2015 is coming to a close rather quickly. Although I would like to think that 2015 wasn’t terribly exciting – in writing this post, I’ve discovered that even without a marathon, 2015 was quite a year! In this post I will recap my races, friendships, volunteering and experiences that I had all related to running!.
I learned quite a bit about my running-self in 2014: Learned that I was capable of running a marathon but also capable of getting an injury. 2015, I tried to plan my season by taking into account my strengths, but also time constraint issues as well. For example, I will probably never run a spring marathon unless I happen to make it to Boston one of these years. Running in the winter is problematic and so is my heavy track season from March-June. I reserve the longer distance races for the Fall, having the entire summer to train properly. So, when planning for 2015, I decided to concentrate on the 5K and 10K in the spring and the half and full marathon in the Fall. If you have been following along, you would know that the marathon did not happen this year, but I still managed to PB in the half marathon. Actually, I PB’d the 5K, 8K and 10K this year. The PB’s in the 5K and 10K are the ones I am most proud of. There are certain times that we seem to consider as “breakthrough PB’s”: sub-30 5K, sub-25 5K, sub-60 10K, Sub 2:00 half marathon, etc. I had a mission this year to go below 25:00 for the 5K and 55:00 for the 10K. It took me awhile to get that sub-25 in the 5K, but Around the Bay’s 5K proved the perfect race to get under 25 minutes. Getting below 55 minutes in the 10K was definitely possible, but would be an over 13 minute PB from the last time I attempted the 10K in 2012. The Sporting Life 10K was a struggle of a race, but I just sneaked under 55 minutes despite running in the humid conditions.
The next PB’s I wanted to attempt were the half and full marathons: Army Run for the half and STWM for the full. Unfortunately a nagging injury meant I took almost all of August off, and I felt it was best to concentrate on the 5K for Army Run and the half for STWM. I seem to not be having the best of luck with the 5K at Army Run. The last time I ran the 5K race in 2013, I had to manoeuvre around construction and hundreds of runners coming down the wrong street as they made a wrong turn. This year, the course was just a smidgen too long and I finished with one of the slowest 5K times I’ve had in awhile, despite having great KM 1-4 times. Oh well! STWM was a blast, but unfortunately my bathroom issues caused me to stop for over 5 minutes resulting in my time not being where I wanted it. Still a PB, but I really wanted to be under 2:10.
I tried some new races this year: Sporting Life 10K, Nike Run Toronto and STWM. I enjoyed the experience of the Nike Run, despite having to be at the race silly early. STWM was definitely a highlight of the year as it felt like one giant running party. It is no surprise that I am already registered for 2016. I also ran some races that I tend to run yearly: Manotick Miler, where I was pacing the 5 miler and Ottawa Race Weekend, where I attempted the run the 5K and 10K back to back. I always enjoy Ottawa Race Weekend as I usually race one day and volunteer the next. 2016 is looking like another exciting year as I attempt to go sub 2:00 in the half marathon and I’m part of Team Awesome!
What I learned this year about my racing is that I still favour the shorter races: the 5K and the 10K. I like the speed and being closer to the front of the pack. Although this year’s Army Run 5K was a bit of a disappointment, I really enjoyed the experience of being in the fastest corral. Running STWM’s half marathon course this year did prove that I have the ability to run a decent half marathon and that going under 2:00 is a definite possibility, especially considering that I ran a very minimalist training plan. Other than the bathroom issue, I felt great for a majority of the race. I did not make it past 17K in training due to my 8 week condensed training plan, and therefore struggled in the last 3K. In planning my 2016 half marathon, I know I have to run my long runs a bit longer. I still struggle with deciding to run a marathon again. I am signed up for the full for STWM, but might make the change to the half later on in the year. I’m just unsure about the race. However, looking back at 2012-2014, I did say the same thing about the half marathon.
Races in 2015:
2015 was an exciting year as I was a race ambassador for STWM. With that role, I made so many new running friends. However, through social media and this blog, I also made other friends from all over Ontario/the United States. Running for me is almost exclusively a solo-activity. I run mainly during the work day whenever I have a spare hour/after work before picking up Max. My schedule does not really mesh with most other people’s schedules, so I run alone. This year, although I still mainly ran alone, I felt like I had lots of friends running virtually with me. Having some running friends makes things a bit easier. You can navigate race expos together, share travel expenses and support one another. The support piece is huge, especially for runners who are new to the sport or tackling a new distance. I always enjoy cheering other runners on, either in person or virtually. At Ottawa Race Weekend this year, I tried to spot as many marathoner-friends as possible as I supervised a water station. During Boston and NYC this year, I virtually cheered on a number of runners.
This year, I also met many people at every single race that I went to. Looking back at my race calendar, there was not a single race where I did not meet a running friend. Even at OFSAA Track and OFSAA Cross Country, I met up with some running friends. STWM and Nike Toronto were like running parties where I was part of a large group of “running friends”. I spent about 8 hours at the STWM expo and talked to so many people. It was a great day! I still ran all of my races solo with the exception of the Ottawa Beer Run where Don and I ran (and drank!) together for the second year in a row. I still have a list of running friends that I still need to meet: hopefully in 2016!
As much as I love racing, I also love volunteering. I spend at least one night a week coaching 14-17 year old athletes with the Ottawa Lions. It is a completely volunteer gig (a majority of the coaches are volunteers) and has been a great experience. I do wish I could spend more time coaching but that time will come when Max is a bit older and can join the Lions in the kid’s groups. I also coach high school teams (again, all volunteer). I coached both a track and field team and a cross country team this year. 2016 is gearing up to be an interesting year as I moved schools and will be coaching another high school’s track team for the first time since moving here. Coaching track is “Mommy’s Night off”. It is the only day of the week I don’t have to pick up Max. So yes, rather than going to a book club or fitness class, I go and spend some time with some teenagers 🙂
The other side of volunteering is volunteering at races in the Ottawa area. I have volunteered a number of times with inStride events. This year, I signed up for be a Pace Bunny for the Manotick Miler. I was asked to pace a faster pace this year, which made me very nervous. I was able to perfectly pace the race despite being worried that I would struggle. I also was able to supervise a water station at the Ottawa Marathon this year. I previously ran a station in 2013. In 2013, I struggled to find the 45+ student-volunteers to join me at 5:30am on a Sunday. This year, I had a waiting list! I taught Careers Studies in the winter of 2015, and asked students if they were interested in taking part as part of their mandatory 40 hours of community service. Most of my three classes signed up, with additional students. Some even had their 40 hours already and just wanted to take part. I was so impressed with the students this year. Not only were they enthusiastic, but they showed up at 5:45am all excited and chatty. Because I was a bit more experienced with water stations this time, I had our water station organized perfectly. Everyone had a role and we were set up well before the elites ran by. We even had too much water set up! Therefore a water fight might have occurred while cleaning up. This year, I am back to running on the Sunday so I’m not sure I will be able to supervise this year – but I look forward to volunteering on the Saturday!
Although I have been racing and volunteering since 2010, I haven’t had many other “running related experiences” that don’t fit those two categories. This year, I had so many amazing opportunities to participate in that it really made my 2015 year. We started off the “year of fun” in March when I arrived at the indoor track to see Lanni Marchant completing her training workout. Nothing makes your own legs run faster than having your running idol being on the track at the same time (and being passed by her!). I saw her again a few months later at the outdoor track and this time had enough courage to go and say hi. I also asked if it were possible to come to my school and give a talk to my Careers Class and Grade nine girls phys ed class about leading a double life. Lanni had the class silent and paying attention for almost 70 minutes that day. The students really liked her, and thought it was awesome that she won the Canadian 10K Championship at Ottawa Race Weekend that weekend.
Following the excitement of my spring races, I signed up for Nike Toronto and the Jazz Run, a STWM tune-up Run. Both events were more like fun gatherings with running friends. Being a STWM Digital Champion introduced me to many great experiences and new friends. Even though the weather was hot and humid during the Jazz Run, I think we all had fun! STWM in October brought the season to a close nicely. We all tried to meet up at the expo and before the race. I think we had over 20 runners in our group that Sunday Morning, wishing each other luck before the race. I also went to the Running Room Friendship run on the Saturday Morning. I really enjoyed being a race ambassador for STWM. For 2016, I’m already assigned to Team Awesome, a group of runners training for Run Ottawa 2016. I’ve already been on one fun run with them and look forward to going to the Saturday Runs in the spring.
I’ve already mentioned meeting Lanni – but I also got to meet Krista Duchene again this year. Actually, I spoke to her twice. Once at the Ottawa Race Weekend expo and again at STWM. At STWM she even recognized me! I almost always say hi to Running Room CEO, John Stanton when he is at the expos. I also said hello to Natasha Wodak at Ottawa Race Weekend. There was also getting to high five Desi Linden at the Pan Am games. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m all about supporting our Canadian athletes, especially women runners. I’m hoping to meet a number of other Canadian elites this year and well, if you don’t like my “Team Canada” tweets, I would suggest muting me at Olympic time 🙂
Speaking of Pan Am Games, that experience was something else! As soon as I found out that Lanni and Natasha were running the 10,000m, I started talking to my Mom about going. We bought our tickets fairly early, which is why we had those sweet front row seats at the 200m start line. The night was amazing. The energy from the crowd was huge. When Lanni was finishing up the last 5 laps of the 10,000m, the cheering and foot stomping followed her along the track. Seeing Lanni medal at the Pan Am games was a highlight, and so was seeing Damian Warner win gold in the decathlon and smashing the Canadian Record. The next day, I bought another front row ticket to watch the Friday AM events. I went solo that day, but made friends with the people around me who were all “omg you actually know people” when I mentioned I was there to cheer on the Ottawa Lions athletes.
A few days before the 10,000m, Lanni Marchant asked people on Facebook and Twitter if they wanted to go on a shake out run followed by beers on Saturday morning. Lucky for me, I was at my parents already who kindly watched Max (again) so I could go running and have a beer with Lanni. We were a smallish group of just over 20 runners which was perfect. We ran just over 3K at a brisk and even saw Bruny Surin. It was a great morning!
Although I might be a little disappointed about my leg issues in the summer and having to drop out of the marathon, 2015 was a great year. I earned PB’s in three distances, tried some new races and had many great experiences. 2015 was a year where I really saw this little blog grow a bit. I like that my blog is small – I do not make money off this blog, but have had many great opportunities available because of this blog (and my crazy fan-twittering). I am very much looking forward to 2016 and hopefully smashing all those PB’s again. 2016 is an Olympic year and I’ve already put “OLYMPIC TIME” on my shared iCalendar to tell P that I must not be without TV/Internet (in 2012, we booked camping – which I rescheduled). This Olympic season is a little different as I do know many athletes who are hoping to make the Canadian Team!
I hope everyone had a great 2015 season!