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31 Dec 2012

Adventures Teaching Abroad

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Post-marathon

I took a two-week running break following the marathon in Toronto. I experienced the usual soreness in my muscles for a few days, but other than that, recovery felt good. From there, Coach Trent and I planned some additional low-volume weeks and the timing to take it easy proved perfect. Shortly after I returned from the marathon, I received an invite from triathlon coach Patrick Kelly to teach run-technique to triathletes at the Hong Kong Sports Institute. This was a unique opportunity to coach athletes with a wide range of abilities, as well as a chance to see and experience a different part of the world.

Three weeks in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Sports Institute is situated in the residential district of Sha Tin, about 15km north of central Hong Kong.

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My Daily Commute from the Hotel to the HKSI Along the Shing Mun River in Sha Tin

I worked with the athletes for 60 to 75 minutes every day, which allowed me to monitor their progress closely. They were attentive and hardworking, so teaching was a pleasure.

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Working with Jeffrey Tang

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The Senior Team Working with the Resistance Cords

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Arthur Cheung Getting Some Alignment Feedback

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Dixon Tam Transitioning into a Run.

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Sammy Mitchelmore

Sammy Mitchelmore Focusing!

Last session with the smiling Senior HK Tri Team

Last Session with the Smiling National HK Triathlon Team

Development squad

National HK Development Squad

When I wasn’t coaching, I went exploring and was fortunate enough to experience some of the highlights of Hong Kong. Head coach Patrick and swim coach Neil Harvey took me on day trips to Lantau and Lamma Islands, as well as an evening excursion to central HK to take in the sights and sounds of this very intense city.

One big Buda! ~Nngong Ping, Lantau Island

One Big Buda! ~Nngong Ping, Lantau Island

View from a peak on Lamma Island

View from a Peak on Lamma Island

I also met up with my friend Jen McLean’s uncle Brian who has lived in HK for 40 years. He took me on a couple of great tours and he rounded out my cultural experience with tickets to see an extraordinary world premiere performance at the Hong Kong Arts Centre.

 

Busy market area

Busy Market Area

Dried goods

Dried Goods

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Central high rises

Central High-rises

City Harbour by Night

City Harbour by Night

Two girls from the triathlon team, Joyce and Angel, took responsibility for my HK shopping experience. They had great fun showing me their favorite spots, including the famous Ladies Market.

Angel and Joyce - how cute are they!?

Angel and Joyce – how cute are they!?

They made sure I experienced some typical street cuisine. I can’t say I loved the food  but I am usually open to trying anything new as long as it doesn’t involve eating hairy bugs.

A tiny glimpse of the massive Mong Kok "Ladies Market"

A Tiny Glimpse of the Massive Mong Kok “Ladies Market”

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Looking to the New Year

I’ve been building my volume since the beginning of the month. So far, I am feeling decent, although the first workouts at harder efforts always feel like death! I am over the hump now, and intend to run a few indoor track races in Seattle, WA over the next month or so (distances of 3km and a mile, respectively). These faster races will provide a different training stimulus and will, ideally, result in some speed to prepare me for goal races in the spring. Trent has developed a long-term plan that should work well leading into a fall marathon.

25 Oct 2012

Trip to the well

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I waited for my thoughts and feelings to settle before writing about my marathon experience. Although my result wasn’t what I hoped for, I did okay, considering the tough conditions. Given where I was two years ago, I am grateful just to have another chance to train and run competitively.

The Race

The first 30K of the race was comfortable, thanks to terrific help from pacer Andre Lefort. At 35K, I was still on form to run 2:38 and was lucky that pacers Brandon Laan and Thomas Omwenga hopped in to take over from there. Soon after, things started to get desperate. At about 38K, my legs began to cramp, though I was still on pace to challenge the masters record of 2:39:35. At this point, my legs seized up, making the final 4K a slow and painful journey. The only way I could keep my legs moving was to bend forward at the waist, as if ready to faceplant. My pace dropped substantially in those final few kilometres. I knew with 2K to go, the record wouldn’t be mine that day and I would have to will myself to finish.

Photo credit: James Donald

The Well

I have admitted in the past, that I’ve never truly ‘gone to the well’ in a race or workout. I have always admired those who could cross a finish line with absolutely nothing left. Not only did I go to the well in this race, I hurled myself into it! No wonder I have avoided going there for so long.

Nearing the finish looking desperately for the well
Photo credit James Donald

The Result

I ended up running 2:42 – a decent result for my first marathon at the age of 44. I was the first masters and second Canadian female to cross the line and the eighth woman overall. I have Coach Trent to thank for getting me to race day confident and well prepared. We have no doubt that under better conditions, I would have achieved my goal.

Laughing at myself

 

Reflection and Looking Ahead

I have decided I would like to try another marathon. I have yet to determine if I will run a spring race, or will wait until the fall. There is no urgency to decide. I need to see how I recover from this go-round and how my running feels once I return to a regular schedule.

Trent and I met last weekend to debrief and review the year. We looked closely at my marathon-specific training and assessed how I responded and what could be improved upon. We agreed I tolerated increases in mileage well and that we could do a little more here without tipping the scales. It’s also clear I would benefit from extending a few essential tempo sessions.

I have just finished two weeks of rest and will now gradually get back into a running schedule and eventually get back into training. It’s been rather good having some quiet and restful time to myself and to not have to be so disciplined with nearly every aspect of my life. I have been eating a lot of chocolate! :)

13 Oct 2012

Here we go!

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We had the technical meeting about an hour ago. We handed over our bottles, went over the pre-race schedule for tomorrow and met the pacers. It’s starting to feel real now. Gulp.

Elite Tech Meeting

Mar and Trent

Trent and I spoke about what pace I should go out at and even though it is possible for me  to run faster, this may not be the race to be greedy and risk it all especially as it is my first marathon. I met Andre my group’s 2:38 pacer. He’s my good buddy as of right now! :)

Mar and Krista Duchene – Saucony Twins!

THANK YOU to all who have sent me messages of encouragement and support. It really means a lot to me! I promise to give it my all!

MEC/Saucony race kit – ready to go!

 

 

12 Oct 2012

The view from here

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A quick update from my new digs in Toronto.  I attended the press conference at today’s race expo, where I caught up with some old running buddies and took in the excitement leading up to the marathon. I balanced this off with some downtime in my hotel room: ear plugs and a nap.

STWM Press Confernece

Tomorrow morning is my last pre-race run— just 30 minutes easy with a few strides. Coach Trent arrives later in the day, so we’ll chat about a race plan before the mandatory technical meeting tomorrow night. I don’t feel nervous yet, which is good. Best to stay calm for as long as possible to conserve energy!

11 Oct 2012

Showtime

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It’s  just four days until my marathon debut. I’m currently in Stratford, Ontario visiting my family before I head to Toronto to prepare for Sunday’s race. I’ve got a bounce in my step now that the training volume has come down.

I’m starting to visualize race day and to prepare myself mentally for the challenge of running the distance at a good clip. I trust in my training, and my ability to hang in when things get tough. I’ve been told a first marathon is special, regardless of how it goes, so I plan to absorb every minute of the experience and to look back without regrets.

I’ll be posting frequently this week, as I want to share this journey with all of you who have supported me along the way.

26 Sep 2012

Partnership News!

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For those who haven’t heard the news, I’m thrilled to announce that Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has joined existing sponsor Saucony to support my athletic and Mindful Strides development. Both companies are dedicated to promoting healthy running and I’m honoured they believe in what I do. These partnerships allow me to focus on training and ensure I continue to innovate for the benefit of my clients. Together, we’re planning a series of creative initiatives for the year ahead, including some unique opportunities for new and long-time Mindful Strides participants.

Last week, I was invited to pick out running and leisure gear at MEC’s flagship store in Victoria; this week I received my latest shipment of clothing from Saucony. I’m a lucky girl and can’t wait to test-drive some great items.

 

At MEC Victoria picking out some gear

Some choice items from Saucony's latest fall apparel

 

20 Sep 2012

New Canadian record

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I was pleased to clock a personal best time of 34:22 at the BC 10,000m Championships held September 1 and ecstatic to discover I’d taken down the existing Canadian age-group record of 34:49.

This recent test has given me confidence as I work through final preparations for my marathon debut, now just a few weeks away.

Eye on the prize

I’ll have another record in my sights when I hit the start line of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 14. The current Canadian masters record (for women over-40) of 2:39:45, was set back in 2002 by Danuta Bartozsek at the Ottawa Marathon.

I’m looking forward to the race. I feel prepared and trust in my training, but respect that anything can happen over the 42k distance.

For early race previews, see the Athletics Illustrated article, video and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon’s Facebook page.

 

31 Aug 2012

Back Home!

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Training at altitude


I’ve just returned home from a fantastic three-week training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona. Elite runner Alicia Shay kindly hosted me and Erin for the duration of the stay and made us feel part of her family.

Happy Family!

I shared a busy house with a group of runners from Portland, Oregon. They all train under Jerry Schumacher (Nike Oregon Project). It was a great experience hanging out with these world-class runners. Getting some insight into their training was interesting, but it was also nice to share a space with people from other walks of life. Each of us was training for a different distance or event, but we managed to get in a few easy runs together when our schedules aligned. Seven athletes living in one house made for a very busy kitchen. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner we performed a wild dance, dodging one another while preparing our meals; fortunately, Alicia has two fridges, both of which were jam-packed with food. Busy meal times were a stark contrast to the hours of quiet between runs (most of us averaged two workouts per day). We retreated to our rooms to nap or rest quietly, watching videos or reading. Full-time runners take rest seriously, and particularly so at altitude. The idea is to train hard and recover hard.

Fridge One-Stuffed to the Gills!

Without doubt, the highlight of the trip was a pug named Cody. The family dog adopted me while Alicia was away for a week. This little creature was a training partner of sorts, (at least on the napping and snuggling front), and a great source of entertainment. The loud snoring left something to be desired, but even so, I miss her like crazy already.

My Little Buddy Cody "The Piglet"

As for training outcomes, I feel fitter for putting in some big efforts during challenging sessions at altitude (7200 ft). Coach Trent’s plan emphasized aerobic training and included a few key tempo workouts within higher mileage weeks. These featured some steady running in the final 40-50 minutes of my long Sunday runs and 3 x 15 mins. at marathon effort. My final workout was a familiar one: 6-5-4-3-2-1km. The session starts at marathon pace and gradually moves down to 5-10km pace with diminishing rest periods (from 5 mins. down to 1 min. between the final two intervals). I was able to hit the paces with the usual 10-15” necessary adjustment for altitude, so was really pleased. Despite the added stress of hot temperatures (30C most days), I completed back-to-back 180km weeks feeling strong. It helped that I was able to get plenty of rest, nutrition and hydration to balance the extra stress-load. Recovery included ice baths, contrast showers and massage. Camps that take me away from home and work support focused training and recovery. Let’s hope the combo pays off over the next important training block leading up to the Toronto marathon.

Tanner, Alicia's amazing running partner trying to cool off!

Trailhead in Baderville

 

Victoria Track Series, September 1 event

On Saturday, September 1, I’ll be running my first-ever 10,000m on the UVic track. This is the final event of the Victoria Track Series. Trent and I are using the race as a chance to run a faster, harder effort. Coming off a week of significant volume, it will be a test to see how my loaded legs respond to the quicker effort.

 

Evening events begin at 6:40pm with the 10,000m set for 8pm. This is an opportunity to check out some great running, so hope to see some of you there.

 

7 Aug 2012

Another Stint in Flagstaff, AZ

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Training these past few weeks has been rolling along and I am feeling great and really enjoying the process so far. I am managing my highest volume ever and am encouraged each week by consistent progress; the workouts are more demanding and I am adapting and getting stronger. I received an official invite last week from the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (October 2012). All I have to do now is stay focused, train smart and keep working hard toward my goal.

 

I am currently in Flagstaff, Arizona for a training camp at altitude. After talking it over with Coach Trent, we decided it would be best to train here the first three weeks in August, rather than waiting until September. The past two bouts at altitude have revealed I need plenty of time for recovery and that it’s wise to return to base well in advance of racing. It also makes sense to be in Victoria by the time Trent returns from the Olympic Games in early September. I’ll rely on his support during the most demanding period of marathon-specific training ahead of Toronto.

 

Accomplished runner Erin Burrett has made the trip here with me to train. It’s her first time at altitude and so far she is adapting well and we are having a great time. We are staying at a friend’s home along with five other athletes—all professional runners from Portland, Oregon. They have made us feel welcome and are a nice group to hang out with.

The trail running here is exceptional. The trail system is vast and varied with a nice mix of wide gravel or dirt paths/roads as well as soft, single-track. The weather has been spectacular with perfect temperatures and plenty of sunshine.

London 2012 Olympics update: I want to stress how incredibly excited and proud I am of friend and fellow runner Hilary Stellingwerff and her performance at the Olympic Games. My hands were sweating like crazy watching the preliminary 1500m heats. I can’t imagine the nerves she faced standing at the start line in the packed stadium, waiting for her first race to start. Despite the pressure, she was just brilliant, running tactically, aggressively and with such grace. Run Hilary Run!!

 

Congratulations to all of our Canadian athletes on their efforts at the Games.

6 Jul 2012

Summer Sizzle

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Olympic Trials
The Canadian Olympic trials were recently held in Calgary, Alberta. My training buddy Hilary Stellingwerff was coming into the meet with the Olympic A standard and had to make a top three finish in the final heat of the 1500m to secure her selection to the Olympic team. She did just that and, needless to say, she is pretty relieved and ecstatic as are all of her friends, family and coaching team. Hilary ran to second place with Malindi Elmore securing the National title. I was thrilled for both of them and can’t wait to cheer Hilary on next month as she fulfils her lifetime dream of competing in the Olympic Games. How inspiring! See the video here of the women’s 1500m women’s Olympic Trials and note Hilary’s lovely form.
Mindful Run

Turnout for the regular Saturday morning Mindful Runs at Beaver Lake (and coffee afterward) has been fantastic, despite less than stellar weather and individual summer holiday plans. The 9:30 a.m. session is a great opportunity for Mindful Striders to practice drills, meet people from different clinic groups and levels and –always– to enjoy some hilarity on the trails. A reminder that we meet at the lower parking lot closest to the picnic area. It looks like summer has finally arrived! Hope to see you there.

Saturday Morning Mindful Run Gang

Looking Ahead
My coach Trent and I met a couple of weeks ago to discuss my personal training plan in preparation for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. I learn a lot about training and sports nutrition each time we connect. I still have more to learn about coaching and feel lucky to have Trent as a mentor in this regard. I have been getting back into the swing of the regime. We have brought the volume back up and the workouts have progressed well. It’s early days, but I’m pleased to be heading into a new training block feeling fit and strong.

Tempo Run Along Lochside TRail

 

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