Who says you can’t go home?

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of the town I grew up in.  I had some good times there, but there were some not so great times.  Once I left I realised how little it had to offer, but 12 years later I’m might just be reconciling with my home town.

Grafitti Runners?

Graffiti Runners?

I ran my first half marathon in May 2003, I ran it with my Mommy.  We trained together and if it hadn’t been for the company I never would have made it.  I remember her and I driving in large squares trying to map out 18km and 20km routes (long before “map my run” was on the scene).  Of course because we were using a car’s odometer we ended up on dreary main roads in the area, and to be honest there was really nowhere else to run.  Mommy and I grinded out many kilometers on sidewalk-less four lane roads, with cars honking at us, drivers throwing things at us and of course if it was wet, a never-ending stream of “puddle spray”.

With Dan and I now in the final stages of planning our “great escape” my running has been very sporadic, add to that living between Toronto and Newmarket, and never being sure where my running clothes are it was inevitable that I would eventually need to do a long run in Newmarket.

Thankfully things have changed a lot, and Mommy pointed me in the direction of the Tom Taylor Trail.  I decided to head out north on the trail and ran all the way to its official finish.

On the bridge at the end of the official trail, although it looks as though there are plans to carry it on.

On the bridge at the end of the official trail, although it looks as though there are plans to carry it on.

It was a lovely day for a run

It was a lovely day for a run

From there I  decided to continue on a well trodden path I spotted.  That got interesting when a) I realised I was running through a field that some of my friends and I used to go and drink in and b)  there was bloody construction.

End of the trail

End of the trail

 

Or is it?

Or is it?

I didn’t feel like going back around, so I just bush whacked along the fence to get back to the main trail.

Out I came, clearly not the first either.

Out I came, clearly not the first either.

Back on the main path I headed south, which took me past Bayview Park where all my elementary school cross-country meets took place.  It’s changed a lot but still brought a smile to my face thinking of all the fun times I had running through the muddy park.

 

They even have cute lights along the trail

They even have cute lights along the trail

 

Very creative trail distance markers.

Very creative trail distance markers.

I decided to turn around when I hit some more construction, but was able to run back up the opposite side of the river back to the exit point closest to home.  The best part of the day was yet to come when Mommy (and Dad) took Dan and I out took a new locally owned restaurant.  I always detested that we only had chain restaurants to choose from in Newmarket and was pleasantly surprised to be shown the revival of our downtown.  And most importantly, they served good beer.

At Hungry Brew Hops Pub, Main St Newmarket

At Hungry Brew Hops Pub, Main St Newmarket

Pick Your Poison 25km 2014

Dan

Every busy schedule needs some respite. In years past that rest has been in the form of breaks from running, however the past 6 months we have been more than a little preoccupied preparing for next big adventure (read www.jfdioverland.com) so running has actually become the break, the pro of this is that any long run feels like a treat, the con is that I have turned into a rolly Polly tub of lard trundling down the trails.

So with the stress of condo rental, insurance, truck mods, route planning, and what bloody social media outlet is the most engaging and interesting for people, oh and not to mention how to pack my personal gear into a 62L tote, put to one side for the weekend (well a Saturday morning) it is time for my first race of the season, Pick Your Poison.

This is how I found myself driving a motley crew of Cam, Mitch, Ben and myself to Horseshoe ——- with Geoff meeting us there. We arrived to find the hill shrouded in fog and still covered in snow, conditions obviously weren’t going to be quite as conducive to a fast run as they were last year, that combined with getting fat over a cold ass winter and all reasons/excuses for not getting a PB were in place. Now don’t be thinking that this is one of those under dog stories where at the end I triumphantly dip at the line to shave a second off last years time, I didn’t, in fact I added several hundred seconds to last year. Ok there, that is out of the way, so I can continue and any of you reading won’t have false expectations.

It was great seeing all our trail buddies coming out of hibernation, it was unfortunate that Heather had to work, however Mitch and Geoff were keeping me suitably entertained. Mitch had decided to throw down the gauntlet and declare that he would be pipping Geoff to the finish on this day, Mitch is an aspiring ultra runner, where Geoff is much more of an ultra veteran, still I thought this may be an entertaining dual as Mitch has been training hard in preparation for Sulpher 50k his first ultra. Geoff was a little taken a back by the challenge but more than happy to take up this whipper snappers challenge.

The race started at pretty gentle pace, the trails certainly were going to be challenging. I got to catch up with a few more friends on that first loop. Just after the first aid station I decided to look back and see how the Mitch-Geoff battle was shaping up, I saw Geoff was a minute or so behind me so I waited for him to catch up, we chatted for a while and established that Mitch was just behind. Mitch caught up and we cruised together for a while with me chastising Geoff for his decision to sign up for a Tough Mudder. Near the end of the first lap I pulled away from the boys on some long up hills.

At the start of the second loop I was going to wait for the guys and run some more with them and watch their battle unfold, but at the first aid station I got talking to a girl I had been running just behind during loop 1, and we ran together for half of that second loop having a good old natter so time just flew by. The only slight hiccup of our time running together came when we were taking about work life balance, as the word balance left her lips she tripped and hit the deck hard, fortunately the irony did not escape her and we had a good laugh about it after she had dusted herself down. I had put some distance between myself and the boys but had been able to catch glimpses of them as the trails switched back and forth. I saw that Geoff had built a lead over Mitch but couldn’t really tell by how much.

The trails were enormous fun, I actually really enjoyed all the slipping and sliding, then to cap off a great race I got lapped by a 50k runner a couple of minutes from the finish, not normally a bonus, but it was Simon Donato from the TV show Boundless, we had a brief chat and I was a little star struck.

I happily collected my socks and settled in to wait for the boys battle to pan out. To my surprise Geoff game blasting in just a few mins later, he must have turned on the afterburners in the later half of that last lap. Mitch came in not too long after, but I made sure to be fully changed for when he did just to psych him out, young grasshopper needs the odd slap down. Mitch was delighted however this was only his second time running this distance on the trails and he had taken the better part of an hour off his previous time.

The rest of the morning was spent chowing down on the awesome post race food, and waiting for our 50k friends to finish up.  Shout out to Melanie who took third female in the 50k.

The only low point of the day was the near 3 hours it took to drive home.

Only two more races before we head out on our big trip.

www.jfdioverland.com

The Dangers of Drinking and Running

Dan

Well I suppose it would be remiss of me not to post on the latest running mishap. This time it wasn’t even Heather damaging herself it was yours truly.

Last Thursdays training run was a run of two parts, the first part of the run was a brisk 10k followed by a couple of pints and plate of nachos with Heather and Cam. Part one was very pleasant, part two not so much. Heather and I bid farewell to Cam and started our run home.  Barley 500m later I managed a very public trip and nose dive into a flower bed whilst trying to dodge pedestrians.  A little shaken I got to my feet, quick system check, hmm a little dirty, little shocked all seems ok, oh hang on did I always have that hole in my leg?  On rapid reflection I concluded that this was a new hole indeed.  Heather was great making sure I wasn’t more broken and suggesting I also clean my face up a little as it seemed to be disturbing passers by.  At this stage my options seemed to be; feel sorry for myself and catch the subway home or run the last 5k of my run, obviously I chose the latter which elicited strange looks from people, fair considering the blood running down my shin.

Before

Before

Now when I am not moaning about an injury it is bad news.  If I am moaning typically I am just being a wuss, however if I get all stoic then we may have something of an issue.  We had an issue, Heather attempted to clean out the wound but as she did he realized it was both dirtier and deeper than our home first aid kit was able to handle, despite my efforts to dig bark mulch out of the gash with a Q-tip (eventually this resulted in me feeling kinda woozy).   So this was to be my first trip to a Canadian accident and emergency (they just call it Emergency here).  The Doc did a great job of cleaning me up, and I ended up with 4 stitches. During the stitching and cleaning I chatted to the doctor about running and up coming races, which I think was good because he didn’t say I wasn’t allowed to run.  I think he knew that I was not going to abide by this even he did say it, instead he simply told me to stick a band-aid over it and keep it clean.

After

After

The next day my leg was stiff and I was hobbling a bit, decided to skip the MEC 10k I had planned for Saturday and rest up ready for my birthday run. Heather however still ran the race and set herself a new 10k pb.

You will all be pleased to know that I am whingeing and complaining about my leg – I must be in the mend.

This and That

Where has the time gone?  Hard to believe that it’s been over a month since Sulphur.  We’ve been busy, somehow that always seems to happen in the summer, so here is a quick update.

1. It took me 10 whole days of rest before I could run after Sulphur.  I might have been able to try sooner but I didn’t want to push anything and I’m happy I took the rest.  I only lost one toe nail even though right after the race it looked more like I was going to lose whole toes.  After the swelling went down in my feet and ankles I noticed a small lump on the tendon running up from ankle.  Working in health care has its perks.

Sagittal view. The black oval shouldn't be there.

Sagittal view. The black oval shouldn’t be there.

Axial view.  My lovely tendon, with a cyst on top.

Transverse view. My lovely tendon, with a cyst on top.

Turns out it’s just a ganglion cyst.  It most likely developed from the tongue of my shoe rubbing my ankle.  I remember my tongue bugging me and telling Dan about it but I don’t think we did anything to fix it, so now I will wait and see if it goes away.  On the plus side it doesn’t hurt anymore.

2. Dan and I explored some new trails at Rattlesnake Point.  I like running here, lot’s of ups and down and more technical than what we usually run on.

A flat bit, finally.

A flat bit, finally.

There is a big rock.

There is a big rock.

3. Saw some wildlife.

A butterfly

A butterfly

This turtle was laying eggs in the driveway at the cottage.  Not the smartest place.

This turtle was laying eggs in the driveway at the cottage. Not the smartest place.

4.  Took a newbie out on the trails, cousin Alex, Dan tried to kill him and I chicked him.  We are such fun people to run with!

Good thing we took the photo before we ran.

Good thing we took the photo before we ran.

5. Dan’s parents arrived from England for a visit and their first half marathon at the Niagara Ultra.  Dan ran the 50km, and I dropped down to the half so I could keep my mother in law company and throw water on her head.  Turned out to be a pretty hot and humid day, something that in-laws had not been used to running in (ever apparently), so the heat caused some havoc for them but they soldiered on.

At the start of their fist half marathon

At the start of their fist half marathon

Mummy-in-law at the turn around.

Mummy-in-law at the turn around.

Dan returning from his hot 50km

Dan returning from his hot 50km

A family of medal hoarders

A family of medal hoarders

6.  Dan and I ran to the Bleasdell Boulder.  Dan has passed the sign for the boulder for the last 7 years and decided he just had to see it, I’ve passed that sign my whole life and have never been all that fussed.  Now we can both say we’ve seen the large erratic.

It's not small.

It’s not small.

It was Canada Day that weekend so we stopped to look at some decorations in Batawa on route to the boulder.

Batawa dressed up for Canada Day.

Batawa dressed up for Canada Day.

There may have been a beer mile and a fastpacking adventure in there too, but I’m hoping to get my act together and write more detailed posts about those.  Next up is Limberlost this weekend, I can’t wait for a hot 56km on my favourite 14km loop.

“What does the other guy look like?”

“What does the other guy look like?” is a question I have been asked over the last few days.  It always takes me by surprise.  Although I do get some pleasure watching people try to hide their disappointment in my answer.  Don’t worry I didn’t break my face again.

I didn't punch anyone, I promise.

I didn’t punch anyone, I promise.

This was taken the day of the incident, today the wounds have scabbed over nicely and are a nice dark red.  But I think if I’d punched someone the wounds would be on or closer to my knuckles.  Anyway no fighting for this girl and I have no idea how this happened, but it happened at the same time as this;

Road rash

Road rash

Road rash and a bruise, how lucky can a girl get?!

Road rash and a bruise, how lucky can a girl get?!

Again these pics were taken last Friday (5 days ago), somehow the wounds look worse now, but I’m too lazy to take any new pictures (it’s just too sad for me).  So obviously I didn’t get these marks from being in a fight, nope, graceful being that I am, I fell. On pavement.  While running sort of fast.  At kilometer 14 of a 38km run I hit the deck hard.  Of course there were witnesses, nobody laughed, at least not to my face.  I still have no idea what happened, one minute I was chugging along enjoying my run and the next I was looking up at the sky.  The lady whose car I fell next to just happened to be getting ready to vacate her parking space, I think I scared her a little, she came rushing over offering to call 911.  That freaked me out because I actually felt okay but she thought I needed an ambulance, was there something wrong that I couldn’t see?  I did a quick check and decided that I did not need an ambulance and asked her to hold off.  I used the fire hydrant that I was beside me to pull myself up (I guess I was lucky I didn’t somehow impale myself on that), had the full on “Bambi legs” thing going on but managed to get myself to a small retaining wall at the end of someone’s yard.  There I sat and decided that I was in fact okay just a little shaken up.  With that, the Good Samaritan left (I think she really wanted to call 911) and I set about cleaning myself up.  I wasn’t a Girl Guide for long but I do like their motto “be prepared”, so I always run with some wet wipes in my pack and a small tub of vaseline.  With that I wiped up the blood and all the other crud that gets on you when you roll around on the sidewalk, then dabbed with the vaseline to stem the bleeding and tried to decide what to do.  I also always carry a transit token with me and realised that if I walk about 300m I’d be at a bus stop that would get me to the subway and take me home, but it was so nice out, and I still had 24km to run, and it was so sunny, a perfect long run day.

So I did what any sane and rational person would do and walked to the bus stop, but I couldn’t see a bus coming.  So then I decided I would run to the nearest subway station but gently. By the time I got there I was feeling pretty good, so I finished my run.  Did I mention it was really nice out?

 

DC Marathon Race Report

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

Last Saturday Dan and I ran the Rock n Roll DC Marathon.  We decided to use the race as a supported training run and weekend city break.  Having never been to Washington DC I thought it would be a great way to tour the city.

We went from the airport straight to packet pickup, the expo was chaotic, but I was impressed by how quickly we managed to get our bibs and gear check tags, we also got the chance to figure out the metro system to get back to our hotel.  I was a little nervous about the race as I really don’t like big marathons, there was 30000 people registered, this included the half-marathoners, the course layout had us all run to together for 12 miles before the marathoners would split off.  Unsurprisingly I didn’t sleep well the night before despite this being a training run (and to be fair every time I say I’m going to use a race as a training run I always end up racing it), so I had my typical pre-race grumpiness going on during our walk to the start line.  Once there we were met by hoards of people which did not help my mood.  Bag check was disorganized and took way too long, once we found our start coral we queued for the 6 porta potties provided (for 1000 people) so we ended up not using the bathroom before we started (to be honest I didn’t really need to go, it’s a psychological thing to use it before you start a four hour run).  There were a lot of distressed people freaking out about missing their start times, I was happy that we weren’t concerned with our finishing time.  By the time we advanced to the official start, it was getting light and I was starting to get excited.

The start line.

The start line.

Off we went on our tour of DC.

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

There was a lot to see, so I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of everything.  About 30 seconds after we passed the monument Dan told me we would have to stop at the next bathroom because he really did need to pee.  So 2km we stopped, for 7 minutes to wait for the bathroom.  Luckily it was right by a pretty good band that turned pop songs into punk songs.

Picture of the band while I waited for Dan.

Picture of the band while I waited for Dan.

Next we almost entered Virginia via the bridge that leads to Arlington National Cemetery but we just went around the round about.  This race prides itself on being run within the DC limits.

Bridge to Arlington

Bridge to Arlington

There was also the Lincoln Memorial from the back.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Then we approached the “big” hill at mile 6, I like hills and was disappointed at how not big it was.

I don't know if it has a special name like the one in Boston, but there were a lot of people cursing it.

I don’t know if it has a special name like the one in Boston, but there were a lot of people cursing it.

After the climb we ran through some very cute neighbourhoods, very English looking at times.  We both commented on how well received and supported this race was, there were spectators all along the course.  I especially enjoyed going by the fraternity houses and guessing who hadn’t gone to bed yet.  They were troopers, offering beers and good cheer.  Then suddenly we were headed back to the centre.

Capitol Hill (we actually ran by this numerous times.)

Capitol Hill (we actually ran by this numerous times.)

Then we split from the 25000 half marathoners and carried on our way.  This building reminded me of the one from Back to the Future movie.

The scene with the clock and the car...it's been awhile since I've seen it.

The scene with the clock and the car…it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it.

Then I spotted something familiar.

The Canadian Flag

The Canadian Flag

Out of all the beautiful buildings in Washington, our embassy seems to be in the least inspiring.

Nice sentiment, ugly building.

Nice sentiment, ugly building.

After running a weird loop de loop, we ended up  by the water.

Lovely river running.

Lovely river running.

Then things got a bit ghetto, like for real.  Houses were boarded up, no one was around, and I’m pretty sure if something happened to you nobody would every find your body.

One of the numerous sketchy yards we passed.

One of the numerous sketchy yards we passed.

It didn’t help that we both had some rough patches along this stretch, but eventually things picked up.

Some energetic cheerleaders.

Some energetic cheerleaders.

The road finally turned towards the finish, of course it was uphill and around a bend, I saw a bunch of advertising flags and thought that was the finish but no we had turn a sharp corner and then we were done.

The medal.

The medal.

I was annoyed because all the half marathoners drank the free chocolate milk, I really like chocolate milk.  There was beer left though.

Free "ultra" beer.

Free “ultra” beer.

It wasn’t milk, I didn’t finish mine and Dan wouldn’t finish mine which mean this beer is gross.

All in all our race went well, I didn’t race and we came in at 4:19:48, just over Dan’s marathon PB (if only he hadn’t needed to pee!).  I would recommend the half course to everyone the marathon course was a bit meh.  It was obvious that the race directors put more effort into putting on an amazing half marathon over the full.  We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and checking out some of the sights that we missed.

We saw someone returning from a run while standing there, we have decided it was the President.

We saw someone returning from a run while standing there, we have decided it was the President.

Reflecting Pool

Reflecting Pool

With Great Age Comes Great Distance

DAN

Last year I started what I hope to be a life long tradition, on my birthday I ran 1 km for every year I have been shuffling around this mortal coil. To my amazement plenty of great friends and family showed up to celebrate with me.

This last week I had a Facebook message from Heather’s cousin Dan (don’t even get me started with the number of Dan’s in the family) asking if I was doing it again this year and if I had any suggestions how to train for the full distance. My initial reactions was “easy tiger it is months away” and “what business do I have telling people how to train?”  Then I got to thinking, typically training plans range from 8 all the way up to 24 weeks depending on the distance  you want to run, the longer the distance the more base mileage they expect the runner to have.   Hmmm could I build training plans for each of the distances I planned to offer?!!

Challenge accepted, so with a combination of my own knowledge and the Google machine I set to work this snowy afternoon digging through other people’s programs. Very much a Goldilocks paradigm, this plan is too hard, this plan is too easy, this plan is too speed focused, so after a couple of hours of tweaking I think I have come up with a few plans that are just right.

The plans will be inserted in this post somehow (editor Heather will be taking care of such technical matters).

35km Plan

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 6.08.36 PM

21km Plan

21km

10km Plan

10km

5km Plan

5km

Exercise and living well has come to mean a lot to me.  I have always struggled with my weight and know that diet alone, at least not one I would be happy to eat is enough to make me or in my humble opinion any of us “healthy”.  We put a lot of stock in being thin, but if you can’t run around the block or carry heavy grocery bags up a few flights of stairs, all you have done is achieved an aesthetic, which is nice but a little hollow and not overly useful. Cousin Dan’s wife actually wrote a great blog recently along these lines, specifically on her clients primary goals of just being thin rather than fit  which you can read by clicking here.

Pardon my digression. I would love for all of you to join me on my birthday for a run, the distances will be 5km, 10km, 21km and 35km (I know I really don’t look it). Now granted you don’t all live near me or in many cases on the same continent however it would be a great birthday gift to me and a pretty awesome gift to yourselves if on July 28th you get out there and run!!!

I may regret this later but I am also going to offer up my services as your coach, so feel free to ask me questions about the training plans, nutrition and even lube and I will do my very best to answer them all, any sports bra questions however I may have to defer to Heather.  So what do you say, are you up for it?

Now just to make this blog a little prettier here are some pictures about how not to go train in knee high snow….

Winter wonderland!

Winter wonderland!

The downhills were fun, no fear of falling.

The downhills were fun, no fear of falling.

Be careful where you step our you will end up with a frozen foot.

Be careful where you step or you will end up with a frozen foot.

The picture I hope they will use when they find our frozen corpses in a thaw.

The picture I hoped they would use when they find our frozen corpses in a thaw.