Thursday, December 27, 2012

Huge progress despite minor setbacks

Apologies for the delayed blog. Prepping for and then enjoying the holidays can be rather time consuming! Before I launch into giving you a training update, I have amazing news: a huge TNT fundraising announcement to make. I just received an incredible $1500 corporate sponsorship from Deloitte Management Service LLP. I am absolutely thrilled! My sister works for this company and they offered the sponsorship in support of her, knowing that I am running to honour the memory of her late husband, Francois. What a beautiful gift to her from her workplace, and such a beautiful gift from one sister to another. I am ecstatic that this sponsorship will be acknowledged further by having their corporate logo screened on the back of my jersey and all jerseys of every one of my TNT teammates this summer as well. And I'm thrilled to know that there are companies that give back to the community and support worthy causes like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

I am so excited to see that I have now reached 79% of my fundraising goal of $4000 to benefit blood cancer research and patient services. 

Here is a photo of my sister, Sabana, presenting me with the cheque. We just happened to be dolled up for a pre-wedding gathering, so this picture is doubly awesome.

I also received a very generous corporate donation from BC Financial Solutions Wealth & Estate Planning, the financial planning firm co-owned by my brother, Nadir, and his business partner, Jackie. They are both fantastic at what they do,  and are committed to supporting their local community. They sponsored me both as a company and as individuals. Thank you!

In addition to the above-mentioned corporate sponsors, I would like to acknowledge the following family and friends for their recent sponsorship:
  • My beautiful Auntie Gillian
  • My dear cousin, Farah
  • My cousin, Aamir, who I have not seen in ages!
  • My wonderful friend from UBC days, Negin
  • My cheerful friend and running buddy, Patti
  • My cousin Faiz, Saeed's brother, whom I reconnected with in San Francisco this past October
  • My lovely running friend, Jess
  • My hilarious brother-in-law, Morgan
  • My good friend and TNT alumna, Rebecca
  • All the many friends and colleagues who purchased prints of my artwork! I've made close to $600 in art sale profits to benefit my fundraising!
Thank you! You've all helped me exceed my goal of raising $2000 in 2012, getting me to 50% of my total goal of $4000. But as I'm now well over $3000 raised, I have decided to ambitiously raise my total goal, to $5000. I'm already 63% of the way there. What do you think? Why raise $4000, when I can raise $5000. I already have myself in some public markets to sell my art work and have ideas brewing in mind for some events.

As for my training update... my other goal for 2012 was to run 2000km for the year. It should have been no issue to get there, and surpass it in healthy fashion, but December 2012 has proven to be a month of setbacks. First my left foot where I have a bunion started to give me severe pain. I had to stay clear of running for a good week while it calmed down. I think I was running a bit too long in my New Balance 880 shoes, with over 600km on them. They seemed ok, but clearly weren't; I knew I was pushing it a bit.  Since taking them out of rotation, running only in newer shoes, and regularly icing my foot, the pain is gone and my foot feels as though it is back to normal. 

But then this past Saturday, setback number 2 took place. I went out for a run with some friends and we ended up on an icier street than what we imagined it would be. Right in front of a police station (of all places, the sidewalks weren't cleared of the snow, which turned into a sheet of ice after days of cold rain.  While I slowed down considerably and tried to watch my footing, I slipped badly and landed harder on my tailbone than I ever have. I feared I broke or fractured my tailbone, but it is clear I was lucky to just get a bad bruise. Not a comfortable thing for running! I tried a short run a couple days later but it felt terrible. Yesterday I went a bit further and the 8km I ran didn't entirely suck, until I went downhill and gravity was doing its thing. I'm confident I'll feel better soon, and I'm just 11km shy of the 2000km goal. I'll get that in no time at all with a few days to get there.


Please support my TNT journey by following my blog here. If you wish to sponsor my fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, please click the "sponsor me" button on this web page, or visit

Every $50 donation made before February 1st enters your name into a draw to win an iPad mini

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

30% of my goal

I'm getting right back into training hard again after a relaxing couple weeks since my last race. I'm easing my way back in so it's not too much too soon, given the time off, given that the next races aren't for about 6 weeks and 8 weeks respectively, and given my schedule and how I've been feeling physically. I think I pushed things a bit too far on one pair of running shoes, so it's time to take them out of rotation to see if it'll make a difference to my left foot that's caused me some significant pain the last few days. I am running less now and cross-training more to give my foot rest. Hopefully I will be able to increase my running days next week. 

I've started to think about increasing the mileage of my long runs when my foot allows, not just so I'm ready for my next half in February, but also so transitioning into full-on marathon training is a little easier. While that race feels far away, it'll get here soon, and I want to be the readiest possible. And the excitement for the race is already huge, especially since within a few weeks of trying hard, I'm at 30% of my fundraising goal, well on my way to raising $4000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge my generous sponsors to date. I've been overwhelmed by support and have made some really great sales off my art prints. Then there are the friends and family members who've given so generously early on in my campaign, to give me a head start, and lift pressure off my shoulders. Thank you for supporting me and my journey, but most importantly, thank you for believing with me that a future without cancer is possible.

Without further delay, here are some of my amazing sponsors:

  • Cil: An absolutely beautiful woman, teacher, and mother. I met Cil when we were in the Teacher Education program at UBC and we got super close back then. I've been lucky enough to connect with Cil a few times since then despite our geographic distance. I've always been blown away for Cil's strength of character, her unrelenting love for her family and friends, and the way she's never shy to support those around her who need it. You've always been there for me. Thank you!
  • Kristy: I haven't seen Kristy in person in a few years, but we've stayed in contact via social media after working together at UBC years ago. Kristy is an incredible woman, mother to the cutest kid ever, and today I learned the details of her health journey. Both Kristy and her husband, Marty, have had an incredible journey to health very much like my own. I'm thrilled to have them in my network, because they truly get what an accomplishment this is. The 3 of us have so much to be proud of. Thank you for your support, kindness, and congratulations!!!
  • Carolle: Carolle is an incredible woman too! The mother of Francois, my brother-in-law we lost about 15 years ago, and a mother-figure to my sister. Carolle, thank you for all your love, all your kindness, for truly being there for my sister, and for being such an important part of our family. Merci beaucoup!
  • Saeed: Saeed is my cousin whom I've mentioned here before, and on my Team In Training page. Saeed's personal journey with lymphoma is one I am looking forward to learning more about over the coming months. It will help me further my understanding of the work LLS is doing. And I look forward to reconnecting in person to run this race with him. Thank you, Saeed, for allowing me to do this race in your honour, and I am so excited for this journey together. 
  • Christian: One of my awesome colleagues at LLSC whose smiling face is one I look forward to seeing at the office. Thank you for all you do in the office behind the scenes to enhance the work we do, and for your history with the organization and commitment to the mission. You seriously rock!
  • Matt: What can I say, Matt, you're one of my closest friends, and someone I know I can always count on. We met at a concert because of our mutual appreciation for the Canadian band, Sloan. The rest is history, but Matt continuously amazes me with his friendship. Thank you! 
Thank you!!!

If you wish to sponsor me, and contribute to lifesaving cancer research, please visit:


Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Mission. One Goal.

I'm feeling so energized today. I'm relaxing on the couch at my friends Jennifer and Casey's home in Calgary, enjoying a day off. I'm staring at the window watching the snow fall. I'm aware of how cold it is out there today, and a little unwilling to go face the elements. I did go running the other day in the cold, and survived, but today is even colder. And snowier. I am opting to stay inside and reflect. I have much to look forward to. A few smaller races coming up: a 8K and a couple half marathons. All the while though, training for my next marathon - possibly my most special one ever.

I spent the last two days at a conference in Banff, surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains. How could I not be reflective, seeing such beauty! And this conference was really like no other I'd ever experienced. Unlike conferences I'd been to in previous positions in my career that appeared to be just talk, this one was about concrete action. It was  actual steps we are going to take at LLSC to do what we do better. It was the "how" to every "what" we discussed. And all tied into the "why". Why is Team In Training raising funds? It is to invest in lifesaving cancer research and in support services for patients and their families. It is because we all have one mission at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - to find a cure for all blood cancers.We are all here for one mission. One goal.

So I'm fired up. I'm ready to do my part. I want to run and celebrate right now as I think about this (but won't because of the cold...). And I want to run with purpose going forward. I want to run for angels like Francois and Walter. I want to run for survivors, like my cousin Saeed. But most importantly, I want to raise funds for the LLSC in addition to the work I'm doing as a staff member. Why? Because I want to do my part in our collective fight. I want to make an impact. I believe that a world without cancer is possible.

I'll be writing more about those I'm fundraising to honour. I'd like to make that a focus over the coming months as I train for my next marathon - the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon. Please follow my posts here to read more. My blogging experience is a big part of who I am today, and I am excited to share my Team In Training journey with you.


If you wish to sponsor me in my efforts, please visit or click the "Sponsor Me" button at the top of the page.

Thank you for your support! We're getting closer every day!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Race Report: New Balance Fall Classic - November 18th, 2012

Sorry for the delay in getting this report written. It's been quite an exciting week since the race and I've not prioritized my time to make this post happen. I wanted to ensure to have the time to write thoughtfully about this race. It was such a great race experience. I'm so proud of how I did!

It was quite a chilly Sunday morning, not quite as chilly as 2011's Fall Classic Run, but windy, rainy, and still rather cool. There were massive puddles all over the course, and lots of really great cheerful people excited to take on the last great race of the year. It was also my last race of the year, totaling my tally to 6 races: 4 half marathons and 2 full marathons. By far, 2012 was my most active year, and the year I got to the point of confident declaration that I am an athlete and running is indeed my sport.

So it was fantastic to be able to finish the year on a high, achieving a personal best finish time for a half marathon race. I was aiming for a sub-2-hour half marathon, knowing I'm capable of that, but also knowing that it wasn't for certain I'd get it. I only spent about 3 weeks prior to this race focused on training for it after recovering from my October marathon. So little work was done on speed or at my target race pace. I'm just 3 minutes away from my goal now. I finished this race in 2:03:11 (my chip time) and I couldn't be prouder!

 Sure, the 32 seconds I shaved off my previous best isn't a lot of time. But I felt so strong this race - probably the strongest I've ever felt at a race. Regardless of the cold, the wet, the big crowds out there on at times a narrow course, I never felt the urge to stop. I pushed myself, but yet felt like it was never too much to handle. The speed was comfortable and right. I kept my pace consistent. Looking at my Garmin after and examining what took place at each km, I did notice 2km I took a little too fast and another 2km I took too slow. But otherwise, pretty consistent, and something I can be confident I can do again and build on that success further for next time. Between now and my February race, I'll have plenty of time to work on speed and practice my pacing. I'm excited!

The race was fantastic. I had tons of fun! And the race organizers at TOIT Events were a blast to work with. They helped Team In Training with a ton of publicity at this race in exchange for me helping staff the race with volunteers. As a result, I knew a whole lot of people on the course cheering, as well as having several TNT friends on the course running the race for themselves. I had lots of people to say hi to and to cheer me on to a strong finish.

I'm definitely going to run this one again. Not sure if I will in 2013 but I'll definitely be back. It's a fun race with a nice community vibe. And there's a great energy with this group of runners, enjoying their last chance to race a half in Vancouver for the year.

And then there's the 10K race too, which is the race I did last year at the Fall Classic. So that adds to the numbers out there on the course and the excitement. I remember last year running my 10K in about 57 minutes, and I knew if I could do that pace again, I could be on target for a sub-2-hour half marathon. I was pleased to hear my watch ding 10K with me clocking just barely 57 min. I was doing the same pace as a year ago, but going more than twice the distance. That was a moment of proud realization on how far I've come.

With my friend and fellow TNTer, Nancy after getting our bling.


What's next? A few shorter races and then my next big marathon! This one in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. If you'd like to support me, please follow the "sponsor me" tab at the top of the page, or click here. Thank you!

Friday, November 9, 2012

New goals

2012 has been a great year for running! On exactly January 1st, I started training for my first marathon. Every day after that, right up until race day in May, was focused on that marathon. The day after that, I basked in the afterglow of having completed my first ever 26.2 mile race (read that as I  suffered the pain of having to recover from a marathon!). It was very much a day focused on a marathon - on being a marathoner at last! And then the very next day, I registered for my 2nd marathon, making every day after that focused on that race. Every day since January 1st, right up until October 7th had marathon on the mind, on my heart, and on every thing I would do.

It's been a month since I ran my last marathon race. And yes, as a result, my blog posts have been less frequent. And I've been a bit more relaxed. I've been running a bit less. But I need to clarify that I do in fact have running goals. By most people's standards, I've still been running lots. My current goals may not be as big or lofty in the short term, but my eyes are on the prize for something big in the long term. This is what I have in mind to work on in the coming while:

  • My next half marathon! I am running the New Balance Fall Classic in about 8 days time. I am hoping to reap the rewards of my recent marathon training and go kick this race's butt. I've been working on speed again, which I'd not really focused on much of late, in hopes to achieve a new PB at this coming race. Let's see if I can. I've only been officially training for this race a few weeks, so I'm keeping expectations low. I know I'll have more opportunities to get my goal time.
  • 2 more half marathons.... yes, I've become one of "them". One of those runners who can whip off half marathons with little thought. They're not at all about completion anymore but about having some serious fun and trying to better my finish time. So here are two more opportunities to try! The distance is just enough to be a respectable challenge, trying to maintain speed over a longer distance. Yet it is something I can  train for relatively easily and recover from. It's enough to keep my weekly mileage high and get some long-ish training runs in so it'll be easier to jump into marathon training mode when needed, but nothing that's going to exhaust me or become a huge commitment. The two half marathons I'll be running are the "First Half" Half Marathon in February and the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Half Marathon in April.
  • Get stronger: I'm working out harder than ever at the gym, at least twice a week, one day focused on lower body, one day focused on upper body. I'm really enjoying the weight training, I love how it makes me feel, I love the adrenaline rush I get from it, and have found that I feel better running now that I've paid attention to strength training. I firmly believe it's contributed to better running posture and form, and made me less prone to lower back pain. No doubt it'll help my legs be marathon ready too and help with my overall health, confidence and well-being.
  • Surpassing 2000km ran during 2012: This wasn't a goal for me previously until I realized it was within reach. A few months ago, on a whim I started tracking my mileage along a map of Canada, like as if I was running a virtual race across the nation. I got super excited when I realized that I had reached Alberta. Kind of cool to cross a border! Then recently I noticed that it wouldn't be realistic to get anywhere super exciting within Canada should I continue my virtual run going East (I'm sorry Manitoba...); it wasn't like I'd reach the Atlantic coast within the year. Canada is simply too big and I am much too busy to try to cross the nation in one year. A friend suggested I go South instead. I had just then completed enough distance to get myself to San Francisco and that excited me. That felt like an accomplishment. I don't think I'll quite make it to San Diego, but I'm now well over 1800km and I know that 2000km will happen well before Dec 31st. I wonder how far I'll get? Any ideas?
  • Did someone say San Diego? My next marathon will be in San Diego! I won't be starting to train for this until February but this race is on my mind now. I will be running the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon, a Race to Benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on June 2nd, 2013. I will be training and fundraising with Team In Training, to do my part in the quest to find a cure for all blood cancers. I will be running this, in part, to honour my cousin Saeed, a lymphoma survivor, who intends to run the half marathon in San Diego with me! We haven't seen each other in about 25 years so, if all works out, this will be a very special reunion. I want this to be a celebration of family, of cancer survival, and of health through running. There are others I'm running for too, and I will tell you their stories. I will blog about this adventure here as well as the many reasons why I've chosen to take on this challenge. And of course, I'll tell you how you can help me! Please stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, please take a look at the art work I am selling to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada: Art to Beat Cancer

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Running Among Angels

In my last post, my race report for my recent marathon, I didn't mention the fact that I ran for Dad. I mentioned it before a few times, but in my race report, I kept my mouth shut about the fact. There's something very emotional about completing a marathon. With or without a person you love on your heart to run for, crossing the finish line brings extreme emotion to the forefront. It's the culmination of months of training, sacrifice, discomfort, and pain followed by hours of enduring whatever circumstances are thrown at you. And I didn't want to make the experience of writing about that race even more difficult by mentioning this was all for Dad, again. Seems silly, doesn't it?

But really, this was a very important part of my experience. And I should have made mention. Now it's on my heart to write, so here I am.

I opted not to wear a photo of Dad on my shirt on race day like I originally wanted to. Decided to keep it quiet and private. I think it was a good decision. In fact, when we register for the race, we're asked to write what we want the announcer to say when you cross the finish line. I requested a line about Dad, but somehow the announcer got my lines mixed up with someone else's lines and said something about me that wasn't true. Guess it wasn't meant to be.

I chose to place Dad on the course. I asked him to station himself on the course right where I needed it most - at the turnaround point at the 23km mark where I'd need to turn around and go back the same way. That would be a mentally tough spot, and 23km is where everything went wrong at my first marathon. And then he could go wherever he felt I needed him. When I was struggling, I asked him to place his angel wings on my back to move me along. I spoke to him as I ran, asked him to offer a smile to keep me strong. He was there cheering me on.

There was a beautiful woman running near me about the same pace as me. She was running for her Mom, and unlike me, she did put a photo on the back of her shirt. She lost her Mom in April of this year. A new loss, and a marathon to run as a tribute to her. I loved it when she'd move ahead of me, so I could look at her shirt. The photo of mother and daughter could have easily been a photo of two sisters. Her own carbon copy, like how I am the carbon copy of my Dad, or so he often told me. I enjoyed running alongside this woman's angel as well as my own.

At the 33km mark when my quads started to cramp, I stopped to stretch and walk. I was ahead of the woman by this time and she caught up to me mid-stretch to say, "you can't stop now. You've been pacing me for 33km. How can I go on without you?" Little did she know that she and her mom had been pacing me for the same 33km. I needed her just as badly. 

I apologized and explained I had to walk off the cramping, that I couldn't go on at the same pace. "I promise I'll catch up. I'll need to see the photo of your Mom again. I'm running for my Dad." I'm not sure I said the last bit out loud, or just in my heart. But regardless, she smiled, and ran ahead of me. This moment made me so determined to get over the pain so I could move again. It was one of the motivating factors at the 38km mark that allowed me to swallow my pain and push hard. I was determined to catch up. I didn't see her again, but the photo of her Mom, her angel, hasn't left my memory. I doubt it ever will.

This past weekend, I had the honour of being part of the Nike Women's Marathon, A Race to Benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as part of my role working with Team In Training. Of course many of our teammates too had their own angels to run for. There's one young woman who like me, lost her father recently. I will never forget the moment she spotted me on the course and ran over to give me a hug. Her eyes were full of tears, and her heart full of love. I found out later that she had just finished seeing our poster placed on the "mission mile" that I put together with photos of our team's honourees. I showed the poster to her beforehand, letting her know that her "Pops" had a special spot at the top of the board. Apparently seeing the board came at the time in the race she needed it most. She told me she felt her Dad there with her that race. And she finished it faster than she's ever finished a race before, because he was there.

I don't know exactly what it is that makes running and honouring a loved one so intuitive. How does running and loving someone have so much synergy? Why does it just make so much sense when they are two completely different things? I think it's that endurance running requires dedication, sacrifice, commitment, strength, and the ability to endure extreme discomfort. That there sounds like love - love too requires dedication, sacrifice, and commitment. And loss of a loved one requires strength and the ability to endure and somehow move forward positively despite the pain. One foot in front of the other. One step at a time. But perhaps it relates to the very reason I love running. Running reminds me that I'm truly alive, that I'm a living being with a beating heart, and strong muscles to move me. Being in touch with myself physically allows me to be truly in touch with myself emotionally. Running reminds me not to take for granted the life I have, knowing that life sometimes ends earlier than fair and forever impacts the lives of loved ones who suffered loss. And running allows me to make sense of my world, my experiences, and my feelings. There's no question why I'd find metaphor in the most difficult running distance I've ever done, the marathon, to the hardest emotional experience I've ever had. And so, I run. I run to honour him. I run to make him proud. I run to feel alive, strong, and heart-healthy for him. I run for me. I run because I don't want to forget.

I run because of angels.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Race Report: GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon - October 7, 2012

I've completed my second marathon, the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon. The pride I feel is absolutely huge. I'm going to do my best to describe that here, but I have a feeling that words will not do justice to how I feel in my heart. Somehow I feel like calling myself a marathoner is a more legitimate claim now, now that I have run more than one of them. I really truly am a marathoner as it's not something I've just done once and will never do again. It's something I have done twice now and am eager to do over and over again, to continue to learn, grown, and achieve.

This time around, experience really played a huge role. There was no doubt in my mind about my ability to finish. I knew exactly what I was in for and how I needed to perform to finish. I gave myself a pep talk about starting my race slow, about taking the first half like a training run, and then pushing myself in the last 10km. And I reacted well to the circumstances I had in front of me. Despite the hardships I fought through on race day, I knew that nothing was going to prevent a strong finish this time around. 

I could visualize my finish the entire race. I could see myself running hard, pumping my fists in the air, and the overwhelming emotion I'd experience the moment I realized I did it. Again. I think this helped me fight through. It also helped me come to my senses whenever I'd get tempted to give in, or give up. I'd see the finish in my mind and say to myself, "no, you're not missing out on this. You've worked hard for this. You've endured worse than this. Suck it up. Get there!"

The only question on my mind was my finish time.  I had to let go of the idea of a faster finish time early on and I'm incredibly proud of how I ran this Sunday because of that. I gave it my all, knowing I wasn't feeling my best. I didn't let finish time discourage me, even when I realized that I was going to finish in over 5 hours. I ran hard, leaving all of me on the course, and most importantly, I maintained a great attitude the entire race. I told myself this, "Don't settle for anything less than the best you can give today. No matter what, this will be another accomplishment. Run this in a way you'll be proud of. You'll still beat your previous race time. You'll have many more marathons to get the time you want."

Despite resting up fairly well in the days leading up to the race, timing was not on my side. I felt a cold coming on Saturday evening, turned in early for the night, but woke up on Sunday, race day morning feeling very rough. My sinuses were completely congested and my energy was absolutely zapped. I reminded myself that while many would use how I felt as an excuse to stay home on the couch, this wasn't me. I am not an excuse maker. Being sick was just an obstacle I was going to need to endure through. I realized early on that my pace was going to have to be a little slower than what I would have wanted. I didn't want to elevate my heart rate and run it too hard. I needed to pace myself in a way that would be sustainable for 42.2km. 

I paced myself well, and was on pace for a 4:45 finish. Then at about the 33km mark, cramps started to develop in my quad muscles like they did in my first marathon. I had another 9km to go, and maintained my poise. I told myself, "that's 10km less of pain than last time, you CAN and WILL do this". I needed to stop to stretch a few times, had to walk a few short downhill portions, but otherwise I kept running, at a slow jog of about 7:30min/km, ignoring the pain as best I could until it got so unbearable, I had no choice but to stop to stretch again. I did not let disappointment or emotion get to me. I just did what I needed to do. I knew it was going to be an over 5 hour finish. I took a deep breath at this realization, pushed aside negativity and decided I was ok with this. Why? Finishing a marathon is always a huge accomplishment. And finishing this marathon would be something to be proud of for the rest of my life.

By the time I got to the 38km mark, calculating how close to the finish I was, I managed to push the pain away, react on adrenaline, pick my pace up to about 5:30min/km and push hard to the finish. I was groaning out loud and likely making some very expressive faces, but I was running and going as fast as I could in that moment. I was on fire, sparking those on the sidelines to jump up, yell, and give me uplifting cheers to further ignite my engines. I was passing several runners in my path and there was no stopping me now. And I did it. I crossed the finish. Then the tears came. Tears of joy! Tears of pride! And admittedly, tears from the last hour of pain too...

I finished strong at 5:08:15.

This is such a great race, and one I hope to run again next year. The course is beautiful and scenic, everything is so well organized, the finisher jacket and medal are gorgeous. I have many reasons to love this race. But one of the things that really stood out about this race was the thought put into the course design. There are plenty of places and opportunities for spectators to stand on the sidelines to cheer us on. Cam was easily able to strategize to be on the course in 3 different spots before meeting me at the finish. Seeing him, getting a kiss, and his encouragement helped me hugely, as it was in 3 spots where I was in discomfort that I saw him and was uplifted again. And all the cheer squads, music, dancing, every step of the way, was incredible, especially in those last grueling 10km of the race. That was my major complaint with the BMO Vancouver Marathon, that those last grueling miles are around Stanley Park and thus very lonely. But here, there was plenty of encouragement, high fives, music, cheering, right where you need it. 

Thank you to the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon for another great event! I'll see you again next year!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Marathon Day Is Tomorrow

Well, here I am. One day before the big race. I feel good. Yes, a bit freaked out. I think no matter how many marathons I do, I'll remain a bit freaked out before each one. It's a long distance to run. It's going to be hard. But I'm the best prepared that I could be. And I have experience under my belt to know what this distance is all about. But this time, I don't have the doubts about crossing the finish that I did last time. I know I will do it, and I know I can get there much faster than last time. I've been smart, and I'm going to start my race smart. The hardest part of getting here is already over.

I've also been incredibly busy leading up to this race. So when I started my taper, rather than regretting how training went and wanting to do more, I welcomed the rest. And this last week or two with training mileage really low, I've had even more on my plate so I've had little time to (over)think the upcoming race. I'm therefore genuinely excited. Just ready to go. Ready to lace up, run my race, knowing that worrying myself won't accomplish anything. I believe in myself, and I know I'll succeed tomorrow.

I think the other thing is the fact that today is my Dad's birthday. He would have been 70 today, if he were still with us. It's been 5 years since the last time we celebrated a birthday with him. I'm not making a hugely public declaration of this, but all along, I decided that this race would be for Dad. He'd love that I'm doing something so positive, and he always told me how proud he was of me. If he could only see me now, and see the athlete and woman I have become over the last 5 years. I thought about pinning a photo of him to my shirt, but decided that instead, I'll simply wear his memory and his smile on my heart. And his words will be part of the mantra I repeat to myself during the race. Now if I only I would have inherited his long legs too!

I'm also so pleased with being back here in Victoria again for the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon. I hope to run this race annually, because there are so many reasons for this race to be special to me. Plus, the course is amazing, and the souvenir apparel and finisher medals are the most beautiful I've seen at any race. Victoria is Cam's hometown, so we have family here to see after the race (perhaps even during!). And last year's event was my intro back into endurance running - my first half marathon after a 7-year hiatus, and the reason why I started up this blog. It will always be special to me. It was the race that proved to me that I could be an athlete again, and a better one than ever. I can hardly believe that race was only a year ago. Since then, I've raced in 3 other half marathons and 1 full marathon. Tomorrow will be my 2nd marathon and 5th race of the year. This has been one very eventful year! I'm staying at the same hotel near the start line, cooked my same pre-race pasta meal, and am here with my favourite cheerleader. Great memories from last year's race are coming back.

I expect that this year's experience will add to the reasons why this race is so special, and more great memories will be made. You only run your 2nd marathon once! And it's a beautiful, sunny weekend here in Victoria, BC, and spirits are high! I was also very lucky to have had the chance to spend some quality time at the race expo, exhibiting for Team In Training. It really gets you in the mindset to race when you see so many runners coming in, excited to do the very same thing I'm excited to do! 

Can't wait to lace up! Stay tuned for my race report...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2 weeks to go!

Only 2 more weeks to go until the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon. I can hardly believe it. It feels so close when it has felt so far away for so long now. I'm almost in disbelief that it's almost here.

It's really helping my confidence seeing how my friends from our Team In Training crew did who just completed the Montreal Rock N Roll Marathon this morning. These are athletes I did some training with and certainly compared notes with. They did it. Now's my turn!

Last week was my last long run of 32km (20 miles), and today was my last "long-ish" run of 23km (14 miles). I'm a week into my taper, and the next two weeks sees an even bigger decrease in mileage. No more speedwork, and I'm going to tone it down a level at the gym too. Not going to be trying to set any personal records for planking times or consecutive pushups. This would normally be the time where the "taper gremlins" would come along and mess with my mind as my friend Mark would describe in his blog, but so far they've been kept at bay. I think it's because this week, the mileage decrease wasn't too significant. Yesterday's run was still a very respectable distance, still over the half marathon mark (i.e., my new criteria for what can be classified as a "long run"). But I have a feeling that this time, if the taper voices try to taunt me, it'll be easier to push them aside than before my first marathon. And here's why...

  • I did 3 runs of the 32km distance, that's 3 20-milers, baby! Marathon runners would likely all agree that this the quintessential distance you have to hit at least once in training for the big day. Get 2 in, and you're better prepared. Last time I only got 1 in due to injury, and I panicked about my preparedness. I got 3 in this time. And that makes me feel confident about how ready I am. 
  • I've done so much more this time to prepare for the race, outside of my running. By adding 2 days a week of strength training, I've totally upped my game. I'm stronger than I've ever been in my life. My legs are solid. My posture is strong. I don't want to discredit the work I did before the previous marathon, but I have worked so much harder this time. Last time doing a 20-miler was not only a stretch of the imagination, but a real physical challenge that my body had never attempted before. This time those challenges were met with experience, and my accumulated strength from months and months of training. As a result, I was able to challenge myself further, not only by doing more longer runs, but having higher weekly mileage overall, and adding in strength training.
  • I've taken a lot of the guesswork out of training, I've learned a lot, and I believe I've created a plan that takes into account all my new knowledge and experience and really jives with me. It's not a cookie-cutter training plan, but one catered to me. And a factor that was absolutely HUGE for this was getting assessed at the Peak Centre and having Lewis and Mike explain to me how to train in the correct zones and maximize every training run I do. As a result, I can run longer with much less effort than before. My follow-up assessment showed huge gains in fitness. And I know how to pace myself on race day, which is something I really had no idea about last time. So I'm ready to rest because I trust in the training I've completed.
And another thing is that I understand the taper much more than I did before. I understood the science behind it and the theory, but I hadn't the experience to apply that understanding to like I do now. I know wholeheartedly that I've worked hard and there is accumulated fatigue in my body and damage in my muscles. Rest allows the body to rebuild and adapt to the changes made from the stresses of training. It takes weeks for the body to do this. It literally gets stronger and more ready during rest, not while training. It's the body saying, "I remember how those 20 miles hurt. Let's build the muscles in the areas that it hurt, so it doesn't hurt anymore now, and so it's easier to replicate that distance later with less discomfort than before". But now I actually get that this is what my body will do. Training hard longer won't make me any more prepared. Just more tired and less able to approach the race with fresh legs.

So I'll close on two notes:
  • First, this article I read recently on the taper. I agree with a lot of what it says and caught myself nodding a lot in agreement. It also has a useful graphic to explain why tapering is important: The Ultimate Marathon Tapering Guide

  • And second, this graphic timeline I recently made when I discovered how nice my shoulders and waistline are looking since I started strength training a few months ago. Wouldn't you say that the girl in the photo on the far right looks ready to take on another marathon?! I think so! Also the girl in the middle there in black, raising a medal - she earned that just a year ago at the half marathon in Victoria. Amazing what can happen in a year. Look out 2013!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Eat, Run, Eat some more, Repeat...

It’s been on my mind for some time to post about this topic. Food and running. Not talking about nutrition for runners here, no. I'm still learning about it and don't claim to be an expert. I'm talking about society’s obsession with diet and how it ties into the world of running. You know, those "rules" about eating. And those rules that can lead us to either overdoing it, or restricting oneself from the pleasure of food or from the nourishment one truly needs. You know, people saying to avoid carbs when carbs are what runners really need to fuel performance. Then there's finding faults in one’s reflection in the mirror. This overanalysis of food and challenges with managing food has unfortunately played a large role in my life. I think it’s a focal point for the majority of women, as we're expected to look and act a particular way. And it’s something I’m trying desperately to break free from. I’m almost there. 

I think this topic has come to the forefront of my mind recently because I’m at the peak of my marathon training, and therefore, I’m eating more than ever these days. Essentially when I am not running, I’m either eating, sleeping, or planning my next meal. I am burning thousands of calories a week, and therefore consuming a whole lot of extra calories too, to ensure I’m getting the nourishment I need. I joke about it. I do see humour in it. I joke about my grocery bills being the most expensive part of training for a marathon.  After a long run, I’m known to have a protein shake, take a shower, eat lunch, have a nap, eat lunch again, then I start cooking dinner. 
But with this humour comes a darker side,  a voice that creeps into my head to guilt me and ask if this is what I should be doing and warns me to be cautious and count my calories. And of course this is silly; it is what my body is asking for and I’m simply responding. It is not weakness, it is self-respect.  I have calories to consume as they were burned and if I don’t eat, my body will quite literally break itself down. I’m not working hard to build muscle only to have it break down from not eating enough.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

One month left, and getting my 20-milers in!

It's September 8th today, meaning that yesterday marked the one-month mark until my 2nd marathon, the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon. I am so excited for the race. It's going to be special on so many levels. Here's a few reasons:
  • This is my 2nd marathon, but a first in a way as the first one didn't go according to plan. I get to go in with experience of completing one before, but with a new opportunity to establish a finish time that reflects what I am capable of at last.
  • Running the half marathon in Victoria was my re-introduction into endurance running last year. It's so hard to believe that it was only a year ago that that race took place, and this blog was launched. I have achieved so much since then as a runner. I am fitter than I have ever been in my life and keep making improvements. Since that race, I have completed 5 other races: a 10km race, 3 half marathons, and 1 full marathon. Going back to run Victoria will be like a celebration of me, my love for the sport of running, and how it's changed my life. I think I will likely make this race my annual event.
  • And of course, my main reason - running this for Dad, the day after what would have been his 70th birthday, in the year that marks 5 years since his passing. I miss him dearly, and will be wearing his memory on my heart as I run for him, and make him proud.
Today I ran 32km, or 20 miles. The 20-miler runs are the distance that everyone running a marathon should reach at least once in their training, or so "they" say. It's this magic number that the experts quote as being the  number we must reach to ensure our readiness for the big show. I won't get into the theories, the sciences, etc. of the 20-miler. There's plenty of info on the interwebs to support this, if you are so inclined to read. But I will say that I ran my 2nd one for this training cycle today, and I feel like I accomplished something. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Looking back, a note to myself

If there were a way to communicate with my former self, my self from 5 years ago, this is what I would like to say....


Dear Zahida,

I want you to know that your world is about to change dramatically. Everything you currently know, is going to get flipped on its head.

Don't fear. Don't shrink away. You are strong. Like everything else in life, you will face it, head on. And you will overcome.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Holiday Road

I've had a great summer. Period. On so many levels I am happy, I am truly living life, and enjoying every moment. I've had three long weekends in a condensed amount of time where I've been able to travel and get to know well some new places. I'm very fortunate to have had these opportunities to travel, even though none of the trips have been for very long (nothing over 3 nights), and not far or exotic by how some people would measure it. No, I didn't leave the country. No, I didn't go anywhere I've never seen before. No, I didn't have more than a couple days in each location to look around. But for me, I've always been one (or have at least tried to be one) to appreciate the little things in life. These little trips have been a treat for me, on so many levels. A sweet addition to a beautiful summer.

One of the biggest reasons why this summer has been so memorable has been the running. All of the several hours of exertion, sweat, tears, and hard work. Running 4-5 days a week while training for a marathon can be grueling. But I truly think more so mentally than physically. My body is strong to handle the physical stuff, but sometimes my brain questions if I'm getting bored or not. It isn't boredom with the action of running itself, but with the same old roads and routes close to home that I know and run all the time. They're pretty, but when it's almost everyday, it quickly loses its charm.

But this current season of marathon training has NOT been boring at all because of the holiday road. And really, what better way to see a new place while on holiday, than on foot running. What better way to celebrate my love for running than getting excited to wake up early to run in a city unknown before the city wakes up and see it in such an invigorating way. And what better way to enjoy running than just to go with no goal aside from enjoying the workout and the views along the way.  Who says training for a marathon has to be boring or too much hard work. It's been hard yes, but a holiday at the same time. You'll see what I mean soon, I promise. Keep reading! :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Marathon Training Update!

My math may be serving me wrong, but I believe I'm 50 days away from my next marathon, the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon in October. That sounds both insanely close, and uncomfortably far away at the same time. I've been working hard, I want the pay off now. But I have so much more work to do to ensure I'm at my prime by race day.

Training has been going super well. I'm excited about it. I feel a real difference in me. And I'm actually seeing real results. It is so satisfying to see that the hard work is making a difference. It's not just theoretical, what one must do to prepare for a marathon. It actually makes a difference. I expect I should be able to finish strong.

So what do I mean about seeing results?
  • I see the results when I look in the mirror and see muscle definition where I didn't before.
  • I see the results when I log my mileage on DailyMile and compare it with runs of similar distances from before.
  • I see the results when I need to add weight onto one of my strength workouts to make it more challenging.
  • I see the results when I can go faster than ever before while keeping within my heart rate zone 1.
  • I see results in my attitude about the long distances. Last time I prepared for my first 32km training run, I was terrified. I'm running that distance tomorrow, and I'm waiting in eager anticipation

Friday, August 10, 2012

Canada’s Olympic Marathon Team

What could possibly be more inspiring as an athlete than watching the world’s greatest athletes competing at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London?! I have not been able to catch much of the action, but try to at every opportunity I can get. It doesn’t matter what sport I am watching during the Games, but seeing the determination, strength, speed, grace, and all-round amazingness is a reminder of just what is possible when you put your mind and body to work. Greatness indeed can be achieved.

So naturally all running events I find particularly interesting, but I am eagerly anticipating watching an Olympic Marathon. Unfortunately, I missed the women’s marathon event that took place this past Sunday as I was out of town and remiss to program the PVR. But I have already programmed it to record the men’s marathon event this coming Sunday, August 12th – one of the final and signature events of the Olympic Games.

 Now I know what you’re thinking….isn’t watching people running for two hours boring? My response is, absolutely not. I think anyone can appreciate athletic greatness. Anyone who’s ever ran can appreciate running greatness. But someone in love with running as much as I am, can truly appreciate just how spectacular marathon greatness is. Marathon greatness combines speed, endurance, drive, determination and grace into an amazing just-over-two-hour package. As someone who recently completed a marathon, is training for her next, and has completed several half marathons, I cannot fathom the strength it requires these athletes to complete a marathon in the way they do. They can run a marathon in just a bit more than it takes me to run half the distance. It’s incredible in the purest meaning of the word – it is absolutely not believable for my body which works hard to train to do what it does, nor is it believable for my mind as it understands just how long 26.2 miles really is. But it is true indeed. And this truth must be witnessed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2 months to go!

It's well past my bedtime, so I'm going to keep this real short. I had to write something though, as I came to the realization this morning that it's exactly 2 months now until my next marathon - The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon on October 7, 2012! For so long now, it's seemed incredibly far away. This is especially because for a few months, I had a race every month to look forward to. My last race was only about a week ago, but somehow it being August now, makes October feel so much closer.

What gets me is how I feel about the marathon this time around. Last time I was nervously excited at the prospect of running the distance. There were so many unknowns. I knew it would be hard, but I was excited for testing myself to see if I could achieve the seemingly impossible. Now I have the first one out of the way and experience on my side. I'm continuing to get faster and stronger, and have been training hard and smart. I've focused on getting stronger and building my endurance. And so, I am looking ahead at the marathon with more knowledge on what to expect, confidence that I'm even more capable than ever to complete the distance in good time, and eager expectation that I'm going to get 'er done, and get 'er done strong. Real strong.

More soon!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Race Report: Kamloops Marathon

This past Sunday I ran my 4th race of the year. It wasn't my best race, that's for sure. But I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I ran the half marathon that's part of the 1st Annual Kamloops Marathon, in support of the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Wolfpack Track & Field team. This race was an exciting race weekend that included a 5K and 10K on Saturday, followed by a community BBQ and running expo at the University. On Sunday, runners arrived at McArthur Island Park at 6am to beat the heat and run the half and full marathon on a flat and fast route showcasing some really gorgeous areas along the rivers around Kamloops. 

For an inaugural race, registration went very well, attracting about 500 runners - excellent for a new race. The weather was perfect, the expo and BBQ was fun, the shirts and medals were pretty. An overall good race weekend with the potential to become something really great in the coming years as awareness and participation grow. 

At the running expo
I was also very excited at TRU's support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, allowing us to have a booth at the running expo. We got lots of interest for Team In Training and got to talk to many awesome people.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

1 week until Kamloops!

1 week today is my 4th race of the year! Just shy of 2 months ago, I, somewhat on a whim, registered for the half marathon race that's part of the inaugural Kamloops Marathon event weekend after meeting some wonderful people from Kamloops via Team In Training. It was one of those serendipitous moments, going for a training run with the group, and meeting someone awesome the same age as me, with very similar running goals, running pace, and who just happened to need a running route for the following day. I needed to do a run of the exact same distance, and so we connected to run together. The rest is history - now we have a race together, one week today. It's going to be real fun!

The Kamloops Marathon is a new race, to benefit the Thompson Rivers University varsity team, the Wolfpack. It is a flat and fast course in a beautiful city in a very hot region of our province. I'm thankful the race will start at 6am to help us beat the heat. But regardless, it's going to be gorgeous and sunny. The race directors are awesome people, who've been working very hard to make this event a success. They also work diligently on a trail running series in the BC Interior and they've done a great job adding on this new challenge to their plate. The race finisher medals are really beautiful, there are weekly prize draws, and it sounds like the entire event weekend will have lots going on with a 5K and 10K on the Saturday, and a marathon and half the following day - Sunday. I've only briefly visited Kamloops a couple of times, so this will be a great way to see the city and visit with a new friend. In addition to that, I'm going to spend the Saturday there representing Team In Training at the community BBQ and running expo where we'll have a booth. It's going to be so much fun!

I'm not sure what kind of time we'll be running for. I've not "tapered" at all or worked on speed much since the half marathon last month; my focus has been on improving overall fitness and getting into higher weekly mileage in my build-up to the next marathon. So if anything, I've been working harder than race effort leading up to the race. I'm kind of tired yet feeling great at the same time! I'm sure the excitement of the race atmosphere and running with a friend will make for a great race experience, regardless of finish time.

Since my last posts about my conscious effort to get stronger and less prone to injury, I've gone to see a personal trainer at the Steve Nash Fitness World in North Vancouver. Thursday was my first session, which was mainly for assessment purposes and for my trainer to get a better idea of what my current wants and needs are. That didn't stop her from working me hard though, man oh man, did I feel the burn, in a very positive way. She wanted to see how far I could go, and so over time I'll be able to track my progress by seeing how much further I can go. In the meantime, she's designing a catered strength training program for me that I can work on independently, incorporating at least 2 days a week at the gym in addition to my outdoor running. I'll be learning the program starting tomorrow at my next session. I'm excited at how this will help me be stronger, fitter, faster, able to hold better posture, be even more confident, and capable of reaching my fitness goals. Stay tuned for updates!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A special interview with Tanja!

I'm excited to announce that I have another interview to share! Like Monica, my good friend, Tanja, recently ran her first ever half marathon at the recent Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. We ran into each other very soon after her quick arrival at the finish line. She was absolutely glowing - I've never seen such an amazing smile on her face and it's a smile I'll never forget. It was a beautiful reminder to me of why I love running.

So make yourself comfy and enjoy another great read! Here is the lovely Tanja!
Tanja and I with our race bling!
ZJ: Again, HUGE congrats on the awesome race! You set a goal, you achieved it, and kicked butt! For me it's so nice to witness - another reminder of why I love running, and how it can transform. Seeing your giant smile reminds me how good running makes me feel, but more so, how achieving a goal makes me feel. There are times when training is hard, I'm too tired to lace up, and contemplate making excuses to not work out...being reminded of how positive running can be (or sport in general!) is something we can all use. Including me! No matter how much a running nerd (or "runnerd") I am, there are still days when I need a reminder. :-) I think my readers would appreciate a fresh story - one not about me,  but about someone I care about - YOU!

TB: Congrats to you on your run too! You looked AMAZING! It was hilarious how much I hated running when I started - the first 6 weeks sucked. But once I got to the last 3 months, I loved it. The high you get at the end of a run is tremendous ... I have a hunch that you know what I mean.

ZJ: Oh I sure do! No other workout gives you the same feeling! So tell me about your running or general activity level before you decided to train for a half marathon.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Excited for change!

In my most recent blog post, I spoke about two different experts that I have consulted recently. First of which were the Peak Centre for Human Performance. About 10 days ago, I went in for my fitness assessment, and yesterday I spent an hour with a sports physiologist, Lewis, who explained everything to me very clearly. Essentially, I'm doing a lot of things right in my training, but I've been making the same mistakes that about 75% of runners make. If I keep it up, I'll plateau in my fitness for running, rather than improve. We went over my training plans for the upcoming marathon. At my current level of fitness, I'd be able to finish a marathon in 4:23. With some tweaks to my training plans, setting a goal of 4:15 is very realistic. I couldn't be more excited to try out these changes and reap the rewards. And thanks to the folks at the Peak Centre, I now understand the science behind it. What's great about the assessments is that it's not someone giving me generic training insight, but it's specific training advice based on my specific body, and how it functions.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This blog post is neither here nor there

Unlike posts of the past, this one has no real topic. I have just realized it's been a while since my last post. I have much to say, it's just not focused into a neat little package like usual. So please excuse the lack of focus, and my lack of topic.  Despite how "positively" I've described my post, I hope you still read it :-) I will be giving hints at some of my upcoming blog post topics so do read on!

Since the recent race, I took a few days rest and then jumped right back into training. It has been going well. It had been going well. I am not sure how I should phrase it (ie., what verb tense), but I'll get into why in a second. I have my next race coming up in just under 3 weeks, the Kamloops Half Marathon and I'm super excited. Then on top of that my next marathon is in October. While that's a while away, I'm anxious to build my mileage up slowly so that my bigger training runs get done comfortably. So yes, I jumped back into training, and all went well.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A special interview with Monica!

I am so excited to feature Monica in today’s blog post. Monica is one of my faithful blog followers and cheerleaders. One of the beautiful things about running is that while it’s an individual sport, it’s a real community sport. It’s the type of sport that requires personal grit but is so much easier when you have support from others to cheer you on, challenge you, and identify with your struggles and successes. Monica has been that for me, even though we met in person only 1 week ago for the first time. I’m so thankful she was introduced to me and has been part of my circle. She has also kept me very humble. 
Monica just completed her first ever half marathon! She ran an amazing 21.1K at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon this past Sunday. I wanted to mark her accomplishment by interviewing her and featuring her on my blog. Grab a warm drink, make yourself comfy, and enjoy this special treat! I promise you a great read, but only if you wish to grin ear-to-ear, and be inspired!
ZJ: Monica, first of all, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me. And a huge congratulations on finishing this big race! You did it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Race Report: Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon - June 24, 2012

New race bling!
Today's race, the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon was so good. Real good. It was my third race of the year, and a really fun day. Although my first race of the year was also a half marathon distance, my goal then was just to have fun rather than focus on finish time. My second race of the year was my first marathon, so the focus there was on completion, rather than on finish time. Today's race was different - a distance I'm more than comfortable with now and an opportunity to squash previous finish times. I did just that.

I was hesitant to aim too high with my race finish time goal. But I am very confident when it comes to believing in my abilities as a runner. My true goal was to simply set a new personal best. I had hoped to break the 2-hour barrier, but I told myself I'd be ok with it if I didn't do that. I didn't do it, and I am indeed ok with it. And I did achieve a new personal best finish time for this distance. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Scotia Half is TOMORROW!

Race day is tomorrow! I'm running the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. It's my third time doing this race, but the first time in 8 years. I consider it a first time, as it's the first time as the NEW me. I'm confident I can establish a new personal best finish time for a half marathon. But I'd LOVE it if I happened to get under 2 hours. I think I'm definitely capable :-)

Yesterday I spent a few hours at the race expo at the Team In Training booth. It was a lot of fun! Great conversations with runners, other exhibitors, and with the race director. There are going to be so many familiar faces on the course - so many people I know. I've lost count, but it's well over 25. And there are going to be the elites as well, leading the pack. I met a couple of them yesterday: Kip Kangogo and Reid Coolsaet. Such inspiring athletes. Unassuming in person walking around in street clothes, but larger than life when they're racing at such high speeds.

I'm also excited to represent TNT by wearing my purple singlet, purple accessories, and logo'ed Bondi Band (the old logo, but still representing!). The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada is the national charity partner for this race, and we'll be making a presence at this race! Watch for the purple at the 20km mark aid station at English Bay (organized by yours truly), and the tent at the finish line. There are several runners that will be wearing their colours proudly and many who've participated in the charity challenge. I love this race for being so connected to the community and to local charities!

Of course you can expect a detailed race report from me after the race. And there'll be another treat to follow - an interview with one of my blog followers who is making tomorrow's race her first ever half marathon! We met in person for the first time yesterday at the expo, and I couldn't be more excited for her and her race experience. I love being able to experience a first vicariously through her. Stay tuned!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Running For Dad

Tomorrow is Father's Day and this year is a little easier than previous years. Now I can look at what the day represents and smile. I look back at memorable years I had with Dad, and how he so positively influenced my life. In particular, I look back at the last 4 years of his life where we shared a home together, and I had the opportunity to get reacquainted with a great man. I think of how who I am today is very much a reflection of the lessons he taught me. And it helps that I very much look like him. Dad always called me his "carbon copy."

Dad as a young man.
This coming October will mark the 5 year anniversary of my father's passing. That means that it has been 5 years since I've been able to celebrate Father's Day with him. I miss having the impossible task of trying to find a gift for man who liked to keep things simple, insisted he had everything he needed, and thought of others well before himself. I miss fussing about to try to make the day special. But most of all, I miss my Dad.

This coming October will also be when Dad should have turned 70. We lost him at 65 years young, weeks after he officially retired from his career in microbiology. This is yet another milestone that isn't easy to recognize. Yet it's ever-present on my mind. I can't help but want to dedicate my year of running to Dad. And here's why...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Aches, relief, tapering, and my new running community

Two weeks to go until my next race. Yesterday was my last long run. I needed a bit of extra time to complete the run than I had hoped (about 90 seconds worth - so really no big deal), but I was noticeably tired. After the run yesterday, lower back pain. Today, the lower back pain has dulled to an ache. Tomorrow, the expectation of feeling much better. But I'll take an extra rest day.

I'm finding that this time around, I have little trouble with the idea of a taper or rest period for the couple weeks before the race. Perhaps the aches are helping ease my mind into believing it's ok to take an extra rest day, because, well frankly, I need it. And so the plan is to plan shorter runs going forward until race day. I'll do a couple more up-tempo workouts, but distance-wise, take it easy.

I suspect I didn't rest enough after the marathon. I certainly felt a sluggishness to my running for the first couple of weeks back. But I pushed through it not wanting to skip a beat in my training for this upcoming race. I kept reminding myself they say that you need a day of recovery for every mile in a race. But I simply didn't have time to wait 26 days before running hard again.  I had a race to train for. And my sanity would never have the patience for that either. Awareness of my recovery served only to help me forgive myself for feeling sluggish. But I didn't want to let it be an excuse.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Goal Setting

We've all been given lectures on goal setting, haven't we? Especially at the start of the year when people set resolutions and intentions for the year. It's all well and good to think about what you would like to accomplish, but it is absolutely critical that those resolutions and intentions are backed up with a solid plan, and that there is regular reflection on those goals. Without follow-up and follow-through, goals stay as meaningless statements of intention. Just talk with no walk.

Being June now, we are halfway through 2012. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on things and assess where you're at in achieving the goals you set earlier in the year. Have you actually done what you've said you're going to do? Or have you taken the steps to ensure that those goals are achieved? If you answered "yes"you're on track. If you said "no" to both questions, it may be time to reassess and re-set your goals.

It might sound cliche, but I really do like the S.M.A.R.T. goals concept and believe they really are relevant when it comes to running. Whether your goal is to learn how to run, learn how to love running, run a new distance, or improve your finish time on a previously completed distance, all goals are equally valuable and important to set and it's important that the goals are both smart and S.M.A.R.T. This will keep you on track, keep you focused, prevent injury, and remind you of why you are tying up your laces regularly. It is crucial for maintaining a positive attitude toward your running, and not discourage you because you shot for something too high. I am not going to lie to you and say that there are never days where I really don't feel like running. There are plenty of days like that. But keeping my mind centered on my goals reminds me that each run I do is important. It also decreases the likelihood of giving up entirely, even if a day off or so is taken when I'm really not feeling it. 

I am going to go over S.M.A.R.T. goals one letter at a time, but use specific examples based on common running goals to illustrate how you can set the smartest goals for yourself:

Monday, June 4, 2012


Humility - noun
- the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance: he needs the humility to accept that their way may be better - Oxford Dictionary 

This is something I have struggled with internally since starting this blog. This blog is about me. This blog is written under the premise that what I say here matters and might make a difference to those who read it. It tells the story of me, my struggles, and my successes; it tells the story of my journey. My blog assumes that my journey is important for others to read. My blog started because someone once told me my story was worth sharing. Others will read it, appreciate it, relate to it, and be inspired by it, they said. I am not sure I believed them entirely. But I didn't forget what they said.

I put insecurities aside and started this blog about a year ago, as I embarked on my journey, training for my first half marathon after over 7 years of struggle with health. I was pleasantly surprised by the very positive response from my own network of friends and family, as well as the blog world, the world of social media, and the world of strangers who in one way or another, told me that they needed to hear some of what I said. I decided to keep going with the blog. It didn't matter how many people I was reaching, I also decided. If simply one person was benefiting from reading what I was sharing, that was enough for me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My next race

I can hardly believe that my next race is a month away. I remember the day where doing one race was a big deal and also very much a rare occurrence. Now, it's a lifestyle. I'm a runner. I'm an athlete. I race.

Why? I don't race to win or to prove my awesomeness. Compare me to others who join in on the very same races as I do, I'm a middle-of-the-pack average runner with nothing awesome to prove whatsoever. But the very act of choosing to race, training to race, finishing my races, and lacing up to race over and over again, I'd say that in of itself is indeed awesome and makes me stand-out in a crowd Racing keeps my running focused. I run for joy and I run for health. If I had no races to prep for, I would run for these reasons and be perfectly content. But when there's a race to prepare for, there's a goal to be set. And thus one other reason to run comes about organically: I run to continuously improve.
My next race is on June 24th - The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. I am very excited about this race for a number of reasons. Oh so excited!

I have run this race twice before: in 2003 and in 2004. When I ran these races, I was a much different fitness level than I am today in 2012. Oddly the 8 or 9 years that have passed and "aged" me have strengthened me and made me fitter, leaner, and meaner (but still kind-hearted, don't worry). Running my first and second half marathons when I was younger was such a big deal for me. I remember how proud of myself I was. And it was the fact that that pride never faded that I was able to convince myself a few years ago that I had it in me to get fit again, run again, and accomplish the same, if not greater things as a runner. If I could do it then, I most certainly could do it now. And I have indeed proven that so.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Product Review: CEP Compression Socks

Love my socks!
I know a lot of people are skeptical about running with compression socks. And when I wear mine, I certainly get a lot of funny looks from those that don't understand. But since getting myself a pair of CEP Compression Socks, I've noticed such a world of difference in my longer distance running. I can't imagine going without them now.

No, I don't wear them as a fashion statement. But I have to say that I'm pleased that wearing them is something that's respected and understood amongst endurance athletes. As someone who has a medical reason to wear compression socks, I'm so glad that it's possible to get some that are breathable, fashionable (they come in all kinds of funky colours), and completely functional to wear for sports.

Yes, I have a medical reason for wearing compression socks. You may recall me writing about how in October 2010, I had surgery on both of my legs. This was to correct inefficiencies in the circulation in my legs, removing problematic varicose veins, and relieving the pain I had in my right leg as a result of a scary blood clot incident I had earlier that year. This was one heck of an uncomfortable experience! Of course, having surgery means that the problem has been corrected. But the doctor also advised me that it's best to wear the compression socks I have any time I am going to be doing things that are harder on the legs such as standing long periods of time, being on an airplane, etc. This will allow proper blood circulation and prevent discomfort, swelling, and future problems down the road.

So it makes complete sense that if I'm running long distances, the same rule applies. Running is hard on the legs. Running is extended time on one's feet. I was skeptical about trying a sporty version of compression socks, knowing how my medical socks (i.e. not at all sport and fashionable socks) fit and what difference they make for me on days I'm on my feet. I couldn't imagine something that could be bought without a prescription, but in the accessories department of a sports store, to be so effective. I thought it was some sort of weird trend only attempting to make something scientific cool. I was wrong. They are scientifically sound and cool.