Category Archives: Running Journal

Perth World Record Kilted Race Done!

This one was quite the event! After a day of Scottish music and dance on the main stage, we march around the street behind three waves of pipe bands, representing the different runner’s speeds. I don’t think anyone knew what wave they were actually in…After a high energy fiddle player played out the last three minutes, they fired muskets and we were off! I must have got caught up in the wrong wave, I could not negotiate a pace for almost two miles. Hey, last time I lined up with the faster folks I got trampled so I was trying to be polite! That’s when I realized I hadn’t switched my watch back to lapping each mile automatically (by the end  of the race I might have been going 3000m pace, who knows?!) I had a fun little stand off with a man around the 4 mile mark, and decided to leave him in my dust after about 30s. I think I like being a little more competitive.
I was very happy with my effort for last half of the race, pushed hard enough without hating anything. I floated through the finish without the least bit of that want to die or puke feeling I always seem to have – but I regret it now! I purposely held back because I always want to die or puke at the end, but taking that away made the end…boring! I may try bringing my own fluids on a race like that, in the heat especially. Water stations really take energy to navigate at higher speeds, I guess that takes practice too.  Running in a “skirt”, albeit wool, was nice and drafty. I would do it again, maybe for a whole marathon sometime…

Did I mention the FREE BEER at the finish line?! Now that’s how to end a race!


Form, Distance, Speed Rediscovered

I live by the rule “First form, then distance, then speed” which I learned from ChiRunning.  I consistently do this on a micro level, week to week, using it to watch for signs of over training or exhaustion. However, looking back at 6 years of running, the cycle on a larger scale is now complete. I couldn’t ignore my form when I began, and I had to listen to my body to learn how to stay injury free. Then I took on the bigger distance races, where enduring to the finish was enough, while hoping to beat my last time. Choosing to train for speed for the Kilted 5 miler completes the macro-trifecta.

A week ago Sunday I did a 10K Time Trial (6.2 miles) with a 1.5 mile warm up and cool down. It was windy, raining, I had the stroller, and the “new” target pace of 7:53 almost killed me (but I still made myself go faster than that for a couple miles). Yesterday I did a 10 mile run with 6 miles at Half Marathon Pace, 8:15 per mile.   It was a huge confidence booster! There is that bit of genius in the way the plan was set up, whether it was intended or not. To boot, my HMP is now what my 10K pace originally was when I started this training plan. I could have raced another 3 miles to complete a half yesterday…makes me wonder if a pacing strategy like this would work for my next half marathon…. #inspiration!!

Speed training might be the best thing I have done for my running so far. Next on the list of to-try…the Yasso 800s….

This Summer I Tri

So there’s this triathlon called The Canadian on September 3….

There are a few obstacles I must overcome in order for this to happen. I am going to set this up as a list of 10 mini-goals with deadlines, and hopefully the magic of writing it down will commit my dream to reality.

  1. Buy swimming goggles. June 3
  2. Get in the pool and swim. June 4
  3. Create a training plan for July and August. June 11
  4. Get a class package at Iron North and start spinning weekly. June 14
  5. Swim to the buoys and back at McCreary beach (Yes it’s a place, no word of a lie! No we don’t get in free because of our names…). June 25
  6. Buy a used bike. June 30
  7. Learn how to change a blown bike tire. (I might also add I would like to know BEFORE something goes wrong on a ride.) July 15
  8. Swim 200m in the pool and bike the 20K or so home. July 31
  9. Sign up for the race! Aug 15
  10. Buy appropriate swim wear for Mooneys Bay. Aug 20

Thank goodness  I feel confident with running, and I’ll be coming off an 8 week speed-based training plan. I know there is so much more to swim and bike than I can read in a couple of books, but you have to start somewhere. I’ll need a helmet, good shorts, a proper fitting seat…do people do sprint triathlon with clip pedals, in their running shoes? Will it be cold enough to need a wetsuit in Mooney’s Bay on September 3? Is my walmart special bathing suit going to be enough for at least my first few pool swims?? There is so much gear I need, hopefully I can find most of it used! If anyone can tell me what I should prioritize, and what I absolutely do NOT need please inform!!

It’s no coincidence that I chose R’s birthday to actually sign up for this race. Two years old, my precious little one, and she has given me more strength and courage than I could have ever found alone. She’s always pushing me out of my comfort zone! 😀 I love you baby girl! This one is for you!!

Never say “Never”: Triathlon Edition

Whenever I say or think “oh I’ll NEVER do that” I always end up doing it. It’s like the seed is planted with that word NEVER, it begins to sprout and years later I’m obsessed with something I wouldn’t have given the time of day in my youth. My most recent seed: The Triathlon (thanks Ian). I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 13. During my last swimming lesson I “climbed up the wall like spiderman” – in grade 1. I’m afraid of fish touching my legs in open water and I don’t know anything about how to fix a broken bike chain 40 miles from home. But I said I would NEVER do it, and here I am today, dreaming about completing an Ironman.

The appeal might be the novelty of it all. I started running when I was 30, and I have now figured out what pace is and how much fun it is to race. Add a bike and I’ll get to play with speed (and deal with some new chafing and strained muscles). Throw me in some water and now breathing is a whole new ball game. What is possible? How fast can I swim, bike, and run to the finish line? What will I learn about myself along the way? What teachers will I find? Who will inspire me? Will I inspire my baby girl, or anyone else?

The underlying message is clear: I must use my body. I am an athlete. Dancer, yogi, runner, pregnancy, it’s all about making your blood rush and your body work. I run today because I can, because my legs let me and the will drives me. It’s important to keep options open though, because staying active and healthy into my 90s is going to require flexibility of mind as well as body. I have been reading a lot about fitness and the aging woman. Over the past 40 years, thanks to the revolution of women in sports, we are still just touching the tip of the iceberg of possibility.

My ultimate goal is to feel the way I do today, always. If you push yourself just beyond what you think you are capable of, at least once a week, that might not be an unrealistic expectation.

Perth Kilted 5 Miler – 7 weeks away!

After a long winter of trying to get miles in for a marathon but being bombarded with bad weather, no treadmill, and illness, I have decided to dedicate my training to something I’m actually signed up for – the Guinness Book of World Record Contender for largest Kilted Run! The Perth Kilt Run! It coincides with my birthday, and happens less than 2 hours from my home. My only regret is I didn’t get a Cumming Clan kilt made in honor of the day. But how can I say no to an official kilt purchased at the time of registration for only $30?

This will be the first race I train to run fast. Every short race I have done previously has been an afterthought, or part of a build up to my “big race”. I have already done two weeks of intervals at 5k and 10k pace, and won’t be doing more than 11 miles at a time on my long runs (not that I don’t mind the break!). I have already noticed a huge improvement in my ability to enjoy the intervals, mostly because I’m learning not to attack them too hard or run too fast. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m doing all my speed work with a stroller? It’s just what time allows for, and I refuse to run indoors on a treadmill in this gorgeous weather!

It’s an exciting training program modeled off a 10K program from Brain Training for Runners, and since it’s only a month and a half away (yikes) I know I’ll get there strong. I will get a couple runs in with the kilt too in preparation for where I’ll feel the chafe! I’m going to say my goal is 8:30 per mile, but I know that on race day I’ll go out too fast and crash on the last mile, until I see the finish line where I’ll bust a nut to pick off the people ahead of me and pray I don’t end with an IT band flare up….lol… 🙂

Winter Blues

I have to admit, trying to train for a marathon in the winter with a baby-toddler is a bit of a challenge. You can’t think about whether or not you want to get out there because you might not get the chance tomorrow. My training plan has become a suggestion, because miles have to happen when weather, baby, and family conditions are in sync. Snow, wind, or extreme cold? No stroller. Nap went too long? Too dark to take the baby.

I was very spoiled for almost two months when my hubby was working from home. He was able to watch the video monitor while I crushed 10 mile Tuesdays and hour and a half workouts almost every other day. Rarely had to expose R to the elements from behind the weather shield, but hopefully she hasn’t forgotten how to enjoy a long stroller ride. Besides, getting her AND I suited up, and bundled in the stroller takes longer than running the 4 miles – full of stops and starts anyway for lost toys, mitts, and snacks. This February has been brutal for unlucky weather conditions too, conditions I actually can’t run in. In my pre-baby days, going out when it’s minus WTF outside or the snow is up to your knees didn’t phase me. If I could hack it I would…but I need to be able to take care of the most important thing in my life and I can’t take as many risks. Oh yeah, and the treadmill is broken.

It’s funny, the more I write the more I sound like I’m making excuses. Sure it was easy to make running a priority when I had a nap angel watching her, but if I really want to do a spring marathon, I have to hunker down. Moving forward, each day I will assess the outdoors and plot my miles realistically on a day-to-day basis, based on my weekly goal. Running has to be the priority, that is, after the activities that are R’s priority. Can’t miss that Tuesday Kindermusik class, but the library can wait until a colder, snowier day! 🙂

Running with a Stroller: Part 1

We did 3 miles in the stroller!

2015-03-18 14.59.19My running buddy was out like a light as soon as we got out there – great news for me, since I know I can take her on longer runs now. Actually, it’s better if we run longer so I don’t interrupt her nap!

I knew my form would be disrupted – gals out there without strollers or children, enjoy your freedom!! I would be inclined to say this is going to toughen me up in the end. It’s challenging to keep your form AND keep the stroller from careening off road.

Weather is much more of a challenge with the stroller as well. Wind I consider “fun” (lol) but wind with a weather guard on a massive stroller is just a little bit of lovely torture. You’d think the wind at my back on the way home would make it easier, but controlling the beast was still challenging. My pace was almost 2 minutes slower than average but I felt like I was racing a 5k – all the while holding onto a shopping cart. Obviously it didn’t affect R, she slept through the whole thing, cozy as a kitten.

I recommend one hand on the bar. If you have to go with two, don’t squeeze! Keep your fingers loose and your palms touching softly so you can respond to the pavement’s irregularities. I unlocked my front wheel so that I could navigate the twists and turns better, maybe next time I’ll try with a lock. I am using a Graco Run Stroller, perhaps there’s something out there that handles better in the wind – something with a built in weather cover perhaps. Maybe a chariot is worth the investment when I have two kids to lug around…*fingers crossed*

Who has some tips or tricks for me for part 2???

Training Starts: Ottawa Half Marathon 2015

11 weeks to go!!

I think I’m going to like running less miles per run, but more days per week with this training schedule. Getting back into running almost everyday has reminded me how important form is, especially going from treadmill to road and back again. Last weekend I had a one-off IT band issue which thankfully resolved itself with a day off and much more concentration on not leaving my tailbone behind. Calves are feeling tight, shin splints are threatening to make an appearance – but I don’t feel like I’m over training, doing only a half hour on most days. I can keep those issues in check while I work around them and get stronger, so they disappear altogether.

This week my goal was to run outside more. The road is where my favorite runs are. On the ‘mill I turn on the TV and tune out – you kinda have to. Outside I can leave everything behind and just exist in the world, one foot in front of the other. Nothing like what the fresh air does for the soul. I was able to get both Saturday and Sunday runs outdoors. I came home from my long run to find both hubby and baby cozy in bed, napping. 🙂 ❤

Goal next week: RACE! I will be running my first race as a Mommy (with a child at the finish line, not in my belly). I have chosen the St Paddy’s 5k. From what I can tell my time will probably be around 30 minutes, especially considering my ultimate goal is to finish every race injury free. Since I won’t be setting any PRs I think I’ll break out all the green gear I have and really Irish it up!

Do’s (and a Couple Don’ts) for WINter Running

I love running outside in the winter. I think it might be my favorite time of the year to run, in fact. Funny, coming from a scrawny gal who is always cold and hated being outdoors growing up. When you run a few miles in the cold, you heat up from head to toe – and the endorphin rush mixed with rosy cheeks is a sweet reward for getting out there.


By now, most runners have read all the top 10 “What To Do (or not) While Running in the Winter” articles out there. They all seem to say the same thing, albeit with reason. I’d like to add a few of my own personal tips, learned while busting out snowy 3-5 milers in -25C with winds occasionally gusting to 40mph.


Start every run with your mouth covered.

If you spend at least 10 minutes warming up outside with your mouth covered you won’t be exposing your fresh lungs to the cold dry air immediately. Use a tech fleece or synthetic face cover and let the humid air from your breath keep your lungs from drying out. I keep it on as long as I can, but it is refreshing every now and then to uncover your face (if the wind is at your back!).

Wear the right layers.

Layering is good but make sure you’re doing it right – NO COTTON! It traps and combines the cold plus damp sweat, and you will freeze your kahunas. Some natural wool on the base is best, followed by a tech fleece (or two for those really cold days), then an outer shell for wind and water resistance. Ventilation in the armpits is key for when you start to warm up too much. I put a skirt on over it all too, to keep my butt warm…that seems to be the only part of me that gets really cold on long runs for some reason…!

Shorten your stride and think “pancake feet”.

Ice can take you by surprise, under the snow or disguised as concrete. Keep your feet under you, take smaller steps. Take a page out of the ChiRunning book and use the image of pancake feet or “clown shoes” to help you to land with a more midfoot, relaxed strike. That way if you do come upon a patch of ice you’ll be more able to control your body’s reaction. It’s also a great way to think in general, especially if you have chronically tight calves.

Wear hydration under your coat.

If you’re heading out for more than 6 miles, take your hydration belt but try wearing it under your top layer – this keeps the liquid closer to body temperature, which, aside from it not turning into a slurpee, makes it much easier on the stomach.


Try to beat your PR.

There’s a reason the elites use this time of the year for base training. Focus on things other than speed. Use a heart rate monitor and challenge yourself make most of your runs under 65% of your max (and lose the turkey weight in the process. Yeah, I know, we all still have it too!). Or heck, enjoy a few runs without your watch! Take in the pretty snowflakes falling from the sky, or the sparkle of the snow in the moonlight. Listen to how quiet it is when you run in the snow, aside from the delicious crunch of it under your feet.

Worry about being cold.

Dress properly for the weather and you won’t have a problem! If you have done this, everything from your head to toe will stay comfortable (and if it isn’t just do a fartlek). I think my biggest fear was my feet would get cold in the snow but that fear was put to rest at the end of my first few winter runs. My feet actually got warmer throughout the run, no special socks needed, and all that worry was for nothing…so go out there and enjoy your hot bod in the cold air!

Have fun with it, and do an extra mile out there for me! I’m using a treadmill for all my runs these days…much easier to respond to a napping child when you’re not 3 miles away. 😛

3 Months Later

Today marks 3 months since baby R graced us with her presence. So many amazing moments, so much learned so far, and today the crowning moment…she giggled! Ok, she giggled once a week and a half ago but I think she surprised herself and only did it for a few seconds…this was REAL. 😀

I survived the first 6 weeks with no running. This was my intention. If training for long distance races has taught me anything, it’s that you can start from the beginning again – so I let my body heal and didn’t push it. Luckily I didn’t feel too ancy. I walked, danced, carried, and bounced so I was still getting plenty of movement. 😉 I began running again, 2 miles at a time, and found ways to cope with the new and improved body and extra weight…two bras + post partum support band = feeling like my old self (just don’t check out my shadow). I’m just doing it for fun and to feel it out for now, but I signed up for the Ottawa Half Marathon the day registration began. It feels so great to have a goal race!

The real reason I’m inspired to blog again is because of a facebook bud – 2 months post c-sec TWINS, and dealing with PPD – who went to the Big Sur Half Marathon Expo, registered, and will be racing tomorrow. BAM! She’s my hero. So I checked out the Big Sur website. The marathon race keeps coming up in my life, so I decided to take a look at the course and the way it rolls. I’m putting it on the Bucket List! What an incredible looking course, challenging, and I’m sure filled with incredible scenery.

My Marathon Bucket List so far consists of the Fall Colors Marathon (this year hopefully!), the Ottawa Marathon (both should be “easy” to do, in my hometown), Twin Cities (with family!), Calgary (also where family lives), Boston, and now Big Sur. The plan is to have one more little one at some point so I won’t expect these races to happen on a specific timeline. Having the goal races is like planning a vacation when you’re stressed at work – even if you never actually get there in the future, it helps you today to dream!

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