The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Are you there, Endorphins? Its me, Erika..

Training is ramping up for the marathon in July. My mileage is increasing and my legs are getting that tired/energized weirdness. It is also the time in marathon training where I just want the race to happen already. Mid-training fatigue. Well into training, but not real close to the race, I am having a “mid-life” crisis of sorts. This past week was the pits. Monday’s run went well and was followed by a family bike ride. Tuesday’s run not so much. It was windy and dusty and I struggled through eleven kilometers while eating dirt and gravel stirred up by cars and wind. Then, the rain came. It rained on and off Wednesday, with the only break in the evening when my daughter had a soccer game. I am one of the coaches for her team, so was not able to get a run in on Wednesday. It was fine with me. I was still licking wounds from the day before. But Thursday and Friday offered no relief from the rain. Other issues arose that required my attention and I missed running both days. By Friday evening, I was a cranky mess.
So, what to do? A twenty-nine kilometer training run was on the docket for the weekend and rain was in the forecast for Saturday. Also, all of my kids had activities over the weekend, so to fit in a three-hour run was going to be a trick even on a nice day. I paced. And bugged my husband. And tweeted to friends in town asking for advice. Thing was, if I ran Saturday, chances were I was going to get wet. If I ran Sunday, I would certainly be re-routed by the ScotiaBank Calgary Marathon happening in town. I made a decision and went to bed.
Saturday morning came. I got my daughter to her weekend festivities and ran inside on the treadmill. After lunch, I made my way down to the expo to register for the Calgary Half-Marathon.
Absolutely no regrets. Race day was sunny and cool. I was able to ride down with a neighborhood running partner, running her first race, and met up with other friends prior to the start.
The start was slow. The field was full and moved along steadily, yet slowly. My funk from the previous week was lifting with each step, as it is impossible to stay angry/stressed when running, (Kathrine Switzer guaranteed it). I passed a sign that was meant for a certain charity, “remember why you are here”, and started to think about it. What reason did I have for doing this race? None, really, other than it fit into my training schedule and I was “blah” from the previous week’s training. So I thought about the upcoming full marathon for which I am training. What could I do as a race pace? Goal in finishing time? hmmm..
I sped up to what I am happy to report is my goal race pace for Run Wild Missoula in July. Also happy to report that I was able to maintain that pace, in good humor, for the duration of the race. As will happen on a marathon course, every now and then I would talk with other runners, high-five a cute kid holding out their hand, and laugh at a poster. My favorite today, by the way, was “Other sports require players to bring balls. Runners just have them.”
A successful weekend of training is in the books. And, as a bonus, I have a shiny new medal. So much for the mid-training “blahs”. Sometimes you just need that extra shot of endorphins.

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Mother’s Day Run

This is a race that I have been looking forward to for a couple of months. It is a big deal in Calgary, with over 25,000 people participating in either a 10k run, 5k run, or 5k walk. An added bonus is that, for the 3rd year in a row, Jaybird will join me at the start line. While this is her third 5k race, it is special. First, its Mother’s Day and I am enjoying something I love with my daughter. Second, this race benefits the Calgary Health Trust Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, (NICU). Jaybird called another NICU home for the first 9 weeks of her life, so this cause is near and dear to our hearts.

We arrived early to meet some folks from our team. You can read Cori’s race review here. I was hoping to meet up with another running friend, but missed her.. next time. In any case, you can read Michelle’s race review as well, (she did the 10k). Jaybird asked a few times why we had to be there so early. I just told her that its a big crowd and that we want to be sure that we are not rushed. I spared her stories of arriving at start lines about 4am to be sure that the day starts off as smoothly as possible.

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The start was a bit of a mosh pit, though we were front and center to see the wheelchair race start out. When we saw that we would not be able to get inside the starting corral until well after the starting gun, we jumped the fence to squeeze in. We talked a bit about pace and water and how to navigate the crowd. Just in case of something completely weird, we also set up a meeting place. The time arrived to start and we were off! We kept up with the crowd, headed out of the mall parking lot and into the residential area nearby. A huge sign stating “We Love Mom!” greeted everyone as we headed up the hill. The woman next to us called out to the 20-something man sitting on the deck, “I love your sign! Great job!” He nodded back and smiled.

As we approached a kilometer marker I gasped and teared up a little. As I noted above, this run benefits the NICU and there was a donation bucket along with pictures of fragile premature babies along the route. Once upon a time, that was the girl who was running along beside me. I looked at her, asked her how she was doing and requested we slow down. I meant our running pace was a little fast, but I think there may have been a subconscious voice in there begging her to slow down in every way possible.

We walked through the water station at the half way point. We took stock of our pace and decided that we may have started out a little fast. When we began running again it was at a more practical pace. The course was well-marked and festive. All races have a diverse crowd of participants but this one had a different feel. There were families walking and running together, sometimes up to 4 generations. Spectators lined the course; clapping volunteers were everywhere. When we approached the finish line I heard a man say to his kids, “Mom crosses the finish line first. This is her day.” My heart swelled.

DSC02134Jaybird asked if we could sprint the last 200 meters, (she always does that), but the crowd was too thick for us to race to the finish. We crossed the finish line hand in hand. She was a little bummed out that no medals were awarded, so I called upon a friend and fellow Mom, Brenda Ster, for help. Brenda created a locket for Jaybird appropriate for the occasion. I presented it to her as we munched on fruit, yogurt and chocolate milk provided at the finish line. She smiled and reached out for a hug, loving her new necklace. (If you would like see all the cool stuff Brenda can do, please see her website.) DSC02136

We arrived home to much fanfare with the boys and my husband working like crazy in a flowery kitchen. A Mother’s Day brunch befitting the Queen awaited me, wrapping up a terrific Mother’s Day morning.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there, (especially mine).

If you would like to support Jaybird and other premature babies like her, please see these links to the NICU in Alberta and the NICU in Milwaukee, WI, where she was cared for by some of the best physicians and nurses on the planet.

Running and the Law of Averages

It was bound to happen. After logging about 55 kilometers last week and feeling unstoppable, I had a face plant. Partly, I blame Eminem. Here’s the story.

Today I had 9.5km to run as part of the training program, as noted on my calendar. We have been having absolutely gorgeous weather and I have been enjoying all the running in the Calgary sun. This afternoon was going to be great. How could it not? Training has been going so well!

Its the Law of Averages. Every training period has a couple of crap runs and today it was my turn. I dressed, opened the front door and noticed right away that the sunny day had turned cloudy with a cool breeze. I changed my shirt. Opening the front door a second time and taking a deep breath, I headed out. As I completed the first hill, Eminem’s “Eight Mile” came on my run mix. This song usually gets me going but today I clung to the line about the vomit on his sweatshirt, (I think that’s the line anyway). I spent the next 6-7 kilometers concentrating on avoiding vomiting on someone’s front yard. I don’t know what happened. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. Also, my legs were tightening up. Coming into the last bit of the run the nauseousness subsided. Then, something else. I started to pass gas like a grandma getting out of a rocking chair. Oh, crap. I started to think fast.. who do I know on this route that would not think it strange for me to ring their doorbell and ask to use their bathroom? And then would not be completely grossed out? I decided to turn my thoughts to my breathing.

Feeling better, I turned for home. I noticed that I was going to be a bit shy of the required distance for the day so thought about where to do a dipsy-doodle (technical running term) to make up some kilometers. Fuelled by the theme from Rocky (yes, its in my run mix, don’t judge) and a new energy in my legs, I turned away from home to complete the mileage.

So here I am, relieved to share a story about a run that was not great. It was not fast, nor pretty, but it is done. Law of Averages demands that I kick some ass tomorrow. Here’s hoping anyway.

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