Friday, November 22, 2013

Philadelphia Marathon Race Report!

"Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one" Bobby Knight

First a quick update as to the last few weeks of training. Things went generally well and I was extremely relieved that my 30km long run went more than smoothly. I felt great throughout and I could have continued no problem, plus my pace was close to marathon pace. Just the perfect run. It was a definite confidence booster and I knew I would be able to do this marathon! did it go you ask. ;)

A great view of the New York city skyline on our way to Philadelphia!

An important part of this whole marathon experience was the fact we were there to celebrate my Super SIL's 50th birthday. Our group included her husband/my brother and her two brothers, one of which ran the marathon with her. Together, those three boys are extremely funny and definitely kept the pre-race jitters at bay. We had a blast at the Expo and then we all went to see The Rocky statue. It was so much fun to watch the boys do the Rocky run up the steps (filming and playing the music at the same time :)) - of course, my SSIL and I also ran up the steps...doesn't everybody! So a very relaxing and fun day before the big DAY.
                                                 At the expo!                           Up the steps!

Overall, everything was in place for a great marathon: the weather was perfect (low 60's and sunshine), I slept relatively well, I carbo loaded and was able to get all my breakfast down, I wasn't actually feeling too stressed. In a way, it's like I was in denial about going out and running a marathon! 
My gift to my SSIL for her birthday marathon were these matching "Sole Sister" hearts that went on our running shoes. That way, even though we didn't run together, we were linked!

We left the hotel wearing some throw-away clothes and feeling excited. However, I could tell that I was having a hard time remaining calm and relaxed. Not so much stressing about the race, but worried there'd be a big line-up when we arrived (there is now a security check) - there was no line up. Then, worrying I'd be late in my Corral, so not able to just relax as my SSIL and her brother were doing a warm-up jog - I was not late at all. Still, the start of the race was again, perfect! My SSIL and her brother were with me and my SSIL showed me a quote she'd written on a piece of paper that was all about enjoying the run, we hugged and teared up a bit and then they went up ahead. For the first time ever, I was going to listen to music during a race, but I waited until after the first mile. I had downloaded some new songs and was looking forward to the boost of hearing them during the later miles. 
My goals: A = finish somewhere between 4:45 and 4:50
                B = finish under 5 hours
                C = finish!
Then, we were off. The first few miles are never easy, but usually, my lungs warm up and my pace increases after about 20-30 minutes. However, by mile two I realized that I didn't seem to be able to increase my pace to where I was hoping to be. It was steady, but slower than I hoped. Then, around mile 6 or 7 there was this long uphill incline and I was starting to feel mild pain on my right side. I knew that this usually led to a painful side stitch. By the time I reached the steeper climb at mile 8, the side stitch was a problem. I tried running through it as much as possible, but I had to stop every few km's to press against my side and bend forward in order to try and loosen the tight muscles. Luckily, by mile 10 or 11 it passed and never came back! However, at this point, I knew that the A goal was not going to happen and that the B goal was going to be tough. I wasn't feeling strong and mentally, that was tough! I tought about all the hard work I had put into my training over the last year and of the people who encouraged me. Also, because we were crossing the runners that were ahead of us, for quite a while, all I did was search for my SSIL and this kept me focused on something outside myself. It was such a boost to finally cross her around km 32...she went to high-five me, but I told her I needed a hug...I teared up a little as I watched her go. I could see that she was doing great and I was so happy for her! By then, I was aware that I could still come in under 5 hours and I knew it was all going to be about mental toughness at this point. My music was not much help as many of my new songs never came on (I use an ipod shuffle) just didn't help me as it had when I did my 30km training run. However, there are two mantras that I often use, one I use more while I train - see image below.
A friend had this made for me, as she had seen it on my fridge!

The second mantra is one I use during a race, when I'm starting to want to give up or panic a little inside - "Keep calm and run on". Everytime I would tell myself to just keep calm, it was enough to make me notice that my body was fine...I was okay! Definitely better than some of my other be honest, it was early in the race that I started thinking that I would not be racing this distance again.

Then, I'm at 39km and looking at my watch and all I'm thinking is, "Just keep running Anne", "Try and come in under five hours", "You'll be so disappointed if you give up now". Then I'd walk a bit and think, "I will be so pissed off if I come in a few seconds over five hours". Then I'd run again...but before I reached the 40km mark my Garmin died. It was almost a relief..."Oh well, I'll just try and run as much as I can". Finally, I heard the announcer and the crowd and I knew the finish line was near. I just gave it my all and hoped for the best.
A few meters from the finish line - turning towards my brother's call.

Here I am with my SSIL who knows that she reached her A goal (4h32m59s). She had the perfect race! Myself, I still do not know my time at this point.

As we are walking back to the hotel, I'm pleased that I never let myself give up and just kept pushing. However, I know I will be VERY disappointed if I come in over five hours and yet, I have a feeling I did come in over five hours. Just as I am entering my hotel room, I get a text from my daughter - "4h58m35s = under 5h!! Yahoo maman!!! I love you and I am so proud of you!!!" She had checked the results :) I was so, well relief is what I felt at first...then proud and excited. Relief that I didn't let my mind take over and then proud that I pushed through even though I didn't really have any "easy" miles, even at the beginning. 

So, although I was convinced that this was it for me, no more we're driving home, my SSIL says that her brother told her that Hamilton is flatter than Philadelphia (which is really not that flat)...and my reaction was "Oh yeah?!" followed by "I can't believe I just said's been one day and already I'm sounding interested in doing another one"'s a disease I tell you!

Here I am with my brother. I am so proud of him. He has been working hard to try and run his half-marathon under two hours. Finally, at age 53 and four years after getting the flesh-eating bacteria in his leg, he completed his half-marathon in 1h59m!! As Diana Nyad said: "Never ever give up"!

Finally, my body has recuperated quickly and well, which reassures me that I was well trained for this race! Now, my goals for this winter into spring training season is to work on speed. I've always had this barrier that because I have severe "eosinophilic" asthma I should focus on long distances. Since I started running four years ago, I have completed seven official half-marathons and two marathons. Any time I ran a 5K or 10K race, it was part of an endurance training program and never because I wanted to improve my time on those distances. I am was convinced that I don't didn't have the lung capacity for short "fast" races. So, although pace remains relative...I have decided to focus on speed work and to try and finally run a 10K under one hour, but the ultimate goal is under 59 minutes. As for a future marathon...who knows, maybe Hamilton in October 2014 ;)

Thanks if you took the time to read this whole thing...your encouragement has always been much appreciated! BTW - note the prednisone update in the sidebar...I have finally broken my record for number of days off prednisone...YAY!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Where it's at!

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

C. S. Lewis 

First, a quick health update. The excessive fatigue is gone...the culprit was not (just) hormones, but Candida! This is a side effect of my inhalers. I have been taking Fluconazole for this and my energy has now returned to my normal. Yay!

Training is going better now that I don't feel so exhausted. The last two long runs included segments at marathon race pace and it went really well. I'm running by myself again as my SSIL has a faster race pace than I do, but so far, we've always ended up meeting at one point during our runs. We hug and wish each other a good run and then off we go our separate ways. It's a nice boost.

One cool thing is that I did the Montreal Marathon 10k with my whole family. It was such a wonderful experience. We plan on doing it again next year and hopefully, the partners will join us too :)
I was still quite tired in this photo, but I felt such joy!
How lucky am I :)

Everybody was really pleased with their race. It was tall son's first race and he nailed it (47m32s)! Myself, I ran it as a training run and stayed relaxed but strong throughout (1h03m). 

The week after was a fund-raising 5k for my god-daughter's school. It was an absolutely beautiful day and most of the race was done on trails. It was the day after my long run, but the fatigue was lifting so I felt good.

Bringing it home in 29m42s

Less than six weeks until Philadelphia marathon weekend! AHHH! :) Now that I feel better, I am slowly getting my confidence back. 

Happy training everyone!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A family run, some training, and perspective.

“Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.” 
 William Arthur Ward

Another week, another long run. Well, this week is a recovery week, so it was more of a longish run (16km). Since my last post, I am mostly focused on resting, eating well and getting my workouts done. I often take a short 20-30 minute nap in the afternoon (I work mornings and evenings). Still, it's all getting done. Bonus - When I first started my current strength training program (I do this once a week, after spinning, at the gym) I could not do one single girl's pushup on the ground! I had to resort to doing my pushups up against the wall. However, after slowly doing more and more of my pushups on the ground, yesterday, for the first time I did all 45 pushups on the ground (that is 3 series of 15 pushups). Yes, they are "girl" pushups, but believe me, I am extremely proud of my progress!!

Asthma update: One really good thing is that my lungs are doing well these days. Although I still take inhalers, I have been able to reduce the number of puffs per day, which is excellent. 

La Virée des LaLa! :)

After our run on the mountain a few weeks ago, my brother (the one who had the flesh eating bacteria a few years ago and almost lost his leg) enjoyed it so much that he decided he wanted to try and organize a run with cousins and family. We rarely get together with our cousins, and some of them we barely know. He has remained extremely aware that today is all you can be sure of and so within a month the run was organized. The name of the run was called "La virée des LaLa" because both our parents' last names begin with the letters "La" so "LaLa"! Two cousins and their families came down from 7 and 9 hours away up north (Abitibi) and another from about an hour away, along with both of our families. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time. We then all went to my brother's house for brunch...and were joined by our mom and her husband. My brother achieved his goal of uniting family in an active and fun way. It was a huge success and I know for a fact that a few other cousins are seriously considering starting to run so they can join us "next year"!!

Raise your hand if you're ready to go! :)

And we're off...

My brother leading the pack with one of our cousins. She has her own story. She has lost 45lbs since she started running a little over a year ago! 

It was truly a beautiful place to run :)

Finally, I just finished this book called "Until I say Goodbye" by Susan Spencer-Wendel...She is a woman who has ALS - Lou Gehrigs disease, and has chosen to live her last years with joy. She is a wife and the mother of three young children and she is just admirable! An extremely inspiring and strong woman, who definitely puts symptoms of menopause into persceptive :)


Friday, August 23, 2013

Hormones (or lack thereof) men consider yourselves warned ;)

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” 
Eckhart Tolle

It's already been three weeks since I last blogged. Overall, marathon training continues to go relatively well. 

A nice mountain run with Uber H, my bro et my SSIL.

It was tough on some of the climbs, but we flew on the downhills!

Today was our longest run in this training cycle...almost 25km, and althought it went okay, I felt tired through most of it. However, our pace managed to stay the same and we chatted almost constantly. Although sometimes, I just listened :)

Here's the little fountain I mentioned  where we go rinse our hands and face. That picture is from two weeks ago...since then, I've lowered my fuel belt to the hips (not as stable) because it was chafing at my waist.

Lately, I have some good runs, but also some difficult runs. Lots of ups and downs, like my energy level these days. I was hesitant about addressing the issue of menopause this week...but, coincidentally, the Mother Runners decided to talk about it a few days ago. However, it was talked about with humour and not very seriously. Which is totally fine, but not what I was looking for. I'm in my mid-fifties and had not been very symptomatic so far. I was feeling lucky, "No not me, I don't really have any bothersome symptoms". Not anymore! It seems that things have changed over the last month and the hardest part is the general feeling of fatigue that overtakes me sometimes. I'm finding it harder to get out there for my weekday runs...and the long runs are often harder to get through than just a few months ago. Also, on long run days, I know I won't get much else done, because I need the whole rest of the day to recover. This partly explains my lack of motivation to sit and write a blogpost. Thank goodness the fatigue is not constant, it tends to come and go over the day, but I'm not enjoying the drain and mild nausea that sometimes accompanies the fatigue. So...what's your secret ladies? How do you deal with the fatigue, the hot flashes, the headaches, and training?

Myself, I've been very diligent about getting to bed between 9:30 and 10pm. I try to eat enough protein and, well, enough healthy food! I've added a day off to my work schedule every second week. I still get out there and complete my workouts. Even if I'm tired, I still get them done. It's just rarer that the workouts feel easy. Oh and in case you're wondering...I just had my annual check up and all is good - no anemia, and thyroid, cholesterol, blood pressure are all good. Only difference from previous months - this is definitely TMI for the men and some women, but hey let's be real...the biggest difference is a period that never ends (it's been on and off since July 23rd)...this has never happened before. 

What's happening though is that this is affecting me mentally, not just physically. I'm worrying that the long runs will be too difficult and that now may not be a great time to run a marathon. That's on the one side, on the other side, I'm just trying not to think...getting out there and doing what I have to do and hoping that it all works itself out.

Like many of you, I write this blog for myself mostly, to be able to read back and see what went well and what didn't and how it turned out. I felt this was important to remember when I looked back on this marathon training cycle. Thanks for any input you may have!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Every day is a new dawn!

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts."
Eleanor Roosevelt

Last Friday, my Super SIL and I had 22km on the program. We slept in (NOT) and then headed out at 06:30. The weather was perfect and although I felt a little tired, I was confident that it would be another nice long run spent chatting away with my SSIL. However, it wasn't one of those runs, I started not feeling great by around 8K and the feeling came and went. By the last few kilometers, I suggested that we shorten the time between our walk breaks (we usually do 14/1 - we switched to 9/1). It was a difficult run, by the end I wasn't chatting much at all and I was happy to be done with it. 

Here we are post-22K...I'm smiling, but that's because I was done!

Last week was another vacation week. I ran by the ocean, I ran in the rain and I hiked some more. Despite a chilly start, we had some nice weather and were able to enjoy the Bic National Park trails. Our cottage was by the ocean, we were staying with friends, and it was just a really nice break. 

Love being in the woods and hiking!

Today was another long run. This week, we had the shortest of 24km or 2h25m on the program. Once again, we were out there at 06:30. I hadn't slept too badly, but not great either...I think I was a little worried about how it would  go if I didn't sleep well, so of course I didn't sleep great. Anyways, off we went and I was feeling really good. We got caught in some rain, but it didn't last, and it was actually refreshing. We chatted non-stop and the kilometers just flew by. You'd think I was a different person from last week. I felt strong and extremely comfortable through the whole 2h25m...for a total of 21.1km. Actually, we ran an extra 50 seconds in order to reach .1 and make it a complete half-marathon. You know you're a runner when... ;)

Here we are enjoying a post-run breakfast!

Overall, training continues to go well as we reach the 1/4 point. Today was the beginning of week six of our program and once again, I'm amazed at how well my body is holding up (touch wood)! 


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hiking in the Adirondacks...and some running!

"Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach." 
John Muir
Today's post is mostly with vacation/hiking pictures.

Day 1: Top of Rocky Falls
The water was so clear and refreshing.

Day 2: Hiking up Cascade Mountain
Lots and lots of rocks.

Cascade Mountain Summit
It was a tough climb, but the rewarding view was extremely rewarding!
We even had a view of the Green Mountains and so I waved to ajh.
I may not have been showing the right mountains, but I thought of you :)

1 mile later, we had crossed over to the summit of Mount Porter.

A refreshing soak in Chapel Pond after over 4 hours of hiking.
There are so many beautiful places to experience in the Adirondacks!

Day 3: Exploring Whiteface Mountain - which we climbed by car.
After lunch in the Castle Café, we headed back home. It was only three days, but it was wonderful!

After a grand total of about seven hours of hiking between Tuesday and Thursday, Friday morning, I was up at 6am for my long run with my Super SIL. We had a "short" 16km long run as this is a recovery week. It's interesting that the more often we run together, the more we seem to have to talk about. I've noticed this phenomenon before with girlfriends. She's more up-to-date on what's happening in my life, and vice-versa. Therefore, conversation topics are easier to find as we catch each other up without having to start at the beginning. It's this having to start at the beginning that sometimes makes us avoid certain topics, as its more difficult to catch up in less than two hours, if it's been a while since we got together. I may have mentioned this before, but I'm really enjoying having a partner on my long runs :)


Friday, July 12, 2013

Week three already!!

Age is no barrier. It's a limitation you put on your mind.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee

During our 20km run early this morning.

Another week completed with success and I'm feeling good. It's hard to believe that, with today's long run, we are already beginning week three of our training program! I have a feeling we'll be standing on the starting line so much sooner than we can imagine.  

We started our run at 6am this morning, the weather was perfect, as was the company. It was one of those magical runs,,,exactly the kind that you are talking about when you tell everyone how much you love running. It felt wonderful to have 20km under our "fuel belt" ;) before have the whole day ahead of us to enjoy. There's a special kind of smile on the face of someone who ran pretty much a half-marathon before the neighbors had breakfast :-) 

We followed that great run with brunch, together with our husbands...just perfect I tell you! 

In unrelated news, Uber H and I are going on vacation in the Adirondacks next week for three days...which means some cross-training for sure :) I'm looking forward to enjoying some hiking!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

What a difference a training partner makes!

"It's when we start working together that the real healing takes's when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood."  David Hume

Being silly  - we ran 18km that morning, then spent the evening walking around at the Jazz Fest.
We were both pretty proud of our bodies, as we had no lingering pain :)

Running my last half-marathon with my daughter was an amazing experience. However, we did not complete the same training program (as it was her first) and so ran only one or two training runs together. Therefore, having completed my last training cycle mostly by myself, I am thoroughly appreciating having a training partner for this cycle. We don't do all our runs together, but Last Thursday, I had a really full day and we had a 40-minute run with 8 X 100m relaxed strides. My SSIL is a nurse and is used to getting up at the crack of dawn to go to work, so she suggested we go at 7am (before my crazy day started)...I know that for many of you 7am is almost mid-day :) but, for me, 7am is so much easier to do with a partner. 

The next day was our long run, most of which we will try and do together. With the crazy humidity and heat, we decided to head out at 6:45am for our 18km run. We'll probably have to go earlier than that when the runs are longer if it's that hot and humid! My SSIL suggested a new route, where we went by these huge and beautiful houses. Talk about an enjoyable distraction. One of them had a small waterfall coming from these low brick towers on each side of their we went to the water and wet our hands and our face. It was so refreshing :) By the time we were at 14km, my SSIL, who barely sweats and therefore has a really hard time dealing with heat, was starting to find it tough. Luckily, in the summer, there are places to stop and refill water bottles. The first place we stopped, the water was tepid, but a few kilometers later we stopped at another fountain and the water was nice and cold. So, we poured water over our heads and body, refilled and felt better as we moved on. By the last two kilometers, I unexpectedly found myself encouraging my SSIL to stay strong and get this done. 

My SSIL gets me out there early in the morning, she is one tough lady, she is super healthy, she is a faster runner than I am and has many more years of running experience, but heat is her kryptonite. It evens out the field between us and allows me a turn at being her support system. Being able to motivate her and get her through the last few kilometers felt great, but mostly it was a revelation! It made me realize that together, we are stronger than the sum of our individual a team, we push each other to that next level. Our individual strengths come together and we form one powerful badass team! 

I love you SSIL...let's keep on rocking that marathon training!!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Marathon training begins TODAY!

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”  PlatoThe Republic

Before the run! My Super SIL and me :)

Today was the first run of our training program for the Philadelphia marathon, which is in November. How exciting it always is to start a new program! We have decided to do our long runs on Fridays. My SSIL is a nurse and works every second weekend and we both have Fridays it's perfect. Also, it'll be nice to have the long run done, allowing us to enjoy some summer festivities on weekends :) 

The first long run of the program was a 1 hour 15 minute run at a pace 30 seconds slower than race pace. Nice and easy. It ended up pouring rain through most of our run, reminding us how truly hardcore we are!

After the run. Every piece of clothing is stuck to our skin!

After completing most of the long runs alone during my last training cycle, it'll be really great to have my SSIL as a partner for this round. Her pace is a bit faster than mine, but we'll only be doing the long runs together and those are mostly at a slow and easy pace. 

My goal for this marathon is to not be injured on the start line, and I would be thrilled to come in around 4h45m. That's the pace I'll be training for...and I know it's realistic. Of course, we never know what race day will bring, so we'll see.

Cheers everyone!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

First trail race - 9km and lots of mud!

"By leaving your comfort zone behind and taking a leap of faith into something new, you find out who you are truly capable of becoming." Unknown author

Before my first every trail race...socks and shoes are still nice and clean, and I'm feeling good about this new experience. Uber H ran with me and even carried the water for well as took a few pics :)

(Left) This is the second loop on the bridge, we are more spread out. On the first loop, we had to stop because we could only cross one at a time. (Right) Most pictures taken during the run were like this one...blurry, but I was smiling.

Trying to sidestep some deep mud!

There was only one real technical difficulty and it was the MUD...serious crazy mud (it looked like it was done purposely). A few people lost their shoe and had to stick their hand in to pick it up. Messy! But really a lot of fun. The atmosphere on the trails is completely different than during a road race. Not better or worst, just different, perhaps a bit more variety and fun. I'm definitely going to try something like this again...hopefully with less mud holes.
After the race! :)

Cheers everyone!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Scotia Bank Half-Marathon Race Report!

"The goal you set must be challenging. At the same time, it should be realistic and attainable, not impossible to reach. It should be challenging enough to make you stretch, but not so far that you break."
Rick Hansen

We're off! :)

The things I could control, I did, the things I could not, well, they couldn't have gone any better. The weather was amazing, a sunny 65­F with a nice light breeze, just perfect. I was lucky enough to not be injured through this whole training cycle and on race day! The course was relatively flat and we ran next to the Olympic bassin, on trails, and on the F1 circuit...very cool. Only little blip is that my Garmin died on me, but luckily I wasn't alone. 

The most wonderful part of this whole race was being with my daughter. Just having her by my side was a huge boost. 
The first 10km truly flew by and we crossed the 10k mat in 1h01m53s, practically a 10k PR! It continued to go smoothly for another 3km, but by 14k, I was starting to find it more difficult to maintain my pace. I noticed that km 15 and 16 were my two slowest. As we neared km 17, I asked my  daughter how long we'd been going: Jess, "1h44m" - Me, "I don't think I'll make it" - Jess, "We'll make it mom, let's go" as she took my hand. When we crossed the 17K mark, she said, "We've got this mom, even if we go 7min/km we've got this." This was exactly what I needed to hear, and so I just took off again. All I kept thinking was, "It's all mental now, until the end, it's all mental." At this point, I realized that my daughter wasn't next to me. I knew that her knees were hurting her and that this was causing her grief, but she had made me promise to go for it if she had to slow down. She wanted this for me as much as I wanted it for myself and I knew I couldn't give in now. 

I didn't have my Garmin, so I didn't know how I was doing, but I knew I was pushing it as much as I could at this point. When I crossed the finish line, I knew I had done it, but I didn't know by how much. I waited for my daughter, who arrived a few minutes after me. She was under the 2:15 mark and she was so excited for me, even though she was hyperventilating a bit! 
My official time is 2h12m37s!!! A 5 minute 20 second PR!! 
I am so proud of my daughter for running her first half-marathon with me and for being there when I truly needed her. I love you so much Jess! Myself, I'm really proud of the fact that I followed through. I did the intensive training and achieved my goal...and because of my training, I have hardly any post-race pain, which is pretty cool!
Congrats to our whole group and thanks to my brother for being the official photographer!!
I love you all :)

Next up is a 9km trail race in June with Uber H! Then, at the end of June begins marathon training for Philly, which is in November. We will be celebrating my Super SIL's 50th birthday (she's second from the right on the photo). Another exciting event!

Thanks for your encouragement everyone!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Full on taper!

"Ability is what you are capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it."
Lou Holtz

Interestingly, my taper started last Sunday with a 24K long run...?! It was at an easy running pace, but still, it didn't seem like much of a taper. I did it and I was fine! It helped that Uber H joined me for the first 5K and then at the 10K mark, my brother P and my niece joined me for 10K. It was nice to have company as I've done most of my long runs alone.

The rest of the week was a little smoother, although Wednesday included some intervals. Today was a 12K long run with 10 minutes at race pace. Again I had company, as Uber H joined me and it went well. 

The rest of the week is relatively relaxed, although Wednesday includes five minutes at 5K pace and Thursday, which is only 20 minutes, includes 6 - 8 x 100 meter strides. Friday rest, Saturday 20 - 30 minute "jog" to loosen up and Sunday is the big day!

I've got the ability to run a half-marathon. My training program included nine long runs of 20K to 28K and I've officially run at least six. So I know I can do it.

I've definitely got the motivation and I've been lucky enough to remain quite motivated throughout my 23-week training program. Before I started this program, I was a bit worried that it would be too much, but I also felt that it was time to believe in my strength. Well, I did it, I completed this whole training cycle injury-free (so far) and I learned to trust my body. So I want to do well. 

All that's left is to make sure I have the right Attitude on race day. I want to push harder than I've ever pushed before in a race...I will run for all the Boston runners who were unable to finish their race, for the families who lost loved ones and for the injured. I tend to give in to my fears near the 18k mark, but this time, I want to find my inner STRONG and push it to the finish! I can do this!

On a totally different topic...I finally figured out how to get rid of calluses on my feet! I was worried that if I removed the calluses, I would then get blisters again. However, the calluses had gotten so thick that I was feeling pain on the outsides of my big toes. I figured it was best to try and do something about it. I found a tool that is like a wooden spatula with sand-paper on both sides (rough and smooth-ish). I soak my feet for about 10 minutes, then I rub the rough side on my callus, followed by the smoother side, and then I put foot cream on the callus followed by socks for the night to let my skin absorb the cream. It works really well and although I still have calluses (considering how thick they were) they are smaller. So, I am not worried about getting blisters, but I have no more pain on long runs. I know many of you probably already knew this, but I never read about it anywhere and I was really wondering if it was a good idea to do was :)

Time for bed! It's harder to get to bed at a reasonable time as I'm less tired...taper madness has set in somewhat. I keep worrying that maybe my lungs are not doing so well and should I or shouldn't I take prednisone...and maybe it's a mild cold...or maybe it's my candida that's back in my throat...and I'm eating too much for the amount of exercise I'm doing...and am I resting enough...etc. It's not too bad though...I know these issues are mostly in my head! 


Friday, April 12, 2013

Yes! Let me catch you up!

"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." Friedrich Nietzsche

Here I am only two weeks away from my goal's hard to believe that over the last 21 weeks I have missed only two long runs (which were replaced by shorter runs but not missed completely). I've attended yoga usually once a week and as soon as I joined the gym at the end of December I added a weekly spin class and a strength workout (again I was lucky enough to miss only a handful of these sessions). You have no idea how amazed I am! Only a year ago, I was afraid that this intensive program would be too much for me. But, at this point, I can say that I did it! The last two long runs included 8K and 10K at race pace...and I nailed them! 

I don't know what will happen on race day...I mean it's snowing like crazy outside again today and more is expected tomorrow! Spring! What's that?! So, who knows what the weather will be like and how I'll feel on race day. But, a little bloom of confidence has been growing within me over the last two weeks and it's made me realize that until very recently I didn't really believe I could reach my goal of running a sub-2:15 half. Somehow, that little bloom is changing my perceptions and I have started to believe that I can do this! OMG it terrifies me to say that...but if I'm being honest, well the truth is, I feel strong, I feel ready and I know I can do this. I have to not be afraid to hurt a little...I have to trust my training and my body! 

This Sunday is my last real long run - 24km (15 miles)...rain, snow or shine, I'll get it done and then it's full on taper time! Of course, I hope that all goes well over the next two weeks and that I feel great on race day...but we all know that we never know. No matter what, I am excited about starting marathon training in July and seeing where it all takes me in Philadelphia!

An exciting thing that occurred last week is that I received my copies of this book in the mail :)
I am so proud to be part of this great book for first time marathoners!
Written by: Melinda Hinson Neely and available on and Barnes and Noble.

I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity to encourage others struggling with asthma.

I hope we all have good long runs this weekend!
Cheers everyone! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Back on track...and a marathon in my future!

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming."

Frank Shorter

I don't think I'll ever forget my first I am at km 38!
But I must have forgotten certain parts, because...

Anne is officially registered for the Philadelphia marathon!

Okay, back to the upcoming half-marathon. After last week's post...I got a comment that spoke to me. Thanks Marv.
Blogger Marv said...
What a week ! hope this one is better. When I see a crowd of participants lined up to start an event, I often wonder what all they had to go through to get there.
So true...
This week was a good one...I rested like it was my job, I got all my runs in and Sunday's long run, which included 8km at race pace, went really well! Except for a side pain... 
Yeah, as I mentioned last week, I saw a nutritionist, who told me I don't eat enough protein and I need more calories. Okay. The problem is that she also wanted me to add more whole grains. Fine. Uh not fine. Talk about cramping and side pains...I'm taking that a little slower. I had to take an extra walk break during my race pace segment due to a side pain (nice that it didn't affect my pace :)). Next Sunday includes 10km at race pace...hopefully, no side pain!
I am now in the sharpening and tapering phase of my kick-ass program...hope the stars align and it leads to a kick-ass race in four weeks :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Not an easy week...

"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change." 
John A. Simone, Sr.

It was the type of week that will be easiest described in point here goes:

  1. Tuesday evening, Uber H was sent by the clinic to the ER to make sure the ache in his temple was not something serious. It wasn't. But he got home at 2:30 am, and of course, he called me to keep me posted and I didn't sleep so well until he got home. So Wednesday I was a little tired.
  2. Wednesday evening, we decided to eat out. I had a chicken brochette, which unfortunately was dry as wood, and seem to have little splinters. At one point, one of those little "splinters" got stuck in the back of my throat...ouch. After some water, the worst seemed to have passed, but something still felt stuck deep in my throat and it hurt when I swallowed. When I got home, I called info-health and they told me to go to the ER. Of course! So I did. However, after the nurse told me that if whatever was stuck there seemed to move I was to come see her immediately, I was then put on the not-so-urgent list. I guess as long as it stayed there it wasn't dangerous, but I couldn't go home either, in case. So yes, health-care is free in Canada, but unless you're a serious emergency, ER is LOOOOONG. I saw the nurse at 9:30pm and saw the doctor at 3:45am! I was going crazy! So they did an x-ray and there was no bone. Then she froze my throat and using a metal thingie went to look down there (Gag). She didn't see anything stuck there, just a lesion. But, even though she was pretty sure the lesion was causing the pain when I swallowed, just to be sure, I was to see the ENT later that morning. 
  3. Thursday: Cancelled my morning clients, really not as simple as that sounds, but I'll spare you the details. Saw the ENT later in the morning, he once again froze my throat, went through my nose, down into my throat. Yup. Fun. So, he confirmed, there was swelling and a lesion, but no dry chicken. So basically a whole night awake, but all is healing well. 
  4. Thursday PM: Off to see a nutritionist for an appointment that was scheduled three weeks ago. I'll tell you more about that soon...some great advice, and I'm not eating enough...especially not enough protein!
  5. Tired...tired...tired. 
  6. Friday: I had my appointment with my trainer at the gym (another one of those scheduled weeks ago), so I had to go through my strength program (nausea)...then I had my clients, who were rescheduled. Plus a show to attend in the early evening.
  7. Saturday: I ran 40 minutes...then went door to door as I had agreed to volunteer to collect funds for Heart and Cardiovascular disease. A dinner and evening out to go to the restaurant (an hour away) where my godson plays the piano (this was scheduled a month ago)!
  8. Tired...tired...tired. I am so 54 years old :) 
  9. Sunday: Long run...too tired in the am. Rest...have lunch...and then around 1pm, I head out. The program said 20Km, my plan was to try for included 30 minutes at half-marathon pace (6m15/km). I managed to include the 30 minutes...but I was finding it very difficult. When I reached 14.65km, I just stopped my watch and for the first time ever, called my husband to come and get me. He did...I just couldn't go any further without risking spending another week recuperating. 
So yeah, that was my week. The good news is that both Uber H and I could have stayed home and slept and avoided ER in the end. I much prefer that we went for nothing and that all is good! 
Tomorrow starts a new week :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Flexibility...where have you gone?

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true" 

When it comes to mental flexibility, I have no problem...I adapt well and do not have a rigid personality. However, when it comes to physical flexibility, that's a whole other story. In fact, the stronger I feel when I run, the less flexible I become. During my yoga class last Friday, we had to stand facing the wall, raise our leg at a 90 degree angle and place it against the wall. Then, if we "could" we had to reach forward and touch our toes on the foot that was against the wall. I had to use the strap to hold my foot up, because I was unable to raise my leg more than about a foot off the ground, and it wouldn't stay up by itself. I looked around the room and noticed that EVERYONE else could do it...even the few, not so flexible men in our group! I've been doing yoga once a week, almost continuously, for the past four years, and when I do my strength workout, I end it with some stretching. But, that's it and it doesn't seem to be enough. I left yoga Friday determined to improve my flexibility!

Yesterday evening, as I'm stretching on my bed, I am reading a book on running for women (it's in French, from Québec, and it came out last week - so all information is recent). So, I'm reading this book and I come across a section that answers different questions, one of which is, "Should I stretch before or after running?" The answer was "No." Warming up is encouraged, but not stretching, even after a run. According to Guy Thibault (expert), "We recently learned that when we stretch a muscle, it even slightly loses some of its strength." However, they suggest stretching when coming back to running after an injury. Now I'm confused! Intuitively, I still feel that working on my stretching will be a good thing (I mean I'm not an elite runner, the difference in my strength is surely not going to show)...but I'll do it carefully and not excessively (I don't have that much time anyways)! 

What's your take on runners and flexibility?!

As for the rest of my weekend, yesterday I ran 6 X 600m hill repeats and I was quite pleased with myself. It's funny how going uphill, I was telling myself that "maybe I should do just 4, that would be enough" and then going downhill, I'd be like, "it's not so bad, I can probably do 6" and I did this every. single. time. :) Well, I did 6 of course, because when I set out to do something, I usually do it.

Then today, I had 22km (13.67 miles) on the program and as I was approaching 21K, I looked at my watch and realized that I was really close to a half-marathon PR, so km 21 was my fastest and I ended up with a 45 second PR. Then I remembered that every half-marathon race I've run, I ended up going longer than 21.1, so when I compare this time to my last race, where I went 21.28, it's about the same. BUT, when I look at my last training 21.1, it's a PR :) Regardless, it went well today and I'm really pleased with how I'm feeling.

Six weeks to go before the big day! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why life is good - and a training PR!

"The day you decide to do, is your lucky day."  Japanese Proverb

"The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself." Douglas MacArthur

The first week of March was the school break over here and since my husband is a teacher, I also took the week off. That week, if I count the kilometers I spent snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, I completed a grand total of 82km (that's 51 miles). If you count only the running, I completed a total of 65km (or 40.3 miles). Yay! Then last Sunday, I ended the week with the longest long run of my program, which was 28km (17.4 miles). I'm really proud of myself. 

I'm glad that I didn't listen to the inner voice that often tried to keep me home to "rest" because I was feeling tired and even mildly nauseous on some mornings (it's a women thing). The voice that told me I was perhaps trying to do too much. The thing is, almost every time I got out there, I felt good and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

On Wednesday, I celebrated my birthday with some intervals on the treadmill and I felt great! I actually thought to myself, "How amazing it is to feel this strong at 54". Then Thursday morning I was meeting one of my close friends for some cc skiing on Mont St-Bruno and then a nice lunch. Again, once I got there, it was beautiful being out there and I felt so lucky! On Friday, Uber H and I were  going to Mont Orford with some family. He was going cc skiing and I was going snowshoeing with my SIL. Once again, an extremely amazing day...with perfect weather. We did 11km with a total elevation of 1,196 meters...and I loved every minute.

Beautiful day on Mont Orford!

Breathtaking views!

We carried our lunch in a backpack and ate up on the mountain in a small wood cabin that had a fireplace going...truly a wonderful day. I then did my one-hour run on Saturday, once again on Mont St-Bruno, on the trails! Then, I concluded my week with a 28km run on Sunday. The weather was quite nice, though cloudy and a bit windy, but I did it, completing the run in 3h08m49s, and I felt strong. I now use a 14/1 ratio, which is working really well for me.

So, the point of my quotes is that although I could just say that I'm so lucky to have these opportunities...I know that it's a question of getting out there and taking these opportunities. It's getting everything ready and then driving to the mountain and planning and organizing...but it is so worth it! 

I'm also thrilled because yesterday, the plan was to include 4km at 10K pace in my workout. However, it was going well and so I decided to try and beat my 5K PR...and I did it, completing in 28m56s! I was excited to break the 29-minute barrier :) 

And so it continues, I cross-train with spinning and a strength workout on Tuesdays and yoga on Fridays...along with lots of running. We all know, that we never know what can happen on race I'm glad that I am enjoying the journey!

Of course, there's a little bit of luck in the fact that I am not sick, like Caroline, or injured or banged up from a pothole, like ajh...but you know what I mean :)


Get out there and make your luck! St. Patrick's day is coming up :)