Posts Tagged ‘running


Valley Harvest 5K 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Monday to all my Canadian friends!!

As in past years I spent Sunday morning running the Valley Harvest Marathon 5K here in Wolfville. It’s so nice to run a race that is close to home and doesn’t involved getting up at 5 or 6 am in order to be there in time for the race to start!


And running here in the Annapolis Valley is a pretty beautiful thing in October!

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Saturday I went and did the kit pick-up thing, and as usual it was organized wonderfully and unlike a lot of other races they actually have your kits pre-packed for you. I know this makes a lot of extra work for the volunteers, but it is wonderful for us runners because it means we will actually get the size shirt we asked for at registration. It annoys me so much when you go pick up a race kit and they are out of your size, even though you registered for that particular size months and months ago!


The swag…


The hat is pretty sweet since it has a pocket in it so you have somewhere to put your keys/lip balm/etc.

Saturday night I headed back into Wolfville for the kids fun run where my nephew participated (he’s in that blur somewhere!)


and then headed home to get ready for my race in the morning. This is my PR course (I’ve hit a new 5K PR here on a couple occasions), so even though I knew it was nearly impossible for me to hit a new one this year, I had a lingering hope that I would.

Going into this 5K, I hadn’t had a day off from exercise since September 28th, and in the time from the 28th to Oct 12th I had taught 42 fitness classes. Yes, you read that right. I wasn’t meant to have taught that much but there was a mix-up that ended up with me taking on a number of extra classes these past two weeks. Needless to say I was a little tired heading into the race.

Physically I didn’t feel overly tired Sunday morning, that is until I started running. I don’t think I’ve ever struggled with my breathing as much as I did during these 5 kilometres. It’s clear that my lungs and heart were feeling a lot more fatigued than my legs were. I felt like I was struggling with every breath, and even though I was keeping a decent pace I found myself having to stop and walk more and more as the race went on.

I was right, there was no PR, but I did finish in 31:38 which was nothing to cry about! It might not have been a PR, but it was my fastest (chip timed) 5K this year!


Normally when I run, I watch my heart rate and when it hits 170 I walk for a bit until it drops back to around 150-155. Because I exercise so much teaching I am really cautious of allowing myself to get too tired when running. I didn’t do that today, and when I transferred the data from my Polar it was quite clear how much I struggled today as a result.


I spent over 17 minutes of the race with my heart rate over 170. No wonder I was wiped when it was over! For comparison purposes, here is the readout from my 5K a few weeks ago which was similarly flat, and where I finished in about 32:30 (so approx. 1 minute slower). In that race I only spent 3 minutes with my heart rate “in the red”.


I can’t say that in the race a few weeks ago I was “rested” because it took place on a Friday after I had taught 15 classes and had, had the previous Sunday off as a rest day.

The point here isn’t for me to gain any pity or sympathy for my lack of rest, what I hope anyone who reads this (and is a runner) will see how much difference being properly rested before a race really can change your performance. So many people (obviously myself included) fail to allow their body adequate rest in order to perform optimally thinking that it doesn’t matter. I’m here to show you that it really, really does!

I grew up in a car family, so I keep wandering around thinking to myself, “the engine was running too hot!!!”

I’ve got one more race this season, a 7K in 3 weeks time. You can be darn sure I’ll be sure to a) take a rest day the Sunday before that race and b) will NOT be teaching 22 classes that week!

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Setting Running Pace Goals

It’s no secret that I’m over winter.  And I am really hoping it’s over me (and the rest of the world) complaining about it and is going to go hibernate until December quite soon!  While I dream of warmer days, I’ve been working on my race schedule for 2014.  There have been a couple wrenches thrown in my wheels while planning so I’m not sure how many races I’ll get to this year, but I’m currently registered for 3, with the plans for 3 others.

This year I’ve been hearing a lot of newer runners chatting about signing up for races, or distances they haven’t run before, and how quickly they hope to finish them.  It seems like I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about pacing like this, “I ran a 5K in 26 minutes, so I should be able to run a 10K in 52 minutes.”  While I won’t deny there are certainly people who can maintain a 5K pace for 10K (or longer), that isn’t something I have experienced to be true myself, and I wondered if some of these people might not be expecting too much of themselves right out of the gate.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome to have a stretch goal, but if you run a 5K in 30 minutes and your goal is to run a 1/2 marathon in 2 hours, well without a lot of speed work built into your training, you’re probably going to be disappointed, and I hate the idea of people being disappointed when they cross the finish line, especially if it’s one of their first races.


So I decided to do what bloggers do – write about it.  First I surveyed a bunch of runner friends to get their best race times in the 5K, 10K, HM and FM distances so I could determine how distance affects the average speed of a runner.  And because I’m surrounded by super awesome people, in less than 24 hours I had 18 sets of data, and was also told about the McMillan running calculator which helps you calculate running paces for difference distances.


So instead of calculating everything from scratch, I decided to use the McMillan calculator to calculate how fast it thought each runner I had collected data on would run a 10K, HM and FM based on their 5K personal best.  My aim here was to see how accurate the calculator is when dealing with an average runner since it didn’t make sense to calculate my own equations to do the same thing when this calculator exists.

When I calculated 10K distances based on the 5K results of my group of runners, the time it calculated was within 30 seconds of the actual finish time for 44% of the runners surveyed.  For the other 66% it calculated a time that was on average 3:20 minutes faster than their actual time.

When I calculated half marathon distance based on the 5K results, the time it calculated was within 1 minute of the actual finish time for 18% of the runners surveyed.  For the other 82% it had calculated a time that was on average 2:45 minutes faster than their actual time.

And finally, when I looked at full marathons, based on 5K pace results, the time the McMillan calculator calculated was within 1 minute of the actual finish time for 8% of the runners surveyed.  For the remaining 92% the calculated time was on average 33 minutes faster than their actual time.

I found these results super interesting because those are the types of results I would expect if you took your 5K time and simply doubled it for a 10K pace, or quadrupled it for a half, etc.  The McMillan calculator already has calculated in the expected decline in speed over time so without having done this little experiment I would have expected it to be pretty on average much closer to the actual race times.  It just goes to show that a lot of things happen out on a race course that a calculator just doesn’t take into consideration (bathroom breaks, injuries, etc.)

So the moral of this little running pace story is:

1) Taking your 5K time and assuming you can maintain that same pace for a longer distance race (without substantial speed work in between) is probably going to leave you disappointed on the other end of the finish line.

2) Using the McMillan calculator is a fantastic reference because it takes into consideration the reduction in speed experienced as the running distance becomes longer.  However, for the average person, it seems to still generate a pace that is faster than most people can maintain over that distance (I say most because there were people who actually ran their best times in all distances faster than the time generated by the calculator), so if you are using it to calculate a goal time for a race, it is a good idea to plan on that time as your stretch goal.

And the real moral of the story is, regardless of your finish time, if you complete a race (regardless of the distance) you should feel SO PROUD regardless of your finish time.  Running in a race is something only a small percentage of the population will ever do, so enjoy that moment when you cross that finish line!!


Special shoutout to my fellow FitFluential ambassadors that hooked me up with their personal best running times so I could write this post! Let me tell you, I am honoured to be surrounded by so many super speedy runners!

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2013 {Mostly} In Pictures & {Mostly} About Running

2013 was the year of running.  I consciously made an effort to run more this year because I knew my body needed the cross-training (my regular cardio = Zumba which = mostly lateral movement), and the only way I can make sure I run?  Sign up for lot and lot o’ races.  

Race #1 of the season: The bluenose 10K!  I’m not going to recap all of my races, just throwing in pictures from some of the more memorable ones!

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The wettest race goes to the Epic Canadian 10K.  I can’t remember ever being so wet in all my life!

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and then I got muddy,

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Dressed like a pirate in a tutu,

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and got wet again,

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then dressed up in another pirate tutu and collected more GOLD! Arrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

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I got covered in colour,

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met Jeanne Beker,

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and Bob Blumer,


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ran in the sun!! (That happens sometimes.  But usually only if Cathy is there ;) )

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Then went to California one weekend…

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hung outside in the dark early one morning,

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with over 30,000 other people,

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then froze to death,

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but collected one of these!

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and still managed to see some sights!





And then I ran once more, in the cold, with two of my fav buddies!!

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2013 was an interesting year.  I raised over $4000 for cancer research with Team in Training, I went to Toronto and San Francisco.  I got a new (and adorable) nephew, and became a certified Yoga instructor.  But no year is all good without bad, and we certainly had our share of bad again this year, mostly all health related between both myself and J, but overall I will look back at 2013 with good memories.  

This year has been a big year of transition for me in my work, going from teaching almost all cardio/Zumba classes, to now only teaching Zumba 2x/week in an effort to bring my body back into a happy place where I’m not dealing with overtraining issues.  That change was needed, but financially has been difficult.  To go from 17 classes/week to 12/week alone caused a big shift in my income, but to then have to cut back on the most popular type of class I teach has made even more of a change to the negative.  But on a positive, it’s very rare that I need to take a mid-day nap anymore (I use to need to do that 2-3x/week!), and I feel better physically and that’s the important thing.

What was your most memorable moment of 2013?  

One that sticks out for me (and maybe that’s because I just looked through all the pictures preparing for this post) is when I came to the top of the mega hill in San Fran and saw Amanda there screaming and cheering me on.  That was exactly what I needed in that moment!

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My 2013 Race Season is OVER!

Yup, as of about 9:45am Sunday morning my race season is over!


Sunday was actually the first time I’ve run since my half so it wasn’t my speediest but I covered the 7km in 44:19 which I was still happy with!

I’ve run more races this year than any other year in the past, and aside from that annoying overtraining issue that started last winter (I’m a million times better now, but it’s still something I struggle with) I’ve had less injuries this year than the past couple years.  Coincidence? I don’t think so.  Sure I teach a variety of classes, but most of them still have the same movements (largely lateral) over and over which opens me up for muscle imbalances.  The addition of a {somewhat} regular running routine has helped me cross train to avoid those injuries.

It’s kinda funny since most people cross train for running, and I run to cross train, well to cross train and strength my lung.  But either way, I’m certainly stronger thanks to running, and thanks to the races I’ve run because otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother to run at all. ;)

And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty impressed with my haul of medals this year!



Oh and let’s not forget the Tiffany’s necklace!


What a year.

And like any runner as I finish my last race of the year I immediately start thinking about next year’s race schedule!

Right now I know that five of the races I did this year that I will be doing for sure in 2014, and I’m actively searching for new race adventures to tackle in 2014.

I’m starting to think I like the half distance more than the 10K, so I’m guessing you’ll be seeing more of those in my 2014 future!

How about you?  Do you have your 2014 race schedule already planned out?

I may or may not go start a spreadsheet….

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Sole Sisters 5K 2013 Recap

Hey everyone!  As many of you already know yesterday I participated in the Sole Sisters 5K Run in Dartmouth.  I believe this is only the second year they’ve had this women only run (though I could be wrong).  I heard about it back in January and when I heard they had a chocolate stop I knew I had to go ;)

The organizers really make this run a full weekend event, they had a private screening of Steel Magnolias at Empire Theatre Saturday morning for all racers, and then had some information sessions that took place early that afternoon (on finding the right sports bra, proper stretches for runners, and running sneakers) as well as some cool things at the expo.  Sadly I missed all of the morning/afternoon excitement.  The race itself wasn’t until 6pm, I taught Zumba Toning at 10am and since it’s an hour’s drive from my house to Dartmouth I found someone to pick up my kit for me (thanks Yvonne!!) since kit pick-up ended at 2pm and headed down later in the day.

The one thing I’m really bummed I missed was the Chiropractic/ Physiotherapy clinic that was at the expo.  They were offering free spinal scans and the Chiropractor would tell you about any muscle imbalances they saw on the scan.  I would have loved to give that a try.  I’m sure I could get it done around here, but there is something about being able to get it done without an appointment (and for free!) that really appealed to me ;)

I was really happy when J said he’d come with me.  I normally don’t ask him to come to my races/runs because let’s face it, unless you’re running in them or volunteering at them they are pretty dull.  Standing around waiting for someone isn’t all that exciting.  I was especially happy since the weather yesterday wasn’t very pretty.  It was pouring rain our entire drive to Dartmouth.  In case you’re not aware, I’m a total “fair weather” runner.  Running in the remnants of tropical storm Andrea didn’t sound like it would be much fun, but I was going to do it.

We got to Dartmouth and I picked up my race kit

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That’s right folks, our race bag was a reusable shopper from Tommy Hilfiger.  Fancy ;)

Since we were in Dartmouth Crossing and had some time to kill we wandered around the stores until it was time for me to head over for the pre-race announcements.  Thankfully by then the rain has stopped.

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There were 2500 women registered for the race, though I know there were less than 2500 there.  Friday night in Halifax there was a bomb threat at Relay for Life (which shut it down) so the race organizers let us all know Saturday morning that if we didn’t feel comfortable running we could pick up our finishers medals and run the 5K on our own time.

The bomb threat from the previous day didn’t worry me, but the weather still did

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This is the, “I’m freezing to death while wearing a long sleeved shirt and a micro fleece hooded jacket and the people next to me are in shorts and a tank top acting like it’s nothing!,” look.

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Sweat pink y’all.

At 5:30 the announced it was time to start making our way to the start line.

We walked…

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and walked…

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and walked some more.

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It took us 15-20 minutes just to walk to the start line.

Did I mention it was cold?  Thank God for cuffins

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my heart may have been warm but my hands were not.  Look at my poor finger, it was frozen and white!

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What is going on here?  It’s June!  I shouldn’t be freezing at 5:30pm in JUNE!

Lots of ladies in purple waiting to run!

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Because of the wind and rain the organizers decided not to use the start/finish arch so when the race started I’m not entirely sure when I went over the start line.  The race wasn’t timed and my phone way dying so I didn’t start a GPS recording I just noted what time it was when I “thought” I started.

I always enjoy a good race shirt motto :D In case you can’t read it the pink t-shirt reads, “Running like Ryan Gosling is at the finish line”

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I have to say though, I don’t get the whole Ryan Gosling thing.  Perhaps it’s because I remember watching him on Breaker High where he played this super goof ball.


Here are some more runners..

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and a shot of the Team in Training “high five” station

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and the hug station

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Okay.  So from the time I found out there was a hug station I declared that I didn’t want to be hugged.  It’s weird.  I don’t need a hug from a man I don’t know while running.  However, when I got to that part of the race there were a lot of Firefighters there and the guy at the front kept being passed by all the women.  He wasn’t OLD but he was older than a lot of the others and I felt bad ‘cuz nobody was hugging him so I did.  Suzi to the rescue ;)

A group from Girls Gone Gazelle ran in the run too I loved their shirts!

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a sea of purple shirts:

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Chocolate stop!!

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The next water stop had some interesting cheerleaders…

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Then it was back up a slight hill and then down to the finish line.  It’s hard to see but they put a yellow tape up across the course finish where the finish line was since they couldn’t use the arches.

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And then I was off to find another firefighter to get my medal!


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And then I had to hug him too.  I was hugging firefighters all over the place yesterday.  Which is a pretty odd thing for me.  Look who else was at the finish line!

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It’s Holly!  She saw me hugging the firefighter and made some comment about how SHE didn’t get to hug a firefighter.  I told her she was probably too busy assaulting the firefighter to get a hug ;)

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I grabbed a quick snack and texted J to tell him I was heading back to the car (my phone battery died shortly after that) and make my way back down to where we had parked.

I was so happy to get to that car and put dry socks and sneakers on!  Hello there Kitty!

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Then after a quick detour to find out that East Side Mario’s at Mic Mac Mall closed in January we decided to head back to the Valley and got supper at Jungle Jims before heading home.

The race tiself was fun, it would had been even more fun if it had been warmer.  It took me until kilometre 3 before my finger finally thawed out, and I finished in around 33 or 34 minutes.  Since my half marathon training called for a 35min 5km run I’d say I was (for once) nearly on pace.

My only real gripes with the race were that the race expo/pick-up ended at 2pm even though the race wasn’t until 6pm making it hard for people like me who were coming in from out of town just for the event to get to visit the expo.  I also wish the start line hadn’t been quite so far from where everyone had to meet.  I know they wanted us to meet somewhere everyone was familiar with (as the race was on some less used side roads) but it really was quite a jaunt back and forth.  I managed it without difficulty, but there were people there who were walking the race that I don’t think were prepared to have to walk so far before or after just to get to the race site.

All in all it was a fun run, and it was neat to see so many first timers (I would say at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the participants were doing an official 5K for the first time).  I think I is especially a great run for first timers as there is no pressure to finish quickly (they told us we had 3 hours on the course so to take as much time as we needed) and because of all of the fun stations along the way. Oh!  And the sweet race shirt!  I think I’ll wear mine on my run tomorrow :D

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