Archive for June, 2012

And I Ran, I Ran So Far Away

A good friend of mine texted me a couple of weeks ago to tell me she had just started running. One run and she was hooked! She said I was her inspiration to get out the door. I cannot tell you how honored I am by that – to be called an inspiration and to know I helped someone make a healthy lifestyle change is amazing!

As my friend’s first race drew near (she ran the 2km in the Bridge City Boogie today!), we began discussing all sorts of running topics via text message. One that kept coming up was running music, and we now frequently text just the name of a random song one of us likes for running. Thanks to her I’ve added some new ones to my list, and I think I’ve given her some ideas too. Other friends have asked what I listen to when I run, so I decided to post a list of my very favorite running songs. This is just one of my running playlists, but these are my favorites and this is the list I will listen to during my next half marathon in two weeks! I won’t get through the whole thing (I hope!), but it will last for about two and a half hours. I hope you find something new to add to your list! (And yes, I’m a closet Britney fan as well as a barrel racer, so there is plenty of Ms. Spears and a bit of country-rock on here!)

Crazy On You – Heart

3 – Britney Spears

Hooked On An 8 Second Ride – Chris Ladoux

Don’t Cha – The Pussycat Dolls

Love You Like A Love Song – Selena Gomez

Rumor Has It – Adele

Beep – The Pussycat Dolls

Maneater – Nelly Furtado

Say It Right – Nelly Furtado

The Way I Are – Timbaland

Loudmouth – Fly

Fergilicious – Fergie

Glamorous – Fergie

Keep The Faith – Bon Jovi

Hit Me Up – Danny Fernandes

Kick It In The Sticks – Brantley Gilbert

Feel – Victoria Duffield

Somebody That I Used To Know (Tiesto Remix) – Gotye

Back In Time – Pitbull

Scream – Usher

On The Floor – Jennifer Lopez

See You Again – Miley Cyrus

Dancing On My Own – Robyn

Release -Timbaland

Runaway – Bon Jovi

Nice Guys Finish Last – Green Day

I Wanna Go – Britney Spears

Hips Don’t Lie – Shakira

Stronger – Britney Spears

Super Bass – Nicki Minaj

Every Little Thing Counts – Janus Stark

Sandstorm – Da Rude

I Remember You Two – Skid Row

Wait A Minute – The Pussycat Dolls

Feel It In My Bones – Tiesto feat. Teagan and Sara

Stereo Love – Edward Maya

More – Usher

In The Dark – Dev

If You Seek Amy – Britney Spears

Tonight Is The Night – Outasight

Race Directors: I’m sorry.  I’m one of those people you strongly dislike who races with earbuds in.  I take them out at the start, every aid station, any time there’s a marshall with a directional course instruction, and at the finish line (I love hearing the race announcer attempt to pronounce my  name!). I keep the volume as low as possible at all times.  I’ve attempted to run without music, but I just can’t do it.  It’s part of the escape for me, and I need it mentally. I apologize, but I’ll keep doing it.

Two days ago my friend texted me to say that her husband had just left the house for his very first run! Running is contagious it seems! When she texted, I was reading an article in Canadian Family magazine about how obese and inactive Canadian children are becoming.  One of the biggest things we need to do is model a healthy and active lifestyle for our children, and I commended her and her husband for doing  just that. Between us we have five children four and under, and they will all grow up seeing their parents running regularly and will assume it’s normal. They’ll be shocked the first time they realize that not all adults go running every evening (mine less so I guess as my husband still claims I’m insane every time I go!). Between acting as role models and enrolling our kids in soccer, dance, swimming and gymnastics as well as just playing outside daily, we’re doing our part to end this problem. And that makes me proud.

My kids and I after the 2011 Discovery Dash race for kids in Saskatoon. They loved their real race bibs and medals (their t-shirts are still too big!).

Gotta run!

What do you like to listen to when you run? I’m always looking for new songs and ideas! What do you do to keep your kids healthy and fit?

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Sub-2, Bart Yasso and a moose, oh my! – The Saskatchewan Marathon

Before I even start, let me apologize if this becomes windy. My experience at the Saskatchewan Marathon was so unforgetable that I just can’t stop talking about it.

The evening before the marathon was, of course, the pasta dinner. I love this event, it got me so pumped up for the 10K in 2011, so of course buying a ticket for 2012 was a no-brainer. Then it was announced that the speaker would be none other than Bart Yasso! I am a self-admitted Yasso groupie – I have his book, I love his articles, I use his training plans. I couldn’t believe my good luck! I would have the chace to hear him speak, and right here at my hometown marathon! THEN I found out that Bart would be doing a book signing at the expo! More excitement! (Can you feel my enthusiasm with all these exclamation marks?! LOL!)

When I arrived at the expo I expected a big line-up at Bart’s table, but there was none! I went to pick up my race package first so I could have Bart sign my race bib as well as my copy of his book, My Life On The Run. What a down-to-earth, kind, encouraging man. He congratulated me when I told him the next day would be my first half-marathon, and that I planned to run it under two hours. I really wanted to get a picture with Bart, but after having him sign my book and bib I was beginning to feel a bit too much like a groupie and was too shy to ask for a pic. Thinking back later, I kicked myself! “I met my running hero, and didn’t get a picture with him? What was I thinking?!”

A bib signed by Bart makes you run faster, right?

That night was the pasta dinner. As I’ve mentioned before, I have few friends who run, and the ones who were running this marathon weren’t attending the dinner. So I wandered around alone and found a seat at a table with two friendly looking middle aged women, who I later discovered grew up in my town! Their Dad is a client of mine – small world! I was also pleased to meet and eat with Janaya Stevenson of Warman, SK. Janaya is blogging about her quest to do a half marathon each month in 2012 in memory of her friend Heather, who passed away due to cancer. I’ve followed Janaya’s blog for a while now, and was honored to get to meet her.

Bart’s speech followed our pasta feed. I wasn’t sure what to expect, to be honest. He could have gone so many ways: Option 1: I’m an amazing runner who has been a victim of Lyme Disease and can’t run much anymore, woe is me. Option 2: I invented Yasso 800’s, a training plan and finishing time predictor used by athletes all over the world, look how awesome I am. Instead, Bart went with Option 3: he showed us pictures from and told stories about some of the unique and amazing races he’s been able to participate in throughout his career as a runner and writer for Runner’s World magazine. I knew most of these stories from his book, but he is such an entertaining story teller and it was great to hear them again straight from him. Bart also told us about countries he’s visited and run in where women aren’t allowed to run. He reminded us that very recently (until 1971), women weren’t allowed to run in the Boston Marathon. With nearly twice as many women registered in the Saskatchewan Marathon this year than men, he told us to feel fortunate that we lived in a country and a time when we are allowed to run. I’d never really thought about running that way before, and that made a big impact on me. Just 12 miles or so from our farm is a Hutterite colony, and I’m sure those women would never be allowed to run for the sheer joy of it.

I got back (to my parents’ place, just a 7 minute drive from the start/finish line!) from supper just in time to tuck the kids into bed and go for a ride with my Dad on his Harley. We drove the race route and I was again amazed by how beautiful Saskatoon is. If you haven’t been here before, you really must come! The South Saskatchewan River cuts the city in half, and there are miles of paved trails through parks along the beautiful riverbank. My parents live just a half block from the trail, so when we stay with them I can do a long run without ever crossing a street. Gorgeous.

Saskatoon's beautiful river bank and weir from atop the railway bridge.

The next morning I got up bright and early to over-analyze the weather and change my mind 500 times about what I would wear. The kids and I had stayed with my parents overnight to avoid a 60 minute drive the next morning, and my Dad had volunteered to drop me off at the start line to avoid parking issues. The early bird gets the worm, and also avoids porta-potty line-ups, so I had lots of time to check out the new start/finish line and check my bag at the bag drop tent.

A few changes had been made this year at the Saskatchewan Marathon.  Big fencing panels blocked off the athletes-only facilities from spectators, making the start/finish area and food tent area much less congested both before and after the race.  The 10K event had also been scheduled to begin a half hour after the marathon and half-marathon start. As 10K participants make up about 45% of the total athletes involved, this made the start line much less crowded!

After the singing of Oh Canada and a brief pep talk from Bart, the race began. I had found a place near the 2 hour half marathon pace bunny, and it seemed lots of runners shared my goal as she had quite a following. I loved the spririt of this pace bunny, she had added a set of sparkly fairy wings to her outfit, making her easy to locate throughout the entire race.

We set off at a quick pace of around 5:30 minutes per kilometer.  I had calculated that to run the half marathon in two hours I would need to average a pace of 5:41, so I was a little surprised when the pace bunny set off.  I thought about the course and reminded myself that the first half would be mostly downhill, while the second half would be mostly uphill, and decided that the quicker pace may pay off later.  We wouldn’t get the traditional negative splits, but would be able to afford to go a bit slower on the big hills that awaited us later.

The first aid station we came to was run by lululemon.  To say that Saskatoon loves lululemon is an understatement.  I’m not exaggerating when I estimate that on a day in the city roughly 30-40% of the women 45 and younger I see are wearing at least one piece of their clothing.  At an athletic event that number climbs.  Their warehouse sales here are legendary and many people (including myself!) line up for hours just to get in. Anyway, this was the best aid station of the whole race, I wish it was further along the route when we all really needed some encouragement! They were blasting music, cheering and waving signs, dancing around the sidelines and enthusiastically handing out cups of water and GuBrew.  It was great!

Several kilometers later we came to the Mendel Art Gallery and Kinsmen Park. These are two more great features of Saskatoon, and my kids beg to ride the train and carousel at Kinsmen Park all summer long. There was a group of belly dancers entertaining the runners here, and their smiles were appreciated.

My favorite entertainment was at the site of the Farmer’s Market.  Forgive my ignorance for not knowing what culture these musicians were representing, but they had huge drums that took their entire body weight to beat, and I felt like we were running past an African tribe or something. I took out my ear buds for their segment and applauded them as I ran past. Now THAT was some “pump-you-up” entertainment!

The first turn-around point was at the 9km mark.  Bart had warned us at the pasta dinner about people who would lie during the run – “You look great!” – and I smiled as one well-intentioned supporter clapped and yelled “good job everyone! Halfway there!” Um, no. You’re standing by the 9 km marker. Not quite halfway, but thank you for your enthusiasm!

We were now able to run along our beautiful river bank again before the last turn-around at about 19 km. (The course was shaped kind of like a big T if that makes any sense.) This is where this course gets really tricky.  Anyone who thinks Saskatchewan doesn’t have any hills needs to come run this course. There is a gradual but steady incline from about 16-19km, then a small downhill before turning a corner and being faced with this:

The last 1.5 km of this course is pure uphill (let me assure you this picture does not do this hill justice.  I tried, but just couldn’t capture it accurately!).  You have about 500m to look at that hill (while already running uphill a bit) before you actually come to it.  Then you finally reach the top and are so proud of yourself… until you see that the finish line is another good 700m away and it’s all uphill to get there too! Torture.  Absolute torture.  I knew it was coming, and I prepared for it by slowing down a bit before turning that corner to rest up, but it still was a huge mental hurdle for me. 

I knew my family would be waiting somewhere along the finish area.  As we got closer to the finish line I kept looking for them and couldn’t see them. I checked my watch and realized I better find another gear if I was going to do this under two hours so I surged and scanned the crowd at the same time. I would’ve missed them completely if my Mom hadn’t yelled out to me – the picture she has of me is of me looking back at her after sprinting past! I never did see the rest of them, but I knew they were there and that was enough.  My husband was at home in the tractor seeding the crop that will provide for our family for the next year, but I knew he was thinking about me and sending good thoughts.

My chip time was 1:59:21 (381/966 overall, 147/571 women, 62/194 women 20-29). I’d made it, and with 39 seconds to spare! A volunteer hung my very first finisher’s medal around my neck and another one wrapped me in a plastic sheet for warmth. I was thankful for this, as I’m a very sweaty runner and I get cold fast once I stop. I’d always laughed at those plastic sheets, thinking “what the heck is that going to do?,” but it was amazing! Just like being in a little greenhouse.

I finally found my kids and parents, thanked them profusely for waving their amazing sign (which I hadn’t seen, but don’t tell them that!), then went to the food tent for chocolate milk, a slice of pizza, and a cookie.  Tip: don’t take your food back to eat it with your family! My kids attacked that cookie like they’d never seen one before!

I’ve said before that I don’t blog or tweet my family’s pictures or names as I don’t think they need to be out there for the world.  However, I love this one and I can’ t resist showing them off just a bit!

I found a friend who had run the half in 2:07.  Her son was in the NICU with my twins, and we hit it off then and have remained friends. She’d had a great time, and when I saw her the next day at our kids’ swimming lessons she was already planning her next half – later this year in Victoria.

Next stop: massage tent! An amazing RMT worked on me while I chatted with another massage therapist who I’d gone to college with. (They’ll be at the mogathon too if any of you are running that one – best $10 you’ll ever spend!)

When I finished my first 10K, at this same event last year, I honestly felt like I could’ve turned around and run it again, I felt that amazing.  This time, after my first half marathon, I did not. 🙂 I had a blast, and I can’t wait for the next one (June 24!), but it left me with zero desire to run a full marathon.  I still say that someday I will do one, just so I can satisfy my need to try it JUST ONCE, but not for a few years.  I did find it difficult to fit in long enough runs to do a half marathon, and there’s no way I have the time to devote to training for a full while my kids are this young.

In summary, I am thrilled with my run, the course, the weather, the volunteers, and the Saskatoon Road Runners for making this event happen, and to Potash Corp for being the presenting sponsor. Thank you for putting on such a great event that allowed a lot of us to complete our first 10K/half/full marathon!

Oh yeah – the moose! A news story later in the day told us a moose had been spotted on the marathon course! Police were able to “guide it off the race course.” (How do you guide a moose?! I assume it was tranquilized and taken out of the city at some point, but I really don’t know for sure.) Due to the river cutting right through the middle of Saskatoon, wildlife does sometimes wander into the city by following the water. I haven’t heard of any accounts of runners spotting the moose, so I assume he had been “guided” on his way before we came along.  Bart Yasso tweeted a link to the news story, and there were amused Twitter comments about the moose getting in trouble for being a bandit and stealing GuBrew for the rest of the day. 🙂

Gotta run!

What are your favorite memories of your first half marathon? How did you feel afterwards? How long until you ran your second?