Boom! ( A smashing good Birthday)

It has been a long time since I have updated my progress towards establishing a sub-26 minute PB at Maritime Race Weekend in September.  Though I have been absent here,  I have not been shirking my training schedule.

Coach Jackal has introduced speed intervals, in addition to the hillz drillz and strength training.  In the last couple of weeks I have done 600m and 1000m intervals, with one minute and two minute recovery respectively.

As part of the training process, I had signed up for a local 5k event on March 18 to measure my progress.  When I decided on this date several weeks ago I had hoped to improve my time from 30:06 to sub 29:00.  It was a huge goal but I had been working hard so was confident that I could do it. Based on my interval training, Jackal told me that I was capable of sub 28:00 but I wasn’t convinced.  I was fairly certain that I MIGHT  be able to  do 28:30 IF all the conditions were right AND if I pushed hard, but there was no way that I could do sub 28.

One of the reasons that I chose the March 18 race was that it fell on my birthday and I really liked the idea of smashing a PB on my birthday. It was like a present from me to me.   It was a no frills race with no bling and no shirt but it was a fast course with a lot of downhill. In other words, it was perfect!

The day dawned sunny but cold.  I mean, really really cold!  After a couple of weeks of temperatures hovering slightly above freezing, this day was bitterly cold. … -12c with a real feel of -20c. We hadn’t had temperatures that cold since January.  I wasn’t sure about my ability to smash a PB in those conditions.  I knew that I could probably run a Personal Best but it wouldn’t be by a wide  margin.

Before the race started I did my usual warm up routine… dynamic stretches and an easy run.  Brrr.. it was cold.  Even after my 15 minute warm up run I was still cold.  It did not bode well but I was going to do my best.

Desi Storm was also running in this race. She is much faster than I am but she wasn’t feeling 100% at the Start Line and at the last minute she offered to pace me.  I agreed, though I told her to go ahead of me at any time if she felt like pushing herself.

The first 1000m was slightly uphill but I pushed hard because I knew that the next couple of kilometers was downhill and I could take advantage of that and Recover on the downslope..  We ran much faster than our planned pace and Desi kept asking if I was okay.  I could manage short sentences to reply so that was a good indication that I wasn’t pushing too hard.  We ran much faster than I thought possible and with 1000 meters to go I realized that I could walk the remaining distance and still get a respectable time.  Of course I didn’t walk.. that would have been silly!   A slight uphill slowed me down some but then we were only 500m from the Finish Line.    I gasped to Desi that I had nothing left in the tank and that I couldn’t Sprint to the finish.  With 20m to go she grabbed my arm and  literally pulled me across the Finish Line.

Finish Time   26:36

I kid you not!

I was hoping for sub 29, wondering if I could sub 28 and I ran a sub 27!

It was amazing and wonderful and unbelievable all at the same time.

I still don’t believe it, but it’s on Strava so it must be true.


Happy Birthday to Me ! miramichi5k

PS..  Based on the results of this race, my 5k goal has been modified to sub 25.


Hillz Drillz

This is the next installment in my Road to a Fast 5k training series.

The Road to a Fast 5k  has advanced to  the next stage.  The first few weeks were spent performing drills to improve my strength, mobility and balance as I work to build a strong kinetic chain. Now I have progressed to stage II which includes Hillz Drillz.

Coach Jackal made arrangements for me to run with another gal who is training for her first 15k Road Race.  Her name is (Desi) Storm and we hit it off quite well. While our time/ distance goals are not alike, we are both at the same stage of our training schedule right now so we will be doing Hillz together every week.  I get to do these drills twice a week, but Storm will only be doing them once while she is focusing on other quality work at this stage of  her training.

Storm is faster than me.  A lot faster.  We were instructed to warm up for 4k together.   She ran slow, I ran fast, and we met Jackal at the bottom of Golf Club Road.  This location was chosen because of the slope of the hill, and because there is very little traffic at the golf club in the winter. Bonus points for bare pavement.

This is what was on the agenda:

  •  Aerobic warm up 3-4 km lite running..
  •  Toe Drills: 2 x 5 m High on toes, 2 x 5 m High on toes IN…2 x 5 m High on toes OUT…2 x 5 m On Heels.
  •  3 x 10 alternate high knee bounding uphill
  • 3 x 20M Backward Uphill running
  •  3 x 5/5 each foot ONE foot uphill bounding
  •  3 x 10 m Downhill Heel Walking
  • 5 x 20 sec UPHILL Surges… FULL recovery after each one. Maximum Push each.
  • Lite cool down afterwards.

Here is how it went.

Toe drills are easy, with the focus  on turning the entire leg from the hip.  I do these often at the gym.( on flat surface though!)   Ditto for heel walking.  Toe walking is done UP the hill and then DOWN. Heel walking is only done DOWN, then walk back up.

Knee bounding was awkward at  first, but got easier.  The key is to really lift your knees high and pump your arms as you bound up the hill. It was fun. It was like being a kid again!

Backward running is hard.  We took turns so we could watch for traffic while the other was running.  It is hard to run straight while running backwards.  There were some near misses as we came close to running into the snowbanks lining the street, but that just added to the fun as we used hand signals and giggles to redirect each other back onto the bare pavement.

One foot bounding is hard. One foot ANYTHING is hard.  I don’t have much spring in my step, so my bounds were only a few inches long. But it has to get better, right?  Storm is like a gazelle, graceful and fluid with her movements and it is beautiful to watch her bound up the hill. She reminds me of Tigger. ( of Pooh fame) After all, bouncing is what tiggers to best!

Twenty second surges.  Holy cow!  Twenty seconds is a long time to surge as hard as you can uphill.   Jackal and Storm ran twice as far as I did during that 20 seconds.  Did I mention that it was really hard?  My right glute protested loudly after the third rep, and the fourth and fifth reps were less than stellar but I got ‘er done.  A nice cool down run back to our cars ( 1km away) and that was the end.

It was a great workout and it felt good, except for that right gluteus.  It was really sore during our cool down run and I was quite concerned that I might have overworked it.    I followed up with an Epsom salt bath  and lots of stretching and rolling.  I have recently invested in a trigger point release ball which works great for those days when running is literally a pain in the ass.

The next day I was surprised that I was hardly sore at all.  Slight tightness in the right glute lingered for a few days but I just kept rolling and stretching. This might prove to be the weak link in my kinetic chain so I need to be proactive.  I have an appointment with my PT in a few weeks so will address it with her at that time.

Storm and I  get to do Hillz for a few more weeks and then we will begin Speedwork.  So far I am enjoying this Journey.  #gettingbettereveryday

In addition to the specific drills, I am maintaining my base of 30 miles per week. Winter running can be challenging but I am getting ‘er done.

The Road to a Fast 5k includes crisp clear mornings.  I am so blessed to be on this journey




The Road to a Faster 5k, part II

On January 9  I started doing simple drills to increase leg / glute  strength.  This was the first step towards  increasing my running speed.   On January 19 I met with my coach, Capt. Jackal (not his real name) for the second time and he gave me more homework assignments in the form of mobility drills.

The concept is simple.  Build strength and power by doing specific exercises.  Once the power has been established, we will further unlock my potential by adding more exercises  and then eventually speedwork.  As the Jackal outlined the drills, he told me that there would be no days off.  There are two sets of drills, and they are done on alternate days.  As a run streaker I am familiar with the concept of No Days Off, so this won’t be a huge issue for me.

The drills are simple, so simple in fact that it doesn’t even feel like I am working hard enough.  Jackal assures me that these exercises pack a big punch and will result in big gains.

I have listed the exercises below, for my own benefit so I can review as necessary. In the few weeks since I have started, I can already feel my body becoming more flexible and strong.

Stay tuned.. next up is Hill Drills.


Pre – Run Drills

  • Stork Stretch Walk
  • Lunge , Twist from hip, ( 5 each side)
  • Side / front leg swings

Post Run ( do drills on alternate days.)

Drill #1

  • 2 x 20 squats, tense glutes
  • 10 weighted squats
  • 20 alternate Walk Lunge, pushing off with power
  • 5 each side, Skater squats
  • 3 each side, single leg bridge with dorsiflexion , hold 3 seconds

Drill #2

  • one leg stand on Bosu Ball, 60 seconds
  • 20 heel /toe pivots on Bosu Ball
  • 20 squats on Bosu Ball
  • 2 x 10m walk on high toes barefoot
  • 2 x 10 m walk on heels in shoes.

Mobility Drills ( Every Day)

  • Wall hurdles , 20 each side
  • Leg swing, front and side, 10 each side
  • Hip circles,  15 each direction


The Road to a Fast 5k

My journey has begun. This year I will be working hard to see how fast I can go. My goal is a sub-26 minute 5k, which is more than 4 minutes off my best chip time.

The journey actually started mid-December when I made up my mind to do this incredible thing.  My race season ended in October, and I spent a full month in Recovery Mode before settling down to just running for pleasure.  The thing about running is that you have lots of time to think…about life, family, goals, etc.  I spent a lot of time reviewing my 2017 running accomplishments and thinking about what to do next. By the end of the year I knew that I needed to get back to the basics and learn how to run faster.

I have mentioned my co-irker before, a fellow runner that I work with who has provided me with valuable running tips and insight.  He suggested that I contact a friend of his who has coached many people to running success.  I made contact with Coach Captain Jackyl (not his real name) in December and we decided to meet in January to see if we could work together to achieve my goals.

Through email he gathered my info such as gender (ok, that one was a given) , age, race times, running history, etc.  With this information he would make a Training Plan that would be specific for Me.

We met for coffee on January 9 to discuss the training process.  It is quite simple.  For several weeks I will be working on increasing my Power and Mobility, but not changing my running patterns.  Jackyl gave me some simple pre-run and post-run exercises to do. He also recommended that I stretch these muscles after every run ( 2 x 40 seconds) : Calves, Hamstrings, Groin, Hip Flexors, IT bands, Glutes, chest.

Pre Run Drills:

Dynamic Stretches

  •  Stork stretch walking Alt 10 – 5 each leg
  • Walking Lunges with twist at hip ( 5 each side)
  • Side and front leg swings

Run (Desired Distance)

Every 2 days do the following:

Post Run Drills:

  •  2 x 20 squats – hold squat tensing glutes for 2 seconds  Remember to breath
  •  2 x 10 One Leg Calve raises
  • 10 each eccentric stretches each calf
  •  10 each leg – One leg skaters squats (make sure your knee doesn’t collapse inwards) Use chair to stabilize if necessary.

This is how it went.

The Drills were easy to do and don’t require a lot of time.  They do pack a punch and I am feeling it in my Glutes/ hamstrings.

I run every day and I stretch most days but I never hold a stretch for 40 seconds ( let alone 2 x 40 seconds!)  so this was a big adjustment for me.  Instead of stretching for 5 minutes ( or less) I need to commit to 15 minutes of stretching after every run.  Did I mention that I run every single day? It is getting easier though I still struggle with finding  making the time every single day.

My second meeting with Jackyl was on January 19, when he gave me more Homework to do.  I will write more about that soon.

I am leaving you with a photo of one of my recent runs.  The Road to a Fast 5k apparently includes snow! Who knew?




Search 4 Speed (2018 goal)

If you have been following my journey then you know that I have gone from Couch to Ultra Marathon in four years.  2017 was all about seeing how FAR I can go, and  in 2018 I want to see  how FAST I can go.

My fastest 5k chip time is  30:12.  My goal is sub 26:00.  That is an astonishing goal of 4 minutes off my fastest 5k.  Yes, it will be a challenge and it does scare me a little bit.  But it is a realistic goal, and achievable IF I am willing to work for it.

My goal race will be Maritime Race Weekend Sunset 5k. on Sept. 14.   I chose this race because it is an early-autumn race that has been on my bucket list for a couple of years.  This will allow me 9 months to work towards my goal.  Bonus points for being an evening race, as that is my favorite time to run.

I am excited to be working with a coach who has a proven track record. ( no pun intended) We met last week to evaluate my goals and develop a training plan.   With his guidance, I will be going back to the basics and learning to run all over again.

Let the games begin.




2017 in Review


20170630_161248It is hard to know how to review 2017.  In January I was very clear about my yearly goals .. I wanted to increase my speed and set some very specific distance/time goals.  At the time I was training for the Ottawa Marathon (May) and  planned to Recover all summer before working on getting faster at shorter distances.

Oh , how naïve I was .. to think that I could do it all.  And  the plan might have worked.. if only I had stuck to it.  In February everything changed.  On a whim I signed up for  a 50k Trail Run scheduled for September.  With a marathon and ultra trail run looming over me, speed goals went out the window.   Suddenly my focus became about how FAR I could go, instead of how FAST I could go.

Our winter was predictably icy / cold / slushy so I did a lot of my workouts on the treadmill.  Treadmill running is a new discovery for me every year.  I love it / I hate it.

In February I ran my third Hypothermic Half Marathon.   In April I did my third Lorneville Loop 13k road race.  This is a hilly route and I was pleased to cut 25 seconds off my previous best time.

As I toed the Start Line at the Ottawa Marathon I felt strong and confident.  That strength and confidence disappeared a few hours later as I struggled with the consequences of  training in cold weather for a hot weather marathon. I learned this lesson  firsthand at the 27km mark.   Ooof… what a lesson!  I crawled / staggered the remaining 15k and somehow made it to the Finish Line but it wasn’t a pretty finish. Ottawa Marathon – Ready or Not

After the marathon, my immediate thoughts turned to building  on that distance to prepare for the Ultra  but my body said NO WAY.  Post marathon fatigue, food poisoning and a sprained toe were some of the obstacles that I faced.    When I tried to push through it, my body decided to curtail all my efforts by breaking out in Shingles.  There was no way that I could argue with that. June was my lowest mileage month of the year with 113 km.

Training for the Ultra began in earnest in July.. except that Life happened.   Who has time to train in the summer..?  I discovered a lovely technical trail near my house so I was pleased to be able to train there often but my longest run in July was only 18 km, monthly distance was a mere 177 km.

Training for the Ultra began in earnest in August… except that Life happened again.  Gosh, I thought training in winter was hard!  Training in summer is very challenging.  I did manage several quality runs, including 18 kms a couple of times ,  monthly total was 217 kms.  Eeeep.. That Ultra is looming large now..

Early in September I finally  managed to run 25km, and planned to run a similar distance a couple of days later … but my PT forbade it.  Hip flexors and adductors were paying the price for sudden increased distance on technical trails and PT recommended short flat runs for several days.  Short flat runs.?? But I have a 50k trail run in a couple of weeks. ! You can read the rest of that story here.   Race Review / Fundy Circuit Ultra Trail

After that epic 50k trail run,  I  had a full 2  weeks to recover  before doing the 5 Peaks Round the Cape 24k Trail Run in October.  Easy peasy. …. Race Review – 5 Peaks Round the Cape

That concluded my race season and I spent the remainder of October Recovering. In November and December I ran strictly for pleasure,  running only as far and as fast as I wanted to.  The first couple of weeks after the back-to-back trail runs were very  hard. I felt like my body had forgotten how to run but I slogged through it and eventually started to feel like I was actually running again.

2017 was an incredible journey for me.  The biggest discovery for me was that I learned how therapeutic trail running can be. It is not about time or speed, but simply about feeling in sync with your body and soul.

Of course I ran every day  because that is what I do.  Total mileage for 2017 was 2222 km. I have some crazy goals for 2018.  Stay tuned.



Streaking in 2017


On November 29, 2017 I completed the third year of my Run Streak.  By now it has become a habit so it’s not much of a big deal for me.  When people express amazement at my accomplishment I just shrug and say, “Meh, it’s no big deal, running is just something that I do every day.” And it really is!

There were some highlights and some lowlights in 2017 and I will share them with you here.

I am fortunate to belong to a wonderful run group who support this silly runstreak, and a few of the members have taken ownership of some milestones and planned fun group runs to celebrate.  January 14 was one of the coldest days of the winter to date.  Despite the frigid temperatures, several group members showed up at the local Casino to celebrate Day #777 with me. Check it out here.777 Consecutive Days of Running

Day #888 was thankfully much warmer. Again several group members celebrated by meeting at a local Pool hall on May 5 to run, and then shoot a couple of games of pool and other shenanigans. Read more here. Eight Eight Eight

DBAJ48cXkAAkLjM.jpgSadly I was out of town for Day #911 so I was on my own, but I made sure my route took me past a couple of fire stations. Okay, I actually stopped at a fire station and asked a firefighter if I could get a photo with him. Of course he was happy to oblige.  Big shout out to all emergency personnel out there. Thank you for keeping us safe.

I think it is very cool that my milestones keep falling on the weekends.  Day #1000 was on a Friday and again my amazing run group planned a fun run which you can read about here. The Day I Earned My Comma

2017 was not without it’s challenges.  Here in eastern NB we have cold, ice, slush, rain, heat, humidity, wind, freezing rain, windchill, etc.  Thankfully we don’t have all those weather conditions in the same month!  Each of those weather conditions present their own challenges and it is necessary to plan ahead.  In 2017 I ran in temperatures ranging from -35c to +35c.  I prefer the -35!

Being a Streaker means that I have to run the day after big events.  In the days after the Ottawa marathon I went for a long walk, with a 2k run sandwiched in the middle. I was really worried about the day after the Fundy Circuit 50k, but again I went for a long walk with a short run in the middle.  Active Recovery is a thing and really aids the recovery process.

On October 12 I inadvertently started  a Streak within a Steak.  While checking my October stats I realized that I had run at least 5k every day since Oct 12.  Naturally I decided to see if I could run 5k every day in November.  Then I decided to challenge myself by running 5k every day for 100 days. It was just my luck that a Deep Freeze descended on us mid December and lingered until the New Year and beyond. January 19 will be Day 100 of 5k Every Day and I will reevaluate at that time.

There were some serious threats to the Streak.  A sprained toe in June was painful to walk on, but strangely it didn’t hurt (much) to run on it.  I swear I almost died of food poisoning once but still managed to drag my sorry ass around the block.  Colonoscopy prep is never fun, but with careful planning you can get the run done. The biggest challenge that I faced in 2017 was running with Shingles.  I was very fatigued, and air movement was painfully cold.  If my run streak was not so firmly established, it would have ended then.

My PT endorses my run streak. With her help,  I successfully ran through injured hip flexor, soleus, hip adductors, and deep core stability muscles.  I am very blessed to be able to run every day without serious injury.

I know this streak will end someday and hopefully on my terms. But today is not that day, so for now I streak on.