Marathon by the Sea: my 10K race report

It’s been a week since I took part in the 25th annual Marathon By the Sea, here in beautiful Saint John, NB. This is my “hometown race” (I’m a come-from-away) and I usually try to take part, although the past few years have included various stages of pregnancy and newborns! That being said, I always appreciate the opportunity to run and race, especially now that my children demand so much of my time. Running is my “me time,” which takes much of the pressure off!

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So this year, now that my twins are 11 months old, I wanted a reasonable goal. I haven’t had a ton of time to train, but I figured I could pull of a 10-kilometre run. I didn’t expect to make it a personal best by any stretch — especially on this “certified tough” course. But I knew it would provide some good motivation to train and keep active through the summer.

Well, training went OK. I barely got out for enough runs – maybe two or three per week. My longest run was 9-ish km. I don’t even know because the wristband on my trusty Garmin Forerunner broke off! And let’s not even talk about my nutrition this summer… after a few months of clean eating, I went hog wild all summer, especially on the ice cream!

So when race weekend arrived, let’s just say I wasn’t chomping at the bit. I almost forgot to make time to stop by the expo to pick up my race bib! And I made no elaborate plans for a new running outfit (which I have done in the past), nor did I force my husband and kids to pick a fun spot along the route to cheer me on with a “Go MOM WE LOVE YOU” sign. Wouldn’t that be nice! Instead, I was just lucky to have the chance to sneak away early in the morning and get a peaceful run in before 9:30 a.m. What a treat.

This was my first time trying out the 10-km distance at Marathon by the Sea (MBTS). In the past, they have offered a 5-mile, full and half course. I have done the 5-mile and half-marathons before, along with a 5 km night run a couple years ago. One of the things that appealed to me about this course was the chance to run across both the Reversing Falls and Harbour bridges. Coasting high above the Saint John Harbour is quite an experience by foot. It’s almost enough to take the sting out of the bridge’s cringe-worthy gradual incline.

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After a very hot summer, especially for temperate Saint John, race morning was generally good. It was a little cooler and overcast, yet muggy. By the time I was done running, I was dripping in sweat but at least the sun wasn’t beating down.

I felt as though I kept up a good pace. I wasn’t fast, but steady. I followed a middle-aged couple who were strong, steady runners, and tried to keep them in my sights. I only stopped to walk at the water stations, and even then only briefly.

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The toughest part is actually the first 5 km. It’s all uphill! Starting out at the cruise ship terminal along the harbour, we took Harbour Passage, up to Reversing Falls, still up around Simms Corner to Lancaster Avenue with the peak at Olsen’s. Then there was a nice downhill as we ran down Prince Street and Riverview Drive on the lower west side to the base of the Harbour Bridge. As mentioned the big Harbour Bridge included another significant climb levelling out, going down for a bit then up again on the highway exit back to the uptown. Whew! Lots of hills on this race!

For the final stretch, I tried to race the woman next to me but ran out of steam. She peeled ahead, but I’m glad I gave it a final push. My final time was 59:05… a personal worst, by far. I think my next slowest time is 55 minutes!

But hey, I now have THREE young children, two of those not yet one year old. I grew those babies in this amazing body of mine, and it can still take me on a 10-kilometre run. Now that is something to celebrate. It honestly fills my eyes with tears when I think about it.

Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers at Marathon by the Sea, for bringing such a great event to the city. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of, and to see friends and visitors use the power of their bodies to take in the majestic views (and hills) this place has to offer. It’s so easy to take for granted.

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Summer running goals

I’m now well into my second round of boot camp at 3rd Degree Training, and as I continue to work on my strength, the spring weather has me itching to set some running goals.

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It’s hard to believe I have only run a handful of times since having the twins – who are now 7.5 months old. When Silas was about nine months old, I ran the Lorneville Loop, a 13-kilometre race! I’m nowhere near ready to take on such a distance but I know once I start training, the running will come back to me before long.

With three young children, the days slip by so quickly, and I feel like I need to go ahead and set race goals so I have incentive to get out and run, or else the time will just float by and my mat leave will be gone.

St. Andrews Father’s Day 5-Miler – June 17 – I have run this challenging course twice before – once in blazing heat, and once in pouring rain. Maybe this will be my lucky year and the weather will be perfect. This gives me six weeks to train and lines up with the end of this round of boot camp. A great way to celebrate! Not to mention honouring my awesome husband and father to three under three.

Marathon by the Sea 10K – August 12 – I want to be good to my body and avoid jumping into distance running too quickly. Training for a 10K is a great way to continue to increase my mileage without sacrificing my weekends to long runs away from my kids. A quick look at the Marathon By the Sea website indicates this run crosses Saint John’s Harbour Bridge, which is an amazing experience. There are lots of hills, so definitely not expecting a personal best, but Marathon by the Sea is always a hometown favourite.

To get myself back in running shape, I need to start getting the miles in. Doing this while completing another boot camp may be a little challenging, but I hope to attempt 2-3 runs a week in addition to my 3-4 workouts at 3rd Degree. The great thing about this is my stronger body should make me a stronger runner less prone to aches and pains.

I’m also still following my custom Actual Nutrition guide and avoiding treats except for special occasions, so I am curious to see how this impacts my running.

I’m still breastfeeding the twins, although they continue to eat an increasing amount of solids. So I still need to consume plenty of calories to keep us all going. As I gradually start weaning this summer, my mileage will be increasing so I will be able to pare down the volume of food a bit, but probably not by a ton. Ah yes, one of the greatest benefits of running is the food.

 

 

Between storms

I’d never been so pumped to run 7K on a treadmill. I know, I know… the treadmill is boring as hell. But see, I am a mother of a 7-month-old baby who has not stepped foot outside her house for three of the past seven days due to the snowpocolypse. So today’s outing was pure joy.

First, I helped shovel our driveway. There is not much room for the 35 more centimetres that is expected to fall tomorrow.

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Then off to Iron Jungle, where I was mostly on my own. I fired up the treadmill and ran at a steady 6 mph for 4.3 miles. It felt pretty good!

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Farthest run post - baby!

To help occupy myself during the run, I listened to Ultra 2015, a bass-pumping dance album. I also risked my life successfully texting my mom and sister while running. Probably not the smartest thing I`ve ever done.

Things that could have made my run better: not wearing a too-small shirt that kept riding up, cleaning the gunk out of my headphones (I had one ear blasted by the end) and emptying my bladder. #momlife

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A new kind of runner’s high

One year ago, I was in tip-top shape. I was five weeks pregnant. And I was about to run my third half-marathon in one season.

I was on top of the world.

I remember running one dark October night. I felt like I was sailing down Douglas Avenue. It was effortless to knock of 10 kilometres on a Wednesday night.

Amazing how things can change in just one year. Running is no longer a top priority in my life. I still like it (I think), but a lot of things have to line up for me to even get out for a run, let alone train for a race.

I was feeling a little bummed on the weekend. I had originally planned to run a 5K at a school in my neighbourhood – one of the last runs in the circuit this season. But after battling a cold all week, I didn’t get in any essential training runs. I knew I could run 5K, but it would have been hard. When my baby woke up at 5 a.m. that morning, I looked at the clock said, Nope. Not happening. 

I thought about how much things have changed in one year. A year ago I would have eagerly set my alarm, threw on some cute Lululemon gear and dashed toward the starting line. Now, I am out of breath after running one block.

I wondered if my passion for running has fizzled. Will it ever return? Is this lacklustre runner part of the new mommy-me?

But then, a day later, I did something that runners do: I laced up my shoes.

I handed my baby to my husband. And I went for a run.

And you know what? It felt OK.

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t too hard, either. My music distracted me from hearing my laboured breath. I set my Garmin so I would run for four minutes, then walk one minute. I ran about four kilometres.

The air was crisp and cool. My cheeks were hot. I actually felt pretty good. And I realized (probably for the third or fourth time since having a baby), that I’m still a runner, and I will get back to where I was before, in good time.

When I got home, the baby was still doing OK so I hopped in the shower.

And when I got out, still vibrating with feel-good endorphins, I saw a sight that would warm the cockles of any new-mommy-heart:

Daddy had rocked his baby to sleep.

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