Marathon art


After running the New York Marathon, I wanted something to commemorate it. I had my bib and my medal and my running shirt and I bought a finisher’s shirt, but I got caught up in the idea of having a poster or print or something to hang. So I bought this:

marathonart

It’s by New Jersey artist Ricardo Roig, and it cost way more money than I ever intended on spending on running art. But it makes me happy and Ricardo was so delightful to purchase from that it made it worth it.

Posted in Run |





Startin’ something


Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 8.51.44 PM

So as soon as I said good-bye, I started to regret it. I still think this blog needs a re-vamp and re-focus, but I see value in having a outlet for my fitness inspirations and frustrations. The boyfriend can’t absorb it all.

Especially since this season, for the first time since spring of 2013, I’m running without a coach. It wasn’t planned. Her life got busy, my goals weren’t clear and suddenly I was 12 weeks away from a race I signed up for without a plan. So I made a plan.

It’s based on what I’ve learned from 2 years with a coach, and what I’ve learned about myself since I started running. The basic structure is as follows:

Monday – basketball + strength
Tuesday – tempo run
Wednesday – easy run
Thursday – speed work + strength
Friday – cross-train
Saturday – optional run and/or yoga
Sunday – long run

In a real world. I’ll end up dropping one strength session and either the Wednesday or Saturday runs, which still leaves me with a solid base for training.

I’m nervous. I’m nervous about motivation, about results, about dedication, about everything. I like accountability. I’d recommend getting a coach to anyone who is serious about running. But I’ve been in a funk for almost three months now and I need to get out of it. I’m hoping this training cycle will allow me to do that, and will let me learn new things about myself along the way.

 

 

 

Posted in Run |





New York, New York


marathon

On November 2, I ran the New York City Marathon. It was overwhelming and celebratory and exceeded every expectation I could have ever placed on a race. Everyone should run this race, to experience 4 hours of a city coming together, of thousands of people accomplishing a goal, of seeing an iconic place in such an unusual and glorious way, of getting cheered on and high fived by complete strangers over and over and over and over. It was a perfect, magical day and it’ll hold a special place in my heart for a long, long time.

I haven’t written about it, though, for two reasons. The first is that the week before the NYC marathon, something happened in my life that was emotionally and physically exhausting. In the week before the race, instead of resting and focusing, I was drinking and crying and having night terrors. It completely re-framed my goals for that day and will forever be tied to that experience. I wasn’t sure how to write about the race and not write about that, so I just chose not to write. It’s been three months and I still don’t know how to write about the race without writing about that. I don’t know if I ever will.

The second reason is that I am not entirely sure about this blog anymore: what purpose it serves, what I get from it, if I have it in me to make it a great, important, positive thing again. I’m not sure. Jill’s not in Toronto anymore. (I hope she comes back, but more importantly, I hope she’s happy, wherever she ends up.) Neither of us are blogging much. I have other creative outlets I’ve developed since this blog started three years ago. I’ve been spending time (too much time) thinking about it and I still don’t know the answer.

I may be back. I may not. But I am at peace with not knowing. Because here is what I do know:

1. If you think for even a second that maybe running a marathon might be a thing you want to do, do it. I’ve learned more about myself and what I need to be healthy and happy since running insane distances.

2. I need to run insane distances. I will never be a happy, peppy runner who wakes up at 5am and bounds out of bed to the track, but I thrive on having goals, and having a fitness outlet other people think is insane. Perhaps it’s the braggart in me, perhaps it’s the overachiever. But since the NYC marathon, I haven’t really run and I’ve been and directionless and felt terrible and also felt not very happy. Running – no, training – calibrates me. A small part of me hates that I’ve learned this about myself, but a bigger part is relieved I can latch on to something to get me through trying times – and to keep me from getting fat.

3. Wear a singlet with your name or country on it when you run big races – you will feel like a rock star. I wore a Canada singlet and every Canadian I came across went crazy.

4. I don’t need people to run with to run, but I need people to run with to run fast.

5. Fitness for fun is a good, important thing to have in my life. I ignored that for too long.

6. Races are more fun when they are shared experiences.

7. When everything is crumbling around me, I can run. Even if it doesn’t make it better, it makes me feel better. Or at least makes me breathe better. And, hey, running is better than drinking when it all goes to hell.

8. NYC is magical. Everything about that day – from being wished good luck by a guy walking his dog at 6:30am in Lower Manhattan as I headed to the subway, to freezing on the Staten Island Ferry, to Central Park being so loud I couldn’t hear the music in my headphones – was completely surreal. If you ever get a chance to run NYC, do it. You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

Posted in Run |





Race Recap: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon


Julie and Jill, it's race time!

Julie and Jill, it’s race time!

 

We did it, Julie!!

Julie and I were victorious in our half marathon together. Not only did we finish with huge smiles on our faces, we ran in excellent time despite all the factors convincing us we weren’t going to make it. But the best (and bit surprising) part was that we ran the entire race together! Oh, and I should add we may have talked the entire time. I kid you not. But for those I’ve had the pleasure of running with before should see this as no surprise. I’m now convinced this was the reason we didn’t go sub 2 hours, as Julie optimistically gave us the benefit of the doubt when we originally signed up. For Julie this was before Berlin, all the beers and chocolate, and for me I was living in France training and dreaming about Paris. If we zipped our lips sub 2 was ours I know it. But that wasn’t our goal going in, although it would have been awesome. Before I even set foot on a plane to Toronto Julie and I made a pack to run the half together. We both had our doubts about the race, but we stuck to the plan and agreed not take it seriously. And knowing STWM was a training run for Surf City took the pressure off to preform well. I wouldn’t of had it any other way because this race was a whole lot of fun from start to finish. And I have Julie to thank for that.

This wasn’t my first race running with someone. Erin and I ran together during my first 10k and 30k races, and we tried for my first 15k too but that didn’t go quite as planned. Running with someone else gives you a completely different perspective of running. First off, it makes running fun! Like really fun! Like I said Julie and I talked the entire time, we didn’t care about all the technical things like pacing and distance, and hydrating on schedule we just ran. Instead of thinking about it we talked about these things. When you stop thinking about the race that’s when you enjoy the race.

You actually notice things. And people notice you. Julie and I had so many shout outs I lost count. One guy in particular called me out “Come on! Jill’s making it look easy!” If I new who this guy was I would find a way to thank him. I was able to look at the crowds cheering and the nicer parts of the route – like running through my old neighbourhood! Oh Bloor and Bathurst how I’ve missed you.

 

Official race photo at SWTM. The look on my face says it all- having a scary amount of fun Julie seems to agree!

Official race photo from SWTM. The look on my face says it all- having a scary amount of fun. Julie seems to agree!

While STWM was my first half since Semi Marathon de Paris it was also my first major race in Toronto. Erin has ran Scotia and Goodlife having a good time both times, but for some reason while I was living there I didn’t see the excitement behind running a full or a half in my home city. Running all ends, both east and west, I’ve covered a lot of ground in Toronto. How wrong I was. Although spending so much time away SWTM felt like a huge welcome back party. Originally it was going to be the mark of my grand return, but life has a funny way of doing things we don’t plan for. I’m still living at home, with a new job, and teaching lots of yoga so it’s all good. But I’ll be back Toronto, I promise!

The only bummer is that the race had to end. Erin also arranged the mega Cheer Station for Julie and I in Corktown, which sadly we didn’t even run past during the half. How sad is that? But for all the marathoners I hope they got an ear full of cheers on our behalf.

Next up for Julie and I is our full in Cali then after that we’re open to suggestions. Perhaps another Toronto race is in order? After Scotiabank, I’d be down. But first I must survive winter training in Nova Scotia!

 

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Race Recap: Valley Harvest 10k


Getting ready to run! Here I am in the crowd of 10kers.

Getting ready to run! Here I am in the 10k crowd!

Thanksgiving weekend in Nova Scotia was one for the record books. I don’t know what the weather was like in Toronto, but I’m going to do all kinds of bragging because this particular holiday weekend, here at home, was incredible. And the best part of the weekend, besides my Mommy making me a Thanksgiving/pre-race dinner, I went running.

Knowing I had the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon to run the following weekend I figured running another 10k would be excellent preparation (and motivation) to train a little harder and get my legs in better shape for the 21.1k in store. Luck was on my side this day, as I ran fast I felt strong and enjoyed the day immensely. Other than the fact I was sweating buckets! I wasn’t prepared for the weather, as odd as that sounds.

Dad, as my new personal running aid, happily took on his second job when I took him to Wolfville. He also came to Halifax with me for the Maritime Race Weekend where he counted pirates and took lots of pictures of me! (another fantastic weekend) Dad and I however have our differences, and one particular difference is around time. We hit the road way before the sun came up – even before the chickens were awake – my race started at 9 so we had time to drive to the home of Acadia University (and the starting point of my race) that morning. I dressed in layers with the thought that I would change once we arrived, if needed. Now, I forgive my dad because he’s new at this running thing, but there is no need to panic around timing with races. We were able to find a parking spot no problem and traffic wasn’t bad at all. This isn’t New York, Dad. I also had to pick up my race kit, so again, Dad you’re forgiven for the level of stress you were exerting on me. I collected my race kit, went to the ladies room, and even had time to watch the marathoners and half marathoners start their race. That’s how much time we had. All this stress and snapping at each other, I realized while we waited for my start time I didn’t have my music. I didn’t change my clothes, I didn’t have an extra hair elastic. It was then I felt really unprepared  Dad in his charming and apologetic way offered to go and get the things I needed, but my response was “it’s only a 10k, I’ll be fine”. I don’t know if that’s terrible of me or awesome I can say that. But that’s how I felt that morning. I was feeling pretty good.

Erin mentioned she’d like to run the Valley Harvest Marathon one year where it falls on Thanksgiving weekend it would be an excellent reason to come home. I agreed. It would be a lovely time to be home and an excellent reason to run. When I met my friend Katie and her husband Bryan in Halifax (who was going to run the marathon this weekend, but decided against it due to injury) I thought about running too, after Katie told me to. I didn’t think about it before, but my pre-half jitters made me do it, so a week before I signed up  for the 10k. Running anything more made no sense.

Making my move!

Making my move!

I couldn’t have asked for a better day, but the only thing I was a little disappointed by was the actual route. First, I have to say after all this I spent away from Nova Scotia I’ve grown to appreciate how beautiful our little towns really are. And Wolfville is no exception. It’s stunning, quaint and just plan pretty. I was hoping to get this during my run. The out and back we did was okay, but I wanted to see more of the town. I also liked the idea of starting and ending the race in the Acadia track (I felt like a superstar!) but this also made for an awkward start leaving the track and a more difficult end when approaching the university. It was hard to shift onto the sidewalk to allow oncoming traffic to pass. This is didn’t like, when I’m ready to make my move at the end I want room to do it without interfering with other around me. It was a tight squeeze in some spots and that sprint to the end was deceiving.

The Nova Scotia runs I’ve completed have proven their worth in my mind. Hey, I came second in my age group for the 10k! With a few minor things the important stuff was done right. The route was well marked, getting in and out driving wise was simple, more spectators would have been nice, but the volunteers were great. You can’t have it all. Next time I’ll consider the half or the full. Then I’ll see more of the town for sure.

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STWM weekend is coming


Here we are, together again!

Here we are, together again!

Toronto, I am coming back! Sadly it’s only for another visit and not a permanent visit. I haven’t moved back (not yet anyway) But! I am making my comeback to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. Because why not?

When Julie and I decided long ago we’d head to California to run a marathon together (her fourth marathon and my third) we chose to run SWTM as our training run for Surf City. It made sense at the time, I thought I’d be back living in Toronto at this point and a year away from the city I love is a long time. But life has a funny way of not doing what you think it should. For instance the full time job I landed in Digby. That wasn’t planned for by any means but here I am locked into a 6 month contract living and working in Digby. Things could be a lot worse. Like my half marathon this Sunday.

This race will be interesting. Of all the years I’ve lived in Toronto I’ve never participated in either Scotia or Goodlife. Ever. Erin has and we cheered one year (little did I know that Julie was running) For some reason I thought a race in the city I run everyday wouldn’t be exciting, I know that’s not true, I guess I wasn’t interested. I’d rather travel somewhere to run a race! But the time has come for me to run Toronto. After my travels away running at home will be a nice welcome. It’ll be like a brand new city to me. I do like the half distance and there’s a cheer station dedicated to me and Julie, thanks to Erin and the great people of Corktown. And of course I’ll be running with Julie again! It’ll be great.

Other then the fact that Julie is still running off the beers, chocolate, and sausages from Berlin, and I have yet to run more than 15k, we’ve got this. But in terms of how the race will go, we’re not too concerned. We’re going to run the race together, shoot for a sub 2 hour time, and enjoy each others company. Words that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Come cheer for us! We’re going to need it.

Posted in Run | Tags: , , , |





NYC Marathon Training Weeks #11 & #12


I’ve been working a lot and running a lot and things seem under control these days. Busy, but the end is near. One more long run and I get to taper!

I fell on my leg in basketball and the bruising is ridiculous. This was what I was most afraid of when I signed up for bball – that I would get injured and it would ruin my marathon. Fortunately, it’s just along the outside of my leg and doesn’t affect any joints. I’ve run three since it happened and, while it feels weird, the running isn’t making it worse. I just have to tough it out.

I’m organizing one of the official cheer stations for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Please come out – we have a DJ and a band and coffee and free fitness. The details are here. Jill is running on behalf of our charity partner, 40 Oaks – support her here!

Corktown Cheer FLYER.pub

My long run last week was great. 30k, a consistent, strong run. I thought I had marathon training cased after that.

My long run this week was a different story. I did it at the boyfriend’s cottage and that meant hills, hills, hills. At least it was on fall country roads on a perfect weather day. My Garmin also died halfway through, so I had to guess my effort and my walking breaks during the second half of the run.

(It was an out and back so just double this data.)

I bought new compression socks. I needed new compression socks – my old ones have worn thin and one had a hole in it. They are bright pink and awesome. My quads are so dead, though, – is it weird to really want full-on compression tights?

I bought a Canada race top from the running room. I thought it would be fun to wear a Canada top and see if I get any special crowd reactions when running NYC, haha. At the Blue Nose in 2013, my name was GIANT on my bib and my number was teeny. That really helped the spectators – I have never heard my name so many times in a race.

 

Posted in Run |





NYC Marathon Training Week #10


Marathon training. It’s happening. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m having a hard time being motivated, which was the same problem I had during Ottawa training. I do so much of my running solo, I think I need a training group to take me to the next level.

My week was fine, if uneventful. I got my workouts in: four runs, two Nike sessions, one swim. I’m not as fast as I should be, but have a hard time finding reasons to care. (I’ll care on race day.) I miss yoga. My stomach was a jerk all week. The revelation these past two weeks, however, has been basketball.

I love it. An obscene amount. More than I ever thought I would. My relationship with basketball is a weird one, and one I’ve overthought too much over the past 10 years. The university I chose to go to I chose for three reasons: the first-year program looked amazing, the school was in Halifax, and I could play university basketball. I played for two years. It was a huge part of my life. Then it stopped, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. The first time I played – after it dominating my life from the ages of 13 to 19 – I was out of shape. I signed up for a rec league in grad school and it kicked my ass so hard. I hated it, and became convinced that playing basketball wasn’t a thing I was supposed to do anymore.

I’m in shape now. I’m 10 years removed from university bball. I’m 7 years removed from my last rec league. I knew I needed to get over these weird feelings. I chose the easiest, least intense league I could find. But what it has done is reminded me why I chose an education partially formed by a need to play a sport. Why I skipped so many pivotal university experiences because I had practice or a game or needed to get in weight training. Why I wrote essays on buses. Sports are fun. Basketball is fun. Fitness is fun.

This is a feeling I’ve never had with running.

I like racing, don’t get me wrong. And I think running will always be part of my fitness life. But what this league has reminded me is that I need to find fitness activities that are fun, that I enjoy, that are more about the calories burned or the miles ran, in order to truly embrace living a fit life.

Or maybe I’m just high on being one of the better players on my team. That hasn’t happened since I was 17.

Basketball is the best.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized |





Halifax OKC Kettlebell Sport Certification


Our awesome group of kettlebellers. I learned so much from all of them!

Our awesome group of kettlebellers. I learned so much from all of them! Photo credit Master Tim Bell

My weekend in Halifax was truly one busy, action packed weekend. Not only did I run, I also became a certified kettlebell instructor. Crazy I know, perhaps a bit odd. But totally true.

Since my summer at the Y began I’ve been flooded with an abundance of fitness information outside my running and yoga bubble. Everything from instructional courses, orientations, muscle focused isometric movements, to simple basic workouts that’ll kick your butt. The new fall schedule is now in full swing and I’m pumped to learn how to swim, train to become a better runner, and up the anti with my cycle fit classes. I want to pump these classes with a lot more energy and perhaps some dance moves. But we’ll see about that one. With all this new information coming my way I decided it was time to do something with it and the timing could not have been better. Amanda (one of my bosses at the Y, hi Amanda!) sent myself and the staff an invitation to a kettlebell certification course in Halifax. According to Amanda the price was comparable to other courses (a little steep in my opinion but this is considering I pretty much spent all my pennies abroad) Regardless I was into the idea but only considered it in passing.

But I kept thinking about it. And kept thinking about it. Honestly, I didn’t really look into it beyond the dates and location. Knowing the course fell on the weekend I was planing to be in Halifax already kept me thinking about it from afar. Because what did I know about kettlebells anyway? Nothing really. That’s what.

When the course was only weeks away I had begun my race weekend planning. One last look at Amanda’s email – and my trip to Toronto for Erin’s birthday – convinced me to do it. But I had one small problem on my hands, the possibility of “running” (excuse the pun) late Saturday morning. I’d have to run my 10k, jump in the car and drive from Eastern Passage to Bayer’s Lake (not the longest of drives, but in crunch time it’d feel extremely long) all before 10am. This was not going to happen. When I emailed my concern to the organizers I received a very nice response from Master Tim Bell who kindly assured me it wouldn’t be a problem. Hooray! I was in.

Saturday morning rolled around and everything went smoothly. I ran my 10k under an hour – all part of the plan – found my papa, got in the car and drove to the training venue. I arrived 20 minutes after 10. The group had just started warming up, I was golden. I even got props from Jason and John for running that morning. Even better!

 

This is how you really lift! Jason and John from OKC showing us how the sport of kettlebells is done! Master Tim Bell took this picture.

This is how you really lift! Jason and John our instructors from OKC. Thanks Master Tim for the picture.

John and Jason came all the way from California to offer the Orange Kettlebell Certification for the first time in Canada. And in Halifax of all places. I was fortunate to be a part of these fine Canadian instructors including the great bunch of ladies I met from the YMCA of Cape Breton (hi, gals!).

The 16 hour certification was broken down into two 8 hour days which covered the importance and fundamentals of the sport lifting. Given the size of the group we had lots of instructional one-on-one time and time practice and perfect our own technique. Right off the bat I was lost. I was surrounded by of group of non-beginners who’ve clearly taken to the sport of kettlebell beyond my years of any sport I have ever done. Yes, I felt that lost. But John and Jason were kind enough to discard this fact because I didn’t feel inferior to anyone for my lack of training and knowledge instead, as the great coaches they were, I absorbed the corrections they gave me and ate up every positive remark they provided. By the end of Day 1 I could swing, jerk, and clean like a pro, almost. Apparently I should have been lifting heavier weights. Maybe that’s how I perfected things so quickly? Or maybe that was my plan all along.

Day 2 would be the moment of truth to my ill-preparation. Day 2 was test day. “There’s a test! Shit.” Not just a written test but a physical test. “Great. I’m going to die. Or worse I’m going to fail.” But the CB ladies had my back. If I did fail I’d have a year to train and re-test via video proof I completed the physical exam. Thank goodness for a back up plan I was seriously convinced I wouldn’t pass the physical part of the course.

In the morning we covered snatches – according to John is going to be my event – this was the highlight of my morning thinking I’m actually good at something I just learned. Then we covered the style of long-cycle. Afterward was test time.

The written test was a 25 multiple choice exam which we were allowed to use the aid of our notebooks, if we had notes to look off of. Great. I did zero reading or note taking. If I was a good student I wouldn’t have had to use my lunch break to prepare, but that’s over with now. And yes I passed! Our physical exam however required skill, a strong will and tremendous support. Each student had 10 minutes to complete a determined set of repetitions of their chosen task. I did the long-cycle as most ladies did, but the minimum weight for ladies to lift was 12lbs and based on my weight I had to complete 60 reps. Oh god, I was practicing all weekend with 8 and 10s and god only knows how many reps I could do in a row! I was doomed.

 

Look at me I'm a certified kettlebell instructor!

Look at me I’m a certified kettlebell instructor!

Somehow I did it. I lifted and listen to John as he coached me and I listened to Lance (a fellow student from Ottawa) who was a natural and calming coach (thanks Lance I needed that!). Looking back at the course I was surprised at how much of the material was focused on the sport of lifting other than the instructional components of design a class or taking students through a kettlebell class. Although my expectations were far from what I got out of the actual course, what I got was much more than I could have ever asked for.

My weekend wasn’t over there. With time ticking away I needed to get back to Digby to teach a yoga class at VP Fitness in Digby (my new teaching gig for the fall). But I couldn’t leave the club. I needed to stay and cheer everyone on, just as they did for me.  Like I said the physical test took courage and determination and I’m so proud of the fact that everyone there (me and the CB ladies included) did it. It was one of those things you can’t really explain or prepare yourself for until you actually experience it. And I’m so glad I did.

And I did make it back to Digby in time in case you were wondering. What a weekend.

Here’s a video proving my work. Thanks again Master Tim (Halifax Kettlebell Sport Club)

Chu-Hi!

Posted in Goals | Tags: , , , |





NYC Training Week #9


 

What a week. It ended with another tough race.

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: 6 hill repeats, followed by a 30 minute bootcamp.

Wednesday: Was my first basketball game. It appears basketball was a good life choice. Everyone on my team is a similar skill level and has a similar background: high-level high school/low-level college bball 10 years ago, wanted a fitness outlet but the 5-on-5 officiated league seemed too intense. We were well matched against the other team too, and I think the only reason we won was because we had more subs. It also kicked my ass: running constantly at different speeds is exhausting!

Thursday: 3×1000 splits. I did these on the way to work:

5:31
5:20
5:22

I did 15 minute Nike Boot camp at the park near my office. I need to get up earlier if I plan to double up in the morning, but damn it’s hard when it’s pitch black out.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Easy 30 minutes. I didn’t take my watch. It was probably closer to 20. Then I went to the mall and bought new bball sneakers and new swimming goggles.

Sunday: This was the Oakville half marathon. It POURED, and after a while it felt like I was running through a puddle. However, the biggest problem was that my stomach cramped up around 8k and got progressively worse throughout the run. We stay at my boyfriend’s house the night before and the dinner we ate wasn’t my normal pre-run meal and then in the morning, there were no bananas so I had jam with my toast and peanut butter. That’s the only thing I can think of. On the bright side, even though my pace slowed down an obscene amount, I only walked during the water stations the whole race, which was my plan all along. Silver linings.

My splits were:

1 -5:34
2- 5:34
3- 5:34
4- 5:54 – water station
5- 5:36
6- 5:33
7- 5:56 – water station
8- 5:55
9- 6:13 – water station
10- 6:06
11- 5:48
12- 6:05 – water station
13- 6:00
14- 6:09
15- 7:01 – water station
16- 6:44
17- 6:47
18- 7:27 – water station
19- 6:34
20- 6:56
21- 5:54

2:09:56.

I’m due for a good race. I need my confidence back.

Posted in Run | Tags: |