My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

RBC Race for the Kids 2017

On Saturday, September 16, 2017, I participated in the RBC Race for the Kids in Toronto.

I heard about this race a few months ago when some friends on mine on Facebook mentioned it.  I’m always looking for new races to do and this one looked interesting.  As I was checking out the website, I saw a few things that peaked my interested.

First, there is no entry fee. (Gotta like that!)

Second, in lieu of an entry fee, you need to raise a minimum amount of money for charity. In this case, the monies raised go to support youth mental health at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. (A very worthy cause)

Third, it has a very generous time limit for the 5k – 1 hour 30 minutes. Because I’m slower than most other runners, this greatly appealled to me.

I’ve been wanting to do a race in Toronto for a while now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity, so I signed up!

This race has 3 distance options — 15k, 7k, and 5k. I chose the 5k.

Because this would be the farthest I’d travelled for a race (a couple of hours), I knew I’d have to work out some logistical things, like how to get there and where to stay. No big deal really. Or at least I hoped it wouldn’t be a big deal.  The race actually partners with a nearby hotel for participants to get a special rate, which I thought was pretty awesome.  Because the race is early morning and they close the streets for the race, I knew I’d need to come in the night before.

When I do local races, I generally sign up the day of, or at least close to race day. It was a new experience to sign up in advance. With a big race, though, you have to. The race directors generally cap the number of participants. At one point, I saw that they said the race was sold out. I asked someone if they knew how many people were registered and I was told 9000! OMG! I’m not gonna lie, that freaked me out. If you add up all the participants in all the races I’ve done, it wouldn’t equal that many! I tried hard not to think about it, but it was hard not to.

As race day approached, I kept my eye on the weather, as it can change quickly. I decided on my race outfit, but had a backup plan just in case. I’m glad I did because when I checked the day before, they were called for hot and humid weather, even in the morning.

I had convinced a friend to do the race with me, but she had to cancel a few days before. This required me to change some plans at the last minute, but I was able to get it fixed. Dan and I drove to Toronto the night before, and stayed at the partner hotel near the race. I couldn’t get to the city before then, so I had to pick up my race kit the morning of the race. I was glad I was staying close by so I could get it quickly.

Having never done a race like this before, I really didn’t know what to expect, other than a lot of people. I was up early to make sure I wouldn’t have a hard time getting my race kit and so I could do my normal pre-race rituals. Getting the race kit was easy peasy. One less thing I had to worry about. One of the first things I noticed was the incredible number of volunteers there were. And they were easy to spot!

Once I was ready, I headed down to where the other participants were gathering. I was there early, so I had plenty of time to mill about, talk to other participants, and generally just get used to the area. I had my normal pre-race jitters, plus a bit extra because it was a new race for me.

The 15k went out first, and I just missed seeing them go. About 30 minutes later, it was time for the 7k to go. And about 45 minutes after that, the 5k was set to go.

Because of the number of participants, you get assigned a corral based on your approximate finish time. And because I knew it would take it awhile, I was in the last corral of the 5k. I got there a bit early, which was good. Pretty soon, it was filling up. I was in awe at the number of people! I chatted with a few people, including a man named Frank, who was participating with his wife and kids. He was nice guy. We chatted for a few minutes before we got separated. He said he’d see me at the finish.

It seemed to take forever to get started. One by one, the corrals were moved through the start line. I even took a little video as I crossed the start line.  It probably took a good 15-20 minutes for all the 5k runners and walkers to cross the start line.

I was so glad I had changed my race outfit because I could definitely feel the humidity right from the start. I was a little worried how it might affect my race, but tried not to think about it too much. I had water with me, and I knew there would be water stations on the course. I also had my asthma puffer with me just in case I needed it.

I knew not to go out too fast, so I started out powerwalking. I figured once I got past the first kilometre and/or some of the crowd thinned out, I might be able to add some running.  As the race progressed, I knew the humidity was going to be a big factor. I just concentrated on moving forward, not worrying about whether I’d do any running. My #1 goal is always to cross the finish line, no matter how long it takes to get there.

I did my best to keep up with the other runners and walkers around me. At one point, we were going up a hill. And it wasn’t a small hill either. About halfway up, I could feel myself really breathing hard, so I decided to use my puffer. It actually really helped. I only paused twice – once to take a picture at the turn around point, and once when the cops allowed some traffic to cross in front of us. The cops did a great job of keeping the runners and walkers safe. I made a point of thanking a few of them as I passed by.

After the turnaround, we started going back down the hill. I’m not a big fan of running up hills, but I love running down them! At that point there was not a lot of others around, so I managed to doing a little running. The humidity was still a big factor, so I took it slow, but it was fun running down that big hill!

Another nice thing about coming down that hill was I could see the finish line from pretty far out. Sometimes when I’m near the end of a run or a race, knowing how close I am to the finish really helps.

As I approached the finish, I could hear the music playing and people names being called. I thought that was pretty cool. As I approached the final timing mat, I pulled out my phone so I could take a little video as I finished. And as I crossed that final mat, they announced my name and people were cheering and it was the greatest thing. I posed for the photographer and remembered to smile. I walked over and got my finishers medal. And I could feel the emotions welling up. I felt incredible!

I made my way to the after-party to get something to eat and hopefully find some people I know. Not long after I entered the area, I came across Frank again. He hugged me and congratulated me on finishing. And he asked to take a picture with me. It was nice running into him again. To be honest, with so many people, I didn’t think I’d see him again. It was nice that I did.

I found some food, and found some friends, and just generally soaked up the amazing atmosphere around me. As tired as I was, as sweaty as I was, as sore as my feet were, I felt awesome. It was a great race and I enjoyed every single minute of it. It was exactly the race experience I was hoping to have. And I can’t wait to do it again next year!

RBC Race for the Kids after finish





And the award for the best story goes to …

Okay. I know it’s been a while since I posted anything. I’ll explain that in another post. But for now, let me tell you what happened today …


So awhile back I decided that I needed to get my butt back in gear and running again. I wrote up a plan that would start with the new year. I lost a lot of the running base I add due to injury (more on that later) and need to rebuild. So my plan is to start out slow, run when I can and work my way back up to what I know I’m capable of doing. With that in mind, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and do a Resolution Run on January 1st. My local running store does one every year and I decided this would be the year that I would tackle it.

With that in mind, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and do a Resolution Run on January 1st. My local running store does one every year and I decided this would be the year that I would tackle it.

I got new running shoes for Christmas, so I was a little excited to break them in.  I also got grips for my shoes so I could run outside when it’s snowy/icy.

I wasn’t sure if I would need the grips this morning, but I took them with me anyway. The sidewalk and road by our house were icy, but that didn’t mean it would be icy near the running store. The route would be part sidewalk, part road. And there is a giant hill involved. I was excited, although a little nervous.  When we got to the store, the sidewalks didn’t look that bad. I ultimately decided not to use the grips. Looking back, I should have used them. Read on to see why …

So we head out to the start. This is when I notice the sidewalks look icy than I first thought. But too late to go back to put the grips on.  I knew that I would need to be extra careful.  I never worry about how long it takes me to finish, I just worry about finishing. That’s always my first goal – cross the finish line. Anyway, so off we go and lots of people are being extra careful. There were a few slight slips at the beginning, but no one fell, so that’s good. Pretty soon everyone was way past me, but I don’t really mind. I’m pretty well used to that.

We had been warned that there was a big icy patch at the corner where we turn. I was prepared for that. I get to the corner, see the ice, and carefully cross the road.  Now here is where I messed up. I was thinking there was a sidewalk as soon as I crossed the road. It’s been a while since I ran in this area, so I didn’t remember that the sidewalk starts a little farther up the road. Anyway, after crossing the road, I end up walking in the parking lot, which of course is covered in ice. I’m trying to figure out how to get off the ice safely and get back to the road or to where the sidewalk is. I make it to the area where there is snow. It’s not far to the road, so I think I can just gingerly step through the snow to the road.

Wrong. So wrong.

I get about halfway across when I step on a spot that is not firmly packed, and I sink into the snow up to my thigh. Just one leg. I try to get myself out, and sort of manage to, but then I fall again into the same area. Now I’m really stuck. Looking back, I remember thinking I hope I don’t ruin my brand new shoes. I went straight down, so I didn’t think I was hurt. There was a woman across the street who was running and she saw me fall. At first, she didn’t know I was stuck, but as soon as she realized I couldn’t get out, she ran across the street to help me. She didn’t have gloves on, so she ran back across to her car to get her gloves, then back across to me. While she did that, I called my husband who was nearby waiting for me to finish. At this point, a gentleman showed up as well to help. Between the 2 of them, they helped me get out of the snowbank and over to the road. Then they helped me across the road to where my husband picked me up. He drove me back to the running store. I was a little shaky, and pretty embarrassed, but I was okay.

When I got back to the running store, I think they were a little surprised to see me back so soon. I explained that I had fallen. I was okay, just a little shaky. I was upset because I’ve never not finished a race before.  They asked if I wanted to go out again, and I said no, I was afraid to fall again. They gave me the option of doing a different route so I could still finish the race.  I was happy with that. So while the others were making their way back, my husband and I were walking the remainder of the distance near the store. When my friend Meggan finished, I explained to her what happened. She asked if I was okay. I said I was, just a little shaky. My pride was hurt more than anything. She walked with me for a bit to finish the distance of the race. I was starting to feel a little sore, but nothing too bad. I did notice a small cut on my left ankle. I might have some bruising, but overall I’m okay.

As Meggan and I were talking after the race, we began to find the humour in the situation. Looking back, it is pretty funny. I can only imagine what people driving by must have thought seeing me stuck in that snowbank. I’m short anyway, so having my leg stuck in that snowbank almost all the way up must have looked pretty funny. Meggan said they are probably telling their family and friends “guess what I saw today!” And then I said, “and yeah they probably won’t be believed. Sort of like saying you saw Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster.” We both thought that was pretty funny too.  And then Meggan said, “Just think. You started the race, got stuck in a snowbank, had 2 strangers help you out, and you still managed to cover the distance! And the award for the best story goes to …”

So there it is.

I decided to start the new year by doing a 5k race. I fell into a snow bank and got stuck. My pride took a big hit. I was rescued by 2 strangers. But I still managed to cover the distance. Whoever said running is boring.

Heck of a start to the new year. It didn’t go as planned. But it worked out in the end.

And now I have a heck of a story to tell again and again.

I almost wish I had a picture of me stuck in that snow bank. Almost.


Happy New Year!


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The County Half-Marathon (2015) – race recap

Fair warning, this will be a long post.

Sorry it has taken me so long to post this.  I definitely needed some downtime after the race just to recharge, both physically and mentally.


I woke up Sunday morning with the typical pre-race nerves.  I’ve done enough races now that I knew I’d have them.  Truth be told, I’d been feeling them for a few days.  Although this time, the nerves were much stronger than they had ever been before.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering this would be the biggest race I had ever done before.

I was up earlier than would normally be for a race day, but I had to be.  It was going to take about an hour to get to the location, and they close the roads, so we had to be out there before that.  I showered and dressed, and then made my way downstairs for breakfast and coffee.  I added a few last minute things into the bag I was taking to the race.  And I made sure I had everything I needed in my race vest.  I took the time to do some stretching as well.  I like to do some stretching before a race because it helps calm me a bit.

Soon enough Karen arrived to pick me up.  We stopped on the way to race for coffee (for me) and tea (for her).  We made sure we had plenty of time to get there, just in case there was traffic.  As it turned out, there really wasn’t any, which meant we got to the location pretty early.  The way this race works is everyone parks where the finish line is and then you are transported by bus to your start line.  This race is a full marathon, half-marathon, and relay race.  Karen and I were both doing the half, and several other people we know were too.  One friend was supposed to do the full, but he injured himself and had to pull out.

The full marathon and relay start 2 hours before the half, which I think is a little weird.  If you think you will take over a certain amount of time for the full, there is an early start option.  There is no option for the half.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, it was finally time for us to board our bus.  As we were getting ready to get on the bus, I realized I left my belt bottle in Karen’s van.  I decided not to go back for it, thinking I’d be okay since there would be a water station about every 2 kms on the course.  We took the first one going to our start line.  Karen told me to go ahead of her, and we joked that she was going to block me from trying to run away LOL.  So we get to the start line, and we have over an hour wait until we run.  It seems like a ridiculous amount of time to wait! And all it did was give me more time to freak out.  I talked to other runners and paced around trying to keep calm, but it didn’t help that much.  I really was freaking out.  More and more runners were arriving and all that did was freak me out more!

As I was pacing around, I saw Tyler.  I didn’t know he had planned to run.  It was actually a great comfort to see him there.  We chatted for a few, and then he left to do his warm-up.  Finally it was getting closer to the time.  I checked my bag, as all the other runners were doing.  The first runners in the marathon were passing by, and everyone cheered.

The sun was mostly shining, which I was happy about, but it was very windy.  The wind made it cold.  Thankfully, I had gloves and a buff on.  I wasn’t sure if I would need to keep the gloves on throughout the race, but I was happy to have them at the start.

It was finally time to line up.  I stayed near the back, as I always do, out of respect for the faster runners.  Finally it was go time.  I was happy to finally going.  I had been going a bit crazy! All that wait time I had been questioning everything from my training to my sanity.

As I crossed the start line, I reminded myself of a few things:  This was my race, not anyone else’s.  Don’t out too fast.  No matter what, I had to cross the finish line.  Don’t worry about the time, worry about finishing.

There were a few people along the road cheering for the runners/walkers as they passed by.  I thought that was pretty cool.  There was a family with their dog, and as I went by, I said hi to them and the dog.  The dog seemed to want to join me in the race.  Everyone laughed.

The first part of the race was relatively flat.  I was totally okay with that.  I slowed to a walk at the first water station, grabbed a drink, and moved on.  The scenery was pretty.  I thought about pausing a couple of times to snap some pictures, but I never did.  As the course moved along the water, the wind really picked up.  I pulled my buff over the back of my head so my hat wouldn’t blow off.  It was mostly a head wind, which kind of sucked, but nothing I could do about it.  Slower marathon runners and relayers passed me.  We shared words of encouragement.  That’s always nice.

I paused at each water station I passed.  I was very happy they were there.  I thanked all the volunteers as I continued on.  I had to stop a couple of times to use the porta potties too.  Happy to see them there too!  I followed the fueling plan I had worked out in training, taking in a gel about every 2 kms. I made sure I had plenty of them with me, in case I needed extra.  Plus I had some chews as well.

Pretty soon, I was alone on the road.  And I knew I would be.  I was okay with that.  By most standards, I’m a slow runner, but I don’t care.  I had my music to keep me company as I was running, as I almost always do.

I continued to thank each group of volunteers I passed, and even the cops that were keeping the roads blocked for the race.  Buses continued passing me as they continued to take relay team members back and forth.

As I was going along, it seemed to me that there weren’t as many water stations as there should have been.  I figured maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to the kms as much.  I didn’t really think about it too much to begin with.  But as I neared the halfway point, 2 large trucks passed me with their backs open.  One I noticed had tables in it, like the ones at the water stations.  As I neared what should have been a water station, I saw the trucks stop.  A guy got out of truck, picked up the KM sign that was ahead and put it in the truck.  I started to freak out!  I pulled out my phone and sent a text to Karen, who I knew had already finished and was waiting at the finish line.  I explained what was happening and she went to  find one of the race people.

I also sent a text to my friend Jeff, who had been sending me texts since the race started.  I told him what was going on and that I was freaking out.  He did his best to calm me down, but it was difficult.  This was my worst nightmare! I was being left alone on the course!!

This was also about the point that the hills started on the course.  I had begun walking because Karen and I were texting back and forth.

A couple of kms later, I finally came across another water station.  It was being manned by a woman and her kids.  They were really nice.  I was so happy to see them!  Two of the kids decided to walk to the end of the road with me.  I thought that was really nice.  After I had passed them, the woman closed up her water station.  She gave me a bottle of water, which I greatly appreciated.  As I continued on, a cop came by in his car to tell me that the roads had been reopened and to remind me to stay to the side of the road.  I thanked him and continued on.  A little bit farther down the road, there was a guy stacking wood in his yard.  He asked me how I was doing and I said I was fine.  He asked me if I was going to finish, and I said “Hell yeah!” He laughed.

About another km or so, the woman from the water station came by in her car.  She offered me another bottle of water.  She said all the other stations have been closed up and she wanted to make sure I had enough water.  I took the bottle and thanked her.  I told her I was very upset about the water stations, and she said she was too.  I wish I had gotten her name.

I was pretty much only walking at this point.  I was really upset and trying not to completely lose it.  I was on the shoulder of the road, and it was hard to run on the gravel and dirt.  A few times, I wasn’t even sure I was going the right way.  Karen was going her best to keep me calm too, but she knew I was having a hard time out there.

A couple of times Karen texted me to ask where I was at.  I didn’t always know, which of course freaked me out too.  I told her at one point that there was a large hill just ahead of me.  I was beginning to wonder if the road ever ended.  I was pretty angry at the race people.  I did my best to use that to keep moving.

The lady from the water station came by one more time, just to make sure I was okay.  I thanked her again.  Another lady drove by, asked if I was okay and if I wanted a ride to the finish.  I told her I was okay, and no, I needed to finish.

I had to go up another hill and the road was curving, so I hoped that meant I was getting close to the final turn onto Main Street.  As I was heading up the hill, I saw Karen walking towards me.  I was so glad to see her! At least I knew I getting closer to the finish.  At least I hoped so.

My back was feeling a little sore.  And I thought I could feel a blister on my foot.  But I wasn’t going to give up.  I knew I had slowed down quite a bit, but I didn’t care.  I was determined to finish the race.

As Karen and I walked, we talked about how the race had left me out there alone.  What really made the both of us mad was that we had talked to them the day before at packet pick up.  The guy we spoke to guaranteed me that they would not shut down the water stations as long as someone was still out there.  But that’s exactly what happened.

As we got closer to the finish, a guy came up to us.  He was from the race.  He said that they had shut everything down at the finish line, and that they would contact me about getting me my finisher medal.  I became even angrier! I asked about my backpack that I had checked.  They said they had it.  I told him I needed it, that it had my glasses in it.  He called the lady who had it.  After a couple of minutes, he came back to us.  He said that he will go meet her to get it and my medal and meet us at the finish line.  Then he left.  I swear, I could have spit nails at that point!!

Thankfully, it wasn’t too much farther to the end.  As we finally neared where the finish line should have been, a man stepped out and started clapping.  I didn’t know who he was.  Once I crossed, he came up to me.  He said he was one of the bus drivers and had been watching me all day.  He said he stayed there waiting for me.  He said “everyone deserves to have someone cheering for them at the finish line.”  I was crying.  I thanked him repeatedly.  I told him he has no idea how much that means to me.  I wish I had gotten his name.

Finally, the other guy arrived.  He gave me my backpack and my medal.  Karen took a picture of me.  The guy asked me what my finishing time was.  I told him what my running app said, and he wrote it down.  He said it would be entered into the stats.  And he once again said that one of the race directors would be in contact with me.  Karen ran to the get the car,  I slowly got in, and we drove home.  I repeatedly thanked her for coming to my rescue and helping me finish.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done — both mentally and physically.  It was not the way I had hoped the race would go.  It was not the finish I had pictured.  I missed out on the post-race food, beer, and celebrations.  I missed getting an official race photo.  I’m angry that I was lied to and abandoned on the race course.  I had plenty of chances to give up, but I didn’t.

I crossed the finish line.  And had someone there to cheer for me as I did.  And that’s what matters.



Presqu’ile Fun Run recap (2015)

Saturday, I did my fourth race of the year. A race held in Presqu’ie Provincial Park, which is not far from where I live.  It was put on by the Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse Preservation Society, and this was the first year for the race.  I’m always looking for new races to do, and I love it when I can find a new local race.

I’m used to doing races on Sundays, so it was a little weird racing on Saturday.  They had different events all weekend long throughout the park.

Earlier in the week, the weather channel has been calling for possible rain.  Not too thrilled with running in the rain, but as it got closer to race day, the weather changed. It rained Friday night, but had cleared up by Saturday morning.  The problem with that is the humidity that usually results.  It didn’t seem too bad when we left for the race, but I knew it could be a problem the hotter it got.

We had a small issue getting into the park, but thankfully we had gotten the with lots of time before the race started.  I wasn’t pre-registered for the race, so I wanted to make sure I got three early enough to get that done and have time to chill a bit before the race started.  I don’t know if it was because this was the first year of the race, but they seemed a bit disorganized when it came to registering and letting the racers know the route.  Hopefully next year they will have it worked out better.

The race had 2 options – 7k run or 5k walk.  I opted for the 5k even though I was going to run.  For the 7k, the runners looped around the lower part of the park; the 5k followed the 7k most of the way, but then cut through one of the camping areas so about a km was trail instead of road.  In the end, there was less than 2 dozen people running or walking.  

By the time the race started, it had gotten a little more humid.  I wasn’t thrilled about that.  But we were near the water and that helped a bit.  The runners started first, followed by the walkers about a minute behind them.  As I started going, I realized the course was not as flat as I thought it was going to be.  I don’t get to that park often, so I had forgotten what the road was like.  The whole thing was basically a series of small rolling hills with very small stretches of flatness. 

I had the walkers ahead of me in sight for much of the race.  I lost sight of the last one before the turn into the trail area.  As with just about every race I’ve done, there was an ambulance on hand in case of emergency.  As I was the last one on the course, they drove by me 3 times to make sure I was okay.  They even asked if I needed water or anything.  I had Gatorade with me, so I was okay.  

They said they marked the place where you turn into the trail with chalk arrows. I kept looking for them, afraid I had missed them.  It seemed to take forever for me to get to that point.  Finally I saw the place and made the turn.  It felt like I was almost immediately swarmed with bugs! I had sprayed bug spray on before the start of the race, but clearly not enough.  I felt like I was being eaten alive.  The trail was full of rocks and tree roots.  I had to carefully watch where I was going so I wouldn’t fall.  My running shoes are not trail shoes, so my feet were not happy.  I tried to go as fast as I could but it was difficult.  I kept second guessing my decision to do the 5 instead of the 7k.  At least with the 7k I would have stayed on roads.  For a while I didn’t think I’d ever get off the trail.  It seemed never ending.  And the bugs just kept coming at me.  I guess they liked the taste of sunscreen, bug spray, and sweat! 

Finally, I saw the road again and made the final turn towards the finish line.  Not long after I got back on the road, the ambulance drove by me fir the third time to check on me.  I was a bit annoyed at that point, but I think it was mainly because of the bugs.  A couple of bicyclists rode near me as I ran, and we chatted a bit.  That was kind of nice actually.  I had been by myself almost the whole race.

Finally I spotted the finish line.  Everyone else had already finished, but a couple of people stayed to cheer as I finished.  According to my Nike running app, it was actually 5.5k, but I finished in pretty good time.  I grabbed a couple of granola bars and some gels they had been offering to everyone.  I was tired and a bit sore, and it felt like I was covered in bug bites, but I was happy to have done it.  

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Canada Day 5k recap (2015)

Yesterday, I ran in my local Canada Day 5k race. I did this race for the first time last year and I really liked it, so I decided to do it again.  

A few things I like about this race are: 

1) it’s a route I’m familiar with.  It takes place at a park not too far from my house.

2) it’s cheap. Entry fee is $10 on race day.

3) because it’s a local race, I know several people who run in it.

Last year for the race, it was hot and humid.  I ended up walking more of the course than I would have liked.  And I came close to throwing up in the last kilometre of the race.  I didn’t want a repeat of that.

I’d been watching the weather rather closely.  We were expecting cooler temps, which was great.  But there was also a possibility of rain/thunderstorms, which was not great.  The forecast changed a few times in the week before the race.  I was still going to run, but I really didn’t want to run in the rain.  The night before, the forecast said there was still a possibility, but it was low.  I kept my fingers crossed for no rain.

I was particularly excited for this race because I had just started my training plan for my half marathon.  I had been running quite a bit lately and was feeling pretty good.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling excited.  I showered, dressed, and had breakfast and coffee.  I made sure I had everything I needed for the race.  I did some light stretching to warm up my muscles.  Normally, I get pretty nervous before a race, but I didn’t really this time.  I was feeling good.

My husband dropped me off at the park and I got myself registered.  I often wait until race day to register for local races.  It’s usually not a problem since they are just small races.  It was cool and overcast.  It was also a bit windy since we were down by the water.  I chatted with volunteers and other runners who showed up early.  The park around us was preparing for Canada Day celebrations, so there was a lot of hustle and bustle going on.  Other runners began to trickle in, and I was hoping I’d see several I knew.  I saw Ulana, Stephanie, and Marie.  And then Meggan and Karen.  Karen didn’t think she was going to make it, but I was glad she did.  She said she was going to be slow, she just wasn’t feeling very fast.  Karen’s nickname is “Legs”, I don’t think she knows what slow is LOL.  More runners showed up. It looked like it was going to be a good race.  I saw several more I know by sight, but not by name. 

Finally it was time to line up.  Because I’m slow, I try to position myself near or at the back so I don’t get in the way of the faster runners.  Somehow this time, I ended up near the middle.  Not quite sure how, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.  I moved to the side so that it would be easier for others to get around me.  The race director gives a few last minute instructions and then we were off!

As I rounded the first corner, I could feel tightness in my calves, particularly the right one.  I guess I didn’t warm them up enough.  But I don’t let it stop me, I just pushed through it.  The majority of the crowd was far ahead of me, but I could still see most of them.  And there were a few that weren’t too far ahead.  I said hi to the volunteers that were directing the runners in the right direction and just kept moving.  The tightness in my calves was still there, but I was doing my best to ignore it.  I was hoping to not take walking breaks, if possible.

The course is fairly flat, with only a few small hills.  But it winds around the park so it has lots of twists and turns.  It makes for a nice run actually.  I saw a few birds and squirrels, as I usually do when running in that area.  Other people were walking and running in the park, so I said hi to them as they passed me going in the opposite direction.  

The park is divided by a road, so part of the route is on that road.  As I was rounded one corner, a shuttle bus was coming around the corner going the opposite way, so I had to pause for about 15-20 seconds to let it pass me.  Not a big deal.  As the bus went by, my friend Karen spotted me.  She had long finished the race and came to pace me the rest of the way.  She walked as I ran and we chatted.  It’s always nice to have company while running.  She did really well, breaking her own record by almost a minute.  I knew she would do well.  She always does.  

We had to go through a small area of the parking lot.  It had rained the day before, so there were mud puddles.  I did my best to avoid them without slowing down too much.  As I was the last runner, one of the volunteers on a bike followed me the rest of the race, eventually being joined by another.

There is one area where we go down a side path, turn around, and head back to the main path.  As I was heading down the path, a few runners were heading back to the main part.  We gave each other cheers as we passed.  Last year when I went down to path, I saw a turtle.  I didn’t see one this year.  After turning around, Karen and I headed back to the main path. But I quickly stopped and told Karen to stop.  Up ahead of us, in the middle of the path, was a snake!!  He had not been there previously!  I HATE snakes!  I don’t even go into the reptile area at the zoo! Thankfully, he moved quickly off the path and we continued.  As we rounded another corner, we saw Meggan walking to her car.  She said she was going to grab her phone and would join us in a minute.  She eventually caught up with us and walked as I continued to run towards the finish.  So I had Karen on one side and Meggan on the other pacing me to the finish.  And two volunteers on bikes following us.  It was pretty cool. 

As I neared the finish, I could see lots of people standing around.  When they saw me, they all started cheering.  I turned to Meggan and said, “that never gets old.”

I crossed the finish line with everyone cheering and shouting words of encouragement and congratulations.  That truly is one of my favourite parts about racing.

And with the exception of pausing for the bus and the snake, I ran the whole race.  I felt really good.  It was the best run AND best race I’d had recently.  I was so proud of myself!

According to my Nike running app, the race was 5.23k and I finished in 1:02:46. I’m more than happy with that!

What a great way to start out the day, a new month, and my training plan!!

And the rain held off until Karen and I were walking to her car.

How did you celebrate Canada Day? 

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Spring Thaw 4k (2015)

Yesterday I completed my 2nd race of the year.

It was the annual Spring Thaw 4k/10k, a local race that has been going on for many years.  For me, though, it was a new race.

This is only my third year racing.  Last year at this time I was recovering from a car accident, and the year before I had just come back from vacation and was not ready for a race.

As she often does, my friend Karen offered to pick me up.  I was up early, as I normally am on a race day.  I like getting up extra early on race day so I have time to have breakfast, coffee, and stretch a little.  I don’t like to feel rushed.  I tend to be a bit nervous on race days, and it just adds to my anxiety if I’m feeling rushed.

So I got up, showered, dressed (I had my race outfit picked out the day before), had my coffee and breakfast, and then waited.  Closer to the time Karen was to pick me up, I did some light stretching just to loosen up.  It had rained Saturday night, so I knew it was going to be humid.  Not a fan of running in humidity.  Thankfully, I had just gotten my asthma puffer refilled.  I made sure to have it with me.  I learned that lesson during my first ever race.

I was not as nervous as I often am before a race.  I figured it was because the route is one I’m very familiar with.  It’s near my house, and I’ve run it many many times.

Most of the time, I don’t preregister for races.  My races are small local ones and it’s usually not a problem registering on race day.  I think, though, I need to get into the habit of preregistering.  As I move towards bigger races, it will be required.  Anyway, Karen and I got to the race and registered.  We saw several familiar faces, which is always nice, including our friend Aidan.

Soon it was time to run.  Karen and I were both running the 4k; our friend Aidan was doing the 10k.  I used my puffer just before start time, but I knew the humidity could still be a problem throughout the race.  Even though I was the last of the 4k runners, I tried to keep the ones in front on me in sight for as long as I could.  I had to walk more than I would have liked during the race, but I kept going.  The sun was shining brightly so I was glad I sprayed on sunscreen before I left the house.

I exchanged pleasantries with the volunteers as I went by.  I stopped at the water station at the halfway point for a much-needed drink.  Because I knew the route well, I knew that there would be a couple small hills on the way back.  I kept pushing myself as hard as I could, and walked when I needed.  I had to use my puffer a couple of times.  I was really glad I had it with me.  With about a kilometre left, Karen came back to find me. And she brought a bottle of water for me.  We chatted as we continued along towards the finish.  My toes were cramping a little, so I had to walk a bit more.  Just before the last turn, I started running again so I could run across the finish line.

One of my favourite parts about racing is the crowd cheering as I cross the finish line.  I walked a bit away from the finish area before I remembered to turn my running app.

Aidan won first in her age group in the 10k; and Karen won first in her age group in the 4k.  Pretty awesome.

I didn’t get my official time yet, but my running app said I finished in 53:10.  I’m happy with that.  The most important part is I crossed the finish line.

So 2 races down for 2015.  Only 8 more to go.


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Pitter Patter 5k (2015)

Yesterday, I completed my first race of 2015 — the Pitter Patter 5k/10k.  It’s a small local race that supports community policing.  This was my third year doing this race.

I was a little concerned about this race.  In the last couple of weeks, my seasonal allergies have flared up, and along with them, so did my asthma.  And because of that, I didn’t go out running as much as I really wanted to recently.

On the upside, though, this is a race I’ve done before, so I know the route and the terrain.  Always a plus in my book.

I was up early yesterday, a little earlier than I normally would get up for a race.  But I wanted to have plenty of time to get prepared before I headed out to the race location.

I was a bit surprised that I wasn’t super nervous when I first got up.  I tend to get pretty nervous before a race.

Anyway, because mornings can still be a bit chilly this time of year, and it was windy, I decided to wear my INCLUSION hoodie for the race, with a wicking shirt underneath.

After having my smoothie and coffee for breakfast (as I do almost every morning), I spent about 20 minutes doing some easy stretches to get warmed up.  Over the last several months, I’ve been doing stretches on a near-daily basis.  I’ve really noticed a difference in my flexibility since I started doing them.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the race location across town.  My husband and I stopped for coffee on the way.  He dropped me off near the start line.   That’s when I noticed the nerves starting.  I found my friend Karen, and shortly after that, my friend Andreas.  Always nice to see friends.

The nerves really started in after I got my bib.  I wondered if I was really ready.  I kept telling myself to just think about crossing the finish line; don’t worry about how long it takes.  I kept repeating that in my head.

Karen, Andreas and I chatted about nerves, other races we plan on running, and just generally caught up on our lives. Karen is a very seasoned runner; Andreas and I are both still fairly new, although I think Andreas ran when he was younger whereas I didn’t.  Andreas will be running his first full marathon this year.  It’s the same race that I’m doing as my first half marathon.  I think that’s pretty cool.

The closer it got to race time, the more nervous I was getting.  I tried to do some meditation, but it wasn’t working.

Before I knew it, it was finally time to head out to the start line.

I always stand at the back because I’m a slow runner.

And suddenly we were off!

I didn’t get very far before I had to take my first walking break.  I was not impressed with myself.  I reminded myself that you never NEVER judge a run by the first kilometre!

I started running again.  A few minutes later I had to take another walking break.

The first kilometre of this race is a bit tough mentally (at least for me) because you’re running through the parking lot.  It just seems to take forever!

I felt a bit better once I got onto the road.  I still had to walk a bit, but I was okay with that.  The super fast runners were already heading back before I was at the 2km mark.  I gave cheered them on as they went by.

At about 2km, I told myself that I needed to just run and not take any more walking breaks.  I paused at the halfway/turnaround point for some water.  Then started running again.

There are a couple of small hills on the way back, but I wasn’t worried about them.

As I neared the entrance to the parking lot, I told myself I was in the home stretch, almost there.  I looked behind me and saw my friend Andreas not far behind. (He was doing the 10k).

About halfway through the parking lot, I saw my friend Karen coming towards me.  (She had done the 10k, and had long finished.  When her and I run the same race, she always comes back to help me finish.)  Andreas went by us not long after that.

As I neared the finish line, the Rocky theme started playing.  It’s the last song on my racing playlist.  And, in my opinion, the most epic song to finish a race to.  I turned the volume up and pushed myself as hard as I could so that I could cross the finish line with that song playing.  And I did.

Before the start, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish.

But I did.

Not my best time.

My lungs were burning, and I was having trouble catching my breath.

I thought I was going to puke.

But I didn’t care.

I did it what I set out to do — I crossed the finish line.

And that’s what matters.

My official time 1:02:12. (My running app was a little less.  My app also said it was just over 5k)

And now to prepare for the next race.



Andreas, me, and Karen after the finish line.

Notes:  She got a PR and 3rd in her age group, and Andreas took 1st in his age group!  Well done, my friends!



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The Run for Food (2014) race recap

Yesterday, I did my 7th race of the year.  And it was another new one for me.  And it was a course I was unfamiliar with.

It was local race in a nearby town, and put on by the local running store.  It was another free entry, but they were asking for donations for the local food bank.  Hard to say no to that!

This one was called The Run for Food, a fitting name.

It was also a little bit longer than most of the races I’ve done – 7.3km.  I’ve only done one race that was longer, a 10k early last year.

This was the first time I raced this late in the year.  We had some snow recently, so I was concerned about the road/sidewalk conditions.  And if I would be warm enough.

I made a stop for coffee before I got to the store.  I figured it would help warm me up and give me some energy.  Love my coffee!

I was the first participant to arrive and get signed in.  I didn’t mind, though, because, as usual, I was nervous, so it gave me a chance to calm my nerves a bit.  Or at least try.

People slowly trickled in for the race, bringing with them lots and lots of stuff for the food bank.  It made my heart happy to see such generosity.

As it got closer to race time, I decided to grab one of the available maps just in case I got lost.  I knew I’d be at the back of the pack, and I wanted to make sure I made it back to the store.  They said there were markers, but I didn’t want to take the chance I wouldn’t see them.

So we headed out to the start line.  Some people brought their dogs and the dogs were anxious to run!  It was pretty cute.  One of them looked like the dog from the show Frasier.

Off we went, and I noticed right away that the sidewalk was a little slick.  I had been training myself most of the summer to NOT look down at the ground, but I had no choice.  I didn’t want to slip and fall.  I wish I had had those grippy things for my shoes.  It was very lightly drizzling.  Was not happy about that, but at least it wasn’t pouring rain or snowing.

I was pretty sure I had not worn enough layers either.  I had on one pair of pants, and two shirts with a hoodie over top.  I definitely need warmer clothes to run outside this winter!

Anyway, once we got past a certain point, we were running/walking on the road which was much better.  The pack left me long behind, but I didn’t really care.  I was running/walking my own pace.  I did try to keep some of the walkers in my sight, but soon they were gone too.

As I was running along the road, several cars passed me and waved.  I like when they do that.  One even honked.  And I got a couple of thumbs up too.

I made the second turn just fine, but when I got closer to the third turn, I wasn’t sure which way to go.  I had not seen any markers so I was really glad I had thought to grab the map.  After a brief look at the map, I made what I was pretty sure was the turn.  A little farther along and I was able to get back on the sidewalk, but they were still a bit slick in places.

I had to consult the map several more times to be sure I was going the right way.  I still had not seen any markers.  I was afraid I had made a wrong turn or something.  But I kept going.  A few more people waved, and one even asked about the race.

The race went through an area of the town I was not familiar with at all, and that had me nervous.  I’m pretty sure I pulled out the map at least a dozen times.  I just didn’t want to get lost.

Finally, I got to an area I was familiar with.  And I knew I wouldn’t need the map any more.

I hadn’t bothered checking the time.  The time didn’t really matter to me.  I just wanted to finish.  I had also been running/walking without my music.  Not something I’m used to doing, but because my phone had been dying quickly lately, I didn’t want to take the chance it would die before I finished.

When I made the last turn, I knew I was very close to the store, only about 1/2 a kilometre to the finish.  I was pretty excited.  The sidewalk was still slick, but I tried picking up my pace a little.  As I got closer, I could see people walking to their cars.  As I entered the store, the few people that had stayed cheered for me.

I was tired and sore and very cold.  But very happy that I finished.  I took my phone out of my pocket to stop my running app, and as I did, my phone decided to die.  Perfect timing.

According to their calculations, it was 7.3km.  According to my running app, it was almost 8km.  Not sure why the difference.  Doesn’t really matter I guess.  I finished in 1:51:47.  Not too bad for a race I’d never done before, on a route I had never done before, and having to go slower because of slick sidewalks. I’d quite pleased with that actually.  Hopefully I’ll do better next year.

It was a good race for a great cause.

And I’m happy I did it.

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Egg Nog Jog 5k/10k (2014)

So this morning I did my sixth 5k race of the year.

And it was the 4th new race for me this year!

This one was in a neighbouring town, about 30 minutes away.  I still consider that a local race.

I was attracted to this race for a few reasons:

1) free entry, but they were asking for donations for local Coats for Kids program

2) local race

3) new race for me

As always, I was a little nervous before the race.  Today it was mainly because I had never run this one before.  And also because none of my friends who run were going to be there.

The race was put on by the local running store, and that’s where we met beforehand.  I got there with plenty of time to spare.  I got signed in, got my bib and pinned it on.  I was happy to see quite a few participants there.

Soon it was time to head over to start line.  The start was across the street from the store, at a local school.  We got a new last minute instructions and then we were off!

I had struck up a conversation with a lovely lady just before we started.  We continued chatting as we headed out.  She was walking, I was running.  Like I’ve said before, I’m a slow runner, so she and I were side-by-side.

The air was a little chilly this morning, and I’m not used to running in the cold yet, so I switched to powerwalking.  I ran a little bit here or there, but mostly I was walking.  I didn’t mind though because I had someone to talk to.

I remembered to turn on my running app, but decided not to use my music to see how it felt to run a race without it.  I did miss it a little, but because I’ve listened to it so often, I could pretty much hear the songs in my head LOL.

Much of the course was relatively flat, although a little bit before the turnaround, there was a rather large hill.  It was downhill on the way out, but had to go back up it on the way back.  It didn’t scare me though.  Okay, it didn’t scare me too much LOL.  On the way back, I tackled it head on, didn’t even slow down!  I was a little winded at the top, but I kept going.

I cheered on all the runners as they went by us.  And they cheered me on too. (I love that about the running community).

As we neared the end, I switched back to running.  I wanted to cross the finish line running.  And I did.

One of my favourite things about racing is crossing the finish line.

And I was pretty pleased with my time too.  My official time was 1:03:40.  I think that’s pretty good for me, especially since it was a new race and a route I’ve never done before.  I’m pretty proud of myself.

I walked around a bit, cooling myself down.  They were cleaning up the water station.  I was going to ask someone to take a picture of me, but my phone decided at that moment to die.  I hate that.  The race director had her phone and she graciously took a picture of me with the firemen who were there.

Then we headed back over to the store for refreshments.  I had some egg nog mixed with coffee.  It was delicious!  And a piece of apple bread.  I opted not to have a cookie.

Most of the runners stuck around to chat with each other.  Another thing I love about racing/running.  I met some really nice people, made a few new friends.

And because we were at the local running store, I admired lots of products.  And I mentally created a wish list for Christmas LOL.

Finally it was time to head out.  Dan was waiting for me at his office, which was a few blocks away.  I said my goodbyes, zipped up my hoodie and headed there.  And as I did, I could feel myself grinning from ear to ear, and my heart full of joy.  More than 80 people ran or walked in the race today, and well over $1300 was raised for Coats for Kids.  Today was a great day!

I really enjoyed this race.  And I hope to do it again next year.


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Why do I race …

As I was out running today, this question popped into my head.  And this post basically started writing itself.

It happens like that sometimes.  Someone says something, or I say something, and suddenly I have the makings of a post for my blog.  I like when it happens like that actually.  I think some of my better posts have come about that way, sort of by accident.

So there I was running along, and something in me asked “Why do I run?”  Well, that’s a pretty easy question to answer.

I run to improve my health.

I run to test my limits, and to break through them.

I run to clear my head.

I run because I can.

And as I continued my run, another question popped into my head – “Why do I race?”

Now that got me thinking.

And I knew it wouldn’t be a simple answer.

When I first started working with Tyler, he asked me what some of my goals were.  I told him I wanted to be able to do a 5K race.  At the time, I wasn’t actually thinking of running.  I was okay with walking.  I just wanted to do a race.  He helped me get there a year before I thought I would be able to.  I still remember that first race, and always will.

So I guess the first part of the answer is because it was on my bucket list.

After that first race, I found myself thinking about others races.  That first year, I only did the one race.  But the next year, I did three 5Ks and one 10K.  This year, I’ve already done five 5Ks, with the possibility of 2 more.

So I guess the next part of the answer is because it’s addictive.  I think ALL runners who race would agree with that one LOL.

All my races have been local ones.  Almost all have been in the town where I live, 2 have been in neighbouring towns.  All my races have supported local causes, raising money for local charities.  I love that.  That’s a big reason I picked those races to do.

So the next part of the answer is to raise money for local charities and causes.

There is nothing like the running community.  Everyone is accepted.  It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow.  It doesn’t matter if you’re new to running or have been running for years.  You pass another runner, they smile, nod, wave, give you a high five, or give you words of encouragement.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t know you personally.  You are a runner.  They are a runner.  You’re like family.  And they cheer for you as you cross that finish line, whether you win or not.

So the next part of the answer is for the comradery.

And as I continued to run, I thought of reasons why others probably race.

I do several chats on twitter, and most have to do with running and/or racing.  And I follow a lot of runners.  A lot of them give reasons like:

I race for the bling (medals)

All the races I’ve done so far have been small local ones.  Medals only go to the top runners.

I race for the food/beer after

None of the races I’ve done have given beer at the end.  They’ve all provided snacks (like milk/chocolate milk, juice, water, granola bars, fruit), but nothing extraordinary.

I race for the swag

None of the races I’ve done have given swag bags.  Some have given t-shirts, one gave a headscarf, but that’s it.  Most have done draw prizes.  I think I won something once.

I race to win.

I don’t think so.

But then that little voice inside me said “Come on, those are all good answers, but you know the number 1 reason”

And I smiled and chuckled to myself.  Yeah, I know the reason.

I don’t race to win.  I’m a slow runner.  I may never be fast enough to win a race.  But that’s okay.  That’s not why I race.

I race to finish.

Each and every time I cross that finish line, I accomplish something.  Something I didn’t think possible a few years ago.

Every time I see and hear the crowd cheering as I near and then cross the finish line, I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Every race I’ve run, the goal has been to finish.  I’m not concerned about how long it will take me.  Yes, it’s nice when I have a good time, but that’s not paramount.  The goal is to cross the finish line.

And that will be true for every race I run in the future.

Why do I race?

To cross the finish line.


Why do you race?