Run ALL The Races

I have a problem.

A race problem.

I want to sign up for every race under the sun. When I can’t find a local race I have been feverishly scanning for ones in New York State (don’t worry Shawn, haven’t found any yet).

I have been having problems with my rotator cuff in my left shoulder so swimming has been infrequently lately, which puts my triathlon season sort of up in the air. Because of this I have been concentrating more on road races, and have tentatively come up with a race plan. I haven’t signed up for anything yet so things may change.

May 18 – 5000m track race. Weird, right? It’s $3 so why not?!

June 2 – 75km Heart And Stroke Ride for Heart – 75km on my bike!

June 15 – Triathon. Not sure if this is a go, but if it is I will probably be a baby and just do the Try A Tri again this year since my shoulder is being a bitch.

July 28 – another triathlon, sprint distance this time

August 11 – Toronto 10 miler. This would be my first 10 mile race and fit in perfectly for my fall half marathon plans

August 31 (I think) – sprint #2

September – no idea. Maybe nothing!

October 20 – take #2 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.

It looks kinda crazy to me! I’m really looking forward to training for this half, it was my first last year and it is a great course. Also I think I just love training and the long runs.

Who knows, maybe next year I will eat my own words and sign up for a full.

Or not.

What’s next on your race schedule?

Toronto Yonge Street 10K Recap

I suck as a blogger and didn’t take any pictures yesterday.  So sorry, so busy running.

As always, Canada Running Series put on a great race yesterday.  The Toronto Yonge Street 10K was only my second 10K ever but I will definitely be running this again.


It was chilly but super sunny.  I probably overdressed (Lululmon tights, tech t shirt and arm warmers) but I didn’t notice it too much as I ran.

The plan was to stay under 165bpm HR for the first little bit and then just run (or shuffle, or whatever it is I do).  I managed to stick with it for the first 10 minutes or so before the excitement of racing caught up to me and I just started pushing.  A big difference from this race and the 5K two weeks ago was I didn’t even look at my pace.  My Garmin was set to a screen with total time, HR and calories.  It was a lot less stressful to have to guess my pace based on total time and the kilometre markers – it gave my brain something to think about other than running.

While the race is net downhill there are a few rolling hills which messed with me a little but I kept up the pace pretty good. 

At the 5K mark my total time was 31:17 which is a 3 minute PR from two weeks ago (does this really count as a PR?) and the fastest I have ever run 5K before.  And the PRs kept on coming. I know so many people run SO much faster than me, and that can get me down sometimes, but then I have to remember that this is my journey and no one else’s, so my sub 40min 6k is AWESOME for me.

Around 8K I started to fade a bit but I never gave up mentally this race.  I’d take a quick walk break, or slow down a little to catch my breath, and then it was right back to work.

The last kilometre I put the pedal to the metal and I was so close to puking.  I saw Shawn on the sidelines near the finish and I barely managed a wave.  I crossed the finish line in 1:03:39 which is a 3 min PR for me!

My only real goal going into this race was to have fun, and that I did.  I waved at everyone, high fived people and sang along to my music.  My brain was happy and I was never stressed about my pace, or my time, or how I felt.  As always I feel I could have probably pushed harder but a PR is a PR!

I will definitely run this race again – it was well organized, a beautiful course, great swag (two tech shirts and a great medal!), wonderful volunteers, and a great after party.  Running down Yonge Street was amazing, and seriously rivals running through Times Square – I know, crazy right? But Toronto is my city, and there is nothing I love more than running through its streets.

Being a digital champion and being able to run this race and meet so many people with similar interests was absolutely incredible.  I’m so grateful to have been given this opportunity.


Feel The Moment

It seems when I have a lot to write about is when I feel like blogging least.

I don’t get the need to post about every mundane detail of my life, because, really, with my schedule I have a lot of free time that is spent cleaning or watching Les Mis (for the 3rd time) or yelling at the dogs to stop wrestling.  I also don’t understand the “I must go do something so I can blog about it” mentality that some people seem to have, either.  I don’t live to blog or blog to live, I just like to write. Sometimes.

Anyway a month ago now (holy time flew by) I ran the NYC Half Marathon.


I had hoped for a PR, and considering how well my training had been going I thought it was a sure thing.  However I underestimated how hilly Central Park is (Harlem Hill is EVIL) and by 16km my legs just said “Nope” and my brain couldn’t talk them out of it.  My time ended up being exactly 2 minutes slower than my first half marathon, which all things considered isn’t that bad.  I also  ran the first 15-16km straight without any walk  breaks, which I have never, ever done before.  So that in itself was a HUGE accomplishment.

Still, I felt a little disappointed in myself that I couldn’t push harder at the end when things got tough.

This past weekend I ran the 5K at Harry’s Spring Run Off in Toronto. 


It is the first race in the Canada Running Series in the Toronto area for 2013.  Now, they warn you about the hill at the end (which, quite frankly, was way WORSE than Harlem Hill) but neglected to mention that most of the course was rolling hills  Winking smile .  My legs were shot from earlier in the week and felt dead from the get go, and since I don’t usually push hard in my training my brain panicked again and I had to walk. In a stupid 5K.  I ended up with a PR regardless but I KNOW I could have gone faster if I could just shut my brain up, or shut it down, or just RUN.

My next race is the Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 21 (the second race in the Canada Running Series).  I was invited earlier this year to be a Digital Champion for this race, which has been a really neat experience.  I did get a free race entry but I have also been able to connect with a lot of like minded people in the GTA and help build up some hype for this awesome race!


My goal for the 10K is to have FUN.  I need to take the pressure off myself with this stupid PR business and to just run my own race.  I also need to practice getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, if that makes any sense.  So I won’t be out there just trotting along, but I want to go into this race with no time expectations beyond not finishing dead last. I’m going to enjoy the moment and run the kilometre that I’m in instead of worrying about the kilometres behind me or the ones to come.

Anyway enough of my rambling for tonight, and I promise to not take such a long break again.  I’m starting a new strength program next week and I’m excited to tell you guys all about it!

Tell me: How do you deal with being uncomfortable during a race?

How Heart Rate Training Has Saved My Running

This time last year I was in a huge funk.  I had just been diagnosed with runner’s knee and was limping around everywhere and had made the crappy decision that I had to pull out of what was to be my first half marathon.

Well what a difference a year makes.


Since Saturday I have run 55km. FIFTY FIVE KILOMETRES.  I have never run that many kilometres in less than 7 days in my life. Ever.

And I’m still walking. Other than some aching when I walk up stairs, my knees are happy campers, which is a drastic change from March 2012.

The difference this time around has been heart rate training.  Yes this means I have been doing the majority of my runs super slow in order to stay at or below a particular heart rate number.  But in doing so I have built up endurance as well as stayed relatively injury free.

Have I built up any speed? That’s hard to say at this point.  I do know that I can run further and longer than I could before, so by default I’m already faster by eliminating a lot of walking breaks.  As long as my body continues to cooperate with the HR training, I should start getting faster eventually.

Today was my last long run (15.2km) before New York on March 17.  Right now I have no goals other than to finish strong and to maybe finish faster than 2:28:48. A PR would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.  All I know is that I’m going to bring my A game and do my best.

New York, you’d better watch out.

Training Thursday

Oops…Thursday, not Tuesday again.

Quick recap of the last week:

Friday – Fran PR!

The first time I did Fran I didn't used the prescribed weights. The second time I did, and added 3 minutes to my time. This time I did it with the prescribed weights again and shaved that 3 minutes back off my time, very happy with that time! I'm still using bands for my pull ups, but hopefully I won't have to use them much longer.

Saturday – 10km long run. Could call this a shuffle, even. It was horrible but I got it done. 12km on the plan for tomorrow. Getting up earlier and trying new fueling options to hopefully prevent the shuffle from happening again.

Sunday – 2 hour skills clinic at the gym. We worked for the first half on gymnastics – handstands, kipping, ring dips, muscle ups (um I am no where near muscle ups so did not remotely attempt). The second half was more my style – new back squat PR, snatch drills, 7 minute snatch workout and a 7 minute clean&jerk workout. If only I could just power and Oly lift for the rest of my life, I'd be a happy girl.

Monday and Tuesday – rest days cuz I had other fun things to do (recaps tomorrow).

Wednesday – 4.5km run followed by a short 5min home WOD (3 rounds 10 weighted air squats, 10 weighted sit ups and 10 push ups then 1 min plank).

Thursday – CrossFit. Found out I can push press 85#. I intended to do clean and jerks for the ground to overhead portion of the WOD but apparently the push press was happening. Not too shabby since I don't think I've done 85#, ever, and I did it 18 times (the last 2 were split jerks).

The next week is going to be sporadic, as I work this weekend and then am traveling for a conference next weekend. I've moved my run schedule around to accommodate the travel (yay for hotel treadmills) and will be dropping into a local CrossFit for a couple of workouts as well. I will also be pool lounging when I am not learning. Combining learning and relaxing is my kinda business trip.

If you could do only one form of exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?


Subaru Triathlon Series–Niagara Try A Tri

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So yesterday happened. And it was AWESOME!!

17 minute PR, 6 minute PR on the bike leg, and I crossed the finish line grinning like a fool.

But let’s start at the beginning, where all good stories should start.

The Try A Tri started at 1:15pm, which is the latest I have ever had to be at a race start, but meant we didn’t have to be on the road until about 9:30.  I’m a bit obsessive about being early to things, and wanted time to park and figure out registration before having to rack my bike and set up transition.

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We got to Nelles Beach Park just before 11:30, and parking was easy to find and close to the transition area.  As with both of the Subaru Triathlon Series tris I have been to, registration was easy, simple, and so organized.  It took less than 5 minutes to fill out my waiver, get my numbers and my shirt and be on my way.  I staked out a spot on a rack in my age group, set up transition, and then waited for 1:15.

This time it was a lot easier to figure out the run up from the swim/bike out and bike in/run out areas.  The swim was a point-to-point, and started 375m down the beach from the transition area.  At about 10 to 1 Shawn and I started the trek down the beach towards the swim start.

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Swim 10:27

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This was my first time swimming in Lake Ontario, and that fact in and of itself really creeped me out, but I tried not to think about it (or swallow any water, either).  The water temp was cool, but more refreshing than frigid, and it was nice to see that I was in the majority with my lack of wetsuit.
The swim was along the shoreline, and shallow enough that I could touch the bottom at any point.  This was both good and bad, because as I started swimming I kept running into people that would suddenly put the breaks on and stand up, or people that were walking.  The good part was that this time, instead of hanging onto a kayak for a break, I could just get out of the way and stand for a bit.  I know that this is what saved me a lot of time on the swim.

Bike 26:46

Transition went smoothly, and then it was time to bike!  The bike had been my happy place in my first tri, and I expected it to be the same this time. Yeah, no.
It felt like my back brakes were on the entire ride– the whole bike portion was a struggle.  Also the description “flat as a pancake” was most definitely not accurate.
Near the 5km turnaround I started to play the “who can I pass” game.  Not only did it help me mentally, but I think in the end it helped me push harder (and ultimately go faster) as I picked people off on the way back to transition.

Run 19:18

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Run was uphill for the first 1km, on trails in the woods for 500m, then downhill for the last 1km.  This is where I sucked – slower than last time, but my legs were completely trashed from the swim and bike. I got the same weird cramp at the top of my left calf as I did on the bike previously, and basically I have no real excuse for why my run was crap.

I finished in 1:00:26, a freaking 17 minute improvement over my first Try A Tri. 

What I Learned

So let me preface this section by saying that I really didn’t do that much training for this race.  I did not ride my bike any distances since June 16 (only did some bike handling with the tri club) but I credit my improvement to the horrific magic that is the prowler.  I did some open water swims, and some pool swims, but clearly not enough.  It’s ironic that the part I trained most for, the run, is the one I sucked the most on.  But running is all mental for me, and I can talk myself out of running SO easily.  I need to get over that. So:

- I need to take swim lessons and spend way more time in the pool
- I need to practice running off the bike so that I’m used to running on tired legs (or just run more after doing 100000 deadlifts?)
- I need to get OUT OF MY OWN HEAD on the run and just RUN.
- Bike shorts are a must. Non negotiable. I will be buying these ASAP
- New bike before next year’s season starts

All in all, this race was a success.  I got over my fear of open water swimming, I kicked my own ass on the bike, and I actually PR’d by 10 minutes more than I expected.  I can’t believe it took me this long to find triathlons, and I’m looking forward to training over the winter for next season!

Running Errands (Literally)

(Did you know Rock The Dogs has a Facebook page now? I’d love it if you hopped on over and “liked” it! )

I’m doing my best to pretend I don’t have a race on Sunday. A triathlon. And that I still can’t swim to save my life (that’s a lie – I can save my life, just not swim efficiently or effectively or fast or, or, or…)

Last Friday I was supposed to do a long run of 6km, but I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating stomach pains. They finally went away midday, so I headed to CrossFit for the 4pm class. The WOD was brutal:

1km run
50 bench press
25 back squat
1km row

I managed the run in 6:03 which I was pretty happy with, given how hot it was and how much I suck at running lately. I did the bench presses at 45# and the squats at 115#. It took around 23 minutes I think.

By the evening my stomach hurt again – I’d even laced up and gone outside to run, but didn’t think I could risk it.

The long weekend happened (I worked), and on Wednesday morning I met up with fellow FitApproach #sweatpink Ambassador Michelle of Push.Pump.Progress for a hilly trail run! It was neat exploring a new area and meeting a new friend, and the hills were ridiculous.

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Wednesday afternoon at CrossFit we did the WOD that I am STILL feeling today:

Every Minute On the Minute
10 deadlifts
100m row penalty for not getting 10 in a minute

I started off with the prescribed weight of 135#, but by the 5th or 6th minute my legs were BURNING and I just couldn’t continue at that weight.  We switched plates and I finished with 115#.  I love deadlifts, but not 100 in 10 minutes. (And I had to row 200m after, too).

And now it’s Friday and my hamstrings and glutes are still in some serious pain from that workout.  It made my long run this morning pretty difficult.

I had 8km planned for today, and the forecast was calling for thunderstorms.  I had gotten permission from a friend I’m cat sitting for to use her treadmill, but when by noon the rain still hadn’t shown up I decided to combine errands and running, and run the 4km to my friend’s house, check on the cats, and run home for a combined distance of 8km.

I gotta say that it was a lot more fun to run with a destination in mind.  I don’t really like out and backs as much as I like loops, or even better, point to point.  My run felt like it had a purpose beyond just covering the 8km.

My screaming hamstrings and glutes made my pace a lot slower than I’d intended, and led to some walking up hills, but overall I was pretty happy to be out running the longest run since my injury in March.

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Tomorrow is Fight Gone Bad at the gym – we are doing it as a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. At this point I don’t think I’ll be participating, as I’m sore AND have a race on Sunday, but I’ll bring my gym clothes with me, just in case.  In either case there will be lots of pictures and a recap next week!

Have a great weekend!

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Have you ever “run” errands before?
Anyone else racing this weekend?

Training Tuesday–CrossFit Endurance

Yes, it’s Wednesday, not Tuesday.


Anyway, I wanted to do a post about CrossFit Endurance as I’ve had a lot of questions about it in the last week or so. Keep in mind I’m not an expert, I don’t have a coach (for the CFE anyway), and I’m kind of making this up as I go along.

From the CrossFit Endurance website:

We focus on eliminating unnecessary volume of training while increasing intensity. Our programming is structured, sport-specific and seamlessly integrated with Olympic lifts, powerlifting, gymnastics movements, explosive activity and mobility-based support. Everything we do focuses on midline stabilization and working from the inside out.
Our strength and conditioning approach for endurance athletes is unparalleled. We incorporate the CrossFit fundamentals of being constantly varied. Repetition is the enemy and results in a decreased ability to build fitness.
Make no doubt, our program is not easy, but we believe the journey is part of making the results more rewarding. Our design is to maximize you as an athlete and to elevate your fitness.

The CFE model is 3 days a week of single sport (in this case running), with 3 days of strength and anywhere from 4-6 CrossFit WODs as well.  This means doing double days a few days a week – but always separating the running portion from the CrossFit by at least 3 hours to give your body a chance to partially recover.

The 3 running workouts always have specific purpose – you are never just running to accumulate miles. There are the short interval days, the long interval days, and the tempo/time trial days.  CFE believes that intensity is key to building stamina and endurance, and not just hours upon hours on your feet, so the tempo/time trial days should never be longer than 90 minutes of running. 

There are also specific workouts posted to be performed on certain days (never on the TT/tempo day).  This is where I start to differ – I’m still following my gym’s programming instead of the CFE workouts.  This could prove to be a problem but I won’t know that until October when I run the half.  I’m also doing the TT/tempo days as a regular long run – so by distance, and probably more of an LSD time run instead of a crazy intense workout.  I feel that, for myself, I really do need the long run to feel prepared to run an entire half marathon.  I hope that as time passes I’ll be able to turn up the intensity for at least part of the long run, but at this point this is just wishful thinking.

Here is an example of a few weeks of my training (just the running workouts):

    Short Intervals       Long Interval       Long Run (TT/Tempo)
    Tabata (20 on 10 off)    3 x 800 m (2 min rest)              10 km LSD
3 x (100m, 200m 400m) 4 x 1200m, rest 2 min              15 km LSD
10 x 100m, rest 45 sec              5 x 400 m              17km LSD

(This is a few weeks away yet, and the 10km week is a cut back week)

I’m not making these workouts up – CFE posts workouts daily, so all of my workouts (save the long runs) have been taken directly from there. 

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Post 4km long run!

So far I love this way of training.  I can be done my running workout in 30 min or less during the week; I am running faster during the intervals than I have before, and I truly feel stronger since the last time I tried training for a half marathon.  I also like the low mileage I’ll have with this type of training – I think my knee will enjoy it better than the higher mileage I was doing before.  The key to this type of training is the strength training and CrossFit WODs, however – the running workouts are complemented by the CrossFit workouts. 

This week’s training:

Hill repeats @ Max Effort

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200m up this hill – it’s steep and it HURTS!


CrossFit or Bike (or nothing!)
3 x 1200m, 2 min rest in between


6km LSD

I hope that this summary has been helpful – for any specific questions please feel free to ask away, or check out the CrossFit Endurance website’s FAQs!

Training Tuesday

No, I didn’t forget the “Tri” (and yes I’m still doing it – August 12!) but yesterday marked Day 1 of Week 1 of Half Marathon training.

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My first #brilliantrun – more on that next week!

I’m hoping this time my knee will hold up and I won’t have any issues with runner’s knee or my IT band.  I plan on foam rolling A LOT.

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My physical therapist. Look at that steely look he’s giving me. “Get to work!”

To keep my knee and cranky ITB happy, I’ve modified the CrossFit Endurance training plan to suit my own needs.  I will be doing 2 CFE workouts during the week (1 short intervals, 1 long intervals) and then will continue doing my long runs once a week.  This way my weekly mileage will stay lower, I will get a bit faster (I hope) but I’ll still get in the long runs I love and need.  My longest run will also only be 17km (although I think I have it twice on my training schedule), which is also the longest run I got in when I was training over the winter.

This week’s schedule:

CFE: 10 rounds, 1 minute on, 1 minute off (did 2.3km in 20 min)

CrossFit or OFF

Open Water Swim
CFE: 5 min on, 2:30 off, 6 min on, 3 off, 7 minutes on

Lane Swim

4km LSD

It’s busy but that’s the way I like it! As usual things may change – I hurt my back on the weekend so might take it easy on the CrossFit workouts this week.  I’ll see how it goes on a day to day basis.

Let the training begin!

What It Means To Be An Athlete

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an athlete.

Oh sure, I have run a few races, trained (and DNS) for 2 half marathons, completed a triathlon, and can throw some heavy weights around, but does that make me an athlete? defines an athlete as “a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength”.

When I think of an athlete, I think of those sub 20min 5k runners, the talented runners who can run a marathon in nearly 2 hours, those that complete an Ironman, or those guys who deadlift 600lbs.  Sure, when I’ve raced and lifted weights I’ve trained, so I have that in common with my idea of athletes – but my training is nothing compared to their hours of hard work. 

I’m definitely not talented at anything athletic; I have to work my butt off to get the mediocre results I do get.  Some people are just born to run, to lift, to play tennis, or to swim – their genetics, talent, and drive all come together to make the perfect athlete.

So where does that leave the rest of us – the middle-of-the-packers, those of us that put the time in, show up and perform, but still aren’t winning our age groups, or setting new records? Well, if we go by the definition above, then we are definitely athletes.  However, for me it’s easier to attribute the athlete title to others, even those like myself, because I just can’t see myself as an athlete.  And I don’t know that I ever will.

To that extent then I guess being an athlete is more mental than anything – kind of a state of mind.  As long as we put the work in, and train hard, and show up on race day, game day or competition day and show everyone what we’ve got, and we truly BELIEVE we are athletes, then that’s what we are.

I hope that I can get there someday myself.


What is your definition of athlete? Do you consider yourself one?