My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

July recap

Well here we are at the end of July already.  It went by super fast!  But maybe that’s just because I ran a lot this month LOL

My goal for July was to really amp up my running.  I’m still not very good at it, but at least I’m trying.

Running outside is hard.  The ground is not level.  Most paths aren’t straight.  And you have to deal with changes in the weather.

When I was running around the indoor track in the winter/early spring, I was doing pretty well.  But it’s temperature controlled and perfectly flat, so I knew once I switched to outdoor running, I’d be slower.

And boy am I ever slower! It’s a little frustrating to be honest.  But I try not to think about it.  I’m doing my best to just get out there and run.  I know that my speed will pick up eventually.

Anyway, back to July.  Like I said, I really wanted to amp things up this month.  With that in mind, I decided I’d try to run every other day.  Which would get me out there quite a bit, but also allow for plenty of rest.  So that’s what I did.

I started the month with a 5k race on July 1st.  Not the best day for running.  The race didn’t start until 10am.  By that time, it was already pretty hot and humid.  And the route didn’t have a lot of trees for much-needed shade.  I ended up having to walk part of race, but so did many others.  It was pretty slow, but I finished.  And that’s my goal with every race I run.  To cross the finish line.

I paid pretty close attention to the weather this month too.  It’s hard running when it’s humid.  I don’t mind the heat that much, but the humid kills me.  Several times, I was up and out early to try and avoid the humidity.  I’m not a morning person, so this was no easy task.  But that’s why they invented coffee!!

Most days, I ran the same route – the waterfront trail near my house.  It’s a beautiful place to run.  A lot of people use it.  I live near the middle of it, so that’s where I’d usually start.  Some days, I’d go one way, run to the start of the trail, then turn around and run back the other way to the other end, turn around and back to the middle.  Other days, I’d start the other direction.  Almost always ending up back at the middle.  The one end is at a park, so sometimes I’d loop around the park a couple of times and then head to my favourite coffee shop.  Other times, I’d just go around once and head back towards my starting point.   A few days, I switched it up and ran a different route all together.  I probably need to do that more often.

When I’m out running, I try not to stop unless I really really have to, like for a bathroom break.  Once or twice I had to walk a little bit, but I’m doing my best not to do that.  A few times, I briefly paused to take some pictures.  Like I said, the waterfront trail is really beautiful.

There were a couple of days where I really had to push myself out the door.  I always felt better once I was out there though, which is good.  The first kilometre is still the hardest.  I often have to bargain with myself to keep going.  I’m hoping it will get easier as I get better.

I have a pretty awesome playlist that I run to.  I designed it specifically for races, but it works on regular runs too.

I try to make my runs at least 5km, since that’s the length of my races.  Sometimes I go a little farther.  I’m slowly working my way up to longer runs.

Most days, I’ve remembered to put on sunscreen before going out.  I think I only forgot once.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too sunny that day.  Only got a little bit of a sunburn.

I’ve learned a few things this month too.  Like I need to stretch a little more each run, and maybe afterwards too.  And my left toes seem to always cramp up about 2/3 of the way through my run.  Not sure why either.  Sometimes I have to briefly pause to flex them so they will stop cramping.  And the runner’s high is real.

I’ve really enjoyed getting outside more this month.  And I’ll keep doing it as long as the weather is good.  I’m thinking of getting some workout gear so I can run when it’s lightly raining.  I’m not sure yet about running outside in the winter.  But I have a few months to decide on that.

So just how much did I run in July?

I went out running 15 times for a total of just over 80 kilometres (50 miles)!!

And that also included two 5k races – one on July 1st, and one on July 27th!

That’s a huge deal for me!

I gotta say, I’m pretty damn proud of myself 🙂

Now to make some goals for August.


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Run for Reece 2014

Well it’s that time again.  Time to do the Run for Reece.  This is the race organized by my friend Karen in memory of her son who died of SMA (spinal muscular atrophy).  This is the first race I did 2 years ago.  And I will continue to do this race each year she puts it on.

I’ve been doing a lot of running lately.  Partly in preparation for this race.  I had hoped that all the running I’ve been doing would help with running today.

We had a big thunderstorm roll through last night.  It woke me up once or twice.  Lots of thunder and lightning.  I kept hoping it would pass over well before the race was set to start.

By the time I woke up this morning, at about 5am, it seemed to be over.  There were still clouds in the sky, but it has stopped raining.  I just kept hoping it would stay that way.  It didn’t seem too humid, but the race was still a few hours away, so no telling what would happen until then.

I went about my pre-race routine — shower, get dressed, make coffee, have breakfast.  Actually that’s pretty much my normal morning routine now that I think about it.  Except that I dressed in my running gear, not regular clothes.

My friend Karen offered to pick me up.  And she borrowed my folding table for one of the water stations.

My pre-race nerves started yesterday and only got stronger as we got closer to race time.  It happens before every race.  You think I’d be used to them by now, but no.

I know quite a few people who do this race, so it was nice catching up with them before the race started.  I even met a few new people.  We stood around chatting and stretching, waiting for the race to begin.

Finally it was time to line up.  Karen said a few words, and then we were off and running!

One thing I’ve noticed just about every time I run is that the 1st km is always the hardest.  It sounds funny, but I usually have to strike bargains with myself to keep going.  It seems to get easier once I’ve passed that mark, which is good.

I’ve made a really good playlist that I use for races.  Songs I really enjoy and that have some meaning to me.  Plus they have a good beat to help keep me going.  I may switch it up eventually, but for now I’m really enjoying the songs I have.  Currently, my playlist consists of:

Best Day of My Life – American Authors

I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas

Steve McQueen (The Voice performance) – Blake Shelton & Cassadee Pope

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead – Bon Jovi

Stand (The Voice Performance) – Cassadee Pope

Ordinary Day (Live) – Great Big Sea

Firework – Katy Perry

Don’t Stop Believin’ (The Voice Performance) – Terry McDermott

Gonna Fly Now (Theme from “Rocky”) – Bill Conti

It’s not a long list, but it works for me.  When I’m out running, depending on how far I’m going, the list plays through twice.  And if I’ve timed it right, I finish my run on the “Rocky” theme.

Anyway, everyone takes off running.  Pretty soon they are far ahead of me.  It’s okay though.  I’m not worried about them.  I’m only worried about me finishing the race.  Time doesn’t matter really, I just want to cross the finish line.

I did have a goal for this race.  I wanted to run it start to finish, no walking this year.  When I did this race the first time, I walked it.  It took me 1:28:58.  When I did this race last year, I ran part of it, and finished in 58:18.  So this year I really wanted to run the whole thing.  I knew it would be slow, but I was okay with that.

The race was along the Waterfront Trail.  It just so happens to be my regular running route.  I’ve run it so often, I could practically run it with my eyes closed! I know all the twists and turns of the path.  I know the landmarks.  Sometimes it makes the run easier when I know what’s coming up.

I struggled for a while, but that’s normal for me.  Hopefully as my running improves, the struggles will be less and less.  My calves ached.  I felt a twinge in my ankles.  But I kept on running, kept on pushing.  I kept telling myself to dig deep, to push through it.  Eventually, it got a little easier.

The sun came out for a little bit, and it got a little warmer.  The humid went up a bit too, but it wasn’t too bad.

There were other people using the trail too.  Many I’d seen out there before.  A few recognized me and smiled or waved or said words of encouragement.  That always helps!

I’m not even a mile in when I see people heading back to the finish line.  I have a momentary pang of jealousy, but it passes quickly.  I know I’m doing the best I can.  And that someday I will be faster.

I get high-fives and smiles from those passing me on their way back.

I hit the water station, but pass it by.  I have my own water and I don’t want to stop.  I’m almost at the turnaround point.

Not long after I passed the water station, I came across a gaggle of geese on the path.  If I wasn’t racing, I would have stopped to take a few pictures.  Maybe I will if I see them next time I’m out running.

I got to the turnaround spot and head back.  By the time I got back to where the geese were, they had already gone back into the water.

As I headed back, a few people that had been doing the 10k passed me on their way back to the finish line.

As I said, I regularly run the trail, so I knew where everything is.

The turtle pond is around that next corner.  There it is!

Run a little farther.

Okay, the park is around that next corner.  There it is!

Not too much farther now.

Around that next corner is the home stretch! Dig Deep! You’re almost there!

And as I round the last corner, and catch site of the finish line, my friends are all waiting for me.  They start to cheer when they see me.  This is the part that gives me goosebumps every time.  I push harder as I get closer.  As as the crowd cheers, I excitedly cross the finish line!

My official time is 1:06:42.  And I’m totally okay with it.

I did what I set out to do.  I crossed the finish line.  And I ran it start to finish!

I’m so proud of myself.

What a great day!!



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Canada Day 5k recap

So it’s July 1st – Canada Day.

And what’s the best way to celebrate the birth of the nation?

By doing a 5k race, of course!

Or at least that’s how I decided to spend the morning.

A couple of issues came up though.

First of all, I’ve only run twice in the last 2 months.  Twice.  So I knew that today’s run was gonna hurt a little more than usual.

Second, it’s July, which means it’s hot and humid.  I wasn’t worried about the heat.  I grew up in the heat.  It was the humidity that was going to give me issues.

And third, the race wasn’t starting until 10am.  They really should start summer races much earlier in the morning.

A few months ago, I bought a new water bottle for running.  It’s small, and has a strap that fits over my hand.  I bought it specifically for running in the summer.  I’ve tried running with a regular water bottle, and I sometimes find it awkward.  Not sure why.  Anyway, I thought this might be the solution.  I’ve run with it once, and I noticed the water got warm quickly.  So for today’s race, I decided to freeze it.  I was hoping that it would stay cold at least most of the race.  It didn’t.  It was so hot out that it melted quicker than I had hoped.  The water wasn’t hot, but wasn’t as cool as I would have liked.  Maybe I took it out of the freezer too soon this morning.

My friend Karen was racing today too, so she picked me up.  She’s done that several times. I really owe her for helping me all the time.  Anyway, we got to the park where the race was being held and got signed in.  She was preregistered.  I wasn’t, so I had to take care of that.  I also decided at the last minute to buy a t-shirt of the race.

One thing I’ve noticed is I get very nervous right before a race.  I get jittery and jumpy, sometimes I’m shaky.  I kind of hate pre-race jitters.  I pace around and second-guess myself.  I try doing things like stretching to get my mind off the jitters, but it doesn’t always work.

Finally it was time for the race to start.  There was a lot of people.  I mean a lot!  I think most signed up that morning, like me.

So we start running.  Now I’m a turtle-runner, which means I’m slow.  And with the heat and humidity, I felt like I was even slower.  But then I noticed, most everyone else seemed the same way.  It seemed to take longer for everyone to run way ahead of me.

The race was at a big park, along the water.  You’d think that would make it cooler, but today it didn’t.  There was a nice breeze, but it didn’t really help.  For a good part of the race, I was running into the wind.  Not fun.

I hadn’t run at this park since last summer.  I’d forgotten that the trail is not exactly flat.  It has a lot of little hills.  On a regular day, probably not a big deal.  Today they were a big deal.

I’m glad I had my running music.  It really helped keep me going when I wanted to stop.  And I wanted to stop a few times.  I felt slower than normal, but I kept going.  My only goal for the day was to cross the finish line.

Because we looped around the park, I occasionally caught sight of other runners.  I tried not to focus on them.

One bad part about today’s race is they didn’t have the route marked very well.  There was 2 spots where I wasn’t sure which way to go.  In the end, I made the right choice, but it would have been better if it was properly marked.

There’s a part of the route where we have to go down this path, turn around at the end, and come back.  As I neared that start of that path, I saw some of the runners and they were walking! I was still running, oh so slow.

As I got closer to the turn around point, I saw a big turtle on the path! I thought it was funny since I call myself a turtle-runner.  As I got closer to it, I looked down and said to the turtle “come on, turtle, let’s go, you and me!”  He just went into his shell until I passed him.

I got to the turn around point and stopped a minute to breathe.  I was feeling a little light headed and thought I might throw up.  I started out again, but after a minute or two, had to stop again, so I decided to walk a bit.  I was well past the halfway point of the race.  I only had a little more than 1km left to go.

As I was nearing the main path again, my friend Karen was heading back to me.  She’s done this before.  She finishes the race and then comes back to help me finish.   And she brought me water!  She was telling me how just about everyone else walked part of the race too, even her!  I didn’t feel bad about having to walk some after that.

We talked and walked.  I could feel a blister forming on the bottom of my left foot.  Damn it, I hate blisters!  I wish I knew a way to run without getting them.

Anyway, as we got closer to the end, we decided to run again so I could cross the finish line running.

Just before the finish line, some ladies I had talked to before the race started saw me coming and lined the path to cheer me on.  I always love that.  I love getting encourage from others.

And as I planned, I crossed the finish line listening to the theme from Rocky.  Best way to end a race 🙂

Then I walked over to a shady spot in the grass under a big tree, and sort of collapsed there for a bit.  Karen brought me over a small chocolate milk and some cookies.  She asked if I was okay, I said I was.  After laying there a bit, I got up and we headed home.  The walk to the car seemed so much longer than it did when we arrived.

I went home, took a cold shower and basked in the glory of my air conditioner.

My goal for today was to cross the finish line, no matter how long it took.

And I did it.

It was hard.

It hurt. A lot.

But I did it.

And I’m extremely proud of myself for that.

Today was a great day.


Next race is July 27th.

Oh boy.

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