Wednesday, 29 May 2013

We Did It! But We Are Tired!

As Cooper would say "We Did It!!!!!"

Seeing as most of you that read this are close friends and family, by now I would imagine you know that Lexie and I both finished the Ottawa Marathon. Much like when it comes to writing this blog, Lexie blew me out of the water. Her time was UNREAL for a first timer (3:48:17). So if you see her, tell her she is a running adonis. I, on the other hand, decided to go the way of the The Penguin and chose to get more bang for buck and spent a little more time on the course (4:16:09). We both were super happy with the results and the media reports are correct, some tears were shed at the finish line.

A by-product of all that awesomeness has been extreme hunger, some pain, and the worst one of all, extreme exhaustion. So this post is just a quick check in to let you know we did, it was awesome, and we are tired. The recap is on the way. In the meantime, here is a song dedicated to Lexie for killing it on Sunday.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Taper Week-The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Ottawa Marathon week is here, which also means (unfortunately) that taper week is in full swing.  Sticking with our training plan we started to slowly cutting our mileage 2 weeks ago.  We were still running 5 times a week but our daily mileage was less then our peak weeks leading up to taper.  This was somewhat tolerable.  But this week...Oh this week...Four miles (family run style, with the stroller) on Monday and that is it until our 3 mile shakeout on Saturday morning.  That's. it.  So here's the lowdown on the good, the bad, and the ugly of two tapering (hopeful) marathoners.

The Good

  • Sleeping in.  With midweek runs of 10+ miles I was hauling it out of bed around 5am, usually (accidentally and completely unintentionally disrupting Leigh's sleep). With midweek runs of 0 miles I get to sleep in until the boys get up, and Leigh gets to sleep in until he needs to get up for work.
  • Getting to sleep in means we can watch Flashpoint on Netflix for longer...Every evening.  How did we miss this show when it was on TV??

  • Less laundry.  Eliminate running and workout clothes from our laundry, and our hamper rejoices, empty AND less smelly.
  • Leigh's injuries have healed.  He has been running his taper runs completely pain free.  He's good to go for Sunday.
  • We are not in a constant cycle of eat, feel hungry, eat, feel hungry.

  • Carbo loading starts officially tomorrow.  This is where we get to fill our muscles with as much glycogen (sugar) as they can handle.  We are aiming in essence to fill our tanks to the brim.  This means we get to indulge in all sorts of yummy things.  Leigh is at physio right now, and has promised me a carbo loading kick off surprise when he gets home.
The Bad
  • I miss my daily hit of endorphins.  I am an addict, I need my runner's high.
I need this shirt (source)

  • I miss the mind clearing, mental relaxation, solo thinking time I get from a morning run.  Entertaining 2 wild animals preschool aged boys all day seems much more challenging when my day doesn't start with a run.
  • My muscles and joints feel tighter then normal, and every ache and pain I feel is a catastrophic injury that will negatively impact my race, throwing months of hard fought training down the drain.
  • I feel fat.
  • When I see people out running I feel jealous, horribly, awfully jealous.

The Ugly
  • I am doubting my training.  How am I supposed to run 26.2 miles when I am not running anything right now, won't my body forget what to do, won't I get weak, and tired, and my muscles will shrivel up and whither away...
  • Every time I pass the fridge I stop to look wistfully at my training plan, all those runs, all those miles...Sigh.
  • I am not sleeping well.  Between race dreams where I inevitably have forgotten something, or get lost, or the course has turned into an obstacle style race, and more sleep/less activity, I just can't sleep.

So there you have it, a look into the warped and frantic mind of a (not yet) marathoner.  Can't wait until Friday at 2pm when we hit the road and head to Ottawa.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Our First Guest Post!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, we have been enjoying the sunshine and family time. We did our last run of the training plan as a family yesterday and are really excited because IT'S MARATHON WEEK! More on that tomorrow.

We have been after our sister-in-law since we started the blog to throw down a guest post, and she finally obliged. She will in all likelihood become a regular on here, we just haven't told her that yet. Without further adieu....

Last Fall I signed my daughter up for a 100-metre kids’ race at a local park. She ran alongside her cousin, Lucas (they ran holding hands).


There were other races taking place that morning (1 mile, 5K, and 10K.). When the kids completed their race I strolled on the grass with my husband TJ, Lexie, Leigh, and our gaggle of children, making our way to the playground, when a woman caught my eye. She was running the 5K race. There was nothing extraordinary about her; she must have been a few years older than me, her dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail, head bent in focus and determination. My mind went completely quiet as she ran past me, and then a single thought came: I wonder if I could do that.

 If you know me, you may know that I suffered with severe childhood asthma, allergies, and have never, NEVER done anything that could be called an ‘intense’ form of exercise in my life. This thought of running – of ME running – was crazy enough to be considered cause for alarm.

And yet here I am, several months later, running and LOVING it. I have learned a lot on my running journey so far. These are a few lessons that have been important to me:

1. Hard work pays off

I shocked myself (again) by actually following through on my plan to try running. I followed the Couch-to-5K plan created by Jeff Galloway, which involves running for short intervals followed by walk breaks. Over the course of nine weeks the length of the running intervals increases until you can eventually run 5K by the program’s end. I started by running for only one minute at a time. By week 6, I decided to see how far I could run (before feeling worn out), and discovered I could do the entire 5K. I had to do a lot of strength training (and a lot more running) until I could run without feeling weak, but I am amazed at how quickly the heart and lungs can be conditioned.

Throughout my life I have struggled with either over- or under-estimating the value of my own efforts. Running is an activity that has allowed me to see the benefits of my work very quickly. Setting a goal and working towards it, slowly but surely, one minute at a time, helped me learn that diligence will produce results. The lesson I struggled to learn with my mind I have had to learn through my body.

2. The power of vulnerability
When I first contemplated running, I can remember asking myself, “Do I really want start an activity in which I will get injured?” (Injury is practically inevitable due to the repetitive nature of running). Surprisingly (yet again) I decided to go for it anyway, to open myself up to an experience that would simultaneously offer joy and accomplishment as well as pain and suffering. Running has offered me a way to discover my own strength and to experience struggle – both of which are necessary to live bravely and confidently. (A little overdue, but hey, it’s coming….).

For more on this topic, watch this awesome TED talk:

3. Mental toughness
It takes a lot of mental grit to run. The mind, just like the body, needs to be up for the challenge. As I worked through Couch-to-5K, I was surprised to find that I was talking myself through runs: You can do it. You’re almost there. More surprising is the amount of trash talk that comes out of my brain when tackling a big hill or a time goal. Most surprising of all was when once during a run my mind started to spew out portions of a Jack Donaghy soliloquy from an episode of 30 Rock to keep me going. I never know what my brain will come up with, but it somehow knows how to get me to hang in there.

I am excited to be running, to be getting stronger, to see how fast and how far I can go.  I am so glad I decided to take on this physical (and mental) challenge; it has been one of the most thrilling, strenuous, empowering experiences of my life.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Not My Idea of Fun

In May of 2008 when I was pregnant with Lucas we drove to New Brunswick to visit my cousins.  Not just cousins, but my best friends for my whole life cousins.  They moved out east when they finished university and I have missed them desperately ever since.

5 years and 6 kids later...
Our visit happened to coincide with Blue Nose Marathon Weekend.  Amanda and my Uncle were running the 10K that year, so we roadtripped to Halifax for the weekend.  We watched the race and cheered them on, and while I LOVED the race atmosphere, I know I uttered the words "running is just not my idea of fun".  Ha.

The girls are a year and a half older then me, and growing up I always wanted to be like them, even when their hair and fashion choices were somewhat questionable.  So naturally I guess I followed suit with running.  They planted the seed, and boy has it grown.

Amanda and Ashley GOOD LUCK with your races tomorrow.  We wish we could be there to cheer you on, or even better to be running with you.  We love you and miss you xox

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Then and Now

This was us 6 years ago today...

My how things have changed.  Here's some shots from today's Mother's Day festivities...

I bought Leigh a tent for our anniversary, getting geared up for some good summer camping trips.  Naturally we set it up in the house to play for awhile (and watch Toy Story 2).  Watching a movie in a tent in the living room is fun!

It has been an amazing, exciting, crazy, happy, joyful 6 years.  We are more in love with our little family then we ever imagined.  That said?  In a race, I would drop you like a bad habit ;)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Life Doesn't Come With a Manual...It Comes With a Mother

I am so very grateful to have been blessed with my Mom.  I am grateful for her commitment to her family, for the way she has always made us as her children the very most important people on the planet.  Through this she gave us self esteem, she taught us of our worth and value.

I am grateful for her example in so many ways.  I am grateful for all the times she played with us, and didn't stand back and watch, for the childhood memories of her being in the Etobicoke Creek with us catching cray fish and getting dirty, and tired, and happy outside all summer.  I am grateful that when I came home from school, whether it was a good day or a bad day, she was there, and she knew if it was a good day or a bad day without asking.  I am grateful that I had a Mom who cared enough about me to say no sometimes, now I understand why.  I am grateful for a mom who showed up, who showed up not only for the big things, but showed up for the "daily details of life."  I am grateful for a mom who was just there, mentally, physically, emotionally she was and is always there, because that's what it takes to be a mom.  I watched her, and I carry with me all that I have learned from her, we have an eternal bond, she taught me how to be a mom.

I also can't express to Lesley Mum how grateful I am for how you love the boys.  We became mothers together and I feel so intertwined with you on this journey.  Thank-you for being there for me as a friend and sister, and thank-you for being Mum to the boys. that means so much beyond just Cooper's name for you.  I am honoured to love your girls and to be a part of their lives.

Happy Mothers Day!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

We're Lovin' It

Leigh and I met over 13 years ago when we were high school students working at McDonald's.  Our siblings and many of our cousins were also McDonald's employees at one time or another, some are still McDonald's employees.  One of my uncles works at the head office, and one is a franchisee on the East coast.  I guess you could say that it is in our blood...Hopefully just not in the artery blocking sort of way.

Today is McHappy Day.  Also known as Blow Off Dinner And Take The Kids For A Happy Meal Day.  $1 from every Happy Meal, Big Mac, and hot McCafe beverage will be donated to Ronald McDonald Houses and other children's charities across Canada.

Ronald McDonald Houses are facilities located near hospitals that provide housing, education, and a variety of other programs to support families of children being treated for serious illnesses at those hospitals.  When your child is facing a serious illness and your whole world is shattered RMH steps in to assist in keeping families close and connected.  It gives them a haven away from the hospital, while keeping them close to their child.  We are so blessed that we (and our parents) live so (relatively) close to the best paediatric cardiac facility in the world, we can only imagine how much more difficult our journey with Cooper would have been if we had to travel great distances to receive the care he needed.

You could do like I do and order your Big Mac with no meat, with tomato, and extra pickles (I promise you that you won't miss the meat), and throw in a side salad instead of fries. It's not health food, but you knock down the fat and calories a bit and still get to participate in the McHappy Day fun.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Weekend Thoughts

We had a fun and busy weekend from which I am still tired.  I'll tell you all about it, in point form, because writing coherent paragraphs is too much effort for today.

  • My mom, dad, and sister are awesome.  My mom and dad watched the boys at their place Saturday and Sunday so that we could run our 22 miler and then celebrate our anniversary which is next Sunday (but ditching my kids on Mother's Day would put me out of the running for the Mother of the Year prize I am vying for).  My sister brought her cat (a black cat named Vader=Lucas' dream come true), and helped entertain the boys.  We did the same staycation thing last year for our anniversary and loved it.  As parents of young kids, just having a day or two without the demands of parenting feels like a real vacation.  For 30 hours we didn't have to fill sippy cups, strap children into car seats, or wipe bums.  It was also nice to go out for dinner without having fingers in our water glasses, or having to take Cooper out because he in physically incapable of sitting still.

On the way to Oma's

Snuggles with Vader

  • Our 22 miler went very well.  It was warm out as we had hoped, a perfect day for running.  

  • Leigh managed 16 miles running, 1 mile walking, and then biked the remainder because of his knee.  He was happy with that and is feeling good about his training.

  • Our 22 miler taught me a couple of things.  First, I need to eat more before super long runs like that.  Typically I eat nothing, or have something very small just before I leave.  Half an orange, half a Lara bar, or a whole wheat fig newton, and then I fuel every 5 miles.  It seems as our long runs get longer I need to eat more.  At about mile 14 I actually felt STARVING.  I don't typically feel hungry while I am running, but I did this time.  I am going to try a piece of peanut butter toast to see how my gut handles it before my next long run.  I think that I will benefit on race day if I can stomach something more substantial.  Second, I think I am going to need to use the race water stations in addition to carrying my own Nuun which I don't typically do while racing (because I don't like to slow down with the rest of the pack at the water stations).  I learned that my fuel belt doesn't carry enough for such a long distance.  There was a kiosk where we parked, and we planned to buy water and fill up our bottles at our halfway point.  When we got back, the kiosk was closed, and we had not rationed our water well, because we thought we would be able to fill up...Survivor fail.  And third, the shirt I was planning to race in is a no go.  It is a super light and airy Moving Comfort tech tee, problem is it is not stretchy and not so Moving Comfortable.  It seems that as I run instead of the sleeves moving with my arms, the sleeves just rub against the bottoms of my arms.  This turned into mega chafing.  On Saturday afternoon and evening I was sort of mad that I had run 22 miles and the sorest part of my body was the skin on my arms.  Going to have to decide on a new race day outfit.

  • Our awesome and super generous friend Laura gave me a few Lululemon headbands.  I wore the bang buster on Saturday's run.  It did not move AT ALL for 22 miles.  My short hair and freakishly large head typically conspire against me and cause every single headband to slide off my head as soon as I move.  This one is a keeper, and so is Laura...Thank you so much!

  • I think that my hunger and dehydration made that run really mentally tough.  At mile 14 Leigh sent me on ahead because he knew he was going to need to bike the remainder.  He was going to try to get me some water and catch up.  By mile 17 I was having a rough go.  Physically (although I was hungry and thirsty) I felt really good.  Nothing hurt, my legs were tired but felt good, and I was still breathing easy, but mentally it was tough to stick it out.  I never question my ability to complete a run unless I have not fuelled well.  Leigh caught up with me about mile 20, and I almost cried when I saw that he had water for me.  I downed that bottle of water over about 1/2 a mile and immediately my foggy self doubting mind relaxed.  I was able to kick it a bit at the end and finished it strong.  I know that 26.2 is going to take a lot of mental toughness, I think (hope) that Saturday helped me prepare for that.

  • Subway has never tasted as good as it did on Saturday.

  • Menchies had fruit loop flavoured frozen yogurt.  Yes..FRUIT LOOPS!  I skipped the toppings so that I could have extra yogurt.  It's good for recovery right?!

  • A post long run nap is a luxury I would like to partake of more often.

  • We went to Spring Rolls for our anniversary dinner.  The fire alarm in the mall it is in went off (before we ordered) so we had to wait 40 minutes until that was sorted out.  That scored us 50% off our meal.  I think that I made up for the 2800(ish) calories I burned running with all the sushi I ate.  Mmmmmm.

  • There are 20 stairs up (and down) to get to the bathroom at Spring Rolls in Waterloo.  You notice things like that when you have run 22 miles mere hours before.

  • We saw a guy that looked just like Kirk Cameron (still in the 80's) at Spring Rolls.  Leigh kept singing the Growing Pains theme song...We are immature.


  • We stink at sleeping in.  No kids to wake us up and we were up at 8 am...Idiots.

  • I bought this dress last week, and wore it to my cousin Laura's bridal shower on Sunday.  I LOVE THIS DRESS.  Never has there been such a comfortable dress.  Feels like a night gown, but looks far more socially acceptable.  I could also leave KT tape on my leg without looking like a weirdo.  Lucas was beside himself when he found out that he was going home with Daddy and I was staying at the shower (we met my mom there to exchange the boys).  Aunt Yvonne was kind enough to give us the go ahead to let the boys crash the shower.  They had a great time and I didn't have to suffer the mommy guilt that happens when your 4 year old is clinging to you, crying, and begging you not to leave him.

  • I set my alarm for 5:20 this morning because I had a 9 miler with 3 mile repeats to do.  I was super tired and I guess worried that I was going to sleep through my alarm because I kept having dreams that I slept in.  I had one just before I woke up that I had slept in and had to do my run later because of it, only I had to run with my Dad and my sister Brooke.  Brooke started to complain after 1 mile so I had to push her in the running stroller...She's 27...It was a bad dream.

  • Taper has started.  At the end of a training plan (especially for long distance races), the mileage tapers down.  The fitness and endurance are already in place, and taper gives the body a chance to heal from the stress of training, and be prepared for the harder effort of race day.  Last week was our peak week (at 51 miles), this week we step back to 43, then 32, then 7 on race week (plus 26.2 on race day itself). I need to trust the training, but I already know taper madness is coming.  Watch out! 


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Ben, A Family Treasure.

Today I met the man of the my dreams. The moment I walked out of the office of my new BFF/Hero/Physiotherapist, I had the urge to run back in and serenade him with this:

His name his Ben, and he is a family treasure. Lexie introduced Ben into our family last summer. She was suffering from knee pain and plantar fasciitis and Ben fixed it. Then our SIL Lesley started running (she will be guest posting soon) and soon ran into knee problems. Where did she turn? To Ben of course. She told me today that she went into see him once with a knee pain, and he did couple of things with her foot, and BAM! FIXED! The guy is miracle worker! 

So when I couldn't fix my self diagnosed knee issue and got over my fear of a medical professional shutting down my subpar running career, I turned to Ben. 

I am, of course, being overly dramatic (as usual). But when you train for a marathon for 13 weeks and then missing the marathon becomes a real possibility, any sliver of hope can look like a supernova. Today's visit gave me that hope.

It was decided that my knee pain and hamstring pain has come from two places; tightness in my ankle and a misalignment in my hips cause my standing on it at work. I had a few things moved around, was taught a few exercises and went on my merry way. 

When I got home I was excited, I had a cause for my pain, a plan to fix it and my knee felt as good as it has in weeks, so what did I do to celebrate?


I still feel good, no pain, and I'm excited to get back on track in the next week. Ben has told me to avoid really long distances for now, but that I can still run as long as I'm not feeling any significant pain (here's hoping the pain doesn't show up until mile 21.9 on Saturday!)

I'll head back to see him early next week and hope he continues to be the bearer of good news. Until then keep your fingers crossed!



Wednesday, 1 May 2013


I think...I hope...I REALLY hope it's safe to say that Spring has finally arrived in Ontario.  After a winter that just WOULD. NOT. QUIT, I am so happy to see (and feel) some sunshine and warmer temperatures.  I feel...Twitterpated!

I love the Spring time.  Leigh and I started dating 13 years ago in April, and our 6th wedding anniversary is next week.  No wonder this time of year twitterpates me.

After a long, cold and snowy winter with two preschool aged boys, it's no wonder the Mom part of me feels giddy.  I spend the whole winter being a one woman entertainment committee.  Every morning I have to come up with something to do in order to ensure that we all survive until Daddy gets home (with our sanity intact).  People always comment to me that they think it's great that I take the boys to do so many different things.  Little do they know, it's as much for me as it is for them.  I don't like being cooped up in the house with those two monkeys any more then they like being cooped up.  We all have a much better day when we head out to spend some time at the library, swimming, big bird club at the Y, the early years centre, the Lego store, the train museum, the mall, Eliza's house, McDonald's play place ($2 on muffins for a morning snack, and you have an indoor playground for your playing pleasure).  But at the end of winter, coming up with activities becomes tiresome.  We all get bored with the fall back activities, and I get Mom block (sort of like writer's block).  But in the Spring...Oh the Spring...What are we going to do today?  Easy, we are going OUTSIDE.  We can play in the backyard, we can play in the front yard, we can ride bikes, and cars, and do sidewalk chalk.  We can go to the Arboretum to run all morning, and hunt for frogs in the Japanese garden, and look for gophers, and have a picnic.  We can bike ride to the trail and explore.  In Spring we can get dirty, and tired, and happy...And Mommy barely has to think to make it happen.  Twitterpated!  I love Spring!

Snack time in the backyard

Sunny day!
Riding to the park in Venelope's race car (Wreck it Ralph is big right now)
After a long cold winter of marathon training, the runner is me is giddy as well.  In the Spring time it doesn't take me 20 minutes to put on my 73 layers of running clothes before I head out.  Shorts, sports bra, t-shirt, socks...Done.  And even better then the ease of getting dressed, in the Spring I don't have to wash the 73 layers of running clothes generated by each run.  Spring time running clothes take up much less room in the hamper then dead of winter running clothes.  I love heading out early in the morning in the Spring time.  The air feels warm, and the birds are chirping because they are twitterpated too.

We are looking forward to some warm weather running to prepare us for Ottawa.  We first became a little concerned about the potential for warm weather on the day of the Ottawa Marathon when Leigh went in to see our family Dr.  Her husband ran Ottawa a couple of years ago and ended up with heat exhaustion.  It is widely known in the running community that heat makes it more difficult to run.  Because your body works hard to cool itself, your pace suffers, and dehydration and subsequent cramping become bigger issues as well.  We would really like to get a few hot weather runs under our belts before the end of my to acclimate our winter trained bodies a little bit.  Thankfully Saturday's forecast looks like this...

We have a 22 miler to do midmorning on Saturday, this is considerably better for acclimating to some warmth then the snow and wind we ran our 20 miler in 2 weeks ago.  Rumour has it that frozen yogurt has the perfect carb/protein ratio for recovery...We'll test it out on Saturday and let you know.