Run quietly

Run quietly

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wild Bruce Chase Part 2- Iroquoia 25km

With it now being 2 months out from the Wild Bruce Chase, it resembles something similar to childbirth in my memory.
Did that really happen?
 No, it did not hurt as much as I remember it did, right?
Sure I could do that again!  
Ever since I completed my last leg of the relay, I have been somewhat obsessed with the trails. Going back and seeing more crosses my mind almost daily. The fact that I seem to be somewhat addicted to various sources of self inflicted pain (think tattoos, racing, running longgggg), does not make this obsession less.
We arrived back at the Beaver Valley base camp around 4:30am. As soon as I got out of the van, the plethora of stars took me by surprise. That is something you do not get to see if you don't get far enough away from the city often. Simply beautiful. I grabbed a quick shower and was lucky enough to nab a top bunk in a room. Unfamiliar surroundings, post adrenaline rush, and nerves about the morning did not allow sleep to come easily. I text my husband around 6:30am and must have finally fallen asleep shortly after that. 8am. The lights flick on, and it is time to get up and start getting ready to go. Yes 1.5 hours of sleep. Oh man. I tried to not think about how lack of sleep makes me an ineffective blob, and got my stuff together to head to base camp #3 in Hamilton.

Beaver Valley Base camp. I wish I had more time there!
I was not as stressed about my second leg, as I knew I would have daylight, and portions of it would probably have other hikers around. Chantal was going to meet me about 14km in. Erin and her husband Rob positioned themselves at some of the spots where the trail headed onto the road briefly and then back onto the trail. These areas are easy to miss and I was very grateful to see them there!

These maps didn't even make it out of my bag once I was on the trail!

Doesn't look so daunting, right!? 
First let's list a few of the things I am not good at/inexperienced at.
1.I am absolutely useless if I have not gotten enough sleep. There are few things in this world I will forgo sleep for, as I know very few things will be worth the repercussions!
2.I am terrible at running in the heat. it seems no matter how much water/electrolytes I take in, my muscles fail and I cannot avoid dehydration.
3.I mentioned in my last post, I am an amateur trail runner at best. Rolling hills on country roads are a walk in the park in comparison to the never ending mega hills I encountered on this 25km.
This leg began around 3pm. It was close to 34 degrees outside. I had ran 17km only 12 hours earlier, then slept for 1.5 hours. And I am so happy I did not know what was coming with this route! Beginning it, I had no idea how many climbs and descents I was in  for. Let's throw everything I am not good at together and see how a 25km run goes.

Elevation from Garmin Connect. #ouch
When Chantal met me, I think I was still doing ok. Somewhere between 14km and 20km my body checked out. I was walking up the hills. I have never had to do that before! Even as a new runner, I was super hard on myself and would not have"allowed" myself to do that. Well how humbling when your body just will not let you! Each incline I was cursing myself for racing a half marathon only 6 days before, climbing Grouse Mountain the very next day, and for being so naïve about how tough this was really going to be. I combated so many negative thoughts; so when Chantal suggested she take over the last 5km for me, it would have been an easy out to say yes.
Truthfully, even though I was dehydrated, tired and probably kind of delirious at that point, I knew enough to realise that I would never forgive myself for backing out of the last 5km, and that the only option was to finish this 25k!
Just a quick note about how bad ass Chantal is. Only a few weeks after the Wild Bruce Chase, she tackled the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler (80ish km). Around the 70km mark she fell. She did not know until she was seen by a Dr. later that day, but she broke her wrist. This woman got up, kept going, and still finished 3rd. Did I mention I could barely walk for nearly 3 days after the relay!? I did not even attempt to run for a week! She is inspiring and amazing.

Chantel and I on one of the rare road portions.
Photo Credit: Erin Dasher

Sherman Falls in Ancastor! SO beautiful.
Photo credit: Rob Scheifley
When we finished under the hydro towers, some team mates were there cheering, and the hand off went smoothly. I could not believe I did it. Up until that date I thought the Toronto Marathon was the hardest thing I could accomplish. Possibly even the birth of my daughter sans epidural. I found the Bruce Trail to be MUCH harder! Not joking. I have viewed road running differently since. I even sold my Scotiabank Marathon bib to a friend, as my heart just isn't in it. Running through buildings in Toronto just isn't very exciting to me right now. My workouts have suggested that I could run a faster marathon than I did in May, and I still have no desire! When your intuition speaks to you, you absolutely have to listen.
I am so grateful for the experience as a whole. It has changed my outlook on my goals, running, and what I expect of myself. Humbling, refreshing and brutally hard all at once.

A few of the ladies finishing up the final leg! A continuous, end to end of the 901km Bruce Trail. And an all new FKT (fastest known time) of 4 days, 1 hour and 39 minutes. Memories for life!

Now, how to recreate an experience that I could possibly fail at? ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wild Bruce Chase, Caledon Hills

I knew I had to write about the Wild Bruce Chase, but I needed to let it sink in for a while. It has been nearly 4 weeks since the most epic experience of my life! When my friend Erin asked me if I was interested in joining a relay team of 18 women, with the goal of tackling the entire 880km Bruce Trail, I did not even hesitate. How could I turn down an experience that sounded so unique and amazing?! When opportunities such as this arise, I believe you need to make it work. So even though I knew I would be in Vancouver racing the Scotiabank Vancouver half marathon only 6 days before, I would put off recovery and real life until after.


Only as the July long weekend came closer did I really start to think about what I had gotten myself into. I do not run or train on trails. I definitely do not run trails at night. I am terrified of bears, ticks, rattlesnakes, and the pressure of getting lost or messing it up for the team became crushing! I voiced my concerns with Erin, and she has a fabulous way of bringing me back down to earth. I decided that because it brought so much fear out of me, and the scary things are what enable growth, I had to push those fears aside and start having some faith in myself!

Because I had only just arrived home from Vancouver Wednesday June 29 around midnight, and I had to work on Saturday, it was not possible for me to start with the majority of the team in Tobermory on Friday July 1. I met them two exchanges ahead of where I was to begin my first leg of the relay, in Caledon Hills.  I still had some daylight when I arrived and decided to check out one of the spots I enter the trail from the road.
Admittedly, I still could not believe I would be entering this in the middle of the night in only a few hours!
I went for an early warm up to calm my fears. My excitement was building!
I was partnered with Jon to run with me on my night leg. "A Bruce Trail expert" Erin had assured me! He arrived with about 20 minutes until go time. All nerves and excitement, I repeatedly told him I am not a trail runner, and was terrified. Oh, and did he know how crazy anxious I was?! Poor guy. Ha!
First run with a headlamp. I could not stand how it bounced around and ended up tossing it in Jon's bag. I carried a cheap one in my hand.
Around 1am, the tracker was tossed into my bag, and with all the excitement and my terror, I cannot for the life of me remember who passed off to me. Leg #1 was basically half road and half trail, the first portion of it being trail. I led the way and Jon schooled me on trail running basics that I made sure to remember. Picture something out of the Blair Witch Project movie. You are in the middle of the forest. It is pitch black, other than the head lamps. You can hear the coyotes in the distance somewhere. I was so focused on spotting and following the blazes (the white markings that led the way of the main trail), that I did not have any time to focus on my fear. Every time we were back on the road, I made sure to try and make up my time there, as my pace on the trails was slower than my recovery pace on the road. (5:30-6:30's).
My two main concerns about the night leg were wildlife, and falling. I only half tripped twice, both times saving myself. Phew! The only wildlife we saw was a group of bats we had disturbed as we ran through a tunnel. Or I could count the road kill racoon I nearly tripped on. It was on the side of the road and because there were no street lights, I did not see it until it was almost too late! Face planting a dead racoon would have made for a good story though.
Climbing one of the many stiles on the Bruce. Positioned so you can go over the fences without ruining them. Also guaranteed to get face fulls of spiders and webs as you go over. Note my compression shorts to keep the ticks out of my crotch and the compression socks to keep them off my legs. Have I mentioned I am terrified of ticks? I wore my Saucony Kinvara 5's instead of my trail shoes for this leg as it had a lot of road portions in it.   
We ran through brush, forest, tall grass (ticks, ugh!), but the creepiest may have been the corn field. It had a bunch of random pockets of cold air throughout it, and as I ran I tried not to envision Children of the Corn. There was some barking in the distance that Jon assured me was domestic dogs. I was not concerned about them so much, the real question was WHAT DO THEY SEE?! What are they barking at?! Thankfully whatever it was had ran off by the time we passed. Phew.
Just don't think about it !
Back into the forest for the last time after a few km on the road. Adrenaline had stared to lead to fatigue as I am normally sleeping at 2:30am, not running. We were closing in on 17.50km so I knew we had to be close. The crew was waiting and spotted our headlamps in the darkness before we could see anything but blackness ahead. They began cheering, and there is NO BETTER SOUND than your team waiting for you. I exited the forest, the team grabbed the tracker and Momentum Wrap (our "baton") and Tanis was on her way into the darkness. First leg of the Wild Bruce Chase down. Could not have done it without Jon. Who runs with people they have never met before, through a forest in the middle of the night!? What a great guy, I am so thankful!
Tanis awaiting the start of her first leg. At least the headlamps somewhat reflected off the blazes!
Stay tuned for leg #2 recap!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tips for Beating the Sunrise on Your Run

It is a rare occurrence for me to be able to run in the daylight. 80% of my training happens between 4:30am-6:30am. For many months of the year, it is dark. My daughter is still at home, my son is in SK, and I work in the evenings after my husband gets home. There is zero chance of me running at 8pm at night after a whole day. My bed is calling at that point! So pre dawn running it is.


I frequently get asked "how do you get up that early?", or "are you not scared?". Truthfully, I love to get up early. 4:15am or 4:30am requires an alarm, but my 5am runs are not a struggle for me. I love to run, I love the alone time combined with the silence, and I love knowing by 6:30am I have already started my day, and feel accomplished. If your goals do not make you want to jump out of bed in the morning, then you may need to alter your focus!

I have only been scared on a few occasions. Usually it is an animal of some sort that seemingly appears out of nowhere, and I end up booking it the other way. I have been chased by a momma duck protecting her ducklings (picture me running down the middle of the road in the dark, away from a honking duck :D). I have run away from coyotes (thankfully never chased), and dodged more than a few skunks and racoons. Only one encounter with a dog that was not on a leash lunging at me. I am still baffled at why people think their animals do not need to be on a leash.

There is next to zero night life in the town that I live in. I may pass a few people here and there when I run that early, and all have been harmless. Most people are waiting at bus stops, or walking their dogs. I could probably use my two hands to count the number of other runners I have seen that early. The only human that ever scared me was a disheveled looking man riding some sort of motorized bike in the middle of the sidewalk. "Look out or I'm gonna f**king hit ya!" he calls out to me as I veer to the side. So strange but funny at the same time. Where was he going? Where did he even come from? Ha!

Bonuses to getting your run finished before the sunrise include:
1. Having the rest of the day to dedicate to other things
2. It forces you to practice self discipline, and be diligent with time management
3. You can practice some carb depleted runs (helps your body become more efficient at using fat as fuel)
4. Increased energy for the rest of your day - the exception for me here is a tempo run that begins at 4:xx am. By mid day I need a nap! Or coffee if that is not possible
5. You can add more mileage (if that is your goal) by adding a second run in later in the day
6. Alone/quiet time before the commotion of a busy day begins - EVERYONE would benefit from this!
7. Seeing the sunrise NEVER gets old for me. I love it.

Tips to becoming a pre dawn runner:
1. Make it a habit
Begin by trying it 1-2 days a week. Gradually work your way up to setting your alarm that early 3-4 times a week. A month or two of this and it will just become what you do. That is how you begin the day. It will seem like you have actually added hours to your day, as your afternoon/evening hours are now free.
2. Invest in some reflective clothing
A reflective vest or even an LED arm light will be necessary so that you can be seen.

3. Do not obey pedestrian traffic signs
Haha weird I know. But I act as if no one can see me. If the sign indicates "walk" and there is a car that is going to turn left, even if I had 10 glowsticks sport taped to my face, I would still not go until that car has turned.
4. Run wide around dogs
Even if the dog's owner is responsible and the dog is on a leash, run wide around them. Chances are the dog and the owner will be a bit surprised when you run past them. You don't want the dog running/jumping at you.
5. Bring your phone
This one is obvious. If something does happen you want to be able to make a phone call fast. Two years ago, I flew over the handle bars of my bike and smashed 3 teeth out of my mouth. I did not have my phone and somehow managed to ride the bike home. Ugh.
6. Do not wear music/headphones
You want to be able to hear what is around you. If you are listening to music or a pod cast then you may not hear someone behind you, a car, etc.
7. Stick to main roads that are well lit
This will ensure that there are always at least some cars going by or people waiting at bus stops. I will run the same 2km stretch back and forth for a tempo run just to make sure I know my footing and it is well lit.
8. Lay your clothes out the night before/have a pre run snack ready
When my alarm goes of, I can just grab the pile and change quickly. I drink some water, eat half a banana or nothing and am out the door within 15min of waking. The exception here is a long workout. Before that I eat toast with almond butter and honey before I go.

In the few summer months, the early mornings make for cooler workouts
I totally understand that not everyone's schedule is the same, and that due to life/work circumstances, running in the early hours is not actually possible for everyone. But If you are simply staying up late and sleeping in, and feeling like you need "more time" to train/read/socialize/work then squeezing your run in before the day is underway will help with time management! That out running, getting it done feeling while most of the city is sleeping will make you feel badass! I promise!
Happy Running!

Monday, March 7, 2016

About Those Insecurities.....

In most situations in my life, and in the endeavours I choose to take on, I dive in head first. All or nothing. Black or white. There is no shaded grey area. But what about the situations that occur that I do not have control over? Or the times that something is required of me that I am not quite confident in my abilities? Well there is that shaded grey area that I like to conveniently dive past regularly.

When I read interviews, or listen to others speak about their lives sometimes, the "insecure!" bell will sneak up on me. Depending on the person, it may fee like 1) a slight uncomfortable feeling, slowly creeping up on me, 2) like the person I am speaking to is trying to stick me with their insecurities, 3) like an alarm bell in my mind that makes me just want to find a way to help this person see past this, 4) like where I am in my life is not good enough/not enough. All of these require me to feel insecure/take on/take blame for another's insecurity.

In any of these situations, the outcome of the encounter is usually the same. Either one or both parties involved leaves the conversation feeling "less than", feeling a little less whole than they did a few moments before. The more intuitive of the two may be able to recognize the feeling and be able to overcome it. Or not. Then a perpetual cycle of not enough, never enough, not good enough continues.

With insecurity always comes guilt. When someone feels bad about something in their life, and they try and stick the blame on you, that "you make me feel >insert the should be owned feeling here<" accusation, you may feel guilty if you can't see that the person in front of you is feeling that "less than" feeling at that time, and it really has nothing to do with you. If you feel insecure about not being enough/having enough/doing enough, then when you perceive someone else as being "more than" you, you will now get to carry the guilt and the insecurity. Both are heavy loads to haul around in your daily life. And in the end, each of these feelings will seep over into more important aspects of your life.

I believe everyone has insecurities that they carry around with them. Some we are aware of and some we are not. The ones we have yet to pin point weigh us down, and play on the perception of our happiness. But like bad breaks in life, or when bad things happen, it is all about how we deal with them. Imagine if everyone owned their insecurities and actively tried to overcome them? How much less guilt/blame/unhappiness would people simultaneously be carrying? Far less I would say. Imagine if we all knew we were right where we are supposed to be in our lives at that moment and recognize that is our decisions that have led us to that point. Nobody else's. That's right, it is your life, and you have control. Insecurity that is left to fester will ultimately led to regret. Regret that you didn't take an opportunity because you believed you were "not enough", regret that you paid so much attention to all the things that really don't matter, or regret that you were forever wanting what you did not have so badly that you missed what was right in front of you entirely.

The only insecurities I am responsible for are my own. Without facing them head on like I do with situations/feelings I am comfortable with, then no progress will be made in my life. Being able to recognize the feeling, own it and take action upon it will not only help to overcome the insecurity, it will help me be a better mother, wife, friend, runner, employee, writer, hairstylist...... the list is endless. You can be better at everything if you ditch the insecurity! Sounds so cliché, I know. But for some reason this topic was weighing on me today! Monday goals: Not to let insecurity rear it's ugly face without being dealt with and discarded accordingly. ;)

                                                            HAPPY MONDAY!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Grand River Engagement & Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8km/8mile

Do you remember when you were a child and trying to keep a secret was nearly impossible? "Secrets" explode out of my kids mouths at the first chance they get. It's almost as if the awareness of the excitement that revealing the news will cause is infectious. And they know it. Typical "children's innocence" ideology, they simply cannot be trusted with a secret! That's how I felt when GRE teammate Josh told me he was going to propose to Tanis after the Run Waterloo Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8km/8mile race. Obviously I needed to tell someone, so I told my husband. ;) And when Tanis expressed her dismay about not receiving a ring on their four year anniversary, I had to laugh to myself. And be thankful the conversation was through a text, as my face usually reveals all! I assured her the best time would be when she is least expecting it. Mwahahaha!

Initially I was hesitant to travel to Waterloo from Ajax for a race; especially one that was not a peak race. But as soon as I knew this, I simply could not miss it!

I did not change my training at all, and just swapped a workout for the race. Let's be honest here, my intention for the day had nothing to do with running a personal best, or even going all out. The kids had their first sleep over at Nonna's the night before, so my husband and I went to Moxie's after we dropped them off. At about 3km into the race I definitely regretted the glass of red wine and fries that I had snacked on the night before! It was an added weight causing me to feel heavy. Lesson learned, peak race or not, I won't be doing that again!

I chose the 8km because Josh and Tanis are both much faster than me. If I ran the 8 mile, I would have missed the proposal! The whole reason for going! After I crossed the finish line, Mike and I conspired to lure Tanis back over to the finish area so Josh could propose with a good photo back drop. The usual post race endorphins were replaced with anticipation as we all anxiously awaited Tanis to come around the corner.

It all happened so quickly! She crossed the line as first place female in the 8 miler, all the while oblivious to how her life was about to change. TOO much excitement! Mike grabbed her, led her back over to the finish area, and Josh got down on one knee. I made sure I recorded a video of the whole thing. Something I am happy to know they will have forever! My only regret is that the sound on it is basically all me laughing and cheering. The intimate words of the proposal is something they will have in memory only.

I am so happy I got to be there for such an amazing moment! These two push each other, support each other, and have big goals. Positivity, respect, mutual and individual ambitions, and always striving for better is a solid foundation these two will have to build upon. I wish them a lifetime of happiness!
It was a GRE reunion of sorts, as we had not all been together since the summer. I'm very grateful to be surrounded with such amazing people! 2016 has started off well. I'm pumped for what is in store!
My husband was not thrilled as I had already made him take 5 selfies with the glasses on. Haha.
Racing in shorts in February. No complaints.
Next up we will all be at the Chilly Half Marathon on March 6! I'm looking forward to a much cooler half marathon than my last one in Jamaica. Will I see you at the race?!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

So it Seems to Have Been a While......

Maybe it is about time for a post? Seems my last one was seven months ago! SEVEN! Oops. :p

Way too much has gone down. But a fast once over would be to say I applied on a whim to University thinking this would get me out of the rut I was in. Well, long story short, I had no idea that University was ALL theory. The program I was in anyway. To say my eyes were constantly rolling into the back of my head during the lectures is an understatement. If I am going to learn something, and dedicate that much time and MONEY$$$ to something, I hope to be learning something useful! Interesting at least? Too much to ask? How about something that is going to help me help others. "If it does not excite you, it is not the right path." I was definitely not excited about anything the program had to offer. I have kept my online Introduction to Psychology course, as it is actually interesting, and I enjoy learning about some of the concepts. 

Like most things I do, when I study, it is extreme.
I then thought, well college possibly? It is more applied, and would suit me more? Here's the thing with me. I am an introvert. I also feel I have less emotional energy on reserve than most people seem to. (Or they are just really good at hiding it!). A career as a Child and Youth worker (the program I had in mind) would most likely drain me to the point where I had nothing left for my own kids. I can barely handle 8 hours straight with my own family or friends, let alone 8 hours, 5x a week with traumatized children. I need my recharge/quiet time like I need food!
It became apparent that my perspective needed to change. I will shape my career around my lifestyle and not the other way around. I have all the things I could want! I am grateful I get to spend my days with my kids. I get to be there before and after school for my son. I have fantastic clients that I get to catch up with every time they come to get their hair done. I need to focus on what is in front of me, as I would say I have a pretty solid base to go on. :)

I knew some would judge me on my decision. But that is ok. :)

I ran my 1:25 half in September! EEK! I have wanted to see that time (or lower) for YEARS. Pregnant dreaming of the day, breastfeeding babies dreaming of the day..... and BOOM! Goal finally attained. The support of my Grand River Endurance teammates was crucial! You can train your body all you want. But if your mind is not strong and does not believe you can do it, well then you won't. I was convinced it was mine! ;) They helped me all through the season to build my mental strength and even made sure I had pre race pep talks! The best team. :) #thinkfastbefast

If I need to feel badass, I look at this picture. HA!
I knocked off another running goal in December in Negril, Jamaica! I went into the Reggae Half Marathon with the goal to win. Last year I was 3rd, and I really wanted to try and break the tape! (Something I have never done in a half marathon before!). It was HOT. Too much information, but after the race my urine was the colour of tomato juice. My kidneys were probably not too happy. I chugged back Jamaica's version of Gatorade, something I would normally NEVER touch, but the tomato juice was rather alarming! All was good though after a few hours and lots of rehydrating. Phew. That race is a must do destination race in my opinion. So much fun!
2015 was good to me. I cannot complain. Lots of personal growth and self discovery is success to me. Those are the successes that you generally cannot measure or see, but ultimately they are the most important. If 2016 had a single title or goal for me it would simply be to be abundantly happy. Happy in where I am, where I am going, and what I am capable of. If I can achieve this then my kids benefit, and my life as a whole will be fuller. More books, more learning, more miles to run, and more firsts and PB's to achieve! If my 2016 had a hashtag, no doubt it would be #relentlessforwardmotion.
I will try and post more too. I guess. ;)
And if you read all the way to the end of this narcissistic post, then thank you! You are a good person. Teehee.
What has 2016 brought to you so far?!