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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Monday, November 25, 2013

Make a Wish - Why this marathon training plan is different

Today I started my spring marathon training plan. This is the plan which is geared to get me ready to go after a Boston Qualifying time. It will be a difficult 23 weeks with a maximum weekly mileage of 85k (55mi) per week and two hard runs a week. Training for and running a marathon is an activity that can be lonely. There are a lot of miles spent on the road, or the treadmill, and with your own thoughts. A lot of people will tell you that the marathon is the reward for the training. And they are right. But I wanted to make my third marathon training cycle about more.

And so I decided that I'd train with a goal to qualify for that elusive and magical marathon: The Boston Marathon. But beyond achieving a random finish time as derived by the Boston Athletic Association, I wanted the training, the miles, the hours spent away from my family to mean much, much more than being qualified to run in one race. And so I decided to support Wishes for Olivia, and hopefully raise a ton of money, all in the name of Make-A-Wish Canada.

Olivia Grace White

Olivia Grace White, daughter of my friend, Jennifer White, went to sleep on Christmas Day 2012 and never woke up. She was 5 and a half. It was, of course, the most devastating thing that could happen to a family. To lose a child so suddenly, such a bright, shining light in their lives, has fundamentally changed who they are. Olivia was an amazing little girl. Anyone who knew her would tell you how very special she was. Not only was she beautiful and smart, but so very kind to everyone. She adored school and her friends, loved dressing up in skirts and dresses (pink and purple if possible), she loved her little sister Aurelia, but above all, she loved Disney. 

She really, really loved Disney. Really.

The White's were very lucky that they were able to take Olivia to Walt Disney World to visit her dear friends; the Princesses. She would have long conversations with Cinderella and Belle, hug Ariel, and curtsy with Merida. Disney was a dream come true for Olivia, and she talked about it endlessly. She would always say "Mumma? Do you remember when we went to Disney?" followed by her favourite memory; the fireworks, going to the Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Boutique, or throwing a coin into Cinderella's wishing well. She would make a wish and hope it would come true.

Olivia would have wanted other children to visit Disney. She would have wanted them to make their wish and have it come true. 

So, in her name, Wishes for Olivia was created.

Wishes for Olivia is a group dedicated to raising money for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada. As part of the legacy of Olivia Grace White, we strive to make wishes come true for children across Canada through fundraising, and attending and supporting group events. 

On Sunday May 4th, 2014 I will toe the line at the Mississauga Marathon, hoping to cross the finish in a time of 3 hours, 40 minutes or less. I will run that day and all 122 days before that for Olivia. If you can, I hope you support me. I hope you remember Olivia. And I hope we make some wishes come true. 

If you can donate, please CLICK HERE and follow the donation steps. 

I promise, I will run a little harder to justify every dollar donated.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Run Streak

I have run every day since November 9th.


Not too shabby!

The idea for my run streak came about during the summer of embrace the suck Jack Daniel's Running Formula training that saw me run upwards of six days in a row at times. I often felt so good that I didn't want to take the rest day, but I did because I was training hard.

My "off season" was delayed when I decided to run the Road2Hope Half Marathon but I knew that with easy running ahead of me, I'd decide to go out on a streak.

As you can see, I've not run exceptionally long in terms of distance, but I've had some amazing runs.

In daylight!

Early in the morning!

On the trails with friends:

And in some BRIGHT clothing (cheeky wee tag on my New Balance Tights):

I've even run in a skirt!

Today felt a big sluggish even though I managed a 5:49 pace per KM (9:23/mi). I'm really enjoying getting these runs in and I don't know how long I will continue to run everyday. It won't last forever, I can tell you that. My spring marathon training ramp up starts on Monday and I'm targeting to get up to 68k/wk in the next two weeks. I think I'll need the rest! My original goal was 15 days which I'll hit tomorrow and then I'll see how I feel. Right now I'm fighting a cold and that may be my undoing. 

In all, I'm glad I decided to take on this adventure. I've had a lot of fun so far and have honestly been amazed by how easy the running has been.

Hope your off season or training is keeping you well!

Monday, November 11, 2013

October Recap

So yes, this is late! Its been very busy!

More on that later!

# of Runs: 17. Hey man, I had a lung infection in there at the end of the month!

# of runs started before 5am: Nine. I did a few races and afternoon runs this month!

Races: 2 Scotia Half. Scotia was a brutal run for me in terms of the mental game. It really made me question if I have it in me to go and run an aggressive marathon again. Good thing I'm not going to attempt one until next May! I did manage to recover enough to enjoy finishing my 10th half marathon though.

Best run of the month: The County Half Marathon. This was the other race I ran in October. Without a doubt, I'll be back at this race. I've already asked the race organizer if they need pacers for the half or full. Even with all of the rain, I loved this run so hard! And yep, that's a RunEmz shirt. Love.

I struggled this month. I was sick right before Scotia. I wasn't sure I'd get the goal in at Scotia and I didn't. Then, I found out that I had a lung infection and that threw me off more training despite looking for redemption at Hamilton to start November. It isn't good when you feel like you're never going to make your goal or that you set the bar too high. Sometimes, you just have to remember how much fun it is to run in the rain.

Total KM Run: 176.06 (109.4 miles) I have no worries about making my 2,400 km in 2013 goal

Time spent running: 16hrs9min14sec

Average pace per KM: 0:05:30/km (0:08:52/mi)

So now is the down time. Although my marathon cycle begins on November 25th, the real training doesn't start until December 30th. As always my goals include eating better, gaining core strength, getting nicer arms and maybe losing some weight.

We'll see how all of that goes.

I may just decide to go on a run streak instead.

Hope you had a great month!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Road 2 Hope Hamilton Half Marathon Race Report

I'm not sure how to even start this one! Let's just say after an entire summer dedicated to getting a certain result (1:45 half marathon finish) and a horrible first attempt at going after that goal, I'm not sure how to put this day down. This day was perfect minus not sharing the end with Sam!

I have run four half marathons this fall (My hometown race, The amazing Picton half, and the above mentioned STWM half marathon). Running the Hamilton Half Marathon was never part of my 2013 race plans, but when Irina told me that she was going to run the full marathon and Sam had the day off, it was a perfect way to finish the race season. Plus it gave Sam and I a back up in case Scotia didn't work out quite as we hoped (guess it was a good plan!).


Sam picked up my race kit so I didn't have to go out to Hamilton on the day before. As it was daylight savings time, I didn't have to get to bed too early. I set two alarms, and was out of bed, showered and on my way (a bit late) to Sam's house with a Tim Hortons stop along the way (digression - I'm loving my new pre-race breakfast - plain bagel with butter and cheddar, small coffee with two cream and an apple juice). Sam was driving Emma, Patty and Amy and we were picking everyone up at Patty's house. Before we knew it we were at the race end, on the bus and at the start. We met up with a bunch of people and hung out trying to defrost our feet! Irina demanded a photo!

Amy, Emma, Irina, Sam, Patty, me
As you can see, I didn't play nice with the #burlingtonskirtbrigade but it turned out I was perfectly dressed. Sam and I decided to hit the outdoor portapotty's and made the exact right timing call as we got out into the start crowd as they were counting down 30 seconds to go. Shouldn't we be on the road up there?

The plan. The start: KM 1-5

My plan (and Sam left it up to me), was to take full advantage of the 4k of downhill on the Red Hill Valley Parkway. Thus, we were going to run 5min/km for the first 5k, 4:45/km for the 4k of downhill and then be able to run 5:05/km for the rest of the race.

What my plan didn't take into consideration is that we'd be so far back at the start due to our long potty wait and the complete lack of corrals at the race (they REALLY need to sort that out!). We were off and on the road. I said to Sam, "Find the holes. Let's go." and we began to pass and weave like mad women. I took the lead and Sam just stuck with me. I realized that my right shoe was way too loose though and I stopped to tie it before we quickly moved along. It was worth the 0:15 of time.

Sam's pink socks behind me.
After four plus races, I finally threw this sweater away.

We finally got out of the weave by 1k and settled in, still passing but things opened up. I recognized things from my past two times running this race and I pointed out the snake line of runners across the farm fields to Sam. We got onto Mud street and things really opened up for us and I begin to anticipate the downhill on the expressway with glee.

Sam ran with a handheld but I did not. Instead I ran through all water stations and took one cup of water at each. This worked out perfectly and I'm going to work on this more so that I can do the same in a 30k or marathon race. Around 4k, Sam gave me the first indication that our Scotia fates might be reversed on this day when she told me, "You may have to leave me." I protested, telling her it was our combined victory lap and we both put it out of our mind. The downhill had arrived.

5:20-4:56-4:52-4:46-4:58. Total: 24:52, pace band: 24:53. 

The Red Hill Valley Parkway, KM 6-9

We hit the downhill and I did my best to keep us to plan. It is so, so easy to get running really fast on this part of the race. It just feels so easy because there is SUCH a huge downhill for so long. Good thing that the wind was pretty relentless which was helping to keep things difficult. Still, from time to time, our pace crept to 4:25 and I had to tell Sam it was time to reel it in.

We tried to draft off of tall men, but that didn't work as the wind was coming from the side; it was not a head or backwind (it never is, right?). Of course I was having a good day, so the wind wasn't much of a factor for me, but the reports I've read on DailyMile suggest that it played a bad role in many a race run. 

Sam struggled here despite the easy downhill running. We heard some people talking about their brush with Krista Duchene at the start line (pfft, we stood beside her in the portapotty line!). That reminded me of how I pull through some runs, when I pretend I'm coming from behind to win the Olympic marathon. In order to take Sam's mind off of what she was feeling, I gave here my play by play (please use British accents):

Allison Curbishley: Well, Steve we didn't expect this!
Steve Backley: Not at all, Allison! Nicole Macpherson of Canada was never expected to be a factor in this Olympic marathon but she's held her own with the Kenyans all day.
Allison: They don't know what to make of her, Steve!
Steve: She'd been keeping pace with the lead pack all day and with just under 10 kilometers to go, she made her move to drop the lead pack
Allison: A risk that paid off big time as she runs the final mile without any challenge
Steve: A true testament to love of running, she won the Canada lotto and dedicated her life to making the Olympic standard and team Canada
Allison: And now at 39 it looks as if she'll bring home the gold for Canada...
Steve: Doing it all in a SKIRT!
Let's just say Sam's laughter wasn't the only one I heard. 

I plowed through another water station and couldn't find Sam. There she was, coming back to me. I saw on the overpass ahead that there was photographer and I pointed him out, "Give us a big smile, buddy!"

Too bad the photog wasn't in on the plan!
By 9k, I knew I needed a gel and cursed myself for not taking one with the last water station. This was the only time I regretted not having my own water. I took the gel anyway and it worked out fine. Things were getting harder and the downhill was over. We were still right on target: "Sam, we have a minute in the bank! Right where we want to be!"

4:45-4:37-4:44-4:43 (gu), split: 18:49, total: 43:41, pace band: 44:47

All by myself. KM 10-15

We hit 10k at 48:40. I told Sam that she just hit another 10k PB and she looked at me like she didn't give a crap about that at all. About anything. She told me again to just go without her. I told her I wasn't ready yet, that we were still running the 5 min per KM required. "But you have so much in the tank." "Uh sure, maybe if the race ended at 11k!" Finally, Sam found the words to get me to go: "Please. I'll feel so bad if you don't go and run the race you have in you." That did it. Thanks for that gift Sam. Next time she faded, I didn't look back. I just kept going.

The first thing I did was put in my earphones. We were getting off of the highway at Barton street and I looked at all of the spectators and had a good chuckle as I recalled this moment from my race with Ali last year (when she yelled at her husband for not being ready to take a photo!). Quickly, we headed up on to the trail and I started to find the running a bit more difficult. No problem Nicole, this is why you have the buffer. Just get going and try to stick with the 5:05/km pace. I was able to run on those weird brick things, but I did have to walk up one paved hill. I only walked the hill and then started to run as soon as possible again. This was somewhere around 13k. 

At this point, I was starting to scan the spectators looking for Marlene who was going to be along the route cheering. I also got a huge boost by getting to the out and back portion and seeing the runners coming back toward the finish. The great thing about having run this race for the past two years is that I knew what was coming. Out and back, on to Beach Blvd and turn around to the end. I saw Marlene and gave a huge wave and high five. I was keyed in and was really watching my pace band at this point.

I knew the goal was within reach.

4:59-5:03-5:10-5:23-4:44 (huge Marlene boost!)-5:04, split: 30:23, total: 1:14:04, pace band: 1:14:39

Hang on. Hang on. Hang on. KM 16-21.1

I get to 16k and know that I just have to hang on. At this point, my stomach is starting to bother me a lot. I think that maybe I should take my second gel, but I don't. I actually focus on my stomach pain. I realize that this is my core complaining about my lack of cross training or ab work. Something I will work on, starting immediately. I kept running and moving. I would look at my watch and try to keep it around 5 min/KM. The wind is not a factor for me at all. My stomach just hurts. You have abs you know! You should give us some love from time to time! I run through the next water station and stop just after to take a quick walk. 10seconds. Let's go.

We hit the turn around and the wind really is a non-factor as we're sheltered. Keep going, keep going. Now I can see the other runners heading to 16k and I start to look for Sam's pink socks. I don't see them, but it gets my through two very fast KMs. At 18k, "I will wait" by Mumford and Sons comes on and this song always makes me think about thanking God for everything. So I spend 18k running with the following mantra: Thank You God. Thank You God. And it's for everything. Everything I'm lucky enough to have in my life. I get these moments while running from time to time and I always celebrate them. What a gift it is.

Someone calls to me just before 19k and I just wave (it was a DM friend, Laura). I see Marlene again and she's on the park bench clearly yelling my name and cheering me on. I go and go and go.

I hit 19k and my watch says 1:34:19.

I've got it. I'm going to do it. 10 minutes. Just. Hang. On.

And all of a sudden, my legs are like: Pffft.

My legs just hurt so bad. The Red Hill Valley Parkway is laughing now. 

Still, I plow through. Hang on. Hang on.

I am with a man in blue and I'm sticking with him. I run and run as hard as I can.

Of course the 20k marker gets hit and its time to take off.

Which is really more like. Hang. ON.

I know this part so well. Uphill. Turn the corner. Race to the finish. 

I can hear the finish and taste the victory. All of a sudden there is a man down in front of me with people all around him. I see them roll him on his back and someone assumes a CPR position. As I run past I think, "I should stop." And think, "They've got it under control."  all at the same time. He ended up in the hospital.

I can't think more then that because its time to turn that corner and run to the finish. I KNOW I have the 1:45:xx. And I celebrate.

5:09-5:16-4:52-4:58-5:03-5:05-1:29 (311m, 4:46 pace), split: 31:52, total 1:45:56, pace band: 1:45:00

"1:45:xx counts" I tweet. And so it does.

Gun: 1:47:23
Chip: 1:45:56 which is a 3min35sec PB from Scotia, two weeks ago!
Place: 471/1750
Gender: 150/1004
F35-39: 34/148


I cross the line with an ugly cry. The man at the finish grabs me and shakes me a little: ARE YOU OKAY?!?!?

I'm just so happy!!!!

He laughs and releases me to get my medal. I get it and my strange hazmat coat and beeline for the finish to watch for Sam. I see her quickly and run to find her. She's super upset at seeing the man who was down and ran an amazing race anyway despite her bad day. We find Amy, Emma and Patty and celebrate them as they each got PBs! Sam drops us all off and I drive home and spend the rest of the day like any other Sunday. Except there was this:

Race season is over. I'm glad I was able to finish with this one. Next up? Three weeks off and then Boston Training begins!