January: Followed a training schedule for the first time with the Running Room half marathon clinic and met many new friends.

February: Decided that I might want to run a marathon.

March: Set a PR by almost 12 minutes at the Chilly Half (2:01:00). Suffered an IT band injury, which laid me up for almost three weeks.

April: Finally started running again, but I realized I would not be prepared for a May marathon. Decided I would run the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in September instead. Had a wonderful experience volunteering at the local Hartwell Half Marathon.

May: Ran the Sporting Life 10K and surprised myself with a time of 49:10 (net downhill). Took a ball to the ankle straight off the bat at a softball game and hobbled around on crutches for a week.

June: Got dirty at my first trail race, the Mud Run 10K. Competed in the Toronto City Chase, an urban adventure race taking us all over Toronto on foot completing crazy challenges along the way. Vowed to participate in each of these races again next year. Began building mileage in my marathon training.

July: Ran my first 5K in 23:37 at a small community event and placed 1/15 for my age group. Continued building mileage and celebrated my longest run ever, knowing this would be a continual occurrence for the remainder of the summer.

August: Ran my first 30K (training) run, followed by a 35K two weeks later. 222KM for the month (this still stands as my highest month ever) and the countdown was on for my first marathon.

September: Hit the wall hard during my third and final 30K+ run. Taper madness set in. I used the downtime to reflect on how far I had come.And finally, on September 28, 2008, I became a marathoner.

October: Recovered. Got a tattoo to commemorate my accomplishment. Ran the Toronto Zoo 10K for fun with a bunch of friends – pleased with 50:59 for the challenging course. Spectated at the Toronto Marathon to witness my hubby’s 1:40 half marathon and my girlfriend’s Boston qualification.

November: Ran my third half marathon and my first <2:00 at the Hamilton Road2Hope. Decided to take up cross-training.

December: Began training for my next marathon. Celebrated losing 30 lbs this year. Realized that I could achieve 1000 miles for the year. As of this morning, I have reached that goal, with 1003 miles or 1614 kilometres logged in 2008.

Happy New Year!

One day to the next

You just never know what you’re gonna get when it comes to the weather around here.

These photos were taken just days ago:

We’ve had a rainy couple of days and some unseasonably mile temperatures, as demonstrated by my husband’s running wardrobe yesterday; Shorts. In December. In Ontario.

By today, our streets were flooded and almost all of the snow had melted:

This morning as I set out to meet some friends for 10K in the country, it was pouring rain and extremely windy, gusting over 90 km/h. Thankfully, the skies cleared by the time we set out for our run, but the wind was not cutting us any slack. Apparently I wasn’t the only one fighting the ridiculous winds today. Like Mel, I was certain that I wasn’t moving at all when we faced the headwind (while dodging various flying objects and falling branches) and felt as though I was about to take flight in the tailwind.

Myself and a couple of other keeners were feeling foolish ambitious and added an additional loop to our planned route, for a total of 13K. It was also a particularly hilly run, in the beautiful rolling (I may have referred to it as lifesucking at one point during the run…) countryside. Between the wind and the hills it was challenging to say the least, but the scenery and compaany were worth it.

Race Report: Boxing Day 10-Miler

Several weeks ago Marci mentioned the 88th Annual Boxing Day Run, which immediately caught my interest. I typically spend Boxing Day lazing around the house recovering from the previous day’s festivities and I knew this event would (a) get me off by butt and (b) keep me running over the holidays.

My preparations for the race were certainly not typical – I spent most of the afternoon nibbling on chocolate, feasted on turkey with all the fixins for dinner and even had a few glasses of wine. Nonetheless, I climbed into bed at 10 to ensure that I at least had a good night’s sleep. And that I did! I slept like a rock and woke up at 7 feeling refreshed (one thing I love about winter races – they don’t start at 7).

We picked up our friend U. and drove to Hamilton where we picked up our bibs, used the washrooms and kept warm at the YMCA until the 11:00 AM start.

Being my first 10 miler, I took comfort in knowing I would have a PR no matter what. Still, I set a somewhat arbitrary goal of 1:30. I was really looking forward to the distance because in all three of my half marathons, I have ‘bonked’ around the 10-mile mark and struggled to the finish line. I had low expectations, but hoped it would be a good race.

We certainly would not complain about the weather. In fact, we overheard some runners discussing the fact that they had not had such perfect conditions for the event in years, right around zero Celsius (32F) and overcast with only a slight breeze.

Hubby (speedster that he is) took off ahead, while U. and I stuck together. During the early miles, we continuously reminded each other to watch our pace and slow it down. We were targeting 5:30 kilometres (8:51/mi) and kept catching ourselves getting caught up in the masses, closer to a 5:00 (8:03) pace.

Still, we were feeling pretty good and comfortable enough to maintain our conversation, so we just ran with it. (heehee)

The route took us primarily along waterfront (paved and cleared) trails and the scenery was beautiful, especially through the marina. We faced several climbs (some steep, some gradual), but also enjoyed some nice downhills.

Our pace remained consistent as the miles ticked by, and we hit the half way point at 42:31, way ahead of schedule for my targeted 1:30:00 finish. I started tiring slightly and slowed a little, but U. kept me going and stuck by me, even after I encouraged him to go ahead. I was definitely thankful for the company and managed to keep my pace up. We walked briefly through each of the three water stations and I took one gel around the 6 mile mark.

And then came mile 7 with a long, steep climb up the mountain escarpment. It was ridiculous. Almost everyone walked, but I kept running – although it was more of a shuffle and I certainly wasn’t moving much faster. Not surprisingly, this was our slowest kilometre split at 6:01 (=9:41/mi).

The next mile or so took us along unpaved trails, which were pretty slushy and muddy. Being so late in the race, I really didn’t mind getting a little wet/dirty. I found that I had an extra bounce in my step (either the Gu kicking in or the knowledge that we were getting closer to the finish, or both) and made up for any time lost on the mountain hill with a 4:59 kilometre (=8:01/mi).

We soon passed the 9 mile marker and found ourselves back on local streets. We took advantage of a nice decline a clocked our fastest split approaching the finish. I saw the clock and was pleased to discover that I came in way under my goal.

The Stats:

10 miles
Chip Time: 1:25:10
Pace: 8:31/mile
F25-29 Place: 8/28
Overall Place: 325/753

Here’s a quick pic that U. snapped of hubby and I at the finish:

We took advantage of some yummy refreshments being offered at the Y (hot soup, buns, fruit and gingerbread cookies!) before heading home for a relaxing afternoon. This was definitely a good way to spend Boxing Day and I hope to do it again next year… to set a ‘real’ PR. 😉

mini recap and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

This week has not gone exactly as planned. I woke up yesterday morning with extremely sore and tired legs. Apparently, it was not the brightest idea to take a fitness class at the gym (especially not one called High Octane Training) the day after a 24K run. High octane recovery might have been a better idea.

I’ve listened to my body for the past couple days in an effort to recuperate. Ran a 10K yesterday and 5K this morning, both at recovery pace. I decided to skip yesterday’s Spin and today’s Boot Camp. These legs needed a break, especially with 10 mile race on Friday.

With all of this free time, I was able to do some shopping and scored a great deal on this awesome jacket:

I love the colour, the warm and fuzzy fabric on the inside, the thumb holes, the little zip pocket… and the colour!

Here I am heading out for my run yesterday:

I also picked up a new pair of shoes. In two years of running, I have yet to find the shoe for me, so whenever a new pair of motion control shoes arrives at our local store, my girlfriend who works there gives me a heads up so I can try them. The latest ones are Saucony’s Progrid Stabil CS. They feel comfortable, but I have to try them out on the treadmill a few times before I commit to keeping them.

That’s about it for me. I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve already! This evening we’re heading to my parents’ house where we’ll spend the night and all day tomorrow. They live just 15 minutes away, but I love waking up with Mom and Dad and my ‘little’ (23, 19, 17) brother and sisters and spending those first early morning moments together while we’re still groggy – it’s my favourite part of the day.

Interesting fact of the day: it looks like this will be the first time since 1971 when all of Canada will have a white Christmas. How cool is that?

Merry Christmas to my RBFs! Wishing you all safe travels, full bellies and plenty of cheer. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!