Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Hubs and I

Today marks an important date for Hubs and I. Is it our wedding anniversary? No, although our wedding anniversary is approaching soon on July 23rd (little reminder for Hubs nudge-nudge-wink-wink!). Is it the day Hubs and I met? No, we actually met in July of 1994 at General Motors, where Hubs works now, and I was a summer student in university.

June 29th actually marks to me an equally important anniversary to the ones mentioned above. It was four years ago today that Hubs and I sauntered into our local Whitby Running Room to sign up for the "Learn to Run" program. Little did we know how much our lives would change as a result.

Prior to starting our running program, Hubs and I lived a mostly sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle. We would have the odd bout of joining a gym and attending for a few weeks, but eventually fell out of the habit before any routine was established. No exercise or diet regime seemed to stick, that is, until we began running.

Running has enriched our lives in so many ways. In my opinion running has strengthened every aspect of our lives. We are in the best shape of our lives, and we have met and made some great friends because of running. It has strengthened our relationship with each other, with our families, and with our close friends. Running has had a direct impact on who we are and how we live today.

I thought I would celebrate this date by reflecting a bit on our 4 years of running.

June 29th, 2004
Hubs and I signed up for our very first running program called Learn to Run. We received t-shirts as part of the registration for our program, which we tried on as soon as we got home and snapped some BR (before running) photos. I'm kinda hesitant to post these, but one thing I want is for this blog to be honest, and this is what Hubs and I looked like, four years ago today.

As you can see, I could have been a contestant for the The Biggest Loser. I wasn't always that heavy, but I poured my heart and soul into my teaching job for the first five years of my career and battled stress with greasy food and sweets. The result is depicted above. And Yes, Hubs was a total Hippy. :)

Starting the Learn to Run Program involved a 20 minute workout, beginning week one running for one minute and walking for one minute, building up to 10 and 1's (running:walking). I remember that first 1:1 week thinking, "How will I ever run for 10 minutes without stopping?!"

September 2004 - Our first 5K race -CIBC Run for the Cure

It was so much fun training for our first 5K and these were the people we trained with. Hubs and I were hooked. We had such a blast at our first race that we immediately signed up for the half marathon clinic. And yes I completed the race running 10 and 1's in 28 minutes, 4 seconds. Not bad for my first race ever!

December 2004- Training for our first half marathon

Drastically upping our mileage in such a short time caused the pounds to really begin melting off of my body. It also unfortunately caused me to experience painful shin splints. In fact, there was one day when I almost couldn't walk when I got out of bed. It was a small price to pay for the fun we had training for this race. Every run represented a new milestone as our distance kept climbing and climbing. This winter had many snow storms. I remember many cold advisory alerts (i.e-stay inside and don't be stupid and venture outdoors). I happily ignored these and I remember having my fluid freeze in my water bottle during long runs. I was determined to keep with it. It was the beginning of an obsession that sticks to this day.

February 2005 - Our first Half Marathon, Peterborough YMCA half marathon.

I ran my first half marathon in two hours and thirteen minutes, below my target goal of 2:15. I went on to run three half marathons with a goal of running under two hours. I finally achieved this in May of 2006 at the Mississauga Marathon. Later that month I also ran my first full marathon in Ottawa. Hubs went on to run his first full marathon in May of 2005 in Ottawa.

May 2006, Ottawa- My first Marathon

My first marathon was awesome, although it was a humid hot day, over 34 degrees. I was so proud when I crossed the finish line. It took me 4 hours, 37 minutes. Not bad considering the extreme conditions. The photo above was taken by our good friend, Paul at kilometer 36. His wife Suzanne also ran the half marathon that day and so the whole family came out to cheer us on.

Since I have started running I have run nine half marathons and seven full marathons. Hubs has run 16 full marathons and five half marathons. I am running my first ultra marathon this July in Vermont (53km). We have run races in Ontario, Tennessee, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I hope to one day complete the 50 state marathon challenge.

I was going to snap an after picture, but I haven't gotten around to it, so here is a photo taken this March when we were in Napa Valley wine tasting. Another hobby... :)

I can't wait for where the sport running takes us next, and I am thankful to have this blog to document my experiences. Hope everyone has a great week of running. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

So many marathons, so little time.....

As many of you know, I am running the Jay Challenge Ultra 33 mile mountain marathon in July. I still need to firm up my fall marathon schedule though. I am currently prepping for a marathon as early as Sept 28th (Scotiabank Marathon), but I would like to run two full marathons this fall (as spread out as possible). Here are the options I am considering:

A) Scotiabank marathon
Pros: Flat and close to home, good early season marathon
Cons - Ran it last year, can be warmer because its still early

B) Philadelphia
Pros: Flat and fun
Cons: Ran it last year

C) Detroit
Pros: Flat, large medal, I can knock off Michigan as one of my 50 states marathon quest
Cons: Timing - I wish it were later in November

D) Scranton
Pros: Drivable, large net downhill (woo hoo!), we know a group of people going, so that would be fun.
Cons: Can't think of any

Any other suggestions? I live in Southern Ontario, so it has to be drivable within 8 hours or so. Flat is good, but I also like a little challenge. I will likely choose two, preferably two months apart. I have created a poll, or comments are always welcome!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yasso 800 Tuesdays: Week 4

Gotta run, I have a pool party to go to, but here are the results for week 4.

Interval one: 3 minutes, 37 seconds
Interval two: 3 minutes, 46 seconds
Interval three: 3 minutes, 42 seconds
Interval four: 3 minutes, 37 seconds
Interval five: 3 minutes, 42 seconds
Interval six: 3 minutes, 40 seconds
Interval seven: 3 minutes, 45 seconds

Lots of mental games this week to get me through, but I am pleased with the results.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 23, 2008

All Trails Look The Same

All trails look the same. At least to me, they do.

Yesterday I went for a long trail run at Long Sault Conservation Area with some running friends that are also running the Jay Challenge. It was a great day for running, the temperature was nice and cool, and slightly overcast. It made for a great run with some really awesome people.

Since all of the trails stem from a central parking lot, our group would double back every hour to our cars to refuel, and rehydrate. All was well, and it was turning out to be a really nice, relaxing long run. After our third hour, a few of the runners left, including one of the girls that knows the trails particularly well. Myself and two others decided to hang in for a forth hour to better prepare ourselves for Jay. We decided to run the 8km trail that we completed during our second loop.

We headed out and were heading along a good pace. After the half-way point, I started to relish the thought of my Epsom salt jacuzzi bath that I would be celebrating my post run in. We were on a trail called "white tail deer", and took a connecting trail, which we thought would take us back to the parking lot. We ran along the connecting trail for a few kilometers, and realized we took the wrong turn when it dumped us onto to some foreign road.

Being mentally and physically tired at this point (4 hours in and trail running to boot- which is about 5X more challenging than road running), we had to regroup and figure our way back. We jogged back the 2 kilometers and looped back up the white tail deer path to another dead end. I know it was mostly mental, but at this point, I was becoming very tired and felt very lost.

Luckily we ran into a cyclist that was able to give us instructions back to the parking lot (another 3km away!!). What a relief when we finally saw the parking lot. We ended up staying out for close to five hours!

In the end, all was good, and I was glad I had the extra time out, as the Jay challenge will likely take between 8 to 10 hours to complete, so its really about time on your feet. It was also a good mental challenge not to just give up, but to keep going because I had to. So if it happens to me on the mountain, I am prepared.. hopefully!

This week in training
Monday - pm bootcamp
Tuesday - Yasso 800's seven intervals (gulp!!)
Wednesday - am -bootcamp, pm- 10km trail run
Thursday -rest
Friday -am bootcamp, pm 8 km tempo run
Saturday -10 km race pace run (for fall marathon)
Sunday - 30km "ish" - it all depends - I have to decide
Hope everyone has a great week of running. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yasso 800 Tuesday's: Week 3

Last night I completed my third week of my Yasso Speed Challenge. This week had me running six 800 meter intervals with equal rest time in between. Here are the results:

Interval one: 3 minutes, 42 seconds
Interval two: 3 minutes, 48 seconds
Interval three: 3 minutes, 30 seconds
Interval four: 3 minutes, 42 seconds
Interval five: 3 minutes, 42 seconds
Interval six: 3 minutes, 50 seconds

I had a bit of indigestion, so my times were a little less consistent. I was frustrated after my second interval, hence, I ran too fast for the third interval, which kind of killed me for the last interval, but all in all not too bad. I am really enjoying the mental challenge of the repeats.

I went for a 10K trail run tonight, and I was really tired. Hopefully a good sleep tonight will refresh me for tomorrow. Have a good one and thanks for reading!

All good things must come to an End

Today was the last day of classes at the high school I teach at. As a grade 12 teacher, I am always a little sad to see my students graduate. This year I had a great bunch of grade 12 Biology students, so I played them one of my favorite songs to say my goodbye to them and to wish them all well as they head off into the crazy world.

It's a beautiful song, and I always play it when I need some motivation to go out and try something new. It speaks to me particularly with my running, especially before races when I am wondering, why the heck did I sign up for this?!!

On another note, Hubs and I went to a wedding this weekend. Here is a picture of Hubs and I all cleaned up.

Hubs and I had a great time. Almost too great of a time, in fact. I was worried I would be a little shall we say "dehydrated" for my 24km trail run Sunday morning. The run went well except for the fact I got huge red hives on my legs. I thought it was maybe poison ivy, but it turns out it was a reaction between the bug spray and sunblock lotion. Thankfully, most of it went away after some Epsom salt therapy and antihistamines. Yikes!

Training plan for this week
Monday - am -bootcamp
Tuesday -pm -Yasso 800's -6 intervals (10km)
Wednesday am -bootcamp -pm 10 km trail run
Thursday -pm -running bootcamp (5-7 km)
Friday am- bootcamp, pm 6km tempo
Saturday - REST
Sunday - am 30-40km road run

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Winding down the week

Tomorrow is my rest day, and boy I am relieved! All of my muscles are sore after a grueling week of running, weights, lunges, and plyometrics. I had a great week of workouts and my spirits are high (disclaimer: Marci's spirits could also be high because of the *awesome* cabernet sauvignon she is sipping as she writes this post...)

BTW what is plyometrics??!! I had never heard of plyometrics before my running bootcamp coach Ken mentioned the term after he had instructed me to jump sideways on one foot through a long rope ladder laying on the ground. It was tough to keep my coordination, and towards the end of the exercise, I was a bit like a train wreck that flew off the tracks. He explained that it would improve my running greatly, since when we run we often with only one foot striking the ground at a time. Makes perfect sense.

Fast forward to Friday bootcamp, and my instructor Michelle has us jumping up and down from bleachers with a little squatting motion, another plyometric move (see pic below). Not so much of a train wreck with this, but still a struggle with the co-ordination aspect. Again the term plyometrics was brought up. I decided to read up more about plyometrics, and report what I found out about it on my blog.

Plyometrics is a type of training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system. Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity and innervation of muscles to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder.

So the question is, does plyometrics work for distance runners? I found an article on runners web that suggests it does:

Evidence that plyometric training improves running economy and distance-running performance continues to pile up. In recent research carried out by Rob Spurrs and colleagues from the Human Movement Department at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, just six weeks of plyometric work (with 15 total plyometric sessions) improved 3-K run time by almost 3%!

There are a bunch of plyometric exercises you can try at running planet in case you are interested.

I have another long trail run (24km) scheduled for Sunday. I hope everyone has a great weekend and enjoys their runs!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yasso 800 Tuesdays: Week 2

Tonight I completed week two of my Yasso 800 Speed Challenge. I was lucky that the weather gods were smiling down on me, as it was a temperate 21 degrees Celsius out tonight, rather than the hot humid weather so many of us runners have experienced over the last few days.

I have to admit I felt a bit tentative as I left my house and headed out to the track located a little over 2km from my house. My 20 km trail run was really tough on Sunday, with the temperature well over 30 degrees, and my legs still felt heavy as I started out.

Here's how I made out:

Interval one: 3 minutes, 42 seconds
Interval two: 3 minutes, 44 seconds
Internal three: 3 minutes, 44 seconds
Interval four: 3 minutes, 43 seconds
Interval five: 3 minutes, 37 seconds

Hubs took a picture of me during my last set (a little blurry)

I am very pleased with this weeks result! I really concentrated on my form and relaxing. It felt great to have a good hard run! My total distance was a little over 8km with warm up and cool down.

On the training menu for this week I have planned:
Monday: am - boot camp
Tuesday: pm - Yasso-8km
Wednesday: am- boot camp, pm-10km trail run
Thursday: pm running boot camp (approximately 6-7km running)
Friday: am -boot camp
Saturday -REST
Sunday - 20-24km trail run

Hope you all have great workouts this week! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I have been tagged

When I first was tagged by Phil, I confess that I had planned on ignoring it (out of pure lazinesss), but then I read on Nitmos' blog that this was bad blog etiquette. Who knew?!

Anyway I am supposed to answer the following questions and then tag five other people. So here we go!

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
I didn't run 10 years ago. That was easy! I began running in July of 2004, and ran my first 5K race in September of 2004.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?
My best running experience would have to be my first marathon. It wasn't a great time, but I was so emotional and proud of what I had accomplished. Hubs ran my first marathon with me. It was in Ottawa in May of 2006, a very hot and humid day. When we were approaching the finishing line, I was so overcome with emotion, I began hyperventilating (BTW, has this ever happened to anyone else?). Hubs thoughts I was hot so he poured water from his water bottle on my head, to which I responded.

Don't *gasp* pour *gasp* water *gasp* on *gasp* my *gasp* head!!!! What a finish! It was an awesome experience otherwise.

Worst: This is hard, I recently described my "worst" experience in Ottawa, but I still think I gained alot from this.

3. Why do you run?
Running makes me a better person. It has made me a calmer person, a braver person, a humble person, and generally a nicer person to be around. I'm also addicted to those delicious endorphins that fly round your body after a long run.

(I stole this from Phil - Is that bad blog etiquette too?! )

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Best piece of advice: Don't worry about your time for your first marathon. Seriously! Savour ever minute of it and don't let a time goal spoil it for you.

Worst piece of advice: I don't give bad advice, or at least I don't think I do. Maybe that's bad!

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
This is tough because I am pretty much an open book. Pretty much what you see is what you get.
Alright here's one: My mom's cousin, Lew Urry, developed the alkaline battery. That's my claim to fame! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

Mmmwhahahaha..... Who do I tag now? After careful consideration, I am tagging

1. Lynda from Running to Stay Sane
2. Melanie from Second Chances
3. Anners from Marathon Anners
4. Ted from Ted's Running Journal/Logbook
5. Ali from Just One More Mile

BTW, did I post yesterday that I love trail running? Phew! I had a manky 20km trail run today and was it ever tough!! An elevation of 6000ft, and my quads are shot. I guess it went O.K. , but I am questioning my sanity for the Jay's Challenge I signed up (53km!!!!) for in LESS THAN TWO MONTHS!!!


Thanks for reading!

Hitting the Trails

In preparation for our next adventure, The Jay Challenge, Hubs and I decided that we needed to incorporate more trail runs into our training, so we decided it was time to invest in some trail shoes in addition to our regular running shoes.

Here's Hubs and I sporting our new trail shoes:

Snazzy, huh?! Hubs are the fire-engine reds ones, which also came in what he referred to as "Hulk-Green", but much to his disappointment, the Hulk green ones were not available in his size: )

I love my new trail shoes, and I find them so much more comfy than my regular shoes (Asics Gel Kayanos). They feel like pillows on my feet and I really like the additional lateral support. These shoes were also much less expensive. Maybe its time to switch up my regular running shoes...

This past Wednesday night I went for a trail run in the new shoes at a conservation area near our house. Unfortunately Hubs is nursing an IT band injury right now, so while I ran, Hubs walked, and took some photos for you to enjoy.

This is me taking off in search of the group we were supposed to meet (we were unfortunately late!)

Sadly, the trail shoes are no longer new....

The route had an elevation of approximately 1000 ft, which felt hilly. Apparently Jay's Peak has an elevation of 9000 ft! Yikes!

More random shots..

A bubbling brook. So relaxing...

Stairs to a lookout and now-deserted campground.

I absolutely love trail running! I find I am so much more relaxed as a runner being surrounded by the beautiful scenery. It is also more challenging than road running as well, which is a plus.

I suppose I should get out for my run. Its manky here in Southern Ontario, and I have a 10K road for planned for today, and 20km trail run tomorrow. Happy running and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Yasso 800 Tuesdays

Due to my less than stellar run last month in Ottawa, I have decided to up my speed training to work on my lactate threshold. After reading up on various speed training techniques and strategies, I have decided to keep it simple and try Yasso 800's.
Yasso 800's provide a measure to predict your marathon time based on your most consistent 800 meter speed repeats. This speed workout was coined by Runner's World race service manager, Bart Yasso. The idea is that you have to run your desired marathon time in consistent 800 meter repeats, with equal rest intervals in between. For example, if you want to run a 3:45 marathon, then you should be able to run 800 meters in 3 minutes, 45 seconds 10 times with equal rest periods between each speed interval. This sounds simple, so I am willing to put it to the test. I started tonight with 4 repeats, and I will work my way up to 10 repeats. So, although I have not yet pinned my fall marathon time goal, I would like it to be less than 4 hours, so I went out tonight wanting to feel like I could run all four intervals comfortably. Here are my results:

Interval one: 3 min, 48 seconds
Interval two: 3 min, 49 seconds
Interval three: 3 min, 45 seconds
Interval four: 3 min, 38 seconds (I had some left in the tank)

Not too shabby, but we will see if I can keep this up for all 10 repeats, and more importantly, how closely my marathon result is to this strategy. All in all, it was a good workout. I will post my weekly results here to keep me motivated.

I also want to mention that an old high school friend of mine, Lynda has started her own blog, Running to Stay Sane. Go by and say hello. I also want to thank everyone who has come by and visited my blog already, the online running community ROCKS!!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Alfie Shrubb 8K fun run

This past Sunday morning Hubs and I volunteered at the Alfie Shrubb 8K fun run in Bowmanville, Ontario. It is a local event, and a great chance for local runners to get together and enjoy some beautiful spring weather together. Al Storie, the Toronto regional Running Room manager always does a great job putting this event together.

Hubs volunteered for our friend and Yoga instructor, Sheree from Live with Spirit. In fact, Hubs did warm up stretches for the runners under Sheree's direction. Too funny.

I spent the morning helping out Natalie, my boot camp instructor (Cardiocore Bootcamp). It was a fun morning, and it was nice to be a spectator/volunteer for a change.

Although this event is a fun run, there were elite runners at this event. Danny Kassap won for the men's event by completing the 8K race in 24:39.

The women's winner was Stephanie Summers, my instructor for my first half marathon clinic. She sailed past all of the "competition" and she just had a baby to boot. Way to go Stephanie! Both runners broke course records.

Another elite runner that came out to watch the event was Ed Whitlock. Ed is a world record holder for running a full marathon under 3 hours and at the age of 73!!!!!! He came out to support the event and cheer on runners. Of course Hubs chatted it up with Ed, and got his picture taken with this running legend.

Ed is well known for doing all of his training runs in a graveyard in Milton, Ontario where he lives. He says it keeps him motivated. I guess so........
The running world has so many great people with inspiring stories!
Thanks for reading!