2017 Running Goals

When I started to run seriously, I wasn’t shy about sharing my goals with just about everybody. I wanted to qualify for Boston.  Just about every runner who runs marathons dreams of attaining the elusive Boston qualifying time, to wear the jacket as a lifelong bragging right. I wanted it so bad it was the last thing I thought about at night and the first thing I thought about in the morning. I stuck up inspiring running quotes in my room and on the bathroom mirror. Everywhere I would look, I would have something inspiring to read. I even had a post it with my goal time taped to my mirror. It was always in my face. Always.

boston-run

Hubby snapped this as we were on our run in Boston in November.

My goal race was the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2013. I was super pumped to get started and waiting to start felt like a lifetime. When I finally started I felt amazing and strong for the first 25km. I was even ahead of the 3:40 pace bunny (my goal time by the way), it was the best feeling ever. Then I hit 30km and I had a pain in my hip, but I shrugged it off and kept going.  Then the pain started to run down my leg and I had to stop and walk, then trot, then jog, then force myself to run, then walk again…..you get the idea. At 35km I wanted to call my husband and ask him to come pick me up but I didn’t, I kept going. The 3:40 pace bunny passed me while I dramatically held out one arm in an attempt to grab hold and have him drag me along.  At that point, I knew there was no PB and no Boston Qualifying (BQ) time that day. My goal at this point was to just finish the darn thing, which I did in 4:11. The pain in my hip was my Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) and it was incredibly angry at me because of what I later found out was my weak glutes. I swore that two marathons were enough and I would never ever run another one again. That is until the next year when I started training with my coach who was confident that I would get that BQ and then he convinced me as well. Things were going well on the marathon training program he laid out for me until the day I had a 35km long training run. I hit 28km and had a thought “I hate this”, but it was different than the usual “I hate this” when you’re in the middle of a multi-hour long run. I got in touch with my coach and was honest about how much I was hating the marathon distance training, I loved the strength work, the speed work and the cross training. I told him and anyone else who questioned “what about your BQ?”, that it wasn’t the year and I was making the switch to the half marathon as my distance. I’ve done great at 21km, my fastest time was 1:38 and I was well on my way to getting a sub 1:30 time.

b-o-finish

Just about the cross the finish line during the Championship 5K race back in September. It was an amazing experience. No PB but a 2nd place Masters for my age category.

Fast forward to a few months ago when, like I do at the end of each race season, I talked with my coach about what I want for my 2017 race season. We went through my results for 2016 and it turns out that I had quite the successful season with 5 & 10ks. Together we decided that I should really stick to 5 & 10k races for 2017, and when I say together, I mean it. I was and still am really excited about how 2017 will pan out for me. 2016 was the first year that I started to compete as a Masters runner and I had some pretty successful results in the shorter distances.

I am excited for this new emphasis on “shorter” distances. My coach is excited, my husband is excited and my son is always excited no matter what. In his eyes I win every race, every time. I got some mixed responses when I announced it. I got a lot of “don’t worry, one day you will get that BQ”. Here’s the thing, I honestly don’t want that now. That was a goal from 4-5 years ago. Goals change, people change, people grow and it is ok. Getting a BQ does not and will not define me as a runner. In fact the work I have to do now is far more challenging than what I had to do for 42km, believe me. Having to go from zero to your fastest possible pace from the second that race starts is no easy feat. Being warmed up before a race is a whole new world at these distances – I’m good and sweaty from warm up sprints. You are pushing your body to your max, lungs burning, chest heaving, legs pumping and then just when you think you can’t do it much longer you cross the finish line and it is THE BEST FEELING EVER. For real. The best part is that while you are sore and tired, after a day or two of rest you are ready to go again. Unlike the half or full that requires me to hobble around for a week and avoid stairs like the plague.

Need to hear other reasons why racing shorter distances is awesome?

  • Your “hard long” runs are about 1.5hours. Tops.
  • No getting up at 6am to get a run in on the weekend. I can actually sleep longer and finish before my friends who started at 6
  • I don’t have to worry about gels, or water bottles. Just me and my phone (for selfies or course!)
  • No need to replace running shoes as often as I have been, which saves me money, which means ….that’s right, I can run more races!
  • I can train with my son. My son who will be 6 in April loves to run with me, I could never run a 20km + run with him, but 5km? Since he has already run that distance he is down to go for a run with me.
  • The strength and power you develop makes you feel like Wonder Woman
  • It is just plain bad ass!

 

So my friends, don’t pity me when you hear that I’m not running the half or a full.  I haven’t “given up” or “downgraded”. I have never once had the thought that I am not a “real runner”. I’m good.  In fact, I am better than good, trust me. I know not every race will be a PB, it never is, but it will be an exciting time as I train for the 2020 World Masters Championships, right here in Toronto.

zoo-10k

During the Canada Running Series Zoo Run 10K. This was a training run and I won my age category and was the 5th Masters female overall.

Coming back from defeat

BQ. Boston Qualifier. It doesn’t matter if it is abbreviated or not, when runners speak these words or initials something happens. A longing, desire, drive, whatever you want to call it, we get hungry. People have it in their ‘about me’ sections on social media. You know: runner, #STWM digital champion, Boston Qualifier. To get that qualifying time puts you in a different running class and to get in to the marathon and run it? Well don’t even get me started on the prestige! The jackets, the hype! And in Boston….a city that I LOVE!

When I ran my first marathon back in 2008, I knew of the hard to get BQ, but I just wanted to run a marathon and didn’t think anything of it. In the back of my mind I thought maybe one day, but focusing on finishing my first marathon was a priority.  Fast forward to my second marathon (STWM) in 2013 and let’s just say my view changed slightly……ok a lot, I wanted it bad! I did my training, I did my yoga, and I was feeling good. October 20th 2013 I woke up and was anxious to get going. I felt amazing until about 32k when I felt pain so intense it slowed me down to a pace that I knew would not get me that BQ.

I didn’t get it that day. I crossed the finish line and I was in tears, and not the happy emotional kind, the I am devastated and absolutely crushed kind. Never mind that I had just crossed the finish line of a marathon, an amazing accomplishment on its own (and in 4:11, no less about an hour faster than my first), there was no amount of support to make me feel better. I swore I would never again run a full marathon.

I saw my chiropractor, I got massages. Even today, my piriformis on the left side is still painful and has limited my flexibility, which as a yoga teacher is a real pain in the butt (no pun intended). In addition to the piriformis pain, I found out I have weak glutes and hips which was shocking to say the least. At least I had found out why I was slowed to a halt and why my TFL (tensor fascia latae) felt like it was going to explode for the last 10k of my marathon.

More than the physical pain, I spent a long time feeling completely defeated and broken emotionally. I wanted that BQ so bad I could taste it. I was being told from some people that maybe I just shouldn’t be running the full, that maybe my “body just can’t handle it”, which just upset me more. Soooo, you’re saying I’m weak? There are people older than me running Boston every year, so I didn’t want to hear the “You know you are closer to 40” excuse anymore either, I wanted everyone to just. Stop. Talking.

In November, I joined a gym where I started doing strength training 2- 3 days a week, and with the nasty winter we had I did a lot of running on the treadmill. I ran outside as much as I could despite the cold, slush, snow, ice….I don’t think I need to go on, you were there and lived through it. The spring came and I was happy to be back as a digital champion ambassador for the TYS10K.  I ran it and shaved a minute off from the previous year and I started to feel like a runner again (slightly), not at all how I felt in the fall after STWM 2013.

With talk of STWM 2014 buzzing on social media, I was being asked by many of my running friends if I was going to run it again. I honestly didn’t know, I would sigh and say “I think so”. The truth is I was constantly going back and forth in my mind. I knew I could finish a marathon, but finishing is no longer good enough.  I started training with a coach (who is perfect for me!) in May, and I have started to really see what I am capable of as a runner.

Despite all these very positive changes, I was still doubting myself. It got to the point where one day I had my mind made up that I was no longer running marathons, I was going to specialize in half marathons and just keep getting faster and stronger. Then I would wake up the next morning and I would see someone had posted the “There’s a hero in all of us” STWM video from last year, and I would cry and know in my gut I wasn’t finished with it yet. This literally went on for weeks. Day to day I would be changing my mind, sometimes I would change my mind multiple times throughout the day. I finally spoke with my coach (isn’t that what coaches are for?). He said that this year was going to be different, he was going to be there helping every step of the way. To be honest I was hoping he was going to tell me flat out, “yes you should stick to half marathons”. I was still so confused. Could I really go back to run it? After what happened last year, do I have the guts and the strength to get me through it and do it with a faster time? I decided to leave it to fate. I said if CRS wants me back as a digital champion ambassador for STWM, then it is a sign that I need to run it again this year. The next day I received an email from them. It was just what I needed and just the right time. When I told my coach I was going for the full he said “I was hoping you were going to say that”.

So here we are, four months from another full marathon. Am I anxious? Yes, of course. But here’s the thing – I love running, I really do and I am proud that I am now a full-fledged #runnerd. I am getting stronger every day and I am even cross training in the pool (which I love as I used to swim 50 laps a day and I missed it). I am taking it one day at a time, one workout at a time. Want to know what my goal is this year? I’m sure you do, but this year I am keeping it under wraps 😉 I promise I will let you all know what happens on October 20th 2014.

I am going to enjoy my training, enjoy the entire process and have fun. I will run STWM with thousands of other runners and when I cross the finish line this year, if there are tears they will be tears of happiness. No matter what. I’m back!

photo

Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon Recap

On Sunday, June 1st I ran the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon. To give you a better idea of how I ended up registering for this race, I need to back up to October 2013. That was when I had more than one person tell me that I should consider running this particular race. As a new race on the scene, it was smaller, therefore the odds of placing well were on my side. So, of course, I signed up right away.

Now here we are on race day. I was with my husband, our little man had a sleepover with Grandma & Grandpa while Mommy & Daddy had a “getaway” in Niagara Falls. My husband drove me close to the start and then I was on my own. This would be the first time since 2008 that I was on my own at a start line. I started to get a little emotional and shed a few tears. I felt alone even though there were a couple thousand people around me. Everyone else had a friend or a group of friends they were with. I recognized a twitter and instagram friend (@lacesandlattes) at the start, so I introduced myself and we chatted until the start of the race. This actually calmed my usual pre race nerves and was very thankful for it!

This was the first time I felt like an elite runner. I was actually one of the women toeing the start line, with one hand on my Garmin ready to hit the button. Then the race started and boy did it start with a bang! I quickly realized that I was not the only one who decided to run this race to place well, the women this year came to win. For the first km or so I was up there pushing my legs at a 3:15/km pace. I very soon realized that I would not be able to keep that up for longer than 5km, let alone 21km, so I pulled back and settled into a comfortable, yet speedy pace. Since I am not familiar with the Niagara Falls area –other than the Falls themselves– studying the map the night before didn’t really help me during the race. Since I got out to a speedy start, I only had a few women around me and we were well spaced out. It was an experience I have never had in a race and I started to feel like I was just out for a training run. That is, until we started the out and back part of the route when I would see all the other women cheering for those of us up front, and I am not going to lie – that felt amazing!

NFWHM

Action shot

It was a hot morning and with little shade I used the water stations to take micro sips and then poured the rest on my head to cool down.  I have always had an issue with fueling during longer races, mostly because I can’t handle the taste of gels, in fact I gag when I try to use them. I am not a big fan of things like gummies or jelly beans either. My usual pre race food is bread with almond butter & a banana and while enroute to the race, I enjoy half a power bar. This routine has served me well…until this race. I don’t know if it’s because I stepped up my game and was pushing my body faster for longer than it usually goes, but when I got to about 15 or 16km my body literally started to shake because I was more than hungry, I was starving! In non-race situations, when I get hungry like this I get real hangry (hungry + angry = hangry) and everything gets put on hold until I get something to eat (my husband can attest to this). Obviously while racing this is not an option, so I had to dig deep, but I felt myself slowing down even as I fought to keep my speed up. I felt my form go to hell and I knew that if my coach could see me, he would not be impressed! I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to race while shaking with hunger, but I can tell you that I was not in a good place. I didn’t stop though. No way was I going to stop! I thought of my little guy and how I needed to set an example of never giving up.  Then, around 19km I saw another runner friend who was there to support his wife, (Thanks Andrew Chak for the cheering!) and it was the boost I needed for the last 2 km’s. I crossed the finish line a little slower than my 1:40 PB, I crossed just drained and exhausted. The first person I saw was Kathrine Switzer who was there with a hug and congratulations, then a fireman who gave me my medal. Side note, the whole fireman thing doesn’t get me excited (I’m more into accountants…for those that don’t know, my husband is one), so this was certainly not the highlight for me! I enjoyed the cold wet washcloth they handed out, downed a bottle of water and a carton of chocolate milk. I saw my husband and fell into his arms. He was smiling and was so proud of me, but I was too upset at the time to be proud of myself. We found a place for me to inhale a couple of cookies, and checked out my stats. I came 27/1998 overall and 7/372 in my age category. With a few days behind me, I can now appreciate that these were great results, but I wanted that top 10 so bad. The competition was stiff this year and I tip my hat to those women and I thank them at the same time for making me put all my training with my coach to the test. My  husband and I checked out of the hotel and headed straight to the closest Five Guys Burger! A greasy cheeseburger has never tasted so good!

photo

Chugging water at the end

Now for the Pros and Cons breakdown:

Pros:
-Gorgeous route going past the falls twice, pretty cool and that mist felt amazing…even if it fogged up my Sunskis
-Swag bag: wine, make up, lip balm and more?! Awesome
-All women: while there were some men, it was nice to not worry about all that testosterone
Cons:
-8am start, already it was too hot at the start with that blazing hot sun, a 7:30 or a 7:00am start would be amazing!
-Packet pick up was too long of a wait. I have never waited longer than 5 mins to pick up my kit, but it took me 60 min! A huge part of that was having Kathrine Switzer at the end of the line for pictures and autographs, which while amazing I think should have been separate from the actual pick up.

Will I be back next year? Quite possibly, and I will be back even stronger and faster!

Have you ever run an all women race? What was it like?

photo (1)

By the falls on the walk back to the hotel

I’ve got the Music in me – Part 2

When I run I have to listen to music. Like for real, I have to listen to music. Not only do I have to listen to music but I will spend hours picking the perfect songs to add to my playlist and if after a run I feel like it doesn’t fit, I delete it instantly and continue my search for more (No one is safe as even Beyonce’s Single Ladies got the axe after a 10k race). I have a wide variety of music that I like to listen to, Foo Fighters to Kanye, you name it I listen to it…..Just no country and no Taylor Swift or One Direction or Selena Gomez…..well, I think you get the idea. Below I have just a few songs that carry me on both my training runs and races. I love to get lost in my music and enjoy my day dreams…..If you’re lucky I will share some of those said day dreams in this post. For the sake of this post let’s say that I am running 10k. Oh and one more thing. Please don’t judge my taste in music, thank you.

When I start off my run, I like something upbeat, cheesy and pop-y, something like…..Pitbull!. Yep, love me some Timber. Not only is it terribly cheesy but it features Ke$ha! Hello!!! Winner! It gets me warmed up and feeling good. I like to think positive quotes and thoughts to set me off on the right foot.

ability lies

athletic greatness

 

 

the body achieves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This takes me straight into some Avicii…really I love any Avicii at this point; I Could Be the One, Wake Me Up, or more recently Hey Brother. Now I’m getting nice and warm and my breathing has settled into a nice comfortable breathing pattern.

Are you ready for super cheese? How about some Owl City featuring good old Canadian born Carly Rae and It’s always a good time, this gets me smiling and tries to encourage me to “have a good time” – get it?? 😉

At this point I am at about 5 or 6K into my 10K, so I’m starting to pump my legs faster and harder and I need MKTO, Thank you. This song reminds me of the retreat I went on last March with an incredible group of ladies who have inspired me more than they will ever know, so this song takes me to a happy emotional place that gets my heart even more full. I’m smiling, I’m having fun and this is what I think look like:

lanni

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah…not quite right, in reality this is what I look like all sweaty and red in the face with flared nostrils…cute

Lisa TYS10K 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Now is when I need to fly so this is when I need some old fashioned musical theatre. My go to song? Defying Gravity from Wicked and when this song comes on I am speeding and my legs are flying. Especially when it gets to the following part: “I’m through accepting limits ’cause someone says they’re so, some things I cannot change but till I try, I’ll never know!” It reminds me that a lot of people look at me and think I don’t look like a typical runner, so I must not be capable of achieving my race goals. I use that as motivation to keep going and prove that I can and will succeed. It is also during this song that I start to envision my success that I hope will come as a runner, and this is what I see in my mind:

Lisa on CR cover copy

 

 

 

 

 

As I am nearing the end of my 10k I need some angry music, queue Kanye West – “uh huh honey” and I Am A God. Enough said, no? I actually have a plethora of Kanye to listen to as I run. I need serious inspiration to get my game face on:

game face

 

 

 

 

 

Some might find it a bit much to spend so much time putting together a playlist, but for me it’s a typical Monday J My music inspires me to run faster, further and stronger.

Do you listen to music while training and racing? What do you like to keep you going?

 

 

My 2014 Goals

visible tony robbinsIf you know me, you know that I don’t like sharing my goals. I have had too many experiences where I have not met my stated goals and then had people in my life make fun of it. So, to protect myself I usually keep my goals held close to me.

This year I have decided to get over that, so, I want to share a few things with you all.

First my running goals. Below is a list of the races I want to take part in for 2014.

Around the Bay 30k – March 30th

Harry’s Spring Run Off 8k – April 5th

Toronto Yonge Street 10k  (I am a Digital Champion for this race again and I am beyond excited to share my training, experience and hopefully inspire others) – April 13th

Goodlife Half – May 5th

Niagara Falls Women’s half – June 1st

Seawheeze Half – August 23rd

Oasis Zoo Run 5k – September 20th

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon – October 19th

So if you are doing the math that equals 158k of racing alone and that does not include any additional 5 or 10k’s that take place in the summer that I decide I want to run. On top of all that ground being covered during racing I will need to put in serious training time, which brings me to my training goals.

Running – 4 – 5 times a week

440 paceStrength Training – 3 – 4 times a week

feel the burnmedicine ball coreI won’t go into specific time goals for any of the above races (baby step folks) but I will say that I hope to achieve a PB in each one.

Onto my personal goals, below is a list of my goals/resolutions:

  1. Spend more time living, less time stressing
  2. Remove negativity from my life
  3. Become more involved with Right to Play, a charity that I love to support and strongly believe in
  4. Do more snowboarding! I love to snowboard, I love the excitement, and I love the physical aspect of it, and it’s the one positive I can take from all this cold! I love it all….I want more!
  5. Spend more time being active and playing with Brady. We do this a lot already, but I want to do it even more. I want to cherish every second I have with him before he grows up and no longer thinks I am the coolest person around (or suddenly Dad becomes the cool one! That can’t happen)
  6. Get to NYC! My brother and sister – in – law live there and I haven’t been there since Brady was 6 months old. It is time to get back with him and enjoy a city that I love with my brother who I miss terribly.
  7. Have more date nights with my husband. Even something as simple as a candle light dinner, turning off the TV and putting the phones away.
  8. Spend more time smiling and having an open heart
  9. Grow more as a yoga teacher. I strongly believe that you should never stop learning. Being a yoga teacher is truly a blessing and by learning more, I am able to provide better instruction to my students and inspire others more.
  10. Do more of what makes me happy – no matter how small.
  11. Write more blog posts!!! For both myself and Brady. Since I was seven years old I have loved to write, and I need to do it more.

There you have it, I shared my goals with all of you….this was not easy for me and I have to admit I’m still a little anxious about it all. But I want to put it out there so all of you can hold me accountable. You have my permission.

What goals have you set for yourself? Care to share?

You can follow my journey on Twitter @TorontoFitmom & Instagram @TorontoFitmom

be better than i was

Reflections on a tough race day (#STWM 2013)

STWM 2013 Finish Photo

It has been two days since I completed the #STWM. I have been on a roller coaster of emotions ever since, from sad, to happy, to disappointment, to pride etc. I was once told that the feelings you experience after you finish running a marathon are very similar to the baby blues one may go through after giving birth. Since I have completed two marathons, and given birth I can quite honestly say, yes, yes they are similar. All day Monday I would have moments where I would spontaneously burst into tears, and staring back at me was a very confused 2 ½ year old little boy.

For months I had been training hard to get a Boston Qualifying time – for my age that would be 3:40, which was perfectly doable for me. My training had been going great. Even during the gross heat waves over the summer, I was out every morning training, and doing my long runs early Saturday mornings. When I had any aches or pains, I visited my chiropractor (AKA, the miracle worker) and I would be good to go again. Fast forward to three weeks before race day and there I was in a silly amount of pain down the entire left side of my leg. My Piriformis, IT band, TFL, all of it, was one giant mess of fascia and muscle that was just screaming out in agony. I doubled my chiropractor appointments, I added massage, I rested, I slowed down my pace, and I bought KT Tape! I did everything I could to ensure I was in the best position to succeed on race day without injuries slowing me down.

Race day 6am. I have never woken up so ready on a race day before. I had my usual nerves but I knew that I did everything that I could to prepare myself for this day, so I was ready for the challenge. My husband and I wished each other luck – he ran the half – and went into our corrals. The first 21k felt AMAZING, 21 – 32 felt GOOD, 32 – 42 felt…..like…..CRAP. All my injuries attacked me with a vengeance and I was fighting with my body the rest of the way. I cried and I had to slow to a walk at some points to try and shake it off and I came this close to calling my husband to tell him that I just couldn’t do it. I slowly watched my BQ goal slipping away as the 3:40 pace bunny went speeding past me (I had been way ahead of him until about 34k). I kept thinking, I’m just not strong enough, I’m just not fast enough, and I’m just not good enough. At 37k when a random lady who was cheering on the side told me “Lisa, you’re almost done, you can do this”. Of course I cried some more, but then I thought of my son. I thought if I quit now, what kind of example does that set for him? Mama’s no quitter! So I powered through and hobbled over the finish line at 4:11.

Motivation from my son for 42.2k

Brady drawingsThis was the first race I’ve done where I have turned off my music for the last 500m. I wanted (and needed) to hear the crowds cheering. I heard my name being yelled out at least 20 times from complete strangers, encouraging me right to the end. That is one of the great things about STWM, the support of so many people you have never even met. I can’t put into words the emotion I felt as I neared the end of a race to find huge crowds cheering with the finish line so close. I think I even managed a smile as I crossed the finish line. Weaving my way through the bagels, yogurt and bananas, I found my husband and I cried as he was telling me how proud he was of me. I continued to walk and found a friend who had come out to see me. I fell into her arms and cried even harder and through my sobs I managed to get out that I was upset because of my injuries and I didn’t qualify for Boston. She just hugged me harder and told me how amazing I did.

marathon humankindIf you had asked me after the race on Sunday if I would run another marathon I would have said there was no way. But it is two days later and I have had time to rest (since I can’t really walk all that well) and do a lot of thinking and I will say this; I haven’t reached my Boston goal yet so yes, I will be running #STWM 2014.

In fact once I have healed my training will begin. Am I proud of myself yet? Yes I am. I ran this marathon over an hour faster than my last one, so there’s a new PB 🙂

Overall I have loved every second of my training and race day. I loved being apart of the CRS family and being a Digital Champion. I have had the opportunity to meet some pretty incredible and inspiring runners who kept me going on days I may have just wanted to crawl back under the sheets and sleep.

Thank you Canada Running Series for an amazing race day and an amazing experience overall. 🙂

I know some of you may be wondering about how my husband did after my last post Love and Running with my Husband…….He ran his half in 1:35, a new PB. What does that mean? It means the competition is on and on like Donkey Kong. This girl needs to beat that time! And so the cycle of friendly competition continues. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll step up to the big race!

Did you run the #STWM? How do you feel? Doing it again?

marathon state of mind

Love and Running With My Husband

Lisa-Blog-2-STWMI love my husband, I do. He truly is my best friend, love of my life and all that other cheesy stuff that makes people roll their eyes. But when it comes to running, the gloves come off. There is no sweet talk, no terms of endearment, just me versus him (and of course thousands of other people) on the open road. We are serious about our competition, so much so that we even compete over who has the better GPS watch.

When I first met Jeff in 2009, I was on a brief break from running. I had developed intense IT band pain while running the 2008 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, so running any distance was unbearable and I chose to just take a break. But Jeff was training for the Sporting Life 10k and on our fourth date – the night of that race – as he was talking about the event, I realized that I wanted to get back at it. So we started having running dates to train together for the Zoo Run, which led to the 10 miler, and so on and so on. We started out being friendly with it all. He would be there by my side pacing me, encouraging me and not letting me quit. That all changed the day I ran a 10k race without him and finished 15 minutes faster than I had in our training runs.  Ever since it has been all about who will run stronger and faster. We always start in the same corral, but we won’t stand together. We kiss each other and wish one another luck and then one of us will walk off and find our own starting spot. Once we cross the finish we meet each other to swap times “race stories”.

Now here is the reality check, he is a man, I am a woman…..yeah, obvious right? He is also 5’9” and around 180lbs. I am 5’2” and…..well let’s just say substantially less. I mean it is simple science that he is stronger and faster because of his weight and height alone so I will always have to pump my legs much harder to get a faster time, the same time or even a time that is anywhere close to his.  So he may always get a faster time, but when it comes to placing, he’s got nothing on this girl. I always place higher in my age group (and sometimes even win!).

Once I got pregnant and I had to get used to running while growing a human inside me, my time slowed down and we started training & racing together again.  We knew that opportunities to go for leisurely training runs together would be few and far between once we welcomed the new addition to our family, so we wanted to take advantage while we could. The last race I ran before I had my son was the Zoo Run (at about 17 weeks pregnant and under strict instructions from my doctor) and I had to slow my pace down drastically, but running right next to me was my guy. He had come to the race with a goal time and totally let it go once we got to the start. He ran next to me every step and even insisted that we cross the finish line at the same time – to avoid one of us beating the other by mere seconds. At the end of that run, I had the fabulous idea that we should run compete at the Scotiabank half marathon the fallowing fall. I had grand visions of me being on maternity leave and training everyday while I pushed our son in the jogging stroller. That dream quickly came to a halt when, after finally recovering from child birth enough to start running again, we were told that I couldn’t run with said jogging stroller until our little man was 7-8 months because – duh! – He needs to have enough neck strength to be able to hold his head up as I am speeding around Toronto. I think I ran maybe 20k total(!) during my training for this 21K race, so I was basically going into it with zero training. We woke up on race day and while he felt amazing, I was a nervous wreck. Once again, Jeff gave up his goal time to drag me through 21k and once again he held my hand as we crossed the finish.

I am happy to report that the competition is back on track. I renewed my dedication to running after that race and got really serious when I signed up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon earlier this year. Our little guy has had lots of strong muscles for quite some time now  and loves yelling “FASTER!” when getting pushed in the jogging stroller. When I ran a half marathon by myself earlier this year in a time of 1:42, the look on Jeff’s face said it all – “Oh dear God, she might actually run faster than me”. He literally got up the next morning and still gets up 5 days a week at 5:30 am to get in his training runs.  So of course I get up as soon as he gets back and head out for mine. You can smell our determination, neither one of us refusing to slack for fear that the other will outrun the other by a drastic amount. We are both training for the Scotiabank Waterfront in October, he is running the half, and I the full. So as far as I am concerned, I win no matter what J.

In all seriousness, I am thankful that while my father inspired me to start running, my husband (along with our little man) inspires me to keep going, getting stronger mentally and physically every day. We may not be racing together on October 20th, but I am looking forward to seeing him waiting at the finish (because he is running half the race 😉 ), cheering me on and when we run into each other’s arms, the first thing I will say to him will be “what was your time?”