Races

2017 Ottawa Marathon

Dear Ottawa Marathoners, You're here. You've made it. We are so happy to have you in town. We know it's a big year for Canada, and that's why this is one of the best years to run Canada's largest marathon weekend. By now you've taken a look at the route, you will see the many sites you'll pass on your 42.2K journey this Sunday.

7:00 am will come quickly and all of a sudden you'll be running up the start chute past the National War Memorial. After a few quick turns, you'll nestle into the first 5K by running along the Rideau Canal. Did you know it's the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America? In fact, in 2007, the Rideau Canal was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As an Ottawa based runner, I've logged a few hundred kilometres along this stretch. It never gets old.

As you carry on along the Rideau Canal towards Dows Lake, you'll have cheers from the Glebe, Preston Street and then Wellington West and Westboro Village! We have the BEST community support. I had a chance to run with Jeff Leiper, the councillor for Kitchissippi Ward, along Wellington Street. It's safe to say they are excited to see you around 8-10K!

You will carry on from Wellington onto Richmond Road, where you will turn onto Athlone Street. This side street always has a great crew out cheering. An unconfirmed rumour is that there is a house who makes pancakes for the cheer squad that is out there bright and early for the marathoners. Regardless, you're likely feeling good at this portion of the race. With the crowds along Wellington, I hope you're on a high (that's why we do this after all).

You will then turn into Tunney's Pasture and head down to Sir John A. Parkway. You'll run a few kilometres out and back along this stretch. This is a good time to put your speed into cruise control. Take in the view of the Ottawa River as you come back towards the city and past Canada's War Museum. Sponge stations will be located at 16K, 25K  and 36K. H2O and nuun hydration stations are set up every 3K for the Marathon.

You will then travel over Chaudiere Bridge into Gatineau, Quebec. I always think it's cool that we get to run a race that crosses two provinces. Fun Canada 150 fact, Ontario and Quebec are two of the four provinces to first join Confederation in 1867. As you run through Gatineau, you will experience some of the best crowd support and catch a glimpse of Gatineau Park. You will also hit the HALFWAY mark.

For those of you from out of town, Gatineau was recently hit with some of the worst flooding in years, with many homes devastated. With 45% of Tamarack Race Weekend participants coming from Quebec, this tragedy is very close to home. We are grateful for all the community support during this time.

As you progress from the halfway point, I find something changes in the race. A sense that this is where the real race begins. You've hung on for 21+ kilometres, and now will begin to test yourself as you make your way through the final 21K. Don't let your mind get ahead of you. Run the kilometre you're in.

Just before the Alexandra Bridge, you will find yourself in the midst of one of the loudest cheering and aid stations. They're cheering for you. To your right will the Canada's Museum of History. Pro-tip: The best photo spot to have Parliament in your backdrop is behind the museum.

As you're crossing the Alexandra Bridge, take a moment to breathe it all in. You are running a marathon today, and OMG look at this view. It really doesn't get any better than this. When things get tough, smile. You're about to head into one of the wildest cheering stations in the entire race. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

You will pass through the screaming crows at the National Art Gallery and likely get chills. I remember running through this stretch last year and feeling overwhelmed with emotion. It was a hot day out there, but man was I happy to be running 42.2K that day. THANK YOU to every single person who comes out to cheer runners on. Your words of encouragement, your cowbells, your signs, your sticky high fives mean the world.

You will then run along Sussex pass the Royal Canadian Mint, run along the Trans Canada Trail, and past 24 Sussex and Rideau Hall. You will see portions of this stretch again one your way back, but let's not think about that for now. You have 28-36K to run. Put your head down and keep moving (ideally towards the finish). You will have entertainment, water and sponge stations to support you. If the voice in your head gets the best of you, holler at one of the members of the Extra Mile Crew to run with you for a bit. Before you know it, you will be running along Beechwood, back up towards Sussex.

As you head back to the finish, you will start to see the crowds lining the streets grow. Feed off their energy. This is what you've been training for. You will pass the Byward Market, the Shaw Centre and complete your last few kilometres along the Rideau Canal. Does this look familiar? It should. You can see the finish from across the Canal and hear the crowds cheering. In minutes you will be running along Queen Elizabeth towards the finish.

https://twitter.com/OttawaMarathon/status/860172159313989632

As for me, this year I will be out volunteering at the start and on the course (literally) all weekend. If you see me, please say hi! If you're running, HAVE A GREAT RACE.

-Jayme

Are you running Ottawa Race Weekend?

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.

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

Race recap: Winterman Half Marathon 2017

A few weeks ago I ran my 15th half marathon, on a whim. On the Friday of Winterman, my Mom, who was going to be in town that weekend, texted me to see if I wanted to do the race. I would do the half-marathon and she would do the full (her 50th marathon, I should add). It was admittedly the first time I entered a race last minute. I had unfinished business at this race after being pulled off in 2014 due to a frost bite scare. The forecast was looking great and in the back of my head, I knew I would get a mental boost from running a race. Normally I build a half-marathon into my marathon trying cycles, but given that Shamrock Marathon is in March, there are limited half-marathons in the lead up. Whereas with later spring marathons, take your pick of X, Y, Z, March-April races to use as trainers.Now if we back it up a bit, I wasn’t having a great training week up until my Mom’s text. I was feeling sluggish, and had decided to take a few days off. In fact, I was on the fence if I would even do a long run that week. As much as I love marathon training, that’s one of the downsides of being in (nearly) continuously training-mode. You run the risk of feeling over trained and unmotivated; I’ve accepted that this is a very normal part of the process and don’t beat myself up *too much* for having these thoughts.

The Winterman race is a long standing event that runs annually in February. For the past few years the temperatures have been -20ºC, or colder. In fact, last year the event was cancelled. The event begins at the Canadian War Museum and does an out and back loop along the Sir John A. Parkway. In theory, this is a great training race. The route includes two hills that runners hit four times per loop, and is run almost primarily on the road. There is about a 500m loop on the sidewalk at the War Museum. That said, it has historically been known to be covered in snow, salt and ice. To be expected with a name like Winterman, I suppose.

Race Day. We missed the race registration online, so we sent my Dad over to register us at 6:30AM on the morning of. I really do have the best Dad. I was sitting on the couch drinking coffee when he came back to with our bibs and ankle chips. Ok, so this is really happening. While I wasn’t planning for this to be a PB race, I expected a 1:4x, preferably on the lower side. The day before the race we were in Montreal visiting my sister and brother-in-law and were walking around downtown all day. Seeing that this was not a race I was planning for, I didn’t fuss with my normal pre-race routines. I’ll JFR, was the plan.

I live conveniently close to the start, so Mom and I walked over 28 minutes before the start. It was a beautiful day and I was truly happy I decided to run this race. After running the majority of my long runs on the treadmill, I was desperate to remind these legs that we gearing up to run fast outside. The goal is the Shamrock Marathon, after all.

The race begins. Wow this crowd is moving fast. I quickly realize that the vast majority of the participants were running a 5K or a relay. Just like in a marathon, the course always clears out once the 5-10K'ers are gone. As always, I repeat not to get ahead of myself. I encounter the first of the rolling hills and I am reminded of how many times I’ve run this stretch before. Today I will be running it 8 times (4 loops, out and back). Oh joy. UP AND OVER.

4:58, 4:53, 4:45, 4:54, 4:45

It would be great to be in top 5, I think. Then remind myself that this is a training run, no pressure today. Keep your head. I take a Hammer Gel around 10K. I’ve been using GenUCan lots in my training, but I’ve decided that gels are easier to use on the race course. I used this race as a practice run for my stomach. Thankfully, no issues!

4:49, 4:57, 4:57, 4:46, 5:01

After the second loop, I tell myself we are on the penultimate loop. I smile thinking of my coach saying this to us as we run around the track. I know that this is the point in the race/workout that matters. Over the years this is one area that I’m proud of. I often use the second half of a race or hard work out to prove to myself how badly I want it. That said, this doesn’t make the running part easier, especially with these darn hills. I clear my mind and tell myself we are in the home stretch. I see my mom and a few familiar faces and give a thumbs up. This gives me a boost (it always does).

4:56, 5:00, 5:16, 4:58, 5:01

Alright. Last loop. I’m feeling good and almost giddy thinking that my long run is ONLY 21.1K. This is what marathon training does to you (we are a crazy bunch). I know that next week I have a 36K ahead of me. As I run the final kilometre, I am reminded why I love racing. I love the final push of a race where your mind truly does run the body. As a peel around the corner, I see my Dad and our dog Tucker standing there. While it wasn’t a PB, this was a great run.

4:47, 5:09, 5:10, 5:06, 5:00, 4:42

1:44:35

18/100 overall

3/43 females

1/6 F30-34

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQvcA_jhY9R/?taken-by=thepacinglife

Have you run a last minute race? 

Did you run a race this 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.

2016.

I sit here writing my 2016 recap with a full heart. 2016 was a special year. For many reasons. Some that I will share and others that do not require recognition on my blog. From running to my personal and business life, we covered a lot of ground this year. I will try to keep this concise {but can't promise anything}. I do. September 24, 2016, will forever be the best day ever. Our wedding took place in Ottawa on a perfect fall day. We had so many family and friends (including many in our bridal party) travel great lengths to celebrate our special day with us. From the morning 5K run with one of my bridesmaids, to getting ready with my crew (who made me feel so beautiful), to the ceremony at our Church, the photos with the talented Amanda Urbanski, the flowers (and much more) from Blue Thistle Florist, to the reception, dinner and dance party with our nearest + dearest family and friends at Mill Street, everything was perfect. This day is a big part of why 2016 was so special. ♡

Trip of a lifetime. We left for our honeymoon the day after our wedding. We flew to Rome from Ottawa and spent four days exploring the city. We then boarded a ship in Civitavecchia, that sailed from southern Italy, to Greece, to Turkey and back. We saw and experienced so much on that trip. Our day in Kuşadası, Turkey was one of my favourite days of the year.

In Ephesus, Turkey

Athens, Greece, with the Acropolis in the background

Two more marathons. I ran my 13th and 14th marathons this year: the Ottawa Marathon (recap) in May; and the Hamilton Marathon (recap) in November. I learned and grew a whole lot while training for these races. Despite an achilles issue in the summer (a huge thank you to my teammate and physiotherapist, Joey, for helping me through that injury), I shaved 13 minutes off my marathon time in 2016 + I'm that much closer to Boston.

The difference between 2015 and 2016 for my running really boils down to one thing: confidence. Thanks to my running coaches (Ken + OAC Racing Team and Lindsey), I have matured as a runner and know what I can expect from myself. I no longer define my training and race plans with what ifs. I look back on the 3,157 kilometres that I ran in 2016 and know that I showed up in running this year. I now run easy runs faster than what my tempo runs used to be. And to think that used to be "impossible"...

As part of joining the OAC Racing Team in the spring, the 2016 Ottawa Marathon's Team Awesome, and connecting through social media with runners from all over the globe (some turned "real life" friends!), I am so grateful for the running community and am reminded daily as to why this sport means so much to me.

With Mom + Dad after qualifying for Chicago at the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon

More distance covered with friends

Workouts down by the river with the OAC Racing Team

Emilie's Run with the OAC Racing Team

More treadmill kilometres

Coaching business. I am a firm believer that if you have a burning desire to do something, you should do just that. A year or so ago I started thinking about starting my own coaching business. This year I have taken steps to realize that goal, including getting my coaching certification through the North American Academy for Sport Fitness Professionals. I am looking forward to formally launching my business in Spring 2017, and am literally bursting with excitement for the possibilities. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be lots of action on this front in 2017. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I would love to connect with you on Facebook! Like The Pacing Life's page here.

Run Ottawa Board of Directors. As an active member of the Ottawa running community, including my involvement with Run Ottawa in 2015 and 2016, I decided to seek nomination to the Run Ottawa Board of Directors. As of November, I am very pleased to be serving as a two-year Board member and look forward to being a part the continued success and growth of the Run Ottawa events and run club.

Run Ottawa Board of Directors

 

Salty Running. I joined the Salty Running team! Salty Running covers all things running and is focused on female runners who have big dreams. Our readers are people who are serious about their running and I am honoured to work with the talented group of ladies behind the site. As the first Canadian contributor on the site, I naturally chose Maple as my online persona. You can see my introduction here and my first article on Lanni Marchant.

Collect memories, not things. 2016 was also full of many mementos from time spent with friends, including trips to DC and Montreal. As I get older, I am more and more grateful for my people. The lazy mornings, the late nights, the LOLs - I couldn't do life without you.

Fun nights with good friends

In D.C., with two of my favourite people

In Montreal at the Atwater Market in spring

The best sister in the world {and my Maid of Honour}

Wishing you all the best in 2017! ♡

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

Road2Hope Marathon 2016 Race Report (Part II)

Read Part I of my Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon recap here. (22-27K) After the half, I knew the famous Road2Hope downhill was just around the corner. I took my second gel and some water. Found my favourite song and knew that there was time to be won on this portion of the race. I momentarily thought about time goals, as I was so afraid of getting excited about a time too early on. Experience is the best teacher I know in the marathon. My head was surprisingly clear. I was on a mission. I will never complain about a downhill, but I will say there is some strategy required. The grade of the road, for example, is incredibly slanted. This meant that with every curve in the road, it was best to run down to the flat shoulder surface of the road. (5:06, 5:00, 5:19, 5:10, 5:16, 5:24)

(28-34K) Coming off the ramp at Barton St. I knew I was two-thirds of the way there and would soon be seeing my parents again along Beach Boulevard. I took my third gel and noticed how many people I was passing, many walking. I briefly thought about how many times I let myself give up and quickly told myself to STOP. We are NOT having that conversation today. Again, I briefly indulged myself in a time goal and decided it would be great if I could go sub-3:45, to give me the Chicago option. I would allow myself to revisit the goal around 34K. For now, keep your head. (5:38, 5:38, 5:26, 5:22, 5:21, 5:16, 5:34)

Now for one of my favourite moments of the race. As I was coming off one of the pedestrian bridges, I wished I had an extra gel. I had four on board, but realized I could use a fifth. Jeeze, Mom even offered to bring an extra one, I thought. Just then, I saw an unopened Espresso Love GU on the ground in front of me. No freakin’ way. God, is that you? I bent down and scooped that gel up so quick, only briefly thinking of the poor soul who dropped it. I held onto it for dear life, while taking my fourth gel early, knowing I now had an extra one.

img_9870

(35K) Around 35K the pesky 3:45 bunny snuck back up on me. I knew I had a buffer for the last 8K, to still come sub-3:45, but I would have to hang on. The difference between a decent or noteworthy marathon time is determined in the last 6-8K. I decided then and there that this would be a BREAKTHROUGH marathon for me. I was sooooo sick of knocking 1-2 minutes off, knowing that I had at least 20 minutes to go before my BQ was in reach. Pull it together, Jayme. You can rest later. (5:22)

(36-39K) I hung onto the 3:45 bunny for as long as I could. My legs were trying to quit, as if they had a say, but my mind was yelling louder. NO REGRETS, I chanted. I had built such a thick wall up in my mind that I barely heard the doubt demons knock. I knew they were there and would take advantage of any sign of weakness. Knowing that my average pace needed to stay under 5:20, I kept looking at my watch. My average pace was 5:15 and ticked up to 5:16 then 5:17. Crap. I saw my Mom at 39K. Oh my goodness I was grateful for her words of encouragement. YOU GOT THIS GIRL. (5:29, 5:47, 5:31, 5:45)

(40-42.2K) 2,000 meters and you’re there. I had nothing left in my head. It was a race between me and the clock. As I ran around the bend and up the finisher chute I knew I had given it my all. But was it enough? 3:45:10 on the clock. I was delirious. (5:37, 5:35, 4:57)

After crossing the finish line I saw my Dad and told him there was a strong possibility that I came in under 3:45, but I’ll need to see my chip time. We anxiously waited for the sheets on the wall to be updated. 3:44:55. all. the. feelings. I couldn’t help but cry. This 11 minute PB was breakthrough I needed.

img_9914

img_9845

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

Road2Hope Marathon 2016 Race Report (Part I)

In the lead up to the Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon, I didn’t think much about my time goal. I’ve been there too many times. Overthinking things is not productive, for me at least. Despite my Achilles injury this summer, and the two weeks off-ish during our wedding and honeymoon, I knew that I was more than ready for a breakthrough PB. By how much was the question. To understand where I was mentally, it’s worthwhile telling you where I’ve been at these past few months. I was fed up (and fired up) after finishing the Ottawa Marathon. Finishing in 3:55 did not represent my training. It was hot, I know, but its hard to convince a determined marathoner that the race was “out of my control”. In training for Hamilton, I knew I had a 3:45 in me. Heck, I think there’s a BQ in there too.

I arrived at my parents place in Niagara on Friday evening. I stayed there for the weekend, as Hamilton is close by. Saturday morning I went for a 4K shakeout run, as I normally do. I didn’t realize how much I wanted this race to go well until I started tearing up while I was out there. So many things raced through my mind. The people who have played a role and supported me in getting here, the work I have put in this past year (and the years leading up to this), and how FED UP I was with having another “it wasn’t the race I wanted” marathon. I made a pact with myself that Sunday would be a No Regrets race. Let’s go.

img_9831

The rest of Saturday was low-key, filled with lots of carbs, water and Nuun. In previous races I’ve shyed away from *too many* carbs in fear of feeling bloated and gross, and then only to feel empty by 25K. This time I kicked my carbs way up and limited the fat and protein in my diet. Glycogen depletion, I got your number. I was in bed by 8:00pm. My mind had started to race and I knew I would be up early, despite the clocks falling back an hour. I set my alarm for 4:40am and let myself picture a few kilometres of the race before falling asleep. Others count sheep, I guess.

Sunday morning I got up, had my coffee and Picky Bar. I was anxious, but in a good way. It was a perfect day outside, with a low of 4ºC with a high of 11ºC; sunny, with a bit of cloud cover. Frig, I thought. This is the race day I’ve been chasing. We left the house around 6:15am and arrived at the Road2Hope Marathon start around 7:10am. Just enough time for me to wait in line for the port-o-potty (ick) and get to the start. My parents and I had agreed on the spots they’d cheer.

(1-5K) Go-time. Given my last minute jump into the corral (re: toilet), I started the race behind the 3:55 bunny. I didn’t plan to run with a bunny, but would use them as markers along the way. My plan was to race a conservative first half. I managed to pass the 3:55 bunny and caught up with the 3:45 around 5K. (5:11, 5:05, 5:13, 5:10, 5:08)

(6-12K) I settled into my pace and militantly told myself to stay there. I talk to myself a lot on runs and races. I could tell early on that I was in a good place at how calm and confident I was. These paces didn’t scare me. In fact, they felt very easy. More times than I’d like to admit, I allow my mind to get anxious and I start to doubt myself way too early on. This was not going to be that day. I saw my parents around 12K and handed off my gloves.  (5:11, 5:03, 5:20, 5:05, 5:21, 5:11, 5:14)

(13-21K) Around 15K I decided I would not even think about making a move re: pace until after the half. Sit tight and remain calm. Just another day running around the Rideau Canal.  I mentally pictured myself at 16K starting my second loop around the Canal. I know that 30K route like the back of my hand and know I can cover the distance comfortably. And, after all, the real race doesn’t begin until 30K. I crossed the half in 1:50-ish. Keep your head, Jayme. We’re still getting warmed up. (5:15, 5:15, 5:13, 5:16, 5:12, 5:15, 5:12, 5:08, 5:10)

Check back Friday for Part II of my Road2Hope Marathon Race Report!

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

Let's go

img_6691Next Sunday I will run my 14th marathon and my third Hamilton Marathon. I know I can run this distance. That's not the issue, nor has it ever been. What I've been thinking more and more about, is how the race will unfold. As you know, I am on the quest to qualify for Boston. I am also on the quest for the perfect race day. I don't want to get too excited about the forecast, but I will say things are looking promising. Time to see what's possible. Let's go. This week, I will continue my taper and be focusing on mentally getting *there*. I had a couple of not-so-great workouts this past week, but no one said the road to 42.2 would be a smooth ride (if it was, everyone would do it). I've been working hard to squash some pre-race doubt demons. They're always lurking in there. I remind myself of the work I've done. I remember those multiple 36Ks. Keep your head up. Let's go. 

I have three runs planned this week and a few yoga classes in the evening. I will begin carb loading on Thursday and will be trading in my higher fat meals for higher carbs. Sweet potato, rice, bananas, oh my. I fly to Toronto on Friday and will head to the expo that afternoon. Saturday I plan to chill out at my parents and do a shakeout in the morning. We will likely head into Niagara on the Lake for coffee, but other than that, my legs will be up. Keep it simple. Let's go.

It's too early to say what my A,B, and C goals for this race will be. But, I will say that I plan to run the distance faster than I have ever before. I am ready to settle into the uncomfortable, knowing there are no shortcuts to Boston. Hamilton Marathon race week, LET'S GO.

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

 

Army Run 2016 pre-race thoughts

img_7830 ...and just like that, the 2016 Army Run is upon us. This will be my sixth Army Run and I will admit, I've had little time to over think this one. I recall last year being really focused on this race. I was ready for a PR (and missed by a minute). In contrast, I am using this years Army Run as a training run and have no idea what's in store for Sunday.

After getting over the worst of my Achilles issues, this past month has been focused on regaining my mileage. Surprisingly, I've been able to pepper my training with a handful of very strong longer runs. I credit my mind for some of this, as I've basically refused to count myself out for the Hamilton Marathon in November.

So back to Sunday, I plan to go out there and nestle into my goal marathon pace. I will see how I feel along the way and adjust as needed. Post-race, I will be pleased with the result "finished without any pain," with the benefit of a "race environment" tempo run. Do I think I will PR (~1:41), who knows. Do I care? Not really. This is not my A Race. I am just thrilled to be running after being sidelined six weeks ago.

I am also reflecting that the first time I ran this race I ran it in a 2:16. I now run half marathons comfortably in the 1:4x-range, and could probably gun for a sub -1:40 on a good day. I don't say that to brag, but simply to highlight that anything is possible.

In other news, I've started to read Matt Fitzgerald's book, How Bad Do You Want It. I am only a couple chapters in, but I am loving it so far. It is reinforcing my belief that the MIND RUNS THE BODY.

"Sure, it was just a race, but sports are really not separate from life, nor is the athlete distinct from the person. In mastering my fear of suffering in races, I acquired a greater level of respect for myself, a sense of inner strength that has helped me tackle other challenges, both inside and outside sports." -Matt Fitzgerald

If you are racing on Sunday, I hope you have a great race. If you are chasing dreams out there, I encourage you to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. When the going gets tough, remember, the MIND TELLS THE BODY WHAT TO DO. Get it.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on TwitterInstagramStrava and Salty Running

Anniversary Giveaway!!

To celebrate one year of The Pacing Life, I wanted to do something to say THANK YOU. Whether our paths crossed on this blog, Instagram, Twitter, I'm inspired daily by your stories and so appreciative to have you following me along on mine. So with that, I am giving away two race entries to the 2017 Ottawa Race Weekend!! That's right, whether it's the 5K or the Marathon, two winners will be entered to participate in the event of your choice! See the Rafflecoptor below for ways to enter.

You all know that Race Weekend is my favourite weekend of the year! In 2016, close to 47,000 people participated in six events over the weekend, including the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. To celebrate Canada's 150th Anniversary, you can expect that this year's event will be special. If there is any year to run Canada's biggest running weekend, 2017 is it!

Rules: Enter by tagging a friend @thepacinglife's instagram OR entering via the Rafflecoptor options below! 2 winners will receive race entries to the 2017 Ottawa Race Weekend distance of your choice. Giveaway ends Monday August 29th, 2016, at midnight EST. Winner will be notified via Instagram or email. Winner has 14 days to claim prize before a backup winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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What race distance would you run at the 2017 Ottawa Race Weekend?

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

Salty Running & Emilie's Run 5K Recap

Hi! I wanted to post a quick update before heading out on my long run through Montreal. It's going to be a hot one out there this morning! Salty Running

The first order of business is that I've joined the Salty Running team! Salty Running covers all things running and is focused on runners who have big dreams and want more than "just to finish". Our readers are people who are serious about their running and are tired of articles that focus on how you look and what you’re wearing. "How to loose those last 10 pounds" is not why Salty Runners run. If this sounds like you, I know you'll love what we're doing over at Salty Running.

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As you'll see, all the contributors have spice or flavour names that speak a bit to who we are. Naturally, I will be known as Maple. As the first Canadian writer, I'm looking forward to sharing information on the Canadian running scene, Canadian elites, marathon training, and what goes into becoming a faster runner. You can see my introduction here. For my first article, I decided it was timely to cover the Lanni Marchant situation. For the love of all things female distance running, if Lanni doesn't compete in both races this August in Rio, I, like many of you, will be extremely disappointed.

I will also be posting my weekly training logs there. I will update this blog with more substantial reflections on training, but you can see my weekly workouts and so forth over on Salty Running. Check out last week's log here. You can always find me on Strava.

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Emilie's Run Second order of business, you guys, I ran 5K PR at Emilie's Run last week! I finished in 21:40 and had such a terrific racing experience. After our team did a simulation workout on the Tuesday ahead of the race, I felt comfortable with the course, but admittedly wasn't sure what to expect. Being my second 5K race (ever), I knew that I could definitely PR, but I wasn't sure by how much. This is also not a long distance race, where you have more time to course correct if things derail in the beginning. No, this is a FAST 5K. You've got to give'er the entire time.

5K @ 4:22/km (4:12, 4:18, 4:21, 4:24, 4:18)

I really had no expectations for this race, other than to push myself and see what I could do. I felt good throughout the race, and kept my head in the game the entire time. I was so proud of myself when I crossed the finish! My only other 5K was in January 2016, that I ran in 23:10 on a snowy trail. 1.5 minute PR in the 5K? I’ll take that any day.

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Have you run a shorter distance race lately? 

Do you already read Salty Running? 

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!

Ottawa Marathon 2016 Race Report

I ran my 13th marathon on Sunday. That seems a tiny crazy to type. Each marathon has provided me with different experiences. There was no question that the Ottawa Marathon was for a PR. With a solid half marathon recently on the books, and multiple successful long runs, I knew that my goal of "3:45 or better" was doable. In fact, I had little doubt in my mind that I would finally see a 3:4x. I was at peace with the training I had put into this race and knew that I was truly ready. Thursday was the start of a very exciting weekend. I left work early and went to Rogers TV to film an Ottawa Race Weekend segment with Mark Sutcliffe. Talking with Mark and the other runners about the race got me excited for what would unfold in the coming days. I knew that more than 45 thousand runners and their families were coming to the city to experience the best race weekend in Canada - how awesome to be a part of this, I thought.

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From Rogers TV, I made a beeline to the Shaw Centre where the Expo was being held. As a Run Ottawa member, I was stationed in the Run Ottawa booth and spoke to many runners coming to pick up their race kit. While I had been watching the weather all week, this is where I started to hear whispers that Sunday could turn out to be hotter than planned. Keep your head, I thought. You can run in heat.

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That evening I had the honour of picking up our Canadian Record Holders Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak at the airport. My two favourite Rio contenders in my car? Pinch me. They were coming in on a 1:00 am flight from Vancouver, after training there that day. We chatted on the car ride home and I dropped them off at their downtown hotel. They were ready to rock the 10k (which they eventually did).

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Friday was low-key. My parents got into town in the afternoon. We moseyed over to the expo for a perusal, and then met G for dinner. I continued to drink lots of water and nuun. These pesky whispers of heat on race day continued. So much so, there started to be concern of runners safety in the heat. Wait a second, I'm ok to run in some heat, but where did this 33ºC come from? This was not part of my plan.

The day before the race I was really committed to hydrating and eating on regular intervals. I didn't leave the house much that day. The more I've run, the more I realize how important days before the race really are. Feet up. Water and nuun in hand. I glanced at the weather every so often, but I didn't obsess. I knew that the plans for the day had already been set in motion. My coach and I had planned that I would run a conservative race, listening to my body every step in the way. Whatever was in the cards, I was ready to run 42.2.

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Race morning, I woke up around 4:15 am, before my alarm. The race started at 7:00 am, and as you can imagine, I had a few pre-race routines to tend to. Coffee, banana, nuun, picky bar, glide, and so on. My Mom, who was also running the marathon, and I were out the door by 6:10 am. As we were walking I was giddy looking at the sky. Could this really be? The sky was overcast and the scorching heat was far from our midst. My prayers have been answered. We met Ashley and walked to the start together. We said our goodbyes and just like that I was at the START of the Ottawa Marathon.

This is the moment I've pictured since January. The gun goes off.

Kilometres 1-5 flew by, as you would expect. I kept my headphones off and was focused on taking in the moment and keeping my pace. For the first 5K, the plan was to hover around 5:30 for the start then bring it down gradually to 5:25. I've become a much better pacer this past year and knew that this would be doable. There were a lot of people around me; I tried to keep weaving to a minimum.

1) 5:25 2) 5:33 3) 5:29 4) 5:26 5) 5:24

By 6K, I would work it down to 5:20 and 5:15 by 7K. I would plan to hold it at 5:15 until 30K. I truly did have the best laid plans! By 10K I had warmed right up. Due to the heat, I had decided to bring a frozen hand held along with me. The ice was long gone. I could tell it was getting hotter out, but I was comfortable and felt confident in my hydration and fuelling strategy. First gel at 8.5K.

6) 5:20 7) 5:14 8) 5:16 9) 5:22 10) 5:18

Running through Westboro and Island park was a blast. There were so many people out cheering, spraying water and handing out water. There were a few moments where I thought I was going to cry. This was everything I had been picturing for the past five months. I've done the work and I'm confident this is going to be my day. Keep it together, Jayme. You can't cry during a marathon. 

11) 5:15 12) 5:10 13) 5:15 14) 5:16 15) 5:15

Legs were still feeling very strong in the lead up the half. As I approached 15K, I flashed back to the 2013 Ottawa Marathon where I fell a part early on in the race. Normally I would quash that thought quickly, but I spent a bit of time thinking about how far I've come since 2013. I put my music on for a bit. At 19k I saw one of my sweetest friends at the War Museum. We both live nearby; she's come out to most, if not all, of my races to cheer. Second gel at 19K. I repeated to myself: Lock it in at 5:15. I would visually picture myself buckling a seat belt around this pace. The things I think when I am running.

16) 5:11 17) 5:13 18) 5:11 19) 5:18 20) 5:10

I crossed the half mark in 1:52:49. A tiny bit slower than planned, but I wasn't worried. I reminded myself this was my day. My legs were still feeling strong. As I ran through Gatineau I reflected a lot on my runs with Ashley in these parts. I knew Ashley was up ahead and spent a moment thinking about her. I knew she  had done the work and was going to have a strong race. Selfishly, I wished I spotted her in the crowd so I could run with her!

The crowds in Gatineau were phenomenal. So many residents had come out with hoses to cool down the runners. Throughout the race there were heat notification flags (as pictured above) along the route. They were green up until this point, indicating LOW RISK. I agreed with their assessment (obviously when you are running a marathon you are exercising the best judgement). I continued to hang onto 5:15. Legs still in the game.

21) 5:14 22) 5:13 23) 5:16 24) 5:09 25) 5:15

I crossed the Alexandria Bridge and made my way back into Ottawa. Is it just me, or is it getting hot out here? Let's not dwell on the heat. Let's just run. For the next 5k I am giving you permission to mentally box up the watch and put it aside. Legs are still very much in the game. I used a sponge at 25K and was hydrating like a champ. Third gel at 26K. Just get it down.

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26) 5:15 27) 5:18 28) 5:21 29) 5:33 30) 5:28

I could feel the heat and the sun by this point. It felt warmer than the start (captain obvious statement of the day), but I really wasn't ready to accept the heat. By 30K the plan was to start working my paces down. Instead, I could feel my paces slowing down. Ugh. I hit a few tough moments between 31-37K. Understanding we are running a marathon here, I expected that, but I was fighting hard to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. STAY IN THIS. I was hearing crickets from the bottom half of my body.

31) 5:30 32) 5:28 33) 5:42 34) 5:53 35) 5:38

At 36K I passed a young gal handing out freezies. This was quite seriously one of the best moments in the race. The cold felt so good in my mouth and on my hands. I held onto the freezie until 37K. By this point I noticed the heat notification flags had turned red and indicated HIGH RISK. As I approached the stretch along the canal (a portion of the race that I have used repeatedly for mental training), I remembered that we would be merging with the half-marathoners. The course was thick with people, with lots of crowds lining the sides. Even though I was feeling burnt out, I was filled with so much joy in this moment. This is why I run marathons.

36) 5:51 37) 7:27 38) 5:57 39) 6:04 40) 5:57

I stopped to fill up my water bottle at 39-40K. The sun was beaming down on my face and my commitment to my watch had all but disappeared. Thankfully, mind over matter prevailed and I picked it up at tiny by 42K. I am PR'ing today, I told myself. I was doing the math in my head and knew I would shave a few minutes off from my 3:57 from Hamilton.

41) 6:45 42) 6:03

As I ran the last 200 metres, I wish I could say I had more emotion in me. I was empty by that point and just focused on the finishing line. Once I crossed the mat, I smiled. Despite that race getting hard, I ran a marathon today. 3:55:08.

.2) 6:03

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Congratulations to everyone who ran this weekend!! A huge thank you to the Ottawa Marathon race organizers, volunteers, and to the communities of Ottawa and Gatineau!

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!

Race recap: Run for Reach 2016

I planned to use the Run for Reach Half Marathon as a training race for Ottawa Marathon. The annual race is put on by Reach Canada, a national charity that supports people with disabilities. I ran it in 2013, six weeks before the Ottawa Marathon that year, and got my half marathon PB. It’s a fairly flat course and is an out and back loop along the Rideau Canal, a portion of the Ottawa Marathon route. It also happens to be a route I run quite frequently. With the race on Sunday morning, Saturday was a pretty low key day. I completed a 20 minute shakeout run on Saturday morning, then ran some errands (including picking up my race kit at the Bank Street Running Room). G entertained my appetite for Whole Foods for lunch. Salad bar, grilled salmon and ginger GT’s Kombucha FTW. We had a chill evening, as I was going to be up early in order to get to the start before 8:00.

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The morning of the race I woke up around 5:45 am. I couldn’t sleep any longer. I wasn’t nervous, but there’s something about race mornings that just wake you up. I drank my coffee and sat on my computer for a bit. By 6:45 am I started nibbling on my Picky Bar and sipped on some Nuun. I left the house by 7:20 am and ran to the race start (about 2.5 km).

As I stood at the start line, I really wasn’t nervous. I looked around and overheard many comments about how cold it wast (-9ºC). Interesting, I thought to myself, after running outside for the past three months, this was what I consider to be a beautiful day.

Ultimately, I just wanted to get the show on the road. There were about 115 participants in the half marathon and another 100 or so in the 5 and 10km. The 10km started with the half marathon, which meant I knew the course would thin after they finished.

My race plan was to run a negative split (faster second half of the race). I’ll be honest with you, this has been a unicorn I’ve been chasing for a while. While everyone knows that in theory running a strong negative split  is ideal, it’s a hard task to execute. It means you have to really reign it in those first few kilometres, when you’re feeling fresh and could easily run fast.

Kilometre 1-5 I repeated to myself 4:55-5:00. I hung with a group of guys and let them do the pacing work. The guy who seemed to be leading the pack was running a consistent 5:00. I told myself that this was my warm up. YOU WILL STAY HERE.

By 6km, I told myself that we could start working the pace down. Reminding myself constantly that I am running my OWN RACE and not to get spooked by the people passing me (as I suspected, they were finishing at 10km). I reminded myself that I would be in a STRONG position for the second half of the race. That would be where the fun began. I took a Hammer Espresso Gel between kilometre 8-9 (good practice for Ottawa Marathon, I’m planning to take them in 45 minute intervals).

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I made it to the turnaround (the 10km finish) and let myself push it a bit more. My coach had told me that the half marathon is supposed to hurt, but it doesn’t hurt forever. You should be in control by the second half of the race. I was. The pace felt good.  My legs were responding and I knew I had more left in the tank.

At 15km, the last turnaround of the race, I told myself GO TIME.  The plan was to run a negative split and this was the part of the plan where the race would be won. The last 6km is where you reap the benefits of your controlled race plan. My legs were feeling great. I had a great soundtrack in my ears and the sun was shining.

With 3km left I was doing the math in my head. I knew I was going to PR that day. My coach had told me 1:41 was a challenging but very realistic goal. That would put me over two minutes faster than my PB of 1:43. I can’t emphasize how badly I wanted to PR on Sunday. Reflecting more on the race, there was a big difference between my PB there three years ago and this year. Three years ago, my 1:43:57 felt like a fluke. Although it was GREAT, I legitimately surprised myself back in 2013. Back then, I just started being able to run what I considered to be fast.

Sunday’s PB meant even more to me. It wasn’t a fluke at all. I had no doubt in my mind what I was capable of (even on tired legs). I knew I had put in the work. While the half marathon really was a training race for Ottawa, I’m so freaking happy with Sunday’s result.

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DOUBT KILLS MORE DREAMS THAN FAIILURE EVER WILL.

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Has doubt held you back from something lately?

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.

How I became a better runner

While I by no means consider myself fast, I have been able to chisel a bit off my marathon times. I remember distinctly finishing the Paris Marathon in 4:36 and thinking, with some training I knew I could run a 4 hour marathon. Six months later I finished the Hamilton Marathon in 4:04. The only difference? I committed myself to the goal and stuck to a plan. Sure, a bit of speed work helps, but really what it really boils down to, is that you have to run more. My tired legs had to be comfortable running. To do this, I stopped skipping my mid weeks runs and making excuses as to why I cut my weekend long run short.

Prior to that, I had gone about running in a fairly lackadaisical manner. Running when I felt like it and not really taking races seriously. Sure, I always finished, but I rarely felt I gave it my all. Proving to myself that hard work does pay off (as cheesy as that sounds) has fueled my current marathon aspirations – training for a 3:45 marathon and one day qualifying for Boston.

When things get busy, I adjust my schedule and I’m out the door at dark-o-thirty. That way, if I work late, or have limited energy in the evenings, I will have already completed my run for the day. Yes, 4:45am wake ups took some getting used to, but anyone can become a morning person (and I promise it’s worth it). I’ve also started doing more strength and cross training. Yep, remember my  goal back in January to do more of those things? I’ve moderately stuck to it. Swimming, IronStrengh, spin class: I love to mix things up.

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With that said, there are definitely days that I don’t feel like running. Those are the times I’ve become better at overcoming. Whereas before I probably would have skipped the day, I can now say that I rarely miss a scheduled run. I’m driven by my DREAM BIG goals. It may just feel like 1 run (who cares, right?), but things add up (or down…)

I’m also a firm believer in getting a coach. While you may think you know what’s best for you, having an expert/outside opinion can do wonders. I respond well to handing the reins over to someone I trust to plan my workouts. I used to stress wondering if X training plan I found online was working for me. Long story short (including overtraining, injuries, ill planned speed work sessions), I’m not convinced cookie cutter plans are ideal. It’s useful to have *some* customization to your current fitness, race goals, and general coaching feedback.

What helps you reach your goals?

First ever 5km

Can you believe it's already February? I'm totally ok with this. It only means we're that much closer to spring. I wonder what the groundhog will say tomorrow. At the beginning of January, my coach suggested I sign up for 5km to get an idea of where I'm at. A 5km?! I thought. I'd never done one! But, of course I scoured the internet and was able to find a local 5km at the end of the month. G agreed to run with me.

The race was on Sunday, which meant I held off on my long run until after the race. I had 25km scheduled for the day. As you know, I normally run long on Saturday mornings, so this was a bit of a change. I did a light 4km on the treadmill Saturday morning, with Iron Strength afterwards, then worked during the day. At night we did groceries, made dinner and went to bed pretty early.

In terms of race nutrition, my night before dinner was a standard sweet potato, cooked kale with Bragg's aminos, and two organic eggs. The race started at 8:30am, which is later than I usually start my long runs, so I made some gluten free sourdough toast, with avocado and banana. No issues with my stomach, although I took a heart burn pill that mornings just in case (I've been off of them for 3 days before that; I've read that you need to taper off of these things. Ugh.)

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The race was at a nearby casino/racetrack, about a 20 minute drive from our place. We left around 7:20am, to give us time to pick up our race bib beforehand. By 8:30am, we were lined up at the start and ready to go. It was a beautiful day, so the turn out was great (200 people or so in the 5 & 10k).

There wasn't a fancy timing system set up, which was fine as we managed to start right near the front. We were told that when we finished, we would be given a popsicle stick to indicate our time. We would then take that into the building to be matched with our bib. I kind of loved this.

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The first 0.5km was on a road, then the race quickly turned to snow covered trail. The footing was ok, for the most part (thanks to my Hoka One One trail shoes). I took off pretty quickly, and realized I was running too fast. I told myself to dial it back a bit, but to hang on - this is 5km. I got this. It was a 2.5km out and back. Given that this was my first EVER 5km, I really had no idea what to expect. It's not like in a half marathon or a marathon where you pace yourself big time at the start.

1) 4:21 2) 4:40 3) 4:45 4) 4:40 5) 4:39

Finish: 23:10:54 12th Overall, 2nd Female. I was pleased with my 12th place overall finish (108 participants) and 2nd female overall. Frankly, I surprised myself.

After the race, we had some Nuun they had on site and we drove back home. I didn't even go inside, before leaving for my 20km. By this time, it was 10:00am or so. I knew there was no time for dilly dallying. I just had to get it done.

6km in, my blood sugar felt off. I attribute this to the start and stop between the 5km & the 20km. I decided to take my Hammer Gel espresso early and things quickly turned around. I ran 10km out along the Rideau Canal and 10km back. I listened to Hilary Biscay on Endurance Planet for an hour, then switched to my iPod. It was one heck of a beautiful morning.

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By the time I got home, it was noon. I was hungry! I whipped up a Vitamix of beet, turmeric, Vega vanilla sport protein, half a banana, and a side of Nuun. I definitely felt like I needed fuel asap. Pancakes followed shortly after :)

All in all a successful sunday runday.

Have you run a 5km? 

What is your go to post long run meal?

Hamilton Marathon 2015 Race Report

After 22 weeks of training, I ran the Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope on Sunday. As I sit here reflecting on how it went down, I can’t help but smile. It was a great race. I’m not even bummed that I didn’t hit my A goal (3:4x). I ran a PR by a few minutes and any marathon ending in a PR is a good news story for me. As for the race, I had a hunch it was going to be windy. There have been storms blowing through Ontario for the past week. Did I expect the strong head winds for 3/4 of the race? No, but what can you do. Wind is different than other elements. Snow (well, light snow) and rain are more of an inconvenience, whereas wind majorly impacts the speed to which you can cover ground.

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(Photo credit: Hamilton Marathon)

The race started on the country roads up on Hamilton Escarpment. The route included a few hills, but overall it was fairly flat. I was able to stick to my race plan for the first 10km, then the wind hit. Normally, I would have enjoyed the peaceful cornfields and farmland. Unfortunately, the flat farm land provided little to no protection from the wind.

(1) 5:23 (2) 5:26 (3) 5:28 (4) 5:24 (5) 5:23 (6) 5:20 (7) 5:27 (8) 5:18 (9) 5:14 (10) 5:27 (11) 5:25

As we were running along, I kept trying to wedge myself behind people to block the wind. A few others had the same idea and I found myself with people behind me at times. We turned away from the wind a few times, but just as I would find my groove, we’d be turning a corner into a strong head wind again.  I kept telling myself I could make it up on the downhill and to not be discouraged. The mental game is more than half the battle.

I saw my parents for the first time between 12 and 13 km. I was feeling pretty good, but loved seeing them. My mom handed me water and I carried on.

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(12) 5:37 (13) 5:37 (14) 5:42 (15) 5:41 (16) 5:38 (17) 5:34 (18) 5:29 (19) 6:01

19km was a bit of a death march. I remember the wind being so strong that I felt I was getting no where. That’s the thing with wind, your effort is never reflected in your pace. The paces my “hard effort” normally yield were unfortunately not seen on race day.

(20) 5:26 (21) 5:45 (22) 5:48

I came to the half and knew that the Redhill Expressway (downhill) was just around the corner. I felt pretty good, as I had been taking gels roughly every 40 minutes and drinking water at each aid station. I knew that the downhill would allow me to catch a tail wind for a bit.

(23) 5:16 (24) 5:24 (25) 5:21 (26) 5:25 (27) 5:28

We got off the Redhill Expressway and headed down to the waterfront. I knew I would see my parents at 30km, so I told myself to just power through until then (I knew seeing them would give me a boost).

(28) 5:58 (29) 5:44 (30) 5:38 (31) 5:52

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After I saw my parents, I turned onto the Waterfront Path and then onto Beach Boulevard. This was the final stretch before the turnaround that would take me to the finish at Confederation Park.

I was breaking the marathon up into pieces. 10 miles + 10 miles + 10km.  And, just like that I was in the final stretch. The hardest part. I kept telling myself that 10km is nothing and that this is the portion of the race that will determine if I would PR or not.

(32) 5:49

I thought about all those early mornings.

(33) 5:55

I thought about all those nights in bed before 9:00 pm.

(34) 5:37

I thought about my fiancé and family and their endless support.

(35) 5:42

I thought about previous races and how disappointing it is to not have the race you thought you trained for. I exchanged a few harsh words with myself, and told myself that giving anything less than I was capable was NOT AN OPTION.

(36) 5:43

I hit the turnaround between 35 and 36 km. I knew I was heading towards the finish.

(37) 5:40 (38) 5:49

My mom popped out of nowhere! It was awesome. I wasn’t expecting to see her again. I had just left the last water station and she ran up beside me. She told me I was going to PR.

I started ticking people off. One by one. I was fighting a strong wind from the water (the path is directly on the shore of Lake Ontario), but managed to keep my head down.

Half of my bib ripped off and I could tell it was going to blow away if I didn’t hold onto it. So I ripped the rest of it off and held onto it for dear life. AS IF I was going to DNF because I had lost my bib!

(39) 5:41 (40) 5:33 (41) 5:39 (42) 5:40 (.5) 5:26

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Bib in hand, I crossed the finish line in 3:57:32. It was a tough race, but I loved (mostly) every minute of it. Now for some much needed R&R.

Hamilton Marathon 2015. That’s a wrap!

Army Run 2015 Race Report

On Sunday, I ran the 8th annual Army Run 1/2 Marathon. This is one of my favourite races. So much so, I've run it 5 times. My finishing times have ranged from 2:17 in 2008 to 1:44 this year. I've always had fantastic race experiences here. 2015 was no different. I used this race as a tune-up in Week 16 of training for the Hamilton Road 2 Hope Marathon that I will be running six weeks from now. I went out with a range of goals, with my heart set on a 1:40. I came in 4 minutes and 9 seconds away from that goal, but still pleased with the performance.

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Pre-race 

I got up at 5:45 am the day of the race. I generally don't sleep in, so it was no surprise that I was up 15 minutes before my alarm. With the late start (9:30 am), I had plenty of time for my pre-race routine. I drank coffee, read some news/social media, and ate my oatmeal & banana. I left the house by 8:30 am. On my walk to the start I stopped in one of the hotels along the way to use the washroom one more time.

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Start

The Governor General and the Canadian Army bands greeted runners at the start. Army Run, similar to the Marine Corps Marathon, is special in that the race is dedicated to our Canadian Armed Forces. The race is an opportunity for Canadians to say thank you to the men and women who serve at home and abroad.

When my parents and I ran the race in 2008, there were about 7,000 runners. The race is now the fastest growing race in Canada and has grown to over 25,000 runners in the 5km and 1/2 marathon races.

The race started with a cannon and then we were off.

https://twitter.com/CanadaArmyRun/status/645588100534673408

Kilometre 1-5

(1) 5:12 (2) 4:43 (3) 4:54 (4) 4:48 (5) 4:40

As expected, it took me a kilometre to find my pace and place in the crowd. My experience with Ottawa races (Ottawa Race Weekend and Army Run) has prepared me for a congested start. Lots of weaving is to be expected.

Once I settled in, I felt good. I reminded myself to keep my head and not get carried away in the speedy crowd. After 20+ half and full marathons, I know how easily it is to get swept away in a pace that will ultimately do more harm than good.

Kilometre 6-10

(6) 4:48 (7) 4:47 (8) 4:46 (9) 4:49 (10) 4:46

Kilometres 6-10 literally flew by. This stretch took us along the Ottawa River and into Gatineau. There were a few hills here and then in a blink of an eye we were heading back over the Alexandria Bridge back into Ottawa.

Kilometre 11-15

(11) 4:57 (12) 4:49 (13) 4:51 (14) 4:54 (15) 4:40

We ran through New Edinburgh during this portion of the race. I consider these my roads. My mind was in the zone at this point. The nice thing about being familiar with your route is that there's nothing new to see.

Except for the Governor General. I didn't go over for a high five, but I did give a thumbs up :)

https://twitter.com/GGDavidJohnston/status/645606777644544000

https://twitter.com/CanadaArmyRun/status/645609310807048192

Kilometre 16-20

(16) 5:01 (17) 5:10 (18) 5:04 (19) 5:05 (20) 4:54

It got a bit tough after coming out of Rideau Hall. The sun was beating on my face and my mouth felt dry. The last leg of bridges were also in this stretch. These are bridges I run multiple times a week, so it wasn't too bad. But still. An incline is an incline. I repeated: UP & OVER.

I also had a turning point in today's race. In previous 1/2's, my paces usually drop substantially more at this point. I found I still had more in my legs and could push it. By kilometre 20 I was ready to finish this thing off and felt I had enough left to do so.

Kilometre 21-21.33 

(21) 4:45 (.33) 4:31

I finished strong. I had a few moments of mind | matter struggle, but ultimately powered through. After realizing I didn't beat my 1:43:58 PB by 11 seconds I was disappointed for a moment, then moved on. It really was a great race. Thank you to all the volunteers, enthusiastic crowds and race organizers!

http://www.zoomphoto.ca/event/19744/

http://www.zoomphoto.ca/event/19744/

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I'm feeling fit and ready for the next six weeks before Hamilton. I've also reminded myself that this was not THE race. Hamilton is, and I can't freakin' wait.

Training & life update: September 16

I sit here writing this post a few hours after completing the Army Run Half Marathon. It was truly a great day for a race! My time was 1:44:09. Not my A or B goal time, but I'm happy. I will write a proper race recap, but first, here's an update on Week 16 of my Hamilton Marathon training. For those of you just joining, I used the Army Run as a tune-up race as I head into the final 6 weeks of training for the Hamilton Road 2 Hope Marathon in November. 

Week 16

Monday: Planned - 15km easy with strides

Actual - 15 @ 5:36 with strides in last 6km. Beautiful run along the canal. Lots of runners out in preparation for the Army Run on Sunday.

Tuesday: Planned - 10km tempo with 6km @ 4:45*

Actual - 10 @ 5:11 - (1) 6:08 (2) 5:47 (3) 5:38 (4) 4:45* (5) 4:37* (6) 4:42* (7) 4:38* (8) 4:42* (9) 4:30* (10) 6:21. Going into this run, I wasn't sure how it would go. After a few tempo kms, I felt confident in hitting these paces. I will remember workouts like these when I'm hurting in the marathon. 

Wednesday: Planned - 8km easy with strides

Actual - 8 @ 5:42 with strides in last 5km. My go-to 8km route takes me exactly to 24 Sussex (the residence of our Prime Minister) and back.

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Thursday: Planned - 5km easy

Actual - 5km @ 6:02

Friday: Planned - REST

Actual - Rest. I walked over to the Army Run expo at lunch to pick up my race kit. It definitely got me excited for Sunday!

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Saturday: Planned - 20 minute shake out

Actual - 3.15 @ 6:21. I got up early and did my shake out run and then proceeded to put my legs up c h i l l out the rest of the day. I had some company for that :)

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Sunday: Planned - Army Run Half Marathon - 21.1km

Actual - 21.1km @ 4:56. Race recap to come!

Total: 62.25km

Pre-race thoughts {Army Run 2015}

In the lead up to Sunday's race, I’ve had a chance to reflect on what makes for a strong race day performance. As some of you know, I ran the Toronto Goodlife Marathon at the end of April with a time of 4:34. I trained all winter for what I thought was going to be a PB race (sub 3:59). I was devastated. I had stomach issues around 30km, and if it wasn’t for my Mom who was also running that day, I likely would have DNF’d. My Mom saw me around 33km and ran walked shuffled with me to the finish. My fiancé and my dad were also there, traipsing around Toronto to cheer me on (the picture below is when I saw them at kilometre 17; feeling great). I cannot emphasize enough how lucky I am to have such a supportive family. TO marathon

It took me about a day to get over the race. Then I was determined to redeem myself. I knew that in order to go into my fall training cycle with the right mindset, I needed concrete proof that there was a glimmer of speed in these legs of mine. I ended up registering for a small local race, Emilie’s Run, in June. Without a ton of training (I took some time off after the marathon), I managed to finish that in 1:48 and place second female overall. I remember going into the race feeling relaxed. I didn’t have any expectations, other than I wanted to finish feeling STRONG. I did just that.

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Ever since the 2013 Ottawa Marathon, I’ve had mediocre race day experiences, at best. I was really finding my stride in 2013; I managed to take more than 15 minutes off my half marathon PB and more than 30 mins off my marathon. But after, what I thought was a sub-par performance at the Ottawa Marathon (4:02), I’ve struggled to grasp another PB. I reflect on that now and laugh. I kicked butt in that race. A year earlier I ran the Paris Marathon in 4:36. I needed to give myself a break.

They say that once you get faster it’s harder to shave time off. Recognizing that, I still feel that I am READY for a PB. I’ve put in the work. I am a FIRM believer that you can’t be upset with the results you don’t get with the work you didn’t do. Simply put, THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS. I’m also not afraid of the half marathon distance. I KNOW I can do this. What I need to prepare for, is the hurt that will come around km 18. I will want to quit. I will repeat: THE BRICK WALLS ARE THERE FOR A REASON.  I will also remind myself that this race is simply the opening act for the marathon in November.

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With this weekend quickly approaching, I am working through what my race day goals are. It’s good to have three goals. The range is important because it prevents you from checking-out of the race midway if things don't go exactly. as. planned. That’s historically been my problem. I get too committed to a *certain* number. I've learned that *all or nothing* is not a productive race strategy, for me at least. This Sunday, I’m going to fight like heck to STAY IN IT for my A Goal (1:40), but I will still be thrilled if I hit my B Goal (sub 1:43 PR). If I’m any slower than that, my C Goal would be to finish smiling and ENJOY the race. I will remind myself that this is what I love to do.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.