Thursday, August 30, 2012

Packed Up!

Two carry-on bags, ready to go.

This is amazing. This will be the first time we've ever travelled so light. To be fair, we are usually packing for four months away from home. My air purifier takes up a suitcase all to itsel( although it had been known to share with our kettle.

So our luggage is usually two giant suitcases, a giant duffle bag, a rolling suit bag (or golf clubs), PLUS our carry-on bags.

It's ridiculous. We have a system. We call it "The Train", because we link bags together and become an airport nightmare with our length.

But not this trip!

We're FREE!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I wouldn't say that I'm an organized person.

Frankly, I don't think most other people would say I'm an organized person, either.

But I try.  Oh, lordy do I try.  I've even started a fledgling board on my Pinterest account to that effect: Organized Home

I have an ever-shifting mental checklist which I try to keep on top of, but the problem with mental checklists is that they do shift.  Items slide off the checklist, or re-arrange themselves at will.  Or get obscured by something shiny.  Or better yet, my brain suddenly remembers items for the list while I'm trying to fall asleep, and then immediately forgets them when I wake up.

Anyone else?

So that's why I tend to get a little amped up the day before and the morning of any travel - which must drive my poor (very laid back regarding these things) husband a little koo-koo.

It's inevitably a loop of me pacing from room to room saying "what am I forgetting, I feel like I'm forgetting something".

I should add "make a physical check-list" to my mental check-list.

My point is that we are starting our travel tomorrow, and I should probably be getting ready in some way.  Probably.  I'd know for sure if I had an organized list (see above).

Fortunately, the runDisney blog has done some of the work for me.  They've come up with a checklist.

So that's handled.

Here's our travel.

Thursday afternoon, we head to the bus station downtown to board a Megabus for Buffalo.  We snagged $15 tickets, which almost makes the 3.5 hours of bus travel acceptable.  We'll have to bring some good videos to watch, and hope for wifi on the bus.

Why are we taking a 3.5 hour bus ride to fly out of Buffalo?  To save hundreds of dollars.  When we priced out the trip, we discovered that flying out of Buffalo would save us $700.  That's right.  $700.  If there's anything that can get me on a bus, it's $700 back in my pocket.

We're spending the night at a Buffalo hotel near the airport - thank you Priceline - then flying to California for the big race!

I can't believe that in a few days we'll be running the Disneyland Half marathon.
I'm still a little nervous about being undertrained (despite running my fastest 10K ever last weekend), but I'm also excited.
I'm choosing to believe in myself.

What do you think - is confidence a choice?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Toronto Women's 10K Race Recap

This morning I got up at the crack of 5:30 to participate in the Toronto Women's 10K Race at Sunnybrook Park in Toronto.
The event was hosted by the lovely people at Toronto Women's Runs.

Image from
They have a full season of runs that vary in length from 5K to a Half Marathon, and after participating in this particular run, I can certainly see myself participating in future races.

There was a short walk from the parking lot to the staging area, but it didn't seem overly crowded.

Walking to the staging area.
The event was well organized and had a positive atmosphere.  When I first arrived around 7:15, they were playing Adele over the PA system.  I had a moment of "uh-oh".  I mean, I love Adele, but she's not exactly "get ramped up to run" music.  She's on my cool-down and stretch mix so I can pretend the run I just did is the man who wronged her and I'm stretching out the pain.  I know.  Weirdo.

Anyway, the music pepped up as the morning went along, and I'm now of the opinion that someone had their smarty-pants on this morning and used the music to ease us all awake (Adele) and gradual get us jazzed for the race to come (Justin Beiber).  It may have been my imagination, but I'm betting not, so I'm going to give them props for atmosphere.

The staging area was in a nice little glen, so there were plenty of trees for shade.  You'd think I'd get a photo of that, including bag check, sponsor tents and whatnot.  Yeah, you'd think that.

Before we knew it, it was time to head to the corral.  As we gathered, we heard speakers including a young lady who was a recipient of assistance from the affiliated charity - POGO, which was very moving.

About 10 minutes pre-race

Organizer, Corey Freedman also gave a pep talk and before we knew it, we were counting down.

Seconds away!

The course itself was beautiful.  Lots of mature trees, a babbling brook (perhaps the Sunnybrook of Sunnybrook Park fame?  Who can say?), and cheerful volunteers along the way.  Those volunteers included firemen handing out water.  It wasn't too shabby.

A last minute notification from the city about construction meant that both the 10K and 5K runners started at the same time, and it also meant that the 10K runners would loop the course twice, with a slightly modified (but mostly the same) second loop.  That was ok with me.  The scenery was pretty, and then at least I knew "how much farther" after I'd run it once.

I also appreciated the volunteers who shouted out the time, or distance as we went along when there weren't km markers.  The one who told me "Only 500m to go" was my favourite.  She was probably everyone's favourite.

I didn't immediately realize it, but they had print-outs of everyone's chip time posted as well, so no waiting!

Afterwards there were loads of bottles of water and snack bags (Hello, Old Dutch chips!  You WILL be my sodium replenishment, thank you!) that held a banana, a Cadbury Thin bar, a Pita Break pita, and the aforementioned chips.

One of the sponsors, was providing 'mocktails', and I grabbed what they had left - a Pimm's Cup, which will now become my Drink of the Summer!  Or what's left of the summer.  It's my Drink of What's Left of the Summer!  Delish.  Googling recipe.

So here were my goals for this race:

  1. Have Fun (check)
  2. Beat a time of 1:20 (check - did 1:15:55)
  3. Calm my nerves about running the Disneyland Half Marathon next weekend (check)
  4. Meet some great ladies (double check)
New runDisney friends!

Here is what I learned as I prepared for and ran this race:

It is possible to wake up before Scooter.

Anyone want to go for a walk?  Anyone?

When a box of 'instant' microwaveable Steelcut oatmeal suggests using a deep bowl to prevent spill-over, do NOT walk away from the microwave while it is cooking.
Tastes better than it looks
Look in the mirror closely before you head out.  It's early, it's worth a moment to double check everything.  Otherwise you might run the whole 10K looking like a dope.

Notice anything out of place?


Double-check your Garmin math.  Mine stopped counting my intervals after 4.5 miles, and it took me a while to figure out what was wrong.  Ok, so I never figured out what was wrong.  I just restarted it, and I'm pretty sure the confusion cost me breaking 1:15.  Not a big deal, but annoying.

Meet new people!  I was at the race solo, and normally I probably would have just headed home when I finished, but I knew there were some fellow runDisney Princesses (past, present and future) in attendance, and I've never participated in a mini-meet-up, so... FUN!  I look forward to meeting them at future races, and cheering on their efforts as they train for the Princess this year.  Guys, we chatted so long, we basically shut down the event.  Rock stars.

Bring cash.  It was probably best that I didn't, because we're on a pretty tight budget right now.  (Scooter, I'm looking at you - chemo don't come free, buddy.)  But there was some really nice jewellery there from Foxy Originals.  I'm not normally a big accessory person, but come on.

I love this.  It is officially a problem.

So there you have it.  My impressions of my very first 10K race and my very first non-runDisney event.  Wonderful, wonderful time.

And the medal's not too shabby, either!

I did it!

What's your favourite distance to run?  Or favorite, for our American friends.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Toronto Women's 10K Kit

Tomorrow's the big day!  Well, A big day.

This afternoon, I picked up my Race Kit from the Running Room up in Rosedale, and I'm all set to run the Toronto Women's 10K, despite the necessity of me leaving the house at 6am.  Ick.

Race Kit!

I was really happy to see the Bios H2O collapsable water bottle.  I've had my eye on similar bottles for a while.  With the amount of travelling, packing and unpacking that we do, sometimes my trusty Kleen Kanteen isn't the most practical.

There's also a bitty Lemon Zest Luna Bar and a packet of eLoad Energy Gel (also lemon - fortunately I love lemon).  I won't try the eLoad for the race, since I'm not sure what's going to happen, tummy-wise.

The shirt is Mizuno, and I have to be honest, for me - I don't love it.  I'll have to try it out on a run, but there's no give to the fabric, and I must have the fattest head/neck combo imaginable, because it's a tight squeeze getting through there and it's tighter around my neck than I'd like.  But it's cute. I'll give it a chance some other time.
The back has the Toronto Women's Runs motto: "Women set the pace", which is also cute.

Everyone else will have their first name on their bib.  Not me.  I entered my name backwards.  First name in the last name spot, and vice versa.  So while supporters are shouting out their encouragement for "Mary!" "Lisa!", "Bev!", I'll have to listen for "WELLS!!"

Oh, Wells.  You goofball.

My plan for breakfast tomorrow is coffee, scrambled egg whites, oatmeal and a banana.  It worked for the half Marathon, so it should work for the 10K.
I'm going to bring some Honey Stingers for a little pick-me-up halfway through (if I need it) and I think I'll just use the on-course water, rather than bringing a hydration belt, but you can bet I'll have a big bottle of Accelerade on hand for after the race.

Like I've mentioned before, I'm doing this race solo.  I'm excited about that, and just the teeniest bit nervous.

Have you run a race solo before?  What did you like about it?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Keeping Pace

I ran a lovely solo 3 miles this afternoon since my husband is in Prince Edward Island with his family.  I genuinely can't remember the last time that I ran by myself.  It was nice.  My husband and I usually run together, which is great, but sometimes I feel a little bad for holding him back.  He says I don't, but realistically, he's much faster than I am.

It's a good thing I had a nice time doing it, because otherwise the 10K I'm running this weekend would be miserable!

I'm also using the 10K as a bit of a pace endurance test.  My training plan calls for 5 miles this weekend, with 3 of them being at race pace.  So my plan is to start off gently with a 13:00/mile or so, and then pick up the pace to closer to an 11:30 or a 12:00/mile.  I know, not so fast for most people, but pretty fast for this undertrained shambles of a gal.

If I'm being honest with myself, 13:00/mile might be more realistic for the Disneyland half, and it would still be faster than my Princess Pace, but I'm stubborn (see my achilles tendinitis for proof of my bull-headed denial).

It occurs to me that it may not make sense for me to keep doing this to myself.

When I first started running (goal of completing C25K), it was rough on my knees, and I frequently wore a patellar band (or 2!) for runs.
Then it was my hip flexor being super tight and painful (trying to do C210K, which I was unable to complete).
Then my achilles (during Princess Half Marathon training - did it!).
Now I'm getting a weird pain in the ball of my foot.
Mix in the health trouble I was having on the ship, and I am baffled.

Why do I keep coming back to it?

Yes, I liked getting a medal at the Princess Half.  I know I'm looking forward to receiving my Disneyland Half medal, along with my Coast to Coast medal.  But that's not all.

I think because it is hard, and as a result I feel like I'm accomplishing something significant.  As I check in on my Garmin, and wonder if I can keep that pace, or last another quarter of a mile to make it a full mile... I like the fact when I run, my body is getting stronger and that I can tell because I have data to back it up.  (Hello gadgets!) I like those little mental boxes that I check off as I go make me feel that running is a series of small victories.

Heck, just getting out the door is a victory some days.  Am I right?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ramping up the Confidence

Ask me how glad I am to have my last pre-race 'long run' under my belt.

Go on.


GLAD!  And not for the reason you might think - the typical, "ugh, enough running already".  I've come up so short on training for this race, that I couldn't possibly complain about a 10 miler.

No, I'm glad because it was so much easier than the shamble-town 8 mile run I stumbled my way through last week.  Ugh.  What a shambles.  I'm not going to lie.  It scared me to feel so tired so early in a run, and so worn down and 'melty' as we progressed.  It sucked.

Not Saturday's run, though.  Saturday's run was a delight.  We ran along Toronto's surprisingly clean waterfront, enjoyed the lake and the skyline sparkling to life as dusk turned to night.  It was a perfect late summer night, and seemed to be designed for running.

I am also assuming that being home has been helping.  I'm feeling a little better every day, and coughing less.  I had a difficult time with my health while on my most recent ship contract.  It's been hard to pin down why.  I have never been so exhausted in my life.  Could have been lack of sleep coupled with a lot of hard physical training (we were hitting P90X pretty hard along with our run training) mixed in with poor air quality and sprinkled liberally with hyperthyroidism.  Who can say?

Well, my doctor, I suppose.  I'm getting bloodwork done tomorrow to follow up on my wonky thyroid results from last month.  She also added a few extra tests into the mix since I'm "a runner".  Huh.  I guess I am!

During our run on Saturday, we tried out the vegan gel shot that we picked up from Whole Foods.  It was different.  A little grainy, but I can only assume that was the result of raspberry seeds and whatnot.  (We tried the raspberry flavor this time out).

Once I got past the texture (I chalk it up to an unfair comparison to more 'gelly' type gels), it was quite enjoyable.  My husband had the great idea to go halvsies with it and the Chocolate Cif Shot.  Uh, YEP!

My tummy got a little funky around mile 8, however.  That doesn't usually happen, so I'm not sure if I'll stick with these.

Now all that's left before the Disneyland Half on September 2nd are a few conditioning runs and a 6 mile run this coming weekend.

In the interest of building confidence (my theme from now till the Half), I'm going to be running the Toronto Women's 10K this Saturday!  I'll be going by myself, running by myself.  It's a 'me' race.  I'm hoping to complete the race in under 1:20, I'd be thrilled with 1:15.  We'll see.  I'm not fast, but it's only 6 miles.  (Only!)
It's hosted by Toronto Women's Runs.  They've got several runs a year, so if you're in the Toronto area,  or want to travel there to run, check them out.

How far would you travel for a race?

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Life's full of 'em.

I was supposed to go to PEI with my husband and his family next week, but, alas, no longer.

 When we finally got home to Toronto, my sister reminded me that she had a very important show coming up.  We're all artists of one kind or another around here, and her artistic skills bend heavily into the 'visual arts' territory.  She takes after our recently departed Grandmother that way.

Grandma (Betty) Peldo, with a pretty decent haul!
One of Grandma's paintings.
Anyway, my sister Rachael has a booth for this year's big to-do of the loveable nerds, FanExpoCanada and I'm sticking around to help her get set up (and to pose with her in a photo with the indomitable Stan Lee).

If you can't make FanExpoCanada, you can always buy her art at her Etsy store.

Plus, our adorable little jerk of a dog will be getting his regular chemotherapy treatment this weekend, which means he'll be feeling pretty darn sick starting on Thursday of next week.  Apparently it's like clockwork - very messy clockwork.
Scooter's doing amazingly well.  We're very proud of him.  And since we've been away so long, I just have to stick around and hold his little paw through this round.

Boy he loves the snow...

All that said, it's wonderful to be home.  Sleeping in our own bed is miraculous.  Seeing our family, friends and dog is therapeutic.  Cooking our own food is a revelation...  paying for that food is a pain, though!

We went out for a short conditioning run again yesterday... outside!  In the real world!  With scenery!  And as much as the Central Park run kicked my ass, the run yesterday energized me.  Thank goodness, because the Central Park run really shook my confidence.  I'm totally worried about not being prepared for the Disneyland Half Marathon in a couple of short weeks.  I feel woefully undertrained.

So naturally we're signing up for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January (just the half for me, thank you).  Yikes.  I'm nuts.

And finally - I'm all about trying new things.  I just picked up a couple of Vega Sport gels from our local Whole Foods (we went to visit the food we can't afford).  I'm going to try them out on our long run this weekend and see how they are.
We like Honey Stinger Chews and Clif Shot Blocks & Clif Shots - I like to have something to 'eat' while we're plugging away for longer than 45 minutes, and sometimes I want it to be a solid, not a gel.  I'm a weirdo about that.
I'll also alternate between water and Accelerade sometimes.

I probably over supplement, but hey, whatever gets you through, rights?

What's your supplement of choice?

Monday, August 13, 2012

8 Miles ain't just a movie with Eminem

8 miles done in hilly, hilly Central Park.


Over 15 minute/mile pace. Double ouch.

What better was to console oneself...

Central Park

I'm a mile and a bit into my 8 mile long run (postponed from yesterday thanks to a comfortable bed and a sleep-in).

Beautiful day in Central Park, the oppressive heat from the last week has finally lifted...

Keeping a slow pace, like you're supposed to, but even that is a challenge today. I blame all the walking we've been doing... At least I hope that's all it is..

Back to it!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

One more for the Road

We are winding down to the end of this contract on the ship - in a few days, I will run on water no longer.  (For now.)

I’ve come down with another bout of congestion and coughing, so I’m focussing on rest again.  Sleep has been the greatest healer, but it eats into my training, and it’s freaking me out.  Dayquil, Mucinex, Nyquil, Mucinex, rinse, repeat.

Up to now, I’ve followed Jeff Galloway’s training plan, which mean’s I’m a Run/Walk/Run kind of gal.  You know - the kind who probably gets in your way if you’re a flat out runner and you’re on my ass when I pull over to walk.  (Watch for my signals, by the way.  I always indicate when I’m about to slow down.)

A normal training week for me should be a 40-60 minute run at race pace (which I’m still trying to decide, but I’d love it to be under 12:30), a 40-60 minute hill session, and a long run on the weekend.

I’ve felt strong in my training runs keeping them under 12 minutes/mile, and my long runs lately have been increasing in speed as well, against my better judgment - my last 6 mile run was at 12:46.  The good news is, it was easy.  I don’t know why I have such a hang-up about slowing down my long run pace.  Wait, yes I do.  

  1. If I am running slowly, it doesn’t feel like I’m working.
  2. If I run slower, it’ll take longer to get through the run.  And time goes slowly enough on the treadmill.  Especially when there’s no TV.

I’m also keeping an eye on my achilles.  It tends to get a bit tender after 5 miles or so, so I’m stretching, rolling and icing.

I also tape it up with KT tape before runs over 5 miles,

 plus I wear compression socks or sleeves.

I feel like a goof-ball walking through the ship’s buffet wearing all this gear, but sometimes in running (like in life) you have to look like a goofball.

When we were training for the Princess, I was having real hip flexor trouble.  I ordered a foam roller from Amazon and would carry it to the gym while dressed in all my running gear.  Now THAT’s goofball.  I could just imagine what people must have been thinking - “What kind of a person goes on vacation with all THAT?”

A goofball, that’s who.

Of course, I’m not on vacation.  My vacation is home.  In just a few days.

What goofball stuff do you wear or carry with you to help you run?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Last year when I was preparing for the 2012 RunDisney Princess Half Marathon, I was understandably daunted.  After all, I am no athlete.  The most running I’d ever really done was to complete an 8 week “Couch to 5K” running program thanks to an iPhone app, then I promptly stopped running because I’d “finished”.
Seriously.  I ran my 5K on the treadmill, then just stopped running.  No race, no fanfare, just *stopped*.  I’m not always good on the followthrough, so I suppose I was just happy that I’d actually finished something.  Yay!  I did that!  Where’s the cake?
So the concept of sticking with a training program which would span 4 months and culminate in a half marathon (or four 5Ks) seemed a little out of character for this chronic ‘good enough, I give up’ kind of gal.  I was so paranoid that I’d let myself down in training and embarrass myself by getting ‘swept’ off the race course, that I didn’t give myself a break during training.  I missed maybe 4 runs out of those 4 months.  I probably should have missed more, as was evidenced by my very painful achilles tendinitis, but that’s a whole other story of weirdo denial.  Point being, I got there.  Against all my worst fears about myself, I got there.
So why am I doing it again?
  1. Because it was actually really fun.  Its hard not to get caught up in the energy of the crowd on race day.  I was nervous and excited while my husband and I stood in our corral, my stomach was doing the kind of flip-flops which are usually reserved for roller coasters and opening night.  Never having run a race before, we were all the way in the very last corral.  The back of the pack.  The group who would start with the “sweepers” hot on our heels. I looked around our corral wondering how many of us would make it all the way.  Before long, though, I stopped comparing myself to everyone else.  I stopped wondering who I was stronger or weaker than, and I just started focussing on the challenge at hand
  2. It was real boost to my sense of self.  With every mile I got more confident, and when we hit the halfway point and I realized I had enough gas in the tank to finish strong, we actually sped up for the second half.  This is huge.  I was brought up thinking I wasn’t athletic.  A fear of letting team-mates down in team sports, or looking like a goofball in individual sports kept me from trying (which is ludicrous, considering my job today).  Turns out that nagging “you’re not strong enough” voice in my head is nothing more than your average, run of the mill fear/self-doubt/low self esteem/excuse making.  Nothing more, and certainly not something impossible to overcome.  Especially when you shine a light on what it really is.  So to realize, halfway through a 13.1 mile race that I KNEW I had what it took to finish it...  that was a revelation.
  3. To prove it wasn’t a fluke.  I did it once, I can do it again.
This is where it gets tricky.  I am now about a month out from the Disneyland Half Marathon (September 2, 2012), and I’ve missed a lot of training this time around.
I mean a LOT.
Like 2 months worth.
For those of you who aren’t too hot at math, that’s a good half.
Thankfully, I’m in better overall physical shape this time around (thanks to having already done a half marathon this year, and 2 months worth of P90X), but my health has been less than co-operative.  My chronic cough and fatigue are a whole conversation unto themselves, but suffice to say I’ll be glad to be leaving my current ship.
I got an amended training program from a kind, former running/endurance coach, and so I have to tackle this half marathon with only a 10 mile long run under my belt this time around.
I look forward to spending my next 3 long runs in:
August 12: New York City (8 miles)

August 19: Toronto (10 miles)

August 26: Prince Edward Island (6 miles)

In case you’re not familiar with Prince Edward Island, it's where the best potatoes come from, the home of fictional "Anne of Green Gables" and it’s pretty darn far east.  So, yes, I’ll be running literally both coasts of North America this month, in addition to earning my runDisney Coast to Coast medal.

How do you fit in running when you're travelling?