Saturday, November 29, 2008

Philly Photos and Update

My lack of blogging the last few days pretty much matches my lack of inspiration to do much of anything. Right now I have an intense sore throat and I have taken Cepacol, NeoCitran, Aspirin and Cough syrup. Don't worry, it wasn't all at once, but if this post seem loopy (well more loopy than normal) bear with me.

Our group having a pre-race celebration dinner.


Liberty Bell

Touring Philadelphia -beautiful architecture!

City of Brotherly Love.. Hubs and I are thinking of making X-mas cards out of this picture. We also have a mushier version with us kissing, but I spared you the gushy gushy!


On the course. I looked like a bumblebee!

Hubs doing a Rocky pose on the Rocky Step (Museum of Art)

Hubs running up the steps after the marathon.

Hubs and I on the Rocky steps (post marathon) with Philadelphia cityscape in the background. I was shivering cold!

Today I was supposed to run 30K with Christy, but since I was so sick, Hubs ran with her instead. They totally kicked butt and ran 35K!! Way to go Christy, Disney is yours now!

So I have spent the past week looking at what marathon is next. I almost signed up for Vegas and even e-mailed the CIM race director to gain entry to that full marathon. Even though he offered me two spots, I have decided to wait until February (most likely) to run another marathon. I think the week I took off was needed since I never get sick, my body just needed to rest and repair.

I do have one last race planned for 2008. The Hamilton Harrier Boxing Day 10 mile run. Any bloggers interested in joining? I have never ran a 10 mile race before, so it should be fun. I signed up for this race at the Niagara Expo for only $25, so I couldn't resist!

Anyway, I plan on getting to bed early, but I hope all my American blogger friends had a restful Thanksgiving and enjoyed time with family and friends. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Race Report: Philadelphia Marathon

Well if I were to grade myself based on criteria I set before the race, I guess I would give myself a C-. In retrospect though, I think I may have given the race a B+ effort. Read on and I will explain.

This was my second time running the Philadelphia Marathon. Last year I found it to be a lot of fun because its a great course with varied terrain and scenery, great crowd support and a fun destination. These reasons and others drew me back for round two, and once again, Philly didn't disappoint. Its a kick ass-phalt event!

The weather forecast was ominous for Philly Marathon. The night before I went to bed I checked on final time and it was supposed to be -4C at the start, and a high of 4C at the finish. I decided begrudgingly that it was not skirt weather and settled for compression tights, and three layers on top. I was glad I did, it was cold!

Hubs and I had travelled down to Philly with a group of running friend and we had a really nice pasta dinner at a place called Maggiano's. Travelling with running friends makes the race all that more enjoyable, IMO. We had an early dinner and had finished eating by 5:30 and went back to the hotel to rest up until the morning. I slept O.K. tossing throughout the night, probably banked about 4-5 hours.

Race morning came and we walked to the Museum of Art. It was extremely crowded, so I stood in line at the porta potties while Hubs took our bags to the bag drop. One neat thing was that Bart Yasso from Runner's World was one of the race announcers. Lots of inspirational advice and encouragement was provided, and of course, fellow runner's camaraderie.

We stood in line in our start corral listening to the Rocky theme music which got us all pumped up. It was nice and warm being huddled with all of the other runners. I lined up between the 4:00 and the 4:15 pace bunny, because I didn't want to go out too fast.

Famous last words. Hubs and I took off and we immediately began running about a 3:50 marathon pace. I kept trying to slow us down, but we would relax, and I would look down and sure enough, our pace had crept back up.

The first half of the course went smooth. My legs felt fantastic, and I glided along. There was a large uphill around 10 miles, but I seemed to handle it OK. There was also a small cobblestone section which was scary to run over, but just past that was the best cheering section ever. Hundreds of people lined up with cow bells, music and whistles. I felt empowered and inspired, Philadelphians rock! I started to wonder, maybe today was the day to go under 4 hours? I crossed the halfway point at 2 hours, 1 minute. I was thankful when the half marathoners peeled off to the finish line, it meant more road space!

Past the halfway point, I started to have doubts about sub 4 hours. My legs were fine, but I just kind of felt exhausted. Tired. Pooped. Nada. Zilch. At the 14K point there was a huge hill that I made the mistake of stuffing a GU in my mouth before I crept up. I was halfway up the hill with the GU in my mouth still beginning to choke (running uphill and eating not a good combo) so I walked and finished the GU off. A little defeated that I had to walk, I told myself, so what, you walked, now run girl, RUN! So run I did, down a nice long downhill and settled back into a 5:41 min/km pace.

The next few miles went OK. We were running along the river towards the warehouse district called Manayunk. This section is often where runner's wall can occur. It an out and back loop. But the out is a long gradual uphill. This section is fun to run though, and there is beer at mile 17/21 and brownies and great crowd support. I didn't have either, my stomach just didn't feel like it.

By the 20 mile turnaround, I was tired. I knew I was off pace, but also knew depending on how much I could hold on for those last 6 miles, would depend on whether or not I would get a PR. I kept running interspersed with short walk breaks.

I struggled and pushed, but a PR just wasn't in the cards for me. I crossed the finish line at 4:15:38 (official time). Certainly a respectable time, but I was disappointed. How was it possible that I ran Hamilton faster (4:09:20) in a back to back marathon, and then after three weeks rest, I couldn't do the same. The body is a mystery sometimes. I think I was just overall tired. This was my seventh marathon this year, and my third best time, and a PR for this course, so I'll take it.

Afterwards Hubs and I got our picture taken, had hot broth and a pretzel (awesome post race treat), and ran up the Rocky steps and took a few silly pictures.

Final Race Stats:
Clock Time 04:22:56
Chip Time 04:15:38
Overall Place 4121/7231
Gender Place 1337/2986
Division Place 239/504
Age Grade 53.7%
Pace 9:45.1

Congratulations to all finishers, and I look forward to reading all of the reports. Thanks for reading!

** I didn't bring my camera USB cable to upload pictures so I will edit this post on Tuesday to include pictures**

Saturday, November 22, 2008


In case you are interested in stalking me (I think you can for Philly), my bib number is 4459. I also wanted to share a video Xenia (in case you haven't seen it) posted on her blog that I can't stop watching because its so motivational. I think Tiger in particular will enjoy this. (No plans for IronMan in the near future for me though).

Good luck everyone, and I can't wait to KICK ASHPHALT! (Philly marathon motto). Enjoy your weekend everyone and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gearing Up

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes guys. I had a nice day, complete with a nice dinner and wine :). Its going to a busy week leading up to Philly, so this will likely be my last post before I go. Looking forward to a pretzel and a good time, and hopefully a PR. Going for sub 4:09:20!

Good luck to JoyRun, Denise, Ted, who are also running Philly, and to anyone else I may have missed!

And for a funny spoof of the Rocky movie, I found this on You Tube.

Thanks for reading !

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Age Group

Happy new age group to me today!! I should be happy, but I hear the women's 35-39 age group is a tough bunch. On the upside, now I only have to shave off 25 minutes to get to Boston. (LOL)

I am actually half asleep right now (while not running a marathon like Laura), I should be more productive, but since I am lacking good blogging material lately I thought I would share my birthday wish that I presented to my loving husband when he requested a birthday list (*cough trained husband *cough).

1. Advanced marathon Training Book by Pete Pfitzinger

2. Nike + Sport Band

3. Running skirt in Cheetah pink (how fun is that?!). If this doesn't stir your inner tiger, what will?!!

4. Other non-running stuff that I won't post about. Wink wink.. LOL Just kidding. Truefully all I care is that we go out for dinner and a glass of wine is placed before me.
Time to go back to the grind. Have a great Monday and thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Staying Motivated

Not really much new to write about. I've had a hard time coming up with bloggable material lately, even with a race one week today. I didn't want to write another "rah rah Philly post" (save that for a later date LOL)

Lily just wrote a great post about this. It has been kinda tough to get out there lately with the shorter daylight, rainy weather, and cooler temperatures. Once you do get out there though its so worth it. And it really does help break those winter blahs. So post Philly marathon I think I will try the following strategies to break up the blahs (not all at once, just in bits and pieces to keep it interesting):

1) Change my running route. Time to explore some new trails or routes.
2) Turn on the music. I don't usually use music, but I think I will switch to using music as we head into winter. I don't want to rely on music for motivation to run though since many races ban ipods.
3) We have an indoor track where I live, so I plan on running there once a week for speed work to beat an inclement weather.
4) Meet up with some running friends to run. Hubs and I often run together just for sheer convenience, so I may start heading out with a group of friends once a week to keep myself motivated.
5) This one is tougher. I am going to to try to do my weekday runs in the morning. Aron has been posting about her morning runs and I am starting to buy in to this a little. Not a morning person, but I can try! Yes I can!
6)Cross train. I love to swim, go to yoga, gym, boot camp, but when it gets to race season, I usually stop the cross training. Now is the time to bring it back.

I found this quote on inspirational quote that speaks of training in the off season:

A man should have any number of little aims about which he should be conscious and for which he should have names, but he should have neither name for, nor consciousness concerning, the main aim of his life.
Samuel Butler

Today I am running up to the Conservation area. The shine is shining after a few days of rain.

What could be better?

Enjoy your Sunday and Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


A math nerd joke. I don't remember where I saw this picture, so if it was your blog speak up so I can give you credit! Hope this gears all of my American blogger friends up for Thanksgiving in a few weeks (its the fourth Thursday for America, right?). Anyway, have a great weekend! (This post is part of Nike Mom's photo Friday - but a day early since I know tomorrow will be busy!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Random Blabbings

I was tagged by Kim, so I am supposed to write about 6 things I value. I am instead just going to blab on about a few random things

1. First off, I want to clarify about my book I am writing. Its a "Learn at Home" instructional book for my local school board for students that need to learn by correspondence. So as much as I would like to write a book about my lasse fair lifestyle, I am writing a book instructing students through mole calculations. Yes I am the Stephen King of the chemists. LOL.

2. My sister hates when I brag about her, but I can't help it. My sister went down to the States on a track scholarship, and eventually shifted to triathlons which she excelled at and became a professional triathlete (she had several sponsors). She is a gifted athlete, and although she is not competing now, she qualified for Iron Man Kona (and finished in just over 10 hours -which she thought was horrible?!), and has a personal best of a 1:18 half and runs a 16 minute 5K. Of course this begs the question, what the heck happened with my genes?!! LOL Seriously though as kids when we would get up to swim in the early morning she was always dragging me out of bed (I am the older of the two). Not a morning person even then! Long and short my baby sis is my inspiration for running.

3. I have an unhealthy obsession with my bathroom scale. Denise just wrote a post about this and I can totally relate. What's funny about my scale is that it is circa 1940's from a old high school science lab. It was going to be thrown out, but I saved it. Think analog avocado green- real sexy. It weighs me a bit heavier, but I like that, because when I am out visiting, I may just use your bathroom scale and get a pleasant surprise.

4. Despite my obsession with the scale, I also have a compulsive snacking habit. I love guacamole and tortilla chips. Yummy.

5. Hubs and I are constantly asked when we are going to have a family. I want to have a family, but its also hard to imagine fitting everything in. I love how we can pick up and go, and that I can enter races or go places on a whim. I guess in short I'm a little selfish about my time. I really admire all of you moms and dads that manage to juggle young kids and still find time for yourself and your health. As an interesting side note, my chiropractor told me one of his patients qualified for Boston WHILE she was 5 months pregnant. Is that crazy or what?!? I know more and more running while pregnant is safe, but this seems extreme.

On the running front, my 14K for Monday ended up being 10. I dropped my Garmin and it popped off of my band. Thankfully Hubs fixed it, but we had to shorten the run. I ran 6K yesterday, and I will run again tomorrow, likely 12-14K. Focusing on less distance with a steady pace to keep the fitness level up for the race.

Thats about it for now, if you would like to be tagged, consider yourself tagged.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Race Goals and Other Misc Stuff

Not much new here. I still haven't run since my last post. I had a busy weekend. I felt under the weather on Friday, and then Hubs and I went up to visit his family in Parry Sound. I spent most of the weekend in the library and Starbucks working on a chemistry book I am writing. Thank goodness for Pumpkin Spice Lattes. They made the 14 hours I spent writing this weekend bearable. I had intended on running, but the combo of feeling sick and cold, wet weather, and the need to meet a deadline, halted any running. I think the rest may be good though, my legs feel ready to go today.

Fast forward to Monday. Loving sweet Hubs made a huge pot of vegetarian chilli that I had a generous serving of, washed it down with a coffee, and I will head out for a 14K jaunt as soon as I am done writing this post.

I went on the Philly site today and I saw the 12 days remaining on the clock, and I can't wait. I have been ponderering over possible goals for Philly, and although I haven't decided, here is a tenative plan.

A goal - sub 4:00 hours. I must admit I am hestitant to go for it, simply because I don't want to go out too fast and blow the race all together

B goal - sub 4:09:20. I would be very happy with this. I think I can meet this goal since I ran Hamilton in 4:09 after running Niagara the previous week.

C goal - sub 4:15. I would be dissapointed with this number, but its only a number, and still respectable, and I know I will still have a blast at the marathon.

D goal - finish

I will catch up will all of your blogs soon! (I know I am a little behind!) Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Family Day Race

Not much to report right now. I am now tapering for the upcoming Philadelphia marathon on November 23rd. In fact, I feel a little under the weather today and I've been kinda of stir crazy all week. Poor Hubs!

Last year, the Ontario Premier announced a new statutory Ontario holiday, Family Day, which is the third Monday in February. Read: Day off with pay and no obligations!

Sooooo this presents a perfect opportunity to sneak into the land of my American blogger friends and do what else: Run a Marathon.

Last year Hubs and I ran the Last Chance for Boston Marathon in Columbus Ohio. Basically its 26 mile laps around a business park in the outskirts of Columbus. Not exactly exciting, but its a driveable distance, well run, and flat as a pancake. Other advantages were a water station every mile, so no need to carry water or food, and pacing is easy. Here is a picture of Hubs and I at that race last year. (BTW-lots of non-hopeful Boston people run this as well - I didn't expect to qualify and ran a decent 4:26, not bad for the training I did)

Now as good as a winter warm up marathon this is, I would like to try some thing different. Right now I really have my sights set on this race. I think it would be fun, and if anyone has run it, or know someone who has, feedback is welcome! Drawbacks is that its about 16 hours so I would probably fly, and Hubs hates flying. In fact he's upset as it is that we are flying to Philadelphia this year.

Other Options

Austin Marathon. I've read that its a hilly course, while I don't mind hills, I am still trying to bring my marathon time under 4 hours, so why work from a disadvantage? Sounds like a good event though.

Lost Dutchman Marathon. This course looks STUNNING. I really like the idea of travelling to Arizona, I've never been there before, but again the course looks challenging, but what an experience! Here is one past racer's recount from marathon guide, that sends chills through my body when I read it:

This was so much fun. The expo was small but complete. The shirt was cotton but it has one of the nicest designs, front and back. On race morning, when the shuttle bus dropped us off at the start area, it was clear and chilly and there were about 70 little campfires burning... with carpet pads next to them to stretch out on. The start is right at the base of the Superstition Mountains and it is amazing to see the sun rise and light up the mountains. The race started on time, the aid stations were well stocked, the volunteers were just super and the finisher's medal is as neat as the Rock 'n Roll medals... maybe better. If you ever need a break from winter, come to Arizona in February and run the Lost Dutchman.

This is how I fill my spare time, dreaming about the next marathon. Obsession, no!! Passion? Absolutely!
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Find Your Flow

I went to get a post race massage tonight, and had a great conversation with my massage therapist about the mental side of running. I told her about how I got emotional during my marathon this past Sunday, and how everything seems clearer to me during those very emotional moments of a race.

Caroline, my massage therapist, is a former triathlete, social worker- turned massage therapist and is just a great person to talk to. She immediately understood what I was trying to describe, and simply said, you experienced "flow". She described the mental psychology of reaching a euphoria and just a deeper understanding of yourself as an athlete, and your purpose on this planet.

I drove home thinking about this, and decided to find out more. In fact, its kinda of been nagging me since Sunday. I feel a little unsettled and I'm not sure why.

What is flow? I hate to source Wikipedia (but its so darn convenient), but here is what I found out:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.

Runner's flow, I guess in short may conjure up a number of images, but I guess it means being "in the zone" or "runner's high". I find it hard to describe it other than that it was an incredibly beautiful and full filling experience not only as an athlete, but as a human being.

So as a runner, have you experienced flow? If so, what was it like for you? I am positive we call all find some inspiration in sharing our experiences!

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Race Report: Hamilton Road to Hope Marathon

I signed up for the Hamilton Road to Hope Marathon very last minute, in a quest to become a marathon maniac by running two marathons on consecutive weekends. It turned out to be a good thing for me since Hamilton is now my new favourite marathon (more on that later).

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is a large urban city, probably best known as a steel manufacturing mecca that has since past its prime.

Although Hamilton has a bad rap for being a not-so-pretty city, it actually has many beautiful spots for running, and being set in the Niagara Escarpment, it has some beautiful running trails and views.

Hubs and I picked up our race kits just in time - 3pm on Saturday afternoon. The race kit was non-existent. It was simply a chip, bib and a rather ugly ill fitting T-shirt. RD if you read this - please something other than a shirt!! Please! Anyway, that said, the volunteers were super, and it looked like everything was organized, set, and ready to go.

After kit pick-up, Hubs and I checked into our hotel room at the Sheraton (which I stole on Hotwire for $66). Its only about an hour and twenty minute drive for us, but I was going to my friend birthday dinner downtown Toronto, so this allowed us time to attend her birthday dinner and still get a decent night sleep.

Speaking of dinner, I basically did everything you are not supposed to do. Since I decided this wasn't an "A" race, I had a large beer (I have never liked beer, but lately I have craved beer - in fact I'm sipping one as I write this race report), salmon, and creamy risotto. I did drinks lots of water, and had a good nights sleep (loved the clocks going back!).

Race morning Hubs and I awoke and considered skipping the race. Had I not laid down $170 dollars ($85 each), and proclaimed my intentions on this blog, there would be no race report. We drove to finish line of the race (Confederation Park), arrived just in time, and then we were bussed to the start line.

It was chilly this morning. About 2C(36F). I layered another long sleeve shirt on, wore gloves, and shorts. I shivered as I waited in line at the porta-potty. All of this made me grumpy and made me question why the heck I do this to myself.

Before the race started I ran into Marlene, which was nice. I expressed my doubts to her, and wished her well. We also ran into a few running friends from our local Running Room.

Before we knew it, we had to head to the start, which was annoyingly about 1km from the school. In fact as we approached the start, the gun went off, and we had to scramble to get going. We were amongst the last to cross the line, and were even behind the police sweeper truck! LOL.

I struggled right off the bat. I hadn't yet got my mind around the marathon. I think I was cold to start and my muscles tightened right up. We ran past a few runners that we knew that had run the Niagara Half Marathon last week, so I felt at least I wasn't the only crazy one out there!

The first half of the race was on quiet rolling country hills, which was nice and tranquil. The sun was out, and I started to feel warm. My pace was around 5:47-5:50 kM/min, slower than last week, but I just went with what felt comfortable. I had no intentions of going for a PR. Around 7kM, Hubs and I ran into a few runners we knew, and relaxed and chatted. Before I knew it, we hit 10K (58 min).

Hubs had pulled ahead past 10K, and I decided that I was going to keep him in my sights, if I could. In fact I followed him past the half way. I crossed the half-way point at about 2:02. I felt O.K, but I really wasn't pushing, and felt that a PR was unlikely. I just wanted a decent race with no major crashes.

Past the half-way we ran on a free way that the RD had shut down for the race. The scenery was stunning, and it was a HUGE net downhill, about 5kM worth! I glided down the hill and caught up to Hubs around 25K. Hubs was impressed and commented that he thought I would get a PR. I wasn't so sure. I didn't know how my body would react to those later kilometers. Hubs and I ran together until 30K. He had to go to the porta potty but told me to go for it. We reached 30K at 2:52. Only a minute off of Niagara.

It was at this point that I knew that a PR was possible. I had tanked the last 10K of Niagara last week, but this week I was blister free. I would say that I felt slightly more tired than in Niagara but my legs were fine - no stiffness whatsoever. I reached 32K at 3:03 - the same time as Niagara. It was on, I officially was gunning for a PR!

I ran steadily with a few small walk breaks to 34K. I felt pretty good, and wondered, how long can I do this for? I decided to try and run as much as possible, with short walk breaks at the kilometer markers. This seemed to worked. My watch went dead shortly after 34K, and I thought, I have to dig deep, I have to listen to my body and do my very best.

Past 36K, we turned and ran along a lake shore path that would take us to the finish. It was stunningly beautiful, and pancake flat. The wind, however, was wild!! I felt chills to my bones and for whatever reason - I began to cry. Crying and running marathons seemed to go hand in hand for me. Today my tears were a result of reflecting on my life thus far, the people in it, and how happy I am to be running. For whatever strange reason, pain makes me grateful because I know, I am alive, AND I'm living a less than ordinary existence.

Spectators, however, took my crying as a bad sign and one nice gentleman on a bike pedalled beside me and we chatted for a few minutes, and he told me some jokes to make me laugh. Past 38K, I asked a fellow runner what her gun time was and she told me 3:42. Now math and the marathon are never a good mix, but I guessed that if I could run the next 4.2 at about 6kM/min, it would take me 24 more minutes, and I would finish in about 4:06-4:07.

By this time though, I had to walk frequently. I was tired, I tried to keep the walk breaks brief, but those last few kilometers seemed to take FOREVER! I had no idea of my time, until I rounded the bend to the finish line at saw 4:09-- on the clock! I darted towards the finish line at finished in 4:10:17. My chip time results are 4:09:20. I still can't believe that I shaved 6 minutes off of my time from seven days ago!! Other celebratory facts are that this was my 10th marathon, and I am now officially a Marathon Maniac.

So I am very happy that I got up this morning! It was tough, but really not bad until the very end. I am less sore than Niagara and no blisters! Although this event has a few bugs to work out, I would recommend because of the variety of scenery and the time of year it takes place.

Thanks for reading!

I'm a Marathon Maniac

And I got a PR! I don't have my official time, but the gun time was 4:10 and change when I crossed the line. I think my chip time is a minute or two less than that (my watch when dead at 34K so I had no idea how much of a PR I had until the very end!). I am still in disbelief! I'm working on a full race report, but in the meantime, thanks for reading! W0oooooooo Hoooooooo!