My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

What I found through running

When I started running about 4 years ago, I didn’t know where it would take me. In fact, I didn’t even know if it would last. As I’ve said before, I hated running as a kid, so I never saw myself becoming a runner. When Tyler made it a part of my training with him, I was skeptical, to say the least. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with running. And it happened before I realized it was happening. I think that is one of the most unexpected things is what I found through running.

But let me back up a bit first …

I moved to Canada almost 19 years ago, after I got married. I was born and raised in the United States. I met, fell in love with, and married a Canadian. When I moved, I left a lot behind. I moved far away from my family and friends. I knew no one in Canada, apart from my husband’s family and friends. I moved from a big city to a small town. There was a lot — A LOT — of adjustments I had to make. And it wasn’t easy.

The hardest part was not being near my family.  My family has always been important to me.  I had always lived near at least some of them, so moving over 1000 miles away was difficult. We didn’t have Facebook back then, so it wasn’t as easy to stay in touch. I called as often as I could and visited when finances and schedules allowed. To be honest, it felt like I lost them. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but it’s how I felt. And actually, I still feel like that sometimes. As social media has progressed, it’s made it easier to stay in touch. But I still miss seeing them.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, I felt incredibly alone because none of my family was close by. I told my Dad & Stepmom and one of my brothers over the phone. I was able to tell my mom, one of my brothers and his wife in person, but only because I had a trip planned to see them right after I got the news. In my darkest moments, I would have given almost anything to have them there with me. It was an extremely difficult time.

I was still adjusting to life after cancer when a series of events left me completely reeling. I almost lost my dad, my stepmom died suddenly a few months after that, I lost 2 of my beloved cats within a couple of months of each other, and then my mom died. All of that happened in a little over a year. WTF. I went into a depression that I wasn’t sure I could crawl out of. I felt like I lost much of my world. But I eventually started to feel “normal” again.

And then I joined a gym. It took a few months, but I slowly made friends there. I’m still friends with a few of them. One of those friends was Tyler, who would become my personal trainer.  And less than a year later, I started running.

So back to running…

As I said, I wasn’t sure about running at first. But slowly, I began to enjoy it. And eventually falling in love with it. I certainly didn’t see that coming.

And this is where I found something I never expected.

I found community.

I found friends.

I found family.

I found myself.

I’ve never been a part of something so big before. I wasn’t popular in school. I didn’t have a ton of friends. I’ve always been a bit of an outcast.

I wasn’t popular in school. I didn’t have a ton of friends. I’ve always been a bit of an outcast.

But none of that mattered when I became a runner.

And that’s the most beautiful part.

When I became a runner, I found this great big thing that welcomed me with open arms.

It didn’t matter that I was a beginner and in my 40s.

It didn’t matter that I was/am overweight.

It didn’t matter that I was/am slow.

With running, I found so much more than I ever dreamed possible.

The majority of the runners I know I only know on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But that doesn’t matter. Because we are all part of the same thing.

We’re a community. We’re a family. We are always there for each other. To cheer each other on or pick each other up.

When I go to a race, whether I’m running or spectating, the sense of community is undeniable.

It happens anytime I’m around other runners.

It’s an amazing thing.

It’s a beautiful thing.

What I found through running is a part of me I didn’t know I was missing, a part I didn’t know I needed. And I can’t imagine my life without it.

 

 

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The finish line is a thing of magic

My friend JP recently shared a video on Facebook of a woman finishing the London Marathon. She had lost her husband and son and suffered from PTSD. His comment was ” This! 💙 Running will change your life if you have the faith to invite it in…”

And he’s right.

Running has taken me places I never thought I’d ever go.

I watched the video, and it was beautiful.

My comment on the video was:

“the finish line is a thing of magic. no matter the distance, no matter how long it took to get there, you are forever changed once you cross it. whether it’s an actual finish line in a race or an imaginary one you create for yourself.”

And that got me thinking just how true of a statement that is.

So I thought I’d write about it.

When I first began my journey to be a healthier person, I wasn’t really sure where it would take me or even how I’d get there. I just knew that I needed to begin. I also knew that I had to take it slow, at least at first, or I’d just end up spinning my wheels and would get very far. Baby steps. One thing at a time.

It reminds me of a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

I never imagined I’d end up becoming a runner.

I never imagined I’d love it.

I never imagined I’d start doing local races. And love it.

When I first started working with Tyler, he asked me what some of my goals were. I explained a bit about my journey, and that one of my goals was to walk in and complete a 5k event. I’d given myself a year to complete that goal. With Tyler’s help, I was able to complete that goal in less than 4 months.

It was a very hot and extremely humid day in July 2012. It was a small local race put on by a friend of mine. And I was the only one walking it. A spectator asked if he could walk along with him, and I said yes. I found out his girlfriend was one of the runners. He and I became good friends that day. Not far from the finish, I had to sit down on a bench because I was having trouble breathing. (I had forgotten my inhaler). After a few minutes, I was able to continue. When I rounded the last corner right before the finish line, I was amazed to see so many people waiting. As soon as they saw me, they started cheering, and I’m pretty sure I started tearing up. I remember an incredible sense of pride and accomplishment as I crossed the finish line that day.  It was one of the hardest things I’d done up to that point, and that made that feeling all the more special.

That finish line was a thing of magic.

In that moment, I knew my life would never be the same.

In that moment, I knew that I wanted to do that again.

About 6 months later, I started running. have completed 29 other races.

And since that first race in 2012, I have completed 29 other races. Mostly 5Ks, although there was one 10k and one half-marathon.

And the feeling is the same every time I cross the finish line.

It’s like magic.

No matter the distance, no matter how long it took me to get there.

I crossed the finish line. Every. Single. Time.

In 2015, I took on one of my biggest challenges – completing a half marathon. An incredibly intimidating goal to me, especially considering I’d never done more than 10k before. But I was determined to do it.

I had almost a year to prepare for it, so I did a lot of research to find an appropriate training plan. I eventually found one that was close and adjusted it to make it more appropriate for me.

Every run had its own finish line. Whatever the distance that day, I wouldn’t stop until I reached it. I’d carefully map out my runs to make sure I could cover the distance. I often planned them so I’d end at my favourite coffee shop. As the weeks of training continued, the runs got longer, and I’d have to remap to make sure I covered at least the distance necessary. Often, my runs were a little bit longer than they needed to be. There were days that were hot and humid (even early in the morning), but that didn’t stop me. One of my longest runs was done in the rain, 17.25k, but I didn’t let that stop me either. Another run my back seized up with about 2k to go, but I just kept moving forward.

I trained for 4 months. 4 runs a week. Every single run I did by myself. And some days it was very hard. It’s not easy training alone. Especially for something so big. There were days I didn’t want to run, but I did it anyway. Some mornings I wanted to sleep in, but I got up anyway. I was determined to cross that finish line.

Things didn’t go very well on race day. Things happened that were completely out of my control, but I didn’t let that stop me. I kept moving forward. It took me longer than I’d hoped, but in the end, I crossed the finish line. And once again, I knew my life was changed forever.

Now, when I think I can’t do something, I think about my races. 30 races total. And I have finished every one. Every. Single. One. Often I’m the very last person in, but that doesn’t matter to me. And crossing the finish line never gets old. I get goosebumps every time. I often tear up. Because I’ve accomplished something truly amazing. Every goal I set has its own finish line. Only I can see it, but it’s there. Every time I accomplish something I set out to do, I cross that finish line.

The finish line is a thing of magic. It makes you feel like you can accomplish anything.

 

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Why I love being a runner

I think some people were just born to be a runner. But I don’t think I’m one of those people. I never liked running. In fact, I hated it as a kid.

But I don’t think I’m one of those people.

I never liked running. In fact, I hated it as a kid. Growing up, my asthma was really bad, which prevented me from doing a lot of stuff. Plus I’ve been overweight most of my life.

So exactly how did I become a runner?

That’s a good question.

The answer is I don’t know.  Which I realize sounds funny, but it’s the truth.

When I was working out with Tyler, he had me start running as part of my workouts. I remember early on in our time together I joked several times about how I don’t run.

I remember early on in our time together I joked several times about how I don’t run. I don’t know if that’s where he got the idea, but one day he had me run on the treadmill. I was terrified I was going to fall off. That first run was only 30 seconds, but damn, it felt like forever! It took a while, but I was eventually able to run much longer. And then we moved outside, which I found much harder at the beginning. Eventually, I came to love running outside and dreaded when I had to be on the treadmill.

After Tyler and I stopped working together, I continued to run.

I think that’s when I knew I loved running.

So why do I love being a runner?

That’s another good question.

And it’s a much longer answer.

For one, I find it challenging. I put everything I have into every run. I’m not fast. At all. When I talk about running, I often say that “I have one speed … and it ain’t fast!” There are people who walk faster than I run. But I don’t care.

Which leads me to the next thing. A runner is a runner. It doesn’t matter what you look like, doesn’t matter where you live, doesn’t matter your speed, doesn’t matter how long you’ve been running, doesn’t matter how often you run. None of that matters. If you run, you’re a runner. Period. I love that.

Which, of course, leads me to the next thing. The running community. This might be one of the biggest reasons I’ve continued to run. Runners stick together. A runner supports other runners. No matter what, there are always people cheering me on, encouraging me. Even if, or maybe especially if, we are strangers. Every race I do, there are people waiting at the finish line to cheer for me and tell me I did a great job. I love that. They may never realize just how much something like that means to someone like me. And here’s the thing about the running community, runners are everywhere. So no matter where I go, where I run, where I talk about running, there are runners there. I’ve connected with a lot of runners all over the world through social media. And we support each other because we are all runners. The running community is the most inclusive group I’ve ever been a part of. If you run, you’re part of the running community.  Everyone is welcome. How awesome is that!

Which leads me to the next thing. Racing. I love doing local races. Every race I’ve done so far has been a local race. Some day I’ll expand to races farther away, but for now, I’m happy to do all the local races I can. And doing local races helps support charities and causes in my community, so it’s a win/win really. Most of the time, I’m the last one across the finish line. But I don’t care. The point is, I crossed it. I’ve only been running about 4 years. I’ve done about 30 races total in that time. And I have always crossed the finish line. I’m very proud of that, and I think that it is one of my greatest accomplishments.

I’m sure there are a lot more reasons why I love running, but I think these are the biggest ones.

If you’re a runner, why do you love it?

 

 

 

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2017: A year for rebuilding

I don’t make resolutions, haven’t for many years. I prefer to make goals.  “Resolutions” doesn’t have the same commitment to it as “goals” does.  At least in my opinion.  I didn’t make any real goals last year.  I started the year feeling very burned out and just couldn’t wrap my head around what to do next. But that’s in the past. Nothing I can do about it, except learn from it.

I didn’t make any real goals last year.  I started the year feeling very burned out and just couldn’t wrap my head around what to do next. But that’s in the past. Nothing I can do about it, except learn from it.

So now it’s 2017. I had already been thinking about goals for the year long before the new year rolled around. I already had it in my mind a few things I want to do this year. As the year progresses, new goals will be added. That’s one thing I’ve learned, you can always add to your list. You don’t need a new year, a new month, a new week. Just add to your list as you go along. Sure, I have a list of big goals, big dreams. I’m sure most people do. But I’ve learned over the last few years that it’s important to make smaller goals along the way to the big ones.

As the year progresses, new goals will be added. That’s one thing I’ve learned, you can always add to your list. You don’t need a new year, a new month, a new week. Just add to your list as you go along. Sure, I have a list of big goals, big dreams. I’m sure most people do. But I’ve learned over the last few years that it’s important to make smaller goals along the way to the big ones. I will often take a big goal and break it down into smaller ones to make it more manageable and less intimidating. I’ve noticed I accomplish more doing it that way.

So what do I have on the horizon for 2017?

Rebuilding.

That’s my main goal of the year.  I spent much of 2016 injured and feeling burned out. Consequently, I lost much of what I gained in previous years.  So I’m dedicating 2017 to rebuilding.

I decided I needed a plan. I did well in 2015 because I was following a training plan to prepare for my first half marathon. I also decided that I basically needed to start from the beginning and work my way back up. I knew I couldn’t start where I left off. I had to ease my way back in, to prevent burnout and injury. I also decided that I would work on one month at a time.

With that in mind, in December, I started to map out a plan for January.

I took the training plan I used in 2015 and stripped it down to the basics. I scheduled in run/walks, strength training, cross training, stretching, food prep, and rest. That might seem like a lot, but it’s not really.

I decided I would not worry about time or distance with my run/walks.  Some days I might be able to do more than others. Some days I might struggle a lot.  I lost much of the base I had, so I need to rebuild it.  Almost from scratch. The point is to get out there and do what I can.  After Christmas, I bought new running shoes, which I needed, as well as grips to help if it’s icy. I also have relatively easy access to the indoor track, so I really don’t have much of an excuse not to do it.

So that’s the first part of rebuilding. Run as much as I can. Walk when I need to. Just get out there and do it.

The strength training and cross training is similar. Do what I can. I don’t have a gym membership, but I don’t necessarily need one either. I know many exercises that don’t require being in a gym, and most require little to no equipment. I have a few things at home that I can use. And if there are days that I feel like I need more equipment, I can always pay the day rate at a local gym. Again, the point is to do what I can. And also not to overdo it. Every little bit counts.

Food prep has been a constant. It’s something I enjoy doing every week. I need to keep doing it, making sure I have plenty of healthy meals and snacks ready.

Rest and recovery are vital elements to any fitness plan. Something I need to remember.

The same goes for stretching. I need to incorporate that more. Add more moves to what I already know. There is always room for improvement.

It might seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. And I made the plan flexible enough that I can move things around when necessary. A few days in and things are going well. Towards the end of the month, I will map out the plan for February.

Much of this year will be devoted to rebuilding. My main focus is to get back into running and working out on a regular basis. This is something I really neglected last year. As the year goes on, I look forward to seeing the progress I will be making. I’m looking forward to doing great things.

Other things I am working on this year are reading more books, more meditation, more journaling, more writing, more positive thinking, more learning.  All of these things are part of rebuilding my commitment to being a healthier person.

I’m looking forward to a great year.

 

 

 

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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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Lessons learned from training for and completing my first half-marathon

It’s been 2 weeks since I completed my first half marathon.  Through 4 months of training and the race itself, I learned a lot.  And as they say, hindsight is 20/20.  Looking back, there are things I wish I had done, and some I’m glad did.  You can never really be completely prepared, but the more prepared you are, the better.

With that in mind, here are some of the things I learned:

If you think you’ve done enough training on hills, you haven’t. Do more.  And do a variety of sizes.  There is an art form to running up AND down hills.

Do your training on a variety of surfaces. Roads, sidewalks, trails, gravel, dirt, etc.

Double, triple, quadruple check the race details, rules, etc. Never be afraid to ask questions or for clarification.

Do your best not to let unexpected things throw you off your race plan.

If you need help with something, ASK!  Runners are a friendly group.  Most love helping other runners.  Just remember that what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

If you can, have someone you can talk to, text or call to help calm you down if you start to freak out, especially at the start line.  If all else fails, find a random person and strike up a conversation.

If you can, check out the race route beforehand.  Knowing the terrain may help on race day.

If possible, do some of your training with a friend or a running group.  They may be able to help you correct any issues you might be having (i.e. pace, form, etc)

Remember that the only person you are really competing against is yourself.  Run your own race.  Don’t worry what everyone else is doing.

Don’t skimp on cross training and strength training. Both are very helpful.

Don’t forget about the stretching. Even a little bit will help.

Pay attention to the weather, even during training. You don’t want to dress too lightly or too heavily.  And learn to run in less than ideal conditions, like when it’s raining.  It goes back to being prepared.

Remember that it’s okay to walk, just as long as you keep moving forward.

Most importantly …

Remember your WHY and let that help you get to the finish line.

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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.

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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.

 

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Half-Marathon training – Week 14 – The end.

Well that’s it. Training is over. Tomorrow is Race Day.

Seems like it was just last week that I was just beginning my training, and now it’s done.

I’m as prepared as I possibly can be.

What a ride it has been.

Here’s how the final week went:

MONDAY:  Rest day.

TUESDAY:  My schedule had me doing an easy run today, but I took another rest day instead.

WEDNESDAY:  Today was supposed to be a rest day, but I opted for a 3k power walk instead.

THURSDAY:  I opted for another 3k power walk again today.

FRIDAY:  With race day fast approaching, my nerves started to kick in, so I went walking, covering 6k.

SATURDAY:  Last day, another easy one, logging 2k.

My schedule had me doing 14.75k, and I logged 14k. I’m good with that.

So how did training go overall? 

I’m pretty pleased with how I did for the most part. 

Could I have done better?

In some areas, yes.

I didn’t do as much strength training as I should have.  It’s something I’ve been struggling with doing on my own.  When I belonged to a gym and had a workout partner, I did better with it.  But that’s another story.

I did pretty good with cross-training, but some weeks could have been better.

As far as the running went, I’m really happy with how I did. I covered a lot of kilometres. I mean A LOT! It got a little hard when my long runs got over 10k, but I kept pushing myself and refusing to give up. I had a few tough runs where part of me wanted to give up, but thankfully the bigger part of me just wouldn’t.  

I tried different fueling options throughout my training.  I actually enjoyed trying different gel flavours.  Speaking with runners on Twitter, I’ve found that gels are very polarizing, for the most part — people either love them or hate them. Very rarely is there anyone in between. Personally, I love them. They are easy to carry and easy to take. They provide much needed energy to keep me going.  There are several different brands, but I prefer the GU brand the best.  They have a wide variety of flavours, which I like.  I purchased several different flavours to use during the race.  I also tried some different chews during training.  There are not as many different flavours of those though.  I did pick up some for the race just in case.

I also trained with either plain water or Gatorade G2 red (fruit punch).  I prefer the Gatorade, and will use it during the race.  I will also take advantage of the water stations along the course.

During training, I purchased a few new pieces of gear.  First I bought running socks.  After running in them a few times, I concluded that they weren’t any better than my sport socks.  I’ll be wearing my normal sport socks during the race.  Next, I bought a belt bottle holder.  It wore it for a lot of training runs, and even a couple short races.  I really liked it.  It was easy to wear and the bottle easy to access.  I’ll be wearing it tomorrow too.  Lastly, I bought a vest.  I knew I would need something to carry my gels and things in during the race, and a vest seemed the best option.  The one I bought is actually a fishing vest, but it works perfectly.  I wore it on several training runs, even in the rain. It does exactly what I need it to, and will be wearing it tomorrow. 

As my training runs got longer, I had to get creative with my route. I wanted to make sure I stayed in areas I was pretty familiar with, that were well travelled in case of emergency, that had bathrooms nearby, and where I could get something to eat or drink if needed.  I saw a lot of the same people on my long runs.  And most of them were kind enough to share encouraging words.  They might not have any idea how much that meant to me.  It really helped when I was struggling.

I was reminded several times just how important it is to stretch.  More than once, I either didn’t do it, or didn’t do it enough, and paid for it.  Once on a long run, I felt my back tighten up.  It was a struggle to finish, but I did.  Once I did some stretching, I felt much better.  I need to remember to do it more often.

One of the things that really helped me through my training was the support I got from my family and friends.  Moments when I was struggling or was unsure if I could really do what I was trying to do, they were there to help pick me up and remind me that I could do it and how well I was doing.  That really meant a lot to me.

To finish, there are some numbers for you:

Weeks of training:  14

Number of kilometres ran/walked during training:  431.92k

Number of kilometres scheduled in my training plan:  356.5k

I ran/walked 75.42k more than I had to.  I’m pretty proud of that.  

And those numbers don’t include the month I did what I called my pre-training.  That’s another 124.89k.

So that’s it.

Nothing left to do but get a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow is Race Day.

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Half-Marathon training – Week 13

This was the second to last week of training and that means it’s taper time!  I’ve never gone through a taper before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Up until now, I’ve done mostly 5k races, with one 10k race in the mix, so there was. I need to taper.  But I knew with this race, the taper would be necessary.  And frankly, I was looking forward to it. Life has been throwing me some curve balls lately, so I was happy to take it a little easier. I did have to move some stuff around this week, but that’s okay.

Here’s how the week went: 

MONDAY – Rest day. I did a bit of walking around and going up and down stairs at work, but that was it.

TUESDAY – I did an easy 6.5k, mostly a power walk. 

WEDNESDAY – I had to move Thursday’s workout to today. Another 6.5k, again mainly power walk. 

THURSDAY – Had to take today as a rest day because my husband had minor surgery. I did manage a few flights of stairs while waiting for him.

FRIDAY – It was a beautiful day, so I did an easy 5k.

SATURDAY – The last big run before race day.  My plan called for 10k, but I planned on pushing it to 11k. I finished at 11.25k. And it felt really good. Then did an easy 1.5k walk home.

SUNDAY – Since I did some kms on Friday, I took today as a rest day. Although I didn’t really rest because I did stuff around the house.

In total, I did 30.75k this week. Much of it was walking or power walking, but I’m okay with that. 

I did my best to not push myself too hard this week. I also have been trying to keep myself busy so the nerves won’t get to me too much. 

Slowly I’ve been gathering things for my race bag.  I’ve never put one together before, so I’m not totally sure what I need to put in there.  But with advice from my running tweeps on Twitter, I have some good ideas of what I need.

That’s really it for this week. Short and sweet. 

Race day is one week away.

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Half-Marathon training – Week 12

Another week of training is complete.  And it was a pretty good week for the most part.  My husband and I were supposed to go away on Thursday for the weekend, but ended up not being able to go.  I was very disappointed.  But at least I didn’t need to shift my training runs around.

So this is how the week went: 

MONDAY – It was a beautiful day, so I opted for a short walk to start the day, logging about 1k.

TUESDAY – Work has picked up with the start of the school year, so instead of running in the morning as I had been all summer, I did my run in the afternoon. Not used to running later in the day. I struggled a little, but still logged my 6.5k for the day.

WEDNESDAY – Once again, I opted to go for a walk for my cross training. This week I logged 3k.

THURSDAY – Again, I moved my run to the afternoon. I decided to try the treadmill for a change. It had been about a year since I’d been on one, and I forgot how hard it is! It didn’t help that the workout studio was a little warm. In the end, I managed 4k on it. Then I immediately went over to the indoor track to finish the last 2.5k I needed. Thankfully it was MUCH cooler in there! In total, I logged 6.62k for the day.

FRIDAY – Rest day.

SATURDAY – Long run day. This was my last long run before race day. My plan called for 18k, but I wanted to push that distance a little bit. It was a little hard, but at least it wasn’t raining. I finally stopped at 18.77k. It got a little slow near the end, but I was still happy with it.

SUNDAY – My schedule had me doing a short run, so I decided to do a local 5k race. (My running app actually logged it as 5.26k). It was a good solid run. I was happy with how well I did. Look for a race recap post very soon!

My plan called for 36k, and I logged just over 41k for the week.

With fall approaching, it’s getting lighter later so it’s not easy to go running first thing in the morning. I don’t yet own anything reflective so I’m not comfortable with running in low light.  Hopefully that will change soon. 

I’ve been chatting with more experienced runners lately about my upcoming half marathon. They have been giving me some really good advice.  As race day gets closer and closer, I’m getting more nervous.  It helps to talk to runners who have done the race before.

Only 7 more runs until race day. Until then, my runs will be short to mid range, with the longest one just half the race distance.

I need to remember to do several stretch sessions between now and race day. Stretching is so important. I need to do it more often.  I would love to take a yoga class some time. Maybe I’ll get a chance over the winter. 

I also need to remember to keep myself hydrated. I’m not always good about drinking enough water. But I need to be better at it, especially for this race. I need to be able to keep going. I need to cross that finish line.  I’m going to try keeping a log of how much I drink throughout the day.

I will be going to the running store soon to pick up more fuel. Whatever I decide to get is what I will be using for the race. I’ve rather enjoyed trying different things during my training. 

I’m also starting to think about what to put in my race bag. I’m sure I will get lots of advice from my more experienced runner friends as to what to include.  At least I hope I will. 

Anyway, I think that’s about it for this week.

Race day is just 2 weeks away.

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