Erin’s December fitness plans: An advent adventure

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November completely ran away from me. November is prime time in CanLit land, and my days were filled with award galas, book launches, readings and more. I know, I know, my life is so tough. So even though December is another busy month filled with candy, cookies and Christmas celebrations, I’m setting myself a challenge.

From December 1 to December 24, I will work out at least 30 minutes a day. Advent calendar-style.

I’m setting myself two rules: 1) it has to be for a minimum of 30 minutes and 2) I can’t double up. Working out for 60 minutes one day does not give me a free pass for the next day.

Yin yoga will totally count, though.

I’m not setting a schedule beyond this. It’ll probably be a combination of running and yoga and more running, but that’s okay. I want to use this time to get fitness — and a lot of it — back into my regular routine. Then I’ll have a week to chill and then marathon training will start. If anyone wants to go on a fitness date, I am in. Just say the word.

Back to Desa Seni we go

Aww Desa Seni, how I've missed you! Thanks Mandy for the Photo.

Aww Desa Seni, how I’ve missed you! Thanks Mandy for the Photo.

Cecilley and I are now in our last week. Our last week in Bali! And I can’t come to terms with leaving. After all the ups and downs and all arounds this place has a certain specialness about it that only took me over a month to find. Why is it that is always the way? But I suppose leaving on a good note with a bit of sadness and not pleading to escape is a good thing. I will always have a place for Bali in my heart. And who knows maybe I’ll end up back here again some day. I wouldn’t put it past me. I can see it happening. Especially if it means spending more time at Desa Seni.

Wednesday, November 27th has already happened on this side of the world (and everywhere else by now I know), but I like writing from the future, it’s seems kind of cool to me. I am after all 12+ hours ahead of everyone back home. But regardless of what day and time it is when you read this, the 27th was Dulice’s birthday. (Happy Birthday, Dulice!) Before I jump too far ahead, you need a super quick update. While in Bali and living in Ubud Cecilley and I have spent a lot of time at the Green School. In particular we’ve spent lots of time with Green School’s Head of Communications, Charris, and his beautiful family, Dulice being his amazingly,wonderful wife. And today (or the 27th rather) was no exception. For Dulcie’s birthday Cecilley and I were invited to spend the day with her at Desa Seni! Hooray!! Oh how I’ve been dying to see that beautiful eco & yoga oasis among the rice patties in Canggu one more time. It was Cecilley and I who suggested a perfect romantic spa/yoga/beauty getaway at Desa Seni for Dulice. It would make for an ideal way to spend a birthday and given it was a Wednesday, the boys (Dulcie and Charris’s two children) would be in school and Charris would be busy at work. Lucky for us the invitation to join Dulcie was extended to Cecilley and I and boy oh boy I could not have been happier. Correction. Cecilley could not have been happier! Before leaving Bali we were trying to figure out a way to get back to Desa Seni, but how was the question. This was our answer.

If anyone, and I seriously mean everyone, comes to Bali put Desa Seni on your list of things to do. Whether you stay for the day, a night, or an entire week for a yoga retreat, Desa Seni is not to be overlooked. This inspiring eco village has too many amazing qualities about it I could write for hours. And all I would cover in that time is the food! But instead I’ll just capture the essence of the yoga class Dulcie and I went to. For the other things you can ask me later or you could just go to Bali.

I love all yoga. Even if I don't think I like it at the time. (Thanks again Mandy)

I love all yoga. Even if I don’t think I like it at the time. (Thanks again Mandy for the picture)

We kicked started the beautiful birthday day with a little brunch and tea before Dulice and I went to the Dynamic Hatha yoga class that morning. I was excited to practice in Desa’s second studio for a change and take a class from a teacher I knew nothing about. Manuela was hilarious and put a fun, playful twist on a more gentler styled class. I was hoping for something super dymantic – I was feeling invigerious and ready to move, but there is something about taking your practice down a notich. Working with core aligment and energetic flow from the ground up, the connection you can create within each pose is astounding. At least that’s how I feel anyway. Call me crazy, but the strength you can generate with attention works your whole body. You do not need a vinyasa level 2 flow in order to have a good workout. Sometimes I forget that. Being there with Dulice and Cecilley in Bali, back at a place that melts my heart and holds a lot of great memories, everything felt in place. Like all of a sudden the pieces of the puzzle matched up, it was such a great feeling. It was a great feeling to practice as the rain came down and we were tucked under the bamboo yoga hut, looking out at the luscious greenery. It was as if it was my birthday. Because if someone would have have told me it was I would have believed them.

After spending the day reading by pool, swimming, eating a yummy lunch and a great dinner (with the whole family!) it was just the thing I needed to part ways with Bali. Thank you, Dulice and Charris for sharing this special day with me and Cecilley. I can not begin to thank you enough for everything you’ve done for us.

Beach Days in Ulu Watu

There is always time for yoga on the beach!

There’s always time for yoga when you’re on the beach!

Surf, sun, and Bintangs pretty much sums up the story behind our mini three day vacation, within our major getaway. After what felt like weeks in Ubud (it was a long time ago when I began writing this post) the retreat was long over and not to long after we settled into our first home stay in Ubud. We finally made the trip to see the Green School, found our first WWOOFing spot – which did not work out, a huge bummer, but it was for the best. Like moving to any place it takes time to get comfortable, for Bali it was taking longer then I anticipated. But we were becoming familiar with the major streets and side roads, discovered good places to eat, grocery shop, pick up essentials, that sort of thing, it was like we were almost becoming commoners. Almost.

During it all, all the moving around, watching things unravel, seeing Bali in its true form, and just thinking a lot, I was feeling trapped and unsettled and not very happy (but this went for both Cecilley and I). This feeling – all the feelings – really bothered me. I didn’t like not liking Bali and missing things. I was out on a grand adventure, don’t be a baby, Jill!

We realized it was time to see something new. Although Ubud has many great qualities, we just needed a break from the business and noise, a place to think and clear our heads. And some beaches! There is nothing wrong with needing an escape. But where would be go?!

After examining the Lonely Planet little book on Bali we decided on Bali’s southern most beach hub, Ulu Watu. If you’re a surfer listen up. The surf is grand in Ulu Watu, coming from a complete bystander’s opinion and word of mouth from actual surfers. The waves there are crazy cool. Apparently there are special reefs in these parts that make the wave break to the left(?), if I was real surfer I may know what that actually means. As for onlookers and people watchers these beaches are quite dainty, a little on the rocky side, but capture cliff side sunsets so wonderfully you will run out of space on your camera.

Ulu Watu is well worth discovering with your rash guard and surf board, but if you’re like Cecilley and I and don’t go for the waves but for the remote beaches instead, Bingin Beach was my favourite. With plenty of cute (and cheap) surfing hostels you will have no difficultly finding a place to store your things and rest your head. For all the other hours of the day you’ll be at the beach, eating the cheap and yummy eats, or like all the surfers do at the end of a long day enjoy a cold Bingtan.

Bingin Beach, Ulu Watu, Bali. So pretty!

Bingin Beach, Ulu Watu, Bali. So pretty!

There were many things to do at Bingin Beach, yoga and surfing being the two most popular activities. Although Cecilley and I didn’t take any classes, we did practice on our own. The beach is great for yoga! There was a spa and yoga place nearby and one hostel had sunrise classes, but only certain mornings of the week. We happened to be there at the wrong time, which was a huge bummer.

Ulu Watu is about an hour, if not a bit longer, south of Ubud. Cecilley and I caught a bus to Kuta then flagged a cab for the rest of the way. Buses are the cheapest mode of transport in Bali and going through a travel organization makes it pretty easy. Cabs here are tricky. It’s wise not to take a cab without a meter, otherwise you run the risk of getting scammed – Cecilley and I learned this the hard way. The cab company to use in Bali is Blue Bird, should you ever need one. Don’t make deals with the Taxi guys on the streets holding the signs (you’ll see these guys everywhere) unless you know what the cost of your trip should be and are up for barding. It can work, Cecilley and I learned the easy way.

At the beach there is always time to jump off things!

At the beach there is always time to jump off things!

Ulu Watu is a good destination point given there are three beaches very close to one another, Ulu Watu Beach, Bingin Beach, and Padang Padang Beach, all of which are beautiful but offer very different experiences. All reef beaches with cliffs and beautiful look offs, Bingin was by far the least busy, the best for soaking in the rays and feeling relaxed. I can’t say much for Padang Padang because we didn’t stay long. It was the busiest of the three and crowed in comparison. I wasn’t thrilled by it, but we also didn’t spend as much time there. But the reviews from people I’ve talked to say it’s beautiful you just have to find the right spot. I think we were in the wrong place. Ulu Watu, like Bingin, had lots of surfers. It too was a little more of the tourist spot with lots of surf shops, restaurants, and lots of beach spots to discover. We didn’t spend too much time at this one either, we had a bus to catch to get back to Ubud that night. But should you go take the time to explore all of it. If we had more time we would have. Some secret beach gems are located in these parts of Bali and I can only behind to picture how beautiful they’d be.

If you are traveling between beaches, going by foot is doable, but keep in mind you’ll be in for a long hike, which Cecilley and I ended up doing for part of the way. Cabs are scarce, so your best option is biking or going by scooter or motorbike. Or you can hire a driver for the day.

Other than a few bumps along the way – some very good traveling/learning experiences for the two of us – it was the perfect weekend escape. If more yoga had happened, or maybe even a beach run, that would have been perfect. But everyone needs a break from everything once in a while. So no yoga or running was completely acceptable.

And Jill’s next big race….


Hanging out in Bali gives you lots of time to think. Probably more time then what’s really necessary… but then again is that really a bad thing? Either it’s good or bad, I’ve definitely had more then my fair share of time for reflecting and being with my own thoughts. As much as downtime is good for the soul and brain, so is goal setting and a sense of achievement. I need running and accomplishment to keep me balance – something that came up during the Balance In Bali retreat (more on that later) – being in a place to think only about me and what I want, what on earth have I spent all my time thinking about, besides the serious stuff like my purpose in life and what am I trying to achieve? Running! Naturally. And what my next big race will be??!!

After my first marathon was over I may have experienced a bit of the Runner’s Blues that the folks at the Running Room warned me about. Which makes complete sense given I just spent a huge chuck of time (my entire spring and summer!) training for one race. Just one! It doesn’t seem right or fair at all. Then to just stop after it’s all over? How is one supposed to quit cold turkey? What would I possibly do with my Thursday evenings not seeing Julie, or my Sunday mornings… was I supposed to sleep in? And not go out and run 30k before noontime? I was confused and sad. Just like that I missed running completely. I tried not to run for a little while at least, I didn’t want to do anything stupid like injure myself during post marathon recovery. I put my body through a lot, taking the time to recover properly was super important. But it dam well drove me crazy.

When I returned from Picton and back to my regular life (but now I was a marathoner!) I made a promise to do lots and lots of yoga until Bali and wouldn’t run until the retreat was over. I went to two of Brendan’s classes at MYD, one of which we dedicated entirely to me. Thanks, Brendan! Not only did my hamstrings love and hate you all at the same time, but my arms, quads, feet, brain, and athletic soul did too. What a grad way to come back to the yoga world.

The plan was set and so was I. But now over a month has passed since my big race and I have not run. At all! Now more then ever I am going run crazy. Since moving to Bali for some reason I’m finding it super challenging to do anything. Even yoga is so far from my mind I can’t justify going to a class. I’m not sure what is happening here. Before leaving Canada (for an undetermined length of time), I went for one run. It would be my last run with Julie and my last run with the Running Room. It was the Thursday night clinic immediately following my marathon and I made a promise to Julie we’d celebrate with burgers and beers (our favourite!) to celebrate my race. I also wanted to run with the Running Room one last time, and of course see Alice too before my trip.

Can't wait to live this moment all over again! Even though it was unplanned. Sort of.

Can’t wait to live this moment all over again! Even though it was unplanned. Sort of.

Letting all this time pass have stirred my emotions to the point of total disgust and being at a complete loss. From the retreat, to leaving all of my belongings behind, scattered between Erin’s house and my friend Cait’s apartment, having no idea what is happening to them, wondering all the time what is going on back home without me? It’s so overwhelming, I didn’t think this was possible. At this time of extreme turmoil Cecilley discovered a sweet little spot in France for us to WWOOF at called Medoc, which just so happens to have a marathon. I was golden! Sadly, Cecilley said no to running a marathon, but would run a half. One thing after another, sadly, the sadness wouldn’t stop there. This marathon does not allow half-marathoners – there isn’t a half marathon option or any other distance for that matter – it’s a full or nothing! What ever shall we do?! Conveniently, I knew Paris had a marathon… but our luck would fail us again. This was another marathon only event (which I should have know, knowing it’s one of the worlds biggest races!). After one more positive discovery and very little thought we hunkered down and signed up for the Semi Marathon de Paris! On March 2, 2014 we will run a race in Paris. The day before my birthday! Celebrating my 28th in Paris sounds pretty good to me.

The good news didn’t stop there. While all the excitement unfolded – reliving Cecilley and my California dream, moving to France to train/work/travel, zenning out at the beautiful eco village, Desa Seni, enjoying life on a yoga retreat, I may have registered for the full marathon as well. Oops! Thinking it was a lottery race, or one you would have to qualify for, I thought why the hell not submit my name and see what happens. I already created an ASO Challenges account to register for the half and I want to run another full, so here’s my chance. Plus it’s pretty much a month away from the half, so I could use the half as a training run. Prefect! But an excellent question for Alice.

Another marathon?! Oh goodness what have I done?

Another marathon?! Oh goodness what have I done?

But sure enough that “Your registration for the 2014 Marathon de Paris is complete” email arrived almost a day later which included my bib number and everything. I guess the full isn’t a lottery race after all.

So that settles it. There’s one (or two rather) confirmed legs to this journey Cecilley and I are on, we’ll be calling Paris (or London!) home this spring. Which is not such a bad idea! But this marathon, that might be. And running a sub 4:00? I can totally shave 15+ minutes from my first and only marathon time, right? Well, here goes nothing! I better start running.

Climbing Mount Batur

We made it! Cecilley and I at the top of Mt. Batur!

We made it! Cecilley and I at the top of Mt. Batur!

After being in Bali for almost a full month it was time to embark on a serious fitness adventure. As some of you may know Bali is famous for it’s live volcanoes (Mt. Batur last erupted in 2000, remember that?!) which have created quite the “tourist thing to do” in Bali. I’ve had a few friends mentioned they too went on a mountain trek to see the sunrise while visiting Bali, claiming it to be an amazing experience completely worth the very early wake up call. According to every Bali guide book Cecilley and I have come across each one also mentions it’s an activity not to be missed. Given that Cecilley and I are tourists (as much as we don’t want to say we are, we are) 1) we had to follow the guide books and 2) when would I ever hike a volcano again? But there was no way we were doing this alone. Both the books, and people before us, recommend hiring a guide to take you up the volcano (which ever one you decide to climb). Some are way more treacherous then others, requiring advance climbing skills to complete, but other are far more leisure so pick the hike that best suites your climbing capabilities and interest. Cecilley and I went part way, Mt. Batur is the third highest volcano in Bali. It’s crazy to think there are mountains even the people of Bali do not climb. I’d stay away form those ones.

So right from the comfort of our little home stay, which made it all too convenient, we booked our trek. Wayan (our driver and one of the many guys you can call to organize a mountain trek for you) we discovered later lives nearby and knows the family we’re staying with. How nice! Wayan was super and pretty hilarious. I’d recommend giving him a call if you’re ever in Bali, but before you do, do your research. Given this is a tourist attraction there are tones of companies to choose from offering different treks and a variety of things to do in addition to your climb. That being said there are also companies who may try and charge you a ridiculous price for a tour. Just be aware of that. For our trek, which included a pick up and drop off right at our home stay, a guided hike up the volcano (we had two guides to our group of seven), lunch at the top, water, and a tour of a coffee plantation (with lots of samples to taste!) and a stop to see the rice fields on the way home, all came to a total of 350,000rp each (that’s $35 Canadian). This was a good deal for what we got in return. Anything more is not worth it, unless more things are included. Again, just do your homework before going and don’t be shy when asking around.

At the time I had no idea of Cecilley’s love for hiking. To say I was a bit surprised with how badly she wanted to hike a volcano would’ve been an understatement (sorry, Cecilley, I have to stop doubting you!). Continuously talking up Vancouver and how much she loves the mountains and outdoors, you’d think I’d get it when she added climbing Mt. Batur to her Bali-must-do activities long before I even considered it. I wasn’t thrilled by the idea to be honest. For some reason climbing upward freaks me out. I have a fear of falling backwards then tumbling to my death. This is very dramatic, I know. In my head hiking should not be easy and requires way more preparation then just being able to walk. What about mountain hikers and the equipment required, throwing your body over boulders and around trees and things? And aren’t you supposed to be strapped into something? And carry a pack of some kind?! Not everyone should be able to do this. It’s like running in my early days, I just didn’t get it. But the idea of seeing the sunrise won me over. That, and conveniently I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed right now. I want to be just like Cheryl. And in so many ways I feel like the 26 year-old her.

2:30am Wayan – who was too awake and entertaining given the time, and perhaps was a little to comfortable driving the narrow Bali roads one many Bingtan’s deep for my liking (provided this was after the hike) – picked us and we drove us to the mountain meeting point, after picking up a few other people along the way. We were not alone but standing in the pitch black, a slight chill in the air, I felt so unprepared and completely isolated. I didn’t bring a long sleeve shirt, I didn’t have a flashlight, I was wearing my runners, all of a sudden this wasn’t a good idea. I was going to fall to my death on this mountain. I would tumble down backwards and plunge to my death. I couldn’t help but think this would be the end of me. Cecilley would be on her own from here on out, or I’d take her down with me as I fall. I really do have the wrong idea of what hiking means. But I do know hiking up a mountain is not something to take lightly. But for some reason people didn’t seem to sweat it at all. What gives? Why was I the only one freaking out?

Look at the fog roll in! Just before sunrise.

Look at the fog roll in! Just before sunrise.

Our group began our trek to the top and our guides were kind enough to loan us some flashlights (one for Cecilley and I to share) I made sure to grab it and held onto that sucker with all my might. Hiking in the dark made my heart race. Slowly one step at a time the gravel path began to incline, then steepened out as small boulders in the mountain becoming our handles and stepping blocks. I thought this trek was for beginners! No experience required… not true. Maybe it’s just me, but do not attempt Bali trekking without previous experience of some kind. But if you’re up to the challenge then go for it.

Each stop break along the way, I wanted this whole thing to be over. I wanted to be at the top, see the sun, get the hell off this mountain and be back at the home stay sleeping. But at the same time I wanted to enjoy it, but I honestly couldn’t the entire way up. Poor Cecilley trekking behind me blinded in the darkness because I was too afraid to give up the light or come to a full stop, for that matter, she was a much better trekker than I. Once we reached the first look off I was done. We had the option to go to the highest peek which was another 15-20 minutes to climb. I was quite content staying put, but Cecilley on the other hand was not.

Oh jeeze… fuck it. So I climbed.

Finally, watching the sunrise!

Finally, watching the sunrise!

At the top the view was spectacular, but I couldn’t enjoy it right away. Realizing I still had to climb down, this trek was far from over. As the fog rolled in we were swarmed by misty grey clouds that swallowed us whole and blocked our view from everything. It was a bit chilly at the top, but not for long. As the sky transformed from black, to blueish grey and purple, then bursts of orange and pink and red and yellow pierced though the sky as the giant glowing sun appeared beyond the distant mountain tops. I was silent. All the commotion of the people around me disappeared. My fear melted away and my breath was all I could hear. I was memorized by the beautiful picture before me as it unfolded. It was totally worth the trek. This moment. That moment on that mountain in Bali. I will take that picture with me forever.

Dam monkeys. These little buggers are not cute in the slightest!

Dam monkeys. These little buggers are not cute in the slightest!

And then a monkey jumped on me! Seriously. But this was on the way back down. After eating a lovely little breakfast (banana sandwiches and hard boiled eggs, yummy!) cooked and prepared by the heat and steam of the volcano we were standing on, we began our ascend (which, to my surprise, was not as terrifying as I thought it was going to be). It’s probably because I could actually see! On the way down we stopped at the crater – the gigantic hole in the volcano – and came face to face with monkeys. These critters are not cute by any means and freak the hell out of me. But feeding them was kind of fun. That’s until one jumps on you! Then the fun is over.

Reaching the bottom was like a breath of fresh air. But as I looked back and saw Mt. Batur from the distance gave me the feeling of “Ya, I climbed that.” Right then I was glad we did this. Afterward we thanked our guides, said goodbye to two lovely German couple we met along the way (hi Stefanie, hi Jens!), then made our way home, but only after a making a few pit stops along the way (one to the coffee plantation and the other to see some rice fields). Finally after all of that I was in my bed sleeping once again. That’s all I wanted to do after a day like that. Sleep! Then I would think back and enjoy the experience later.

Erin’s next big race…

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 1.46.09 PM
For months, I’ve been waffling on what to do in spring 2014. Do I do another full marathon? Do I not do another full marathon? I’ve gone back and forth on this forever. I did know, if I committed, I’d run the Ottawa Marathon. It’s relatively close to Toronto, and every runner I know sings its praises. And after doing a small race as my first full, I want to give a big race a try.

But I wasn’t sure. My body still isn’t 100 percent. I have other projects on the go and have sacrificed my social life quite a fit for the sake of fitness in 2013. Marathon training is time consuming. I thought about getting an even faster HM PR. That’s a goal that could easily fit into my life.

Then, I had a weekend where I lost my mind. I had no work that needed to get done, no fitness I needed to accomplish, no places I needed to be. It was a weekend to laze about, do nothing and indulge. It was still a productive weekend: I made soap and applesauce and bread, caught up on Nashville, and got a solid amount of reading-for-work done.

I hated it. I need goals. I need to be working towards something, always. I need structure. And I need an obsessive amount of fitness in my weekends in order for me to feel good about them.

So yesterday, I ponied up. I paid the money and emailed the coach. I will be running my second full marathon on May 25, 2014.

And I want to do it in sub 4:00.

(This might be insane. But we have 6 months to determine whether that’s the case.)



The County Marathon Recap

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 9.31.18 AMHoly moly, I ran a marathon!!! I am a marathoner now. And I have to say it’s a good feeling. Crossing that finish line, seeing the 40k sign on the course knowing the end was in sight, thinking about all the conversations Julie and I would be having at pretty much every point along the way, thinking about Alice and all the training runs I didn’t do, then realizing how much bloody running I actually did with the Running Room all for this one race, thinking how in the world was I feeling as good as I was? (I didn’t think that was possible!), thanking my lucky stars for living with Charlie at this point in time because I don’t think there was one thing I personally owned that I wore on race day (thanks, Charlie!), thinking how am I still alive and walking around and not sore afterward (I wasn’t sore at all really, not to rub it in), and most of all how happy I was that Erin was there to share this weekend with me. She was dead set on me having a good time which was accomplished just fine. I didn’t understand her rationale for it all, at the time, but once it was all over I got it. I realized a marathon is not just a race, but an experience, and a huge accomplishment too. So I listened to her and soaked it all in, but only after I was able to breathe normally again.

As I hinted ever so slightly in training week 15, and Erin mentioned it too in her half marathon recap, I sure did run a marathon!

A long time ago when I thought running a marathon would be fun, mind you this was at a time when I was excited about running. This moment was minutes after completing the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. It then hit me again when Erin finished her marathon. That did it for me. It was now or never (back in the spring) to decide would I or wouldn’t I? I knew I would, but when was the real question. Then an even more important question come up – after registering for Alice’s Running Room Clinic – what race would I run? Knowing I had Bali to look forward to in late October, the County Marathon was my only option… but you’ve all heard this story already.

Driving in the car with Erin allowed for some serious bonding time. I missed Erin and with all the summer craziness behind us – little sister Anne moving to town, me trying to figure out my life and working three jobs while marathon training, and Erin being busy too – we ended up spending zero time together this summer and that made me sad. But when she signed up for the half marathon you’d think I’d be thrilled, but at the time I didn’t really care. I know this wasn’t very sisterly of me, but like I said we hadn’t spent much time together and this was just another race, right? Wrong! Looking back now I’m so glad Erin was there. My race would have been completely different had she not have been there. I owe it to Erin for running fast!

Erin’s marathon (The Bluenose) was a full on family affair, which was great and what she wanted, but I could have cared less for mine. I signed up thinking I’d go alone or drag Cecilley with me, but Erin was either not impressed this this idea or just really wanted to run herself? Or maybe she really loves me and wanted to be there to support me! She did have this idea that a marathon is special and supposed to be fun. Again, I could have cared less. I wanted to run the race, have it be over, then drink lots of wine to celebrate or drown my sorrows. Either way the end of the race was looking good. I didn’t know what to expect so I didn’t want to get too excited in case the race was horrible. And I didn’t want to be down right terrified either because it could be great! Oh my running heart! Marathon’s are so confusing!

Closer to marathon weekend after Erin and I figured out all the details to our trip and my mind began to settle. Picton was super pretty and reminded me so much of rural Nova Scotia. When Erin and I arrived at our little Bed and Breakfast (thank you Erin for organizing pretty much everything!) I felt like we were living in Stars Hallow. And this made me happy! As Erin mentioned it was super close to the finish line – amazing planning on Erin’s part, who knew what was going to happen to me once the race was over. That Erin, she was looking out for me… or was just planning for the worst possible scenario? But I knew I was going to be fine. I kept telling myself that. There was nothing more I could do to prepare, so I might as well start thinking about the end instead of the race itself. All I had to do was eat, sleep, wake up early, eat again, then run very far, how hard could it be?

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 9.32.46 AMThat evening we walked the town in search of a good dinner spot. Eating a good meal was super important. We settled on a very safe choice of veggies, bread and dips, and various salads we picked out at the grocery store. I was very pleased and so was Erin. Then came race morning! Although I was nervous I kept my cool. It didn’t really matter then if I ran fast or slow or would crawl across the finish line all I knew was this marathon was happening. End of story.

Erin escorted me to the bus pick up spot in the pouring rain. Why was it raining?! Of all days to rain, the day of my race. I mean really, come on. The bus ride felt long, but I busily packed my gels away in their appropriate places in my sports bra, turned on Charlie’s Garmin and set my 10 and 1’s, packed my granola bar and salt tabs in their poaches, filled two of my (or rather Charlie’s) fuel belt water bottles with Vega electrolytes, put on my hat, tied up my shoelaces, and waited. There is a serious pre race routine that has to be done, ask any runner, it’s not just me. As I waited around for 7:45am, I paced, peed a zillion and one times, and then I called my Mommy. I got really nervous all of a sudden, but I was also ready. It was a very weird mix of emotions to have. But Mom came though for me (as usual) in these dire moments before competition.

The start was across the road from the arena we were waiting in. I put my head phones in my ears, but didn’t turn on my music. I was unsure of it’s battery power and didn’t want to waste it. Charlie, I borrowed even your iPod shuffle. Mine would not have lasted the length of the race and I didn’t charge it before hand. So, thanks Charlie!

Then I was off. The 10 and 1’s were set, I was running just fine, but then quickly realized I had no idea what my pace was let alone figure out how to see it on the Garmin. Oh no! I guess not everything can go according to plan. But I felt amazing very early on (and that I was thankful for) settling into a grove (which I didn’t know at the time was a pace pretty much on track of a 2:00 fist half). As Erin explained earlier, the half started exactly 2 hours after the full. If I stuck to the right time we’d meet and run the second leg of my race (Erin’s full race) together. And all went according to plan even trough I was 6 minutes off pace, which was much faster than then 2:20 I thought I was going to finish at. I didn’t feel slow – there were portions of the race I felt slower, but nothing to start worrying about. I was trying to calculate my pace at each water break with my walk breaks. At first I was bang on walking at each 2k, but that didn’t last for too long (I either sped up or slowed down, I’m still unsure). In my head I was never going to see Erin! But soon I’d come to realize how wrong I was.

Somehow I managed to make it all the way to 17k without needed to fuel up. I honestly felt that good. I took a gel here because 17k has always been my struggling point. But not this time! I flew on by and crused to the 21.1k where I jumped for joy having spotted Erin. The plan worked! Running 10 and 1’s was super helpful and gave me time to check in. Did I need water? Electrolytes, or a salt tab, or a gel? During training walk breaks were just that, a break! But a break I’d be dying for. During the marathon I was focused and somehow very prepared. I didn’t want the walk breaks and I didn’t feel like I needed them. This did change, however, going past 22k. My walk breaks then became something I wanted. But I was okay with that.

At 11k I took a salt tab just to keep my mind on track as I wasn’t sure if I’d keep sailing through at the pace that I was. I stuck to the pattern of water/electrolytes, salt tab, water/electrolytes, gel for the whole race. I didn’t ever want to get to the point of where I would need something, then I know I’d be in trouble. Lucky for me this feeling hit me once around 38k, also to my surprise I brought more with me then I ended up needing. At 38k I did need my granola bar fuel to change things up and to chew on something (this takes your mind away from the fact your still running and still have just under 5k to go) this I needed to get me through to the end.

The first half I found myself running on my own, then I’d catch the 4:15 pace group for a while, there was also two ladies I would try to catch – that was a fun game to play – but of course would lose whomever I was trying to catch when my walk breaks would start. I hated walking at this point! It was so fustrating getting so close to the group (or persons) then having to watch them dart off and out of sight.

It wasn’t until Erin and I started running together when my determined mind power strated to really test me. Erin, early on, lead the way and ran just ahead of me, which was very nice at fist – I knew Erin could be the pacer at this point and steer us into a 2:00 finish – I trusted her to lead me home. Together we passed so many people including the 4:15 group. Yes! We were right on track and I was still feeling great. Erin was looking great too, from what I could tell. But then somewhere between 25k and 30k things, for whatever reason, started to piss me off. Erin was in my space, I hated having her in front of me, I wanted to shake this so bad. Why was I getting so angry?! Sorry, Erin, it was nothing you did at all. I love you!

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 9.33.34 AMI was able to get it together once we approached the Sandy Banks and ran though the provincial park. The trees over hanging, engulfing us in and blocking the rain and the wind for a few kilometers, it was lovely. It was still raining at this point and continued to do so for god knows how long. But here I felt back on track! I kept telling myself at this point “Just get to 36k, just make it to 36k”. 32k was the furthest distance I’ve ever run, but my training had prepared me for 36k and beyond. It’s the last 10k that’s the real mind game. You’ve already passed the physical test. But when you know you’re entering unfamiliar territory it’s both amazing and terrifying. What happens then? Do you hit a wall and come to a dead stop? Does your body tap out and that’s it? When we surpassed 36k I got my answer… my legs kept going! Crazy I know! The real challenge for me – when I started to feel it and wanted this run to end was between 35k and 38k – it also didn’t help that the only hill in Picton (and along the route) happened at kilometer 37, which Erin kindly noted a dinner the night before. Great. But I saw that hill, and powered up it. Erin eventually caught up to me and we ran together again until the 39k mark. At this point the 4:15ers had caught us, we were playing catch and go for a little ways, until they took off which seemed like an insane distance a head of us. At the next water break I said to Erin “They’re so far ahead of us!”. “Don’t even worry about them,” was her response. Me (in my head): “Forget that nonsense! I’m catching them!” And so I did. I saw the 40k sign and booted it to the end. I ran like I’ve never ran before, catching the attention of my locals in the crowd. Note to everyone: wearing a marathon bib automatically gets you more cheers! I was feeling great! But still wanted this dam run to be over.

Then I saw the grocery store we bought our dinner at, then our B&B, and then sure enough, the finish line! One existed after all! Then I ran. I ran past the 4:15 pace bunny, through the cheering spectators and through to the finish line! It was finally over. But at that second when I turned around to see Erin crossing the finish behind me – that’s where it hit me. I just ran a marathon and thought to myself I could have gone further or need to run another one. Seriously, I’ve gone mad.

My splits were almost identical at 2:06 and 2:07 respectfully, finishing at a time of 4:14. Erin was screaming “You did it!” when I finished. “I know.” I did just run a marathon. And I did so under 4:15!

Take that 4:15. I did it. But I could not have done this all on my very own. Thank you Erin!! And Julie! And Alice, the 4:30 Running Room ladies, the Running Room clinic, yin yoga with Julia, Jackie and all my yoga teachers at MYD, and of course Lee Ann (she was the reason I could run my long run on Sundays with the clinic!). And thank you Mommy for giving me the confidence to run fast right before the race when I needed it, even though you weren’t there to see me run. Next time!

Running a marathon sure is an experience, and apparently requires a thank you speech.