Monthly Archives: August 2014

Family P.B’s!!!

Just finished a local, small race, “The Canadian” and the boys and I nailed our races:

Luke 3k, 14:57, 4:59 pace, 12th place overall and 3rd in his age group…his first ever lanyard!

Evan 3k, 13:58, 4:40 pace (clearly way too fast to run with me anymore!) 5th overall and 1st in his age group!

Me, hmmmm not sure how to record this one since the 8k course was measured incorrectly and was actually 8.6 km! My rant about that will come in the next post.  Based on my average pace of 5:10 I must have hit 8k around 41.20.  My goal was to get a time that started with 43, so I’m thrilled with the time. Of course that time is unofficial due to the extra 600 metres tacked on. Not so thrilled with the incorrect distance.

Full race report to come.

Back to Real Training

Finally this week I managed to fit in 40 km of running. It has been far too long since I have seen that number as a weekly total.  26.5 of that total was done on  the rolling (sometimes steep) hills of Quebec cottage country.   Hilly enough that today during the last 2k of my 9k run, I slowed to a 7 minute pace. Compare that to a run earlier in the week on the flat where two of my splits were 5:15, the rest around 5:30 (faster than I should have been going for a training run but it felt good so I went with it).

A quick look at the calendar tells me I have time to fit in another 16k run, then two 18k runs and I should be good for the Army Run. Not PB ready but respectable ready. I even have a plan. If I can find the 2:00 bunny I will start with him/her and see how things go.  With it not being a  goal race I’m O.K with a positive split if 2 hours is just to fast right now.  One of the fun things about letting go of expectations is it allows you to also take risks. And without risks, how can you ever really find out what your limits are?

And finally, a favourite moment from running this week. After my faster flat run, I returned home to check out the garden I for the most part abandoned when I started running seriously.  I’m sure some women could maintain beautiful gardens while marathon/half marathon training, teaching, mothering, etc. I’m not one of those women and I’m good with that. I knew the garden had been almost overrun with a grape vine I bought a couple of years ago, mistakenly thinking it was an annual.  I discovered that not only had the vine flourished in neglect, so had the grapes. For the first time it is covered in juicy delicious purple grapes. The kind that Welch’s uses in their juice. I know there was no post run protein in them, but other than that…best treat ever after a workout!


Trying New Things

Ten weeks ago I decided to try teaching a 5k clinic at Running Room.  I was looking for a way to share my running passion and enjoy the company of others along a scenic river route.  There was of course part of me that questioned if I should be teaching a clinic.  After all, I have only recently become comfortable in calling myself a runner.  But doing the clinic was everything I hoped for and more.  It was such a pleasure meeting new people and seeing them progress from 5 minutes/ 1 minute intervals to running 5.4 km in our finalclass.  Even more exciting was hearing from one of the runners who did her first 5k race this week (a sub 30 minute to boot!).  I love how she described her run to me in an email:

It was a smooth run – the atmosphere was so supportive and so inspiring. I let go of all expectations and just lived in the moment… I felt this huge swell of energy and happiness: I just ran…. and ran… and sprinted… and finished.
I was grateful to have this experience.


I love that description of having a swell of energy and happiness.  Is it any wonder we get addicted to this sport?

As for me, I am grateful for having the experience of sharing a running journey with a great group of people.  We hope to keep connecting this fall at various races and I can’t wait to cheer them on!  Next week I move on to a new 5k group and look forward to being part of their journey as well.

And finally, on the topic of trying new things, I have signed up for lessons that I never in a million years thought I would do.  I am telling everyone I know and writing it here so that there is no backing out.  This may not sound big to most of you, but for me it definitely is.  I am going to take swimming lessons.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I HATE the idea of swimming.  I hate the cold water (yes that includes heated pools), I hate having my head under that cold water and while I know I can get from point A to point B, it certainly wouldn’t be pretty.  It is the one activity that my kids know I will not do with them.

So why am I going to pay good money to do something I hate?  Lots of reasons I guess.  One is certainly safety.  My kids spend a lot of time in the water now, both at the lake and a few minutes away from home at a beach on the river.  Gone are the days when anytime they were near the water they had life jackets on.  I need to know that if necessary I can get to them in an emergency.

Another reason is of course the benefits of swimming as cross training.  If I could actually get myself to feel confident in the water – maybe even enjoy it – this could be a way for me to maintain fitness without always relying on running.

Much of my decision was made after watching my boys in lessons last week.  In four short semi-private lessons I watched both of them make significant progress.  I thought surely if they could make progress so could I.  I am ignoring the little voice inside of my head that keeps reminding me they are young, I am not.

Finally, I think I just felt the need to do something out of my comfort zone.  It is possible I will continue to hate swimming and it is possible that I will discover despite my effort it will just not be a skill I will master.  At least though I will be able to say I tried and (hopefully) didn’t quit.

Blog for a Lazy Runner

In 3 years I have run two marathons, one 30k race, nine half marathons and a handful of other distances.  On paper it seems somewhat impressive… well, at least to me.  You might even think I am one of those people who are always on the move and can’t sit down for any amount of time.

Here’s the thing though… I excel at laziness.  I can do nothing with the best of them.  I can easily sleep 10 or more hours a night (I’ve been doing it all summer) and still find the idea of an afternoon nap appealing.  I can start a summer day with the best of intentions only to realize it is late afternoon and I am not sure what I have done.  More specifically I can spend a day thinking about running only to realize that I have left it too late to actually do the run I spent so much time thinking about.

For the first part of this weekend I truly put this skill to use.  For the first time since my husband and father built our wonderful little cabin* by a lake, I went up on my own for a night and morning of peace and quiet before the rest of the family came up.

Autumn made an early visit this past weekend.  When I arrived the air was cool and the rain had started.  This continued through to the next day resulting in nothing other than the pair of loons being out on the cold, grey lake.  There was what I believe could be called a deafening silence.  It was, quite simply, wonderful.  Between Friday evening and Saturday lunch, this was what I did:


Of course I did stop doing the above in order to get my 10 hours of sleep in!

I had no urge to do anything.  In fact, it took me about 45 minutes just to make myself get off the couch and pour a bowl of cereal on Saturday morning.  The fall of Rice Chex into a bowl has never sounded so loud!

The extreme silence would come to an end with the arrival of my husband and boys.  But even then it was just one of those days to lay low and read.  My kids will note that I did claim that particular spot on the couch, the most comfortable in the cabin, as my own

Sunday came and I knew this lazy body would have to do something to prepare for the Army Run that takes place in – oh hell, I’m not even going to count the days since it might just send me into a panic.  Finally that morning I managed to head out the door.  O.K, it may have been more like noon.  Thankfully the boys were willing to do a little run with me, which helped get me going.  Together we did a 3k out and back.  I knew, however, that 3k for me was just not going to be enough.  So after dropping them off at the cabin and tearing myself away from this view…


…I set out again.  Not much to say about this run other than I ran 13 km, pretty much all of it hills, not much of it enjoyable.  I exaggerate, there was a one km stretch of flat road and since it was an out and back I got to do it twice!  There are no flat options in the area unless I go for a drive to the nearest town.  I admit that at the base of two hills – one being the steepest and the other being at least a km long – I turned off my watch and simply walked up them.  On a fun note, I did discover that those portable, digital signs that tell how fast your car is going will also tell you how fast your are running.  I know because on that flat stretch I tested it.  Twice.  Who needs a Garmin?

Today should have been a rest day but Evan was excited to take me on a 2.5k run he had done on his own the previous night.  He assured me it was a really fun route because of the awesome hills.  Great 🙁  Before fitting in the run though the boys and I went kayaking, with my husband and our dog joining us in the canoe.  I estimate we traveled about 3km, the longest the boys had ever kayaked on their own (meaning at no time did I grab one of their ropes and pull them behind me).  No speed records were set, there was lots of floating and enjoying the scenery, but still a sense of accomplishment.  At the end of the trip I suggested to the boys that we should do a run right away, telling them we would complete a kayak/running duathlon.  They loved this idea so off we went.  Luke and Mike did a 1k run and Evan and I did that 2.5k hilly route.  Here he is climbing a hill, leaving me far behind:


Evan took it one step further and did a quick swim in the lake, so we decided he completed a triathlon.


Two "duathletes", one "triathlete".

Two “duathletes”, one “triathlete”.

So the lazy weekend ended with some physical activity being accomplished.  But the fact is, I loved my time on that couch and enjoying that view.  I know for a fact that when I am up there next, it will once again be very difficult to abandon my laziness and fit in a run.

*We refer to our place as a cabin rather than a cottage.  The fact is what we have is what years ago  would have been a typical cottage.  However, these days the definition of cottage seems to be the following: a second home of similar or greater value and of similar or greater size than one’s first home and includes all modern amenities and design.  Therefore we have decided to use the more rustic term of cabin 🙂

Our cabin does NOT have any of the following:

– stainless steel appliances (we have a large cooler)
– indoor bathroom (we have an outhouse with a great view)
– separate rooms (we have one common space and two open lofts)
– laundry (it all comes home)
– indoor shower (we have an outdoor shower tent, which like the outhouse has a great view)
– square footage that is greater than that of our home
But.. I can tell you it is the best cabin/cottage ever and I wouldn’t change a thing!




How Many Days Until the Army Run?!?!

Photo: Check out the runner's bling. It's not too late to register and cross the finish line for one of these medals. There are still 550 spots left in the #ArmyRun half marathon, so register now!<br />
//<br />
Regardez le bling-bling des coureurs. Il n’est pas trop tard pour vous inscrire et recevoir une de ces médailles à la ligne d’arrivée. Il reste 550 places au demi-marathon #ArmyRun; inscrivez-vous maintenant!

 (photo from Army Run Facebook page)

Last week I was visiting a friend who is also a runner.  She mentioned she had done a 16k long run on the weekend.  I asked what race she was training for and and she said the Army Run.  I’m registered for that race too… a slight sense of panic hit me but then I thought, oh she is just getting a head start on long runs.  That race is a long way away.

Then I looked at a calendar.  Oops.  I actually should be doing 16k runs.  My idea of a long run right now is 8k.  I am not just a little behind, I am really behind.

As a teacher I do my best to avoid looking at a calendar in the summer.  Much of my year is spent planning and looking ahead, I prefer to take things day by day during my vacation.  Apparently that is not such a good idea when you register for a September race that as of now is only 38 days away.  Throw in the fact that this race was going to be my goal half marathon race for the fall, well… clearly I have goofed up.

So, time to move on to plan B.  I know I can run a half marathon in 38 days, if I had to I guess I could run one this weekend, but it certainly wouldn’t be pretty.  I think it is unlikely that I could aim for another sub 2 hour based on the training time I have left.  Thankfully the Army Run is just an incredible experience in itself, regardless of finish time.  Last year I ran it as part of a marathon long slow 32k training run.  Slowing down the pace actually really allowed me to take in the whole spectacular and emotional event, so I am not upset with the idea of slowing things down again this year.  Plus I have 3 other half marathons I hope to do this fall: Ottawa South, Fall Colours and Mission Possible.  The only reason I had not picked any of these as time goal races is because they all involve hills.

Bring on those hills, I have some training to do!

Being Thankful

Below is a post I wrote last summer.  Today I was looking for words of encouragement for two reasons, the first being that I am working through the grieving process.  I am finding that grief makes your thoughts swing wildly from one extreme to the other.  I go from thinking life is short and you have to cram in as much as possible, to wondering does it really matter if I complete such mundane, unimportant activities like completing a run?

The second reason I was looking for encouragement is because I know someone who is feeling frustrated with her running progress right now (and no, this time it is not me).  We all know what that is like, that feeling of anger and frustration as we question why we aren’t reaching our goals.  I don’t proclaim to have the words to fix all of that, but re-reading this post made me feel a little better.

We all know running is hard. It is a mental sport as much as it is a physical one. Making yourself get out there for training run after training run can drain the best of us. Having a few tough runs is enough to make you think you should just stick to Dr. Who marathons on Space Channel rather than actually try to run a marathon. I had some tough runs this week, but they weren’t bad runs. I finally got my weekly mileage back up over 40k and I am proud of getting myself out there when I could have stayed home and enjoyed the peace and quiet while my kids were busy at a half day camp.

The run that will stick with me this week was my 10k tempo. The day before I had done 19k, the day before that I had done a fairly fast 6k. My legs were tired, but I finished the 10k in a reasonable time and without hurting. What I will remember most is actually the end of the run. I finished in Fitzroy Provincial Park at the beach. I had the water to myself and was able to wade into the cool waters of the Ottawa River. The sky was perfectly blue, the air was clear and the temperature perfect. It was that elusive perfect summer day that we all dream of when winter wears out its welcome. All I could think of was how lucky I was to be able to run and to be able to enjoy such a gift of a day.

My Yin Yoga instructor always says, “Honour Your Body.” She repeats it often to remind everyone to listen to their bodies and do what is comfortable without thinking about what everyone else can do. But as I stood in the river the phrase meant even more to me. It meant honour your body by keeping it healthy, by keeping it fit, by being surrounded by nature and appreciating her beauty, by being thankful for your health, by being thankful that you have the opportunity to challenge yourself and to push your limits, not because you have to but because you want to. Honour the gift that you have been given and never take it for granted. It is easy when running, oh so easy, to forget to honour your body and be thankful. My new goal – try to take a moment in each run to remember these thoughts.

A Great Loss

Last night’s post was almost called “A Perfect Weekend”. After all, I had run a PB and then was able to enjoy my weekend at the lake. But I couldn’t use that title.

Throughout this near-perfect weekend I had to keep checking into reality via email. I knew that an email I did not want to read would come, I just did not know when. Last night, upon completion of my race report, the message came that my friend had passed away. I won’t go into details other than to say a month ago she felt ill and had to be taken to the hospital. She was eventually admitted to ICU. After many tests, cancer was found. This past week doctors said they were out of treatment options. This will sound cliche but life can change so quickly.

My friend was one of the most kind, caring and creative people I have had the honour of knowing. The world has lost a truly good person.

I am currently reading (for the second time), “The Book Thief”. The story is narrated, in a surprisingly beautiful tone, by Death. When I started reading last night, Death commented that at times, taking a soul was like robbery when there was so much life, so much to live for. “You see,” he goes on to say, “even death has a heart.”  I hope last night Death had a heart.

Cathy, you will be missed by so many.