These October days, though

The temperature is cooling off just a little, the horizon is brushed with golden, orange and red hues, the days are shorter. A solid base of running has been built over the past 10 months, making for a truly enjoyable fall season.

I haven’t been training particularly hard or with any set goals in mind, but what I thought would be a quiet month running-wise has turned into quite the opposite.

And I’m not sure if it’s just my imagination or the cooling temperatures, but running has felt just a little easier lately. I am not necessarily faster or slimmer but perhaps my fitness is finally where it needs to be for a half-marathon PR this coming weekend in Moncton.

YES, this is the first mention of a second fall half-marathon for 2016. It sort of came out of nowhere and I signed up last-minute.

Maritime Race Weekend was supposed to be my final big race of the season. But after my friend Kevin generously gave me his 10K registration for the Sweet Caroline run, he said my payback would have to be a half-marathon PR (or a beer). Well, I couldn’t argue with that.

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Home stretch of the Sweet Caroline 10K – 54:14

In a few days I will attempt to crack 1:59:54 at the Moncton Legs for Literacy half. We shall see if the stars align for me! My legs were feeling great at the Eastern Passage half a few weeks ago so hopefully the flat Moncton course and some better race day prep (ie not arriving late and requiring a mid-race porta-potty stop) will help me meet this goal. If not, I guess I will owe you a beer, Kevin.

{Side note: I have only managed to do ONE long run since the Eastern Passage run one month ago. And it was 18K on the treadmill. Will I survive?}

Last weekend, Silas and I took part in our very first 5K race together. It was the Island View Eagles 5K, which is really close to our house. We woke up early and made our way to the school on a very cold morning. Silas was bundled up in a winter hat and three or four layers under a blanket. We zoomed up and down Manawagonish Road to complete the 5K in 28:32! I didn’t really know what to expect so I was really pleased with my first official stroller 5K time.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Run on!

Into the Night 5K

Heading to the Into the Night 5K run on Friday, I was not feeling enthusiastic. It was more a case of doing the run because I had already forked over my registration fee.

I didn’t know anyone else doing the race, I was tired, it was Friday, blah, blah, blah. 

Into the Night kicks off Marathon by the Sea race weekend in Saint John. Since I’m not doing the half-marathon this year, I opted for the 5K night run.

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I arrived at the Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal in Saint John early for the run I thought started at 9 p.m. I picked up my race kit and was pleased to see two glow sticks made of foam — light sabres, which I knew Silas would love.

I was, however, a little disappointed to find out the race wasn’t timed. I was kind of looking forward to pushing myself in the 5K, which is a relatively unfamiliar distance for me. But with fireworks, glow sticks and a light-hearted feel, I knew I would enjoy myself.

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Turns out the race didn’t start till 9:30 p.m., when it was completely dark. It meant a little more waiting around, but luckily the weather was perfectly comfortable and I did a little jogging to warm up a bit.

Approaching the starting line, we heard a few inspirational words from Terry Thorne, this year’s Marathon by the Sea race marshall. Thorne has run 12 marathons and was in the process of attempting to qualify for Boston when she had a brain aneurism in 2007. She now lives in a nursing home after going through years of recovery. “Never, ever give up,” she said, standing with the help of a walker.

Thorne then sounded the race horn, and with her words on my mind, we were off, carrying the light sabres and dashing into the night. I pressed ahead and fell into a rhythm, running by Market Square as revellers took a break from enjoying live music to cheer for the runners. Then it was on to Harbour Passage, where darkness cast over the course and the colourful glow of the light sticks bounced ahead. I continued to pass people, one by one, until one woman sailed by me. That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to let her win.

I don’t know who she was, but I set my mind to staying with that woman, who set a challenging pace. I wasn’t comfortable, but I kept telling myself that 5K is not far at all. I kept on her tail for most of the race, but the final kilometre was a challenge and she got ahead.

I decided to hold back then dig deep for the final stretch, and it worked. I sailed by the final few metres… and was shocked to see the clock at 24:xx. I hadn’t been looking at my watch throughout the race, instead focused on running by feel. And it turned out to be a great strategy.

According to my Garmin, my time was 24:49 — more than a minute faster than my personal best of 26 minutes! However, I believe the course was short, as my watch said the run was only 4.9 km. Still, I totally smashed my PB, and I was over the moon! Not bad for a “fun run.”

I gladly accepted a chocolate milk, ate some orange slices from the well-stocked food tent and made my way home. As I pulled in my driveway, I heard the fireworks (and wondered why they wouldn’t have gone off near the start of the race, while runners could see them over the harbour).

The run turned out to be a great experience, sailing through the dark with a sea of fluorescent runners. It felt good to be out of the blazing sun and gave me hope that I have some speed left in this mother runner legs of mine.

 

A mid-week run

My training plan calls for four runs per week for a total of 16 weeks. It all seems very doable right now.

But still, there are days, like today, when even a 5 km run seems nearly impossible.

I was originally planning on getting my run over with first thing in the morning on the treadmill, but that plan was thrown out the window after Silas ended up waking up in the middle of the night and moving into our bed. There would be no sneaking away to run.

After patchy sleep, my energy was lagging all day. But the afternoon sun and bare pavement were beckoning. I instantly regretted not taking advantage of a lunchtime run, and vowed to get out after work with the jogging stroller.

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It was glorious! Just above zero Celsius and it was so nice to take advantage of the extra daylight we have been experiencing. Spring was certainly in the air.

My pace was slow – close to 7 min/km – but it was steady. It was so sweet to look down and see the little pom-pom on my son’s hat, and his mittens grasping the stroller tray. We saw dogs, kids and city buses and heard “choo choo trains.” We went “wheeee!” and “bump, bump, bump.” Running with a toddler is fun, almost working the same way a podcast or great music can take your mind off things.

As we rounded the final corner onto our street, I heard his sweet voice say, “hommme.”

This was just another lesson that even 5 km runs can seem daunting, but they are always worth it in the end.

 

 

2014: The year I learned to run pregnant and as a new mom

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This year I learned so much about this body of mine. I learned to love it, respect it and use it to help my baby grow.

It’s pretty amazing, really, what we can make our bodies do, and what they’re meant to do.

At the beginning of 2014, I was about 14 weeks pregnant. I had just finished a December run streak, and we had just started to share the news with family and friends that we were expecting a baby.

I tried to keep running as that baby bump grew. With such a snowy winter, I continued with most of my runs on the treadmill, at the gym. I kept going until my hips started to hurt. By that time, I was about 28 weeks pregnant. I actually kept running longer than I expected I would.

After that, I tried to stay fit by doing spinning classes, walking and doing strength exercises.

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Throughout my pregnancy, I gained 35 pounds. I tried to find a balance between listening to my body and nourishing my baby and not giving in to every craving. I was really lucky to have a healthy pregnancy and a normal childbirth (although “normal” is actually crazy, intense, PAINful! And yes, I had an epidural!)

On June 27, 2014, our baby boy, Silas, was born. And oh, how our lives changed. He filled us with immense love, happiness and, well, fear.

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My expectations for getting back into running after hitting the traditional six-week mark flew out the window. Every moment was consumed by caring for our son. I don’t think I really understood how life-changing having a child would be until it happened. He needed me all the time. For months, his only naps were in the cozy arms of mom or dad. Nights were tough at first, then better, then challenging again. I had to learn that getting stuff done could wait. Baby was and is priority no. 1.

Unexpected challenges with breastfeeding ultimately lengthened my recovery time until Silas was about three months old. Only then did I start feeling like some semblance of my old self. Except now, it’s April, the Mama. And I love it. It feels like the person I was always meant to be.

My first post-partum run wasn’t until mid-September. At that point I still had nurses coming to change my dressing every couple of days. But I couldn’t wait to get outside.

Those first few runs and workouts were so hard. But gradually they became a little easier and I realized I wasn’t completely starting from square one again (probably thanks to my fitness during pregnancy).

In late October, I decided I wanted to sign up for the Santa Shuffle. It’s just a fun run, but I needed a goal. It turned out to be a good decision. The registration forced me to get out for three runs a week. Not only were those runs good for my sanity, but they helped me get some confidence back.

I’ve kind of let my running slip over the past couple of weeks, with the hustle bustle of the Christmas season. But yesterday I signed up for the first run of 2015: the 13K Lorneville Loop! So things are about to get real!

This year, my running all but came to a halt. But I’m picking it up again. I’m learning how to juggle motherhood and fitness, and admiring all those fit moms out there who manage to make it work.

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Hope you all can take time to acknowledge your own accomplishments of 2014 as we look forward to another year and whatever challenges and blessings it may bring.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Santa swagger

The day of the Saint John Santa Shuffle – my first post-baby race – my first wake-up call was around 3 a.m. when Silas decided it was time to eat. Ever since he was about three months old, I have been blessed with a through-the-night sleeper. But it looks like those days are over for now… with those early mornings getting earlier and earlier.

Silas was up and down a few times more before we finally got up around 7:30 a.m. I was feeling really spent and I hadn’t taken a step. I briefly considered bailing. Checking the weather did not make me feel any better.Screenshot_2014-12-06-08-33-45

Cold, wet, slippery. Why did I sign up for this again?

Before having a baby, I would leap out of bed on race mornings. On Saturday, it felt more like a chore. I just kept telling myself it was only 5K, and continued getting ready for the day.

Race prep with a baby is quite different than before. Not only do I need to make sure I get myself fed, dressed and geared-up, but I have another human to take care of as well. Basically it takes me twice as long to do anything. On Saturday, I got Silas dressed in his sweet “Gift for the Ladies” onesie and red plaid Baby Budds bib and then got myself ready as much as possible. The last step before we went out the door would be feeding him.

We arrived at Brunswick Square a little early so I could get my race kit. We also snapped a couple photos.

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Since the weather was so wet and mucky, Mark and Silas decided to wheel around the mall rather than cheer from outside.

I opted to lose my jacket at the last-minute. I figured it would be too hot, and I knew my hat would keep the rain off my face.

Before taking off, participants gathered for a group photo and to hear a few words from the Salvation Army, which the run supports. The event was not timed, which was kind of a relief. No pressure!

I started along Harbour Passage with a slow, steady pace, and just kept it up, watching my footing. My plan was to take a walk break every 10 minutes. After the first 10, I was still feeling good and decided to stop for a break at the turnaround point (just past Ocean Steel). I didn’t stop there either.

Running through slush, tipping my head down against the rain, I sensed a familiar feeling – I had run this route so many times before. I had run 5K many, many times before. And the feeling of running in the crazy elements made me feel refreshed and confident.

Before long, I made it back to the start/finish mark. I looked at my watch and saw it took about 31 minutes for 5.19 km. My pace was 6 mins/km – exactly my goal. I walked back to Mark and Silas with a little big of swagger in my step. Five months after having a baby, I successfully ran a 5K. Yes! I did it!

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Consistency

Hallelujah, running is getting enjoyable again. I was worried those days would never return!

Over the past two weeks, I have run consistently. Not a lot – but enough. The weather has been a mixed bag of cold, rainy, snowy and beautiful, and I managed to mostly run on the beautiful days.

Here are some observations:

– I forgot how refreshing it can be to run on a cold day. It’s hard to leave the warm house on a chilly day but once you get out there, it almost always feels great.

– Turns out I really didn’t need walk breaks every 4-5 minutes. On one particularly cold day last week, I didn’t stop to walk until my halfway point (too cold!), and I was fine.

– I haven’t changed my running playlist in an entire year! Since I haven’t been running much in 2014, I’m actually not sick of the songs. And they remind me of running half-marathons so it’s kind of inspiring. Still, I need some change. Any suggestions?

– I made it back to spinning class on the weekend and didn’t die! I was, however, feeling pretty nauseous by the end. Probably just need to chug more water.

Silas and I are trying a fun mommy and baby swim class and it has been a blast! It’s kind of like aqua-fit. I was surprised how tired my body felt afterwards too. Great cross-training exercise that doesn’t even feel like work. Silas was so relaxed by the movement of the water that he almost fell asleep!

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Overall, I’m feeling stronger and healthier every day. I’m trying to find the right balance between respecting my body and challenging it, and I think I’m doing pretty well.

Two weeks till the Santa Shuffle – and less than a week before my lil’ guy turns five months!!

Mama’s first race

I’ve signed up for a 5K!

It’s the Santa Shuffle, happening Dec. 6. That means I have four weeks to really get back at it.

Last week I managed three short runs, including our first stroller run, a 4K on my own, and a 20-minute treadmill run.

Between now and the shuffle, I’m hoping to get in three runs a week, plus one other activity, and a few strength exercises at home. Silas and I also usually get out for daily walks.

As I’ve learned, it’s important not to overdo it as a new mama.

And I know it’s just a fun run… but this is sort of momentous!

It will be my first race post-baby. The only race on the calendar for 2014. And, I’m hoping this run works as motivation for me to shed a bit more baby weight, gain back more running stamina/strength, and sign up for more races in 2015.

Today, Remembrance Day, was gorgeous in Saint John. It was so mild and sunny. After attending our local remembrance service, Mark and I got some chores done. Then I set out for a 4K run. It was warm enough for short sleeves and cropped pants.

I have been living by the run/walk setting on my Garmin during recent runs. For now I have it set at run 4 mins/walk 1 minute. I want to increase the running time by one minute every week and hopefully I can run 10-and-ones for the shuffle.

Hanging out with my buddy before a short run.
Hanging out with my buddy before a short run.