Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sink or Swim

Today I started the day with the best intentions. I packed my knapsack with my swimming gear, and a plan to get 30 minutes of freestyle in the pool. I checked out the local pool schedule and created a plan. It sounded like a great idea.

When I arrived at the pool after work, I decided to ask the receptionist where the lane swimming section was. Much to my dismay, I somehow picked the only pool of the four choices that didn't offer lane swimming. It said so in the schedule, but my inexperience with the local pools proved otherwise.

I have lived in North Van for two years now. Admittedly, I have done almost all of my swimming in the City of Vancouver pools. Call me a creature of habit, or wanting to take advantage of 50m outdoor pools, but I have only swam in my local pool just a handful of times. It's a pity really, as I literally live 1km apart in either direction of two pools.

I left the pool feeling a little deflated. I will admit of the three disciplines involved in triathlon, swimming is the one I am the least enthusiastic about. I will shuffle, do the death march, stall and find a million excuses to get out of swimming. However, once I get into the pool, it's a whole other attitude, and I get totally into the zone and get solid workouts in.

It's really such a strange phenomenon, as this has been the case throughout my tri training over the years. And it doesn't help matters, that my enthusiasm for training is at its peak for the day right after work, when I would love to work out the stresses of the work day. However, my plans always collide with the kids competitive swimming lessons, so if I am able to secure a lane to swim in, I have these dolphins whipping by me in the next lane, with perfect strokes, doing something crazy like butterfly stroke. Um, intimidated? Perhaps. Overwhelmed? Yeah, maybe.

I came home feeling a little mopey, as I didn't want to drive around to the other pools to see what was available for lane swimming. It was absolutely pouring rain, so motivation for a run was even less. The swim spark was gone. And besides, I knew it would be something like 8:45-10pm for adult swim sessions. I don't know about you, but once I am parked on the couch with Piper the cat on the lap, there simply is no leaving the house for anything. Besides, how do you resist a face like this?

So the lesson that I take from this, is that sometimes there are somethings that you can control and others that you can't. Do the best you can to create a plan, and even a plan B if necessary. And if that doesn't work out, there's always cuddle time with the cat.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I have discovered an interesting trend that seems to take place during the winter. It starts off usually in mid to late February, and shows up after the season opener for road races. It's called over-enthusiastic race registration.

For the past two years following completing the First Half Half Marathon in February, the adrenaline is flowing the veins. I feel the competitive drive motivating me to search for that next rush, my next race, my next adventure. For example, last year, Greg and I somehow decided that it made perfect sense to take advantage of a bargain for the Lifesport Triathlon series. It was a "seasons pass" of triathlons for $395. We pressed 'send ' on the registration, and voila! We were suddenly looking at completing four half ironmans between May and August, before completing IronMan Canada on August 29th. It was just plain silly. I had an awesome racing season, but I was pretty darn tired by the time November rolled around.

This year, the similar conversation emerged, and suddenly Greg and I are looking at the computer, suddenly rationalizing that racing the Oliver Half Ironman on June 5th is completely acceptable. After all, it's mid-February, that's enough time to train for 3 disciplines, right?

Fast forward to today, April 26th, and I have gone for my second bike ride of the season, a whopping 25.3km, and my butt hurts. I haven't driven by the pool, let alone step foot into it. And I am just 6 weeks away from Oliver. Am I nervous? Um, just *slightly*. Wondering what the heck I was thinking? Yup.

However, having completed five IronMans in five years, I have come to recognize that all hope is not lost. I have an amazing base with having just completed Boston. My legs respond fairly quickly to riding, since I have to ride up & down hills with living on the North Shore. The butt stops complaining after the 3-4-5th rides. The swim, well I will just leave that to my favourite website, Mr. SwimSmooth to help guide me with tips to improve my technique. ( Besides, everyone knows in triathlon, that you don't win on the swim! ;-)

Having taken a full week off from training after running Boston, I am coming around to getting back into the swing of things for training. I live better overall when I have consistency and a schedule in my life. I tend to prioritize better, I sleep better and focus more. I have always found the whole recovery process following a marathon or an IronMan to be difficult, as the mind is already ready to go, but the body wants to rest. It's a constant battle and game of second guessing to determine when is it time to start training again. Start up too fast, and it's easy to get injured (speaking from years of clinic instruction and personal experience). Wait too long, and you have lost significant fitness. It's a fine balance.

In the meantime, I will ease my way back into training six days a week for triathlon. It's not the easiest thing to do, especially since the next six weeks are looking to be super busy. However, I will do my best to accommodate the challenges that may come up and find compromises. My motivation will be the profound sense of accomplishment when I know that I have completed the task for the day.

So I ask, what keeps you going to take that next step?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Boston Marathon 2011: The Recap

Hi all,

Sorry to keep anyone waiting to hear how my Boston Marathon experience went. It's been a busy couple of days, and finally found the time and opportunity to sit down and write about my Boston experience. So here goes... and I will forewarn you, it's a long one.

I felt going into Boston that I was physically prepared for the adventure that lay before me. Friends who had run Boston had forewarned me that I should be prepared for downhill running, and that it was an experience that I would want to soak in as much as possible. I took this advice to heart and ensured that I did a lot of hill training, and a little bit of speed work to physically prepare. I am glad I had turned on the listening ears, as I felt during the race, that I was on track.

My preparation for Boston started before we left for Boston. I had packed all of my race day clothes in my carry-on bag, and had clothes ready for both cold and warm weather. I carried my nutrition, the five gels that I would use for the day, and everything was ready to go.

Sunday night before the race, we had gone for the pre-race dinner at City Hall, and then settled back into the hotel for the night. Greg organized details for internet so he could faithfully follow the Canucks game that was on at 10:30 that night, complete with headphones. We had a great night sleep on the Saturday night, so I was mentally prepared that my pre-race sleep was going to be crap. And yes, it was. I think it was 1am when I finally fell asleep. However, I managed to meet my goal, which was to ensure that I at least got more sleep than the number of hours that I would be running. Mission accomplished.

The blackberry alarm went off at 5am, followed by wakeup call at 5:05, so I started off raring to go. We had picked up a couple of bagels the night before, so chewed on one (tough to do since they were stale). Our hotel had organized to have coffee and bananas available at 5:30am. So I was there first thing to get my caffeine boost and banana.

My biggest concern for the morning was trying to figure out timing for eating, drinking and emptying. I didn't want to eat too much, too early as there was a 3-hour between the bus pick-up and start time. So I made sure to carry the extra bagel in case and then aimed to hit the corral for coffee and maybe a second bagel.

We left the hotel just after 6am to walk to Boston Commons. It was a brisk 10 minute walk to the park, where we were greeted by 27,000 of my closest friends. It was the sight to see at such an early hour. Everywhere I looked, there were huge line-ups of people waiting for the bus, as well as a constant stream of buses whisking people away to a faraway place, otherwise known as Hopkinton.

I just jumped at the end of a random line-up to take me away to Hopkinton. Considering the sheer volume of people, it was probably only 20 minutes of waiting before filing onto a bus. We left Boston Commons at 7am, a whole three hours before the first wave start.

I sat beside a gentleman named Juerg from South Carolina. He was running his second Boston this year. He was a little nervous, and I have to agree as to why, as he had broken a bone in his foot only 6 weeks prior. Juerg was aiming for his "Boston or Bust" race, and hoping that his foot would hold out for the 26.2 miles before him. I told him I was also nervous, as my periformis had been seriously painful for the 2 weeks prior to the race. Nothing spells out confidence like spending all relaxing time with a tennis ball on the glute.

The bus ride out to Hopkinton is about an hour long. It's a pretty nondescript drive, except for the fact that there were cop cars zipping by with their lights on, escorting the busses to their destination. Makes one feel a bit special with that kind of treatment. We arrived just at 8am, and you could instantly feel the nervous energy in the air. Perhaps the people running to the forest to pee added to that energy, but there was a huge buzz. As well, one of the first things to greet me once stepping off the bus, was the huge blast of wind. The forecast had called for a tailwind, roughly 30 miles an hour. Thank god that was going to be on our backs for the race, and not into it. A good blessing I'll call it.

I entered into the corral, and decided immediately to get a second cup of coffee for another caffeine jolt. I grabbed the coffee, a second bagel and tried to figure out how I was going to stay warm for 3 hours while the wind whipped by. As soon as I tried the coffee, I tossed it, as it was awful. I was then given a Gatorade pre-workout drink with approximately 300 calories, that was targeted to drink two hours before, aka, RIGHT NOW.

My left periformis was angrily grumbling, so I thought the best course of action would be see if I could take advantage of the prerace massage. I was very nervous doing this, as I was nervous to seriously wake the dragon right before the race. I jumped in line and waited outside before they let me in.

For anyone who plans on running Boston, let me tell you of the best-kept secret. The best way to stay warm before the race, is to go into the only building open to racers, which is the massage area, in the middle school gym. Even if you only pretend to get a massage, this was the biggest saving grace for my race, as it allowed me to stay warm and stretch that buggar periformis. So do yourself a favour, and hit that gym!

As my wave started @ 10:20, I left the gym to hit the porta-potties at 9:20, then do the bag drop-off at 9:35, so that I would be on schedule to leave the corral at 9:45. The walk from the corral to the start line is 0.7 miles, so I made sure to leave on time and get into my section 8 with plenty of time.

Boston had organized the race this year to have a 3-wave start, with 9 different sections. I was assigned to wave 2, section 8. Finally, 10:20 arrived and the gun went off. Hey everyone, the fun has begun!

I hit the start line 3 minutes later, and immediately felt the downhill that starts Boston. For the record, the first 8km is downhill, which can be really hard on the quads.

My strategy was to go easy for the first 10km, then slowly build, and then try to keep pace for the last 10km. I felt this huge rush of people go by me for the first couple of miles, but kept my head to stay on my plan. I am really glad I did this, as it allowed me to just get my head used to the sheer volume of runners around me, and see how many people spectate this event. During this first stretch, I saw a couple of friends- Don who was previously in my running clinics, as well as Andrea, who is in the current marathon clinic at Broadway. They passed me, never to be seen again.

The course in itself is pretty nondescript for the first third. It's not like many races where it's gorgeous views and flash. Instead, I saw lots of bare trees, and spectators. There were the bikers who were blasting AC/DC, drinking beer and bbq-ing at 10:30 in the morning. Signs everywhere and people sitting in their lawnchairs clapping.

Greg had planned on seeing me at the 10km marker as well as mile 23. I wasn't expecting to see him as I thought the sheer volume of people would make it difficult to spot him. So I was extremely surprised to see him at the 10km marker. The scenery onwards was getting more interesting with the old buildings, more towns and the volume of spectators growing. As we got closer and closer to Boston, the atmosphere became more and more electric.

I was starting to get hot at this point, as the temperature for the day was quickly rising. The forecast had called for a high of 17C, so I wore my short sleeved IMC shirt, and my coolwings, so that I could pour water on myself to keep cool. I was really trying to be conservative with my pacing, and make sure to not get overheated during the race, and be consistent in my caloric intake.

I continued on my journey to Boston and had to really try to keep focus on pace while watching the sights around me. One of my favourite moments, was running by some fitness facility. They had organized about 20 small trampolines, and each trampoline had a little kid bouncing on it, holding up signs. There were little kids handing out licorice, orange slices, little glasses of water, or wet paper towels. There were kids lined up along the sidewalk, all hoping for a high five from the marathoners. It was so awesome to see how people went all out for this race.

Around mile 13 is when I hit Wellesley College. In fact, I was greeted with a large adidas sign aptly stating, "Wellesley with Screams." Wellesley College is an all-girls school located beside the course who get right into the spirit of the marathon. I was greeted with the "Kiss me!" signs that they are famous for. I believe for nearly half a mile, all I saw were signs saying: "Kiss me, I'm available! or Kiss me, I'm from Connecticut! or Kiss me, I'm bicurious!" or whatever else. It was hysterical some of the things that I saw. I didn't feel inclined to kiss anyone, however, I leapt at the chance when a girl held the sign: "High Fives for Canadians!" So I did, and then gave her a hug, I was so excited to see. There were a lot of signs for Canadians along the course, so it was great when they saw me in all of my IronMan Canada gear, as they went nuts with cheers.

I felt great physically, despite the concerns I had before the race with the periformis. Luckily, it decided to behave. The only concern was that I didn't feel like I had the necessary zip in the legs to push me hard that day. I was also hot, so I had to slow down at aid stations and grab water to pour over my arms or dump down the back of my shirt. I also started to notice an irritation in the back of my throat. I realized later in the race that I figured out it was the PowerGels Double Lattes that were the cause. So I kept drinking a glass of water to help alleviate the irritation.

The miles kept rolling along, and the smile persisted on my face. It was so much fun to see all the happenings. At mile 20 through 21 is when you take on the challenge of Heartbreak Hill. I am glad that Greg and I visited it on Saturday to get a feel of the hill, and concluded that it was really no different than running up part of the UBC hill or Highland Boulevard in North Van. Besides, it was only about 700m of hill before the descent towards Boston. I was so stoked going up Heartbreak, that when I got about 3/4 up, I let out a huge holler, and then said to the closest spectators. "I came here to take on Heartbreak, and I KILLED it!!!" It was a huge push to get up that hill and take on the last 10km of the race. I felt awesome!

The crowds kept getting bigger and bigger as I got closer to the end. By the time I hit Fenway, the crowds were seriously 12 people deep. I was shocked to see Greg again as promised at mile 23. He was screaming and cheering and it was great to see him, as I had just started having a side stitch. Seeing him put me immediately back in game mode and pushed on to the end.

The final couple of miles were almost a blur. I remember looking at my garmin at 40km, and thinking to myself, "Holy cow, realistically, I have only 10 more minutes of this!" I didn't know whether to push it to finish earlier, or slow down to take it all in. I decided to push as I realized that a girl who had started right before me was just ahead of me by 10 feet. I decided to make her my goal to beat so that I knew I pushed it. The plan worked, as I kept up and went for it for the final stretches of the race.

I crossed the line at 3:50:31. This was my fourth-fastest race, but I think it will be one of my most memorable ones. I shuffled through to grab my heatsheet and finally collect my long-awaited medal. I actually cried when I received the medal.

What I took from this experience was that this WAS the destination, and all races up to this were the journey. It's been full-circle for me to get to this point. When I first decided to try and qualify back in October 2008, my whole world was tilted when my Dad died on August 13th, 2008. I really struggled through the grief, and running helped me deal with the pain. And then I missed qualifying by 46 seconds.

The second thing that made this so special for me, was the fact that I trained for and qualified for Boston with my injured hip. I am on a waitlist for surgery, but was still able to overcome the issues with pain and stress to keep up the running and persist. So this was gratifying.

I decided to dedicate my race to my Dad and asked him to help me through the race. He looked after me to make sure that I could push through the pain and enjoy the experience. So thanks Dad.

And of course, I totally dedicate this race to my dear husband, Greg. You have been my rock, my confidant and my number one fan. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have you by my side.

For the next while, I am going to focus on biking and swimming, as my next goal is the Oliver Half IronMan in June and then maybe the Scotiabank half marathon. However, in the meantime, I am going to enjoy recovery and feel proud of what I have done. And it feels alright.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm: Boston - 2011

So I have decided to make the whole Boston experience a two-part process. After all, we were there for 6 days, and want to make the actual Boston Marathon experience a whole other posting. So bear with me.

This was the first time visiting Boston. Greg and I were pretty excited to go there, partly because we have seen very little of the East Coast together, it was an actual weekend, and of course, the big deal towards the end of it. I had gone so far to do research in advance and have a list of things to do and see while we were there. You know, make the best of it.

Now that I think of it, I should revisit that list to see what I had wanted to do, and what we actually did. Let me dig that up....

  • Pick up race gear - DONE!

  • Buy Finisher’s Gear after the race! -DONE!

  • Go to see the Boston Red Sox! - DONE!

  • Visit Harvard University- DONE!

  • Patriot’s Day celebrations - Nope!

  • Faneuil Hall Quincy Marketplace. (Originally built in 1826 as a meat and green grocery hall, it now contains over 100 shops, caf├ęs and restaurants). - DONE!

  • Go for a great dinner in North End, full of Italian restaurants - DONE & DONE! (two dinners, plus picked up some delicious cannoli at an Italian bakery-twice)

  • RunBoston running tour ( -Nope!

  • Outlet mall- Kittery in New Hampshire (1hr north of Boston, and 1 mile of outlets)- DONE & Nope... we just went down the street to the shopping district and brought financial stability back to the area with the amount of shopping done.

  • Wrentham Premium outlet mall - Nope!

We first arrived in Boston around 7:30 on Thursday night. It had been a very long day of travelling, as we left our house in North Vancouver at 4:20am to be at the airport for 5am. Our first flight to Denver left at 7am. We spent a couple of hours at the Denver airport, where we funnily enough, ran into Greg's best friend's husband along the escalator. Our second flight took us around 4.5 hours to Boston's Logan International Airport. If you visit Boston, take the subway, and be sure to pick up a Charlie Pass, and it's $15 for 7 days. A steal of a travel deal if you ask me.

We booked into the Ames Hotel ( in the financial district just after I successfully registered for Boston. This historic building was redone into this swank hotel about 18 months ago, and we were so impressed by it all. We were upgraded to a Superior deluxe room, on the 12th floor, and it made the inner hotel snob in me, very happy indeed. Greg had made arrangements with the concierge to have a stunning bouquet of pink roses, pink lillies, and tulips greet us in our room, as a way to celebrate the weekend. Nice touch Greg!

We were ravenous by this time, so bobbled our way to Faneuil Hall Quincy Marketplace, and ate at McCormick & Schmick's for dinner. It was okay, but we decided to take advantage of the seafood options, since lobster is so much cheaper in Boston than Vancouver. Which explains this photo....

We made it back to our hotel around 10 and crashed hard for a good night sleep.

Friday midday, after sleeping for 12 hours each, we decided to get out and explore the tour. However, before we went out, Greg wanted to check in with the concierge to thank Charles for assisting with the flowers and ask about internet for the Canucks games. Much to our surprise, we were advised that a friend had called and made arrangements for a couples massage! Whoa! We have friends?!?! Turns out, it was Greg's boss, Sandra who had done this. Greg had told her some time ago of where we were staying, and she paid attention. (This wasn't the first time Sandra had done this- she had done the same thing to us by buying our dinner for us the night we got engaged when Greg told her what restaurant we were going to). Needless to say, we suddenly became very aware of all our aches and pains, and grateful that we had an hour long massage each to look forward to for Saturday.

First up on the agenda for Friday, was to hit the Boston race expo and pick up my race kit. Seriously, if an adult runner needed an example of Christmas, it was the race, and package pick up was like going to visit Santa on Christmas Eve. I was so excited to be there, and even had the eyes well up a few times, I was so appreciative to be there. The expo is pretty big and the Adidas official merchandise section was already a zoo at 3pm on the first day. I decided to pick up the race jacket (of course), a green short sleeve tech shirt, capris, 2 baseball caps (white and green), and a BAA logo beer glass. It was more than I had intended, but Greg convinced me that I might as well get the wardrobe. What the heck.

We ventured through the expo and had planned to leave. One quick last bathroom break, and then suddenly, we realized that we had only been in part of the expo and there was a whole huge wing more to explore. From a work standpoint, there wasn't a whole lot there that I would call unique or innovative (can you tell that I look for trends and innovative ideas at tradeshows as part my living). From a consumer standpoint, there were all the big brand names with big flashy booths and lots of gear. However, there was a lot of redundancy, and saw over and over again, compression socks, various marathon organizers, nutrition and kitschy stuff. I bought four sports bras, all at 50% off and a cute sun visor to support breast cancer.

After the expo, we went back to the hotel to drop off our stuff, get changed, and then headed to FENWAY PARK to catch a Red Sox game. Greg, my super shopper, had scooped a pair of tickets that ended up being primetime at $50 each. We sat in the front row, right field, literally beside the Toronto Blue Jays' bull pen. We just looked at each other with shock on our faces at what we had scored for these seats, it was incredible. We fully enjoyed the experience, complete with Italian sausage hot dogs, kettle corn and a hot chocolate. The only thing we regretted of the whole experience, was not being prepared enough to handle the cold winds that came whipping through.

Following the game, we went to the first sports bar we saw and sat down to watch the Canucks playoffs game. Much to Greg's angst, as much as he was there to support me for my race, he also didn't want to miss out on the hockey games. So we ate pizza, watched hockey and thawed out. Then back to crash at the Ames hotel.

Saturday morning, and we greeted our two RMT's at 10am for the now much anticipated couples massage. Admittedly, I was quite nervous, as I had been experiencing serious issues with my left periformis. Nothing says confidence when your left glute is chronically throbbing. That was my biggest concern along with a tight left IT band. Seriously, after Boston, I need to unwind! Greg took advantage of having his back worked on. It was a blissfully tortuous hour, but we both felt better for it. Following massage, we ventured to the shopping district down the street from the hotel to scout out our potential shopping areas for Monday. After that, we went back to the race expo to see if there was anything we had missed previously, and then continued on our way. Our intention was that we didn't want to go too crazy, as we didn't want to be on our feet all day. That idea went out the window when we decided to take the train out to Boston College, so we could check out the infamous Heartbreak Hill. Walked long way from the subway to the top of Heartbreak Hill, then realized at the bottom of the hill that we needed to go back up to find the subway. Just making sure we hit our 10,000 steps for the day, no big deal. Finally made it back onto the subway and then headed out for dinner.

I should mention that trying to go out for a good old fashioned pasta load on the Saturday night in Boston before the Boston Marathon is a bit of a stretch. We were recommended by a stranger on the subway to go to the North End, Boston's Italian district, to Antico Forno ( Despite the hour-long wait, it was well worth it. The food was incredible, and it was entertaining to sit beside the waiters station and hear them talk. We stuffed ourselves silly, then headed to Bova's Bakery for cannoli and other various desserts to eat back at the hotel. I felt so full and guilty at the end of the night for the gluttony, but it was worth it.

Sunday morning, after another big sleep in, I went for a short run (to try and work off the dinner) and then we went out to sightsee again. This time, we went along the waterfront so I could see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. However, it didn't happen without controversy and will remain memorable for the fact that a bird crapped on my head. Yeah, that was a lot of fun, but I couldn't stop laughing. What else could I do besides find the closest bathroom to try and clean up.

Despite this wardrobe setback, we made the trip to Cambridge and explore Harvard University. I had never seen what the campus looked like, so I was curious to see what one of the most prestigious schools looked like. It was nice, there were some sections closed to students only, but yes, it was a school. Finished off at Harvard and then back for the pre-race dinner.

The BAA hosts a pre-race dinner at the City Hall, which as it so happens, was literally behind our hotel. It was really well organized, despite the super long line-ups of attendees. The food was good, but my only complaint was that I had to go out and around the building just to find desserts. That part was ridiculous. Otherwise, it was nice to meet a few other runners and share in the excitement of the race.

Following the dinner, back to the hotel to prepare for the race. I had prepared my race gear for the most part before we left Vancouver, but had to get the last minute details together. Greg had the Canucks hockey game to watch on the laptop, and then finally settled in.

Now that I have led up (for a really long post I might add) to the BIG event, which I will do separately, for the sake of keeping my sanity.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

If I were to give myself advice...

Here it is, past 11pm on a Tuesday night, and really, I should be in bed by now. Instead, I quickly type as I have Boston on the brain. As usual.

I had to work late, so didn't get home until 7:30. My darling hubby went to our favourite sushi restaurant in NVan, Sen Sushi, and loaded up with all of my favourite stuff. Just to give a well-deserved plug, Sen Sushi is this tiny hole in the wall place on Lonsdale, almost across the street from London Drugs at Lonsdale & 19th. It's a husband & wife place, kind of grubby, but has some of the best sushi I have ever had.... AND CHEAP. The husband stands behind the counter, saying virtually nothing, and creates these little pieces of sushi masterpieces. The wife seems to know and remember everyone, so it's fun to go there and take it all in. Plus, they offer wild salmon for their sushi, just in case you were looking for quality seafood.

Anyways, following sushi madness, there was Biggest Loser. I will admit I am a long term fan, even if it's a bit hokey. They have taken all 9 participants to New Zealand, a country I know and love and miss dearly. After all, when you spend a full year living there, and visiting four times, you can't help but get attached to the place. So that was good.

It was important to take the time and get all the busy-ness out of the day, so that I could relax and focus. After all, the biggest task of the day was to prepare and organize for our trip.

I had spent a good chunk of Monday night creating my lists for the race, creating a paceband and organizing travel details, so that it was all thought through ahead of time. We are leaving at the crack of dawn on Thursday, so I really wanted to make sure I wasn't rushing through the organizing. Doing this really made me think back to previous races and remember what worked, what didn't work, and how it's brought me to this point. Here are a couple of things that I wanted to share.

  • Organization is key. Having everything prepared in advance takes a lot of the edge out of the event, and allows the quiet focus to settle in and guide you. Do what you can ahead of time so you can enjoy the experience.

  • The race starts out with a bang, but it doesn't need to end in a fizzle. I am a solid believer in going out almost ridiculously slow at the beginning of the race. Proper pacing makes the biggest difference, and will show up not at the beginning of the race, but at the end. Resist the temptation to bolt at the beginning and get into a comfortable pace by the 3km.

  • Go with what you know. Never try anything new on race day. I decided to not go out and buy a new running outfit, because I want to be comfortable and know what to expect. I am taking my fuel belt and using my own nutrition to prevent issues. As a result, I will remember my super smile instead of my clothes as I look back at the photos afterwards.

  • Stretch. I seem to always have serious periformis issues before the race, to the point of horrible hamstring pain. Take the time to stretch and relax and it will really help alleviate a lot of the stress.

  • Rest. I have a serious shopping list that I want to take on in Boston. However, I want to ensure that I get plenty of rest to prepare both mentally and physically. It's going to be a big day, and fun, so I want to be prepared.

  • Use a paceband. Believe it or not, long distance running is very strategic. How you play the game will determine how you will win. Mark when you are going to take in gels on the paceband, and write power words around the times when you expect it to be challenging (like 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 and of course 42km). I am STRONG, CONFIDENT and READY and I RUN FROM THE HEART.

  • Remember why you got into this mess. I absolutely love marathon running. It's a sense of peace and freedom that I absolutely love. I also love the thrill of the challenge of the daunting task, and marvel of what our human bodies are truly capable of.

  • Thank the volunteers. I am always amazed of the love and dedication given by the volunteers associated with the races. It continues to blow me away that they would give up so much for a stranger with a crazy goal. So I am always grateful.

It's been an amazing and complicated road to reach this point. I have learned a lot about myself, and what running can be. I have also been thankful for all of the people whom I have met along the way, and how they have made me appreciate this journey.

So while I am at it, let's remember the external gratification that I am lusting after to cherish for years to come.... ;-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Thrill of Taper

I am in the midst of taper. I am also in the midst of a cold, big work project deadlines and dealing with random leg pains. Life is a joy.

As mentioned previously, I went to the massage therapist on Monday. It really was a good thing to do as a way to prepare for Boston, both physically and mentally. I have to admit during taper, unmotivation increases as mileage decreases. I start mentally checking out, sort of intentionally. So as a result, with partially blaming taper, and also partially blaming working super late, I missed running on Tuesday. Another crazy day of work on Wednesday resulted in another late arrival home, and missing run club. I decided to make the best of it, and just head out to get the mileage in. Lace up the shoes and get 'er done.

It was one of those runs where the legs felt loaded with lead and random pains kept popping up. I had to remind myself to stop looking at the Garmin, and just focus on enjoying the fact that it was a sunny April day, and really, one of the last runs I will complete before I run Boston.

In fact, it was this last thought that really resonated with me, and pushed me to continue through the aches and pains and enjoy the moment. As well, the views of the North Shore mountains were absolutely spectactular, which made me appreciate the beauty we enjoy here in Vancouver.

One of the cool spots that I have discovered while running around the neighbourhood, was Duncan's Pond, located in Murdo Frazer park. This little patch of awesomeness happens to be the home to a rustic cabin that has been the backdrop to many movies, Stargate, Men in Trees, and of course, Kokanee beer commercials. How cool is that? There was some kind of movie production in process while I was running by, but still, it was neat to see all the lights, trucks and people hanging around at Murdo Frazer park where this place happens to be. And literally, it's 2km from my house.

While making the best of the situation, as I was starting to call this run yesterday, I was revelling in the fact that I am very happy to live in Vancouver. It also happened to be Vancouver's 125th birthday yesterday, so to see the city dressed up in it's finest duds, was pretty darn great to experience.

What running provides to me, is the opportunity to see and experience all of the beauty of the world around me. It gives me inner peace (my running bliss!), while I marvel at what amazing things exist. It offers so much more entertainment than I will ever find on television.

And that is the kind of stuff that I want to hold in my heart, when I run the Boston Marathon, in 11 days.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I suspect one of the reasons why I have gravitated to writing about traffic in this blog, stems from the fact that traffic has been a b-iatch lately. I have the pleasure of working in Coquitlam, and therefore, travel through the construction zone that will soon be in the Port Mann bridge upgrade. In the meantime, I have to deal with bumper to bumper traffic, which gives me lots of time to think. Like contents of blogs.

So today's traffic efforts looked like one hour of travel time to cover.... four kilometers. I think it's a new record. As soon as I heard about the congestion, I left work, as I was worried that 1 1/2 hours wasn't going to be enough time to get to the massage therapy appointment in North Van. Unfortunately, I was right. I made it, with five minutes to spare.

Anyways, back to the post. I woke this morning to find a seriously scratchy throat and head congestion. It's official, I have caught Greg's nasty head cold. I wasn't too surprised, as he's been a whole bottle of fun and congestion, so it was bound to happen. I am just thankful that it happened this week, and hope that it will be gone by the time we head to Boston.

I found out this morning that my sister, who has been training for her first 10km race, ran her goal race yesterday. It was the second race she has done while participating in her 10k clinic, and she did an outstanding job. In fact, here are Carolyn's results:

22nd overall, 2nd in her age category (F4049, a competitive category I might add), and completed in: 1:06:54.32 (6:42/km pace )

Can I tell how incredibly proud of her I am? Isn't that just a rockin' result?!?!?

Lastly, I finished the day with a one hour massage therapy appointment. I went in with my laundry list of areas to cover, and was a mixed bag of bliss and torture, all in 60 minutes. All of the pressure points heightened the aches and pains that I have endured for the past 16 weeks. In true sensory fashion, each sore spot brought up specific memories of feeling from my past runs. I could almost remember the specific places in North Vancouver where I experienced the specific pains. It was quite the experience. However, I am sure that this will do a world of good, instead of "waking the dragons."

I'm off to go rest my achin' body. Night!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Up...then down

I decided today to run my long run instead of tomorrow. My Mom is in town for the weekend, and we have arranged to host brunch on Sunday. So I thought it would be a good idea to get the 23km out of the way so that I could focus on family time. Priorities!

I decided for this route to really focus on running downhill. The Boston marathon consists of approximately 14 miles of downhill running, then 5 miles uphill (aka Heartbreak Hill), before more downhill to the finish line. I will admit that I have spent a fair bit of time running up and down the hills of the North Shore, to the point of obsession, as a way to try and prepare for this adventure. As a result, my achilles tendons and calves are ready for a divorce.

I decided one of the best directions for this, was towards Lynn Valley Headwaters, and then down Lillooet Road by Capilano University. Round off a fair bit of flat in the middle, and then 3km of gradual uphill through Mosquito Creek. Seems reasonable enough, right?

The route to Lynn Valley tends to be uphill. For a valley, it's tough going, and quite frankly, I am beginning to wonder where the heck the valley is really supposed to be, if all I do is run UP to it. Anyways, finally get to the Lynn Headwaters and then KM 0 marker before heading down Lillooet Road. Good God, I thought was getting stabbed to death with every single step along the way. My quads were frying fast!!! I guess you could say I wasn't completely recovered from last weekend's 30km race, so going down the 5km hill wasn't the most pleasant experience. At least the weather was decent enough.

The rest of the run was good, as I managed to truck along and maintain a 5:35/km pace, which is pretty darn good for a long run.

I am glad I did this run, as it gave me an opportunity to mentally prepare for the race that is fast approaching. I am trying to mentally prepare for dealing with the large crowds, the terrain and of course, the thrill of running the marathon. So if you have any ideas or suggestions about Boston for the marathon or any sights to see, I'm all ears!