Onward and upward. The first steps to marathon #3.

This is the only post-race photo I took. So you have to see it again.

This is the only post-race photo I took. So you have to see it again.

It has been exactly a week since I ran the Ottawa Marathon. I can walk normally again. Toronto now feels like summer. I went to the island Friday night, caught a late ferry back. The skyline was sparkling and I was ready. Ready for summer. Ready to do this marathon training thing for the second time in a year. (I am delusional and crazy. It’s the only way to get through this.)

I sent an email to Andie, my running coach, about New York, this morning. I need to put fun in my runs again. The email itself was long and rambly, but this was the gist of it:

1. I want to run a strong, consistent race.

I am a positive split master. So this time out, my goal is around a 4:15 marathon with 2:07/2:07 splits. I’ll get my sub 4:00. But NYC isn’t the place to do it.

2. I want to have fun.

The Ottawa Marathon training cycle was hard, and it wasn’t fun. Part of the reason I have 4:15 in mind is that I want to enjoy the experience. I don’t want to get so caught up in a goal that I miss running the NYC Marathon. I actually tried to write a km by km recap of Ottawa and I couldn’t. I barely remember Gatineau or running by the prime minister’s house. Sometimes, that’s okay. But for one of the biggest marathons in the world, it won’t be.

3. I want to get stronger.

I was doing really well on the strength training aspect of my training until I got sick in April. I want to get back on track with that again. I think training in the summer and fall will help with that a lot. It will be light outside and warm and waking up at 6 a.m. to workout won’t be the death sentence it is in February.

4. I want to run with people more often.

I used to go to a running group at Lulu Lemon semi-regularly. Then, after Blue Nose, I stopped. I appreciate the solo time running gives me, but I did find when I ran with people, I pushed myself harder. I need to do that again.

5. I want to run a sub-50:00 10k.

My 10k split at the STWM half last fall was 52:28, so I think this is a good goal that gives me a reason to do speedwork and focus on getting faster without it bogging down my marathon goals.

6. I want my training to start on July 20.

I want a few weeks to run for fun, enjoy the summer, let my body heal from the marathon. My friend Natalie (hi, Natalie!) is getting married in NS this summer and we are going, so I thought that returning from that trip would be a good time to start training. It’ll mean my training program would be 15 weeks long. Since I am just coming off a training cycle, I think it will be ok.

We’ll see what the coach says.

Finisterra aka. The End of the World

Standing at the end of the world!!

I’m standing at the end of the world!!

Well, I can officially say I have now been to the end of the world and back. Literally. Cecilley and I walked the 4 extra days to Finisterra and stood at the world’s edge. The wind was blowing and the rainy days seemed to last forever each day we walked. But it didn’t stop us, this was our real test. Making it to Santiago was nothing compared to this, but our 36 days of walking prior kept us on track we were ready for anything now. When we arrived, that was a whole other rush of its own entirely. We cheers-ed to our achievement, as good pilgrims should, naturally.

This time around the walk was very different. There was a sense of lightness and less stress about it. We walked with ease knowing the grand part of our journey was behind us. Our walk to Santiago was the big achievement, but afterward we both felt lost and a bit empty. We were excited of course, but there was still an unsettled energy to the whole experience. It felt wrong to have our pilgrimage come to an abrupt end in Santiago (both emotionally and physically). After completing the trek to Finisterra I understand why pilgrims keep going. There needs to be an end to the end. You need closure from the journey, from the achievement, and from the act of walking each day, everyday. Or, if anything else, it’s fun to say you know what the end of the world looks like!

There are no more km to walk we made it to the end!

There are no more km to walk we made it to the end!

So now what? What’s next on the traveling agenda? What are Cecilley and I to do now that we have been to the end and lived to tell our tale? We caught a bus (yes, an actual bus, oh my moving transportation!) back to Santiago to relive the magical moments of Compostela we were too out-of-it to take in, or too teary eyed to see. Hanging around Santiago for a few extra days wouldn’t hurt anyone. So that’s exactly what we did. It’s finally time to take a break from walking and do some sightseeing. We’ll figure out the rest later.

Santiago de Compostela, I made it!

Cathedral de Compostela! I finally made it!!

36 days and 867km later I have arrived! Exhausted from the heat, the lack of greens in my diet, and the soreness in my aching bones (it was enough to make me break), but I have arrived! Cecilley and I started this journey on April 13, 2014 and now we can say we have done it. And what a feeling it was to march that last 5km into Santiago to the Catedral de Compostela. I walked with pride, saddness, and slight confussion. All of a sudden this epic pilgramage has come to an end. The one thing I’ve been thinking about for so long was standing there in front of me. I can honestly say there hasn’t been anything in my life that I’ve done (at this point) that can compare. This was beyond what I have ever could have imagined it to be. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster of a lifetime.

My adult Browie Camp and kind of Amazing Race (or as close to the Amazing Race as I am going to get) has come to a close, so now what? The people I have met over the past 36 days have changed me in a way I can’t explain. And I can’t express how gratful I am for each and everyone of them.

But after walking all this way what does one do? They walk to the end of the world that’s what! So Cecilley and I are walking another 4 days to Finisterra (aka. the end of the world) where we will jump in the ocean and burn our clothes! Well maybe not, but her shoes will not be coming back with us that I can promise you.

See you on the other side!

Oh, Ottawa. Marathon #2 is done.

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Well, that wasn’t fun.

The good: The first 18k and last 400 metres.

The bad: Everything in between.

A combination of factors came together to make this race the toughest one I’ve ever run. First, it got hot in the second half. It was cooler than forecasts called for, but hot enough I could feel it. Second, my lungs felt full – but not full of air. I had bronchitis in December, which resulted in a hacking cough after every long run. I got sick again in April and I haven’t fully recovered from it. I’ve been in denial about this, but it was evident today. And, finally, knee pain decided to show up and not go away. In order to manage the pain, I had to slow my pace and walk a lot in the second half. It was so frustrating because I felt like I could run faster, that my muscles could do more. And they probably could. But I got frustrated. And that made me run slower and walk more.

I think if it had been two out of the three, I wouldn’t have let myself get so defeated. I still PBed – by one entire minute – but this was a wholly different marathon experience than my first one. I crossed the finish line of the Blue Nose knowing I left everything out on that course. I crossed the finish line in Ottawa knowing I can do better. That was held me back today is manageable. That I beat myself today. The amount of energy I had during the last 400 metres proved it.

I probably learned more about myself and about running today than if I had had an amazing race. I need to get mentally tougher. I need to foam roll my IT bands more. I need to push harder in training. Important lessons.

I can only get better from here.



Countdown to Ottawa

When Sunday mornings don't involve 32k runs, they involve gardening.

When Sunday mornings don’t involve 32k runs, they involve gardening.

When you are tapering, it means you get to spend a lot less time running.

Which means you are probably spending a lot more time thinking. At least that’s how I roll. This is what I’ve thought about this past week.

1. My goal for Ottawa

I came into this training cycle wanting a sub-4:00 marathon. I knew I needed to work — hard! — to make it happen. But in the past few weeks, running has kicked my ass. I’ve stopped more than I should, I missed a few runs. Every time I work hard or it rains or I drink too much, I cough up a storm. My quad isn’t 100%. The weather next Sunday is supposed to be over 20 degrees Celsius. While all these sound like excuses, I’ve spent the past few days accepting them as realities. Which is totally different. I can only do the best I can with what I have on race day. That might be sub-4:00. It might not. It probably won’t. So now I’m doing the delicate balance of understanding this might not happen, becoming okay with it if it doesn’t happen, without psyching myself out.

My plan right now is to head to the starting line with sub 4:00 in mind. But if 5:40s seem to fast or my lungs are too full of phlegm or my quad hurts too much, I will adjust accordingly. Sub 4:15 is pretty damn good too. Hell, finishing a marathon is pretty damn good.

Have I convinced you yet? I’m not sure if I’ve convinced myself. But I’m trying.

2. Training for the NYC Marathon

I am really, really excited for the NYC Marathon. I am not excited for training for it over the summer. Give me a snowstorm to run in over a heat wave any day. But, I have decided that I want to do a 16-week training plan (which would start July 14). I want to run Mid-summer’s Night Run in August. And I want to go for a sub 50:00 10k during the process, probably at the Toronto Island 10k. I want to amp up the cross-training this training cycle. I was doing so well this time around, until I got sick. Then my Nike app workouts went out the window. I want to rectify that this time around.

3. A June challenge

No matter what happens next week, I have promised myself I will not run for an entire month. 26 days. But I want something to do in June to focus my competitive energy. I’ve been thinking about doing some sort of wake-up early/eat well challenge. Like, for the entire month I would wake up before 7, do yoga (easy 30 minute podcasts, nothing insane) or a boot camp and only eat whole foods (with the exception of coffee or alcohol. Nothing I read about eating raw or eating clean has convinced me these are worth giving up.)

4. Summer fun

This summer, I want to swim more. Go to the beach more. Go kayaking. Be more active. And I’m trying to figure out how to do that and still train for a marathon. I think the solution is getting up earlier (see #3). We will see.

So that’s where my head is at these days. Ottawa is now less than a week away.




Erin: One week until Ottawa

This time last year, I was getting ready to run my first-ever marathon.


The Blu

Halfway through the Blue Nose marathon in 2013!

Next week I will run my second.


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The second time around has been interesting. One on hand, it’s been easier. I’m a better runner and I knew what to expect out of training.

But, in many ways, it was a bigger struggle than last year. The weather was terrible. My work schedule was different. I got really sick right after Around the Bay and missed an entire week of training. For the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with a nagging right quad. And I’ve lost a lot of my motivation, for both running and blogging, which you may have noticed thanks to the radio silence here. My long runs the past few weeks were killer. I had to frequently stop and gather myself or buy Gatorade or just sit down for five minutes. I’m getting it done, but I feel exhausted, not excited. And so I didn’t blog. It’s hard to write about things you aren’t excited about — especially when I don’t want to look like I’m complaining.

I’m hoping running the Ottawa Marathon next week will change that.

(PS. I’ve also decided that for the New York Marathon, I want a training plan that has running 3 days per week and high-intensity cross-training two days per week. Does anyone have suggestions? I’m hoping cutting down on the running will help mitigate this “over it” feeling I’ve had this training cycle.)