MENTor TO BE

It has only been a few days since the Blue Nose Marathon, but I am still struggling to come up with any words to say at all. This year’s BN goes on the list as one of the top 5 days of my life.

I was lucky enough to be chosen by the lovely staff & sponsors of the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon to be a Mentor on #TeamMyles2017. As I have said numerous times, I owe my running to this team. When it came time to apply to be a mentor, it was a no-brainer. To help more people conquer their fears and kick-start a healthy lifestyle would be incredibly fulfilling. 

Boy was I right.

This team came in as jittery, nervous strangers, not quite sure what they got themselves into. The first training day included 10 mins total of running in -25 degree temps. Week after week these ladies showed up, gave their absolute all, and made massive strides toward their 5 and 10k goals on Blue Nose Weekend. Meanwhile, I became completely re-inspired by this team. How lucky am I to have found yet another family amongst these strong, capable, passionate women!?

What was better was the lifelong friendships that bud when you’re all training for a common goal. People from so many backgrounds, with different life experiences, road blocks and competing responsibilities become your squad. It’s not every day that you find this as an adult – but Team Myles really does create an unmistakable family bond that will never be broken.


Of course all journeys have their road blocks. Work was so busy this winter that I did not feel like I dedicated enough time to training in the first half. I skipped days. I hardly cross-trained. My hip started to get sore every time I ran. Time goes by too fast.

Yet somehow, each week I watched others kill it in their workouts and make massive progress, and this lit a fire within me. I visited our fearless coach and physiotherapist-badass-lady-boss, Leanne Huck, who belongs to Team Myles’ title sponsor, Lifemark often for dry needling and good old life advice. I got my nutrition in check with Amanda Grant, a dietitian and post-run snack provider. Plus I finally fixed my neck and shoulder tension and aligned my hips by visiting Dr. Chuck Dauphinee, a funny, teddy bear esque Chiropractor/cheerleader. Lifemark, along with the rest of Team Myles sponsors (Delta Hotels, Therapeutic Approach Yoga Studio, Davis Fitness Consulting, Running Room) are truly to thank for getting me to the finish line.

It was not until my pod members started to out-run me that this fire turned into a lofty goal – to PB on my 10k, even though the route is one of the toughest around.  Mentor turned Mentee when my team mate Melissa challenged me to attempt to cross the finish at 1:05 with her – almost four minutes faster than my PB from a much easier course. Game on.

On race day, I laid it all out there. I can honestly say that I have no regrets. Any runner would tell you not to run the first half of the race faster than the later, however this route is fully downhill for the first 4k and uphill for most of the rest, so you really do have to take advantage of the first 4 kms to make up any time. That we did, doing the first 5k in 31:22.


Melissa and I busted it out and had an absolute blast doing it. We waved at every photographer, collected all the high fives we could get, laughed and joked along the way, and even got a few quick hugs from our friends who were there cheering us on.

On the way down the last street before the finish, I got tunnel vision. By the time we were 50ft from the finish, this turned into nausea. At one point I truly thought I was going to puke before I got to the finish, even though it was in sight. Melissa grabbed my hand, I locked eyes with coach Cindy waiting at the finish, and ran to her trying not to vomit (esp on her..sorry Cindy). Thankfully I didn’t. 

I’ve never pushed myself physically harder in my life. I am so proud of that.

Although we didn’t quite make it to 1:05, I still achieved a personal best of 1:07:56. I have absolutely no regrets; I laid my entire self out on that course.

What was better, was the sob-fest we had after the finish as each of these incredible women crossed. There are no words to describe how proud of them I am.


There is nothing like setting impossible goals and making them possible. That’s what this team is.

#TeamMyles2017

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Shubie doo wop 

This past weekend was the inaugural Shubie Classic 5k. This race deserved all the hype that we heard leading up! It was a very well organized, fun, chip-timed race, complete with cookies, prizes and a finisher medal. The course was hilly (no matter what way you go in Shubie, it always is), and although the organizers had to change it last-minute due to icy trail conditions, the race went off without a hitch.

I was nursing a chest cold last week and was quite worried about whether I would get to run on Saturday. Since I get pretty bad FOMO as it is, off I went on Saturday morning, bundled and ready. I did not set any lofty goals for this self-proclaimed “fun run”, since I know how hilly Shubie is, plus feeling under the weather and icy conditions, my expectations weren’t high. I went in thinking that it would be nice to beat my previous Shubie time (although it was a different course), but not to sweat it and just have fun.

 Since the race used ankle chips, the organizers asked runners to arrive two hours early, which we all felt was overkill, and it was. However, there was a heated building on site (with real plumbing!) which gave me a chance to catch up with some running buddies who I have not seen in a while!

I think the best part of this entire race was the DJ Tom Fleming! Getting pumped up before the race was really fun, as was the celebration afterwards.

I set out on the course, legs feeling great but lungs not so much. I don’t think I’ve ever had to focus on maintaining my breathing more than this race, since the last thing my lungs wanted me to do was run. Nevertheless, the recent hill training nights while mentoring Team Myles are definitely paying off! It felt great to charge the hills and not lose too much of my pace on them. The kms flew by quickly and I found myself at the 3k mark with lots of energy left, so I picked up my pace on the way back to the finish.

Until….the dreaded hill. In the last kilometer of the course was this unreal hill, long and steep. I set my sights on a point at the top and tried my best. At some point, I think I was still running but not quite moving forward! I stopped to walk the rest, and checked my shoulder to see my friend Catriona give me the evil “I hate this hill” eye. Good thing I was not alone!

Into the finish I go, received by some friends who finished just minutes before me. The buzz at the finish line was mostly about that hill, which made me feel better about my performance. I finished at 34:03, which was actually pretty respectable (and 2.5 mins faster than previous) considering the circumstances.

This race will for sure go on my “must-do” list. I’m getting pretty antsy for warmer weather and to totally blow my goals out of the water this season. Next up, MEC Race Two: Citadel Highlander.

Stay tuned!

Till next time, I’m Better in the Long Run. 

Dear former Melissa:

What I wish I could tell myself before I became a runner:

  1. It’s not impossible.

The first thing I hear when I tell a non-runner that I run is “oh my god I can’t even run for three minutes”. Not true. Running feels impossible because when you are not doing it all the time, when you need to run (like for the bus, or in the other direction when you see your ex), it causes you to get way out of breath and exhausted in a short amount of time. However, there are training plans that make incremental changes so it never feels quite like that. To my own surprise, finding out that I could do something that I could not do two weeks before had to be the most rewarding feeling.

  1. Runners are the nicest people you will meet.

Although they might look intimidating gliding down the street with poise and elegance, hardly breaking a sweat and talking to their buddy running alongside, they are not at all. I am not a fast, talented, or natural runner whatsoever. However, even those that I have come across that have run multiple full marathons or even Boston Qualified have cheered me on. They will always give advice, carpool, and celebrate successes. Runners are awesome.

  1. You don’t have to be first, or even 500th to feel like you won.

I was that kid in gym class who would fake an injury to get out of class. It was not because I was lazy, either. It was because I was lacking athleticism and grace, and I would never ever be “good” at whatever activity was assigned. Running, to my surprise, is not like this at all. Every time I set a new PB (personal best), I feel like I’ve won the Olympics.

  1. For an independent activity, you’ll make a heck of a lot of awesome friends.

Runners only run alone sometimes. I have met lifelong friends through this journey, which is not an easy task in adulthood. Runners get together not only to run, but also to eat (a lot), watch movies, or just hang out. There are groups (like BLT Runners) that get together on the weekly. There are fb chats ongoing. It’s all friendship!

  1. The effects don’t end when you stop running.

Before I was a runner I considered any running related activity to be the worst-case-scenario. See a bear? Run. Late for work? Run. It’s not like that. When you run regularly, you start to crave the head space. You sleep better, eat better, think better, live better.

  1. The technology is awesome.

I always thought running would be free. Instead, I find myself dropping hundreds of dollars on fancy Garmin GPS watches and “chip timed” runs. Runners were using iWatch technology long before Apple thought of it. Tracking your distance, speed, pace, all laid out on a pretty little map of your route is the best way to compare progress. In races, PB’s are only PB’s if your chip time tells you so. Not to mention my new Bluetooth headphones. How did I run before they came into my life?

  1. There is a social media platform just for runners – and people use it.

Strava. Check it out. It’s like Instagram only in order to post, you need to turn on your GPS watch and run around. Once you stop, the stats from your run get uploaded and your friends start praising you for things like “negative splits”. To a slower runner this seems terrifying to compare your numbers to your faster friend’s numbers, but its totally not (see items 2-4).

  1. It’ll get you instragram followers.

Actually though. I’ve loved sharing my progress on my dedicated running insta (so not to be that annoying gym-selfie poster on my personal insta), @betterlongrun, and have found the community of inta-runners absolutely inspiring. It’s also an awesome way to stay accountable, when there is a week between posts, y’all know I was on the couch.

  1. It’s really hard but you won’t hate that.

There’s something exhilarating about being exhausted, seeing a hill, and conquering it anyway. You start to crave that feeling.

  1. It will show you parts of the province you’ve never seen before.

Lakes, streams, back woods. Disconnect and reconnect. You’ll never believe what is in your own back yard, and running will almost always take you there if you let it.

We’re off to the races!

Sunday marked the first race of the 2017 race season. I have heard great things about the MEC Race Series, and thought that it was an awesome way to keep motivated all year with 5 races. Plus all my friends were doing it, and race FOMO is a serious condition. 

As a new runner it is hard to figure out which races are must-do’s, and I’m here to tell you that MEC definitely is! The courses are fun (some are challenging!), the race is very well organized, its SUPER affordable, and its very popular. The organizers announced that 400 people are signed up for this year’s full series – and that number includes me!

I signed up for the 5k for Race One, which I am very happy I did, since PPP is very hilly. I also find it fun to really push myself in a 5k and see what I can do, which I find is harder when running a longer distance, really needing to conserve energy for later kms.

The race was originally scheduled for January 8, but after a huge snowfall they cancelled. The wait was definitely worth it, because at -1 and overcast the conditions were perfect. The crusher-dust trail was frozen but not icy, and not warm enough for slippery mud. I had a great nights sleep and felt really good getting out there.


I set out and felt really good, pumping myself up for the upcoming first (and most difficult) hill in the course. Slowly but surely I made it up to the top, feeling a bit like a superhero, and decided at that point that I’d give the last 3 kms a real college try. I felt great flying down the hills trying to make up for the time lost going up them.

 I decided in the last km to empty my tank, picking up the pace – but then got tripped up by a (really freaking cute) dog on the course (PPP seconds as an off-leash dog park!) and put my hands out to catch my fall. It was one of those slow motion kind of trips. Humiliating, but can’t blame the dog for this one. Somehow, miraculously, at 4.6km I caught myself and didn’t actually wipe out, just elegantly tripped forward and flailed a bit. Reassuring the people behind me that I was ok (aside from my ego), I decided to laugh about that later and giv’er to the finish. 

My goal for the race was not to PB, but just to run it for feel and see what I could do. I finished at 33 minutes, 6:45 average pace, which is really only 1:45 away from my 5k PB. Not too shabby considering the hills!


I’m very much looking forward to the other races in this series. Congrats to everyone who got out yesterday to run MEC Race One!

Till next time, I’m #BetterInTheLongRun. 

Sixteen accomplishments in 2016

What. A. Year. To Summarize, here are some of my accomplishments:

Taking a leap of faith

I started 2016 with a cliché goal to get healthier. Like everyone, I thought I would go to the gym more, eat a lot of salad and make this the year that I finally lost those extra lbs I was carrying around. Given it did not work for the 5+ previous years I tried it, I’m not sure what I thought would change in 2016.

Then, while aimlessly scrolling through twitter, I saw it: “@bnmarathon Applications for Team Myles 2016 are due next week! Apply now to become an ambassador.”

I contemplated for a couple of days, feeling like a complete poser thinking about being an ambassador for running..me? The lazy, overweight version of myself? No way. I read through previous team member’s blogs, then decided to take a huge leap of faith and apply. When I got the email that I had been accepted, my first thought was “No way..I’m over it. Running in the Blue Nose this year would be terrifying”. A day went by and I had myself convinced. If I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to train with a group, fully supported by trainers, physiotherapists and other sponsors, when would I ever do it?

Becoming a runner

Team Myles was IMG_0427 (1)12 weeks of busy evenings and weekends – on the trail, in the gym, wherever I was I was trying to prepare for Blue Nose in some way. My partner forgot what I looked like. I ate, slept, went to work, and did Team Myles training. Although it is all a blur now, those were some of the best times. Week to week I felt myself getting stronger – and there is nothing more powerful than doing something that you know you couldn’t do the week before. I became a runner in those weeks, sharing my journey through blogging as I went. I ran the 10k continuously (albeit slowly), and crossed the finish line with a new outlook.

 

Training with a team

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What a great opportunity it was to meet so many awesome people, all with different motivators but with a common goal: To get off our butts and run 10 kilometers in May. They saw me through some pretty tough times, and some of the best times of my life. I met people that I know will be lifelong friends, and we have continued to run together, and race together all year.

Eating healthier

I have to admit, this area was hit or miss for me in 2016. During team myles training I did really well – eating to fuel my training. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I could eat if I was running and working out a lot haha! Like everybody, I fall off the bandwagon and eat chocolate, ice cream, and cookies every once in a while. Since I really enjoy eating, and happiness also matters, I learned to find a balance by portioning and being cognizant about what my meals are really doing for me.

Starting my own blog

I’ve always loved writing. During Team Myles I blogged weekly about what the team was up to and my progress toward running 10k. After receiving so much love and feedback from friends, I decided that I wasn’t finished blogging at the end of the training, and Better in the Long Run was born.

I started this blog and its social media accounts (@betterlongrun) so that I could relate to regular, non-athletic people who are just trying to make positive changes for themselves. I wanted to show that you don’t have to be gifted with a long lean body and natural ability to hammer out a 5k in 25 minutes without breaking a sweat. I wanted to show that anybody can do it if they are honest with themselves, and willing to give it a try.

Flipping a tireIMG_0919

Flipping a tire is one of those things that you think only super heroes can do. After signing up to train with Devin at 360fit in preparation for Mud Hero this year, I felt really strong. Devin’s OCR training was probably the most intense type of workout I have ever done – however, if you ask me what my favorite workouts are, I’d also name the same ones.  Devin had us running, push-uping, burpeeing, squatting, but also the coveted tire-flipping. Nothing feels more badass.

 

Doing a real push-up

Actually 3 in a row! 😛

2016-07-09 | 2016 Mud Hero Halifax

Doing an OCR

On January 1 2016, if you would have told me that I’d be doing Mud Hero only 5 months later, I would have turned the bus around. In my mind, Mud Hero was for people who were strong, confident, and epically fit. However, onto the bandwagon I jumped while training at 360fit. Climbing, crawling, wading through hip-deep heavy mud, laughing all the way.

A  bunch of racesimg_2396!

 

Losing 40lbs

Although I tend to lean toward non-scale victories (or #NSVs) to measure progress, I do have to acknowledge the numeric changes here too. When I pick up two 20lb dumbbells I am flabbergasted that I used to carry that around all the time. No wonder I felt like absolute crap.img_3236

Joining a run club

My running buddy Catriona introduced me to the BLT Runners. This is a group of runners that is inclusive of all levels, who get together regularly to run. I’ve really enjoyed getting out with BLT Runners when I can. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to goal-setting, training, and racing.

Being featured

In November I was featured by SeeCourtRun! It was so great to chat with somebody so like-minded, and I was flattered by the opportunity to be featured on her blog.

NSV’s

Everything from fitting into goal jeans, buying smaller clothes, wearing out a pair of running shoes, completing new distances, doing a real push-up for the first time, non-scale victories really are the bees-knees, and a great way to celebrate success.

Personal Bests

Here they are!

5k: 31.53.

10k: 1:08.02

 

img_2245Lifetime Race Registrations

Maritime Race Weekend is a super duper fun double race weekend, and one of the awesome perks to participating are the prizes! My friend Jody and I posed for a photo at kit pickup and it helped us win LIFETIME registrations 😀 . Thanks to everyone who helped us earn the most facebook likes!

Giving myself a break

It’s been quite the transformational year. In November and December I took a break from running consistently to focus on spending time with my little family, getting my life organized and resting my joints and muscles for the 2017 year ahead. Although I did take it a little too far (I didn’t plan on a full hiatus), I’m craving the chance to get back out there in 2017!

Till next time, I’m Better In The Long Run.

Mind, Body and Goal

Fall is for firsts. This, being the first year I have ever actually stuck with running across multiple seasons, has brought many firsts. The first time I’ve ran enough to wear out a pair of shoes. The first time I successfully set an alarm, got up, and ran in the wee hours of the morning. The first time crying happy tears at a finish line. The first time calling myself a runner.

The fall season however brings a certain feeling about firsts, as it’s the season of first days of school, first turning leaves, everything changing and bearing down for winter. Work gets busier, the city fills with students, and races fill with enthusiastic runners who have dedicated their hot, grueling summer training to be there. For me, this first fall as a runner brings a new, very welcome meaning – an exciting challenge and a refreshing payoff from the hard work throughout the hot summer.

I understand why runners love fall race season. Running feels amazing in the crisp fall air after a hot, humid summer of training. You’ve got one more chance to achieve the goals that you set for the year before winter sets in and then you’re back to (hopefully) training for next year.

Some runners may have gone into 2016 hoping to run their first half, or to PB, to run their first out of province race, or maybe just to stick with it all year. For me, when I set goals for 2016 they included figuring out a way to get out of the funk I was in – trying to lose weight, find happiness and contentment, and first and foremost to enjoy the moments I’m in instead of planning too far ahead. Like everyone, I wanted to get my health on track. Running was not included in these goals, because running was not something I knew I would do in 2016. I didn’t realize that running was the ticket that would help me achieve all of these things and more.

Yet here I am 10 months later having finished four 10k’s and six 5k’s in 2016 thus far. I’m feeling like I checked every box, wrote a new list, and checked those off too. I went into my two more serious fall races (Maritime Race Weekend and Valley Harvest Marathon) hoping to PB, to make it closer to my goal of the coveted sub 1 10k. To think 7 short months ago when took a leap of faith and joined Team Myles, I did not believe that I could run 10k at all, that I would maybe complete the 5k, if I could overcome the doubt first and really, truly commit.

If you are thinking about changing something you are unhappy with, just start. Start tiny and be realistic with yourself, because you deserve to be successful. Care about the person you are now enough to help them make the changes. Don’t take on too much just to crash and burn. Be patient, and things will happen faster than you think. It’s as easy as starting.

What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best moments haven’t happened yet.

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Valley Grown & Harvested (Valley Harvest Marathon Race Recap)

Thinking back to when I was a student at Acadia University, living, studying and working in the beautiful town of Wolfville, NS gives me nothing but the best memories. I get warm & fuzzy feelings remembering the people, the growth, figuring things out the hard way, and achieving something much bigger than the education that got when I was there. I was one of the lucky ones who really got to know Wolfville as something more than a University town – so my love for it really runs deep.

Living in Wolfville I started running one summer. I ran because I was going through some personal hardships and I could not sleep. Running filled my morning up – after waking up at god knows what hour and not being able to fall back to sleep because of a racing head, I’d put on my gym shoes and go outside, but walking didn’t help – so running it was. I’d run until I couldn’t, walk, then run some more. I’d explore new parts of the town; go out on the dykes or around the reservoir park. I overcame a lot during those runs, they stood their purpose, and I moved on.img_2436

I was aware of the Valley Harvest Marathon when it came through on Thanksgiving Weekend each year. It made the town busy, music blasting from the athletics complex early in the morning. There was one year that I went to cheer two of my friends on for their first half marathon. This I felt was something absolutely incredible – and I still do! Those same friends convinced me to do a 5k at New Years in Wolfville – my first and only race until this year. Still, I never thought in a million years I’d actually be the one running in the Valley Harvest Marathon – but this year I did!

Knowing how significant this race was to me, I decided to go in with the goal of enjoying it and giving it my best. Three weeks prior was Maritime Race Weekend – where I PB’d shaving over 4 minutes off my 10k time, making it 1:08. Therefore, I really didn’t expect to beat it, but hoped I could stay under 1:10:00.

Well – it sure was tough! The weather (although not the hurricane that was forecasted earlier in the week) was humid and the hills were steep. I didn’t sleep as well the night before as I should have – which I am learning is a common denominator in feeling crappy while running (the 4:15am wake up wasn’t helpful). Right out of the gate I went way too fast, keeping up with the 1:05 pace bunny for the first 2k which was not smart at all. I got too competitive with myself – thinking perhaps I could beat my PB after all. I quickly realized this couldn’t be sustained when we hit the first hill and I fell way behind. From then on I was not comfortable. I came across a few friends along the way from the BLT Runners, some from 360fit and Team Myles. I even came across Lisa, who I had ran that New Years 5k with back in 2011 (who has an absolutely beautiful baby belly, and did the 5k while pregnant! Wonder Woman.) Everyone seemed to have felt similar to me – that it was a rough one.img_2466

I was super lucky to have my biggest cheerleader, Shamir along this time – he doesn’t always get to come because of his crazy work schedule but I do love having a designated race boyfriend. When asked why he didn’t take pictures coming into the finish, he said “I didn’t think you’d want to see what you looked like”. Good call Sham. It didn’t feel pretty either.

It was the craziest feeling running in Wolfville again. I never ran more than 5k there, and never thought I ever would. So, I’d pass milestones along the way and think “holy crap I ran to Port Pub!!!” (obviously also extremely tempted to stop for Brunch instead of continuing the race..). It was surreal to be back there, running so far, with so many people, in an event that was so very elite in my eyes a few short years ago.

Regardless of the fact that it was a tough race, and even though I got in my head in the second half, stopping to walk up some hills and thinking I would be well over 1:10 by the time I got to the finish, I managed to pull it off in 1:10:47 (those blasted 47 seconds). After I caught my breath I started to appreciate the run for what it was – a milestone, and one of those difficult races that makes you stronger.

Even in the weakest moments, I am strong.

 Thanks to Valley Harvest Marathon for organizing such a great race – the volunteers were cheery and enthusiastic at each of the water stops, the course was beautiful, the swag is awesome and the medal is the cutest! This race is a must-do in Nova Scotia – even if it is hilly!

Busting my barnacles at Maritime Race Weekend 2016

I know, I’m late at publishing this post.1044581_10155374170777575_6542025887843723486_n

Maritime race weekend deserves all the hype that it gets year round. I heard about MRW long before I became a runner – that crazy weekend where pirates take over Fisherman’s Cove. I never thought I’d be a crazy pirate, yet now I’ve got photographic evidence that I am – and I always want to be (want to help me do that? see below for my shameless plug).

What is special about MRW is that it has the option to two races – a 5k at sunset, where many people dress up and enjoy the festivities that include live music and fireworks to name a few. The next morning runners have 5k, 10k, half and full marathon options. They call this the “Tartan Twosome”, because they haven’t given the race enough Maritime flair already. Each route includes breathtaking views of the ocean, fantastic water stops, and crowds of locals who have come out to support the runners. Maritime Race Weekend really brings out the bells and whistles – even an actual bell to ring if you PB, Captain Kid wouldn’t even kid you not.

Sunset 5k

I can honestly say that it has been a while since I had as much fun as I did during the Sunset 5k. Dressed as a pirate, with a race bib that said “Maiden Melly”, I set out with a new running buddy, Teresa, to frolic aro14445929_1231564956907631_633905019924468505_nund the route, high five our friends, dance to the music and enjoy the scenery. We did all of that in the first 2.5k, and when I looked at my watch at the turn-around, I noticed we had actually made good time. Competitive Melly came out, and I rocketed to the finish. Some may say I just can’t have fun with it – I’m too serious. My response? Killing the last 2.5k WAS fun. Who am I? Who knows anymore.

Classic 10k

This was the race that I worked all summer for. All of the speed work, the long runs, reading runners blogs, getting out to other races, getting involved in the running community – it was all with the goal in mind to shave minutes off my 10k PB. Although my current overall goal is to do a sub 1 10k, I knew it wasn’t realistic this year. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t get closer. My previous 10k time was 1:12:28 so after the summer I thought I’d attempt to shave it down to 1:10:00.

I did a practice run on the route the week before in 1:12. Eep.

I knew that I had to keep my pace under 7 minutes/km in order to beat it, and if I didn’t I’d have to make up for it somewhere. I lined up right beside the 10k 1:10 continuous pace bunny thinking I’d stick with her and maybe pass her on the hill or in the last couple km’s just to be safe. I stuck with her for the first km – 6:47 mins/km. This is probably the first time that I ACTUALLY took the advice of not going out too fast from the start. That works. Do that.

Of course I felt great  and decided I’d pass her, to see if I could find my running buddy Jacqueline who I knew was somewhere between the 1:10 and 1:05 bunnies. Found her on the way up the hill. Km #2: 6:29. It then hit me that I still had 8k to go, and as fun as this was if I wanted to run 6:29kms I wasn’t ever going to make it. Negative splits guys. Also important they tell me.14581292_10155413261522575_4914060373136288486_n

I pound out the next couple kms pretty consistently around 6:45, feeling awesome. Turns out I got the route on my practice run slightly off, sending me up another hill before turning around. So, when I hit the turn around spot and realized there was not another hill whatsoever, I tried my best to channel that rocketship feeling from the night before to the finish. Not quite as fast, but still consistently hovering around 7.

There is nothing like the feeling checking out your watch and realizing that if you can just run the next two kms at a similar pace, you’re going to PB – and it’s going to be awesome. Math & Running at the same time, I really have achieved something here! I was crying when I came into fisherman’s cove at 1:07 and seconds, passing my cheering Mom and a few friends. Strong finish, bawling, checking my wrist and seeing 1:08:02. Not only did I do it, I shaved over 4 mins of my previous PB.

My friend Andy saw me go by and met me in the finish. There’s a hilarious picture of me crying ugly tears in her arms. Thanks Andy, I may have collapsed if you weren’t there!

Ok – so now’s where I need your help! I am in the running (get it?) to win LIFETIME REGISTRATIONS to Maritime Race Weekend! Please follow this link and simply “like” this silly picture. I promise 90 year old Melissa will still dress up like a pirate and head out to Maritime Race Weekend. Please share! 

Personal Beasts

When I started running I thought that it would mean I’d need to be serious. I’d need to be so dedicated to running that I put it before things like sleep, food, free time. I’d need to know all the lingo – like “fartlek” and “negative split”. I’d need to know what compression socks are for and how to run in a snow storm while keeping my make-up in place, benefiting from the rosy-cheek look, while making it look easy and wearing this year’s newest clothes from lulu or running room.

When starting something new, I usually take this approach – Do it up, do it big. All or nothing. That doesn’t work for running.

I learned quickly that running means eating a lot, laughing at yourself, talking about poop, chafing, hugging other sweaty people, showing up at ass-o-clock with no make-up unless you forgot to wash it off from yesterday’s work day. It means meeting people that will never know what you look like with your hair done. In the winter it means wearing layers that don’t match, a dorky head band and a chapped face. In the summer it means not caring about the flabby parts of you that are showing, because the less clothes the better.

You will quickly learn to love your curves (after you get some Body Glide on them) when they’ve carried you kilometer to kilometer, sprint to sprint, up hills and down hills. Who cares what that body looks like if it can do something like help you achieve a personal best – do something that it couldn’t do before? Changes happen, pounds come off, clothes fit better, but the real achievement is how you feel after an awesome run – texting all your friends a screenshot of your splits or a picture of your sweaty, exhausted, red, elated face.

Running does not make you that tall, skinny, beautiful woman with perfect clothes, effortlessly gliding along the trail for her daily workout, hardly breathing heavy, glistening in the sun. What it does make you is somebody who cares about themselves. In a good way. In a self love kind of way. It teaches you to set a realistic goal, work for it and reap the benefits. It teaches you to live life looking forward to the next race, but to also enjoy each of the steps along the way that got you there. Living in the moment, running the kilometer you’re in, embracing the pain, and doing it for the rush of pride that you get when you cross the finish line, check your watch, and see a personal best.

Running makes you your personal best.

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Pace yourself when you race yourself

Phewwwie! I have not written a blog in a while…summertime slack off, I have no excuses other than that! I’ve been running my butt off, upping my mileage and getting ready for my fall races. SO, here’s a recap of what I’ve been up to.


In the last month I’ve been focusing on pace. Since reorienting my goals to running-related ones I’ve been working toward bettering my 10k time in hopes of completing 10k (possibly by next spring?) sub 1hr. This requires running under a 6 minute kilometer average, which will be quite a feat for me. Speed does not come easy. The work is gritty, hot, and difficult, but hella rewarding.

I’ve learned that the best way to get faster is to put in the effort (easier said than done, right?). There’s no half-assing in speed work. If you give it your all, you’re doing it right. If you are cheating yourself while nobody is watching, or allowing that voice in the back of your head to talk you down, you may as well forget your pace goal.

After some reading, and a lot of youtubeing, I’ve kind of wrapped my head around how to get faster and begun to employ this. I started out by keeping my runs shorter (5-6k) and doing lots of speed work. This didn’t work so well, because as soon as I added in my regular long run again, I pushed too hard in some parts because faster felt better, leaving myself tired by the later end, and walking a lot. IMG_1867

It’s all about balance, I realized (again this time), so I went back to my 2 shorter runs (1 I use for exploring new routes and the other for speed work) plus 1 long run per week. I also started running home from work – trying to race home faster than it takes to get the bus. Super fun way to push yourself!

I am by no means an expert, and I am still very much figuring this out as I go. However, I did find the vocab quite confusing when I started out, so I’ve decided to document what I learned here. I’ve outlined the four types of workouts that are supposed to make you faster. Many trainers will develop a schedule that includes some or all of these.

Drills: These include moves like grape-vining (thread the needle), high knees, butt kickers, lateral squats, etc. Best done after a short lightly paced warm up, these create muscle memory and lead to better form, which in turn makes you a better, more efficient runner overall, allowing you to get faster.

Tempo: Tempo runs are generally shorter runs at 80% effort, to increase your LT or “lactate threshold”. In lay terms, increasing your LT means increasing the point at which your body fatigues while going a certain pace. These runs should feel “comfortably hard”. There are a few ways to tell if you’re exerting the right amount of effort:

  1. Use a heart rate equipped device (I use my Garmin Forerunner 220) to make sure you’re in your 80-90% max heart rate range. Don’t let the HR thing scare you. In order to find out your max heart rate, calculate: 220-Age=Max heart rate. So, my max should be 194 since I’m 26 years old. To find out what my tempo range is, simply find 80-90% of 194 (Google will do this if you forgot what you learned in Grade 6 math).Therefore, during a tempo run my heart rate should be between 155.2-174.6
  2. If you don’t have an HR monitor or you hate math, there are other, less calculated ways:
    1. Talk test: try saying 4 words “Melissa is really awesome”. This should be fine. Now, try saying 10 words: “Melissa is really awesome, but not a very fast runner”. This should be hard to say.
    2. Recent Race time: Look back at your most recent 5 or 10k and increase your pace a bit (start with 15-20 seconds/kilometer faster and ramp up)
    3. Perceived exertion: If 10 makes you feel like Usain Bolt and 1 makes you feel like you’re late for your dentist appointment, go about an 8.

Fartlek: Excuse me! Haha, a funny little word that literally means a continuous run with periods of faster running followed by periods of slower running.

Hills: If you followed my journey on Team Myles, you might remember that I used to head to Citadel Hill in the freezing cold every Tuesday like a crazy person. Not for the faint of heart, hill training literally means running as hard as you can up a hill, then repeat. Don’t knock it till you try it, it sucks but you literally feel like a superhero after you do it. IMG_1909 (1)

SO, those are ways you can get faster. If that is one of your goals, I highly encourage you to look up these terms and figure out what might work best for you. I really enjoy the MEC & Canadian Running Instructional Videos, I find them easy to follow. If you’re setting out to increase your pace, give me a shout – as I’m still figuring it out myself.

So I’m off to the races (literally) in the next few weeks with Maritime Race Weekend in two weeks, then Valley Harvest Marathon a few weeks after that. I promise not to drop the ball again on updates!

Be sure to follow @betterlongrun on insta and twitter – I always keep those going!

Till next time ❤

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