Around the Bay Goals


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I thought I would give a short update on my goals for the race this weekend. I’ll be heading to Hamilton tomorrow morning for the race (which is on Sunday). The weather is looking decent and hopefully it won’t be too windy. But somehow, it will be warmer in Ottawa than in Hamilton… which is weird. But whatever, should be decent racing weather.

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As for goals, I’m honestly not sure what to expect for this race. In between my vacation, twisting my ankle and being sick, I’ve lost a few weeks of training. But the weeks I did get in were more consistent and I had a lot of hilly, long runs. My last long run was 16 miles in under 3 hours, which is promising to come close to my PR 30k time (which is around 3:18 I think). This is from right after that run.

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I have run about 375km/234 miles since the beginning of the year. This is lower than I would have liked but still beats my last two years for the same months. I’ve also done more cross training than previous years with a least a few bike rides and core strengthening sessions per month. My long runs have been pretty slow, which I know is fine. Hard to gage how fast I will be able to go though. I am still not good at getting consistent tempo runs in which would probably help me guess how I’ll do. I think I’m in good enough shape to run the whole thing; I just don’t know at what speed!

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Another thing which I haven’t mentioned here is that you can’t have music in at the Big Sur marathon. Since the beginning of the year, I have been doing all of my runs without music. It honestly didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I’m not sure how it’ll be during a race. I was hoping to test it at the MEC Race, but I just ran than one since it was right after I twisted my ankle. I like music when I am trying to push hard so I’m hoping that I’ll still be able to dig deep without it.

So back to my goals. I’m not sure what an unreasonable goal is! I’m hoping I will be able to be my course record (around 3:22 I think). And hopefully also PR (3:18ish). If I’m really feeling it, I’d like to go under 3:10. This is a really strange race for me because I really don’t know what to expect!

I’ve also never run ATB with the big hill at the end. Both years I ran it, there was construction and we were rerouted on a flatter course. I am looking forward to running up it. It will be good practice for Big Sur! I also excited to see the Grim Reaper in his natural habitat.

So to sum it up, I don’t know how this weekend will go. I’m hoping I can PR but am really unsure what kind of shape I’m in. I did not run much last week and had a horrible run on the weekend. It was so windy and cold (but also hot because it was sunny). I am hoping that it was just the weather messing me up in combination with being at the tail end of my cold.

This week I have been trying to keep things easy and slow. I’ve only ran once and I played a Futsal game (where I got carried away and had very sore legs….). So instead of running the next day, I rode my bike. I may do one short run this afternoon if I am feeling up to it when I get home. I’ve been working at the University to cover for someone who is on vacation. I was hoping to use this as practice for running while working but then I got sick and I just rested instead. I have woken up for some 6am runs though!

Anyways, I’m looking forward to the race. I’m hoping to meet up with Team Awesome members if I get there in time at the expo. I’m also going to stop by the Army Run booth since there are also some Frontline Race Team members besides myself who are running! I’ll also get to see some of my family since my parents are originally from Hamilton. I’m staying with my Aunt right downtown and will be able to walk to the race start!

Hope to see you all there!


Frontline Race Team! #ArmyRun


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Hi everyone!

As promised, here is a little more information about being a member of the Frontline Team for the Army Run. Before I get into that, I wanted to share my first experience at the Army Run.

Many of you probably don’t know this, but the Army Run half marathon in 2012 was my very first “serious” race. It was the first one I actually spent time training for (not counting a 10k I did the year before where I made sure I could run 8k like 3 days before “racing”…. haha). I saw some people did the race weekend half marathon and it made me think that I could try running a half myself.

I spent all summer training (which was pretty minimal). I am definitely not a natural athlete so the runs were slow and hard. I had fun doing it though and it was nice to challenge myself. I went into the race not having any idea what to expect. I didn’t even know what pace to run. I remember walking to the race start and being very nervous. I was lucky enough to have my friend come with me and make sure I didn’t cry. I remember being blown away by all of the people and shocked at how fit everyone looked. It was completely different than the fun runs I had done previously.

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The atmosphere at the Army Run is so unique. There is obviously a lot of focus on supporting the Army, veterans and remembering those who fought for us. There is also a separate start for ill/injured/disabled people so they can comfortably participate. That part to me was so inspiring and I was glad I picked such a special race.

My race actually went pretty well if you look back at the minimal training I did. I finished in 2:25 exactly which was faster than I expected. I’ve come a long way since then and will only finish in that time if I have a bad race (or it’s a hard course).

Needless to say, the Army Run is special to me because it was my very first race. It is also the only race I have ran consecutively since I started running, This year will be my 7th year in a row! And it will be an even more exciting time as I get to be a member of the Frontline Race Team. We are a team of 25 members who will be promoting the Army Run and reminding people to Support Our Troops! There is lots of fundraising for people participating in the run and since 2008, they have raised more than $2.6 million for Soldier On and Support Our Troops initiatives.

They have also been nice enough to send us lots of samples to try! I have a whole box of goodies to try out. Noelle also really liked the box it came in.

So far, I have used the Zizu Optics sunglasses, the Nuun water bottle and the Brix maple syrup gel! I may end up posting a separate review of everything. I will say that I was surprised by the maple syrup gel. I was worried it would be too sweet or too thick but it was really yummy and easy to eat. I think I still prefer chews to gels because it makes it easier to save some for later during your run if you can’t finish it (or don’t feel like it). I will probably still incorporate some in my fuel plan though because I really liked the taste.

I am so fortunate to be a member of this team and its for a race that has a lot of heart behind it. Also, if you are planning on signing up, you can use the code “ALEXANDRA10” for a discount.

I’ll leave you with pictures from each year. I can’t wait to add another on on September 23rd!


2012 – Half marathon 2:25:00

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2013: Half Marathon 2:23:18

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2014: Half Marathon 2:40:42 (I had really bad stomach cramps). Lol at the finish line photo – looks like I’m dying. It was pouring rain. AND the lady beside me looks like she is having the time of her life.

2015 – Half Marathon 2:25:26

2016- Commander’s Challenge (AKA the race where I walked for 2 hours because I paid for the medal and I wanted it dammit). 5k 29:53 Half Marathon 3:13 If you do this challenge, practice fueling properly. The gap between the races had a bigger impact than I expected and I ran out of gas very early. To be fair, it was also pretty hot that year.

2017 – 10k 56:47 After a few years of sucking at the half at this race, I decided to try out the new 10k! It was great (and it starts earlier than the half – good for if it’s hot!). It’s a nice course and you still see a lot of the great sights in the city.

2018 – I’ll be running the 10k again!

February Summary!


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Hey everyone! I’m trying to get back into the swing of blogging. Here is a summary of my February training.

The month did not start off well. I set out for a long run on Superbowl Sunday and twisted my ankle on a piece of ice or a rock. It didn’t start to bother me right away so I continued my run until it got worse. Luckily for me, it was Winterlude so there were shuttle buses running along the canal. I just waited for one and then hobbled the rest of the way home. I was a mess when I got in. I thought my foot was broken and that I could never run again (I may have been a bit dramatic lol).  Here I am right before I twisted it.

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I rested my ankle and iced it diligently. I also bought a brace to help stabilize things since not walking on it at all wasn’t really an option. This was also the same week when I did the shoot for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend promo video. All of the shots were only like 50 steps of running so it wasn’t bothering my ankle. They have made one video so far from the footage and it turned out so amazing! I am so thankful that I volunteered to go. It was something that was way out of my comfort zone but I had fun doing it. Link to the video!–> Race Weekend Promo (I’m in pink!)

I had a race coming up the following weekend and I knew that actually “racing” it was out of the question. But I was given the entry for free because I am a member of the Army Run Frontline team and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to represent! I went for a short test run on the Friday and everything felt ok. I ended up running the race (a 10k in 1:02). Nothing crazy. I am a bit disappointed I couldn’t use this race to test my fitness but I’m just grateful my ankle isn’t seriously hurt. It was also pretty greasy out on the course so racing would have been challenging anyways.

Dad and I at the race:

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The following week, I realized how quickly Around the Bay is coming up. I’m still feeling a bit worried about it but the worst case scenario will be to just run it as a training run for Big Sur. I was really hoping I would be able to train hard and beat my 30k time (which was actually set during a training run last year). Still not sure how that will go but my training has ramped up in the past weeks.

My bad luck continued on a run that was supposed to be 14 miles. It was a perfect day for a long run as it’s been pretty mild here. I made the mistake of wearing old socks which had a hole in the toe. Eventually, my toe was rubbing on the top of my shoe and was bleeding everywhere. I actually didn’t notice for the longest time so there was a considerable amount of blood on my shoe. I cut my run short when I noticed at 12.7 miles (which is when it started to hurt). Luckily, it was just a small cut on the tip of my toe and wasn’t toe nail related. This prompted me to try and figure out how to wash blood off of shoes (which is a shame because they are bright pink and the stain is very noticeable 😦 ).

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I did that long run on the Family Day Monday. Because of how my schedule worked out, I ended up running Wednesday-Saturday and had two long runs in one week. I made sure to take it really easy on my Saturday long run knowing that I wasn’t used to the higher mileage. My legs were dead but by slowing the pace down, it wasn’t too bad. I circled the city looking for hills to run because the elevation profile of the Big Sur marathon is scary!

The total elevation gain of Big Sur is around 600m so this was good practice. I have now finished out the month by running 4 miles on Monday, 8 on Tuesday and 2.7 today! The weather has been so nice which is making it easier to stay motivated to run. My run today was not on my training schedule but I did it anyways because it was 9 degrees out. I just made sure to go very slow.

I also finally debuted my Team Awesome shirt outside!


And right after getting all of the blood off my shoes, I promptly got them covered in mud (and cat).

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In total, I ran 95 miles this month. That is my highest mileage February ever. I’ll take it considering I missed a full week of training. Obviously it’s not as high as what I was planning for though. I’m still nervous that I won’t have enough mileage under my belt to be able to “race” Around the Bay, but should be ok for Big Sur as long as I stay consistent.

Lastly, we bought my cat a new toy and she loves it. It’s pompoms and streamers on a rope attached to a rod so you can swing it around. She likes to prance around with it in her mouth and hide it in my bedroom. I know that’s not running related, but it’s equally as important.

That’s all for now!

Long Overdue Update!


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Wow I guess I’ve failed at blogging again. I haven’t posted since last year… Whoops!

So lots of big things are happening in my life. You might remember that I had a job interview a few months back. I ended up getting the job and it will start later this year. Woohoo adulting! That means I have a few months off to relax and enjoy some time before working full-time. And that means more time for running!

The current races that I am training for are: Around the Bay (30k), Big Sur Marathon, and Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (half marathon). You may recall that I am an ambassador for Race Weekend and have started receiving some cool things for it.

I have an official “Team Awesome” t-shirt, and they also sent us a pair of nice sunglasses from Zizu Optics. I’ve used them quite a bit now and have really liked them. They aren’t too dark but block the sun out nicely.

My training has been ok. Two things have interfered. The first one was my fault because I went to Mexico in January. I still ran a few times but it wasn’t full volume training. And I also ate about 100 pounds of guacamole which I’m sure was counterproductive. IMG_2678

The second was much more unfortunate. I was out running one afternoon while it had been snowing and the sidewalks were not quite cleared. I ended up stepping on a rock or a hard chunk of ice and rolling my ankle. It didn’t hurt right away, but I eventually had to stop my run and take the bus home. That resulted in about a week off to rest it. In that time, I also did a promo shoot for Race Weekend (which hopefully will be coming out soon). My ankle wasn’t 100% but I hope they managed to get some cool shots anyways. Here I am with Kristi and Patrick. It was nice to finally meet some of the other team members!

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I can also finally announce that I have been selected as a member of the Frontline Team for the Army Run (another race ambassador gig!). I’m super excited to be representing my two favorite races! (I will be writing a separate post to explain more about this awesome opportunity!) They have been so great and even gave some of us a free entry to the first MEC race at the race track. I opted for the 10k.

It was the weekend after I twisted my ankle, so I just went with the intention of testing it out. The course is two 5km laps so I figured I would run the first lap and then bail if my ankle was bothering me. It ended up feeling fine but the traction was pretty greasy so it was hard to race. As my friend put it, you could try and go faster but you ended up going the same speed and working harder. So I ended up having a pretty slow time but was super grateful that my ankle was better.

During the race, a lady complimented my hair and I’ve never felt so fabulous lol. Normally I’m a pretty big mess while running so it was nice to get a compliment 🙂

Aside from those hiccups, I’ve been fairly consistent with training. I’ve also managed to throw in some cross training most weeks which was something I was missing from my marathon training last year. Around the Bay is quickly creeping up on us and my focus now is just to up my mileage to make sure I will be able to cover the distance. My longest run to this point is 12.7 miles (should have actually been 14…). I had to go home early because my toe was bleeding. I had a hole in my sock and my toe started to rub on the top of my shoe. It must have been bleeding for quite some time because it looked like I killed someone when I was cleaning it after.

That long run was great otherwise though. Despite some cold and snowy weeks closer to the beginning of the year, we got some early spring weather the past few days. My long run on Monday was in about 4 degrees Celsius weather with sunshine (until it started to rain!). You can also see that the canal is totally melty now and it’s been closed for the season.

I’m not feeling too worried yet but I need to really stay consistent if I want to do well at my upcoming races. I think I’ll be able to cover the distance but I am worried about the hills in the Big Sur Marathon. I’ve started taking less flat routes (which isn’t easy in Ottawa) but there’s just nothing close to what is on that course. I am going to do hill repeats once I get my mileage steadied out.

I think that’s all I have for now. I will write again soon about be a Frontline team member!

2017 Running #TeamAwesome


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Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays. I figured I would write a post about all of the races I did this year. I know I said I would be writing a post about the marathon I ran in November but I decided their wouldn’t be enough content (I didn’t take any pictures except of my poutine after lol).

Here are all of the races I did this year!

February 11th: MEC Race below 0 10k – 58:22

This race was to test my fitness after taken some time off to rest my knee. It was fun and I raced on a horse racetrack!

April 16th: MEC Race 1 10 mile – 1:41:36

I don’t have a picture from this one. Basically, I tried to race it hard and blew up at the end. Made me hungry for my Easter dinner though!

Not a race but I adopted a cute kitty! (April)

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As a result of getting a new kitty, I didn’t run as much as I had hoped for race weekend.

May 28th: Ottawa Race Weekend 1/2 marathon – 2:21:08

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It was another hot day for racing in Ottawa. I went out hard but slowed down when I realized how the heat was affecting me. Probably one of the most fun races I’ve done!

June 18th: MEC race 2 10k – 59:14

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Another hot race! I had fun and stayed cool.

July 12th: 5/15 Farm run 15k – 1:31:05

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Moo moo medal! This was another race where I faded. It was a perfect temperature for racing and I got a cool cow medal.

August: no races but I found out that I won the lottery to participate in the Big Sur Marathon. I’m going to California in 2018!

September 17th: Canada Army Run 10k – 56:48

Finally, I had a great race! It was yet another hot day for racing. Luckily, the 10k started early so the course was still pretty shady. I actually ran 15k this day (2.5k warm up and cool down). I really liked that they added this distance and I will be doing it again next year!

October 1st: Not a race but still a PR (30k in around 3:18:00)

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This was my final long run before heading to Toronto for the Waterfront marathon. This was easily the best run I had all year and probably could have ran a respectable marathon. I did 20 miles in 3:32:06.

October 7th: (Also not an official race) Free 5k 26:01


This one wasn’t an official race but I am including it because I PR’d at it. I ran a solid 5k race on marathon training and improved my time. Another good run!

October 22nd: STWM Marathon: DNF

My first did not finished. I was struggling hard with a hot race and my legs just wouldn’t get moving. The killer was when my stomach started acting up too and I made the decision to drop out and try again on my own. My race finished in a Staples parking lot.

November 14th: Solo marathon through Ottawa – 4:54:39

Finally, I broke 5 hours in a marathon! This was a tough run. It started off well. Perfect running weather (1 or 2 celsius, no wind). At around the 30k mark, my foot started to hurt. It went away eventually, but my knee started hurting too. It was the overtraining kind of hurt so I ran/walked the rest since I basically had to cover the distance to get home anyways. Near the end, I was a woman possessed and managed to throw down a 9:58 in my 23rd mile. I stopped to have one more drink of gatorade before heading home and my leg started to hurt again. I basically walked the rest but still did better than my previous marathons by 20 minutes. Woo! I ended my run on the opposite corner from a Shawarma place and went in to get a poutine. I must have looked crazy lol.

I also did the Free 5k in December. It wasn’t record breaking, but the photographer got a good picture! We ran it for fun.

Free 5k December 2018

All in all, it was an up and down year for running. Some great races, some terrible ones. Running has taught me that no matter how prepared you think you are, something can always go wrong. And that’s ok.

On a personal note, 2017 was a great year! I finished up my master’s and graduated. I have a job lined up for the new year. I also am a member of Team Awesome to promote Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend! I will be doing the Scotiabank half marathon.

I am excited for what the new year will bring! I wish you all the best!

I’m a Member of #TeamAwesome ! #RunOttawa2018


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Good afternoon!

I’m excited to finally announce that I will be a member of Team Awesome next year for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend! I will be running the half marathon on the Sunday morning. It’s been tough to keep my lips sealed about this for weeks!

This race is one of my favorites in the city and I am so happy I will be sharing my journey with all of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me either here or on my twitter page ( The team will be made up of 40 wonderful runners who will be racing the various distances and challenges that race weekend offers (2k, 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, Lumberjack challenge and Voyageur challenge). To find out more about us, check out this link:

As some of you know, I will be running the Big Sur Marathon next year as well, which falls at the end of April. My goal for race weekend will be to (hopefully) carry my fitness through from marathon training and finally crack 2 hours at the half marathon. My current best is 2:03 right now but I suspect I would have been even closer if I raced a fall half marathon. Also, I will be adding more hill training (i.e., I will actually do some…) since Big Sur is notoriously hilly. I believe this will also help me for the half marathon because all courses at race weekend are pretty flat.

I also recently ran a marathon alone on a Tuesday morning a few weeks ago. I am still recovering from this and will hopefully be able to start training soon. In the meantime, I will be cross training! Keep your eyes peeled for a post about my marathon; I promise it’s coming soon!

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I have run both the half marathon and the full marathon at race weekend, so if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

STWM DNF: Better luck next time


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Hey everyone! I’ve been putting off writing this for about a week so I could process what happened at my race. Long story short, I dropped out of the marathon somewhere in between kms 26 and 27. Before I get into the full recap, I’ll tell you about the whole weekend.

If I hadn’t mentioned it before, my boyfriend was also going to be running his first half marathon at the same race. We left Friday morning to drive out to Toronto so we could stay at his sister’s place and visit for the weekend (she also was running the half!). Her husband was going to run the 5k so it was a running weekend for everyone. We got to Toronto with no problems and had a relaxing Friday night consisting of eating pizza and binge watching American Vandal. We went to bed early and I managed to get a pretty decent sleep, which is unusual for me on a race weekend.

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The next morning, we all got up and got ready to go to the expo. I had no problem picking up my bib (less people do the marathon). Alex had to wait in a huge line to pick up his bib. For some reason, they had the pickup divided by race and gender. I guess it was supposed to help the t-shirt pickup go faster. The volunteers were working as quick as they could, but this set up was not very efficient. Surely the marathon people could have helped the half people out to help kill the line. All in all, it didn’t take that long, it was just strange.

I didn’t really need anything so I walked through keeping my eyes peeled for any really good sales. I didn’t look very hard but I didn’t find anything I needed. They had lots of booths to look through. They also had a really cool area dedicated to Ed Whitlock, complete with his running kit!

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We finished up at the Expo and headed to Little Italy to have some lunch. It was warm enough to sit on a patio. I ordered some pasta with plain tomato sauce, since this is normally what I would have for lunch the day before a race. We headed back to their condo and played board games all afternoon. We had my usual dinner of chicken and potatoes and watched the Leafs play the Sens. After the game ended, we all headed to bed since we had an early morning ahead of us.

I didn’t sleep terribly that night, but I was awake at 5am. It was a little early but I stayed in bed and just tried to relax. I woke up feeling ok, not too nervous to race. Since we had to make it to the start of the 5k, we had to leave before 7am. I had some coffee before we left and made my oatmeal so I could eat it in the car. I was worried that if I ate it too early, I would be hungry by the time the race started at 9am. Just as an aside, I wish that this marathon started at 7am instead of 9am to help avoid running through midday sun (and lunch time!). I took this picture on our way to the race.

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We made our way to the half/full marathon start. If you aren’t familiar with STWM, they races start at the same time and follow the same course until the half marathoners make the turn to head up to the finish line. I guess this is why they have the marathon start late. We parked and hung out in the car for a bit. We decided to try and get to the washroom before the race start. It felt nice and cool when we walked over but this wasn’t going to last.

At 8am, we attempted to find the porta potties. This was a nightmare. I guess because of how the area is laid out, they couldn’t put in long lines of them. I only saw clusters of 5 or 6. And the lines for them were very unorganized and confusing. The end of one line and the start of another were in the same place. I think this could have been organized better, even if they had just put some fences or something to indicate where people should line up. Luckily, we had gone early enough to use the washroom and make it to the start; it took us 25 minutes to get through the lines.

After that, we headed to the start line which meant splitting up from Alex and his sister. They were going to run much faster than me so they were in different corrals. I tried to stay calm and get mentally prepared for the race. Closer to the start line, I saw a long line of porta potties. Maybe someone could have directed people to those ones when the lines were building up.

I tried to get my watch ready for the race. For anyone with a GPS watch, you know it sometimes takes a little while for the watch to find the satellites. There were tall buildings by the start which made it worse. My watch never found me before I crossed the start line. This was strike 1 in a series of bad things to happen. I didn’t panic though because I figured it would find me eventually and it would be fine. Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t trust my pace. Next thing I knew, I was crossing the start line and we were off!

This is where things already weren’t so great. I tried to run what felt easy and tried to stay a bit behind the 2:15 half marathon pace bunny. My GPS was way off and I couldn’t figure out how fast I was running. I run in miles but the course had km markers. I was probable close to my goal pace but I definitely went slightly faster than I should have. No big deal, I tried to slow down. From km 1 to km 4 I also had slight stomach cramping; strike 2. This has happened before during my long runs and I knew it would go away. It was only a little uncomfortable, not seriously painful. Again, I tried not to freak out and kept trucking along. I decided to use the lap button on my watch when I passed every 5k so I’d at least have a general idea of where I was and how fast I was going. I normally take fluids every mile so I was trying to keep a general idea of when this was happening. I crossed the first 5k in 32:06, which was a little fast but still ok.

Despite it being a warm day, the first 8km were pretty cool because there were in the shade. However, I felt the sun affecting me as soon as we stepped out into it. I was feeling a little weak so I had my first chew here. I usually take them somewhere in between 8-10km so this was normal for me. I figured I may be a little hungrier than normal because of my early breakfast. I walked to eat my snack and I started dumping water on my head at the water station. Luckily, it wasn’t a humid day so the water actually made a big difference since it could evaporate. I made it to the 10k mark at 1:04:43, putting my second 5k split at 32:37. I was still doing ok at this point and was running consistently.

This part of the course was nice because it is out and back. I could see all of the faster runners on the other side of the road and it was distracting me from the long race ahead of me. I tried to look out for people I knew running the race. I didn’t see any of them, but I did see some funny costumes.

I still wasn’t feel great but I keep trying to run consistently and keep cool. I would dump water on my head at the water stations and then try and hold onto another cup for as long as I could so I could dump it again before the next station. It was a little annoying running with the cup but I managed. The cloud cover was starting to burn off at this point and it was affecting everyone. The temperature in the morning was 14 but it was heating up to 21 in the afternoon and it was well on its way there.

I made it to the 15km mark at 1:39 and had a 5k split of 34 minutes. I was still on track and doing ok. I opted to eat my second snack on one of the only hills on the course so I could walk up it. In my head I was thinking about if I should take the half marathon turn off when the course splits. I decided to see how I was feeling when I got there, but I was still doing well enough to think I could do the full marathon.

Nothing too interesting happened in the next few kms. I saw lots of the half marathoners trying to make the final push to the finish line. I was jealous that they would be done soon and I had hardly gotten started. My legs were starting to feel a bit sore but I ignored it. Eventually I made it to the splitting point of the race. This was a huge mental game. They had banners over the left side of the road that said “Half marathon” and then ones over the right that said “Marathon”. It was going to be a lonely race from here on out.

Another thing I should mention is that the part of the race right before the split was all in the shade of road above the one we were running on. I felt ok and still really thought I could finish the race at this point, and I think this was a large reason why. Had it been in the sun, I would have most likely made the turn and just finished the half marathon instead.

I crossed the halfway point of the marathon course in 2:22 at 11:25 am. I was still on track to PR but this is where things started to really go south. Both of my hips started to lock up and it was making my legs feel really sore. I had never had this happen in training so I was very surprised by it. I figured that if anything would bother me, it would be my knee since I had problems with it last year. After crossing the timing mat, I pulled off the course so I could stretch my legs out in hopes of them loosening up. They didn’t. Strike 3.

I still didn’t panic at this point because I could still do a run/walk routine. I tried to maintain this and the 4:40 pacer bunny ran past me. Still no big deal, I let them go by and was out there to run my own race. I was having a hard time maintaining running for more than a few minutes and this is where I started to wonder if I was in trouble.

I passed the water station at 23km and tried to cool down with a water over my head again. I made it a few minutes past this station and my stomach started to gurgle. And not the “oh I think I need to burp gurgle”. Strike 4. I didn’t want to turn around and try to get back to the washrooms behind me since this stretch was out and back. I figured I could walk until the next porta potty and be ok. I found one at the turn around point but there was no toilet paper left. So the only option was to try and make it to the one I had already passed.

Thankfully, I did make it to the next one without any incident. Unfortunately, my stomach was starting to seriously cramp up like it has in previous races. I decided to text Alex to alert him that they may need to pick me up.

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The “keep going!” text was so hard to read. There was nothing I wanted more than to keep going and finally conquer the marathon. I remember feeling frustrated and then so sad that it probably wasn’t going to happen. At this point, I tried run walking some more but couldn’t sustain running for more than 2-3 minutes. I knew something wasn’t right. I had never felt this bad in training. I crossed the 25km mark in 2:56. It had taken me 34 minutes to cover 3.9km.

At this point, I was done. The rest of the course was going to provide little shade, it was sunny, my legs hurt way more than normal, and my stomach was hurting. My options were to gut it out for what probably would have been another 3 hours, or cut my losses and save my legs. I opted to drop out at this point. It clearly was not my day to conquer the marathon and I wanted to give myself the option of trying again. Otherwise, my legs would be trashed and that would be it for the season.

I had no idea where I was so I asked some very helpful volunteers where I should walk so I would be in a good place to be picked up. I walked over and was like “Hello, I would like to stop now. Where should I go?” which they thought was pretty funny. They congratulated me for making it that far and I walked myself off the course. In the midst of trying to call Alex, I also accidentally called my dad. I talked to him for a few minutes about my race and then found an easy pickup point. I sat soaking wet in a Staples parking lot; that wasn’t exactly how I had pictured my race ending.

By the time they had come to pick me up, I had already come to terms with my DNF. I knew it was the smartest choice for me and I may have even prevented injury. I still don’t know what happened to my hips, but I’m wondering if my shoes were too worn out. What happened during my race was an unfortunate combination of race ending factors. Had only one or two of those things happened, I probably would have finished. I am also not sure why my stomach was so angry either. I tried to do things as close to normal as possible and don’t really know what else I could have done. Maybe not getting a long enough sleep meant poor digestion? I really don’t know.

We went out for lunch to celebrate our races after they picked me up. Alex ran 2:06 in his first half marathon and I’m very proud of him. He had hip problems during training and didn’t get out as often as he would have liked. After a big plate of food and a cup of coffee, I was feeling almost back to normal. We headed back to shower and relax for a bit and then packed up to head home. I only had one brief moment of feeling disappointed and upset.

It’s too easy to think of this race as a “failure”. I don’t believe I failed. I think I made the smartest choice I could with how I was feeling. Yes, it does stink that months of hard work and training culminated into a bad race. But this happens even to the most elite runners. When they struggle in a marathon, they don’t gut it out to the point of injury. They back off and try and salvage their running season. That is what I tried to do. I know in my heart that I could have finished, but it would have been the most unpleasant experience. I don’t feel like I have failed myself at all.

So where does this leave me? Ideally, I would have liked to race a marathon before the end of the year since I should still be maintaining most of the fitness I gained. The only one that would have been reasonable would be the one in Hamilton this weekend. But it’s on the day of my graduation and I would not have enough time to get back for it. So my new plan is to rest up for a bit longer and start running again. If I feel recovered and well enough, I will try and cover 26.2 miles on my own. I have also been sick the last week so the runs I have gone on have felt (probably) harder than they should have. My legs felt fine the days following the race. After my first recovery run, my butt felt really sore. That was funny to me because it hadn’t been sore at all after the race.

All in all, I wish my race could have gone better but I made the right choice. I am in a position to try again and I came home healthy. We went on a nice recovery walk one night; here’s proof that I’m still smiling.

2017-10-24 17.16.08

TL;DR: Watch didn’t show pace properly, stomach cramped up, hips locked up, race too hot and needed emergency porta potty break. Dropped out at 27km and went for lunch instead. Will re-attempt a marathon in next month. Also, my butt is sore.

Marathon Goals Revised


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Bad news! My streak of having ridiculously hot races will continue this weekend. I’m bummed.

I picked the Toronto Waterfront Marathon because it is at the end of October. I was hoping for an average fall day. The average high and low in Toronto for this time of year are 13 and 8 Celsius. Mother Nature has other plans and it’s looking like a high of 23, low of 12 and humid and sunny. Ugh.

Unfortunately, this race also doesn’t have an early start time. I will be starting around 9am which means I will be running straight through the hottest part of the day. This means revising my time goals.

As much as I’d like to think I can still shoot for my A goal of under 4:30, I don’t think it will be smart. I usually don’t do well in the heat and actually had to shorten a 20 mile training run because of it. My new plan will just be to run whatever speed feels comfortable based on the conditions.

I’ll make the best of it but it’s hard to not feel a little disappointed. As I mentioned in my last post, this has by far been my best training leading up to a marathon. It’ll be tough knowing that I could probably go faster if the conditions were more favorable.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some clouds and a cool breeze coming off the water. I’ll try and make the best of the experience and just hope I finish healthy. Good luck to everyone running!

Thesis Complete, a New PR and Marathon Goals!


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Good news! I’ve completely finished my degree! I do still have a paper we need to submit for publication, but that will be down the line. Thesis is finally done! That being said, I should be writing more often now as I have more free time. I am still trying to lock down a job, but had an interview last week which I think went well. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend, complete with two turkey dinners! One with my friends, and one with my family. I wasn’t sure if I would feel up to racing the free 5k on Saturday morning after a Friday night turkey dinner, but I set my alarm and decided to see how I felt when I got up. The weather looked decent and I felt ok (I tried not to completely stuff my face) so I got ready and went to the 5k. I was pretty sure I was in PR shape based on how I did at the Army run, so I was planning to race it.

I arrived around 20 minutes before the start, so I grabbed my sticker (that’s what they give instead of bibs), went to the washroom, and warmed up a little bit. It was pretty decent racing weather: overcast, not too windy and kind of cool. I lined up near the front since this run is notorious for people starting too close up and I didn’t want to be dodging around too much. To my dismay, they said we would be running the course in reverse. Traditionally, I’ve found the reverse route more difficult because the hill you climb is steeper this way (or it seems like it anyways). I wasn’t sure how it would play out for going for a PR.

I’ll save you the play by play along the course (it’s a big square and you run it twice). I finished the first half in 13 minutes and I knew if I could hold the pace, I would be well under my record. It was tough but I managed to do it! Either my watch went crazy, or the course was longer because of the reverse route, but it measured in a 3.16 miles. So my time was 26:01, but my Garmin thinks my 5k record is 25:35. I beat my previous time of 26:25 by a lot either way so I’m happy! As per usual, Ian Hunter took some excellent pictures of everyone.


This was right after the start. It actually looks like I’m running for once!

I am not photogenic while racing. I tried to smile and it looks like I’m smirking… haha. The smirk happened on the first lap.

Second lap pictures turned out a lot better. I actually look like I’m enjoying myself!

As I mentioned, this course is not flat. This graph isn’t the greatest, but you can tell where the hills were based on my pace. I slowed going up, but sped up going down for both laps. I even was running under an 8 minute mile going down the hill. It was a good day for me!


This was pretty encouraging. I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in. My previous 5k time came off of doing speed work. This time, it was simply from running higher mileage for marathon training. In the future, I think I’d like to specifically train for a 5k and see how fast I can go!

Now to transition, my marathon is in two weeks! I can finally write about my goals for the race. I’ve had some solid training and should come in at around 430 miles ran since July when I toe the start line. I was more consistent with my runs, and put extra focus on making sure to make my longs runs. I was supposed to do two 20 milers, but only managed one. The first one was on a hot day and I tapped out at 17 miles because I was feeling dizzy. But! My second one was last week and everything finally clicked. I did the full 20 miles at a 10:39 pace/ mile. This is “fast” for me.

I also felt like I could keep going, and the pace was not at all too fast. I was comfortable and could have sped up. Now I finally feel ready to race and I’m pretty confident I will actually be able to run the whole thing. I only walked on my last 20 miler to send a text message about when I would be home haha.

So here are my goals for the race now that I have a better idea of what’s possible.

A Goal: Sub 4:30. I am pretty sure if everything clicks, I can go under 4:30. I am hesitant to shoot for faster than that since the marathon is a beast. You never know what could happen

B Goal: Sub 4:45. I think this is also very likely since that would mean holding the pace of my 20 mile run without speeding up at all. Barring disaster, it should be possible!

C Goal: Sub 5:00. At the very least, I would like to have a time that starts with a 4. I have put way more training in than my previous marathons and want it to pay off!

D Goal: Just finish (hopefully under 5:15, my current PR!). I think even if I’m having a terrible day, this should be possible.

So there it is! My goals are officially written out. I hope I can meet them! The only thing I am worried about with this race is how I will eat breakfast at the right time. We will have to head out early to get there. I think I may just eat in the car on the way there so it’s closer to how I was eating in training. Other than that, I’m actually not feeling nervous! I’m excited!

I’ll leave you with some pictures of the nice run I took yesterday on the trails near my parents’ house. It was a warm and humid fall day and I just enjoyed being out!

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I thought this speed limit sign was funny.

Lastly, congratulations to anyone who raced this weekend!

Army Run Recap!


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Hey! I’m a little late on this but I’ve been pretty busy trying to wrap up the rest of my thesis. (Side note: I successfully defended it a few weeks ago and only have some editing left to do!).

Let’s get into it. The Army Run added a 10k race this year since it was the 10th anniversary of the run. Although I am in marathon training, I opted for the shorter race distance. I’ve found in previous years that this race falls too early in September and is usually hot. It also has a 9:30 start for the half marathon time, so if it was a hot day, it would not be PR conditions. Boy, did this gamble pay off. We had a two week heat wave in Ottawa which spanned over this weekend. I would have been disappointed if I had signed up for the half. I’m pretty sure I am in PR condition, but would not have been able to go for it on that day.

I also thought the 10k would be a cool idea for a fitness check since I had done one close to the start of my training cycle. I finished in 59:14 on a hot day and a difficult course. In any case, I wanted to see how marathon training affects my 10k time.

I was in a lull of thesis work so I headed to the race kit pickup when it first opened on the Friday at 11 am. I believe in previous years it normally starts earlier. When I got there, it was absolute pandemonium. Everyone who works downtown must have taken their lunches early specifically to go to the pickup. I didn’t mind because I wasn’t in a rush. It took me about 15 minutes to get my bib, and then another 20 minutes to get the chip activated. Although it seems slows, given the amount of people that were there, the volunteers were working very quickly and efficiently.

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The shirt pickup was in a tent outside of City Hall and was much less crowded. I heard a very rude lady get mad at one of the volunteers. She wanted her shirts even though she hadn’t picked up her bibs. I was so disappointed; the running community is normally so supportive and nice. This lady was crazy. I talked to the volunteer after to thank her for doing a good job.

I also watched some of the live performance on the stage. He was good! It was pretty relaxing sitting in the chairs on such a nice day.

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I did walk through the expo, but I didn’t really need anything so I headed home after this.

On the Saturday, I didn’t really do too much. I actually can’t remember what I did that day, so it must have been pretty relaxing. I had my usual pre-race meal of chicken and potatoes and tried to head to bed early.

Since I am in training, I wanted to run more than 6.2 miles for the day since that’s not really far enough. So I decided to do a 20 minute shake out run and then I would try to do another 20 minutes after the race if  I was feeling ok. I woke up on race morning to a really humid, warm morning. There was some cloud cover so it wasn’t scorching hot yet. My warm up run went well and I was already soaked with sweat despite going slow. I got changed into my race clothes and headed out.

I didn’t really have a goal for this race. Because the forecast was showing brutal, hot, and humid weather, I knew it would be a tough day for running. We hadn’t really had weather like that for awhile, so I was not used to running in it. I knew I was in PR shape, but didn’t want to push too hard, too fast. So I set out with the goal of running the first half easy (no time goal, just whatever pace felt comfortable), and then would try and finish strong.

I have a few complaints about the Army Run this year. The first is that although they made us choose corrals when we signed up, I could not for the life of me find anything saying what the predicted finishing times were for each one. This caused a lot of confusion for people trying to make sure they were starting in the right spot. This is important because some people may sign up for faster corrals, hoping to be in that shape, and then realize come race day that they should actually start further back. I’ll get into my other complaint after.

So I signed up for the second fastest corral, which I have no idea what time I thought I would finish in. I heard one lady saying that it was the 45 minute and under section to a man asking her. I told the man that it couldn’t have been right because I would not have picked that corral! I wish I could run that fast!

I went to go line up and found the first two corrals almost completely empty. I found a spot near the back of the second one and just stayed there because I felt like I was too close to the front and didn’t want to be in the way. This is my second complaint: even though I was so close to the front, there were still people walking in front of me! Army Run, please enforce the corrals a bit more! This was dangerous. They could have been trampled. This was also exasperated by people doing the Vimy Challenge. As soon as they finished the 5k, they hopped into the front of the corral because they were worried about being late. Ugh.

I think a solution to this problem (and the first one I mentioned) would be to put the corral times on the flags. I think this would scare some sense into walkers who decided to line up with people running 40 minute 10ks.

Now to the race. As I said, I ran the first half pretty easily. I would have liked to go a bit faster than I did, but the first 2-3 kms were spent dodging people walking. The course route didn’t help with this either since it only widened later.

The route was decent, a few hairpin turns but pretty flat. They set up lots of misting stations and the water stations were well stocked. I made sure to go through all of the mist!

I hit the halfway point in around 29 minutes. I felt pretty good. We lucked out that the start was early. The sun was still low enough that the buildings shaded us for the first 6 km. I felt better than I thought I would, so I decided to go for it. This worked pretty well until km 7 where we ran back into direct sunlight. This took a toll but I tried to hold on and finish strong.

I could tell I was running a strong race because I was passing people throughout the second half. I didn’t make a sprint for the finish because I knew it was getting hot and didn’t want to be the girl passed out at the finish line. I finished in 56:46 and am super happy with this time. I know I am capable of faster given that I started very slow, and it was a hot day. I also slowed down through the misting stations too. Here are my splits.

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Here I am at the finish!

Army run

Unfortunately, I didn’t get many race pictures because I was always behind a tall person! I am ok with this because I’m sure they wouldn’t have been glamour shots haha.

I ran my 1.5 cool down miles, showered, ate, and then headed back to the finish to wait for my dad. He did the half. I showed up with ice water, an ice pack, freezies and a wet towel because it was really getting hot. He still did well despite the heat but he knows he can go faster!

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That picture was before I started.

All in all, I had a good time at the Army Run. I have run it for six years straight and it’s always fun. I was disappointed with the corrals, but everything else was great. I am also encouraged by my 10k time with my marathon coming up. I’ll do a post soon about my goals for it, but this is the highest mileage training cycle so it should be a good one!