The Power in Pink Trail Run for Women

If you have read my blog for a while, you know I am a fan of Mad Trapper trail and snowshoe races.  You can click on the following links to read about my previous fun experiences at Mike and Monique’s races: The NOOTR Race, The Pancake Prediction Run, The Champs Snowshoe Race , The Hilly Snowshoe Race  and The Night Snowshoe Race.  I promise you that I am not being bribed in order to write all of these positive reviews.  Then again… maybe I am.  After all, what other event series offers you things like hot meals or tasty sandwiches, or healthy salad, or beer (!), or brownies (!!), or, like in this particular event, mimosas, (!!!)?   Those mimosas by the way were served on a tray at the finish line – thank you Navid!  OK, I admit it, I am driven by food, and perhaps a little alcohol, so it is pretty easy for me to walk (or stumble) away from a Mad Trapper race feeling pretty happy.

But the food really is just a bonus. The events themselves are worth the drive out of Ottawa into the rolling hills of Wester Quebec.  Sometimes you make the journey for an out-of-town race because of the bling, the awesome tech shirt, or the flat course that always has a wind blowing at your back. (If that last one exists please let me know!)  For a Mad Trapper event, you are making that trip out for the atmosphere and for the fun.  I still love the chaos, the excitement, the nerves, the long porta potty lines, and the large, cheering crowds of a big road race.  But I also love the intimacy, friendliness and casual atmosphere of a small event and you will find all of this in spades at a Mad Trapper event.  There will be some very serious and very, very fast runners at these races, but the overall vibe is that it is an event for everyone to get out and enjoy trails.  Whether you are a beginner or experienced trail runner you will have fun.  That is not to say it will be easy – there are hills, hills and more hills to climb and descend.  You are guaranteed to have a work out regardless of the distance you choose to run.  But whether you run, walk or crawl over the finish line you will have a smile on your face and there will be a group of fellow outdoor enthusiasts waiting to applaud you.  (Unless, I guess, if you come in first… not really something I will ever experience, so I can only guess).

This particular event was special in more ways than one.  Firstly, Power in Pink was a fundraiser –  and I suppose an awareness raiser – for cancer research.  Mike’s good friend Trish is a cancer survivor, even though she had explicitly been told that there was no treatment.  When a hospital in Ottawa told her there was no hope, she took matters into her own hands and went to Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, a world-class hospital for cancer treatment and research.  You can read more about Trish’s story here.  When she spoke to us all, her strength, determination, sense of humour and to-the-point advice was a highlight of the day.

The second aspect that made this event special was that it was a women’s only event and the majority of the 88 participants were running their first trail race.  For me it was my second trail race, after trying a 6k race back in July.  I definitely want to do more trail running, though I admit I am still a little cautious after tripping in the March Highlands and breaking my hand and dislocating a finger.  And of course there have been a couple of other falls that luckily resulted in only cuts and bruises.  The irony has not been lost on me that for a large chunk of my life my sport was horseback riding – a sport that had me crashing to the ground many times, sometimes at high speed, without ever breaking a bone.  Like I said, my injury, still in the process of healing, has made me cautious and a little slower, (slow being relevant), but has done nothing to curb my enthusiasm for trail running.  And while I had no time goal for Power in Pink, I did achieve my goal of staying vertical for the entire 10k run!

Trail running seems to go hand in hand with camaraderie.  I have headed to many races alone and with my family.  This was the first time I traveled to a race with friends, plus I met with more at the event, making it a great “girls’ day”.  But trail running can also blend perfectly with alone time.  I managed to have a large space during the race entirely to myself, in fact for most of my second 5k loop I was alone –  and it was perfect.  The stillness, the soft ground, the peace… what can I say?

The next Mad Trapper event is the Relentless (don’t let the name scare you… well, maybe just a little, but don’t let it deter you) on October 24th.  For me, that will only be one week before my marathon, so I will probably stick to an easy-going 5k, but you can also choose between a 3k, 11k, 21k or 50k distance.  I don’t want to miss it – I am sure that I read somewhere that beer and brownies are important fuel to take in a week before running 42.2 km :)  You can find more details here: https://relentlessark.com/home

Happy Trails!

On Twitter?  Follow me @averagerunnerk

Myself and my Power in Pink gang. A great morning with friends!

Myself and my Power in Pink gang. A great morning with friends!

“After the Boys of Summer are Gone”

“Nobody on the road
Nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
The summer’s out of reach”

An abandoned Westboro Beach.

An abandoned Westboro Beach.

-Don Henley

Despite my ipod playing other tunes, this was the song in my head as I ran 16km along the Ottawa River yesterday.  The beach was indeed empty and I actually started the run a little chilled.  Fall is indeed in the air.  Here on my rural property it is always the sound of August that strikes me.  Spring here is the sound of frogs and birds, early summer the sound of rolling late afternoon thunderstorms.  Fall is the sound of leaves and cold rain, while winter sounds simply gorgeous in its silence.  But August has its own particular sound, though it often lends it to the early weeks of September.  There is a constant hum, or is it a buzz, of insects that can be heard throughout the day.  The sound is steady and rarely changes.  It is only once in a while disrupted by birds or chipmunks, but even they seem to be quietened by the sound.  I wish I could do justice to the noise – you would think it might be creepy, or even irritating.  It is instead calming and somehow a little mournful too as you know it is the sound of summer ending.

And for me it is marking the ending of what perhaps has been my favourite summer of running.  I did not set any PB’s, in fact if I remember right my last road race was in May.  I am in fact running much slower than I was last year.  But I am up over 50 kms of running a week, and more importantly, I do not feel overwhelmed or exhausted.  That is not to say every run has been perfect.  Yesterday’s run was all over the “pace” with too many stops – stops for bathrooms, for a ringing cell phone, for pictures and just for breath.  I went out too fast (which really wasn’t that fast at all) and paid for it at the end.  And yet as I take a rest day today I find myself antsy to get out there again.  Mentally, I am loving running, it has only rarely seemed like something I have had to do as opposed to something I really want to get out and do.  I even became a morning runner this summer, and anyone who knows me knows that that is an accomplishment in itself.

Things will all change soon.  I have had the luxury of a whole summer off, but soon it is back to work.  Of all my running hopes and dreams right now, the one I wish for most is to still be able to hold on to this running joy I have felt even as more demands are put upon me.  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful end to a marathon training session!

This little guy didn't even lift his head as I ran by.

This little guy didn’t even lift his head as I ran by.

Road2Hope Marathon Training

Another successful training week is completed (52 kms + 45 minutes of easy effort pool running completed) and two days into this new week, 28.5 km are done despite the heat. This week is a little more about orienteering, so a 22k run was completed today to make sure it wasn’t missed. No detailed recap today, just some nice running photos.

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What I’m Learning as I train for the Marathon

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I am running slower.

But my legs feel stronger.

My mileage is getting higher.

But I don’t feeel exhausted.

I have not hit the big distances yet.

But I am feeling positive.

The biggest lesson I have learned this training session is to run in the now.  I am the type of person who is always obsessing about the past ( I used to be faster; my last marathon was a disaster), or worrying about the future (I have to run how far in three weeks???; how will I ever maintain this pace for 42.2 km???).

Somehow I have let all that go.  When I run it is only about that run, no other.  It doesn’t matter what happened the previous day and it doesn’t matter what tomorrow’s run will bring.  The instant I feel myself slipping away from the moment I pull myself back to the present.  It is an incredibly liberating feeling knowing that there is nothing I need to think about other than putting one foot in front of the other.  It is, in fact, a privilege.  So while I have a time goal for the marathon, nothing lofty by any means, I have pushed it to the back of my mind.  My ultimate goal is to run the race in the moment and to cross the finish line in awe of what my body can do.

When I finished my second marathon I was so disappointed.  I felt like my body let me down.  I was nauseous and dizzy within the first third of the race.  I made myself finish, I refused to quit.  That of course was a victory in itself.  But there was no joy crossing that finish line.  I distinctly remember watching a woman ahead of me, running with her arms in the air as she finished.  Even without seeing her face, her body language exuded joy and I was so jealous.  Let’s face it, the race isn’t about the medals, or the cheers of the crowd.  It is about THAT moment.  I want that moment, and I feel that the way I am approaching my training right now – in the now – will lead me to that feeling again, regardless of my finish time.

Here’s a look at last week’s schedule:

Monday:

  • 6k, rolling hills, + 6 strides

Tuesday:

  • 10k, 6 of which done around half marathon pace + 4 strides

Wednesday:

  • 18k long run, 16th and 17th done at marathon pace

Thursday: off

Friday:

  • 2 sets of core exercises on the dock
  • 2 easy kms of kayaking

Saturday:

  • 8k, lots of hills!
  • 1 set of core exercises on the dock
  • 3k of easy kayaking

Sunday:

  • 4k progression run, last km at 5:23 min/km + a 1k cool down
  • hike with my family.

Our hike was at a stunning location, which I am sure I would enjoy more without my children.  They love this spot and it is easy to see why.  The tunnels, high rocks, rushing stream and natural “bath” make for an adventureous boy’s dream location.  I, on the other hand spend the time with my heart in my throat, worried for their safety.  I am anything but a helicopter parent.  I am more of a “go fly your own helicopter and be back by dinner” type of parent.  My boys love the outdoors, they will explore for hours.  For this I am grateful, but once in a while I have to deal with the worry.  All part of parenting I guess.

Just look at this beautiful spot:

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Wishing you some time in the moment, whatever you may be doing this week!

 

 

Road2Hope Marathon Training Week 5

This week may have started with a bang, or rather a fall (see last post), but in the end all went smoothly with really no other drama to report.  When it comes to marathon running, no drama is a very, very good thing… though it doesn’t necessarily lead to exciting training recaps.  Regardless, here is last week in review:

Monday:

  • 5k trail running in the shade with the boys, then 2k more, ending up in the lifeguard office at a pool to get my bloody (literally) knee cleaned up.

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Tuesday:

  • 10k run around my block – yes, my rural block, with 500m tacked on, gives me a 10k route.  I went early, but with a heat advisory it was still stupid hot, especially on the long sections of road with no shade.  I didn’t fall though!
  • 5.5k orienteering in the evening.  Even at 6:00 p.m. the humidex was 39C.  I did the course with Luke and was more than happy to to remind him to go slowly in the heat. When he was slow, I got to be slow too!  This was like a very easy going fartlek session (with a lot of sweat!).

Wednesday: off – spent the morning at the beach with the boys

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Thursday:

  • 17k LSR.  I usually drive into Kanata for my long runs, I find I need to be somewhere where I will see other people, find shady routes and where there are bathrooms that don’t involve avoiding poison ivy.  Unfortunately the moment I pulled into the parking lot of the rec centre a torrential rain began and showed no sign of ending soon.  So instead I headed indoors, ran 10k on the dreadmill, then headed outside into what was now blazing sun, with a heat advisory yet again.  I didn’t hate the treadmill as much as I thought I would, though I have to ask why would a treadmill be made without a fan???  I was trying to figure out how I was getting the control board wet and realized it was from the sweat  flinging off my arms.  Lovely.  I have never split a run before between treadmill and pavement.  Can’t say I’m a fan.  The moment I started running on pavement my legs felt tired and wobbly.  It took about 2k to even find a comfortable rhythm, but after that it was a good run.

Friday:  off

Saturday:

  • 6 slow hilly kms
  • 2 sets of core exercises on the dock

Sunday:

  • I was already at my weekly mileage but couldn’t resist a short 3k run to test out my new shoes.  They must have made me feel fast because even on the sandy and hilly road I managed to run progressively faster, finishing my last km at a 5:29 pace.
  • 2 sets of core exercises.
  • I also was fed up with looking at the lake and not being on it, so I decided to climb into the kayak and see if I could manage paddling with the cast.  It wasn’t easy, and given the fact I was pretty sore afterwards it may not have been the best activity, but I did manage to do a slow 2kms.

Total: 48.5 km of running, 2 km of kayaking and some core exercises.

Thoughts:

I have kept the majority of my runs at a comfortable pace.  There was a time when I would be panicking about this “easy” pace, but at the moment I think it has been the best way to start marathon training.  I feel like I have a solid base; I only had one run where I felt tired, the rest all felt good.  I am looking forward to each run and mentally I feel like I am doing half of the mileage I am actually completing.  I am also doing most of my runs in areas with hills, and many of them on sandy/dirt/gravel roads.  Because of this, I find when I do make it to pavement my legs want to go faster without any extra effort from me.  As of this week, I will start adding strides and try to pick one run where I will pick up the pace a bit.

Marathon day is 3 months from yesterday, still time to slowly add some speed, but I want to do it in a smart and safe way.

 

 

 

Road2Hope Marathon Training #4 Plus an Embarrassing Admission

Might as well start with the embarrassing admission part… check out the pick below:

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Yep, managed to fall again this week.  I purposely stayed on a very smooth gravel trail that I have run more times than I can count.  I had already completed 5k with the kids, let them go play at the nearby park and then continued on my way in the hopes of completing another 5k before the heat became overwhelming.  Not even 2k into the run my toe managed to hit the one and only rock sticking out of the ground.  This time there was just blood, no fingers sticking out at odd angles or broken bones.  Mostly I am thankful that my kids were no longer with me as my use of profanity was nothing short of epic.  At least this fall was convenient, I was close to a city rec centre and a very nice lifeguard patched me up.  Let’s just say my run the next day took place entirely on roads.

Here is last week’s training:

Monday:

  • 6k

Tuesday:

  • 7.5k in a lovely early morning rain.  The rain didn’t start until the last half of the run and it wasn’t heavy enough for me to worry about doing any damage to my cast.  I hadn’t factored in, however, just how difficult it would be to get my rather wet sports bra off.  About halfway through the process I realized there was a risk I wasn’t going to get out of that thing until evening when my husband came home.  In the end, I admit it, I had to wrap up in a towel and get help from my 10 year old.  I’m pretty sure he is young enough that I didn’t psychologically harm him for life.
  • core exercises, though planks are out for the time being.

Wednesday: off

Thursday:

  • 15k LSR.  I was amazed at how pleasant this run was.  I actually enjoyed every minute and I am pretty sure I could have continued for a few more kms quite comfortably.  I picked a favourite route with long gentle hills and actually felt my best on the inclines.  Wouldn’t it be nice if more runs were like this?
  • core exercises

Friday:

  • core exercises

Saturday:

  • 7k hilly route.  These weekend short runs are really increasing my strength.  There is barely a flat area anywhere near our cabin, so an easy flat route is not an option.  Since I am no longer able to jump in the lake after a run, I instead did core exercises on the dock.

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Sunday:

  • 5k, hills again, including one steep one that I avoided the day before.  I’m pretty sure my running pace up this hill is no faster than my walking pace.  The picture below shows the beginning of the hill, which I promise is steeper than it looks here.

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Thoughts:

My first week of 40 kms since May.  But it is 40 kms with a difference.  In May I was going through the motions, now I am enjoying the process again.  Sure it would be nice to be going a little farther and a little faster right now.  Hey, when wouldn’t it be?  But right now the running just feels right, if that makes any sense.  Last week between Sunday and Thursday I ran 40 km and was not the least bit sore.  I was keen to run again in the days following.  I am even getting up early to run, something I usually only do on race days.  I know not everything we do can be fun all the time, but when it happens I am certainly going to hold on to the moments.