Thursday, June 28, 2012

three things thursday - the end of june edition

Hello Thursday! I guess it is three things time!

1- It may be Thursday, but it is like Friday to me. I have four glorious days off in a row. I can't wait. Yes, I have school work to do, but at least I can get a little extra sleep!

2 - Oh - and I'm running a 10 km race this weekend. But mostly for fun. Sort of as a baseline so that I can do some 10 k training this summer and see what I can do once the fall comes. It is supposed to be warm - so hopefully it isn't TOO warm.

3 - I always say that I have poor fine motor skills. Fiddly tasks are really hard for me (or maybe I lack the patience for them?) so it isn't surprising that I generally can't do my hair in any sort of interesting way. My sister is great at doing hair and I wish I could do half of what she can. Recently though, she's sent me videos of things that I can probably manage. I was very proud when I managed to do this:
i can't french braid - but I can twist!
I even sent her pictures of my progress - a crappy one and then this one. I bet she laughed.

For the Canadians - Happy Canada Day Weekend! (or in Quebec - Moving Day weekend...) Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

thoughts while running

When I was in elementary school, I read a book called Surr√©al 3000 by Suzanne Martel. The story was about a society that lived under Mount Royal in Montreal. From what I remember, they lived underground because of some sort of nuclear fallout or disaster of some sort. Regardless of the reason, they were warned about going to the surface and it was seen as dangerous and scary. Out of all the French books I read in school, this is probably the one I think about or am reminded of the most. 

Sunday morning we (my usual running crew and I) headed to Mount Royal park to go for a run. Running there involves a lot of running up hill, but it is such a beautiful place to run that it is always  worth it. As the three of us were about to head back down the hill after a lovely run, we passed two women in their 60s (I think) for the second or third time. Suz said "that will be us at that age ladies" and Liz agreed. I didn't say anything because all of a sudden the first thing that popped into my head was "as long as we aren't living under the mountain..."

Sometimes even I don't understand myself...

What is one of the strangest things you've found yourself thinking on the run?

Friday, June 22, 2012

running in the heat - always humbling

This week has been pretty hot and quite humid around these parts. According to the weather network, the temperatures "felt like" it was in the 40s (however for an interesting piece that mocks us for inflating our temperatures so, check out this article...I think I'll take Montreal over Ghana or Death Valley) and definitely had me feeling like the "popped" corn:
heat makes me cranky
When it is hot, I try to adjust my running accordingly. This week I decided that my best bet was to run early. I did it twice and the two runs couldn't have been more different.

Run 1 was horrible. Here's what I did right: left before 6 am, brought water, tweeted about how horrible it was when I got home. Here's what I did wrong: thought I could run a few tempo miles in air that felt like soup, actually tried to run said tempo miles, beat myself up when it didn't work very well. My legs felt like lead, I had a hard time catching my breath, and I felt like garbage. I did 5 miles, it felt like 15, and by the time I was finished, I was so sweaty that the white part of my shirt was pretty much transparent. I got home feeling defeated and tired. The tweet? Well, they say misery loves company. It was nice to get a reminder that I was not horribly out of shape, but rather had unrealistic expectations for my run.

Run number 2? Much better. Here's what I did right: left before 6 am, brought ice water, brought company, found ways to make it fun. Here's what I did wrong: not much. Instead of trying to run fast? We all agreed it was a slow day. We all ran with the attitude that we were just happy to be out running on a lovely Thursday morning. We chatted, we tried to ignore the heat, and the best part? We found a way to make it fun:

I highly recommend running through sprinklers. It was probably the best part of my day.

How are you in the heat - do you love it or does it make you wilt? Any hot weather tips?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

new balance 890 v2 - a review

Now that I've been running in them for about a month, I thought I'd let you know what I think of the NB 890s. I could have done this earlier, I suppose, but I wanted to make sure I ran in them more than just a couple of times in order to really know how I felt about them. Just in case you want the "official" description of the shoes:
The New Balance 890 v2 provides innovative style in a lightweight package. This neutral shoe takes a "less is more" approach with its simple midsole platform and soft seamless upper, for a quick and nimble feel on the road. Works great for uptempo days and as a lightweight trainer. (source)
Just in case you were keeping score (yeah - I don't expect you to know what shoes I run in), this is my third style of NB shoes (I reviewed the other two styles, the 759/880 and the 1880, here) and definitely the lightest weight shoe I have ever run in.

For me, it is definitely not an "every day trainer." I generally need a shoe with a little more cushion for the long runs - which I think is why the first time I ran more than 4 miles in them (my second or third run in them), I started to really feel the road on the soles of my feet. It wasn't a terrible feeling, more of a distinct awareness that yes, I was running on a hard surface and not in a cushioned shoe.

ready to run
For speedwork and tempo running (and for races up to 10 km), however, this seems to be a pretty good option for me. I have been enjoying being able to feel the ground a little more when I'm trying to run faster and less weight is always a bonus when trying to run fast.

Thumbs up: light, can feel the ground, love the flashy colours (and love the red Canadian edition).
Thumbs down: they aren't quite as breathable as some of the other shoes I have so when it is super hot so are my feet (this is the same complaint I have for the 1880s but not for the 880s), don't come in AA (however, the regular width seems to be working for me)

a percentage of the sales go to support our marathoners
You may remember that I got these shoes for free.* (Did you know that Canada is one of two countries to get a special country edition 890? The other is England...and well, they're hosting the Olympics so they get special everything this year.) So I think the real question is - would I buy a pair. My answer: I would. Would I buy them for regular price? Probably not - but I pretty much refuse to buy any running shoe that's not on sale or without some sort of coupon because I'm thrifty like that and I know that there is almost always a deal to be had in running shoes. Plus, with both of us running, we spend a lot of money on shoes.
the women's version has some yellow, the men's does not
So there you have it. The NB 890 v2 - too light for me for an every day shoe, but a good speedy option.

Do you have "fast shoes"? Do they make you feel faster when you wear them?

*Yes, I got them for free AND I said something nice about them. If I didn't like them, I would tell you...but you'll just have to take my word for that. I was not told I had to review the shoes or say nice things about them in exchange for getting them for free, but I thought you might like to know what I thought of them.

Monday, June 18, 2012

tour de lac brome - first trail race

I first found out about the Tour de Lac Brome last June. I was looking for local races but heard about it a little too late and couldn't justify the $50 entry fee. Since then, I have been obsessed with the "duck race" so I was very excited to finally be there this weekend.

After a much longer than anticipated drive out to Lac Brome due to construction traffic and an accident that closed a stretch of the highway, we arrived with plenty of time to pick up our bibs and to watch the kids (ages 7-15) 2km trail race. We could tell by their muddy legs (and the fact that one kid crossed the finish line carrying one of his shoes) that it was muddy on the trail, but really had no idea what the course was like. Since we didn't want to bring the camera out with us on the course, I decided to pose for a picture that created what I figured I'd look like on the trail. And yes, I know my colours coordinate beautifully - I'll be happy dispense fashion advice to all who need it:
apparently i figured i'd be catching flies out on the trail
Since it was the first time I'd ever been part of a trail race, I was especially thankful for the pre-race meeting where the race director told us to follow the arrows (the arrow pointing to the left meant go left...who would have thought?) and to follow the flagging tape. He assured us that there was a LOT of flagging tape out there so we shouldn't have any problems. He was right. Even if I had been out there alone with no one to follow, it would have been easy to find my way. Once the meeting was done, we were off!

I hadn't done much to specifically prepare for a trail race other than to buy bug spray, remember to bring a hat, and tie my shoes extra tight in case of mud. I somewhat regretted not running a few more hills in the last few weeks when I was out on the course, but since I was just out there to have fun and not break my face on a tree, I was ok with being a little slower and doing a little more huffing and puffing than I'd normally like to do.

The best part though was all the mud! When we hit the first mud section, a few of the people around us were not so impressed and tried to go around it. I decided to run right through it and was treated to mud up to my mid-calf. There were several similar sections throughout the loop - and then we got to do it again! (it was a two loop course) Since much of the trail was uneven and soft, the second pass through it was tougher - my legs were getting tired and it was harder to get through all that mud.

pretty muddy - glad for the calf sleeves
In one of the first muddy sections of the second loop I ended up knee deep, which brought me pretty much to a stop, and had Jordan not been right next to me to help pull me up, I probably would have ended up face-planting into the mud pit. While that would have made for a great post-race picture, I was glad to stay on my feet. It wrenched my right quad a bit though and I was definitely feeling it for the next kilometre or so (and I'm feeling it a little today as well).

There were definitely a few sections in which I slowed to a walk to avoid falling or injuring myself and the last steep uphill kicked my ass a bit. But by the time we were heading down the last descent in the woods, I was still smiling and trying to run it in as fast as I could. When we came out of the forest and had to do the last 400 or so meters on the road, I saw a lady in pink up ahead and decided I needed to pass her before the end. Ahead of her was a lady in blue and I thought "but I probably don't have enough kick to get past blue shirt." Once I made it to pink-shirt, Jordan said "ok, now time for the lady in blue." Clearly, he had NOT heard what I had been thinking before...but I decided to give it a try. Sure enough, I caught up with blue and passed her. Just after I did that, I felt her surge a bit and thought "sorry lady, this last 400m has made me feel like barfing a bit...there's no way I'm letting you get by me" and managed to beat her to the line. I finished feeling slightly barfy but smiling.

Even though I was super muddy from the knees down, I don't think I got a speck of mud on my shorts or my shirt.
sweaty, muddy, and smiling
Overall - it was a great time! The race was really well organized - from parking, to bib pick up, to bag check, to post-race meal - no complaints at all. They do an entire weekend of events (including a "weekend marathon" where you run 22.2 km on Saturday and 20 km on Sunday) and they do a great job of it. As long as the timing works out, I'll be back next year. Plus, a race that feeds you dinner with a beer gets two thumbs up.
duck race!
Definitely a successful first trail race. It made me want to run more trails and made me want to come back for more. Thanks for a great experience Tour de Lac Brome!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

run ottawa

I spent Monday through Wednesday in Ottawa for work and for the first time in quite awhile, I got to run along the canal. Even though it was hot and muggy, I loved every second of it. I have spent so much time on those canal paths. Ottawa is where I learned to run. Those canal paths were where I learned to push myself, where I learned to embrace pain, and where I learned to pull back a little when things didn't quite feel right.
rideau canal
I feel like I know every stretch and every corner of those paths. I have struggled through tough runs, run with random strangers, and grinned through first runs back from injuries on those canal paths. I've laughed on those paths, cried on those paths, and even had one of my closest friendships start on those paths. I fell in love with running along that canal - so it is always nice to go back to where it all started and think about how far I've come.

Is there anywhere that makes you feel like you're back where something great began?

Monday, June 11, 2012

life is a highway

In the spirit of "My Running Shorts," I'm giving this one a song title heading.

We spent this weekend in Vermont. As usual, it was a great time. There is something about Vermont that just makes me feel happy, calm, and relaxed. As I sat on my aunt and uncle's porch with my family, listened to my niece babble, felt the cool breeze, and heard the wind chimes, I thought "this is one of my happy places." Plus, being there means I get to run here:
it smells as beautiful as it looks
It was nice to get away from work, take a couple of days off of thinking about school, and just sit and be still for a few days. And see pretty much my entire family - also fun.

Now it is back to reality, back to the business of being in Ottawa for work for a few days, an assignment due on Friday (and another on July 31st), and getting going on my thesis. Oh - and a trail race on Saturday! (but that should be fun). I'm glad last night was a beautiful evening to drive home - provided a little extra calm before the storm.

sunset over the blurry city
beautiful evening through a dirty windshield
How was your weekend? Any moments of calm?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

a morning run - in numbers

Number of times I hit snooze this morning: 2 (maybe 3 - I may have pushed the button in my sleep once)
Time I headed out the door: 5:50 AM
Number of minutes run (I didn't bring my garmin so I'm not 100% sure how many miles): about 40
Number of other runners seen: 4 and a half (there was a guy running from the bus to the metro station...he almost counts)
Number of other women running alone: 0 (this is the first time I've done an early morning run by myself)
Number of cyclists seen: 12 (most in full gear)
Number of names I learned: 2 (2 of the cyclists, Conrad and Derek, were talking really loudly to each other)
Number of mattresses seen on the side of the road: 3 (it is garbage day and they'll take pretty much anything here)
Number of times I was almost hit by a car: 1 (yes, even at 6 am, Montreal drivers still suck)
Number of people in the aforementioned car: 6 and they ALL gave me the stink eye for giving them the stink eye
Number of people sleeping on the sidewalk: 1 (I live close to downtown ok?)
Number of times I wished I had stayed in bed: 0

All in all, a successful early morning run. Any numbers to report? Are you a fan of early morning runs?

And just to make you laugh - a random picture I took the other week when I was in Ottawa. I wonder who this guy is...

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

national running day?

According to the internet, it is "National Running Day." (and their website is slow...and features Rachel Ray) As a Canadian, I'm never sure if these national days apply to me. Since the definition of the word is "Of or relating to a nation; common to or characteristic of an entire nation" I figure the word "national" applies to a single country - most likely the USA. But when you check the website, there are group "National Run Day" runs in the US, a few in Canada, in Mexico, and a few other countries (even Germany I think).
wish i could run here today
So here's my question - are we (runners) just stupid and don't understand what the word "national" means? Or is someone trying to imply that runners are somehow a nation and we should all hold hands, sing kumbaya, and change the world - one national running day at a time? Regardless. I hope it is a beautiful day for a run. Wherever you are and whatever your national identity.

Monday, June 04, 2012

a short weekend

Most weekends are too short - this past one for me though? Definitely too short since I had to work on Saturday. I was at a conference this weekend (well this Thursday through Saturday) which meant that I had to put on real clothes, real shoes, take the metro downtown, and be "on" for three days. I also had to give part of a presentation...which I managed to do without getting my patented "reverse nervousness" in which I get progressively nervous throughout the presentation. Definitely a win!

there's something the neighbourhood...
The best thing about the commuting for three days? They guy in the metro tunnel that sang at the top of his lungs. Day one was the Imperial March from Star Wars (complete with dialogue afterward) , day two was the Ghostbusters theme song, and day three he was unfortunately absent. I guess he doesn't work weekends. The worst thing about commuting for three days? Some lady fell onto my foot (with her foot)...very hard. She was very apologetic. So apologetic that I had to turn away so that she wouldn't see just how much pain I was in. I have a large, shoe shaped bruise on the top of my foot. Apparently, commuting is dangerous.

On the running front, most of team awesome seems to have recovered well from race weekend. We all went for a "family run" yesterday (we missed you Sean!) and enjoyed an easy and casual run along the canal. Jordan is still a little sore - but I guess that's what a 2:54 marathon will do to you.
well done
I've got two more weeks of business, and then I'll be on the other side of my 6 weeks of madness. I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Though that might just be the crazy setting in. I wouldn't be surprised if that's actually what that is...

Happy Monday folks! What was the oddest thing that happened to you this weekend?