Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon event review and race recap!

I need to start by praising the organizers for the fantastic pre-race communication. Jack & Jill’s Downhill Marathon info emails started rolling in ten days before the race and I’d received five, including this exceeds-expectations weather update, by the Friday before!

much appreciated! The forecast was for 36 celsius!

On Friday I drove to Terrace to fly to Vancouver, then on Saturday morning I picked up my rental car and hit the road to North Bend!! Including picking up the car and the wait at the border, it took four hours. Easy.

Package pick up was at the Nike factory store. It was easy to get to and a quick process! The actual bag we got is sweet and was perfect for a gear check bag. It zippers closed with another smaller zipper pocket and a Jack & Jill logo. Runners also received a race buff, which I think is the greatest thing ever! The race shirt is a unisex-style tank (see later in a finish photo) and it’s NICE! There were pace tattoos (which proved to be extremely valuable) and I grabbed one from the 3:35 pile. I was given a small ziplock bag for my tunnel flashlight and my bib number was written on it for me. Other than that, there wasn’t a bunch of random stuff to recycle like at big expos, just a little race pamphlet with info and maps. One thing I forgot was to get a B12 shot, which were apparently available for free! Dang. There was race clothing for sale outside of the store too, but a buff and tank is more than enough for me.

I was in and out and then headed to my AirBnB! It was just a few minutes away from the factory stores, and also just a three minute drive from Tollgate Park parking lot, which is where runners park before getting on the shuttles to the start line. Joan’s place, was perfect for race weekend accommodation and you should stay here! She was great!

I was avoiding “stuff” – I seem to become more of a minimalist with each marathon. I decided against headphones, which also meant I didn’t need to carry my phone. I opted for no sunglasses (good choice, not needed 👌) and I committed to walking through aid stations to take full advantage, therefore eliminating my worry about whether or not I should bring a handheld water bottle. My Nakd bars and Endurance Tap gels fit in the SpiBelt and I was good to go.

I wore my Altra Escalantes for this race, which are a pretty minimal shoe. I’m telling you this because the organizers advise to wear something more substantial, but I didn’t have a second thought about my favourite shoes while running the marathon! No issues at all.

Since I had a pretty late lunch, for “dinner” I had bananas, Nuun, a sea salt bagel and a chocolate protein shake. Then it was bedtime! Time for some fake sleeping!

My alarm woke me up at 3:30, I ate my oatmeal and raisins, drank a bunch of Nuun and geared up. A long-sleeved throwaway shirt was totally sufficient but I’m glad I brought it – it wasn’t that warm yet pre-race! My shuttle time was 5:05 (assigned on the bib) and I left the house around 4:40 for the very short drive to Tollgate Park. The parking situation seemed totally under control. It was dark but there were tons of volunteers with flashlights directing us and I was parked and getting on my bus within five minutes.

Our driver wasn’t sure where to go once it was almost time to exit the freeway towards the starting area… I still don’t actually know if he was joking or not but we all knew which exit and how to proceed thanks to pre-race emails!!

Twenty porto-potties (Honey Buckets 😂😂/😷😷) plus the actual park restroom facility made for lots of toilets, but more would have been better. Close to start time, the lineups were pretty long. That being said, there was lots of bush everywhere to squat in if it came down to it as we were in a park in the forest, after all.

my bus companion, Paul from Wisconsin! It was his birthday!

I planned to use the Race Screen app (data screen) in miles so I could manually lap at some of the mile markers. The tunnel is known to screw with GPS so it was the perfect solution for that, plus not running the tangents ideally has messed me up in the past with overall pace, and this would help with that too! Except that my Garmin went haywire and changed back to kilometers without telling me! I tested it the night before and it was doing everything I wanted!

So, I was running with a screen that showed distance in kilometers, but pace (over the last 30 seconds) in minutes/mile, giving me split times in minutes/kilometer, but on all other data screens showing the distance in miles!!! Ya I’m confused even trying to explain that. The old me would have lost it, but I really couldn’t have cared less!

The race started after the American national anthem. We ran for less than a kilometer on an uneven and loose gravel stretch, and then right into the tunnel! It was dark, cool and echoey.

the Snoqualmie Tunnel!

The ground inside was much better – solid with just a few puddles here and there, but runners called out to those behind them to watch out. Because the floor of the tunnel is kind of domed, it was only really suitable to run about three across. This was perfect because it wasn’t too squishy and there was room to pass if needed. The tunnel felt really short to me but in reality it was over 4km long! So cool! Near the end, it got light enough that I was able to put my flashlight into the ziplock I was carrying long before it was time to toss it into the light collection bucket. Perfect.

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It was in the tunnel that I discovered my watch was being a freak. I decided to run by feel with those around me (we started around where the 3:35 pacer would have been..if there was one..) and then just see what happened once we were out of the tunnel. I had my pace tattoo if my watch fully betrayed me anyway!

Once out of the tunnel, the pacing on my Garmin seemed a bit erratic, but the kilometer split times made sense. I trusted it, but I also consulted the tattoo at every mile marker, comparing it to the “time elapsed” screen on my watch. This is the first time I’ve ever used a pace band and it was awesome! I am sold.

The rest of the course is a very mild downhill on an old gravel road which is the John Wayne Trail and the last part, the Snoqualmie Trail. The surface wasn’t bad at all but it’s worth noting that there were some parts that were fairly loose and rocky. I spent a lot of time with my eyes down, watching where my feet would be landing. But, when I wasn’t looking at the ground, the course was GORGEOUS!!!

not my pic, snagged from the race’s FB page

I had forgotten to switch my wedding rings to my silicone Qalo ring, but instead of letting that bother or worry me, I used it as a way to monitor hydration even closer than I would have and it really worked out for me! When I’m dehydrated my fingers majorly swell. It’s so uncomfortable, especially when wearing a metal ring, so I stayed perpetually aware of my hands and stopped at every single aid station to drink at least one full cup of water, sometimes two. This race is definitely the smartest I’ve ever been with respect to fueling and hydration.

There was an aid station with at least two volunteers every two miles after we came out of the tunnel, just before or after the odd mile markers. I found this to be perfect. More are always better, but there was no time where I found myself thinking they were too far apart. This race was very well aided!

At half way, I was almost two minutes ahead of the pace band. I had been monitoring my stomach and it was a good time to stop at a washroom. There aren’t many toilets along the course because there is no way to get them on to the trail. Like I said before though, in an emergent situation you could probably hide and squat anywhere along the entire course. I was quick and kept going, happy and thankful my gut wasn’t cramping up like it often does post-pit-stop.

After 16 miles, I now had to work harder to focus and stay in it. I’d already been stopping at every aid station to hydrate, but in the last third of the race I definitely had to divide and conquer my way to each station and stopping for water was also a rest. I had packed a tiny vial of peppermint oil inside my top and when I remembered it was there I was pumped. I rubbed it all over my arms and collar bones and the cool tingling seemed to keep my mind and body connected.

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My main mantra for this race was “Fluid, Focused, Fearless” but I also tapped into many of the other things that I pre-planned to focus on when it got more difficult. I thought of:

  • my friends at Ironman Canada in Whistler that same day
  • my friend Anthony who I met at the CIM expo, my friends Laura, Jeph, Steph, Karmen & Adam, and my Rupert Runners crew
  • Coach Andrew reminding me that racing is like boxing – we don’t give up from a couple “hits”. During multiple hard parts I thought, “that was just a little slap” or “one shot to the head can’t take me down“, etc.
  • the strong 10k I ran at the Tyhee Triathlon, when I was very tired, hot and my legs felt like wood
  • my favourite pro, Jordan Hasay
  • the author of Beyond Grit, Cindra Kamphoff
  • the Haida shield that I won the previous weekend, which was in my pocket!
  • my friend Owen and our favourite scene from Schitt’s Creek , which I added on to my mantra, now making it “Fluid, Focused, Fearless. Fold it in!!” HAHAHAHAH.

Why am I telling you all these things? Because it matters. A marathon is a long fuckin race and we need to be armed with perspective shifters, motivators and contingency plans!

The last ~8k of the race were very hard for me, but marathons are hard. Duh. At this point I knew I was too off pace to finish under 3:35, but I was well within breaking 3:40! Ladies and gentleman, the purpose of subsequent goals! I walked for a few seconds multiple times and pep talked myself to keep moving forward! A women who I saw many times (we kept passing each other whenever the other was regrouping) encouraged me and I’m so grateful for that! There was also a spectator who shouted at me in the final stretch “ALRIGHT OISELLE, SWING THOSE ARMS AND FINISH IT!” and I listened!!! Hell yeah, the power of the Volée team gear! Thank you, random man!

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My last mile was strong! Got back to goal pace and finished it off. Crossing the finish line, like in any marathon, was pure joy!

Cold wet towels were handed out right after medals were hung around our necks and those were heavenly! It was so sunny and beautiful out (and VERY hot by now) and it was such a fun vibe at the finish area!

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There were mini computers to sign up for next year’s race, screens to check chip times, race apparel for sale, snacks, hydration, photo opp spots, plus the super easy gear check retrieval. The volunteers who got my flashlight and gear bag for me were kids and they were so sweet!

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of course I wish I could have also held up the BQ sign, but I will eventually!

The finish line is a bit further than where we parked at Tollgate Park. There was a shuttle back to the parking lot and it was easy, short and fun.

I loved this event and I honestly couldn’t even think of any feedback to send when they requested it by email. Bus driver school? The organizers are obviously doing a great job, this race runs on both Saturday AND Sunday because of the popularity!

Although I missed the BQ by two and a half minutes, I am not disappointed in any way. I couldn’t have asked for more on this day! The weather was great and the temperature manageable, I ran what I’d consider my second strongest marathon (after CIM), I had fun and didn’t hit the wall or go to the dark place! Also, I discovered some new things about myself as a marathoner! I can:

  • efficiently utilize aid stations instead of carrying an annoying handheld
  • handle unexpected things like a cray Garmin
  • effectively use a pace band
  • coach myself into pushing for the B goal when the A goal has slipped away

PUMP up the JAMmie is not over. This training cycle was fantastic! Coach Andrew has helped me take over AN HOUR off of my first marathon time from May 2016, which was 4:40:50! I’ve been asked if I’ll try again to BQ before the 2019 Boston registration opens in September, but the answer is no. It’s time for a break, and then to continue my journey with Lifelong Endurance! Boston 2020 will be mine!

Conveniently, my qualifying time for Boston 2020 changes to sub 3:40. I will be thirty-five come Patriot’s Day 2020! I’m still going to chase a sub-3:35 though. Keep ya posted!

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2018 Sprouts Mesa-PHX Marathon! Race Recap

I love the marathon! What a beast of a distance. If you follow me on here, you know I went down to Phoenix to have a good time, do my best, and because I don’t think I could go from December (CIM) until the end of July (Jack & Jill) without running another one! Thank you to my coach and Lifelong Endurance for understanding that!

This trip was a quick one. When I decided to go back to school, I knew I’d need to be conservative going forward to save as much money as possible! So here’s my weekend recap and event review! I won’t lie to you, it wasn’t my best weekend, but the event itself was awesome!

On Thursday I flew out of Terrace super early to Vancouver where I connected to Phoenix. I didn’t check any bags since it was only a 2-night trip, plus my track record with lost bags… Upon arrival, I had no internet on my phone which was a huge pain in the ass and I had to take a real taxi instead of an Uber to the hotel. The result was about three times the cost, but I did what I had to do. Later I found out there was an issue with roaming on the AT&T network or something…it was fixed within a few hours, but unfortunately my trip kinda started with frustration, on top of lack of sleep.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Phoenix-Mesa/Chandler was where I booked for this trip. This was one of the hotels listed as partners for accommodation on the race website, and though not super close to the finish line, it was more reasonably priced. I’ve had great experiences with the Holiday Inn in the past, so I went with it. Next time, I’ll just suck it up and stay at the closest hotel! I was smack in the middle of freeways with not much at all to walk to or explore, and I felt a bit isolated. It wasn’t a good location for final pre-race runs, either. Also, I hate to be negative, but there wasn’t a single thing indicating that this hotel was partnered with the race. Usually host hotels welcome runners in one way or another, and host a buffet the night before. A woman I met was told there’d be water, fruit and granola bars in the lobby for runners on race morning, but come Saturday the gentleman at the desk didn’t know what she was talking about.. As for the hotel in general, it was alright, but a tad dumpy compared to other Holiday Inns, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend the restaurant.

Anyways! Email communication from the race organizers was fantastic all along. After arriving I received more info/reminders about the expo, and then another email addressing runners’ concerns about the new 6am start and whether or not headlamps would be necessary. I didn’t feel I needed a light at all, but lots of people brought them and it was nice to get some guidance on that!

On Friday after a short, tired and less than scenic run, followed by a hard nap, I Uber’d to the expo. I was feeling negative because of a headache, lack of sleep and an old blister on one of my heels that turned into a giant painful owie from wearing gumboots the week before. It was causing me significant pain. I hoped the energy at the expo would cheer me up, and it did! It was set up outdoors in a parking area at Mesa Riverview shopping centre.

It was what I expected for the size of this race – good, but nothing extravagant. There were spots for photos, lots of good vendors, and it was cool that some of the expo was within tents, with another section outside and uncovered. I had no problem quickly grabbing my race packet. The shirts, which are tank tops, are awesome and I will definitely wear mine in real life! There were lots of samples, including Clif, who would be on-course the next day. My favourite running shoe brand, Altra, was there selling unboxed returns for sixty bucks! My eyes popped out of my head and I left with two new pairs of road and trail runners. PRO Compression was there, of course, and the WeRunSocial meetup that they sponsor started at 4pm. We all received t-shirts that were printed with a cool pic from a previous year’s race and they fit amazingly! We all visited for a bit, took a big group photo, and then I went back to the hotel for an early night.

this is Elle! I love her. She won one of my Instagram contests in the past!

one of my favourite run bloggers and inspirations, Carlee

the 2018 Mesa-PHX #werunsocial & PRO crew!!! Ryan is holding the AZ sock ❤

Once back in my room, I organized my race kit and packed a gear bag for after the race, which included a sweatshirt, jacket, sandals, face wipes, Excedrin and a few sample snacks from Carlee. Race packets included a massive sticker with the participant’s bib number on it to stick on to the gear-check bag. Super handy!

Ready to go, equipped with my essentials, including my Volee crop and AZ PRO socks!

Two-thirty am, my alarm went off, not that I was sleeping! Start-line busses ran from 3:30 to 4:45am and the race began at 6. I got organized, microwaved my oatmeal and guzzled some Nuun and coffee, then headed to the lobby to meet my new friend and Uber partner, Eric. My heel was killing me and it was swollen, but since it was mostly painful to walk, vs. run, I tried to forget about it. I recruited another woman in the elevator, and the three of us shared a ride back to Mesa Riverview where school busses shuttled runners to the starting area on top of the Ursery Mountain. This is a point-to-point race, my fave! It was all very easy, well-marked and organized. Zero stress whatsoever regarding the getting-to-the-start process!

This was my favourite starting area of any race I’ve ever participated in! THERE WERE CAMP FIRES!!! And this was good because it was COLD! They were also blasting the best tunes.

I found Elle almost immediately. Yay. And shortly after, Brian, Carlee and Ryan.

Brian, PRO Compression Ambassador Boss haha

Another athlete also coached by Lifelong Endurance, Kate, recognized me and came to say hello and chat before the race. I was so happy to meet her and hear about her goal, which she crushed! I wish we took a pic!

it was easy to identify our crew with the AZ socks!

The forecast predicted it to be a cold one relative to other years, but it was colder than I expected, just like at CIM! On top of my race outfit, I had a throwaway wooly headband, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, my RUNVAN gloves from the Fall Classic, and the thin zip jacket that runners received at the CIM finish line. If it weren’t for the fires, I would have been regretting not having sweatpants. Runners were allowed to stay on the busses as long as they wanted so it would have been fine either way. Bring throwaway layers!

After the national anthem and a couple measly but appreciated fireworks, we were instructed to file towards the starting line, self-seeding based on where the pacers were located. Then we were off!

It was dark, but not pitch black! I could see just fine. I started off pretty relaxed, but had some anxiety since unfortunately I hadn’t been able to go to the bathroom yet…ughhhhh. Not a good way to begin..It was chilly and I kept my long-sleeved shirt on for the first half of the race! It wasn’t overly crowded, which was awesome. I believe there were around 2000 full marathon bibs.

The first almost 7 kilometers are downhill. I’ve heard reports that it’s steep enough to “trash your quads” but I didn’t find that whatsoever. The view from the top of the mountain, although it was still dark, was beautiful! And the cacti!! It was nice to start downhill without too much effort and find a groove, but worrying about an inevitable pit-stop took up some valuable energy.

Just before 7k, the one significant uphill began. It was not steep by any means, but pretty long, climbing steadily for 2.5 kilometers. I stayed loose and maintained effort, not pace, as planned, and it was no problem. Once reaching the top of the hill, I was happy it was over but it’s nothing to be afraid of! However, if you live somewhere flat, this will be a significant hill for you. Now I needed to find a porto-potty and I sped up, feeling a bit frantic and stressed.

Then came another 7ish kilometers of mostly downhill, with a few flat spots or short, mild inclines. Before I knew it I was at halfway. I can’t remember if it was a bit before or after that I found a porto-potty without a line and made an efficient stop. I raced out of there to make up for lost time and it really fucked with my mojo. I had a bad feeling.

Having just passed the half-marathon timing mat, things were feeling more difficult than they should at this point. Dammit. Reflecting on the entire experience, I think my fear of the pain on my heel, plus knowing that this wasn’t a big goal race, I had kind of given myself permission subconsciously to give up a little. That, combined with feeling stressed through the first half, and I hadn’t set myself up for a strong race! #alwayslearning

From half to 30k, I began to fade pretty hard, but I was still really enjoying my run and wasn’t worried about it. This has happened multiple times in marathons around 25k, something I want to work on eliminating! I accepted it and continued forward, but I did stop quite a few times to walk for 5-10 seconds to try to regroup.

DID I MENTION THE RACE PHOTOS ARE FREE? yeah.

Kilometers 36-40, although basically pancake flat, truly felt like an incline to me. I was struggling at this point and in comparison to all that elevation drop in the first half, it was so hard! I predicted this contrast with respect to the course profile, but combined with burning out, it was super tough. Wearing my Oiselle Volée top was so helpful because there was so much encouragement from spectators and other runners who recognize the Volée racing gear!

ran a chunk with Carlos!

Finally, the last kilometer! Here we had a little bit of a decline again, which was nice for that final push. I passed quite a few people, which is always great! I wish my brain had have been working a little better, because I didn’t realize HOW close I was to the possibility of a PR, though it would have been tiny. Oh well! Serves me right for experimenting with a new Garmin app on race day!

The finish line area was happening! After receiving my medal and a bottle of water, I was given a cloth bag, which I must say is the greatest idea ever for any finish line. When you have no dexterity left and people are handing you bottles of water, chocolate milk, bananas, bars, medals, etc, you need a place to put these things! I made my way to the FRENCH TOAST STATION and gobbled down a piece, then found a place to sit down and organize myself. I immediately got a splitting headache and was limping a little. Boo!

The sun was out and it was a beautiful but chilly day and there was lots of awesome energy around me. It would have been nice to stick around and enjoy the festivities, but my body gets cold and stiff almost immediately after running for that long, and I was in pain. I called an Uber after suiting up in my layers and downing water, sports drinks and chocolate milk.

03:51:58, very happy with that!!

The traffic around the finish area was a gong show and it was hard to find a place to get picked up, but my driver and I figured it out and I got back to the hotel quickly without much problem. If I could make a suggestion, it would be to have some signage indicating where to go for runners to be picked up. Maybe that was a thing and I didn’t notice in my post-marathon daze..?

I really liked this event! It was so organized. The location of the expo and shuttle busses was easy to get to and navigate once arriving. The starting area was FANTASTIC with the loud music and fires, and the first section of the race coming down the mountain was gorgeous. There could have been more porta-potties at the start, but that’s always the case when thousands of people are trying to go before the race starts! The aid stations were really awesome and there wasn’t a single point in the race where I found myself thinking “man, I wish an aid station would come up!” because there were so many of them!! The spectator support was very decent, especially for such an early race, and the finish area was high-energy with lots going on and lots of refueling options. THE MEDAL IS SICK! The race tank is awesome and I will definitely wear it in real life, which rarely happens, and the Mesa-PHX sweat towel is also a cool and useful keepsake. I didn’t have any issues retrieving my gear bag, which is a big one.

2016 – 2020 will form a 5-point star with all the medals! I know Carlee & Brian have all 3 so far.

As for my more personal thoughts on my race experience, I feel pretty happy about it. Although I didn’t have a strong race, and I had some stomach issues and heel pain, there are a lot of positives here, and since it wasn’t a goal race, I feel fine about it!

  • zero forefoot pain or discomfort, which I’ve been dealing with off and on since September
  • second ever marathon pit-stop was efficient, and I now know that pit-stop does not necessarily = sabotaged race plan!
  • came within 40 seconds of my marathon PR, even though I had some issues and struggled through most of the second half! Imagine if everything had come together?!
  • fueling was good again, Nak’d bars and Razz Clif shots!
  • no chafe
  • had fun the whole time
  • I can tell by how my body feels as well as from a few photos that my form has improved. Still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve come a long way!
  • walked through aid stations to make sure I drank a full cup of water at each one
  • Though I faded, I would not say I “hit the wall” hard by any means

Yahoo! Marathon number seven is in the books! I really want to come back to this race, it was awesome. Next time I’ll stay at the Hyatt, stay a little longer and bring a buddy. Normally I love travelling alone, but something about this trip made me want a weekend companion..I didn’t find the area as easy and welcoming as Sacramento. The Sprouts Mesa-PHX Marathon kicks ass and I think you should consider adding it to your bucket list!

BMO Vancouver Marathon Weekend! Who’s with me?

Have you ever taken part in BMO Vancouver Marathon weekend? I have, twice, and it’s AWESOME. So awesome, in fact, that I’m going back for a third time, and I doubt it will be my last!

Race day is thirteen weeks out as of this Sunday, February 4th. My coach has built plans for the half and full distances, so if you are looking for an AWESOME guide, see the end of this post for links and a discount code!

In 2014 I ran the half and even though it was MISERABLE out and we were soaked before even leaving the corrals, I loved it! Then, in 2016, I went back for my first go at the marathon distance, and once again BMO Vancouver seriously delivered. It’s hands down the most scenic of the six marathons I’ve fun so far. The 8k is a race I’ve yet to run, but the course doesn’t seem to skip out on any of the scenery Vancouver has to offer just because the distance is shorter. It cuts right through Stanley Park and winds around Brockton Point into Coal Harbour to the downtown finish line on Pender.

This year, I’m registered to run the half marathon. Lifelong Endurance and my coach are preparing me to get there feeling confident and strong. My goal for the 21.1 km distance in 2018 is a sub-1:45. Whether or not I’ll be ready to lay that down at BMO will become more evident as we progress, but as of right now, that’s the plan!

This is what the BMO 1/2 route looks like. If you aren’t familiar with Vancouver, the map may not mean much, but you can still take note of a few things:

  • the fact that more than 1/3 of the distance is along the Pacific Ocean!
  • running over any city bridge kicks ass! Crossing the Cambie Street Bridge over False Creek is no exception. It’s literally BREATHTAKING (trust me)
  • participants get to run some big chunks of the Stanley Park Seawall, plus run THROUGH Stanley Park as well, which was named the best park in the WORLD according to TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards in 2013.

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Other things that I remember are:

  • the glorious downhill during the first few kilometers from Queen Elizabeth Park to the Cambie Bridge
  • one short and sweet out-and-back – perfect for high-fives, encouraging others, and seeing other runners you may know who are slightly ahead or behind you (normally I don’t enjoy out-and-backs, but this one is short)
  • emerging from Stanley Park with 5km to go, for round two of Seawall action, and the stunning Coal Harbour

The full marathon is equally as amazing. Looking back, I would say it is an ideal marathon for your first, if you are going after it for the first time. EFF YEAH!!!

I’m really looking forward to running this course again. I will continue to recap my weeks on the blog as I train for the BMO half within my build-up for my goal marathon in July, JACK AND JILL!!!!! You should come meet up at BMO weekend!!!

Update: I am co-hosting the #WeRunSocial meetup for BMO weekend! Join us!! If you are wondering what this is, it’s nothing more than a bunch of fun people getting together to get fired up before race day, meet new friends and take a big group pic!

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Here is a half marathon training plan for you built by Andrew. You can use code JAMMIESENTME for 25% off.

Here is a full marathon training plan for you built by Andrew as well. Again, you can use code JAMMIESENTME for 25% off!

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Mesa-PHX Marathon Training – Week 6/10

Okay. In less than four weeks I get to do my favourite thing in the whole world for the 7th time…run a marathon!!!! As it gets closer and Lifelong Endurance gives me workouts that challenge me, but leave me feeling strong and confident, I keep getting more excited!! Plus, seeing things like this start to pop up on social media…wooooo!

if you’ll be there, let me know!

Monday, January 22nd

I started with Coreflex at K2 Cycle Fusion. Just like last week, it was awesome. Lots of planks and push-ups (I have a new love for the tricep plank), hamstring and glute strengthening with foot gliders and back strengthening with resistance bands. OH, and bird-dog holds with a bender ball under the supporting shin…kicks my ass and I love it!!!

Then the first run of the week was my favourite kind again – the longer workout!

3k warm-up, 6x [5 minutes up-tempo, 2.5 min recovery], 3k cool-down

I used to whine about having nowhere flat to do interval workouts or tempo runs. Once I quit thinking that way and just did my best on the terrain at hand, I realized that most of the time I can make it happen anyway. Yeah, it’s way harder in some spots, especially when my Garmin beeps to run fast for x amount of time, just as I’m coming up to a long hill, but this has made me a better runner. 14.4k total and that felt AMAZING.

just beat the snow

Tuesday, January 23rd

8k aerobic

Wednesday, January 24th

Early Bird Spin at K2 with Karen ❤

Today I bought myself the MEC Kelowna Okanagan Race Series Value Pack! I could not be happier about this, FIVE RACES (even though I can only for sure run three or four of them..) for seventy bucks!? There are so many MEC Events that I am just becoming familiar with. The races are AMAZINGLY priced and there are also tons of Run Crew meet-ups, clinics, etc, in lots of cities. Check out MEC events here. The line-up is…

Race ONE West Kelowna 21.1K April 15/18
Race TWO Rose Valley 10K May 6/18 (same as BMO Van…can’t go)
Race THREE Myra Station, KVR Trail 21.1K August 12/18
Race FOUR Knox Mountain 10K September 9/18
Race FIVE Mission Creek Greenway 10K October 14/18

Thursday, January 25th

Hill workout! I stayed inside for this one due to darkness + iciness.

3k warm-up, 8x [30 sec. @ 8% incline, 90 sec. recovery], 4k cool-down

I like to adjust the incline about 15 seconds before the interval actually starts. The machine takes at least that long to transition from the 1% that I usually run on, to 8% for the repeats. Then when my Garmin beeps to start the interval, I’m already at the grade I want. This workout was so sweaty and so awesome. Today was also the day to enter the draw for SeaWheeze 2018! I’ve never run the SeaWheeze! Fingers crossed.

Friday, January 26th

Fantastic run with Mary and Sam! We started on the road, ran to our go-to local trail for two loops, and then parted ways. I ran back to my vehicle and the girls crossed the highway to head up the Tall Trees Trail. 13k total for myself, and Sam got in 21k and lots of elevation as she prepares for a 50 MILE ultra in Oregon!

4pm rolled around annnd not looking good for me with respect to SeaWheeze! Ah well!

Saturday, January 27th

32.2km!! (= 20.0 miles)

follow me on Strava here

KILLER morning. So gorgeous out! The girls came over and we took my truck out to Rainbow Summit, which is about 22k from home. We ran back in, Sam saying farewell around 17k (her car was at the bridge), Crystal finishing up at my place, and then I went for my own 5k out-and-back along the North Pacific Cannery road. Boom. Four weeks til race day!

Sunday, January 28th

7k relaxed. Felt pretty tired today but it was expected.

Got in 40 minutes of functional strength exercises with my ankle weights on.  So good. Now for complete Sunday-mode. Another week, DONE!

Talk soon! I’ll tell you something really cool about my BQ-attempt training cycle in the Spring.

@jammiekomadina

Mesa-PHX Marathon Training – Week 2/10

Still chasing 3000 km for the year! Lots of double-run days have been happening lately (my own agenda) and I’m loving it!! I know it’s not uncommon for certain training plans or styles to call for doubles, but this is my first experience with them and I’m so into it! Hey Coach are you reading this? LOL.

Usually I follow the schedule laid out for me by Lifelong Endurance to the letter, but like I mentioned last week, the Phoenix marathon is not a big goal race for me, so I’ve been flexible. That being said, once I finish this week and reach my (insignificant) goal of 3000 km in 2017, I’ll return to following the training plan like a good athlete 🙂

Monday, December 25th

13 Christmas kilometers with my girl, Crystal!

2 very easy after-dinner kilometers with my really full husband, just to get some fresh air and keep chipping away at 3000!

Tuesday, December 26th

10k night run

this vest may be the most valuable piece of gear I own now

Wednesday, December 27th

12k along my favourite road

Thursday, December 28th

4k easy, 8 x 40 sec. hill bursts at 7% incline with 1:40 recoveries, 2k easy

Easy run to check the mail! Just over 2km, and there was Bird Mail!!!

Run #3 (it’s okay if you think I’m cooked, #ilovethisshit) was 7 easy, chatty kilometers with Jess. Follow me on Strava here 🙂

Friday, December 29th

8 REALLY cold kilometers!

Saturday, December 30th

long run with Crystal and Jessie! Just under 16k, and when I got home Garmin Connect told me that I was at 2998.7 km for the year!

Got hom, ran around near my house for 1.3 km to make 3000.0 kilometers in 2017.

Sunday, December 31st!!

yahoo I MADE IT!!!! Full rest day for me today 🙂 Resolution Run tomorrow!

RUN 2017 – recap & lessons learned!

It’s mid-December. How? I feel like yesterday I was in the final weeks of training for the Dopey Challenge at Disneyworld. That was in January! So much happened this year in my running life. Awesome races. Some necessary let-downs. Some massive breakthroughs. This year, I can confidently say I transitioned from believing that I was “just a slow runner, running solely for fun” (my protection from failure) to knowing that I’m making serious gains by saying fuck off to negative, self-limiting beliefs about my body and mind’s capabilities. I also made the game-changing adjustment from being results-oriented to process-oriented. Yes, it’s an ongoing adjustment, but serious progress was made! Nothing makes me as proud as this and I can’t thank my coach and Lifelong Endurance enough for all they’ve helped me achieve so far!

Here are some highlights of the year of running, and what I learned from it all. Some of this is great, some not so much, but it ALL contributed to growth. People say to be patient, which is so annoying, but it’s true and worth it! I look to seeing what happens in 2018.

January

Completed the Dopey Challenge at Disneyworld! I went for the bling, and to run the marathon (my third) on my birthday! I ended up finishing in 4:11, which put me into a position of having run a PR in each marathon so far. I was now officially OBSESSED with finish times! (This is bad). The only marathon I had actually run strong and smart was the first one back in May. The final 10-15K of marathons 2 and 3 were brutal. It would take me about nine months to understand the lesson that: focusing completely on an outcome instead of the process, doesn’t work.

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February

Now I was training for the Calgary Marathon, which I have no idea why I signed up for in the first place. I knew nothing about the event or course, which is not a good way to pick out a goal race. The lesson I would come to learn: when gunning for a big goal, pick a course that is supportive of said goal!

March

Double 10K weekend! I was still very intimidated by “running fast”, and shorter races generally require faster running! In the first of the two, I realized that the pace I had been thinking of running on Sunday (the goal race) was a total sand-bag. I ran the Hot Chocolate Run pretty conservatively that Saturday but it got me into a good mindset for the next day. The WestVanRun 10K was the first race ever where my average pace was under 5min/km. 4:59 baby! That was a big breakthrough for me, mostly in the confidence department! I ran that race strong and smart from start to finish. The lesson I learned: don’t set arbitrary limits!

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April

Rupert 1/2 Marathon time! At this point, I had only just broken two hours in the half marathon the previous November at the Vancouver Historic Half. Also, I had a slightly negative attitude towards small, local runs in my community. I enjoyed the hype of bigger events and the excitement of runcations. Looking back, I think I also liked how anonymous it was, running in cities that I didn’t live in. I went into the Rupert 1/2 with zero expectations but ended up tucked in behind the two winners for the majority of the race! This was the smartest race I’ve run, up until that point. I finished strong and earned myself a near 7 minute personal best and a silver medal!! (Two golds were awarded to the winners, my friends Jessie and Erin, who crossed the finish line holding hands!) Another confidence booster! The lesson I learned: the race is what you make it. I can do my best any time I decide to. Of course this had me plugging my new PB into all the race calculators to see if I was on track for a sub-4 marathon…I was now fully convinced that I should be able to run sub-4 in Calgary next month. (This is bad).

Shortly after I ran a pretty strong in the end, but poorly paced 10-miler in Seattle. I was a little over-confident from the last race and ran too fast in the beginning, fading significantly after 10k. Still a great race, awesome weekend with my girl Whitney, and a unique distance, too, for us Canadians. Lesson: don’t go out too fast. It always feels good at the start. Don’t.Go.Out.Too.Fast.

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May

Calgary. Ugh. Hahaha. I went subconsciously knowing I wasn’t ready for sub-4, but still wishing for it. That doesn’t make sense! My long runs in training were done with the wrong attitude and execution. My obsession with improving and running a “fast time” was unhealthy! Calgary sucked for me. I knew from like 12k in that I was out of my league, with regards to this arbitrary goal. The heat didn’t help, either. It’s okay though, because it’s been a big part of this marathon journey so far! Lesson: goals should be challenging, but realistic and approached with confidence. We can’t do in a race what we haven’t done in training. (Physically, or mentally).

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Crystal & I saved each other on this day! So happy to be done.

June

I felt ripped off and dissatisfied after Calgary so I frantically searched for another marathon to run! Stupid Calgary! LOL, just kidding. The Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon was three weeks later. I ran the first half with the 4-hour pacers, frantically looking at my watch and dreading failing again. Then, at half-way I had a GI disaster and the rest of the race I ran-walked in a “this is so unfair” head space. I fully admit it, I felt sorry for myself. I wondered why running comes naturally to others, but not me. I wondered if maybe I just wasn’t cut-out to run marathons. At least it was a gorgeous course and my weekend with Marcie was really fun! Finishing a marathon is a feat in itself, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be so I didn’t see it that way. This was destroying me mentally because I was chasing after something that I wasn’t prepared to achieve yet. Lesson: desperately chasing a goal isn’t the way. Build confidence through proper preparation and then stalk it down like a boss.

Let me say, I am so glad Calgary and Seattle happened. 🙂

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crying on the inside ahahah

July

I ran easy through July, maintaining a good base but not doing any structured training. I’m proud of myself for this, because I am so goal-oriented that I seem to need a goal race on the calendar all the time and each week planned out! The CIM was on my December calendar, but the training cycle for that would start towards the end of August. Lesson: it’s important to take time to run just because you love it!

August

I ran a humbling 10K in Montreal. I figured that because over five months had gone by since that breakthrough in March, and since I’d been running more and training harder most of the year, that I should be able to run a PR. There’s that should again. I know better than to should all over myself! Suzanne taught me better! It’s not about what we theoretically could do, it’s what we ACTUALLY DO! Anyways, I went out too fast and obsessed over my watch instead of running the race! I was just thinking about the finish time! I still had no idea yet how to be process-oriented! So yeah, I blew up just after 5k and struggled to hold pace for the second half. Oh well, I really did learn a lot from how shitty I felt afterwards from burning out and totally giving up. The lessons I learned that day were: get that ego under control, a big ego is not your friend. And, dont’ go out too fast. I feel like I’ve heard that one before…

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September

I ordered a book called The Resilient Runner off Amazon shortly after that bust in Montreal. The book is awesome; simple and to the point, and it helped me focus on training one day at a time. I found some real consistency at this early point in CIM training when discovering how helpful it was to break up each run or workout into pieces to stay focused. I started running paces that I never thought I’d be able to. It felt so good to run “fast” (relative term, I know) and I hammered out each day’s prescribed run, feeling more confident weekly! This book really solidified the lesson to focus on what you’re doing right now, today. It’s really all you can do!

October

This was my month of shit-kicking all the workouts. I truly looked forward to every single run, but especially the tempo runs, interval workouts and even the scary track sessions. Coach Andrew had me run a fit test and it was a huge confidence booster! I held a pace for 20 minutes that, a year ago, I’d have laughed if someone told me I could one day run that pace at all, let alone for 20 whole minutes! Mindset was what made October so magnificent. I was believing in myself hard and making friends with being uncomfortable, learning the lesson that by staying in the now and welcoming discomfort, really cool shit goes down!!!

November

The scariest long run of EVER was on the schedule – 30K progression-style run. I knew I could do it though, and I did. I had such an improved grasp on pacing by now and ran each 10K at easy, moderate, then up-tempo. WOOO!!! Finally, I felt like I could head out with a plan, and execute it. I was learning how to be in charge! I wrote a post about these feelings here, if you want.

Then, time for a tune-up before CIM: the RUNVAN Fall Classic. I wanted a PR badly, but the course looked challenging from a pacing point of view, so I went in with the goal to do my best and keep a strong mental game. It went well! I pretty much tied the Rupert 1/2 marathon pace, falling just 7 seconds short of a new personal best! I think I ran my fastest finish-kick EVER and really enjoyed treating the day as a dress-rehearsal for my goal race, now three weeks away. There was a point in the Fall Classic where I felt really tired and walked a few steps, two or three times. I was disappointed in this, but it reminded me that if I hadn’t walked, maybe I’d have a new personal record? Maybe! Lesson: shuffling is faster than walking. LOL. We are rarely incapable of running another step, unless collapsed on the ground unconscious.

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December

Marathon time. Ready! Now, I knew what it felt like to run strong and at goal pace, even after 2+ hours, because I did it in training! I knew how to start running easy, without thinking about the end. I had mantras. I had rituals. I was super excited about THE PROCESS. This was going to be an adventure, not a frantic struggle from the beginning to try to end up with a specific time on the clock!

I closed off 2017 in the best possible way – by running 42.2km from start to finish, smart and focused. When it was time to think about the final stretch (hint – when I got there) I powered through to the most rewarding experience of my running life. In November, I told Coach Andrew I had a boner (sorry, that’s what I said though) for a time of 03:51. We talked about an A+ perfect-day-ever goal of sub-3:50, but I told him about the 3:51 because it felt attainable yet very challenging, AND because I love math, it would be an exact 20-minute improvement over my personal record at Disney. We knew I was in the range of 3:59-3:49 for sure, unless disaster struck.

I finished in Sacramento with a 03:51:18. A twenty-minute, nine-second personal record! It’s funny because even though I love this SO much, it doesn’t really matter in the end. I ran the whole race, never walked, squished all negative thoughts, fought through the final 5km when it started to get really hard, and finished as strong as I could. I didn’t really think about my finish time until the final mile! Every lesson learned all year came into play at CIM. You can read about the CIM here if you are interested, it’s a fantastic event!

 

So that was 2017! I’m stoked for whatever 2018 will bring as I continue to work and grow with Coach Andrew and the Lifelong Endurance team. I have some fun races lined up and some SCARY AS SHIT (BUT REALLY AWESOME) GOALS!!! Those will come in another post. Coach Andrew and I are going to lay out some cool adventures, and it might be fun for you to follow along and see how it goes, or even join in on the training and/or racing adventures with us! Stay tuned and Happy New Year to you!!!

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