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.

 

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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

2014 Tinker Bell Expo and a Little Birthday Fun

We were still on a high from achieving Dopey status at Walt Disney World.  We arrived back in Toronto late on Monday night (actually, early Tuesday morning by the time we got home).  I went straight to bed as I had to go to work Tuesday.  By Wednesday night, we were packed and ready to travel to California for the Tinker Bell running weekend at Disneyland.  I tried to get some sleep over the two days being back, but in all honesty, it was tough.  Between work, unpacking and packing, and getting things organized around the house, I maybe was managing about 5 hours of sleep per night.  I actually was looking forward to the long flight to California; to attempt to sleep.

Our flight on Thursday morning was delayed for a good hour and a half. We knew we’d have little time to waste upon arrival.  Coincidently, it was also my birthday, so I was a little excited to get the party started down in Disneyland. We had plans to spend a little time there after the expo.  We picked up our car at LAX and drove to the hotel.  We made good time and checked into our hotel (thank you HOV lane) before walking towards Downtown Disney, onwards to the Disney Hotel.

Due to the crowds at the expo, we decided to pick up our race kits only, and check out the Run Disney merchandise section before making a very brief look at the other vendors. We had plans to come back and really explore the expo the following day after the 5K and this worked out really well as we got there prior to opening, and was able to check in for a New Balance appointment for the limited edition Run Disney shoes.  As it turned out, we actually came back a third time on Saturday to see Margaret Kerry speak at the expo. The original Tinker Bell.

For interest of sharing my expo experience in it’s entirety, I’ll be grouping our expo sights in this one post.

Race kit pickup was pretty flawless.  We entered the lower exhibit hall of the Disneyland hotel.  The line for the 5k was pretty big, but the 10K and half marathon pickup windows had little wait. The biggest wait was for the Park Hopper pass we purchased with GET Travel. All things considered, it wasn’t too lengthy.  We were out of the pick up area in about 20 minutes.  We then, went into the hall and picked up our race shirts and quickly browsed the vendors.  It really was a mad house in terms of people, so with a brief look at Sparkle Skirts (the line was huge to pay), and a few other places, we left it for the day as we knew coming back first thing on Friday was a better option.

Tinker Bell Race Shirts.  Packet pick up and exhibit hall.

Tinker Bell Race Shirts. Packet pick up and exhibit hall.

Once we got to the upper exhibit hall, we made our way to the long line that awaited us for the Run Disney merchandise.  Disney organized a line outside the hall that moved pretty briskly, but upon entering the line, I was at first taken aback as I thought it would take forever to get inside.  I heard from others that this was due in part to last year’s Disneyland half marathon weekend, which apparently had crazy crowds and long line ups to cash out.  Once inside the merchandise area, it was easy to get around the aisles.  Disneyland employees did a great job at not over packing the area with people and the cash out process was swift and easy.

Line up for the Run Disney Tinker Bell Merchandise area outside of the hall

Line up for the Run Disney Tinker Bell Merchandise area outside of the hall

I will say, on the Thursday when we arrived, there was a lot of merchandise to be bought to commemorate the Tinker Bell weekend. Unfortunately, those that didn’t arrive until Friday or Saturday missed out on a lot to be had as the expo sold out on many of the items. When we went back on Saturday and took a brief look at the shelves, many of the items were gone, only to have the shelves replaced with non commemorative Tinker Bell mugs and Mickey stuffed toys. The demand for “I Did It” shirts, mugs, wine glasses, shirts and jackets was great. I took a few pictures of some of the items on Thursday, only to see them gone the following days. I didn’t purchase much here, however, I do have a habit of buying a hat during these expos, however, I wasn’t too happy with the design for this years Tinker Bell as it was just a plain white hat with grey lettering which I thought was a bit dull. I opted to buy a Run Disney hat instead and a 5K and 10K pin.

I Did It shirts, tees, wine glasses, mugs all were in great demand at the expo

I Did It shirts, tees, wine glasses, mugs all were in great demand at the expo

After we left the expo on Thursday, we made a quick stop at our hotel, and dropped off our expo gear.  Then we crossed the street so I could enjoy a few hours on my birthday at Disneyland.  We ended up at Carnation Cafe for dinner.  Enjoyed the deep fried pickles (definitely recommend) and one of Walt’s favourites.  At dessert time, a few of the cast members came by and sang a birthday song, and I was given a Mickey cupcake.

43rd birthday at Disneyland

43rd birthday at Disneyland

On Friday, we arrived just prior to the 10am open of the expo, but the doors were already open. I went directly to Sparkle Skirts and picked up a few skirts I had previously had my eye on via the website. We had about a half hour before the crowds starting coming in, so it was great being able to get what we wanted without waiting too long and to be able to browse effortlessly. While I was doing that, my spouse was drooling at the 620 Garmin that was at another vendor. I came by shortly after and started my drool on the 220. After that, I spent some time at Bondi Bands and bought a couple I had seen at Disney World the week before.

We lingered around and visited many vendors to see what they were selling.  I bought a pair of CEP calf compression sleeves.  As well, I splurged and got the 220 Garmin on Saturday.  It was time for a new Garmin and it was also a fantastic deal in comparison to  Canadian prices.  I love the fact that I can also use it as a watch.

220 Garmin and Tink 5K and 10K pins

220 Garmin and Tink 5K and 10K pins

I also got these….Oh yeah!

2014 New Balance Goofy Shoes!

2014 New Balance Goofy Shoes!

When we went back on Saturday to see Margaret Kerry, I was so glad I did. She spoke at the speaker series in the exhibit hall, and she was fantastic. She told us about her experience working at Disney and how fond she was of Marc Davis (creator of Bambi, Tinker Bell, and Cruella De Vil) who directed Margaret during her movement sessions.  She shared her audition process for Tinker Bell.  As someone who has dabbled in improv and sketch, I really got a kick out of it as she mimed her movements as she proceeded to tell her story.  In true Tink fashion, it was obvious that Tinker Bell was Margaret Kerry.  At a time when the majority of crew were male, she said she felt safe and protected on set with Marc Davis, or Mr. Davis, as I’m sure he was called back then. In fact, she said that one day on set, a member of the crew said something about Margaret, and that crew member was swiftly told to leave the set and to not return. She also met Walt Disney himself. She seemed very fond of her experience on Peter Pan. She went on to do other acting projects, and found her niche in voice work. After the speaker series, I was standing off to the side of the stage, and she walked by. By luck, I was able to say “Thank you” and told her how much I enjoyed her talk. She graciously stopped to talk for a moment. I wish I said more but I tend to forget to seize the moment sometimes and just be polite and brief (it’s the Canadian in me) and left it at that….then she was whisked away by her handler for some photo ops. It’s not great, but I took a quick picture of her as she walked toward us.

Margaret Kerry - Tinker Bell

Margaret Kerry – Tinker Bell

Next up – The Never Land 5K

Happy Running!

Disneyland Tinker Bell Half Marathon Recap

We had a spectacular time in Anaheim during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend. The weekend was jam packed with running, park hopping, and roller coasters!  Let’s just say, that by the time we left Anaheim to go to L.A., I was pretty much fueled with the help of caffeine and perhaps adrenaline.

We arrived in Anaheim on Friday afternoon and after a quick stop at our hotel, we made our way to the Tinker Bell Run Expo to pick up our race packs.  Once we got our race bibs and shirts, we did a little shopping at the expo.

I went by Sparkle Skirts and picked up a skirt for race day.  The booth was packed as many Tink runners were also in the mood for a little sparkle in their step.

Tinker Bell Race Expo

Tinker Bell Race Expo 2013

On Saturday, we made our way to the start of the Neverland 5K. The race began inside the Disneyland park, so we entered into Main Street to make our way towards the castle. As we were walking towards the castle, I had a chance meeting with Sean Astin. How cool was that?  As you can see, he was totally into Tink spirit as he was wearing wings!                             

Neverland 5K

Urban Running Girl & Sean Astin at Neverland 5K

Neverland 5K Finish

The 5K is fun, however, if you plan on running this race, make note it will not be a fast race. Much of the course has narrow running paths, and lots of congestion.

After our 5K, we headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready for a full day of fun at California Adventure.

On Sunday morning, we were up bright and early. Here we are, prior to leaving for the race.

Ready to run the Tinker Bell half marathon

Ready to run the Tinker Bell half marathon

I had an excellent time, running the course. I have to say, the people of Anaheim are fantastic at cheering along the runners. There were several marching bands, and cheerleaders from various schools.  Also, I can’t forget about the Red Hat Society ladies.  They were out in full force cheering us on! There were some great signs along the course, but my favourite by far was this one…

We found out at the expo that all male participants were put in corral C by default, therefore; ‘Peter’ and myself were not starting at the same time as I was starting in a corral ahead of him. This worked out perfect (or so we thought), as I had planned on stopping and taking lots of pictures along the way which would give ‘Peter’ lots of time to catch up to me, and that we would be able to finish the race together. Although, we did finish together, it came down to the very last minutes of our race. I had expected he would have caught up to me around the 15K mark, however, he was no where in sight, so I slowed my pace down, in the hopes that he would eventually meet up with me. It wasn’t until the last stretch of the race, where there is a hairpin turn that I saw him running up on the other side. I think I was about 200 meters from the finish, and I waited for him to run around the hairpin, so we could cross the finish line together.

As always, it was another excellent Disney running adventure. In the next couple of weeks, I hope to be able to share a video of our running adventure with you.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and enjoyed some time with family and friends.  I myself was visiting family in Ottawa and Hamilton.  Luckily, I witnessed a little snow during Christmas in Ottawa as Toronto had none at that time.

Yes, I’ve been terribly absent from the internet in the last few weeks.  I primarily posted a few Tweets or Facebook messages from my iphone.  There were many times I was without a computer, and other times I was just busy with the holiday season.  Ahh life!  Things have begun to get back to normal again and I hope to create a blog per week. (at the very minimum)

Now that the holiday season is over, I’ve been back at my training.  I had to run on my treadmill for a few runs, but luckily the sidewalks have been clear enough this week to run outside.  I had a wonderful long run last Sunday, and I followed it up today with 6K.  The weather has been above zero degrees C, which is perfect weather for me.  Soon enough, I will be headed to California to run the Tinker Bell Half marathon in Anaheim.  Of course, this is a fun run for me.  I take a lot of pictures and video, so that tends to slow me down considerably, but it’s also a great way to keep the cardio during the colder months.  I must admit, I’m looking forward to the warmer temperatures as well.  🙂  If anyone out there is also racing this event, please let me know.  I of course will also be wearing my shrug on the race course (weather permitting) and in and around the parks, so if you do see me, please say hello.

Speaking of Disney’s Tinker Bell half marathon, I’m sure many are getting ready to depart to  Walt Disney World for the Marathon weekend.  For anyone out there who is participating in any of the races, have a fantastic time.  I’m sure it will be an awesome experience for you as it’s the 20th anniversary of the Mickey Marathon.  There will be much to celebrate.  The temperatures in Florida seem to be warm right now, so please keep yourself hydrated during the race.  I look forward to reading all the race reports.

If you are not racing this month, I hope you are keeping well and staying active.

Happy Running!

Reflections – My 2010 Goofy Challenge

I started running in 2008.  I don’t exactly know what it was that prompted me to do so. Perhaps I had the need to be more active.  It’s relatively easy to do in terms of equipment: good shoes and my favourite tunes on my iPod.  I really started to enjoy it, and wanted to learn more to improve my race times. I went to my local running clinic and signed up for a 10k clinic.  It was during this clinic that I learned about the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World.  Well, say no more.  Running & Disney combined?  I was hooked!!

In 2009, I began my training for the Goofy.  I called it, “39 miles before turning 39”  (which I was turning a few days later)  I even signed up for the 5k that weekend, which unofficially is called the ‘Dopey’.  Which I guess has some truth to it!  I mean, who wants to race in the same weekend; a 5k on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday?  Most people don’t.  Us runners?  We seem to be an excessive bunch!  However, as a traveller to Disney, my thought was, if I was going to experience the WDW marathon weekend, I was going to do it all.

The 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend had the worst weather on record.  I think it was colder in Florida than it was in Toronto.  The news reported orange groves freezing over.  There was sleet and ice on the race course.  It was dreadful for locals whom were not accustomed to winter weather of this nature.  For me though, my pursuit for Goofy was all the motivation I required.  Nothing was going to stand in my way!

The 5k was a nice warm-up for the weekend, and during the half, I was too occupied with motivating my spouse, to really be concerned about me.  It was his first half marathon. Upon finishing the half marathon, I do remember thinking to myself; “You really want to run a marathon tomorrow?”  The answer was a resounding “Yes!!”

I’ll admit it was painful.  For the first 18 miles, I was able to shut out the pain from my mind, concentrate on my run and just enjoy the race.  The last 8 miles however is when I felt my body shutting down.  It was at this time, that my mind kept me going.  It’s surprising what you can accomplish when you think positive.  I envisioned crossing the finish line and receiving my medals.  I looked back on all my training leading up to the race, and in that moment, nothing was going to stand in my way to achieve my goal.

One of my favourite sayings is from Walt Disney himself.  “If we can dream it, we can do it”. Sometimes, that is all the motivation I need.

I look back at the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend as one of my fondest running achievements.

For a full look back at the 2010 Goofy Challenge, you can view my video here 2010 Goofy Challenge

What is your favourite running adventure and why?