Sunday, August 21, 2011

This weeks training schedule

Here is this weeks "Drop back" training schedule where I pull back my miles in order to build them up for the last 4 weeks of training before the Bellingham Bay marathon!

Monday August 22nd: 4 x 1 mile repeats in 7:30 with a 3:30 recovery (DREAD!!)

Tuesday August 23rd: 5 mile recovery run

Wednesday August 24th: 10 km tempo run at 8 minute mile pace

Thursday August 25th: 5 mile recovery run

Friday August 26th: Heavy weights and plyometrics workout

Saturday August 27th:  Long run- 15 miles (25 kilometers)

Sunday August 28th: Rest Day!

Monday, August 15, 2011

This weeks training schedule

Oh, I know, I know... it's been way too long since I have last wrote to you all. But it's summer time and I've been out enjoying the sun... so cut me some slack!  I promise that this week you'll get a nice juicy blog entry but until then I have this weeks schedule to tide you over.

Monday August 15th: Track workout: 8 X 400 meter repeats.  400m repeats in 1:45 and 400m recovery in 2:00-2:10.

Tuesday August 16th: 11 sets of the stairs (5500 stairs) and an upper body and core workout

Wednesday August 17th: Steady state 10km run at 9 minute mile pace

Thursday August 18th: 4 mile tempo run at an 8 minute mile pace

Friday August 19th: Heavy weights workout including plyometrics

Saturday August 20th: 30 kilometer (19 mile) run at 8:45 minute mile pace

Sunday August 21st: Rest day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ragnar Relay: Northwest Passage

So here I am on the Monday afternoon after completing the Ragnar Relay: Northwest Passage, this past weekend and I'm unable to move. I'm literally sitting here as if I don't have legs. The remotes waaaay over there so I will watch whatever comes on next. The computer runs out of batteries so I guess I'll have to wait for tomorrow to finish my work.  My kitchen is not conveniently located on my couch, so whats for lunch? Nothing.

Yep, that's exactly how it's playing out today.

But you know what makes it a million times worth it? Well, the fact that we not only raced Ragnar unbelievably well, we actually destroyed it. That's right. We WON the Open Female Division. And I am unbelievably proud of myself and of our team for the dedication it took to come in first.

So here's how it all went down.  My dear friend Linda Wong asked me months ago if I would be interested in running the Ragnar Relay: Northwest Passage,  a 200 mile (321 KM) relay that runs all day, all night and through the next day with no sleep, until your team crosses the finish line.  I went to the Ragnar website and read through the synopses.  My immediate reaction was no, absolutely not. Abort friendship! This broads crazy! But then as I thought about what I have accomplished this year in my personal life as well as my athletic life I called her back and committed myself to being a part of the team.  She assured me that we would have fun and that I didn't have to stress about it, which I took to mean that we weren't trying to win the damn thing, only running it for the experience.
Boy was I wrong.

These ladies were in it to win it.

I showed up to the race on Friday morning in Blaine, Washington and took a look at our team.  If this wasn't the fittest bunch of ladies I've ever seen then I'm not sure who is.  The women were tight, toned, fit and fast. I stuck out like a sore thumb being the tallest and definitely the curviest woman on the team.  As the women prepared their gear, 3 running outfits, a couple pairs of shoes, racing glasses, compression socks, race belts, gels, electrolytes, hats, headlamps and everything else, I started to get nervous.  I don't have all the pro gear, I've never competed in anything like this race before and I certainly have never competed on a national level like a few of the women on the team.  I sat down to look over my legs of the race.  I would be running legs 2 at 12:45pm, leg 14 at 9:30pm and leg 26 at 5:00am and the anticipated times that I was supposed to complete my legs in look difficult, really difficult.  My first leg was labeled "Hard" and would send me on a partial uphill battle with a very strong head wind for 7 miles (just over 10km) as I ran through Birch Bay and handed my baton over to Linda as she headed out for leg 3. Leg 14 was were I got a bit of a break, running 3 and a half miles on a mostly downgrade slope. After that I would be finishing up early in the morning on a 3 mile course with a steep incline that leveled out near the end and then it would all be over for me as I watched my team continued to complete their legs.  In total I was running a bit over a half marathon length but I was warned that the distance would feel 3 or 4 times as long because of the lack of sleep and lack of food over the 24 hours.  I just really didn't want to let the team down.

So as I saw Maureen running like a cheetah up the exchange chute to pass off the baton to me I focused my energy on not thinking about the pain, but instead thinking about how well I was doing.  I'm certainly not the fastest runner in the world but when your legs are 17 feet long, you know that your basic stride will take you were you want to go faster than most. Before the start of the race the ladies were telling me about "Kills", when you pass people on your leg of the race, therefore getting closer and closer to that first placed title.  So as the half way point was nearing I saw my first victim about 70 feet in front of me.  I'm so glad I saw that man because beating him was the only thing able to take my mind off the fact that my breathing sounded like Darth Vader and that I was sure I was going I was going to die.  So I took him down and then continued to worry about how far behind me he was for the remainder of the run. Great incentive to move faster!

So as the night went on and our team continued to knock time off of our "anticipated" finish times, I realized just how exhausted I was getting.  The race doesn't supply you with any food or drink except for water, there is no place to shower or clean up, and there is no area to rest unless you brought a sleeping bag and you're fine with sleeping in between 2 trees, which I'm clearly not.  So as van number 1 finished their first legs and van number 2 took over we parked in a parking lot and tried to get some shut eye.  It was virtually impossible.  I put my seat back, curled my legs up and put my feet inside the glove box to find a "comfy" position.  I slept for a total of 14 minutes and then before we knew it it was round 2.

The next 2 legs went down in a blur. We were all tired, hungry and it was pitch black which meant we ran with the extra weight of safety vests, head lamps, back lights and flashlights all while continuing to pass other runners and beat our own predicted times. As my last leg started at 5am I was exhausted, I wasn't sure I would be able to finish it, let alone do it in 25 minutes, but I wasn't about to fail now.  I started up the steep incline and it felt like I was walking, and not power walking mind you, I'm talking walking like a 90 year old with a cane and a couple of bad hips. Thats when I glanced up and saw that the sun was starting to rise.  I was enjoying the moment watching the navy sky turn orange as a rooster let out a huge caw that made my heart skip a beat... that's when I snapped out of airy-fairy land and saw a woman less than 30 feet ahead of me on the hill. She must have been there the whole time but I wasn't able to see her in the darkness.  I decided at that moment that I was going to finish this leg strong.  I raced up the hill using my glutes to power me through and then as I crested the hill I just let 'er go.  I passed 8 people on that leg of the race, congratulating them all on a job well done as I made them eat my dust. I came in just under 24 minutes and realized that I had ran that leg at a fierce 4:48/km. I was elated.
By the time van 1's legs were finished we were all spent. We headed to the showers and had a big meal while we waited for Tina-Louise to run over the finish line.  All I wanted at that point was a bed. Any shape, form or size, as long as I could stretch my legs out and close my eyes.

Saturday, just before noon, we got word that Tina-Louise was on her way, that she had hit the 1 mile to go marker.  We all waited by the finish line so we could run across together and sure enough, a few minutes later she came barrelling around the corner like a bat out of hell.  We crossed the finish line at 11:52am making us the 1st open female team to finish, the first Canadian team to finish and the 16th overall (out of 300 teams) team to finish the race.  I was really proud of myself, not only did I keep up with these phenomenal women but I helped to take 3 minutes off of our predicted finish time as well as I gathered up a total of 16 kills.  The event was a testament of will and courage and I am so honoured to have been able to run it with such a fabulous group of talented women. The Ragnar website states that this is a race that you will be bragging about for life. I'm certain it is... As long as I can get out of this barcalounger.

Tina-Louise Harris, Katheryn Duff, Me, Julie Bertrand, Jeanne Kim, Mica Donnelly, Jodie Lightfoot
Lara Duke, Rene McKibbin, Maureen Curtin, Anna Schachner, Linda Wong 

Maureen passing me some water as I ran my first leg

Best medal ever! It's a bottle opener!

The question mark says it all.

Monday, July 18, 2011

This weeks training schedule

Here is this weeks training schedule. 10 week countdown for the Bellingham Bay marathon has started and I'm excited to dive into it this week!

Monday July 18th: 12 x 200m track workout.  200m repeats in 45-50 seconds with a 200m recovery run in 65-70 seconds.

Tuesday July 19th: Stairs workout (try to improve on my current record of 3,800 stairs touched in 35 minutes) as well as a core and upper body weights workout.

Wednesday July 20th: Steady state 10km run at a slow 9:30/mile pace

Thursday July 21st: Double workout. Morning: 10km tempo run at a 8:00/mile pace Evening: Minimalist run clinic which will include a hill workout and running drills

Friday July 22nd: Heavy weights and plyometric workout, then I head down to the RAGNAR RELAY in Washington to run 3 legs of the 36 hour relay race with 10 other women!

Saturday July 23rd:  14 mile long run at Marathon Pace + 45 seconds (about a 9:00/mile pace) Which is split up into 3 seperate legs.

Sunday July 24th:  Rest day

Friday, July 8, 2011

Here we go again

As my Birthday came and went last week I was able to spend a bit of time reflecting back on the year that has just passed.  I've been so lucky in so many ways, great friends and family, wonderful job, and now a true passion for running and fitness has changed everything yet again to make each day even more stellar than the last. I'm so blessed that way, that I was able to discover something that gets me out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face, ready to face the day.

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I've latched on to strength and conditioning coach, Curb Ivanic, of Core Running like a bad case of the mumps.  At this point he couldn't get rid of me even if he tried. I not only enjoy his clinics but I can feel myself becoming a more competent runner and that's the whole name of the game, right?

So Curb and I sat down for a meeting yesterday to discuss my brand new strategy for the Bellingham Bay marathon.  As he so politely put it "It's within reach, but you're really going to have to work very hard at it. You're going to need to learn to love the track."  Love the track? LOVE the track? Ice cream, my family, tequila... these are things I love. The track? It doesn't even register a blip on the love meter. In fact it's no where near the meter, it's somewhere over there in the same heap as cleaning toilets, breaking your leg or getting mugged. Not fun, not easy. NOT love.

But he's right, although love will never be the word I will use when describing track workouts, I am fully committed to having a torrid, passionate affair with the track. The ups and down will be there, the hate will penetrate deep as I attempt yet another 200m repeat but the lust for how it makes me feel post workout will be great and fulfilling. No track one-night-stand for me. I'm in for the long haul and although I will never (Ever. Lets get that clear) love the track, I'm in 100%. And that's a lot of percentage.

So needless to say, with my schedule worked out, I am pumped to get my fitness on.  2 weeks ago I was feeling the most out of shape I've been in a year, struggling through a 10km and carrying a few extras lbs. 2 weeks later I feel like a machine. Incredible what the human body can do.  I haven't missed a workout in 2 weeks and not only am I feeling fitter and more capable, I'm feeling in charge and in power of my workouts instead of the other way around.

Last night I went to my minimalist running camp and we were doing hill drills on the Spanish Banks hill. For those of you who are not familiar, lucky you. For those of you who are familiar, you feel my pain, no doubt.  I was nervous after my last (unfit Kelly) minimalist camp that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the fit men and women that surrounded me but I was pleasantly surprised at how well I managed and how quickly I'm picking up the techniques that Curb and Adam are teaching. As I fully dedicate myself back to training I'm excited to see what the next 11 weeks will bring in terms of speed and stamina; all injury free, of course, thanks to Curb.

My new program will consist of 3 main runs per week. 1 track workout, 1 tempo run and 1 long run dispersed amongst 2 strength training workouts, 1 easy/recovery run and (yuk!) a stairs workout.  I'll start posting my weekly workouts again and keep you up to date on my progress for the next marathon.  My main goal is to feel superiorly fit going in to Bellingham. It's going to be a struggle every step of the way but then again, what wonderful things in life aren't? (well, probably a lot... but just go with me on this).
See you out there on the pavement!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Scotiabank Half Marahton

We all know that I've taken the past 2 months off training and that I'm feeling a bit out of shape. I wanted to run the Scotiabank Half Marathon on Sunday to get a better idea of what I've got left in the tank from the BMO Marathon and to better gage what level to start my training at for my next marathon. 

So on Friday I headed down to the Runners Expo to pick up my race packet with my Tech T-shirt and my timing chip.  When I got there it was quite busy and the half Marathon and 5km lines ups were set up perpendicular to each other so, as you can imagine, people were getting a bit mixed up and crossing paths.  As I nestled into my spot in the 1/2 Marathon line a man leans over to me from the 5km line and says "The 5k line is over here".
I look to my right and left. There's no one else beside me or behind me.

"The 5k line is over here"

Now here is where, if this were a movie, I would imagine myself reaching out to slap that sonofabitch across the face all the while telling him that I could run circles around him the whole time he's running his stupid 5k and STILL run my half marathon in a better time than he could. 
But this is not a movie.
And I don't think 5k's are stupid.
And I am not a mean person. Obviously :-)

So instead I just looked at him dead pan and said "I'm in the correct line. Please stop bothering me".
The nerve!

So Sunday morning I woke up at 5am, ate my oatmeal and banana and worked out my run timing and strategy.  I was going to be running with my friends Linda and Tavis, my pacer from the BMO Marathon, and I knew he would need to know what kind of time I was predicting to finish in.  As I thought of how my fitness was lacking, how I was a few pounds over my ideal running weight, how I hadn't had one solid training day in 2 months and how my personal best on this specific course was 2 hours and 4 minutes, I decided to shoot for a course personal best.  I wasn't going to "race" the course too hard since I didn't want to hurt myself after not being geared up properly so I figured if I cruised it at a solid 9 minute mile pace then I could finish in 2 hours and feel great about crushing my PB by 4 minutes.

So as Tavis, Linda and I started out on our run I was feeling calm and at ease, a feeling I can truly say I have never felt at the start of a race before.  There was no nerves and no wobbly stomach. I looked at Sunday as just another training run.  I started to get into the groove around kilometer 6.  I was feeling good, my legs were fresh and my pace was steady. At km 10 Tavis announced that if I stayed on pace I was going to break my course personal best for sure and at that point I was feeling fantastic.  The first half of the Scotia race is fairly easy with lots of flats or downgrades and very little uphill. The second half, however, is way harder, with the majority of the last 10kms on an uphill incline.  I knew it would be hard to keep pace on the uphills but I was feeling so great at that point of the race that it didn't phase me.

We started our climbs and before I knew it we were 19 km's in and the end was just around the corner.  The race was breezy for me, I just kept saying how amazing I felt, how easy my body was handling the run.  I felt like I was hammering those hills at a great pace and as we came up Burrard street bridge I was passing dozens of people on the incline.  I felt unstoppable.  As we approached the finish line I looked up to see that not only was I about to crush my previous course record, I was about to SMASH it by 8 minutes. 

I cruised a run 8 minutes faster than I raced it the last time.

I was in shock. Still am I think.  It was a phenomenal run and at this point in my running life I think I can say it was my best race yet. I'm so stoked to start my serious training this week and I'm delighted to see that I don't have to start from scratch.  If my body can do what it did yesterday with ease then the road ahead is going to be filled with long runs, tempo runs, gruelling track workouts and... Boston Qualifiers.

I'll keep you posted.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Minimalist running camp

As my last blog post states, I've been in a fitness funk.  After you finish a marathon it's imperative that you take a good chunk of time off to recover your body completely before you start to train full throttle for your next race.  It's been a month and a half now since I finished the BMO Vancouver marathon and had my tonsils removed and although I have been exercising daily and running 4 or 5 days a week, I haven't been "training".  So as I was working out my new 14 week training program yesterday I was getting more and more excited to dive right into it.

Last night I headed out to my first Minimalist Running Camp put on by Curb Ivanic of Core Running and Adam Janke of Active Orthopaedic. Curb is the running specific coach who is a minimalist pro and Adam is a certified Pedorthist, a specialist in assessing lower-limb skeletal alignment, movement patterns, general foot function and how the feet interact with the rest of the body. As you all know, I've been a huge fan of Curbs since I took my first running clinic with him in February.  Curb is not only a sensational coach and well rounded runner but he has the masters degrees and finishers medals to back up the fact that he understands a runners body and he understands running.  I find it refreshing to listen to him talk about his personal workouts and what he does to keep his body injury free and in tip top shape, something that I, and every other runner I know, strives for.

In the past years Curb has taken a serious interest in minimalist or "natural" running. With the thousands of questions being thrown at him regularly about how to go about starting a minimalist program he decided to team up with Adam and his team at Active Orthopaedic to bring us a new running clinic focused on transitioning into minimalist running shoes. As you may or may not be familiar with, minimalist running has been around for literally millions of years.  Even 50 years ago they ran in thin and unsupported shoes and over those past 50 years the shoe companies have built up shoes to protect the foot and create stability, therefore changing the way that most people run- landing on their heels instead of their forefoot because the heel is so padded in the shoes. But we have seen an increase in running related injuries over the past 50 years also. Minimalist running forces you to change your stride and gait because without a padded shoe you would never willingly land on your heel. Natural running (landing on your forefoot while taking shorter steps) is not something to be taken lightly.  We have been so conditioned to land on our heels that the transition to minimalist footwear has to be done slowly and it is important to listen to your body. 

I have been working out in my Nike Free's (Nike's version of the minimalist shoe) for some time now but it wasn't until yesterday that I actually ran in them for longer than 2 or 3 km's.  It's so interesting to wake up this morning and feel all these brand new muscles in my lower body, especially in my ankles and lower calves, that I didn't even know I had.  I'm very excited to see what this clinic will do to further progress my running.  I'll be training with Curb and Adam every Thursday night as well as I will be incorporating one short minimalist run (3 miles or less) a week into my routine. As I build up those muscles I will slowly transition into lighter and more natural shoes- but that will take time for sure.

I'll continue to update you all on how this clinic goes for me as I think it's super fascinating to watch as my body mechanics slowly shift to make me a more versatile and efficient runner.  If you have any interest in getting your own Pedorthic assessment done I would highly recommend you give Adam a call at Active Orthopaedic and set up an appointment. You'll be astonished at what you learn about your lower half!

Now I'm off to pick up my race package for the Scotia Half Marathon on Sunday. Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading!