Monthly Archives: October 2014

Another 10k PB – Or Not???

Twice this summer I PB’d on 10k courses.  10k is not really I distance I have worked on but this summer I did a couple to see where I was at.  Early in the summer I finished a race in 55:39, beating a previous time of 56 something.  By the end of the summer I did one in 53:05.  Both times I was thrilled, at least I was once I got over the initial urge to vomit.

Today I went into a 10k with no plans for a PB, but a more general goal of sub 55 minutes.  I had already spent two hours yesterday running up and down (and up and down some more) at a local ski hill for an orienteering event.  More about that in another post, but I will say now it was a blast.  I wasn’t as sore as I could have been today but I knew I was tired.  Thankfully I had switched my entry – I was originally entered into the half marathon but once I knew I was participating in the orienteering I decided 10k would be more than enough.

Did I beat my previous best time today?  I think so.  Here’s the problem, the course came up short, at least 110 metres short.  I hate that, particularly in this case because I came in under my best time.  I again surprised myself, something of a pleasant regularity now, and found myself running into the finish chute seeing a time starting with 52 on the clock.  I really hadn’t been looking at my pace very often so didn’t have a sense of what my time might be.  Ends up my final chip time was 52:15!  The extra bonus, no real urge to lose my breakfast!  Despite feeling tired I had a solid run, with my last full km being the fastest.  But do I get to count it as a PB?  Technically I guess not, though when I do the math I should have still come just slightly under my previous best.  As happy as I was to see that finish line, I wish it had been about 150 metres farther down the finish lane.

My First 2015 Registration Done…


… and it is an exciting one!!!

I have had four major cities in which I want to run a half marathon.  Two have already been crossed off my list: New York City and Vancouver.  You can read about my race experiences in those cities here and here.  Both were cities I had never been to before and both proved well worth the visit.

This summer I managed to get to a city that wasn’t on my list, but that I also thoroughly enjoyed and that was Philadelphia.  Click here for details about that race.  I have also run in Toronto and Hamilton, but I admit I don’t count either as real “trips away”.  I grew up outside of Toronto, so it is a city I am fairly familiar with.  As for Hamilton, well it is Hamilton… no offence to Hamiltonians and really, I did love my race experience there.

So the two cities left on my list at this moment (and trust me, I could easily expand the list in seconds), are actually 2 cities I have been to before, albeit a long time ago.  One is London, England and the other is Prague in the Czech Republic.  Today’s race registration was for… Prague!!!  In March of 2015, if all goes to plan, I will be running the streets of one of Europe’s most gorgeous cities.

Prague is a city near and dear to my heart.  For about 5 months it was my home when I taught high school English right off Wenceslas Square in the heart of the city.  I spent more hours than I can count wandering its cobbled and paved streets enjoying the beauty of a city left relatively undamaged by war.  Of course years of communism had made its mark, but by the time I went there to teach it was a country entering the western world.  I had actually first visited the city two year before while backpacking through Europe.  In those two years between visits it was remarkable to see how many changes had occurred since the fall of communism, I can only imagine the changes in the last two decades.  If you want to know exactly how long it has been since I have been to Prague, let’s just say that it was still part of Czechoslovakia when I arrived there to teach!

It has been a dream of mine to return to Prague with my family, to have them see the city I chose to live in for a short period of my life.  I won’t pretend living there was perfect.  There were many times I was lonely and missing home.  I never did learn to speak the language well, but I do remember times when I realized that some simple thoughts would come to me in Czech before English.  I certainly wasn’t saving money.  At that point I think I was being paid the equivalent of a couple of dollars a day.  At the end of my stay the rules were you could not leave the country with Czech currency, so what little I saved was spent or given away.  But it was all such an adventure and to this day I still have dreams that take place in the old parts of the city.  I can’t wait to return.

I’ll finish this with a couple of pictures of what I consider to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe:

Charles bridge - Prague - Czech Republic

My Second Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon

Thanksgiving Sunday is probably my favourite day of the year.  For seven years I have participated in some manner in the Fall Colours Race.  My first couple of years I Nordic walked the half marathon.  At that time I had no desire to become a runner, much less run 21.1 km.  For another couple of years I ran with Evan as he started doing the 3k distance.  In 2012 and 2013 I ran the 10k, using the course to train for my first half marathon and then my first full marathon.  This year I ran the half marathon, my eleventh to date.  And what a great run it was.

First of all, somehow almost every year this race gets perfect weather.  It is a largely rural route held at the time of year when we often hit the peak of the fall colours.  This year’s race started in single digits under blue skies and finished around 13 or 14 degrees.  That is my kind of running weather.  But, in case you get lulled into thinking this could be perfect a run, they throw in a bit of hill work.  Depending on your definition of hills, one could easily argue there is actually quite a bit of hill work to be conquered.  Check out my elevation map:


As you can see the first half of this course is an uphill battle.  And while the ‘back” portion of the run clearly gives you a chance to run downhill, there are still lots of “rollers”, small ups and downs that take a toll.  And don’t even get me started on the final hill just after the 20k mark, that one is just cruel.

Because of the elevation of this course I anticipated finishing between 2:03 and 2:05.  Anything quicker would be a bonus.  But I ended up feeling really good throughout the first half.  The hills weren’t easy by any means but I did find myself maintaining my pace, sometimes even passing a few people.  In fact, I felt really good until 19k when I decided to take a walk break due to a bit of light headedness.  And I will be honest, I walked that final hill – quickly mind you – to make sure I had enough in me for a strong finish.  Final time: 1:58:58!  I had not even imagined completing the course in under 2 hours!  In fact, while I was running I couldn’t even remember what pace I would need for a sub 2 hour race.  I only used my watch to make sure I wasn’t going too fast to complete the course comfortably.  My time put me in 4th position in my age group and the 33rd woman out of 139. I am more than pleased with these results.  I now firmly believe that I am a sub 2 hour half marathoner and that I will achieve more final times that start with 1:5x.  Perhaps the part I am most proud of though is my 10k split.  Despite all of those hills, I hit 10k at a little under 56 minutes.  Not that long ago that was my goal time at flat 10k races.  Now it is my split time running up hills.  That is progress I am proud of.

But before this sounds like nothing but bragging (really it is just pride!) I will admit that around the 20k mark I thought about making this my last half of the season.  I have been planning to run one more, the one that so far I have found to be the hardest half marathon course I have done.  The one where my best time is 2:06.  There is a part of me that is thinking of skipping it, despite it being one of my main goals for the year. On Sunday I was tired at 20k; yes I know that that is normal.  I was happy to be done at 21 (21.26 to be accurate), also normal.  All of that made me think that maybe I should just make it my half finale for 2014.  It is always nice to end on a positive race.  We shall see.  Regardless I do have one more race, a 10k, to complete in a week.

The boys also had great runs, with Evan finishing on the podium for males overall and for males 13 and under.  Luke wasn’t too far behind.  I think all of us agree though that the best part of this day is coming home, happy with our runs and enjoying a massive Thanksgiving dinner thanks to my mum.  This year we also had friends who I met through a running blog ( join us for dinner as they were visiting for the race. Between all of us we had covered four distances at Fall Colours.  It was so much fun to hear about everyone’s experiences and successes.  Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend a day.




The End of a Perfect Day

A beautiful fall day, a sub 2 hour half marathon – with hills, hills and more hills – and a turkey dinner with family and friends. Is it any wonder that this is my favourite holiday?  Of course the best part is I don’t have to make any of the dinner, my mum takes care of that. And yes, in my book that is even better than finishing the race in 1:58:58!

The Fall Running Season So Far


I love the trails in fall!

I love the trails in fall!

My summer/fall running has been so different this year compared to last.  This time last year I was focused – obsessed? – with training for my first marathon.  Everything was about the marathon; what I ate, my distance, my pace, my rest days.  It was exciting, terrifying, difficult, exhilarating and exhausting.  In all, it was quite an experience.

But when it comes down to it, I like this fall better.  I have gone completely in the opposite direction.  I have not followed a training program since last spring.  I just run.  I do a lot of slow runs and a lot of short runs.  I found myself getting a little bored with long runs, so I just didn’t do them unless I felt like them.  I haven’t done any speed work, and my hill work has just depended on what path I choose to follow.  I have spent more time on trails.  Grant it they are trails that true trail runners would laugh at, but they are different from the sidewalks and roads I am used to.  For variety I have thrown in orienteering and swimming.  I am not particularly good at either of them but they both put a smile on my face.  I have run with friends and I have run with people who have become friends through my 5k running clinic.  I have started running with a friend and colleague as she starts to build herself up to her first half marathon next year.  I have reconnected with a former colleague through running and we meet for casual runs on trails.

Despite all of this running relaxation, I had my best half marathon and 10k times this summer.  In my last 10k race I had my fastest 5k.  Admittedly I am running a bit slower now, but not as much as I would have thought.  Probably the main thing I am aware of is that I feel the longer or faster runs more now than I did a few months ago.  Let’s just say I am a little stiffer after my runs these days.  I’m o.k with that though, largely because I am having fun.  I am just not feeling as competitive as I did last year.  I do want to feel competitive again, just not right now.

Friday, after a few days of running with new(ish) runners, I did manage to get back out for a long run and found myself enjoying it despite the distance.  It was a relaxed, slow paced 18 km with a mixture of trails and roads and a couple of hills thrown in.  I was slow but steady and had enough energy to pick up the pace for the last three km.  It was a nice way to end the week.

Today I participated in my second orienteering event.  Actually, it became my third try as well since after completing the novice course (which I completely screwed up a few times) I decided to try the intermediate course as well.  Because you know, if you have a tough time on a beginner’s course, you might as well try something harder, right?  I made more mistakes than I can count, but with my compass and map I was able to find all of my controls and make it back to the finish line in a reasonable time of 1:18.  I of course was nowhere near as fast as the boys.  I like the advice someone gave me before the intermediate course.  She suggested I just take it easy since I knew the kids would beat me anyway – so true!  I did my best to run when I could but there were lots of stops to try to figure out just where I was, and there was some bushwhacking in attempts to take short cuts, most of which probably did not actually save any time.  It is kind of funny to finish an event and find my pace showing a number that would normally make me want to cry.

Next up, the Fall Colours Half Marathon next Sunday.  I’m thinking it might not be pretty (there is a lot of hill work on that course), but hopefully it will be fun.