6 things I learned from my 6 marathons

Marathon #5. 

In my first marathon, I learned about strength. I was stronger than I thought I was. I felt like death the last 10k, I wanted to quit. I wanted to die. But I finished. And there’s no feeling like finishing your first marathon.

In my second marathon, I learned about humility. It doesn’t get easier. You get tougher, but you need to put in the work. My second marathon was terrible and painful and I questioned why I was doing this again. It seemed so stupid. But I finished and I’m proud that I powered through.

In my third marathon, I learned to believe in magic. Marathons are magical. There’s nothing like thousands of strangers coming together to complete a hard thing – and thousands more cheering them on. This race is still one of the greatest days of my life.

In my fourth marathon, I learned about community. Marathons are better when you run with a friend. I ran the first half of the race with my sister and having her by my side made this race so much more than it would have been had I done it alone.

In my fifth marathon, I learned about acceptance. You can’t go back, only forward. You can’t re-create, only accept new moments. I ran NYC for the second time and wanted o badly to have the same life-changing day I had when I ran NYC the first time. I didn’t. I was originally disappointed by that. But I’ve accepted it and have come to appreciate this race for what it was and how far I’ve come in my running.

In my sixth marathon, I learned that fun is more important than fast. Together is better than alone. And there aren’t a lot of options to wear a tutu and fairy wings as an adult – so take the ones you get. This was my slowest marathon by almost two hours, but I had a smile on my face the entire time. I loved every step. I need to find that feeling in every run. In every day.

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.



Erin’s Ottawa Marathon Training Days 30-32


The Olympics are here! I love the Olympics and all the weird sports I know nothing about. Slopestyle is my new favourite thing.

Since it’s been a few days, let’s catch up on this week so far.

Wednesday: I did a quickie yoga session in the kitchen while waiting for coffee in the morning. It was 15 minutes, hardly enough to count as a workout. In the evening, I headed to Monarch Park stadium to do my 8×400 workout. It was nice to be inside on this cold and snowy day. I found this workout to be a tough one — I haven’t done 400 splits since my last marathon training. This is how they were:


These seem comparable to my splits in my training last year. Getting under 1:45 is the next step.

Thursday: I had big plans, remember? Another double day! Weellll….I did nothing. I woke up sore and exhausted so gave myself some extra sleep time. After work, it was still snowy and I ended up at work later than I wanted to be, which meant I couldn’t squeeze a run in before meeting up with some friends to go to First Thursday at the AGO (fun!!). So Thursday was a rest day. I’m okay with that.

Friday: The late night meant getting up early this way wasn’t going to happen. I always under estimate the amount of sleep I need. No morning workout. Worked too much and didn’t have enough time to run before we had guests over. I cranked out a 30 minute power yoga/ab workout in my kitchen, so this day wasn’t a total loss.

The weekend will mean plenty of fitness. It always does. I learned a good lesson this week about overestimating things, underestimating other things and trying to fit in so much working out alongside so much work and so much social time. Basically: I am not a robot. Sometimes I wish it were so…



Erin’s Ottawa Marathon Training Day 29

First things first: I registered for the NYC Marathon lottery. AHHHH! $11 gets you on the lottery list. I find out in March if I get in. I am not expecting to. I heard, somewhere, that last year’s lottery success rate was like 11%! That’s insane. But I’m thinking long-term with this. I want to run the NYC Marathon one day. The more times I register for the lottery, the more chances I will get.

I have to look at that way. Because running two marathons in a single year, at this point in my life, seems like a ridiculous goal.

Anyone else sign up for the lottery?

Let’s look at the workouts I did on Tuesday.


In the morning, I went to the gym and did a 30 minute Nike Training Club Get Strength workout. I can’t remember which one, but it had fewer squats and more variety than the last one I tried. I also finished faster, but not fast enough to get much more in, so I hopped on the rowing machine for 5 minutes. I worked up a decent sweat and was high on endorphins as I walked to work.

After work, I ran home. I had an easy 45 on the schedule and Tuesday night seemed like a good time to do it. I had a community meeting at 7, so I ran straight from work to the meeting. This workout wasn’t as fun. I had an intense day at work and sorting it all out in my head took a lot of my focus and energy. That, and I’m still not used to two-a-days.

I want my workouts to be therapeutic. I also want to be a better employee. Given February’s theme, it’s certainly the time to work on both of these goals.



Erin’s Ottawa Marathon Training Day 28

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Last week. It doesn’t look so bad now, does it?

Rest day! Although, I did yoga for 15 minutes in the morning while I waited for coffee to brew — I am TOTALLY put that in Daily Mile because I’m a jerk like that.

I penciled in four morning workouts this week. I hope I will actually accomplish two of them. Here’s the plan:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: gym in the am, run in the pm
Wednesday: yoga in the am, run in the pm (if the pool is open, I might change yoga to swim)
Thursday: yoga in the am, run in the pm
Friday: TBD in the am
Saturday: squash and BodyPump with JK
Sunday: 20k LSD

Friday: If I miss a run, it will be a run. If I miss a yoga session, it will be yoga.

Ambitious right? Especially since I have plans Tuesday night, Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night. But I feel like I need to step up my game. This is the week to (try to) do it.



Erin’s Ottawa Marathon Training Days 24-27

Recapping week 4 continues!

Wednesday: On Wednesday, I was sore from the gym, so opted out of my planned morning session. I had every intention of running after work, but ended up doing a whole lot of nothing, except for some downward dogs in the edit suite. I’m not proud of this. As a punishment (or lesson learned!) I’ve already made a rigid schedule for week five and plan, for social plans and fitness plans, and have every intention of sticking to it.

Thursday: I was supposed to run a 10 minute warm-up, 4k at half-marathon pace (5:05-5:20), then a 10 minute cool down. I did exactly that, but found it extraordinarily difficult to maintain the HM pace, even with the stop lights granting me frequent breaks. The lesson I learned from this? I am not in race shape and need to work harder if I want to get there anytime soon.

Friday: I was still feeling it from the gym (I think it was all the weighted squats), so started the day off with 30 minutes of gentle yoga. It was my LAST DAY of double shifts at work, which meant it was a long one so there would be no post-work work out. But the last one!

Saturday: It was wet and snowy (the kind of snow that’s perfect for snowballs). I met up with my friend Trish to do 8k along the waterfront in the west. It was good to see her, as it has been forever, but she also pushed me to run faster than normal. The trail in the west end of the city is salted, so it was the first time all training cycle I had a run that was continuous — no street lights! And, boy, that made it hard!

When I got home, I put on the new Roseanne Cash album and did 30 minutes of DIY yoga. It felt good to stretch and it was nice to just get into the zone with some music on. It snowed and snowed and snowed outside, which was pretty from the window, but knew it might make my Sunday run a little treacherous.

Sunday: On Sunday, YakTrax were a must do I decided to get adventurous and give the Don Valley Trail a go. It was crunchy and snowy and a lot of work to get into a rhythm. I turned around 1.5k in, but eventually found a groove and kept to the Martin Goodman trail, heading west because it was closer to civilization that way. In the end, I powered home 3k short of what I was supposed to do, but I think the effort that went into this one more than makes up for this transgression.

And then I went to Leslieville Market’s Souper Bowl and ate French Onion soup in the freezing cold. It was worth it.

Another week down. Two steps forward (finding a gym and discovering the Nike Training Club app), one step back (short-changing my long run). But I am making progress. Even if that progress is only the passing of time.

Erin’s Ottawa Marathon Training Days 22-23

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Hi blog, it’s been so long! An entire week! Thankfully, the bronchitis is gone and the double shifts at work are now OVER, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to settle into a regular routine again. 2014 is flying by, mostly because I’ve been working so much.

Let’s catch up!

Monday: Monday was my rest day, but on my way to work I stopped by the St. Lawrence Community Recreation Centre to join. I bought the 3 month membership, which is a steal at $67. I’m going to see how these three months go and if all is well, I’ll move on up to the year-long membership which is $224. The pass gets me access to the weight room, showers, fitness classes and the pool. Special programs and the squash courts are extra (boo!). I didn’t have time to tour the facility so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, other than the price…

Tuesday: I made Tuesday morning my first trip to St. Lawrence. I got there around 7am, with the plan to give a workout on the Nike Training Club training app a go. I discovered this app thanks to Peanut Butter Fingers and it looked perfect for my needs — I need to get stronger, but wanted something with a bit of cardio. I was hoping, if all went well, I could do a 30 minute Get Strength workout and 30 minutes of yoga before work. This was, uh, ambitious, as I kept having to pause the app to learn how to do the moves properly, so I didn’t have time to do yoga. But I’m sure a continuous workout will come in time.

This means I have two things to tell you about! Let’s break from recapping the week to review things!

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The St. Lawrence Community Recreation Centre: Is a basic gym. The pool is currently out of order, which I’m hoping they fix soon. I miss swimming! The weight room has a small free weights area, a few weight machines, 4 or 5 treadmills and 4 or 5 bikes. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. I’m hoping to go at least once a week but am trying to plan for twice a week (Tuesday and Friday mornings) and see how that goes!


The Nike Training Club app: Is awesome. There are so many workout options and levels. There are three basic themes: Get Lean, Get Toned and Get Strength. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts and then time options too! I’m going to stick to Get Strength for now, but am excited to give Get Lean a try in the out of doors. The workout felt a lot like the FitStreets workouts I did two summers ago, without the running. Each new move has a photo series and a video showing you how to do it, and you can play music from your iPhone or iPod while the app is running. Amazing.

Back to Tuesday…

Tuesday: On Tuesday, I ran home from work. It’s a recovery week, so I had an easy 30 minutes on the schedule. I thought this would be easy because I had all my gym stuff with me from the morning. It wasn’t bad, but I think I need a bigger gym bag. I’ll figure it out. As long as I want to keep doing strength training, yoga and marathon training, two-a-days will be much more common in my future. How do you fitness fanatics do it?

As you can tell from the embed below, my Garmin didn’t catch the whole run — I did not actually fly over buildings downtown as my route suggests. I think the end result was closer to 4k, so that’s what I’m claiming.


This post is already crazy long, so I’m going to wrap it up now. Wednesday-Saturday will come soon!




Erin’s Ottawa Marathon Training Days 20 & 21

This weekend was cold and snowy. I ran anyway.

Saturday: In an effort to add more cross-training/strength training to my schedule. I went to Core Hour at Kula in the morning with my friend Allegra. It was hard, but not impossible, but I did learn I rely on my hip flexors too much. I need to work on my core strength! It felt good to mix up the yoga, though, and practice in a real studio. It’s been too long.

In the afternoon, I put on the YakTrax and hit the trail. The plan was to increase my speed every few minutes and I tried my very best to do so. It’s just harder to maintain a certain pace when running over ice. In the end, my pacing was nothing to be proud of, but the effort was there.


Sunday: Sunday was long run day! I put it off for so long that I ended up having to go out during the afternoon flurries. The sidewalks were pretty slippery. It was windy and cold. I have no highlights to report for this run, other than the fact I finished it.

I think I complain about running too much right now. This is not good. I need to work on my positivity as much as I do my pacing.

Erin’s Ottawa Marathon Training Day 17-19

It’s been a few days, hasn’t it? Let’s catch up!

Wednesday: I had plans to go to the Raptors game with some co-workers, so opted to make this day the cross-training day. Power yoga in my kitchen counts as cross-training, right?

Thursday: Did 30 minutes of a gentle morning flow to start the day off right. It was another FREEZING day, so I made the decision to run home from work — that way, I wouldn’t wuss out on getting the work-out in. The plan was a 20 minute warm-up, 3x1000m repeats and a 10 minute cool down. I did a 10 minute warm-up, sprinted for 3k and used the red lights as my breathers and a 5 minute cool down. Cheating? A bit. But I was out there running on a ridiculously cold day. If that doesn’t earn me toughness points, nothing will.

My 1000m splits were technically:

3:32 <<–don’t believe THAT for a second.

Oh Garmin, why do you lie to me so?

Friday: Friday was a never-ending day at work and I came home beaten down and exhausted. Oh, and it was so windy, biking home was impossible. There was no way running was going to happen. So it didn’t.

This weekend will be fitness-filled and delightful. Or at least fitness-filled. I’m thinking about joining the St. Lawrence Market Community Centre and start getting some weight training in. BUT I can barely find the time to fit in all the running I’m supposed to do. What should I do, folks? And how do I get the all-in feeling with this marathon training cycle?