Friday, March 30, 2007


The Around the Bay race last Sunday was the first time that I've ever experienced such severe cramping. At one point, going downhill before the final hill of the race, the cramps were so severe that I actually didn't think that I would be able to finish the race.
It was amazing to me that as I climbed the uphill the pain went away and luckily I was able to make up the lost time and finish ahead of my goal time.

I've talked to several runners about this problem and one runner in particular experienced the same problem at Around the Bay. When I told her about the problem it was exactly the pain she felt and her cramps also went away going up the hill. The pain can best be described as having a "charlie horse" on the front part of the quad, down the side and also in the calf.

After doing some research on the subject I thankfully can rule out the new CWX tights as a reason for this. It has more to do with hydration. Although the research I've seen hasn't been conclusive, one of the common factors is dehydration or even over hydration. One of the supplements that I will be experimenting with over the next few weeks is a salt pill. I'll also make sure that I run with some kind of electrolyte replacement drink when I do my long slow runs. Now is the best time to experiment with different supplements as my marathon is 6 weeks away.

Some of the cures that I've seen for cramping has ranged from biting your upper lip (yes you read that correctly) to stretching, drinking an electrolyte supplement and simply running through it. On Sunday I chose to simply run through the pain and hoped that it would go away, luckily it did just that.

With regards to my diet, I'm going to reduce my protein a little bit and concentrate more on eating roughly 250 grams of carbohydrates per day. This works out to 50 grams per meal if eating 5 X per day. I'm going to keep my calories at approximately 2000 with carbohydrates, protein and fat representing 50%, 30% and 20% of my diet respectively.

Today I ran 12K and I'll take tomorrow off from running to do 90 minutes on my stationary bike. Then I will end the week by doing a 29K slow run on Sunday.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A nice relaxing week of running

Yesterday I had my first run since my 30K race and today I ran with one of my best friends for a nice 8.5K run. As much as I like to run on my own and listen to my music, there are certain people that I feel like I "need" to run with on a regular basis. Even though I'm lucky to have several great friends who share my passion for running, one of them truly understands me better than anyone when it comes to WHY I run.

This person keeps me grounded, gives me inspiration and I generally feel so much better after our runs whether it is a 8K or 32K run. I think she knows how hard I work because she's done the same thing last year and qualified for Boston. If we trained together I'm sure we would finish a race at about the same time. It's nice having someone to run with who is of equal ability and passion as they know what it feels like to push it to the limit and come back wanting more.

We talked today about how much we both love the training and how the races are secondary to the amount of work we put into whatever race we are training for. She talked about Boston and I just kept thinking about how amazing that experience is going to be for her and how I can't wait until I qualify myself.
Thanks Nancy!

This week will be more about "fun running" than training as I'll start that process again next week. From now until then I'm going to savor every step as I know that the training is going to intensify even more in the next 6 weeks. Tomorrow I will do another light 12K, take Saturday off and then run a 21K slow run on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Doing what I LOVE!

Today I couldn't take it any more! I hadn't run since my race on Sunday and the roads were calling me so I had to oblige.

I was supposed to run with a friend this morning but I had a personal emergency I had to attend to so I went out on my own. My goal was jus to do a 10-11K run nice easy run to get my legs back into circulation again.

My calf was a little sore but once I hit the road it was like I was "home" again. I started out with the intention of going nice and slow but by the time I finished I realized that I had done 11K in 56 minutes or just over a 5 minute Kilometre. This was not what I had in mind but I felt energized as soon as I came home.

My running coach asked me if I wanted to step up the training for the next 6 weeks and of course I said YES! So he will be hard at working plotting my next 6 weeks of training which I'm actually looking forward to.

Today, during my run, I did some reflecting on what I have been able to accomplish and the goals that I still have. I kept repeating to myself 3:20, 3:20, 3:20 (my Boston qualifying time). I also was thinking about how hard my last race was because of my cramping issues but that I was proud of myself for not letting it interfere with my goal time. This will once again prove invaluable for me during my subsequent races.

Monday, March 26, 2007

ATB Race Report

After not getting much sleep on Friday night, I got up early Saturday and drove to Hamilton to pick up my race kit. The EXPO was uneventful although I did run into several people that I've run with.

Saturday was a rest day so I just took it easy, watched some movies and went to bed fairly early.

Sunday I met a few friends and we drove up together. This was a good chance to talk about the race and what our goals were. We arrived in Hamilton about 90 minutes before the race start. The weather was cooler than expected so I decided to run in my new CWX 3/4 tights, light turtleneck and jacket.

I did a little warm-up run right before the race just to limber up.
Once the race started I felt a slight pull or cramp along the outside of my right leg and quad muscle. This happened about 1 or 2K into the race and I was worried that it would linger throughout. Immediately I began to try and figure out why this was happening as I never have experienced this before. Thankfully the pain went away after a few K's.

I managed to keep my pace at between a 4:30 to 4:40 pace throughout the next 10 or 15K's and was about 1 minute ahead of my goal time of 2:25. However, at about the 25K mark the cramping returned and it came at one of the weirdest parts of the race. There was a long downhill which preceded on the final hills and that's where it tightened up. I had to literally limp down the hill as the pain was severe but as I started to climb the uphill it slowly went away.

Even with this setback, I was still a little ahead of my goal time but had now lost much of that 1 minute advantage I had built up earlier in the race. I was able to make up some more time during the last 2K and finished in 2:24:44 which was over 7 minutes better than last year's time.

Looking back at the race I really feel that the CWX tights may have played a part in my muscles tightening up. This was the first race that I've had that I can remember having this much pain and it was the first race that I had used these tights. Another possible explanation could be overhydration. I had drank my normal 4Ltr's of water the day before and supplemented that with pretzels (salted) to ensure that my sodium level was high enough. As soon as the cramping occurred I made sure that I took in a drink of gatoraide from the water stations to help with the cramping. Usually, though, once the cramping starts it's too late for the gatorade. I'm just thankful that the cramping went away long enough for me to finish the race.

As I write this today (Monday) my calves and quads are still very sore but I know that by taking the next few days to rest, my legs will be as good as new. I start the next phase of my marathon training next week and I'm looking forward to seeing how well I can do at my next race.

The Peterborough 1/2 Marathon (1:40) and now the Around the Bay race (2:24) have given me the confidence to know that I can run a 3:30 marathon.
There are so many people who have helped me with my training and I just wanted to personally thank Ken, Nancy, Theresa, Rob, John, Edgar, Steve, Jen, Sally, and Neil.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

I'll have more to report tomorrow but I finished the Around the Bay race in 2:24:46 which was 7 minutes faster than my race last year.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Getting ready for tomorrow

There really isn't much to say except that tomorrow at this time I will know if all my training paid off.

I was at the race site this morning to pick up my race kit and ran into so many friends that I have done races with. You could feel the "buzz" in the arena and it was nice getting to talk to some friends who I hadn't seen in quite some time.

I kept thinking about how better prepared I am this year as compared to last year. The experience of having run this race and several others of long distance will surely pay off tomorrow. I'm sure I won't get much sleep tonight.

The last thing I will do before turning in will be to go over my race bag to make sure I have everything I need. I've already created my race pace band and my mp3 player is fully charged.

Expect a full race report tomorrow.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Already missing my running.....

It's only been 1 day of not running and I'm already feeling the "not running blues."
Yesterday I ran 12K at a slow pace. Knowing that I wouldn't be running again until Sunday, I savored every last step and hated to stop. Even though I know it's in my best interest to rest, it still makes it difficult to stop doing something you love even if it's only for a few days.

I was unable to run with one of my best friends yesterday as I had to go into work early. The Wednesday before a race I have traditionally run with someone who has helped me tremendously with my running. It has been somewhat of a good luck charm and also a chance to go over my race plan with her. While we were unable to run together, we are meeting for lunch with 2 other of my best friends today. We haven't gotten together in a long time so this will be a great time to catch up on what has been happening in their lives. All 3 of these women have qualified for Boston but unfortunately one of them is injured and will be unable to make the trip. They all have inspired me to reach for this goal myself and they have noticed the amount of hard work I've put into my training these past few months.

With running NOT an option today, I decided to use my stationary bike for 90 Minutes of low to medium intensity biking. It doesn't come close to the feeling that I have on the open roads, but at least I can say that I did something.

The next few days, however, I will resist the urge to do any type of physical activity. This plan worked well for me during my last Marathon in December so I'm going to follow that same plan again.

I'll have to make a trip to Hamilton on Saturday to pick up my race kit. I'm not looking forward to going up on Saturday and then again on Sunday but since there is no race day pick up I have no choice. I'll probably get there early on Saturday so I can return home to rest. On Saturday I plan on watching a marathon of movies (pardon the pun), eat some pasta and prepare for my race.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What does Taper mean to me?

T: Training is finished. You have worked hard and it’s time to get focused on the race at hand.

A: Aim high for whatever goal you have for this race and don’t let anything get in the way.

P: Practice mental imagery. Go over the race in your mind as you rest this week and imagine what it will feel like when you cross the finish line (don’t forget to smile for the camera)

E: Eat lots of carbohydrates as this will fuel your body for the race on Sunday. Increase your water intake to at least 3 Ltrs. per day.

R: Rest, rest and more rest. Now is not the time to do anything other than give your body a much needed break. I like to watch inspirational movies the night before. Some good ones include Rudy, Remember the Titans and Forrest Gump.

Training update/ CWX clothing review

Today was my last hard run before my race on Saturday. I did a series of interval runs at 4:30, 5:00 and 5:30 minK paces for about 4K. I was a little nervous doing them but they didn't turn out to be as bad as I thought. It gave me a good time to discuss with my coach my training strategy for this weekend. I went over everything from bio mechanics to motivation to hydration and I'll use all of this come Sunday.
What I love about races is that I can put all my training into one event and give it everything I have. While I know that some people will be running this race as a fun event, I honestly don't think I could do that. I love the fact that I have a certain time goal and that will force me to remain focused throughout. Most of my friends will be taking the bus up to Hamilton but I have decided to drive up with a few friends instead. I need that drive up to prepare for the race and I want to be as mentally sharp and focused as I can.

During the race I will be listening to a play list that I have created on my MP3 specifically designed for this race. I have put certain songs in places where I will need the most motivation. There will be about 3 or 4 of my friends who will be running at my pace or better but I honestly won't see them as I'll be too focused on my own race.

Yesterday I made my usual trip to Running Free to talk with the staff and do some last minute shopping. I decided to purchase a pair of running tights made by CWX. These tights are designed to provide more stability around the lower back, hips, glutes, knees and calves. I went with the 3/4 length to give me the best support. This morning I tried them out on my run and I LOVED them. They really kept everything aligned and I did feel like I felt better support than my usual running tights. I'm looking forward to trying them out on the race this Sunday.

Tomorrow I will be running a nice easy 10K and I'm sure I will savor every last step as it will be my last run before Sunday. Starting on Thursday I will begin to carbo load and will post what that looks like in terms of eating. I've given a few of my friends a plan for this week so I wish you well in your eating.....just one bit of advice though....stay far away from the scale!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Race week preparations

With my next race just one week away I completed my last long run today of 15K. A group of us went out from the Running Room in Pickering and decided that this distance was enough. it was interesting to see how others decided to use this last long run to prepare for this same race. Some were doing 6K, some were doing 20 and there were even a few who did 26. I'm usually the one who goes out longer than I need to so holding back today was something of an accomplishment for myself.

Tomorrow I will do my "ME" run of about 10K and this will be followed by a new type of interval run on Tuesday which I'm nervous about. I have to run 1 minute intervals of 4:30, 5:00 and then 5:30 for approximately 4K. I've never done this before so my coach will run with me to make sure I do it right.

On Wednesday it will be my last run before the race and it will be a 10K time trial doing a 5:30 pace. This will mean running the 10K in 55 minutes. It will be another case of having to slow down to meet this time goal.

The weather for the weekend looks to be amazing so I'm going to treat myself to some new running gear for the race. I've been looking into getting some CWX tights and a new racing shirt. Besides the Running Room, I like to visit a store called "Running Free" which is in Markham. The staff there are very knowledgeable and I find the selection of clothes to be amazing.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Where there's a will there's a WAY!

After having a great weather week for running, we were hit hard by a few inches of snow which made today's 16K time trial an adventure to say the least.

I had my route all picked out. I was going to do 2, 8K loops near my house which were flat and which was sure to give me the best chance to do my 16K in exactly 1:20 minutes.

After leaving my house at 8AM this morning I soon found out that the roads and sidewalks were covered in snow/ice. This made the footing terrible as I ran from the roads to the sidewalks every 100 M or so it seemed. After completing the first 8K I knew that I could not do that same loop again. I was approximately 300M behind my pace and trying to make that time up by running that same route just wasn't going to cut it.

I had two choices, one would be to cut the run short and try again tomorrow or find some alternative routes that were less snow covered. I hated the fact that I was even thinking about stopping so I quickly crossed that option off. I kept thinking about how NOT to use the elements as an excuse. What if on race day I'm confounded with this same problem? I kept saying to myself that you can't always have the elements on your side and sometmes you just have to push on through.

I ran loops around my neighborhood trying desperately to find any good footing and eventually I was able to make up the 300+ M. I finished the time trial with a few metres to spare. This was a great opportunity for me to run at a specific pace, no more no less. It was a good lesson in discipline as I found myself having to slow down at various parts of the run so I wouldn't finish ahead of my time.

After the run I was so happy that I didn't back down from the elements and pushed myself through and I feel that this is the type of run that I can look back on and draw upon during a race when I feel low on energy.

Tomorrow will be another 16K run but at a slower pace (5:20 to 5:40 pace) and then I begin to taper for Around the Bay.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Preparing for my first "Time Trial"

Today's run was an interval run which worked on my speed. I warmed up for 2K and then spent the next 5K alternating between 1 minute of sprinting (3-4min/K) and 3 minutes of recovering (5:30K). I'm really starting to enjoy these as I figured out that I should be able to run approximately 300M in 1 minute. I also realized that each light post is 50M apart so when I run these intervals, I try to run past between 5 and 6 light posts.
The rest of the run was a cool down for a total distance of 1.5K

Tomorrow I will be taking a rest day from running and will ride the stationary bike for about 1hour at a low intensity. After tomorrow things start to get real interesting with my training.

On Saturday I will be running my first ever "time trial." I will have to run 16K in exactly 1:20 minutes or a 5min K. I've run faster than that in a race but I have to hit this mark exactly so if I'm going too fast I'll have to slow it down. This will be a great test to see if I can hold an exact pace for 16K.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My running influences

There are many amazing runners that I've met since I started but some stand out more than others. This afternoon I ran into one of those runners at the grocery store. He had heard about my 1/2 Marathon time in Peterborough and made a point of congratulating me on this. I can't explain what that meant to me but I'm sure he knew as he could see the smile on my face broaden.
This runner is truly a remarkable man having completed several ultra distance events (100 mile races). I met him about 2 years ago when I started running trail races myself and he always would take the time to say hello and ask how I was doing.
I told him that I wanted to focus on trying to increase my speed while I attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon and he wished me well. He also knows my love of trail running and he is one of the organizers for an upcoming trail race in April (Seaton Trail).
I told him that as much as I would love to run that race I can't because of the Marathon in May. I told him that I would love to volunteer and we started having preliminary discussions of what I can do at the race.
I can onlyhope to achieve some of the many milestones this man has ahcieved in his running career and I thank him for inspring me to continue.
Thanks Gavin!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Making sacrfices to achieve a bigger goal!

I just finished a great tempo run this morning. After the run I had a good chat with my coach who has really helped me improve my running. We talked about pacing, what races I should or shouldn't do in order to keep my focus on the bigger prize (Mississauga Marathon).
After the Around The Bay race the temptation for me to run a race in April will be great. I like to run at least 1 race per month as it keeps me focused on my running. The trail running series that I competed in last year (Ontario Ultra Series) starts up in April with one of my favorite races, Seaton Trail 25K. This is a route that I have done many times and I love running with the people there as I feel very much part of their "family."

However, the race is only a few weeks before the Mississauga Marathon and Ken pointed out to me that I should maintain my focus on that race. In addition, there is the very real possibility of getting injured on the trails as the terrain is much different than on the road.

There are other smaller races in April which I also would like to do including the 5-Peaks races and some 5K and 10K races but I have decided to use the month of April to improve upon my speed so that when I run in May I can give it everything I have.

What I may do is volunteer at some of these races instead. This way I can still enjoy the atmosphere and watch my friends compete at the same time.

I seem to be running so much better now than I was even 1 month ago and it has plenty to do with my confidence being better, reducing some stress in my personal life and sticking to a great running plan.

While I can't wait until Around the Bay gets here, part of me will be a little sad knowing that I won't be racing again for another 6 weeks. As I'm learning though, it's all about running and training smarter.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Running with a purpose

One of my clients asked me last week what my motivation was for running. For a minute I was actually stumped and couldn't come up with an answer. She wanted to know why I run and what keeps me going during my run. She seemed to be impressed with the fact that I run so much while she is having a hard time getting started.

This is something that I have a hard time explaining to people. I run for so many different reasons. Unlike many of my friends who have said that they like the run better when it's over, I actually enjoy the running more than anything else.
There are times, like yesterday, when I completed my 31K and I felt like I could have kept running for hours.

When I'm out on the road I can reflect on so many things and I can have quiet conversations with myself. I think about some of the struggles I've had in my life and try to put a positive spin on each of these. Along the way I feel like I can "dump" so many negative thoughts on the road as I'm running. Music has really made a difference for me during my running so I pick songs that have personal meaning to me. When I run and listen to a particular song it brings me back to a time and place in my life, both good and bad, and let's me reflect on that moment. I think about how I would have done things differently. Why some people have more of an influence on me than others. How do I improve my own sel-esteem etc.

Very little of my time spent running is actually thinking about the running itself. It's something that just comes naturally to me (or so I've been told). I'm not the fastest runner around but I feel like I'm one of the most motivated and that gets me through the tough times.

When I see my client later this week I'll make sure I relay some of this to her.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A great day for a run!

Can you feel it? Spring is right around the corner and about 7 of my friends and I went out this morning to do our long slow run in preparation for the Around the Bay race which is just two weeks away.

We ventured out at 7:30 this morning, many of us still smarting from the fact that we lost an hour of sleep. The weather was a bit chilly to start and it wasn't until the last 3/4 of the run that the sun came out and we could feel the warmth. We all got a big boost of energy not having to deal with the stiff wind which was pretty strong for the first half.

I managed to run the 31K in just under a 6 min K/pace (5:53) which was my goal. As we met up for our usual coffee/tea and "social" you could tell that we were all tired. The long runs are important but as the distance increases so too does the amount of time spent running. Today's run took just over 3 hours.

Tomorrow I will probably either do a light run, ride the bike or do some weight training. After that it's back to one more week of training before I start to taper for the Around the Bay race.

I hadn't run past 25K since my last marathon in December so getting to 31 today was an important milestone. I'm confident that I will be able to run my predicted goal of 2:25 as I got a good feel for how running 30K's feels again.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Carbohydrate loading for ultra trail runners.

Those who know me best understand my passion for trail running. This season as a I try to qualify for Boston, I won't be running as many trail races as I would like.

I was asked by one of the trail runners to write an article on sports nutrition for the OUS (Ontario Ultra Series) newsletter. This month I talked about the importance of carbohydrates:

Thanks Diane for asking me to write for this newsletter. I also want to thank Angie for inspiring me to run trails and for helping me to discover this great sport of running.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Training Update

I seemed to have a better training week this week as I felt that I pushed a little too much after running the Peterborough 1/2 marathon.
I can always tell when I start to overtrain as I lose that love for running that I have so much and it starts to become more work than enjoyment.
A friend of mine and I were talking about that during our run on Wednesday. We both have different goals that we are trying to achieve but still realize that running must be FUN first which thankfully it is.
I did some speed work on Thursday which consisted of running my 5K race pace (between a 3:45 and 4:30) for 1 minute followed by 3 minutes at a comfortable pace (5:30 to 5:45). I managed to get in 8 sets of this over 5K and practiced increasing my stride length with each sprint. Usually during a race I will use short choppy strides and this works well for me but increasing the stride length will also help work different muscles in my leg.
I did some weight training this week but have decided that I will only do 1-2 days a week of this and only use high repetitions (15-20) as I do not want to increase my body weight above 155 pounds.
Ideally, I would like to enter the Mississauga Marathon at 145 pounds so that is my goal right now. With a little over 2 months to go, I should be able to hit that mark.
This weekend the temperatures are supposed to be above freezing which will make for an enjoyable 30K run on Sunday. This will be my last major run before the Around the Bay race on March 25th.
I only hope that the weather on the 25th is the same as it's going to be this weekend. I'm tired of wearing layer after layer of clothing so it will be nice to wear shorts and a shirt at that race!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My best Tempo run to date!

How crazy is this? I started out this morning by checking the weather network. It was -34C with the wind chill. I layered up and set my Garmin to training assistant. This function allows me to set particular variables and then I race against a virtual "buddy" to see if I can match or beat him. I set this to pace and distance. Today was a 10K tempo run and I wanted to see if I could beat my best pace time which was a 4:51. I last did this time about a month ago with Ken but since then I hadn't beaten that time.
When I left the house this morning I could instantly feel the chill but I was properly layered so it actually wasn't that bad.
I picked my normal route as it was relatively flat and fast.
From time to time I looked down at my garmin to see where I was and for the first 3K or so he was ahead as I had to warm up to a faster pace. After that though, my speed kicked in and before I knew it I was ahead by about 100 Meters. When I finished the run I noticed that my pace was actually 4:49 so I bettered my last tempo by a full two seconds per K.
These tempo runs are going to help give me the confindence for my upcoming races.
Now it's time to thaw........

Sunday, March 04, 2007

2:25 I'm gunning for YOU!

My next race is Around the Bay in Hamilton on March 25th and I've set a goal of 2:25 for the race. I'm energized after my 1/2 Marathon race from February 25th and I took 3 days off last week from running to rest. I incorporated some weight training and a new eating plan and I'm happy with the results so far.

This week I will be focusing heavily on trying to increase my speed and that means a tempo run on Tuesday and more speed work on Thursday. Sandwiched between those two runs will be a 12-15K run on Wednesday. Tomorrow I will be running a 10K "ME" run at whatever speed I can muster.

Today I spent the majority of the morning cheering on friends who were running in the Chilly 1/2 Marathon race in Burlington. It inspired me to see all the runners today. All my friends did a great job and I can't wait to run with them in a few weeks in Hamilton.

The Around the Bay race is one of the oldest races in North America and features some steep hills towards the end of the race. Having finished the race last year in 2:31 I feel that with the training I've done and just the experience I have gained, I should be able to hit the 2:25 mark.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A new blog about Eating Disorders

For those of you who want a little bit of an insight into the world of eating disorders, I've created a new blog about this disorder.

I'm hoping that by talking about it more openly that it will help others to realize that they are not alone.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Say it with me...resting is good!!!!

This week I've been recovering from my 1/2 marathon race from Sunday. Even though the distance for me is something that I routinely do the speed at which I did it was NOT! Tearing down the muscles from running fast requires not only physical rest but also mental rest as well.
This week I've found that I have been mentally spent and combined with a lingering cold it hasn't been the best of weeks for me. I still managed to get out for a run on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week and will run one more day before taking the weekend off.
I decided not to do any speed work this week as I wasn't feeling great and I want to make sure that I don't hurt myself before my next race at the end of March.

I actually did some weight training this week and will try to incorporate that into my training program once or twice per week.

Finally, there are a few of my clients who are running in the Chilly 1/2 Marathon in Burlington on Sunday. I wanted to wish them the very best. You both have trained hard and will reap the benefits of that training come Sunday. Good luck Phil and Kim!