Six-day [Sober] Trip to Montreal!

I love going on trips now WAY more than when I was a booze-hound. I feel like I can do like, one hundred things each day (if I want), I remember everything, I’m present and experience everything thoroughly, and as a bonus, I feel way less guilty spending money shopping and dining. Since the cost of alcohol, everywhere, all day and night, is no longer a thing, I don’t feel like going on trips drains my bank account the same way it used to! This was the first time I’ve gone away for longer than a weekend in a while, and it was exceptional. I am so glad I didn’t get pissed the whole time and come home feeling like it went by in the blink of an eye, like I needed time to recover from the trip, or like I didn’t do any of the things I’d hoped to! Here is a recap of my trip and some of the things I noticed or felt grateful for while I enjoyed it alcohol-free.

The trip started with a full travel day, which is fairly standard for someone who lives in Prince Rupert if going anywhere further than Vancouver. But, since planes and airports are awesome and not having a hangover is also awesome, I enjoyed my nap on flight number one, my solo breakfast at YVR, Starbucks, and another long nap on flight number two. Although sleeping on a plane is far from comfortable or good quality, it is fucking fantastic compared to what I used to do on planes, which was cry on the inside because I forgot a water bottle, had low blood sugar and was clinging to life, and then proceed to go partly unconscious with cotton mouth and hope I wouldn’t twitch out and smack my neighbour. Gross ahaha.

I arrived in Montreal after midnight where my sexy husband who was working there temporarily greeted me, and we took an Uber to the apartment near downtown which cost $36. I seriously don’t know what I did before Uber. Where we might go out that night didn’t even cross my mind – I was exhausted from the long day. This is interesting to me because before, when I was obsessed with partying, I would somehow power through my exhaustion because the thought of going to bed early was unthinkable and I’d torture my body, forcing it to stay awake and drink and socialize with whoever, when truly I should have been sleeping!

Saturday morning we were up early and stoked for our first day together in the city. Up early on vacation? It’s a thing. Back in the day this was a foreign concept to me, but now I prefer to capitalize! We went for a half-hour walk to assess the lineup at an apparently very popular brunch place called L’Avenue on Ave du Mont-Royal E, but the lineup was like the Roxy so we found another spot along St. Denis. Nothing to write home about but regardless, summer weather with my love, no hangover, food and coffee and I was happier than happy. I already loved Montreal after that first morning of walking around. Everywhere I looked there was a park or some sort of street art, and I love parks and street art!

We did some more exploring, and then eventually made our way down towards Parc René-Lévesque to pick up our bibs for the 10K race the following day. Of course I found a race during the visit!

Such a beautiful area, and I was excited to go back there to run in the morning! Anywhere with a water view is my kind of place.

Before dinner I went for a short run around our neighbourhood which happened to be the general area of the Montreal Mural Festival that took place in June! I think exploring alone is so exciting and I was honestly overwhelmed by how much I was enjoying this new place already.

I found some neat art down back alleys and along the sides of buildings. Street art is so cool. It makes me mad that I never used to appreciate this sort of thing, but I’m glad I do now.

Later, we relaxed at an outdoor patio on Rue Sherbrooke, ate paninis and had a beer (alkoholfrei German wheat beer, for me), people-watched and then called it a day. It was a long day and we needed to be up early. Either way, going to bed early on vacation is UNDERRATED!..even when it’s hotter than you’re used to and roll around all night sweating.

Sunday we Uber’d to Parc René-Lévesque and it was so nice out already! A bit too hot for me for racing (northern BC spoiled brat in the running world), but a beauty day and the event site for the Demi-Marathon Bonneville de Lachine had a fun energy right off the bat. The warm-up in the start chute was awesome and kind of funny for us non French speakers (not that it was exclusively Français) and the course was GORGEOUS. I highly recommend checking out this park, event or no event! Wish I had more pics.

Do run this race, though, if you’re around for it! Ten kilometers for breakfast, check!

Our anniversary was off to a good start, and we were both done running before 9am. So much day left!

After some time at the finish area we took a walk along the Lachine Canal (love) to get away from the busyness of the race area and call a ride, but we came across a bus stop that would take us to a metro station. Transit adventure! Going on transit is tolerable when you don’t have a headache or nausea! It’s worth mentioning that I found the transit system, especially the metro, very easy to use in Montreal! I went all over the place with no problems whatsoever.

After a quick regroup at home it was time for standard procedure after any race: epic meal time! We went to Chez Jose on Duluth for brunch, and so should you! The hot sauce. Yum. And what a cool, funky spot! Going for brunch as a sober person is something I place a high value on. I remember brunching back when I lived in Vancouver and I always felt like (and looked like) shit, praying for a refill on my water, guzzling Caesars to try and feel better and then having yet another really expensive bill because alcohol is so effing expensive. Then the day would turn into “Sunday Funday” and I’d feel like shit on Monday morning. So over that!! Food tastes so much better non-hung, and so does coffee. I also find I can eat my meal instead of just a few bites. Hmm. More food, a better experience and more money to go shopping after and not feel guilty.

We waddled towards the river and came face to face with the fantastic Montreal pride parade along René-Lévesque Boulevard! Seriously such a party. I didn’t know that Fierté Montréal was during my trip and it was such a fun surprise!! We walked for hours it seemed, after a long parade detour, and then it was time for more food, so we hung out and ate nachos on Rue de la Commune after finally making it to where we wanted to go after breakfast. More coffee in the sun in a gorgeous city.

I am obsessed with the Old Port.

After a late afternoon nap I went for a short jog to shake out my body and then had another early bed time. I stayed up late from like 2001 to 2015 so now I really like sleeping ahahaha.

My Monday morning began with a sweaty flow class at Moksha Yoga Montreal! I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me to go to any Moksha studio (Moksha is where I got my 500hr RYT) and the Montreal location was fabulous. I think you should go there and check it out! I left there in a bliss trance and walked home, then spent the rest of Monday basically running around everywhere, checking things out along the way. I never thought I’d be going to yoga at 7am on a Monday on a holiday. Or being a daytime warrior.

Parc La Fontaine

Got myself a new Ciele hat from the Mile End Lululemon, saw many more amazing murals, picked up some totally necessary glow in the dark Vazees from New Balance on St. Catherine, then had solo lunch and coffee near the Old Port and explored the quays.

We went to the AMAZING Cafe Parvis on Rue Mayor for dinner once husband was done work. The girls at Lulu recommended it and I loved this restaurant! It’s a romantic little cafe with a unique, fresh menu. Love the string lights and flowers on the patio! I also love how most of the restaurants we went to on this trip, Cafe Parvis included, have kombucha on the menu. It’s an interesting non-alcoholic option. Not drinking doesn’t mean just having water wherever you go!

Tuesday I was up early as usual, and after breakfast at home I took the metro from Place-des-Arts to Papineau and ran across the Jacques Cartier bridge into Jean Drapeau Park.

Cool spot definitely worth checking out, in my opinion, since I am a freak about parks! Thank God there are drinking fountains in this park because it was humidddd. If I’d had even a lick of a hangover, I would have actually died.

After my planned 7km I took a rest/figured out where exactly on Île Sainte-Hélène I was, and then ran a few more kilometers along Pont de la Concorde, past Habitat 67 (not as cool as I thought it might be, but still cool to see) and back into Montreal towards the Old Port. The views today were unreal!!!

I came back to home-base area and had myself a massive classic poutine at Dirty Dogs on Boul. St-Laurent! Oh and a huge milkshake. YUMMMM.

I digested as quickly as I could because husband was almost home from work and we were going to Orange Rouge in China Town for dinner. This place is seriously awesome and my favourite place that we had dinner on my trip. It’s mostly share plates and we sat at the bar and had a really good experience there with awesome service! I am like drooling right now thinking about the duck confit dumplings and the quail. Go there, you won’t regret it! I pay attention to the food I’m eating so much more these days. YUM.

As I was about to go to sleep I realized tomorrow was Wednesday. Wednesday is a November Project morning in cities that have a tribe. EFF YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, I got up extra early and was at Nelson’s Column (the monument at Place Jacques-Cartier) by 6:29 am where NP MTL uses the Old Port as a sweaty playground.

I follow NP quite closely on social media and have been a fan for a long time, but I can’t say enough good things about my first actual experience. Do you think I’d have made it to something like this, something so up my alley, if I were out super late partying the night before, and dehydrated and dead tired when the alarm went off? Unlikely.

#justshowup

If you don’t know what November Project is, Google it and familiarize yourself and then hit up free fitness and a hundred new sweaty friends next time you’re anywhere that has a tribe. Trust me.

After the workout I had a 10k tempo run to complete for Coach Andrew, so I got that done along the Promenade du Vieux-Port and down by the clock tower. Gorgeous place to run! You may think I’m crazy but this was truly my IDEAL morning. How the times have changed gahaha.

Next on the to-do list: TATTOO. Well, first a gigantic baguette sandwich, and then Tatouage Electric Ave. Located on Rue Beaubien E, I picked this shop after lots of research through blogs, Instagram and portfolios online. Arno was my man and he did not disappoint. Mark my words, I will return to Montreal to get more art from Arno!

Something worth mentioning is that while I was getting tattooed, I didn’t feel like garbage or put my body into an even more traumatic situation by showing up to my appointment hungover, shaky, dehydrated or run-down. This is probably the tattoo that has healed best for me, and I’m confident this is because I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’ve had some tattoos in the past that took so long to heal. Like overly sore in the scabby phase and just felt like a gross owie for too many days. Not this time. My body healed this tattoo like a boss.

In the evening we headed to Little Italy for husband’s birthday dinner at Il Piatto Pieno, a place highly recommended by one of his co-workers. It seemed like a nice place, and the menu looked delicious, but there were only a few people there when we showed up (around 8:30 pm, not super late or anything) and the service was bush! The server asked us to order as soon as possible and tossed a basket of bread on the table. The appy and pizza we ordered looked like someone threw it together in the dark and the pizza was most definitely not finished baking. Lol. Good thing we aren’t too sensitive! Whatever, win some, lose some. Little Italy seems like a wicked area with a million restaurants and I wish we had time to go back! Next time.

Thursday (rest day) we slept in and then made it back over to L’Avenue and since it was a weekday, there wasn’t a huge line!! This place was worth waiting for. I definitely recommend. I had sweet and salty eggs benny, it was served on sweet and crunchy french toast and I almost died and went to heaven. Go there!! It was loud and busy and great, and I totally understand why there was a lineup down the block when we tried to go on Saturday!

We ventured up and down Mont Royal (once we could move again after breakfast) and that is something you must do in Montreal. The walk (I wouldn’t call it a hike by any means) was easy but nice and the view spectacular. This is not my pic, I didn’t have my phone!

The rest of the day was spent having coffee, returning to the Old Port (again!) in the evening to be touristy and just cruisin around on foot enjoying our last evening.
Friday morning came early and once again, I was reminded of, and felt grateful for the simplicity of waking up to a non-hangover on holidays and, despite being tired, not needing to survive the day of travel. I felt so fulfilled by the six days spent in Montreal; it actually felt like I was there for more like two weeks! Of course there are things I didn’t do due to a lack of more time, but I didn’t feel like I ripped myself off once in any way.

I could have gone back to work right away feeling totally okay with that, BUT I’m still off til after Labour Day so time for another adventure where it feels like there ARE enough hours in a day, and I don’t need ANOTHER week off afterwards to recuperate 🙂

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One of the coolest things I’ve noticed since becoming a non-drinker

Hi! It’s August! WTF?

Where I live we haven’t had much of a summer so far. We don’t usually get a ton of warm and fabulous weather up here on the north coast of BC, but it looks like a streak of sunny days may have finally arrived! Ahhh get outside, ASAP!!

Driving to work today I was thinking about how I just had four days off and now it’s my turn to work the coming weekend, which happens to be August long weekend. Sigh. But, after the initial thought about this not being ideal, I started to observe the ways my feelings toward a situation like this one have shifted since I kicked booze out of my life. Let me explain.

A year and a half ago (or any time prior) if I discovered it were my turn to work over a long weekend I would become plagued with anxiety, victim-like thinking and FOMO. If you aren’t familiar, FOMO is the fear of missing out. In the past, in my opinion a party weekend was hands-down the best thing ever. Like, ever. Since getting drunk and wild was my favourite thing to do, as well as part of my identity, the thought of missing out was actually torture.

POOR ME!!! EVERYONE is going to have so much fun partying without me!! I’m going to miss out on all the craziness and the laughs and the drunk idiotic entertainment! This is unthinkable. What am I going to do? My friends are probably going to forget I exist!!! OMG. It’s so unfair that I have to work! I bet it’s going to be the MOST fun ever had on any weekend, EVER. Legendary memories will be made and I’ll be left out. If I can’t be with everyone, the long weekend should be cancelled!!!

I would feel some resentment towards my then-boyfriend and my friends for “leaving me behind” (lol) and then proceed to mope around, feel sorry for myself, whine about it and worry. Oh, but not without desperately trying to find others in the same “unbearable situation” as myself who might be staying around town and want to get together and “have so much fun” getting drunk while “everyone else” was at the lake, camping, festival-ing, etc. I confess that I’d even feel a little better when another person would tell me that they also had to work over the weekend. Misery loves company. What a dick I was!

Just too be clear, I’d prefer to be off this coming weekend. Duh haha. BUT, here are where things have changed:

First, for the record, if indeed completely free this weekend, I’d likely head to the lake and spend three days the way I prefer to lately, as a non-drinker. This is just a little different (but better) than the past. There is all the usual stuff but with a sober twist. Boating, possibly quadding, fires, maybe some bocce (all more safe and more memorable), going to bed at a reasonable hour in our trailer, which is SO comfortable and peaceful (when one can remember doing so)..then, my Saturday long run wouldn’t suck, because of the absence of cotton-mouth and a raging headache. I’d get back at the time most others wake up, so no missing out on breakfast! Coffee tastes amazing because it doesn’t feel like I beer-bonged hydrochloric acid the night before. The rest of the day in the sun is perfect, because I am not disgustingly dehydrated and don’t have a stomachache or migraine while ripping around in the boat or laying in the heat on the dock. Not forgetting to eat lunch is also great. Sober weekends, holy shit. Unreal. Glad I discovered them when I did, and not later!

So, wait. If I still love a good weekend as much or more than I did when I was a piss-tank, why am I not sad about missing out? First: with some sober experience under my belt, I no longer consider the only way to have fun as drinking a shit-ton of beer and fireball. Second: after I personally realized that there is a plethora of ways to connect with others, nature and myself DAILY that don’t revolve around drinking, I simply stopped caring about missing out on a long weekend or party here and there. Who cares? Try asking yourself that, it’s crazy. “Who cares?” I can extract the same satisfaction and other good feelings from almost any day of this life, it turns out! Who knew?

Day-to-day life without alcohol is filled with so much more energy, motivation and awareness that I don’t really give a shit if it’s a three-day-weekend or a weekday of work. Every day seems to offer me the same opportunity to feel good and capitalize on my free time, however much or little there happens to be. Life isn’t filled with such extreme highs and lows anymore. I don’t plod along waiting for the next super fun party, event or vacation. Having, for example, approximately four hours before and after work to make the most of, is fantastic and I look forward to those windows of time now just as much as I look forward to a full day off. Maybe it’s because I’m more present? Have more clarity? Anyways. A run before work in the sun (or the rain!) when the roads are empty because everyone else is out of town or still sleeping is just as serene as a run on any other day in any given place. And coffee at my kitchen table without a hangover is equally as peaceful as coffee on the porch at the cabin or by the campfire. In my right mind, I know that being away from my crew for one fun weekend isn’t going to result in anyone forgetting about my friendship or our future plans. It also doesn’t mean I won’t have my own amazing weekend!

I’ve come to find, and apparently other sober people I know have similarily discovered, that FOMO becomes minimal if not non-existent when a person takes away the blur of booze and begins to connect in more ways with the wide-spread opportunities of daily life around them. I love fun shit and I love fun people. I guess I just gave myself the chance to learn that my spectrum of fun is far more broad than I ever thought it might be. My appreciation for an hour of free-time now compares with a glorious, responsibility-free long weekend. Quitting drinking happens to be what changed my perspective.

So yeah. Removed booze from life – discovered that pretty much all days are great and have equal potential for good times –  noticed that FOMO isn’t real. Cool!

Of course I’d love to be off this weekend. Hell, I’d retire if I could! Gahaha. Do I predict a lame weekend? Absolutely not! I predict the exact opposite! Will I suffer from the depressing effects of the fear of missing out? Hell no. FOMO isn’t real unless you believe in it. Bring on sunny mornings, way too much coffee, relaxing evenings, sunsets and maybe a random unexpected adventure. Life is fuckin gooooooood.

@jammiekomadina

 

a First-Timer’s Triathlon recap! and how it relates to CONFIDENCE

Endurance sports are so addicting. To push the body, brain and spirit and see what, as a trio, they’re capable of is so friggin awesome. If you know me, you know I’m pretty in love with challenging myself physically, but I also try to get out of my comfort zone often and test myself mentally and emotionally. This wasn’t always the case, but after working with Suzanne Fetting off and on for years, plus a lot of other growth in the last five-ish years, I have a very different perspective on trying new things that scare the crap out of me in one way or another! BUT, that doesn’t mean that this kind of stuff comes easy. I’ve come a long way in the confidence department, but I’m still human and trying brand new things makes me feel vulnerable and nervous! So here’s how the whole process went down, and if you decide to do a triathlon or any remotely related thing that’s new to you, I hope this will help you!

The Tyhee Lake Triathlon is an event I’ve heard about for ages, long before I became a runner, and I always thought of triathlon as something that other, cool, hardcore people did. Not me! Last year, my good friend Breeann participated and I was so inspired by her hard work and courage to accept such a cool challenge that I saw as extremely intimidating. In March when she suggested I come join her at it this summer, I didn’t think twice and just said yes immediately; I once knew how to swim quite well, I can ride a bike and I’ve been running consistently now for years. Then I proceded to ignore the fact that I had agreed to do a triathlon and I pushed it to the back of my mind for a couple months because it was too uncomfortable to think about. LOL.

Once spring marathoning wrapped up it dawned on me that I might want to get my ass in gear. I swam at the pool quite a few times (a challenge in itself) and was happy to learn that I still knew how, but I was VERY suprised at how extremely difficult it was from what I remembered from my childhood and adolescent swimming lessons.

I went to spin class two to three times a week for about a month and a half, borrowed a road bike from a friend, and then a couple weeks ago did a sort of practice-tri with a bunch of girls. We biked 20km out to a lake, swam approximately 800m (the opposite of fast, and with rests..but I felt I could survive the 750m distance) and then ran a 5km out-and-back before biking back home.

AWESOME. I knew I could do it! I did one more practice swim in my wetsuit* the weekend before in a different lake, and that was it. Triathlon was going down! AHHHHHH.

*The reason I bought a wetsuit (after much research) instead of borrow is because I want to do more swimming at the cabin whenever I can, and I knew for a fact I wouldn’t invest in it and only end up using it once. Don’t think you need to buy a wetsuit! It wasn’t even mandatory in Tyhee Lake because the water temperature was warm enough. If you are interested, however, I got the BlueSeventy Sprint full suit from a Canadian site, triboutique.ca

The week before the race, I started to really question myself. Sure, I can swim, bike and run well enough, but I didn’t have a clue about the logistics. Triathlon seemed way too hardcore for me. Why do we decide we aren’t good enough for something we’ve never even tried? What do I do with all the gear? What are the rules?? What do I wear under the wetsuit??? I am going to screw up and look dumb for sure. Breeann, who my sister and I were going to visit and stay with, was no longer participating in the team category like she had planned, and I thought, maybe I’ll just do a tri another day and spend the whole weekend with them. That was totally me trying to make an excuse because I was scared! I had also subconsciously hoped that my sister would bail on our weekend away so that I could use that as an excuse not to go. Didn’t happen, thankfully!

I read a bunch of articles online about what to expect in your first tri, packing checklists, and basic overviews of the transitions and felt a little more prepared but my nerves kept growing. My inner critic was taunting me. This is a bad idea. You don’t know what you’re doing. You didn’t prepare enough. The transitions are too foreign and scary. You’re a runner, stick to running. You’ll probably get a flat tire. Are you trying to be cool in your new wetsuit, poser? Now it was July 4th and the triathlon was on the 9th. I went online and registered and said I’m f*ckin doing this!

Friday afternoon my sister and I hit the road to Telkwa (tied for favourite place on planet Earth, with Mudge Island) and the whole time I babbled about how nervous I was because I’d never done a triathlon before. We stopped in Terrace and my new best friend at the bike shop showed me how to change a flat tire and sold me a little kit for under my bike seat. All I had to do was ask. Back on the road! More freaking out about getting a flat. My sister is a good counsellor! The bottom line, of course, was basically shut up and go have fun.

On Saturday morning I went for the most gorgeous and peaceful 20km dirtroad run and it boosted my confidence and left me feeling a little better about the situation.

Yes, I know a long training run doesn’t usually precede an endurance event, but I registered for this with goals of doing my best, learning and getting out of my comfort zone, not to go out and try to win it.

My sister picked me up as I reached the pavement at Highway 16, and we headed to the Bulkley Valley Farmers’ Market where we ran into a friend from Rupert who I knew was going to be there. She told me that two other girls from home had decided to come and do the triathlon at the last minute! I now had accumulated FIVE friends there. This made me feel really excited and slightly less nervous! Oh, but of course a sly comment from the inner critic, You are probably the only one who’s never done this before. (Untrue.)

You, reading this, might be thinking, wow this chick is sure being dramatic! If you’re the type of person who was born with amazing self-confidence and doesn’t bat an eye at the thought of trying something brand new, that’s awesome, but I know I’m not the only person who feels highly susceptible to things like failure, embarassment, being flustered or looking like a total ass when attempting something for the first time. So yeah. Onwards!

Sunday morning came and I went through my basic checklist.

  • sandals and warm clothes for before/after
  • my longer 5” tight running/biking shorts & crop top (for under wetsuit)
  • wetsuit, goggles, cap, towel
  • runners, socks (I refused to use the clip-in biking shoes this time around..)
  • bike, helmet, water bottle, spare tube & kit, sunglasses
  • Spibelt to store a couple gels and a cliff bar
  • hat for my run

We left early and got to the provincial campsite around 7:30.  The welcome email that I received sometime overnight told me I could check in and sign a waiver at 7:45, and that bike check began at 8 o’clock. I didn’t know what the hell bike check was and allowed that to make me feel awkward, but then once I was there and checked in (leaving with a badass Jiffy marker’d 51 on each arm and lower leg, hehe) I realized bike check was just a line up to have a bike guy give your ride a once-over and send you over to put it on a rack anywhere you wanted. I looked around to find out what to do next (who knew) and saw that some people had already organized their gear right beneath their bikes, so I set up my towel, runners, socks and running hat on the ground and put my sunglasses and fuel belt inside my helmet.

united with Rupert chicks!

Once that was taken care of, I felt one hundred times better. Now all I had to do was swim, bike and run, and not rush in between, because I knew that would screw me up. Each time I went to the washroom I met someone who was also doing their first ever triathlon! I wasn’t alone! I took my time and got into my wetsuit, braided my hair, put my goggles around my neck and took my cap with me to the grassy beach area to jump around a little and warm up.

My sis took my sandals and that was all that needed to happen before start time!

The swim began and right away my heart and breath went berserk. I breast stroked for a bit and did little stretches of front crawl, but it was very slow going. I felt pannicked like I was going to get seriously left behind (not that that would even matter!) but I just tried to relax.  In a worst case scenario, there were people in little rowboats as well as SUPs who were there to help and even offer a rest! I didn’t require that though. No kicks in the head, no choking on water, I just kept at it. By the first buoy (250m) I felt very happy that I was 1/3 done. Not going to lie, most of the swim was a struggle for me, but by the 3/3 250m stretch I felt a lot better and everytime I commited to my front crawl for as long as I could manage, I noticed that I caught up to other swimmers and even passed a couple! Woohoo! I swam until my hands brushed the bottom and felt so happy and proud that I completed step one!

The path from the shore to the transition area was a very short but steep hill and running more than a few steps didn’t seem to be happening so I focused on unzipping my suit and pulling my arms out as I made my way up the hill to the bikes, also taking off my cap and goggles.

Getting my feet out of the ankle holes wasn’t as easy but I got the thing off and partially dried my feet, put my socks and shoes on and attached my Spibelt around my waist. I’m glad I put the belt and my sunglasses inside the helmet or I would have forgotten them, I know it! As I was getting organized I realized some of my friends were around me doing the same things. Woo! Sunglasses on, helmet fastened, bike off the cross bar it was hanging on, and then I was wheeling my bike to the very clearly marked mount-line to hop on and start part two! Weeeeooo!

Once I was riding I started to really calm down. Biking seems much more second-nature to me than open water swimming, so I just enjoyed going fast on Karen’s super cool road bike that I borrowed and worked as hard as I could on each uphill, downhill and flat. I noticed that I was very much in the moment which isn’t always the case for me in a race setting. This made me really happy and I continued along as fast as I could with my quads feeling sore from my run the previous day but a huge smile on my face. I am not an experienced cyclist by any means and I’ve never been in a bike race, so I learned a lot on this one ride alone! The course was rolling hills and I loved figuring out the best gear to be in and what level of effort to throw down! Love learning shit! The turn-around point was definitely where I would have had a mishap if one were going to happen, but I went slow around the sign and then got right back at it for the 10km back to the lake. Ripping down the hill back into the transition area in the campsite was fun except the speed bumps really forced me to slow down. Didn’t want to launch off any jumps baahaha.

Shannon and I at T2

I reached the mount/dismount line and wheeled my bike back to it’s spot and hung it up, took off my helmet (which apparently is the one thing newbs forget to do and start running with it still on) and threw on my hat. It was time to run 5km! Running! My thing!!!

Lead. Legs. Holy. Shit. HAHAHA I have never felt my body like that before. It felt like I had no feet! My energy level and breathing felt normal, but my legs were like Gumby. I kept going, observing this interesting quality of my body that I’d never experienced before, and it got easier. A muscle in my right lower leg that I still haven’t identified was SO tight it was just about crossing the line between discomfort and pain, but I was careful as I ran. Even thought it was only 5km, it was SO challenging and the two water stations (and cowbell) were very much appreciated. Aside from one moment near the turnaround where my leg was really bothering me, this run was so amazing! I didn’t have a clue what kind of pace I was running since I started my watch on “other” at the start of the swim and left it alone for the duration of the race, and it was on a screen that wasn’t making sense. I absolutely loved that my only job was to do my best. I wasn’t comparing this run’s pace to any other run.

01:40:10 finish for me, whatever that means! lol

Finishing the race was amazing!! The support at this race is really awesome, and the number of spectators was impressive for a northern BC endurance event! I felt strong til the end, and when I crossed the finish I felt so accomplished. This was the most fun thing ever! Like, I love marathons and all running events a lot, but this was a whole nother level of cool. I wish I could put into words the feelings that come over a person at a time like this. Pride, excitement, a little disorientation, sometimes a bit of overwhelm and teary eyes. INCREDIBLE!!! Immediately in love and wanting to do another in the future!

Imagine I had’ve given in to feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Imagine I bailed on the tri just because my original partner in crime wasn’t able to take part and I didn’t want to be “alone.” Or if my sister for some reason wasn’t able to go away that weekend and I decided I wasn’t going to go either. Or if I were still a piss-tank and a weekend away only involved getting drunk. NO. I don’t want to imagine because that was one of my favourite days of my whole life! Not only did I get to take part in what I now consider one of the coolest events I’ve ever taken part in, I got to do it with five amazing friends and I made a couple new friends, too! I thought it was going to be terrifying, but like most things, it’s was only scary until I got there!

I will re-visit this experience the next time I’m psyching myself about something just because it’s unfamiliar to me. I will remember that my body is extremely capable, even though I remind myself almost daily of this, but hey that’s just the way it goes for some of us.

Do not let fear stop you from having the best day or best experience. Remember that people like to help, so ask questions and give yourself a break. Observe others. Remember that you will rarely be the only person doing something for the first time. And lastly, remember that extremely cheesy but true quote that I don’t really want to include here but I’m going to anyway..

comfort

@jammiekomadina

Global #SportsBraSquad Day! What it is, and why it matters!

If you don’t know about the #sportsbrasquad, here’s a quick and dirty run down for you.

Kelly Roberts, also known as RunSelfieRepeat, was on a hot, sweaty run last June and was thinking about how f*cking glorious it would be to rip her shirt off instead of having a sweat-soaked top stuck to her skin. Thankfully, against the odds she won the all-too-familiar debate with the inner critic about what she’d look like, how she’d feel and what others might think or say. She ditched her shirt and continued on, far more cool and comfortable. You can read all about it at RunSelfieRepeat.com. Reflecting on the experience afterwards, the #sportsbrasquad was born and Kelly started her movement. Mission: empower women to embrace the strength and ability of their bodies; destroy the stereotype of what a healthy and fit body is “supposed to look like” based on a lack of representation of different body types in the media. Change how the world recognizes STRONG.

Oiselle, one of Kelly’s sponsors and my favourite running brand for whom I also run for with the Oiselle Volée, got right behind the movement. The world needs a reality check on how broad the spectrum is. We need a better representation of real, healthy women and the diversity of shapes, sizes and body types that strong and healthy exist as.

I believe in this. I love what Kelly Roberts stands for. I love that Oiselle is all for women in sport; all levels and all bodies. Oiselle and Kelly declared June 24th as #sportsbrasquad day, so I decided to establish the Prince Rupert #sportsbrasquad among all the others popping up around the world.

On June 24th at 7pm, the Prince Rupert Chapter was born!

But why? Why is over twenty women, from best friends to perfect strangers, gathering to run without shirts on, such a big deal? And why do women care so much that they organized their own bra-crew runs earlier in the day if they weren’t able to attend the event?

 

 

Because the issue behind this movement is so real and it affects everyone. The inner critic is real. Comparing one’s self to others plus totally restricted image standards, a completely self-sabotaging thinking habit, happens to be extremely common, and some might even say it’s human nature. The generally accepted health and fitness standard represented in media for decades has been a thin, very small-framed woman with basically zero body fat (possibly with the exception of full breasts), smooth, even, tight skin and whose flesh somehow isn’t affected by gravity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this woman (the real one, under the makeup and airbrushing), but she does not represent WOMEN. She represents ONE out of eighty kazillion body types.

 

 

The simple fact that a standard has come to exist is the problem. Show this standard on every TV show, movie, commercial, magazine and billboard across lifetimes and it’s no wonder there has been a mix up regarding what healthy and fit “should look like”. Why has it ever been about appearance over function??

News flash, mankind: healthy is a feeling, not a look. It feels strong AF. It feels like goals, challenges, effort, victories (and failures), growth, revisions, sweat and endorphins. Self-care and self-love! Maybe throw in an ugly-cry for good measure! This all relates to what our bodies are capable of and how empowering it is to exercise those capabilities.

Getting the ball rolling in the healthy and strong department can be really scary and really hard. Keeping that ball rolling is a whole nother story. Add on the fact that we ALL have our insecurities…those spots that are immediately apparent to us (and probably only us) when we look in the mirror or see a photo of ourself. Take into account the useless comparisons we make. Finally, top it off with the sad but true habit of judging one’s self more critically than any friend, acquaintance or sister, and people, we have a problem.

 

Christina went on a solo mission and killed it!!

 

Think about how you identify with the word Christmas tree. I bet you automatically envision an evergreen conifer such as a spruce or fir, or an artificial lookalike. It’s what we have been exposed to and accustomed to via tradition and little or no variance.

Alternative scenario. What if when we were little we were shown right off the bat that a Christmas tree can be any tree or plant you want, and it was different each year. It’s purpose, we would understand, is to be strong enough to stand up and support itself and some super fun decorations, which make it fabulously unique. If this were the case, Christmas tree and 🎄 wouldn’t automatically go hand in hand. A much more broad idea would come to mind. Let’s take on that alternative scenario now, with respect to what strength stands for.

This is what the #sportsbrasquad is about. Simply providing the world with more exposure to the variety of packages that strength comes in, while at the same time teaching ourselves to feel good to look good, not always vice versa. Variety. That’s the key word here.

Kerry reppin’ at K2 Cycle Fusion!

The #sportsbrasquad works because there is power in numbers. Support. Camaraderie. VARIETY before our eyes. Throw in some sweat, laughter and endorphins and there you have a step in the right direction. A big step out of the comfort zone that can lead to so many productive things, such as positive self-talk, the chance to inspire yourself, someone else or both, or a conversation that backs this whole movement.

On Saturday I arrived at our group run to find ten women already there. More came. Most got out of their vehicles wearing shirts or jackets. The vulnerability level went from an 11 down to a 10 and we all began chatting and feeling out the situation. Fast forward two minutes. We are taking group pics, shirtless. Fast forward another, no one is freaking out about a reporter showing up because we are together and rallying for something important, even if feeling hesitant. Now we are running. I see people pair up. I see people getting acquainted. I see women running back and forth, checking on friends or making sure nobody is too far back. I hear again and again how liberating and literally cool our physical activity is on this muggy evening. How enjoyable and empowering sweating is.

And now we are back in the parking lot, hollering at the girls finishing up, throwing out high fives to people we may have never met until today and SWEATY HUGGING. Oh fuck ya. Not just some chicks running around in sports bras!!!

Lets try our best not to see this movement as a struggle. Get fired up and consider it as doing society a favour and helping shift the perspective of strength and fitness. Do it for yourself, your daughter, sister, mom, best friend and neighbour. The guys too, they arent exempt from insecurities or stereotypes. Of course it’s not easy. Change is never easy. But the #sportsbrasquad is a change maker and we are doing it again really soon so stay tuned.

@jammiekomadina

Alaska Airlines Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon 2017!

Woooo hi!

Just over three weeks ago I ran the Calgary Marathon and didn’t have the best day. Personally, it wasn’t my day, but I also didn’t find the event overly exciting, so I came home feeling dissatisfied with my overall spring marathon experience. Waiting until the CIM in December for the next marathon seemed out of the question, so I started looking into the possiblility of running another three to four weeks after Calgary. In many peoples’ eyes, this is crazy, but we aren’t going to get into that.

Living where I do, it’s impossible to take a weekend trip to just anywhere you want. In a perfect world, I’d have flown my personal jet to Duluth, Minnesota and run Grandma’s Marathon, which was this past Saturday on June 17th and has been on my bucket list since I fell in love with the marathon in May of last year. Since we do not, in fact, live in a perfect world, I looked into the Alaska Airlines Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon. Pretty big event, awesome city, same timezone I live in, and accessible (in the grand scheme of things) from Prince Rupert! The course looked  challenging but since I was on the hunt more for a good time than “redemption” from the Calgary race, I decided to go for it.

Then, I convinced my friend Marcie to come along and run the half. We booked our flights, AirBnB, and registered for our races. WOOOOOOO!!!!

THIS RACE WAS SO AWESOME and I feel like the Rock’n’Roll’ness of it was just bonus because it was already such a cool route in a wicked city!

We arrived to the expo at the CenturyLink Field Event Centre in the early afternoon on Saturday to get our bibs, shoe tags, shirts and shuttle passes (purchased online before hand) and everything was organized and problem free. The race shirts are basic black t-shirts but I guess that’s safe…imagine trying to please twenty thousand people? The expo was pretty big, busy, and in a cool venue in an accessible spot. I’m not usually one to purchase things at the expo, but there was a huge merch area of Brooks gear, what looked like a gait anaysis treadmill station (with a big lineup) and then past that section was the exhibitor area. There were lots of free samples, and the girl manning the JellyBelly Sport Beans table LOADED us up after we obeyed the “2 per person” sign. LOL. Good karma! Love Sport Beans, thanks to my friend Sam for introducing me to them! Also worth mentioning was the diary-free cheesecake by Daiya. Legit. We also scored free sunglasses which I love.

Next we made a trip to the Oiselle flagship store and Lululemon in University Village (via Uber) and then it was time for a big, early dinner.

One of the girls at Lulu recommended Mama Melina just down the road, and YOU NEED TO GO THERE. Best pizza and pasta ever, Marcie and I agreed, and it was early-ish so it was happy hour and our bill was CHEAP. Score. Then we hit QFC for breakfast food and went back to our AirBnB to get as much rest as possible.

ended up being too muggy for the Canada socks..dang.

Both of us woke up on Sunday at 4am having slept WELL, which is so unusual for me the night before a big event! After getting ready and eating breakfast we took another Uber over to the CenturyLink/Safeco (finish) area to hop on a shuttle to the starting line at Husky Stadium. A sticker on our bibs that was given to us at the expo when checking in with the pre-paid shuttle table was all we had to show the driver to get on the bus. We had no problems or waits and arrived to the start area by 5:45 for the 6:30 start. I heard stories about shuttles getting lost one year and the race start being delayed, so it was nice that it was so organized!

There were good tunes blasting when we arrived and it was exciting from the get-go. I didn’t see any obvious signage pointing out where the gear check was specifically located, but it’s easy enough to follow the crowds or ask, and we did both and found the bag check UPS Trucks towards the very back of the start chute. Checking gear was simple and quick, but waiting for a portopotty after that was not. It was just so busy and slow because there wasn’t really an oranized lineup system, but regardless we both were able to use the bathrooms and head into our corral by 6:20, and we didn’t start running until after 6:30 since we obviously weren’t in corral number one! No rushing and no panic.

Go time! Speaking for the full marathon course, it was so scenic!!! We ran across Montlake Bridge over the shipping canal, through the beautiful Washington Park Arboretum, south along Lake Washington with lake and mountain views, and ran the full loop of Seward Park. The middle section was along Ranier Ave and Dearborn Street back towards the Centurylink/Safeco area. Then the last quarter of the race was a big out-and-back with amaaaazing views of the ocean plus all of downtown, running across the Alaskan Way Viaduct (apparently this is the last year it will be part of the course) and then all the way up towards the west side of Lake Union, getting to pass the ferries, Seattle Great Wheel, aquarium, and the Space Needle along the way, twice! SO GREY’S ANATOMY.

There were lots of live music set-ups along the way, and I loved running past and hearing covers of Foo Fighters, Passion Pit and I can’t remember what else. I knew coming to this event that Rock’n’Roll Seattle is not one of the most rock’n’rollie of the race series, meaning I didn’t come expecting the intensity of say, RnR Vegas, San Diego or Nashville, but that’s not WHY I registered. I went because Seattle is awesome and the event is big and fun, and it was easy for me to get there. If you are looking for a mind-blowing Rock’n’Roll experience, I probably wouldn’t suggest this one because I know it’s not one of the biggest or most popular, and you might be dissapointed theme-wise, but overall this event is SWEET. Also, if you really feed off of spectator support, I didn’t find it to be overly involved in that sense, so just something to keep in mind.

gahahaha

As for difficulty, I barely noticed any major hills during the first half, aside from literally about a 100m steep part up to where the half-way timing mat was located. In reality, there was a gradual incline for about 5k leading up to the half-way mark and that definitely took  more out of me than I was noticing at the time. Sneaky! I ran with the 4hr pace group for the entire first half, but at exactly half way I had a stomach emergency and had to make my first ever pit stop during a marathon. One in five so far, not bad. This didn’t throw me off much time-wise, but unfortunately my stomach was fairly cramped up for almost an hour after that…it interefered with my plan, but it did not mess with how much I was enjoying myself! I had lost my crew but continued on. My elusive 3:59 goal wasn’t going to happen, that’s for sure, but I’ve let that go now until the fall. I kept going and enjoyed the experience and worked on my mental game as it continued to get more difficult.

The next section was mostly flat and the less interesting part of the course, and finally, my ass got handed to me by the final 12-ish kilometeres where you see those three giant bumps!

I’m really glad I went into this with a main goal of having a good time and scratching that marathon itch before having to wait until the CIM in December!

Finishing along the viaduct and back into the stadium area was seriously so cool. I loved this course! The finish-chute wasn’t anything to write home about but there were lots of photographers as usual and quite a lot of snacks, CHOCOLATE MILK (my favourite) and Gatorade and water. Marcie was there for my finish, and she found me at the exit of the finish area and we went to grab my gear (easy) and head to the concert area, which wasn’t very busy at all but had an awesome energy.

We stretched and relaxed on the stairs, took photos and enjoyed the post-race vibes. There was a free beer ticket on the bottom of each bib, so lucky Marcie, she got two free Michelobs hahaha. Full marathon finishers also received a finisher’s jacket, which in the pics online that I saw before hand looked super cheesy, but they actually are kind of awesome! I won’t be rocking mine around daily life or anything, but it’s a really good wind breaker and tucks up super small. Useful swag, and so great to have it to throw on as another layer while hanging around being sweaty and getting progressively colder.

The medals for both the half and full marathons are sweet. I love the colours and the glitter and the boldness of SEATTLE.

Marathon number five, in the bag! The weather was perfect for running, it was overcast, a big muggy but not too warm, but it wasn’t ideal for hanging out at the concert stage afterwards, and we wanted showers, so it was time to head back to the AirBnB.

Post-race epic meal this time around consisted of Mexican at Poquitos (YOU NEED TO EAT HERE) in the Capital Hill neighbourhood (so great) and then dessert at Kurt Farm Shop (omfG, CHEESE FLAVOURED ICE CREAM!!?!?). Such a bang-on post-marathon meal.

In summary, the Alaska Airlines Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon & Half Marathon was a really fun, exciting event. I love big, busy running events, and they said there were approximately 18,000 runners lined up at the start line on Sunday to run either the half or full.

pic from the event site

The course was so great with some cool on-course music and features, although challenging and maybe not for PR chasing, the medals rock, the organization was without fault, and Seattle is just a very cool place! The expo was basic, and the post-race concerts didn’t seem too exciting, but the finish venue and general area was super cool. I had a really great weekend and I would definitely run this race again and I recommend it to anyone to who has easy access to Seattle!

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How Running taught me to give fewer F*cks

What’s uppp! Summer is almost officially here, the days are long and there’s so much daylight before and after work to get outside and have fun! By fun I don’t just mean running, but that’s mostly what I mean ahaha. I’m really pumped about something happening on June 24th. Kelly Roberts and Oiselle have declared that day Global Sports Bra Squad Day. You can read about it HERE. The positive messages behind this amazing day really got me thinking about how running has boosted my confidence in so many different ways. Recently I had an experience that really showed me this. It was actually the day I joined the #sportsbrasquad. Myself and other #rupertrunners will be hosting our own Global Sports Bra Squad Day social run in Prince Rupert, so if that’s where you live, stay tuned.

About ten days ago I ran the Calgary Marathon and for me personally, it was REALLY hot out. I live somewhere very mild with a lot of rain and up until then I had never run in a sports bra before. The 25 degree weather in Calgary was starting to get to me on my three mile shakeout run the morning before the race, so I decided then and there that I’d join Kelly Roberts’ #sportsbrasquad at the marathon and run in just my bra. One less thing to worry about – feeling disgustingly hot for over 42 kilometers! When I arrived to the race, most people around me were wearing tank tops or racing singlets, some were even wearing long sleeves, and there I was in my small shorts and favourite race bra (Lululemon’s Stuff Your Bra…PLEASE MAKE MORE). It wasn’t even hot out yet, it was 7am. That’s when my inner critic started up.

I’m 32 years old and most days I feel like I’ve had enough time to accept the uniquenesses of my own body, meaning the parts that are NOT my favourite. However, insecurity arises in many forms and can pop up anytime, anywhere. Whether these insecurities relate to size, shape, weight, complexion, whatever, we are always hardest on ourselves. A friend can tell me something she doesn’t like about her appearance, and I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about. On the other hand, I complain about things that people have complimented me on. Prime example: I have huge calves from walking on my tippy toes until I was twelve (just way too excited all the time) and I hate them, but other people have told me they like them and they’re nice. When I look in the mirror on a non-confident day, I think they look so ugly and gross and like man legs (no offense, guys). I didn’t start wearing shorts until I was in my late twenties, except for at soccer when below the knee was hidden by shin pads and socks. Why do we pick out shit we don’t like about ourselves, but then look at others and see them as nothing but strong, beautiful, unique and natural? This topic is enough for a whole series of posts! Anyways, that morning when I left the hotel, all I cared about initially was not overheating once the sun was high in the sky, so I headed to the marathon with my bib pinned to my sports bra.

Then I arrived at the race, tossed my throwaway layer after warming up, and started comparing myself to other people. WHY DO WE DO THIS??? What was making me feel uncomfortable on this day were thoughts coming from various categories under the big umbrella of worrying about what other people think, not so much about my own body, but about not wearing a shirt. Here are some of the things my inner critic was throwing at me:

“put on some clothes, you’re half naked”

“you must think you look pretty good to wear no shirt.”

“stop trying to be hardcore like Shalane and Kara.”

“it’s not even hot you’re just trying to look cool.”

Years ago, I would have probably freaked out, begged for my checked bag to dig out a shirt and re-pin my bib, and then SUFFERED even more than I did anyway in the heat that day. Guess what. It’s not years ago, it’s now. Suzanne Fetting came to mind (if you don’t know who I’m talking about, read THIS) and I immediately stood up to these ridiculous thoughts that were coming up.

“put on some clothes, you’re half naked” – Inner Critic

“I’m about to run 42.2 f*cking kilometers and it’s going to be 25 degrees by the later stages of my race. I don’t give a flying f*ck if someone thinks I’m scantily clad.” – real Me (I know, I swear a lot. YODO)

“you must think you look pretty good to wear no shirt.” – Inner Critic

“I have been training for months and my body feels stronger than it ever has. Also, I’m here to run, not to look good.” – real Me

“stop trying to be hardcore like Shalane and Kara.” – Inner Critic

“Hardcore isn’t a look it’s a feeling, but if this ends up helping me stay cool and FEEL hardcore, BONUS.” – real Me

“it’s not even hot out you’re just trying to look cool.” – Inner Critic

“Let me explain a second time since you weren’t listening. I don’t feel like roasting, and I’m going to be REALLY warm by 7:03 am. Also, define cool!?” – real Me

I ran my race, it wasn’t my day and the heat affected me regardless. But guess what? I was way more comfortable that I would have been with a sweat-soaked tank stuck to my skin instead of air. Also, multiple runners said to me “I wish I was as smart as you and went shirtless.” Yes, man in full-length sleeves, you do wish that, don’t you! Why I was able to just not care in the end, is because running has taught me that I am strong, capable, mentally-tough, confident, and it has proven to me over and over again that I can and do believe in myself – and most importantly, that NONE of this has anything to do with what other people think about me.

The bra story is just one of many examples of how I’ve realized that running helps us get better at not giving f*cks. There are so many instances where, as a runner, you’re presented with perfect opportunities to tell that inner critic to shut up. Each run is practice!

When I first started running, I was so concerned with what I was going to wear, who might see me, what I would look like out there…I’d be cruising down a busy street and see people walk/drive by and glance at me, and my brain would invent thoughts like:

“I must run funny, bet that’s why they’re laughing.”

“I probably look like I’m struggling.”

“people are gonna know I’m new at this.”

“shit, people might see me taking a walk break and think I suck at running.”

“I don’t look like a runner.” (WHATEVER THE HELL THAT EVEN MEANS)

But after getting out there more often, I believed in myself more and more, and realized I do it for me, and me only. I was too busy working hard and taking care of myself to worry about other things. The stress-relief that cardiovascular activity can provide is amazing, and all of a sudden you feel more relaxed and the problems that seemed big, now seem small. Ahh, yes, less f*cks to give about molehills, save them for the mountains!

We become stronger. We start to feel more empowered. You’ll come to realize, as I did, that people may notice you running, but not negatively! Maybe they’re looking to see if it’s someone they know. Or because they feel guilty that they aren’t out exercising. Or because that new bright-coloured gear is so nice AND helped them not run you over! In most cases, it’s probably just curiosity. The BEST part though, is getting home from a run and realizing you didn’t think any of those silly things. The only thing on the radar was footfalls, breathing, Macklemore and spending some sweet ass quality time with yourself.

I stopped caring (in the good way). If you haven’t already, you will also stop caring. Every single run is a reminder of how amazing it feels to be strong, capable, driven, and most of all, excited to ask yourself “holy shit, what ELSE can I do if I can do that?” This is self-care people. Self-care increases self-love, and self-love decreases the giving of f*cks. HEY SELF, I CARE ABOUT YOU. YOU ARE AWESOME. YOU ARE FUN. YOU ARE STRONG AND SWEATY. ALL CHALLENGES: ACCEPTED.

Running is also a form of self-expression. Run where you want, when you want, wearing what you want. The opinions of others are completely bogus. Period. This becomes oh so clear as the sweaty journey continues.

It’s about you. It’s not about anybody else. Imagine a free activity that leads people to increased health and feelings of happiness, accomplishment, confidence, positivity AND to put a high value on how they FEEL about themselves, vs. what other people might THINK about them. OMG it’s real. It’s called running. Thanks to whoever invented it 😉

@jammiekomadina

the Calgary Marathon 2017

The Calgary Marathon, eh. I’m going to be honest in this review, and I’ll start off by saying it wasn’t the best race experience I’ve had, but overall my weekend was very fun!

First off, how did I come to register for this race? Well, I wanted to run a spring marathon, already ran BMO Vancouver in 2016, it’s in Canada, and there was a big theme around Canada’s 150th birthday, which sounded fun. I looked at the course map and profile and it looked alright, so I went ahead and registered…more on that to come. LOL. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t seek out marathons to run simply based on the course profile. However, I am still new to the 42.2 km distance. I’m working on getting familiar with the beast that is the marathon, and trying to improve at it. So yeah, I don’t look for difficult courses at this point in my marathoning!

After I registered, my friend Jeph told me about a flag bearer contest that the Calgary Marathon was holding. Represent your province or territory plus receive complimentary travel, accommodation and registration! We both entered, but since Jeph lived in Quebec at the time, he didn’t actually plan to run Calgary unless he won the contest, understandably. Pretty far! I wanted him to win soooo badly! They were vague about what they were looking for, and how and when they’d select winners, and then after Tweeting at them repeatedly, they stated that the winners would be announced at the end of November. But then it was next week, then in a few days, etc. Then after saying that, they put out a last call for applicants! They finally revealed the winners in mid-January, if I remember right. The site for entering was terrible and you could see who else had entered and it was barely anyone, so our hopes were high! I kind of got a bad taste in my mouth cause it seemed like Calgary was out to lunch on their organization. Lol. Neither of us won, if you were wondering hahaha.

The other thing before race weekend that had me a little skeptical was when I emailed to have my predicted finish time updated slightly, (I was registered over 6 months in advance) and the reply informed me that the start chute is self-seeding so I’d be lining up wherever I wanted. Um, then why did they need a predicted finish time? The half marathoners, full marathoners AND the 50k ultra runners all start at the same time in this race. No corrals? Hmm…it’s not a huge race by any means, but it’s not tiny! I think this year they said there were twelve thousand participants over the course of the weekend.

Anyways, my travel to Calgary was painless (thank you, West Jet!) and I arrived at the host hotel, the Westin, to find it was FANTASTIC. Great hotel, a Starbucks and The Keg attached, plus another hotel restaurant and bar area, super clean and even kinda fancy. Most importantly, they had a race shuttle that got us right to the start area with no waits or stress.

The Westin is in a great location and my 3 mile run on Saturday morning was around the  Prince’s Island Park area and so beautiful!

Later in the afternoon I took a nice slow walk to the expo at the Big 4 Building at Stampede Park, but it was  further than I thought and I’d definitely Uber next time. As for the expo, it was pretty basic but very quick and easy to get bibs and shirts.

I am not a fan of the race shirt, as many other people I talked to weren’t. There is gorgeous artwork on it, it just looks dumb on a shirt!

shirt

Also, the shirts are identical for all six different events (5k, 10k, half, full, 50k ultra and 150k relay/solo) with the only difference being the distance on the back. It’s too bad, because it’s fun when you’re super proud of the distance you tackled and get to wear your race top with your chest puffed out haha. A complaint I have about the expo was there was nowhere at all within or nearby (that I could find) to get anything to eat or drink! Obviously I brought a bottle of Nuun with me but when I ran out I couldn’t believe there was no water. Didn’t even see a drinking fountain to refill my bottle, though I’m a bit blind. Being hungry/thirsty isn’t something I’m into ever, especially not the day before a marathon. I know a race expo isn’t a food fair, but they can be fun to hang out at for a while and people spend a fair amount of time at them in some cases!

Crystal joined me at the Big Four to grab her package, and then we met the #werunsocial crew out front at the fountain for a visit and some pics.

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small crew, but good times.

 

From there we easily took the C-Train back to the downtown core and walked the two or three blocks back to the Westin.

Come race morning, Crystal and I arrived at the start around six via our hotel’s school bus shuttle, very easily checked our gear bags, and had no long waits for toilets inside the building or for porto-potties either. At this point, the porto-potties were still super clean and non-stinky. Bonus.

It wasn’t actually that bad getting into the start chute where I wanted to be, but I was in there by 6:45 and wouldn’t have wanted to try to squeeze in closer to the 7 am start. There was a massive line of runners shuffling in through one of the chute gate openings around the 3:45 marathon indicator flag a ways up in front of me, and they all just slowly merged in as the race began. I don’t actually know how anyone but the full marathoners were supposed to know where to go, unless they could find a pace bunny for their distance. I only saw big red flags for certain marathon times. Not much order, but I didn’t encounter any problems with it at all. Like YogiCrystal told me, just get there early and get into the chute where you want to be before it becomes a sardine can. This would have been a big problem if I’d needed one more bathroom visit before starting…

This race course has so many turns, but I managed to run the tangents much better than at Disney! I thought it was a nice course, pretty decent scenery-wise and less residential than Victoria, if I’m remembering correctly. There were lots of excellent aid stations with water, Ultima, some with Honey Stinger gels (not my jam, but still awesome) and cold sponges! The course description said thirteen aid stations I believe but I felt like there were more. Maybe both sides of the out-and-back portion counted as one. It was very well-aided! Okay. But now let me show you this. HAHAHAH

If I had know the course was this difficult, I think I would have have still registered, but I most definitely would not have come with a huge goal! I have to say I think it’s lame that Calgary uses this depiction of their marathon’s profile. Extremely misleading! Here’s another version of it on findmymarathon.com that I came across as well.

Combining this course with late-May hot weather (at least for me, coming from the mild north coast of BC) and my race plan was out the window. I’m very proud that I accepted this without becoming completely heartbroken or miserable. The fun of the Canada 150 theme, the spectator support (especially Lululemon YYC!) and my newfound love for the city of Calgary, and I managed to let go of the fact that this was nothing at all what I was expecting. I’m so happy I was able to finish the race with a good attitude, aside from a few hiccups. It was a serious struggle in the sun and knowing that a PR was out of reach, but I didn’t go to the dark place. Even though I fueled like a boss with Huma Gel, Clif Shots and Salt Stick Chews, my stomach still felt like it was eating itself and my legs felt like complete jello, but I made it.

Crystal had caught up to me by kilometer 39 and we took on the end of the run together. As we were running down the final hundred meters to the finish, I grabbed her hand and we finished together and it reminded me that running a marathon is running a marathon. It’s hard AF and a huge accomplishment to cross the finish line! Love my training buddies!

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I’ll buy the pics, they just aren’t all up yet on Marathonfoto!

The post-finish line area was great! There were some outside showers to wash off the salt all over us, lots of photographers to take our pics with the SWEET gigantic toonie-like medals that are also BELT BUCKLES hahaha, and there were lots of bananas, water and Ultima. I honestly don’t remember if I was given any other snacks because of post-marathon brain, but I know there was a tear-off strip on the bibs that could get you food somewhere after exiting the immediate finish area. It was also really nice that everyone got a cloth shopping bag from one of the sponsors, made it easier than trying to carry water, banana, possibly headphones for some people or a handheld water bottle like myself.

I have a bad habit of going home the day of the marathon. I like to go home! So I went back to the Westin to clean myself up and eventually make my way to the airport in an Uber. Sigh. I am never doing that again. Next time I’m planning a longer trip around the race. Thankfully both flights were just over an hour and I did a lot of stretching (and eating and drinking) at the airports.

During this marathon I discovered that I’ve become a much more mature athlete. Am I really sad that I didn’t run the sub-4 marathon that I’ve been training towards for months, or even come remotely close? Of course I am. But like I’ve said before, I’m a person not a robot, and on Sunday I was too hot, feeling weak and delirious and was getting my ass kicked too badly by the incline to execute my plan. I also was running a course nothing like what I expected! So I’m good! I have a 14.2 km race to run next weekend in leg 10 of the Skeena River Relay, and then it’s time to rest! Next marathon is in December and will be my only main focus of the fall, and I know Coach Andrew will help me be really ready for it.

Overall, I am glad that I went to the 2017 Calgary Marathon Weekend. I enjoyed the city, the event theme and the spectator support, and the host hotel was great. Personally, I think they should update the scale of their race course profile, and re-think the organization of the starting chute, and I think they should consider making the race shirts unique to the various distances.  I had a great weekend, but not outstanding enough to return since it was a ways for me to go. If I lived in Alberta and it was closer to me, I would likely participate again, but not with any goal aside from possibly a course-PR.

@jammiekomadina