The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the tag “marathon”

Run Wild Missoula Race Review, Part 1

Summer marathon weekend! Hooray!

My husband had mapped out hiking and other activities for him to do with the kids while we spent a long weekend in Montana.  We had plans with my running partner and her family for the weekend.  We packed the car and drove off.

The drive went well.  We stopped for some photo opps in Glacier National Park and continued to Missoula.

P1090017  P1090020  P1090021

Upon arriving at our home for the weekend, we settled in, ate dinner and took a walk around the neighborhood.  Missoula is a lovely city.  People were welcoming, polite, helpful.. all good things.  My husband mapped out a hike for the next morning.

When the sun rose the next morning, I was tempted to join JB for his morning hike but decided not to risk it.  Besides, Jen and family were arriving that day and I wanted to be sure that we had food for everyone.  Also, I had to check that we had not sprawled throughout the entire house, leaving no room for her family. JB had a great time on his hike and took the boys with him the next day.

Friday evening came and the grown-ups went out for the Missoula Beer Run.  I understand it is a bit of a tradition the weekend of the marathon.  Tour guides from the community welcome any runners to the Iron Horse Brew Pub.  We divided into groups by the distance we were planning to run and headed off, (after downing a delicious beer from Iron Horse).  Our tour guide was full of information about the city.  He told us stories about the parks, the university, restaurants and local folklore during our short run. Very nice (free) event put on by the running club in Missoula.

Missoula Hammock

Saturday was the usual prep for Jen and I.  We ate, rested, went over our race plans and such.  A good sleep and then..  Part 2.


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.


The Magic of the Marathon

Like many, I have been reeling since Monday, trying to make sense of the tragic events in Boston. I have completed my training runs sans iPod, so lost in thought that I about fell off the treadmill.
As marathoners go, I am pretty average. I am a “middle of the pack” runner. Someday I hope to be a “squeaker”, as they are called in Boston, one that qualifies and squeaks in. I don’t know if that will ever happen. Yet, I run.
I run because it makes me happy. It clears my head. It relaxes me. It helps me put things in perspective. I run to stay healthy. I run so I can eat cookies, (a lot of cookies). My daughter has started running with me at times. I love our time together when we share a run.
So what is it about the marathon? As I said, I am pretty average. Before my first event, my children asked me what this was all about. I explained the distance and how long it would take me and how many people were also running. “Are you going to win?” my son asked. “No.” I responded. “Then why bother?” He was confused. Why bother with all the training, racing, hoopla and such if you know that you are not going to win?

That is the magic of the marathon.

I will never be on the field during the Super Bowl to catch a pass from Aaron Rodgers. I will not get a hit off of CC Sabathia during the World Series. But at any given marathon, I will line up with elite runners, Olympians, world class athletes, and I will run the same course, at the same time, on the same day. That inspires me. What other sport is like this? We follow the same training plans, albeit Kara Goucher probably does not drink as much beer or eat as much junk as I do. We have the same struggles during training, lost toenails, BM issues. We persevere over 42.2 km (or 26.2 miles) on race day. Marathons are not about winning. They are about commitment, hard work, the simple joy in accomplishment. When coming into the finishing corral at my first marathon (in Vancouver) I could not stop smiling. “I am going to DO IT!” I kept saying to myself. I had this euphoria, runner’s high, cartwheels through a flowery meadow on a summer day-type joy that would not – could not – keep me from smiling and has inspired me to run a marathon every year since. That is something that will not be taken away from me, or any other runner that has finished a race.

I am a marathoner. And I am not alone. Monday’s horrific events will not end the races. As someone on Facebook wrote.. “If you are trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target.”


One week before running a marathon…

..its important to do a few things.  When I say this, even when I’m serious, it makes me giggle.  Why?  Last year I ran the Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon with a group of people from Wisconsin.  We had a coach with us, Dan, who has enthusiasm like no one I have ever seen.  He is an experienced runner and also full of good advice.  It seemed that he started a lot of sentences with something of the following..

  • When training for a marathon, its important to…
  • When traveling to run in a marathon, its important to…
  • Three days before running a marathon, its important to…
  • Two days before running a marathon, its important to…
  • When lining up at the start line of a marathon, its important to..

It became a little joke at Dan’s expense.  I think it started as we were devouring pizza and beers the Friday night before the race.  “Two days before running a marathon, its important to carb load.”  The next day, we rode the bus to beach.  “The day before running a marathon, its important to dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean.”  It went on and on.  Luckily, Dan is a good sport and generally nice guy.  And the day of the race, I needed him so very much at the 23 mile marker and he delivered.  Joking and encouraging, he stayed with me for over a mile, renewing my strength to complete the race.

So here I am, one week before the Calgary Marathon and I am starting to get the prerace jitters.

I thought of Dan today.  One week before running a marathon, I thought to myself, its important to relax.  I went for the usual 5k run this morning and then did a few things..

One week before running a marathon, its important to take on a new sport.  Rollerblading, for example. 

My boys have been asking for inline skates for a while and we finally had the opportunity to purchase them and skate around a bit.  As an aside, it is humbling to have your 7 and 8-year-old kids teach you how to do something.  It’s really fun and hopefully someday I will be good enough at it to venture past our street and we can all go rollerblading together.


Also, one week before a marathon, its important to let loose a little.  Go to an amusement park, maybe.  Take your kids on a roller coaster or something.  Now, I don’t like rides.  JB takes the kids on the roller coasters, etc.  When I go on a ride it is usually a kiddie ride and only because I have been begged by one or all of my kids to go on.  (See left picture of aforementioned kiddie ride and how could I say no to the adorable boy with me?)  I pretend to like it, like a mother will do from time to time.  Usually at the end of the day I will be asked why I only went on a handful of rides, while the kids and JB tore the place apart with reckless abandon.  The kids know I don’t really like all the rides.  Between us, I think they enjoy seeing me uncomfortable spinning, zipping and twirling through all of it.

Of course, these are not hard and fast rules.  I am hoping that no one actually goes out and starts rollerblading or recklessly riding roller coasters just prior to running a race.  I will say that the week before running a marathon its important to relax and find a way to calm your prerace jitters.  I just happen to do so with my family, trying to act as if I just have a usual group run in a week.  Only this time the group will be a few thousand people through the city streets, 42.2 kilometers and I get a medal at the end.

Here’s to one more week!

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