Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hear me ROAR!!! (40 B4 40 - #2)

More than 7 hours ago, I crossed "New Experience #2" off my 40 B4 40 list (and a rather significant item off my Bucket List) - I officially became A HALF MARATHONER!!!!    The whole experience was rather surreal and I am still coming down from the "Runner's High" that invariably accompanies these events, but I wanted to get my thoughts down on "paper" while the whole thing was still fresh in my mind. 

There's a pretty good chance that this blog post could quickly become a novel, so in an effort to keep your interest, I'll try to keep it as brief as possible.   

First of all, I can't say enough good things about this race.   The "Toronto Island Girl Half Marathon and 5K" was an incredibly well organized event and I am SO glad that I chose it for my first half.   It was a smaller event - I believe around 600 runners total for the 2 events - and it was all women, so the atmosphere on the island this morning was amazing.   Such a difference from the "Midsummer Night's 15k Disaster" that we ran a month earlier. 

You Ladies ROCKED IT!
The 5K event went off at 8:30 and I was serving as "cheerleader" for Brenda and Claire since the half marathon didn't start until 9:30 (note the very sensible start time!!!!)   Brenda was her usual rock star self despite an injury and Claire surprised herself by finishing much faster than she expected!

Coach Fil and I before
the start!!!
After some high fives, photo ops and celebrating, it was time for Fil and I to get ready for the half.  I was eerily calm - all the nerves that I had been battling to this point had vanished and I was ready to GO!   There was a steel band playing and some ladies helped us get warmed up.....then we were off!!!!

I had decided prior to the race that I would dedicate each KM of my run to a particular person (or people) that held a special place in my heart.  I went to Running Room and bought a pace tattoo for my left forearm (the times were for my "worst case scenario" pace - I was told not to have a goal time for my first half marathon, but based on my training I was really hoping I could come in under 3hrs.   Yes, I am aware that is slow.)   Beside the KM markers on the pace tattoo, I wrote the initials for the person/people that I would be running for during that KM so that I could think about them during that particular part of my run.  

KM 1 - This first KM was my fastest of the day (of course) and I dedicated it to all of my cheerleaders - my facebook supporters and friends that have really taken an interest in my journey and helped to keep me motivated along the way.    I received one FB message from Lee-Anne yesterday advising me not to start to fast, so, Lee, I did think of you in this first KM and tried not to let the adrenaline get the best of me.   I slowed myself down and tried to find a nice even pace.    Vicki D., Sophia W., Leanne C., Karen F., Jacquie F., Cousin Kim, Nelson G, Julia P., Sharron R., Jessica A. and my Aunties (to name but a few) - you were all in my thoughts during this first awesome kilometre!!!

KM 2 - Steve O. - I dedicated this KM to've been a great friend, supporter and Number 1 BBF!!

KM 3 - Sue V., Sandra B. and Claire K.  - my little WW family.   Sue and Sandra are always there with a hug, some advice, and most importantly their friendship!   Claire - thank you so much for waiting around for me this morning in the FREEZING cold and for being my photographer.  The support of all three of you wonderful ladies means a lot.  

KM 4 - Aynsley H., Scott H. and kiddies - Ayns, you were my original running buddy and I really do appreciate your support throughout the process.   During your KM I wished for nothing but a lifetime of love and happiness for you, Scott and the kids.   

KM 5 - Joanne L. and Family - Jo, you have been a great friend and cheerleader for me when I needed it most.  I am so proud of what you and Kate accomplished during your run yesterday and I can't wait until you are Princesses together!!   As an amusing side note, during your kilometre I was passed by two women wearing "Wonder Woman Cape Socks".   How perfect!!  I literally laughed out loud. 

KM 6 - Michelle S - Michelle claims that I inspired her to start running, but Michelle you are an inspiration to me!!    Michelle was also running her first half marathon today (in Oakville) - and based on when her race started and how long she told me it would take her to finish, I assumed she would be finishing somewhere during my 6th kilometre.  Michelle, I was sending you strength and lots of extra speedy vibes during this time, so if you magically got faster during the final stretch of your race, I'll take the credit  (hahaha).     CONGRATS!! 

KM 7 - Rose and George W. - Rose and George were like second parents to me during my high school years.   Both are fighting their own difficult battles at this time, so I wanted to spend this kilometre praying for and wishing for nothing but strength and good health for you!  xoxo

KM 8 - Cousin Donna - This year has been a year of transformation for you and I am so proud of what you have accomplished!   I spent this kilometre praying for strength and good news for you very soon!

KM 9 - Coach Fil and Coach Brenda - My two rock stars.    I haven't known either of you for very long, but you have quickly become very important to me and I was so thankful that you were there for me today.  So many times I wanted to quit, and you always knew what to say to help me keep my eyes on the prize.  I couldn't have done it without you.

From my Garmin - the route (detour included) was beautiful!
As a side note, it was during this kilometre that I managed to get lost (only I could get LOST during a race that was as well signed and organized as this one, but alas, I did).    I had been doing really well up until this point and was feeling so strong that once I realized I had taken a wrong turn, I was on the verge of a total meltdown.    Because it was my "Coaches' Kilometre", I immediately thought of what they would say if they were there with me and I managed to calm myself down and get back on the course (After a slight .8k detour.  Sigh).  

KM 10 - Emily W. and Kiddies - My oldest friend and my first ever running partner oh so many years ago, I spent this kilometre wishing for love and happiness for all of you after a challenging year.   *hugs*

KM 11 - Val A. - My original "Second Mom" and my true inspiration for running in the first place.   I always admired your strength and dedication to the sport and I admire your strength even more today.    The past couple of months have been nothing short of miraculous for you and I pray every day that the miracles continue.  

KM 12 - Lisa W. and kiddies - for my "twin" BFF.   Your unending support and love mean the world to me.  I wish for nothing but peace, love and happiness for you and the kids - you deserve only the best.   xoxo

KM 13 - Maddie, Mike and Jake - my legs were starting to feel like lead during this kilometre (and my iPod had died about 2kms earlier!  ARGH!!!!) so I imagined us in one of our late night dance parties (use your core!!!) to try to put a little extra spring in my step.    I love you all lots and can't wait til we dance again.....

KM 14 - Meagie, Ryan and the boys (plus Baby Shep III) - Thank you so much for being an amazing friend, sister (and brother) in law and a fantastic kid watcher!    I sent much love and happiness to you all and prayed for a smooth and safe arrival for our little baby girl that is on the way!  Love ya!!!

KM 15 - Granny and Papa H - After I tough year for you both, we now have the light at the end of the tunnel.  I pray for much health, love and happiness for you and thank you for building such a beautiful family for me to be a part of. 

KM 16 - Ray, Fran and Katelynn - How I wish that we were closer together so I could watch my little niece grow up!  I miss you all so much and sent you love (with some kisses and snuggles for Katelynn) on this KM this morning. 

I had been doing pretty well up until this point in the race and I knew that I would definitely make it to the finish line.   I took my last gel around now for a little (much needed) energy to carry me to the finish!!!

KM 17 - Mom and Dad - without a doubt my biggest cheerleaders!   How I wish you could have been here this morning (or just here in general....but I digress) but I know you were cheering me on in your hearts.    I am so glad that you have found so much happiness in your retirement years and I prayed for strength, health and love to carry you through at least the next 35-40 years and beyond.   Love you both xoxox

KM 18 - Marc - My rock, my life partner, my love.   Physically this was one of the hardest kilometres of the day, and I really concentrated on you to help carry me through it.   I couldn't have gotten to this point without your support and your understanding of all the time I had to spend training to get here, even if you really didn't understand why I felt the need to do it (run 21.1k?? That's what CARS are for!!!!).    Without getting too mushy.....I.  Love.  You.   Thank you loving me, too.  xoxo

KM 19 - Kenna -  You have NO IDEA how much I wished I could have your beautiful long, strong (and young!) legs at this point in the race!    I know if you could have been there today you would have (and you would have crossed that finish line with a smile.....look out Island Girl 2015).   I am so proud of what you have accomplished and the person you have become.  Love you xoxoxox

KM 20 - Erin - My little cheerleader - my bundle of love, attitude and personality!    I imagined you running beside me and telling me that I could do it!   You bring smiles to the faces of everyone you meet and I love the little person that you are.   You walk to the beat of your own drum and I love that about you.    xoxoxo

KM 21+ - I had planned to dedicate this kilometre to ME.    This half marathon was something that I wanted to do for so long and I wasn't sure I really had what it took to make it happen.  I can say that if I hadn't made a point of making the goal "public", there's a good chance that I wouldn't have seen it through to the end.   The training was incredibly difficult for me, and, to be honest, it would have been SO much easier to quit.   My friends, family and support system above all played HUGE parts in getting me to the finish line today.    In the end, it was all so very worth it!!!
We did it!!!!! 

Brenda met me during the last KM (and watched with me as my Garmin hit the 21.1k mark, even though we still had a ways to go...but I'm not bitter) and ran me in to the finish - that meant so much and I love you for it.    I had kept it together pretty well for most of the run, but when I saw Claire, Fil and Brenda cheering me on at the end, well, I bawled like an idiot.  I am so thankful you were there (freezing your butts off) so that you could be a part of the moment.   It wouldn't have been the same without you.  

Thank you, GARMIN!! :)
So there you have it. It may not have been the prettiest half marathon ever, but it was mine.  My first one.  I am proud of every step.  My Garmin put me at 2:56:45 for the 21.1k, so even though my chip time is longer thanks to my little detour, I will always know that I made it under my goal.  In the weeks leading up to the race I had told a few people that it would be my first, and likely my LAST, half marathon.   After crossing the finish line, I know I have to do it again someday.   The "finish line feeling" is indescribable....if you have ever thought about it, DO IT!   Trust me, if an old slow poke like me can do it, anyone can.   :)

Now for some much needed (and well earned!) R and R.....

J :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tartan Twosome!! (40 B4 40 - #1)

What a fabulous weekend!   As some of you know, a couple of friends and I headed off to the East Coast for a little running, sightseeing and lots of PIRATES!  The weekend has been in the works for so long and I'm sad that it went by in a blink.  Not only did I have a wonderful time, but I have officially crossed the first new experience off my "40 Before 40" list.....

Visit Nova Scotia!!!

Truth be told, there were actually a lot of firsts for me this weekend, but I've decided to combine them all together into one awesome new experience.

After an uneventful flight, Fil, Vicki and I arrived in Halifax (new experience #1) on Thursday evening.  It was late so we just picked up our rental car (new experience #2), headed to our hotel, ordered pizza and got settled.   We really only had two full days in Nova Scotia, so we knew we'd have to head out early on Friday morning to make the most of our day.  Unfortunately Tropical Storm Gabrielle was headed straight for us (new experience #3), but even though we were anticipating a soggy day, we weren't going to let her slow us down. 

On Lower Water Street - YUM!
Isn't he cute?
On Friday we managed to squeeze in a trip to Pier 21 in downtown Halifax, did a little shopping, visited the Citadel and had our pictures taken with one of the cool looking guards and had an amazing lunch at "The Bicycle Thief" (best dessert ever) before we had to head out to the little town of Eastern Passage to pick up our race kits for our Sunset 5K that evening.   The rain wasn't too bad while we were downtown, but it was getting progressively worse as the day went on.    After picking up the race kits (complete with  two different tech shirts!), we went back to the hotel to get ready for our run.

It was raining pretty hard when we got back to Eastern Passage about a half hour before the race. (Thankfully I had packed rain ponchos!)  The race organizers did a fabulous job of getting us pumped up for the run - there were pirates everywhere and you can't help but be in high spirits when you hear traditional East Coast Music!  There were around 1250 runners participating and all of them were running the Sunset 5k (Sun?  What sun?).   The start and finish line were in a small area called "Fisherman's Cove" that had the cutest little shops and we could imagine that the views would have been quite beautiful on a clear day.  The 5k route was an "out and back" that took us up a gradual incline along the coast before turning us around to head back towards the finish at Fisherman's Cove.   Amazingly, the rain stopped shortly after we started and it was actually perfect running weather - cool and crisp.
Sunset 5K Medal and Tartan Twosome bib

Overall, I felt pretty good on this run.  I lost "Superstar Fil" sometime around the first water break, but I didn't want to push it too hard because I knew I had to get up early and run 10k the next day.   I was happy with my finish time of 36:24...and REALLY happy with my first medal!!  The strawberry daquiri ice cream and chocolate milk were added bonuses as well.  YUM! Bring on race #2!

We had to get up early on Saturday morning to head back to Eastern Passage for Day Two.   There were around 1350 participants in the four "Sunrise" events today, with the biggest crowd running the 10K.  Even though the rain had definitely improved, it was really foggy so the visibility in the area was pretty limited.   The waves were crashing nearby on the shore and even though we couldn't really see them, the sound was awesome. 

Fil, Vicki and I after the 10K
Met up with Karen in NS too!
I didn't have the same spring in my step that I had on yesterday's run.   I had worn my old running shoes yesterday (hoping to keep my "good" shoes dry for today's longer run) and my right foot and calf were pretty unhappy about it.    There was a pretty significant hill at around the 3km mark that seemed to go on forever, but I did manage to find my stride for a while after about 4K.   My right foot had pretty much given up by the 8K mark and the last 2K were a real struggle.   Overall I was pleased with my time (1:19:21), even though it was slower than I had managed on other 10Ks in the past.  Factoring in the weather, my foot, the travel and the early wake up call, I think I did pretty well.   Of course there was the added bonus of the 10K finisher's medal - along with the HUGE "Tartan Twosome" medal - that helped take the sting out of my right foot all together.    We had all accomplished what we went to Nova Scotia to do - now on to the sightseeing!

On Saturday we were hoping to see Peggy's Cove, the Swiss Air Disaster Memorial, the adorable towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg as well as "The Bluenose".    With Vicki navigating and me driving (new experience #5), we managed to see everything we had planned on.    The weather cleared after Peggy's Cove and it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.   

In the town of Peggy's Cove
A little foggy at the lighthouse
Part of the SwissAir Disaster Memorial

The Three Churches of Mahone Bay
Gorgeous Church in Lunenburg

We had to sneak onto a film set (new experience # 6)
 to get the Bluenose up close
The Bluenose


We awoke to gorgeous blue skies on Sunday morning, but sadly we had to return home.  We decided to drive back to Eastern Passage to enjoy the scenery a little since we couldn't see much on either of the two race days.    It really is a lovely little town and I was glad that we decided to return to see it in all its' glory!   Overall, this was a great little "Girls Getaway" and a fabulous experience for my first destination race (New experience #7).  Nova Scotia is a beautiful part of the country and I hope to return in the near future and spend more time enjoying the sights!  Thanks to my running/travel buddies for making this first "New Experience" on my "40 B4 40" list an awesome one!!!
Friends old and new......

Picture with Pirates - New Experience #8

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pushing 40

Anyone who knows me knows that I sometimes always seem to get a little completely wigged out every year as my birthday approaches.  I never really thought I'd be one of THOSE people that thinks of age as more than just a number, but lo and behold, I totally am.  Every year I usually feel the need either change my look, my wardrobe or crawl inside a bottle of wine with a straw and a "Do Not Disturb" sign. 

This year was no exception.   As the eve of my last 30-something birthday approached, I found myself feeling a little weepier than usual.   I can't really put a finger on "why".....for the most part, life is pretty freakin' good.....I guess maybe it's just the "have I really accomplished what I had hoped to by this stage of my life?" and "Is this it? What is my place in the world?"  questions that tend to surface around the anniversary of one's birth.   Plus, I also really have a flair for the dramatic.  It's part of my charm. 

This year,  I totally ripped off the idea of was inspired by a friend to begin a little project for the last year of my 30's.   Back in November, a friend of mine turned 30.  (Sigh).   She decided to embrace her 30's by attempting to have 30 brand new experiences in the year following her 30th birthday.    I think she is somewhere around experience #18 right about now, and I have really enjoyed following her new adventures.  (You rock, girl!!!!!)

I thought it was such a fantastic idea (thank you, Jacquie) that I decided to steal borrow the idea and adapt it into a little challenge for myself - in an effort to (hopefully) avoid an epic birthday meltdown this time next year on the eve of my 40th.  

You heard it here first, folks - this year I am going to attempt to have 40 BRAND NEW experiences, and blog about them, before I turn 40.  (You can be sure a scrapbook will also follow.....)

I have been compiling a list of a few things I'd like to try, sort of a mini-bucket list, that ranges from simple and inexpensive (trying REAL sushi!) to a few more costly adventures that will require some serious safety equipment!  (Don't panic, Joanie). 

I can't wait for this challenge to begin and I am excited at the thought of being able to look back on my last "30-something year" as a truly memorable one - one where I stepped out of my comfort zone and really LIVED! 

But for now I'm still 38......

J :)