A Look Back at Running in 2014

Looking back on 2014 (from a running perspective), I would never have expected anything that happened this year – it seems too surreal. From joining the Oiselle Flock to running a 1:34:01 half marathon, I’ve surprised myself and have been so thankful for what running brought to my life this year. Personally, 2014 was one of the toughest years of my life. Running helped keep me focused and even keeled when times got really tough.

This year I started to truly love running. Getting up at 4:30am almost every weekday sounds terrible to many, but that’s what I did to get my runs in. I can’t recall a single day this year where I felt that I didn’t want to run or that I didn’t like it. When I started running back in 2006, all I wanted to do was run a 5k. Then quickly I wanted to run a half marathon. When people asked me if I wanted to run a full marathon, I usually said no, or that I would run one eventually just to say I did.

In 2014, I made the decision that I will run a full marathon, and would ideally like to qualify for Boston on my first attempt. It’s a lofty goal, but I feel like I can achieve it. When I ran my first half marathon in 2007, I was happy with a 2 hour finish. I decided then that My ultimate goal would be to break 1:45. After a few attempts and two finishes around the 1:47 mark, I felt like breaking 1:45 had become my ‘ultimate goal’ for the half marathon.

I took time off from racing to have my son, and got back into running as soon as I was cleared by my doctor. I ran with no expectations. My runs were fit in between feeding sessions and naps, which also meant that most of my runs were done with a jogging stroller in front of me. Being on maternity leave for a year enabled me to run quite a bit. Upon my return to work, I wasn’t sure how much running I could expect from myself (see the 4:30am wake up time above), but as time went on and my passion for running continued to expand, I realized I would be able to properly train for another half marathon. I also got exposed to an amazing community of female runners this year through Oiselle and the Flock. Being connected to such a passionate group of runners has kept my spark shining.

I remember a day in April when I was in a bad mood, wasn’t feeling the greatest, and I went for a run. I had no plan for my run, no distance or pace expectations. I just kept running. Before I knew it, I was approaching 20km, and I couldn’t believe the numbers I saw on my Garmin. I finished 21.1km that day in 1:37 and change. This number is significantly lower than the 1:45 time I had set as my goal for the longest time. A few months later, I went out for a run, similar in the sense that I had no expectations, and finished 21.1km in 1:34:57. I couldn’t believe what was happening. These paces were the fastest ones I’d ever run in my life.

The Canada Army Run half marathon was in September and I finished with a time of 1:34:01, which probably would have been a bit faster had it not started to downpour once I got to kilometre 15. I was ecstatic when I finished, but of course, I started getting my mind wrapped around running a sub 1:30 half marathon – which has become my new ‘ultimate running goal’ (for half marathons).

All of these results are part of my running journey, and even though I started running 8 years ago, I feel like I’m just getting started. I can’t wait to get started on my journey to a full marathon, and ultimately Boston. For now, I will be satisfied with the opportunity I had to run the Newton Hills/Heartbreak Hill and visit the place where I will one day run:

Boston Marathon

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It’s Our 4th Wedding Anniversary!

It’s super hard to believe that Ryan and I got married 4 years ago. Time, as usual, has gone by way too fast.

Life has been so much fun being married to my best friend. We are beyond fortunate to have Odin in our lives. We’ve accomplished so much in 4 years (8 years together) and I can’t wait to see what the future hold for our little family 🙂

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What’s In My Running Drawer

Aside from the two drawers in my dresser that are overflowing with Oiselle gear, I also have a running drawer, which is where I stash my must-have running accessories and other goodies.

Credit for this idea goes completely to fellow flock-mate Emily Hess – you can find her blog here and find her on Twitter at @profhesser.

Here is what my running drawer consists of:

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  • Picky Bars – I’m part of the Picky Club, which means I get my bars mailed to me every month. When my shipment arrives, all of my bars go directly into this drawer. As you can see, my supply is a little low (since there are none in the picture), but my bars for this month will arrive this week 🙂
  • Nuun – Nuun is my go-to for hydration and electrolyte replenishment. I can’t do Gatorade or other ‘sport drinks’, so I’m thankful that I found Nuun! Simply pop a tab in your water bottle and it’s ready.
  • Hand held water bottle – I’m not a fan of fuel belts, so for my long runs, I take this with me to stay hydrated. I’d rather carry the small bottle as opposed to having the extra weight of a fuel belt around my waist.
  • Jelly Belly Sport Beans – These offer a little something sweet for extra long runs. I love the raspberry ones!
  • iPod charger, Garmin charger, Garmin – I leave all of my gadgets in this drawer so that I always know where they are – and this way they are out of Odin’s reach. He likes to hear my Garmin beep and pull my headphones out of my iPod repeatedly.
  • Hurraw lip balm – This brand has become my lip balm go-to. I have a bunch of different ones, including one with SPF in my drawer.
  • Bib belt – I only use this on race day and it was given to me by a coworker who also runs. I love this belt because it holds my race bib in place without having to put holes in my shirts. It’s also easy to wear and I tend to forget it’s around me.
  • Oiselle tattoos, buttons and stickers – With every order I place directly with Oiselle, there are a few of these items included in every box. My son ran away with the ones I had taken out of my drawer for the picture.
  • Spare inhaler – I have asthma, so a backup inhaler is important.

I had also kept some winter running accessories in my drawer, but I hardly run outside in the winter anymore because my awesome husband bought me a treadmill two years ago when I was pregnant with our son. I thought he was crazy for spending so much on the treadmill, but I think him everyday, as it was seriously one of our best investments.

The next thing I’m going to have to make room for in my drawer is my Believe Training Journal, co-authored by pro-runner and Picky Bar co-founder Lauren Fleshman. You can preorder yours here (and they’ll send you some Picky Bars to hold you over until the journals ship!).

What’s in your running drawer?

This is 50: My Mom’s Surprise Birthday Party

On October 4th, it was actually my dad’s 51st birthday, but we used that as a decoy for having a surprise party for my mom’s 50th birthday which is actually on October 15th. We did our best to keep the party a surprise, and it worked, because our mom was super shocked when she arrived.

The plan was that my dad was going to tell my mom that he didn’t want to make a big deal out of his birthday and that he wanted to go out for dinner just the two of them. It was an easy story for everyone involved to commit to and was very realistic.

After a long week, my mom texted one of her friends (just before arriving) that was at the party and mentioned that she didn’t really feel like taking my dad out for dinner because she was exhausted from everything that was going on. Little did she know, but the dinner was actually for her. When her friend showed us the message, we knew she was still in the dark about the surprise. We saw my parents pull into the parking lot and my sister and I took Odin to meet them at the door. Her reaction was priceless, I wish I had recorded it.

I was so happy to surprise my mom with this party. I know it meant a lot to her to have friends and family with her to celebrate her birthday. We had lots of yummy cake and Odin provided hours of entertainment for everyone. Here are some of the pictures from her party:

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Moms Should Never Be Underestimated

One of my favorite runners is Kara Goucher. I’ve been following her career for a really long time, and even held onto a copy of Runner’s World when she was interviewed about running while pregnant, which I still have. At the time it was for future reference, then when I was pregnant with Odin, I probably read the interview a few hundred times.

If you follow Kara on social media, you know how much running means to her, but you also know how much family and being a mom means – something that really hits home with me. Earlier this week, the trailer for Flotrack’s Driven was released, with Kara as the main subject. There are so, so many things I love about those 2.5 minutes. Kara is so real and honest, and she comes across as someone you could meet in real life and be friends with immediately.You can watch the video here:

http://www.flotrack.org/embed/OTkyNzUxNjA2?related=1&autoplay=false

Watch more videos on Flotrack

In the trailer, Kara makes reference to a stereotype that many people think you aren’t serious about something if/when you have a baby. Like Kara, I feel like these people are so wrong. For many moms that decide to work outside of the home, they encounter similar criticism or assumptions (they won’t focus on work because their mind will be at home, home priorities will interfere with work ones – those types of things).

Since having Odin, I feel like I care more and am more serious about a lot of things. My goals still matter and I’m still driven. I want to be the best mom to my son, and at the same time I’m also serious about my job, my family and about running, among other things. The way I structure my life is different than it use to be. For example, I’m done my morning run before my son and husband are even out of bed. I plan ahead and multitask like never before in order to get things done. When I started running again, I blew through my pre-baby pace times and am running faster than ever before. I want to run a full marathon someday, and eventually Boston. Being a mom isn’t going to hold me back from any of that – it just means I need to be a little creative to make it all happen 🙂

Thank you Kara for showing the world that women and moms shouldn’t be underestimated.
PS: Kara – you aren’t crazy or old. You are awesome.