It’s hubby’s turn

Good morning and happy Friday!

It’s an exciting weekend for the Mission to a(nother) Marathon household – hubby is running his first marathon this Sunday at Hamilton Road2Hope!

He’s run more than 1000 miles this training cycle and he’s in good shape for a very strong debut. Please think speedy thoughts for Mark on Sunday!

Good luck to everyone else racing and have a great weekend!

Three Things Thursday

1. Spin class last night was a success, except that I forgot to eat something before. I was about ready to keel over half way through the class, but made it through. It was an incredible workout head to toe with plenty of core work (off the saddle, hands free) and arms/shoulders (spin push-ups anyone?). I missed this burn!

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2. The lovely happy go lucky alex has bestowed upon me the Kreativ Blogger Award. (Thanks Alex!)

The rule is: tell you seven things you don’t already know about me. These will be completely random and not very deep. Don’t mind me. :)

1. I don’t like the taste of coffee. This includes coffee-flavoured desserts.

2. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life. (And never will.)

3. My dream car is a VW Beetle.

4. My worst habit is biting my nails. Awful.

5. I’ve never learned to type properly, but I still type very quickly. At work they call me the 4-fingered bullet.

6. I’m a chronic putter-awayer. I am constantly putting things away that people are still using.

7. I would love to go on What Not To Wear. (Pretty sure I qualify.)

If you’d like to play along, consider yourself tagged.

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3. It’s Julia’s turn to host Take it and Run Thursday and she wants to know:

If a genie were to appear and grant you any three running wishes in the world, what would you choose? It can be anything from superhuman powers, new running inventions, race entries, shoes, you name it!

What would be your three wishes?

1. unlimited funds for apparel/equipment, race registration fees and travel [this would also eliminate the necessity of working, which severely limits my time to run]

2. the lean mean running machine bod that I’m striving for

3. injury-free running!

I’m guessing I’m not alone in those desires… what are your 3 wishes?

Happy Thursday (almost Friday)!

Summer Snapshots

[First: I survived my fitst fitness class last night (H.O.T.) after a 6+ month hiatus. It kicked my butt, but I loved it! Spin class tonight.]

A collection of random photos taken throughout an amazing summer of running, thanks to our awesome coach who provided a personalized CD to each of us. (Click to enlarge – some contain coach’s captions from the slideshow.)

First night at clinic, 4:00 pace group

Meeting at the conservation area for one of our first long runs.
(you can see the temporary tattoo on my hand from the City Chase the day before)

The next 4 are from this “scenic” run at coach’s place in the country.




Rocking the Recovery Socks at a post-run brunch

The infamous Hockley Valley 20-miler

A day at the track

Another Sunday run

Taken during our longest run – 23 miles

Hitting the “EASY” button at the end

A couple taken at the Toronto Waterfront


And finally, the Toronto Marathon

Group shot before the race
(I’m back centre in my colourful scarf)

Bringing Micki in for her BQ
(yep, I am holding her fuel belt)

Bringing one of the girls in for her first marathon finish
(I believe I am holding two fuel belts at this point!)

What an unforgettable summer!

Now what?

As I mentioned in my last post, I am officially done racing for this year. Aside from enjoying some down time, it’s time to start thinking about what’s next.

First things first, I’m going back to the gym. I completely neglected any form of cross-training all summer and I’m tired of feeling ‘squishy.’ I know that working on strengthening will improve my running (and overall fitness) – I just need to stick with it this time. I get dreadfully bored working out on my own, so I’ll be taking group fitness classes again, starting tonight. I was taking classes regularly this time last year and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to getting back at it. My weekly schedule will determine which classes I can take, but I’d like to incorporate 2-3 of the following each week:

Monday – body-sculpt yoga
Tuesday – H.O.T. (high octane training – strength/cardio intervals)
Wednesday/Thursday – spin

Next, Project: Lean Mean Running Machine. I’ve let my nutrition slide too much lately and I’m feeling it on the run. It’s time to get focused again and pay attention to what I’m eating. I have some ‘marathon pounds’ to lose and I’d love to lose an additional 10 after that. Hopefully the fitness classes will help with this cause. (Last year I successfully reached my lowest weight in years when I was taking classes regularly).

And finally, Goofy training! Yes, the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge is coming up soon. Since I do not have any time goals for either race, I will be taking a more laid back approach to the training and replacing 1-2 easy runs with cross-training. I’m not planning to incorporate speed work, but rather work on my endurance and building overall body strength/fitness. The key to Goofy training will be back-to-back long runs (Saturday being half of Sunday’s distance) most weekends.

A typical week might look like this:

Monday: yoga or rest
Tuesday: H.O.T. + 5K easy
Wednesday: 10K general
Thursday: Spin
Friday: 5K easy or rest
Saturday: 15K
Sunday: 30K

My overall mileage will be quite a bit lower than it was when I trained for my last marathon; I’m most concerned about arriving in Florida injury-free and strong.

I’m taking a mini hiatus from running this week (will run only if/when I feel like it); I need the mental and physical break before officially kicking off the training.

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One last thing: Tall Mom is having a fun Brooks for Her Giveaway this week. I know you want this jacket! But so do I, so please don’t enter. ;)

Race Report: Niagara Falls International Half Marathon

Pre-Race Rambles

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been experiencing a major lack of running mojo lately. In all honestly, I think I just need a break and probably should not have signed up for another half after my marathon. This was my 14th race in 7 months and I was just not physically or mentally up for it.

Thanks for all of your comments suggesting that I don’t necessarily have to race every race. I ended up taking your advice…. sort of. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Hubby and I checked into our hotel yesterday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised with a rate almost $50 less than we had been quoted (unexpected marathon discount). $75 for a king suite is a very good deal in Niagara! The room was nice and the bed was comfy – we were happy! (Free breakfast, too.)

We made the short walk to the expo at Skylon Tower where they had some great deals, but we didn’t end up buying anything. The race swag was pretty awesome, the highlight being a Brooks gym bag with the race logo.

The yellow thing is a poncho.

We then wandered down to the falls to scope out the finish area and snap a photo. No matter how many times a year we see this, the view never gets old.

After our little walk, we had some time to unwind at the hotel before grabbing some pasta at T.G.I.Fridays for dinner. Holy huge servings! Neither of us could finish even half of our meal. We then had a quiet evening before hitting the sack early. I had a great sleep – I love hotel beds!

Since the race wasn’t starting until 10am, we got to sleep in until 7. We headed downstairs for the continental breakfast, then had some more time to chill in our room before driving to the start line. The drive was smooth and quick (20 mins.) and we arrived in plenty of time.

It was a sunny and cool (about 7C/44F) at the start with a slight breeze off the river. Hubby stayed with me until the start so I could keep my warm layer on, but I was thrilled about the weather. People had been filling my head with horror stories of torrential rain and heavy winds, so the weather was a pleasant surprise.

After one final pit stop, ditching my sweats and a good luck hug from hubby, it was time to line up just in time for the national anthems (both U.S. and Canadian). I was excited and ready to go, even though I had no idea what this race would bring.

Race Rambles

While I had some goals in mind, I was prepared to make a last minute decision to just run if I wasn’t feeling up to it. I was on pace for the first few miles, paying attention to the KM splits on my Garmin and keeping an eye on my pace band at the mile markers. I was only about 20 seconds behind at the 5K mark, but I was working way too hard. I could tell that my legs (and heart) didn’t have it in them today, and that’s okay. I decided on the spot to slow it down, run comfortably and enjoy the experience. It’s certainly not everyday that I get to enjoy this route and I wanted to take it all in.

We were running along the picturesque Niagara River and the rich reds and oranges of autumn made it even more scenic. I turned up my music, reflected on a great year of running (after getting off to a rough start in January) and just ran.

The course was very well-supported with plenty of volunteers (dressed up in their school colours) at the water stations every mile. I made an effort to thank them all, catching on to their inside competition to see who could hand out the most cups of water. I had my handheld and wasn’t helping the cause, but it was amusing to watch. :)

One of my most vivid memories was at the 10 mile marker, noticing the mist over the falls along with an incredible rainbow in the distance. It was absolutely beautiful and reminded me what a unique experience this was.

My pace was slowing, but I wasn’t concerned as I plugged along toward the finish. At some point, the 2:00 pace group passed me. I had been expecting it and I was unconcerned. I thought, ‘This is not my race, but it’s all good.’ I was loving it.

I picked it up as I passed the 12 mile marker and coasted downhill toward the finish. I could hear the crowds and hear the falls. At that moment, “Proud” (The Biggest Loser theme) came on my iPod and I immediately remembered a comment from Tall Mom. I felt proud to be running, to be completing my 8th half marathon. I turned it up and passed as many people as I could (I love a good finish sprint). I could see the FINISH sign up ahead and the stunning horseshoe falls to my right. I was flooded with emotion and covered in goosebumps as I made my way across the mat. What an exhilarating moment, and one of my most memorable race finishes.

*No race photos yet but I hope to have some soon!*

Chip time: 2:01:25
Overall: 622/1746
Females: 246/1126
F25-29: 45/144

(Notice the backdrop.)

Post-Race Rambles

I loved everything about the race. I definitely plan to return and hope to run the full marathon some day, which offers the unique experience of starting in one country and finishing in another.

It may not have turned out to be a great “race” but it was a great run and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not every race can be a PR…. especially since I’ve raced so much this year already. I can admit that I’m feeling ‘over-raced’ and needing a break. I had planned to run a 10-miler in November, but I’ve decided to scratch it in favour of a short break before jumping into Goofy training (more on that in a later post).

So this wraps up my 2009 racing year. Another day, another medal…