Play ball!

One day at work, I noticed a flyer advertising a work softball league. Other than gym class and goofing around in my backyard, I haven’t played a lot of softball. But, I was keen to try something new and it would be a good opportunity to network and meet people outside my department. So I emailed. The schedule was perfect: games were once a week and always at 6:30 in Trinity Bellwoods or Riverdale Park. So I signed up and was assigned a team.

Our first game was two days after our marathon, but it got rained out after one inning. Our second game was last night. We lost 8-2 (or 9-2?), but it was a lot of fun. Despite my lack of experience, I was assigned second base. Our short stops were so helpful in telling me what to do, thank goodness!

I batted twice: struck out the first time (with two foul balls) and hit a single the second time. As for my defensive play? Well, I didn’t contribute all that much, but I didn’t commit any errors (YES!) and caught a grounder and threw it to first to get a batter out. So I consider my first game in 15 years a success.

Softball. It’s sort of like exercise.

Sister Act: 108 Yoga


Photo1 (4)What: Strength and Length
When: Friday @ 12:10 p.m.
Where: 108 Yoga (1496 Lower Water St. Suite 411 Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Who: Sarah Bannerman Andrews

The day before a race I like to do nothing. It’s probably the one and only time I actually can convince myself that doing nothing is okay. I have this weird thought process if I run, or even do yoga, before a race I might throw off my tempo or mess up my knees. What if I fell or injured myself? Something bad could happen to me and then I wouldn’t be able to run! I know this is completely not true (or is it?) but you just never know!

Before I run a race I also have this thing that I must do yoga before race day. Not the day before, but the day before the day before. I needed to go to a class on Friday, in case I completely confused you. Plus I was in Halifax and the new Moksha Bedford studio just opened. I wanted to go! But, sadly, Erin was not in the mood for hot yoga or anything that required any effort. Not that I could blame her, she was running the marathon after all!

After doing looking up yoga studios in Halifax (there are not that many compared to Toronto!), Erin found us a class called Strength and Length at 108 Yoga. This sounded interesting enough. It was a 45 minute class – just long enough and it didn’t sound too hard. The only trouble was making it there in time.

After we zipped downtown as quickly as we could, we arrived just in time. Whew! The studio was located in the Brewery Market, a great Halifax “must see.” It was dark and quaint with beautiful dark floors (just like home, for those who practice at Moksha Downtown) and our teacher (and the studio manager) Sarah was so sweet. The atmosphere was all around welcoming and peaceful you couldn’t help but feel happy to be there and on our mat.

The class was indeed every gentle and lived up to its name. With a lot of stretching and restorative postures woven into a gentle flow, I felt super afterward. The movements felt effortless as Sarah lengthened us from finger tips to our tippy toes, both in standing postures as well as on all fours and the best part, while we were on the floor. The strength component came with the longer holds and the core work which carried into every transition and into every pose. I was ready. Ready to run!

Despite the individual class price being a little steep ($20, but mat rental was free), being a Moksha teacher has it’s perks (teachers pay $5 for class). Given the great experience, it’s worth it for a one time drop-in. But you can get a good deal on a group package or monthly pass, for any Haligonian looking for a studio to call home. The instructions were clear and the class size was just right.

Take this class if: You’re a runner! You need a gentle stretch or a break from your regular pratice, or you’re new to yoga and what to know what all the hype is about.


Sister Act: The Blue Nose (Half) Marathon


Now that you’ve heard Erin’s side of the story, here’s mine.  I’m still in shock really from Sunday’s race. I’m not entirely sure where to begin.

Erin gave you the play-by-play of our race morning. For some odd reason, this particular morning I was feeling really nervous. Why? I don’t know. I wasn’t running the marathon! But I was worried about me: what I ate the night before, I didn’t sleep well that night, and of course I was worried about the race. Luckily enough, Kendal was in the same boat as I was. We both had very little training our our belts going into the race Sunday. Thank goddess I was not the only one! Having Kendal there gave me a sense of ease and knowing I wasn’t alone. But, like all races we wanted to get out there, have a good run, and just have fun.

But, let’s face it: we both had arterial motives going into this half marathon. Breaking 2 hours was mine (and Kendal’s) goal and I knew darn well if I didn’t run sub 2:00, I would be upset. Yes, for me the point of the trip was to support Erin, come home, see my parents, family and friends, and yes, run. But I needed a goal. I had a race to run too – this trip wasn’t all about Erin’s marathon! I was running my second half marathon ever, people.


Going into San Francisco half last October I wanted to be fast and when I finished with a time of 2:09 I was rather annoyed. However, I learned to accept this time and soon enough I was okay with the fact: this was an extremely hilly course and it was my first half marathon! I really shouldn’t be too hard on myself. This time around, at the Blue Nose, I knew I could run the distance – hey! I ran 30k on yoga training alone. 21.1k will be a breeze. In San Fran, I found the course long. This time, in Halifax, I was worried about the route itself. I pretty much did zero hill or speed training. Again, this was not a very smart move on my part considering the Blue Nose is supposed to be the toughest marathon in Canada. Way to pick ’em, Erin, and when you’re on a steady rolling incline from 17k to the finish, I would totally agree. It was not fun.

(Before I dive too far into my recap I need to start of by telling the world how proud of Erin I am! She did it. Erin, you are a marathoner! Now I must run a marathon… perhaps this fall? I’m still contemplating my options.)

Back to my recap. After seeing Erin off, I was settling down and feeling a bit more prepared. Having Mom and Dad there made me super excited to run. I wanted to run really fast for them. I’m a bit of a show off, but I couldn’t help it. When you’re parents are around, you want to perform your best.

Once the gun sounded, I ran easy early. I wanted to space myself away from the crowd. I wanted to find the 2:00 pace bunny and stick with her the entire time. This way if I was feeling good I would run ahead or back off and run with her if I needed to. The weather was perfect and I was feeling really good. I kept it up for 7k and that’s when I found her! Out of now where she appeared before my eyes. By this time, I was on cruse control and there was no way I was slowing down. New strategy: run ahead of the 2:00 bunny and make sure she doesn’t pass me!

When we made the turn onto Barrington Street it was time to flip the tunes on. Anne made me a playlist (thanks, Annie!) which I was given specific instructions not to list to until the race. I was needing  a pick-me-up, at this point, as the runners around me began to disperse. And that’s when Anne’s sweet little voice rang in my ears! It was just want I needed to kick my butt into high gear. And so I took off! I really have Anne to thank for my fast time.

It wasn’t until we entered Point Pleasant Park I began to feel the tank emptying. But I was determined to stay ahead of the bunny, even if it killed me. But, at this point (14k) she could have very well passed me without me even knowing it. This stretch felt long and all I wanted to do was get the get out of the park and find the damn hill I had to run up for this thing to end.

As I kept going things started feeling a bit better – I was trying not to think too much – the crowds were so supportive, the sun was still shining, and my playlist rocked! Before I knew it 17k mark was in sight, then the 20k, and finally the finish line! I powered up the hill at the end – I had to I couldn’t have an old guy beat me – it was a tough finish. I wanted to fall over or barf, I wasn’t sure which. All I wanted to do was find Mom and Dad and collapse. I had no idea what my time was at this point nor did I care, but when I heard the announcer say the 2:15 bunny crossed the finish I knew I was faster than 2:15! Yay! It wasn’t until Matt sent me a text “1:52:02 Jill, you crushed it!” I sure did. Wow.

If only I actually trained, like really trained properly, imagine how fast I could be?! But according to my mother, I’m not that fast. Thanks, Mom, when I run a sub 1:45 will I be fast then? Only time will tell.




I need new shoes

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On the weekend, Jill, Anne and I were puttering around the Annex and, on a whim, I bought Born to Run and am finally (finally!!) reading it. It’s convinced me: I need to transition to a more “free” shoe.

Ever since I started running, I’ve had hip and knee problems. It’s not anything major and foam rolling keeps it under control, but if changing my shoes means I can change my gait and eliminate pain, I’m all for it.

I’m hoping to test them over the summer and make the full transition by the fall for the TBD half I will be running.

So…this leads me to ask: what kind of shoe do you use? Do you recommend it? Have you ever tried a minimal shoe? What did you think of it? Let me know!



What’s next?

Why am I thinking about this again? WHY?! (Photo courtesy my mom!)

Why am I thinking about this again? WHY?! (Photo courtesy my mom!)

It’s only been a few days since the marathon, but I’m already thinking about my next races. I’m the kind of person who needs goals to focus my fitness. Jill and I are doing the Island Girl Half Marathon Relay, but beyond that, I’m not sure. I had planned on doing Midsummers’ again, but learned that they are moving to the Island for 2013 thanks to construction. I don’t want to shell out cash for two island races in one season. I’m also torn about what my bigger race should be. I’m not ready for another full (probably in fall 2014!), but the Toronto Waterfront Marathon route leaves something to be inspired.

So….what to do? Here are my options:

The Toronto Island Triathlon: I’ve wanted to do a triathlon forever and I think I could train for it relatively easily. I already bike and run all the time and live close to a pool. The Toronto Island Triathlon is on August 24 and consists of a 750 metre swim, a 20k bike ride and 5k run.

Run for the Toad 25k: I love trail running, but don’t do it very often. Signing up for this would mean I’d have to make an effort to get out in the woods! If I did this, I’d definitely want a running buddy…who’s in?

Valley Harvest Half Marathon: When I was at the Blue Nose, I stopped by the Run NS booth and learned about this half, which is only an hour from Digby. Bonus: It’s on Thanksgiving weekend (October 13). However, if I did this, I don’t think I’d be able to go home for Christmas as I’ve been planning. Going home costs money!!!!!

Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon: This is the back-up plan. It’s close, it’s fast and it won’t cost me as much money as Run for the Toad or the Valley race. If I signed up for this, I’d focus on hitting sub-2:00.

Focus on shorter races: Maybe do some 10ks. Try to get as fast as possible. Enjoy racing and not a single big goal. There’s a lot of great races in Ontario and I should check more out, and save the big goals for next year.


What do you think? What races are you running in the fall? Am I insane for thinking about this already? Help me out!

Marathon Race Day: Giv’er all you got

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 9.52.05 AM

So, it’s been a day since I completed my first marathon. WHAT?!

Warning: this post is going to be VERY LONG.


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Pre-race: With my race starting at 8am and Jill and Kendal’s starting at 8:45, we all got up at 5:30. Coffee, bread from the farmer’s market courtesy of Kendal, almond butter and bananas were on the pre-race menu. Delicious! My mom drove us to the start (which was surprisingly easy — no traffic and quick parking) and became the go-to person to hold all our stuff. Yay mom! We then found our dad and headed over to the starting line. There, Jill, Dad and Kendal acquired CBC clappers (which I will treasure forever). It was chilly, and I was grateful to have mom there to grab my sweater right before the gun — no standing around freezing for me!

After a moment of silence for Boston, the gun went off and there it was. I was running a marathon.

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 9.57.41 AMKilometres 1-6: This part of the race took use around Citadel Hill, down over MacDonald Bridge (SO COLD AND WINDY!) and up through to Shubie Park. Once we got into Dartmouth, it was mostly rolling hills through a residential neighbourhood, that was generally more uphill than downhill. I had a pace bracelet on with the 4:30 kilometre breakdowns. Here, I ran strong and was excited about things. I was running a MARATHON. Because of the route, I didn’t see a kilometre marker until 4km in. That’s when I realized I was 5 minutes ahead of 4:30 goal pace, which gave me a decent cushion. My new plan became to stay out in front of 4:30 as long as I could and use my banked time for major hills and the final slog to the end.

Kilometres 7-12: This was Shubie Park and it was gorgeous. I loved this part of the race. The trails were narrow, but the race had thinned out quite a bit. There were lots of volunteers and marshalls in the park, so I didn’t get lost or confused over where I was supposed to go. But there were no km markers in the park, so I had so sense of pace. About halfway through the park, another runner snuck up behind me and I decided to run with her until we exited. I didn’t want her to pass me!! (She eventually did when I walked at some point. I modified my 10 and 1s for this race to avoid walking down hills. It worked pretty well — I’d walk anywhere between every 9 and 15 minutes.)

Kilometres 13-18: This took us through downtown Dartmouth and back over the bridge. The race was thin and the roads were open, meaning all the runners were running single file along a bike path. Downtown Dartmouth is pretty. I still felt good and was still about 5 minutes ahead of 4:30. All was well. Until kilometre 16. Giv’er hill. This was the worst hill in the race, a dead straight uphill climb. Boooo. I slowed down quite a bit here, but refused to walk — there were people watching!! After the hill, we moved to the highway, where it was downhill until the bridge, where we merged with the 10k runners.


Halfway there! I am all alone, but obviously I am in the lead. (Photo courtesy my mom!)

Halfway there! I am all alone, but obviously I am in the lead. (Photo courtesy my mom!)

Kilometres 19-24: Merging with the 10k runners sucked. It was confusing, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be running the same route or not. It was also frustrating, as I ended up being behind runners who were probably aiming for 1:20-1:30 10k finishes, meaning I had to dodge and pass runners to maintain my pace. Then, when we rounded towards the finish line, a volunteer yelled at me “full marathoners turn right!” and I thought we meant back up the hill (I think maaaaybe 3k of this course was actually flat). But all was good. As the 10k runners finished, I went through a separate chute and pretended all the cheers for the finish line were for me. My dad was right there and I got a high-five (hooray!) and then rounded Citadel for the second time to head north. My split was 2:10:28 (faster than all my half marathons and still on track to break 4:30). By the time I was past the Citadel, I was totally and completely alone. The roads were open (booo!) and this is where I started to slow down a bit. I settled into a solid pace and focused on breathing and running my own race and not letting the solitude get to me.

Kilometres 25-30: Heading out was a gradual uphill, followed by some zig zagging through a pretty neighbourhood, then a gradual downhill through the Halifax dockyards (and under the bridge I just ran over twice!) and into downtown. This is where I started to fade. I was still ahead of the 4:30 pace, but only by a minute or two. I was losing my cushion. Because it was a bit straighter heading back into the city, I saw the occasional runner (including an old guy who passed me who told me if he slowed down, he’d fall over), but the crowds were non-existent on the way back. Sad! I was also getting low on water, so I started to try and time my walking breaks through the stations and started to get a little generous with my stop and start times. (But just a little, I swear!)

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 9.03.30 PMKilometres 31-36: This took us through downtown Halifax and into Point Pleasant Park. It was one of the prettier sections of the race. Ocean and boats and trees! I got a bit of energy back when I realized we were headed downhill into the park (yay!), but lost it all when I realized we were taking a steep, upward climb out of it (boo!). A wonderful volunteer came down to the bottom of the hill and ran me up it. This was the second worst hill of the day, but felt so much tougher than the one in Dartmouth, for obvious reasons (that is, 20 entire kilometres happened). I gave the volunteer epic bitch face the entire time, but knowing she probably did that 30 other times means a lot, so thank you, volunteer!! By the time I left the park, I was about 2 minutes behind the 4:30 pace. Oooops. But I didn’t care anymore. I focused on breathing and getting ‘er done. However, it was a gorgeous day and there were people — and dogs — out enjoying the park. While I normally wouldn’t mind this, I wanted to kick every dog I saw. I blame marathon fatigue.

Kilometres 37-42: Okay, this part of the race is a joke. Once you come out of the park, you loop downhill through a residential area, then it’s a gradual uphill climb to the Citadel. It’s not steep, but it’s not fun. This was also the scariest part of the run, in terms of cars, as it crossed a few busy streets. I lost time over this stretch, 6 or 7 minutes, as I slowed down. My pace was easily a minute slower than it was in the first half. Just as I hit the Citadel, I realized sub-4:30 was out, sub-4:35 required a miracle, but sub-4:40 would happen if I did not slow down. I chose to focus on that. 4:3X was the original goal way back when. Once you round the Citadel, there’s a downhill (yay!!), then you turn. The last .2 is uphill to the finish. (BOOOOOOO.) Just before this turn, I saw my friend Natalie (hi Natalie!). Then, along the uphill, Jill and Kendal were there, going crazy. They ran alongside me on the sidewalk, cheering and hollering. I wanted to punch them (and had no idea how they had this much energy after running speedy half marathons earlier that day!) but it did give me the extra push to pass two runners on my way to the end. (One of which we’d run into at brunch, and whose wife would show me the video of me passing him!) The finish took forever to arrive, it looked like a mirage. An evil, taunting mirage. Then, like that, it was over. I had run a marathon. My mom was right there (thanks mom!) so I managed to get my sweater and take off my running shoes right away. She wanted to take my picture, but I couldn’t stand straight and still long enough enough. Boo, mom!


I just crossed the finish line. My mom expected me to be able to stand up and smile. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

I just crossed the finish line. My mom expected me to be able to stand up and smile. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

So it is done. Overall, I’m super happy with the experience and was so glad to have a great crew with me for the weekend. However, not everything was perfect, so I’m going to break it out for you, pro and con style.

The pros:

1. The course, despite being hard, was diverse and beautiful. We had rolling hills in residential areas, multiple bridges, two major loops through park trails, downtown Dartmouth and downtown Halifax.

2. The weather was 10 degrees and sunny. Other than being blasted by freezing air while running across MacDonald Bridge the first time, it was perfect running weather.

3. The cheer stations, volunteers and cops (especially the cops with cowbells) were all amazing. Even though I was at the tail end of a long day for them, every water station gave me lots and lots of support as I ran through it. There were many water stations, all well supplied and well run and evenly spaced out. And the volunteer who ran me up the monster hill in Point Pleasant Park at kilometre 36 — well, you can’t top service like that.

4. Spectation was super easy and lots of fun (or so I’m told). Citadel Hill meant you could see everything without too much trouble and having plenty of Halifax landmarks meant meeting up with the parents wasn’t as hard as it would be at other races. I enjoyed this aspect of the race and the vibe of the city as I ran through here at the halfway point.

4. I got approximately 4,000 race photos (another bonus of solo running) in my inbox less than 24 hours after the race. While I look like crap in all of them (obviously), this is speed impresses me.

5. I heart Halifax so much. Running through this city brought me so much joy.

6. Coming with Jill and Kendal and having mom and dad there made the day feel like a big deal and a celebration. Running buddies are the best.


Can't top a view like this for race-watching.

Can’t top a view like this for race-watching.

The cons:

1. No pace bunnies for marathoners slower than 4:15. I know it’s a small race, but I think the rest of my issues with the race wouldn’t have been as big deals if I had a guide kicking around.

2. The course got lonely after the first half. I’d often go for 10-15 minutes without seeing another runner. This wasn’t all bad (all the cheer stations would cheer only for me!) but it became hard to stay in race mode without anyone else around and with traffic allowed to flow around me. The cops and volunteers were super amazing and supportive, but I was still occasionally terrified I was going to be hit by a car (on the street) or bit by a dog (in the park).

3. The course was a tad confusing and often I wasn’t sure which way to turn.  I can’t process signs after running for 3 hours. (THANK GOODNESS for volunteers frantically waving their arms.)


The NS paper had an entire pull-out dedicated to race results. My name was in the paper!

The NS paper had an entire pull-out dedicated to race results. My name was in the paper!

What I’d do differently:

1. I wouldn’t run the Blue Nose full alone. Running with Jill during Around the Bay pushed me and kept me on track and I think I would have benefited from having a partner in this. I didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would, but I believe my overall race would have been stronger with a buddy.

2. I’d bring gloves to throw away because it was cold for the first 10k. I’m glad I didn’t wear a full-sleeve shirt like many runners, but my arms and hands felt like ice for the first 30 minutes.

3. I’d foam roll more during training. My left hip got buggy throughout the race. Nothing serious, but enough to remind me that my foam roller is my best friend. (However, my knee and achilles stayed pain-free! Hooray for that!)

4. I’d do more strength training. Because it always helps.

5. I’d be less scared about going hard, especially late in the race. While immediately after the race I felt I gave it my all, upon reflection I realized I didn’t need to slow down as much as I did in the second half. It happened because I wasn’t sure how long I could hold on and the pace I settled into was one I knew I could sustain in the end. I didn’t want to push too hard only to fall apart at kilometre 39. While I don’t regret this at all, it’s good to know for future races. Experience makes you a better — and smarter — runner.


I am a champion.

I am a champion.

And that’s that. Would I recommend this race to other marathoners? DEFINITELY. It’s such an interesting and challenging course with lots of love and support coming from the city. The shirt is great too, one of my favourite ones yet. I’d just recommend other runners be prepared for the physical difficulties (ie hills) and emotional difficulties (ie being alone). In the end, neither of these things negatively affected my experience. They are footnotes on what was a great trip home and a great race.

Major thanks to my mom and dad who made the trip from Digby to see me and Jill run. And to Jill and Kendal who came on this adventure with me. It was a good one.



Marathon Training Day #138: Strength and length

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While the original plan was to rest Friday and Saturday, my back was creaking and Jill was up for some yoga. (Although, Jill is always up for yoga!) I didn’t want to do anything too hard or too hot (I’m tapering, after all) and after a quick internet search, it was decided: we’d go to the lunch time Strength and Length class at 108 Yoga, in the Keith’s Brewery. The class was $20 for me (ugh) but $5 for Jill as a newly minted yoga teacher (yay!) so the average price for the two of us was a-okay by me. The mat rentals were free, which was a nice bonus.

It was exactly what I was looking for: deep stretching with enough flows to build up heat in the body. My back felt so much better and I was ready to face another fun-filled day in Canada’s Ocean Playground.

Two more sleeps.


Moksha Yoga Teacher Training Day #21

Today was our last and final day off of the training. So what did I do to utilize my time off? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Well not really I did get up in the morning and went to Joe’s yin/yang class with music at 9:30am, but I had a whole day planned in addition to class which included another long run to Runyon Canyon, buying groceries, making my lunch for the week and practice teaching for the following day: I was teaching again, but this time I’d be teaching in the hot room!

But let’s talk about Joe’s class for a moment. All I’ve heard nothing but great things about Joe Komar since arriving to Moksha LA and how badly I needed to take a class with him. Now I understand why. Joe has a very commanding presence in the room (it was also super nice not practicing in Studio B for a change!). Joe is gentle with this voice, but assertive with this instruction. This class was just the right amount of push I needed, with the right amount of tough yin. This was not an easy class by any means. I was blown away afterward by how “out of my head and into my body” I felt. This class was exactly what I wanted. With trainees teaching the Moksha sequence day after day, it’s hard to get into your own practice. Joe gave my practice back to me and for that I was so grateful. Thanks, Joe!

The grocery, cooking, practicing plan happened, but the run did not. I don’t know if it’s an LA thing or my brain on training, but I’ve become a baby and the last thing I wanted to do was go running in the wet and the cold. It was raining and cloudy all day. What gives?!

This is where I should have gone on my day off! The beach! But the weather was not cooperating.

This is where I should have gone on my day off! The beach! But the weather was not cooperating.

The more I didn’t run the more I was dreading the Around the Bay Race. (But, hey! We all know how that turned out!) And the day before, during our presentations, I discovered there was a 5-time Boston marathon runner (hi, Natalie!) among us. Natalie is a champion with a PB of 3:30 something, and officially my new hero.

I thought right then and there I would run the few days I have before the race when I got home. Erin will be running laps around me (so I thought)! With all the yoga I’m doing you’d think I wouldn’t worry to too much. But apparently yoga isn’t running training.

I can’t worry about this now. Now I need to rest and prepare myself for the 4th and final week of training.