I’m going to Ottawa!

So apparently I’ve been bitten by the marathon bug. What was supposed to be my “tick off the bucket list one and only marathon” has become my “first marathon” and this year promises to be another busy one with a lot of plans in the works already.

So far I’ve signed up for Around the Bay 30k on March 29th and I’ve also committed myself to the Ottawa Marathon on May 24th. I’m not sure which came first but they actually fit really well together. The training program I’m following has a 29km run scheduled for March 29th so I’ll probably try and run that race as a training run. Hey, if you have to run 29km, you might as well do it in a race with a few thousand people right?

I’m really excited to be running Ottawa as my second marathon. The Ottawa Half Marathon was my second half marathon which I ran in 2012 and I really loved it. 389656_437145026303140_1622318527_n The city makes a whole weekend of it with races in the 2k, 5k and 10k distances on Saturday afternoon/evening and the half and full marathons take place on Sunday morning. A ton of people come out to participate, and to watch all the races. The course is nice, has pretty great crowd support and has sponge stations. That’s right, sponges filled with cool water just when you need them! Hopefully that hasn’t changed from a few years ago.

Training officially began this past weekend. I’ve been keeping a good base since Chicago, so I’m hoping it’ll be fairly easy to get back into the swing of the 5 day a week running schedule.

I do expect that I’ll have some challenges. Not so much with the winter training. Though I may complain about it at some point, and I am definitely not a winter person, I prefer to run in the winter rather than in the heat of the summer.

The challenges will be in getting the night time training runs in during the week. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it home in time to head to my run club meet-ups so I’ll have someone to run with. I’m fine with running alone, and in fact enjoy a peaceful solo run. But night time running is always safer in a group.

The other challenge will be getting my miles in during a five day trip to Florida in February. We took a similar trip at the same time of year a couple years ago and after training in the cold air, the humidity kicked my butt. I had a hard time running even 5km. The schedule has an 8km, a 6km and a 13km run that weekend.

Whatever challenges come my way, I know that staying focused on my goal, will help me to face them head on.

Look out Ottawa, here I come!

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A few km into the Ottawa Marathon – May 2012

 

The year in review

Well, my last run of 2014 is in the books! Total distance for this year is 1773 kilometres. That’s an all-time high for me exceeding last year’s 1303 kilometres. Yay!

This year was a spectacular year for me. It was a year filled with all sorts of challenges,  tons of excitement, and it was the year I learned how important commitment is.

It started with training through an exceptionally cold winter for Around the Bay 30k which takes place the end of March. This was a year that saw an unusually high volume of runners drop out of this very popular race because the temperatures had been so cold and the streets so icy, that a lot of people weren’t able to put the training in. As cold as it was, and maybe because I’m a wee bit competitive (some say crazy), I didn’t miss a single training run. There were times when I had two or three layers of clothes on (top to bottom), but I find that the hardest part of these cold winter runs is just getting out the door. Once you get going, you’re fine. And so out the door I went four to five days a week. Whatever the weather. Commitment.

The race itself was tough for me. With more than half the race left I started to get a blister on the bottom of my foot that just kept getting worse and worse. Eventually, I stopped at an aid station and tried to fix it up. I lost about six minutes at that stop and it cost me a PB but I stuck it out and finished the race with a smile. Commitment.

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Around the Bay 30k. Less than 1 km to go

In April I found out I had gotten into the Chicago Marathon. My first marathon and my A race for the year. In order to keep myself in check until training started, I decided to run the Mississauga Half Marathon in May. It would keep me going another month and then I would take a few weeks to dial it back a bit and rest my legs before the marathon training began.

It wasn’t until the gun went off and I was 20x30-MIAM1047running the race that I realized that I hadn’t really prepared myself for it. I hadn’t even looked at a map of the route.  The further I ran, the more I realized that I was running this race for all the wrong reasons. It was a great course. I ran it. I was not committed to it. I will run it again someday. Next time, I will give it the commitment it deserves.

My commitment to the Chicago Marathon began right after that race. For months I had been having severe lower back pain to the point that I could barely move after a run. In May, I decided that I had better get it looked at before the marathon training began. I knew that the training was going to require a lot including more and longer runs and I had better be in the best shape that I could possibly be in. I started seeing a physiotherapist a couple times a week and stuck to the daily regime of exercises and stretches she gave me and by the time the marathon clinic started my back was 1000 times better than it had been. I continued on with physiotherapy throughout the training to ensure that I was operating at my best.

Further commitment to my first marathon continued throughout the training. IMG_3192The schedule called for five runs a week. I had been doing three so decided that four would be fine and removed the Saturday run from the schedule. After a few weeks of training, I realized that there was a reason for five runs a week or they wouldn’t all be in the schedule so I added that run back in. Five days a week. Rain or shine. Commitment.

In July I went on a nine day vacation and was afraid, no terrified, that being on vacation and away from my regular routine and running buddies was going to blow my training. The trip involved a lot of driving and days on the road so I wasn’t able to get all my runs in, but I did manage to get both 16km long runs in and an 8km run in between. It took some planning but I mapped out routes ahead of time and knowing what my goals were it was pretty easy to get out there even if I was on my own for the most part. I found it was a great way to see more of the cities we were visiting and I was able to keep my training on track so that when I returned I was able to jump right back in with my training buddies. Commitment.

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Discovery run in Halifax, Nova Scotia

The summer brought the usual sweltering heat and humidity and running our 10406548_840057709345201_2350319251948836907_nlong 30+ km runs was a huge challenge. There was sometimes talk of cutting some of those runs short but we never did. The longer the training went, the more aches and pains we were all feeling. I started to have pain in my right leg that was diagnosed as hamstring fatigue and began more strengthening exercises. I was lucky that it never got bad enough for me to have to cut back on my training, or even worse, drop out of the race. I managed the pain and I carried on. Commitment.

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Last training run before the Chicago Marathon

The race in itself was an experience I will never forget. And when the going got tough (and it did), everything I learned in training about commitment and drive was put into practice.

The challenge in the marathon though, is not necessarily running the race, but rather committing fully to the training. Following the program as closely as possible and making sacrifices in other areas of your life when you need to. Finishing the race is the culmination, a celebration of a successful training cycle. The training will actually tell you a lot about how committed you are to the race. Looking back at my training schedule recently, I found that I had completed 92.57% of the total distance my program called for. 92.57%. Commitment.

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After I completed my first marathon (Yay again!) and took a couple of weeks off,  I continued to run two 5–7 km and a 15km run every week in order to maintain a good base so that I’m ready for the next round of training to begin in January. There are different schools of thought as to whether you should give your body a complete break but I feel that running less frequently and easier during the week with an easy 15km LSD on the weekend is a good balance for me and keeps me at a point where I can transition easier into that training when it does start up again. Commitment.

Yes, this year, I learned all about the importance of commitment. Having some great running buddies makes it easier to keep those commitment, but in the end, everyone is responsible for their own training and how much they put into it. Ultimately your level of commitment plays a big part in determining your success in anything you do.

Of course in order to commit so fully, I have a great support system around me. My running buddies Ginny, Julie, Marie, Stacey, Tricia, Nalini and Shamita, my daughters Michelle and Erika who listen to the stories of all my runs without complaint and with smiles, and my fountain of running knowledge and biggest supporter Mike. Thanks Mike for taking all the awesome photos of me and the rest of our running community. On training runs, in races, when you’re not running and even when you are! Without them, my blog would be almost void of pictures.

Here’s to another great year in 2015!

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