my own, this was handled by dieting and hours on the elliptical. I wasn't motivated and, looking back on it now, I wasn't in a good place mentally. I remember in third year, my Mom, who is an avid runner herself, encouraged me to run. Knowing that motivation would be limited to begin with, she proposed that we run the 2007 Disney World Half Marathon. While my training was pretty limited, it helped knowing that I was registered for a race. I had run one 10k race before that, on a whim, and thought I would wing the half marathon. Training consisted of max 10 runs, with my longest run *maybe* being 16km.  I finished my first half marathon in 2 hours and 45 minutes. It wasn't pretty.

I did, however, finish. It sparked something inside of me. And while that spark was dim at first, over time I found myself running more. Now, let me pause here and say that I never was what I consider to be *fast*. Most of my runs were in the 6:45-7:00/km range. I occasionally registered for races, and mildly trained for them. In the early years of my running, it was primarily about staying in shape. Races were just a nice bonus and a way to see different cities. I ran my first marathon in 2008 in Calgary in 5 hours and 38 minutes. It hurt, but it felt great to say I had run a marathon! A few months after that, my family ran the New York City Marathon together. I finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes. It was so much fun to experience this race together.

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Over the years, I've continued to run. I've completed 13marathons and 14 half marathons, chiseling 1 hour and 40 mins of my marathon (PB 3:57 3:55) and 1 hour off my half marathon (PB 1:43 1:41), with multiple 30km races. I've learned a lot from running, and now take training quite seriously. Running is no longer just about staying in shape. Sure, I feel way better when I'm training, but I don't run for a number on a scale.

IMG_3592-2

I've had a few disappointments with running along the way. After reaching the 4 hour marathon mark, like many others, I decided I would embark on chasing my Boston Qualifying time. I made the mistake, however, of thinking that BQ'ing was all that mattered. In 2013, I trained incredibly hard and saw some positive results at half marathons in the lead up to my spring marathon. In May 2013, I ran the Ottawa Marathon with the goal of BQ'ing. I finished in 4:02 and was devastated. I thought I had it in me, but the pressure and personal expectations I placed on myself were counterproductive. After Ottawa, I ran two more marathons in a matter of four months. Neither of them sub-4 hours. Exhausted (both mentally and physically), I hung up my running shoes for a year. I tried other things, like cross-fit, and while I enjoyed the workouts, I never got the same "high".

In 2015, I decided to give the marathon another whirl. But this time, it wasn't about Boston. No, it was about rediscovering the strength running gives me. With that attitude, I've since PR'd at the Hamilton Marathon (3:57) in 2015, and the 2016 Ottawa Marathon (3:55).

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Training is no longer about the end goal of BQing, or some number on a scale. But rather, enjoying the process and embracing the daily challenge running provides me with. Running has changed my life for the better. I am motivated to run because running makes me strong mentally and physically. I train hard, so that I know come race day I am ready. Chasing my PB drives me and ultimately knowing that Boston Qualifying doesn't happen over night. The early morning runs, the hours spent outdoors, never quitting. This is why I run.

Note to self

I went out earlier this week for an easy 10km. It was Labour Day, so I left the house later than usual. This meant the temperatures were around 32ºC. I took it slow to start, but I could tell from the moment I left it was going to be a tough run. There was no breeze, so I could physically feel a blanket of heat wrapped around me. For a split second, I wished it wasn't so hot. Wait. I take it back! For those of you not familiar with Canadian winters, we spend the better part of the year running in multi-layers of clothing or on the treadmill. Most of my runs from December to March are either looking out a window, or working the first 5kms to warm up and dethaw my toes (which freeze as soon as I step outside). I wish I was being dramatic.

snow

On my run this morning, drenched through my shirt as if it had just rain, I reminded myself that I wish for THIS 3/4 of the year. So, here's my note to self: enjoy the moment you're in.

I've been focusing on savouring these last days of summer. I've been appreciating the heat, because I know how good it will feel on race day with the cooler temperatures.

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In the countdown to Army Run (10 days!), here are some interesting reads I thought I'd share:

  • Why you might struggle to hold your goal marathon pace during long runs.
  • Canada's most patriotic race.
  • Great work makes us uncomfortable.
  • This recipe. I've made it 4 times in the past month.

JFR

I wasn't always a morning runner.  I'm not sure when that all changed, but overtime I found myself doing the majority of my runs before the sun comes up. Those runs define my running journey. Mornings have become my me time. Before I head out for a run, I drink coffee and read the internets. It gives me a moment to wake up and mentally get myself in the right headspace. It works most of the time. However, there are some mornings where my mind doesn't get on board. Go back to bed. Do the workout later. This run isn't that important. You'll never qualify for Boston. I lace up anyways, and count on the familiar routes to get me through.

Earlier this week, I had an easy 15km on the books. I wasn't overthinking it. These longer weekday runs have become the norm in this training cycle. However, I was running on little sleep (blame the cat) and just didn't have that usual pep in my step on the way out.

I decided to take a different route along the Rideau Canal. The sky was crystal clear, and the moon followed me along the way. As I was nearing my 7.5km turn around, a fellow runner pointed up to motion that the moon was still out. It was one of those moments that made me smile. We were both experiencing that beautiful morning because we run. As I ran back, the sun started to come out.

Not every run starts out perfect. As with most things, sometimes you embrace the suck. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. As one of my favourites put it, JFR.

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