Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Amazing and Awful

We haven't told you yet about how our little trail adventure at the North Face Endurance Challenge went.  In short it was amazing, and awful, and painful, and incredible.  They were not kidding around when they said it was "the most pronounced elevation gain trail race in Ontario."

We started out on Saturday volunteering for the Marathon (relay), 50K, and 50 Mile races.  We arrived early for our assigned shift, collected t-shirts, and lunch and were escorted to 'our' aid station at the 40.7km mark for the ultra distances, which was also near the start and finish of the marathon.  Things were a bit slow getting started, but we were soon busy filling bottles and hydration packs, dumping water on the heads of tired and overheating runners (my specialty), and offering a variety of snacks.  We offered seats in the shade and encouragement to to runners who were ready to quit.  We watched a young man stumble into the aid station glassy eyed and disoriented (my nurse and mom alarms were blaring).  We sat him down in the shade, gave him a steady stream of water and electrolyte drink, and some snacks.  I counted his respirations when he laid of the ground to "rest" before heading out to finish.  He headed out, and I wondered how he would fare.  A short time later he cruised by on his way to the finish line.  We were inspired, and I informed Leigh that I would be running the 50 miler next year.  He looked alarmed.
We camped at a nearby campground Saturday night, where we were able to set up the tent without the poles being used as swords by two little boys who will remain unnamed.  Around midnight it started to rain, and it rained and rained and rained and was still raining when we got up at 6.  It was then that we knew we were in for it.  You see a trail race with profound elevation gain and loss is one thing.  A trail race with profound elevation gain and loss on mud, and wet rocks and roots is another thing. 
We got to the start in plenty of time where we were warned about the slippery conditions before heading off on our adventure.  Being primarily a road racer I had a few moments of frustration at the beginning of the race.  We were stuck in a pack on a trail that was mostly a single track (meaning only one person can fit width wise on the trail), It was slow going with very few opportunities to pass and get into a comfortable pace.  Feeling a bit claustrophobic, I snuck by people when there was space, but given the very limited time available for passing, Leigh was sometimes not able to follow and we ended up getting separated.  After some big climbs, a big down hill, and some more rain we came upon the first aid station.  Leigh and I reconnected, hydrated, and headed out. 
The course continued to be very challenging.  Trail running sure has the ability to make you humble.  We slowed our 'normal' half marathon pace drastically, we walked (yes WALKED?!?) on the uphills, ran where we could, climbed over slippery wet rocks, and through streams, and up and down stairs (I am not kidding).  The course was very well marked, keeping even me from getting lost. Our only complaint was the vast distance between the second and third aid stations.  We didn't carry our own water so it was sort of our own fault (rookie mistake?).  We had decided to rely on the aid stations alone, without enough aid stations we were mighty thirsty and not feeling very good. Once we arrived at the third aid station and chugged as much water and electrolyte drink as we could stomach we knew we could make the short descent to the finish.  
Proof that I walked...And I'm happy about it and everything :)
It took three hours which is around one hour and fifteen minutes slower then my half marathon PR from 2 years ago.  We learned that the slow pace did not make this challenge any easier.  Immediately we felt very beat up.  We sat in the post-race area with very little motivation to get up...That is until Leigh got a massive cramp in his leg that ripped him out of his chair in pain and sent me scurrying to find electrolytes...Any electrolytes.  Eventually we moseyed off to our car and headed to Thornbury beach.  The unseasonably cool weather we have been  having made the water the perfect temperature for a post race ice bath.  We waded in up to our hips and suffered through it for 10 minutes.  

Then came the real recovery.  I had to work a 12 hour night shift that night.  Part way through my shift I started to hurt.  From my hips down, everything was sore. I figured it was just fatigue, not enough rest post race, and that it would clear up once I got some sleep. It was just a half marathon after all, and a slow one at that.  I was wrong, and also dumb.  Leigh and I both felt that we were more sore then we were both post-marathon, and post-50K.  Walking down stairs, sitting down, and standing up, and crouching down to help the boys was pure torture.  I mean, it was that good sort of muscle pain where  you know you worked your body really hard, but it still hurt like no muscle soreness I have ever experienced and continued on until the next Friday. Because I am in the middle of a training cycle I continued on as scheduled.  I must have been quite a sight to behold trying to run down hills with my quads feeling the way they did.  It took some time, but everything went back to normal.  No injuries, no lingering pain, so I call it a resounding success.  

Maybe not the 50 miler next year though...We'll just stick with the 50K :)

***And just a note****

On my last post about our amazing raffle prizes for Saturday's Pancake Breakfast I neglected to include an AMAZING prize that came to us from Crossbones Crossfit!
You have the opportunity to win 10 Personal Training Sessions WORTH $400!!!  This can be used for their Crossfit ramp up.

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Word From Our Sponsors

Less then two weeks until our pancake breakfast!  At this point we  have not sold as many tickets as we were hoping for.  If you have not yet reserved your spot please, PLEASE, consider coming out and joining us.

Not only will you be supporting an amazing cause, you will also get an awesome breakfast served to you by Cooper's Troopers, and the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes!

We have had some incredibly generous people donate prizes for the raffle that will take place at the breakfast.  

McDonald's Restaurants of St. John and Quispamsis have donated a $50 gift card ANNNNND a complete set of current Ty Beanie Babies

Ronnie McDee getting his run on.

Cineplex Odeon has donated movie passes.

My talented cake decorating mom has donated a cake for your next special event.

An artist at Acme Animal has donated a piece.

David from Etsy Store PurpleCabooseArt is donating a personalized print of the winner's choosing.
And last but not least the amazing and talented Emily from Emily Maureen Photography donated a photography package valued at $200!!  We are big fans of her work...

We are so incredibly grateful to all those who have stepped up and been kind and generous enough to contribute towards our raffle prizes.  If you are super talented, or have gift cards laying around that you aren't using, or own a business, or your boss likes you, or you want your boss to see what a kind and generous soul you are so that he/she will like you, and would like to donate a prize for our raffle please contact us.  

And help us out!  Buy your pancake breakfast tickets now!!!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Back to the Scene of the Crime

Every time I hear Blue Mountain mentioned I say to Leigh, "Hey remember the time we ran there?!"  It is probably getting old, but I am pretty sure that I will do that for the rest of our lives.  This weekend we are heading back to Blue Mountain for the first time since we ran there.  Never fear, this time we are taking the van.  As you would expect we will be running when we get there, because every weekend without the boys must involve a race.

We will be running the 1/2 marathon at The Ontario North Face Endurance Challenge.  About six weeks ago I started seeing ads for this race series on Facebook.  It was all up in my head, I just couldn't stop thinking about it.  And then fate stepped in and sent me an email from WagJag.  Fifty percent off race entry, and we just couldn't resist.  At that point we sort of wanted to ramp up our training again so we could run the full marathon, but I have started marathon training for Hamilton and realized that being jealous of all the full marathoners is better then needing to take recovery time just as I am starting a heavy training cycle.  The half fits itself perfectly into my training plan though.

From the Blue Mountain website:

Can you endure? Featuring the most pronounced elevation gain trail race in Ontario, this challenge cruises along the Niagara Escarpment on the western shores of Georgian Bay and through the ski trails of the Blue Mountains. 

So it looks like we are in for a beautiful but uphill challenging race.  Gonna wear my Bluenose shirt for the occasion!

We are also excited to be race volunteers for the first time.  We will be volunteering at an on course aid station for the marathon, 50K, and 50 miler.  We are always so grateful for race volunteers when we are running.  The weekend race schedule gives us the perfect opportunity to volunteer ourselves.  We are going to try our best to follow all the rules...Except the costume one..
Maybe we can just provide a spread like this.  Then no one would care if we were following the rules or not...

Monday, 30 June 2014


After a long first year of school we finally made it!  Friday was the last day of school.

 Summer has always been my favourite season, but now that we have a kid in school there are even more reasons then normal to get excited.

1)  I get to have my kid all day every day.  By the time we get home from school, have a snack, do reading homework, make dinner, and (most nights) go to one of their various activities we get about 30 minutes of time to spend with him.  I am excited to flashback to having long days stretched out before us with lots of time and few commitments.

2)  No morning rush.  Getting ready for school in the morning is perhaps my least favourite task ever.  He may be five, but he behaves like a 15 year old when it is time to get him up in the morning.  He has already started with the "I'm too tired's," and the blankets pulled over his head.   Relaxed mornings with no lunch packing will be a great break for all of us.

3)  Camping!

4)  The boys have recently started playing together more cooperatively.  Cooper loves having Lucas at home to play with.  We have had many "Master Builder" lego creations built lately.

5)  Fun family outings are way more fun in the summer.  In the winter we don't get out much, and we all get pretty antsy.  In the summer we run out of time to do all the things we want to do.

6)  PANCAKES!!!  More time in the morning means there's time for better breakfasts.  Love pancakes like we do?  Here's some great recipes...





Don't want to make your own pancakes??  Never fear!!!  We will gladly make them for you.  We would LOVE it if you would make Cooper's Troopers Pancake Breakfast a part of your exciting summer.

When:  August 2, 2014
Where:  Applebee's Restaurant Mississauga, 5700 Mavis Rd.
What do you get:  Pancakes, bacon, OJ, Tea, Coffee, served to you by our team!  We will also be holding a raffle for some great prizes.
How much of your money do we want:  Only $15!!

Contact us for tickets by blog comment, by sending a message to our team facebook page, or email cooperstroopers.searsrun@gmail.ca

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The 5K

A couple of months ago Leigh and I had a conversation that went something like this...
Leigh: "Matt is helping organize a 5K in Orangeville."
Me: "So you're gonna run it, that's great!"
Leigh:  "We are both gonna run it."
Me: whimpering in corner
Leigh:  "Stop crying, it's for the foodbank!"
That may be a very loose interpretation of what actually happened, but you get the point.  My very first race, in the fall of 2011 was the Toronto Zoo 5K.  Since that time I have increased dramatically in distance.  In that process I have learned a number of things about myself, one of them being that I am built for distance, not speed.  I would much rather run for hours at a moderate pace then at a lung busting, puke inducing pace for 25 minutes.  But like Leigh said, it was for the foodbank (so stop crying), so he went ahead and registered us for the Compass 5K4Food 
The kid's race was first.  Lucas is well trained from his recent participation in the Xtreme Team running club with Speed River Track and Field, so he took off ahead with Leigh.  This was Cooper's very first race, and like any good runner he went out slow (and holding his mom's hand).  He got comfortable after 100m or so and informed me that he didn't need to hold my hand anymore.  He ran the almost the whole thing, slowing to walk for a few steps, and then speeding to a run again, with a huge smile on his face.  Nothing better in the world to Cooper then running surrounded by a whole bunch of kids.  At the end they were awarded with a Cookie Medal (prepared by local highschool students), a water bottle, and a coupon for a visit at a local indoor playground. 

Next up was the 5K.  Our race plan was as follows:  RUN.OUR.GUTS.OUT.  We decided that we would stick together and aim for 7:30ish per mile, and see what happened.  I had not raced a 5K in close to 3 years, and was not at all confident, but was certainly eager to see how much improvement all the long distance traning of late would bring to my 5K game. The couse took us out of the church parking lot, into a trail that eventually skirted around Island Lake, back out of the trail and onto a quick out and back stretch, and back to the church. 
Mile 1-7:20/mile-"This is fast, but it's sort of fun to go fast." 
Mile 2-7:25/mile-"This is fast, fast hurts a bit."
Mile 3-7:28/mile-"This is hard...I hate this!!!"
Mile 3.1-6:something/mile-DEAD..."I'll just be over here kneeling by the flower bed so I don't puke where people need to walk."
We came in at 23:00, which was good enough for both of us to be 1st in our age group (30-39), and for me to take Second Overall Female! 
So here's the lowdown, the good, the bad, and the ugly...
The Good
-The event was amazing!  Leigh has participated in a few small 5 and 10K events.  He says that this was the best he has seen.  Everything from the parking, to the start and finish lines, to food and food distribution, to the kid's race were extremely well organized.  They were able to bring many local sponsors on board, and had a great turnout (over 250 5K runners and 75 kids).
-We both came in first in our age groups, and now share a shiny new 5K PR.
-It was fun to test my limits in a different way.  My mind and body have become pretty calloused to the effort, and discomfort of long distance running.  Don't get me wrong, a marathon will ALWAYS be challenging, but it is a hurts so good kind of hurt.  The fast pace of a 5K is a whole different kind of hurt, which quite frankly freaked me out a bit before this race.  Now I know that I have improved dramatically from my first (and only) 5K race, and have potential to continue improving.
-Unlike a marathon, as soon as the running stops the pain stops.  No hobbling around and no sleepless night post race from sore muscles.  
-I won a prize! ;) 
-The 12 year old who turned to Leigh and instructed him the "just regulate his breathing." 
-The course was beautiful
The Bad
-We ran this race 27 days post marathon.  If you recall, i promised myself that I would take my recovery conservatively.  So I have been following the 1 easy day for each mile you race recovery plan.  I have been back to running since the end of our zero week, but without speed work, or challenging workouts.  That said we did not train specifically for this race.  Now I wonder what I could do if I trained hard, specifically for the 5K.
-The boys ate my cookie medal

The Ugly
-Welllllll...The last Km of this race was UGLY. just plain ugly.  Complete with heaving and gagging.

As you can see the good far outweighed both the bad and the ugly.  Not sure what that means for my future in the 5K.  Leigh on the other hand already has one lined up.  Clearly he doesn't want to keep sharing that PR :)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

So I Guess I'm Putting This Out There....

So I have mentioned in a few posts recently that I have this crazy ambitious running goal that I am poised to attack over the course of the next several months.  You see, there is this little race, that I really want to run.
That would be The Boston Marathon!  For those who don't know, the Boston Marathon is the Granddaddy of all marathons.  Likely the best known road race in the world, it is the world's oldest marathon (although the Around the Bay 30K Road Race in Hamilton is in fact older, but is not a marathon).  Now I suppose that many of you are wondering why the heck this is such an ambitious goal.  Well that's the thing about the Boston Marathon.  You don't just enter your name, and age,  t-shirt size, and credit card number onto a registration page. take a breath, and hit submit.  You must qualify to earn the ability to register.  How do you qualify?  Well, you run your guts out, that's how.  Being the spring chick that I am, I still fall in the youngest age category, but being among the oldest of the youngest means that I have to run a sub-3:35 marathon in order to qualify.  So that my friends is why this is a hugescarycrazyoverwhelming goal.
My best marathon time is 3:48:17.  For you math lovers, that means I have to cut 13:18 off my time to satistfy the qualification standard.  In reality, it would be best to cut closer to 15 minutes, as squeaking in seconds under your qualifier still does not guarantee entry depending on how many people register in a given year.  In some ways 15 minutes seems like no time at all, just a bit over 30 seconds per mile faster then my best time...30 seconds faster seems like nothing, until you have to do it for 26.2 miles.  In some ways 15 minutes seems like a long time...Enough time to walk Lucas to school, or give 2 boys a bath, or make dinner on soccer night. 
So I've armed myself with a new training plan.  The Marathon:  Own It plan from Train Like a Mother.  It will be bible for 18 weeks.  I will eat well, and hydrate well, and remember to take my iron supplements.  I will hit the gym twice a week to cross train, and strengthen to prevent injury and become a more efficient runner, I will get up early enough to run that I have time for planks and other torture core strengthening before the boys are up and the "mommys" begin. I will run slow when I'm supposed to run slow, and fast when I'm supposed to run fast, and rest when I'm supposed to rest, and sleep enough to let my body soak in all the improvement instead of checking my email one more time. 
See that?  It says right there that it's a "plan that can get you a BQ."
Why?  Why all the effort, when I could clearly just choose another race?  A race where I could just enter my name, and age, and shirt size, and credit card number on the registration page.  Well, I don't know if I'm quite sure why, I suppose there's a few reasons.  In 1967 Kathrine Switzer (registered as K.V. Switzer) was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a registered participant.  The race director attempted to physically remove her from the course.  She then went on to lobby for women's athletics.  Her drive, determination, and tenacity are the reason that girls like me got to grow up playing sports.  Women like her made it possible to us to experience the joy, and satisfaction, and empowerment of sports.  Growing up playing sports made me the person I am today.

The Boston Marathon is kind of a big deal in the running world.  The ability to check that off, to know that I did that, is a big deal to me.  To have a requirement in front of me, something that seems just a touch out of reach, but knowing that if I work hard enough, if I strive enough that I just might be able to touch it drives me.  So I'll  borrow a mantra from my man Yoda.

I will not try, I will do.  It may take some time to get there, I may jump an age group and gain 5 minutes before it happens, but I am going to show myself what I can do.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Some Very Exciting Sears Run News!

I am not a pack rat.  On the hoarder spectrum, I am about as far away from the people on TLC as one can get.  I just am not attached to things, sometimes to a fault.

I am however, very attached to experiences, events, and memories.  I almost always feel weepy at the end of a vacation, or after Christmas.  I always feel nostalgic and sometimes a bit blue after a big race.  I get attached to the process, to the preparation, I get attached to the big event, and then I am attached to the memory and the feelings I associate with it, I miss it when it is over. The 2013 Sears Great Canadian Run is one of those experiences that I am extraordinarily attached to.  I frequently find myself reminiscing about the training, fundraising, and race day itself.  I often think of the people we met, and were inspired by.   I think a lot about the cause, and how much it has come to mean to us.

A little while age we received an unexpected email from the folks over the The Sears Great Canadian Run.  From the email:

"This year we have created an Ambassador program.  The program will be used to highlight past participants whose involvement made the event the success it was.  These people are out in their communities speaking about the event, generating social buzz and influencing individuals to participate."

We were, and are, absolutely honoured to have been selected as Ambassadors for The Sears Great Canadian Run.  It is a cause and event that has become very dear to our hearts, and is a very important part of our family, and something that we are very VERY attached to!

We started off by expanding our 2 person team to a team of 10!  I am currently leaning on a couple more people to join us.  If you would like to join in the fun, there is still plenty of time to train.  Contact us via the comments section here on the blog, facebook, e-mail, or in person to join our team.  If you fancy, head over to The Sears Great Canadian Run website and register a whole team of your own.

I have also just created a facebook page for our team.  We would love it if you would head over here to like our page.  We will share all sorts of things there.  Inspiration, training updates, news from The Run, and information about the fundraising events we have planned.

What fundraising events you ask?!?  

I'm so glad you asked.  The first event that we are ready to announce is the Inaugural Cooper's Troopers Pancake Breakfast.  

When:  August 2, 2014
Where:  Applebee's Restaurant Mississauga, 5700 Mavis Rd.
What do you get:  Pancakes, bacon, OJ, Tea, Coffee, served to you by our team!  We will also be holding a raffle for some great prizes.
How much of your money do we want:  Only $15!!

The restaurant can accommodate 150 people.  We would LOOOOVE to bring it to capacity.  

So here's what you can do for us.  Invite family, friends, coworkers, people who look like they like pancakes, people who look like they like bacon...Really, just invite anyone!

Please contact us at cooperstroopers.searsrun@gmail.com
to purchase tickets