Canada Army Run 2014

Wow!  What can I say about the Canada Army Run?

FANTASTIC!

Firstly, this event is HUGE!  They say it’s the fastest growing half marathon, and after being a part of it, I truly believe it.  There are 13,000 5K runners and 12,000 half marathon runners.  Both races took place on Sept 21, 2014.  In it’s inaugural year (2008), the event started out with 7,000 participants.

The Army Run benefits two charities.  One called Soldier On and the other the Military Families Fund.

As per the website; “Canada Army Run, is about Canadians and the Canadian Armed Forces – Air Force, Army, and Navy – joining together in the spirit of camaraderie and community. It’s a chance for the troops to extend the military esprit de corps to Canadians and to thank them for their support. And, it’s an opportunity for Canadians to say thanks to the men and women who serve them in so many ways at home and abroad.”

I couldn’t say it any better than that.  It was indeed all those things and more.

THE EXPO

The Race Expo is unlike most other running Expos.  Yes, there are vendors selling running shoes, protein bars and various clothing items, however it was so much more.  Home base was at Ottawa City Hall.  This is where we went to pick up our race bib.  Once we were given our bib, we entered outside of City Hall where there was a stage for entertainment, the sports expo tent, Baggage check (for race day) and Pasta tent/Recovery tent, which was to be used for the pasta party that evening.  As well, all around this area were various military vehicles on display for people to get inside, climb on top of or people could speak with various military officers for more information. The vehicles were a big hit with the kids.

Army Run Fotor_Collage_Fotor FINAL

RACE DAY 

The half marathon (mass) start began at 9:30 am.  We arrived in the area with lots of time to make a bathroom break and casually walk towards our corral areas.  I was well positioned back in one of the later corrals, so I couldn’t see everything that was going on, however, I did manage to see on the big screen the start for the injured, ill or disabled participants of the half.  The crowd gave a lot of support as they started off on their race.

beginning of race Collage_Fotor

The day was calling for rain, however, at the start, we were lucky for it to be dry.  Soon after a few waves, my own corral was off.  I started off a little fast, however, I soon found myself into a comfortable pace.  I was a little worried about this race, as my performance at the Biggest Loser Half just a few weeks prior was quite miserable in terms of time.  I knew that Ottawa would be a bit of a challenge as there are many gradual hills all along the course, however, on this day, I seemed to be feeling pretty strong.

Ottawa is such an amazing city to run in.  The views are fabulous; running through Parliament Hill, 24 Sussex, Rideau Hall, Canadian War Museum and other local landmarks; however, the city’s most fabulous, energy boosting sight is it’s spectators.  I don’t think I ran more than a kilometre before I saw a spectator or cheering section, rooting for us.  It was a fantastic show of support and I can’t say I’ve experienced any better spectator support in all the races I’ve run.  Ottawa certainly sets the bar high.

I was able to reach the 10K mark, and then the rain started.  I didn’t mind it so much at this point as it was also a very humid day.  The rain was quite refreshing.  At least I thought so.  It did however stop for a while which was nice.

Shortly after I high-fived the Governor General  and Commander-in-Chief of Canada (Oh Yes I did!) at Rideau Hall, the rain started again.

Rideau Hall_Fotor_Collage_Fotor

After I ran passed Rideau Hall, I got myself into a great running pace.  Even though the rain was coming down, I was feeling great.  In fact, I was feeling kinda warrior-like, fighting through the rain with each step. This was somewhere around the 9th mile.  I really thought I was going to finish around 2:35 which I would have been very happy with, considering my lack of training.  However, things took a turn for the worse at mile 11.

I started having a very intense pain and cramping on my left back ankle.  Achilles?  Not really sure, however, each time I ran, the cramping got more and more intense.  So much so, that my foot almost felt like cement with every step I took.  I had to stop and stretch out my calf muscles.  I did this at least 3 times from mile 11 to 12 and had to do some walking.  After I passed mile 12, I started to run again, and was able to keep a slow pace without any cramping.  The stopping set me back, however, I finished strong at the end at 2:39 chip time and it was still so much better than the BL half.

Deb Race Finish_Fotor_Collage_Fotor

Would I recommend this race to people?  Absolutely!  It is by far, my most favourite Canadian race.  I hope to be back next year.

 

The Fitness Games App Review

I had the opportunity to review a new app called The Fitness Games through Fit Approach and Sweat Pink.

I haven’t used many fitness apps in the past, with exception of Nike or a tutorial on proper stretch technique, so I was curious as to what this app had to offer.  As well, I was looking for a little something to shake up my workout routine.

The Fitness Games can be described as a fitness and gaming app as well as a social media app whereas players can do the following :

  • Log in their fitness routines
  • Partake in both self and challenge others (gaming)
  • Explore multiple workout options or make your own (fitness)
  • Have fun connecting with others while keeping fit (social media)
  • Hence the slogan The Fitness Games has given themselves –  “Let the Games Begin”

Once a user downloads the app, they can also upload their profile, take gym selfies and record video messages.

To start off, there are four categories in the app.

IMG_1623

For the purpose of testing out the app, I used the Cross Training section as the full body and Strength had gym type machinery that was required, and I am not a member of a gym nor do I own the machinery required.

The first challenge I did was the Bodyweight Madness challenge 3.  It was quite intense.  Here is the list of exercises :

IMG_1624

IMG_1631 IMG_1632 IMG_1633

What is really great about the app is that you can slide over any exercise and get a proper video tutorial if in doubt of how to actually perform it.  I thought this was great.

IMG_1634

There is a feed on the app where people can talk to each other as well as post workout pics.  If someone challenges another person, once both challenges are done, the feed will also post who won the challenge.  There are scores given to each challenge and a leader board will list the top scorers in the rankings.

This app is great for those who like to record their workouts and keep themselves accountable.  As well, the challenges allow players to enjoy a little friendly competition with others.

I think it’s important to note, the app is in the early growth stages and will be adding features in the near future to enhance the users experience.

What I think is great about this app is that it gives the user a choice to mix up their workouts with other routines that they may not generally do.  We all have those days when we get stuck in a routine and become unmotivated to do the same old thing. When this occurs, The Fitness Games is a great enhancement to anyone’s workout routine.

The App can be found here on iTunes

*Android Version Now Released: The Android Version for TFG is now released and is available for download at the Google Play store.


*
This post was sponsored by The Fitness Games through my partnership with Fit Approach as a Sweat Pink Ambassador. I was not compensated monetarily, but was provided the Platinum Version of the application for review. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

The Biggest Loser Half Marathon Buffalo

I’m not sure why, but it seems like forever since I ran The Biggest Loser half marathon in Buffalo, however, it was only last Sunday.

Given that it was a long weekend, many Canadians venture out to Buffalo for weekend shopping trips.  While we were no different, we didn’t want to be stuck in a car line up at the border, especially since we were running the following day, so we left very early to avoid the busy border times.  We arrived in Niagara Falls, New York just in time for an early breakfast at Denny’s. By the time we finished, it was nearing 10 am, so we ventured out to a few stores in the area and bought some items we required for the hotel room.  You know, essentials like water, and a few snacks.

Getting to the hotel and expo, which were next door to each other, was a fairly easy drive. We opted for the parking garage across the street from the Hyatt Buffalo as the parking was much cheaper than the hotel’s rate.  The Biggest Loser’s race organizers negotiated a decent rate for the host hotel, so we booked it back in the spring.  It was nice to be able to stay close to the expo.

We arrived at the opening of the expo.  The expo itself wasn’t a huge affair.  Basically, the packet pick up and expo booths were in a large ballroom.  Participants were ushered to the first table to pick up their bibs, and then they were sent over to another group of tables to pick up the race shirt and bag.  I saw Pam Geil from The Biggest Loser Season 14 getting to work and handing out shirts to participants.  She looked like she was having a ball and seemed to fit right into working the crowds.

BL Race Kit

 

I don’t know how others felt about the race shirt being a regular cotton tee.  I actually didn’t mind that is was as most of my race shirts never get worn after a race.  This was a nice change as I would wear this shirt around the house.

There were a few vendors at the expo, and I managed to pick up a shirt and skirt at fairly good prices.

We were done at the expo just after 12 pm, so we walked over to the hotel to see if they could check us in.  Luckily for us, they did.

We lounged around our room for a bit, before heading out to do some local shopping for the afternoon.  We also had to find dinner, which turned out to be The Cheesecake Factory.  Probably not the best choice the evening before a race, but we were careful as to what we ordered.

We were back in the hotel by 730 pm, and I think I was asleep by 9 pm.  Given the long day we had on the road, I was pretty tired, so there wasn’t any issues falling asleep.

Race Day…….

We were up at 5 am.  The first thing I did was grab the bottle of water and drank close to a litre within a half hour.  I wanted to be well hydrated as the weather on Sunday was going to be a hot mess of humidity.  We also bought a couple of bagels and bananas for a quick breakfast bite before the race.

We left our hotel room at 715 am and walked to the start which was a slow 15 minute walk.  I was told there was a trolley shuttle that would take us there, however, there was a lot of construction in the area, and we weren’t sure if it was running on it’s usual route. Since it was also Sunday, we weren’t sure what time it started, so we opted to walk.  The walk was fine, and gave us a chance to warm up our legs.  By the time we got to the start area, we were ready for a port-o-potty break before making our way to the start.

DebatStart_Fotor

We didn’t have to wait too long before the race began.  I didn’t bring my phone with me to snap pics, but Kari did so I’m able to show you a few.  As you can see, the day was pretty grey which was nice since the humidity was at about 80%.  While the weather forecast called for rain, we didn’t have any.  For once in my life, I wished we did.

Course1_Fotor

The course was flat on many parts, however, there were areas where it had some gradual elevations.  The most difficult hilly area was around the Delaware Park Golf Course which seemed to touch on the Buffalo Zoo, as I could have sworn I saw a couple of real live Buffalo behind some bars as I was making myself around the area.

Course Pics_Fotor

 

Drink stations were around every 2 mile marker.  After the first stop, I decided to stop at every station and grab 4 small dixie cups.  2 were for drinking and 2 were for pouring over my head.  The humidity was that bad for me, so throwing water on my head gave me a bit of a refreshing lift.  Enough to get me two more miles until the next station.

Despite my recent troubles with my back, I was able to push through.  I took it easy and ran this race like a long slow run.  Even if my back was 100%, I probably would have done the same with the weather conditions.  Once I was through the finish gate, I easily spotted Kari.  He had already gotten our checked bag so I was able to change into a dry shirt (mine was soaked).  We walked around the venue / finish area for a while before making our way back to the hotel.  Dan Evans of TBL Season 5 was performing with his band (which was pretty good I might add), and many of the vendors from the expo were able to sell for a second day which was good in case someone missed something at the expo.

The Band_Fotor

DebandKariFinish_Fotor

 

On our way to the hotel, we stopped at Tim Hortons for a frozen hot chocolate.  We relaxed for a few hours before heading out for a celebratory dinner.  It was fun to get away and do a race outside of my own area.  I’d definitely take another road trip in the future.

DebwithMedal_Fotor

“I am the Doctor”

“Are you kidding me?”

These words rang out from my mouth this morning, not 100 metres into my run.  

I twinged my back.  I stopped.  Did some stretching and wondered whether to continue.  I’m not amused with this summer’s running journeys.  First, broken arm in May, then strep throat in July, then a twinge in my back today.  It’s become the lost summer of running for me.  Training hasn’t been consistent and I find myself going backwards in terms of pacing.  I hate to be negative, but c’mon!!  The running plan has been deviated against, again, and again.  Enough!

On top of the above mentioned moments, cue the humidity.  This morning was no different.

 Caption Humidity at 88%

 

After the back twinge, I decided to go for the run.  If my back got any worse, and it decided to give out, I’d be hobbling home in a hunched back position, but it was worth the risk.  I turned my Garmin back on, and pushed forward.  

I was able to keep a comfortable 12 to 12:30 pace with the humidity situation.  7.5 kilometres was my overall mileage.  Not terribly far, but with a twinged back, it’s was as much as I felt I could run for the day.  There are limits to my insane choices.  I made it home and started a series of stretches.

The twinge is still there, so it’s time to bring out the heat and beats.

SunbeamThumper Thingy 

The green thing above sits on my shoulders and is an electrical heating pad.  While it can’t reach the twinged area, I’m hoping it loosens up some of my shoulder area that might be causing some of the muscular pull in my middle back.  The Thumper is amazing to help loosen up the back muscles as well.  I’ll be turning to it a few times today.

I’m no stranger to having a muscle twinge in my back.  However, it’s happened less and less over the years, as I have seemed to have gotten it under control for the most part.  Every, now and again, it occurs. 

On the upside, I went into a shopping mall on Friday and picked up this….

dr who

It’s light, made out of polyester, and I said to myself, “You know what?  I could wear that while running”.  I have no idea when that will happen, but it will happen sometime in the not too distant future.

Happy Running.

Do you ever get back pains?  What’s your remedy?  

 

 

 

Midsummer Night’s Run Race Recap

To run or not to run?  That was the question of the day yesterday.

Despite my hesitations, the answer was a definite “YES”.

My expectations going into this race were low. The goal was to finish. The one month I had to prepare for this race was not enough time to improve anything but the cardio I lost this summer. As well, the week leading into the race I was suffering from some pains due to last weekend’s long run. I know I’ve been pushing my mileage, perhaps a little too much to make up for lost time this summer. I have two half marathons coming up in September, and I really want to do well. Alas, I know from last night’s race, I am far behind my running goals. In fact, due to my injury this summer, I am behind where I was last year, when I wasn’t even working hard.

Mother Nature decided to give us a break from the rain yesterday as it had been raining prior to the start time.  We weren’t really sure what we were going to get. Due to limited parking, we arrived early to find a spot, and then sat in the car for about 20 minutes before making our way to the start area. It was raining at this time, so it was for the best. When we did leave the car, the rain decided to stop, and it remained clear until we arrived home last night. Lucky for us, eh?

The Midsummer Night’s Run is a flat course. It’s a great race to do for those who are ramping up for a half or full marathon in the fall as you can test your training efforts. There is a 15K or 30K race, as well as a 5K family run. The proceeds from the event go to Sick Kids hospital.

I have only run this race once back in 2012. For each race you run, you build up the mileage and receive a pin at packet pick up. Because I did the 15K in 2012 and 15K in 2014, I have a 30K mileage pin. My spouse has done it a few more times, so he is up to 75K on his pin collection.

Once we left the car, we opted to do our pre race pee. There was one long line up for the port-o-potties.
2014 MSNR Washroom pic

Lucky for me, I had my hardcore girl, race survival instincts on. Prior to leaving the car, I packed some tissue for those ‘just in case’ moments. That’s right….port-o-potties lacked TP! I was prepared! ;)

By the time we finished at the P-O-P’s we had about 5 minutes to corral ourselves. We found an adequate place to put ourselves in the midst of the runners, based on the pace bunny signs we saw. I knew Kari would zoom ahead and I’d probably fall back a bit, but it was a fair area to stand.

2014 MSNR Go Time

The race started with a horn to signal the start. The race didn’t put up it’s usual start gate as it was pretty windy outside. I would assume, the wind would have blown it over, as the start gates are usually a ballon (blow up) type material.

Kari took off, as expected, and I began trudging along the road.  I realized I ran my first two miles under 11 minutes, so I knew I was going too fast.  I slowed it down after the third mile, to just under 11:30 however, I was not getting into a running zone.  Somewhere, shortly after the 5K marker, the pain in my left glute area was intensifying, and I knew I was in for an uncomfortable race.  This pain has been an ongoing ailment of mine, and prior to breaking my arm, I had been keeping it in check, however, I suppose with the extra training over the month, it decided to come back full force.  Lucky me!

I dropped my speed for the next few kilometres, and hit the 10K mark at 1:12.  No records here boys and girls!

In the last 5K of the race, it really was just a matter of survival.  The more I ran, the more pain I had.  I broke my intervals between the 11K-13K and started to speed walk.  I seemed to have felt a little better after that, and then I began running again, and finished the race.  I finished just under a 12 minute mile average.  Yeah, not my best effort. (in 2012, I finished this race about 7 minutes faster)

On the upside, Kari did fantastic, with a time of 1:27 and change, beating his 2012 time by over 10 minutes!  WTG!

I learned a few things after reviewing my Garmin upload.  Firstly, going out too fast killed my recovery zones during my intervals.  Although I did not feel winded -In fact, I felt really good in that respect- my Garmin says otherwise.  My heart rate, did not really go down to my regular levels on my walk intervals and my average heart rate overall was way too high than all my recent training runs.  I can only surmise it’s because I went out too fast.  Secondly, I have got to work on my leg strengthening. Bring on the Glute/Hips/Hamstring exercises!  I’m not sure how I am going to fair in the next half marathon which takes place over the Labour Day weekend.  I was hoping to improve over my Niagara time from last year (2:25) but with this time, based on the McMillan race predictor, my half time would be 2:41.  Which basically means, I will have fallen back to pre 2012 times. *Sigh*  Lesson learned here – Don’t fall and break your arm during running season!  hee hee!

Happy Running.

I had good intentions

I really did have plans to get up early for my long run.  Alas, at 5am I awoke to our house guest, aka 6 month old kitten Wasabi chasing around our cat Le Chat.  I then realized I would not be getting up in an hour when my alarm was to go off.  So, um, yeah, I did what any unrested person would do.  I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep.  Finally got up around 8:30am.

Oops!

And yeah, I paid for it today during my long run.  I finally got out about 11am.  Not the most ideal time to go running.  According to my Garmin, it was about 77 degrees and humidity was at 39%.  I was feeling sluggish, so I took it easy and lowered my intervals way down to a 2 minute / 45 seconds.  I don’t usually lower my intervals but my lower back is giving me some pain on my left side, similar to what I feel at the 15K mark of a run, so I wasn’t sure if I could maintain a long run for a 5 or 10 minute time frame without a gait/recovery change. I’ll be doing some extra stretching and rolling today.

It was not a great run, but I enjoyed being outside today and felt accomplished that I got it done.  Next weekend is the 15k race I’m scheduled to run, and although I know I’m not ready for this in terms of getting a time I will be happy with, at least, I know I will finish.

 

 

Well Hello, again

I realize it’s been some time since I posted a blog.  Last we met, I was whining commenting about not being able to run and show-and-telling my battle bruises.  I am happy to report, I have spent most of June and July reporting to physio therapy.  My arm is almost back to full extension.  I’d say I’m about 80% there in terms of recovery.

I was also given the go ahead to run in early July from my doctor, so I’ve been back at chasing pavement.  No trails for this girl though. (for now). :)

It’s funny how much I missed running when I knew that I couldn’t.  It’s different than just not running because I don’t feel like it.  Because I couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, I missed it everyday.  It just reinforces to me, how much I can take for granted what I can do as a person; because I am fortunate enough to be healthy and fit.  It reminds me to take advantage of these gifts, and push forward with my running goals.

Speaking of which, I had lofty goals this summer.  Prior to my running accident, I was concentrating on my speed.  I had started to pick up the pace back in May, and then the accident occurred, so I’ve had to re-adjust my running goals this summer.  July has been spent getting my cardio back so that I can concentrate on my training for a handful of races I have coming up in the late summer, early fall.  The first race is on August 16th called the Midsummer’s Night Run.  I’ve run this race in the past, and it’s a really great time.  It was originally going to be my ‘A’ race, to test out my speed progress over the summer, however, now it will just be a fun run.

I’m looking forward to this race, as well as two other half marathons in September.  I may also register for another half in October, although, I haven’t yet decided where that race will be .

I know I’ve mentioned I will be running in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January 2015, however, I haven’t yet mentioned that we have also signed up for the Disneyland Star Wars Weekend the following weekend in January.  So excited for this race!

All things considered, I’m glad to be back.

Happy Running.