Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Race Report: Newburyport Half Marathon

I recently ran my first half marathon ever at the Newburyport Half Marathon in Newburyport, MA.  A few of my buddies from the triathlon club were going down and they really laid on the peer pressure to join them.  I'm so glad that I decided to go, because we had a blast!

We had a nice drive down to Massachusetts and the best hosts in Elaine and Dave (and Devon and Hot Pocket).  On Saturday, our group enjoyed a big pancake breakfast, a shakeout run around the neighborhood, and a trip into downtown Boston (with a stop at a bike shop of course), including Mike's Pastry's famous cannoli (pre-race fuel...yum!).  Saturday evening a few other runners came over for a pre-race dinner of delicious fresh pasta, salads, and yummy dessert. Of course, I also painted my nails (Essie Boom Boom Room and Turquoise and Caicos), to the amusement of my fellow runners, and made Brent and Erik watch "Dreams of Glory" with me (aka my Pre-Race Rituals).

On race day, I woke up at 6:40 to get breakfast and get organized for departure at 7:30.  I made myself some oatmeal with natural PB and banana, with a nice large coffee on the side.  The shakeout run from Saturday determined my wardrobe - Lululemon Speed Shorts and 105 Tank, long sleeve half-zip, Smart Wool merino socks, and my Mizuno Wave Sayonaras.  Completing the kit - my Garmin, my Nike running hat, CamelBak Podium water bottle, and a race belt for my bib, just in case I needed to take off the long sleeves.  We drove about an hour to the race site and I decided that a little nap in the car was necessary.  When we got there, we went to pick up our race kits then returned to the car to drop our extra clothing off, before heading back over to the port-a-potties (plenty of time, even with long lines) and the start line.  I did a few drills to warm-up, then positioned myself between the 7:00 and 8:00/mile signs in the starting area.

Going into the race, I had a few goals kicking around in my head.  One was that I would be happy with anything under 1:45, especially since I had never done a half marathon and wasn't sure that my training had been sufficient.  Stepping it up a notch, I wanted to finish closer to 1:42, maybe even as fast as 1:40.  Going beyond that, my goal was to hold 7:30 per mile pace, which was about the pace that I ran my 10k at the Montreal Esprit Olympic Triathlon.  I figured that if I could go that pace after swimming 1500m and biking 40k, then maybe I could do it in a half marathon as well.  Obviously, my number one goal was to have FUN!!  In the end, enjoying myself and the experience was of the utmost importance.  Staying positive, smiling, and reminding myself how lucky I was to be healthy enough to participate in the event helped me to ensure that I reached my goal.

Photo Credit: Capstone Photography

Here is the mile-by-mile recap:

Mile 1:  Okay, Kels. Let's see how this goes. I told myself to hold back a little and not get swept up in the adrenaline of the start.  But I felt great, so I still allowed myself to go a little faster than my planned 7:30 pace.

Mile 2: Still feeling good, maybe I will try to stay closer to 7:20 pace then.

Mile 3:  I spot two women running together.  They have amazing running form and make this 7:20ish pace look super easy, so I decide to try to keep them in my sights.  Nice to have some "pace bunnies."

Mile 4:  A nice big downhill!  The "pace bunnies" flew by me and shouted, "where is everyone? we are going downhill."  I picked up my knees and let myself fly down behind them, deciding that I was going to take advantage of the downhills as much as I could.

Mile 5: We approach a section with tons of spectators, awesome! Then we turn down along a beautiful lake. For the first time, there are cars on the road with us, but not for very long. We also have the wind in our face and a slight uphill. I'm still feeling good, but mentally I slip for a second when I realize that we aren't even halfway.

Mile 6: Just keep running. I remind myself that this is going well and to relax.

Mile 7: Ah saw a guy carrying his shoes and walking, so I asked if he was okay.  I felt bad that his race was potentially over, but glad that I was still trucking along at a good pace.  This was a really picturesque part of the course along the lake.  Happy to be over halfway finished.

Mile 8: There was an aid station with gels and lots of other goodies.  I had my gel packed away in my CamelBak holder, so I ran by the station, not having decided whether or not I was actually going to use my gel.  I later decided that my energy level and mental power were fine, so I skipped the gel. We came back to the area with all the spectators and the crowd was really supportive!

Mile 9:  Whew, giant overpass to run over.  Cars driving below were honking their horns, thanks guys!  Following the overpass was a nice stretch of flat road... finally! As I ran along, with lovely fields to either side, I reminded myself again how awesome it was to be there, just running along and healthy enough to participate.

Mile 10: Just before the 10 mile mark hit, I stopped for the first time during the race to actually drink a sip of the Gatorade that I grabbed from the aid station (the first one I stopped at all race since I carried my water bottle with me).  At that point my water bottle was nearly empty and I thought a bit of sugar would help me get to the finish. As we started running again, I guess I cut a guy off by accident and he said thank you for blocking the wind.  I laughed.  Then we headed to an out and back on a road in an industrial park.  A lady told me that it was instead of a hill, so I thanked my stars, even though we were again running directly into the wind.

Mile 11: Wow, this is officially further than I have ever run!! I can't believe I'm still going.

Mile 12 and 13:  This is getting hard.  My legs are feeling heavier, but then I spot Jennifer, I know you!! Waving arms like a crazy lady.  And then we get a nice little downhill.  As we ran toward it, I was encouraging a guy next to me.  We only have less than a half mile to go, we can do anything for a few more minutes.  He told me he had been trying to break 1:40 forever and I told him he was going to do it for sure!  I remind myself that I have to leave it all out there since this is potentially my last race until the spring.

Finish: The last part of the race was awesome.  The path was fairly narrow and jam packed with spectators along both sides.  A sprint to the finish.  I see my Garmin flashing around a 6 minute mile for the sprint.  I see the clock ticking toward 1:37 and I do my best to beat it (forgetting to smile for the cameraman as evidenced in the photo above!).

What an awesome experience!  It was a beautiful day, with lots of community support, on a lovely course.  I was obviously very happy with my result and somewhat surprised that I was able to push myself that hard! Oh yea, as excited as I was going into the race for post-race festivities, including beer and pizza... my tummy was not that into it.  But, the Green Stride team puts on a great post-race party for sure!

Our road trip crew!

Final Stats:

Time: 1:36:34
Average Pace: 7:22/mile
9th in AG
37th woman
151st overall

Monday, October 27, 2014

Weekly Training and Life Recap: Week of October 20

Last week was my last week of training for an event until January.  That's what I've told myself at least.  Between now and January, I get to train to get stronger and faster, but not for a specific event.  That will hopefully mean I get to relax a bit too and train without pressure.  Not that my last few weeks of training haven't been relaxed, haha! Anyways, I'm quite excited to say that my training resulted in an amazing first half marathon experience on Sunday!  More to come on that later this week!

Monday: Taught two barre classes in the evening.

Tuesday:  I made it to swimming!!! Woop!  I was so proud of myself for actually dragging myself out of bed.  I only stayed in the pool for 2600m and I dropped down a lane, but it's better than not going!  In the evening, I met some friends for a spinning class at one of my favorite local bike shops, Cyclelogik.  It was very evident that my bike fitness has dropped off with my lack of cycling lately. Time to get back on that! A very active day wrapped up with Power Yoga with Phil. We did some handstand practice again, and I think I'm finally starting to "get it."

Wednesday:  Our evening track practice was cancelled due to the tragic events in Ottawa, which locked down the entire downtown, including the school where we usually do track.  For me, running is a bit of a coping mechanism and therapy all wrapped into one, so after being sent home from work, I went to a different track to do my 3x800 at race pace.

Thursday: I taught barre at 6 am.  In the evening, I went to Pure Flow yoga with Phil.  He slowed things down quite a bit for us, which was nice and probably what my body needed.

Friday:  I got up before work to do my last training run of 3 miles at the farm.  I left my watch at home, though I did set up the Nike app, and I didn't really look at my time.  It was quite surprising to hear the app tell me my pace after the first mile.  The legs felt great for an average pace of 7:40.  We hit the road for Massachusetts around 1 pm.

The view from our hosts' house! So pretty!

Saturday:  After a delicious breakfast, the OTC crew went out for a 15-minute shake-out run.  It was a gorgeous day! We went into Boston in the afternoon for some sightseeing and cannoli from Mike's Pastry (pretty much the best thing ever).

Pre-race fuel?? Limoncello and Chocolate Ricotta Cannoli from Mike's

Sunday: Race Day!!! Stay tuned for a recap of my very first half marathon!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of October 13

One more week down in my half marathon training.  Despite how little I have been training (which really was the plan all along), I feel confident going into the weekend. We will be departing from Ottawa on Friday and hopefully have some time to tour Boston / Salem on Saturday. Race day is Sunday in Newburyport.  I'm looking forward to a fun weekend with some of my OTC pals!

So my training was a bit sporadic, a few things that were out of my control came up during the week, so I had to miss track practice on Wednesday for example. But my Tuesday night run left me feeling awesome! And I am still really enjoying my yoga practice.

Monday: A long day spent in the car driving home from New York City.

Tuesday:  Left the house with no real plan for my run. I wanted to do about 5 miles and I knew that I should probably try to do some of those miles at tempo. Well, I felt great! I ran the first mile at 7:26, then the middle 3 at 6:56, 7:06, 7:03, and finished with a mile cool-down.  Power Yoga at Pure Yoga after my run. It was probably the sweatiest that I have ever been. And Phil had me try a handstand. At first I told him "no way," but then he said to trust him and just try it.  Well, my philosophy of doing the things that scare you kicked in, so I went for it. Now I just want to practice my handstands haha!

Wednesday: Barre class. Had to skip track.

Thursday: Flow Yoga

Friday: 5k+ run with my friend Jenn.  It was super windy and neither of us were really feeling it, so rather than 10k, we did about 5, maybe a little more since neither of us turned our watches on for the whole run.

Saturday: Taught a barre class and then went to a flow yoga class.

Sunday:  Yoga meet-up for Karma Flow with some Tone It Up girls.  Loved the class and the energy of our teacher.  Then I went out for a nice 20k bike ride in Gatineau Park to admire the beauty of the changing fall colors with Jenn. It was a chilly one (40F), but it was so pretty and peaceful. Got to enjoy a delicious Spiced Pumpkin Pie CLIF Bar too thanks the lovely folks at CLIF Bar Canada.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Positive Mind, Positive Life

I'm reposting this from a blog I wrote for one of my fitness challenge groups, mostly as a reminder to myself.  The past few weeks I have been unmotivated, stressed out, and not my usual self.

The journey to a healthier life is as much about what you eat and how much you workout as it is about how you feel about yourself and how you approach life.  It can also be a challenging journey at times and staying positive can be the key to achieving the results you want and to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

I'm a firm believer that attitude is everything.  The way that we approach each day can have such a big effect on how that day turns out for us.  When we are negative, we see every situation in a negative light, looking for excuses instead of solutions.  When we are positive, we see every situation as an opportunity to grow, learn, and love.

It took me a long time to figure this out and a long time of living with a fairly negative attitude.  I made excuses, I was unhappy, and instead of changing my situation, I just let myself drift along.  So what changed?  I believe there are 3 main things that helped me change my outlook from glass half empty to glass half full.

1) Gratitude:  When you are grateful, you automatically focus on the positive things in your life and when you live each day with a grateful heart, you find even more positive things come your way. Try this: Spend a few minutes each morning or before you go to bed writing down 3-5 things that you are grateful for.  Do this at least once a week for a month.

2) Goals: Having goals to work toward allows me to stay on track, because I have a bigger purpose.  When I am working toward a goal, I know that I have to be in the right mindset on a daily basis in order to stay motivated and keep pushing myself.  Giving myself check-points and tracking my progress helps me keep a positive attitude even in the face of setbacks.  I can always look at how far I have come instead of dwelling on something negative.  Try this: Write down your short and long-term goals (related to family, fitness, career, or anything your heart desires).  Save your goals where you can see them daily.

3) Giving: Focusing on helping others instead of myself also keeps me positive.  When we help other people and do nice things for those we love, we receive feelings of happiness and satisfaction.  Try this: Do something nice for a friend, family member, or even a stranger. Buy them a coffee, write a sweet note just because, or invite them to lunch.

Overall, it takes a lot of self-awareness to live a positive and happy life.  You have to constantly check-in with yourself and evaluate how you are feeling in reaction to particular events, people, or places.  It may sound harsh, but keep the stuff that makes you happy and eliminate the stuff that stresses you out and makes you unhappy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of October 6

Not much to say about last week, except that my training is still mostly just running and yoga.  I did attempt to get up to go swim on Tuesday, but had some horrible stomach pains that kept me in bed. With a weekend of travel, I also had two extra rest days since I spent a large part of my day in the car! Now, I am on my last week of training before a short taper, so I'm going to work hard this week!

Monday: 11 mile run for my longest run ever.  It felt great until about 9 miles, when my stomach started to bug me a bit.  It was also pitch black by the time I got home, and I suppose that is what I get for trying to do my long run after work in the fall! I'm proud of myself and was very happy with my pacing (8:06/mile average).

Tuesday: Taught two barre classes, so a rest day.

Wednesday: Track (about 1/3 of the workout) and Yin Yoga.  My track workout was supposed to be 1200- 10x400 - 1200, but I only did through the first three 400s, because I was not feeling well at all. I am still really loving Yin for the amazing stretch and the fact that it really makes me focus and stay patient.

Thursday: Yin/Yang Class at Pure Yoga. I really enjoyed the contrast of the class and the first half was really challenging. 

Friday: Rest Day / Travel Day!

Saturday:  Run in Central Park!! This was officially the most "touristy" thing that I did during my trip to NYC and it was awesome.  It was also pouring down rain and pretty chilly, so I only did 9 of the planned 13 miles.  There were so many people out running, despite the awful weather, so at least I was motivated enough to stay out for 9 miles (because I really wanted to turn around after 3!).  I also had no idea how hilly the park is!  I took my time and really enjoyed the experience! (8:15/mile average) (Wish I had more pictures from my run, but I had my phone in a plastic bag, so most of the pics I took are really blurry!)

Sunday: Lots of walking around NYC!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Planning for 2015 Triathlon Season

Now that I am sufficiently into my off-season, the itch to do a triathlon has returned.  It took a few weeks, but I'm now rested and ready to rumble again.  I suppose this post should wait until after the post that has been sitting in my drafts folder titled "Lessons from my Tri Season," but I'm still working on that one... so moving forward for now.  Though I will take into account one lesson from last season, and that is to put more thought and planning into my race season.  Last season, I just kind of signed up for races as I felt like it and I ended up doing three races in the span of a month.  By the end, I was burnt out and that third race (K-Town) was a struggle!  So, this is what I'm thinking about as I plan my season:

1) When I want to peak -- That's easy.  My "A" race next season is Age Group World Championships.  I'll be doing the sprint tri and my goal is to place in the top 10 in my AG. That is a tall order, so I need to be sure that I peak at just the right time.

I get to go back to Chicago! And this time, I'll be sporting Team Canada colors!

2) Budget - Races and especially travelling to races can get expensive.  But, it is also really fun to go race somewhere new, so I'm budgeting for one travel race in addition to my trip to Chicago. That will probably be my other big race, so I'm looking in the May-early June timeframe.

3) Supporting Local Races - My plan is to head back to Cornwall next season, where I did my very first triathlon.  Cornwall hosts a really great, well organized race, with friendly volunteers and delicious post-race food. It attracts a lot of good athletes from the area too!  I'm also really hoping to pull together a relay for the Meech Lake Tri, another local race in beautiful Gatineau Park.  This one is a tough course and our club usually has lots of relays participating.

4) Having fun - as I learned last season, the more fun I am having, the better my performance will be.  I'm looking for races with fun atmospheres, lots of community support, familiar faces on the course, etc.

5) Challenging myself - I want to continue to grow as an athlete, so I need to challenge myself whether that is with a tough course, with a tough field of competitors, or a personal goal.

6) Giving myself time to recover - Rest and recovery is so important to achieving peak performance.  I'm going to try to give myself plenty of recovery time between races and enough time that I can get back to my real training too!  Last July felt like a month long taper and I could tell my fitness had diminished by the end of the month.

Once I get my race schedule planned out, I will plan out my training schedule in order to be appropriately prepared for the season.  It will be here in no time at all!

Do you have any suggestions on cool races or places to do a race? Let me know!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of September 29

It was a pretty low-key week for my workouts.  I mostly ran and did some yoga! I'm pretty excited to have started a month of yoga classes at Pure Yoga Ottawa. I really like the teachers there so far, and as someone who has always claimed to "dislike" yoga, I'm actually happy to report that I am loving it!  My goal is to try lots of different teachers and styles of yoga over the next month.  My body is really happy too.  Unfortunately though I let my social calendar distract me from my training yet again (football game and Oktoberfest) and I didn't fit my long run in on the weekend, so I get to do it tonight instead.  I really need to focus the next few weeks, because that half marathon is right around the corner!!

Monday: Rest day and foam rolling.

Tuesday: Track practice was a tough one!! We did 4x400 at 5k pace with 30 seconds rest between, 2 minutes rest, 3x800 at 3k pace with a minute rest between, 2 minutes rest, and 4x400 fast with a minute rest between. After track, I went to Pure Power hot yoga at Pure Yoga Ottawa.  The teacher, Phil, had taught Parliament Hill Yoga the previous week and I really liked his class, and he led a really good one on Tuesday as well.

Wednesday: Pure Yin yoga with Nigel at Pure Yoga.

Thursday: Tempo Run Thursday.  I did 6 miles - 1 mile warm-up, 4 miles tempo (7:18, 7:26, 7:22, 7:20), 1 mile cool-down. It was a gorgeous night for a run along the canal!

Friday: I did a quick toning routine from Tone It Up - arms and abs - before work. RedBlacks game in the evening with my iNSiDE Out family.

Saturday: I taught two barre classes, then went to Beau's Oktoberfest!

Sunday: Pure Vinyasa yoga with Nigel at Pure Yoga.  It felt amazing after a weekend of indulgences.  Then we had a photo shoot for the barre studio! It was so fun and actually a bit of a workout since we did a lot of technique shots where we held the position forever while the photographer did his magic.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Getting Back on Track

Let's be honest. My motivation lately has been at about a level 2 on a 1-10 scale.  Finding time to get my workouts in has not been a priority and even with a half-marathon... my longest run ever... looming in the very near future, I haven't been able to muster the motivation to train for it.  All those grand plans of training and gaining strength in the off-season haven't happened either. So, it's time to get back on track and to find that fire again.  These are the things I am thinking about:

1) Accepting that my body needs rest - my triathlon season was long and intense.  I started my training in January and did my last race in early September.  Taking a break now is good for my health.  Skipping a week of swim practice at this point in the year will not affect me next season.

2) Mixing up the routine and finding some inner peace - I took up yoga this week.  It is a new challenge for me.  Yoga has never been my favorite. But I found a great studio and so far, I'm loving it.  To give myself the chance to love yoga, to challenge my body in new ways, to build strength and flexibility of body and mind, I signed up for a month of classes.  My goal is to go as often as possible, try as many different styles and teachers as possible, and be as open as possible to the experience.

3) Returning to routine and balance - summer and the rigours of training had me in some ways in a great routine (my workouts), but in other ways complete chaos (my nutrition).  I'm trying to bring balance back and trying to get back into a rhythm where I train, eat right, and still have a life.

4) Starting small - Getting back to balance isn't going to happen overnight. I'm trying to gradually switch my diet back to where I no longer eat whatever I want, whenever I want.  I'm trying to gradually get to the point where I fit in all of my workouts.

5) Looking for support - so many of my friends are athletes.  I'm trying to use them as inspiration and motivation. Thank goodness we've maintained our weekly track practices, for example, because at least I have some buddies to challenge me there.

6) Being kind to myself - no sense in beating myself up over a missed workout or a nutrition slip up. 

How do you get back on track when you've lost motivation or fallen out of your good habits?