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.