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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: A year in review

Once again, I had an awesome year! Here are some highlights from the past 12 months.


Started in Jamaica! We took the trip to a friends wedding without the boys and had a good time even if we discovered that we're not really AI people.

Coming home, meant back to reality and the start of training for marathon #2. I raced Robbie Burns 8k again and advanced my AG placement while nabbing a new PB. 

We moved into our forever home after a very stressful home selling process. We are NEVER MOVING AGAIN:

I continued to embrace running in the cold as best as I could:

I began to seriously consider attempting more than just a 5 minute PB attempt in the marathon when I raced the Chilly Half Marathon
And Wayne and I killed our training run at Around the Bay

I also turned 36 and the next day left my soul sucking bank job to head back to a place where I feel at home: The Media Advertising agency. So I celebrated both:

At this point in marathon training, it seemed as if we had been running in cold, wet weather forever. There were a few Eff IT moments, but we pulled through with a great final training run on the Mississauga course to build our confidence for that first Sunday in May. Of course, I rewarded everyone with a Taper Cake
Race day strategy came together and I handled the taper very well.

Marathon #2 This is where I had my most exceptional running day. This is when I knew I'd make it to Boston one day.
Wayne and I ran the whole thing together, it was just a great day!

June started with my now annual Bread & Honey 5k race, where I pretty much shit the bed (as Sam would say). I looked great though:

I also solidified my fall race plans which did not include a marathon at my husband's request and Sam and I embarked on our very first #embracethesuck/ Jack Daniel's Running Formula training plan. June also saw me become a regular pre-work runner and I must say, I vastly enjoy it over the usual night time run even if it does get a bit lonely. 

We went on our first ever week long camping/trailer trip and loved ever second of it
 I ran three times while we were away and truly enjoyed each run, even if it was the week it was stinking hot in SW Ontario
In July, I also finally got my 5k PB and AG placed in a race for the first time ever! Of course, I looked awesome doing it:

August was a little rough for me in terms of running because I was having such trouble with my stomach. I tried to attempt my first ever pre-work LSD but had to abort due to said stomach. I never did find out what happened, but the issue hasn't returned, so maybe I just picked up a bug of some sort. August saw me run the longest distance of the second half of my year when I paced the Midsummer Night's Run 30k, 3 hour continuous group. I loved it and hope I can do it again next year.

The final push. Sam and I worked JD hard and got prepared to go after that late October race. Along the way we both PB'd at prep half marathon's, me at the Milton Half Marathon even though my stomach kinda hated me that day as well.

The most awesome unplanned race at the half marathon in Picton during the County Marathon. Everything was in place for the fall goal.

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.

 Except, it didn't quite come together for me. While I earned yet another PB at the half marathon distance, I just didn't have the race I wanted to, physically or mentally. I took a lot of learning from that race, especially what to do when races go sideways and I came out the other side a much better runner. Not a bad way to finish half marathon #10

Redemption called and its name was the Road 2 Hope Hamilton Half Marathon. I got the race I wanted and I soaked it up
Then, I went on a run streak for 14 days, but still managed to enjoy some down time with my #1 supporter:
Finally, I launched right into Boston Qualify attempt marathon training with Sam and another Jack Daniel's plan. More importantly, I launched my Make-A-Wish campaign to raise funds for Wishes for Olivia (please consider supporting me if you can).

And finally, the end of the year. There have already been some meet up runs in Burlington, some treadmill tempo runs. Snow runs

And even a 16k treadmill run. I've gotten sick and gotten off track the past few weeks, but I'm committed to making the Boston standard in May, which means 2014 looks like its going to be another awesome year.

Total KM run: 2,500km (1,553.43mi)
Total time spent running: 239h2m28s

Happy New Year, see you on the flip side.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Marathon Training Update!

I am now into week three of my 23 week marathon training plan and the word of the plan so far is: BUSY!

I started my plan, right on time on November 25th, with an 8k run on the treadmill

I still had my cold which ended my run streak but I was starting to feel better and that 8k felt good.

I quickly launched my Wishes for Olivia fundraising campaign on the blog, facebook and dailymile and got some great support. I continued on that week, running a total of 58k over 5 days running and ending with a lovely group run along the Around the Bay hills with Patty, Sam and Emma. That was a tough 20k and my longest run since Hamilton's half marathon.

The second week of my training plan saw me immediately stall in one area I want to improve on: core and upper body strength. I didn't do anything in this regard. I just do not enjoy any other kind of exercise except for running. I really need to commit to core work at the very least and I'm determined to turn around my slackatude in this are today!

The week of December 2nd was busy. My mum and I travelled to Buffalo on Monday evening and I ended up working until about 10:45. My mind was still working hard, so I went down to the hotel bar for a beer and one $3 pint turned into three:

I still got up the next morning (albeit at 0700) and got in 8 treadmill kilometers, which hurt just a little:

The rest of the week was busy as well as we hosted an open house on Saturday and we prepped for that. I had a half day off on Friday and I took advantage by doubling up on my runs, running 10k in the morning before work and 10k in the late afternoon before I picked up my oldest son from school. The party went really well on Saturday and on Sunday afternoon, I got in another 11k in the sunshine to get my total up to 60k for the week.

This week started strong with a 10k pre-work run in the cold before work:

And some Tuesday treadmill tempo miles before work as well. Yesterday I had plans to meet the girls for our monthly dinner so I slept in until 0600! and ran 10k on the treadmill after work, before the dinner. This was boring and easy at the same time. I'm glad I have the option to get in some treadmill work because I'm finding that I'm really struggling to get up and run before work. Today, I set the alarm to go for a 8k run at 0500 but I didn't get up. Now, I always have gym time booked in my calendar on Thursday, so I knew I had this option, but I really feel like I'm hitting the snooze button too much. I'm finding the thought of facing the -20c (-4f) temperatures not appealing at all. I guess the main thing is that I'm getting the runs in and not skipping them all together.

In fundraising news, I sit at 19% of my goal achieved! I've raised $657.20 so far toward my ultimate goal of $3,400 in memory of Olivia and to support Make a Wish Canada. Please consider donating if you can. To learn more and to donate, GO HERE. Even $5 will go a long way to help. I thank you for your support!

So, I'm two and a half weeks into the plan and in two and a half weeks, I'll begin to add those #embracethesuck, Jack Daniels runs back into the program. I'm hoping that I can get my early morning mojo back by then and also to get my core a bit stronger.

I hope you're doing well. Are you in the off season too? Do you still have races to run in 2013 (I'm done)? What races have you signed up for in 2014?

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 2, 2013

November Recap!

November was a great month for me! I started really well and ended awesomely and had a great middle Run Streak. I'm so close to the end of the year and my goal of running 2,400km for the year that baring major injury, I'm positive I will get it!

November also saw me kick off my third cycle of Spring Marathon Training. This cycle is different for two reasons: I'm basing the training on a plan that I wrote myself (using the Daniel's Running Formula as a guide). I still signed up with the Running Room's Marathon Clinic, because I really enjoy the friends I've meet there and Coach Chris is back in the lead. I can always learn from him.

The second reason why this cycle is different is because for the first time, I'm going to use my running to raise money for a great cause. Doing so, will honour the 5 1/2 year old daughter of my friend who went to bed on December 25, 2012 and never woke up. Donate HERE to help me reach my goal.

# of Runs: 22. The 14 day run streak really helped here!

# of Runs started by 5am: 8. I've been hitting snooze too often.

Races: 1: The Road 2 Hope Hamilton Half Marathon

The result I wanted!
Best Run of the Month: Hitting the Culham trail with Alan, Peter, Phil and some other Daily Milers.

I made sure I was dressed to be seen

Yay, kind stranger to take a photo

One of our views
This month started with the end of my lung infection and ended with a killer cold which stopped my run streak at 14 days. I really hope that this isn't a sign of what's to come this winter, because I have big training plans and I can't be stalled with constant colds and illness. I was lucky to end the month with my longest run since Hamilton, running 20 very hilly kilometers with Sam, Emma, and Patty on the Around the Bay route

1,500 feet of upness

Total KM Run: 188.75 (117.28mi)

Time Spent Running: 17h52m34s

Average pace per KM: 0:05:41 (0:09:09/mi)

I hope that December keeps you safe and that you get to enjoy some time with your loved ones!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Make a Wish - Why this marathon training plan is different

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

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

Olivia Grace White

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

She really, really loved Disney. Really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Run Streak

I have run every day since November 9th.


Not too shabby!

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

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

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

In daylight!

Early in the morning!

On the trails with friends:

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

I've even run in a skirt!

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

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

Hope your off season or training is keeping you well!

Monday, November 11, 2013

October Recap

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

More on that later!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time spent running: 16hrs9min14sec

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

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

We'll see how all of that goes.

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

Hope you had a great month!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Road 2 Hope Hamilton Half Marathon Race Report

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

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


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

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

The plan. The start: KM 1-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Red Hill Valley Parkway, KM 6-9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All by myself. KM 10-15

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

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

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

I knew the goal was within reach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is really more like. Hang. ON.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

I'm just so happy!!!!

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

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