I was a vegetarian for about five years in my early 20s. I told people my decision was based on my love of animals (I worked in a vet hospital and correlations were disturbing) and health.
While I was very dedicated, I didn't eat particularly well and was lacking in iron and probably many other nutrients.
In my 30s my cooking skills improved as did my nutritional knowledge. When I started running, I paid even closer attention to the nutrient side of things.
Being prone to weight gain, I've always been hyper-aware of every single thing I eat. In general Erick and I eat extremely well. Occasionally my cravings get the best of me and I'll things that aren't ideal. The older I get and the healthier I am eating wise the more obvious the reaction to these items is. When I eat poorly I feel rotten.
This past weekend Erick and I watched a documentary called What the Health recommended by Erick's cousin, Heather van der Geest. It's American and likely sensationalized, but many of the messages are similar to those that inspired me to make changes to my diet years ago. I feel like this was the spark to light the fire we've been building. We've decided to experiment with a more vegan based diet and see how we feel. Mentally and emotionally we know it will make a difference to not be impacting the earth in the same way. Based on years of knowledge and hyper focus, I am beyond excited to see how we feel physically when doing this right. I'm not saying I'm 100% on the wagon, just taking it for a well researched test drive!
July 1 is my 'runiversary.'
I'm so glad that it lands on a signifant day like Canada Day, because I'm a crazy proud Canadian and it's an easy way to ensure the date doesn't slip by without me remembering.
In some ways it's hard to believe running was ever not in my life because it has made such an impact. In other ways, I still feel like I have so much to learn. This year I tried several new things as a runner and feel like I've only cracked open the cover and peeked inside at the opportunities that await.
During the dark, cold days of January, February and March, I drove up to York University to participate in track meets. This is typically what you'd hear from your third grade nephew, (well, except the driving part!) but what makes it even better is that it was part of Ontario Master's Athletics (OMA) of which I am now a member. This means that participants are all over age 30. I participated in several 800 m races and a 1500 m. During the Ontario Championships I even got a medal!
The OMA also has a road race series. Basically, instead of putting on their own races, they piggy-back onto established races in Ontario for each typical distance. I was able to participate in the Robbie Burns 8K, Toronto Waterfront 10K, Pride and Remembrance 5K and will be racing the Sunset Shuffle 6K later this summer. In the first three I managed to obtain a top three finish in my age catagory! I always feel like I have to add that there aren't a ton of participants in my catagory and my chances of making the age catagory in the over all race are very slim, but it is a great way to encourage runners to be competitive and frankly, I love the bling!
Last September I did my first destination race, which, coincidentally was also my shortest road race ever! Michelle, Allison, Carmy and I drove down to New York to participate in the 5th Avenue Mile. No race I've done can compare to the race atmosphere of that day. I will never forget that race or trip.
In May if you follow me on social media you will undoubtedly know what I was doing...The Ragnar Niagara Relay. In a nut shell it is a relay race of 300+ kilometres from Cobourg (that's waaaaay past Pickering, Ajax, Oshawa and even Bownamville to give you context) to Niagara Falls in just over 24 hours. One member of our 12 person team was running at a time and each team member ran three legs that generally ranged from 5-15k each. We spent our non-running time travelling to and from each exchange point, cheering on our team mates, eating chips, not sleeping and laughing a lot. I am signed up to do another relay race in September, this time in the trails!
Which brings me to, trail running! My close friends told me that I would love trail running. They know me well! My first time trying trail running was at the 5 Peaks Terra Cotta race this spring. You know how they say don't try anything new on race day? Well, that kinda went out the window, didn't it? Turns out that race day was after epic rainfalls and flooding throughout the province. The mud was ankle high in a huge number of sections. I learned quickly that in most cases it's pretty pointless to try to navigate around the mud and puddles. You might as well just go right on through (it was admittedly more fun too!) My second race at the much more technical (aka scrambling up the rocky escapement using your hands to hang on) was less muddy and while challenging and hot, really sparked the trail bug in me! I'll be doing at least two more of the 5 Peaks series this summer.
This year also represents my first full year training with Coach Michelle. I would say my biggest take-homes have been speedwork and my mental game. I love my track workouts every week. Yes, they are painful, but the pain is short lived. Mentally I know I can hang on. 'Hanging on' has been a phrase I have used a lot this year. Holding on during an 800 m race on the track for that last lung burning lap. Hanging on to my pace during a 5K when I just want to slow down. Hanging on going up a hill. Hanging on during a 15K in 30K wind gusts and pelting rain. Which is what I've tried so hard to learn as part of my mental game.
Looking back, I managed to get a PB in my 8K and half marathon distances. I tied a previous 15K PB and established a time to beat in the road mile, as well as the indoor track 1500 and 800 m.
What are my plans as I head into my fifth year of running? I have found greater joy in shorter distances lately. Recovery is quicker and I can do another race sooner and take advantage of my training. I will continue to do trails, the OMA Road Race series and likely summer outdoor track season. I am itching to improve my 5K time and next spring hope to do the same for 10K which will be a much bigger challenge. I also look forward to supporting my friend Jean-Paul as part of JPs Team as he attempts to run six marathons (aka Six in the 6) during the Scotiabank Waterfront Toront Marathon weekend.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me this past year. Although most of run training is done solo, having my husband, coach, family and friends behind me (or beside me as the case was during a couple races) means so much to me.
Photos from today's JPsTeam fun run to Casa Loma. Thanks to everyone who came along for a hilly, longer route!
It's not even the last weekend in June and I was heading into my fourth race of the month, and 7th or 8th of the last two months. I've lost count! I have to say that while I thought I'd be more worn out, these shorter distance local races are great compared to long distance and far away races. I can get up, commute, race, hang around and be home by lunch. Am I trying to sell myself on shorter distances again? Sure sounds like it! Ha ha.
I'd seen posts by running friends Jess and Lauren about this race last year, how they set out to get Lauren a post baby PB and ended up getting best times for them both. Given this was also an OMA Road Race, I thought I'd sign up.
As soon as I got off the subway and walked out onto Wellesley, I was bombarded with rainbow pride. I literally stood in the middle of the Church and Wellesley intersection watching the people around me and all of the decorations for Pride. I snapped a bunch of photos and helped others take pics in front of some of the great posing locations.
I dropped off my bag and bumped into several friends who had all obviously chosen to meet others in front of the 519. I headed back to the stretch of closed street on Wellesley to do a warm up. Although the temperature was a bit cooler than last week, the later race start meant it was warming up rapidly.
I made my way into the corral. I only saw one pace sign for 20-25 minutes at the very front and couldn't see where the second corral was, so I positioned myself midway back, which ended up being right by the stage. Kathleen Wynne was there and race organizers announced that Olympian and fastest Canadian marathoner Lanni Marchant was racing today. The vibe in the crowd was amazing. The countdown for wave one began and I decided to go out with the group fearing getting caught up with the walkers in the second corral. I was very glad I did as there were a lot of slower runners that went out even ahead of me running in large groups side by side. I had to do a lot of weaving.
The race route was a west on Wellesley to Queens Park, twice around Queens Park Circle and back on Wellesley. Of course things on the map always seem different than during a race! The twice around Queens Park was a good thing bad thing. After one lap it was deflating to have to head back for another lap. But, there was also the 'been there' feeling and fact that we really didn't stray that far from the start finish line, so mentally it felt like it was 'just right there.'
My first kilometre was about 15-20 seconds fast, but given I only had four more to go, I wasn't too concerned. Plus, it had been shady most of this section and I could see it wouldn't be ahead. Queens Park Circle definitely has a slight elevation changes. I'd be curious to see the stats. By the water station at around 2K my throats was so dry, I could hard.y swallow. There was no question as to whether I was getting water. I paused to gulp it down and go.
My second kilometer was pretty much bang-on. I could feel myself fading as I headed around the Circle for lap two. I knew this was where my race was going to start to be good, or bad. I loosened my shoulders and held on. Finally, there was the water station again. Funny how things stand out in your head during a race. The cute little girl at the very front of the volunteers and then the guy about 20 meters after the last volunteer in case you'd missed your chance at grabbing a cup.
I turned and headed back up the Circle. At this point everyone was prepping to turn ahead so the racers were getting mixed up with the walkers. More weaving. The cheering near Wellesley was amazing and drowned out my music. I spotted Brie, Melanie and April and yelled as I passed.
I'd spoken to running friend Laura before the race about the 'looming' finish and looking down Wellesley I could see what she meant. Ugh. Despite feeling the heat and knowing my pace had slowed the past two kilometres, I kept pushing. I was pretty sure a PB was out of reach but knew it wasn't that far off. On the final stretch I gave it my all and sprinted through the confetti, barely seeing the finish mat! I was 55 seconds from tying my PB, but, like last week, I wasn't upset. I'd raced hard and held on. I played the mental game against myself, and won!
I think if it had of been cooler, there were less people to weave around and I'd been training for a 5K (not having raced a hodge-podge of distances the past two months) it would have been a PB. That felt good.
Once I'd grabbed some water and sent a shlew of 'done!' texts, I made my way to the party site, stopping at the very cool (pun intended) Eska misting station, photo bombing Peter's selfie and getting my bag from the incredibly organized bag check.
Anyone who has run RBC Race for the Kids will know they put on an amazing post race party. Today I got to experience an equally incredible, just different party. It truly felt like you were at some sort of festival with the multiple food stations, volunteers every where you turned and party atmosphere. The food was also amazing. At no point did you feel like they were going to be running out. The usual bananas (perfectly ripe and not chopped in half), water, really yummy bagels (not the standard packaged from what I could tell), a squeeze pack of Liberte Greek yogurt (such an awesome post race treat and easy to eat), spice loaf annnnd Dufflet brownies. There were also vendors from Starbucks giving what looked like free espresso shots and V8 handing out an iced cold fruit energy drink. I was glad I had picked up my bag, as many of these treats (definitely not the brownie) went into my bag.
I made my way over to OMA Road Race Series director Lynn. I was picking up my bronze medal from last week's Toronto 10. As she got it ready for me she told me that the field had been incredibly strong for today race. I didn't doubt it. I'd seen a huge number of sub-elites warming up and knew from social media that this was a much loved and supported race for speedy Toronto runners. She got out her list of finishers as I prepared myself to not see my name on the list this time. Alas, apparently all the OMA runners in my category (but seemingly no others) had alternate plans today! Yeees! A gold medal for this masters runner! I'll take it!
I headed to the the finish line to try to take a couple pics of my medal. I arrived to find one of those moments of humanity that warms your heart and makes you believe there is a child at heart in all of us.
As I stood there, parents with kids tossed armfuls of confetti into the air. Some took photos, some videos, some just danced around in the tissue paper snowstorm. But it wasn't just kids. A police officer stood nearby laughing, a man dressed as a bunch of grapes twirled and flung handfuls of paper in the air. It was an unexpected special moment that you could tell everyone there was feeling.
I turned around at one point and Lanni Marchant was there talking to one of the race organizers. When she was done, I said, "Oh, come on, you gotta do a confetti throwing video!" She laughed and being the awesome sport she is, grabbed an armful. My friend Jess was there and snapped the photo below (which is both hilarious in my totally awkward confetti throwing stance, and the fact that if it weren't for the Wonder Woman costume and power legs, you wouldn't k ow it was Lanni!) Jess suggested a Boomerang video which we did a couple takes of prior to getting the one below. It was an awesome end to an amazing morning.
Would I do this race again? ABSOLUTELY.
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