Tuesday, October 25, 2016


This is not how week 3 of my half-marathon training was supposed to go. It was supposed to include beautiful runs in the cool October air, some hill training, speed work and the slow start of my mileage increase. Instead it includes ice packs, limping and more than a few tears.

The good news is that I set my half-marathon training plan at 24 weeks, 4 weeks longer than even the Couch-to-Half training plans that you can find online. With the Fool’s Run not being until April 2017, I knew I had the time, so why not use it? And with training over the winter, I figured I would likely lose weeks to bad, icy weather, or illness, so I liked having a buffer. I just didn’t expect to start losing weeks so early on.

My injury is not serious, and hopefully I can recover from it quickly. I have what is commonly known as runner’s knee. It started last Wednesday, the day after I did my speed work. It felt fine while I was running and that whole evening, but something happened and then the pain started. I had an instance of this once before, brought on by doing hill repeats this summer so I know that the best cure is resting it.

I didn’t run for a couple of days, iced it, elevated it and it felt better. So I went for a run on Friday. That was a bad idea.

I didn’t run for a couple more days, iced it, elevated it and it felt better. So I went for run on Monday. That was a worse idea.

I made it a whole km before admitting defeat and limping my way home in tears. The tears were 10% from pain and 90% from frustration. I let my mind go down the road of defeat – I was NEVER going to be able to run the half marathon that is FIVE MONTHS AWAY. I had my pity party, hung out in the shower for a while and with Hilary’s words of encouragement, I came to my senses.

Yes I am injured right now. No, I won’t always be injured, especially if I ACTUALLY rest my leg for more than 48 hours. There is still plenty of time to train for the Fool’s Run (a whole 20 weeks in fact…..). My world is not collapsing.

The plan now is to REST my knee. I won’t even consider running again for a minimum of one week, and only then if I am pain free while walking. I’m going to continue to ice and elevate as needed. More importantly though I’m going to work on cross training and hip strengthening exercises. Runner’s knee is commonly believed to be caused more by hip issues than actual problems with the knee itself. I have free weights in my office for working on my arms and shoulders (did I mention my shoulder is injured too? It doesn’t actually interfere with running except that I can’t put on my sports bra by myself…..) and a yoga mat at the ready to do clamshells, leg raises, bridges and more.

Maybe this is all a blessing in disguise and this injury will help me become stronger overall in the end.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Food Run

This is the second time that I've run the Canada Games Center Food Run.  It's a free 5k race that raises money and food donations for the food bank.

Unlike my first time running the race, back when I went to races on my own, I had a whole group of amazing running friends to hang out with before and after the race this year.  And one of our newer traditions is to head out for breakfast together after the race.  Somehow bacon and eggs taste even better after running in the morning.

The weather was perfect... cool but not cold and the course had a wonderfully long downhill section that let you make up some time after coming out of a very steep and rough go through a forest trail.

The best part of running with friends is having them not only cheer you on at the finish line, but have them join you on the course and run you in the last few yards.

This is my last race of the year, bringing the count to 12 for 2016, a mix of chip-timed, untimed and virtual runs.  My race calendar for 2017 already has 3 races on - a 5k, a 10k and a half-marathon! Time to get training.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I'm a Fool

A fool in training at least! After much thought and planning I have signed up to run my second half-marathon next spring, The Sunshine Coast April Fool’s Run.

The planning part comes from the fact that this race is on the other side of the country on April 2nd 2017. Starting in Gibsons BC (home of the Beachcombers) it finishes in Sechelt (home of my in-laws). Not only do I need to train throughout the winter, I also have to travel to BC and deal with a 4 hour time zone difference. Of course the race does not coincide with our March break. While I’m sure Liam would love to miss an extra week of school, we decided that he and Hilary would be staying home. I asked my Mom if she would like to travel with me, heading to BC the weekend before the race. We are going to spend several days touring Victoria and Nanaimo while we acclimatize to the change in time and then head to Sechelt a few days before the race.

This looks like an absolutely beautiful course to run. Most of it is along small highways through the forest, with the water not too far off in the distance. It also has a net drop in elevation, but a couple of very steep looking hills thrown in. I have a lot of hill training in my future.

This will be my second half marathon. My training plan is very similar to what I did last year, with more focus on hills and speed training. I have a nice easy plan of 24 weeks to allow myself to build up a really good base of running before I start adding a lot of distance. My main concern is going to be the weather for January-March. Worst case scenario I end up at the indoor track or on a treadmill at the gym a few times a week.

While my Mom was visiting recently and we were talking about the race, she made the comment “I could probably walk 21k”. So I said “Why don’t you?” and within days she had made up her mind and registered to walk her first half marathon! She currently walks nearly 5k every day, so she has her own training plan and is going to start building up her mileage too.

Week 1 of training was technically last week and I blew it. Mom was here visiting, we went away for the weekend and life just happened.  That is another reason I planned on 24 weeks of training, so that if I do lose 1 or 2, it's not going to hurt me in the long run (pun intended).

Now I am officially a F.I.T. - a Fool in Training!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Run for the Cure

I had signed up for this 5k run months ago, as it is one that I do every year. This year fell on the day after my Mom arrived for her annual fall visit, so I talked it over with her and signed her up too! She walks almost 5k every day, so this was no problem for her to do. The down side was the weather…. Rain, rain and more rain. We had umbrellas with us during the speeches and warm up, but luckily the route went right past the car so we were able to ditch them as they were getting heavy and awkward. And really, once you’re wet, you’re wet… an umbrella isn’t going to make it any better.

I had a lot of fun walking with Mom. She has never participated in this kind of event and loved the crowds and the people cheering us on and the novelty of walking down the middle of the road. We finished in exactly one hour, got our free fruit and headed out to get coffee and dry clothes.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Zombie Run

I love Zombies! I like them on TV, in movies and even in books. I especially liked them in real life, chasing me down a deep, dark forest trail. Except the little kid zombie who was hiding in the leaves and leapt out me. I didn’t really like him since he made me scream like a terrified two year old!

By no means was this a “run”. Sure, some spunky people probably ran the whole thing, but not me. The trail was steep with loose gravel and uneven terrain. I can barely manage to walk across my living room without tripping, so I wasn’t going to take any chances. There were periods of running as I dodged and wove my way around the zombies who were trying to steal my “lives” (we each had 3 flags on a belt that the zombies tried to pull off). Alas, my dodging and weaving didn’t do me much good as I was out of lives before the halfway point. After that I became the blocker for our group, distracting zombies while everyone else slipped by.

It was a great time made more fun by running with friends. The downside of the day was when one friend twisted her ankle and spent the rest of the race in the first aid tent with an ice pack. To make it even worse, she didn’t just turn her ankle, she actually broke off a small piece of bone. An apocalypse is a dangerous thing.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Maritime Race Weekend

This is such a fun event! Spanning 2 days, you end up with 3 amazing medals at the end of it.

Friday night is a sunset 5k that has most people dressing up in pirate related costumes. Last year I wore a black shirt with a pirate emblem on it. This year I got talked into going ALL OUT! It started innocently enough with a group of us getting together to make matching pink and black tutus. I had worn a tutu once before in a run, so I figured that it was an easy addition to last year’s black shirt and I would be all set. Then I came home one evening to find Jody trying on corsets in my living room for her costume. And it just so happened that she had a second one that would be perfect for me to wear. So I ended up running a 5k in a sports bra and corset (tightly laced at that) and a tutu.

The next morning we headed back out to Eastern Passage for the sunrise portion of things. Some of us were running the 5k and some were running the 10k. It was great to finish before the 10k people to be able to cheer them across the finish line.

I've made such great friends through running this year.  Last year I went to all the races on my own, standing around by myself.  This year, I'm surrounded by friends at almost every event!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Runway Lung Run

I love the Lung Run Runway Run. When else would you have the opportunity to run up and down a runway, with the sounds of planes taking off around you? If it wasn’t for the other hundreds of runners, you could almost pretend you were in a scene of a movie!

Luckily this year the weather was great (it poured rain and was freezing last year). This was my first of 4 planned 5k runs for September, and came just after I really got back into running after a summer of not much running time. I didn’t have any great expectations for pace or finish time, but I was happy with the amount of running versus walking that I was able to do.

I hope they continue to hold this race every year as it is on that I look forward too.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Not Since Moses

It was the second weekend in a row that I had to wake up at 4:30 and be out the door by 5:00. I am not a morning person, so this did not sit well with me. At least this time I was doing it for something fun and with some great people.

Fueled on coffee and bagels, we managed the 2 hour drive in the dark and got to the parking area with plenty of time to spare for a potty break and to line up for the bus to the finish line. We even had time to take a picture with the Bagpiper.

The is run was everything I thought it was going to be. Fun, hard and muddy. My only goal for the day was to not fall. I came close many, many times, but I kept my balance and stayed upright, even when the mud was up to my ankle and suctioned off my shoe. I kept going in my socks for about 10 minutes until I found a stream that I could wash enough mud off to put the shoes back on.

It was an absolutely perfect day. The sky was perfect, it wasn’t too hot and we were surrounded by beauty.  The course was a 5k out and back, and we finished long before the tide came in. 

Running on the ocean floor is something everyone should try at least once.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ocean Breeze Trail Run 5K

This was the 4th year for the Ocean Breeze Trail Run. This race will always be near and dear to my heart – it’s the first 5k that I ever ran and started me on my running journey and it’s sponsored by Liam’s school.

Held at the beautiful Lawrencetown Beach, the 5k route follows the Atlantic trails inland. Which means that you quickly lose the fresh ocean breeze and move onto the unshaded path. It’s a great spot to run; crushed gravel trail, mainly flat, beautiful views... it’s just HOT. I thought that the year of the near-hurricane conditions was the worst weather, but I’ve decided I hate running in the heat even more. This year they had 2 water stations set up – at the 2.5K turn around and again at the 4K mark. I don’t think I would have managed the last kilometer if there hadn’t been cold water there for me to dump on my head.

This year I ran it with my friend Nicole. This was her first 5K. She tore her ACL a couple of years ago and was waiting for a surgery date to have it replace (which happened out of the blue 3 days after the run!). We trained together once a week for the past couple of months. She did great! She had a sexy looking knee brace and was able to run pain free once we figured out her tight calf muscle issues. If anything, my speed held her back. But we started together and finished together in 48:28 minutes. Not my best time, but I was very pleased with it given the heat.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sole Sisters 5k

Sole Sisters is Canada's largest women only race.  Capped at 3000 participants it sells out every year, so this was the first year I was able to register in time.  They are known for their purple colour scheme and their tutus.  I love me some purple - I even dyed my hair to match, but I've never worn a tutu in my life.  Apparently I can pull the look off!

It was an amazing scene of purple clad women making their way to the starting line.

It was a fun run, not timed and included a chocolate station and hug station that had a shirtless, buff firefighter giving out hugs to encourage people at the 3k mark.  He only got a high-five from me!

I met up with 2 friends that I've been running with - Grace and Teresa. We got separated from Grace before the race started and I encouraged Teresa to run at her own speed.  This was her first ever 5k and she nailed it!

I ran a good race and finished in 46 minutes, which seems to be my new 5k time.  The best part was crossing the finish line and having Grace and Teresa there to cheer me on.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Bucket List of Races

Every runner has a bucket list of races they would love to run. For some it’s exotic destinations like the Great Wall of China, or an ultimate runners challenge like the Boston Marathon. I have a few races in my bucket, all of them in Canada, in cities/areas that I already have a connection too. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to one day travel far and wide, logging miles and collecting bling along the way. For now though, I’m keeping my bucket list more on the realistic side, complete with the dates I want/plan to run them.

  • April 2017 Fools Run - Gibson to Sechelt BC
    • My In-Laws live in Sechelt, and I think it is one of the most beautiful places in Canada. 2017 is the race’s 40th anniversary, which is why it’s on my list for next year and not later. It’s a point to point course, starting in Gibson’s (home of the Beachcombers) and finishing in Sechelt. I really want to do this race next year, but an April race means training through the worst weather months in Halifax, and that worries me. That, and I need to step up my game if I’m going to do another half so soon, since my plan is to stick to 5ks in 2016.
  • July 2017 -Epic Canada - Dartmouth NS
    • Double in a Day is a 10k race followed immediately by a 5 k. This is a close to home run that I’ve wanted to do for a while, I just never thought that I could run 15 k. But I ran 21 k last year, so I know I can do this!
  • October 2018 Niagara Falls Half Marathon - Niagara Falls ON
    • I love Niagara Falls. My grandparents lived there and I spent a lot of time there when I was growing up. I would fall asleep listening to the roar of the falls in the summer because their house was so close. This looks like a great half to run, not just because it is either completely flat or downhill. The end of October should have great weather too.
  • September 2019 - Oasis Zoo 10k Run - Toronto ON
    • What could be better than running past lions and tigers and bears? Oh my!
  • May 2020 - Blue Nose Marathon Halifax NS
    • This is my ultimate bucket race. I want to run my 1st (and maybe only) marathon the year I turn 50 and I want to do it close to home. The Blue Nose is such a great weekend in Halifax that it only makes sense that I choose it for this experience. Even though it’s 4 years away, every run I do is working towards this grand goal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blue Nose Johnson 5k

This was my first year participating in the Blue Nose. It’s a whole weekend affair and includes everything from a 2k kids run to a full Boston Qualifying marathon. This year there were over 12,000 runners between all of the events. There were over 2000 people running the 5k with me, which is the largest race I’ve ever participated in.

When I ran the Lung Run 2 weeks ago, I thought afternoon races were the best. I no longer feel that way! The Blue Nose 5k started at 3:00 Saturday afternoon. It just so happened that this was the first hot day we’ve had all year and the temperature at the starting line was 26 °C. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen or a breeze to be felt; it was HOT. I knew before I even started that I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole thing without walking. In fact, there were a few points where I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to finish. But I did, in a time of 53:49, a full 7 minutes slower than the Lung Run. At least I didn’t throw up, though I came close a couple of times. I do not handle the heat well at all.

Even with the heat, it was a great day. There were so many people out to cheer the runners on. My friend Jody and her team mates from Team Myles, were one of the loudest groups I passed. They were all running their first 10k the next morning, but that didn’t stop them from putting all their energy into cheering on Saturday. Jody had even made a sign just for me!

I made it up the last hill (why do races end at the top of hills? Someone should really plan these things better), through the finish line and was given my medal. But my Blue Nose experience wasn’t over.

I’ve never gone to a race as a spectator before. I wanted be there to cheer Jody on for her first ever 10k, so Hilary and I made her a big bling-y sign and I headed out Sunday morning. There is just as much excitement to the day when you are cheering people on as when you are in the starting chute waiting for the gun to go off. It was great to see Jody come around that first corner and head out on her journey. It was an out and back course, so I waited for everyone to pass by me a second time. I loved clapping and cheering for random strangers, shouting out their names (yay for names printed on bibs – all races should do this) and seeing them perk up a little bit from the encouragement. Jody went by with a smile on her face and still running strong.

I loved the whole experience so much, and can understand why it’s become such an important part of Halifax culture, that I’ve already signed up to run the 10k in 2017!!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lung Run 2016

The Nova Scotia Lung Run was my first 5k race of the year. This is the 3rd year that I’ve participated in this run and it’s one of my favorites. It has many things going for it, not the least that it’s an afternoon/evening race. I love my Saturday morning lie-ins, and getting up at the crack of dawn for a race greatly interferes with that. Other great selling features include their awesome long sleeve technical shirts, the very flat course and free beer at the end of the race. I mean, really, what’s not to love?

This year I went down to the race with my friend Jody and some of her friends. They are all part of Team Myles and are training for their first 10k for the Blue Nose in a couple of weeks. We hung out together before the race and took lots of pictures (Jody attracted every photographer there, can you guess why?) Everyone ran at different paces so we were separated during the race itself, but it was great to pass each other along the way and to shout out encouragement.

Jody and a couple of the Team Myles gang finished before me but waited at the finish line for everyone to finish. It’s great motivation to have people cheering you on at the very end so that you can dig deep and finish strong.

This was my first race where I RAN the entire 5k – no walking at all. During training I follow a run/walk method that I used when I first started running. This year I had not managed to get past the 5/1 mark – run for 5 minutes, walk for 1 minute. Yet I knew that I could do better. Running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical one. There are times when my watch has beeped at the 5 minute mark that I would stop to walk even though I felt like I could keep running. It’s such a Pavlovian response though… the bell rang therefore I HAVE to walk. So on for the race I decided to not set my watch and to just run as long as I could and to walk when I needed to. The first time I checked my time, I had already run 9 minutes without even thinking of walking. I figured if I could 9, why not 15? Then it became a mind game…. “You can keep running till that next turn.” “You’ve already done 20 minutes, why not go for 25” till very quickly it became “You can run this whole thing!” So I did.

I finished in 00:46:48 with an average pace of 9:42. I am very happy with this for my first race of the year. My goal for 2016 is to run a 5k in under 40 minutes, something I have never achieved. The closest I’ve come is 00:41:59, coincidentally at the Lung Run in 2014.

So now the training continues.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Week 3

Last week was a struggle. I had no motivation to do anything. I did get out for a 5k walk with Nicole on Tuesday and I made it to the gym on Friday while Liam was at a birthday party. The problem in between those planned outings. Most days I try to do at least a stretching routine and some arm work with weights. I also try to get in as many steps as possible. None of that happened. I was quite content to sit and sit and sit.

Overall I kept up reasonably good food choices, so the whole week wasn’t a loss – it even led to a ½ pound loss! I’m not going to worry about a slow week. This one is going much better already!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Week 2

I had another great week of working out. Two trips to the gym, an outdoor run on a beautiful day and a 5k walk with Nicole. Overall I’m pleased. I didn’t see any progress on the scale this week, but I’m okay with that. The scale is just a number, not an overall representation of how I’m doing.

My favorite part of going to the gym is using the exercise bikes. They have 2 different kinds to choose from, and I have yet to decide which one I prefer. The pros of the recumbent bike is that your crotch doesn’t go numb from sitting on a skinny little bike seat. But I did find that I kept sliding forward out of the seat, so that wasn’t very comfortable either. The regular bikes at this gym have built in video games, which to me is a great feature! It gives you a first person view and you can select the route that you bicycle along. With this one, you actually have to steer or risk biking right off the cliff (don’t worry, you respawn again quickly back on the road). It gives you something to do while you pedal instead of just staring off into space. I think I will mix it up with each visit, spending some time on both, since each one does work slightly different muscle groups.

We are having some great weather for February – it’s supposed to hit a high of 14°C this week, so I’ll be lacing up and getting outside when I can! Only 12 weeks till my first 5k of the year.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 1

I managed to get in three 1 hr sessions at the gym last week. My trial with them is over so I need to figure out my next steps. I really enjoyed going and using all of the machines. I don’t ever see myself joining one of their classes and I have hand weights at home that I can use. But I don’t have the space or the money to set up an exercise bike, and elliptical machine and a treadmill. What I did realize this week is that I still have a few day passes for the Dartmouth Sportsplex that I haven’t used. They have all the same machines available, and since I’ve already paid for it, I’m going to use them up before I commit to a gym membership.

I had a great week of good food choices. One of the things that I like about choosing a healthy lifestyle versus being on a diet, is that I don’t limit myself from having good tasting, bad for me things as long as it’s in moderation (no more sitting down to eat a whole bag of chips). So I did enjoy 2 small Cinnabons this week and didn’t feel at all guilty about it. I tracked it in MFP, accepted that my calories were high that day and moved on.

So between the exercise and the good eating I thought I would show a loss on the scale when I weighed in Sunday morning. I was pleasantly surprised with a 2.5 lb loss! That puts me at 7 lbs lost so far this year.

My plan this week is to get to the gym at least 3 times, walk with my friend Nicole (who just signed up to run her first 5k this summer at the Ocean Breeze!) and to keep eating well. Hilary has some great sounding meals planned, which is helping us to not eat out nearly as much as we had been last year. I’m sure cutting down on fast food is playing a big role in my weight loss too.

I’ve also decided to set myself a running goal. I looked back at the results of all the 5ks I’ve run in the past 3 years. My fastest run was in April 2014 with a chip time of 41:59. The last 5k I ran was 47:08. So my goal for this year is to run a 5k in under 40 minutes. It’s a big stretch to try to improve my time by over 7 minutes from last year, but I’m feeling good about it.

And with any luck, the snow will eventually melt, the sidewalks will be clear and I can get outside again.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The gym

I did it!  I went to the gym by myself tonight and had a great work out. My friend Jody had shown me the ropes when we went on Tuesday so I had a good idea of what to do.  Tonight I used the elliptical,  the treadmill and a bike. My legs won't be happy with me tomorrow.

It felt great to run again,  even just for short spurts. I found that I could push myself to run faster then I do outside. I'm sure it's the fear of flying off the end of the machine and ending up as a viral meme that inspired me to keep up with the pace!

I'm not convinced that I want to commit to a membership. I really do prefer to just run outside,  so if I could pick up a partial membership for a couple of months it would be the best of both worlds.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Back at it

Sept 25th. Can it really be that I haven’t posted here in four and half months? What the heck have I been doing?

Let me tell you, my family and I have been doing a lot in those 4.5 months. Hilary went through chemo and radiation treatments and kicked cancer to the curb. I ran a couple of 5k races. Liam and I both had surgery – on the same day, at 2 different hospitals. We had family visits, celebrated 2 major holidays, got back into a school routine, twice – September and January (those pesky holiday breaks throw everything out of whack). Liam was in his first Shakespeare production. I got hearing aids. And we’ve survived a couple of snow storms.

Not surprisingly, I gained too much weight and undid any health improvements I had gained during my training for the half marathon.

And I’m okay with that.

Sometimes, you just have to ride the wave that life throws at you, knowing that eventually it will settle down and you can pick yourself up and get back at it.

That’s what I’m doing now.

One of the best motivations for me is to commit to (and pay) for a race. So I’ve signed up for 3! I’m sticking with 5ks this year, so I’ve decided to run the Bluenose 5k in May then Soul Sisters and Ocean Breeze in June. While the first race is still more than 3 months away, I need to get back into shape. My focus so far this year has been healthy eating, and it’s paying off. I lost 5 pounds in January. Of course, having surgery really helped to kick start the process. And I’m still learning which foods I can tolerate without my gallbladder.

To help with my recovery I started doing some simple stretching routines. It’s amazing how great that little bit of movement felt after being fairly sedentary for so long. I then added in walking, working to increase my pace and distance. I haven’t actually started running again…. but I feel ready! Tonight I’m going to the gym with a friend for a free trial. I really don’t see me as a gym–goer, but hey, it’s free! I’ll check out the equipment, and get in a good work out, and maybe even run on the treadmill. Our sidewalks are covered in snow right now, so I’m going to have to come up with an indoor running solution for the next month or so. I still have some track passes for the indoor track from last winter, so I’m sure that is where I’ll ultimately end up. Or the snow could melt… stranger things have happened.

So the journey continues.