Well, 2012, you're going to be here soon. I suppose I'd best get planning then right? What races, when, where, how. Is it a year for more PB's? More new things? Or Less? Yes, looking ahead and trying to plan so far has been a challenge to date. The problem - an already full social calendar. Attempting to be a diverse well rounded individual I do this thing called Book Club. And going back to school - damn weekend classes. So far, those scheduled dates are conflicting with some classic race dates like St. Pat's. I guess it's time to get creative.

2011 was a pretty good year for racing. It was a mash up of several races (re-caps here) from 5kms to two halfs, a couple relays, and some obstacle course racing. I'd love to go back to Whistler for the Warrior Dash but I'm not sure it'll happen as I'm also booked to be at our family rebellion reunion that weekend and hubby is working. Dilemma, decisions.

There's a few certainties for 2012 so far. On January 21 I'm signed up for the Twitter Road Race. It's pretty simple, that day, you go out, run your potentially freezing toosh of for 5km on hopefully clear paths then tweet your time. Yes January is typically freezing and blustery but I'm forecasting a Chinook. (Do you hear me racing gods?) No prizes, no glory, just plain fun. Speaking of fun - how about running on snowshoes. After volunteering for two years I think it's time to compete. Who doesn't want a swanky weekend in Lake Louise with a beautiful race through the Rockies?

And if we're talking scenic runs, in May I'll do the Rocky Mountain Soap Run (12km) on Saturday in Canmore. By far I've heard the swag bag and organization of this race is top notch. The following day I'll do the traditional Mother's Day Race (5km) with the family. Then, at the end of June hubby and I, my aunt, and maybe some other relatives are going to do our first ever Triathlon in Red Deer. Yes, racing is a family affair. So, I guess that takes care of the something new part but then I'm also considering doing a road race on my bike - with no run before or after. Just biking. After all, I did get a shiny new beast!
Trek Madone 4.5

My 'running husband' Chris (because he makes the best cookies ever) has proposed a relay team for the Sinister 7. Trail running? Yes Please! And maybe that's what I'm going to look for - more trail races. Never mind this boring pavement crap. But ideally in 2012 I'd aim to PB a 5km, a 10km, and a half-marathon. Because there's no shortage of 5's or 10's around those won't need to be scheduled asap - although I like 5k's in my pockets so I'm consistently working on speed. April would be an ideal time. I think I'll end up doing the Edmonton half-marathon in August because that will fit best with my schedule. September I'll likely be repeating the Blitz Duathlon - perhaps the only repeat race from 2011 other than the annual Mother's Day run.

Wow, and before you know it, I've got a pretty full calendar. Throw in those 5's and 10's and it's going to be another stacked year. Just how I like it. I love racing (though could do without the fees). Racing every six weeks is my ideal.  I find it keeps me sharp. Mixing up the events and distances means I'm never without adding new components to my workouts so I don't get bored. As 2012 will likely be the last year of racing for a couple (yes, baby #2 is tentatively scheduled to be conceived for late 2012) I really want to make the most of it. As I'm a total slave to being pregnant and breastfeeding it means 18 months off of serious training. I could age a lot in those 18 months so I have to take advantage of my relative youth while I can.

Anything you think I should add into the mix? How about you - what are your plans?



Freedom - it is possible that it's too much of a good thing. With not a race in sight the last few weeks have been very very relaxed. I've done a 12km run and a 6km run and nothing else. Tomorrow that needs to change. While I'm not regimented to a strict schedule and I have the ability to do as I feel daily, unless I rough sketch something on the calendar nothing will be the trend instead of something. So, the 'Freedom' plan is going to look something like this: Cardio-Strenght-Cardio-Rest-Repeat Cardio will either be a) a run (weather dependent) or b) a Sufferfest (mood dependent). Strength will be on the TRX or drop-in at Tricia's full body beat-my-ass classes. I'd love to get in a long run (12+kms) at least once in ten days. Living near the cleared pathways and having some ambitious early season ultra-runner friends I think something will be getting me out the door for more beautiful days like the shot below. 

Looking West over the Res on a gorgeous sunny day.
It's not that I have no plans. In fact, I'd really like to get going on the TRX and feel like I've got some strength in me and not just the ability to run for hours on end. Coach M is getting heavy and I've been struggling to toss her around. My pipes just aren't the same as they used to be. I'm waiting a few more weeks to set the race schedule for 2012. I'm eyeing over the prospects, thinking about the timing, and contemplating where I want to put my focus. I'd like to pick three or four key races that other races are scheduled around as part of training.

For now though, I'm going to bask in my 1/2 PB and reward myself with some easy to moderate workouts until the holiday season passes. I also plan to indulge heavily in my mom's home baked goods and not step on the scale (too often). 


Frenzy - Our Vegas Half Marathon Experience

You might have heard by now, the Vegas Rock n' Roll was a bit of a schmozzle. I'm writing this post much later than intended and I don't want you to think I'm a Debbie Downer but I'm not thrilled despite a PB. Sure there are plenty of horror stories, you can read Sarah's post, Dawn's, or Betsy's to get some of the horrid details (I'll throw in a couple too). But then you get to read about Michelle and Leslie - two of the other Badass Mother Runner's I got to meet in Vegas and hear the joy in their accomplishments. I'm just going to write candidly and then move on.

By far one of the biggest highlights of my trip was meeting Dimity and Sarah from Another Mother Runner. Not only did I get to say hi at the expo, we had a small get together the morning of the race to discuss everyone's biggest dilemma - what to wear? Of course, we didn't talk all running, somehow Sarah and I got talking about bananas (wink) and aquasize. It was a wonderful encouraging way to start race day.

Dimity far left, Sarah right behind me. Leslie is on my right and Michelle is peaking out from behind me.
The real way I started race day though was with a 6:30 am wake-up call not from the front desk but from mother nature and her sidekick Aunt Flo. I knew it was impending and I'd been wishing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for it to commence to get the worst of it out of the way. But no, it had to come Sunday. I wasn't going to let it get the best of me and I still planned to run a heck of a race. The worst of my symptoms are achy joints, knees, hips, feet. Usually I forgo running the first day of my period because essentially I'm devoid of all the hormones that makes joints stable and comfortable. Not today, oh no, I was going to run that strip because I'd put in 12 weeks of hard training and someone put it in my head that I could run a 1:45.

Race day was going as planned. We had a big lunch at the buffet to keep us going through the night with some small snacks planned to eat around 4:00. I had the perfect nap, the one where you lay down, fall asleep, and wake up 45 minutes later feeling perfectly refreshed. My legs did though, feel heavy and stiff. Perhaps the walk to Mandalay Bay in the morning, even though only about 5km round trip was too much? We dressed slowly, had some coffee, and headed to catch the shuttle bus for about 4:30. By 4:55 it was clear we needed to get moving towards the start. Did the shuttle buses have a direct route to the start/finish - no, they had to drive with the rest of the diverted traffic and weren't allowed down the closed Strip. Dumb. No problem, warm up jog. about 2km to the start, no biggie. Up curbs, down curbs, around people here, there. Stop!

There were a lot of disrespectful things done on the course and Stu and I were equally aghast at the disrespect so many runners showed towards the lead male marathoners. We were kindly asked to wait for the leaders to pass by before crossing a section of the course. Sure it's 10 minutes to start but really, if we can't all hang tight for two minutes what kind of people are we? A few groups made dashes across the road - unwise, unsafe, rude. In a matter of seconds two men I could barely hear breathing whizzed past me with ultra quiet foot steps. Wow! Totally worth the wait.

Getting into the corrals proved challenging and yet so simple. After fighting the crowds I found my corral, four. Looking around I saw bibs with all sorts of corral numbers on them - absolutely no policing of who got in where. People were generally unfriendly as I moved into position. In fact, there was a general grumpiness about the whole race, it felt hostile the whole time. Perhaps too many people in your personal space for two plus hours will do that even to the cheeriest of folk.

My bad ass temporary tattoo.
Ok, gripe gripe, I really want to talk about the good stuff too. I started off on target running just over a 5:30. The plan was to do this for two-three kms then slowly pick it up to a 5:15 for kms 3-10/12, then get as close to a five minute pace for remainder of the race. Moving faster than a 5:15 was proving to be challenging. I didn't feel as though I had the energy and I kept getting sucked into someone else's pace. Part of the reason I put myself in corral four was hoping that there'd be some steady speedsters to keep pace with and follow. Instead, I found out that I was that person who was bopping and weaving worse than an NBA player. I couldn't find my rhythm to move much faster no matter what I tried. I was in an undertow of runners I couldn't break free of. Miraculously I managed to see Stu and give him a holler of encouragement, receiving many sideways glances.

It was here the course narrowed and the roller coaster really began. Mid race you're turning left, right, left and trying desperately to run the tangents but can't without getting forced onto the curbs or being elbowed. It was enough to get my goat up and I was now for sure, cranky at the whole endeavor. Then for a while I found a pacer who I followed (thanks random stranger!) but soon she just had the energy where I didn't.

By 17 kms I struggled to keep pace and so I just gave it all I could, my pace declining. My hips and knees were aching something horrible. 1:45 was out of my sights so I was doing all I could to get a 1:49:59. Crossing the line at 1:51:40 I was exhausted. Happy/sad exhausted. Disappointed exhausted. I needed Stu to tell me he ran an amazing race - and he did! 1:31. Yeppers, that's my super fast hubby. I was so proud of him while being stupefied that he failed to grab a mylar blanket. Some quick math for you - that puts him in the top 1% of participants. And I'm sure he's got a faster race in him yet.

I saw Dimity and felt awful for her DNF but also proud of her courage to step of the course. It was a long cold walk back to the hotel (we weren't even going to try for the shuttle). In the end, we were fortunate. We both finished before chaos ensued. We got back to the hotel, warmed up, ate some greasy food and had a good long sleep. I want to be happier about my 1:51 but I'm still entirely disappointed by the race experience. I had no chance to look around at the sights because I was too busy not stepping on anyone's heels or bumping elbows; I heard very few bands actually playing along the route; I feel awful for those who had worse experiences than I did.

But... I put in 12 weeks of solid effort. I did my speedwork, long runs, and cross training. I took over 10 minutes off my previous half marathon time. I know that I've got a 1:45 (or less!?) in this body and I've got a great base to work towards that. Here's hoping for a mild winter to keep up the long runs and if not - I've got a great new bike that will make indoor training seem fun.


Far and Away

Well, we made it to Vegas and I'm already wiped. Currently my legs are up the closet door trying to drain some blood. Between standing in airport lines and walking to and through the expo I'm wondering how my legs are going to have any pep for 21.1 tomorrow. In my near future I see an ice bath. After all, I did just move up to the 1:45 corral so I'd better find some spring in my stride.

With this being my first time in Vegas I'm trying to both take it all in and tune it all out simultaneously. There is no question that anything goes in Vegas, from fashion to footwear, fur (in hair, on jackets& boots) or furry creatures (yes that was a dog in its own stroller) it's all here. The strip is exotic and entertaining but also depressing, nothing like a bunch of illegal Mexicans promoting escorts or prostitutes or a one hour stand. On the flip side the sidewalks are immaculately clean.

Today though, the strip is all mine to conquer, along with 44 thousand other participants. Today I hope the buzz of the lights and the jeers of the drunken spectators will be fuel to my cause. I'm a little unsure of today but also a little confident too. Here's my internal monologue:

I've put in the training so a 1:45 is realistic.
I just got my period so I feel bloated and gassy.

I had a great sleep.
I just got my period and I'm still tired.

My legs feel pretty good.
My left calf still has a small cramp.

Ultimatly I'm just here to have a great time.
Who am I kidding, I'm trying to PB.

So I'm going to not think about the race so much today. At 9:30 I'm going to meet up with some other mother runners like Dim & Sarah. It should be great motivation to stick to my guns and give it everything I can.

So... Here we go!


Five-Thirty: Tips on Running Night Races

Night Races - few and far between you think. As you may well know, it's T minus nine sleeps until Rock n' Roll Las Vegas where Hubby and I are doing the half-marathon. With a 5:30pm start (yah baby! Strip at Night!) Seems to be a big dilemma even for know-it-all mother runners. Having done a few night races, been training at night or late afternoons when I can/must, I can offer up these leg & energy saving tips. These are all totally based on my experiences and are not proven to be fool-proof.

The Day Before

  • Likely you'll be flying in or had a later flight in on Friday. This means standing in custom lines, security lines, and dealing with a pressurized cabin. Compression gear is your friend. I've specifically kept a pair of designer maternity jeans with the waistband re-installed to conceal my compression gear. They're a little baggy on the legs but my butt still looks good. I realize I might be on a plane full of runners but do we really need to look like them at all times?
  • Don't neglect your fluids - sure you're going on a holiday to Vegas but do you need that second or third drink on the plane - switch to water with a dabble of orange juice. Why OJ? It'll help it get into your system. If you can manage to get your electrolytes through onto the plane - those are even better! And don't expect those airplane cups to fill you up - grab the biggest bottle of H20 you can when you're past security and down it.
  • I'd also recommend keeping your race waiver with you at all times. Heck, I'd recommend packing your running outfit in carry-one, especially if you're flying with Air Canada (what was I thinking?!)
  • Just off the plane - wash your hands! This is no time to be picking up germs.
  • Hotel - Take 15. No really, lie down. You've done a lot of moving already today, walking, standing. Now you've got a giant expo to snake your way through. Now's the time to remove your compression gear.
  • Expo - Get in, get out. Unless of course you're stopping to see Dimity and Sarah from Another Mother Runner. They're talking at 5pm by the way.
  • Food - Right. You have got to eat. Sensibly. Resist the temptation to grab gummy or salty snacks for the airplane. If at all possible, make a dinner reservation. Eat as light and clean as possible. Restaurant food is jacked up with more calories than you'd use at home and secret ingredients to make it mouth-watering delicious. Salads with grilled chicken and the dressing on the side. Carb-loading? Ask for some bread on the side, dip it in oil & vinegar if you're so inclined. This isn't the time to try something new either. Can you sneak your compression gear under that outfit by the way?
  • Stretch. Don't forget to pack your travel roller to get out all those kinks from the comfortable airplane seats.
  • Ice Bath - Huh?! Yep, I said it. Even a cool tub is better than no tub. DO NOT go for a hot tub. You need all that gunk and tired out of your legs and heat is going to make them even more sluggish. So take advantage of that ice machine and take a fifteen minute plunge before bed.
  • Sex - you can or you can't, I'm not giving any advice here, you are though in the city of sin and your kids are no where to be seen or heard.

Day Of

  • Sleep in, but not too late. Over-sleeping will make you groggy - you're better off with a nap. In fact, I highly encourage napping and waking up around 2:30 or 3pm. This should give you enough time to eat a light meal (your choice - salad, mimic breakfast), get dressed and ready, and head to the start.
  • Routine can trick your brain. Lay your clothes out before you nap. Get up and shower, brush your teeth, read the news. What's your pre-race routine for an am run - why not do it now?
  • Eat lightly and clean (just like yesterday). If you can pack your own healthy snacks (nuts, dried fruit) or get your hand on fresh fruit and veg - do it! Carb loading should be finished by lunch the day before so there's no need to indulge at the breakfast buffet. Think easily digestible foods - no one wants to use a porta-potty if they can help it.
  • Caffeine. Go light in the morning so you can have a productive nap. Then, have one cup with your your pre-race meal. Yummy.
  • Water. Drink, drink, drink, stop. Don't forget to add some electrolytes - but not too many. Too much can cause stomach upset. Dilute them two or three times the recommended concentration. Having minerals in your water even in smaller concentrations helps get the water into your cells better.
  • Don't be a bum. Sure, you want to lounge a bit but don't stay indoors watching chick flicks (crying will sap your energy). Sit in the shade by the pool. You know how you feel after a day in the sun - wiped. Don't do that. Read something challenging, do a crossword or sudoko, play cards. Keeping your brain active will keep you alert. Move a bit from time to time but don't be a super-nerd and insist on taking the stairs to your 21st floor room.
  • Sex - see above.

So, my plans? We are fortunate to have a kitchenette in our hotel suite so we are planning to pack our breakfasts (oatmeal), and some snacks if possible. There is a cafe/coffe-shop type resto in our hotel complex that looks to provide some sensible food like sandwiches and salads. I am going to pack the bulk of my electrolytes in my checked luggage but try to get a few tabs of nuun through on my carry-on. If I have to toss two that's better than the whole tube. We are going to a show the night before the race but got early tickets and hope to be in bed at a normal time. The day of the race we are going to walk to the start/finish to get a sense of it all and make concrete meet-up plans. Then maybe some time doing intelligent things by the pool. Then a nap, a good long nap. Wake-up, eat, run.

A final words on night-races. Races run at night aren't serious, especially ones hosted in Vegas. You're going to be surrounded by Elvis, Soon-to-be newlyweds, Elvis, showgirls, Elvis, first-timers, Elvis. Love it, drink it in, run, then PARTY.

AND... Don't call home right after the race to brag about how fun it was and check on the kids. Leave that for Monday, or Tuesday, or when you get home.


Fight the smart fight

Ever hear the saying - not the hill to die on? Well that's me. I wasn't about to go run hills with my personal best clinic tonight while trying to fend off a cold just over two weeks until Vegas. Are eight hill repeats going to make me minutes faster, not likely. My throat was sore Tuesday night, then again Wednesday morning, but I was hoping the Cold FX along with the casual run with Laurie Wednesday morning would kick me into healthy. Not to be. I managed to get to the pool with Mallory this morning, then went on a bit of a cleaning/tidying spree this evening and now, I'm wiped.

Not working out when you're sick is hard. Not getting in those last few strength and stamina building runs before a big race is defeating. But as I've been saying, I feel ready. And maybe my body is saying, uh, excuse me, you've been doing a lot, slow down now please. So I'm trying to fight the smart fight. Eat my fruits and veggies, get some extra rest (hard when you have good TV saved to watch), and scale back the intensity. I'm hoping I can put in a run and a bike this weekend, and maybe some time with the TRX. Although, I'm thinking this cold of mine is just a nice way of keeping me indoors while the first round of frigid winter weather hits us. By Monday it'll be 15-20 degrees (centigrade) warmer than it will be tomorrow. I think that is much more conducive to running 23km don't you? Besides, isn't the real goal of Vegas to have time away with the hubby?

Speaking of smart fighting and goals I had an experience on the weekend. My mom asked me to pace her for her half-marathon as she was gunning for a sub 2 hour. Not wanting to feel jumpy at the start line and take her out too fast I caught up with her just under 1.5km in. She was running with her office mate Kelly and I met two totally different people. Kelly was chipper, happy, and just glad to be out. My mom was scowling. Uh oh I thought. Kelly had previously  told me her goals were a) to keep up with us b) run around 2:10 or c) just finish whenever, however. My mom's lone goal, finish sub 2. Trotting off at the prescribed pace I quickly saw my mom was not in any shape - mentally - to do a sub two. I suggested we switch to running 5 minutes and walking 30 seconds hoping she could push the pace. At kilometer five my mom had shut down. Kelly went on ahead and had a great race and finished in 2:06!

I tried all the positive stuff I had, tried talking about controversial topics to get her fired up, tried pushing the pace hoping she'd find a new rhythm. It was exhausting. We were running slower than she runs during training and she was huffing and puffing like nobody's business. Then, just before we hit the turn around she saw a good friend, having a decent run, and my mom dropped the F bomb. I just about lost it on her and turned around myself, but I was so afraid she'd walk off the course I stuck with her. I practically screamed at her - since when is Sylvie's race about you? What does it matter if she's having a good day and you're not? You had a shitty week (loss of a dear family member, bad test results, dog has more potential cancerous lumps). Get over it, it's not about her, I yelled. I think she picked it up for about a kilometer but we both knew she was done. I tried refocusing and just making the day about us running together and how cool that was. I tried talking about people who inspired us, who we thought the other person expired. But no matter what, she just could give up the fight and settle in to just running and not racing.

Avg Pace

I was aching, physically because we were running so slow and taking tons of walk breaks, and mentally because it was hard to see my mom in such a bad place and because I felt like a failure - not keeping up my end of the bargain and pulling her through to a sub 2. So after the race I came home and did some calculating for my mom (and me) because I really want her to be happy and succeed. I do want her to re-evaluate her goals though and know that, um, she's aging. She ran her PB half four years ago at a 2:01. Age graded she should expect to be around 2:07. So why not shoot for sub 2:05? That's realistic. Thankfully, mom and I are going to have a do-over. Not a race, just a run. When we can forget our watches at home and just get caught up talking about all the things we never seems to have enough time for.

From the book: Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball

Running with my mom was a great reminder that we each need to focus on our own goals and set realistic ones too. I know I shout out to Another Mother Runner all the time but they have become my online support community. They put out a great podcast  (#5) about goal setting and I highly recommend everyone listen to it - mother or not. (Nearly) every moment of running should be enjoyable, including races, but you have to set yourself up for it.