I am a Marathon Maniac!

As many of you know, I was a fairly latecomer to running. It wasn’t until I was 35 that I voluntarily ran a step that wasn’t away from a wasp or some other insect.

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Once I ran in my first race, a 10k at the age of 46, I was hooked. I loved everything about the event: the preparation, the training, the excitement at packet pick up, the buzz on race day, not to mention the feeling of success and accomplishment that I had done something I never would have imagined possible! Well, the races got longer and more frequent and when I had a few half marathons under my belt I read about a group called the Marathon Maniacs. Members of this group are exactly as described – marathon maniacs! As I read the criteria for joining I was amazed that anyone would ever do that, let alone, actually want to do that! Well the idea obviously took root in my mind and eventually I qualified to join their sister group, the Half Fanatics.

The last few years, I have found it very empowering to set myself goals and my goal for 2013 was… yes, to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs! I already knew I wanted to run the Calgary marathon and so I looked around for another one close to that date.  For the first level, I needed to run two full marathons within a 16 day time frame. Handsome Husband decided that Rock and Roll San Diego was the one to do! That worked out perfectly for me because it would mean a mini runcation in that beautiful city, but not so good because it was just one week after Calgary!

Eventually race day for the Calgary marathon dawned and I was feeling good! I had trained, rested and was hoping to beat my last time. We set off running and all was good. The miles (or kilometres in Canada) ticked past and when the half marathoners split off, I settled into the rest of my run. Until 30k (18.5 miles) I began to get bad stomach cramps which worsened and resulted in two porta potty visits! I also developed a huge blister on the ball of my foot and maybe this affected my running gait because my hip flexors hurt, as did my lower back! I really struggled the last few miles, had to walk a fair way.( I’ll stop the injury list there because I know my mother will read this and be even more convinced that I should stop running before I damage my joints!)

I eventually finished with a time of 04.58.52, very disappointed with my performance and worried if I was going to be able to run another marathon in a week!

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We left for California on the following Thursday and spent a wonderful few days in the San Diego area before race day arrived. Well, I was very nervous and wasn’t looking forward to the run at all. Luckily, I had spent so much money at the expo that I had a VIP porta potty pass which allowed access into the VIP potties at the start line (If you have never seen these… wow!)

As the pre race nerves got worse, I decided to focus on the fact that I was getting to run in a beautiful place in perfect running weather, and forget about everything else. To cut a long race report short, it was great! No stomach issues, no blisters and hardly any leg/hip pains until the last couple of miles. Apart from having to walk up a killer hill at mile 21, I didn’t need to walk at all, and finished in 04.46.06.

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As I was handed my medal, I felt a little emotional. Although I hadn’t been  happy with my Calgary performance, I am amazed and proud that I am now officially Marathon Maniac #7283!

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Obsessed? Me?

This weekend I am running in the Calgary marathon and as I was planning my race day outfit, it became glaringly obvious that I may have an obsession with a certain brand of clothing.. and looking through my previous race photographs confirms it.. I am obsessed with YMX!

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If you have never heard of YMX by Yellowman brand, boy are you in for a treat! I first discovered this brand 3 or 4 years ago when I was searching online for different, more exciting exercise clothing. Where I live in Alberta, Canada isn’t a very exciting shopping destination! We don’t have access to many of the smaller brands or manufacturers and although a certain popular brand began in the next province over,  you can almost guarantee that someone else in the gym will be wearing exactly the same item of clothing as you!

As I browsed through the website, http://www.ymxbyyellowman.com  I was hooked! I placed my order and later that afternoon I had a phone call from a representative of the company explaining that shipping to Canada would cost extra and was I ok with that! Great customer service! Living in Canada, additional shipping costs are something we just have to face and I was expecting the usual 3 to 6 week wait time until I received my order. But no, it arrived the next day!

I am not going to go into the technical details because you can read all about those here http://www.ymxbyyellowman.com/c-sport_performance_fabric.html  but I will tell you that the fabric is amazingly soft and light. There are no rough seams and you honestly won’t feel as if you are wearing anything at all! (This from someone who had her mother remove all the scratchy labels from her clothing as a kid!) The fabric is sweat wicking, most has an SPF factor and the colours and designs  are beautiful, oh, and it’s called Madkool!

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As you all know, gym clothing takes a beating but even my oldest YMX tops look like new. They don’t fade or shrink at all. I love that you can wear them for any occasion, not just working out, they pack up really small when travelling and don’t crease and you can rinse them through in a hotel bathroom and they will air dry overnight!

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What more could you ask for?  Well, maybe this.

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When YMX announced that they were looking for ambassadors, I knew I had to apply and was honoured to be chosen to represent a brand that I am so passionate about.

Be Prepared

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Handsome Husband and I are training for a marathon later this month.  We are a little behind on our training as apparently we should be tapering now, rather than still increasing our mileage! Yesterday was time for our 20 miler and we had discussed getting up early and so being able to finish well before lunchtime.  However, things didn’t quite work out like that!

Our little corner of Alberta, Canada, has the distinction of being the sunniest city in Canada with 333 days of bright sunshine per year (http://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/Canada/sunniest-cities.php) and although it has been cold and snowy lately, yesterday’s forecast was a high of 20 degrees Celsius (68F) I know that may not be warm to some of you,  but  we were looking forward to running in shorts and t shirts instead of gloves, hats, thermal pants etc.

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I don’t usually take fluids when I am running, but as we were going to take it slow, I grabbed my fuel belt with 3 small bottles of Nuun, my iphone in case I wanted to take any pictures and a chocolate GU energy gel just in case.  Add sunglasses and my fancy new Nike sportwatch to track the distance and I was ready!

Off we set and all was well until around mile 13 when Handsome Husband remarked, ‘Wow! That sun’s hot!’ which was closely followed by, “I’ve run out of drink..”  At that time, we were miles from anywhere, but I had my phone and decided to call the Happy Teenager who could drive out to meet us with some lovely cold drinks…  Hmm..No answer..

Our only option was to detour to our house, grab another drink and then carry on. During the 4 miles it took us to get home, we realised that we hadn’t been prepared at all! Although I had a phone, we didn’t have enough fluids, we hadn’t thought about sunblock or wearing a hat, and if only we had brought some money, we could have bought a drink!

Hopefully, that was a lesson learned and in future we will plan a little more thoughtfully but this led me to wondering, what should be the essentials?  I have heard of people who take nothing at all as well as people who take a lot including self defence weapons, so what do you take? Are you a minimalist or do you pack for every eventuality?

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Only a runner would understand..

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Tomorrow is the day! Registration opens for the Disney World races in January 2014. I have my phone, computer and ipad set up to remind me, just in case I had forgotten! Funnily enough, Handsome Husband has just appeared looking puzzled with his phone in his hand. Yes, I set his phone to email reminders too!

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January 8th is my birthday, and 2014 will be the big 50, so what better way than to celebrate with Goofy in the happiest place on earth? Yes, I am hoping to register for the Goofy challenge; a half marathon on the Saturday, followed by the full marathon on the Sunday.  Handsome Husband and Happy Teenager will hopefully run the half marathon with me and according to the Disney website, as of today, we have 274 days in which to train!

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Tomorrow, I will be sat at my computer, with credit card in hand, hopefully registering for my dream race.  As long as I can work out the time zones…

Wish me luck!

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The Things We Do For Love..

“Could we ever go on vacation without running a marathon?”  That was the question Handsome Husband asked me yesterday evening when I was surfing the internet looking for marathons by the ocean in July.

My first thought was, “Ummm, no. Why would we do that?” Then I started to feel a little guilty. You see, running is MY passion, not really his.  He tells me he runs purely to get the necessary exercise, but I don’t really believe him, after all, what’s not to love? You can do it anywhere, anytime, with very little equipment. You can do it with other people or on your own, you can go fast, slow or any combination you like. You can compete against others, or against yourself. I could go on and on..

These past couple of years we have visited some amazing places all through running. We’ve been to Nashville, Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Pasadena, and many more. These are trips we might not have taken, and experiences we might have missed if we hadn’t signed up to race.  Possibly my favourite memory is running down the Extra Terrestrial Highway in Nevada, in the middle of the night, with my honey and our teenage son. It was a truly magical experience with a full moon and many, many shooting stars, finishing in the town of Rachel, with breakfast at the Little Ale’inn.

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(Posing for a picture after the race. HH had to carry the camera too! See www.calicoracing.com  for this race)

So thank you honey, for indulging and encouraging my passion.  I really do appreciate every time you’ve selflessly agreed to our race fees, flights, hotel bills, expo shopping sprees, and even more than that, thank you for running the miles with me, cooking supper when I’m too tired after long run days, knowing my favourite flavours of GU and Nuun, calming my pre-race jitters, oh, and pretending not to be grossed out by my toenails!

And now, back to the vacation planning…

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All You Need is Love

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This last week I have been reading some amazing blogs where the writer has written a letter of apology to their body. (See my blogging buddies at http://runninglovingliving.com/ and http://www.lovelifesurf.com/  )The sentiments are that often as we mature,  we come to love our bodies with all their perceived faults and flaws and are grateful for the things they do for us and are able to focus on what an amazing design we are rather than superficial complaints such as ‘my legs are too short, fat, thin’, or, ‘I wish my butt was bigger/smaller’. On that subject, I spent many years hating my butt because I was convinced it was huge – this was long before various celebrities made having an ample behind something fashionably desirable.

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(Sorry, I couldn’t resist that picture!)

Since I became a runner, it shrunk drastically and so I am still not fashionable! Oh well!

This got me thinking what a valuable exercise this can be, even if you don’t want to write a letter, it is good to look back on the things you used to dislike about yourself and compare them to how you feel now. As a runner, I no longer look at my legs and wish they were longer and thinner, but I see them as strong and powerful. I am impressed how far they can carry me, and am grateful that they haven’t let me down yet!  I have even been known to talk to them when I’m running, ‘Come on legs, you got this.’

However, I am still not getting a pedicure – toenails? Who needs ‘em?

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It’s a Dog’s Life

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Often when I’m out running I see other runners, running, with their dogs. There are two particular people I notice; one lady has two large dogs which I think are weimaraners. Together they seem to glide along so gracefully. The other person I see regularly is a man with a middle sized terrier type of dog. The dog has black shaggy fur and although they certainly could not be described as graceful, they are both clearly having a great time. Whenever I see them, I always wish my dog would run with me.  So, here begins my quest to turn Murphy the Irish Terrier, into a running dog. If you want to see an Irish terrier in action, check out the movie, Firehouse Dog. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0476995/

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However, Murphy doesn’t quite get it! Murphy loves going out for walks, in fact whenever I come down the stairs, he thinks he’s going out, and if anyone puts shoes on, he dances around getting in the way. Just lately he’s figured out that I usually get my sunglasses out of the kitchen drawer before we go out, so now, whenever I open that drawer, he starts hopping around and wagging his tail. Often I can’t make eye contact if I’m not taking him out as I feel so guilty!

So you might be thinking that he would make a great running partner?  Yes, but on his terms! We live in an area where there is a lot of wildlife: deer, squirrels and rabbits, not to mention coyotes and the occasional cougar, so there are a lot of interesting smells for a dog, and he apparently has to sniff them all. Not so much of a problem if we are walking, but when running it’s a nightmare! He’s either pulling forward or backward but never the direction I’m going, and if he actually sees a squirrel or another dog he takes off so fast, I am in fear of losing my arm!

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We live in a beautiful town where there are lots of great pathways around the river valley, but dogs are not allowed off leash, which is probably just as well for Murphy as he clearly has a one track mind…. Did someone say, ‘squirrel’?

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It’s a sweet, sweet life

Today I came across an interesting article whereby scientists have discovered that insects eat for pleasure!  Researchers at the University of Georgia have identified the neural pathways in an insect that are tied to eating for pleasure, a discovery which may shed light on similar impulsive eating pathways in the human brain.

The insect chosen for this research was the fruit fly larvae. The research team presented them with appetising odours and found this caused impulsive feeding of sugar-rich foods, with the fly larvae consuming approximately 30 per cent more food.

When the fly larvae were offered a ‘sub standard meal’ (though I shudder to think what a sub standard meal for a fly larvae might be..) they refused to eat it.

According to lead researcher, Ping Shen,  UGA Associate Professor of Cellular Biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, even fly larvae have expectations. He said that, if the concentration of sugar is reduced below a certain threshold, the fly larvae simply do not respond.

It is hoped that if scientists can use this information and begin to understand how compulsive eating behaviours happen, and it may eventually be possible to devise a way to prevent it in humans.

However, imagining fly larvae happily munching their sweet treats might just go some way towards preventing us compulsively eating those cup cakes!

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Read the whole article here. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/257070.php

Run, Forrest, run!

Hands up any runner who has NOT had this apparently hilarious phrase yelled after them..

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For some reason, runners are often subject to harassment when out pounding the pavement, and a little incident yesterday got me wondering why that should be. Handsome Husband and I had finally managed to get out on our long run and had completed a pleasant 4 miles or so on sidewalks around our neighbourhood when our planned route took us out into nearby countryside and farmland where there are no handy sidewalks. Usually there isn’t much passing traffic on this wide road, and yesterday was no exception, although we were running in single file anyway. Two vehicles in separate incidents ‘buzzed’ us, getting close enough to spray us with gravel. Handsome Husband, who thinks he can take anyone on, gave them both rather a rude sign (this really freaks me out as I’m sure someone will come back and punch him one day) although luckily they appeared not to notice. The rest of the run went by pretty smoothly apart from a couple of glares from people who were obliviously meandering across the pathway and were clearly annoyed when we ran past, accidentally startling them. (Note to various users of public sidewalks and pathways… if you don’t want to jump out of your skin, take your ear buds out and be aware of other users)

After the most awesome shower (isn’t it great how a hot shower is a million times better after a run in the cold?) I was reading my facebook and twitter updates and found stories of other people being harassed on their runs, and forums such as Runners World are full of such stories. http://forums.runnersworld.com/forums/runner-communities/beginners/ever-harassed-run-outside Why do people feel runners are such fair game? My theory is that maybe they feel guilty as we are doing something that perhaps they know they should be doing but can’t or won’t and so react with anger.

Here is  a short list of some of the issues I have faced:

Yelled at in a non threatening way- the run, Forrest, run type of comment.

Buzzed by vehicles, often throwing grit/slush/water onto me.

I once had a man scream abuse at me because I was on a marked crosswalk and he didn’t think he had to stop as he was pulling a trailer.. That one shook me up a lot as his anger was really scary.

Teenagers with ‘smart’ comments who often try and race me. I always challenge them to run a mile with me and funnily enough they always back off.

Oh and I did have a car drive into me once, although that was because the driver was looking the other way and I wasn’t hurt so doesn’t really count as harassment!

I would be really interested to know if you have endured any kind of harassment, either friendly or not so friendly, and what did you do about it? Did you retaliate or ignore it and did it make you change your running routes at all?

Let’s be careful out there!