Friday, September 25, 2015

Now what?

It’s been 2 weeks since I ran the Maritime Race Weekend Half-Marathon. What have I done since then?….. almost nothing! A friend came over last Friday so that we could run together. It didn’t go well. My hip hurt, my foot hurt and I was out of breath almost before we started. We lasted 2 km, with some walking in there, before we threw in the towel and went for a 40 minute walk instead. The walk was great and really helped to stretch things out.

And that is my problem. I haven’t been stretching things out. I haven’t even been walking, let alone running. Sure, I have some pretty great reasons excuses that have kept me pretty sedentary. Hilary is going through daily radiation and weekly chemo appointments. We are at the hospital anywhere from 1 to 6 hours each day. My work has been great and lets me be flexible with my time so that I can drive her and stay with her for the appointments, but it means that I’m logging into work at 6:30 most mornings and sometimes I’m still online till bedtime. We also have the back to school and homework routine that we are trying to get used to. Mostly, I’m just too tired to even consider heading outside. If I have 30 minutes that I could use, I’d rather be sitting on the couch or surfing the web for some mindless down time. And I wouldn’t change any of it right now. My priority is my family. Yes, I need to take care of me, and I do, just not by running.

And yet in less than 10 days I’m signed up to run not one, but TWO 5k races. One Saturday and one Sunday. They are 2 of my favorite 5ks – the CIBC Run for the Cure and the NS Lung Run out at the airport. I have no expectations of setting any PBs for these races. Heck, if I run more then I walk I’ll be happy.

We have no plans this weekend. No appointments, no specific times that we have to be somewhere, no work and the weather is perfect. So I WILL get out this weekend and run. I will do my best to stretch things out and limber up so that I don’t end up injured next weekend.

After that? I have a virtual run on Halloween and then no other running plans. I’m going to have my gallbladder removed at the beginning of November on top of everything else. It’s a simply day surgery procedure with a pretty quick recovery time, but I’m not sure when/how I’ll get back to running once that is done. There is also the possibility of going back to TaeKwon-Do at some point. For now, I’m not making any concrete plans, but just taking life one day at a time.

And when I think I can’t do it, I’m going to look at this picture of me from the marathon and remind myself that I CAN do it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Maritime Race Weekend - Half Marathon

18 weeks
118 days
56 training sessions
321.5 km
55 hours

That is what it took to get me ready to run my first half marathon. Many bloggers are able to recap their race kilometer by kilometer.  For me, it's not quite all a blur, but there is no way that I can remember what happened at km 2 vs. km 12.  

What I do remember is that the locals from Eastern Passage were amazing.  Nearly 3000 people over took them for 2 days and all they did is offer their support.  With cheering, impromptu water stops and and amazing signs.

I also remember the hills.  OMG the hills.  Hilary and I had gone out and driven the course the week before, but the perspective of a hill is much different when you approach it on foot after having already run for 2 hours, then it is when you drive up it in a car.  One water station was strategically placed half way up a hill and had bunches of kids who ran down to meet me and "helped" me up the hill.  And yes, having a 4 year old run circles around me really did help.

The weather turned out to be perfect.  During the night we had a huge rain storm, and they had been calling for rain all day Saturday.  The rain finished up by 6:00 AM, but the day stayed cloudy and overcast with some fog along the coast.  It was cool, with a great breeze coming off the water.  Perfect conditions, especially after the past few weeks of heat and humidity.

What I remember most is finishing.  As I came around the corner and into the village, the very first person I saw was Hilary.  And with less then 500 feet to go, I burst out crying. Ugly, sobbing, bone wracking crying.  Except that I still had to keep running.  Luckily the end of the course snaked through the village and I had a few seconds to pull myself together before I rounded the final bend and was met with the crowds at the finish line.  I wasn't actually "together" but I was able to breath enough to keep going.  The next thing I knew, with 100 feet left to go and barely any strength left, a running friend came out of the crowd and ran with me to the finish line, shouting and cheering the whole way.  Add to that the race announcer telling everyone that this was my first half and seeing Hilary in front of me..... well, the ugly crying was back pretty quick. I was barely able to hold it together long enough for my friend Mickie (Cap'n Shin Splints) to give me my medal.

After getting my medals (yes two - one for finishing on Saturday, and one because I completed the "Tartan-Twosome" which is running the 5k Friday night and then running again on Saturday), I got to ring the Captain's Bell.  Which of of course brought on more crying.

My goal had been a) to finish and b) to try and finish in under 4 hours.  And I was able to.  My final time was 03:47:00, which is a pace of 10:49/km.

I am a half-marathoner!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My first running award

A lot of races offer running awards.  They might be for the fastest male/female finisher, top 3 overall, or the fastest in each age category.

I run for me, not to be first or the fastest.  I have no expectation of ever being first and winning any type of award.  In fact, my experience is that I'm more likely to come in last.

Shortly after that blog post went up, I got this email:

 Hi Andy
Thanks for joining us at the Natal Day race on Monday. I really enjoyed you Blog post and I think we'll make it a regular practice to recognize the last finisher with an award. I've set aside an Award Mug for you. Will you be at any upcoming races? I'm at many of them myself.
Dave Nevitt
Race Director

That was such an amazing email to get.  The running community is so supportive, no matter what your level of running.  Things like this is what keeps people like me, the slow ones who don't win the races, going back to race after race.

I was able to meet up with Dave today and now I have a new favorite mug that means more to me than any award I could ever win.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

August Running Review

August 2015 
Ran 4 times for 11.5 km. Longest run 3.75 km

August 2014
Ran 13 times for 104 km. Longest run 18.5 km

August Review

August was HOT.  I'm glad I got most of my mileage in, having lost some running time to vacation and weather.  I had 1 race in August, where I came in last and it was okay. I also dealt with heat exhaustion for the first time, so overall August was a pretty interesting month.  I'm very happy that the cooler fall weather is starting.

September  Goals

Run and finish my first half-marathon on September 12th

September plans

My plans for September are pretty simple.  Some short runs over the next 10 days, run the Sunset 5k on September 11th and then run the Sunrise half-Marathon on September 12th.  We'll see how I feel after that!

11 days till the Maritime Race Weekend Half Marathon!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Too Hot

Today I had my first heat related running issue. Because of the lightning I didn't head out till almost 10:00. The humidity was awful. Luckily I passed a splash pad twice that I was able to cool off with. I ran out of water so stopped at a gas station to get more. 

Once home and in the shower I was panting and couldn't stand up so I just sat under the cool spray for 20 minutes. I drank more water while I sat on the couch but ended up throwing it all up. I feel fine now but have no desire to eat anything even though all I've had is a piece of toast before my run.  

I am very much looking forward to cooler weather 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Running on Vacation

With less then 6 weeks to go before my first half marathon, I knew that I couldn't let vacation derail my training. The problem was going to be that my 10 day  vacation was going to include 4 travel days. Planning was key.

I knew that Mom had a built in running path on the farm, leading to the cabin. Each way was just under 1 km, so doing the trip twice would be good for my regular runs.  I got up early the first day I arrived and headed out. I'm used to running on sidewalks so the long, wet grass presented a challenge. Also trying not to trip on fallen apples, twigs and rocks made for a slower run. 

The next day we drove 6 hours to Gatineau to visit family. As luck would have it my Aunt lives right next to a beautiful National Park with beautiful trails.  

I still needed to get in my long run - 16km. Before leaving I had mapped out an easy route of streets I was familiar with.  The only thing I hadn't accounted for was construction and the lack of sidewalks. So I had to borrow Mom's van and map out a new route that I could hopefully remember. 

My first attempt at my long run was cancelled after only 7 minutes because of lightening.  I headed out at 6:15 the next morning in the hopes of beating the heat.
My run lasted 2:30 hours and was only very hot for the last 30 minutes.  The run ended up being just under 15km, but I just didn't have Irvin me to go any further so I walked the last kilometre. 

So training is still on track. And only 25 days to go!! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

10 reasons it's okay to be last

I ran the 6 miler Dartmouth Natal Day Road Race today.  It's a 2 mile course that you loop 3 times and has some nasty hills in it, including the last 200 meters to the finish line, which by that point is your third time going up the stinking thing.

Along with the hills, it was a pretty hot day out, hitting 25° C by the start of the race, with no breeze and very little shade.  I knew that it was going to be a struggle, and I joked about being last, not thinking that I would actually be last.  Not only was I last, I finished 8 minutes after the runner before me, who I hadn't seen since the starting line up.   This race attracts a lot of fast runners, and the winner today finished the 6 miles in a speedy 30 minutes.  I finished in 01:35:08.

I eventually figured out that being last is not the worst thing, even though it sort of felt like it at first.

 Here are 10 reasons that made it okay to be last today.

  1. I got a personalized escort from the route marshal on her bike.
  2. All the people that were lining up for the parade that starts after the race become my personal cheering section.
  3. Getting cooled down by the guy watching the race from his front yard who had his sprinkler out to let runners cool of in a spray of water as they went by.
  4. Having all the water to myself at the last water stop.
  5. Having amazing friends who waited more then 40 minutes after they finished the race to cheer me on at the end.
  6. Having the announcer and time keepers wait for me to finish so that they could encourage me up the last hill and through the finisher's chute.
  7. Having an amazing and supportive spouse who talked me down of the ledge when I burst into tears when I get home.
  8. Even though I took walking breaks, I kept moving and ran more than I walked. 
  9. Finding out when I entered my time and the route into MapMyRun, that I actually ran faster than my last 5 training runs.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

July Review

July 2015 
Ran 13 times for 77 km. Longest run 13km

June 2014
Ran 3 times for 7 km. Longest run 3km

July Review
Once again I didn't quite reach my goal of 15 runs and 90k.  We had a lot going on in July, dealing with some big family news.  While I love running because it gives me time alone with my thoughts to try to work through things, it doesn't always jive with getting through the day and everything that needs to be done.  I was able to get all my long runs in, so I'm feeling good overall about my training.

August  Goals

Run 13 times for 114 km. Longest run 18 km

August plans

I have one race planned for August - The Natal Day 6 mile Road Race.  August is going to be a tricky month to get in all of my training.  I leave for vacation on August 6th and don't get home till August 16th.  During the trip we are taking a mini-trip, which will involve 2 days in the car, and then 3 days visiting family I haven't seen in 25 years.  I still plan on getting in some runs while I'm away, including 1 long run of 16 km, but I will miss out on my 15 km long run.

42 days till the Maritime Race Weekend Half Marathon!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Safety First

Since I run with minimal gear - just a watch, some tunes and water on a long run, I worry about not having any ID on me.  If anything were to ever happen, I don't even have a phone that someone could scroll through a list of contacts and find the number for "home" or "mom".

So I was very happy to come across the Road ID website.  This isn't a sponsored post, I ordered their product and am very pleased with it!  They also have some pretty awesome customer service.

I decided to get an ankle id, and bought a second band, in case the pink ever clashed with my running clothes.  Because, yeah, that's important to me....  The second band will come in handy when the first one is gross and sweaty and needs to be washed!

I love that you can choose anything to engrave on the ID.   Because we live in a heteronormative world (yay me for using a new word I only learned a few weeks ago) it was important to me to list Hilary as my spouse.  It cuts down on the questions and blank stares, especially if I were unconscious on the side of the road.

I was also able to add "DETERMINED", a word I turn too when I feel that I just can't keep going.

If you run alone, please make sure to be safe and to carry ID with you.  No one likes to think of worse case scenarios, but it's so much better to know you are prepared for them - then you don't have to think about them any more.

If you are interested in ordering one for yourself, please use this link - Road ID will credit me $10 for every knew customer that I refer and I will be putting any referral money I get towards a Road ID bracelet for a prize at next year's Ocean Breeze Trail Run.

Run safe everyone!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I love hills. Said no runner ever.

I was recently looking over the route for the Maritime Race Weekend half marathon. (Which is in 51 days by the way!) The route is mostly flat, but has 3 uphill sections – at KMs 3, 7 and 16. Because the route is partly an out-and-back, I at least get to run downhill for the last 3 km! The highest elevation is 40m - I have no idea what that means, but it looks bad on the elevation graph.


So I've decided to add in some hill training to my regular routine.  There is a hill behind Liam's school that is steep, but not too long.  I get an easy 1km warm up on my way to the hill and then my plan is to run up it then walk back down to recover and repeat.  The first time I tried it I only made it up the hill twice, before almost throwing up on my shoes.  It took me 3 weeks before I was brave enough to try it again.  This time I made it up 4 times before deciding that I couldn't do it again.

When I plugged this hill into MapMyRun to find out the elevation, I was a bit concerned to find out it's only 33m, so not as high as what I'll be doing during the half.  But I figure the climb on the actual route is a bit more gradual before it gets to the peak (except maybe that first bump....) and I won't be repeating it over and over again. So even though my training hill isn't AS steep, I still think it's a good place to start, especially since I have avoided hills like the plague for the past three years.

elevation of my training hill, repeated 4 times

The picture doesn't really do the hill justice, but that sucker is steep!

One day I'll run up this hill without even thinking about it.  Till then, I keep training.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Poor man's GPS

I have several  routes plotted out that I run on a regular basis in my neighbourhood.  Now that my long runs are getting longer, I really have to work harder to figure out my routes.  I don't have a fancy running watch that could tell me how far I've gone. And I don't have a phone with GPS. I run with a watch that has a timer and my IPod Touch to listen to music. 

My usual approach is to plan my route before I leave, using Map My Run. The problem I have now is that in order to keep increasing my mileage in a fairly small city, I need to add more tuns and side streets. By the time I've run over an hour don't have the mental skills left to keep track of when and where in supposed to turn.  

So today I tried a new approach. Hilary penned the names of key streets on my arm with a Sharpie.

And it worked like a charm!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Stand in the place where you live
Now face North
Think about direction
Wonder why you haven't before
Now stand in the place where you work
Now face West
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven't before
R.E.M. “Stand”

For more than 20 years I have had jobs that require me to sit and work at a computer for 8 hours a day. While I often walked at least part of the way to work, the majority of my day, even at home in the evenings, has been spent sitting down. This past February I slipped on the ice during our winter of doom and twisted my knee. What should have been a simple injury, healing up after a few days of rest, is still bothering me 5 months later.

But only when I sit down.

There is something about the angle of my knee when I sit that aggravates the pain in my knee cap. I can walk, run or stand for hours without any issue, but if I sit for more than 10 minutes, the pain begins. It’s not excruciating or unbearable, just annoying*.

This has obviously become a problem at work, but one that I have been able to solve with some improvisation!

With the help of an empty box, an upside down flower pot and a box of staples, I have turned my desk into a standing desk. I don’t think I would win any ergonomic awards, but it works for me. I still have my chair so that if I want to sit for lunch, or just to take a quick break I can. And if I have days where my knee isn’t bothering me and I want to sit for longer periods of time, I can simply move the box aside and I have a sitting desk again. I bought myself a mat to stand on, because I did find my feet were getting sore.

It might be unconventional, but it’s a lot cheaper than the real standing desks you can buy and they only accommodate a single monitor, not the 3 I use at work.

*Don’t worry, I’m not just ignoring the knee pain. I’ve been doing a series of stretches and strengthening exercises that have really been helping.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Good Morning

Yesterday when I got in the car after work, the temperature registered at 34° C. By the time I drove home it had only dropped to 28°C. It was pretty easy to come to the conclusion that I was not going to be running last night. I don’t do well in the heat, and after a full day’s work and my on-going sleeping issues, it was not a good idea to lace up and head out.

And yet, I can’t just stop running because it’s too hot. I already did that this past winter because it was too cold. Okay, it wasn’t actually the cold, but the ice and the snow being 10 feet deep ... But still.

So today I became a morning runner.

In the 3 years that I’ve been running, I’ve only ever gone out once in the early hours of the day. That was in November of 2013 and all I remember is that it was still dark out. Running in the morning in July is so much better! The sun was coming up, but it was still cool – an acceptable 16° C. I set my alarm 20 minutes earlier than normal and I was out the door by 6:20. I ran a short run of 3k. I need to ease into getting up even earlier so that I can run longer distances. I still had time to sit with a cup of coffee before my shower and I was only 5 minutes later getting to work then when I normally arrive.

I do need to work out what I should eat before running first thing after waking up – this morning I had a small glass of orange juice and a banana. For a 3K run, this was perfect, but I am going to need something more substantial, but easily digestible, if I’m running longer.

I already go to bed ridiculously early, so I don’t think that will change. Getting up earlier will certainly be a challenge at first, but I think I will quickly settle into a new routine

Overall, I’m just seeing the upsides to running in the morning – cooler weather, more time in the evening with family, energized to start the day. I’m looking forward to doing the rest of my training this summer in the early hours of the day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June Review

June 2015 
Ran 12 times for 65.2 km. Longest run 9k
+2 Learn To Run sessions that didn’t involve tracking distance
Ran 2 races – Police Chase June 14; Ocean Breeze June 20

June 2014
Ran 6 times for 32.74 km. Longest run 10k

June Review

I didn't quite meet my June goals of running 15 times for 75 km, but I did meet my longest run goal.  I had a lot of fun at both races, even if my time wasn't what I wanted it to be.  I'm still happy with the month overall, especially since we has so many end of school year activities scheduled that I worked around.  I did end the month with my first attempt at running up a hill just for the sake of running up a hill.  There is a nice short but steep hill behind Liam's school that is going to be my "hill" run.  I made it up twice without walking.  I almost threw up on the second attempt, which is why I only did it twice on my first time out.

July Goals

Run 15 times for 90 km. Longest run 13k

July plans

I have no races planned for July.  My focus is going to be to keep increasing my mileage for my long runs and doing more hill/speed work during the week.  I won't get faster if I don't run fast.  And my goal  this week is to conquer the steep hill 3 times. - hopefully without throwing up!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ocean Breeze Recap

Normally I like to write up my race recaps on the day of the race.  It’s all fresh in my mind and easy to put into word.  Except the Ocean Breeze this year.  I’ve really been struggling with writing this one up.  For one thing, this is the first race where I didn’t take a single picture.  Since this race is put on by Liam’s school and I’m on the race committee, I spent a lot of time before and after the actual race helping out – getting runners their kits and timers, marshalling for the kids run and the 5k walk – so I didn’t bother with pictures.

But the main reason is that I’m so very disappointed in my time.  This was my slowest 5k yet.  It seems that the more I train and the more I run, the slower I get. 

I have lots of excuses – lack of sleep, busy all morning volunteering before the race, poor breakfast choice, it was hot….. but really, they just come down to excuses.

My focus now is to get over myself, and just keep running.  Even if I'm slow, I'm still moving.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Halifax Police Chase 5k

I ran the 5k Halifax Police Chase this morning.  It's a great fundraiser for Special Olympics Nova Scotia.  This was a fun, non-timed race with a great twist.  The police officers got a head start from the runners and we had to "catch" them.  If you caught up to a cop you got a "ticket" that you could enter in a draw at the end of the race.  I managed to get 5 tickets during my run.

It was a great turnout and beautiful weather.  It was cool and overcast before we started and everyone was getting cold.  There was a collective sigh from hundreds of people when the clouds parted and the sun came out.

I did get thrown into the mobile jail for awhile, but a nice officer eventually let me out. 

At the finish line I was presented my medal by one of the Special Olympic athletes.  The medals are pretty awesome!  There is a button and battery on the back so that the lights on the police car flash red and blue.

Monday, June 1, 2015

May Running Update


May 2015 
Ran 11 times for 50.3 km. Longest run 7k
+ 5 Learn To Run sessions that didn’t involve tracking distance
Ran 1 race – NS Lung Run May 2nd

May 2014
Ran 11 times for 55.34 km. Longest run 9k

May Review

In May 2014 I was training for my first 10k on June 14 so it makes sense that my longer runs were longer. I’m only 3 weeks into my half-marathon training and my distance is only planned for 6k on my long runs right now.

The weather was near perfect in May. Not too hot and NO ICE! I did have a hard run on the one day that was 25°C. I need to remember to better hydrate before I run and to carry water with me when it is hot out.

I missed skipped my long run this past weekend. My knee was bothering me from having sat on horrible bleachers for 2 hours at Monster Truck Jam (which was awesome and worth it) and it was pouring rain and cold out. Normally I don’t mind running in the rain, but the cold and limping around on a bum knee didn’t seem like the best time to head out and run 6k. So I nursed my knee with an analgesic rub and a heating pad.  I will make up the long run one night this week.

June Goals
Run 15 times for 75 km. Longest run 9k
+ 2 Learn to Run Sessions
Run 2 5k Races

June plans

There are 2 Learn to Run sessions left in June. Our trainer Rakel has been away for the past 3 sessions, so it will be great to get in 2 more sessions with her. My plans for June are to include some of the tips and techniques that Rakel has taught us, including doing more regular speed work sessions. Soon I need to add hill run sessions too, but one thing at a time.

I have signed up for two 5k races this month – the Police Chase on June 14 and of course the Ocean Breeze on June 20th. While I did the 10k for the Ocean Breeze last year, I decided to stick with the 5k this year. I think I was slightly traumatized by the weather and the hills last year! My half-marathon training plan doesn’t have me running 10k till the first week of July also, so I’m not going to push things to early.

I'm looking forward to some great runs in June, I don't have any plans to PR at either races, but really just want to enjoy the experience of both.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

No more timer

When I started running with my first learn to run program 3 years ago, I was introduced to the walk/run interval method. In running circles, it’s often referred to as the Jeff Galloway method. There are many reasons to use it, including conservation of resources, quicker recovery and improving overall time. For me, it was a great way to start; I couldn’t run more than a minute at a time in the beginning anyway, so it allowed me to build up a base.

I stuck with the walk/run method throughout the next 2 years, never going past 9 minutes of running before taking my one minute walk break. I found an app that I could set and it would beep a horn when it was time to run and a group of people would sigh when it was time to walk (and they even cheered for me at the very end of the run!)

When I started back to running this year, I went back to what I knew, dialing my running time back to 4 minute intervals, knowing that I had lost a lot of my endurance over the months of inactivity. I found that I was a slave to the timer, regardless of what my body was saying. I was hesitant to set the intervals past 4 minutes, because in my head I didn’t think I could do it. 4 minutes seemed hard, so how could I ever do 5 minutes?

This year’s learn to run program took a very different approach. We weren’t doing group runs or using an interval method. Instead we did drills, learned to listen to our body and understand how individual muscles worked and affected our running. Last week our trainer was unable to make the session, so a small group of us did a 5k run around the neighbourhood. There was some discussion of doing a set walk/run method, but ultimately we decided to simply listen to our bodies – run till we needed to walk, walk till we recovered and then run again. What I found was that I was running a lot longer than 4 minutes. At one point I made it well past the 12 minute mark before I needed to walk, and even then, my walking break wasn’t a full minute long.

That was when I realized that I had become too dependent on the timer and that I needed to make a change.

Last night I headed out for an easy 4.5 k run. I set a timer on my watch so that I could see my overall time, but I didn’t turn on the interval timer. I cranked the tunes and headed out, with the plan to run as much as I could. During the 40 minutes that I ran, I only walked twice – 30 seconds at the 15 minute mark and another 30 seconds at the 30 minute mark. In hindsight, I probably could have easily skipped those 2 walking breaks; they both coincided with finishing a full lap around the park where I was running. I let my head take over and talked myself into needing or deserving a break when I passed the starting point. I bet if I had been doing a straight line course that I would not have walked at all.

Surprisingly my overall pace was exactly the same for this route as when I did it last week with 4 and 1 intervals. The big difference was how I felt. I felt great! I wasn’t as tired or out of breath as I had been last week. My legs also felt better after the run. And just knowing that I could do it, really elevated my mood and how I felt about myself overall.

Going forward I’m going to run without an interval timer. I will listen to my body, knowing that I can push myself farther and harder than I thought I could. And maybe as my overall fitness level improves, so will my pace. But even if it doesn’t, I’m still happy with my running overall.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Now I've done it

After sitting with my mouse over the submit button for a very long time, I finally clicked it.  I am official registered for my first half marathon.  Not only did I register for the half marathon, I signed up for their Tartan-Twosome.  Friday night we run a 5k at sunset and then Saturday morning we run the half at sunrise. 

Now I need to train.  While September seems far away, it's not really.

  • 115 days
  • 16.5 weeks
  • 3.5 months

My goal was to run a half this year, the year I turn 45, and boy-howdy, I'm gonna do it!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

10 Things I've Learned

Here are 10 things that I've already learned in just 3 weeks of our Learn to Run program with trainer Rakel Gylfadottir.

  1. Knowing that the ankle bone is connected to the knee bone, and the knee bone is connected to the hip bone is not the same as knowing how they work together when you are running.
  2. Don’t use energy putting your foot down. Gravity will do that for you.
  3. Running takes a lot of energy so don’t waste it on clenching your hands or tensing your shoulders.
  4. Running is not a beauty contest, accept that you will not look your best.
  5. Stretching is important to prevent injuries.
  6. Breath through your mouth to ensure you get enough oxygen.
  7. Running with “high hips” really does help.
  8. I can push myself a lot farther and harder than I thought.
  9. If you want to run faster you have to practice running faster.
  10. I really do enjoy running, especially when I finish for the day!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

NS Lung Run

This is my second year running the Nova Scotia 5k Lung Run.  Held down by the waterfront, it's a nice flat course.  One of my favorite things is having a racing bib with my name on it  All the volunteers and spectators cheer you by name as you pass them.  There is nothing more inspiring then hearing "You've got this Andy" or "You can do it Andy" when you feel like you really can't.

This is my first chip-timed race of the year.  It certainly wasn't my fastest race ever, but I came in with a decent time for me, considering I've really only been running again for a few weeks.

This race had a theme of Superheroes.  There were a lot Batman's, Superman's and plenty of Wonder Woman's.  My costume was unique though.  I went as "Super Mama"!

$5.00 for a cheap t-shirt and a few markers and I was all set.  I got a lot of high-fives and call outs as I ran the course.  I've never considered dressing up in a costume for a race before (there is no way I will ever wear a tutu) but this seemed like a fun idea, and I'm glad I did.

We had beautiful weather, finally!  This was a great race to start the year off with.  I can't wait for the next one.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Accepting Body Image

I love to take photographs. Family, pets, random things on random walks. What that means though is that I am very seldom in the picture. Sure, once or twice a year at a special event we’ll get someone to take a family shot with me in it, but there are very few candid moments of my life captured on film.

Last week was our first Learn To Run session. Since I’m in charge of social media for this year’s Ocean breeze race, I asked one of participants who had a phone with her to take a few pictures that I could possibly use in our Twitter feed or Facebook page to help promote the event. She was happy to oblige and sent me 2 pictures that I could use. One showed the group standing and listening to the instructor and the other is more of an action shot of folks running during one of the exercises.

Both were great shots and really captured what I wanted to show online in hopes of getting more people to sign up. The only problem is that I am in the very forefront of one of the pictures. And MAN! I do not like the way I look. I understand that spandex running clothes are only flattering on about 5%* of the general population. But I am so far from that 5% in this picture that I was mortified and my instant reaction was that I was not using that picture, no way, no how!

That picture stuck with me all day. I know that I am overweight and out of shape; that is one of the reasons that I am running. But what does it say about me if I’m so willing to just toss that picture aside? I’m not ashamed of who I am. I’m obviously okay with people in real life seeing me like that, since I went to the session in the first place and plan on going back. I guess there is just something in seeing myself, full body, in all my lumpy glory that makes it all the more real. This is how people looking at me must see me.

I’m NOT going to throw away the picture. I’m going to use it here and in the social media feeds. Maybe it will inspire someone else who feels that they can’t join because they too are not part of the 5%. And one day I will look back at this picture with pride and joy on how far I have come.

*Not an actual statistic from any recognizable source, just a random guess.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Learn to Run (again)

3rd time is a charm, right? Once again I have signed up for the learn to run program being offered through Liam's school in advance of their Ocean Breeze Trail Run.

I first signed up for this program in 2013 and that began my running journey. I went from huffing and puffing my way through 1 minute of running to being able to finish my first 5k 10 weeks later.

Last year I signed up again, with the intention of running my first 10k at the end (and I did!).

This year? I've signed up because I need the motivation. Knowing that I've paid money to run in my own neighbourhood when I could just do it for free, will hopefully help me get my butt out the door, at least once a week. Knowing that people are also expecting me to show up at a certain time adds to the motivation.

We start tomorrow night and have 8 weeks that lead up to the Ocean Breeze. This year the group is being run by a parent from the school who has experience working at private sports clinics as well as with elderly people in home care. Throughout most of her working career though, she has served as a coach for middle and long-distance runners of various levels, from beginners to elite runners heading for the Olympics. She also has several years of experiencing coaching kids in track and field. I’m feeling a wee bit intimidated!

I've managed to get out a few times for some short runs in the past couple of weeks. It is glorious to be able to run outside again! I even ran in a short sleeve t-shirt one night. Of course we are now entering the rainy season, but that’s okay. As long as it’s not ice, I don’t care. I have my first timed 5k race in 2 weeks, so this is the perfect time to get some official training under my belt.

Have you ever joined a Learn To run program, or do you simply train on your own?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Together We Race

Hot Damn, I feel great!

I ran my first race of the year today.  A virtual 5k in my own 'hood.  I really didn't think I was going to be able to, in fact, I wasn't sure I was going to get out the door.

Of course, I underestimate the power of Hilary - she made sure I got out the door!

It's been 5 weeks since I last ran. and about as long since I've been to TKD.  I was feeling so out of shape, that I didn't believe I could walk the route I had plotted out, let alone run it.

But I did run it!

And with a perfectly acceptable time too!

The sidewalks are finally clear - though as you can see, there is still snow everywhere! Today was a beautiful warm sunny day of 9°C.  Like most runners this time of year, I wasn't sure what to wear.  I was freezing in the house before I left, but I know that I run hot.  I opted for a short sleeve cotton t-shirt with a long sleeve technical running shirt on top.  My worst clothing choice was wearing my winter sock - my feet where so very hot!  I had the long sleeve shirt off by the end of the run and would have been quite happy to roll in the snow, but there were too many people around.

I am sore, and I'm sure I will feel worse tomorrow, but I feel great for getting back out there!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Goals - April 2015

I set some pretty simple goals on January 1st of this year.
“to live a healthy lifestyle so that I can be my healthiest. This includes better eating, more sleep, being happy with my life and exercising.”

To achieve the exercise part I was going to keep up with TKD and running. Those have both been a bust so far this year. The weather has gotten in the way of my running, and I just haven’t been motivated to get to TKD as often as I should. I did test for (and passed) my blue stripe in January, but since then….

I also haven’t been eating better or sleeping very well. I have been pretty happy with my life, in part because I just got back from a wonderfully relaxing week in the Domincan Republic!

It’s now the 2nd quarter of the year. It really is amazing how time flies. My goals still remain the same. I’ve signed up for the Learn To Run program at Halifax Independent school again this year, so starting April 24th I will be out running every Friday night. Nothing motivates me more than having spent money and committed to other people! I have also signed up for 2 5Ks in May, and the weather can only get better…..right?

I’m not sure what to do about getting more sleep. Right now it’s the quality of my sleep that is the problem. I am waking up in the middle of the night with one or both arms numb from shoulder to fingertip. If I lie on my back it doesn’t happen as much, but I’m a side/belly sleeper, so it’s a very hard transition. It does mean that I have very poor sleep from about 1:00-5:00 and then I get up at 6:20. At least I get a few good hours from 10:00-01:00, but it’s starting to catch up with me. I’m going to try some different pillows to see if that helps.

As to eating better….. that is the lifelong change, isn’t it? I know what to do, I even know how to do it, I just need to put on my big girl panties (which wouldn’t be so big if I could conquer this one!) and stop eating crap and get back to better portion control. This is going to be my focus for April. Maybe eating better will even help with the sleep problem!

How are you doing with your goals?  Are you sticking with them, or setting new ones?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Change in Plans

“Some changes might look negative on the surface, but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge” Eckhart Tolle

I hate winter. I hate snow. I hate ice. I know this is a pretty common sentiment from most people right now. My city was hit with 70 cm of snow last week. That’s more than 2 feet, on top of all the snow and ice we already had. My sidewalk currently looks like this.

That is the same sidewalk that I would usually run on, buried under more than 4 feet of snow.

Needless to say, I haven’t been able to run outside in almost 2 months. I have been able to get to our indoor track and to the gym on occasion, but it’s not as easy as getting home from work, lacing up and heading out the door.

I’m not giving up, I’m just starting over.

So I need to change my plans. I have not trained enough to even consider running the Blue Nose ½ Marathon in just over a month. I would be hard pressed to run a 5k right now. The new plan is to start running again as soon as I can. The weather is starting to clear up, the snow will eventually melt and the sidewalks will be cleared. I have 2 5ks planned for May, and of course the Ocean Breeze Trail run in June. I WILL run a ½ marathon this year, likely in the fall.

Change can be good.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

1/2 Marathon Training Update

Planned training runs = 22 runs / 97.6 km
Actual training runs = 7 runs / 31.4 km

Weeks to go: 13

When I decided back in December to run the Blue Nose half marathon, we were having an unseasonably warm winter with no snow. It seemed like a really great idea at the time. And I had some great runs in the first few weeks, outside on clear trails and dry sidewalks. Then the reality of living on the East coast of Canada hit. We’ve had 22 inches of snow so far this month, freezing temperatures every day with one day of rain thrown in. That makes for a nasty base layer of ice under a lot of snow. The city has not been able to plow the roads or sidewalks down to the asphalt, so everything has a layer of slick snow or slush on it. We haven’t been able to open our back door in over a week. And the forecast is calling for another foot of snow this weekend.

Needless to say I won’t be running outside anytime soon.

Beyond the weather, there has been general life stuff that has kept me from some training runs. I had to travel for work for a full week, and while I took my running stuff with me and the weather in Denver was GORGEOUS, my work hours and being jet lagged didn’t allow me to get in a single run. One night was lost to picking up our new car (SO worth it!) and other nights to parent-teacher conferences, knee injuries from slipping on the ice or just needing a night home with my family.

Sounds like a whole lot of excuses to me.

Last Sunday I decided to stop with the excuses, weather included, and get my butt running. So I packed up Liam and his friend with their swim stuff, grabbed my running gear and headed over to our local sports complex. There was an hour and a half open swim that the boys could go to alone while I ran on the indoor track. Only I had neglected to check out the track schedule before we left and found out that it was closed once we got there. I was not going to let this be another excuse that had me sitting on my butt for the afternoon, so I bought a 10 pass stamp card for their gym facilities. I’ve never really run on a treadmill before, but once the guy on staff got me set up, I was all set!

I felt like I was starting over…. again. It’s amazing what a week of inactivity can do to you, and how hard it can be to get back any little bit of progress you had made before that. While the ½ Marathon training schedule called for a 9 km long run, I managed to do 3 km. My pace was slow, I was pretty huffy-puffy and had to take frequent walk breaks, but I did it!

I think this plan of Liam swimming while I run on the weekends is going to work out well. I still need to fit in some runs after work during the week. I’m sure life will still continue to get in the way, but I am recommitting to doing my best to get out there as often as I can.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Balancing 2 passions can be tricky. So far running and TKD have not been at odds with one another. TKD is a great cross-training activity that exercises every single muscle of the body , including my mind. Running helps build endurance and stamina which I can then use in TKD.

My passion for both sports is pretty much 50/50 right now, but I have a significant goal that I am trying to achieve in each. The first goal is in TKD. Next week I will be testing for my blue stripe level. My running goal is of course to run my first half-marathon. That isn’t until May of this year.

It’s been almost a year since I last tested for a new belt level in TKD and I still don’t feel 100% ready. I will have to demonstrate 6 patterns, ranging from 7 to 28 moves each. I will have to spar for a minimum of 2 minutes against an opponent who may be strong/bigger/better than I am, using as many techniques and combos as possible. I will have to do 2 different step-sparring demos – essentially 2 person patterns with specific steps and movements and then I may have to answer theory and history questions. In order to be ready for all of that in just over a week, I’ve decided to put running on hold and attend as many TKD classes as I can before the testing date. As luck would have it, my new job is only a 5 minute drive from the Sackville Dojang, so I can attend classes on Tues, Thurs and Fri, giving me 4 more classes then I would get if I only trained in Halifax.

An hour TKD class is much more physically taxing than a mid-week, low mileage run. I’m certainly feeling it today and I’ve only done 1 extra class so far. I am feeling much more ready to test, so I know that it is the right decision.

There is risk of injury with both sports. I am still covered in bruises from sparring in a TKD class more than 2 weeks ago and my hips are not too happy with me today after some of the stretches we did last night. With that in mind, I will be taking a break from TKD as my half-marathon training ramps up in the spring. I would hate to have spent 20 weeks training for a race only to have to pull out at the last minute from an injury from a different sport.

And then there is the idea of balancing all of this activity with family, work and the rest of my life. That is a whole other post!

Monday, January 19, 2015


Yesterday as Donzella and I were coming into the home stretch of our 7k run, we passed the building where we used to work together and where we first met 9 years ago. She asked me to think about how far I had come since that time. Was I as active then as I am now? Do I weigh as much now as I did then? The answer to both of those questions is a resounding NO!

It is too easy to lose insight into how far I have come when I am focused on today's goals. I get down on myself about a scale number that isn’t moving, or feeling that my 9:30/km pace is too slow. I need to stop and remind myself that just a few short years ago, the number on the scale was much, much bigger and the idea of running for even one minute was laughable.

Now I’m training to run my first half-marathon! I’m no longer pre-diabetic, I’m healthier and happier then I have been in a long time. Sure there is still work to be done, I haven’t run that half-marathon yet! But each day is better than the one before it, and so much better than all those days 9 years ago.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Running Update

This should be my 7th training run but it’s only my 4th. The weather has conspired against me – too cold and too icy. It’s early on in the training plan, so I’m not too worried. Hopefully the winter won’t be too long and horrible. I have attended all of my TKD classes, so I am keeping up a base level of exercise. This coming Sunday will be the first long run that is longer than 5k. Right now they forecast is calling for PLUS 6 and sunny – perfect running conditions!

My running partner has found a water running class on Thursday nights that is close to my new work. We are going to look into doing drop-in classes when the weather is really sucky, or even just to change things up a bit. I’m not a huge swimming fan, but running in the water might be fun.

I am trying very hard to drink more water this week. After my last couple of runs I have ended up with a very bad headache, that I am pretty sure was caused by dehydration. So far today I’ve had 120+ ounces of either water or weak green tea. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to run 3k tonight without having to stop to pee in someone’s front yard.

Happy Running  everyone!

Thursday, January 8, 2015


It’s week 1 day 3 of my 20 week ½ marathon training plan and I need to skip tonight’s run.


I had a great TKD class yesterday full of kicks and cardio. I was sore afterwards, but it was a good sore, one that let me know that I am in touch with all my muscles. I went home, relaxed in a hot shower, worked out the last few kinks, and then headed out to pick Liam up from Cadets.

It had started to snow, a light dusting that was just covering the ground. As Liam and I headed to the parked car, I stopped him to point out a patch of ice in front of him, since he didn’t seem to be paying any attention. Then I stepped forward and the world spun sideways as I slipped on a hidden patch of ice and started falling. I didn’t go all the way down; I was able to grab the front of Liam’s jacket with one hand and a piece of scaffolding with the other.

While I didn’t fall, I did twist my left knee.  It didn't swell, but it hurt enough in the car ride home to bring tears to my eyes.  And not quite 24 hours later it is still tender when I bend it.  Once I'm up and walking it seems fine.

So even though I want to get out and run, I don't want to risk further injury.  So today I rest and hopefully tomorrow all will be right again.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

20 weeks

20 weeks from today it will be Sunday May 17th.  Not usually a notable date in my life, but this year it will be.

After a lot of thought, soul searching and discussions with Hilary, I have decided to train for the Recharge With Milk Half Marathon that is part of the Blue Nose* weekend!

* For my non-Nova Scotia friends, "Blue Nose" is a nickname for Nova Scotians, dating back to the 18th century.

I have set up a 20 week training program that has me running 4 times a week, with long runs on Sundays.  Most of my weeknight runs will be under an hour, which is good, since I don't get home from work till after 5:00.

I've never run more than 10 kms before and have just gotten back into running, so training to run 21.1 kms is a bit daunting.  My first long run that surpasses 10 kms is only 5 weeks away!  There are a few obstacles to the training plan that I will have to work around - the biggest one being that we will be in the Domincan Republic for March break (otherwise known as week 11), and I may have some travel coming up for work. It's not to say that I can't run while I'm away, it will just present some unique challenges.

Halifax is also a very hilly city and so far I have manage to run on nice flat routes.  I'm going to have to start adding some hill work to my runs, especially since kms 15-21 for the 1/2 are a slow but steady climb.

So there we have it. Year one of running I did my first 5k.  Year two of running I did my first 10k.  So it only holds to reason that in my third year I aim for my first 1/2 marathon! I'm just going to giv'er!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Goals

I have a few goals for 2015. The biggest one is to continue to live a healthy lifestyle so that I can be my healthiest. This includes better eating, more sleep, being happy with my life and exercising.

There are two things that I do for exercise that I plan to keep working on in 2015 – TaeKwon-Do and running.

My TaeKwon-Do goals are simple: Test for my Blue stripe in January and test for my Blue belt in the fall. I need to commit to attending classes more regularly for this to happen. I had a few months in 2014 where I only made it to a single class. I’m never going to learn my patterns and improve my techniques at that rate.

My plan for running is to get out at least 3 times a week and slowly increase my distance.  I'm less concerned about my speed, though of course I would love to be faster.

The one thing that keeps me motivated to run is having a planned race to train for. Right now I have at least 7 races that I want to participate in for 2015.

2015 Race List
  1. NS Lung Run May 2 – I really liked this race last year – It’s run along the boardwalk and through the container terminal. And it’s nice and flat.
  2. Recharge with Milk ½ Marathon May 17 – MAYBE.... I haven’t decided yet if I can train enough to run my first ½ marathon by May. The idea that I’m even considering this freaks me out.
  3. Ocean Breeze June 20 – I’m planning to do the 10k again this year. Hopefully it won’t be in a torrential downpour!
  4. MacPass Mile Aug 02 – New to me for 2015. This involve running across the Macdonald Bridge from Halifax to Dartmouth. It’s got a pretty wicked up slope, followed by the same down slope once you pass the middle of the bridge
  5. Natal Day Road Race August 03 – This is a great 2 mile race through Dartmouth. 2015 will be the 110th year this race has run.
  6. CIBC Run for the Cure Oct 4 – 2015 will my third year running this 5k race through downtown Halifax. This is also the only run that I actively fundraise for.
  7. Runway Run (was in October last year) – I hope they have this race again for 2015. Running on the airport runway was a lot of fun.
  8. All the Shrinking Jeans Virtual runs (usually about 3 a year) – I like the virtual races because they help to keep me training for something between other races.

I will hopefully pick up a few more races along the way as well.

Most notably for 2015, I don't have a weight goal.  Do I want to lose weight?  Of course!  But I am not setting a specific goal of how many pounds I want to lose, or what my goal weight for the end of the year would be.  Instead, I'm going to focus on being healthy and exercising.  If I do those 2 things, the weight loss will follow.