Archive | January, 2012

Shit ____________s Say

29 Jan

I’m sure you’ve all seen the original “Shit Girls Say” videos and its various popular spinoffs. But look! I found running-specific ones! The first is titled “Shit Runners Say” and I’m ashamed to admit I’ve uttered at least 50% of the phrases they say. I included the videos made about ultrarunning and triathlons not because I do either of these sports, but because I know I’ve said more than a few of the same things. Especially the triathlon video — “fartlek”.


P.S. As a side note before you indulge in hilarity, any advice on tight hamstrings? My right in particular has been nagging at me. Not quite pain… but not quite right either.

Okay here you go:




You Know You’re Training for a Marathon When:

25 Jan

So I wrote a little post the other day about what I saw on my 20k long run on Saturday morning. It wasn’t until today that I realized I ran (pretty much) a half marathon as a training run. I didn’t even think about the distance. I just busted it out like it wasn’t no thing. That’s when I decided that I’m officially like a runner or something. I ran a half without even wanting to brag about it! Well… until now.

The return of smug Obama.


It got me thinking about other aspects of my life that have changed since starting training. So here goes:

1. You run a half marathon as a training run and don’t think to brag about it. But uhm hey, do it please! So I’m not the only one.

2. You can’t go out on the weekends anymore and you’re cool with it. Friday’s out, you’ve got to load up on carbs and hit the hay early in order to get out at 5am for your weekend run. And by the time 5pm rolls around on Saturday, you’re dead on your feet. Maybe something to do with running around in circles for three hours? People ask you to come out but you’ve already made plans with another bowl of pasta and a couple episodes of Criminal Minds.

"Sorry guys! I've got to stay in and read this biography of Jeff Galloway!"


3. You do several loads of laundry a week consisting only of running gear. Your towels fall by the wayside (you don’t want your expensive Lulu tights to pill) as you do load after load of specialty shirts, snot-covered gloves, mud-splattered jackets, and socks with suspicious blood stains on them. By the way… no matter how often you clean them, those stains are there for keeps.

4. You’ve stopped trying new food in fear of what it’ll do to your digestive system. Someone at a party (mid-week of course, we’ve been over this) offers you a spicy Indian dish. You laugh and refuse. You don’t want to know what will happen during your 10k the next morning. Nothing good can come from that stuff jumping around in your intestines tomorrow. Trust. Me.

5. You’ve stopped feeling embarrassed about leaving the house with a head lamp on. You’ve got a run to do before heading to class/work/whatever and if that means strapping on a unicorn horn you’re a-okay.

6. People start asking you if you’re that girl they see every morning on the roads. You sheepishly nod and they invariably tell you you’re crazy. You’re used it by now. As a little small-town addition to this, I’ve been told that I cause quite a lot of discussion on the commuter buses that drive past me several times every run. I know all the drivers (very. small. town.) who then tell everyone my name, that I’m training for a marathon, and that “I’ve got a good head on my shoulders”. Booyah, thank you bus driver man.

7. You eat and eat and eat and god you’re always hungry. What more do you want from me body? I can only eat so much in one day!



8. You know exactly what you’re going to be doing at 6:45am on March 28th. Running of course, what else? You may be like me and have your schedule set until November.

9. You tire your dog out on runs, not the other way around. “Come ooooonnn Ruby just 3k left! We can do it!”

10. You consider a 10k run as a nice, easy, mid-week run. Then you think about when you first started running and a 10k seemed like an impossible feat. Then you feel amazing.


Have you noticed any big changes in your life after starting your training? Hopefully they’re all positive ones (or at least not too bad).

Observations on Rural Routes

22 Jan

I absolutely CANNOT look at this photo without laughing. Roosters! Hilarious!

Okay, well all of my runs are technically rural runs, considering I live in a rural district. But my long run yesterday seemed particularly folksy for some reason. Some issues that arose:

The man in the yellow velvet pants: Maybe I’d call them something more like ochre. A dark yellow. Keep in mind that this was at 6:45am on a Saturday morning. Where were you going velvet-pants man? What sort of event occurs in the dark on weekend morning and requires velvet pants? And why, why yellow?

The confused roosters: Hey roosters, maybe you didn’t know this but dawn only happens once a day. There is no reason for you to be crowing at 7:30 and then again at 8:30 when I pass by on the last leg of my out-and-back.

The playground ghosts: My music lulled just as I passed the elementary school. It was pitch-black out. Suddenly I hear a clanging; the swing set is swinging by itself. Playground ghosts, quit freaking me out at the 2k mark. I’ve got 6k of darkness to get through and more besides.

Freaking myself out again. Child ghosts are the woorrrrrsst.

The pickup truck party: Construction workers, tradespeople, and I guess people who buy a lot of firewood or something are the type of people who a) drive pickup trucks and b) tend to sleep in on Saturday mornings. So why was I passed by at least thirty trucks yesterday morning? Where were you all going? It was a party, wasn’t it? A pickup truck party that I wasn’t invited to because I drive a Corolla. Well, I’ll have you know that I’m officially truck-adjacent because my brother just bought one, and also that I can make some delicious party treats. So invite me next time guys.

The guy walking home in the dark and seeming pretty happy about it: Hey guy, do you realize it’s dark and raining a bit and windy? Why are you so pleased? What’s in your paper bag there? You’re too happy for this time of day, and that’s coming from me. I’m suspicious.

The offended llamas: These guys are pretty much always offended looking. I don’t know if you’ve ever had any dealings with llamas, but they’re a sassy bunch. Why can’t a girl just shout good morning when she’s riding high on endorphins? You were already awake, so don’t give me that look. I feed you guys carrots on the regular, the least you can do is greet me with a smile. Or indifference, as your sheep neighbours across the street do.

I'm not that ugly! Stop staring!

The woman walking her three huge Afghan hounds: The first clue that I’m heading into trouble: booming barks that shake me to the core. Please let them be on leash, please let them be on leash, I’m too young to die. Thankfully, the hounds were tethered. Also wearing identical and differently coloured rainjackets, which, under any other circumstance, would have been hilarious. I was just still trying to catch my breath. Lady, the dark is no time to walk your splendidly clothed canines! My imagination already turns trees into the Predator, I don’t need giant dogs to help my nightmares along, thanks.

So it was in a ponderous mood that I concluded my run, a surprisingly easy 20k. I’m glad to be getting back into the higher numbers; any time I drop down I convince myself I’ve lost my fitness and will never be able to run again. Thankfully, these kilometers flew by, although I’m sore today. Tomorrow: more hill-training. Yahoo!

Confession Time

19 Jan

I run alone pretty well 95% of the time. Up until this fall, that number was a strong 100%. Since starting running with my lovely lady friends twice a month, I’ve been getting a little social contact in. But most of the time, it’s just me and my music hitting the streets and pounding the pavement.

This means I’ve developed terrible habits.

I dance a lot to my music. And I mean a lot. I try to rein it in when cars pass me but there have been more than a few that have come around corners to surprise me mid-smooth moves. Mostly my moves involve a lot of arm flailing. A little bit of creative foot-work makes for what I’m sure is a hot mess of terrible for early morning commuters. I don’t really care. I have fun, and if a few people might get scarred for life, I’m willing to take that chance.

My moves are only slightly worse than this.

I also sing along to my music. This is less noticeable to passing drivers but much more horrifying for people I see on the trails. I’m sorry to everyone who I’ve ever burst upon while belting out the lyrics to “I Will Survive”. I know at first you were afraid, you were petrified, but I hope you’ve gotten over it.

It's pretty much this except I'm wearing clothes and I jump out of bushes.

I specifically bought both pairs of my winter gloves for their snot-wiping capabilities. Running so early on cold days makes for some runny nose issues. I’ve perfected a snot-blasting technique but some still needs a little wipe.

I spit with general abandon. This habit is particularly unappetizing on race days but I do honestly try to rein it in.

But the weirdest thing I’ve developed is what prompted me to write this post. I noticed the other morning that I am pretty rude to stop signs. I revel in not having to obey them as a pedestrian (although I do look both ways, thanks Mom) but I also see them as a kind of downer. They keep telling me to stop. Sometimes this idea seems pretty appealing when it’s -5*C and I can’t feel my face but I know I have 10k left to do. Seeing that big red sign proclaiming exactly the same thing as an evil little inner voice keeps yelling makes me angry. So I treat stop signs with contempt in order to shut that bugger up.

Screw you, inanimate object with no actual power over me!

I’ll run up to a stop sign, and sometimes I try to be polite, and it tells me to STOP and I say “Don’t think I shall thanks,” and continue on. Sometimes there are people around so I’ll just make a subtle rude hand gesture (please imagine Ross Gellar’s alternative to the finger). Sometimes I’ll be extremely rude and swear at the thing. I also do that when people are around if my back hurts or something.

So do these strange running-alone habits make me abnormal? Do you have similar weird habits that you probably wouldn’t have developed if you ran with people more? Let me know, and otherwise, happy trails!

More Talk of Hills

16 Jan


Things are moving along training-wise. In addition to speedwork, I’ve added some hill training into my schedule. And, just like the speedwork sessions, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve done any work on hills.

My schedule this morning called for 4-5 hill repeats of 200m at a 5-10k pace. I decided on both 5 repeats and a 5k pace (about 6:00/km) because I had the day off yesterday and was feeling well-rested. I started out at my house and did a 2k warm-up before finding myself at the bottom of a little hill I like to call Vimy Ridge.

Ugh. War looks terrible.

It’s actually fairly tame, with a steady incline, and is around the 200m my schedule demanded. The unfortunate thing was that the skies decided to open up and dump a couple centimetres on me just as I started the repeats.

Literally, the snow started when I started the hills and then stopped the second I got home. And you know what sucks about snow? It’s very susceptible to wind. That stuff was all up in my face the entire time! No matter what direction I was facing. Wtf Nature. Try doing me a solid and choose one direction in which to assault me.

Also, I may or may not have broken my iPod. I was trying to take a photo of the snow-covered hill but couldn’t figure out how to make it take photos rather than video. Then it stopped responding to all commands. I think that might have something to do with my snow-soaked gloves and that white stuff falling from the sky? Yeah maybe. It’s working well now (so far) so I’m not worried. You guys will just have to imagine the hill.

Feel free to picture something like this.

Thankfully I was otherwise prepared and had my heavy-duty gloves and everything. Still no ghetto snow-sneakers. The repeats themselves went well, and I even sprinted the last one, for the lulz. I had a quick 1k run home and ended with a total distance of 5k.

So far it’s been a great week. Excuse me while I ruin that by reminding myself that I have about 28 chapters of textbooks to read. Happy Monday everyone!

Pleased as a Peach

15 Jan

Winter has officially arrived. Snow is on the ground and seems like it might want to stick around. I was not aware that snow was in the forecast in any way, shape or form. Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I stepped outside to start my LSD run to clear skies and green lawns only to have a snowplow pass me, lights flashing.

Not that kind of LSD guys. LSD = Long slow distance. Save the hallucinogens for after the run.

I was absolutely bewildered. Then it passed again, a few kilometers later, as I continued past snowless land. Finally, as I crested a particularly nasty hill, I arrived midtown to the valley between two mountains and encountered a couple inches of the stuff. And then it started hailing on me. The snow has been creeping towards my house ever since. Needless to say, I was not prepared for running in the snow. I haven’t made my ghetto snow sneakers yet (the general plan is too drive a handful of very short screws into the soles of my old pair) and I was wearing my light gloves instead of my heavy-duty pair. Thankfully there were few cars out in the snow at 7am on a Saturday, so I ran on the still-clear road rather than the mostly non-existent sidewalks. My water froze my throat closed I’m pretty sure. I only checked the thermometer when I got home (still freezing) only to find we were sitting at around -2 C, which may sound mild to you but we get MAYBE ten below-zero days a year and I do not adapt well to it.

Plus, I look about 100% less adorable than this puppy in the snow soooo...

Aside from the cold (or maybe because of it) I ran an exceptionally good 16k yesterday morning. I call it exceptional for two reasons: first, because I ran my first 16k several months ago at 7:21/km and brought yesterday’s run down to 6:41/km, without a single huff or puff along the way. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have shaved another 40 seconds off and be even prouder of myself (oh wait not possible). Yes, yes, I am aware that this is a slow pace, but I’ve beaten myself and that’s what counts.

Second, this particular run included the dreaded Bowen Bay hill, that which I described in unflattering terms in this post. I was hoping I’d reach my turn-around point of 8k before the top of the hill so I wouldn’t have to run back up it. I was only at 7k, which meant running down the entire thing then running back up. I debated with myself, thinking I could add a quick 2k loop at my start-point and avoid the hill altogether. But 2012 is a year for challenging oneself, so I forced myself down the hill. Running down even took forever. I was cursing myself the entire way, knowing each step meant more hill to run up. When I got to the bottom, I gazed up at what I could see of the hill and cursed some more. Then I put my head down and ran.

And you know what? I breezed up that hill like it was nothing baby! I’ve avoided it since last summer and I can’t believe how much I’ve improved since then! I was actually surprised when I got to the top, certain there must be more hill to conquer. The run was pretty much down-hill (in a good way) from there. I felt like planting a flag or a headstone that read “Here lies Bowen Bay hill, also known as Margaret’s bitch”. Maybe next time.

My smugness level = approximately four smug Obamas.

In short, I’m feeling really great about my training. Although I’ve got some other not-so-nice things going on, my running is going great and that makes me feel good. I hope everyone else is doing so well with their training!

Tales of Toes

8 Jan

I had an absolutely ridiculous amount of time off for the holidays this year, nearly a month. I am not good with free time. I can handle about a day/ day and a half of not working or not going to school before I go mental. I hate just sitting around wasting time. This holiday was no exception. I’d get my run out of the way early in the morning and then have a huge gaping day of free time in front of me that I had no idea what to do with. This may sound appealing to many of you but I am the sort of person who needs to be doing something productive.

So I got some things done. Worked out some financial/government things that had been hanging over my head. Completed my application to my dream school with fingers crossed (UBC Sauder reps, if you’re reading this… choose me!). Finally got around to focusing on speedwork. And, most important, painted my nails. I painted them right up.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be worthy of a story, but having enough time to paint my nails and not have them get messed up when I have to do something productive was pretty exciting for me.

Also, this:

Happy Feet! Get it? HAPPY FEET.

Just kidding. I was going to attach a photo of the nightmare I found on my right big toenail. And then I decided I liked having people read my posts and didn’t want to scare anyone away.

I’ll put it this way: when I took the old nail polish off my toes, I originally thought I’d painted my big toe black and then covered it with the bright blue I thought I was removing. Nope! That would have been stupid! Turns out I jammed my toe somehow and it’s just black! Doesn’t hurt at all and hasn’t hurt in my recent memory, so I’m forced to assumed it happened on a long run somewhere along the way and the runner’s high allowed me to ignore it.

Either that or I’m just utterly insensitive to odd pains in my feet anymore. On second thought, this seems more likely. I’m sure I’ve just convinced a lot of you to take up running with these mental pictures! You’re welcome!

That’s my fun running story of the week. In terms of training, I’m just working on building up mileage and trying to get a better handle on pre-run meals because I’ve been losing steam a little more mid-run than I’m used to. I’ve started taking Gu’s with me for the long runs and trying to load up on more carbs the night before. Hopefully I’ll start seeing improvements soon! Any tips would be appreciated.

And hey, it’s the second week of January already! Good luck to everyone with resolutions! Sticking with it is the hardest part. Also, I’ve been thinking about getting into foam-rolling because of a tight hamstring. Any thoughts?

Happy trails everyone!

That Wonderful Feeling…

4 Jan

When you give in to the fact that you’re not going to finish your run as anything but soaked to the bone. Acceptance is usually precipitated by one shoe finally landing in one unavoidable puddle and soaking up enough water to create a mini swamp in there, complete with tadpoles. After that, you’ve free to run through all the puddles, through the damp bushes, and under the drooping branches and love it like a six-year-old with new rainboots.

In other news, it rained today on my 5k.

I Love the Smell of Speedwork in the Morning

3 Jan

My first run of 2012 (yesterday) also happened to be the first time I’ve incorporated speed training into my schedule in a long, long time. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it! I usually settle into an extremely easy pace of about 6:45/km and stick with it for the entirety of my run. But the schedule called for fartleks and I could do nothing but obey. The training program I worked from to create my schedule was pretty open about the speed training; they gave a distance and only stipulated that the first and last kilometers were for easy warm-up and cool-down. Other than that, I had free rein. I decided on an easy repetitive interval of 30 seconds at level 8ish speed and 1:30 at regular easy pace, which for me is between 6:30/km and 6:50.

Thankfully I’ve held on to my ability to mark time fairly well, because trying to check my watch in the light of my headlight proved pretty challenging. I settled into the intervals very easily and I just loved the entire run! I’d forgotten what it feels like to be out of breath while running! I only huff and puff when running some hills at my easy pace, which I guess is why they call it easy. Having to work a little harder to breathe was actually kind of refreshing! It’s a lot easier to zone out of the present when running easy, and I actually enjoyed being able to only focus on getting enough air and feeling the cold morning around me.

In fact, I think I actually sped up as the workout progressed, making my speed bursts faster and longer and my recovery pace settled at something more like 6:20/km. I probably should have stuck with my original pacing, because I’ve got a tight hamstring that acts up when I push too hard, but it felt right in the moment so I’m happy.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I had a very good first run for 2012. I think this is a good omen. I’m looking forward to working in more fartlek training in the coming months. Hope everyone else started off the year with a bang as well!

The Year in Review

1 Jan

For whatever reason I feel this photo sums up my 2011. Scooting and running.

Here it is ladies and gents! The mandatory running year in review. I’m not jaded at all about this type of post because this is the first year I’ve been serious about keeping records and setting goals for running. So I’m excited to lay everything out. Bear with me.

First off, the cold hard numbers:

Total kilometres run: 1250

Hours spent: 157

Peak month: December, with 176.4 km run.

Lowest month: January and March, tied for last with 0 km run. Glad I got back on the wagon in April.

Number of races: 4, a 5k, 10k, and two halves.

Personal Records Set: 5, for 1k, 1m, 5k, 10k, and Half. Holy.


And on to goals set and met:

  1. Improved average pace. A vague sort  of goal, this was easy to accomplish. I effectively cut an entire minute off my average easy pace, which is HELLO uhm a lot.
  2. Ran a half. Done and done, twice! Once for my birthday and once on Thanksgiving. Proud of me.
  3. Consistency. Vague again but not so easy to accomplish. However, since April I’ve run at least 3 times a week, and more often than not, 4-5 times. That is, with the glaring exception of my two-week appendicitis-related break in August.


Okanagan Half - October


Things I’m most proud of:

  1. Starting the running group for myself and my friends, and sticking with it. I’ve learned a lot about pacing and about how to run safely and teaching others to do the same.
  2. Continually getting my ass out of my bed on dark mornings. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.
  3. Being patient with my little dog in getting her trained up to run longer distances with me. She’s now a regular little 5k-er and she’ll keep trucking for up to 8.
  4. Starting this blog and getting my thoughts down on virtual paper! I’ve learned so much from fellow bloggers and I think talking with people who understand my love for running has really helped me to stick with it and get excited about new goals.


Energizer Night Race 5k - November

And finally, goals for 2012:

  1. Run that marathon I’ve been talking about! No goals for time or anything, I just want to run the whole thing. My plan to accomplish this goal is to stick to my 5 run a week schedule, RESTING on rest days, not doing sprints at the gym, and to listen to my body and taking it easy when I need to.
  2. Remembering to stretch after each run. I used to religiously and actually got a lot more flexible. Then I stopped for no real reason and can’t touch my toes any more. Plus, I’m putting myself at risk of injury! It’s stupid not to.
  3. Run a sub-60 min 10k. I know this is cake for most people but I am slow. This is for after I run the marathon I think.
  4. Finally, continue being consistent.


Honestly, looking back on this year, I’m a little bemused about how or why I did it. But I’m damn proud of myself, way more fit and balanced, and 1000% healthier. 2011 was a successful year for me, and I have a feeling 2012 is going to be even better. Until we all die in December, of course.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012 for everyone! I hope everyone is as pleased with their 2011 as I am. If not, well, there’s only one way to make 2012 better — Go for a run!