life

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. 

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 not now

The other night I was laying in bed with my mind wide awake. For better or worse, I often do a lot of thinking before falling asleep. While I'm often pretty good at keeping myself in check, on this particular night I was thinking about possible what ifs, many of them not the good what ifs if you catch my drift. What if it doesn't work, what if I really can't do XX, what if they don't like me, what if I'm not good enough... Do you ever find you think about all the reasons something won't work, before it's even happened? Many of these reasons are fictional, of course. There are times that doubt and what ifs have convinced me to play small. To downplay my achievements, or convince myself that something (whether it's in running, professional, or personal life) could never possibly happen. The worst feeling is the regret of knowing you've played small for no other reason than your own self doubt.

It's easy to focus on the failures; one failure can overshadow 100 successes. I read something the other day that talked about the story in your head. You either work with a narrative that supports an abundance of success, or you trap yourself with a limiting story, "I can't do that because..., I'll never be good enough because..." All too often we buy into a story that doesn't positively serve us.

Stop that.

I think we all can use a little reminder to go for it and ask ourselves: why not now? We too often put things off and wait around for some day when we are "ready" (you will never be) and the conditions will be perfect (they will never be). Why not focus on all the reasons why it will work? You are always once decision away from a totally different life.

What are you doing TODAY that will take you closer to achieving your dream?

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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

Long Road to Boston

I first learned about Mark Sutcliffe's book back in May when I was on his talk show to speak about the Ottawa Marathon. He mentioned that he was publishing a book on his journey to Boston. Being on my own quest to Hopkinton, I made a mental note that this would be a must read for myself. Fast forward to October, I was invited to attend Mark's hometown book launch of the Long Road to Boston. Hosted at Ottawa City Hall, more than 200 people crowded into the Mayor's Board Room on October 24th to support the book. After being introduced by Mayor Jim Watson, Mark spoke passionately about his quest to Boston and pointed to the various people around the room who were a part of that journey.

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I took the book home that night and began reading. Mark sets the stage by using the first few chapters to give a history of the marathon event and the Boston Marathon. While not all new information for me, I got chills with the reminder of how epic the forty-two-point-two event really is. From the first Olympic games, to K.V.Switzer and the 2013 attacks, there is a reason why the marathon holds so much importance to runners.

Mark tells his story of starting out as an "average" runner, who eventually Boston Qualifies and completes the race from Hopkinton to Boston (spoiler alert). While not always a runner, after getting started, running had became a huge part of his life. I couldn't believe how much of Mark's story I could relate to.

After his first marathon in 2004, Mark went on to complete more than twenty marathons, including the Boston Marathon course with Dean Karnazes. Like many of us, the task of Boston Qualifying seemed unthinkable for many years. I found myself smiling through many pages where Mark reflects on how crazy of an idea Boston Qualifying was, but ultimately found himself obsessed.

Equipped with spreadsheets, training plans, supportive running friends and family, Mark recalls the highs and lows of his journey. While the "journey" is why we run, the outcomes are not always pretty. Mark talks about marathon finishes within seconds of a BQ and the trials that inevitably crop up with marathon training. Regardless if you are chasing the unicorn or not, most can relate to the feeling of being oh-so-close-but-yet-so-far, vividly told by Mark.

The Long Road to Boston is story of why Boston means so much to runners and inspires readers to believe that nothing is impossible. I highly recommend this book for any runner, especially those acquainted in dreaming big and on a quest for self-improvement.

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For those of you in Ottawa, Mark will be leading this week's Run Ottawa 6@6 (Wednesday, November 16)! Join myself and fellow Run Ottawa members at Bridgehead Roastery and Coffeehouse at 6:00 pm for a 6K run, followed by a couple of stories from the Long Road to Boston. 

If you cannot make it to the run on time, feel free to join the talk portion around 6:30 pm. More information about the event can be found on Facebook.

Have you read the Long Road to Boston?

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

 

What you do in the dark

I walked into work the other day listening to Running on Om’s podcast with Lauren Fleshman. It was a Q&A episode and one of the listeners asked how to manage big dreams and the demands of daily life. I got to thinking about my own situation. I thought about my incredibly supportive fiancé and family, and reflected on how grateful I was for their support. I started thinking about all those nights I go to bed early to get up at dark-o-thirty to run in the morning. I thought about those weekend mornings I’m MIA on a long run. Or the impact it has on my ability to be *fun* on a Friday night. I’m sure many of you reading can relate.

I recall a few times groaning about getting up in the morning. G sympathizes, but ultimately encourages me to go. He knows how much running means to me. And more importantly, he knows how disappointed in myself I would be if I didn’t go. That said, last week when I was deciding not to do my long run, he was patient in listening to me deliberate and encouraged me to cut myself some slack.

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Sometimes I wonder what it is I’m doing and if all of my work is worth it. Those thoughts are very few and far between, but I won’t lie that they never happen. It’s in those moments that the support of my family matters most. They keep me in check.

Running marathons really is about what you do in the dark. When you talk to a runner, or follow them on social media, you only see a small sliver of what goes on. The uncaptured moments are, for the most part, far from glamorous. There are missed Saturday morning brunches, or late night drinks. There are mundane days and compromise to be made. The truth is, when you register for  marathon, and plan to put in the work, this is par for the course.

In the long run, I know that reaching my goals will ultimately depend on my hard work, but I would be kidding myself if I said I could do it without the support around me.

Do you listen to running podcasts?

What's something you had to sacrifice in order to reach your goals?

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.

Take the day off

Deciding not to do my long run last week was harder than I thought it would be.  All arrows were pointing to me not doing that run - I was on vacation in DC and my ankle has been bothering me a bit - but for some reason, for a brief moment, I really struggled to give myself permission to take it off. For the past 13 weeks, I've been pretty darn dedicated to getting my runs done. In fact, I've not missed a single assigned workout. Now that the weekend is over, and I put three rest days in the bank, I'm confident that skipping the run was the right decision.

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It's funny when we get into the vortex of marathon training (it's definitely a thing). The routine of running is ingrained in you. It's what you do. That said, it's equally as important to find balance. Will skipping one 18km run impact me in the long run? Heck no. Frankly, it will probably leave me better off.

I had the best time in DC! I am truly grateful to have such good friends and family. They lift me up. The weekend off was exactly what I needed. We went to some great restaurants, and I even got to cheer for runners at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler (can I just say how much I LOVE race days!?) The time off left me fired up and ready to take on the next 8 weeks till Ottawa Marathon race day.

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I'm good with taking the day off every once in a while. To stay up late and have an extra drink or two. Note to self: it's JUST running. #notmarathontraining

What are ways you maintain balance while marathon training?

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.

Half way

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This past week marked week 11 of my Ottawa Marathon training. That means, we're more than half way there. 57 per cent, to be exact. With 10 weeks to go (!), I'm feel like all I'm doing right now is run. eat. (work). sleep. I hit my highest mileage week last week, with 89 kilometres. There was a good mix of  easy, moderate, and hard effort runs. I'll be honest, my legs felt like lead during my long run on Saturday. This was disappointing, but not overly surprising.

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Taking a look back on my training logs, I see that I'm running a bit more now than I was in Hamilton Marathon training. I also see that my legs felt like lead around Week 10 and 11 back then too (end of August 2015). This is the point in the plan where training really feels like a grind, but it's oh so important to keep going.

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It's easy to feel fired up at the beginning of the marathon training cycle, when you're feeling fresh. It's also easy to keep going with only a few weeks until race day. What's harder, is keeping the momentum going in the middle of the cycle. This is what makes the marathon so appealing to me. Just getting to the start line of 42.2 is a victory in itself.

This week will be a bit of a rest week. I have 69 kilometres planned, mostly at easy effort. This week will also be a busy one for work and life. The trick is balance. While I don't love doing my runs in the evening, I know that a couple late nights will leave me needing to readjust the timing of my runs.

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.